"Rajiv comment: Actually, I loved the conversation with Mark because it brings out so many ideas in the book right from the mouth of a very explicit member and follower of the Anglican Church. (He had read the book very closely and we had held another private discussion on it prior to this recorded one.)
The important point is that he wants very badly to avoid differences and show sameness (like most Indians and westerners across the spectrum); but because he is so honest and I am so persistent in raising philosophical issues, the end
result is that the three differences listed in my email come out very explicitly.
Regarding the Togadia remark, please wait till another video comes up, the one from my TV interview with the JNU professor of Political Science. That explains the difference between the civilization and the modern politics. One can support the former without the latter - as I wish to do."
"This links provides details on Catholic attempts to get into the
general and cultual media in order to bring Jesus to Hindus
Fr Abel CMI, a bright start from the Carmelite Missionaries was probably the first in India to venture into the ara of cultural media and liturgical music. Gradually with a fine blending of the electronic and the rich cultural arts of the Kerala, his Kalabhavan made inroads into Kerala's cultual and cinema fields with several of his stars scaling the media industry/
Inspired by Kalabhavan's unprecedented success, a number of other centres all over India have also taken to cultual an dfolk media to proclaim the Word of God as well as to develop these cultural forms...."
Praxis, Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring 2011
JOSEPH DOWD UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-IRVINE
Abstract The Mahabharata, an Indian epic poem, describes a legendary war between two sides of a royal family. The epic's plot involves numerous moral dilemmas that have intrigued and perplexed scholars of Indian literature. Many of these dilemmas revolve around a character named Krsna. Krsna is a divine incarnation and a self-proclaimed upholder of dharma, a system of social and religious duties central to Hindu ethics. Yet, during the war, Krsna repeatedly encourages his allies to use tactics that violate dharma. In this paper, I try to make
sense of Krsna's actions by analyzing them in terms of categories from Western moral philosophy. I show that Krsna seems to embrace an ethical approach called consequentialism, but that his version of consequentialism differs from Western
theories of consequentialism by seeing adherence to dharma as an intrinsic good..."
".....A quick read of this paper shows the usual prejudiced usage of western frameworks & attempts to fit sanskrit categories into them. This seems highly reductive, like using Newtonian physics, with it's linearity, to model the subatomic & astronomical worlds, which are too non-linear to be captured by this simplistic theories. The author skirts over the ideas of saamaanya dharma vs vishesha dharma (while completely ignoring the crucial "apaddharma"), but doesn't do much justice to the concepts, preferring to stick to "enlightenment" categories of "consequentialism", "deontological ethics" etc which are too immature to capture the complexity of the human/divine activities in ordinary life, let alone the Mahabharata.
Also, though he uses B K Matilal as a reference, he does not engage any of Matilal's erudite understanding of Dharma here, since that would undermine the case he is making. If anyone wants more detail on this, I can email some papers by Matilal's student J Ganeri which discusses the "moral delimmas in the MB" to some degree of satisfaction missing in this paper.
As a closing point, here is the excerpt from the "Being Different" book":
The word 'dharma' has multiple meanings depending on the context in which it is used. Monier-Williams's A Concise Sanskrit-English Dictionary lists several, including: conduct, duty, right, justice, virtue, morality, religion, religious merit, good work according to a right or rule, etc.54 Many others have been suggested, such as law or 'torah' (in the Judaic sense), 'logos' (Greek), 'way' (Christian) and even 'tao' (Chinese). None of these is entirely accurate, and none conveys the full force of the term in Sanskrit. Dharma has the Sanskrit root dhri, which means 'that which upholds' or 'that without which nothing can stand' or 'that which maintains the stability and harmony of the universe'. Dharma encompasses the natural, innate behaviour of things, duty, law, ethics, virtue, etc. For example, the laws of physics describe current human understanding of the dharma of physical systems. Every entity in the cosmos has its particular dharma – from the electron, which has the dharma to move in a certain manner, to the clouds, galaxies, plants, insects, and of course, man. Dharma has no equivalent in the Western lexicon. Colonialists endeavoured to map Indian traditions onto Christianity so as to be able to locate, categorize, understand and govern their subjects, yet the notion of dharma has remained elusive..."
Koenraad Elst responds:
"It's from a decent university, it doesn't claim to be prestigious, just to be professional and *good*. ...And if at all it really were "marginal", so what?
... I remember the Hindu nationalist student organization ABVP inviting people like Khushwant Singh, who holds them in contempt but never turns down an opportunity to speak his mind, to belittle his enemies and to pocket a fat speaking fee. The rest of mankind is bad enough, but nobody outdoes the Hindus in being status-conscious.
Indian Marxists have always known this and built up their own people, deliberately giving them posts and prestige (e.g. having them receive a prize in Moscow and then advertising hiom in India as "internationally acclaimed") and everything that bedazzles the semi-literate. The next thing would then be that the RSS invites him rather than any fellow Hindu because he has prestige, the prestige which their enemies have conferred on him. Instead of building up their own pantheon of big names.
>Two things are evident: (1) translations of Mahabharat by Westerners is used as source and is analyzed using Western moral philosophy,<
Unlike the many who treat Western philosophy as universal, this author explicitates that his approach is from Western philosophy, implying that their are legitimate non-Western philosophies too. ...The translation is not the point
here, the same data about Krishna's conduct are just as evident in the popular translations by Rajagopalachari and RK Narayan."
"That reminds of the time lord bagri had funded a series of talks on Hinduism at SOAS hosted by william dalrymple with Wendy Doniger as the star guest.It was even advertised on the National Hindu Students forums website."
I'm the person who wrote that email to Rajiv. Since that time I completed watching more of his videos and came to understand that what he thus far described as "U-turn" does not really apply to me in that I have not turned at all away from the Dharmic lineage I am a part of. Moreover, those he sites as having done "u-turns" have not lived extensively in India and their contact with India was/is extremely limited and confined only to theory. If I am correct, their "u-turns" are in connection with theories/philosophies/religions.
My situation is different. I found myself living in India and practicing my religion amongst indigenous practicioners who brought their Indian (often village) cultural conditionings (samskaras) with them into the religion, mixed them, and passed off their cultural conditionings as part of the religion, and in turn expected foreign (non-Indian) practicioners to adopt those cultural conditionings right alongside practicing the sadhana.
.... Of course when ex-patting to any country there is a certain level of cultural assimilation that is required, and most non-Indians who ex-pat to India for religious reasons go above and beyond that level in their desperate attempts to
fit in and be accepted. But there is a point at which "enough is enough" - that point for me is when the surrounding cultural ethos is at odds with my own internally developed sense of ethics, morality, fairness and commonsense.
... In my UTurn Theory book (forthcoming), I distinguish among 3 types of guru movements depending on how much demand they place on their western followers. ISKCON is an example that integrates culture/lifestyle with dharma very deeply. Other movements separate culture from dharma, but still preserve the unity of dharma and you cannot take bits and pieces here and there. Then there is the third variety I call the buffet or flea market, where you learn some breathing
technique from one place, and another nice story some place else, and try to mix your own ad hoc cocktail including history-centrism of Judeo-Christianity.
My guess would be that the lady named bluecupid went into the first type of group, and found it too stuffy, so she left it.
I wonder if she is now practicing the second or third kind. If she is conscious and secure as a practitioner of dharma, then it would be difficult to mix that with original sin, only one life to live, one incarnation of God as his son, sacrifice and redemption - at least in the version that is standard in the
Church. In this case, she has not uturned from dharma.
On the other hand, if she has gone into the third variety, reintegrating a few things she learned from dharma back into her Judeo-Christian identity, then I would call it a uturn.
bluecupid follows up:
"....In short - I reject the idea that in order to practice "dharma" I have to live like a medieval Indian bahu. I am not Indian, I am not living during the medieval era, and I sure as heck ain't nobody's bahu!
I've heard complaints that old colonialist literature referred to Indians as "children". Well, it's now almost 2012 and it seems Indians themselves are more than happy to keep each other living as children with no help from colonialists.
If I have to give up many of my cultural conditionings in order to practice dharma properly, then Indians do too."
"... We got that point in your first post loud and clear. There are clearly some deep scars from the horrific experience you
had in UP, and this is often a cause for rejection. But you seem to have extrapolated this into a hate for Indians. Were you someone's "bahu" in India? Did they ill-treat you?"
"... There is a huge reservoir of mind and intellect available in Hindu brahmacharis and sannyasis who have high educational background. They are currently largely engaged only in reinforcing their learning of the Shastras or in teaching them. It is from this reservoir that some individuals should be
encouraged and persuaded to undertake rigorous academic studies in comparative religion, philosophy, metaphysics and the like. ..."
bluecupid's response to Venkata..:
"Most Indian brahmacharies and sannyasis are mired in an old world mindset. They may know how to rattle off Upanishadic slokas by rote memorization, which by the way doesn't take any intellectual nuance or analystical skills, but they are clueless as to the issues in the wider world around them. Their approach to everything is from their old world....
You can learn the siddhant of their particular school of thought from them, but not much else. Its a narrow, rigid world. ...
The narrow and rigid world inhabited by these brahmacharies and sannyasis prevents them from truly experiencing the wider world and getting a "pulse" on the people.
Just see - the natural ally to Hindus in the West are the Yoga and New Age circles. How many Indians do you see in Western yoga classes or at New Age centers or a Tantra workshop? Nada. Well, everyone once in a while one or 2,
if the guest speaker is an Indian.
Closed. Rigid. Domesticated."
Kundan: I see scathing judgments on your part on the culture of UP which you qualify in terms of silly and backward. As a professor of cultural psychology, this is where I see that your critical analysis of your own framework and your paradigm has not happened. When your cultural paradigm comes in operation, it does as a mainstream one, modern one and most civilized one against which everything else needs to be evaluated. I understand that you went to India looking for spirituality but how is your paradigm different from the colonial ones of the British—you are speaking in the same tongue as them? The customs are silly and UP culture is backward....
Kundan: You are again bringing your cultural standards in the above. The mainstream American culture is based on individuality and independence. The Indian culture is based on interconnectedness and relatedness. In order for Indians to be adults, we do not need to leave home by the time we are 18. We do not need to separate from everybody else to become adults. Indians become adults by practicing their dharma towards their grandparents, parents, elders, uncles and aunts, siblings, children, nieces, and nephews. There is no need to be judgmental here, for the Indians also can bring their cultural standards and not have very nice things to say—but that does not take things far in terms of peace, harmony, and mutual respect. Instead of having one western scale of human development, we can have many legitimate human development scales...
... The allies, in my understanding, need to do a lot of work, particularly when they have such hatred and judgment as mentioned in the closing remarks."
Bluecupid makes some important and valid points. But I feel she fits my description in chapter 4 of the book, titled "Order and Chaos". The fear of chaos runs deep in the western psyche. The chapter quotes surveys by American scholars on what Americans feel about India. The "land of chaos", "teeming masses", "anthills", "foul smells", etc. - these are some of the common ideas and anxieties that are expressed.
The chapter then reverses the gaze to locate this anxiety in the westerner's biblical unconscious (even those who claim to have left it behind) as well as the Aristotelian Law of Excluded Middle.
My talk at YPO Chennai (available at the web site under "videos" explains this point in simple terms. "
b. Why do we have to swallow as gospel truth that Indian culture, in it's ideal development, will have to travel the curve from "pre-feminist" to "post-modern" in the western sense of the terms, as if there are no alternative models.
If Judeo-Christian paradigm forces one to look at Dharmic traditions in a certain way, so does this author's Western Feminist outlook. I believe the lines between Dharma and cultural samskaras aren't as bold and defining as she says.
In many cases, they are intertwined, the latter often as a support to the former. Her hard distinguishing between them helps her to do the "pick-and-choose" that other U-turners do with regard to more core Dharma issues."
Universalism, and this is what the book debunks."