28 Apr 2003 jaldhar   » (Journeyer)

perl 6
My first perl 6 program. Check it out.

MichaelCrawford, Ankh
As a devout Hindu, and someone who belongs to a very traditional part of Indian society, I must warn you that the idea that mental health is better in India because of "meditation and insight" is bullshit.

For most of the rural poor mental healthcare amounts to little more than being locked away somewhere to rot. It just so happens that asylums are often located near places of pilgrimage but this is more so the inmates can find support through begging than any religious imperative.

Also there can be mental issues but taking different forms. Take for example the condition of women. You cannot make a blanket statement about the whole country but it is true that in many cases women are in a subordinate position socially. But you have the phenomon of possession by a Goddess. I've seen this in Temples in America too. During a festival, with the premises packed, and after several hours of intense chanting and praying, a women, typically middle-aged and married, will suddenly start moving violently and speaking in a strange voice. People will say (in Gujarati) "Mataji avya chhe." (Mother has come.) Through the woman the Goddess will deliver some oracle. One way to look at this might be as some kind of disorder but why not look at it as a culturally sanctioned way of establishing womens worth? Men may be able to dismiss a silly girl but they cannot argue with the Mother of the Universe!

Having said all that actually I do agree that mental health is overall better in India and religion is the cause. But the reason is not that individualistic meditation is taught. (That has tradionally been the domain of solitary monks. If it has changed in resent times it is more due to California than the Himalayas.) Rather the central value is Dharma which is primarily about ritual acts and social obligations. One defines oneself by ones network of social relationships ranging from in the family to in the cosmos. Thus people feel secure knowing where they are in the grand scheme of things. Of course it is not a panacea (in particular it sucks if you are at the bottom of the social heap) but I think the lack of community, real community not rhetoric, makes Westerners more vulnerable to mental stress.

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