Tuesday, May 19, 2009

TraditionalKnowledgeSystem

TKS and Inner Sciences, History, and Society Today
Inner Sciences: The Inner Sciences of India have been on the one hand appropriated by the west, and on the hand have been depicted as being in conflict with the progressive, rational, and materialistic west. In fact, inner and outer realms are often viewed as opposites, that can at best be balanced because one contradicts the other. This assumes that Inner Sciences make a person and society less productive, creative, and competitive in the outer realm. However, India's TKS are empirical evidence to demonstrate that Inner Sciences and outer development did co-exist in a mutually symbiotic relationship. This is a major reason to properly study India's TKS.
Without removing this tension between inner and outer, it would be difficult to seriously motivate the modern world to advance in the Inner Sciences in a major way. Inner progress without the outer would be a world negating worldview, which India's TKS record shows not to be the case in classical India. Outer progress without inner cultivation results in societies that are too materialistic, too selfish to the point of genocides and holocausts, eco-unfriendly, and dependent upon force and control for social harmony.
History: Until the 1800s, TKS generated large scale economic productivity for Indians. It was the TKS based thriving Indian economy that attracted so many waves of invaders, culminating with the British. Traditionally, India was one of the richest regions in the world, and most Indians were neither 'backward' nor uneducated nor poor. Some historians have recently begun to come out with this side of the story, demonstrating that it was massive economic drainage, oppression, social re-engineering, and so forth at the hands of colonizers that made millions of 'new poor' over the past few centuries. This explanation yields a radically different reading of the poverty in India today. Upon acknowledging India's traditional knowledge systems, one is forced to discard accounts of its history that essentialize its poverty and the accompanying social evils. The reality of TKS contradicts notions such as: India was less rational and scientific than the west.
India was world negating in its outlook (which is a misreading of the Inner Sciences), and hence did not advance itself from within.
India's civilization was mainly imported via invaders, except for its problems such as caste that were its own 'essences'.
Indian society was socially backward (to the point of being seen as lacking in morality); hence it depends upon westernization to reform its current problems.
Society Today: Is India a 'developing' society, or is it a 're-developing' society? Without appreciating the TKS of a people, how could anthropologists and sociologists interpret the current condition of a society? Were they always poor, always living in polluted and socially problematic conditions as today, in which case these problems are essences? Or is there a history behind the present condition? This history should not, however, excuse the failures of fifty years of independence to deal properly with the economic and social problems that persist.
Going forward, Traditional Knowledge Systems are eco-friendly, symbiotic with the environment, and therefore can help provide a sustainable lifestyle. Since the benefits of heavy industries do not trickle down to the people below the poverty line or to so-called developing countries, a revival of traditional technologies and crafts must complement the modern 'development' schemes for eradication of poverty. In this regard, the distinction between elite and folk science was non-existent in ancient times: India's advanced metallurgy and civil engineering was researched and practiced by artisan guilds.
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