Sarvajan Hitay Sarvajan Sukhay-For The Gain of The Many and For The Welfare of The Many
Online edition of India’s National Newspaper
Wednesday, Oct 31, 2007
Reservation needed for real equality, says Jethmalani
|Centuries of injustice to backward classes still continuing|
Court must respect legislative judgment
Total population of country is irrelevant
New Delhi: Providing 27 per cent quota for the Other Backward Classes in higher educational institutions is a constitutional necessity to ensure not formal or technical equality but real and substantial equality, senior counsel Ram Jethmalani argued in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Appearing for the intervenor, the Rashtriya Janata Dal in support of the Centre, Mr. Jethmalani said providing reservation for the OBCs was a fundamental feature of the Constitution, and it could not be attacked on the ground of violation of Article 15 (1) (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, etc).
“Caste is also a class of citizens and if the caste as a whole is socially and educationally backward, reservation can be made in favour of such a caste on that ground,” the former Union Law Minister told a Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan.
“Caste is also a class”
“Caste is a class in which an innocent human is trapped by birth over which he has no control and from which he cannot freely exit because the exit is blocked by a cruel and arrogant society,” he said.
“Past injustice done to the backward classes for centuries is still continuing and that injustice is required to be remedied. What is wrong in providing reservation to them? The present generation must make some sacrifices for the injustice done by their ancestors.”
Ridiculing the petitioners’ contention that reservation would perpetuate the caste system, Mr. Jethmalani said that on the contrary, the OBC quota would help in removing the inferiority status of certain castes.
“To make the portals of higher education available to pupils of backward classes is to equip them for equal competition with the rest of the student world. This is a legitimate constitutional goal.”
“A complex concept”
Mr. Jethmalani said the OBC law could not be declared ultra vires the Constitution merely because backwardness was a complex concept and no precise definition was possible. “This is a field in which the apex court must scrupulously respect legislative judgment and adopt a policy of nearly total non-interference. In fact, this court is bound to assume that a state of facts existed at the time of enactment of the statute, which would validate the statute. The court may differ with the views of the Legislature, but it cannot set aside a law on that ground.”
On the contention that no OBC figure was available after the 1931 census, he said, “The total population of a country is irrelevant. What is relevant is the percentage of the backward classes in the total population. Even assuming that OBC population was only 36 per cent [as contended by some petitioners], what is provided is only 27 per cent, still short of 9 per cent to have proportional representation.”
The percentage of backward classes must have increased if at all and would not have gone down. Judicial management was not capable of identifying the backward classes, and the court must adopt a “standoff policy.”
Arguments will continue on Wednesday.
The Blessed,Noble,Awakened One-The Tathagata
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi in Jeta’s Grove. Then he addressed the monks, “Monks, suppose there were four vipers of utmost heat & horrible venom. Then a man would come along — desiring life, desiring not to die, desiring happiness, & loathing pain — and people would tell him: ‘Good man, these four vipers, of utmost heat & horrible venom, are yours. Time after time they must be lifted up, time after time they must be bathed, time after time they must be fed,
time after time put to rest. And if any of these vipers ever gets angered with you, then you will meet with death or death-like suffering. Do what you think should be done.’
Then the man — afraid of the four vipers of utmost heat & horrible venom — would flee this way or that. They would tell him, ‘Good man, there are five enemy executioners chasing right on your heels, [thinking,] “Wherever we see him, we’ll kill him right on the spot.” Do what you think should be done.’
Then the man — afraid of the four vipers of utmost heat & horrible venom, afraid of the five enemy executioners — would flee this way or that. They would tell him, ‘Good man, there is a sixth executioner, a fellow-traveler, chasing right on your heels with upraised sword, [thinking,] “Wherever I see him, I’ll kill him right on the spot.” Do what you think should be done.’
Then the man — afraid of the four vipers of utmost heat & horrible venom, afraid of the five enemy executioners, afraid of the sixth fellow-traveling executioner with upraised sword — would flee this way or that. He would see an empty village. Whatever house he entered would be abandoned, void, & empty as he entered it. Whatever pot he grabbed hold of would be abandoned, void, & empty as he grabbed hold of it. They would tell him, ‘Good man, right now, village-plundering bandits are entering this empty village. Do what you think should be done.’
Then the man — afraid of the four vipers of utmost heat & horrible venom, afraid of the five enemy executioners, afraid of the sixth fellow-traveling executioner with upraised sword, afraid of the village-plundering bandits — would flee this way or that. He would see a great expanse of water, with the near shore dubious & risky, the further shore secure & free from risk, but with neither a ferryboat nor a bridge going from this shore to the other. The thought would occur to him, ‘Here is this great expanse of water, with the near shore dubious & risky, the further shore secure & free from risk, but with neither a ferryboat nor a bridge going from this shore to the other. What if I were to gather grass, twigs, branches, & leaves and, having bound them together to make a raft, were to cross over to safety on the other shore in dependence on the raft, making an effort with my hands & feet?’ Then the man, having gathered grass, twigs, branches, & leaves, having bound them together to make a raft, would cross over to safety on the other shore in dependence on the raft, making an effort with his hands & feet. Crossed over, having gone to the other shore, he would stand on high ground, a brahman.
“Monks, I have made this simile to convey a meaning. Here the meaning is this: ‘The four vipers of utmost heat & horrible venom’ stands for the four great existents: the earth property, the liquid property, the fire-property, & the wind property. ‘The five enemy executioners’ stands for the five clinging-aggregates: the form clinging-aggregate, the feeling clinging-aggregate, the perception clinging-aggregate, the fabrications clinging-aggregate, the consciousness clinging-aggregate. ‘The sixth fellow-traveling executioner with upraised sword’ stands for passion & delight.
“‘The empty village’ stands for the six internal sense media. If a wise, competent, intelligent person examines them from the point of view of the eye, they appear abandoned, void, & empty. If he examines them from the point of view of the ear… the nose… the tongue… the body… the intellect, they appear abandoned, void, & empty. ‘The village-plundering bandits’ stands for the six external sense-media. The eye is attacked by agreeable & disagreeable forms. The ear is attacked by agreeable & disagreeable sounds. The nose is attacked by agreeable & disagreeable aromas. The tongue is attacked by agreeable & disagreeable flavors. The body is attacked by agreeable & disagreeable tactile sensations. The intellect is attacked by agreeable & disagreeable ideas.
“‘The great expanse of water’ stands for the fourfold flood: the flood of sensuality, the flood of becoming, the flood of views, & the flood of ignorance.
‘The near shore, dubious & risky’ stands for self-identification. ‘The further shore, secure and free from risk’ stands for Unbinding. ‘The raft’ stands for just this noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. ‘Making an effort with hands & feet’ stands for the arousing of persistence. ‘Crossed over, having gone to the other shore, he would stand on high ground, a brahman’ stands for the arahant.”
Mara Meets His Match
The nun Soma has entered Andhavana (Blind Man’s Grove) near Savatthi to practice meditation. Mara, the embodiment of delusion, sees her there and desires to make her waver and abandon her concentration. He addresses her with a verse:
That which can be attained by seers — The place so hard to arrive at — Women are not able to reach, Since they lack sufficient wisdom.
What difference does being a woman make When the mind is well-composed, When knowledge is proceeding on, When one rightly sees into Dhamma? Indeed for whom the question arises: “Am I a man or a woman?” Or, “Am I even something at all?” To them alone is Mara fit to talk!
This, in my view, is the definitive statement in the Buddhist tradition regarding the equality of the sexes. Whatever other words have crept into the literature — from ancient times to the present — whatever attitudes may have been expressed by Theras, Lamas, Roshis or Teachers over the ages, this position of thoroughgoing equality in light of the Dhamma is plainly stated by Soma, one of the Buddha’s contemporary nuns.
Soma was the daughter of the chief priest of King Bimbisara of Magadha, and was an early convert to the Buddha’s teaching. She spent many years as a lay supporter before eventually becoming a nun, and achieved awakening — like so many of her sisters — not long after joining the order.
In this exchange Mara is clearly trying to provoke and discourage Soma, but only reveals his delusion. The expression he uses literally means “two fingers’ [worth]” of wisdom. It may originally have been a reference to the domestic task of checking if rice is cooked by examining it between the fingers, but here it is obviously used pejoratively to impugn that women are less capable of liberation. Soma not only refrains from getting offended (perhaps remembering Buddha’s teaching to always “forebear the fool”), but calmly points out how ludicrous the statement is when viewed in light of the Buddha’s higher teaching about the nature of personhood.
Doctrine-True Practice of The Path Shown by The Blessed,Noble,Awakened One-The Tathagata
So it’s here that our practice of contemplation will lead us to understanding. Let us take an example, the example of a fisherman pulling in his net with a big fish in it. How do you think he feels about pulling it in? If he’s afraid that the fish will escape, he’ll be rushed and start to struggle with the net, grabbing and tugging at it. Before he knows it, the big fish has escaped — he was trying too hard.
In the olden days they would talk like this. They taught that we should do it gradually, carefully gathering it in without losing it. This is how it is in our practice; we gradually feel our way with it, carefully gathering it in without losing it. Sometimes it happens that we don’t feel like doing it. Maybe we don’t want to look or maybe we don’t want to know, but we keep on with it. We continue feeling for it. This is practice: if we feel like doing it, we do it, and if we don’t feel like doing it, we do it just the same. We just keep doing it.
If we are enthusiastic about our practice, the power of our faith will give energy to what we are doing. But at this stage we are still without wisdom. Even though we are very energetic, we will not derive much benefit from our practice. We may continue with it for a long time and a feeling will arise that aren’t going to find the Way. We may feel that we cannot find peace and tranquillity, or that we aren’t sufficiently equipped to do the practice. Or maybe we feel that this Way just isn’t possible anymore. So we give up!
At this point we must be very, very careful. We must use great patience and endurance. It’s just like pulling in the big fish — we gradually feel our way with it. We carefully pull it in. The struggle won’t be too difficult, so without stopping we continue pulling it in. Eventually, after some time, the fish becomes tired and stops fighting and we’re able to catch it easily. Usually this is how it happens, we practice gradually gathering it together.
It’s in this manner that we do our contemplation. If we don’t have any particular knowledge or learning in the theoretical aspects of the Teachings, we contemplate according to our everyday experience. We use the knowledge which we already have, the knowledge derived from our everyday experience. This kind of knowledge is natural to the mind. Actually, whether we study about it or not, we have the reality of the mind right here already. The mind is the mind whether we have learned about it or not. This is why we say that whether the Buddha is born in the world or not, everything is the way it is. Everything already exists according to its own nature. This natural condition doesn’t change, nor does it go anywhere. It just is that way. This is called the Sacca Dhamma. However, if we don’t understand about this Sacca Dhamma, we won’t be able to recognize it.
So we practice contemplation in this way. If we aren’t particularly skilled in scripture, we take the mind itself to study and read. Continually we contemplate (lit. talk with ourselves) and understanding regarding the nature of the mind will gradually arise. We don’t have to force anything.
Spiritual Community of The Followers of The Path Shown by The Blessed,Noble,Awakened One-The Tathagata
The Eightfold Path is best understood as a collection of personal qualities to be developed, rather than as a sequence of steps along a linear path. The development of right view and right resolve (the factors classically identified with wisdom and discernment) facilitates the development of right speech, action, and livelihood (the factors identified with virtue). As virtue develops so do the factors identified with concentration (right effort, mindfulness, and concentration). Likewise, as concentration matures, discernment evolves to a still deeper level. And so the process unfolds: development of one factor fosters development of the next, lifting the practitioner in an upward spiral of spiritual maturity that eventually culminates in Awakening.
The long journey to Awakening begins in earnest with the first tentative stirrings of right view — the discernment by which one recognizes the validity of the four Noble Truths and the principle of kamma. One begins to see that one’s future well-being is neither predestined by fate, nor left to the whims of a divine being or random chance. The responsibility for one’s happiness rests squarely on one’s own shoulders. Seeing this, one’s spiritual aims become suddenly clear: to relinquish the habitual unskillful tendencies of the mind in favor of skillful ones. As this right resolve grows stronger, so does the heartfelt desire to live a morally upright life, to choose one’s actions with care.
At this point many followers make the inward commitment to take the Buddha’s teachings to heart, to become “Buddhist” through the act of taking refuge in the Triple Gem: the Buddha (both the historical Buddha and one’s own innate potential for Awakening), the Dhamma (both the Buddha’s teachings and the ultimate Truth towards which they point), and the Sangha (both the unbroken monastic lineage that has preserved the teachings since the Buddha’s day, and all those who have achieved at least some degree of Awakening). With one’s feet thus planted on solid ground, and with the help of an admirable friend or teacher (kalyanamitta) to guide the way, one is now well-equipped to proceed down the Path, following in the footsteps left by the Buddha himself.