RMF Summary: Week of October 29-November 4, 2012 - Part 1

Due to the very interesting discussions that took place even as Hurricane Sandy and Cyclone Nilam raged, I have broken down the summary into two parts. 
The second part can be found here. Readers who arrived here via a twitter link (or have a twitter account) and are  eager to contribute are requested to tweet/RT or post comments in the group discussion, since there are a couple of calls for volunteers to provide assistance and/or critical feedback.

How you can assist:
1. Sanskrit text references for or against views expressed by Rajiv ji below in his November 1st post. Read the summary (and the entire discussion in RMF) prior to jumping in.

2. Logistical help in Chicago. See Nov3 post in part-2.

Part 1

October 30
Whither Telugu culture? [A case of digestion into WU by our own people?
Whither Telugu culture? Being modern does not mean being western. Just look at Japanese & Chinese they are ultra modern but not western. They have retained...

October 30
How will we categorize osho?
"Rajiv ji i will like to ask you in what stage of u turn will osho fall
you said that mata amrityananda and baba ramdev are in stage 1 as they teach
things in the context
but i find the categorization of osho very different,he is neither a
traditionalist like ramdev and neither new age like deepak chopra and not even
like krishnamurti who though being sincere has made dharma very generic and
universal. In case of osho i find some unique mix of tradition and un-orthodoxy..."

An interesting new discussion that resulted in some interesting comments. A glimpse of Rajiv Malhotra's response is provided below:
Rajiv comment: Osho was great, original, effective in his modern usage of dharmic techniques. But at the same time his followers have become digested and many even go about facilitating digestion actively as some worthy thing to be championed. His critique of Christianity was an attack only against the church as an institution. But he tried hard to reinterpret Jesus the person to rehabilitate him in line with dharma - i.e. remove Nicene Creed but upgrade Jesus as enlightened master. The truth is that we simply dont know enough today about any historical Jesus to say much about him,....

October 31 (continuing discussion from October 20):
Dramatic growth of Hindu education institutions across the country
The rising sun of the swamiji schools With yoga, transcendental meditation, Indian spiritual wisdom and cuisine having won themselves global reputation,..

October 31 (Conclusion of the thread)
Dharma and Karmakaand
Dear All, All discussions must come to a definite end with a concrete proposal. The discussion seems to be digressing from its original topic of Karmakaand and...

November 1: A new and interesting thread initiated by Rajiv Malhotra
Why mantra cannot be performed by a machine

Rajiv Malhotra: I am involved in a private debate with some Sanskrit scholars who dispute my position that mantra requires a jiva - i.e. prana/consciousness. Implication of my view is that a machine like an iPod cannot get enlightenment by chanting a mantra no matter how many times it repeats it. Otherwise, there would be robots or voice players who evolve to rishis.

I claim that the sound a machine can produce is merely at the vaikhari level of vac. for mantra to function in madhyama, pashyanti or para levels of vac, it cannot be disembodied from jiva, i.e there must be prana/consciousness. This also shows how mantra differs from ordinary sound.

A challenge raised by my opponents is that some benefit is received even by a person who does not chant the mantra and merely hears it played from a CD/radio type of device. My response is that when a person listens to recorded mantra, the effect it causes is because his subconscious repeats what is being heard, and thereby bringing his prana/consciousness into it.

Can someone supply me Sanskrit text references for or against my two views:

    Mantra differs from ordinary sound in that it requires being performed by jiva; and what a machine plays out is not mantra but the vaikhari level only?
    A person listening to the sound of mantra played by a machine gets benefit because consciously or unconsciously he is internally echoing it, hence the prana gets involved.

If I am right, this would undermine the whole international project to turn Sanskrit into machine based texts that can be searched, understood, chanted with the explicit goal to replace living pandits. In my talk at Waves, I challenged one of India's most prominent Sanskrit scholars who was proudly demonstrating the latest "advances" in machine based Sanskrit. I complained that this will lead to pandits being replaced by an App on your smartphones. There will soon be apps corresponding to specialized homas and other mantra based rituals, and the living pandit will become an exotic creature just like the Native American chief who is called to do their traditional dance at the July 4th US Independence Day celebrations in D.C.

This issue has also become a major fight with some western academics who are attacking BD's position on mantra non-translatability. (Ironically and unfortunately, a couple of them got funding from some high profile dharma relate foundations that have recently arrived at the scene claiming to help dharma but are doling out their money ignorantly.)

November 2
How will the western model fare in India
Hi Everyone,

My American colleagues often ask me if I had experienced 'culture shock' when I arrived in the US; culture shock here is more in terms of the civic amenities and public behavior. I tell them it was more of 'relief' than 'shock'; I elaborate by saying that clean roads, infrastructure and effective governance
are not other-wordly for indians; We are not shocked but are happy ...

November 3 (continuing discussion from October 12)
Western confidence and Indian youths "...I must confess that my experience is very limited with regard to the on-the-ground situation in India (both urban and rural). In your posts, you seem to be saying that schooling in English somehow better prepares Indian youth for the modern world, or better prepares rural youth for a career in an urban center. You seem to be arguing in circles: you say Indian youth must become
Westernized in order to gain confidence, but you are worried that Westernization will lead to a loss of Indian identity. This sounds somewhat like difference anxiety from below.".

November 3
Is this digestion or appreciation
This is a trick question about deciding whether an example of use of Indian terms is digestion or appreciation.
I work in a research lab where various tools are having scientific names but they are referred to by their acronyms like LEXIMER, SEM, DLTS.... Our American (Mormon) boss asked the Indian team members to come up with a name of Indian god, symbol or deity that represents the work done by that instrument. In particularly he was asking for a name that signifies perfection in science, preciseness in action and of course fast and accurate results! (he wanted something like Ford assembly line perfection). From a few options given like Bhrahma, Vishwakarma he selected Saraswati. He then started naming all the devices and instruments in the lab, like Shiva for a laser and Ganesha for an electrical instrument.  There are some named Hercules and Zeus to...

Glimpse of response from Rajiv ji: 
Firstly, the entity being named as the Hindu deity is not some christian thing per se. The entity is not non-Hindu as such. It is a device that belongs to no particular faith. So calling it by the name of some hindu deity does not compromise that deity - assuming it is something

Secondly, by the very nature of the overall situation, nobody of any
faith will think that the naming is literal. They will recognize that this usage is as a metaphor. In digestion the Hindu entity ceases to have its original meaning after some time. It is stripped of its
original meaning. This is unlikely here.

Rajiv comment: The number of views for my youtube videos is very small when you compare with popular thinkers on similar topics. Regarding Indian media's lack of coverage - you are correct. One can understand the posture of the media who are ideologically opposed. But the tragedy is that even those who think along similar lines are more interested in plagiarizing and turning it into their own works no matter how diluted or poorly argued. Also, there is frenzy among the so-called hindu activists to boost personal careers and status by using whatever ideas they can quickly pick up and start throwing out as one-liners, even if they dont really get it. All this causes dilution of support for the heavy research and publishing work that remains mostly undone...

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