The abstract of KSB's article is introduced in Part-1. You can read the paper within the e-Group if still available.
Here is another overview of KSB's work in the public domain.
Here is the link to the original thread.
Here is the link to the followup thread.
We first present excerpts from Rajiv's initial response.
"1. New age: The author, KSB, relies mainly on new age sources, not serious scientists or serious Indian philosophers. Capra's 1975 book is his main source. Though it was indeed a best seller in pop circles, it was superficial in its content. ... but after him there has been a more serious development that KSB seems unaware of and must delve into – see item 3 below.
... I pointed out myself that Capra is of New Age literature. I also outlined how many Indian intellectual followed him, with ample proofs in bottom page note and in the chapter on Capra. That more recent and relevant work has been done I am also aware, especially outside of India. The literature that I reviewed, if one examines my quoted sources, is older for some cases and recent for others, and of Indian origin. Still, Capra's model is in most case quoted and often copied.
Indeed. It appears to me that the Indian intellectuals that we are referring to here are simply unaware of what is the New Age movement (purpose and nature). ...
I personally find this information of yours inspiring and would like to know the name of the second author... or even help you out in your research in some ways if you deem me fit for the task. Just like you, I believe that the subject
(science and philosophy) is becoming hot-soup in the West, judging by the amount of popular works published by renowned scientists. One problem remains. Most Westerners, especially in "scientific" fields, have little knowledge of Sanskrit and of its original traditions of debate. What is more, their knowledge often comes from second or third hand sources. This was also true for Schopenhauer and
the like who had access to limited sources but who are often quoted by Indian intellectuals....
But otherwise, this comment is a digression from the subject of my paper.
I do not feel there is anything I can add here. It is not directly related to the paper, but I understand the concerns and would be interested in knowing more.
I tend to agree with you here as well. ..
I personally do not feel the need to "reverse" any process, as I am not immediately interested in claiming anything...Again, I come back to this; my issue for the moment is one of
On this point, it suffices for me to say that I do not rely on Miss Nanda but felt necessary to quote her since she wrote on the issue. This is simply being fare [sic]. In fact, I simply mentioned her book title and did not use her work...
This comment comes as a surprise to me.
On page 10 of my paper, one can read:
Not only did I say this, but I quoted in bottom page note all the books that he wrote in relation to Indian thought.
In fact, anyone who reads Guénon, and since I am originally French speaking I read him in his own language, cannot fail to know that he was highly inspired by Indian thought and that he used it to promote his views. Guénon quoted many
Indian texts and never hided his debt to it. In all cases, I do not feel the need to defend him here, ...
It is a complete surprise for me to hear that you believe that the Perennialists did not acknowledge their debt to Indian thought, as most of them saw in the Vedanta the expression of ultimate truth. I look forward to hear about the Infinity Foundation book.
..I do not decide what is to be kept or
rejected. History will do. I selected a few and analyzed their rhetoric (one sample only in this paper). I believe that they represent some popular opinions and some opinions also shared by academics. Some of these authors are indeed
teachers and academics. ..
I understand in one way: Sanskrit tradition does not need scientific approval. It stands on its own. I agree.
I do not understand in another way: the whole debate here is that Sanskrit philosophical traditions could contribute to scientific knowledge in some ways. But how? So I do not understand why you say that it is irrelevant.
In fact, in the paper, I do not take position on this. I simply mention the fact that there is continuity. I tend to agree with you about the "progress", although I would call it adaptation or "accommodation". My objective, in the paper, was simply to show that there is a possible continuity between ancient
doxographers and modern writers on philosophy and science. ...
I do not find in my text anything that suggests this interpretation. doxography is a practical word used for a very precise type of philosophical literature. It is fully explained in the paper. However, if you were to find a better expression you are welcome to suggest it. I will take note of it.
....I am talking about a specific "genre" for which I provided classical examples that fit the definition.
For this I am certain. I also noticed it. This is why I believe that we should understand better what is the nature and purpose of doxography and how to use this style properly, in a modern context, or not at all. ...
I thank you very much for the time that you have taken in this exercise. It is very generous of you. I am curious as to why you believe that there are no other better Indian experts that I could interview....
1. Rajiv response: Pointing out that Capra is new age is unimportant when he has used Capra and Capra's Indian fans as his benchmark for Indian science. Since we both agree that Capra is new age, why has he not sidestepped Capra after a brief mention and moved on to more substantial thinkers.
2. Rajiv response: Many metro university folks in India, Sanskrit included, are products of Western education including western approaches to sanskrit. WU has indeed become exported very successfully to the Indian intellectuals incl those who speak on behalf of Indian traditions. This is true of academics, media, gurus, acharyas (the world trotting ones at least). Provoking them to understand difference and to reverse the gaze is not going to be easy - because it makes them squirm at their own foolish assumptions.
> " But otherwise, this comment is a digression from the subject of my paper."
Rajiv response: The final sentence is disappointing because it means he did not get my point at all. My point is that rater than relying upon the Capra level of writers, he ought to study the westerners who have digested Indian traditions and made it into "western thought" while hiding their Indian sources. On the one hand he is looking for better sources than he used. On the other hand he finds the digesters to be a diversion. THIS ATTITUDE IS THE VERY REASON I AM WRITING ON DIGESTION. I want to show that western scholars CANNOT ignore the Indian traditions that are now prevalent in the form of "Western". For example, virtually every American textbook on Hinduism fails to mention yoga and meditation in their treatment of Hinduism. It is simply assumed that these have become digested and one need not bother explaining them as part of Hinduism. So if you point this omission out, people like KSB will consider that a digression. If the subject of his paper if Indian sources of science, he cannot do a legitimate treatment while ignoring what has been and is currently being digested.
I will stop here. Let others join the discussion also. The above points if taken seriously are enough to call the entire approach of the paper into question. if the sources relied upon are straw men that serve one's agenda, the results can be made into whatever one wants. While such western scholarship is widespread and I dont think we can change it, my purpose is to educate Hindus who tend to be ignorant and naive."
KSB's 2nd followup to Rajiv:
"Mr. Bouthillette's response:
Here I must mention again that my sole interest was to review Indian sources, as mentioned in the paper. If Indian writers on the subject are disliked by some, for good or bad reasons, is irrelevant. ...Now, it happens that most Indian sources were quoting Capra and this is why I spent some time discussing the validity of his work for scientific purposes.
The digression I was mentioning referred to the fact that my paper was limited in scope. It was dealing with a particular topic and a delimitated choice of sources. ... I am not to judge about "straw men" or "real Hindus". I have no agenda it could benefit to. But these writers were definitely Indian and my intention was to examine what is being done in India by Indians, not elsewhere. Therefore, in this limited space, I reviewed and talked only about Indian writers of modern attempts to bridge science and philosophy. I see no problem there and no reason to dismiss the whole paper on that ground."
Would appreciate it if Mr.Bouthillette could clarify what he means when he says people like Schopenhauer relied on "second-hand and thid-hand sources". What were these sources ? Are there reasons to discredit them ?....
Mr. Bouthillette's response:
What I mean here, for the case of Schopenhauer, is that he only had a badly translated copy of some Upanishads, coming from Persian sources and not Sanskrit. Also, in his time, scholarship on the issue was limited. So the chances of misunderstanding were high.
Mr. Balakrishnan's response:
5 references fom the EPW, 3 from Nanda. And none from the works of Western scientists like Schopenhauer, Heisenberg, Oppenheimer, Einstein and Tesla. These men clearly saw something the Mr.Bouthillette didn't. Plus, the two works he
takes as examples to further his points are hardly considered the final authority on everything Hindu.
Mr. Bouthillette's response:
... Is there a "final authority on everything Hindu"?
You see, my paper wanted simply to open a new way of reading/analyzing the discourse, in Indian ground, on science and philosophy. Therefore, I used Indian sources.
Mr. Balakrishnan's response:
These statements belie almost a paranoia on Mr. Bouthillette's part. Such fears for science as he expresses are more becoming of the Church and not Hinduism. Hinduism has never tried to "subordinate science". And what "complete sapping of the foundations of the Vedic worldview" is he talking about ? Can he be more specific about what aspects of the Vedic worldview are under the immediate
proven threat of science ? Doesn't the "integral unity" (to use Rajivji's phrase) of all of Nature, as espoused in the Vedas, albeit through the pervasiveness of divinity ("Ishavaasyam idam sarvam yatkinchjagatyam jagat") become more evident as one probes deeper into life, or farther into the cosmos ?
Mr. Bouthillette's response:
For the "complete sapping of the foundations of the Vedic worldview". This is open for debate and this was intended as such, this is why I have put a question mark. I was asking if some of these writers on the subject are trying to promote
a Vedic view out of a perceived treat. I did not answer the question. There is no paranoia in asking questions. Although I agree that other questions could also be asked and other openings made. In my view, this is not the strongest part of the paper and should be worked on further, maybe in a later piece of work, in a wider research. I was only providing what we call "openings" for further questions and angles of approach related to Jaffrelot's observations."
Mr. Balakrishnan's response:
And what about emiment physicists and neuroscientists who have benefited in their science after a study of the Vedic world view, the Gita etc. Mr. Bouthillette never quotes their works. And the reason for that ?
Mr. Bouthillette's response:
...This was not the purpose of this specific paper.
Mr. Balakrishnan's response:
As Rajivji has indicated, these statements of Mr. Bouthillette, indeed the tone he adopts throughout his paper, the two works he selects to make his case, the references he has used for his paper, his averment that those he has interacted with seem to be unware of the world beyond India etc. all point to a deliberate attempt on his part to choose his sources such that he can the see what he has pre-decided he wants to see. Creating strawmen, as Rajivji puts it....
KSB's response to Sumant:
Mr. Bouthillette's response:
I have selected a quantity of Indian sources for I wanted to examine what has been done IN INDIA. Now, if these sources are disliked by some, this is not relevant. They are written, they exist, they are many and many more will definitely come again... I also mentioned in a long bottom page note how the
same views are expressed in many seminars IN INDIA and therefore felt that it was relevant to analyse this phenomenon.
If this phenomenon is disliked by some, again, it is simply normal and those who do not want to talk about or learn about such a phenomenon should avoid reading or discussing about it. But the accusation of blindness would rather fall upon
them. I find it interesting that the paper creates such a reaction. It seems that it touches upon some sensibilities and for this reason I believe that it was a meaningful exercise and that these sensibilities should be examined further. ..."
KSB's responds to Sumant:
"I would be interested in knowing what you consider to be "Hinduism" and what it is not, as it seems very dear to you who are posing as a defender of such an "ism". You talk about it as a single entity, almost as a person, and I find your view fascinating.
... It is completely irrelevant to the purpose of my research, which was simply to analyse the rhetoric of the discourse found within Indian sources on philosophy and science. Ill-intentions, if there are any, are those that would try to portray this paper as something that it is not.
I hope that you understand my point better and do not doubt my honesty anymore"
Wadhwa adds to Sumant's point:
" Remarks of Mr. Bouthillette about Arya Samaj movement "assimilating the other's practices to resist him more effectively" are born out of his ignorance of the overall scope of Vedic knowledge and the Vedic mission of Maharishi Dayananda. According to the Chhandogya Upanishad Vedic studies comprise of natural science, physics, chemistry, science of numbers, chronology, science of logic, science of polity, grammar, etymology, sciences cognate to the Vedas(Vedang), botany, zoology, anthropology, fine arts, science of war, science of spirituality, etc.(Source: "On the Vedas - A Clue to understanding of the Vedas" by Swami Vidyananda Saraswati, Formerly, Fellow Punjab University, pub.by Vijaykumar Govind Ram Hasanand, New Delhi). ...."
"Why does the author often mention "Western" Sciences, even in his Abstract? Are these sciences not based on Indian maths? And are there not scientists in the East who contributed substantially to modern science? Or (tongue in cheek) does he refer to the fact that "western" sciences started after the discovery that the earth is round only some 500 years ago, and that they still try to catch up with Indian sciences, which knew (mentioned in the Rg Veda) thousands of years ago that the earth is round??
My overall impression of his thesis is that the author seems to be somewhat apprehensive that Indian philosophies might indeed prevail and prove superior. To pre-empt Indian academics from thinking this way, he gives it a political tilt by assuming that the purpose is to "unite and conquer" and that there is a link between the interest in science and nationalism"
Sumant's 1st followup to KSB's responses:
"1) The scope of your current paper is narrow. You have stated as much a few times in your responses, both to Rajivji's mails and to mine. By implication, the references you have picked up are such that they suit the narrow confines of your current paper.
I hope that answers your question."
"...2) ... note that Mr. Bouthillette seems to engage in the same method of "classifying and discussing his opponent's view" that he alleges Jitatmananda and Sadananda to be engaged in.
Mr.Bouthillette says: "I chose this example since the method of SadÃ„ nanda in classifying and discussing his opponent's view is reflected in the Modern Physics and VedÃ„ nta of Jitatmananda .....Â (2) it mentions only what it needs of the opponent's view in order to make its point; ... Although I am conscious that all of the ancient doxographical literature cannot be narrowed down to a single example, I am strictly interested here in highlighting a basic structural pattern of argumentation that is common to most ancient doxographies and that seems to have inspired modern attempts at comparing science and Indian philosophy."
To take on point (2) in the above part -
...Sadananda's Vedantasara discusses Sankara's advaita world-view and technical details such as the nature of maya, prajna, iswara etc. Out of more than 225 Sutras, there are only about 10 - 15 sutras that appear late in the work meant to be "doxographical" in nature. It is almost as if Sadananda Saraswati also included the representations of other darshanas as a side note and in brief. Therefore, to consider this work "doxographical" and to further extrapolate the nature of this work as "basic structural pattern of argumentation that is common to most ancient doxographies" is simply stretching it too far.
Mr.Bouthillette clearly himself "mentions only what he needs of the opponent's view in order to make its point"
3) I also find the following part of the article to be a product of either lazy research, simple misunderstanding or bad translation - "For example, the Sunyavadins are said to have recourse to the following statement of the ChÃ„ ndogya UpaniÃ¢"Å“ad 6.2.1: "asad-eva-idam-agra aasit" (in the beginning there was non-existence). It is difficult to believe that a Buddhist proponent of Sunya would quote the Vedas..."
Sadananda never claims the Sunyavadins to be quoting this at all! He attributes a Vedic quotation to every darshana believing the darshana to be in tune with the particular quote. It is HIS opinion that the quote matches the darshana and he never says it to be the opinion of the sunyavadins.Â Whether the quote itself is relevant or not is up for discussion but to say he claims the sunyavadins to be quoting form the Vedas is absolute fiction. Bouthillette is creating a straw man and lashing out at it.
4) Bouthillette's responses when challenged are equally disappointing. He pleads "When one writes a paper, one chooses his scope." He, however, offers no such magnanimity to Sadananda. He expects Sadananda to handle everything to do with Bouddha, Charvaka mata etc. in a literary work that is not even meant to be entirely "doxographical" and he complains "The stanzas defining the purvapakshas are extremely brief. The opponent's view is reduced to a minimum, barely more than one to three crucial words to which is added an illustrating example." Sadananda obviously assumes his audience to already be aware of the purvapakshas.
Bouthillette continues to further mete out the same step-motherly treatment to Jitatmananda too and calls the reproduced Paul Davies quote as "an extreme simplification of Western scientific (and de facto intellectual) history". If so, may we please know from him what his version of "Western scientific history" is?
5) He also says "my paper is meant to be an introduction to a further, more elaborated, research". And yet, he finds it completely alright to inform his readers of his already extrapolated conclusions when he says this alleged "pattern of argumentation" is "common to most ancient doxographies". Could you please show us your "more elaborated, research" before burdening your reader with your wild extrapolations, Mr.Bouthillette?
7) I also find Mr. Bouthillette's "define Hinduism" challenge extremely amusing. This is a game some people often like to play. Oh, but what is Dharma? Oh, but define Hinduism. I'm not saying Bouthillette is playing this game here but he might inadvertently be doing so. ... Now, on that same front, could he define"Western Science" for me?
8) Again, like I said at the very beginning Bouthillette's entire premise is arguably weak. Indian traditions have never been opposed to / wary of science. The west suffered a great deal when the so called modern science clashed against Christianity and the Islamic world is still coming to terms with, again so called, modern science. No such thing ever happened in India or will ever happen. ... "
"Doctrinal purity is at the heat of author's research. This is a serious concern at the philosophical level but less so at the level of practitioners. Author's research life is driven by the core principle that systems whose doctrines are in conflict cannot coexist. Author's central goal in his current research is to show that there are some doctrines of science that are in conflict with the doctrines of Vedanta. His long-term goal in research is to suggest that multiple philosphical systems under Dharma or Hinduism are also in mutual conflict in core doctrines. This is what he means when he says "What is Hinduism?". It is not a question but a challenge.
- "There is no such thing as Hinduism. This was a modern construction by Brahmins as part of nationalism against the British." This is a very common genre - starting with Brian Penington's book "Was Hinduism Invented?" ....
- In the name of "diversity of dharma", what many scholars are selling is the incoherence of dharma. They do it in such a manner that many Hindus find it to be a complement, failing to read between the lines. The goal is to emphasize how one dharma system refutes another, how one caste fights another, how one social organization commits violence against another. This internal fragmentation is emphasized as endemic and inherent in dharma, not as something caused by historical events that had nothing to do with dharma.
- Those who demonstrate the unity of dharma are accused of constructing homogeneity. Hence, they are totalitarian and this gets conflated with modern social violence as something they cause.
I have been through numerous such encounters for 20 years or longer. BD's strategy was designed based on those encounters. Even those westerners who do lip service to the idea of reversing the gaze cannot tolerate it beyond a point. (There are some exceptions I know.)
The reason is that in BD the West is shown to lack coherence. It is a synthetic construct, the result of centuries of violence against others and digestion of others. It also shows that digestion is the process by which the west establishes its own coherence and simultaneously dismantles the coherence of its prey. So the civilizational discourse thus far has often been a war to establish which side is coherent and which side is not. My thesis is seen as outrageous and dangerous to Western Universalism. It has to be attacked.
Such attacks will come from some persons. But there are also many other Westerners who agree with BD's approach and see it as taking the debate further than ever before on Indian terms. On the other hand, I constantly face Westernized Indian elites (including many who are very Hindu in their personal lives) who debate me from the Western camp. So stage-5 of the UTurn - in which WU gets re-exported back to India and planted there as the gospel truth - has been very successful.
Stay tuned. It is going to get more interesting....."
KSB provides a detailed response:
"... For that purpose I will come to the latest remarks of Mr. Malhotra and Rajesh A.
1) Deny Single Identity to the Other.
2) Exaggerate the Differences making them into Fault-lines.
3) Describe Other's Reaction to such Divisiveness as Predatory and Homogenizing!
1) This is a kind of critical analysis that has been developed for classical studies (the field in which I started my formation) and for Biblical studies. I see nothing wrong in such a method, if ample proofs are there. Nonetheless I tend to find these discussions somehow dry and not immediately relevant to the
main discussions attributed to these "authors". I personally do not put too much importance on the exact authorship of the text and prefer to focus on the history of ideas rather than of people. If an idea has been accepted, formulated and distributed it becomes relevant to analyze it. ....
2) Here, I would balance the claim. Some people did exaggerate some differences, while others downplayed them. Dialectic can be useful in fostering a better understanding. By contrasting a doctrine with another, we might better value
their originality and specifics. But to reify these "differences" to an extreme would provide a wrong picture in many cases.
3) I am not sure what the exact claim here is, therefore I will not comment too much. I will simply use the opportunity to come back to my paper.
My point was exactly to show that the "the modern Indian interest in unifying ancient philosophies and Western Sciences is the continuation of a long process of systematic attempts by Indian thinkers to combine all the known authoritative systems of thought under a unified and coherent world view that not only safeguards the foundation of their age-old tradition, often at the cost of doctrinal aberration, but that promotes itself as superior to any other competing discourse."
Sanskrit tradition (a terminology that I prefer to "Hinduism" or "Dharma") is the longest living philosophical, religious, cultural, etc... human tradition.
-The Egyptians, Mayan, etc... are gone.
-The Chinese seem to have renounced their heritage.
-The Greco-Roman world is no more.
On the Indian philosophical landscape, many new ideas have emerged, sometimes competing with one another, sometimes in isolation. The debates have allowed all school to borrow from one another and to strengthen their views over thousands
of years (for some schools).
Now, the specific genre of "doxographical" literature, which is only one type of texts among many other, has contributed in organising and systematizing such a complex and diverse range of topics and schools. There is absolutely nothing
wrong in that.
As philosophical and polemical treatise, these texts tend to favor the particular school to which belong its author (the first one, Haribadra, was a Jain... there was Buddhists as well as Vedantins who also write similar texts, all favoring their own school, simply by being fair to their beliefs). From this kind of texts came the idea of the 6 darshanas and so on. This was an attempt at organising and assimilating ideas ...
Now, my point in my paper was to say that this kind of literature, which played an important role in the formation of the identity of each school, is being revived under the umbrella of the debate with science...
We could reuse the doxographical model of debate without the need to promote the particular school of the author (finding a way to be more neutral). As for doctrinal aberrations, they unavoidably happen any time new ideas are introduced
and assimilated, and it will continue to be so. But generations of thinkers, one after the other, will work in explaining away such difficulties. It seems to be the best way to maintain a tradition alive: not fixing it forever, but allowing changes and new ideas to be assimilated. It seems that this is what allowed the Sanskrit tradition to stay alive for so long and over a far reaching area.
Therefore, in my view again, we should study the ancient doxographical methods, learn from them, modernise them, and produce a mode of debate with a methodology and terminology consistent with ancient thought and relevant to the modern scientific discourse. What is more, it would be an original contribution of India, once more, to the advancement of knowledge.
I do not understand why this should be perceived as any kind of Western prejudice. it is certainly not a desire to prove that Science and Sanskrit culture can not be compatible. I believe in the exact opposite ...."
Kundan provides more feedback:
" I agree with Karl-Stephen that Capra is a perennialist—he reduces the plurality and diversity present among the “eastern” “spiritual” traditions to a mere caricature which most modern pernnialists beginning with Huxley are prone to do. Forget about the eastern traditions, even the Indian yogic traditions show a tremendous diversity and plurality among themselves. But this should not mean that these traditions do not show commonalities and similarities in approach and methodology towards the pursuit of the “unknown.”
- On this forum itself, I had once remarked that it is “difference anxiety from below” which makes Indians seek the clutch of science to emphasize on the modernity and advancement of Indian spiritual traditions. I had also remarked that we need to free ourselves from this “difference anxiety.” Having said the above, it does not once again mean that the Indian spiritual traditions do not share some characteristic with science, in particular pre-popperian science. For example, science, particularly at the time when Swami Vivekananda, was lecturing emphasized on the “direct experience’ of reality in order for that truth to be accepted within the canons of science. Hacker, Halbfass, and later Rambachan wrote reams asserting that this aspect of Vedanta was invented by Swami Vivekananda to make it compatible with Science. It is the greatest lie. “Pratyaksha pramana” and experience or “anubhava” of Vedantic reality has been of supreme importance in this, like all other yogic traditions of India. I write the above to show that assertions of some of the “Neo-Hindus” as Hacker likes to call them were not predominantly inspired due to nationalism and nationalistic assertion but because of certain truths that the Indian yogic tradition has held sacred since most certainly the Upanishads. [It is interesting to note that Rambachan and Pennington attacked BD at AAR a few weeks later in November 2012, and this discussion by Kundan is relevant to that debate in Chicago]
- As far as the unifying tendencies of the Hindus are concerned, this thread has been alive in them since the time they discovered the concept of Self—one Consciousness that has become the many. This unifying thread has been present in the Gita as well, which is a synthesis of the yogic traditions of the time, for instance Sankhya and yoga. Thus, this unifying thread present in Hinduism is not seven hundred years old only as Karl-Stephen says on page 12 but has a much earlier legacy. And may I add that the attempt is not doxographical. Let me give you a concrete example. In the modern times, Sri Aurobindo has unified many strands of Indian spiritual traditions like Buddhism, different schools of Vedanta, different kinds of yoga, Tantra etc. In the process, he has refuted the partial truths of many different traditions from an integral perspective. Now anyone who is familiar with these traditions would know that he has neither misrepresented them nor caricatured them. A correct representation of the all the traditions is very much there. It is time that Karl-Stephen begins to do some serious reading of these texts and not base his knowledge on known Hindu-baiters like Hacker in creating straw men and then beating them. Since yogis do not operate in a strict duality of right/wrong and true/false (the transcendence of binaries and mind that operates in such binaries) is an integral aspect of the yogic traditions, particularly the ones that are rooted in Vedanta. Therefore you will find that a refutation of a particular system does not mean its complete negation. In most circumstances, the negation of a particular view has lead to its assimilation—this is the “progress” of the Hindu civilization. But I am sorry to say this advancement of knowledge is much more than doxography. I recommend the writings of Sri Aurobindo to Karl-Stephen. Once he is through with his voluminous writings, he himself will get the “pramana” and know what I am talking about.
- Karl-Stephen says, “The "Neo-Hindus", in which we could add many more names, like Aurobindo or Nataraja Guru, have been particularly influential in the promotion of a dialogue between Indian philosophy and Western sciences. Their authority within the same New Age circles that inspired Capra is also undeniable.” Karl-Stephen in the above only exposes his ignorance of the writings of Sri Aurobindo....
- Karl-Stephen writes “Observing how these modern philosophical writings share striking features with ancient doxographical attempts, not only in regard to their style and purpose but to the dynamic socio-religious environment in which they developed, lead me to believe that a considerable portion of the current Indian trend of comparative attempts that aim at unifying modern sciences and Indian philosophies can be said to be a new manifestation, consciously or not, of doxographical literature and, in parallel, one more attempt at promoting Hindu unity.” Karl-Stephen seems to be in the line of authors who are quite invested in showing how the unifying thread in Hinduism is a social construct. This movement gained momentum through the writings of Hacker (it has a much earlier antecedent in the colonial writings of Mill) who tried to show that the assertions of “Neo-Hindus” (a term which actually is an oxymoron because Hinduism has never been frozen in time to begin with) came about in primarily response to European contact.
- Karl-Stephen is oblivious of the doxographical methodology that he has used in making his contentions. He is blatantly selective of the numerous Vedantic texts that are extant even today—out of them he selects two that serve the polemical nature of his arguments. Interestingly both these texts are so obscure that only a few Indians would have even heard of them.
- Karl-Stephen’s paper is agenda based. For centuries, the western historians have been crying hoarse that the seeds of the evolution of western society lie in Greek thought. After the renaissance, it is a common western assertion that there has been a constant progress in philosophy and science of the western world which has gone in certain stages. Regarding science, the “theory of relativity” and quantum physics are considered to be superior and inclusive of the Newtonian science—does Karl-Stephen remember the attack that Thomas Kuhn faced when he suggested that science has not “progressed” over the years but has “evolved” through revolutions and that there are definite breaks in these revolutions which are not an outcome of a linear evolutionary progress? ... Kuhn had to retract his words in his subsequent publication. If Jitatmananda puts Vedanta as the engine of this progress, he does not automatically become doxological. If he is doxological, then the entire western world which has harped on the notion of “progress” in the western academia is doxological. Jitatmananda has merely added Vedanta to the western narrative.
- This brings me again to the agenda-based scholarship of Karl-Stephen. Whether he accepts it or not behind the garb of his objective scholarship, what is bothering him is the assertion of an Indian making Vedanta lead the story of western progress. It would be worthwhile at this stage for scholars to actually investigate his ideological leanings.
"Dear Mr. Singh, and the two others who wrote meaningful questions before, I regret to be in such a lack of time.
Somehow i have the felling that doxography is understood as something "negative", which it is not. It is simply a specific literary genre. Which exists in the Western tradition as well and which can be very beneficial when understood properly.
A quick remark on the nature of doxography: it is not polemical per se, in the definition of Nicholson, but in my view it ends up being so, nonetheless. Here I should put more thought and research and it was meaningful to have this weakness pointed out by Mr. Singh.
As I said before, this paper is the reflexion of a work in progress. What can be seen as a biase from my part, which is highly possible since I have many failings, may in fact simply be a lack of knowledge in certain areas that I aiming at reviewing. so I thank you for any suggentions of specific readings.
All of your comments are welcome and I can only thank you for the time that you have taken in highlighting my ignorance on different issues.
Please forgive me for not being available so much in the last few days."
Kundan responds to KSB:
"In your subsequent emails to responses to your paper, you have been defending that doxography is not negative....I do not understand how doxography is not negative when it is a selective representation of opponent's views and an assertion of one's own without an explicit refutation of the opponent's contention. Doxography, in such a situation, means a lack of rigor and a lack of intellectual integrity. By taking a couple of texts, you have made a sweeping judgment on the rigor of Indian daarshanic (I specifically do not call it philosophical here) tradition. I hope you see how that is a problematic contention.
Based on what you have written in the paper, it will be extremely difficult for you to defend that there is nothing negative about doxography. In fact, your defense of doxography seems to me an after-thought....
As far as what is valuable in your paper is concerned, let me be very candid in stating what I have found valuable: I am sure that you are aware of this trend in Euro-American trend in mainstream academia which is highly invested in showing that "Hinduism" is a modern construct, primarily having come out of a contact with the west. Swami Vivekananda is a poster boy in such contentions. That he gave a unified vision of Santana Dharma is also contended to be a product of his nationalistic aspirations, as a mark of resistance against the colonial masters. When you site an obscure text of pre-European contact that has a unifying thread of bringing many different daarshanic and philosophical traditions of India under one umbrella (despite your inclinations towards buying that Sanatana Dharma is a modern construct), you strike a the very roots of the social-constructivist orientation of mainstream academia towards "Hinduism."
In my eyes, your effort will be laudable if you write a paper on the above issue. Otherwise we have seen many scholars from the Euro-American world towing a very colonial line against Hinduism ...
If the trajectory of your scholarship does not change in the future, I can completely visualize how your stay in India will be used to compromising the spiritual traditions of India. I write the above not because of nationalistic aspirations but because I do hold that the Indian spiritual traditions (and for that matter "mysticism" in many parts of the world, even where it has lived on the margins) has something unique to contribute to humanity, ...."
KSB's response to Kundan:
"Doxography, again, is a specific kind of philosophical writings and should not be equated with the full "daarshanic" tradition. I hope to be able to study further what was the actual use of these texts. So far, my assumption is that it
was intended to teach its recipient ways of facing various opponents coming from different backgrounds. If it is so, it makes sense that the texts would not necessarily engage the in the purvapaksha's view but focus on the best answer to
provide on specific points.
This is what I mean by not negative "per se". The aim of the text defines its structure and method. Still, the whole of Indian tradition is not made only of doxographical writings. There are very few examples if one compares with the other kind of shastras available.
My point, in the paper, was to suggest that many modern Indian writings on science and philosophy are taking a similar shape as the ancient doxographies.
As for the obscurity of the VedaantaSaara, I cannot agree with you. It is a very well known text that is studied by many who begin their ways in the Vedaanta tradition. I was exposed to it myself at JNU. Also, within the debate on science and philosophy i have seen it mentioned by Indian authors.
Although it is not the best example of doxography, as it has been mentioned already and as I also said in the paper, I used it because I could reproduce within the limited space of my paper most of the argumentation and structure of the part of the text that is "doxographical" in nature, which is only chapter 3. ...The reason is that I feel that we could a few things from this. As mentioned in my paper:
- The impact of historical changes on Indian thought.
- A consistent terminology of debate that could serve as a basis for the modern debate with science.
- A mode of debate that could be actualized to fit the needs of the modern discussions on science and philosophy.
There is probably more, but these 3 points are in my view positive, since they can bring a better understanding of philosophical developments in India and in the meantime contribute to the quality of the modern debate.
Now, for your comments on:
""Hinduism" is a modern construct, primarily having come out of a contact with the west. »
I already explained, in brief, what I perceive as a common thread within the Indian traditions. I wrote about the "experience" at the core (or origin) of the various schools and even of the Veda. On this, I think that I join your views on
mysticism and this is what I was suggesting when I wrote this previous comment. Mysticism did not only exist in India. ...This being said, the emphasis on "Hinduism" is a concern that I do not share. I feel that the word is very vague and when I hear it, especially in the mouth of Westerners, I never know what they are talking about. My problem with the term is therefore that it is too generic.
... This does not mean that I think that the unity of Indian tradition is a modern phenomenon. But the perception that the tradition (the people who hold it) has of itself is likely to have gone through various phases. I find this to be interesting.
As for nationalism, let me say a few words. I also come from a nationalistic background, as many around me in Quebec, family or friends, are supporters of the independence of Quebec in America. There is nothing wrong in having views
about the future of our people. When these views shape our philosophical discussions, they should be pointed out so that what is being said is better understood. ...
...I am al sensitive to the issue. For now, I am aiming at developing an approach that would not take sides either with what you are calling "colonialists" nor with "post-colonialists". In fact, I am not interested so much in politics, although I have to face it often in dealing with Indian matters.
I am sorry, due to a limited time, I must stop here for now..."
Surya shares some links:
Capra wrote about differences in Eastern and Western mystical experiences. Was he just making things up?
Mystic experiences in the East are always experiences are bliss. People who witnessed mystics in India speak for this. Reported mystical experiences in the West were dark and painful, often empty with no divine experiences. Could it be a struggle between the Christian scriptural conditioning that does not allow direct experiences of the divine and unconditioned mystical experiences?
In a letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, mother Theresa wrote "Jesus has a very special love for you," she assured Van der Peet. "As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, â€” Listen and do not hear â€” the tongue moves but does not speak ... I want you to pray for me â€” that I let Him have free hand."
In the booktitled , consisting primarily of correspondence between Teresa and her confessors and superiors over a period of 66 years, provides the spiritual counterpoint to a life known mostly through its works. The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever â€” or, as the book's compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, "neither in her heart or in the eucharist".
That absence seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in Calcutta, and â€” except for a five-week break in 1959 â€” never abated. Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain. In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the "dryness," "darkness," "loneliness" and "torture" she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. She is acutely aware of the discrepancy between her inner state and her public demeanor. "The smile," she writes, is "a mask" or "a cloak that covers everything." Similarly, she wonders whether she is engaged in verbal deception. "I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God â€” tender, personal love," she remarks to an adviser. "If you were [there], you would have said, 'What hypocrisy.'" Says the Rev. James Martin, an editor at the Jesuit magazine ... It will give a whole new dimension to the way people understand her."
Dark mystical experiences of St, John of the Cross
The original thread continues here.
"In light of the dark Christian mystical experiences catalogued by Surya below, does anyone know of any publications which have investigated differences between mystical experiences recorded in Yogis and in Christian mysticism ? (I have already asked Surya this question in private)
Also, are there any works of Christian mysticism which are devoid of references to the Church, the body of Jesus, the original sin, the sacrament, etc ? To rephrase, I want to know which, if any, works of Christian mysticism are closest to the Indian model. I have already browsed the "Cloud of Unknowing" and "The Imitation of Christ" and both do not fit the criteria because they contain references to Jesus as the Son of God and what not. I suppose there might be early (so-called) Christian-Neoplatonist saints whose works might be close to Vedanta.
I have established (for my uturn theory book series) that Neoplatonism (Plotinus based thought) is itself considered a digestion of Hinduism. See the massive research book by McEvilley. If you really want to piss off a western chauvinist who is said to be well grounded in Hellenistic "Western" thought, send him the following quotation. Thomas McEvilley explains the current lack of acknowledgment of Plotinus’ thought being similar to and potentially derived from Indian thought:
“Translations of his work may have a churchy kind of ring. The view of Plotinus as a kind of proto-Christian theologian may express, at least in part, a dread of finding possible Indian origins for the texts whose influence was to contribute to shaping the thought of Thomas Aquinas, Nicolas of Cusa, Meister Eckhart, and many later western thinkers. So it is not only that ‘to admit oriental influences on [Plotinus] was tantamount to besmirching his good name,’ but even more it would also besmirch that whole aspect of the western tradition that flowed from him. If Plotinus had passed massive Asian influence into the western tradition, there would be little point to calling it western tradition.”
(“McEvilley, Thomas, The Shape of Ancient Thought, Allworth Press, New York, 2002. P. 550)."
"... McEvilley devotes much of his Neoplatonic exposition to presence of similarities and does not prove any direct trail.Â I assume there is some clinching evidence in the form of some archaeological artifact or ancient manuscript, otherwise you are open to the same criticism that is leveled at those like OCOY who claim Jesus had some Indian influence.Â You could be asked : how and from whom did Plotinus learn Vedanta or Buddhism ?Â
There are several authors like Porphyry, Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus around the 3rd century A.D. who mention the Indian gymnosophists but did anyone actually travel to India to gain initiation into Yoga? ....
...To answer my own question, there is work being done in neurotheology and depth psychology, which builds on the direction set by William James in "Varieties of Religious experience".Â The keyword is "common core hypothesis" which proposes that the essential cluster of mystical experience is independent of religious context.
For neurotheology, see Andrew Newberg
Ralph Hood (1975) defined a mysticism scale which can be used to compare mystical experiences across religions.Â It measures measures eight facets: Ego Loss, an experience of losing oneâ€™s self into a greater unity; Timelessness/Spacelessness, a sense of being outside spatiotemporal limitations; Unity, unifying vision of the world as one; Inner Subjectivity, perception of inner awareness in all beings; Positive Affect, blissful feelings that accompany mystical experience; Sacredness, a sense of the holy; Noetic Quality, a cognitive advancement in understanding the world; and Ineffability, the alleged inexplicability of mystic experience."
Yes I am well aware of the burden of proof in making claims that topple well-established positions, and I only publish what I can defend. There are also different levels of certainty: from plausible hypothesis, to one of a few likely scenarios: to most likely scenario: established hard fact. Very, very history is based on the final category. For instance, do you know that nobody has successfully responded to a challenge made in recent years to prove that the man named Euclid actually existed? Yet there is this Euclidean geometry. In case of Plotinus, THERE IS NO ARCHEOLOGICAL PROOF THAT SUCH A MAN EXISTED - IT IS SECONDARY REFERENCES ONLY. ... (On an unrelated but exciting development: Just this week I have obtained scans of parts of a huge archive on a very prominent American's Indian appropriations, which will be enough to write a whole volume given his stature. ... I consider this the biggest find of 2012 in my work. A young Indian scholar deserves credit for discovering this and bringing it to my attention. Lots of intense work with zero bragging on his part or attempt to slip out of hard work or responsibility. We do have such heroes, no matter how few.)"
Surya responds to sandeep. For brevity, we only provide limited excerpts.
"One who reads the whole of McEvilley woul not fail to notice that he spoke of exchanges in both ways...
"This is silly. I met McEvilley and showed him otherwise and he admitted it was speculation. He came to my house to get support to turn his book into a documentary and i pointed out several errors including his support for Aryan Invasion Theory. That said, certain parts he wrote gave me great leads to follow through on my own later...]"
Sandeep responds to KSB [and Surya: see original thread]:
"... n certain cases, archaeology can prove or disprove textual evidence. For example, the British archaeologist Flinders Petrie claimed to have found a grave with Buddhist symbols in Dendereh, Egypt in the 1890s which would have affirmed the Buddhist embassies sent by Ashoka to five Greek kingdoms in the West, but his claim was debunked by other archaeologists as being overly presumptuous. Similarly, the thatched roof houses which were excavated in Capernaum validate Mark's account (Mark 2:1-12) of a sick man who was lowered into the house of Jesus after removing the roof but disproves Luke's account of tiles being removed given in Luke 5:19 (see Charlesworth, Historical Jesus Essential Guide, page 88). .."
I dont care to even read further whatever else you might have written, as your starting point is to ignore the facts and arguments offered. Please note that when people here criticized your thesis on the other thread, they did not do so by branding it a conspiracy theory; instead they gave point by point responses to it..."