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Mainstream, VOL 62 No 22, June 1, 2024

Meditation As An Act of Public Spectacle | Vijay Kumar

Saturday 1 June 2024, by Vijay Kumar


Every day we learn and, in the process of learning, unlearn also. The Prime Minister Modi’s ongoing meditation in Vivekananda Rock Memorial, situated in Confluence of Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea and the origin point of Indian Ocean, Kanyakumari, has drastically altered the meaning, concept and ethos of meditation. I have understood all along that meditation is sublime form of communion between mediator and either his/her inner-self (for agnostic) or some higher power (for believers) and ought to be done in utter privacy and silence. But this conventional meaning of meditation is turned completely topsy-turvy. The traditional notion of meditation has turned out to be inadequate, if not impoverished. The radically defined meditation must be full-blown extravaganza, spectacle and exhibitionism. Perhaps, Modi cannot commune with his higher forces in absence of pomp and pageantry, full media attention and state involvement with all aggrandizement. Be that as it may, the connotation of mediation has undergone complete transformation. As a practitioner of meditation, Modi has reduced it to be vulgar tamasha. Even the most consummate practitioner of art of hermeneutic and deconstruction will have hard time to either construct or deconstruct the meaning of meditation.

The hegemonic power, especially when grounded in narrow concept of religiosity, has potential to distort the concept. I am reminded of an exchange between insufferable Humpty Dumpty and poor Alice in Lewis Carroll’s classic : “Alice’s Adventure In Wonder Land”. In conversation between them, innocent Alice asked megalomaniac Humpty Dumpty, What do you mean by this? The reply of Humpty Dumpty was “I mean what I choose to mean; nothing more or nothing less”.

(Author: Vijay Kumar, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court Of India and author of the recent book “The Theory Of Basic Structure: Saviour Of The Constitution And Democracy”)

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