SPIRITUALISM AND IDENTITY – THE CONFLICT AT KURNOOL MEDICAL COLLEGE :
In Anthropology, Culture is described as the way of life of a human society transmitted from one generation to the next. Culture basically involves acquisition of Identity using identification tools such as the use of social affiliation resulting from association with the place of birth, locality of primary residence, birth caste, mother tongue, religion, food, social occupation, and others. Even among people who may belong to the same race or ethnic stock, social groups or social associations are created depending upon the nature of identification tool that is used. Very often, the Identity of a person is described in a manner to exclude that specific person from harmonious social interactions with members present in that social community. Identity is used as a weapon to separate people into social groups and this separation or lack of unity is the cause for social conflicts, social unrest, and violence in the community. For example, my birthplace identity is that of MYLAPORE, MADRAS CITY, or Chennai; but, at the same time I have also acquired the birth identity that describes me as a Telugu-Speaking person. I may claim Madras or Chennai as my birthplace, but I am not entitled to an identity called “Tamilian” as that identity is associated with a specific language called Tamil. Among Telugu-Speaking people, there are various other identities depending upon a person’s place or locality of primary residence. A Telugu-Speaking person may have any of the three identities; 1. Coastal Andhra, 2. Rayalaseema, and 3. Telangana. The tool that we use to describe our physical or external Identity in the material World is the source of Conflict, Unrest, and Violence.
I had joined Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool City, Kurnool District of the State of Andhra Pradesh during November 1965. I had arrived at Kurnool from Osmania University, Hyderabad where I was a student enrolled for a Master’s Degree(initially in Botany and later changed to Chemistry). I had obtained a Bachelor of Science degree after obtaining four years of college education at Government Giriraj Arts College( also known as Giriraj Government Degree College), Nizamabad, Nizamabad District, Andhra Pradesh. However, this educational experience had no role in the selection of my Regional Identity. I was allowed to use my educational qualification that I had acquired in the Telangana Region of Andhra Pradesh, and I was permitted to enroll in a Medical School located in Rayalaseema Region of Andhra Pradesh based upon the determination that I am a native of the City of Rajahmundry, East Godavari District, the Coastal Andhra Region of Andhra Pradesh. The State and the people of Andhra Pradesh have the freedom to determine and to describe my physical Identity as they like, but the question still remains; “What is my True or Real Identity???”
THE EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL REALITY OF MAN – THE IDENTITY OF MAN :
If man is viewed as a multicellular organism comprising of trillions of independent, and individual living cells, we need to know as to who or what is the Subject who lives because of the functions of these trillions of cells. The External Reality of Man involves the understanding of his physical Identity in the External World, and it describes the person in terms of his Name, Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Language, Religion, Nationality, Education, Social Occupation, Social Status or Ranking, Caste, Anthropometric measurements, and Biometric Information. This External Reality and Identity has a degree of correspondence in the External World and is often confirmed by others. But, this Identity that is derived from the morphological appearance and other factors is subject to change either under the influence of Time or Place. Hence, we will be forced to examine the Internal Reality of Man and verify his Internal Identity which is related to the Individuality of the Subject. For Man to exist as an Individual in this External World, Man needs the support of his unchanging Individuality, and the nature of this Individuality is known to the cells, tissues, and organ systems that constitute the human organism. I would ask all of my readers and specially the medical students to recognize the fact that a Man’s cells, tissues, and organ systems that live and function to support the biological existence of Man do not recognize the Identity of that Man in terms of his birthplace, birth Caste, mother tongue, religion, or a geographical region. Human existence has a fundamental secular basis and hence we are able to use our medical knowledge to render medical service to all Men without the distinction based upon Race, Ethnicity, Religion, Language, or Region. It should be easy to seek a National Identity and National Individuality and participate in global affairs as equals with a sense of Pride, Dignity, and Honour. At Kurnool Medical College, the study of Human Anatomy and Human Physiology have helped me to learn about the structural and functional integration of body, and mind and I describe this integration as a Spiritual function.
“PEACE IS ATTAINABLE” – THE QUEST FOR SPIRITUALISM :
The ideas about Spiritualism and Spirituality are motivated by a desire to find Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility in the living human experience. During 1965-66 I was studying Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Medical Biochemistry, and Physics( in preparation for First M.B.B.S. Part- III Examination to be held in March/April 1967 ). Lions Club International of Nalgonda City, Nalgonda District, Andhra Pradesh had invited me to submit an essay on the subject of “PEACE IS ATTAINABLE” to participate in an international essay-writing competition to promote the understanding of the concept of ‘peace’ among young students. This essay was also published in the College Magazine(1966) published by the KMC Students Association. In my opinion that I had shared at that time, I had expressed the hope that Peace is attainable if man is willing to transform himself to discover “inner peace and tranquility” and reflects it in his formulation of social interactions and social relationships. Peace is not a condition, and it is not a state describing the absence of warfare among national entities. Peace has to experienced by each individual as a personal, living experience. This Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility cannot be imposed upon others. It is accomplished through transformation within the individual and has to be attained at individual level. At the same time, the student community at Kurnool Medical College was agitated about the allocation of central resources for regional economic development of the country. The burning issue was that of locating a Steel Mill or Factory in the coastal city of Visakhapatnam of Andhra Pradesh. The students went on a strike, stopped attending classes and participated in events aimed at disrupting train transportation services. This agitation demonstrated a conflict between National interests and Regional interests. I had some concerns about the direction of this agitation. I had the feeling that Nation has to move forward on the basis of defining National Priorities. Regional Priorities and Regional aspirations for growth and development must be revealed by a National Plan as both kinds of Priorities have to be consistent and seek the same objective called National Prosperity. During 1966, Srimati. Indira Gandhi became the third Prime Minister of India and I felt encouraged that she would promote Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility in the lives of Indian people. In my view, she had represented a National Identity that transcends the Identity derived from Region, Religion, or Language, the types of Identity that divide people from each other and cause social unrest.
THE NATIONAL STUDENT SEMINAR ON NATIONAL INTEGRATION :
While I was at Kurnool Medical College, during June 1967, just before joining the classes in preparation for Second M.B.B.S. Part – I examination in Pharmacology( to be held in April, 1968), I had the opportunity to represent the State of Andhra Pradesh as a student delegate at the four-week long National Student Seminar on National Integration. This event was sponsored by Vishwa Yuvak Kendra, International Youth Centre based in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. The selection of student delegates was based upon essays submitted by the students to state their views on the subject of promoting National Unity and National Integration. The essay I had submitted was also published in the College Magazine(1967). I had recognized the problems associated with the social, linguistic, and other cultural traditions of the various regions of India. These traditions have been separating people from each other and are causing divisions among Indian Society. For example, the social tradition called Caste can bring a group of people together and at the same time divide the entire Social community into various Caste designated social compartments. In the elections conducted for choosing officials for the student governing body at Kurnool Medical College, during 1967, all the students that belonged to the “REDDY” Caste community were eliminated in the contest for the posts both at the College and the Men’s Hostel. To address this problem of Caste-driven Social Identity, I had recommended that students must formulate marital social relationships ignoring factors like religion, language, region, and birth caste. However, it must be noted that I have not intended to impose this remedy or solution upon others. I was only stating that each individual can choose for himself his own Identity and express it in his actions and behavior. During 1967, students of Kurnool Medical College were also alarmed about the Official Language Policy and feared that the Central Government may impose the use of Hindi language across the entire country and thus limit the job-opportunities that are available to students who are not native Hindi speakers. Students went on a strike to oppose this Language Policy and classes were suspended for a few weeks. In that context, it became clear that the need for National Unity and National Integration demands an ability to overcome the Language barrier. At the same time, the Telugu-speaking student community of Kurnool Medical College were divided into three camps based upon the place of their primary residence.
NATIONAL IDENTITY vs REGIONAL IDENTITY – THE CONTEST AT KURNOOL MEDICAL COLLEGE :
During 1968 while preparing for Second M.B.B.S. Part – II examination( to be held during April, 1969 ) in Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Pathology and Bacteriology, I had participated in the election for the selection of General Secretary of the Student Governing Body/Association of Kurnool Medical College. I had asked the students not to give attention to my Regional Identity, the Identity called “Coastal Andhra” which was the Identity given to me at the time of my admission into Kurnool Medical College. I was defeated in the election by a narrow margin of seven votes and this loss was because of the financial inability of some of the students who had not paid the membership dues and were disqualified from voting in this election. However, it was a defeat and I had failed in my simple mission to bring the student community together on the issue of Regional Unity. I have recognized that as an Individual, I can choose to describe my Identity in terms that I know and understand. My failure in the College election did not wipe out my ability to transform myself.
SPIRITUAL NATIONALISM vs CULTURAL NATIONALISM – THE CONFLICT AT KURNOOL MEDICAL COLLEGE :
During 1969 while I was preparing for Final M.B.B.S. Part – I examination(November/December 1969) in Ophthalmology and E.N.T. Diseases, and Social and Preventive Medicine, I had the opportunity to obtain the grant of Short Service Regular Commission to serve in the Indian Army Medical Corps and was given the rank of Second Lieutenant during September 1969. In the interview that was officiated by Dr. D. Bhasker Reddy, M.D., the Principal and Professor of Pathology of Kurnool Medical College, two students got selected but the second student had opted not to join the military service. I had finished the Final M.B.B.S. Part – II examination in General Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology during April 1970. During June 1970, prior to my departure to Lucknow to report for training at AMC CENTRE and Officers Training School, I had visited the residence of Dr. Sripada Pinakapani, M.D. at his own initiative and an invitation that was sent to me through my paternal uncle, Dr. R. Anjaneyulu, M.D., the Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, B.J. Medical College and Sassoon Hospitals, Pune who had come to Kurnool Medical College and Government General Hospital as an external examiner in a post-graduate degree examination. We went together to give our respects to Dr. Pinakapani who had obtained his M.B.B.S., and M.D. degrees from Andhra Medical College, Visakhapatnam and my uncle had also obtained his medical degrees from the same institution. Dr. Pinakapani in the past had worked in Madras Medical College while my maternal grandfather( Dr. Kasturi. Narayana Murthy, M.D. ) worked as the Professor of Medicine. However, I was not invited to his residence because of my family connections. Dr. Pinakapani had specifically invited me to his residence to express his sense of dissatisfaction, resentment, and anger for I was planning to formulate a marital social relationship with another medical student at Kurnool Medical College and the mistake that I made in this choice was about her birth caste and religion. He was offended and I could easily understand his sentiment and the reason for the pain that I had caused. However, I could not understand his reason for withholding his blessings for success in my Army Service with which I have desired to serve and defend my country. His contribution to classical Indian Music is great. In my view, such Indian Cultural Traditions have totally failed to generate Unity among Indian people. India needs people who would serve the Nation putting their lives at risk. When I met Dr. Pinakapani at his residence, I wanted that he must acknowledge the fact that I was selected for the grant of Short Service Regular Commission in Indian Army and was allowed to state my Rank as that of a Second Lieutenant. His concern about my Caste Identity should not prevent him from attaching a sense of value and purpose to the needs of India, a Nation-State. His Music could be very entertaining but it would be of no use to defend the country from its enemies. My story would reveal that the path towards Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility is neither easy, nor simple. The path is riddled with conflicts. The conflict that I had experienced at the residence of Dr. Pinakapani, M.D., in Kurnool has followed me during my Indian Army Service. The Social Conflict, the conflict that I define as a conflict between Spiritual Nationalism and Cultural Nationalism had eventually driven me out of Indian Army and India during January 1984, the same year when Dr. Pinakapani had received the National Award of Padma Bhushan. For I have chosen to define my Indian Identity and Indian Individuality, I was not able to find Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility while living among Indian people on Indian soil. I define Spiritualism as an internally beneficial partnership between the cells, the tissues and the organ systems of the human organism and the Whole Organism that represents it as Human Individual. Nationalism involves a state of mind in which the individual feels that everyone owes his supreme secular loyalty to the Nation-State. The Spirit of Nationalism demands a shift in the focus of allegiance. The individual has to change his loyalty and break his sense of attachment to his local, or regional social and cultural traditions that could be based upon language, religion, caste, and place of primary residence. Indian Nationalism when derived from India’s cultural and social traditions has utterly failed to defend India from foreign conquests, and foreign occupation. I would invite Dr. Sripada Pinakapani, M.D., and all others at Kurnool Medical College and Kurnool Government General Hospital to give their prescription to defend National Unity and to promote National Integration to resolve the Social Conflicts that we are facing in the State of Andhra Pradesh and in the rest of the country.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B.S. Class of April, 1970.
Biographical Information :
1. Place of Birth : MYLAPORE, Madras City, Chennai, Chenna Patnam, Madras State, Tamil Nadu, India. Born Hindu( Brahmin, Niyogi, Smartha ), Telugu-Speaking.
2. Date and Place of Marriage : January 29, 1973. Congregational Town Church, Cuddapah City, Kadapa District, Andhra Pradesh, India.
- Spiritualism – the Truth About Soul or Spirit (bhavanajagat.com)