Voices Saturday, July 05, 2014 - 05:30
Dr.Ashoka Jahnavi Prasad | The News Minute | July 5, 2014 | 07:51 am IST  The registration of criminal cases against U.R.Ananthamurthy raises some very fundamental issues which need to be addressed. The literary figure had published a book more than 18 years ago in which he had recounted his experiences as a child when he wanted to give expression to opposition to any form of idol worship.  The book has been in circulation for all these years and gone into reprints. Until the time the case was registered , there was no suggestion of any offensive content within it. On June the 9th, The Vice Chancellor of the Kannada University ,Dr.Kalbargi made an observation in a public programme where he alluded to a tiny excerpt of this book entitled “Bettale Puje Yake Kudadhu” where Ananathamurthy revealed that as a child,he had once expressed his revulsion at idol worship by desecrating the village diety refusing to acknowledge its sacredness.  The first and the foremost thought that crossed my mind is whether Ananthamurthy actually did indulge in something of this nature . In the era that he describes , it would seem nothing short of audacious for a young boy to have indulged in a behaviour of this nature given the strong social sanctions that prevailed. It may well have been an act of bravado on his part or it could have just been an expression of his fertile imagination. The answer is that none of us would ever know. But the fact remains that there is no demonstrable evidence that this incident actually did take place . There are no witnesses who actually did see the village diety being desecrated -at least none have come forward so far.Mere declaration by an individual of a crime without any corroborating evidence of the crime ever having been committed cannot lead to conviction and this is in accordance with the fundamental principles of jurisprudence.At the most, Ananthamurthy can be cautioned and reprimanded for indiscretion but that is not the same as criminal conviction. On the other hand , it may well have been an incidence of imagination running amok in order to perform a psychological phenomenon known as wish-fulfillment.As a practicing psychiatrist and a Jungian analyst , I have come across dozens of cases where this phenomenon is rampant. And it is not a part of a recognizable psychiatric syndrome but can also be seen in otherwise balanced personalities who lapse into ephemeral bouts of uncharacteristic conduct. I am not in a position to comment on the case in question as I do not have the details nor have I had the advantage of having interviewed the subjects. But every psychoanalyst ,no matter which orientation (Freudia,Jungian,Object Relations etc), would recognize that during analysis ,most clients divulge the most primitive urges and thoughts and broadly a successful analysis is all about accepting and making peace with these urges when they invade the consciousness.Every individual harbours primitive feelings which invade the consciousness from time to time and have the potential to create problems. Carl Gustav Jung is regarded as one of the greatest figures in medicine who ever lived. Son of a Swiss clergyman and a very wealthy mother, he battled with visions that he sustained right from his childhood . It was his attempt to understand these visions that took him to psychiatric training and brought him close to Freud (he later parted company with him and established his own school of analysis). One of his most prominent visions was when he was a child and passing a church building, he imagined the form of God who was desecrating the church with excrement and the church building falling down. In attempting to understand this and other visions,he came to the conclusion that every human being harbours a collective unconscious which he labelled as 'universal archetype' and this is common in all humans all over the world. Dreams enable this collective unconscious to invade the conscious but it can also happen in a wakeful state. As I have indicated I am in no position to suggest whether this is indeed an example of wish fulfillment ,but we have to recognize that all of us carry primitive urges which influence our imaginative process. And what somewhat worries me is when I hear the person who lodged the complaint claim that even to harbour such imagination and making them public can be construed to be an affront to religion(at least that is what I understood). There is a large volume of literature containing details of what transpires during analysis-most of it quite lurid and more distasteful than this inopportune utterance by a public figure. Are we moving towards a stage where we would have to learn to exercise censor over our imaginative process! Jung was never hauled up before anyone for revealing his visions more than a hundred years ago. Mr.Ananthamurthy could be asked to provide evidence of what he claims he had done. And if he fails to do so as is likely, he should be asked to exercise discretion in future. But no censorship please-we are in the 21st century!
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