Friday, January 18, 2013

RMF Summary: Week of February 6 - 12, 2012

February 7
One year old...
This egroup turned one year old on Feb 3. We now have 2,600 members. I wish to thank every one of you for your time and contributions. It was started for...

February 7
BEING DIFFERENT - What is it and what it is NOT.
Rajiv: BD is not a book written for inter-faith dialogues, but for a much wider impact to reposition dharma especially in the minds of those within the dharma traditions. As a result of reading it and engaging me, several third party initiatives have emerged in various domains of knowledge where people see it as offering fresh approaches. Some events and initiatives that have already got started including the following ones:
  1. Sanskrit scholars are taking the issue of chapter 5 (non-translatability) very seriously and I have been invited to numerous centers of learning to conduct workshops. You should anticipate our traditional scholars to start putting up a spirited defense against common translations of key Sanskrit words. This is a big shift. Earlier they did not like the translations but kept silent and gradually accepted them. This new resistance will sprout among the leadership of such scholars.
  2. The idea of reversing the gaze upon western thought using our own categories and framework has captured the attention of many important thinkers. Ironically, there are two opposite kinds of interested scholars. The dharmic philosophers will turn out works that take BD's insights deeper into more formal purva paksha. Secondly, those in left-leaning social sciences see this as a more sophisticated extension of postcolonial studies, a field which dried out in recent years because it utilized western models to critique the west. 
  3. ..
  4. BD has made a mark in several important circles in Indian approaches to psychology...
  5. The field of Spirituality and Leadership has become an important space for new management gurus worldwide, and at various international conferences on the subject BD is seen as a new source for specifically dharmic principles. ...
  6. Sustainability is another field of popular discourse in which BD has made an entry. The ideas of chapters 3 & 4 are especially relevant to open new doors in this field.
  7. Integral Education is a major field these days. Unfortunately it has been led by folks like Harold [Howard?] Gardener and Ken Wilber who have repackaged classical Indian ideas into what they consider as original Western approaches, and have made themselves famous worldwide including in Indian elite circles. BD sets the foundation for future volumes....
  8. Hindu dharma gurus and organizations have in most cases succumbed to mapping dharma on to Western Universalism, losing its distinctiveness and also causing distortions. Several major leaders and groups are now examining BD's challenge to reverse this dangerous trend. First impact will to the way they teach dharma internally, i.e. to the next generation. ... (Unfortunately, a few critics of BD, who do not seem to have read it, have reduced it to a book about interfaith dialogues, and have failed to see its wider and deeper dimensions. Even within this item 8 out of a list of 10 items, interfaith is only one aspect, and that too must be seen as an existing activity of many dharmic groups. BD does not say to start interfaith dialogues or dont start them, but if and when you are in such a forum, it supplies critical differentiators of dharma that should not get compromised.)
  9. Youth groups are confused about their identity since it is being taught that all faiths are the same or lead to the same goals. Yet they are being told not to convert to other faiths. This contradiction also exists among most leaders I have debated in recent weeks. BD has opened an approach to defining identity that is firmly rooted on dharma, and does not want our leaders to cop out from the hard questions by proclaiming that "everything claimed by everyone is the same".
  10. New approaches to science are implicit in BD's ideas, and these will be developed in greater detail....
I hope that serious readers here will see the book in its wider context. I am spending much of my time nurturing these multiple dimensions with the help of third parties who are located in these specialties. Many new doors have opened up with BD...."

struth91 makes an important point:
" In addition to the concepts that you have outlined well, where your work is a huge catalyst - I would rate the 'analytic-logical' language and narrative style you've used to deconstruct core cultural / religious / social science issues & paradigms as a significant contribution in itself. 

Scientists / technologists / management experts who are used to a certain level of analytical rigor in their course of work - have tended to classify religion / spirituality as 'right brain' domains, alien to their mode of thinking. And while true across the world, this is particularly relevant to India. Your book can also be attractive as a means of raising the interest of this group - which, due to wholesale devaluation of the study of the humanities areas, represents the bulk of  intellectuals in India.

What is to be hoped is that this book is just the start of a new 'genre' of similar literature. In addition to the issues addressed I think this 'genre' needs to be defined as much by the level of analytical rigor as also by the scale of 'ambition' that is quite evident in BD..."
February 9 
Oral Tradition vs Written Knowledge
I have just had access to BD and each sentence is a well-structured masterpiece that addresses every doubt and silences every critic of Dharmic faiths. During...
February 9
Buddha and the British
Bluecupid: Devadutt Patanaik has been mentioned on this forum before. Here is something he wrote about Buddha, the British and historicity;
Manas: I appreciate Devdutt's work in raising awareness of our religio-cultural idioms, specially while showing their relevance in current socio-economics. However, if you carefully read his articles (specially those connected to contemporary events), while he makes a contrived attempt to be centrist, he has a tendency to follow a distinctive (hostile) leftist line on matters concerning Hindu interests. This includes giving space to people and views that are anything but healthy for Hindu survival and revival. While being receptive of that section of his work that serve dharmic causes,....

Rajiv provides a useful technology analogy to BD.
February 9
How BEING DIFFERENT provides a new platform for many Apps
In the tech world, there are three major competing platforms: Apple, Microsoft, and Android (Google). Each supports thousands of Apps (applications), written by third party developers or by the platform supplier itself. This analogy helps explain how I have seen BD's position in the global discourse.

Western Universalism (WU) has been the default platform on which scholars are required to develop their ideas. This adoption by most persons over the generations has given WU its power. The platform that gets used by most persons becomes the most "universal" one.

China has been developing Confucian Modernity as its own proprietary platform, and explicitly claiming that it is superior to WU. (Yesterday I got an email from a man in China who has read BD as ebook using someone as his translator. He seems very impressed and wants to know if we are interested in getting a short summary in Mandarin.)

Then there is Islamic Universalism, the claim that Islam provides a platform to answer all aspects of human life, not just relationship with God but also family, social, political, financial, etc.

BD provides a dharmic platform on which to develop many kinds of solutions and responses, i.e. Apps. In my message 2144 [Rajiv's thread at the top of this page], I listed some of initiatives with third party developers who have expressed interest to migrate their thinking from WU to dharmic platform. Note: Those coming from secular environments prefer to use the term "Indian Knowledge Systems" rather than "dharma" but they mean the same thing. I am encouraging this migration and it is snowballing even during this trip.

The Apps I am involved in developing with the help of various third parties include: education, sustainability, leadership/governance, cognitive sciences, psychology, hard sciences, dharmic education, inter civilization and inter religious dialogues/debates, Sanskrit research into non translatables, new approaches to social sciences, etc, etc.

... I liked that Vishal developed his ideas on Vaishnavism using many of the platform components of BD. I encourage other dharmic traditions to do their own thinking using our own vocabulary and framework and not WU.

One post today has explained how a reader has managed his encounter with Jehova's Witness, using history centrism to corner them.

I hope the above makes clear once and for all that BD is not an App for interfaith dialogues, but is a platform that supports many Apps including interfaith encounters. ...

... I also have commitments to write for various journals, forthcoming conferences, and to lead in several Apps development projects. These will take my priority over the next 4 months along with tours within North America."

struth91 asks:
You mentioned a collaboration with a JNU professor for developing a new approach towards Social Sciences - and the possibility of left-leaning academicians evincing interest in your ideas. Since Marxist social scientists in India, from
one point of view, have historically outdone even Western Indologists in the negative portrayal of Hinduism - I would be interested in your views on how open they are to a change in narratives. ...

Rajiv response: Yes,the crucial nature of social sciences is why migrating this App from its western universalism platform to dharmic platform is so vital.

My experience over the years has been that a significant number of social scientists are aspiring for an Indian model WITHOUT falling into Hindutva politics... The two extremes of Indians (i.e. Hindutva and solidly anti-Hindu) are no more than 15% to 20% each. The middle is very large, representing those who are simply confused, misguided, vacillating, looking for answers, open, etc. Thats the ignored segment I am finding to be most interested in my work.

Karthik asks an important question, and the answer from Rajiv ji is critically important for Indians to read, and re-read. We carry this Q&A without too much editing, but some important things are left out and can be read in its original form here.
There's an American academic friend of mine (a professor of Latin American studies here in Philly) ... was quite intrigued by its [BD] perspective, and is interested in reading the whole work as time permits. ...However, on the topic of engaging with existing viewpoints in Western scholarship regarding postcolonial studies, she brought up a question that I was not able to immediately answer.

She asked whether Rajiv had sought to engage with the views of postcolonial writers of Indian origin, such as Gayatri Spivak and Homi Bhabha, in his discourse. Spivak I had heard of before; she is one of the people who originally coined the term "Subaltern Studies". I am not sure if she fits the profile of the later "Subaltern Studies" academics from India, whom Rajiv clearly identifies as participating in Western Universalist deconstruction of India, in his essay "The Axis of Neocolonialism" (2002):

"My first category of neocolonial brown (mem)sahibs is Romila Thapar and her dozens of former history students, who often guard the India and/or Hindu bashing fortresses at many American university departments, but who lack an education in Sanskrit and Indian Classics. They compensate for this deficiency with an overdose of Marxist and/or Eurocentric historiographies, often camouflaged as Subaltern studies."

So my question is: are Spivak and/or Bhabha at least partially legit, in the Edward Said mould? Or are they just part of this "managed dissent" from within Western Grand Narrative? Does evidence exist to support such an assertion? ...  it would be helpful to have an answer as to why Rajiv has not engaged more deeply with their discourses in "Being Different" (I don't think they are referenced in the book at all, though I am still reading it in depth so maybe I haven't come across the references yet.)

I would greatly appreciate any guidelines towards articulating such an answer.

Rajiv response: A great question. This person has taken BD in seriously and is engaging third parties using it.

I have read Bhabha extensively and rejected him as part of the elitist Indian postcolonialism, and worse. In his case, the trademark is his (intentional) incomprehensibility, and this has made him famous as supplier of the "theory" known as "hybridity"!

Spivak is a bit better but not that much - at least she has tried to study Indian philosophy under the guidance of Arindam Chakrabarty and others, having realized her deficiency to speak on behalf of Indian civilization. But Spivak did not invent the term Subaltern Studies, she made it popular by writing a famous essay titled, "Can the Subaltern Speak?" It is about the inability to self-represent. I have turned it around many times and asked: "Can the Hindu speak in the academy?"

Neither of them is educated in Indian classics, the seriousness of Indian thought, in Sanskrit, or in any sadhana praxis to give the person an inner experiential dimension.

They reject Indian civ as the work of brahmin elites and want to break up India (intellectually) into smaller and smaller parts. So they pose no real threat to the supremacy of the West but serve a useful purpose. In fact, they ARE the postcolonial elites in the ivory towers today. They are likely to reject BD in total as the work of "disguised Hindutva chauvinism, nationalism, essentialism", etc.

They have assumed too much clout in the academy, due to white guilt. White intellectuals like the prof you mention, suffer a sort of guilt with respect to non-whites, so they "enjoy" or at least "invite" attacks on the West, whites, hegemony, etc. as part of some self therapy or redemption. Indian postcolonialists arrived through these cracks and camped within south asian studies in what started out as ghettos. Gradually as the number of Indian students swelled, the power of these professors expanded and they became more mainstream - the parents of such Indian kids are either disconnected from the curriculum of their sons and daughters in postcolonial studies or are themselves vague, confused and even guilty of hindu backgrounds. Every major campus has a few of these scholars - all children of Spivak-Bhabha. Unlike Thapar who is a historian, these folks are NOT historians; they are "theory" wallahs, a very powerful post to sit on.

[frame this!]
Here's a sarcastic working definition from me: Postcolonialist Indian intellectuals are those who practice the art of supplying "the authentic India" to guilt-ridden whites on one side, and simultaneously carry the burden of inserting guilt into young naive Indians making the case that all Indian civilization is abusive and is best abandoned. In return they are rewarded by the white intellectual establishment as the Indian voice opposing white hegemony.

THE REAL ISSUE IS: Deconstructing the West from WHERE??? I defy accusations of essentialism, and I deconstruct the West from an explicitly dharmic platform. They cannot and will not do any such thing. For them, it is equally important (and in practice more important) to deconstruct India as a nation, its civilization as something legitimate and positive, etc. See the table on p.334 in BD and the very short section starting p.331. Pls have the professor read those 3 -4 pages of my position summarized.

Indeed, I gave them too little space in BD. I have a whole manuscript that critiques just Bhabha from a dharmic viewpoint - written in the 1990s when he became a big shot suddenly. I have wanted to get it out and have tried to sneak in bits here and there into other works. But in BD the chapter on postcolonialists kept getting shrunk each iteration - too many ideas already in the book and need to reduce how many fights are being taken up in one book. In my debate with Vijay Prashad on OutlookIndia (which you can read), I wanted to debate Vijay on this matter per se. But he slips in and out and eventually runs away from the debate failing to respond after a few rounds.

... (Vijay was a thorough gentleman and very reasonable in dealing with me as compared to most others in this group.) Without them the likes of AAR, RISA, Doniger, etc. would disappear in this age where "minorities" get the benefit of doubt in the liberal academy. The reason Hinduism does not get this sympathy is due to this group who have done more harm than westerners have.

February 10
encounter with evangelists
Satish posts: Today, 2 ladies from Jehovah's Witness came to my home in Coimbatore(a city in South India) and they introduced themselves as non-church people. I invited them
to come in and let them talk for 15 mins as I wanted to know what kind of evangelical activities they do in my area. They started off by saying that they study all different religious books including Vedas and said that the Bible contains the highest teachings and read a verse. Before they go to the 2nd
verse, I interrupted and asked them to read Revelation 9/5 on torturing non-believers. “And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have
not the seal of God in their foreheads.”
After this verse, they said they have nothing to do with the church and its history and they are not here just for world peace. ... they distanced themselves
from the church. They regard Jesus as a great teacher, not the only son of God.

What is Jehova's Witness stand on Nicene Creed? I couldn't find it on their website.

Rajiv response: Frankly, I dont know the Jehovah's Witness stand on Nicene Creed. Please see one of their seniors to find out. It could be these were low level folks sent out as charity PR. Or they could be trying to pretend to not know, out of embarrassment. Or maybe their denomination is in fact different on this. In any case, I am glad that readers like you are now raising this issue, using history centrism to get them on the defensive. If more of our persons start getting such field experience, it will change the game. (But watch out for persons like Shree Vinekar and his squad to attack you for
engaging in interfaith dialogue...:) )

Arun shares:
Jehovah's Witnesses deviate from the Nicene Creed; but are history-centric nonetheless. Their beliefs are outlined, with scriptural references, on their web-site (scroll to the bottom for a table)

February 10

Ankur: I have written the summary - chapter wise and every chapter – concept wise, often by linking different portions of the book into concepts. Text directly...

Sagar shares:
Here is a short summary written on Being Different...

February 11

'Digestion' by Ismailies (Shia Muslims).
Dear realpatidar, Information you provide on Ismailis on your website is extremely interesting and gives insight into their...

Vishal adds:
"...."In those days the Ismailis had a tradition of posing as adherents of the faith within which they worked. They worked both among the Sunnis and the non-Muslims. There are several instances on record where an Ismaili missionary posed as a Brahmin or a Hindu priest and instead of flatly contradicting the doctrines of the faith he sought to subvert, he accepted its basic assumptions and introduced some of Ismaili beliefs in a disguised form and thus slowly and gradually paved the way for total conversion. Lack of total adherence has never worried the Ismailis because they are fully confident that the convert will ultimately accept the faith fully. This kind of conversion is achieved in a peculiar manner. In the beginning, the appeal is not on the basis of dogma or beliefs, but an attempt is made to convince the potential convert of the spiritual greatness of some person. In the early days, the missionary himself was a man of exemplary character. Very often, Ali was depicted as an incarnation of Vishnu among the Vaishnavites. In short, after some personal loyalty had been created, the disciple was taken through various stages into full-fledged belief in the teachings of Ismaili Islam. The Ismailis were here at an advantage compared to the Sunnis because the latter insist upon total conversion right from the beginning and are not willing to make the least compromise in the matter of doctrine. A change in the name of the convert also became common. The reason for this, in the beginning, was that the pagan names among the converts were often offensive to Muslim ideas of monotheism. Later, however, a change of name became almost obligatory in the popular mind. The justification has been that the convert is thus weaned away totally from his associations with the past which are rooted in a religious tradition. The Ismaili technique has been different. The inspiration has come from their insistence upon certain esoteric meanings of all exoteric institutions of religion. Because they could expand their influence in the world of Islam only by continuous propaganda, they were experts in the propagation of their views." [Qureshi, 1962:45]

Another historian writes - "the reports sent by Ismaili missionaries from Multan and Sind to the Fatimid Caliph in Cairo are available in the works, compiled in Egypt during the Fatimid period. These reports shed interesting light on the Ismaili propaganda carried on by dais (missionaries). The missionary activity, known as dawa was the most characteristic institutions of Ismailism. Under it, the dai (missionary) was appointed by the Caliph to work in distant places and counties, attract people towards their faith and bring them under its fold. In the first instance the dai worked in the guise of a Hindu monk or a Sunni Muslim as the circumstances demanded of him and would change his method after he had won over a large number of converts to Ismailism. Unlike the Arabs, they were fanatics and hardly tolerated the shrines or places of worship belonging to non-Muslims. A letter dispatched by the dai of Sind in 962 AD to the Caliph tells us how the Ismailis made compromise with Hindu customs and rites in the beginning and then forced their own laws upon the converts. In the letter the dai, Halam mentions the victory “which he achieved in Sind. He writes that he had broken the idols, for the destruction he had previously asked the Imam's permission"[Siddiqui 1987:38]
Sat Panth name is not a new, but an old name for Nizari Ismailis for several centuries now..."

February 11 
chapter 3 - synthetic unity and integral unity
Ankur: ... I have summarized the main concepts discussed in this chapter below, please read and comment:- Chapter 3 - Integral Unity and Synthetic Unity a.In this...

February 12
One year old... - any volunteers to prepare a summary ?
Manoj asks:
Dear Rajiv ji,

A 2600 member e-group is definitely an achievement. There are several contributors as well.

In case, some one can forward a summary of certain discussions, we would be glad to publish at our website

February 12
BI and BD to SE Asian nations: Plans
Enthused by response to the Sanskrit Function from Consulates from Thailand and Sri Lanka ...

February 12 
Devdutt Pattanaik - Alternate approach to BD?
Shri Rajiv ji, Wanted to know your opinion on the approach of Devdutt Pattanaik towards re-affirming the Hindu identity as a unique one through our myths and...

Rajiv's response:
"I am familiar with his work and in fact we approached him to be a discussant for BD launch but the publisher did not hear back. The Mumbai organizer of my trips also approached his corporate mentor/sponsor for involvement but it did not work out.

I disagree that BD is eliciting "emotional" response. If so, I have failed in it. My intent is entirely to rise above "emotions" in presenting my arguments, and to appeal to fact, logic, reason. I cannot help if many of our persons are
so emotionally charged and intellectually immature that no matter what they will react emotionally. I wish to cater to those who are mature and serious readers who want to UNDERSTAND DIFFERENCES CLINICALLY THE WAY A DOCTOR UNDERSTANDS A PATHOLOGY OR A BIOLOGICAL PROCESS...

Regarding the contrast between Pattanaik and BD: His approach is very pleasant and nice way to educate modern Indians about classical stories and ideas. It is like Amar Chitra Katha series updated in presentation. This serves an important role. But he has not come up with clear notions of difference - history-centrism, synthetic unity, fear of chaos, non-translatables, etc. To do this one cannot merely explain our civ and ignore the other. One has to study both and be courageous/audacious to bring them into mutual encounter. BD has each chapter doing an encounter (dialectic method) wherein one specific area of difference gets emphasized. Without explicitly asserting and explaining what is NON DIGESTIBLE into western myths, I am afraid that over time these Indian myths will get digested into the likes of Harry Potter and postmodern western characters.

... Carl Jung even made a whole theory that such myths were indeed universally found everywhere, thereby paving the way to remove what was Indian and dharmic about them as redundant and unnecessary. Once de-Indianized, they led to many modern myth-makers creating huge entertainment products with the Indian sources erased. (Unfortunately, in those days we gave large grants (because we had lots of funds) and did not bother retaining the copyright. He finished the work, and then asked for a huge sum more to give me the transcript, which we could not afford. Otherwise I would be turning it into an ebook today. ...

ArjunShakthi quotes from Devdutt's work:
"Anyone who is serious about studying Hinduism needs to study the works of Wendy Doniger ….. …it is good scholarship"..Devdutt Pattanaik

Rajesh adds:
Perhaps the difference in approaches of Devdutt Pattanaik and Rajiv Malhotra is that Devdutt is trying to preserve the different "Indic Symbology" in the onslaught of Western Universalism, while Rajiv is trying to preserve the different "Dharmic Categories"!

Preservation of "Indic Symbology" is obviously less controversial and more acceptable to Western Universalism (WU), while "Dharmic Categories" are more threatening to WU. Hence the feel good factor in the former..."

Abhishek shares:
Well, i was one of the members of the Mumbai organising commitee. Mr.Devdutt Patnaik was sent a personal mail by one of our colleagues Mr.Samit  inviting him for the discussion, but his response was that he is not interested in such works and does not attend such discussions.

This is such an important question by a lady who read BD: this shows up as a sub-thread within the previous thread but is a separate topic.
'Kolaveri' (murderous rage) to continue the bloodline
Dear Rajivji, In your video with Joshua Stanton, “Part 3 - Why Reincarnation?

" you talk about the effect reincarnation has on race, bloodlines, ancestry and ...

In your video with Joshua Stanton, Part 3 - Why Reincarnation?" you talk about the effect reincarnation has on race, bloodlines, ancestry and history. We are not history centric but does it really have the desired effect on ancestry and bloodlines?... [the question is much more detailed, but the above part is the main one addressed by Rajiv].

Rajiv's response
... an excellent point...

I want to take this opportunity and clarify that: Indian traditional worldviews are not always the same thing as how Indian society has conducted itself. When you study Greek thought, it is called "Greek" due to its place of origin. But not every Greek person subscribes to it, and nor is it less applicable to people elsewhere. What I refer to a Indian thought is not necessarily reflected Indian society. Nor does it mean that non-Indians could not be accepting it. Being Indian by birth does not make one compliant - a point that comes out loudly when one sees many NRIs with zero practice of yoga and yet living in the arrogant assumption that being Indian makes them yogis automatically. This is tamasic approach to one's tradition.

That "belief" in reincarnation did not lead many people away from bloodlines is a valid point on the nature of Indian society.

But it does not take away from my point that reincarnation offers a way out of bloodlines and racism. It is a resource with such a potential. This requires a higher state of consciousness to actualize.

I can say that my own journey was shaped by this very idea: My guru emphasized the difference between ... body identity and its blood lines, ancestry, etc. fixations) and identity as atman. The latter identity meant I should no longer be interested in accumulating wealth for my biological progeny. Thats why I left the rat race at the peak of material success rather than continue in that trajectory. While still 44 years old I decided to use my remaining productive years pursuing something more worthwhile.... So I am a product of this notion.

Important note: My guru was also very emphatic that we are born to carry out the prarabdh, and hence we must carry out all our worldly duties towards relatives etc. The trick is that while all duties must be performed, no new karmic bonds and sanskaras need to be created that would add further bondage to blood lines, biological family, etc.

Perform your bloodline duties that you are born into due to past lives' karma (parents, children, etc.), but try to live in freedom from attachment, and hence minimize the bondage going forward."

bluecupid responds:
""Important note: My guru was also very emphatic that we are born to carry out the prarabdh, and hence we must carry out all our worldly duties towards relatives etc."

Here's a major difference between Indians and Westerners. "duties toward relatives". Once a child is a grown independent adult there isn't much sense of "duty" toward them from a Western parent perspective and Western parents
generally do not demand the sort of attention and "duties" from their independent adult children that Indian parents do.

I have known adult Indians to be easily guilt tripped into living with and "taking care of" their parents and even in-laws even though those parents and in-laws are not very aged or sick, and they are certainly not invalid, poverty stricken or unable to care for themselves.

From my observation much of what passes for "duty" amongst Indian family members is often a desire to hold onto and control one's children far into adulthood.

As a Western person I see this as neither duty nor dharma, nor even something that is psychologically healthy.

That is why the concept of "dharma" is very different between us and Indian practitioners of the very same Hindu sects.

I can imagine my mother's reaction if I were to tell her that my "dharma" or duty toward her is to live with her under the same roof for the rest of my adult life and "take care of her"."

Surya responds:
Guilt tripped ? Do parents take care of their children because they are guilt tripped ? Why cannot you see a sense in children reciprocating the same way?

Not sure where you get these ridiculous notions of parents "demanding" attention or trying to "control" children.

Such flippant remarks could easily be turned around and said that Western families lack cohesiveness - parents cannot get rid of their children fast enough and children cannot distance themselves soon enough. Is that psychologically healthy? If parents are old and are in need of help, what would
a Westerner do? Do nothing because he or she believes it is psychologically healthy response? Are there Western values that provide some direction to the individual?

It is a slippery slope argument. Where do you draw the line? Do you have issues with parents giving up kids in adoption because they are a hindrance to their lives?

Rajiv comment: "This sub-thread is a branch off of my remark that I must carry out my prarabdha in this life, i.e. my dharmic duties, after exiting the world of income generation since the mid 1990s to pursue my own calling.

Part of my dharmic duty is to perform towards those I entered into "karmic transactions" - marriage, children, business associates, etc. When one enters into a relationship, there are obligations as a result, which one should not walk away from. Starting a family is a choice one makes, and hence the duties are part of the deal.

If westerners feel they can walk away at will when it no longer serves their ego's wants, thats their choice. They do this out of lack of understanding of karma. They only look at immediate implications of any "transaction", and not in
the karmic sense that there are also subsequent effects.

Karma is causation that differs from causation in physics, because the effects of karmic causation continue for quite some time and are not limited to immediate effects only."

Karigar responds:
"Rajiv's explanation of continuous (primary, secondary, tertiary) Karmic ripples needs to be thought of seriously by westerners, especially persons (presumably still) in dharmic practice like bluecupid. Individual autonomy doesn't need to be stretched to some sort of "logical limit" to mean atomized individualism as the natural state of human beings.

Apropos to this discussion, please take a look at the trivialization of even the one relationship that's supposed to be based on "love", the romantic kind that gets privileged in western society over all other forms of love. This is a nationwide survey, and both the structuring of the Questions, as well as the responses of participants indicates the trajectory of western culture.

The link...
My comment posted on website: (keypoint- western/US notions of atomized individuals engaged in "life, liberty & pursuit of happiness")
Interesting take on an interesting survey.

For all the sociologists/sexologists/
therapists they've quoted in the article, they seem to have (surprisingly) neglected to ask opinions of economists - cultural economist, if there is such a species.

Venkat responds:
Rajiv Malhotra gives an excellent answer to this western predicament in his Being Different by highlighting the Hindu institution (also found in other dharmic religions)) of dharmas, which provide one the choice to 'be different' at various stages of life. During the brahmacharya dharama one pursues acquisition of knowledge without having to worry about paying back loans or washing dishes at a restaurant because it is the dharmic duty of the parents (and the guru) to take such worries away from the brahmachari. During the grhastha dharama, one indulges in laukika pursuits which include indulgences in kama with pati/patni and providing for the children and the elders. Society revolves around the grahastha who also provides for the traveling mendicants (an example to be observed even today is the service offered to Jaina sanyasis). Vanaprastha is the stage when a grahastha can free oneself from laukika in a gradual manner and seek para vidya. They undertake pilgrimages etc or even dedicate themselves to serious learning (a form of which very much exists among the šriVaisnavas of TN even today). Sanyasa is optional.

The beauty of this system is that it does not impose one worldview or goal on the individuals and allows them to balance material pursuits with religious ones. On the other hand, western norms or one-dimensional: they force everyone to be materialistic at all stages of life. Such a lifestyle is always very expensive, parasitic, and unsustainable as one can see from social security or Medicare in the USA. Someone else foots the bill regardless of what a westerner imagines. A child is forced to work, and even worse, to repay the loans his/her parents have incurred to satiate their greed. Sounds surprising? Ever heard of national debt of the USA? What is it if not reckless westerners spending money they never earned and expecting the next generation to pay the debt (or to wage incessant wars and commit genocides of the colored and steal their resources so that they need not pay back the debt)? ... 

Raghu shares:
A very good description of this inner struggle is found in the book 'black face white mask' by Frantz Fannon ( I hope Rajiv ji will approve) and 'intimate enemy' by Ashish Nandy.

Rajiv: I read both these in the 1990s as part of my study of eurocentrism.

For my bibliography on Eurocentrism as it existed in the mid 1990s, please see .. That site has not been updated for almost a decade now due to volunteers moving on and nobody reliable to take over.

But my bibliography on the subject expanded 10 fold.

Later I collaborated on Whiteness Studies with some pioneers in the field and produced a 175 page bibliography of that. Please see pdf..

Then I got sidetracked from finishing my 500 page book on postcolonial studies (which is a field based on the above type of scholarship), because of urgent need to react to what I discovered was Hinduphobia (that lead to many things
culminating in the book INVADING THE SACRED).

Reason for giving this background is to tell you that there is no need to reinvent the wheel in case some folks are dead serious about helpimg me revive that area of research and publishing. In BD I give in 3 pages with a table just to be be on the record that I find postcolonialists inadequate from an Indic standpoint. I told this to Nandy - his critique of the other is great but he has no foundation to replace eurocentrism with something natively Indian.

[this post below shows up as another sub-thread but again, is a separate topic]
BD and the Hindu Conception of Divinity
Vishal comments: Some list members had commented a few months back that BD does not elaborate on the Hindu position on topics like Nature of God and so on. This, as was clarified by the author, beyond the scope of BD, which focussed on how the Dharmic traditions were different from Judeo-Christian worldviews. Mr Malhotra also invited all of us to address the unsaid topics using the approach in BD.

Using the lead taken by BD, I have compiled the attached document on the Hindu conception of God with a significant treatment of interfaith comparisons. Relevant sections reproduce profuse verbatim quotes from BD (a mere paraphrase from BD or a direct quote from other books would have been much inferior, speaking honestly) - the chapter on the intranslatables is very very useful in this respect and must be read by everyone very closely.

I have used about 3/4 of this document to teach kids of upper middle school (focussing on the numerous stories and metaphors and also interfaith comparisons) and it seems to have to have gone well with them, as indicated by continued high attendance in my class. Teaching of this document was preceded by a more basic one on God in Hinduism and it comprised 2-4 Hindu parables on each of the 10 or so attributes of Ishwara listed in Gita 9.18

Rajiv's response: This is an excellent piece attached. I hope BD encourages more writings of this standard. Better to write few pieces but well thought through and deep ones. Vishal is right that BD wants to focus NOT on explaining what dharma is, or what Western thought is, but rather where the critical fault lines of DIFFERENCES lie between them. In this India trip I am surprised at the level of ignorance/denial among Hindu scholars about the irreconcilable differences at the philosophical level. Either they jump off topic to discuss the politics of evangelism, or are naively dismissive of western thoughts, or else they resort to the nonsensical view that all religions are the same. I have received a large number of PhD dissertations, papers and talks by various persons that argue on the sameness of all religions. The media and publishers love that. Pointing out differences is not easy, as it can get mixed up with "communalism". So the job at hand is challenging. At the same time it is encouraging to find important voices taking BD's messages very seriously. Many have expressed that it has opened the doors to new approaches to comparative religion. I expect the study of DIFFERENCES to enter various centers of learning in places like Delhi, Varanasi, RK Mission, Mumbai, etc.

February 12
Interfaith dialogue
A relevant posting to the issues raised in Being Different

February 12

great events in BHU, Kolkata and Mumbai
Quick report: 1. Varanasi: BHU was a huge success with solid comments from well known top tier scholars of our tradition. They had read the book cover to cover...

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