Geet shares their thoughts on the Baudhkaro Manifesto
The first words that echoed in my mind after reading the Baudhkaro Manifesto is “Cultivation of mind should be the ultimate aim of human existence”.
This Manifesto is a deep yet simple and very effective piece of literature, in my view. I say this because of the very first sentence in the Manifesto that emphasises on annihilation of human sufferings caused by human-made discriminations. There is a lot of conversation in the public spheres (especially social media and elite circles) about intersectionality. However, an acknowledgement that no one is free until everyone is free, is a rare thought in these spaces. Baudhkaro Manifesto reminds us about it.
Many times I find myself trapped in the web of figuring out the appropriateness of things which puts me in a mode of unnecessary judgement instead of doing the work in my own life. “We believe that doing the work is more important, whatever one may consider the order”, struck a chord because I have myself pondered over the order of “Educate, Agitate, Organise.” However, every time I have concluded that for me personally all three happen simultaneously. It is not a linear order in my life.
The intention of creating art for awakening is an important need of every society and culture. Without art no culture can sustain itself. Everything is built on stories we believe in. Perhaps this is how the dominant narrative manages to manipulate us by making us believe the stories they tell or sell us. People will tell and propagate the stories that they believe in and as artists it is our job to spread the right kind of stories through our art. Moreover, when a child is born, sounds, songs, stories soothe them. We are wired to find comfort and belonging in art.
This brings me to the need to strive for politicization. Art is an effective method to politicise society. In my experience of having lived my life in the privileged/dominant society, we know that a lot of us (privileged) derive immense comfort in silence. This silence in turn gives a free hand to people who hold political and economic power. Art can move people to break this silence. Art can give people a language and tool to think critically and express. Political power etc. is important but real and sustained change can come through an enlightened society only.
Rarely do I come across a document that explains the meaning of education in such detail as people are expected to think that education means “formal education” i.e. degrees and certificates. In my life I have always maintained that there is a huge difference between education and literacy. Baudhkaro acknowledges and brings out this difference so well in the Manifesto.
“Baudhkaro creations are a service to all beings”. This line caught my attention and I spent a considerable amount of time re-reading this line. From this I understand that we extend ourselves to beings beyond human animals also. This has been a struggle in my personal life. I have been navigating what compassion beyond the human world looks like for me. Thanks to Baudhkaro for this line.
There is one point in the Manifesto about which I am still contemplating. “As Baudhkaro, we have donned the responsibility of awakening people in Buddha’s Dhamma which remained vanished from India for more than 2500 years.” I agree that Buddhism has remained vanished from most of India for all these years. However, I understand that Buddhism has been an integral part of the societies in North East India especially in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. It is Theravada Buddhism that is practiced by the Buddhist communities of North East India. I do not have too much understanding about the similarities or differences between the different sects of Buddhism. I am happy to learn more about this.
In addition to the thoughts above, I have also observed that the Manifesto has been written in a gender neutral language.
I want to end this by acknowledging that I have read very little of Babasaheb’s writings and anti-caste literature. Most of the thoughts above are from my observations based on my ideas, thoughts, conversations and life in general.
Thank you for this Manifesto- a voice of love, peace and assertion.
Geet is a storyteller, theatre artist and a Chartered Accountant. Their work revolves around facilitating conversations on sexual education and mental health. Geet has written articles on the topics of applied arts in education for adolescents.