Ardhanareshwar, Urdu and Masala Chai


Ardhanareshwar (translated as “Half- Man-Woman”) is a unique way to describe the creation and its parts. That a person is a male or a female is a fact, but it has the inputs of both man and a woman is the Truth. Feminine and Masculine are therefore mere tendencies that define the Universe. They maybe conceived as “Opposites” but they are inherently Complementary.

The mindset that was behind concept of Ardhanareshwar is also responsible for two interesting products – Urdu and Masala Chai.

Moghuls came with Persian to a land where Sanskrit was the high language. In the milieu of that society, the competing offerings produced a third. Assimilation is predicated on the understanding that Opposities can be complementary. Assimilation is an inherent and necessary property of Inclusivist Oriented Societies.

On the other hand, when competing cultures come face to face in a “Zero-Sum” society, only one survives. Such Zero-Sum societies are defined by Exclusivist Orientation.

Incredibly, Persia was not Islamic, it was Zoroastrian in its religious orientation. When the Arabs attacked it, only Islam was left in that land.

The victims of Exclusivism relentless attacked an Inclusivist society for centuries until they won, only to be assimilated.

When British came to India, they came with the belief that here was a society that had to be changed and “civilized” as they defined civilization. The Colonial definition of Civilization was fashioned by an Exclusivist Mindset. Entire societies were changed. New languages, new religions and new social norms were imposed on societies that once vibrated with ancient and rich heritage.

High Tea was brought into Colonial India by the British, who came searching for spices to trade. The Indians took their tea added Masala (spices) and created the ubiquitous “Masala Chai” – which is now sold in Starbucks as Chai.

Urdu and Chai symbolize the victory of unique aspiration of mankind that competition need not eliminate. Rather competition may lead to new creations, while keeping the old ones (the inputs) intact.

The only popular responses to Competition had hitherto been Zero-Sum Elimination or Reductive Compromise. Urdu and Chai presented a new strategic alternative to Competition – Innovation borne out of Assimilation.

Inherent “Trojan Horse”

Inclusive societies are systems where the Processes, Structures and Functions of the parts are inherently pluralistic in nature.

If a system can recognize and celebrate the plurality of processes that can lead to success and distinction within a system, then such a system can be accepting of competing processes such that they could co-exist in their entirety while create a new whole.

No participant in any system is Linear and Uni-dimensional. Rather when it is recognized that every participant is Multi-dimensional and multi-faceted in nature, then acceptance towards competing functions and structures becomes a natural result.

Acceptance of everything and assimilation of all – even Exclusivist orientation has its ramification. Beyond an inflexion point, a quantitative change may result in Qualitative Change.

A Society does not decide that it has to be an Inclusive society. Indeed it is the choices made by each individual participant based on an inherent Value System that reflect as Inclusivist Orientation at the aggregate level.

When the single-mindedness of Exclusivism brooks no limit, then the response at the individual level calibrates itself to a new dynamic.

Sufism was the first response of Inclusivism to the Exclusivists. The confluence of Vedanta and Shiaites produced a unique personality called Dara Shikoh. However, when Shiaism stumbled into Wahabi and Exclusive territory, Aurangzeb was the unique result.

The struggle since then has been between the assimilative response of an Inclusive society called Dara Shikoh and destructive response of an Exclusive mindset called Aurangzeb. Unfortunately, Aurangzeb has killed Dara Shikoh for far too long.

There comes a point when acceptance of Exclusivists by the Inclusive society out of its inherent assimilative property leads to Exclusivism becoming dominant force,

That is the point when Inclusivism can no longer remain assimilative. The fabric of acceptance starts to tear away. As much as the inherent Inclusivist tendencies kick in, the response of self -preservation comes face to face with the Exclusivist on the battle-field.

India of the last 60 years is at that stage.

The most perfect social laboratory of a vibrant Multi-dimensional, Inclusivist, Pluralistic and Assimilative Organic system is being destroyed.

Inclusivism is like Love – a non-additive property of a system. A person may love, but if you cut open his body part by part, you will not find anything called “Love” there. Additively, of course, if he weighs 200 lbs and you cut him into pieces and weigh each one of them (including the blood), he will still weigh the same.

If a society exudes Inclusivism, then tearing it up will not reveal any particular entity personifying “Inclusivism”. If the Value System, the foundation of this non-additive attribute is destroyed, then the only laboratory that man-kind has known for Assimilative response to competition (as opposed to Compromise or Elimination) will be gone.

Starbucks may continue to make Chai, but no more Chai’s would ever be invented. World will either have to satisfy with High tea or with raw spices!

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