RMF Summary: Week of January 9 - 15, 2012

There were a lot of discussions in January 2012 around the book 'Being Different' that are summarized in this post, and presented in a heavily compressed form here. Please visit the e-group to follow the original threads to fully understand the context and detail in the discussions. The debates are around Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of the book BD and related topics such as mutual respect and history-centrism, the need of inter-faith dialog, current state of Sanskrit scholarship, and several other debates, including a link to a video talk by Dr. Subramanian Swamy on the earlier book 'Breaking India'.

January 9
Amazing Sanskrit Conference
Rajiv Malhotra: My talk went exceedingly well, an entire Special Panel was on BEING DIFFERENT and lasted 2 hours. Especially the Q&A was very deep and engaging, with so many Sanskrit experts in the audience who interacted for an hour. Numerous new friendships, contacts and invitations have resulted, not only from traditional Sanskrit heads but also academic centers. A prof. from Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad) wants me to visit them and give a talk - unsure if I can do it in this trip. I am delighted that my idea that Sanskrit centers must start purva paksha of the west has been well received and planted in the soil securely. It will definitely ignite some action. Several chancellors and Vice-Chancellors were there, and want further discussions with me on how to proceed with the launch of "reversing the gaze on" from India... Our traditional Sanskrit scholars (the ones who did not get digested into Western Universalism) are so incredibly sharp in their knowledge ..."

Yogesh responds:
"..I am very happy that Philippines has been selected as a venue of the next Sanskrit conference. The Laguna Copperplate inscription  written in a language that has predominant Sanskrit or Sanskrit words is the oldest Philippine document, and is considered as a national treasure by that country."

ArjunShakti posts:
Mauritius' bill on Spoken Sanskrit, a bill for Spoken Sanskrit in its National Assembly
The object of this Bill is "to provide for the establishment, operation and management of the Sanskrit-speaking Union" that is to empower Sanskrit as a language to bind people of Indian origin together in a distant land. The Union shall consist of members having an interest in the development, propagation and promotion of the Sanskrit language..."

January 9
Refocus of discussion
The thread titled "Chapter one" was a great one started by Kundan to explain the key points in that chapter. Unfortunately, it drifted into discussions that are more relevant to chapter two or even later. So I want to put that thread back on its focus, which consists of the following sub-headings in that chapter:

chapter 1: The Audacity of Difference
  • Piercing the Pretense of Pluralism
  • Difference: With Anxiety or With Mutual Respect?
  • Digestion and Assimilation
  • False Resolutions of Difference Anxiety
  • Purva Paksha: Reversing the Gaze
I want that thread to focus on laying the ground work for further chapters where many of these issues get raised. Key ideas and terminology introduced here need to be discussed and understood.

What I want to know are things specific to this chapter, such as:do you agree there is a false pretense of pluralism in much interfaith dialogue, which hides under 'tolerance' and is not genuine 'mutual respect'?
  • do you understand the notion of digestion of one civ into another? how it destroys contrary to the common ideal of its value? how it is being glorified by the dominant side, i.e. the predator that digests the deer?
  • do you see the distinction between difference anxiety from above (superiority complex) and difference anxiety from below (inferiority complex) - and do you know of examples from your own experience of these?..."

JCP responds:
"... Q1: ... A: Yes. The intriguing question that comes to mind is that - how was this process of digestion which is taking place so widely over generations, tracked down so successfully? How was the overbearing pretence of pluralism reduced to a process of digestion through assertion of one-sided sameness? What was the initial trigger that set you on this difficult path least trodden? The whole process of purva paksh (pp) could only have started after you noticed the initial traces of digestion.

Q2: ....  A: Yes. These two anxieties from above & below are for every observant person to notice in the fast changing environment that one observes in day to day exchanges. The way we treat our domestic helps & the way they respond,
testify for the observation in this question. The overbearing corrupt political leaders in India & the sycophancy they command in political & social circles is a rampant example of these...."

Renu responds to Q4:
".... Q4: are you clear of the overall project of reversing the gaze upon the west, and that it has not been adequately done by our thinkers - though many of them did it for their times and to some extent or other?

A: Yes. Need for pp is well established, but the where-with-all for it would need an organized system of a network of institutions. Most of the present day sadhus in India have little inclination for such serious work. ...

Most people do not have the time or inclination to deal with the hidden agendas of a whole culture with the intention of dominating and absorbing aspects that are suitable to them. To be fair I must point out that even those that belong to such a culture do not all realize this -they have been trained to act in a certain way. Learn a little and offer to teach and write about everyone and every thing without concern about ethics. While the Asian cultures taught a lot of respect that is no more the case in the West no such concepts seem to be at work - in fact they are getting more disrespectful towards even their own systems nothing is sacrosanct. In it self taking the good from another culture is not a problem, in fact it should be encouraged. However in this era of Patents and Copyrights it turns out to be robbing ancient cultures of their wealth. also every thing that comes to a no spiritual culture changes totally in time;the tatva(central point) gets lost...."
Arun questions:
Digestion versus learning: What is a good model of one culture learning from another, as opposed to digesting another? What are the exemplars?

Rajiv's response: A great question. I am glad Arun is going deep into my thesis.

I definitely encourage cross-cultural learning, but without turning the source into a museum piece or destroying its continuity. I call it "harvest fruits but also nurture the roots" and this runs counter to the opposite approach which is to "harvest the fruits but destroy the roots".

Notice how pagans, native Americans, etc. were sources of many useful things but they themselves got finished off. Digestion is when whats good and considered useful to the host gets taken over and whats left is discarded like a pile of
manure. (When I come across Indians and esp Hindu teachers who dont get it, and who brag about the glory of what I call being digested, I remind them that over the long term they are being turned into a pile of shit - thats the
"caste,cows..." stuff left over after digesting whats useful!)

In BD I contrast how Greek thought has been a great source of learning by the west WITHOUT ERASING THE SOURCE - GREAT RESPECT IS GIVEN TO SOCRATES, PLATO,
ARISTOTLE, ETC. But while all the Greek greats are considered part of the "West" (though in classical times Greece was classified as part of the Orient and excluded from the Occident) and are glorified, and the proper understanding of their works is seen as the hallmark of a well-educated westerner, the same is untrue of: Shankara, Abhunavagupta, Aryabhatta, Pannini, Patanjali, Buddha, Kapil, Kautilya, Bharat, and a hundred other Indian greats.

In BD I ask: Why this difference in attitude towards classical greece and classical india? It cannot be attributed to ignorance - the Brit, French and German Indologists invested heavily for a century to "mine" classical Indian texts and many great "western" disciplines and "new" ideas emerged from this. The book, "Oriental Renaissance" discusses some of this - though I have problems with it in many places. Nor can you blame it on Indians having bad things like caste, because Greece had slavery, Plato advocated genocide, etc. In what are considered western classics, great care is taken to depict whats positive about them and the ORIGINAL WORKS are praised as the foundational thoughts of "Civilization".

.... So to answer your question: Greece has been treated with respect as a source and not undermined while whats regarded as non-western has been digested in a manner that depletes the source into a dead carcass fit for a museum. When western thinkers use Kant, Hegel, and so forth, they would never get away trying to ignore that thinker and claim originality for themselves. But plagiarism from Indian sources is normal, etc..."

Rajiv responds to followup questions from members:
Member1: Dharma with close to a billion adherents have survived in the aftermath of Christianity, Islam and thousand of years of proselyting alien rule.

Rajiv: I have too many times responded to this false belief as an instance of what I have coined the Moron Smriti. Dharma's space and share went down by 80% over the past 1500 years. Imagine your company CFO saying, "Congratulations, boss! We lost 80% of our marketshare, share price, revenues, but guess what? We are still not bankrupt! Isn't that cool?"

Member2: If they value Greek and Roman culture/Philosophy/ Science etc., more so than of India; let us not forget they thrashed those religions!

Rajiv: Yes, they rejected the pagan religions but incorporated the philosophy, aesthetics, etc. This does not contradict what I am saying. The relevant point is that whatever they incorporated was done with the sources accepted, respected, even glorified.

Member5: Basically, "Ignorance", misunderstanding, manipulation, etc.. are not the sole asset of the West.

Rajiv: True. But when one player is far more powerful than the rest, its not a level playing field. Offenses by the powerful have a greater devastating effect. If the native americans are equally ignorant of europeans, it does not have the same effect as they do not control "universalism" ti the same extent as the west does.

" Besides discussing these points per se (after reading that chapter), I would like a parallel "chapter two" thread started by someone. This must first explain its major ideas - not whether you agree/disagree or your "opinions", but first state what is it trying to convey."

Kundan: After introducing the book, chapter two begins to delve in the important and core differences in ways in which religion and dharma are respectively practiced in the West and in India. Following are some of the important aspects of this chapter in my view, though I personally feel that every sentence of the chapter is not worth missing:

  1. History is extremely important in the practice of religion of Judeo-Christian traditions—in fact in all the three Abrahamic traditions but Islam is not the topic of discussion in this book. Rajiv ji has coined the term “history-centric” to characterize the Judeo-Christian traditions. Why history is important in these traditions is because the transcendental God interferes in human history through a revelation—the receptivity of human beings to understand the import of the revelation is not a necessity for the revelation to happen. According to Christianity because of the sin committed by Adam and Eve, their progeny has been born with original sin. It was only through the intervention of God through his son that a path to humans to expiate their original sin was opened up. This historical event is of colossal importance for Christians, and hence of historicity in their tradition (it is quite evident from the fact that even their time in BC/AD is defined around the birth of Jesus Christ). On the other hand, in the dharmic traditions, what is important is “adhyatma vidya” or what Rajiv ji calls “embodied knowing” where what matters are the realization of the principles and knowledge claims of sages, saints and luminaries and not their individual history. If at all history comes into the picture, it has a peripheral and not central importance. ....   
  1. He distinguishes “itihasa” from history and refutes the conflation of myth with “itihasa.” Myth in the western world is always identified with a sense of unreality of truth. “Itihasa” is not history and it is not myth is what is clearly explained in the chapter. Then what is “itihasa?” Itihasa is past narrative which does not operate on a strict dichotomy of true/false occurrence. Itihasa transcends and integrates this dichotomy bringing with it the perspectival involvement of the narrator. The fact that an incident has happened is never denied by itihasa but then it gives the narrator a platform of creativity to play with. Indians should contest the depiction of Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Puranas as myths.
  1. The last two sections, “How Embodied Knowing Works” and “how History-centrism Works” further crystallize the distinctions between two distinct ways of approaching the divine. ....
  1. The first person experience is of crucial important in “adhyatma vidya” traditions. What is of central importance is to experientially know the truth claims of one’s guru. This emphasis is across the board in dhramic traditions as evidenced in the teachings of say Sri Aurobindo, Krishnamurti or the Buddha. The inner being is the living laboratory in which yogis, rishis and munis experiment and know their truths. On the other hand, in the history-centric traditions, faith is of immense importance. Besides there is an inherent separation between son of God and his adherents. Therefore one can follow him but he/she can neither become like him nor have experiences similar to him because he being son of God is exclusive and there cannot be anyone like him (as in the case of Christianity)....  
  1. Because of the characteristics of “History-centric” traditions and “Adhyatma Vidya” traditions as mentioned in (4) above, the latter was able to develop a sophisticated inner science because a) there wasn’t any dogma associated with replicating and verifying the results of the spiritual beings, and b) the spiritual figures themselves encouraged and invited his/her followers to verify and no the truths of their contentions first hand. Given that there is an openness and freedom to pursue the inner knowledge, various dharmic traditions developed many and inter-related techniques of purifying and perfecting the mind—this is primarily because the “adhyatma vidya” traditions hold that it is only in a quiet, purified, and still mind that the knowledge of divine happens. Given the openness which is present in the dharmic traditions, it is compatible with the tenets of modern science (My comment: I know that Rajiv ji has mentioned this in one of his emails that much before the Sanskrit texts began to be studied and translated in eighteenth century and nineteenth century India and Europe, the Jesuits began this process in 1500s itself. Could India have impacted the renaissance in anyway or form is a good hypothesis to have—this thread needs to be explored. Could there have been a connection between the father of modern science Francis Bacon and India is another thread that should not be dismissed as a distant imagination—we must pursue this as a realm of possibility till proven otherwise. India’s decline and Europe’s rise have coincided and that India may have impacted the transition of Europe beyond the transfer of material wealth is something that needs to be explored in great detail. I think we need to also explore extensively the travelogues of traders visiting Vijayanagara Empire and other parts of India in the 1500s and 1600s).
Given that God intervened in human history through a prophet or son of God, the Judeo-Christian traditions have not given the freedom to have identity or oneness with the divine. At best one could have nearness to God in beatific vision. ... a special being can be sent by God but one cannot become a prophet or a messiah through sadhana or yoga as happens in the “adhyatma vidya” traditions. Thus, in the history centric traditions, one cannot take God or his special beings to a laboratory of inner exploration. This has created the fundamental split between science and religion. That religion had to face a tough battle with science during renaissance, which it still continues to do so in the present times...."

Surya posts:
"... One of the key concepts for understanding differences developed in chapter 2 is:


Human bottom-up potential independent of history (Dharmic traditions)
      God makes top-down history (history-centric religions)
... I have jotted down some key points BD makes on Dharmic traditions:

(1) In Dharmic traditions, the only way of acquiring knowledge is by direct experience or empirical testing. Just as external empirical data is the basis for validating hypothesis in modern science, inner experiential data is the basis for testing adhyatmic-vidya.

(2) Acquiring inner experiential data is a personal endeavor.  No one can do this for the person.  Endeavor requires active inner and outer engagement.  One cannot say, because so-and-so Guru has acquired the knowledge, I can just read his works and acquire what he knew.  Direct personal experimentation is the only true way of knowing.

(3) Throughout the ages, yogis have discovered and fine-tuned methods and processes that are effective tools in helping the person in the engagement. ..

(3a) An outcome of (3) is the importance of a lineage of Gurus and the tools that they developed or propagated.

(3b) another outcome of (3) is that there is no "one way", "the only way", or "the final way.".   In other words, development and refinement of tools is an evolutionary process...

(4) Knowledge acquisition is a personal endeavor.  It does not demand the person to follow a blind dogma or belief.  It encourages individuals to critique their own beliefs and ideas. ...

(5) Techniques for acquiring the knowledge through the body (including the mind and senses) are abundant in Dharmic traditions. Core competence of Dharmic traditions has been the ability to produce living spiritual masters across the ages and regions..."
Vish comments on 'Itihasa':
"... Iti-hasa is not history (not any individual man/ womans, not the way school history books are written)
Iti-hasa is not myth (The word myth was the contribution of people like Joseph Campbell in our modern times teaching pop culture in the liberal and new-age environments of the Sarah Lawrence and Vassar type of schools).

Iti-hasa has connotations of "thus the narration" or "ITs story". The IT standing for Being, Spirit, Soul, a certain sacredness relation with the Cosmos, Ecology and Life, with the 'Principle' that upholds the human, coming to a vibration with the Dharma of each thing in creation- all the benefits and preservation to the human in evolution. You cannot speak of evolution without there being that Involution - an important point Rajiv has explained. The Hindu texts keep on asking "Who is it that is "Involved"?"

One has to walk humbly in the narration of the Iti-hasas, for they are indeed spellbinding;
one has to lose oneself in the narration as Rama explains to a fiery brother Lakshmana why for the sake of the welfare of everyone in his kingdom (he takes on the mantle to be its protector) he has to as an act of Dharma obey his father's
word implicitly: without any conflict of any kind.

(This is a Yoga being taught here together with the necessity of learning to "Honor thy Father and thy Mother")

One has to walk humbly through its great labyrinth to understand that in our giddiness to bestow words like 'Kubera' etc on anyone rich, how truly we dilute our thoughts and the name, not understanding that Kubera stands for one "who cares" and gives back bountifully. One has to sit with Rama and Sita and let the thoughts churn (the "Manthara") to understand the investment of sacredness in man and woman to preserve the Dharma of marriage. One must sit with Sitaji in her own gentle words in Chitrakuta as she urges Sri Rama to put his bows and arrows aside so as not to frighten the gentle animals when they come in their love.  (Ah, but don't we have Disneyland to teach us the same these days and even better as Entertainment?)

Honestly, I wish every mother and father would spend some time with their children reading a passage here or there
with them, from these noble Iti-hasas. But then, the fathers and mothers would have needed that to be done by their own fathers and mothers and in their own times! ...."
Senthil asks:
".. modern western science takes a position, that one should believe things only if they are proved..  this in my view is totally negative stance...  it always look for empirical evidence, that is perceptible within 5 senses of human body..  in view this negative attitude has a direct influence of christianity, which denies any experience of god by others..  am i correct in my understanding?
Should we not review the western science too, which is influenced by christianity?

Kundan responds: 
Science in the western world is a by-product of many influences. First is the medieval milieu of Church, which had taken possession and control of all human activities. No exploration worth the name was possible unless the Church validated it. This carried on for about thousand years or so and there was a revolt in the masses which led to renaissance. The second influence on science is that of the philosophy of the Greeks—Plato, Aristotle, etc. Given that science arose from the milieu of Judeo-Christian world, it can never be free of its influence despite its insistence otherwise ....

            However, I think the Church knew that nearness to God could not be accessed through the five senses. It already had a hating bias towards Reason. It was not because they understood the limitation of Reason in divine pursuit but mainly because the pagan Greeks privileged Reason; and because the Church considered the pagan Greeks demoniac, it hated and demonized Reason. .... The scientific world then disavowed Reason and began to specifically focus on the realm of five senses. This movement was first described as Positivism and later as Logical Positivism.

            Now let us come to discuss where Science and Church are two sides of the same coin. This is regarding the issue of faith. The scientific community is no less dogmatic than is/was Church regarding its issues of methodologies and its principles. .... It too operates on faith, which has been characterized as scientism. If you want to study this issue in detail, I recommend to you two authors: Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend. Paul Feyerabend in “Against Method” is particularly scathing in his attack on science for its Church like character. Thomas Kuhn in “Structure of Scientific Revolutions” is mild but he almost says the same thing. If you want to have a brief understanding of these issues (though I will not recommend it, for I would encourage a detailed study of this issue) I refer you to a paper that I had presented in 2002 at IIT, Kharagpur. Rajiv ji’s Infinity Foundation was a sponsor of this conference and had also sponsored my participation.

... One small clarification: Christianity does not prohibit experience of God. One can have nearness to God in Christianity (usually it is encouraged in an afterlife but you can have it in this life too in a beatific experience). What it prohibits is union with either God or becoming like his son, who has an exclusive and historical significance—these two were heresies, which would cost one his/her life at stake. 

Arun comments:
"Turning Rajiv Malhotra's Being Different effort into an attack on science is needless and I think will be counterproductive.

On the substance of the post -
IMO, the methodology of science is completely separable from its historic roots. Yes, the subjects science considers interesting (i.e., that are funded for research, that researchers want to work on, etc.) are culture-specific. As a simple example, a vaccine for malaria is of far greater interest to Indian than to the US pharmaceutical companies.

We well know that not everything is scientific. E.g., there is the whole field of aesthetics, in the arts, music, dance, etc. These being non-scientific does not make them less valuable. So the inner experience does not lose value if we cannot demonstrate it to be scientific."

Rajiv's comment: 
I fully agree with Arun.

This "science = Eurocentrism" posture is the blindness of postcolonialists, because they have no clue of non-western paradigms of science. This is where Balagangadhara (whose work i respect) is misguided as he sees reason, science,
etc. as absent from dharma or antithetical to it.

BD takes the stand that: Order/Chaos are BOTH present and balanced in dharma (hence the samudra manthana motif on the cover) whereas Order must annihilate Chaos in Western thinking; rationality and direct inner experience are not
mutually contradictory in dharma because ordinary rationality is enhanced/expanded into what Sri Aurobindo refers to as the supramental state.

This notion that "mysticism vs rationality" are opposites was true of western mysticism, and BD explains in detail why dharmic mysticism differs from western mysticism.

Such common misrepresentations by Hindu experts of recent times have been turned into a weapon against dharma by people like Ken Wilber, who claim to supersede dharma because they depict it as "otherworldly, non-rational, not capable of advancement", etc... Many lofty otherworldly Indian experts have reinforced this and fed it."

Kundan: I do not think that what I wrote is an attack on science. It is a CRITIQUE of Science—its methodologies, insistence on reason, objectivity etc. ...
May be the spirit of science is same with adhyatma vidya but all its methodologies and philosophy (induction, deduction, falsifiablity, etc) are not the same—replicability and verifiability yes but not induction, deduction, and falsifiablity). Adhyatma Vidya transcends and integrates science because whereas science comes from the realm of five senses and reason, Adhyatma vidya comes from realms that are beyond these planes of senses and mind—higher mind, intuitive mind, illumined mind, supramental mind, etc if we take the terminology of Sri Aurobindo into account. And given that all the planes of the consciousness beginning with matter to vital (the realm of emotions and senses) to reason to supramental are seen as one continuum, Adhyatma Vidya envelops and transcends science. This is also the reason why science and “religion” have not been in conflict in India. The Indians traditionally have been comfortable with using and exploring all realms of human existence—senses, mind, and beyond. And that is the reason one also had a fairly advanced science for its time till India was ransacked. This is much in contradiction to the other worldly rant that one hears about Indians.
Given that colonization has foisted this science/religion debate on us Indians, I recommend that we understand the philosophy of science completely beginning with Francis Bacon. Then we can take up the writings of Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend and Lakatos. There is one good book that can give a quick review of the important issues involved in the writings of the above philosophers of science. It is called “What is This Thing Called Science?” by A. F. Chalmers. 

Rajiv's comment: Maybe it's semantics - call it "western approach to science" (which is part of Western Universalism) rather than calling it science.

Kundan shares his thoughts on difference between dharma and history-centric traditions in BD on the issue of authority:
The dharmic and the history-centric traditions widely differ around the question of authority. In the dharmic traditions, it is divinely embodied being, a rishi or a muni, who is considered to be the final authority in spiritual/dharmic matters. A person who, through his yoga or spiritual practice, has come in contact with the divine has the ultimate word in dharmic matters. The spiritual knowledge is embodied in the being. Forget about any organization, book, or collective having a superior status to this individual if he/she can manifest yogic states and yogic knowledge, even scholar of the shastras or any of the dharmic texts has much inferior status than the yogi. A pandit or a brahmana has a subordinate status to that of a yogi. In the varna classification also whereas a brahmana is a person who is guided by the sattva guna, a yogi is one who is beyond the three gunas: therefore, he or she is called "trigunatita." Traditional India never inquires about the varna or the jati of a yogi. Some of these rishis become gurus, and initiate some other people as disciples so that he/she could guide them to path of self realization or divinity. Guru in the Indian tradition is awarded a position superior to the divine himself/herself/itself as is evident in the oft repeated sloka, "Gurur Brahmaa Gurur Vishnu Gurur devo Maheshwarh; Gurur sakshaat param brahma, tasmai shri guruve namah." Guru is above and beyond all-even the highest and the ultimate Brahman has an inferior status to that of a guru.

            The verses 34 and 35 of Vivekachudamani describes a guru in the following words: "the one who has studied the sàstras, one who does not have pàpa, who is not affected by desires, who is a knower of Brahman with the mind resolved in the knowledge of Brahman, who is calm like the fire that does not have any fuel, who is an ocean of compassion without any reason, who is helpful friend to the seeker who salute him with appreciation." Guru for a seeker is an ocean of compassion who is a helpful friend. Guru within the Indian tradition is not a power hungry individual who seeks subservience. On the contrary, he/she is the remover of darkness within the hearts of individuals who seek him/her with reverence and surrender. The Guru within the Indian tradition is not a martinet who orders people around. On the contrary as the Upanishads show, he/she engages in a dialogue to remove avidya from his/her disciples.  

            Given the importance of Guru within the dharmic tradition, he/she has been a major target of attack from the west. It is mainly because of two reasons: 1. the institution of guru is a direct challenge to the organized, canonized, and authoritarian Church (more on this below). 2. The highly individualistic western culture-which also engenders a strong ego-is not really able to understand the nuances and intricacies of one's relationship with one's guru. The strong ego of a western person does not allow him/her to surrender to the Guru, which further leads to a projection of authoritarian junk onto the latter. The Guru, who within the Indian tradition is a compassionate helper and friend, becomes an authoritarian martinet in the western imagination. The individualistic ego does not understand that in the surrender to one's guru, one finds the biggest spiritual treasure and an ultimate spiritual fulfillment....

Shastras, similarly are not meant to dogmatic texts that have to be taken word for word. They are like guide books or "how to" books to experience spiritual realities within the context of one's own being. One is not to believe in them but use them as experiment manuals to verify and replicate their contentions. The shastras are divided into various categories like Shruti and smriti. Shrutis are revealed knowledge where as smriti are created by humans. The shrutis contain the impersonal or "apaurusheya" spiritual laws of the universe, which again are meant to be verified and replicated in one's experience. The smritis are context dependent texts that give codes of conduct based on time, person, and place. ....

Now how does authority in history-centric traditions look like as discussed in BD? In the history centric traditions, the mandate is not to find self-realization but to know the will of God, both for individuals and for societies. In Christianity, people cannot find union with God because they are born in sin, of which they could only be redeemed when God decided to send and sacrifice his only son-even the redemption does not guarantee a union with God but only nearness in afterlife. This was a unique historical event that cannot be repeated and cannot be verified. One could only have nearness to God in rapture after death but that is only after they have been saved and have taken Jesus as their only and unique saviour. As mentioned before finding unity with or claiming unity with Jesus was a heresy, which was overseen and monitored by the Church. The Church is the final authority to see whether one is living in accordance with the Nicene Creed of Christianity. The message that was brought down by one-time Jesus is fixed and cannot be changed, neither can it be replicated and verified. The Church and the book become the fixed cannons of truth, the final truth, and final arbiter on all matters of religion. Contrary to the dharma traditions, a spiritual figure or a yogi is not the ultimate word on matters of dharma or divine or god. And if one's experiences led him to contradict that was the established truth of the Church, not  Jesus, because the Church came into existence almost three hundred years after Jesus was put on the Cross, he/she could pay with his/he life as happened with Meister Eckhart and others.....

Given that the dharma traditions emphasize so much on the direct experience of spiritual truths, this has not gone down the throats of Christian scholars very well. Swami Vivekananda had made a lot of noise (and I am not being irreverent towards him when I put it as such) about this aspect of Vedanta when he toured the US and UK in order to show the camaraderie of science and Vedanta. Apart from the charisma that he had, this aspect of Vedanta won him many followers. The Christian scholars, in particular some "big names" like Paul Hacker and Wilhelm Halbfass have written reams to show that Swami Vivekananda's camaraderie of Vedanta and Science was inspired by his study of western literature and philosophy of science in Calcutta, and that he gave his own twist to the matter to make such a claim. When one begins to examine the dharmic texts before the advent of English on Indian soil, one can see it for oneself that the dharmic traditions have always emphasized a direct experience of spiritual truths. "
Bharath responds to Vish's comments on Itihasa:
".. Your writings of Ramayana the iti-hasa (*It happened thus)* deeply touches me.

I would like to add that there is some small degree of overlap between History and Iti-hasa. i.e the events and happenings of Rama life and his Dharmic Way of life itself is bench mark for one to follow. He has shown practically by his life the Dharmic Way. It is a practical demonstration of the eternal truth in play in space time. Therefore, the historical narrative has its role to play in a society.

However, it can be said that the principles of the story is more important than the story itself and therefore, it is immaterial whether the the story itself is true and false. This is also correct. But if the Historical context is undermined the lofty and grand narrative of Valmiki Rishi who is considered to
have seen the entire story of Ramayana in a deep state of meditation looses its appeal in the hearts of the people.

However multiple narratives to suit the dharma of people as propounded by various gurus/rishis has taken place over time. In fact these Iti-hasas of rishis/gurus is deeply connected to Sampradayas too. Therefore, Sampradayas have a historical connection to Guru Parampara and invalidating the historicity
will be invalidating the sampradayas itself at an operation level of the family.However, I acknowledge that the very purpose of this samprdaya is to Transcend Historicity itself

In fact the Rishis view is that *"Omkara's Expansion is Gayathri Mantra, the Gayathri Mantra's Expansion is Purushasooktam of Vedas and Purusha sooktams Expansion is Ramayana Iti-hasa. Out of this the latter is in the story of Omkara in space time realm. Therefore, Iti-hasa has past proceeding story component in it and HIs-story is Rama's Story or more deeply Om-kars Story"

Contrast all this to the fixation in some time -space which is present in Judeo-Christian traditions"
Abhishek questions A.K. Ramunajan's "retelling Ramanayanas" thesis:
"I was going through all the videos of Rajiv and liked all of them. But during the discussion with UGC panel, he was supporting Ramanujan's theory of multiple Ramayans. (more than 300). ...  Just, becoz we should allow various forms of narration of a story does not mean that we allow other religions and non dharmic people to modify the essence of our dharma.

Should we allow character assassinations like Sita ji being the actual wife of Ravan or Hanuman ji having relationships with Sita mata. Do we need to include such versions of Ramayan in our text and/or books or we should preserve the essence of Ramayan and accept modifications without destroying the essence.

Rajiv response: 
I do NOT support any interpretations that are disrespectful as in the above examples. I DO support local adaptations across Asia that have existed for centuries that are extremely respectful.

For instance, when I owned a company in Indonesia in the 1990s, I visited there several times a year and studied the way Hinduism was present. One of their major sites is called the Monkey Forest. Their narrative is that the monkeys in this forest are descendents of Hanuman's army. How did they end up there? The answer given is that on Hanuman's way from Himalayas to Lanka some pieces of the mountain fell into the Ocean and became some of the Indonesian islands, and
these monkeys arrived as a result. That's a local adaptation that works for them.

Another example: In Thailand, major Buddhist temples have a statue of Ravana outside the gate. The interpretation given is that after Ravana died, he repented for his bad deeds, and asked for another chance to do good. So in his next birth he came to serve Rama who was born as Buddha. That is why Ravana sits outside the door of Buddha to protect him. A bad guy became good in his next life. There is also a town called Ayodhya in Thailand which according to local folk lore is the place we know to be in India.

When I accompanied Swami Dayananda Saraswati to Cambodia for the Hindu-Buddhist summit, there was an evening performance of Ramayana specifically for the
delegation. It had many such local adaptations.

The entire Asia (and even in remote parts of India) there are many such local adaptations. I did not find anything disrespectful in them, at least not the ones I saw.

So each specific interpretation must be examined and evaluated for the bhava and motives involved. You should not assume that the stupid Hinduphobia of M.F. Hussain is present in all these adaptations. BD cites A.K. Ramanuja but none of
the points made in those quotes have even a remote disrespect. But if he wrote other things that were  disrespectful, of course we should demolish those. " 
Rajiv responds to another clarification on 'mutual respect':
Respect does NOT require that I must accept the other's faith as mine. I respect that it is HIS faith even though mine is different. So I can respect someone even if I think his position is untrue. I am not threatened by what he practices. He is at his own level of consciousness based on his past conditioning, from which he gets a certain worldview. I may know that to be false but to force him to become like me would be wrong. So I respect him, even though I dont practice what he does. His drishti differs due to his prarabdha. So I will keep arguing and debating him, but that is not out of disrespect.

Please note that the "mutual" clause is critical in mutual respect. Would I also respect Hitler, bin laden, ravana, etc? No, because they do not respect others who differ, hence they fail the "mutual" clause..."

Ramanth responds to Rajiv's comment on 'mutual respect'
I may respect your right to believe your faith, but know that it is false and that you are ignorant of the true way to salvation. Hence though I respect you and your choice of belief, I feel that it is wrong for me to allow you to go in the wrong path, hence I should try and reform you. Essentially, I can respect
your faith as a legitimate human attempt to commune with the divine, but still recognize it as leading to hell for not accepting Jesus, hence all attempts at saving you through conversion [with force, deception or otherwise] are ultimately noble, just like a teacher or parent must sometimes use force or small temptations, on an erring child, though the child is respected and loved.

Rajiv's response:
The key point you must understand here is that in the Abrahamic religions God gives rules that apply to COLLECTIVE groups, not for individual moksha.

You are required to get others in line because its a group travel arrangement to heaven, hence the institutions serve as group travel agencies to secure a place for members. The membership concept runs deep. It is collective action on earth
(hence evangelism).

Christian Zionists are a good example: The second coming of Christ is waiting to happen because humans have not collectively acted as per the Book of Revelation:
according to that part of the bible, Christ will return ONLY after people have restored the original Kingdom of David, which includes among other things restoring the Temple of David where today stands a mosque - not an ordinary
mosque but the place where Mohammed went to paradise. All this is at the center for the fight in the Middle East, hence Christian Zionists (v. powerful in USA) support for Israel. This is due to history-centrism.

... Its like someone polluting the city water supply becomes my legitimate problem as well, because it effects my safety.


The result of collective versus individual paths is immense. In dharma, I can respect the other who is doing whats bad karma when the consequences are only to HIM, not me. Christians and Jews claim the mandate to spread the "law" universally, hence they CANNOT respect non compliance - it would be like you respecting someone who is inflicting criminal damage on you.

I can respect someone's right to do bad karma as part of the freedom of choice given to everyone, even though I know its has consequences - to HIM alone.

Note the reciprocal role of the "mutual" clause in my term "mutual respect". It means the man who is poisoning the city water supply is not entitled to my respect because he is not reciprocating by respecting others' safety."

Shankar shares:
On Purva Paksha challenges... Being Different is a wakeup call to those who have honest, serious commitment to revive and renew methods of articulating dialogue in Reversing the gaze. In order to intelligently Reverse the Gaze it is important to understand in depth the Purva-Paksha Siddhanta techniques used within Indian philosophy.

However today we have a structural problem in learning this traditional Advaita argumentative methods used in their Purva Paksha-Siddhanta discussions with Nyaya-Vaisheshika-Shoonya vaadins. The teaching systems that exist today more
often rely on contemporary self interpretations or modern commentaries rather than detailed purva-uttara mimamsa, the word-to-word analysis based on Sri Adi Shankara, Nagarjuna, Kumarila Bhatta, Bhartrihari and other Bhashya's. Due to
time and other agenda's Bhashya's are barely covered in teaching. The relevance of these analysis and understanding is mandatory to know how within Indian thought the gaze was reversed followed by that we can reverse the gaze with
west. The Sampradaya does exist in few Ashramas today but in our current philosophical study mindset - commonly there is a rush to take a position of Advaitin or otherwise, without first a thorough comparative philosophical study of the six schools of Indian thought which provides structure to logic-reasoning-argumentation methods, which will come to bear fruits no matter which final position is accepted.

Some of the traditional true-to-the Indian thought philosophers even today say that each text takes 3-4 years of serious-rigorous-study to even gain a glimpse of depth involved in the great logical texts/philosophy drastantas. There is lack of commitment to fully teach or learn in detail, the fundamental (various) means of knowledge, the vision of each of the schools of thought or chosen text in a structured manner before taking on the road of particular school of
thought. There is rush of completing the text/training and claiming an 'I know it all' conclusive position. The detail argumentation between the traditional Philosophical Giants of six schools provides us an abundance of 'structure to
articulate one's position' rather than taking conclusive position without substantive backup or intelligent argumentation.

For example in Mandukya Upanishad, Sri Adi Shankaaracharya exposes opponent logic-fallacies as half-baked logic (Ardha-Kukkuti Nyaya) which is keeping half
the hen for future eggs and half for cooking. This is the fallacy exhibited by plagiarists of Indian thought..."
January 12
Re: [BEF] Inter-faith Dialogue: We gain nothing by not engaging
Are we going to wait for another Shankara to appear in our midst or deal with the situation as it now exists? You can't defeat by NOT engaging, by running...

January 12 

Dravidian 'Seminar' against Breaking India
I went there. And you all should be happy to know that Dravidia Kazhakam official magazine has changed the Varna of both the authors of 'Breaking India' into... 

January 12
Re: [BEF] Inter-faith Dialogue: What’s in it for Hindus? - Sandhya
N S Rajaram writes: "Shankara did not shun dialog or debate, he engaged the Mimamskas. Dialog or debate sharpens intellect and analysis.
What is in it for Hindus? It forces us to study the adversary and assess its strengths and weaknesses-- something the Hindus a thousand years ago failed to do when Islam came.
Above all it sends the message to Christians that we know what they are up to and are not afraid of them.
The Acharyas are insular and inward looking and easily duped by Christian sophists and their sugar-coated poison in the form of of flattery. It would be a mistake for us to depend on them to defend Hinduism. They didn't do it for a thousand years.
On Wed, Jan 11, 2012 at 8:57 PM, S. Kalyanaraman <kalyan97@...> wrote:

January 12
Videos: Dr. Subramaniam Swamy on "Breaking India" book in Bangalore

January 12
Sabotaging discussion/debate with opponents is a form of Difference
In chapter 1 of BD the main theme is to explain the various forms of Difference Anxiety.

One common form of DA among many Indians is the avoidance of opponents. To avoid dialogues with others who we differ with, those suffering from DA resort to either (1) isolationism or (2) the opposite extreme of flippant dismissal of the opponent.

Before explaining what is wrong with this, let me qualify that the term interfaith is as broad in scope as the term "faith". Faith refers not necessarily to faith in God, but faith in any system of belief or set of axioms, including atheism, secularism, Marxism, etc.

So what are the pros and cons of  dharmic leaders avoiding discussions, debates, forums, events that involve others - including Muslims, Christians, Marxists, Subaltern scholars, feminists, and all sorts of others who differ, often very severely?

One advantage might seem to be that we don't face discomforting situations in which we could make a fool of ourselves or compromise our position. But this applies only to those who are unprepared, inexperienced. Therefore, those with bad experiences in such interfaith encounters due to their own inabilities should avoid them, because they are not competent enough to do a good job. They should control their ego needs to be visible, and let others who are better qualified go to such events. They should not project their own inadequacies upon everyone else.

There are major disadvantages of avoiding such interactions, assuming one is competent, well educated and experienced:
  1. The types of opponents listed above control the major channels of distribution of knowledge and policy making. These channels include education systems, media, government policies, journals, academic bodies, etc. Avoidance means we concede them the status quo.
  2. While 20% might be solidly entrenched as opponents, the remaining vast majority are plain confused, ignorant, scared of fighting the established intellectual order, and do not have good leadership offering alternatives. So by engaging the opponents the idea is not to change the leadership on the opposing side, but to influence the vast majority in the middle who want to hear convincing arguments on behalf of dharma. They gather around me after each talk precisely because they feel empowered to speak up and want more role models who can do this with dignity and good intellect.
  3. Encounters are a form of competitor research - one learns the others strengths, weaknesses, plans, etc.
  4. Many persons from opposing camps are fed up and want to change their minds. I came across many westerners just yesterday in Bangalore at an international conference on management who want to understand Indian models as alternatives and are here to learn. If I were to take the stand that the presence of opponents means I boycott (there was an imam, Christian priests, Hindu gurus, etc.) the loss would have been mine. 
The good news is that more and more youth and also many senior traditional thinkers are now backing my ideas in large numbers. The leaders of large organizations that have failed to reverse the gaze at the west now realize their folly, and constantly invite me to conduct training of their top thinkers, often in closed door workshops.
This upsets the marginalized voices who feel jealous that they missed the boat after many decades of activism claiming to lead society. ...
The World Sanskrit Conference, the Education Conf that I will participate in today and tomorrow, the management conference I just did in Blore, the two important meetings and workshops of futurist thinkers (one in Bangalore and one in Delhi) - NONE of these allowed participation or physical presence of any of these shouters. It is sad that such folks, having failed to do anything, try to become a nuisance. It is best to ignore them as the noise making is fed by the craving for visibility."

Several responses to Rajiv's commentary:
Dear Rajaram, You are so right on the need to engage in dialog. That testifies to our self-confidence - just as Swami Vivekananda did at Chicago back in 1893. The goal is obviously NOT to show others in poor light or express our arrogance or so-called superiority (which could even be a product of our inferiority complex) but to promote greater understanding.

I ask the following simple question to all who support the stand taken by VR: Who is stopping you from running a parallel campaign in mandana misra style? How many such debates have you people done? How many have you converted? Answer would be "None".
When you are not capable of doing what you preach , why do you want to find fault with some good work being done by ...

.... Even christians speakers with their interfaith dialogue or extremists like Dr Zakir Naik dont turn up saying that they are here to defeat hinduism in a debate but in acting friends they start to dismantle it in the dialogue to show their faiths as superior. So along with Rajivs books and then his debates with the 'otherside' giving the Hindu perspective is enough to start the dismantling process in a friendly way of The Borg (western/Christian scholarship on Hinduism.)There are many ways to apply purva paksha but it all depends on circumstances.

BTW is this a category of people you refer to in moron smriti? Is that one of your future books? 
Rajiv response: Yes to both.

In addition there is nearly a complete lack of strategic thinking amongst the said group which claims to represent Hindus in India. While the opponents occupy the centre stage be it in media, academia, govt or anywhere else, these folks are pretty much content operating from the margins...

Debate on inter-Faith dialog in the context of Rajiv Malhotra's book, 'Being Different' and his discussion with Rev. Clooney and others.

.... I do not see why bringing more awareness to Hindus at large about missionary machinations or the kernel features of strength of Hindu Dharma and debating the authentic essentials of Hindu Dharma with non-Hindus on a scholarly platform should be mutually exclusive. Both are important in defending Hindu Dharma and in invigorating the Hindu society. Refusing to recognize forces that are inimical to Hindu Dharma and Society is sheer foolishness. Ignoring to engage them is dangerous. Of course such engagement would have to be in different modes in different circumstances. For instance when a local Church-led mafia tries to construct a new church on a public land it must be opposed vigorously on the ground with local Hindu activists at the grass roots and by invoking law. This is engagement. On the other hand, it is also engagement to debate with a Christian theologian on his misconceptions or false interpretations about Hindu Dharma or on issues which do not appeal to Hindu rationality. Leaving missionaries to speak and write whatever they wish to without confronting them in a cordial and sufficiently informed debate is not going to strengthen Hindu Dharma or Society. The '˜desirability' argument mentioned above is also highly flawed and baseless. The wilier your opponent is the more is the need for you to keep engaged with him to discover the chinks in his armor and the details of his strategy. It is absurd for a good Hindu to bury his head in the sand on the ground that the adversary is too sly or insidious. Is it not a historical fact that Hindu subjugation took place repeatedly in the past because the invading forces discovered the former's weaknesses and exploited them? If your adversary has a hidden agenda the way to tackle it is not to run away from him but to discover that agenda and counter it. How can this be done without engagement and debate? In the intellectual domain what are the other options available to the Hindu?
Coming to the Rajiv-Clooney debate, Clooney has been described as a 'Trojan horse', one or two critics have also felt that Clooney has had the better of Rajiv in the debate. I watched the audio-video of the debate more than once and am among the numerous persons who felt that Rajiv did a very good job. I did not find any Trojan horse in Clooney. The Jesuit is no doubt wily and may have some agenda of his own in agreeing to the debate. So what? ...
I heard an argument that inter-Faith dialog is a Vatican strategy to entice some Hindu religious leaders and efforts by Missionaries in this regard have a political agenda. I entirely agree. But I think it is unwise to refuse to enter into any debate with them on this ground. What is, however, necessary is calculated steps to thwart individual Hindu religious leaders or scholars getting enticed or misled into making unacceptable joint statements or singing the meaningless song of 'all religions are the same' etc. Rajiv has forcefully brought up this point in his book and in his interaction with commentators on the book. In doing so he may have used words which may not be entirely appropriate, particularly in respect of highly respected Hindu religious leaders but this is a separate issue.
Our adversaries are constantly changing their techniques. Should Hindus not adapt to the changing times and to the changing modes of the adversaries? Terms such as conquest, defeat etc belong more in the lexicon of Christianity and Islam; our objective in inter-Faith debates must be to persuade the non-Hindu adversary and Hindu fence-sitter who may be open to be persuaded, and kindle interest and raise awareness of the ignorant Hindu.
... Once we accept that such debates have an important role in what we Dharmis wish to do for our Dharma we could utilize Rajiv's effort as a learning experience and improve upon it. It is wisdom to see the value in the core and not the weakness in the peripherals.
...Making a wily Christian missionary move a few steps forward in admitting implicitly or explicitly error in his interpretation or claims is as important as firing up the enthusiasm of the already-converted. ... It is not wise to decry one or the other arena or the Dharmi who chooses one or the other arena for his contribution. To do so is to be as unwise as to declare that for a human being the pair of hands is more important than the pair of legs or that eyes are not as necessary as the ears and so on..."

January 13
Digesting Veda: an excellent summary of my positions on digestion...
http://digestingveda.blogspot.com/ Some unknown person has put up an excellent summary of many posts here where I have discussed this issue. Thanks to this...
January 14
15th World Sanskrit Conference - impact on Sanskrit studies in India
N S Rajaram: 
One has only to compare the extraordinary vitality of Sanskrit Studies in India with the picture of gloom and doom in so-called Sanskrit Departments in the U.S. to see where the future lies.

Harvard doesn't even have a Sanskrit Department anymore-- only something called South Asia Studies as part of its Divinity School, with its faculty like Diana Eck courting Islamists for sponsorship.

Don't believe cries of 'Sanskrit in danger' meaning give us money or Sanskrit will disappear. Let it flourish in India and die in the U.S. Sanskrit courses there-- at the level of high school level introductory courses are drawing no students.

Let these departments die a natural death.

Rajiv's comment:
Unfortunately, the western Sanskritists are still being given godly and iconic status in India. This becomes loud and clear at such events. Note how Pollock (author of "The Death of Sanskrit") got the Padam Bhushan award by the GOI, and
named head of the project funded by Narayan Murthy ($10+ million initial funds) to bring out translations of Indian classics
. Many Indian institutions have been digested by westerners and used as a winter home. Naturally they see me as a dangerous person as I expose them candidly. The atmosphere is such that nobody dares to criticize some of these iconic scholars because the punishment is that such a critic gets blacklisted and demonized.

At the same time, I must say that many western Sanskritists have indeed done excellent work for our tradition. We must encourage this, as our own scholars are still too narrowly confined, i.e. lacking global expertise to be effective

One of the top Indian Sanskritists called me to a private room and said on conditions of anonymity: "I follow your work very closely all the time, I highly appreciate what you do, and want to continue to support you privately. BUT I CANNOT AFFORD TO SUPPORT YOU PUBLICLY." Even at his senior age with little else to gain publicly in this life, he is scared to speak his mind. I was candid in telling me that useful help had to be concrete and practical, and that "blessings" are already there from guru. What I need is action where it counts. This individual is always full of proposals for me to do - as if I dont what to already and am sitting around idle in need of ideas.

The GOOD NEWS are threefold:

1) YOUTH: There are many young Indian scholars emerging who are looking for guidance to master this new  Kurukshetra. It is absolutely amazing how many have
read my Sulekha blog on Sanskrit Phobia written 6 years ago:

So they are becoming highly aware of the problem. They seek guidance from me on what to do, which their own senior mentors in India cannot give them for various reason. I wish I had the resources to hire a couple of them to start an India based movement.

2) OUTSPOKEN RESENTMENT: There is also growing resentment against western hegemony among some senior Indians. They, too, have an outpouring of sentiments every time I visit. Madhu Khanna, who has followed and supported my work (and who was one of the discussants at the Harpercollins launch of BD) pointed out to me that the Conference Book given to all delegates glorifies William Jones, Max Mueller and various other Eurocentric scholars of the past with great eulogies. Every time I see her, I can she her angst escalating, whereas a decade ago she
was full of optimism and not willing to compromise her standing with western academics by supporting my work.

I was glad that Kapila Vatsyayan took up several of my points and made a big deal right in the mail auditorium: One Indian scholar (presumably trying to impress his western peers) had presented a paper on how Dravidian languages were different from the Sanskrit family, and went on and on with his Dravidist ideas, and Kapilaji as the respondent gave him hell for not having read the latest research where such ideas have been refuted.
[Note on comments below: I verified with RM, the chronology of events: The BJP Gov refused support when in power. they lost the elections in 2004, and the ex-minister showed up when a major Sanskrit studies program was inaugurated in a Thailand university in 2005 (not to be confused with the regular world Sanskrit conference that was held in 2003 and then in 2006 per Wikipedia, not 2005)]

3) SANSKRIT IN ASIA: Sanskritists outside India who can help us in big ways are growing in Asia. The Thailand delegation was led by the scholar who organized the 2005 World Sanskrit Conference in which Infinity Foundation and the Thai Crown Princess were the co-conveners/sponsors. Some of you might recall that the BJP govt had refused to give any GOI assistance, but then the HRD minister
showed up at the last minute to claim part of the glory as his own.  The Thai scholar wants me in a lead role in their 2013 conference; this time they have a good faculty in place with lots of state funding. The Japanese delegation was
very strong as well. The serious THREATS are: The rise of Sanskrit is being co-opted by leftist Sanskritists in India using the help of people like Pollock, Hawley, etc. The fashion (and funding) is to train ideologues from Dalit, Marxist, feminist, Subaltern Studies with enough Sanskrit to make them dangerous...."

Nilesh asks:
Is it proper to translate ˜Sanskrit as ˜Culture or ˜civilization? Does ˜Sanskriti not entail drawing pattern of conduct (culture-civilization) from ˜Sanskrit?

Rajiv's comment: 
A great question. In BD I use Sanskriti in the sense of Dharma based culture/civ, not generic. The link is not to language but Dharma.

The reasons this is interesting is that the question makes us think whether there can be reverse digestion, i.e. can sanskriti digest western civ? I have not examined this in detail yet but I have thought of a related question:
whether dharma can include western religions. What would have to go out from religions in order to make them part of dharma. This amounts to a sort of reverse digestion."

Kishor posts:
My humble understanding and view: Samskaar, Samskriti (samyak kriti) and Samskrit are fundamentally Dharma-based and are supposed to be expressions of
Dharma - if they are not that, then they should be known by some other names. The term `religion` or `sampradaaya` should only apply to that system which leads its follower onto the path of, and unites his life with, Dharma.

Rajiv's response: 
I agree with the first part, but not the last sentence. Religion is NOT the same as religion [sic? Dharma?]. So why should it lead to dharma necessarily? That would legitimize every CLAIM of religion - including that of Ravana, Bib Laden, Hitler, etc. Religion is whatever its claimants think it to be, and may or may not be dharmic - that is for those who understand dharma to determine on a case by case basis. "

Sreekumar adds:
If one take the meaning of Sanskrit (Samskrit) as refined, it encompasses conduct (habitual behaviour), beliefs, wisdom (refined from information and knowledge) and in a very broad sense what the Indian understood with the word Dharma. It is also applicable to language, when it is used not just for imparting information, but to shape one's moral conduct or the totality of one's being (in all spheres of life;social, political, economic etc.). Language has the ability to do this (See Vakyapadiya of Bharthrhari). This is the idea of a person with "Samskrita chitta". The philosophical culmination of this is the "Nischala Jnani" or Stitaprajna od the Gita.

struth91 asks what Rajiv feels is an important question:
I have a connected thought  - it is possible that a large number of 'sameness of religions' types messages such as those from Rammohan Roy or Ramakrishna might have been motivated by the thinking that this would encourage reverse digestion. After all, it is doctrinally far more difficult for an Abrahamic to repudiate exclusivism than it is for a Hindu.

So thinking through what actions and arguments encourage revere digestion and which ones have the opposite effect - is quite key. Clearly repudiation of history-centrism is a necessary requirement for sanskriti to digest western civilization, but not a sufficient condition.

Rajiv's response: 
Critical indeed. My next volume takes up this issue and develops the SUFFICIENT conditions for dharma to be indigestible.

January 14
Re: [BEF] 'Rajiv Malhotra and Hindu Christian Dialogue' - Dr. Vijaya
N S Rajaram writes:
I can claim to know both Rajiv Malhotra and Francis Clooney and I support the idea of engaging with Clooney and others like him in an informed and civilized manner. It is not proper to compare Clooney with Bishop Caldwell (not a Jesuit, but a British accomplice) or Robert de Nobili nearly 400 years ago.
    What we need today is sophisticated engagement so that the Christian side realizes that we know what we are talking about and will not swallow their sugar-coated versions of propaganda. This means studying them and debating them, not hiding from them. This was the attitude I learnt from Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel. Through them I got to know also the late Raimundo Panicker.
We should rid ourselves of the fear of Christian thinkers. We should be able to more than hold our own. My view is that it is not enough if we are strong-- our adversaries should know we are strong and can defend ourselves. Avoiding them will send the wrong message.
   As far as the Hindu religious leaders and the Hindutva group is concerned-- my experience is they have not yet reached the point they can debate let alone defeat Christian theologians. So it would not be wise to depend on them. That at least has been my experience. They are yet to produce a Ram Swarup or Sita Ram Goel.
   At the ground level, the danger is coming from what I call secular infiltration-- infiltration of secular institutions like the government, public sector works, civil service, judiciary and the like by christian sympathizers with Hindu-like names. Aggressive prosetylization is mainly from protestant evangelical groups, nearly all of them manned by Indian mercenaries. I know this from first hand experience and we are meeting them by appropriate methods using force and the police. You can't engage them in a debate."

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