Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Little India

Singapore’s Serengoon Road area is known as ‘Little India’ and if they threw rubbish all over the place, had a few dozen scrawny cows wandering about and a dozen or so of beggars sleeping in the street it would be just like the ‘big’ India. Here are a few photos I took in Little India some weeks back. The pictures of the kavadis devotees are by my friend and student Richard who came with me. I couldn’t resist photographing the young Indian tourist with his swastika T-shirt. Talk about ‘cultural clash!’


David (TheDhamma.com) said...

That is a real culture clash! Especially since he is wearing the specifically Nazi version! I know he did not mean too and meant the symbol to represent the Hindu good luck version, but the slanted swastika with the red background is specifically Nazi. AHHHGGGH!
On a similar note, maybe you might want to write something about the use of the word 'ariyan' as found in the Pali scriptures. Today it is mostly associated with Nazis, but of course the ancient Indians had the term first and meant 'Noble.'

Ben said...

The orientation is not typically for the Nazi-swastika, you can also find it in the Latvian Air Force till 1940 and I saw some Buddhist thangkas which used it also, but colors the red and white are typical. Red for social aspect of the movement, white for the national one and the swastika for the mission. So the orange circle in the picture makes the difference.

Concerning the 'ariyan' , Iran means also "Land of the Aryans"

Tazzie said...

Wheras The Nazis hijacked the swastika to symbolize a supposed racial elite, the nordic blond blue eyed Aryan, The Buddha often said that there was no racial or ethnically superior group of people as such. He explained that an Ariya was someone who had removed some,(Stream enterer, Once returner,Non returner) or ultimately all of the attachments(Fully Enlightened) that lead to rebirth in Samsara. Likewise,The word Brahmin was also used by him to describe a worthy or attained follower of his teachings, rather than a Vedic traditionalist of high caste. Similarly, he spoke in a praiseworthy manner of The Sammana(Sanskrit, Sramana) as a worthy follower of his teachings as distinct from the pre Buddhist or contemporary Sammana group (neither Vedic nor Buddhist) of wandering Ascetics.
The swastika is still unselfconciously used as a symbol by certain Chinese Mahayana Buddhist traditions and done so for fairly wholesome reasons. Sometimes you can also notice the Swastika motif used as decoration in public buidings constructed prior to the Nazi era. A symbol that was long associated with potency and good religious meaning was subverted by the Nazis for exactly the wrong reasons.