RMF Summary: Week of December 12 - 18, 2011

December 12
BD Chapter 1:The Audacity of Difference (topic-Piercing the Pretence
*Book: "Being Different" [Citation-Malhotra, Rajiv (2011-10-10). Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism (Kindle Location 334). Kindle...

December 13
Prof. Clooney refers to his event on BEING DIFFERENT a day later
Here is what someone wrote that attended Clooney's public talk the next day at Harvard: Yesterday at Harvard, Prof. Clooney gave a talk on Hindu Theology ...

December 14
on debate with Mark Tully
Mark Tully displays a frankness and honesty missing in many Indian secularists. It was an enriching and honest discussion that was wonderful to watch. While I...

Rajiv response:
"Rajiv comment: Actually, I loved the conversation with Mark because it brings out so many ideas in the book right from the mouth of a very explicit member and follower of the Anglican Church. (He had read the book very closely and we had held another private discussion on it prior to this recorded one.)

The important point is that he wants very badly to avoid differences and show sameness (like most Indians and westerners across the spectrum); but because he is so honest and I am so persistent in raising philosophical issues, the end
result is that the three differences listed in my email come out very explicitly.

Regarding the Togadia remark, please wait till another video comes up, the one from my TV interview with the JNU professor of Political Science. That explains the difference between the civilization and the modern politics. One can support the former without the latter - as I wish to do."

December 14
Venkat shares:
"This links provides details on Catholic attempts to get into the
general and cultual media in order to bring Jesus to Hindus

2. Kalabhavan

Fr Abel CMI, a bright start from the Carmelite Missionaries was probably the first in India to venture into the ara of cultural media and liturgical music. Gradually with a fine blending of the electronic and the rich cultural arts of the Kerala, his Kalabhavan made inroads into Kerala's cultual and cinema fields with several of his stars scaling the media industry/

Inspired by Kalabhavan's unprecedented success, a number of other centres all over India have also taken to cultual an dfolk media to proclaim the Word of God as well as to develop these cultural forms...." 

December 15
Use of biased frameworks to interpret our texts
Following is a paper published in a marginal philosophy journal. Two things are evident: (1) translations of Mahabharat by Westerners is used as source and is...
....Maximizing Dharma: Krsna's Consequentialism in the Mahabharata
Praxis, Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring 2011


Abstract The Mahabharata, an Indian epic poem, describes a legendary war between two sides of a royal family. The epic's plot involves numerous moral dilemmas that have intrigued and perplexed scholars of Indian literature. Many of these dilemmas revolve around a character named Krsna. Krsna is a divine incarnation and a self-proclaimed upholder of dharma, a system of social and religious duties central to Hindu ethics. Yet, during the war, Krsna repeatedly encourages his allies to use tactics that violate dharma. In this paper, I try to make
sense of Krsna's actions by analyzing them in terms of categories from Western moral philosophy. I show that Krsna seems to embrace an ethical approach called consequentialism, but that his version of consequentialism differs from Western
theories of consequentialism by seeing adherence to dharma as an intrinsic good..."

Ravi responds:
".....A quick read of this paper shows the usual prejudiced usage of western frameworks & attempts to fit sanskrit categories into them. This seems highly reductive, like using Newtonian physics, with it's linearity, to model the subatomic & astronomical worlds, which are too non-linear to be captured by this simplistic theories. The author skirts over the ideas of saamaanya dharma vs vishesha dharma (while completely ignoring the crucial "apaddharma"), but doesn't do much justice to the concepts, preferring to stick to "enlightenment" categories of "consequentialism", "deontological ethics" etc which are too immature to capture the complexity of the human/divine activities in ordinary life, let alone the Mahabharata.

Also, though he uses B K Matilal as a reference, he does not engage any of Matilal's erudite understanding of Dharma here, since that would undermine the case he is making. If anyone wants more detail on this, I can email some papers by Matilal's student J Ganeri which discusses the "moral delimmas in the MB" to some degree of satisfaction missing in this paper.

As a closing point, here is the excerpt from the "Being Different" book":

The word 'dharma' has multiple meanings depending on the context in which it is used. Monier-Williams's A Concise Sanskrit-English Dictionary lists several, including: conduct, duty, right, justice, virtue, morality, religion, religious merit, good work according to a right or rule, etc.54 Many others have been suggested, such as law or 'torah' (in the Judaic sense), 'logos' (Greek), 'way' (Christian) and even 'tao' (Chinese). None of these is entirely accurate, and none conveys the full force of the term in Sanskrit. Dharma has the Sanskrit root dhri, which means 'that which upholds' or 'that without which nothing can stand' or 'that which maintains the stability and harmony of the universe'. Dharma encompasses the natural, innate behaviour of things, duty, law, ethics, virtue, etc. For example, the laws of physics describe current human understanding of the dharma of physical systems. Every entity in the cosmos has its particular dharma – from the electron, which has the dharma to move in a certain manner, to the clouds, galaxies, plants, insects, and of course, man. Dharma has no equivalent in the Western lexicon. Colonialists endeavoured to map Indian traditions onto Christianity so as to be able to locate, categorize, understand and govern their subjects, yet the notion of dharma has remained elusive..."

Koenraad Elst responds:
"It's from a decent university, it doesn't claim to be prestigious, just to be professional and *good*. ...And if at all it really were "marginal", so what?

... I remember the Hindu nationalist student organization ABVP inviting people like Khushwant Singh, who holds them in contempt but never turns down an opportunity to speak his mind, to belittle his enemies and to pocket a fat speaking fee. The rest of mankind is bad enough, but nobody outdoes the Hindus in being status-conscious.

Indian Marxists have always known this and built up their own people, deliberately giving them posts and prestige (e.g. having them receive a prize in Moscow and then advertising hiom in India as "internationally acclaimed") and everything that bedazzles the semi-literate. The next thing would then be that the RSS invites him rather than any fellow Hindu because he has prestige, the prestige which their enemies have conferred on him. Instead of building up their own pantheon of big names.

>Two things are evident: (1) translations of Mahabharat by Westerners is used as source and is analyzed using Western moral philosophy,<

Unlike the many who treat Western philosophy as universal, this author explicitates that his approach is from Western philosophy, implying that their are legitimate non-Western philosophies too. ...The translation is not the point
here, the same data about Krishna's conduct are just as evident in the popular translations by Rajagopalachari and RK Narayan."

ArjunShakti adds:
"That reminds of the time lord bagri had funded a series of talks on Hinduism at SOAS hosted by william dalrymple with Wendy Doniger as the star guest.It was even advertised on the National Hindu Students forums website."  

December 15
Interesting response from a self-acknowledged Western U-Turner
Rajiv Malhotra: I am keeping the email below anonymous until I get permission from its author. It verifies my U-Turn Theory in one more example - I have hundreds of similar "confessions" but this one is from someone who has dealt with it and can articulate it effectively. This person saw my recent Univ of Delhi video where I briefly my U-Turn Theory.

Your U-turn theory is a good one and one that needs to be addressed.  I can tell you what did it for me.  Although I never gave up my Bhakti practices and always identified as a Vaishnava, after about 6 years of living in India something "clicked" inside me that said, "this local Uttar Pradeshi way of life is not congruent with my inner conscience".   It was of course a gradual development but the point at which it manifested as concrete rationality in my mind was around the 6 year mark.  I have since studied the levels of adjustment that ex-pats go through and it more or less corresponds.  That's beside the point, what I want to discuss with you are the REASONS WHY I did a U-Turn and why I think others like me may have as well.
1.  It is not philosophical or aesthetic but rather CULTURAL (samskarik).
What do I mean?  South Asian Dharmic philosophies and aesthetics are the most complete that I have ever known.  I have absolutely no issue with them whatsoever.  What became hard for me to digest were the cultural factors in the area of India I was living in (called the "cow belt" - the State of UP and surrounding areas).  I have found these to be EXTREMELY regressive.   This leads me into my next point:
2.  Rugged Individualism vs Family Orientation
As an American citizen you are familiar with the point of pride that many Americans claim: "our culture is built upon the concept of rugged individualism and personal freedom". 
Now, I say that every culture's greatest strength is also its weakest link.  That American "rugged individualism" is the root of our high divorce rate, our loneliness/depression/high pharmaceutical drug use of Prozac and other "mood drugs", and the overall lack of family values that has been on the rise in this country. 
However, that same "rugged individualist" spirit is what made me, an innocent young woman of 23, take off to the other side of the globe to pursue the Sadhak's way of life. That same individualist spirit gave me the strength to live in situations there that even Indian women my own age said they could never do for fear of being alone and without a family net for support.   
However, that same individualist spirit was not appreciated in the area of India where I lived.  In that area Family is God.  In path/pravachan which in Brindaban is often broadcast over loud speakers.  The story of Shravan Kumar, whom I'm assuming you are of course familiar with, was not uncommon in discourses on Bhakti.  Now, as an American Vaishnava who left her parents home at 18, I was like, "please tell me what bhakti to parents has to do with bhakti toward Bhagavan?".  And indeed, in the path of Bhakti I follow, the 2 are not equated, HOWEVER how the plays out in real life is very different and highly contrasted between the Indian Vaishnavas in our sanga and the Western ones.  The Indian Vaishnavas all lived with their parents or in-laws, unless they were brahmacharis and sannyasis living in a Math, while the Western Vaishnavas looked like they had almost nothing to do with their parents.
To the Indian bhaktas this appears very strange and to the Western bhaktas, grown adults living with their parents or in-laws (and hence being largely controlled by them) looks very strange.
This family-orientation bleeds over into other areas of life.  Forgive me for saying this but I have found that amongst the local people, even the ones with mulitple or high university degrees, their outlook on life was not very broad but what I would call "domesticated".  It was rare for me to find anyone in that area that I felt I could have an intellectually stimulating conversation with. 
This leads me into my next point:
3.  The "Ideal" of India vs the Reality
I was introduced to the Dharmic School of Bhakti in the West by people who idolozed, idealized and romanticized India.  I was exposed to incomparably beautiful medieval Bhakti literature that described Braj, its culture, its aesthetics, etc as the paramount of all Truth, Beauty, Refinement and Spirituality.
This romanticized ideal of the turiya state of Goloka Braj and Krishna Lila is what myself and other Western bhaktas superimposed onto Brindaban U.P. and expected to find there
Of course you know that is what we do not find there.  That state comes through grace and sadhan-bhajan.  I have found that local Brij-wasis really did not understand to what extent we Westerners idealized Braj and how much of a disappointment we could experience after that idealization is not realized in the real, day to day life of U.P.
At some point I had to separate the superimposition of the ideal and the reality of Uttar Pradesh.  So there is one split in the psyche.  Then again, likewise, I had to separate my cultural samskaras (American/individualist) from the way of life that is the norm in U.P., which is a completely different set of samskaras.
I decided I was no longer going to be a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.
My gut feeling is that those who have done a u-turn do not do it out of malice but there are genuine root samskarik differences in the way a Westerner will approach Dharmic traditions and the way a South Asian will.
Let's look at Buddhism and Yoga for example.  Western Buddhists and Yoga practicioners tend to veer "left" politically and socially.  Many are divorced or don't bother to marry at all (but don't refraining from having kids - LOL).  There is no "shame" or "lajja" invovled.  Contrast that with South Asian Buddhists and Hindus. 
Moreover, the Western Buddhist and Yogi tend to be invovled in "going green" and other "progressive" acts of environmental or "global conscious" activity and consider these things to be "dharma" -  while the South Asian Buddhist/Hindu will see to the well-being of their FAMILY as their "dharma".
I can't tell you how many new-age-buddha-yoga-type single moms I meet in the USA who are doing meditations and charity works for poor children on the other side of the planet while they tend to neglect their very own kids!
They'd just as soon run off to volunteer in an orphanage while leaving their kids in the custody of their ex-husband.
If it has to be distilled down into one thing - I would say this emphasis on family at the expense of the individual is a South Asian thing and the emphasis on the individual at the expense of the family is a Western thing - and is at the core of the U-turn, whether or not the U-turners realize that.
.... you and I are on the same page regarding many topics.  I've noticed many Indians cannot articulate the uniqueness of the Hindu philosophical systems and aesthetics and therefore in the face of people who can articulate the "uniqueness" of say Islam or Buddhism or Christiantiy, they come up feeling inferior and dumbfounded.  Hindus need to get clear on the contributions that the Sat Darshan offered to the world in terms of philosophy and psychology.  The Sat Darshan is at the root of practically everything that I've ever read.
I gave a presentation on how Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs corresponds to the Yoga-vedantic theory of "kosh"; annamaya kosh, pranamaya kosh, manamaya kosh, vijnanmaya kosh and anandamaya kosh.
It just amazes me that the world is completely ignorant concerning the insights of the ancient Dharmic philosophers.  There only exposure to the theories is the much later, watered down versions of Western theoricists.  That has its place too, but the ancient texts and theories are far richer and wider in scope.
You are doing great work in exposing this in a coherent fashion.  Most people think Hinduism is a hodge-podge, not realizing that there are distinct philosophical schools with very clear goals (sadhya), goals that are often different from one another and hence require a different approach (sadhana), but nonetheless contain certain overlapping elements that put them under the "Dharmic" category as opposed to say the Abrahamic category of thought.


bluecupid wrote:
I'm the person who wrote that email to Rajiv. Since that time I completed watching more of his videos and came to understand that what he thus far described as "U-turn" does not really apply to me in that I have not turned at all away from the Dharmic lineage I am a part of. Moreover, those he sites as having done "u-turns" have not lived extensively in India and their contact with India was/is extremely limited and confined only to theory. If I am correct, their "u-turns" are in connection with theories/philosophies/religions.

My situation is different. I found myself living in India and practicing my religion amongst indigenous practicioners who brought their Indian (often village) cultural conditionings (samskaras) with them into the religion, mixed them, and passed off their cultural conditionings as part of the religion, and in turn expected foreign (non-Indian) practicioners to adopt those cultural conditionings right alongside practicing the sadhana.

No thankyou!

.... Of course when ex-patting to any country there is a certain level of cultural assimilation that is required, and most non-Indians who ex-pat to India for religious reasons go above and beyond that level in their desperate attempts to
fit in and be accepted. But there is a point at which "enough is enough" - that point for me is when the surrounding cultural ethos is at odds with my own internally developed sense of ethics, morality, fairness and commonsense.

Rajiv's response:
... In my UTurn Theory book (forthcoming), I distinguish among 3 types of guru movements depending on how much demand they place on their western followers. ISKCON is an example that integrates culture/lifestyle with dharma very deeply. Other movements separate culture from dharma, but still preserve the unity of dharma and you cannot take bits and pieces here and there. Then there is the third variety I call the buffet or flea market, where you learn some breathing
technique from one place, and another nice story some place else, and try to mix your own ad hoc cocktail including history-centrism of Judeo-Christianity.

My guess would be that the lady named bluecupid went into the first type of group, and found it too stuffy, so she left it.

I wonder if she is now practicing the second or third kind. If she is conscious and secure as a practitioner of dharma, then it would be difficult to mix that with original sin, only one life to live, one incarnation of God as his son, sacrifice and redemption - at least in the version that is standard in the
Church. In this case, she has not uturned from dharma.

On the other hand, if she has gone into the third variety, reintegrating a few things she learned from dharma back into her Judeo-Christian identity, then I would call it a uturn.  

bluecupid follows up:

"....In short - I reject the idea that in order to practice "dharma" I have to live like a medieval Indian bahu. I am not Indian, I am not living during the medieval era, and I sure as heck ain't nobody's bahu!

I've heard complaints that old colonialist literature referred to Indians as "children". Well, it's now almost 2012 and it seems Indians themselves are more than happy to keep each other living as children with no help from colonialists.

If I have to give up many of my cultural conditionings in order to practice dharma properly, then Indians do too."

Rajiv's response: 
"... We got that point in your first post loud and clear. There are clearly some deep scars from the horrific experience you
had in UP, and this is often a cause for rejection. But you seem to have extrapolated this into a hate for Indians. Were you someone's "bahu" in India? Did they ill-treat you?"

Venkata.. comments:
"... There is a huge reservoir of mind and intellect available in Hindu brahmacharis and sannyasis who have high educational background. They are currently largely engaged only in reinforcing their learning of the Shastras or in teaching them. It is from this reservoir that some individuals should be
encouraged and persuaded to undertake rigorous academic studies in comparative religion, philosophy, metaphysics and the like. ..."

bluecupid's response to Venkata..:
"Most Indian brahmacharies and sannyasis are mired in an old world mindset. They may know how to rattle off Upanishadic slokas by rote memorization, which by the way doesn't take any intellectual nuance or analystical skills, but they are clueless as to the issues in the wider world around them. Their approach to everything is from their old world....

You can learn the siddhant of their particular school of thought from them, but not much else. Its a narrow, rigid world. ...

The narrow and rigid world inhabited by these brahmacharies and sannyasis prevents them from truly experiencing the wider world and getting a "pulse" on the people.

Just see - the natural ally to Hindus in the West are the Yoga and New Age circles. How many Indians do you see in Western yoga classes or at New Age centers or a Tantra workshop? Nada. Well, everyone once in a while one or 2,
if the guest speaker is an Indian.

Closed. Rigid. Domesticated."

Kundan responds:
Kundan: I understand that you are not addressing the issues from the Judeo-Christian perspective and therefore we will focus on the cultural aspects only, though I must add that it is increasingly difficult to separate culture from religio-spiritual roots. It is as difficult to separate the Indian culture and traditions from its Vedantic-Buddhist roots as it to separate the western culture from its Judeo-Christian roots. As a multi-pronged approach to analyzing the situation here, I feel that as we put the culture of UP to scrutiny over here, we also put your framework of analysis to some critical analysis. No one is free from his/her culture over here. If the local Bhaktas are not, even you are not. Having said the above let me take up your other points.

I see scathing judgments on your part on the culture of UP which you qualify in terms of silly and backward. As a professor of cultural psychology, this is where I see that your critical analysis of your own framework and your paradigm has not happened. When your cultural paradigm comes in operation, it does as a mainstream one, modern one and most civilized one against which everything else needs to be evaluated. I understand that you went to India looking for spirituality but how is your paradigm different from the colonial ones of the British—you are speaking in the same tongue as them? The customs are silly and UP culture is backward....

India has a cosmology that is distinct from that of the west. I am not talking about the spiritual texts of the tradition that you may have studied but did you spend time in understanding the cosmology of India. Did you spend time understanding the history of India? Did you spend time in understanding the colonial impact on India that happened for about 1000 years? In this short post of yours, it does not seem so—because the post, in my opinion, is vitriolic. Understanding does not lead to vitriol but compassion and lack of judgment.

Kundan: I do not think that you understand the Indian family system—you do not understand the underlying cosmology of Indian family system, for you have judged but you have not understood. The Indian family system is based on the cultural value of interconnectedness, both of which are extensively explained in Vedantic principles and Buddhist principles. The Buddhists call this as the principle of “Pratitya samutpada” or “dependent co-origination.” Because things are interconnected and no entity exists in itself or in isolation, the Indian family system does not operate on the principle of “rights.” It operates on the principle of “duties” which we also call as dharma. Since things are interconnected, traditionally we did not have nuclear families but extended families. ...

It will be the greatest mistake of an individual to understand traditional family system from the perspective of “rights.” The Indian family system operates on the principle of “duties” and “responsibilities”—incidentally both the terms in the western world have negative connotations. It is in the proper performance of everyone’s duties or dharma that everyone else’s rights get accounted for and taken care of. The problems that we see in India today is because India has lost touch with its cosmological roots and colonization has a large and important role to play in such a situation. Because Indian traditions are not taught in universities, the westernized Indians are as far away as possible from their roots and rural Indians do not largely understand why they practice what they practice.

Living in an extended family which is based on the principle of respect for elders and a sacrificing love for younger ones is not living in a medieval era. It is practicing a different system of family from the one practiced in the west. Your linearity of time and social change cannot and should not become the standard of the evolution or change of my society (this is colonial and necessarily and essentially violent).

I do not say that everything is hunky dory as far as women in UP are concerned but a western brand of feminism cannot and should not be the scale on which UP’s society needs to be evaluated whether it is medieval or ancient. Western feminism and individualism go hand in hand. You not only have a different cosmology but also had a ruthless and egocentric patriarchy, against which western feminism rebelled and rightly so. But does India need a western brand of feminism is a question which we Indians need to ask and reflect upon? And as we reflect of the above question, we first need to take into account that Indian women have enjoyed great privileges and great status in the society in the past. Yes, things changed for the worse for them in troubled and colonial times but when we discuss their position in the society today, it needs to be in consonance with our dharmic and essential values. By aping the west, we will not go far. As Krishna in the Gita says about individual’s dharma that practicing one’s own swadharma is much better that the dharma of others even if it is considered inferior to that of someone else, Indian feminism needs to be in consonance with the dharma or the essential nature of India and not of the west, which has its own nature and cosmology and rightful place in the scheme of civilizations. You have taken your western brand of feminism and evaluated the Indian women, and as I said it is essentially colonial and deeply problematic.

In line of the above, you would also want to critically examine the following: “Face it. When you live in India you live in several centuries at once.” If one critically examines your sentence in the above, one needs to ask: whose centuries are we talking about? The one that have been defined by the west? When we talk about ancient, medieval, and modern, whose history of progress are we talking about? The answer is that of the west! It is again colonial and essentially violent to superimpose on Indian history the history of western progress. For if we really look at the situation closely, we had our golden era when the west was encountering dark ages.

Westerns are in for a shock in India not because Gurus have projected India as such but because of their own romantic projections. They want to find in India what they find lacking in the west. They conveniently forget what they are looking for in India has been plundered, ransacked, and decimated by their forefathers. Instead of blaming their own ancestry for the state of affairs there, they find it convenient to blame the victims. As a feminist you must be familiar with this discourse: blaming the rape victims for the rape that has occurred on them. Many of the present day westerners looking for peace and salvation in India end up doing exactly what their forefathers have done: violently hitting at the culture as they seek the spiritual wealth.  

Spiritual progress happens through self-inquiry. In this short post of yours, I find your gaze projected outwards and not inwards. I truly hope that you will not get defensive in this dialogue and give a serious thought to the many things said above.  

You are again bringing your cultural standards in the above. The mainstream American culture is based on individuality and independence. The Indian culture is based on interconnectedness and relatedness. In order for Indians to be adults, we do not need to leave home by the time we are 18. We do not need to separate from everybody else to become adults. Indians become adults by practicing their dharma towards their grandparents, parents, elders, uncles and aunts, siblings, children, nieces, and nephews. There is no need to be judgmental here, for the Indians also can bring their cultural standards and not have very nice things to say—but that does not take things far in terms of peace, harmony, and mutual respect. Instead of having one western scale of human development, we can have many legitimate human development scales...

...In order to practice the dharma, a better way is to understand the Indian ways from within rather than expect the Indians to relinquish their cultural ways. Many of us Indians who are living in the west, who also have a dharmic practice, have spent a long time to understand the west from within and in doing so we have enlarged our self and our identity. We have made our being supple and flexible just as the One Self is supple and flexible to have become the many in the world. Many of us Indians are able to understand the western ways and Indian ways equally well but let me tell you that we have also burned the midnight oil, by the grace of the divine, to have come to such a state. Also, the process required excruciating self introspection. From a spiritual standpoint, let me also add that ego hates it to go within and look deeply inside. It more often than not tries to find fault outside.
.... Your expectations from the sanyasins and brahmacharis are interesting to say the least. As I have pointed out in the above passages, it is quite clear that you have not done the work to understand the cosmological underpinnings of traditional Indian culture but you expect the sanyasins and brahmacharis (who are lodged in their own world and have not even come out from there) to know all the nuances of the global and post-modern world. May I ask you what gives you this sense of entitlement? On a separate but related note, postmodern is most recent for the west. But all the central tenets of postmodernism has been most beautifully discussed in India for about thousand years in the philosophy of the various schools of Mahayana Buddhism, beginning with the one founded by Nagarjuna. The translation of Buddhist scriptures in the west in the enlightenment era has had a lot to do with your postmodern movement.

Kundan: I agree with the above. They need to do a lot of work but also do the people from the west if they want to go there not as colonial plunderers looking for spiritual gold but as people who are genuinely interested in creating bridges and a better world. A better world is not built by imposing one’s standards on others but by recognizing differences and understanding those differences from within. The erstwhile colonized nations already know from their experience that the former paradigm does not work.  Having said the above, I am really looking forward to reading Rajiv ji’s book, “Being Different” for it feels to me that these are some of the issue that he is discussing in this book.

The allies, in my understanding, need to do a lot of work, particularly when they have such hatred and judgment as mentioned in the closing remarks."

Ganesh comments:
"For me Bluecupid108 seems to fit Sri Rajiv Malhotra's description of someone who is trying to find some sort of uniformity in the chaos that Indians are absolutely comfortable living in. Again this chaos, as Sri Malhotra said is within the person who is trying to understand a particular culture of India, in this case that of UP. As Malhotra said, a person knows what an open source is but to be in one and gel in it is an all together another ball game. Welcome to the free world called Indian cosmos where all your karma karya no matter which path you (gnana, bhakti, dhyana etc.) eventually forces you to self-introspect on the issues your ego keeps throwing within you from time to time.

Rajiv's response:
This is a very astute observation.

Bluecupid makes some important and valid points. But I feel she fits my description in chapter 4 of the book, titled "Order and Chaos". The fear of chaos runs deep in the western psyche. The chapter quotes surveys by American scholars on what Americans feel about India. The "land of chaos", "teeming masses", "anthills", "foul smells", etc. - these are some of the common ideas and anxieties that are expressed.

The chapter then reverses the gaze to locate this anxiety in the westerner's biblical unconscious (even those who claim to have left it behind) as well as the Aristotelian Law of Excluded Middle.

My talk at YPO Chennai (available at the web site under "videos" explains this point in simple terms.

sb asks:
"a. Is the characterization of Indian society as "pre-feminist" totally correct (as if there are no other dimensions) ?
b. Why do we have to swallow as gospel truth that Indian culture, in it's ideal development, will have to travel the curve from "pre-feminist" to "post-modern" in the western sense of the terms, as if there are no alternative models.

If Judeo-Christian paradigm forces one to look at Dharmic traditions in a certain way, so does this author's Western Feminist outlook. I believe the lines between Dharma and cultural samskaras aren't as bold and defining as she says.

In many cases, they are intertwined, the latter often as a support to the former. Her hard distinguishing between them helps her to do the "pick-and-choose" that other U-turners do with regard to more core Dharma issues."

Rajiv's response: 
I agree with the above point - this is what I call Western
Universalism, and this is what the book debunks." 

December 15
Video of HarperCollins launch: Ambassador Pavan Verma and Prof. Madh
I thoroughly enjoyed Pavan Varma's presentation at the launch of "Being Different." I think he beautifully blended the contents of his own book, "Becoming...

December 15
Fwd: Video: Prof. Francis Clooney (Harvard) comments on my book, BEI
Fwded. RVN ... From: R. Venkatanarayanan <daps2322@...> Date: Wed, Dec 14, 2011 at 12:10 PM Subject: Fwd: Video: Prof. Francis Clooney (Harvard) comments...

December 15
Journal Am Acad Religion: Disgusting Bodies
Venkat: "The latest volley echoing down the corridors of the ivory tower, reminiscent of the earliest missionaries:

Disgusting Bodies, Disgusting Religion: The Biology of Tantra

Thomas B. Ellis, Department of Philosophy and Religion, Appalachian State
University, Boone, NC 28608, USA.
Hard-core Tantric practice is disgusting, a point several scholars make. Scholarly interpretations of Tantric disgustingness, however, tend to follow the lead of Mary Douglas in suggesting that what disgusts is ultimately a reflection of social–historical concerns with borders and boundaries..."

bluecupid responds:
"Indian people: please update yourselves. Most Universities in "the West" veer liberal/anti-judeo christian. Most Western University professors are liberal and suffer from "white guilt" or "liberal guilt" - both politically correct stances in which white liberals are supposed to take on the collective guilt of bygone eras where white people did bad things to non-white people. There is no "missionary agenda here. This man has a post-modern scientific mindset and is most likely either atheist or agnostic.

Christianity is dying in the West. In Western Europe it is on its last leg and will be a complete gonner within a decade

The Academic and New Age West is more informed by Secularism, Feminism and the Sexual Revolution than it is by "Judeo-Christian values".


My suggestion? Update yourselves and stop living in a colonial "Judeo-Christian" obsessed mindset. Join the grown ups table where no topic is off limits.

Rajiv response: 

In your intense anger towards Indians, you forget several things:

1) The person whose message you are responding to is not an Indian, but Mary, very much a white American.

Your assessment of European decline of Christianity does NOT apply to USA. Please do some homework on how Christianity differs in USA from Europe, and why
this is so.

3) Your assessment that the academy is not influenced by Judeo-Christianity buy by liberalism, feminism, postmodernism, is only partially correct. It is ALSO
deeply influenced by Judeo-Christianity. I wonder how familiar you are with the AAR/SBL - and why after a temporary separation it was decided to once again make their annual conference coincide given the tight coupling of their members.

4) Uturns are not limited to Judeo-Christianity, as I point out repeatedly.
Westerners who have rejected religiosity also tend to retain a distinct sense of American Exceptionalism (e.g. Chris Mathews of MSNBC), and many of them find it hard to accept their own biases - because, after all, their self image is that of the global citizen who is helping the downtrodden non-whites.

5) In this forum you are not dealing with folks in the villages of UP, which you felt was medieval in the 1500s. It might be worth noting that just as you gained a good insight into India having lived there (prior to your rejection of it), so also many of us living in the US have done a very solid study of American culture. Thats what the whole enterprise of "reversing the gaze" is about in this book."

Venkata.. responds to bluecupid:
You say Christianity is dying in Europe. Could be. But
are you aware that Germany and England are among the countries from where Christian churches of different denominations send the largest volumes of money to India, year after year? This is as per government records of declared inflow. Ostensibly it is all for 'charity', for 'poor children' 'down-trodden women' etc etc. But it is common knowledge on the ground in India that a large part of the funds goes actually to conversion programs. This factor does influence the mind of India-based Indians even though they may be living in 'post-modern' world of Western intelligentsia and academics."

Venkat responds:

The West is sexually liberated? Really? I would recommend a few books for your enlightenment:

1) Maines, Rachel P.: The Technology of Orgasm - "Hysteria," the Vibrator, and Women's Sexual Satisfaction. This is an excellent account of how, until as late as 1952 CE, the West did not even understand female orgasm and called it "hysterical paroxysm," and set out to suppress it! In fact, until 1920 CE, "hysteria" was the second most common "disease" in the West and the women were viewed as "troublemakers" to be "pacified" by the physician. Now, the backward Hindus had written the kâmaúâstras at least 2,500 years before that where they explored feminine sexuality. Consider that as an ace served.

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/04/orgasm.aspx : This summarizes recent researches in human sexology which indicate that nearly 70 percent of western women report faking orgasm and one of the reasons is "insecure avoidance" in which a woman fakes orgasm to avoid difficult discussions with her male partner .... Now that does not sound like the absence of "lajja," does it? It seems to me that western women are forced to define themselves according to western male conceptions (stemming from memetically induced male sexual anxieties) leading to insecurities.

3) Blakeslee, Sandra and Blakeslee, Matthew: The Body has a Mind of Its Own - How Body Maps in Your Brain Help You Do (Almost) Everything Better: ...
This must be the sign of the "liberated" westerner you have in
your mind, no?"

December 16
Google gives $11M+ to IJM (largest CSR?) "The Washington-based International Justice Mission, a human rights organization that works globally to rescue victims of slavery and sexual exploitation, was... 

December 16
A history lesson on the importance of purva paksha
Chandramouli posts:
I found this portion of the review very interesting.

"Shivaji's rajaniti as reflected in the Ajnapatra

While agreeing in general with the above observation of the author, it is possible to argue that in one specific instance, Indians did try to engage and challenge the Westerners using the strategy of purvapaksha. The case in point is Ajnapatra, a short text composed in Marathi in 1715 by Ramchandra Amatya, the prime minister of Shivaji (a gritty fighter) who had founded a kingdom in the face of combined opposition of the Mughals and the Portuguese, who were emerging as a maritime power in India at the time. It is divided into two sections. The first section comprises the first two chapters giving a brief narration of the achievements of Shivaji and his sons in building and preserving the Maratha Empire. The second section comprises seven chapters in which the Amatya discusses the principles of state policy and various aspects of administration developed as part Shivaji's administration.

December 17
Report: Angana Chatterji, featured in "Breaking India" is fired from
t.com/news/1981-ciis-fires-two-professors-after-student-complaints.html *CIIS Fires Two Professors after Student Complaints* * * - *R*ichard...

December 18
CIIS hearings and report on dismissal of Angana Chatterji and her hu
The two attached pdf reports are self explanatory and important. Angana was a tyrant ideologue who harassed students that did not follow her line. She became a...

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