About the possibility that I was already ‘westernized’ by the time I became a teenager. Even this question is wrongly posed. I am not claiming that there is some ‘authentic’ Indian culture, which lives somewhere or lived some when in India. Such a culture, even if it exists or existed, does not concern me. I am interested in the Indian culture as it exists today: including the aftermath of the Islamic and the British colonization. I am child of this culture, and this is the one I am trying to understand. The Indian ‘Diaspora’ in the US is as much Indian as some peasant living somewhere in a far-off village in India; they both belong to the Indian culture. Neither this peasant nor the Indians in the US is ‘more Indian’ than the other. My problem is not: who is the ‘authentic’ Indian or what is the ‘authentic’ Indian culture? My question is about the 21st century India, and its present culture, which has absorbed many things, adapted many things from other cultures in many different ways. It is this set of Indian traditions that interests me. Was I ‘westernized’ by the time I was a teenager? Who knows, or even who cares? What would it mean to say that I was ‘authentically’ Indian or that I was ‘quasi-westernized’? Surely, the issue is not about some kind of ‘purity’ here. What else is it? Consequently, when I speak of my past, I speak of the past of those who were brought up like me. If we were all partly ‘westernized’, then the culture I am talking about is this ‘partly westernized’ Indian culture. An age long gone by, if it ever existed, does not give me sleepless nights; what does is what is happening now. Thus, when I say I want to understand Indian culture, I am not harking back to some ‘golden age’, my friend, but India as I know it today. To understand this India, I need to understand how her traditions are lived today, not what they perhaps meant one thousand years ago.
- Vacuity of Essentialism?—S.N.Balagangadhara
- Criticism: you are not studying Ancient India!