RMF Summary: Week of January 3 - 9, 2013

This first thread has a lot of deep discussion and will be covered in depth in a separate post.
January 3 (continuing discussion)
Re: Sanskrit Dictionary : Amarakosha and MW dictionary Comparison
Dhirendra is just mouthing off statements randomly without offering any explanations for his claims. (1) To protect the wild-life is modern times Scientific...
January 4 (continuing discussion)
History of India recommendation
Please suggest a one or maximum two volume history of India ( in English) for a Westerner who knows very little of India. Thanks in advance!...

We continue to list books cited by contributors. Follow the original thread in the e-Group or see last week's post for more references. There is also a discussion with 'Dhirendra' in this thread (as in the previous thread).

Veer Savarkar's book, 'Six Glorious Epochs Of Indian History'  is a commentary "not a history in its academic sense”on the significant events and periods in our national life, taking a broad survey of the growth and survival of our Hindu race. In a way this attempt of Savarkar has been singular, barring few honorable exceptions.
The general trend of the Histories, written, read and taught in schools and colleges have been one of eulogizing the foreigners ...

 By Kapur, Kamlesh, Published: December, 2010

Book description:
The history of India has been written and rewritten several times, each time with a different context. Historical narratives act as a powerful vehicle of culture and tradition from generation to generation. Therefore it is essential to give an authentic narrative of India's past using all the new evidence which has surfaced through archaeological excavation in the Indus-Sarasvati region. Researches in the field of ecology, natural history and genetics have given us enough pointers enabling us to write a fairly accurate history of Ancient India. This book ties up all this new evidence with the internal evidence from the literary sources....

[Passing on Author's clarification:
The book covers the time frame from 7th Millennia B.C. to 1000 A.D....]

K. D. Sethna's "Ancient India in a new light". This is history of India from the remotest references to Prithu Vainya (Megasthenes' Dionysus), upto the Guptas and Satvahanas.

In the first part, it shows that the Puranic Chronology is fully consistent internally as well as with the writings of Al Beruni, Megasthenes, Hiuen Tsang, etc. It also critiques the modern chronology placing the Mauryas in 300 BC and puts Guptas there instead...

... PPS: As far as the history of the Rigvedic period goes, please also read Shrikant Talageri's "The Rigveda and the Avesta: The final Evidence", 2008. And please read it cover to cover....

Carpentier adds:
"...In the light of a recent Nat Geo genetic survey which traces the ancestry of many North Indians to Central Asia, there is now a claim that it "proves" that Aryans did indeed come from Central Asia (after getting there from Africa) and came to India, presumably bearing the Vedas and Brahmanism with them. This is of course a wild telescoping of dates as it assumes that the "Aryans" came to India around the usually bandied about date of 1500 BC, when in fact Central Asian migrants might have come some 50 000 years ago, assuming that they did not go the other way and migrate from India to Central Asia. This shows how much people tend to stick to established ideas once they have decided that anything that contradicts them is inspired by "Hindutvadi" communal and chauvinistic religious notions" 

January 4 (continuing discussion from January 3)
Swami Vivekananda becomes Masculine Nationalist
The author is trying to connect recent sexual crimes to Hindu nationalism. Taking the aggression out of masculinity Sanjay Srivastava (Professor of Sociology...  

E-group owner posts links to responses to this article published in 'The Hindu'
Moderator's Note: Multiple posts combined:]

Ram shares:

A reply by Shri.Aravindan Neelakandan [Co-Author with Rajiv of "Breaking India"] on CentreRightIndia 

Desh shares his take:
[also recommend Sandeep Balakrishna's response on sandeepweb].

Sandeep posts:
More views on women by Swami Vivekananda can be found in Nivedita's book "The Master as I saw him" [this seems to be the full text]

 "... He held with unfaltering strength, that the freedom to refrain from marriage, if she wished, ought to be considered as a natural right of woman. A child, whose exclusive leaning to the devotional life was already strongly marked before she was twelve, had once appealed to him for protection against proposals of alliance that were being made by her family. And he, by using his influence with her father, and suggesting increased dowers for the younger daughters, had been successful in aiding her. Years had gone by. but she was still faithful to the life she had adopted, with its long hours of silence and retirement; and all her younger sisters were now wedded. To force such a spirit into marriage would in his eyes have been a desecration....

    The Swami was not unaware of the existence of social problems, in connection with marriage, in all parts of the world. "These unruly women," he exclaims, in the course of a lecture in the West, "from whose minds the words 'bear and forbear' are gone for ever " He could admit, also, when continuance in a marriage would involve treachery to the future of humanity, that separation was the highest and bravest course for husband or wife to take. In India he would constantly point out that Oriental and Occidental ideals needed to be refreshed by one another. He never attacked social institutions as such, holding always that they had grown up out of a desire to avoid some evil which their critic was possibly too headstrong to perceive. But he was not blind to the over-swing of the pendulum, in one direction or the other..."

Ravindra shares:
"There is an age old festival, called Madana Trayodashi, that does for women what Kadva-Choth does for men. The festival for one reason or other has been forgotten in most parts.

On this day husband prepares scented waters with which he would bathe his wife followed by Pooja..." 

Vanita questions:
"Don't you think Western/Eastern is another binary divide. Does it not make sense to think in terms of what is good for us at this time within the overall context that we are exposed.  I think we are now exposed to many more multinational and multicultural issues that transcend our colonial baggage in to day's shrinking world. "

Rajiv's comment:
"The above attitude is well addressed in BD. Please read it first. Its a moron attitude of cop out, laziness, tamas - in the name of lofty "we are all one" - so you dont have to understand the choices or worldview and their tradeoffs. Enough has been written/said in response already. Please read that, and THEN we can spend time taking it further."

Kundan responds to Vanita (so well written, it's tough to excerpt, but will try)
""Being Different" and "being the radical opposite of the other" are two different things. The former comes from an extensive exploration of the cosmology of different worldviews and systems; the latter comes from a simplistic portrayal of an epistemology that has not transcended binary divides.

The Indian world view transcends and integrates binaries. The western worldview (sans the experiences of some mystics who were persecuted and not allowed to come into the mainstream by the Church) is embedded in many different binaries like spirit/matter, body/soul, mind/matter, God/world, mind/body, subject/object, etc. Even postmodernism (which incidentally has been massively influenced by Buddhism and Vedanta, though not explicitly acknowledged) that challenges some of these binaries ultimately end up in promoting and espousing subtler binaries.

When I write the above, I am espousing a prominent difference between the Indian and the Western civilization. If I were stating things like rational west/intuitive east, Cartesian West/Wholistic East, I would have been operating under the western cosmology and epistemology that has not transcended binaries--... When we speak of our difference, being mindful of the space that goes beyond the binaries, we liberate ourselves from the ill effects of an orinetalist exercise and do not operate in the same framework that we are critiquing.... "

[thanks to Sunthar for his efforts in the thread below. He also also compiled Rajiv Malhotra's works, which will be perma-linked on this site soon]
January 5
Chinese Non Translatables
..."There are more than 35,000 Chinese words or phrases that cannot be properly translated into the English language. Words like yin and yang, kungfu and fengshui. Add to this another 35,000 Sanskrit terminology, mainly from India. Words like buddha, bodhisattva and guru."

Different people in different times and different places, think and discover different things. That was bad news for Germany, so Leibniz and Hegel urged the Germans to use only German already established concepts and annotate them with "chinese" or "indian". This way, the world looked and felt to the Germans as if it was German. Hence the idea, that ONE
civilization can replace all others and will never miss a thing.

Language hegemony: It's shengren, stupid!
By Thorsten Pattberg, China Daily, November 25, 2011

If you are an American or European, chances are you've never heard about shengren, minzhu and wenming. If one day you promote them, you might even be accused of cultural treason. That's because they are Chinese concepts.

They are often conveniently translated as "philosophers", "democracy" and "civilization". But they are none of those. They are something else. Something the West lacks. And since foreign concepts were irritating for most Westerners, they were quickly removed from the books and records in the past and, if possible, from the history of the world dominated by the West. In fact, German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel once remarked that the East plays no part in the formation of
the history of thought.....

Rajiv's comment: 
The author of the article below, Thorsten Pattberg, was introduced to me via Sunthar. We then sent Thorsten a gift copy of BD. Thorsten wrote... "After having read your excellent work "Being Different", I immediately had to
change text passages of my "East-West dichotomy" and included you as one of the most influential promoters of Eastern thought. A new edition will be published by Beijing Foreign Language Press in March 2013. The FLP is a very prominent publisher in China. May I kindly ask you for a "blurb" for my book? A blurb, according to the FLP, is a brief statement of three sentences or so which comments on my book in a positive way."

I sent him a blurb for his book as requested. He also wrote the following to Sunther: "I will feature 'Being Different' on my little website, and help to spread the word."

... No wonder my critics at AAR ignored this issue although its so loud and clear in the book."

January 5
T.S. Rukmani had the distinction of occupying the Chair of Hindu Studies at Concordia University in Montreal, which was the only permanent academic chair specifically designated for Hinduism in north america. Its donor community had insisted in a practicing Hindu scholar as occupant, and provisions were made for this up front.

Now that Prof. Rukmani has retired (and I just chatted with her a few minutes ago), things have fallen apart. The university has reclassified it as a "line appointment" to be made under normal "university policies". This is jargon for saying that their own selection committee will select whosoever they choose. The Hindu community gets sidelined and reduced to the role of "adviser" which is not binding and is merely appeasement to try and get more money.

Numerous other chairs have fallen prey to similar destinies, after the initial appointment retires ...  Typically, they get hoodwinked because of their own weakness - to impress the whites, to get their names in prominent announcements, to boost their stature as "leaders" who are working for "the good of Hinduism".

I say this because history keeps repeating itself. I have been giving lectures on this problem since the mid 1990s, trying to offer my services free of charge as consultant to negotiate long term agreements that will withstand, and to ensure the right appointments are made...

... But this has nothing with with what ought to matter: The ability to produce game-changing discourse that challenges the incumbent positions and incumbent power structures in ways that will invariably be unpopular. That would require competence, creativity and courage beyond the local leaders. The university side is far stronger intellectually, in negotiation sophistication, and most of all, they understand this weakness of our local leaders.  They know how to play "good cops".

The rest, as they say, is history (repeating itself). So dont get fooled each time you come across yet another group that pops up and makes grandiose announcements. "
January 7
Nitin shares:
Interesting blog on huffington post. Looks like this NY Times best seller author has read the Integral vs Synthetic unity of BD.

... We believe, first, that we are separate from God (if we believe in God at all). Our Deity, we are told, separated us from Him when the world was created, because of the unworthiness of our species...

Second, we believe we are separate from each other. Generally, we use a softer word. We are individuals, we say. And so, in the cultures of the world's western nations especially, it is our individual rights that have become paramount....

Third, we believe we are separate from life itself ....

Has anyone noticed that the systems emerging from these beliefs are not working? Not our political systems, not our economic systems, not our ecological systems, not our educational systems, not our social systems, and not our spiritual systems. None of them have produced the outcomes for which we have been yearning.

Actually, it's worse. They have all produced exactly the opposite..."

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