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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Who is an intellectual?

Let us not belittle broad terms  like 'Intellectual' and we have left them  to the LEFT  to fit into narrow ideological identities.

For the simple reason that the term 'intellectual' has an aura of respectability and reverence, we cannot allow it to be carelessly and cursorily appropriated by any arm chair pseudo pretenders to knowledge or allow it to be assigned to their chosen half baked authors who were lucky enough to get published and made themselves visible.

Not because being intellectual is either superior or better form of life than the rest but I repeat, purely because the aura that term carries with it.

It cannot be even associated with one subject or topic wonders, whatever be their specialization or expertise.

Most importantly, no one can place some insignificant history book writer and ideologically indoctrinated person next to the name of Steven Pinker.

This only proves the entrenched bias of the media, please don't insult Steven Pinker whom many in the world ( including me) regard as a real intellectual giant.

If you wanted to include some historian then, include Will Durant by all means.

" The spirit of Advaita is not to keep away from anything, but to keep in tune with everything." -  Swami Chinmayananda

 “In the end nothing less than the whole of everything can be the truth of anything at all”- William James

So, we cannot allow the brand value of the term intellectual to be lost nor do we need to cling onto it as if it is the most supreme way of life.

" Anything that can be lost was never truly ours; anything that we cling to only imprisons us"—Jack Kornfield.

However, we need to know who is an intellectual?

In what context or domain? 

How do we determine someone is an intellectual?

Is it based on success, rewards, revenue, ideas spilling, information vomiting, expertise in verbal diarrhoea, breeding bookish theories, opinions peddling, ideologies injecting and extrapolating, thoughts spraying, academic achievements, capabilities and cleverness , specific identity implanting, doctrine drilling, tact and talent , utility to others and so on?

Are scientists and new technology creators not intellectuals? 

Are religious leaders who have been successful in maintaining or at least contributing to maintain some order and social cohabitation not intellectuals? 

Are the philosophers and psychologists who have probed, prompted , enabled and emboldened human beings to think and to inquire beyond and besides the scripturally prescribed perspectives and interpretations not intellectuals?

Are the rulers be they ruthless emperors or dictators or elected leaders who have tried and tested various options within the radar of their attention to provide , protect and promote the welfare of some groups at the same time exercising their own interests and dominance not intellectuals?

Are great artists, writers etc. who have through creative instincts and imaginations expanded the human thought processes into new realms not intellectuals?

Are great sportsmen who have shown how shrewdly human physic, psyche and mind can be sharpened and superbly utilized not intellectuals?

Are modern economists, social workers, social reformers who have helped render social life more prosperous and possible even in difficult circumstances not intellectuals?

Are writers, authors, artist who inspire to look at individuals, issues , incidents , information imbued with innumerable interpretations from various perspectives not intellectuals?

Are entertainers who are able touch certain sensitive spots of human impulses and cradle their spirits in pleasant joys not intellectuals?

Are innovative farmers, in terms of their utility, who cultivate newer varieties of crops to feed humanity not intellectuals? 

Are those who provide literacy, education, facilitate learning and enable better understanding not intellectuals?

Are those who have come up with some radical thoughts and ideas either seriously or just to question the status quo of social mores and have also, incidentally thrown up something to ponder about, not intellectuals?

Are those who came across our life and we managed to relate with them, either in flesh or through books and ended up contributing something which provided some incremental enhancements to our intellectual understanding of life really at least to some extent not intellectuals? 

Are those whom we encountered in life by chance and who enabled us to make a vital correct choice or decision, which skipped our limited intelligence not intellectuals?

Are those who shook up our pre-set thought patterns and predermined perspectives to look at the world differently ( I am not saying right or wrong) in various realms not intellectuals?

Ultimately, in many ways many aspects of life are interconnected and we need to consciously get inter related to create positive vibrations and sensible synergy.

As even J.KRISHNAMURTHI says, “No one can live without relationship. You may withdraw into the mountains, become a monk, a sannyasi, wander off into the desert by yourself, but you are related. You cannot escape from that absolute fact. You cannot exist in isolation".

How we relate with others and everything define who we are better than what we claim ourselves to be.

Not necessarily, how intellectual we are or claim to be so?

Who is to be the adjudicator or umpire to judge who is an intellectual, definitely not the superficial newspaper journalists or editors of present day main stream media, much less reporters.

Of course, through a wider, consensus, rightly or wrongly, those who provide a broad frame work and create enough impact positively as a matter of social engineering through non controversial ( devoid of any religious political, ideological affinities) sane, unbiased, balanced ideas and which are capable of being adopted at individual level and implemented at social level without hurting the sensitives and sensibilities of as many as possible, but creating avenues for the economic developments and providing maximum possible happiness to the maximum number possible with contextually relevant attitudes, wider perspectives that enable us to relate better with other human beings, other species , things and events without endangering the environment and delivers a wisdom that is in tune with the aspirations and expectations of the present generation without getting totally disoriented from the past totally.

If we go by this criterion, I am not saying this is neither fool proof nor the last word, on deciding who is an intellectual then that would make some sense.

In that sense, in present day, undoubtedly certain authors and scholars stand out like Steven Pinker, Matt Ridley, Malcolm Gladwell, Yuval Noah Harari etc.

These are some scholars who write based on comprehensive perspective with unbiased recapitulation of historical background with balanced probabilities and options available for future  because all the above authors travel along the evolutionary pat
h trying to find out the reasons , not opinionated justifications or extrapolated ideologies, behind such evolutionary trends and come out with a broad frame work of options.

A single individual, issue, incident, film, leader, discovery, invention, speech , book etc. can create greater impact than centuries of indoctrinations.

Mostly, there have been scholarly and wise individuals who have had vision to effect such an impact or who grasped the necessity of documenting vital aspects of life or imparting such wisdom.

As my knowledge is limited to certain writers or scholars who have done and do such work at different parts of the world at different times.

Books like A.E.M. JOAD titled "That There is no such thing as Morality" ,


John Brockman's, " What is your dangerous idea?", " This idea must die".

Aldous Huxley's,  " Brave New world".

Edward de Bono's books on " Lateral thinking"

Steven Levitt's   " Freakonomics".

Swami Vivekanda's speech in the Parliament of Religions.

J.Krishnamurthy's talks. 

Neale Donald Walsch's " Conversations with God".

Books of Ayn Rand who incidentally wrote the book, " For the new intellectual".

Books of George Orwell.

Guy Murchie's, " The Seven Mysteries of Life".

Sri Aurobindu's " Synthesis of yoga"

At least, definitely better than including individuals ( claimed to be historians who have written biased, opinionated and partial history of a country omitting the most vital events and important individuals who have contributed maximum to the country).

After all, we all PICK what we want, what we can and what we are destined to.

We need a sound PHILOSOPHICAL approach which creates synergy than seclusion be it termed as Oriental, Occidental, or incidental or accidental .

We can have any categorization and classification for intellectual and academic reference but human life requires a validation that may have to wind through all of them and transcend all that.

We PICK any or every word in any language to define what we perceive, want to project or promote or protect.

Words and languages are some of the tools and techniques used as the frames of references to record and communicate what we manage to understand to posterity.

PICK refers to



Contexts and connotations,

Kindles in us-what a word kindles in us.

Everything has its relevance and appeal to different souls at various levels.

That's why we cannot deny or defy the importance of anything or anyone.

So, over simplifications or sweeping generalizations must be avoided.

" Across planes of consciousness, we have to live with the paradox that opposite things can be simultaneously true.” ― Ram Dass.

We cannot analyse anything and everything through ideological fixations and subject them as well purely to satisfy socio- political justifications and surreptitiously insert undeserving persons as intellectuals.

We must also know that everything has its own inherent attributes, intrinsic values, internal mechanism and logic for its existence besides, beyond, exclusive of and unmindful of human intellectual justifications, acceptance, acknowledgement, social approvals, political support  and therefore , it is purely absurd to extrapolate anything with specific ideological fixations.

A whole gamut of things and factors that go on to develop an intellect, many more to define one and a lot to acquire that label which enable to deliver the following real universal wisdom. 

Real universal wisdom in my humble opinion may be like this whether sanctioned or sanctified by either social mores or religious morality.

Wisdom is the work shop where works of evolutionary trends and experiences of everyone in it emerge to express wisely the essence of everything to enlighten everyone;

A wisdom which prioritizes living in the present context and along with practicing certain time tested values which have relevance in present context but with global perspective to bequeath a liveable planet, a lovable society with lovely infrastructures and improved living conditions;

A wisdom that evaluates everything and everyone with contextual relevance and based on the inherent attributes or merits of what or who is being evaluated without extrapolating any  presumptions, opinions, judgments, perceptions, expectations, ideologies, doctrines, identity based ideology and so on;

A wisdom which is willing to make minor adjustments, small compromises, spontaneous cooperation to create compatible and conducive atmosphere with humility devoid of any egocentric pride;

A wisdom with the realization and a perspective that must be aware that life is a constant process of learning of the multiple dimensions of many things and the various dynamics of those dimensions involving the constant interaction and interrelationship with everyone and everything.

A wisdom that is willing to accommodate multiple methods or means of life with some overall tolerant attitude embedded on humanitarian concerns towards all human life and environmental or natural concern towards all other species.

A wisdom that gets its clarity of understanding through a churning process that takes into consideration several aspects from the practical to the philosophical to the all fantasies of the mind.

Here are some of the links, that may help one to decipher what factors and wisdom deserve to be on the table to make a menu called intellectual.

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