General Editior: D. P. Chattopadhyaya
The volumes of the Project of History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization aim at discovering the main aspects of India's heritage and present them in an interrelated way. These volumes, in spite of their unitary look, recognize the difference between the areas of material civilization and those of ideational culture. The project is not being executed by a single group of thinkers and writers who are methodologically uniform or ideologically identical in their commitments. In fact, contributions are made by different scholars with different ideological persuastions and methodological approaches. The Project is marked by what may be called 'methodological pluralism'. In spite of its primarily historical character, this Project, both in its conceptualization and execution, has been shaped by many scholars drawn from different disciplines. It is for the first time that an endeavor of such a unique and comprehensive character has been undertaken to study critically a major world civilization like India.
The book traces the historical development of classical Indian moral philosophy from the Vedas onwards, covering the basic moral concerns of almost all classical thinkers and the schools they form. It also includes some such topics, like legal ethics, medical ethics, etc., which generally are not included in books on Indian ethics. The method of its presentation of ethical concepts, their interrelations, and. The theories they constitute, is non-technical, objective and fair to the contexts in which they were enunciated and developed. It is a cooperative work to which the best minds of India have contributed. Although it has been meticulously edited, its contributors have enjoyed full freedom to present their accounts as their own best judgment has led them to, and some of them have been quite critical of the classical theory or theories they have talked about. Its language being simple, it can be read with no difficulty by a reader, even if he has no schooling in philosophy, Indian philosophy or Indian history.
D.P. C hattopadhyaya, M.A., LL.B., Ph.D. (Calcutta and London School of Economics), D. Litt. (Honoris Causa), has researched, studied Law, Philosophy and History and taught at various Universities in India, Asia, Europe and the USA from 1954 to 1994. Founder-Chairman of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (1981-1990) and President-cum-Chairman of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla (1984- 1991), Chattopadhyaya is currently the Project Director of the multidisciplinary 96-volume PHISPC, Chairman of the CSC and Chairman of the Indian Philosophical Congress. He is a Life Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and a Member of the International Institute of Philosophy, Paris. Among his 35 books, athored 18 and edited 17, are Individuals and Societies; Individuals and Worlds; Sri Aurobindo and Karl Marx; Anthropology and Historiography of Science; Induction, Probability and Skepticism; Sociology, Ideology and Utopia; Societies, Cultures and Ideologies; Interdisciplinary Studies in Science, Society, Value and Civilization Dialogue and Philosophy of Science, Phenomenology and other essays. Besides, he has held high public offices, namely, cabinet minister and state governor
Rajendra Prasad, formerly senior professor of philosophy and head of the department of humanities and social sciences of Indian Institute of Technology (!.!.T.), Kanpur, has studied and researched on modern logic, moral philosophy and analytic philosophy in Indian and U.S. Universities. He has been awarded several fellowships and honours in India and abroad. He has published seven books, the most recent being A Conceptual Analytic Study of Classical Indian Philosophy of Morals, a predecessor of the present volume, in the same series of PHISPC. He has edited another book published by Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. In addition, he has to his credit more than a hundred research papers published in periodicals in India and abroad.
This book thematically flows from the Consciousness and Value volume in the long chain of works being written in the wide-ranging Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture (PHISPC). The first part of the parent volume, published as a separate works, is A Conceptual-Analytic Study of Classical Indian Philosophy of Morals. While the former was authored singly by me, the present book is a cooperative venture prepared with contributions by a number of scholars.
A cooperative volume is expected to benefit from the differing types of expertise possessed by the miscellany of its writers. In fact, in selecting the writers I had this possibility foremost in my mind. It made my task difficult because the practice of writing on classical Indian ethics as ethics, in the sense of an autonomous discipline, though closely related to some others, is still in its infancy in India. Most of those who write on this do so by treating it as an accompaniment of, or non-distinguishable from, classical Indian metaphysics or theology. This is because in many classical Indian works ethical, metaphysical, theological, etc., ideas have been discussed, or mixed together, though it is not true that Indian ethics cannot be presented as a discipline in its own right. Even in this work the reader may find some writers, particularly those who are Sanskritists, presenting Indian ethical ideas as components of the broad Indian metaphysical- theological corpus. But even then they have tried to make the individuality of Indian ethics clearly visible.
All through the volume care has been taken to present Indian ethics as depicted in classical works. This is true even of the chapters which are critiques of some classical view or views. The motive is to let the book give not only an authentic account of classical Indian ethics but also to enable it to function as a source-book for further studies and explorations.
As its title indicates, it is a work on the history of classical Indian ethics or philosophy of morals. The terms 'ethics', 'philosophy of morals', 'moral philosophy', etc., have been used synonymously in it. When there is any digression from this usage, it has been made amply clear by the context of the digression.
Of a historical study it is natural for its reader or reviewer to expect that its constituent chapters present the account of the themes they are about in a strictly chronological order. For reasons well-known to everyone interested in Indian philosophy, of which Indian ethics is a branch, this is not possible given the present-day status of our knowledge of the history of ancient or classical India. With most classical books of Indian philosophy it is not possible to exactly date when they were written, or completed, or compiled: only a rough periodization of the different philosophical or ethical trends of thinking IS possible. That is why each one of the contributors has given only a short account of the historicity of the ethical ideas which have been discussed by him in the chapter or Chapters he has contributed. In the placement of the chapters in the body of the book I have kept periodization in my mind but have also made some digressions because of what seems to me a good academic or conceptual reason. Similarly, a reviewer may consider, not having an independent chapter on the ethics in the Upanisad, immediately after the third chapter on 'Ethics in the Veda', a great lapse, or more specifically, a great historical lapse. In fact, this is, I admit, the practice in writing on Indian philosophy or ethics. Initially I too thought of following the beaten track, and got written an essay on Upanisadic ethics. But when I re-read the relevant Upanisads with a focus on their ethical context, I found that Upanisadic ethics did not differ from the ethics in Advaitic philosophical works. After consulting Professor R. Balasubramaniam, who totally agreed with me, I decided to include a single chapter on 'Ethics in the Upanisadic and Advaitic Philosophy' and requested Professor Balasubramanian himself to write it. He kindly agreed despite previous and heavy writing commitments. I take this more as an expression of his personal, younger-brother like regard for me than as an evidence of his mere academic interest in Upanisadic-Advaitic philosophy. This narrative will assure the reader that Upanisadic ethics has neither been ignored here, nor misplaced, but situated in the region which is its natural, conceptual, homeland.
The book also aims at giving a developmental account. This, it is hoped, has been achieved indirectly through the cumulative progression of different chapters. Since it is not a work authored by a single individual, it is not possible for the writer of a chapter to expressly say how the account given in it yields signs or suggestions for developing further some ideas presented in, or relevant to, the content of a chapter by another writer. This is obviously because the writer of a chapter does not know what another writer has said in the chapter he has written. But a careful reader who reads the book, or even some chapters of it, can very easily see how Indian ethical ideas have developed, or how Indian ethical thinking has sometimes been unified, by focusing its gaze on a particular theme or set of themes. To me this seems to be the only way in which a cooperative historical work can exhibit the lines of development in the way the discipline it is about, has taken its present shape.
All Dharrnasutras have not been written in anyone particular period of a century. Therefore, placing the chapters dealing with ethical ideas figuring prominently in them in a strictly chronological order does not seem to be feasible. Consequently, I have placed them and also Kautilya after the chapters dealing with ethics in the Mahiibharata and the Gitii, i.e. before the chapters which deal with ethics in the literature of the philosophical schools.
Some themes, generally not discussed in a work on the history of classical Indian ethics, have also been included. For example, ethics in Bhakti schools, assessment of some modern studies of classical Indian ethics, classical Indian medical and legal ethics, bio- ethics, ethics in the arts, interaction between classical Indian and Islamic, Christian, tribal, ethics, etc. Chapters dealing with these have been placed after those dealing with the ethics in philosophical schools. Perhaps for the first time these topics have found a place in a work on Indian ethics. Some of these may not have exclusively classical ideas, but their relevance and importance for understanding and evaluating classical Indian ethics cannot be denied.
The best scholars available in the country have contributed to the volume. Therefore, even if this is not seen as best work on the history of Indian ethics it is hoped that it is the best possible one, keeping in view the present-day stock of academic human resources. Each contributor was given sufficient time to complete his piece, and every piece included in the volume has been carefully and meticulously edited. Some changes, stylistic, structural, organizational, or conceptual, have been made in each one of the chapters, though without interfering in any substantive way with the view of it's author. Even when a contributor's interpretation of an issue was at variance with mine, I have let it remain unless it was textually unsustainable. All this has been done as per the terms laid down in the original letter of invitation to the contributions. A conscientious editor has to do such things, though they make his task much more arduous, so that a book emerging out of pieces contributed by several scholars does not turn out to be a mere compilation.
All the contributors chosen for the volume are Indian scholars. The number of Indian scholars, who consider the classical Indian contribution to ethics a matters of pride, is legion. But if the community of these scholars cannot write a history of Indian ethics, its members would have no logical as well as moral right to be proud of it. It is primarily for this reason that I did not seek help from some Anglo-American scholars with whom I have a good rapport.
I had planned to include in the work essays on 'Ethics in the Post-Valmikian Riimakathii Literature', 'Ethics in the Basic Puriinas, 'Ethics in Sanskrit literature', 'Ethics in Classical Indian Science', 'Ethics in Classical Indian Political-Administrative Practice', and 'Ethics in Unani Medical Practice'. I did invite some scholars to write on these subjects but was unable to include these as same scholars did not submit the promised scripts while others were unwilling to rework the matter as required by the standards of the volume. Thus, an important gap in the volume remains.
At every stage in the preparation of this book I have been in close touch with Professor D.P. Chattopadhyaya, the Chairman of PHIS PC and the Centre for Studies in Civilizations (CSC) , more as a friendly fellow-traveller than as the Chairman. His total agreement with the layout of the work prepared by me and inspiring encouragement to me whenever I have felt some difficulty in it's actualization have been a constant source of support to me. In particular Professor Chattopadhyaya's faith in my sincerity to safeguard the quality of the book at any cost enabled me to keep working on it even when my wife was undergoing treatment for her malignant tumour at Mumbai and Kanpur.
Professor Bhuvan Chandel, the Project Coordinator of PHIS PC and CSC, has also been very helpful to me in this work, and so has been her office staff, always courteous, prompt and sincere in their work-ethics. I very greatly appreciate their assistance.
I am thankful to all my contributors. It is because of their cooperation that the work has been completed.
My wife's strong will and unflinching faith during her suffering, my eldest son-in-law, Dr. A.K. Srivastava's devotion, and the wall of support formed by my children and grand children kept my spirit intact even during the period of my wife's treatment. If I flinched sometimes, it was because of some weakness in my own mental make-up.
No work is perfect and none should be, because it would then stop the possibility of any further progress in the area it belongs to. No claim is made here of the present work being the best of all. Any suggestion from a serious student for improving this in any respect will be appreciated and attended to.
It is understandable that man, shaped by Nature, would like to know Nature. The human ways of knowing Nature are evidently diverse, theoretical and practical, scientific and technological, artistic and spiritual. This diversity has, on scrutiny, been found to be neither exhaustive nor exclusive. The complexity of physical nature, life-world and, particularly, human mind is so enormous that it is futile to follow a single method for comprehending all the aspects of the world in which we are situated.
One need not feel bewildered by the variety and complexity of the worldly phenomena. After all, both from traditional wisdom and our daily experience, we know that our own nature is not quite alien to the structure of the world. Positively speaking, the elements and forces that are out there in the world are also present in our body-mind complex, enabling us to adjust ourselves to our environment. Not only the natural conditions but also the social conditions oflife have instructive similarities between them. This is not to underrate in any way the difference between the human ways of life all over the world. It is partly due to the variation in climatic conditions and partly due to the distinctness of production-related tradition, history and culture.
Three broad approaches are discernible in the works on historiography of civilization, comprising science and technology, art and architecture, social sciences and institutions. First, some writers are primarily interested in discovering the general laws which govern all civilizations spread over different continents. They tend to underplay what they call the noisy local events of the external world and peculiarities of different languages, literatures and histories. Their accent is on the unity of Nature, the unity of science and the unity of mankind. The second groups of writers, unlike the generalist or transcendentalist ones, attach primary importance to the distinctiveness of every culture. To these writers’ human freedom and creativity are extremely important and basic in character. Social institutions and the cultural articulations of human consciousness, they argue, are bound to be expressive of the concerned people's consciousness. By implication they tend to reject concepts like archetypal consciousness, universal mind and providential history. There is a third group of writers who offer a composite picture of civilizations, drawing elements both from their local and common characteristics. Every culture has its local roots and peculiarities. At the same time, it is pointed out that due todemographic migration and immigration over the centuries an element of compositeness emerges almost in every culture. When, due to a natural calamity or political exigencies people move from one part of the world to another, they carry with them, among other things, their language, cultural inheritance and their ways of living.
In the light of these facts, it is not at all surprising that comparative anthropologists and philologists are intrigued by the striking similarity between different language families and the rites, rituals and myths of different peoples. Speculative philosophers of history, heavily relying on the findings of epigraphy, ethnography, archaeology and theology, try to show in very general terms that the particulars and universals of culture are 'essentially' or 'secretly' interrelated. The spiritual aspects of culture like dance and music, beliefs pertaining to life, death and duties, on analysis, are found to be mediated by the material forms of life like weather forecasting, food production, urbanization and invention of script. The transition from the oral culture to the written one was made possible because of the mastery of symbols and rules of measurement. Speech precedes grammar, poetry prosody. All these show how the 'matters' and 'forms' of life are so subtly interwoven.
The PHISPC publications on History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization, in spite of their unitary look, do recognize the differences between the areas of material civilization and those of ideational culture. It is not a work of a single author. Nor is it being executed by a group of thinkers and writers who are methodologically uniform or ideologically identical in their commitments. In conceiving the Project we have interacted with, and been influenced by, the writings and views of many Indian and non-Indian thinkers.
The attempted unity of this Project lies in its aim and inspiration. We have in India many scholarly works written by Indians on different aspects of our civilization and culture. Right from the pre-Christian era to our own time, India has drawn the attention of various countries of Asia, Europe and Africa. Some of these writings are objective and informative and many others are based on insufficient information and hearsay, and therefore not quite reliable, but they have their own value. Quality and viewpoints keep on changing not only because of the adequacy and inadequacy of evidence but also, and perhaps more so, because of the bias and prejudice, religious and political conviction, of the writers.
Besides, it is to be remembered that history, like Nature, is not an open book to be read alike by all. The past is mainly enclosed and only partially disclosed. History is, therefore, partly objective or 'real' and largely a matter of construction. This is one of the reasons why some historians themselves think that it is a form of literature or art. However, it does not mean that historical construction is 'anarchic' and arbitrary. Certainly, imagination plays an important role in it.
But its character is basically dependent upon the questions which the historian raises and wants to understand or answer in terms of the ideas and actions of human beings in the past ages. In a way, history, somewhat like the natural sciences, is engaged in answering questions and in exploring relationships of cause and effect between events and developments across time. While in the natural sciences, the scientist poses questions about nature in the form of hypotheses, expecting to elicit authoritative answers to such questions, the historian studies the past, partly for the sake of understanding it for its own sake and partly also for the light which the past throws upon the present, and the possibilities which it opens up for moulding the future. But the difference between the two approaches must not be lost sight of. The scientist is primarily interested in discovering laws and framing theories, in terms of which, different events and processes can be connected and anticipated. His interest in the conditions or circumstances attending the concerned events is secondary. Therefore, scientific laws turn out to be basically abstract and easily expressible in terms of mathematical language. In contrast, the historian's main interest centers round the specific events, human ideas and actions, not general laws. So, the historian, unlike the scientist, is obliged to pay primary attention to the circumstances of the events he wants to study. Consequently, history, like most other humanistic disciplines, is concrete and particularist. This is not to deny the obvious truth that historical events and processes consisting of human ideas and actions show some trend or the other and weave some pattern or the other. If these trends and patterns were not there at all in history, the study of history as a branch of knowledge would not have been profitable or instructive. But one must recognize that historical trends and patterns, unlike scientific laws and theories, are not general or purported to be universal in their scope.
The aim of this Project is to discover the main aspects of Indian culture and present them in an interrelated way. Since our culture has influenced, and has been influenced by, the neighbouring cultures of West Asia, Central Asia, East Asia and South-East Asia, attempts have been made here to trace and study these influences in their mutuality. It is well known that during the last three centuries, European presence in India, both political and cultural, has been very widespread. In many volumes of the Project considerable attention has been paid to Europe and through Europe to other parts of the world. For the purpose of a comprehensive cultural study of India, the existing political boundaries of the South Asia of today are more of a hindrance than help. Cultures, like languages, often transcend the bounds of changing political territories.
If the inconstant political geography is not a reliable help to the understanding of the layered structure and spread of culture, a somewhat comparable problem is encountered in the area of historical periodization. Periodization or segmenting time is a very tricky affair. When exactly one period ends and another begins is not precisely ascertainable. The periods of history designated as ancient, medieval and modern are purely conventional and merely heuristic in character. The varying scopes of history, local, national and continental or universal, somewhat like the periods of history, are unavoidably fuzzy and shifting. Amidst all these difficulties, the volume-wise details have been planned and worked out by the editors in consultation with the Project Director and the General Editor. I believe that the editors of different volumes have also profited from the reactions and suggestions of the contributors of individual chapters in planning the volumes.
. Another aspect of Indian history which the volume-editors and contributors of the Project have carefully dealt with is the distinction and relation between civilization and culture. The material conditions which substantially shaped Indian civilization have been discussed in detail. From agriculture and industry to metallurgy and technology, from physics and chemical practices to the life sciences and different systems of medicines- all the branches of knowledge and skill which directly affect human life-form the heart of this Project. Since the periods covered by the PHISPC are extensive-prehistory, proto- history, early history, medieval history and modern history of India-we do not claim to have gone into all the relevant material conditions of human life. We had to be selective. Therefore, one should not be surprised if one finds that only some material aspects of Indian civilization have received our pointed attention, while the rest have been dealt with in principle or only alluded to.
One of the main aims of the Project has been to spell out the first principles of the philosophy of different schools, both pro-Vedic and anti-Vedic. The basic ideas of Buddhism, jainism and Islam have been given their due importance. The special position accorded to philosophy is to be understood partly in terms of its proclaimed unifying character and partly to be explained in terms of the fact that different philosophical systems represent alternative world-views, cultural perspectives, their conflict and mutual assimilation.
Most of the volume-editors and at their instance the concerned contributors have followed a middle path between the extremes of narrativism and theoreticism. The underlying idea has been this: if, in the process of working out a comprehensive Project like this, every contributor attempts to narrate all those interesting things that he has in the back of his mind, the enterprise is likely to prove unmanageable. If, on the other hand, particular details are consciously forced into a fixed mould or pre-supposed theoretical structure, the details lose their particularity and interesting character. Therefore, depending on the nature of the problem of discourse, most of the writers have tried to reconcile in their presentation, the specificity of narrativism and the generality of theoretical orientation. This is a conscious editorial decision. Because, in the absence of a theory, however inarticulate it may be, the factual details tend to fall apart. Spiritual network or theoretical orientation makes historical details not only meaningful but also interesting and enjoyable.
Another editorial decision which deserves spelling out is the necessity or avoidability of duplication of the same theme in different volumes or even in the same volume. Certainly, this Project is not an assortment of several volumes. Nor is any volume intended to be a miscellany. This Project has been designed with a definite end in view and has a structure of its own. The character of the structure has admittedly been influenced by the variety of the themes accommodated within it. Again it must be understood that the complexity of structure is rooted in the aimed integrality of the Project itself.
Long and in-depth editorial discussion has led us to several unanimous conclusions. First, our Project is going to be unique, unrivalled and discursive in its attempt to integrate different forms of science, technology, philosophy and culture. Its comprehensive scope, continuous character and accent on culture distinguish it from the works of such Indian authors as P.c. Ray, B.N. Seal, Binoy Kumar Sarkar and S.N. Sen and also from such Euro-American writers as Lynn Thorndike, George Sarton and Joseph Needham. Indeed, It would be no exaggeration to suggest that it is for the first time that an endeavour of so comprehensive a character, in its exploration of the social, philosophical and cultural characteristics of a distinctive world civilization-that of India-has been attempted in the domain of scholarship.
Second, we try to show the linkages between different branches of learning as different modes of experience in an organic manner and without resorting to a kind of reductionism, materialistic or spiritualistic. The internal dialectics of organicism without reductionism allows fuzziness, discontinuity and discreteness within limits.
Third, positively speaking, different modes of human experience-scientific, artistic, etc., have their own individuality, not necessarily autonomy. Since all these modes are modification and articulation of human experience, these are bound to have between them some finely graded commonness. At the same time, it has been recognized that reflection on different areas of experience and investigation brings to light new insights and findings. Growth of knowledge requires humans, in general, and scholars, in particular, to identify the distinctness of different branches of learning.
Fourth, to follow simultaneously the twin principles of: (a) individuality of human experience as a whole and (b) individuality of diverse disciplines, is not at all an easy task. Overlapping of themes and duplication of the terms of discourse become unavoidable at times. For example, in the context of Dharmasastra, the writer is bound to discuss the concept of value. The same concept also figures in economic discourse and also occurs in a discussion on fine arts. The conscious editorial decision has been that, while duplication should be kept to its minimum, for the sake of intended clarity of the themes under discussion, their reiteration must not be avoided at high intellectual cost.
Fifth, the scholars working on the Project are drawn from widely different disciplines. They have brought to our notice an important fact that has clear relevance to our work. Many of our contemporary disciplines like economics and sociology did not exist, at least not in their present form, just two centuries or so ago. For example, before the middle of 19th century, sociology as a distinct branch of knowledge was unknown. The term is said to have been coined first by the French philosopher Auguste Comte in 1838. Obviously, this does not mean that the issues discussed in sociology were not there. Similarly, Adam Smith's (1723-90) famous work The Wealth of Nations is often referred to as the first authoritative statement of the principles of (what we now call) economics. Interestingly enough, the author was equally interested in ethics and jurisprudence. It is clear from history that over time the nature and scope of different disciplines undergo change, at times very radically. For example, in India the term' Arthasdstra' does not mean the science of economics as understood today. Besides the principles of economics, the Arthasiistra of ancient India discusses at length those of governance, diplomacy and military science.
Sixth, we have tried to remain very conscious of what may be called indeterminacy or inexactness of translation. When a word or expression of one language is translated into another, some loss of meaning or exactitude seems to be unavoidable. This is true not only in the bilingual relations like Sanskrit-English and Sanskrit-Arabic, but also in those of Hindi-Tamil and Hindi-Bengali. In recognition of the importance of language- bound and context-relative character of meaning we have solicited from many learned scholars, contributions, written in vernacular languages. In order to minimize the miseffect of semantic inexactitude we have solicited translational help from those bilingual scholars who know both English and the concerned vernacular language, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali or Marathi.
Seventh and final, perhaps the place of technology as a branch of knowledge in the composite universe of science and art merits some elucidation. Technology has been conceived in very many ways, e.g., as autonomous, as 'standing reserve', as liberating or enlargemental, and alienative or estrange mental force. The studies undertaken by the Project show that, in spite of its much emphasized mechanical and alienative character- istics, technology embodies a very useful mode of knowledge that is peculiar to man. The Greek root words of technology are techne (art) and logos (science). This is the basic justification of recognizing technology as closely related to both epistemology, the discipline of valid knowledge, and axiology, the discipline of freedom and values. It is in this context that we are reminded of the definition of man as homo technikos. In Sanskrit, the word closest to techne is kala which means any practical art, any mechanical or fine art. In the Indian tradition, in Saiuatantra, for example, among the arts (kala) are counted dance, drama, music, architecture, metallurgy, knowledge of dictionary, encyclopaedia and prosody. The closeness of the relation between arts and sciences. Technology and other forms of knowledge are evident from these examples and was known to the ancient people. The human quest for knowledge involves the use of both head and hand. Without mind, the body is a corpse and the disembodied mind is a bare abstraction. Even for our appreciation of what is beautiful and the creation of what is valuable, we are required to exercise both our intellectual competence and physical capacity. In a manner of speaking, one might rightly affirm that our psychosomatic structure is a functional connector between what we are and what we could be, between the physical and the beyond. To suppose that there is a clear-cut distinction between the physical world and the psychosomatic one amount to denial of the possible emergence of higher logico-mathematical, musical and other capacities. The very availability of aesthetic experience and creation proves that the supposed distinction is somehow overcome by what may be called the bodily self or embodied mind.
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