RMF Summary: Week of November 22-28, 2012

Nov 23 [New Thread]
U-Turn example: Meditation experiences in Buddhism and Catholicism
Chandramouli shares another case of U-Turn:
Becoming a Tibetan Buddhist nun is not a typical life choice for a child of an Italian Catholic police officer from Brooklyn, New York. Nevertheless, in February of 1988 I knelt in front of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, as he cut a few locks of my hair (the rest had already been shaved), symbolizing my renunciation of lay life.
I lived in the vows of a Buddhist nun for a year, in the course of spending two years living in Buddhist monasteries in Nepal and India. Including my years of lay practice, I spent twenty years of my adult life practicing Buddhism, before returning to the Catholicism into which I had been born and baptized...
...Over the years, I have found that much of what I learned about and experienced of Buddhist meditation during those years enriches my prayer life as a Christian....

Nov 24
White Hindus - Sarma on Huff Post
Deepak Sarma, Associate Professor at Case Western and list administrator for RISA, has published an article on  Huffington Post entitled "White Hindu Converts: Mimicry or Mockery?"

In addition to the comments below, it occurs to me that he is employing classic techniques of demonization, in an attempt to engender doubt about the validity of an entire swath of Hindu practitioners, both in themselves and in Indian-born
and diaspora Hindus...

Below find several of my responses. I'm sure I'll be contributing more, as I have experienced racism in Nepali temples....

..."Deepak Sarma, who got his Ph.D. under Wendy Doniger, and is the moderator of the RISA-l discussion, chastised Antonio De Nicolas for supporting the petition and sent him warnings to stop further posts that criticized RISA members....

.... see his current and very crude rant against non-Indian Hindus as racist and anti-Hindu, and in the service of a Christian agenda opposing any acceptance of Dharma traditions. The only other possibility that I can imagine for his screed is that he would be in the service of Indian nationalists.

Many, many westerners have embraced Hindu beliefs and practices, and live their lives accordingly.

Manish responds:
"... given that Sarma comes from the Wendy Doninger pack of hyenas, it isn't surprising that he slips in an offensively contrived conclusion, disguised as a question, in the midst of innocuous and sensible-sounding stuff. So, he slips in an insinuation (the text in red) even as he pretends to make saner comments before or after it. 
Thus, in Sarma's warped Doningerised mind, everyone is forever a prisoner of their own religious history..."

Another thread follows up on this HP post:
Two Responses to Sarma's HuffPost "White Hindu Converts: Mimicry or
Two very thoughtful columns have been published in response to Deepak Sarma's Huffington Post article, "White Hindu Converts: Mimicry or Mockery?" The earlier...

The earlier has been written by Amod Lele, entitled "In Defense of White Hindu Converts."

..The second column is "Mimicry, mockery or mumukṣutva? A response to Deepak Sarma," by Jeffery D. Long, who earlier raised multiple criticisms and questions in the comments section of the HP article,..

November 25
The Kalavantulu of Coastal Andhra Pradesh
Dear Friends,
One of my friends who just completed a course on classical Indian music at IIT Gandhinagar sent me the paper I have attached with this mail, 'Memory and the Recovery of Identity : Living Histories and the Kalavantulu of Coastal Andhra Pradesh' by Davesh Soneji. It forms a part of his book, 'Unfinished Gestures: Devadasis, Memory, and Modernity in South India'. Davesh Soneji is the Associate Professor of South Asian Religions at McGill University ...

... The paper makes for a very informative read and there were several times while reading it when I was reminded of Rajiv ji's work in "Breaking India" with regard to the colonial discrediting of the devadasi culture and it's art forms, and the later purging of Hindu motifs in Bharatnatyam by the likes of Leela Samson....

Here a YT video link [the uploader has prevented embedding, so I can't preview it here, sorry.]

Kavita responds:
"Thank you for sharing this valuable information Sumantgaaru.

Kalavantulu left behind a legacy and this dance form is now called VILASINI NATYAM. It has been painstakingly revived from its death throes (due to the unjust Devadasi Act) by Guru Padmashree Swapnasundari gaaru..."
Sumant comments:
"Thank you so much for your mail !  The videos were brilliant ! The perfect combination of music and dance had such a harmony to it...."
[We take moment to silently remember the victims of the Nov 26 terrorist attack on Mumbai, as well as the many heroes that day revealed. Om Shanti.]
Nov 26
(Mumbai) Evangelical Tycoon Gul Kripalani takes center-stage at 26/11 event 
Ravi comments: *(Mumbai) Evangelical Tycoon Gul Kripalani takes center-stage at 26/11 Memorial Event* See last page of today's Rediff article: ...
More details about Gul Kripalani here:

'Christian businessmen must talk about Jesus' | The Christian ...

Dec 30, 2010 – Gul Kripalani: Talk about Jesus in marketplace. By Pallavi Bhattacharya. IT took Gul Kripalani, a Sindhi businessman, a while to see the hand of...

Nov 26
Life of Pi - lessons for Hindus
Arun posts:
Equal-equal Hindus might feel encouraged by the attention paid to that idea in Ang Lee's visually magnificent movie, "The Life Of Pi". A sampling of Christian reviews of the movie should open their eyes. Here is a fairly comprehensive one.

Here is a quote from the post above, from the Christian Broadcasting Network:
"While Christian audiences will be thrilled with the amount of onscreen time devoted to the cause of Christ and what it means to believe, they will also be quite disappointed as Islam and Hinduism receive equal representation."

You should read the above just to glimpse the Protestant venom against
Catholics! Let alone Hindus.


Venkat presents a passage for the related book:
"I am not sure if the below passage from the book "Life of Pi" is told
in the movie. Its worth reading. v

On Hinduism - from "Life of Pi"

I am currently reading "Life of Pi", a novel by Yann Martel. While
reading it I came across a passage which captures beautifully the
essence of Hinduism and what it means to be a Hindu. I could relate to
it so well that I couldn't resist reproducing it here. So here it

"But religion is more than rite and ritual. There is what the rite and
ritual stand for. Here too I am a Hindu. The universe makes sense to
me through Hindu eyes. There is Brahman, the world soul, the
sustaining frame upon which is woven warp and weft, the cloth of
being, with all its decorative elements of space and time. There is
Brahman nirguna, without qualities, which lies beyond understanding,
beyond approach; with our poor words we sew a suit for it - One,
Truth, Unity, Absolute, Ultimate Reality, Ground of Being - and try to
make it fit, but Brahman nirguna always bursts the seams. We are left
speechless. But there is also the Brahman saguna, with qualities,
where the suit fits. Now we call it Shiva, Krishna, Shakti, Ganesha we
can approach it with some understanding; we can discern certain
attributes - loving, merciful, frightening - and we feel the gentle
pull of relationship..."
Vedam posts a review by a RMF member:
"... In one scene, after Pi barely escapes the tiger's attack, stranded
on a makeshift raft, reasons as only a Hindu would - that the tiger's
nature is to kill and eat - for that is his Karma. Unencumbered by
a philosophy that would put man in charge of all animals (thus in a
position to decide the tiger's fate), Pi proceeds to do the unthinkable
for a vegetarian - catch a fish, and kill it, to feed the tiger, despite
the knowledge that keeping the tiger alive is suicidal for Pi: there could
not be a better implicit message of duty/dharma. His breakdown at killing
a fish is an explicit ode to the Dharmic credo of ahimsa.

The trails and tribulations that follow with forlorn Christian and
Islamic messages are perhaps the author's attempt to seek the divine
from a syncretized viewpoint that is only possible in a Hindu, and
would have monotheists squirming in their seats..." 

Dvai adds:
"My nine year old nephew analyzed pi as follows after having watched the movie --Pi represents the bridge between divinity and the individual soul...the circle representing the universe and the diameter the individual.
It was interesting to see a movie evoke such questioning in one so young.

Personally I found the novel a tad tedious. Also I found the attempts at religious syncretism a bit cliched..."

Carpentier comments:
"The film is a wonderful allegoric epic. The tiger is the ahankara while Pi is the infinite, nameless Brahman that is one with the universe and hence indestructible. The floating island on which he lands is the universe of matter, life giving during the day, deadly at night (prabhava-pralaya) in which the soul is entrapped. The boat is the physical body which takes the Self and its ego across the ocean of Maya-Samsara..."

Western Universalism and Top-N lists
shivadeepa1 posted: Exhibit 1: Foreign Policy magazine came out with a list of top-100 global thinkers recently.  It is an interesting exercise to go thru this list to see who's in and out, and their rank. Thanks to BD, we can start to see patterns. This list is from a western p.o.v, but it implicitly claims to speak for the globe, and most readers are conditioned to accept this at face value ...
... Exhibit 2: TIME came up with its top 100 novels of 'all time' but comes with a specific cut-off date :)

... Exhibit 3: Every school kid in India [at least in the 70s-80s] was indoctrinated with the "Top-7 list of the wonders of the ancient world"

 ...Generations of Indian children were taught that that there were no wonders worth mentioning in ancient India (or in neo-India except the Mughal Taj), or South-east Asia or South America, but remarkably, we all bunched together around the middle-east and Mediterranean...

Rajiv Malhotra responded:
"Rajiv comment: A very important post. People should ponder and add substantive comments. Same also applies to international awards, institutions, laws, aesthetics, etc. WU is normative across civic society, with the exception of pop culture which is not where power resides. See my two videos on lectures at india international center in 2005. I explain the difference between pop culture and deep culture. The latter is where WU resides."

Arun notes:
"...It is our educational system's defect to elevate the ancient Greek list to
something other than a fact about ancient Greece.

As far as I know, we have no surviving travelogues from ancient India, and so we do not have ancient Indian opinion on ancient wonders."

November 27 [Continuing thread from Nov 22]
Request for RigVeda and Shiva translation/interpretation of involuti
Rajiv Malhotra posts:
Rig Veda: Aghamarshana rishi experienced the process of involution and described it in Rig Veda ( X.190.1-X.190.3). These verses speak in a very riddled manner of involution. And then of the movement of descent and ascent (samvatsara) and consequentely the alteration of light and darkness (ahoratrani) ordained by the ruler of Time. Then it speaks of the creation of the sun and moon, heaven, the intermediate world and then the world of svar, the heaven of descending light. Can someone find out a good translation/interpretation that I could cite to show the earliest sources for involution?

Shiv-Sutras: Unmesha and nimesha are the terms used to describe involution and evolution. I need an expert interpretation of the text in this regard.

This concept is the very foundation of Ken Wilber's claim to originality in his Integral Theory. He got this from Sri Aurobindo but denies it. I discovered that Sri Aurobindo got it from Swami Vivekananda 

Kannan responds:
"I can only hint at some pointers which may be pursued and tried.

The concept of involution is very evident in what is called bhuta-shuddhi where the Gross Elements are "dissolved" into the Subtle Elements. Thus prthvi, the grossest, is dissolved into ap (subtler than that), which is next dissolved into tejas, and so on. The Sankhyan order is followed here. Hence after aakaasha, we have successive dissolutions into manas, ahamkaara, mahat (same as buddhi), prakrti (also called mulaprakrti/avyakta/pradhaana). And then finally into purusha/paramapurusha...."

Murthy adds:
"Dear Rajivji, having no immediate time to research fully into the
subject, I just refer you, as others have done, to some pointers.
Adishankara's Panchikarana is a compendium on the subject. The Vedas
detail the subject in the Upanishads; in particular, the
BrihadaaraNyaka and the Chandogya; which are exposited - again - by

Kesava comments:
"..I thought Aghamarshana Suktam is from Krishna Yajurveda - Taittriya. I practice Aghamarshana Suktam during snanacharna, especially in tirtha sthala. I dont know if Yajur vedic suktam is different from that in Rig. Though I do not classify myself in "expert" group, I would like to point out what I understood from the purohita who taught me this suktam..."
Jaideep comments:
"Regarding your question on Rigveda, the best place to look for an authentic interpretation is the Sayana Bhasya, so I am giving below, the Bhaasya on the Aghamarshana Sookta along with my word-to-word translation. Dr. H. N. Bhat, who is a Sanskrit Scholar at IFP (cc'ed), very kindly helped me in the translation.."
Rajiv Malhotra thanks those who responded with concrete help:
"I thank the few persons who provided solid information. This has been very useful..."

Chittaranjan adds:
"..Evolution and involution of the tattvas are the very basis of creation and
dissolution in both Samkhya and Vedanta. The principle on which evolution and involution are based is called `satkaryavada': the doctrine of the pre-existence of the effect in the cause. In the schools of Vedanta that hold Brahman to be the material cause of the universe,..."

Vish posts:
"...RV ( X.190.1-X.190.3) speaks of Cosmic creations  of layers from subtle to gross. (Harvard calls it a Cosmogonic hymn).


Here is a translation that I found on the internet, which literally appears correct:

From blazing Ardor [of Purusha?], Cosmic Order came and Truth; from thence was born
the obscure night; from thence the Ocean with its billowing waves.

This thread below is a really important one because it talks about an event that brings together Rajiv Malhotra and other leaders of various decentralized institutions of Hinduism under one roof to discuss some really critical issues. We plan to cover this thread in-depth in a separate post.
November 28 [continuing from last week]

Very successful Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, Ahmedabad
I just returned from India after attending the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha's 5th Bi-annual Conference in Ahmedabad. I was fortunate to be invited to deliver a...

November 28 [Continuing thread from November 22]
Angana Chatterji hosted at Harvard by Michael Witzel
In Breaking India, Rajiv & Aravindan write about some US academics who produce literature with questionable funding that could aid in the disintegration of...

Bhattacharya_S provides a brilliant, and extremely detailed investigative report on the activities of Angana, her husband Shapiro, and Fai over the last decade. We carry only some excerpts here [click the link to the original thread if you are interested in the complete details]:
"...What is most confusing and troubling about the ongoing Angana Chatterji story is the continued backing and support she receives from top levels of U.S. government and academia. However, her relationship with Directorate of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI)/Pakistani government agent Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, as well as Fai’s own bizarre story are instructive in understanding Chatterji's status in such circles.

Chapter 14 of Breaking India describes how Chatterji called for foreign
intervention while providing testimony regarding events in Orissa before a U.S. Congressional committee investigating international human rights in 2008. The Congressional committee was chaired by Congressmen Trent Franks and Joe Pitts. BI identifies Trent Franks as a strong proponent of U.S. intervention in India regarding caste/human rights issues, and as a board member of Dalit Freedom Network (DFN), while Joe Pitts, a Christian fundamentalist, is described as a fierce critic of India’s anti-conversion laws with a pro-Pakistani bent. Congressman Pitts has also worked with Congressman Rick Santorum in promoting DFN, which, as discussed at length in BI, is essentially a front for Christian
evangelical interests...

...Despite U.S. lawmakers claims that they did not know of Fai’s
ISI/Pakistani government links, he was a naturalized U.S. citizen and very much a political ‘insider’ in America. His Washington-based Kashmir American Council (KAC), founded in 1990 and located a few blocks away from the White House, regularly drew Pakistani dignitaries as well as U.S. scholars and powerful Congressmen to its various events, while Fai’s wife (a Chinese Muslim) worked for the U.S. government’s Environmental Protection Agency. In 2005, Fai reportedly received the Republican Senatorial Medal of Freedom, and in
2007 he was given the American Spirit Medal, both from the U.S. National
Republican Senatorial Committee. Fai himself was reportedly frequently invited to United Nations (UN) conferences during this period,..

... in 2004, Joe Pitts introduced a bill before Congress that
supported Pakistani interests in Kashmir, and called for U.S. intervention in the region. Shockingly, the bill was reportedly introduced only a few days after Pitts received a financial contribution from Fai’s KAC. Pitts has long been involved in Pakistani issues, and even traveled to Pakistan to meet personally with president at the time Pervez Musharraf in 2002 (as well as on earlier occasions). Pitts, a self-proclaimed “champion of Pakistan”, has served as Chairman of the Congressional Pakistan Caucus, created to safeguard Pakistani interests (Dan Burton has also held this post). Inexplicably however, Pitts has served simultaneously on both Congressional India and Pakistan caucuses, which some suggest was to help ease passage of pro-Pakistan (and anti-India) legislation...

... The picture that seems to emerge is that the ISI/Pakistani government arranged for Fai to testify before U.S. Congressional committees presided over and/or containing pro-Pakistani members such as Dan Burton. Fai’s ‘expert testimony’ was either directly prepared or approved by the ISI/Pakistan. And in turn, based at least in part on Fai’s testimony (and while they received money from the ISI/Pakistan), Burton, Joe Pitts (and perhaps others) continually
pushed for Pakistani interests in Kashmir at the upper levels of U.S.

...Surprisingly, after investigation and trial, in March 2012, Fai was sentenced to only 2 years in jail, for charges related to his attempts to cover up his association with the ISI/Pakistan and for tax violations. This punishment seems like a slap on the wrist for what appears to be a decades-long infiltration...

... However, her removal from CIIS was not for any connection to Fai, but rather for academic misconduct. Many likely assumed that Chatterji’s dismissal was related to her link to Fai, especially since news of her suspension coincided with details of Fai’s arrest (and his contacts in academia and government) becoming public. However, it now appears that her association with Fai was either ignored, not investigated, or not reported on. And amazingly, she turned up again this year (2012) in March at a U.S. Congressional committee hearing to testify about human rights in South Asia, where she provided predictably biased,
distorted, anti-Hindu/anti-India testimony regarding Kashmir, religious
conversion/Orissa, the 2002 Gujarat riots, and other topics...

... The transcript (and video) of the 2012 hearing contains an almost laughable exchange between Congressman Pitts and Chatterji during which, in the space of a few sentences, they effectively attempt to clear one another of any wrongdoing regarding their associations with Fai and the ISI/Pakistani government...

... Throughout the 2012 Congressional hearing, however, Congressmen Pitts and Franks make no effort to disguise their own pro-Christian and anti-Hindu biases, which are easily detected in the wording of their questions (to Chatterji and others). Chatterji is of course more than willing to indulge...

 .... Noting her consistently anti-Hindu and anti-India stand, and her proximity to Fai, The Hindu American Foundation lodged a complaint against Angana Chatterji's involvement in the March 2012 Congressional hearing, in which the group even cited evidence pointing to her direct contact with Pakistan/ISI ...

... It is astounding that Chatterji continues to be regarded as a credible expert on human rights in India, but this only speaks to the biases of those who purport to ‘investigate’ human rights. She is still apparently in the good graces of the top levels of U.S. government, while in academia, she appears to have gotten some form of a promotion, moving from CIIS to the higher profile (and much wealthier) institution...

.... At the time of their suspension, the two were the only full-time
faculty members in the department in which they were found to have created and cultivated a bizarre, cult-like environment among students. The couple also frequently gave grades to students arbitrarily, based on non-existent work. Importantly, Shapiro himself has also been an invitee/speaker at Fai's Kashmir conferences, and a vocal critic of India's policy in Kashmir...

.... Shapiro and Chatterji's student cult would thus apparently mobilize to actively demonstrate against the Indian government. The shadowy husband and wife duo have no doubt been instrumental in turning CIIS from an institution founded to promote the teachings of Sri Aurobindo to one in which anti-India propaganda and rhetoric is preached (discussed in BI)....

... Chatterji even apparently first met Fai at CIIS in 2003, when she claims he visited the university where she was teaching to give a talk [http://tlhrc.house.gov/docs/transcripts/03-21-2012_South_Asia.pdf , see page 48]...

... In this regard its notable how the whole Fai affair was dramatically downplayed by U.S. media, despite the profound, far-reaching implications of the saga. There are hardly any detailed reports on the internet among top newspapers, and information is always incomplete. For instance, there is little or no mention of the apparently close and long-standing relationship between Fai and the U.N./international human rights community, and it is extremely difficult to find any information about this aspect of his subterfuge...

... The issues discussed in this post may be appreciated in broader contexts of anti-India nexuses and strategies discussed in BI. Figures 11.5, and the various diagrams in Chapters 13 and 14 of BI (as well as the text of these Chapters) are particularly useful in understanding ties between ‘liberal’ left-wing academicians and 'conservative' right-wing Christian evangelical elements, who are seemingly at odds over a variety of issues, but united in their staunch anti-Hindu and anti-India stand.

(Note: I referred to a number of articles on the web in writing this post that I did not mention. If anyone is interested in references, I'll be glad to provide them.) "

Sumant posts: 
I was sent the link below [from 2011] that discusses issues that have come up on this thread, and indeed on many other similar threads in the past. The author of the blog lists "Breaking India" first amongst his favourite sites. Not sure if he is already a member of this forum.
Abhimanyu [Nice name!] adds:
"I am a part of this forum and have learnt quite a lot from the information shared by Mr. Malhotra and others on this forum.  I am thankful to Mr. Malhotra and some of the other Hindu leaders for inspiring youth like me to create blogs exposing the nexus of Indian Communists/Christian Missionaries/Islamists around the world..."