Octavio Paz, Mexico's Nobel-Winning Poet, was that Country's Ambassador to India until he resigned in 1968 to protest the Mexican government's massacre of protesting students at Tlatelolco Plaza.
His reflections here are excerpted from his just published memoirs, In Light of India (Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1997). Use with Permission.
Mexico City - In the West, since the end of the 18th century, change has been overvalued. Traditional India, like the old European societies, prized immutability. For the Indian philosophical tradition, whether Buddhist or Hindu, impermanence is one of the signs of the imperfection of human beings and of al living things. Even the gods themselves are subject to the fatal law of change. On of the values of caste, for traditional Hindu thinking, was precisely its resistance to change. The center of the caste system. I repeat, is religious: the notion of purity. Purity depends, in turn, on the belief in karma: We are responsible for our past lives. Caste is one of the links in the chain of births and rebirths that makes up existence, a chain of which all living things are part. Brahmans and Kshatriyas are superior because they have been born as humans at least twice. They have already traveled part of the way on the difficult road of births and deaths.