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Saturday, 31 October 2009

Essays in early Indian architecture (Book Review)

Essays in early Indian architecture
Author: Ananda K. Coomaraswamy  
Edited by Michael W. Meister 
Publishers: Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, New Delhi, and 
Oxford University press, Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras. 1992 
| Price: Rs 400/- pp xxviii, 151 | Illustrations: 164.

“Vastu, add the meaning, “real estate” (Meyer, “Liegenschaft”): “Vastu includes houses, fields, groves, bridges (or ghats, setu-bandha), ponds and reservoirs,” Arthasastra, III, 8”(A. K. Coomaraswamy, Indian Architectural Terms, P. 97)

THE BEGINNING OF 1993 saw two significant events in Indian architecture.
The INGCA and OUP made available five essays by Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy (1877–1947) which were earlier inaccessible to the public.
The other event was the theme chosen by the National Association of Students of Architecture (NASA), India, “Back to the Roots” for their national convention held at Bhubaneshwar, Orissa (now Odisha).

Though it may not be perceptible, very few are aware of the Indian ethos in different areas of creative life and expression. But at the end of 20th century, with the imminent fall of ‘industrial civilization’ (or ‘economic civilization’), the awakening of ethnic identity is a global phenomenon. Parallel to the environmental movement, there is a ‘Anti-celebration to Columbus Day’ all over the world, and a new awareness in different disciplines.

The essays by Coomaraswamy reappear when people of India (not the statisticians) are groping for salvation in an ever-increasing chaos. The much sought-after development aping the west has only worsened the living conditions of the people of mainstream India. While this book may pamper the inflated Indian ego, it may be life-saving plank to multitudes in 20th century modernity called consumer civilization.

The common theme of the essays is to present a picture of secular, domestic, urban, rural architecture of India 2000 years ago, the remains of which do not exist because of impermanent nature of materials used. The book is about how the common man’s architecture, a hut of a villager that became a source – a form-giver – and developed into a unique architectural style, complex structural system and highly developed building vocation – into a tradition that materialised in thousands of and continued during the late medieval period under royal patronage (Chapter IV. Huts and related temple types, P 103).

For instance, “Tree-cult”, tree worship which was adopted by the Buddhists in “Bodhi-gharas” was an animistic practice of the people before Aryans came (Chapter II. BODHI-GHARAS, P 19).

Though Coomaraswamy does not mention so, the “Tree-cult” still exists in India in different forms, for example, “Tulasi-vrindavan”, holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum L.) on a platform or in a pot, is a common feature of the Indian household. The plant is known for its medicinal values and is also an organic insecticide. “Brahman” – a banyan tree with a built platform, is a common feature of villages in Konkan region – a well known monsoon forest region on the West Coast of India. “Devarai”, sacred grove, is a “protected forest” by the people for the Indian villagers and forest dwellers, by unwritten law of ancient tradition, though not recognised by the development projects, or by the British-made “Forest Acts” that still continue in modern India.

Why Tree-cult? Coomaraswamy has not posed this question here. Did some visionary scientists or wise men of the aborigine communities initiate tree-worship as a measure of environmental protection?

A. K. Coomaraswamy opens up the first essay on “Cities and city-gates, etc.” with a statement, “…cities are despised and there are no ceremonies for urban life”(P.3). He quotes “It is impossible for one to obtain salvation, who lives in a town covered with dust” (Baudhayana Dharma Sutra, II, 3, 6, 33).

Elsewhere he says, “…but the village is still typical centre of Aryan life” (History of Indian and Indonesian Art, p 15) referring to Maurya period. Indian society has remained agrarian even under the wave of industrialization.

Among several features of city, Coomaraswamy describes city-gates: toranas and gopuras, which were used for protection and security or for honorific and ornamental purposes. In contemporary times, Mr Shankar N. Kanade, architect, has used city-gates in “Jala Vayu Vihar” township at Bangalore (now Bengaluru), enhanced by adding elevated water storage tank. In present day context, more than being ornamental it gives identity to a place in urban chaos; it is a symbol of celebration, besides utility.

Indian Architectural Terms (P. 71 – 99) is a critical essay on two books written by Prof. P. K. Acharya, “Indian Architecture According to the Manasara-silpasatra” and “A Dictionary of Hindu Architecture”. It is a combative but constructive criticism. This essay helps to learn ‘how to criticise and how to take it, and gives access to ‘meanings’ of the terms.

Take the term much in currency these days, Vastu, for example: “Vastu, add the meaning, “real estate” (Meyer, “Liegenschaft”): “Vastu includes houses, fields, groves, bridges (or ghats, setu-bandha), ponds and reservoirs,” Arthasastra, III, 8” (P. 97).

He has presented over 100 sculptured relief works in photographs and drawings – some of them restored in exquisite drawings by him, as visual evidence, from monuments built in or carved out of rocks centuries ago. The author referred to textual evidences from Sanskrit, Prakrit and Pali law books, epics and Kavya literature. These reliefs were executed by sculptors, guilds of master craftsmen who documented epics of Indian civilization on stone surface. It is worth noting that the sacred texts were handed over by mnemonic method, though writing was known, for reasons of accuracy, which is still being observed. In the relief sculptures there is no scope for errors or adulteration or manipulations.

The population of India around 1st A.D. was perhaps 30 million or so, with growth rate of probably less than 0.01 percent per annum. As the feudal power over people increased, which is now growing to a global scale through its invisible tentacles, the epic writer in stone is now visibly disintegrated.

What happened to the guilds as the population grew? For instance, the communities of stone-cutters called “Wadar” and “Beldar” living in the slums of cities and towns not far from the famous monuments of Karla, Bhaja, Elephanta, Kanheri etc. and several forts in Maharashtra. Are these the descendants of the guilds of the ancient times? Just as the Brahmin descendants of the sages – Vashishta, Agasti, Vyas, Bhrugu, Vaishampayana etc. whose pedigree has been maintained by the high caste?

What Michael W Meister probably missed in the conversation with Joseph Rykwert is to give 20th century parallel in modern architecture to A K Coomaraswamy’s thesis of “primordial hut as a form-giver” to historical Indian Architecture (Afterword: Adam’s house and hermits’ hut: A conversation, P. 125) . In the twentieth century modern (western) world architecture there are only “master form-givers”, whose works go down as second hand and third hand imitations to the masses: Indeed a true expression of economics of Industrial Civilization that give the fruits of its development and progress, prosperity and powers to the society by the “trickle down formula”. This formula is also applied to the education system to support industrial civilization.

In today’s context, awareness of environment, ecology and energy which are being destroyed at unprecedented rate, Coomaraswamy’s work of timeless quality is all the more relevant, a ground prepared for ‘further work’.

It is a book for all: scholars and architects, planners and politicians, pundits and leaders alike: a collector’s copy. It may also help a new vocabulary – a new form of expression to emerge – a departure from twentieth century architecture and other disciplines (born and developed in the West); a restoration of dignity of labour; a change in planning parameters; a right to manage their own affairs to the local communities. What John Papworth calls, “Democracy after all does not mean government for the people; it means government by the people. We hope, in Coomaraswamy’s words, “…mark a final victory of the conquered over the conquerors” (History of Indian and Indonesian Art, P. 5).

(NOTE: This is an edited version of book review, published in INDIAN ARCHITECT & BUILDER, Mumbai, May 1993, P. 85-86)

Image: Portrait of Ananda Coomaraswamy by Arnold Ronnebeck, 1929. This bust represents Coomaraswamy at about the same he was working on "Early Indian Architecture" and other wor
ks in transition (P. 103).

© Remigius de Souza. all rights reserved.
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Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Making clay country roofing tiles: Demo

After I wrote “Clay country roofing tiles” in 1987, I suggested an NGO to conduct a demonstration-come-training programme for their housing project for the tribal in Raigad district. Their target group was Katakari and Thakar tribes.

For this demo I brought two young men, Baliram and Deva, from village Amiyar in Bharuch district in Gujarat. They belong to Bhill tribe called “Vasava Koli”. I had already known them for quite some time. Vasavas are better educated than many tribes.

Vasavas practice their skills of clay tile making at household level. Their technique resembles to one that I had seen, during my childhood, with the potters at my native village in Konkan Region, decades ago.

The illustration 1 shows the hamlet “Navi Fali” – a part of village Amiyar, where Baliram and Deva live. It is evident enough that the houses are built of organic, locally available materials – clay, bamboo and wood. The settlement is built by self-help and community participation.

Illustration 2 shows the cattle sheds, which are suitably built for the purpose.

Baliram and Deva received good facilities of accommodation, food at the mess, travel and to work at the NGO’s campus in a village.

They scouted the surrounding area with the staff of the NGO, found suitable soil, which was transported to the work shed at the campus. They produced about three thousand tiles within three weeks.

Illustration 4 shows the demonstration work in the shed provided for the prepared soil, tile making and drying the raw tiles.

Illustration 4 shows the burnt clay tiles. Persons in the picture (from left to right) are a visitor, a lady office bearer, two staff member (one in the rear), Deva and Baliram.

1. during the demo the NGO did not invite or bring the adivasis – Katakari and Thakar – either to watch it or for the training.

2. The staff (social workers) occasionally visited the demo. None of them tried their hand at making the tiles.
Knowing the urban ways, Baliram and Deva as well s myself were indifferent about it.

3. I don’t know if the NGO did ever document the whole operation – labour, logistics, and utility – price-value-cost-benefit – of the product, perhaps other than voucher for accounts purpose.
Needless to say, NGO used substandard (i.e. cheaper) Mangalore tiles for the housing.

4. NGOs, either in Gujarat or Maharashtra, are not interested in the tribal skills, knowledge, their self-reliance, and above all their self-respect. One can safely generalise this statement.

Remigius de Souza

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Friday, 10 July 2009

TRIBAL SKILLS: Clay country roofing tiles

TRIBAL SKILLS: Clay country roofing tiles

THE USE of half round country roofing burnt clay tiles with some variation goes back to centuries in several parts of India and other parts of the world. Handmade-burnt country tiles are commonly used in the rural areas of Gujarat and Maharashtra. The author’s house in Konkan (West Coast Region of India) is made of mud walls and covered with country tiles. It is like other houses, many older in age, built similarly in traditional manner. The house is built of mud walls with mud plaster, and mud floor, and roofing of country ti8les on scantling of bullies of secondary wood and split bamboo battens. This region enjoys over hundred inches (2500 mm) average annual rainfall.

In recent years, some individuals and organisations have fortunately become aware of mud building and traditional methods of construction, perhaps because of publicity to mud architecture in foreign countries: West. Most city dwellers in India are migrants from rural areas, their ties severed with rural India. Those connected with the field of construction have no knowledge of traditional ways. Yet it is positive direction in this country of a vast illiterate majority, that some urban elite is becoming aware of MUD ARCHITECTURE. And perhaps in the course of time it may become as popular as, “KHADI” is today, in spite of the fact that in the countryside, the rural population, illiterate as well as educated, poor as well as the rich, are entering into the cult of English Education and Concrete Houses. The rural population is yet to understand how some people in the city though English educated have become aware of the importance of MUD as material for housing.

Many alternatives are being suggested for roofing in low cast housing... from treated thatch to asbestos cement sheets, Mangalore tiles, G.I. sheets, aluminium sheets, precast cement concrete, asphalt sheets, cellulose waste sheets, stone slabs, brick vaults etc. I was surprised to read a remark in one of the publications of National Building Organisation [NBO], which rejected country-roofing tiles as breakable and destructive to timber substructure or supports. In rural low-cost housing undertaken by the outside agencies, the roofing in Mangalore roofing tiles is preferred. The country roofing tiles are rejected by the government and non-government agencies while building low-cost houses. Yet when the people build houses for themselves in rural areas, they continue traditional handmade-burnt clay tiles. Country clay tiles are also called ‘potter’s tiles’. In some parts of India, Kumbhars (potters’ caste) make them, as it is their family tradition.

There are two methods of making half round country tiles. One made on the potter’s wheel in cone shape, cut into halves, and baked in kiln. These are mostly crude – not in uniform shape, size and thickness. The other method is to lay a sheet on flat surface, in a form or mould, or required size, shape and thickness. The sheet then is removed and shaped by placing it on a half-rounded wooden block; dried in the shade and baked in a kiln. The potters in the Konkan region of Maharashtra State practice this method as well as the tribal communities of Gujarat State.



In the tribal villages of Panchmahal, Sabarkantha, Baroda, Bharuch etc. district of Gujarat state, the method of making is same as described above. However the practice is different. Here the every household makes its own tiles for annual need for replacing broken tiles, as well for building the new houses, or for the making of additions to the old houses. It is a normal practice in the Adivasi [tribal/aborigine] families. Everyone knows the art of tile-making, just as they know the ways of growing crops, building a house, making Roti [bread], rolling Bidis [hand made cigars rolled in leaf for smoking], making cow-dung cakes, manufacturing and playing flutes, and the implements for farming.

They know which mud [clay] to select to make a good tile, without the aid of laboratory. The tiles they make are uniform in sized and colour, sound in strength, are waterproof. There is no room for the sub-standard goods here. The tiles to cover the ridge are larger, and sometimes with decorative motif.

Tile making is a household CRAFT alike the cottage industry such as KHADI sold from the emporiums for the use of elite and which is seldom used by those who produce it.



Country roofing tile is 100 percent labour intensive product. No machine or any factory product is involved in making the tile. Raw material for the tile is fine clay, taken from the fields, or riverbed. The clay is cleaned of roots, gravel etc., then wetted, tempered by legs, and allowed to season for two days. Fuel required for baking is no threat to forest, as leaves, branches, grass, rice husk, cow dung etc. are used as fuel; the P.W.D. Handbook of Bombay Presidency described the fuel as “rubbish”. Simple equipments consist: (1) a flat wooden base to make a clay sheet; (2) a form made of bamboo or wood strip (¼” x ¼” size) – for a common tile; (3) a larger form for the ridge tile; (4) half round wooden moulds – one for the common tiles and another for the ridge tiles – to shape the clay sheet. The top of base plate is sprinkled with dry ash from “chulah” – hearth – to prevent sticking. Prepared clay is spread, pressed on the base in a frame, compacted by hand and smoothened by spraying little water. The clay sheet is then removed, placed on the mould and shaped. The mould is removed and the raw tile is left for drying for a day or day and a half. The dried tiles are baked by keeping them in rows with gaps in between them, filled and covered with fuel. If the area is windy, then the kiln is formed in a shallow pit, to prevent fuel from burning out fast, resulting in the tiles being half burnt or over burnt.


It takes about four working days for one person to make 1000 tiles. The operation can spread over seven days enabling a person to carry on with other activities in between the whole operation, such as collection of raw material, fuel and water, or household work or farming. The cost is Rs. 80/- to 100/- or more for 1000 tiles, depending upon labour component and cost of equipment.

The Mangalore tile is superior to country tile. It is an industrial product, prepared only where large quantity of specific clay is available to sustain the industry. In addition, the product involves high-energy consumption. The distribution takes place through transport system, which adds to the cost, besides commission of the agencies.


There is notion that country tiles require a heavier support structure as compared to Mangalore tiles. The weight of both types of roofing together with battens is equal, which is about 14lbs.per-sq. ft. area. However no well-cut wooden battens are needed to support country tiles as in Mangalore tiles. Bamboo battens are sufficient to support country tiles.

Poor people use even Carvi (Strobi Lanthes Ciliatus) or other material obtained from the brushwood. The uneven level is corrected by inserting a tile over a batten. Lying of country tiles, so also its maintenance can be done even by a twelve year old child. For Mangalore tiles require perfect alignment is essential to prevent leakage. Two man-days are required to cover 100 sq. ft. of roof area.


It is another misguided notion that country-roofing tiles require high maintenance cost. This notion is based on a bias of the urbanites and professionals. It does not take into account the time distribution and occupation round the year of a villager, as well as rural unemployment.

Before the monsoon, people remove the tiles, clean them with brooms and replace them. This action is called ‘turning the tiles’. This operation to cover 100-sq. ft. roof area requires 1.5 person-days. It costs at Rs. 15/- per person per day with no specialised skills, industrial equipment or products. Compare this with the cost of maintenance of a leaking R.C.C. roof slab.

A bamboo sapling or root (offset) planted in the fence grows into 50/10 bamboos and continues to grow and starts giving return in about three to five years’ time. Thus, the household is not dependent on market supply of bamboo or tiles for construction, repairs or additions to the house. For preservation of bamboo from white rot, the tribal follow a simple method of keeping it in the water for three days before fixing it in the roof. In some areas bamboo are kept in salt water.


Self-reliance, low-cost, conservation, employment, sustainable life-style are some of the aspects of economy in housing. While travelling through tribal areas of Gujarat the author came across several settlements where Government Agencies and Panchayats have distributed Mangalore tiles either free or at subsidised rates. This may be happening in other states also. The government may have noble intentions of giving the poor a good industrial and urban roofing material. It may not be even be a second quality or substandard rejected stuff left-over at the factories. But it is doing a great damage, to the extent of killing the household craft acquired and evolved through generations by the tribal. It is nothing short of weakening their economic independence and skills in such vital areas as roofing their own house. Such an act of charity is making the tribal dependant on factory product and also pushing them even below the poverty line.

The government may achieve popularity by this act of support to the manufacturing industry, but this has perhaps a parallel in Indian history: the death of traditional art of famous “Malmal” [the finest textile] Sarees of Dhaka.

The substructure used for the country is adaptable to take Mangalore tiles when economic situation of the rural poor improves. Self-reliance though is the first step to such improvement.

This roofing product has 100% wage component [self-help], low energy consumption and low cost. The cost works out to Rs 24/- per sq m compared to improved thatch roof, which would have cost in 1986 @ Rs 29/- to 35/- per sq. m. (Ref: BRN - 13 of August 1986 by Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee).

Roofing with country tiles may not be adoptable all over the country. Traditional roofing materials are different according to region. The roof in Rajasthan is made of stone slabs, in some parts of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka the roof is flat, made of one meter mud slab provided with skylights and vents, whereas some parts of Karnataka granite stone slabs are used for walls and roofs. Why does the rural population go for Mangalore tiles? The villagers look up to the city as model of good living. The use of Mangalore tiles or R.C.C. roof in rural areas is partly a n urban cult that the relevance or needs or resources. At the beginning they were attracted by the glamour of the city; now it is need for employment. The new generations of potters are moving away from traditional vocations with the advent of education and migrate to urban centres for employment while the city people spend thousands to learn pottery. Unfortunately, the learned and the experts have rejected country tiles as substandard, breakable, and expensive roofing material.
Indeed, with the most welcome programme of housing for the rural poor that has come into force, the aid given should not be an instrument of marketing industrial goods for the housing product, but optimum utilisation of local resources – skills – products. It should not look down upon the rural people as an “untapped rural market”, as popular commercial jargon says, to plough back money to urban centres.

It should be possible for institutions and organisations such as C.B.R.I., N.B.O., HUDCO, CAPART, NGOs, and government agencies, engaged in research, policy making, training, finance and building to save and revive this centuries old craft, through their housing programmes in rural and semi-urban areas.


Fig. 5. Cost analysis

Fig. 6. Chinese roof

Remigius de Souza

Figure 1: My house in Konkan region on the West Coast of India.
Figure 2: Bhill adivasi (aborigine) house in Satpuda Ranges.
Figure 5: Cost Analysis of Half Round Country roofing Tiles
Figure 6: A CHINES METHOD OF USING COUNTRY ROOFING TILES (Source: ‘Conference on Tropical Architecture’, University College, London, George Allen & Unwin Ltd, London.)

(This paper was published under the title, “Country Roofing Tiles for Low Cost Rural Housing” by DESWOS in BRIEF No.3 June 1989 Germany; SHELTER (HUDCO, New Delhi); and Moving Technology[CAPART, New Delhi)

© Remigius de Souza. all rights reserved.

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Monday, 18 May 2009

Desert soil

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Wednesday, 1 April 2009

All Fool's Day

All Fool’s Day

Whatever may be, it’s my doing,
by choice or by force, that I forget;
my rush ends it in half-hearted doing
and in endless strife I am caught.

In my fear of loosing my doing
no moment spared to stop and look
from all sides around, inside out,
at all levels, in all dimensions:

much of it I am ignorant.
On the fast track of one dimension
never knew when I lost myself;
never realised I am the means;

and I am the end. A product, an idea,
a thought, an act, or a concept
in time is perishable and transient:
no sooner born belongs to the past.

In stagnant water all actions stink.
But waters of life are always flowing,
condensing, evaporating, raining,
reflecting; that’s the nature of water,

of life born in water, but not my doing.
In looking at doing, the doing ceases.
At the core of ocean prevails
Silence pregnant with new life.
Remigius de Souza
(26 March 2004)

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Saturday, 21 February 2009

Senses and SenseAbility: Sex-as-a-Sense

Senses and SenseAbility: Sex-as-a-Sense
By Remigius de Souza

Illustration: shows Design by Nature striped to bones shows differences in the skeletons of man and woman. It is only now that the scientists are realising what they so far thought human brain is one is wrong. There are two human brains that of man and woman, reports Hannah Hoag, science writer from Montreal, Canada (“Sex on the brain”, New Scientist, 19 July 2008). Mystery of body deepens.

Sex is a Sense: Its organs are male and female genitals; their functions are cleansing by urination (for both sexes) and menstruation (on puberty for female), and on maturity in union of both sexes the procreation for the survival of the species. The function of procreation or propagation is present by variation of Design by Nature in all the life-forms.

I have not come across any scientist, sociologist, anthropologist, linguist or economist ever considered “Sex as a Sense” (whatever little that I have heard or read). It may be so because of their religious taboos that have become a habit?

In this regard, of course, it is least expected from the religious of many popular brand faiths for whom ‘sex’ is a taboo, though it is dominant on their minds: The topic is expelled from all polite talk; forget they would recognize “Sex is a Sense”. For them “sex” is sinful. Hence the “Sex-Sense” is religiously expelled from the recognized senses and dictionaries! (Remember ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ by D. H. Lawrence that was banned!)

No! We are not talking about the “sex of hedonism” that prevails in the so-called advanced and civilized societies, where prostitution and sexual crimes are rampant, which also receive abundant attention of the media. The developing civilized societies are no exception, for example, the Third World India.

This is obvious fallout of the creation of limitless wealth and waste by Industrial Civilization. Fallout also includes population explosion. And the institutionalized religions cannot do anything about it.

Otherwise, adivasis – aborigine – communities who adore vagina and phallus, neither have prostitution nor population explosion, unless forced by the civilized powerful classes/castes.

Sex being a primal force, sex as a sense has place in Intuition, i.e. the Sixth Sense. Why then it is not recognized and added to the five senses?

I do not know the history of who, why, when, where and how this vital sense was expelled from the popular (populated) religions (if it was ever there) and languages? Yes, I come across news that a lot of research goes on sex-related issues in science labs, either on mice or men.

During my adolescence I was working with a Spanish priest–architect in Mumbai, as an apprentice for a year. On his bookshelf there was a book of measured drawings of classical Greek and Roman architecture. The drawings of buildings also showed sculptures in bass relief of naked men and women on the building surface. This puritan man had cut with skilled scissors 1mm x 1mm pieces of plain paper and meticulously pasted them on the breasts and genitals.

Where I was born and brought up in my native village in Konkan Region – one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world – there was sex every where: dogs, cats, cattle, snakes, flies, hens, frogs… We kids often saw the mating of cow and bull, birth of a calf…

There are innumerable nude sculptures on thousands of temples across India, for example, Khajuaraho Temples. Without knowing the significance western scholars and art critics interpreted them as obscene, erotic, pornographic…

Indian mind has understood the paradox in the genitals – Yoni (vagina) and Lingam (phallus) – Sacred and Profane, for millennia. They even worship them. The Warli tribe in the backyard of Mumbai, likewise many other tribes and cults, worship Fertility Goddess.

However, in modern India, fundamentalist sections of Indian society get touchy and even violent on artistic expressions that depict nude. Perhaps they too are influenced by the slavery under the Firangi’s rule, teachings by Christian Missionaries and Victorian values of morality.

Procreation is certainly a function of genitals. However it is not the cause of population explosion, as is often implied by the vested interests. The real cause is the exploitation of the poor and the powerless of the societies at local as well as global levels by the powerful by military and wealth.

It has been going on for millennia of feudal powers. It continues now at accelerated rate, since the rise of Industrial Civilization in the West and imitated in other regions. It is not only the poor humans but even the insect population is on rise due to global war on insects. The immediacy of the survival of the species comes through Homeostasis – “the wisdom of the body”, not economics.

The experts and specialists in various disciplines of knowledge, the statesmen and politicians and world leaders are either ignorant of this fundamental principle, or ignore it because of their weakness and vested interests. The powerful are the most insecure species (!) amongst humans.

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Saturday, 7 February 2009

Senses and SenseAbility: Sixth Sense

Senses and SenseAbility: Sixth Sense
By Remigius de Souza

Bruce Durie mentioned in passing in his article “Doors of Perceptions” (New scientist, 29 January 2005, p. 34-36) ‘…Some things commonly labelled a “sense” are no such things – a sense of loss, having a sixth sense…’ The term “Sense of loss” is clearly a literary phrase.
But “sixth sense’, or “intuition”, or “inner voice”, or call it whatever you may like, we can’t say, is “no such thing”, only because we can’t put it in a laboratory test-tube, or we don’t perceive it, or experience it or we don’t want to listen. Dr. Deepak Chopra defines intuition as “heightened perception” (that I heard in one of his audio cassettes). In other words, intuition or perception could be developed, by any person – rich or poor, educated or illiterate, of white or black-brown-yellow races, civilised or aborigine.

Such an argument is typical by the scholarship or expertise that goes on single tract. This is also typical of the advance societies of missing the direction: a “circular path”, which enables to reach back to “value” to all human beings and all the living beings.

However, Mark Buchanan concludes his article “A billion brains are better than one: a single microbe won’t have much to say for itself. But put a lot of them together and it’s a different story” (New Scientist, November 20, 2004, p 34-37), with following words:

‘As we find out more, we will perceive microbes as more like ourselves, or
discover the roots of our own social behaviour in the supposedly “simple”
microbial world. Perhaps our ability to talk and communicate, to form teams and
root out and punish the freeloaders, goes all the way back to our days as

Among bacteria, however, there are different species; human are one species irrespective of colour, race, religion, nationality, patriotism, etc. The world of bacteria gives us clues to how DEMOCRACY should function, which is not developed with thousands of years of civilised society. Of course, the aborigine tribes function in democratic way even to this date, despite all the atrocities caused by the civilised societies over a period of time. Democracy is still languishing in the chaotic conditions created by the past barbarian feudal powers that now lead by a new garb called “leadership” – a new avatar of centralised power within the so-called democratic nations.

To reach the democratic level of “simple” bacterial world is a tall order achieve for the so-called democratic states in contemporary times.

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