IIT Kharagpur: Extreme choices and behaviors

Acharya Prashant
6 min readMay 17, 2022

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner (Q): I have observed a trend in the recent past that the number of people who are resorting to extremities — be it political, religious, or other social extremities — has increased in number. If we put things in a larger context, I think that this problem is going to emerge and haunt our culture specifically in the coming days.

I also see that extremity as behavior is penetrating things that were not extreme, to begin with, and this has been more of a reactive kind of mechanism. I am talking about the people who, for example, associate themselves with Sanatana Dharma, or people who associate themselves with other religious ideologies that are not extreme. They have resorted to extremities as a reaction because they see no other way out or for some other reason they cite.

So, do we, as a society, want to see ourselves develop in that fashion? How exactly should we have a vision of the future? Where exactly are we heading? And should we be heading that way?

Acharya Prashant (AP): See, every extreme denotes a thirst. Be it the extreme food consumption of somebody recuperating from a recent break-up, the extreme possessiveness of a protective husband, the extreme competitiveness of a job seeker, or the extreme anger of a jilted lover — all these extremes denote a thirst. Do you see this?

If today you are seeing so many extremes in all ways in the society, they are indicative of a central, common problem. And there is not just religious extremism, even global temperatures are rushing towards an extreme, and even sea levels are rushing towards an extreme, are they not? And I am inviting you to see that all these are interrelated.

The global forest cover currently stands at an extreme — what kind of an extreme? It is lower than it ever was in history. Global flesh consumption, both in absolute and per capita terms, today stands at an extreme. Humanity was never killing so many animals per minute ever throughout history; the average person was never consuming so much flesh ever in history. The quantum of weaponized fissile material in the world today stands at an extreme, does it not? Computer processing speed today stands at an…

Acharya Prashant