RMF Summary: Week of February 3 - 9, 2013

The forum turned two! Congratulations to all participants and thanks to Rajiv ji
February 4 (continuing discussion from February 3)
''We need to study western ‘White’ culture on our own terms'
Dear Rajiv-ji, This refers to your recent blog post titled *'**'
We need to study western ‘White’ culture on our own terms'

Manish responds to a previous comment:
"... Hindus, IMHO, have only two options at the current juncture in our history --- congregate or perish ! Stark, simple. It is only at these congregations that we shall be able to assert our collective identity with full confidence.

....If it means changing our millenia old habit of non-congregation, then we must change that habit. It has been done --- by the Arya Samajis, for instance. It won't be easy, for sure, but giving up is not an option.

Btw, you have highlighted a very interesting difference b/w the Hindu communities of Canada and US..."

Rajiv comment:
"But this also requires competent, selfless leadership. Otherwise the "congregation", is misled as we often find today. The leadership job description demands solid knowledge of the global discourse kurukshetra, which I must say very, very few leaders have. They are too busy inside the organization playing personal politics to impress and climb up. Most individuals I know lack the ability to do concentrated intellectual work over a long term to produce breakthrough results. .... they are tamasic-rajasic combo.

Just look at some recent fund raising campaigns going on - sucking in millions of dollars of the community with hype and promises, but these leaders have zero experience to actually do anything like this. They wasted their lives in useless pursuits and back slapping each other with mutual congratulations. Now in their late years they are desperate to show some result. So its easy for them to appropriate some slogans, one liners, slick Powerpoints. But that is hollow. In other words, our community lacks a solid leadership training institution. I mean at the level of IIMs where they could learn the skills to be on the world stage representing dharma." 

Anila shares an Indo-Canadian perspective:
".... I must indicate that while America does operate more like a melting pot and Canada is more like a "mosaic" there is still no comparison to the level of self-confidence and strength of identity seen in other immigrant cultures, especially amongst us second generation youngsters born here in North America.

Growing up in Canada, in spite of the occasional cultural shows, festivals and get-togethers with fellow Indian families that I attended, there was a sense of isolation from the friends I had in school and the manner in which they lived their lives. In my younger years, I often found myself (and many youth) feeling that the expectations of Indian standards of culture, tradition and morality were being imposed upon us and alienating us from the remaining youngsters. It took me some years of growth to finally learn what it was that my parents were trying to teach me, and the realization came most powerfully when I finally engaged with peers who were proud of their culture (select students from India or students who were brought up here but were lucky enough to have been taught from a young age about the details of culture history).

....it is also important to create spaces for youth to learn about their past, learn about their religious background and also be given the freedom to debate issues with one another. ...This freedom to question, to understand all aspects of life on this planet by seeking truth, is the very essence of Hindu philosophy (and I will go so far as to indicate that it is not as powerfully prescribed in other cultures or religions).

....Simply being in a community with families whose parents were from the same motherland is not enough to inspire pride and true understanding of culture. It is important that youngsters learn the basics of Hindu philosophy, and learn their history, so that they can teach the next generations of our diaspora and be proud of who they are in spite of the fact they are not like the others they interact with daily. And from what I am seeing more and more, the need for this kind of education lies not only here, but also in India....." 

February 3
"Hi Was wondering if the group has come across this piece of news about our national security advisor's assertion in Munich.
I am just wondering if Rajivji's influence is hitting South Block already

Rajiv comment:
He was at the closed door meeting at Indian International Center where they discussed "Breaking India", chaired by former Foreign Secretary, Kanwal Sibal. BTW, the new jacket of BI has the endorsement by Kanwal Sibal which is a very important statement. See:

Srinath says:
"... Abrahamic religions eliminate competition from native (non history centric) spiritualities by digesting them as well - when genocide is either impractical or the value added by digesting the prey is higher than its total elimination.  Even their violent methods are a brute form of digestion ....
Digestion infuses new life and ideas into a parasitic host which is non self-sustaining and over time would have collapsed under its own weight of dogma - existence of other creative civilizations allow the conflict to be externalized, offering outlets for frustrations and channelizing rebellious tendencies towards conquest (death in battle etc. incentivized by core requirements of host survival/expansion). " 

[egroup commentators react to Rajiv's MSNBC discussion]
February 4
Recording of my MSNBC television interview
Vish: While all around congratulations are in order, I look forward to the day when I can watch RM make it into a Dinesh D'Souza or a Bill Moyer panel on National TV.
... I don't know this for a fact, but I wonder if Moyer would ever constitute a panel that might share something like"Now, lets ask what our Hindus or Buddhists or Sikh friends might have to say about this?"

Girish: Great ! You cleared mentioned the reason why Bobby converted.....

Gopal: ....fantastic to see you putting forward the perspective so lucidly. That is the need today.A Hindu voice on mainstream media. A voice that is clear, that is balanced, that holds itself on firm ground and is not lost in the confusion of the society.

The choice of words are profound and deep, for example, "Every thing about Jindal is white except the color of his skin"  You stood as one amongst equals on national TV. ...  On your next trip to Toronto we should get you onto "The agenda" by Steve Paikin. That is one the intellectually strong programme's on Canadian networks.

Kushal: ...a great sense of pride for me to see you there. you made some vital points.

February 4
Germany scholar is in Chennai for doing interviews on BI
I received the following email. Those in Chennai might want to follow up with the individual directly and then let us know what happens. Note his dravidian interests. Only some competent persons should do this. As preparation, study his research goals, who else he is meeting, his professor's past publications, etc.

My name is Bjorn [] and I am a research assistant and PhD student [] at the Institute [] in Germany. In order to collect data for a research project on ‘westernization’ as one aspect of globalization I am going to interview representatives of political, especially dravidian, parties in Chennai. I am interested in Tamil Nadu's party’s and party member’s personal opinions about all kinds of influences western countries have on India in general and Tamil Nadu in particular. Because your book Breaking India is currently a very inspiring source for my view on the Dravidian movement .." 

February 5
subra shares:
"Kareem Abdul Jabbar, NBA legend and African American, reverses the gaze, analyzes western monoculture, and encounters air-resistance..."

February 6
Prashanth posts: God Loves Uganda" is a film that was part of the official selection of the prestigious sundance film festival.

"God Loves Uganda explores the role of the American evangelical movement in Uganda, where American missionaries have been credited with both creating schools and hospitals and promoting dangerous religious bigotry.
...attempt the radical task of eliminating "sexual sin" and converting Ugandans to fundamentalist Christianity."

February 7

One of the UTurn patterns: An example
Rajiv Malhotra posts:

"One of several patterns of Uturns is when the scholar takes Hindu contributions to the West, and reclassifies them as "Asian" or something broader, in order to dilute the Hindu origins. Example:

In the mid 1990s, Infinity Foundation gave a grant to a Western scholar of Hinduism who specializes in music. His proposal was to travel to European museums and see if the oldest musical instruments in Europe were of Indian origin or had been influenced from India. He was to use this physical evidence combined with text based evidence that early European music was influenced by the raga, and Indian instruments influenced European ones. We gave this grant with great enthusiasm. But then nothing came out of it since almost 2 decades.

Recently I got the following disappointing status:

"After submitting the project several times for publication, it has been rejected by many good publishers on various grounds. I always try to get it into a "university press" if possible. I have since reworked the concept into a broader spectrum of "Indo-Iranian Contributions or Influences on the West" which has now some prospective takers.  The new framework takes us back to Zoroastrianism's influence on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as the very pronounced musical influences (and chant) upon all three, etc. ...."

Most of our "dharma" activists dishing out grants would be awestruck to hear him play sitar, impressed that he gives lectures on Indian music at prestigious places. It depends upon how high you raise the standard. I find this shift from Indian to Indo-Iranian unacceptable. In other words, raga gets classified somehow as Zoroastrian and hence its spread to the West is easier to sell to publishers. I have written by disappointment quite candidly."

Gene posts:
"You could change the world if you were to present
the Hindu Concept of Kundalini to America in strictly
scientific terms
.  One strong supporter ... Dr. Karan Singh, M.P. He would be 100% behind you in this cause."

Rajiv comment: No. Its already been highly digested precisely because of these so-called "scientific" terms. The tendency has been to use the pretext of science to de-contextualize the categories, and thus prepare them to get re-contextualized (i.e. digested). That's what I am exposing in my work on digestion. Regarding Dr. Karan Singh: I have known him personally and admire many qualities in him. But political ambitions turns into political correctness and this can compromise a person's ability to take a strong stand for dharma. To be specific: Disappointed at the way under his watch Auroville has been turned over to leaders who are rapidly facilitating it to get digested into the belly of Ken Wilber via various suction mechanisms at work there."

tvikhanas responds: 
"I have noticed this pattern several times too, from mathematics to yoga. If West wants to deny precise credit, all it has to do is claim in a very reasonable and enlightened manner that cultures x, y, z apart from India too had these ideas in one form or the other. The implication would be there is nothing special in India's discovery and West can rightly claim it is "humanity's" discovery.

We see this happening big time when it is claimed that native Americans had "spirituality", Africans had "spirituality", Chinese Taoists had "spirituality" etc. It goes without saying that the superior whites also had "spirituality" and Indian "spirituality" is up for grabs without due acknowledgement. The same is happening when Yogis are lumped with shamans/medicine men, "higher consciousness" is bandied about as if it is an obvious thing that every one,
including the West, knew about. Huxley's Perennial Philosophy is the classic example of this strategy to appropriate Indic thought/techniques. But when it
comes to West's discoveries the standards for drawing comparisons suddenly become very stringent

This "everyone in every age had it" has the effect of taking Indians away from their authentic tradition to a low grade mishmash created by third rate academic charlatans. Ground fact is that there is simply no comparison between Indic traditions and any other culture. The "spirituality" label, while convenient in certain contexts, can hardly do justice to the reality."

Rajiv comment: Well said.

February 7
infinitestars shares: .....Good talk by Mr Jay Lakhani but he also seem to be having the same problem like many hindus have ie everything is the same. Please watch this video esp between 34:40----37:25

February 8
Is there a secular ayurveda: Cultural Issues in Bringing Ayurveda to
Venkat shares: A highly relevant article as the author discusses the perils of secular ayurveda... The author concludes that "Sanskritization and Inculturation must go hand in hand, as we read both the text of the Ayurvedic classics, our only source of authority and authenticity, and the text of the current life situation."

Transplanting Ayurveda to the West raises a number of significant cutural issues. An ancient, indigenous indian art, Ayurveda has evolved within a specific cultural and religious milieu. The cultural context of a country such as the USA is in many ways the polar opposite of this milieu. How can we transplant Ayurveda to this culture without doing violence either to the integrity of the teachings or to the cultural bias of our students and patients? In this paper, rather than attempting to provide answers, we will highlight some of the issues as well as suggesting a conceptual frame within which to understand the ways in which we may choose to make
this adaptation.

What Happens When Cultures Meet?
Jesuit missionaries, engaged for the last four hundred years in
bringing Catholicism to different lands, have described two different dynamics at play in the meeting of cultures.The first is Inculturation...."


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