RMF Summary: Week of April 9 - 15, 2012

April 9
Should we offer 'mutual respect' to a 'bad' ideology
Analogy: Suppose we offer a million dollars to some bad person, on the condition that he must kill himself. A naive criticism would be that we are giving money to a bad person. But a proper understanding would be different: In order to claim the money, he has to first kill himself, and then the dead person is simply unable to make any claim. So its a good offer to make.

Similarly, the mutual caveat in 'mutual respect' must be understood properly. If accepted by the other side, it forces the demise of the exclusivity clause of that ideology - because the exclusivity clause compels them to regard all others as false religions and not worthy of respect. There is a domino effect if they accept the offer - without exclusivity the entire logic falls apart. So we are not 'giving away' respect to someone who does not deserve it. We are forcing their demise if they accept it, and we are forcing them to admit their arrogance if they cannot accept it.

For many years, I have been asked in numerous talks: Why would you respect bin laden, hitler, etc? My answer in talks and writings has been consistent: Because such a person cannot respect others, he will not get our respect; the respect being offered demands reciprocity. It is not unconditional respect. The word 'mutual' is not extraneous; it makes all the difference.

It was Swami Dayananda Saraswati's stoke of genius to offer Cardinal Ratzinger (the present Pope Benedictine) 'mutual respect' instead of 'tolerance' in the UN Millennium Summit of 2000. BD's chapter 1 explains what happened as a result. It gave swamiji the moral high ground and put the Vatican in a corner. It exposed their hypocrisy....

My reason for this post is that despite many attempts to explain this point as a strategic ploy, I sometimes get 'critiques' sent to me by those who just dont get it.....

Anil responds:
"Actually I used to think about Mutual Respect as Rajiv ji puts it but found it does not work in reality - the [evangelist] missionary respects the other pluralistic view but he expects respect for his view to convert that view in the same mutual understanding - so he says he respects the Hindu universality and its need not to convert anyone but please respect mine to convert you. This is Mutual Respect."

Rajiv comments on the under-preparedness of the average debating Hindu and the tendency to underestimate the opponent's skill level:
Mutual respect has to be explained deeper than mere talk. Such an evangelist posture is disrespect camouflaged as respect, just to fool Hindus who are unable to debate. I love taking on such persons in debate. Hindu leaders who cant do this run away, which has not helped, as it shows fear to the youth.

Once you open the debate on mutual respect, be prepared to take it all the way into history centrism and its nasty implications. Be prepared to take that further into synthetic unity and the history of the West in that way of seeing things, and so forth. In other words, dont start a debate you have not had enough experience engaging in at many levels; otherwise you will deplete your arguments quickly and then make a fool of yourself. 99% of the Hindus involved in public representation are unschooled and inadequately read in the subject. They want quick visibility but are unqualified.

 Pradip shares an experience in the U.S:
"... we rented a church auditorium for celebration.The next week many church members came to know that we had moorties of our deities during the celebration there,
were totally displeased, and decided not to rent the lace to us again.Thus unhappy, the church had a long talk over it with our organizer... [she was] saying to them that all
gods are equal, so she couldn't comprehend the  unhappiness of the church members.The church leader told her if she believed all gods are same, then, she should convert to christianity and join his church.She was flummoxed. ...

Rajiv comment: "If all gods are same, then you must convert to christianity": This is simply an illogical conclusion. Never fear such fools - just call out
their foolishness.

btw: I dont agree that all deities are the same - they refer to distinct intelligences that comprise the Supreme Being. Sort of like departments of a complex entity, though this analogy is reductionist. Each does give access to the entirety, so they are not isolated, separated; but they are distinct accesses points. The notion of ishta-devata is wonderful, giving you "equal value" with "distinct access"."

Sreekumar adds:
""Ekam sat vipra bahudavadanti". Different people approach or access the absolute (Ekam, not one but absolute), differently. As you wrote, there are different
access points.

Rajiv comment: There are different access points but not all of them lead to the same place. Contrary to the popular saying, not all rivers lead to the ocean: some rivers end up in the Dead Sea.

But I can still respect the other person (who is heading towards the dead sea) despite knowing that his ideology is misleading him - as long as it is his private life only, and does not effect me."

anon asks:
"I often wonder how debate might be useful when engaging with individuals who are clearly deficient in rationality?

In this particular case it seems like a classic case of as rajiv pointed out -- "foolishness" plain and simple. Would a meaningful dialog be possible in such a case?

It would be more beneficial for communities to rally, raise funds and build establishments of reasonable sizes (proportional to size of funds raised)?...."

Rajiv comment: These are not mutually exclusive activities. Both are needed because the pursuit of one does not exempt you from addressing the other. ... given our dharma's sociopolitical condition today .... we cannot run away from all other people. We cannot refuse to work with others in our professions and isolate our kids from others' influence (unless you want to join the Amish community). So the issue of how to engage others in mainstream forums (schools, universities, media talk shows, public policy forums, etc.) does not go away. .....Bottom line: The above is an emotional, not rational approach, hence not practical. It WILL get you a big applause at the next gathering of Hindu activists." 

Sameer asks:
"Consider an ideology which you regard as wrong and misguided, but which does "respect" your own ideology.

Can you "respect" that other ideology? If you freely express your belief that they are wrong, would you still be respecting them?

Rajiv comment: This is a great question: Can I have mutual respect for someone who I know to be wrong? Is the other person's 'knowledge of truth' a necessary condition for him to be respected?

First of all, our ancestors practiced purva paksha even with opponents who they knew to be wrong. If they had refused to engage in respectful debate with those they considered ideologically flawed, there would not have been any debates at all. They would have been of the same caliber as the tribal warriors of the Middle East desert. Respectful debate does not mean I must agree with you. I can
argue against you, and yet we can respect each other for having different worldviews. Respecting the other does NOT mean I accept his faith for myself. I practice my faith without imposing upon him and he must practice his faith while respecting me.

Secondly, lets separate PRIVATE belief in ideology from PUBLIC conduct. Whatever private ideology you subscribe to, I can still respect you and your right to
hold that ideology. It is your own private life ... Reciprocity means that you do not attempt to interfere with my private ideology, hence you cannot try to convert me.

My attack is on those with exclusivity claims. I cannot be guilty of having my own ideological exclusivity claims which all others must accept in order to deserve my respect." 

Koti comments:
"Good analogy. Pope can not respect Hinduism and remain a Pope. That is blasphemy. Swami Dayananda can respect Christianity and can still not violate Hinduism. Pope can only respect Swami as individual and with hope that he will embrace (not just respect) Christianity and reject Hinduism." 

April 9
Exclusivism eloquently demonstrated in 5 minutes
Surya posts: Exclusivism eloquently demonstrated in 5 minutes. David Platt on Universalism, Rob Bell, Love Wins, Heaven and Hell  (youtube video)

April 10 
Re: in India Greek philosophers
Surya responds to an earlier post from last week:... Maria Wirth wrote: " ... interview with the Woodstock School Principal Dr. Long about education in the Pioneer. He talks about the philosophical...

Thanks for bringing up this important issue to the forum.  I will proceed with one very reasonable assumption that Long is a Christian.

I will start with a discussion of the method argumentation required here.

Recently, when I went to buy a car, the eager dealer walked me through the aisles to show his large inventory.  He paused for a moment next to two cars and asked, "Which do you want to buy?  The red car? Or the blue car?"

As a smart buyer, I may say neither and dodge being forced into buying one of those two cars. As a smarter buyer, I would say that this is not an EITHER-OR situation.  A car is a bundle of features.  I do not have to pick between two bundles posed to me.  If I am smart, I can put together the right bundle that suits me.

Someone asked me recently whether I am a Conservative or a Liberal.   I explained that this is a poorly posed choice.  What if I am a financial conservative but a social liberal?  Why do you  have to bundle everything conservative into one artificial bundle and everything liberal into another artificial bundle and then force the issue on me as an "either or" situation?

Understanding this argument is very important if we have to stop artificially bundled concepts being imported into India under the guise of religion and bring along culturally subversive behaviors and attitudes into the country that way.  Suddenly, these culturally subversive ideas are legitimized by bundling.

To strike down all philosophical thought of Indian origin blindly and trying to supplant it with Western philosophical thought just because it came artificially bundled with Christianity is anti -cultural, and anti-national behavior.  The above argument offered by a Christian teacher in India,  quoted above, is exactly that: anti-cultural and anti-national.  You are forcing Indians to denounce Indians ideas or things and replace them with Western ideas or things just because they come bundled with Christianity.

Following Christianity in India does not have to mean that you jettison everything Indian and replace it with what comes bundled with Christianity imported from West.  If it meant that, then Christianity is anti-cultural and anti-national.

Now, the alert BD reader quickly raises an objection that this argument will lead to encouraging inculturation. 

Indeed.  We need to consider both arguments together.

The well-laid argument then is a two-sided coin.  Essence of this coin is "DO NOT make artificial or synthetic bundles".

Artificial bundling is disingenuous.  It can slip into culturally subversive attitudes and behaviors.  Artificial bundling is synthetic unity.

....In a recent article on this forum, Ram wrote that Christianity should be stripped down to its own contributions.  He is right on.   He is saying NO to synthetic bundles. "

April 10
A stellar example of Western Universalism
Dear all, I've been familiar with the writings of Lawrence Auster (a Conservative traditionalist Catholic) for quite some time. He is an extremely erudite and...

April 10
NY Times - Digesting Yoga into Islam  
Nikudi posts: Here is an article from today's NY Times about Yoga and Islam. Yoga's Hindu roots are being clearly stripped out in order to make it "acceptable" to Muslims. The Imam who advocates such approach clearly says that if the Sanskrit benedictions are left out, Yoga can be more appealing to Muslims...."

Bhattacharya posts:
"Aside from its content, the tone of the article is notable for promoting digestion. Read this passage, invoking an undefined 'American conception' of yoga:

"For many immersed in a culture where vinyasa yoga is more readily associated with a New York Sports Club than a Hindu temple, the origin matters little. And for some of the devout living here, the American conception has overridden the beliefs with which they were raised."

.... reminded me of an older NYTimes article, in which Yoga digestion was discussed in a similar, matter-of-fact manner, almost a 'how-to guide' for Yoga digestion.
I reproduce the earlier article below. It's rife with disturbing examples of Yoga digestion, but pay special attention to the writer's tone. And look for the section describing how Shal-OM replaces Om, very similar to the line I quoted from the more recent piece. Oddly, it seems NYTimes likes to print this type of article every few months or so:
....  " TO 'om' or not to 'om': For those who teach yoga in schools, that is a question that arises with regularity.The little syllable, often intoned by yoga students at the beginning and end of class, signifies different things to different people. But with its spiritual connotations, it is a potential tripwire for school administrators and parents, along with 'namaste' and other Sanskrit words, chanting and hands in the prayer position...." 

Ravi: Of the many comments this article has (111 & counting), one stood out for me as a classic example of Western/abrahaimc Universalist exclusivist

"...As an observant Jew I am not comfortable performing sun salutations or invoking the names of Hindu deities any more than I would kneel in a church. But take out the references to hinduism & I can participate.

Religion isn't a buffet table for people to sample. For many people of faith seemingly innocuous practices from other cultures do conflict with their beliefs. I applaud the yoga instructors in this article for finding ways to
accommodate their students. "

So it appears that Religion" is'nt a buffet table, meaning Abrahamic ones, but "cultures" are, so that the item called "yoga" can be evaluated by itself, &
reshaped willy nilly....

Renu: The problem is that majority of us Hindus were brought up with the idea of sharing knowledge freely as that keeps it going and getting better. It is in recent years of Patent and copyright laws, that are causing a lot of
distress; these ignorant persons are super hungry to own and make money; want to own even trees, plants and things given by Bhagavaan. So there has to be a way to stop thru an international law any such digestion. ....what we need is a mass movement towards an understanding among majority of people that they need to take their lives in their own hands not leave to Churches who go around converting and Jihaading in the name of god/allah or what ever.

Pradip: The comment section following the article has several interesting comments. one that I liked is: "yoga, when practised regularly, will eventually make you revolt against monotheist intolerance, and thus endanger
your religion. buyers beware."

Poonam: Personally, after supporting that yoga is for everyone & not just Hindus, & that it has nothing to do with Hinduism, I have, as I grew older, & more knowledgable & wiser, have come to understand that Yoga IS A FORM OF HINDU WORSHIP. It is the process of preparing the body, the consciousness & the Atma of a Hindu to move on to the path of Nirvan/Moksh/or returning to Parabrahm. How can anyone do the yoga without the Sanskrit chants? each chant of the Yog is designed to generate the vibes & sounds that The chanting of the word jesus or mohammad or yaweh or allah does not produce the same effect. The chants practiced in Yoga are different from those that are used in the pooja
pranali & practice. The vibrations & the effects of the different sounds is a "scientifically measurable" entity. The moden day scientists are committing piracy by not testing it & then cutting it off from the roots.

Rajiv comment: Please read in BD my critique of Baba Ramdev for his stand that Aum can be replaced by Allah, Amen, etc. BD has a lot on the non-translatability
of mantras as vibrations, each with a distinct effect beyond its mental/conceptual meaning.

Virender: Instead of complaining that others are taking over YOGA, How many of us have taken concrete steps to claim that YOGA is Hindu spiritual and physical practice ? How many of us educated our Kids, friends or made public efforts to let world know YOGA is ours. It remind me of my mother who used to say it's the weak who complain not the strong ones. Let's be "Khstryias" and
start campaigns worldwide [ Does't matter how small or where] to educate the world of Hindu assets including Yoga. Otherwise lets thanks west/Muslim for making Yoga popular on world platform.

Krishna: Asanas can be considered as exercises. yoga can be taken as breathing exercise. As long as  physically,emotionally and mentally if yoga
helps one irrespective of religion can freely practice it. When Muslims have so much of resistance to use Sanskrit words,I don't know how so many Hindus and
particularly Bollywood people use the word Inshallah so frequently. Is it for fashion or they mean God or Bhagwan in general or do they actually mean Allah.

bluecupid shares:
Originally from Mumbai, this Muslim-Canadian yoga teacher writes her perspective on Yoga, Islam and identity;

April 11

Digestion of Vedic mantras
Gross misappropriation and digestion of vedic mantras http://www.churchofindia.org/maniiyer.htm...

April 11
The Intolerance of Tolerance
Surya posts: In his article on Huffington post titled "Tolerance Isn't Good Enough: The Need for Mutual Respect In Interfaith Relations", Rajivji wrote: Begin Quote: .....
In BD, Rajivji explains how the notion of tolerance is not free of intolerance and why it should  pave way for mutual respect.  

There are others who say the same thing with the opposite intent.  There are cases where some come out and admit that they cannot even stand tolerance.  Their intolerance is so steeped that they find tolerance itself intolerable.  

See the video below: (would like to see good responses to this video)

April 12
Arjunshakti responds:
"...These indians still live in the british raj even if they are getting knighted in some cheap beach in malta"

Rajiv comment: I know other Indians in New Jersey who are bloating over being "knighted by Malta" or some other Church subsidiary with a dark history. The new "knights" now are a bunch of brown dunces who want to buy (with newly made money) a seat at the white man's table. Its that simple, an inferiority complex. The Indian media, pop culture and elite circles in the metros are glamorizing
this. Thats the trend."

Surya: The West has for long mastered the value of soft power. The East has for long fallen for it. The use of gun salute to indicate relative power and respect during the colonial rule in India is a well known tactic. Rulers competed with each by offering favors and ceding powers to get more guns to salute them.  Difference anxiety from below (explained in BD, pages 25-36) is formalized and
entrenched in the society with this tactic; all rulers tacitly conceded that the 101 gun salute to the British Emperor makes the Emperor far superior to them since they were entitled to the 21 or fewer gun salute.

Knighthood conferred is similar. Similarity is that the one conferring the "status" is offering a valueless trinket or token in return for taking something valuable at the expense of the one conferred with the "status"..."

Karthik adds:
"The thing to recognize is that Western soft power is completely dependent on the global acceptance of Western universalism as a foundation. This is why Rajiv (and the rest of us) will face massive opposition in our task of challenging Western universalism: the effect is to knock over the pedestal and undermine the entire edifice of Western soft power. This represents a much deeper threat to Western hegemony, at all levels, than simply opposing missionary activity etc...."

April 13
UTurn prevention: Is there a Hindu equivalent of baptism?
Saxena asks: 
Just finished watching the Pondy event vids.

It would be interesting to find out from the German U-turner (and others) what their course of action would have been if the Aurobindo Ashram (and other dharmic traditional schools) required their equivalent of baptism in order to allow her to participate in their social life the way the church does.....

Rajiv comment: The strategy in BD is to use difference to create the desired effect. Example: Negate things like Nicene Creed without which they cannot be Christian - the German lady confirms when I ask her whether she believes in Nicene Creed. Using difference, undermine that which allows the DNA of the predator to function. For yoga based organizations like Sri Aurobindo, this
means explaining that history centrism is a grand nama-rupa which blocks progress in yoga. So Nicene Creed as nama-rupa runs counter to the teachings of
Sri A. This would achieve your goal to renounce "everything that goes contrary". Use chapter 2 to show that history centrism runs counter to Sri A's Integral
Yoga. Then show that Nicene Creed is the worst kind of history centrism. This forces the choice between mutually contradictory ideological positions. Gurus must learn this when teaching westerners.

April 14
Virginia Tech & Oikos University Massacres: Difference Anxiety the Root Cause?
Subra shares a blog post:
"An examination of the April 2007 Virginia Tech massacre and the April 2012 Oikos university shootings shows disturbing commonalities that suggest a probable root
cause of 'Difference Anxiety' ...

... Chapter 1: "Difference: Anxiety or Mutual Respect" that among other things, notes that rather than ignoring or trying to erase differences, they must be recognized and

The above two examples indicate that failing to respect differences can result in DA that may not be effectively manageable via prescription medication or "just praying", and can in the worst case, lead to violent problems in the

April 14
Western digestion of ideas and philosophy.
Chocka asks: Is this one form of 'digestion'?
Rajiv comment: I would say so. He translates and maps many nontranslatables into common words in english. This means we no longer need to refer to Brahma, Vishnu, Maya, etc as these are replaced by simple ideas in popular culture. This type of writing and speaking is fashionable now and the trend is getting worse.

If you critique this, they will come back with arguments like: truth is one; ultimate reality is one; etc. This is false logic I have critiqued many times - I call it Moron Smriti. It is an App that has been downloaded to nearly all Indians.

RMF Summary: Week of February 15 - 21, 2013

February 16
Sunday 11am on MSNBC television panel
I will be on the Melissa Harris Show at 11 am (Eastern Standard Time) on MSBNC. The themes are: American minorities, the context in Black History month....

February 18 (continuing discussion from previous week)
Re: Are all religions really the same according to Vedas?
Raghu responds to Surya (pls see last week's post):

I like your response. However, I think we also have to look at minds that are conditioned by the teaching and the social constructs that the teaching implies.

A Hindu mind seems to have two characteristics that are important in this context. One the ability to accept different ways, and the other to act from a sense of generosity. These are civilization-ally more advanced than mono cultures of thought and hierarchical political control. Over the years, it has turned into a passivity. This passivity was leveraged to great advantage by Gandhiji, but it has also led to a glorification of non violence. The non violence of Gandhiji was very powerful, it s not afraid of confrontation or of being violated.

When such a mind confronts the aggressive and predatory mind, it fails to value itself. Rajivji's analysis of difference anxiety is spot on. In my behavioural work self-hate of being Indian reveals itself often..."

Thatte responds:
".......why the tendency of  all religions are same  seems  to  pervade amongst a number of people - Hindus and non-Hindus..

In my analytical model for a religion, (and by the way, this is applicable to all religions) the outer layer is comprised of rites, rituals, festivals and practices. ...The next layer is comprised of values. Values dictate how one lives in a society. Since most  religions claim to promote harmony in the society  the values tend to be very similar.
For example, the key values of Hinduism are:
1.      Truth                           (Satyam)
2.      Purity                           (Satva Shuddhi)
3.      Self- Control                (Brahmacharya)
4.      Non-Violence              (Ahimsa)
5.      Charity                         (Danam)
6.      Forgiveness                 (Kshama)
7.      Detachment                (Vairagya)
Different religions may emphasize certain values more than others.  But, by and large these values are professed by all religions. This is where most people stop and take a position that all religions are  same...."
Surya responds:
"The tiger and deer metaphor comes to mind. It is the nature of tiger to be predatory. Deer is better off understanding this and behaving accordingly..."

February 18
Excellent critique of Romila Thapar
Venkat posts: ...Wagish Shukla ... details how Romila Thapar relies on translations of Sanskrit texts and distorts the meanings to suit her line of

February 19
Evangelical Christian group helps sue California school over yoga
Ravi shares a link: 


Karthik responds:
"A highly relevant passage from the article:

Ann Gleig, the editor of Religious Studies Review and assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Central Florida, said in an email that two groups have continually asserted that yoga is inherently religious evangelical Christians, and some Hindus who want to preserve the practice's religious influences.

"So both of these groups, which have very different agendas, ironically support each other in an historically flawed construction of yoga as an essential unchanging religious practice that is the 'property' of Hinduism," Gleig said.

{It is Gleig's analysis that is flawed by essentialization. She considers the Christian category of "religion" to be equivalent to, and interchangeable with, Hindu traditional utilization of  yoga as a "religious" practice. In Hindu spiritual traditions, yoga is one of many techniques by which the truth of man's ultimate unity with the Supreme can be verified, empirically, at a personal level. Christian religion does not allow for man to unite with the Supreme, and only permits communion with the Supreme through specific intermediaries and institutions. Hence, any technique which may verify an idea inherently blasphemous within Christianity (direct personal experience of unity between man and the Supreme) does, in fact, stand in direct opposition to Christianity. Yoga may not be anybody's "property" but it can never, ever be practiced by religious Christians without blaspheming the very foundations of their religion, i.e. the Nicene Creed.

Gleig's canard that a religious practice must be "unchanging" in order to remain the "property" of a particular religion, is another example of her flawed understanding. Hinduism is not history-centric, as Abrahamic religions are. The wealth of our knowledge system isn't static, it's always evolving; but for all that, it remains our own, and the credit isn't up for grabs.}

Andrea Jain, assistant professor of religious studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis said that the forms of yoga commonly practiced in the US are the result of the mix of colonial India and euro-American physical culture.

"In fact, postural yoga has been shown to be a successor of fitness methods that were already common in parts of Europe and the United States before postural yoga was introduced," Jain said. "So we could think of postural yoga as a 20th century product, the aims of which include all sorts of modern conceptions of physical fitness, stress reduction, beauty and well-being, these things were not present in pre-colonial traditions of yoga at all."

{According to this Andrea Jain, "conceptions" of physical fitness, stress reduction, beauty and well-being were completely absent from pre-colonial India, and hence could not have played any role in inspiring people to practice yoga in pre-colonial Hinduism. Instead, because these "aims" existed only among people of colonial India, Europe and the United States... ITSELF a dubious and highly problematic claim... then any technique applied to fulfill such "aims", no matter what its origins, belongs only to those who experience it in pursuit of those "aims", and not to those who originated it.

These postural forms of yoga include Ashtanga yoga, which was introduced in the early 20th century.

"Unless we want to argue that contemporary American culture and its valorization of physical fitness, beauty and health, modern conceptions of those things are religious values, then we really can't identify yoga as religious," Jain said. "We certainly can't identify it as essentially Hindu."

{Andrea Jain casually transfers attributes from the subject of her argument (Americans steeped in a culture that valorizes fitness, etc.) to the object of her argument (Yoga itself). Is it her faint hope that no one will notice this rather sloppy and intellectually dishonest sleight-of-hand? 

If I use a fountain pen, not to write but to stab people to death... is it now no longer a writing instrument? Is Louis Waterman (the inventor) now a weapon-maker? Or is Louis Waterman to be deprived of all credit for inventing the fountain pen at all?...

As a child in India I would watch Mickey Mouse cartoons, and "identify" with the character Mickey Mouse in terms of other, pre-existing "mouse" representations in my own culture... such as the more familiar Mouse from the Panchatantra fable, who freed the pigeons from the hunter's net out of cleverness, loyalty and compassion. ... Does this mean that Mickey Mouse is no longer quintessentially American but Indian? Does MY experience (as the "subject" experiencing Mickey Mouse) count for more in defining what Mickey Mouse is, than Mickey's (the "object"s) intrinsic origins? }
Manas posts:
"Ann Gleig, one of the academics quoted in that piece is associated with a group called, "Modern Yoga Research" which includes Mark Singleton, one of the primary exponents of the not-Hindu-but-is-Euro-American-Christian "postural"-yoga thesis. Singleton's name has previously come up in this forum. Singleton is also associated with a notorious Hardvard academic's sidekick and this "modern yoga research" group has been endorsed by this sidekick in the e-list he runs. In a recent AAR conference, Singleton presented a paper titled, "Christian Influences in the Development of Modern Yoga". A search in this forum archives will provide more information on these dangerous nexuses and their agendas."

Rajiv comment: I agree fully. I wish more persons were informed as the person who posted this. We have too much uninformed opinion and forwarding the same stuff to look important - that is counter productive.

I have known of Singleton's work for many years which only recently started becoming public this way. Too many Hindus continue to support such works. The co-editor of his forthcoming book infiltrated Vivekanandra Kendra's yoga camp, took lots of notes and recordings which her web site proudly says will be used to expose yoga gurus. The very same folks who find my works "too controversial" to promote and claim they dont have funds to support it either, line up in awe when they welcome such visitors and scholars. The decadence within Hindu leadership is amazing. These are termites who have caused the decay. Because I point this out openly in order to warn others from joining such bandwagons, I am branded.
Koenraad Elst responds to Karthik:
Recap for comment 1: "....So both of these groups, which have very different agendas, ironically support each other in an historically flawed construction of yoga as an essential unchanging religious practice that is the 'property' of Hinduism," Gleig said.

  ... In Hindu spiritual traditions, yoga is one of many techniques by which the truth of man's ultimate unity with the Supreme can be verified, empirically, at a personal level."

Patanjala Yoga Sutra, known till Shankara as a branch of Sankhya or simply as Patanjala Darshana, defines yoga in an atheistic way. "Yoga is the stopping of the motions of the mind" is a purely technical definition. The next verse, "Then the seer rests in himself", defines the goal of yoga as "isolation" (kaivalya), i.e. of consciousness (purusha) from its objects (sensory perceptions, desires, memories, intellection, all belonging to the less or more rarefied reaches of nature/prakrti). In both phrases, there is no God in the picture, He has nothing at all to do with the goal of yoga.

Patanjali makes a practical concession to the believers among his readers by saying that "devotion to God" is one of the preparatory stages of yoga. He defines God/Ishvara exactly like radically atheist Jains define their liberated
souls, namely as a desireless purusha; so it remains highly uncertain that "God" as currently understood is meant. At any rate, he refuses to make this special purusha somehow the goal of his yoga. Yoga does not revolve around an external being called God, but is purely a matter of relating to yourself, viz. totally sinking into yourself and forgetting about the world and the "tentacles" of consciousness into it.

When modern Hindus speak about yoga (and they speak about it a lot but practise it very little), they have a distorted view of it, inflected by what has been
the dominant stream in Hinduism for centuries, viz. theistic bhakti (devotion). "Unity with God", whatever that may mean, is a concept from bhakti/sufism and also adopted by some writers on Christian mysticism. But it is completely absent in historical yoga as defined by Patanjali.

Yoga is very much part of Hindu civilization, but is not the property of contemporary God-centered Hindus.

I am currently finishing a booklet for the greater public on the external enemies of Hinduism. It will make me very popular among Hindus. But next, I want to write a similar booklet about the internal enemies of Hinduism, or is other words: what is wrong with the Hindus... it will certainly make me many enemies among Hindus. They don't like a Westerner criticizing them, though I have most of it from Hindus themselves. At any rate, if Hindus don't make a systematic diagnosis of the problem, someone else has to do it. And the current (sentimenal and confused) Hindu bhakti notion of "God" is certainly a big part of the problem.

Recap for comment 2: " ... Andrea Jain, assistant professor of religious studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis said that the forms of yoga
commonly practiced in the US are the result of the mix of colonial India and euro-American physical culture.:
> "In fact, postural yoga has been shown to be a successor of fitness methods that were already common in parts of Europe and the United States before postural yoga was introduced," Jain said. "So we could think of > postural yoga as a 20th century product, the aims of which include all sorts of modern conceptions of physical fitness, stress reduction, beauty and well-being, these things were not present in pre-colonial traditions of yoga at all."

This supposed expert Andrea Jain is simply parrotting a very recent theory. She is plainly wrong, for yoga in the sense of meditation is very ancient, and was given a synthesis (of pre-existing views) by Patanjali. As for postural yoga, it dates back at least to the Nath yogis, who started in maybe 1100 AD, before Muslim rule in the Ganga plain, when the British were nowhere in the picture and America as a state didn't even exist yet.

Unlike Patanjala Yoga (meditation) the more recent postural Hatha Yoga is indeed directed to relaxation and fitness. Hatha Yoga classics promise you a lustrous body and concomitant success with the opposite sex -- not quite the goal of Patanjala Yoga, but very much the goal of Madonna and millions of other American yoga practitioners. But whatever may be the worth of that, Indians invented it themselves, long before British conceptions of fitness could (marginally) influence it."

tvikhanas also catches the falsehood on postural Yoga:
" This lie is now popping up in many places. Looks like this is the currently favored strategy to break up Asanas from the larger Hatha Yoga (and that in turn from Hinduism).

The overall story goes like this: Hatha Yoga Pradipa (HYP) is the founding text of Hatha Yoga and is 500 yrs old. HYP mentions only a dozen or so seated poses.
The rest and more advanced poses are recent invention. In fact, they were invented in 20th century under the influence of militarism & British physical culture. The pioneer of this was Krishnamacharya, the guru of BKS Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois and others. .... Ergo case established and we can reclaim what is really ours after putting it through due scientific process to clear it of all undesirable
cultural/religious/superstitious baggage.

We are going to hear a lot more about "Modern Yoga", "Postural Yoga". The story is of course garbage and it has any number of holes:

1.HYP is dated to 500 yrs based the usual fraudulent methods.

2. Sri Krishnamacharya himself credited a Yogi living in Himalayas for teaching him Yoga. (Incidentally, one of the sons of Sri Krishnamacharya, Desikachar seems to crave western approval & money. He and his son keep dishing out whatever nonsense western "yogis" want, like Yoga is not religious etc)

3. HYP itself acknowledges there more poses than the dozen or so it describes in detail. This is in line with Indian tradition where only the important points are given and rest left to the living tradition or pupil's effort. Quite
different from western patent driven approach where the goal is claim as much for oneself as possible.

4. Within Hatha Yoga asanas themselves are quite preparatory. The real deal is pranayama, bandhas etc. So it is stupid to expect HYP to devote all the space to a minor aspect.

5. Vedantins condemned the focus on body that Hatha Yogis fall into. Traditional sannyasins in orthodox mathas practice hatha yoga.

6. Ayurveda uses asanas in treatment for various disorders. Traditional dance poses are closely linked to some asanas.

So on and on.

This story seems have started with Mark Singleton's book Yoga Body. Singleton seems to be church funded. He is very well published in all the right places Oxford University Press etc (which probably are held directly or indirectly by the church as well). He teaches at St. John's College at New Mexico, a Christian institution. Take a look at his website (http://modernyogaresearch.org/people/dr-mark-singleton/), it's a real master piece of deception. A casual observer will think he is very sympathetic to
Yoga/India and not understand why we should be critical of his work..."

Ram notes:
"....We won't accomplish much by circular debates within
this forum. We may educate (and frustrate) ourselves in the process and provide necessary ears and eyes for Rajivji, but members should be encouraged to individually bring open pressure on systemic forces bent on expropriating,
abusing, denigrating, or marginalizing the wisdom and achievements of India.

Since joining this forum and reading Rajivji's book "Being Different", I am encouraged to be more assertive in speaking up and defending what's mine!..." 

Srinath asks:
"What should Andrea Jain have said? A lot of Indians might offer up similar analyses in the hopes of diffusing criticism that Yoga is religious, which could serve to turn-off American Christians. Indians are usually very eager to enhance Western acceptance of India and Indian philosophies as we have been looked down upon by the West for so long, and perhaps water-down concepts to make them more acceptable..." 

February 19
Digesting the gurus
Rajiv posts:
The ... Huffpost blog criticizes westerners who look for "eastern gurus". This type of rethinking is quite a phenomenon for a few decades now. They turn away from the source and replacing it with westerners as the new source. Note how the two authors are now the
gurus, with their own marketing programs. Note that all their spiritual leaders" are these uturned people - see list at the bottom of the blog where they are selling them. All this is justified using a quote from Ramana Maharshi. If the purpose is to be one's own guru, why are Ed and Deb selling their own products? It is just one kind of guru replacing another. Yet out folks go ga-ga when they see such people showing their "sympathy" for Hindu dharma. There is one thread someone on how exciting it is to see some harvard people studying kumbh mela. ...Amazing inferiority complex. Yet they love to organize events with fancy themes like "decolonizing Hindu Studies". Nothing really changes after participating in 20 years of hundreds of such events - because its fake and meant to impress.The tiger says that he loves the deer. The stupid deer takes it as a great compliment."

February 20
Dharmic perspective on Artificial consciousness
Amol posts: What is the Dharmic perspective on 'whether machines can develop consciousness'. Have our philosophies answered these questions ? I am curious to know.

Miguel Nicolelis is a leading neuroscientist working on brain machine interfaces and he says that "human consciousness (and if you believe in it, the soul) simply can't be replicated in silicon. That's because its most important features are the result of unpredictable, non-linear interactions amongst billions of cells..."

February 20
My recent event at Princeton University
This past Monday, I had a different kind of academic event for my book, "Being Different". This was a big success. Two Hindu student leaders, ... along with the dean of religious life, .... organized something with a different format than usual. .... it was not open to the general public ...One woman minister from the Presbyterian Church generated an interesting discussion with me. She appreciated many things but disagreed with my depiction of Christianity concerning its fear of "chaos" and obsession with "order". She cited some good counter examples. I responded by citing that Aristotle's Law of the Excluded Middle had become deeply embedded into Christianity ever since Augustine started what we know as "Christian theology". This law extols normative thinking and cannot deal with ambiguity, flux, uncertainty, etc. She agreed with the facts, but felt that this Greco-Roman takeover was not the "real Christianity". Then I mentioned my next point that western corporate institutions (the Roman Church being the first multinational) were mechanisms of power/control  and expansionism, and these were built on normative rules, policies, governance, etc. The whole notion of normative "commandments" from God and absolute "laws" imposed on peoples was the product of history centrism. This is very different than decentralized embodied knowing approaches in dharma, which the Christians persecuted in their own mystics. I did not expect her to get convinced, but I must say she was quite open and we had a healthy exchange.

The purpose of such exchanges (as all debates) is to benefit and educate the audience who are watching. Hindu students need more events where their stance is resilient to being toppled easily. Too often we have leaders who either capitulate easily by hitting the "sameness" button in panic (once they feel cornered), or the opposite extreme when they resort to anger or chauvinistic proclamations. I don't think either extreme works. We need calm, informed positions that can be backed up with evidence. For young minds today the extreme/unintellectual approaches are a good way to turn off people. We need serious responses that make sense. This capability comes from long-term research and debating experience, something too many of our folks want to bypass by taking shortcuts...

.....some years back one top caliber MA graduate of the same seminary worked for me as a research intern on a full-time basis. This man was simply brilliant, and also open minded. ....He helped my work a great deal, especially in anticipating and responding to issues raised by Christians. Because we had frequent brainstorm sessions to churn on serious Hindu/Christian differences, he also started to rethink what he had been taught in the seminary. By the end of his year long internship with me, he told me that he had changed his career plans. He would no longer pursue the career of a church minister or theologian. .....After hearing this, she said that she might also be heading in the same direction herself, as my previous intern. So I will be evaluating her as a candidate to help my work. ... I want the other party to be candid and able to argue against my positions, because that churning is precisely what strengthens my final work. Whether the other party changes or not is unimportant to me. If they can help improve my work, that's what I appreciate.

February 20
Coexistence with India - A Dawn Blog
Gopal shares:
Part 1:  Coexistence with India-1
Part 2:  Coexistence with the world
Part 3:  Coexistence with India-2

February 21
The history of India is a history of colonialism: The Telegraph
Appearing today in the UK, The Telegraph .... another one of those periodic articles designed to subtly reinforce colonial history and shape the opinions of the upcoming generation.

I posted the comment below, as a first line of defense and to promote Rajiv's work.

"oh dear, yet another of these articles which tries to build on a fabricated idea of Indian history in a sweeping way. I wonder how qualified the author of this article really is.

 Some brief thoughts:
1) The Aryan Invasion Theory has been discredited - it has no basis! 
Importantly this was an imported idea, this supposed invasion finds no mention within classical Indian history or within its own texts, it was used primarily to justify British plunder and rule. The Sanskrit term "Arya" denotes a human characteristic: noble, righteous etc....The term was later hijacked by European Indologists ... read Rajiv Malhotra " Breaking India, Western Interventions in Dalit and Dravidian Faultlines" or Rajiv Malhotra "Being
Different". Here is someone who is an intellectual, historian and has knowledge of Sanskrit.

If Charles Allen considers himself a serious scholar/researcher then I look forward to reading what he has to say in response to whats put forward in these
two books, particularly the first one, which trash much of what he has said above.

Indian history, as its studied now, begins with conquests, first the Moghuls and then the Europeans. This has given rise to a sorry generation of Indians, who have only been familiar with a history of conquest. This then gives space for such misleading article titles, such as the one Charles has used. Just consider ancient Indian contributions to the world (there are too many to mention) the concept of Zero, the 1-10 number system (referred to as Arabic, but in fact
having an Indian origin, the Arabs being the middle men in the transition of knowledge from East to West) Language, the antiquity and unparalleled sophistication of Sanskrit (Panini), Medicine (Ayurveda), Integrated Spiritual/Mind/Body Sciences (Yoga). Indian academia has even till now struggled to throw of the Macualite shackles.

....glossing over history or worse still, fabricating it, just will not do! What Indians suffered here was akin to a holocaust in its magnitude of impact upon millions of people, except over a much longer period of time. Empire
was all about Money, Control and Power hiding behind a veil of a "a necessary civilizing mission that the white man had to burden. "


RMF Summary: Week of April 2 - 8, 2012 - Part 2

Here is part-1 of the summary for the week.

April 5
Christian and Hindu Good News - Original Sin and satchitananda
Vinod posts:
"While discussing Being Different with a Hindu friend of mine who is interested in both Indian and foreign knowledge systems, he pointed out that in his understanding, Original Sin and the concept of satchitananda are one and the same. The former is only a pessimistic view of looking at the cup as being half empty rather than half full. The latter is a more optimistic view of looking at the same glass as being half full. Is such an argument tenable?"

Rajiv comment: Its stupid to equate self as original sinner with self as originally divine. Thats the whole point of making history centrism the central piece of my argument. Many evangelical scholars in the 1800s started this idea of equating. Then many foolish Hindu scholars started to promote this type of sameness. The consequence is that well meaning persons like you are confused today. I cannot afford the time to summary BD here. I did enough work writing it. Now you must do some work reading it. If you have not read it then its unfair to ask me such a question."

Renu adds:
"....Original Sin is very well entrenched in the Christian minds and so is the existence of Hell; scares them a lot! ...Very few are free of guilt in this system. In fact many conditions like dysfunctional relationships, broken families, children out of wedlock are a result of these ideas that are drummed thru classes into innocent heads from an early age. So is the idea of achieving Heaven by converting other persons; it does not occur to them that if the Almighty wanted someone to be a Christian then their help would not be needed by the Super power!
The understanding of Christianity in India is very faulty --we have been told to see good [and same in all] so we do just that-- need to live in a Christian country to see the reality."

Venkat posts:
"Equating original sin with satchitananda is untenable. They are exactly antithetical. What exactly is original sin? As Nietzsche correctly stated, Christianity regards the acquisition of knowledge as the original sin of man (Genesis 2:17, 1 Corinthians 20-21, 26-29) thereby making any reasonable exploration of natural phenomena that characterize human existence impossible. In other words, the Christian position is one against acquisition of knowledge. One becomes a Christian by denying knowledge, admitting that any pursuit of knowledge is terrible, and then getting oneself redeemed if one had
indulged in such a pursuit inadvertently. Most Christians, liberal or otherwise, educated or not, are ignorant of what original sin actually means. Your friend is no different as far as his understanding of this foundational belief of Christianity is concerned. Malhotra does an outstanding job of articulating what original sin is and how that
foundational premise is incompatible with the dharmic approach to moksha etc. He specifically underlines the fact that in Christianity redemption from original sin is always a gift from above and is not an outcome of individual endeavor.

In dharmic traditions it is exactly the opposite: one does not attain moksha either by denying knowledge or by exclusively receiving it as an accidental gift from above. For example, Sankara, in his Vivekachudamani (verses 13-15) emphatically asserts that knowledge (the pre-requisite to moksha) can only be obtained through
atma-vichara and not as a gift...."

April 6 

Indian Christian working on misappropriating yoga into Christianity
A news item relevant to Rajiv'ji writings: ************************ This monk gives yoga a Christian makeoverPaul Aims At Union Of Soul & God With Jesus In...

April 6
On PBS - Asian and Abhramic religion
Sourabh shares: This was on at our local PBS yesterday. I missed it as it played late at night. It followed NOVA. Has anyone seen it? Any opinion on the show? The website...

[Link to a related video]

Rajiv comment: Would like to know what it says (probably about sameness, exotic faith, etc.) and also who contributed to the content and story line.

Ravi responds:
"This made a decently big splash in the Indian e-community last year. If I recall, it had a better-than-usual portrayal of the distinctiveness of Hindu & other Dharmic faiths, and had a "much talked about" segment when the camera took viewers on a tour of a major temple in Washington DC area, and did some Q&A.

Rajiv comment: I wonder if the "distinctiveness" was from the dharma lens and whether it pointed out Abrahamic "issues" - like history centrism. Otherwise, its just the fashionable distinctiveness as in pop culture where one music genre or cuisine differs from another, but its all "relative" and no logic to either." 

Partha says:
"The story-line of the program is presented here:

Some excerpts - the attempts to show the sameness (comparing belief systems/ practices in Dharmic faiths with the Abrahamic faiths) can be seen here. Some of the statements (Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence based on the Jain religion) are inaccurate as well:

We also explore the Buddhist and Sikh practices and rituals, finding differences yet discovering surprising similarities with the Abrahamic religions......
Diana Eck comments voice-over: “It’s interesting having Hindu immigrants in America today because they bring something with them that’s distinctively American, a theology of religious pluralism.”

Simply inaccurate (Ahimsa Paramo Dharmaha/ Dharma Himsa Thathaiva Cha referenced in the Mahabharatha)..."

April 6
My blog: The tiger and the deer
This is a new web site that caters to world affairs focusing on the
BRICS countries' differences with the West.

shivadeepa posts:
".... interesting article on 'Yoga and Judaism' that seeks to find 'deep ties between Yoga and Judaism'. This has some positive and respectful ideas about Yoga, but the equivalencies don't seem to be clear. e.g. the idea of replacing the sacred vibrations of Sanskrit with Torah reading, and the last couple of paras indicate a possible attempt at digesting Yoga into Judaism.

Rajiv comment: There is a Hindu-Jewish group in AAR that champions this kind of equivalence. Many Jews entered ISKCON from the 1960s on, but most have uturned later. While Hindus are gradually becoming aware of Christians digesting hinduism, the trend is at least as aggressive with Judaism. Their favorite method is to use Hinduism to revive and reinterpret Kaballah and attribute all sorts of new meanings to it. They even claim non-translatable sounds in Hebrew that can replace as mantras. .... why is there a need of a separate Jewish identity based on birth, i.e. bloodline? Answer is history centrism. Judaism started the history centrism which Christianity and Islam took further.
.... A good example of the popular use of Kaballah for digesting Hinduism into Judaism:

April 6 
Digestion via Self-Realization Fellowship
This book purports to be written by Parmahansa Yogananda, but published long after his death. (Surpicious?) I tried unsuccessfully to gain access to the original manuscript. Another spinoff from Parmahansa Yogananda is the famous Swami Kriyananda, highly celebrated in India as a great guru. he, too, espouses sameness using the teachings of Parmahansa Yogananda.

I practiced the kriya yoga system of SRF when I lived in San Diego in the 1970s. So I know them and do appreciate many things I benefited for my sadhana.

But just as post-Vivekananda the RK Mission and its affiliates (unintentionally) facilitated the digestion of Vedanta (first into generic perennialism, then into "western" thought...) so also Parmahansa Yogananda's teachings have accelerated the fashion of digestion into "new, liberal Christianity". Hence the attacks by various folks like we saw at Patheos.com who feel that the differences I discuss deny that the same things already existed in Christianity.

People, please decide:
  • If you dont mind Hindus getting digested into Christianity (conversion being one of the many methods), then stop complaining at what is going on. Let it just happen. In fact, join in to facilitate the inevitable. You might even make some money, fame, prestige along the way like many others have.
  • But if you find it important that dharma's distinctiveness is important to retain, then dont get mixed up with the lure of being digested. This involves a lot of study and understanding first. Only what you embody yourself can be projected externally into whatever your calling is.
April 6
BI thesis and interventions via the UN
After Sri Lanka now India in trouble,UN asks to repeal AFSPA
Rajiv: In BI I discuss the role of western churches like Lutherans, etc. in grooming and appointing people like Christof Heyns in posts where such decisions get made.

April 6
"One Peter Heehs, an American historian who has apparently spent the last 41 years in Pondicherry, was denied a visa extension by the GOI this year. Apparently this followed his publication of a controversial book containing speculations about the relationship between Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Now it looks like the "usual suspects": Ramachandra Guha, Romila Thapar etc. are ganging up to pressure the government against revoking his visa, in the name of "freedom of expression" and other high-minded ideals...."

Rajiv comment: I met him a few times since the 1990s. Had a big fight the very first time we met, when i explained the appropriations and biases. But then we both moved on... Lately he got into trouble with certain people over his book (by Columbia U P) which I have read. This matter has polarized the Sri Aurobindo followers into 2 fighting camps. I no longer want to get "used" in this fight... Been there, done it...."

Manas asks:
"Speaking of double standards, some years back, communist terrorists in Nepal burnt down an entire Sanskrit university. How many Thapars, Guhas, Pollocks, etc, then raised voices of protest? How many petitions did these eminences take out?..."

April 6
Re: Wall Street Journal Article on Swami Vivekananda's Influence..
Karthik posts: A very flattering article, but it may be interesting to trace the incidence of U-Turns among the various figures cited here as influenced by SV. ... 
....Re-reading it again, I am reminded of how the American academe (and popular culture) have consistently portrayed the life of J.D. Salinger. They cite him as a genius, a literary icon who changed the face of American writing. Yet, all the biographies I have come across refer to a period in his life when, after 1965, Salinger became "reclusive, anti-social, and hermetic." The implication is that he had psychological issues that made him a misanthropist, and caused him to shut himself away from the society that once celebrated him in New York.

April 6
Digestion of Advaita, Shaivism
Surya posts:
See below how "Christian Advaita" is presented .  See the contortions of language to squeeze these incompatible ideas together. 

"Christian experiences God not only through Jesus but in the human face of God."  

"Advaita has a place in Christian experience via Jesus' awareness of his Advaita with the father."

As BD points out, unbridgeable gap between God and human is bridged only through the Prophet.  Allowing direct experience would undermine primacy of prophet and the scriptures.  Once you allow direct experience, thus bypassing essentiality of Jesus and the scriptures, what is the need for Christianity?  

Thus, Christian experience of God is ONLY "via Jesus' awareness of his Advaita with the father."

Taking Advaita as is from Dharmic knowledge obviates the need for Christian alternative.  Hence the need for the tiger to digest the deer. That explains why "Liberal Christians" and "Emergent church" are desperately after absorbing Dharmic knowledge....

The recognition of limitations of language and the need to import Sanskrit words is also proposed below.  Purpose, as is made clear below, is not a better understanding of Dharmic knowledge and its acceptance, but to facilitate presenting Christ-consciousness as Christian Shaivism.  Thus, keeping Sanskrit words intact but not the context of Dharmic knowledge from which they are extracted, still facilitates digestion.


Christian Advaita:
"Drop all ideas -- especially all Christian ideas (and before you respond, please just read/listen ... I'm here to help enhance faith/relationship/knowing truth .... not to diminish or challenge or debate).

The Christ and Advaitic Experience: 
"The Christian experiences God not only through but in the human countenance of Jesus whose face is the human face of God.... 
... advaita has a place in the Christian experience as in that of Jesus himself: the Christian shares in Jesus’ awareness of his advaita with the Father. This is Christian advaita."

The Shaivic Christian:
"Can the Christian experience be expounded – not falsely – in these terms, given, as we know, that Christian vocabulary cannot adequately express Christian experience?
Can these Sanskrit terms become the vehicle for a theology which leads to the knowledge of the Christ who exceeds all that can be said of him? (or, the Christ-consciousness that exceeds all that can be said of it?)
This attempt will be the beginnings of a Shaiva Christianity or a Christian Shaivism."

Rajiv responds:
The site referenced below is illustrative of hundreds of such movements run by Westerners who started their stage-1 journey with teachings of Ramana Maharshi, which they learned (already in diluted form) second to fourth hand via Nisargatta Maharaj, Papaji, Ramesh Baleskar and an assortment of other instant Indian gurus and pseudo-gurus. Later they mapped these ideas on the new frameworks by western uturners like: Eckhart Tolle (who I met in the 1990s), Adyashanti (via Zen), Adi Da (follower of Swami Muktananda who initiated the young Ken Wilber and later there was a big clash of Adi Da/Wilber super-egos), among others. The digestive tract is very long, with many such enzymes along the way helping to 'break down' the source till it disappears into the new DNA.

April 7
Indian archeology.
Chocka asks: .....
Where will you put this in your classifications of digestion?

Rajiv comment: An interesting documentary on archeological findings. I am troubled that they cannot take Hindu claims (not myths are referred to but itihas) at face value even as claims. Because such claims definitely topple Biblical history claims or at least exclusivity, the archeological findings are being interpreted as some sort of extra-terrestrial work. The result is that either (1) it gets mixed up with all other UFO nonsense and sidelined to the margins, or (2) credited to aliens rather than Hindus. In the latter case, this alien origin of Hindu 'myths' is similar to the foreign origin of Aryans - in both cases Hinduism's own accounts of the past are seen as really the work of outsiders be they foreign aryans or aliens from outer space.

We should utilize the hard facts of archeology and develop our own interpretations rather than getting sucked into others' interpretations..."

Kundan shares:
"I have read Graham Hancock's "Underworld: The Mysterious origins of Civilizations." He is shown at the beginning of this documentary. I will not be too surprised if he is at the man behind the documentary.

As it is, the mainstream historians and archaeologists were going after him for contending the dates of the archaeological remains off the coast of Poompuhur and Dwarka to 9600 BCE and 6000 BCE respectively; now that his work is being linked with aliens and ETs, it will get further discredited in the academic community. It is quite possible that he himself is linking it.

In the "Underworld," he came up with these dates by corresponding the depth at which these ruins were found with inundation maps that have been prepared for the world through complex computer calculations at various stages during the Post Glacial floods (the contention of Geologists is that after the Last Glacial Maximum, ice caps and glaciers around the world melted at a rapid pace leading to massive floods that inundated coasts around the world). If the post glacial flooding is true, then the inundation of  "Kumari Kandam" as described in Sangam literature is a distinct possibility--Sangam says that the first meeting was held in a city called Tenmadurai and the second at Kavatapuram, both of which have gone under water. The geologists contend that there were massive flooding that took place between 10,400 BCE and 8,600 BCE and many Tamil scholars say that first gathering of Sangam took place around 9600 BCE. The last of the post glacial floods took place between 5700 BCE and 4900 BCE and Sangam scholars say that the second Sangam took place 3700 years after the first one. There is a close correspondence between when Tenmadurai and Kavatpuram would have gone under water and occurrences of post glacial flooding.

Graham Hancock took the help of local fisherman in the exploration off the coats of Tamil Nadu. His wife, Santha, is conversant in Tamil--she is of Tamil origin raised in Malaysia. The local fisherman speak of many ruins along the coast of Tamil Nadu. The fisherman know about this because they find schools of fish around these ruins--the fish need protected area to rest. The seabed off the coast otherwise is quite flat. The marine wing of the Archaeological Survey of India need to take these local folklore seriously and explore the coast. Graham Hancock says that the local fisherman were able to take him to the exact spot of the ruins.

Emboldened by finding ruins in correspondence with the local itihasa, I think he has come up with the alien theory because the Tamil story is that Shiva and other gods were present at the first Sangam. Instead of using their names, he is saying that in those days the humans were in contact with the aliens.

Unfortunately it does not help the dharma cause. ..."

April 7
Do mappings with good intentions lead to digestion?
Swami Vivekananda mapped akasha as ether at a time when ether was well-established in physics. Later physics rejected the notion of ether altogether. Where did that leave Hindu cosmology and the notion of ether? In hindsight it would have been better to leave akasha untranslated - as something that is not only physical, anyway, and hence cannot be mapped to a purely physical model.

But when SV did this, the intention was to make Hindu cosmology more mainstream, more popular, more credible. But such a mapping meant that there was no longer any need to investigate into akasha, once ir was rendered redundant and replaced by ether that mainstream people already knew. This trend is very popular among scholars of dharma who are genuinely trying to show how "scientific" their tradition is.

.... mapping of Sri Aurobindo's taxonomy to modern neuroscience - done with utmost respect:

....side effect is that once enough such mappings get perfected, he becomes redundant - a museum piece. On the other hand, neuroscience is very powerful and one must utilize it. So what can one do to have the benefits without this pitfall?

Possible approach: How about doing neurological research actively using Sri Aurobindo's taxonomy directly? Keep his terms alive. Let researchers have to re-read what he said and try to figure it out better and better over time - just like we did not put the term yoga in a museum by substituting something like exercise, prayer, gymnastics, etc.

I am illustrating my point using Sri A as one example. The same ought to be done to utilize the taxonomies of Kashmir Shaivism, Sankhya, and various other systems. Also: Do not try to collapse them into one another - that too is a reductionism which causes potential loss of experience contained in those terms.

Sanjos responds:
"Since I am the author of the blog article  you posted below, I'd like to clarify that the intent of the article was actually the opposite.  In other words, I was hoping that the digestion goes the other way - that modern neuroscience discoveries can be explained through the Integral Psychology of Sri Aurobindo.    In order for Sri Aurobindo's model to be accepted, one would have to be able to explain every possible neuroscience discovery using the extensive psychological insights given by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in their works and that is what I am attempting.

Rajiv comment:
Thanks for writing that your goal is digestion in the reverse direction. That is also the goal of most advocates of dharma. But they end up dishing out the dharma into small bits that are digestible, quite the opposite of their noble intentions. ....the problem may be formulated as follows:

X gets mapped to Y hoping that X will prevail over Y, i.e. it will digest Y. Under what circumstances will that happen, and what factors will make the opposite happen? One taxonomy/paradigm will prevail and digest the other, so the question is what determines which one will prevail. Like any other systematic inquiry, you cannot 'imagine' the answer or base it on wishful thinking. You must gather data on similar situations and see what happens and why. This is what I have been doing for 20 years. Why did RK Mission (following a similar strategy to yours) end up on the sidelines while its treasure trove of dharmic ideas got digested for a century? It was not lack of good intentions. It was a lack of purva paksha of the other party in the intellectual encounter, especially a lack of understanding the mechanisms of digestion

One simple principle is: In cases where the other party is a religion (not neuroscience), the one that retains its history centrism (always exclusive by definition) prevails unless unless the other side has something non digestible into the history centrism. This is logical and also supported by evidence of what has actually happened. This is how inculturation works across the heathen world: bring Jesus' history centrism together with village deities and symbols into 'sameness' perception; but gradually you get the village symbols and rituals digested into the HISTORY CENTRISM OF JESUS.

What if the other party is science and not anything to do with history centric religion? Here a key factor is that westerners are stronger than us by 50 to 1 in their scholars' quantity, quality, persistence, availability of funding and institutional apparatus for dissemination. In stage-2 of uturn they use folks like you to remove the context of the source tradition - what I have termed 'de-contextualization'. Much of Auroville and Pondy have been doing this for the past 40 years.....Again many of our folks are great facilitators and get rewarded by arriving on the world stage.....(Auroville's own Aster Patel being a prominent person.) In parallel there are those working on stage-4 which is to denigrate the source as inferior, the "caste, cows, dowry, sati, Godhra violence" variety of stereotypes that are all over the place, like carpet bombing in the media. All this culminates in stage-5 where the "new" discoveries by the west are re-exported back to India. Hence we see Andrew Cohan, Harold [Howard?] Gardener, Stephen LaBerge, many of Templeton Foundation's researchers...

Since you are interested in Sri Aurobindo's works: You must understand how he is already getting digested into Wilber and through that into Integral Christianity led by Father Keating in collaboration with Wilber and Cohen.

Hint: What you need to develop is: The non-digestible core of Sri Aurobindo, i.e. that which causes the reductionist western paradigm to crash when Sri A is ingested. 

April 7
Blog: Dharmic Gaze
Rohit's blog. Here is the link. Blog is dedicated to Being Different.

April 7
Another digestion
Dhiru posts: Another 'Digestion of Dharmic' idea has come from Ms. T. M. Luthermann (author
of "When God talks back:Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God") who has written a piece in the Opinion page of WSJ April 6, 2012 under the heading: "when the Almighty Talks Back". He writes: "And yet people also report that when they pray in this way, they begin to experience God's presence in a personal way, something that is comforting and  empowering..."

Rajiv responds:
"Rajiv comment: Feeling God's immediate presence is something many Christians claim to be part of Christianity since very long. Many early Christians did
express such feelings. So if you go too far and deny any such presence, you will not be taken seriously by Christian scholars. God is intimately felt in many
Christian writings. That is not the point of difference.

The point is that one can be intimate but in a dualistic sense. God "responds directly" fine, but its two distinct persons interacting - man and God. What is lacking is "aham Brahamasmi" and "tat tvam asi" type of integral unity. In synthetic unity there can certainly be close communication among the parties.

The second difference is that history centrism makes God change the rules (called covenants) through some historically unique event, making that event NECESSARY to believe in. This event is the basis of exclusivity claims. So maybe God talks to a person directly, but even so his conversation does NOT allow the person to bypass Jesus as the exclusive mediator in history.." 

April 8
in India Greek philosophers
Maria posts: .... an interview with the Woodstock School Principal Dr. Jonathan Long about education in the Pioneer. He talks about the philosophical dimension, but mentions only Greeks. Unfortunately the interviewer did not draw out more from him.

April 8
Is Jesus a mythical figure- Nice debate in CNN.com today.

Rajiv comment: It is irrelevant to my work whether Jesus existed historically. I am concerned with Christianity as a belief system promulgated and controlled by a powerful institution.

As long as there is (1) a powerful church, which (2) demands the absolute belief in the historical Jesus as part of its overall Nicene Creed (i.e. the canon of history centrism), and (3) a large portion of powerful people adopt this as their worldview, that is the working definition of Christianity on which I am reversing my gaze. ....

A big deal would be if the beliefs of a large majority of Christians changed such that they no longer regarded Jesus' historicity as real, or at least they considered it as unimportant. That would be a revolutionary mind shift. The domino effect would be:

(a) No historical savior.
(b) Hence no such thing as Original Sin. The Nicene Creed would unravel instantly.
(c) Hence the old myths comprising the gnostics, pagans, gospels (those included and those left out by the Council of Nicea) would become free from the bondage of history centrism.
(d) Then there would emerge the possibility of a different kind of universalism in which what BD describes as the desert civilization would not be the foundation.
(e) Using the rishis' paradigm of the forest civilization, one would then be able to reinterpret the old stories of mystical experiences in the biblical lands, including allowing a place for Jesus as an archetype (NOT historical and certainly not exclusive). (f) This would be Christianity digested into Sanatana Dharma, with various people having their own mythic figures to imagine as deities and as their ishta-devatas.
(g) Devatas are not historical persons, but intelligences-divinities to whom we humans give concrete images for our convenience of access. If we can imagine a given intelligence-divinity in form-x then it is equally valid (and equally relative) for someone else to imagine it as form-y. This is why Hinduism accepts village deities that are local and distinct forms, because such a local form of deity is the collective imagination and itihas of that community. Jesus would similarly be the local deity of certain people, respected as such, but not the Son of God or exclusive intermediary, or grantor of the church's franchise.

Bottom line: It is dangerous to jump ahead directly to 'g' based on wishful thinking, ..."

Ram argues:
"...I see no reason to accept non Christian elements in this formula. The Christianity we are dealing with is mostly a creation of the last 2,000 years by western Europeans (Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Spain, Scandinavia etc) and to some extent the United States and Canada.

Therefore I would advise rejection of any pre-Christian philosophy, writings, theology, legal systems, theology, culture on the part of Christians. Specifically, I see they have no claim to the stories and theology of the Old Testament, which are really Jewish mythology and scriptures.

I would advise rejection of Christian claims to the heritage and achievements of the pre-Christian Greeks. Plato, Aristotle, the Greek idea of democracy, Greek thought, are NOT for Christians to colonize as their own.

I would advise rejection of Christain claims to the heritage and achievement of the Romans, who were nearly all non Christian and before the supposed coming of Jesus.

I would advise rejection of Christian claims to the heritage of the Mesopotomia early civilizations of Ur, of later civilizations of Babylon, the Persians, Crete, the north African cities, and the entire Mediterranean area before the Christian era.

I would advise rejection of the Christian claims to the heritage of Egypt, claims to the heritage of the Scandinavian nations of Sweden, Norway etc.

Strip these away from the western Christians and they are left with very little. The bulk of the Nicene Creed (creation story, Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, talking snake, original sin, coming of the messiah are all Jewish) is gone, all the thoughts of the  Romans and Greeks and their institutions have to fall away..."

April 8 
Digestion - The pagan roots of Easter (Guardian)
Venkat shares:
"The pagan roots of Easter
By: Heather McDougall, Guardian, UK,

From Ishtar to Eostre, the roots of the resurrection story go deep. We should embrace the pagan symbolism of Easter. Easter is a pagan festival. If Easter isn't really about Jesus, then what is it about?

Today, we see a secular culture celebrating the spring equinox, whilst religious culture celebrates the resurrection. However, early Christianity made a pragmatic acceptance of ancient pagan practises,
most of which we enjoy today at Easter.

The general symbolic story of the death of the son (sun) on a cross (the constellation of the Southern Cross) and his rebirth, overcoming the powers of darkness, was a well worn story in the ancient world. There were
plenty of parallel, rival resurrected saviours too.

The Sumerian goddess Inanna, or Ishtar, was hung naked on a stake, and was subsequently resurrected and ascended from the underworld. One of the oldest
resurrection myths is Egyptian Horus.

Born on 25 December, Horus and his damaged eye became symbols of life and rebirth. Mithras was born on what we now call Christmas day, and his followers
celebrated the spring equinox. Even as late as the 4th century AD, the sol invictus, associated with Mithras, was the last great pagan cult the church had to overcome. Dionysus was a divine child, resurrected by his grandmother. Dionysus also brought his mum, Semele, back to life...."

Rajiv comments:
"This is well known: many pre-Christian elements including symbols, rituals, ideas and even philosophies got digested into Christianity. At the same time the source cultures suffered what amounts to cultural genocide. I point this out to audiences where they wonder, "whats wrong with getting digested?" One day, if the fashin of digestion continues, it is entirely plausible that Divali will be celebrated as a Christian "festival of lights" with sermons about bringing the light of Jesus into your life to dispel the darkness of Satan" 

Manas adds:
"...This is already happening in many Christian institutions in India. And it applies not only to Diwali but also to various other Hindu festivals, cultural mores, performing arts, dharmic literature, etc. One example:

The dharmaram college, a Christian seminary based in Bangalore is very active in devising methods for digesting Hinduism into Christianity... Incidentally, Indian media reports this sort of blatant chicanery in positive light, as if, to use Rajiv'ji analogy, the deer getting eaten by the tiger is a good thing."

April 8
Indian Gov's Documentary about Jesus in India
Bluecupid shares: This is the GoI's official documentary about Jesus in India; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9w-xJfSOyc&feature=related...