Most of you would attribute it to long drawn subjugation of our land by foreign powers, but it’s a harsh reality that we do not feel proud of our tradition, we often scorn our rituals, deface our monuments, and emulate everything, and anything that comes from the west; person, advise, gadget, vaccine, or anything else. For that matter it is not always the west; we are busy snapping ties with our little tradition, and following what according to us, projects us as being forward looking, or modern. This perception could well be created by popular media. So Navratra Jagaran, Karwa Chauth, Dandiya, and Ganapati have proliferated to distant lands.
This transformation is however superficial, and only for the purpose of projecting one as being intellectual, educated, modern, and forward looking who is not held back, or bound by the chains of customs, tradition, and religion. The soul or the subconscious mind of most donning the liberal label in fact remains glued to their customs, and beliefs when it comes to them individually- how many amongst the liberals are comfortable with nuptial ties of their daughter, or sister with a person not of their own religion or caste? Most at the same time yield to even crude rituals of their little tradition, if the stakes are high.
So, deep in our subconscious, we are guided by the values, and customs upheld by our religion, and culture. So why not accept the reality, and feel proud of what we really are.
In fact we have much to be proud of our tradition.
The ancient Indians made three distinct contributions in the field of mathematics – notation system, decimal system, and the use of zero. The Vedic literature is replete with concepts of zero, techniques of algebra, and algorithm, square root, and cube root.
Arguably, the origins of Calculus lie in India some 300 years before Leibnitz, and Newton, and Aryabhata formulated the method for calculating the area of a triangle, which led to the origin of trigonometry.
Aryabhata also calculated the position of the planets in accordance with the Babylonian method, and discovered the cause of lunar and solar eclipses. The circumference of the earth, calculated by him on the basis of speculation, is considered to be correct even today. He pointed out that the sun is stationary and the earth rotates around it.
The urban settlements of Mohenjodaro, and Harappa indicate existence of civil engineering, and architecture, which blossomed to a highly precise level, and found expression in innumerable monuments of ancient India; Sun temple at Konarka, Kanchi Kailasanathar temple at Kanchipuram, Kailasa temple at Ellora, Padmanabhaswamy Temple at Thiruvananthapuram, Subrahmanya Temple at Saluvankuppam, Ratha, Mandapa and other temples at Mahabalipuram, Tunganath temple in Rudraprayag, Jageshwar temple complex in Almora, Dilwara temple at Mount Abu, Vittala and other temples at Hampi, to name a few.
Albert Einstein has rightly acknowledged, “We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.” Even though Einstein referred only to numerals, there is much more to be proud of in our tradition.
Though not that much appreciated, we also had a great marketing genius who devised, and implemented strategies that work even after centuries, and that too without any recurring investment.
Marketing is really all about establishing a special emotional relationship, and this bond is the essence of all brand loyalty. Understanding this basic premise, and going beyond just selling our marketing guru devised a strategy that has been working successfully for ages.
Some 600 years ago, born in a humble Namboodari Brahmin family, and dwelling from Kalady in Kerala, he took over the sub-continent like a storm. He preached the concept of union of soul, i.e. Atman and Brahman. With his oratory, and canvassing skills he convinced people, and brought them under his fold. He united this land of stark diversities by subtle but powerful bond, and was a real nation builder. He was at the same time a great visionary who took interest in the well being of people around him. Though no recognised so, he was at the same time a marketing guru par excellence.
I am sure you must have bought coconut and copra many a times, and if you look around a few might still be lying unnoticed in your house. I am equally sure that you would have never cared to question their presence in your house, even if it is far off from the place where these are generally grown.
Believe me, these are neither out there in your house just by chance, nor do you purchase these regularly just like that. It is by clever marketing design that you, as also other Hindus, have been hard wired to have pressing urge for these on a regular basis.
Try reconstructing the scenario some 600 years back – inefficient, inconvenient, and almost nonexistent means of transport, little demand for agricultural produce, and exorbitant land revenue; hence poor state of the farmers, coupled with no gainful employment opportunities except in the Court, or Army of the local rulers.
Moved by the miserable condition of the primary producers Shankaracharya devised a farsighted strategy to revitalise their economy. Together with religion, and philosophy championed by him, he thus propagated not coconut, and copra but the ritualistic connection of these to the nook, and corner of the subcontinent. Interweaving these agro-products of coastal areas with various religious rituals he ensured perpetually growing demand of these items over the entire subcontinent.
This strategy has successfully sustained the demand for over 600 years, even in areas thousands of kilometres from the sea shore. He at the same time ensured perpetual employment for the people of his fraternity in the temples established by him across the sub-continent.
This gave boost to the demand of coconut or copra, which promoted coconut cropping, and ensured prosperity of the people of the coastal areas, the primary produces, together with those involve in its transport, and trade.
All this added to the social acceptability of Shankaracharya, and it might well be that the surplus generated through this strategy fuelled his Sanskritik Digvijay, or cultural conquest.
It can well be debated if this was natural outcome, or byproduct of his mission, or part of a strategic game plan.
In both the cases, the marketing gurus of present times have many lessons to learn from his game plan, and out of the box thinking that perpetually eliminated the intermediaries, and advertising expenses that in present times sometimes outweigh the real production cost.