Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

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ShauryaT
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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ShauryaT » 13 Jan 2015 08:11

Agnimitra wrote:
Shaurya_T ji, I'm not able to understand in what specific way Ambedkar's views do not build on Indian cultural capital. Could you elaborate? If one reads Ambedkar and views his life with an unprejudiced eye, it becomes clear that his ultimate aim was re-Sanskritization at a new normal. He considered Vedic principles to be unique and enlightened (compared to other ancient sources and cultures), but considered later laws based on it to be an aberration overlaid on it. In that respect, it would have been necessary to first dissolve the existing encrustations that pose as "cultural capital", and then re-create a new platform on which those principles could find new expression in present time.
Ambedkar, IMO was a throughly colonized mind, many a times even supporting the British against the INC. His record against the British itself is questionable, as Arun Shourie has shown. As to his thoughts, I think it is quite clear that he was throughly disgusted with the Brahmin led social order, regardless of what he thought of some pristine Vedic principles (A questionable concept by itself but OT for thread). His determination not to die as a Hindu, led him to a journey of exploration of various faith principles, rejecting Islam and Christianity and closely considering the Sikh faith, before deciding upon Buddhism late in his life.

My issue with Ambedkar if any, has less to do with his views but the wrongful attribution to him as the father of the constitution, which he was most certainly not. Ambedkar is in fact on record thinking in hindsight that the entire constituent assembly process was rather unwarranted. He did say many things and often not consistent with each other. On one hand he would say, that we have created a credible document in this constitution and yet at the same time, be ready to disown it in another statement. So, debating on Ambedkar's quotes is pointless. He was a complex person, on a journey influenced by his times and events as he saw them.

It would be huge stretch from his writings to come to a conclusion that this thought process as reflected in our constitution had anything to do with Indian principles or Dharma. Was he not the one to burn the Manu smriti? I have read many of his works off and on, including his take on the philosophy of Hinduism. The sense that I get from his writings is one of a throughly colonized mind.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ShauryaT » 13 Jan 2015 08:18

Tuvaluan wrote:Not sure I can parse what is being said above, but Ambedkar was extremely clear about what he was aiming for, and it was about equality of opportunity, rather than equality of outcomes (which is what Nehru and his cronies aimed for). Ambedkar views on economics was in line with the Austrian school of economics and a free market economist. I figure his views are about trying to work with the common interests of Indians at large that would cut across the diversity in various dimensions -- he was extremely pragmatic, and sadly was not allowed a larger role after independence…and I will stop here before I point fingers.

Do not like something, let us blame the favorite whipping boy, Nehru! Will not continue on this, as it is OT.
Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru wrote:Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru’s opinion about Reservation in government Jobs

As the Prime Minister of India, Pt. Nehru had watched closely all these developments and expressed his views in a letter sent to all the chief ministers of the states on June 27, 1961. Following is the extract of the letter -

“Narrow, cynical, sectional calculations are what propel our politicians today. There was a time when everything was judged by one Talisman alone: the interest of the nation as a whole.”

“I have referred above to efficiency and to our getting out of our traditional ruts. This necessitates our getting out of the old habit of Reservations and particular privileges being given to this caste or that group. The recent meeting, we held here, at which the Chief Ministers were present, to consider national integration, laid down that the help should be given on economic considerations and not on caste. It is true that we are tied up with certain rules and conventions about helping Scheduled castes and tribes. They deserve help, but even so, I dislike any kind of Reservation, particularly in service. I react strongly against anything, which leads to inefficiency and second rate standards. I want my country to be first class country in everything. The moment we encourage the second rate, we are lost.”

“The only real way to help a backward group is to give opportunities for good education. That includes technical education, which is becoming more and more important. Everything else is provision of some kind of crutches, which do not add to the strength or health of the body.”

“We have made recently two decisions: one is universal and free education, that is the base, and the second is scholarships on a very wide scale at every grade of education to the bright boys and girls and this applies not merely to literary education, but much more so to technical, scientific and medical training. I lay stress on the bright and able boys and girls, because it is only they, who will raise our standards. I have no doubt that there is a vast reservoir of potential and talent in this country, only thing we can give it an opportunity.”

“But if go in for Reservations on communal and caste basis, we swamp the bright and able people and remain second rate or third rate. I am grieved to learn of how far this business of Reservation has gone on communal considerations. It has annoyed me to learn that even promotions are sometimes based on communal or caste considerations.”

“This way lays not only folly but disaster. Let us help the backward groups by all means, but never at the cost of efficiency. How are we going to build our public sector or indeed any sector with second rate people?”

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 13 Jan 2015 08:21

ShauryaT wrote:Ambedkar, IMO was a throughly colonized mind, many a times even supporting the British against the INC. His record against the British itself is questionable, as Arun Shourie has shown. As to his thoughts, I think it is quite clear that he was throughly disgusted with the Brahmin led social order, regardless of what he thought of some pristine Vedic principles (A questionable concept by itself but OT for thread).

The idea that India actually had a Brahmin led social order is itself a product of a colonized mind. No evidence exists that this was the case - and it was a story conjured up by the British in the quest to define the Hindoo religion, by means of selected texts like Manusmriti and those 11 random Brahmins who helped write the "The code of Gentoo laws"

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby Agnimitra » 13 Jan 2015 09:56

ShauryaT wrote:Ambedkar, IMO was a throughly colonized mind, many a times even supporting the British against the INC. His record against the British itself is questionable, as Arun Shourie has shown. As to his thoughts, I think it is quite clear that he was throughly disgusted with the Brahmin led social order, regardless of what he thought of some pristine Vedic principles (A questionable concept by itself but OT for thread). His determination not to die as a Hindu, led him to a journey of exploration of various faith principles, rejecting Islam and Christianity and closely considering the Sikh faith, before deciding upon Buddhism late in his life.

Can't agree with you on this one, except that Ambedkar's political persona is complex - tactically he had to, of necessity, adopt a stance that pushed back the entrenched aristo establishment, but in terms of his thinking, he had a vision that was based on good, human principles.

Even in his rejection of "Hindu" (as it was predominantly interpreted during his time) he shows an incredible constraint and vision for the integrity of Indic civilization itself. It would have been catastrophic if he had acted otherwise. Remember he was acting at a time when even doyens of "Hindutva" crowed about their blue-eyed Arctic origins, how the chief of RSS should be a blue-eyed brahmin, and Vivekananda ranted about how the ancestors of Hindus were even more fair-faced and floppy-haired than the Brits! :mrgreen: With such racist nonsense prevalent at every level of society, and when the entrenched upper castes were stepping up to take the reins of an independent India after centuries of serving or allying with foreigners, it is certainly understandable that Ambedkar wanted to politically game the system to ensure that there was a clear pathway for the gradualist development of the vast masses. He also knew he had well-meaning allies among all these players.

The fact is that the movements of progress and regress that India has seen has been a product of many vectors - traditionalist, reformist, communist, etc. Ambedkar gamed them all. He was a non-ideological personality, and a great visionary at that.

So I don't know what you mean by Ambedkar's "thoroughly colonized" lack of consideration of "Vedic principles". If one levels an allegation like that, do flesh it out on an appropriate thread.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby abhischekcc » 13 Jan 2015 12:12

Vivekananda ranted about how the ancestors of Hindus were even more fair-faced and floppy-haired than the Brits!


Please show where he has said something like this.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby csaurabh » 13 Jan 2015 12:50

Agnimitra wrote: Remember he was acting at a time when even doyens of "Hindutva" crowed about their blue-eyed Arctic origins, how the chief of RSS should be a blue-eyed brahmin, and Vivekananda ranted about how the ancestors of Hindus were even more fair-faced and floppy-haired than the Brits!


This is incorrect. Yes, Tilak did believe that Aryans came from the north pole, but that was just a symptom of muddle headed race thinking of the time. Vivekananda on the other hand categorically rejects the Aryan invasion theory. Quoting..

In connection with this I want to discuss one question which it has a particular bearing with regard to Madras. There is a theory that there was a race of mankind in Southern India called Dravidians, entirely differing from another race in Northern India called the Aryans, and that the Southern India Brâhmins are the only Aryans that came from the North, the other men of Southern India belong to an entirely different caste and race to those of Southern India Brahmins. Now I beg your pardon, Mr. Philologist, this is entirely unfounded. The only proof of it is that there is a difference of language between the North and the South. I do not see any other difference. We are so many Northern men here, and I ask my European friends to pick out the Northern and Southern men from this assembly. Where is the difference? A little difference of language. But the Brahmins are a race that came here speaking the Sanskrit language! Well then, they took up the Dravidian language and forgot their Sanskrit. Why should not the other castes have done the same? Why should not all the other castes have come one after the other from Northern India, taken up the Dravidian language, and so forgotten their own? That is an argument working both ways. Do not believe in such silly things. There may have been a Dravidian people who vanished from here, and the few who remained lived in forests and other places. It is quite possible that the language may have been taken up, but all these are Aryans who came from the North. The whole of India is Aryan, nothing else.

Then there is the other idea that the Shudra caste are surely the aborigines. What are they? They are slaves. They say history repeats itself. The Americans, English, Dutch, and the Portuguese got hold of the poor Africans and made them work hard while they lived, and their children of mixed birth were born in slavery and kept in that condition for a long period. From that wonderful example, the mind jumps back several thousand years and fancies that the same thing happened here, and our archaeologist dreams of India being full of dark-eyed aborigines, and the bright Aryan came from — the Lord knows where. According to some, they came from Central Tibet, others will have it that they came from Central Asia. There are patriotic Englishmen who think that the Aryans were all red-haired. Others, according to their idea, think that they were all black-haired. If the writer happens to be a black-haired man, the Aryans were all black-haired. Of late, there was an attempt made to prove that the Aryans lived on the Swiss lakes. I should not be sorry if they had been all drowned there, theory and all. Some say now that they lived at the North Pole. Lord bless the Aryans and their habitations! As for the truth of these theories, there is not one word in our scriptures, not one, to prove that the Aryan ever came from anywhere outside of India, and in ancient India was included Afghanistan. There it ends. And the theory that the Shudra caste were all non-Aryans and they were a multitude, is equally illogical and equally irrational. It could not have been possible in those days that a few Aryans settled and lived there with a hundred thousand slaves at their command. These slaves would have eaten them up, made "chutney" of them in five minutes. The only explanation is to be found in the Mahâbhârata, which says that in the beginning of the Satya Yuga there was one caste, the Brahmins, and then by difference of occupations they went on dividing themselves into different castes, and that is the only true and rational explanation that has been given. And in the coming Satya Yuga all the other castes will have to go back to the same condition.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby Agnimitra » 13 Jan 2015 13:38

^^ Yes, Sw. Vivekananda rejected the Aryan *invasion* theory. But in certain contexts he still spoke of the term as a race, and he said their origins were in the Himalayas (including Afghanistan), and he described the winsome features of these amritasya putraah.

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Sw. Vivekananda wrote:"To the great tablelands of the high Himalaya mountains first came the Aryans, and there to this day abides the pure type of Brahman, a people which [the Westerners] can but dream of. Pure in thought, deed and actions, so honest that a bag of gold left in a public place would be found unharmed twenty years after; so beautiful that..."to see a girl in the fields is to pause and marvel that God could mae anything so exquisite." Their features are regular, their eyes and hair dark, and their skin the colour of which would be produced by the drops which fell from a pricked finger into a glass of milk. These are the Hindus in their pure type, untainted and untrammeled."

He claimed that the Greek traveler Megasthenes had spoken of the "white Indians" and that their fair complexion darkened due to the intermixture of many racial stocks, especially the Tartars, following the spread of Buddhism.

He was to write in 1897 in a fantastic essay titled "The East and the West" (Prachya O Pashchatya) that "of all the nations of the world, the Hindus are the handsomest and finest in feature." He even reminded his readers: "I am not bragging nor saying anything in exaggeration because they belong to my own nationality, but this fact is known all over the world."

:) At other times he would comment on his own "Tartar jawline", etc. Basically there was endless amount of speculative "history" and "race theory" going on by various parties, some "anti-India" and others "pro-India".

My point is that all these great personalities were battling in a highly polluted intellectual discourse and psychology of enslavement of that day and age. I consider Tilak, Sw. Vivekananda, etc. to also be heroes. I mentioned their statements to point out that even these traditional beacons of upliftment were affected in some way by colonial theories. Ambedkar was a part of those times - and for those times, he was remarkably clear-headed on principles and vision, while remaining non-ideological and thoroughly pragmatic in dovetailing the various potentially positive ideological vectors of that time.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ShauryaT » 13 Jan 2015 18:22

shiv wrote:The idea that India actually had a Brahmin led social order is itself a product of a colonized mind. No evidence exists that this was the case - and it was a story conjured up by the British in the quest to define the Hindoo religion, by means of selected texts like Manusmriti and those 11 random Brahmins who helped write the "The code of Gentoo laws"
Independent of British actions, will you still say the Indian social order was not Brahmin led in colonial times and further back? This is not to say the order was tightly controlled but a certain social order was nevertheless in place and Brahmins led it - not in an Aristocratic/Feudal sense but in an Indian sense of being the custodians of moral codes and how one ought to live. They controlled the definitions and the interpretations of the laws. The Gentoo codes were a localized minor affair in Bengal and in the Indian scheme of things a non-event. Understand that the British of the EIC started their forays into Indian systems with the Gentoo codes and its use for administration.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby Tuvaluan » 13 Jan 2015 20:14

ShauryaT:
Do not like something, let us blame the favorite whipping boy, Nehru! Will not continue on this, as it is OT.


Let us stuff all the sanctimony that Nehru is not to blame for all the cr@p he pulled when he was the top decision maker in the country and f**ed up on the job multiple times, and he made those decisions unilaterally by undercutting his peers who had better ideas. His being a good orator and writer does not excuse the decisions he made on his own and against the advice of his peers, so best to shove all the indignation that "nehru is a whipping boy" -- he is responsible for a lot of crappy realities in India, so best to face that fact.

Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru’s opinion about Reservation in government Jobs


While he may have been a good write and orator and great professor material, it is also true that Nehru was a master at self-aggrandizement (who wrote his autobiography even as he effed up on multiple fronts) that was faithfully carried out by large masses of the delhi babucracy and their extended clan which continue to write piles and piles of hagiographic sh!t even to this day. So please excuse me if I don't take any of the horsesh!t nehru wrote seriously (yes, I have read enough cr@p about him and I am sick of it). The results of his policy making in all spheres is there to see in front of us -- best to look at outcomes and not hagiographies and autobiographies to tell if Nehru was full of it or not. Quoting sh!t from his work can only be taken seriously if the policies that he framed at that time was actually successful in resolving issues -- I can see why the New Delhi Indian babucracy and their extended clan have a veneration for Nehru (I might point out that this was dominated by Brahmins for many decades until recently), especially since his policies enriched and handed them power without responsibility. Enough on this from me -- disgusts me when people whine that "Nehru is a whipping boy" in the face of all the available evidence of his mistakes and their horrific long-term consequences for generations of Indians.

Ambedkar was far smarter and sharper than Nehru as is obvious from his writings -- he was prescient about a lot of problems that India would face given the political culture of the day (which extended under the congress party for decades afterwards) and insisted on equality for Indians because he knew what life was like at the bottom rung of social hierarchies. Of course, it might be fashionable to pretend he was macaulayized or colonized, but the fact was he was smarter and more practical than Nehru, and he was sidelined by none other than Nehru and his cronies, as were a lot of other stalwarts back in the Day. Whipping boy, it seems. I won't continue on this, as this is OT.
Last edited by Tuvaluan on 13 Jan 2015 20:44, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 13 Jan 2015 20:38

ShauryaT wrote:Independent of British actions, will you still say the Indian social order was not Brahmin led in colonial times and further back? This is not to say the order was tightly controlled but a certain social order was nevertheless in place and Brahmins led it - not in an Aristocratic/Feudal sense but in an Indian sense of being the custodians of moral codes and how one ought to live. They controlled the definitions and the interpretations of the laws. The Gentoo codes were a localized minor affair in Bengal and in the Indian scheme of things a non-event. Understand that the British of the EIC started their forays into Indian systems with the Gentoo codes and its use for administration.

No. The Brahmins were completely useless in leading anything in real life as their skills were limited. They were exalted and given lands and status by kings, but given their skills they could hardly run anything. Their status was exactly as in the books - the keepers of knowledge and morality, supported by kings, funded by people and kings, not working, but living off charity, which they often got in plenty. Society was structured around the four varnas but every varna had a role and that role was played - with hierarchies and all. Brahmin "purity" and "cleanliness" was not only a ritual requirement, but Brahmins were often cooks and physicians and would maintain a state of cleanliness known as "madi" (in Kannada). This was not, strictly speaking, any more of a racist idea than surgical sterile technique is "racist"

The British view of Brahmins came from a very limited series of interactions with some Brahmins and books that later became standard Orientalist texts that were studied and propagated in Britain pushing the idea that there was this racist class that held moronic Indians under their spell for thousands of years. The one-track concentration on a western translation of Manu sans context probably added to this lie. In fact land ownership among Brahmins was not a notable phenomenon when the Mughals raped the system and later the British. So the "Brahmin control" is another colonial myth that need to be set right with some honest research - we still owe our "knowledge" about Brahmins to British texts and attitudes.

After the 1850s Brahmins in India lost their traditional income from charity (due to well documented reasons) and became jobless. But by virtue of their education they were the first to jump into British education and became the first clerks, magistrates, doctors and engineers under the Brits. Hence the surplus of Shastris, Sharmas, Iyers, Chatterjis, Mukherjees etc among the elite of India in all specialities. Brahmins have headed the Macaulay brigade and have some of the most colonized minds today and could be a formidable foe for any Indian who wants to combat western universalism and push Hindutva in any way. Mercifully, many are enlightened as well or are getting there because their extended families often retain a vestige of the past frugal but ethical Brahminism.

Evangelists and Islam gain the most from deriding Brahmins so they have been especially viciously attacked as an egregious and racist bunch, which was never really the case. Unfortunately Brahmins themselves were fed British texts and started believing that of themselves - until recently. All sources of Brahmin excesses start from British texts. On the ground, in India the relationship between Brahmins and others is often exactly as it us described in ancient Indian texts even today.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby member_20317 » 13 Jan 2015 22:06

Shiv ji when you are talking about a Brahmin leadership you are essentially talking about people born into Brahmin families. There is no doubt that Brahmins of the born into family types were aplenty and they could have been doing anything other than practicing Brahmatva. Maharishi Manu does mention these kinds of Brahmins also and how they are to be dealt with in varying contexts. The 'surplus of Shastris, Sharmas, Iyers, Chatterjis, Mukherjees etc' you talk about are merely accidental Brahmins being born into a family but not following a valid karma considering the duties that were cast on them in a system where family responsibilities were more important than a salary. Whatever little brahmatva these 'surplus of Shastris, Sharmas, Iyers, Chatterjis, Mukherjees etc' displayed was on account of earlier good karma accumulated by their ancestors and by themselves in their earlier lives. They are about as much a Brahmin as you are one or as much as I am a Kshatriya.

When ShauryaT ji is talking about Brahmin leadership of society then he is talking about real Brahmins of this kind http://varnam.nationalinterest.in/2015/01/how-the-rigveda-is-memorized/. These Brahmins are not merely the 'surplus of Shastris, Sharmas, Iyers, Chatterjis, Mukherjees etc' that you talk about. And luckily we had a lot of real Brahmins till a few centuries back.

There is a world of difference between the two types. Same goes for cases like Shivaji who was a Kshatriya without being born into a Kahatriya family. And we actually have lost the benefit of real Brahmins. Had they been around we would never have been discussing WU.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ShauryaT » 14 Jan 2015 03:48

Ravi_G: The Brahmins context I am using is more in alignment with how Shiv ji has described. To be clear, I mean not only the Pandas, Purohits, Acharyas but also Ayurvedics, Jyotisha, Musicians, Law makers, Judges - essentially the thinking classes of erstwhile India - broadly categorized as Brahmins, being the leaders. Birth based assignment of Varna was the dominant means to acquire a Jati leading to the concept of endogamous castes by the time the British came in. It is this class because of its investment into "intellectual" pursuits were in the best position to exploit the new learnings from the west and acquire skills leading to contemporary jobs.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ShauryaT » 14 Jan 2015 04:30

Agnimitra wrote:Can't agree with you on this one, except that Ambedkar's political persona is complex - tactically he had to, of necessity, adopt a stance that pushed back the entrenched aristo establishment, but in terms of his thinking, he had a vision that was based on good, human principles
We will have to disagree on Ambedkar's value and contributions. My position is He was an opportunist, approached things from a colonized view point as did most others (his opposition to federalism and the support for partition are two cases in point). His contempt for Gandhi's style of leadership was more in sync with Jinnah. No doubt he was a patriot and rightly criticized the Brahmin dominated polity and the social order. But, he was not the "author" of the Indian constitution as some have alleged, but its drafter - due to his legal and writing skills and the fact that he had an understanding of various works and issues and was actively involved with the government of India act, 1935, on which our constitution is based. But, no worries, cannot agree on everything all the time, it would be so boring that way :)

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby Agnimitra » 14 Jan 2015 04:36

Oh yes, I agree he was not sole "author" of the Constitution, and more of a drafter, shaping it.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 14 Jan 2015 05:46

ravi_g wrote:
There is a world of difference between the two types. Same goes for cases like Shivaji who was a Kshatriya without being born into a Kahatriya family. And we actually have lost the benefit of real Brahmins. Had they been around we would never have been discussing WU.

The point is that those "real Brahmins" existed in an environment where their life and 20 years of Vedic studies were subsidized by society and they were later employed as priests, teachers, vaids etc. They did not have the skills to till land or lead armies - but they were part of society so the tillers and the leaders of armies used their services in a whole society.

That society was initially raped by Islamic invasions and finally destroyed by the Brits. I have family records that tell of how Brahmins in the late 1800s could not get work because the traditional societal structure where they had a place was destroyed. That is what led them to take up the "opportunity" of Macaulayiite education. Because Vedic education takes 10-20 years it is essentially incompatible with modern education which also takes that long - so "real Brahmins" had to be virtually decimated along with the rest of society.

But Brahmins came in for some real criticism that they did not deserve. The British historians make it look like non Brahmin Indians were all a bunch of brainless dumbasses who came under the spell of Brahmins for 2000 years. We all believe and retell the British story where those Brahmins, having no weapons and no armies still managed to dominate other Indians, the latter Indians simply and stupidly allowed themselves to be dominated and mistreated by Brahmins like donkeys. Even when you read about looting by Muslim armies - they were looting from kings and from temples - not from private Brahmin property - so why do we go around believing the British story that non Brahmin Indians were brainless clods who were somehow subjugated by the bad bad "canny" Brahmins who had no weapons and the British rescued stupid non Brahmin Indians from the magical clutches of Brahmins. But that is the story we still hear. Talk about colonized minds

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby csaurabh » 14 Jan 2015 07:11

Reading Tavleen Singh's Durbar as well as a few other sources on internet has lead me to think that a good deal of the problems with the Nehru-Gandhis wasn't just because they were stupid ( which they were, very, very stupid and egotistical ), but because they were mentally colonized by the west and understood India as a Westaphalian nation state.

India is not a Westaphalian state! What it seems like from Tavleen's accounts is that the Nehru Gandhis and their inner circle understood India as the following: Lutyens Delhi, where all the enlightened, educated, westernized Indians lived, and outside of Delhi filled with ignorant superstitious masses of poor people, who needed to be enlightened by the first group.

Naturally this approach did not work. Here is a small list of what this resulted in:

-Punjab insurgency and the demand for Khalistan. Originally started by Sanjay Gandhi in a political attempt to counter the Akali Dal, it got out of control because the govt did nothing for a long time and then responded with the most ham handed way possible. It is evident that N-G's didn't understand Sikhs at all.
-Kashmir and the intifada which resulted because of denying democracy for a long time, pulling down Farooq's govt for no clear reason and so on. Later on jihad became a rallying cry, which the N-G's didn't notice until it was too late.
-Blockading Nepal and depriving it of essential supplies for a few weeks because the King refused to have breakfast with Rajiv.
-The disastrous IPKF mission in Sri Lanka.
-Depriving the princes of their property by breaking a sovereign treaty.The Scindias of Gwalior for example, were big supporters of the Jana Sangh. After the emergency, Madhavrao Scindia joined the Congress just to prevent any further losses. His mother and sisters Yashodhara and Vasundhara kept supporting BJP. Many princes and their cities ( like Gwalior ) were worse off after 20 years of N-G rule than under British. ( Vasundhara Raje is currently CM of Rajasthan )
-Dilly dallying about muslim bangladeshi settlements in Assam and finally giving them ration cards so that they could be used as a votebank to win election. This resulted in a savage massacre at Nellie , the formation of Asom Gana Parishad and various issues that persist to this day.
-This sorry episode with Mizoram ( read it all, it's well written. )
-When Orissa famine broke out in 1987, with children starving 20 km from Bhubaneshwar, Rajiv posed for a photo ops in Bhubaneshwar and declared that the famine was just propaganda against the Congress. It was left to state govt to try to provide famine relief as much as they could.
( there is an incident narrated in Durbaar, during the emergency where Naveen Patnaik, otherwise in the Lutyens Dilli circle was embarrassed to speak to Rajiv because IG had arrested his father. Naveen Patnaik is now CM of Orissa )
-Rajiv insulted the CM of AP, leading to the formation of Telegu Desam party.
-Rajiv's attempts at 'poverty tourism' in UP ( a comedy skit called 'Pani ki samasya' was released to demonstrate how clueless he was. in that, Rajiv asks villagers how do they get water from miles away, do they take taxis or walk? Since they walk, Rajiv asks, the water must be getting quite hot by the time they get back. Rajiv then builds a small shack to cool down the water )

-Communism in Bengal ( Neglect by centre, not doing enough for East Bengal refugees, only 1 new bridge for Calcutta while 3 for Dilli )
-Naxalism among tribes in central India ( excaberated now due to Christian conversions )
-Dravidianism in TN ( trying to force Hindi and other things )
-Shiv Sena and 'Marathi manoos'
-Mandal and caste politics in Bihar, UP

The Emergency, debacle of 1962, Shah Bano, Ram Janmabhoomi and the rise of Hindutva is well known.

Most of the problems in India now, stem from the basic ignorance of the N-Gs about India and 60 years of their rule.

All this was very interesting to me. Because you see, in history books, 'History' ends in 1947, and maybe there are some brief mentions after that about Bhakra Nangal dam and a few others. Actually the 'History' starts with the Aryan Invasion , skips over most of the Hindu period with brief mentions of Ashoka and Buddha, dedicates huge chapters to each mughal emperor, Shivaji and Sikhs described as rebels, then skip forward a bit and start with 1857 mutiny, and the rest is Nehru-Gandhi hagiography until 1947. This 'History' is complete BS.

Fortunately we are in a much better situation now, politically speaking. One day, we might consider all of the above history as a freedom struggle against Nehru-Gandhi centralized rule.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ShauryaT » 14 Jan 2015 08:06

csaurabh: While nothing wrong with what you have posted, try to see WU without the partisan political lenses. While it is our right to judge the leaders of the past and their actions, I think this thread needs to be above partisan political lenses to get to meaningful answers on Why WU sticks, why have our intellectuals embraced it, what were the alternatives considered, what alternatives exist today? While journalists like Tavleen Singh write with a lot of experience, there were others not as well known maybe, who opposed the direction that the WU template had put the country into, since the 50's. At heart was a rejection of Indian systems in which almost the entire leadership of the time was united upon. Indian values were rejected in favor of western ones. A deliberate action plan was put into motion to devalue Indian learnings and this was done by a large cross section of Indian nationalists. Including ALL the who's who of the independence era. Opposition if any was feeble and weak and without an alternative framework, principles, values or objectives. That condition still persists. Just a change of government alone will not cut it, while it may solve some other problems of governance. WU needs an intellectual nationalist response - without resorting to negative templates.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby Tuvaluan » 14 Jan 2015 08:34

While it is very fascinating to hear that the entire range of leaders during independence wanted to devalue Indian learnings, that is quite far from the truth -- one can easily start reeling out the names of local sons of the soil who has a native world view, starting with Subramania Bharathi, Madan Mohan Malviya, Bal Gangadhar Tilak among many others.

csaurabh's views are very relevant if we actually want to know how WU became such a dominant narrative after independence, and it did not happen without the likes of the anglicized burueaucracy and an anglicized leadership that created outside narratives for Indian schools.

The rejection of Indian systems was pretty obvious to me while reading "The Story of Civilization" in 9th standard which failed to even acknowledge local kings and kingdoms like the Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas, and I found much later on that the culprits were all the Nehru acolytes that were entrenched in positions of influence in the education boards who systematically lied to students and rewrote history to denigrate local thought processes in favor of western ones -- thankfully we also studied Thiruvalluvar and other local history in the Tamil class to make up for this bias, but not everyone was that lucky.

Sometimes the answers to these questions are a lot more obvious if we actually stop pretending that being critical of leaders of the past is equivalent to being political partisan, when it may not be possible to figure out how things turned out the way they are by having such an attitude with blinders on.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 14 Jan 2015 08:47

Tuvaluan wrote:csaurabh's views are very relevant if we actually want to know how WU became such a dominant narrative after independence, and it did not happen without the likes of the anglicized burueaucracy and an anglicized leadership that created outside narratives for Indian schools.
.

It takes a thief to catch a theif. csaurabh has pointed out how he discovered and erased his own mental colonization.

The same thing happened to me and even I am a "post-independence" child - born in "free India" although I was around in chacha Nehru's time. The layers of colonization run deep because our studies and in a language whose books were written by people steeped in the knowledge of "Orientalism" where the European was a fundamentally superior being whose methods were benign and to be emulated by the faulty, corrupt Oriental.

My own school taught me attitudes that would have made me a good colonial master, but to its credit it also instilled a deep sense of patriotism as well as training me and my classmates towards and armed forces career.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby Vayutuvan » 14 Jan 2015 09:52

Shiv ji: Yeah. I can relate to that. Talk about essays by Jbs haldane, max Beerbohm, pickwick papers by dickens, Tom Browns school days, Kipling of course, gk Chesterton, tale of two cities, English xlations of Hugo's les miserable and other works, rl stevenson, swift, Scott, Defoe, and that kind of stuff. That too when my first language and medium of instruction was telugu. We had essay competitions, elocution (does anybody use that word anywhere now a days - I wonder) competitions. I was born more than a decade after independence. I knew the meaning of "gubernatorial" (your favorite word :) ) too.

But then these English skills did help me to do well in science and math. It is not all negative, if I may say so.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby member_22733 » 14 Jan 2015 09:58

What gets my goat is the inclusion of Kipling in Indian school curriculum. Mofo was one of the most virulent racists and supporter of the genocide of Indians that the brishitland has ever produced and yet he is worshipped by Indian kids as the next incarnation of Valmiki.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby Vayutuvan » 14 Jan 2015 10:15

Lokeshc think of it as poorva paksha. If one does not learn the language one would not be be able to deconstruct the works in that language.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby member_20317 » 14 Jan 2015 11:36

ShauryaT wrote: Ravi_G: The Brahmins context I am using is more in alignment with how Shiv ji has described. To be clear, I mean not only the Pandas, Purohits, Acharyas but also Ayurvedics, Jyotisha, Musicians, Law makers, Judges - essentially the thinking classes of erstwhile India - broadly categorized as Brahmins, being the leaders. Birth based assignment of Varna was the dominant means to acquire a Jati leading to the concept of endogamous castes by the time the British came in. It is this class because of its investment into "intellectual" pursuits were in the best position to exploit the new learnings from the west and acquire skills leading to contemporary jobs.


ShauryaT ji, thanks for clarifying but I hope you realize that when Shiv ji was talking about a 'surplus of Shastris, Sharmas, Iyers, Chatterjis, Mukherjees etc', he was referring to a lineage which are completely different from the lineage/parivaar/category of ‘Pandas, Purohits, Acharyas but also Ayurvedics, Jyotisha, Musicians, Law makers, Judges’ that you talked about - (Ref. Shivji’s post Post subject: Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal? Post Posted: 14 Jan 2015 05:46).

Presumption being that all the ‘Pandas, Purohits, Acharyas but also Ayurvedics, Jyotisha, Musicians, Law makers, Judges’ who accept the primacy of the Vedas, seek nourishment from Vedas and allow their work to be a havi to the Vedas, would have to be included as part of the Vaidic community. This would basically be all the Brahmins before the advent of the Western Universalist Education in India and most practicing Brahmins today. WU education was about earning for self and for governments to the exclusion of any kind of havi. The individual or even a group of these 'surplus of Shastris, Sharmas, Iyers, Chatterjis, Mukherjees etc' could still choose to continue with their older ways but then the governments they submitted to was not about to recognize that as relevant in any manner and so their choices were more like casting pearls before a swine.

It is this break in practices that allowed WU to continue on in its propaganda. And it is not going to be any better unless this link is re-established. And this is what the absence of this link does to us:

Not relevant who said it but this is generally said and hence included - wrote: I was born more than a decade after independence.

<snip>

But then these English skills did help me to do well in science and math. It is not all negative, if I may say so.


In late 1950s we still had the last of the oldline Indians doing their respective sciences (Raman, Bose) or had just died like S. Ramanujan in 1920. Just sit back for some time and observe this one quote and tell me what is it:
"A New Type of Secondary Radiation," Raman indicated that approximately 60 different liquids had been studied, and all showed the same result — some scattered light had a different color than the incident light. "It is thus," Raman said, "a phenomenon whose universal nature has to be recognized."


How does this observation require the knowledge of English? And what is the significance of such an observation? Was anything of like nature even understood in the west in its history. No I am not asking for an explanation of subsequent techniques developed based on it. I am asking about the nature of the discovery itself. I am not even talking about people who learnt of this discovery in books written in English language. Such readers have discovered or even invented, nothing and will likely never will. No point waiting at that bus stop – the bus is not going to come at that stop. I am asking about the possible uses of this understanding. Have all the relevant avenues of investigations been opened up yet. And if not then how is English and West relevant towards that need? Mind you this was discovered around the time the west was busy developing the atom bomb.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 14 Jan 2015 16:21

matrimc wrote:
But then these English skills did help me to do well in science and math. It is not all negative, if I may say so.

With 20/20 hindsight one can say that for you and millions of other Indians since the 1850s, a knowledge of English opened up the world as defined by Europeans in general and the English in particular.

Philosophy (love of knowledge) included all of science, and in that manner science and math relevant to a particular Indian way of life were included in Indian studies without those specific names. It was the reductionism of western mode of thought that reduced wholes into parts with names like "science and math" and recombined them into variable mixes called "engineering" or "medicine". They also separated them from history and psychology mainly because the "arts/humanities" in Europe were religion heavy and "anti-science". But in India the "arts/humanities" were never anti-science; and history, psychology, botany, biology, astronomy and other science and math came bundled together in the body of Indian knowledge taught to Indians. The subjects were taught without those names

While European education chopped up knowledge into "bits" like "Maths" and "science" and history - the chopping up and mixing were different in India. By embracing English we discarded our past and brought ourselves into a European defined knowledge base that defined our future. But this was combined with condemnation and contempt for our past - which was wrong. There are areas in which old Indian science probably exceeded western science - like psychology, neuroscience, sociology, environmental science, pharmaceutical botany etc. Some of that has been lost - but what is left cannot be regained with English as a starting language and there are probably areas that cannot be slotted under the current known names of western science branches like "physics" or "neurology".

One thing that western materialistic science of the external world never learned is that you cannot divorce science from life on earth and achieve a meaningful long term result. You cannot have science useful to man if there is no human, and you cannot have humans existing in isolation from other life forms and the eco system and environment. This statement has deeper implications that might seem apparent. In fact one implication is that we can never have self sustaining human habitation on Mars. The subject is OT here, but what is NOT OT here is to ask if we can keep the earth itself self-sustaining for humans and other life. Escape to Mars ain't gonna happen in a hurry - but surely there are lessons about living on earth that modern science, detached as it is from the "humanities" has not tried to address? Can there be limits on human life? Can there be limits on human needs? Would those limits be reached simply because the earth does not have the resources for human desires? Western science is not even trying seriously on these lines. There are lessons in the Indian way which I believe the world needs to learn.

If intelligent thinking humans have existed for 50,000 years, Christianity and Islam achieved dominance mainly by looting and subjugating in the last 2000 to 1500 years. Initially it was looting others - but now it is looting the earth because both religious philosophies and their descendants demand great pleasure in this life and nothing credible thereafter. So our entire earth is held hostage to a philosophy that has no idea where human life is headed and is unable to dip back 5,000 or 10,000 years because all that is "false" . Science and philosophy are interconnected - and English is not enough.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 14 Jan 2015 16:41

Let me ask a philosophical question and post a few thoughts:

What happens after we are all dead?

When I think of "me" as this individual with this particular identity that I have now as I sit and type, the answer to that question has been provided in various ways by various people and cultures. It could be rebirth, hell, heaven or something else or even nothing at all.

But the fact is - no matter what happens to "me" the individual, there will be an earth and life of some sort on earth by the time I die. If the past is anything to go by - after I kick the bucket, there will be humans - my own descendants and others.

The question is "Should I give a flying fuk about them after I am dead?"

There is a Hindu answer to that question and the answer is yes, I should care about life on earth after I am dead. I should care about it while I am able to care for it because I will be beyond care after I am dead.

What is the view of cultures other than Hindu culture in this regard? Is there "universal consensus" or a "universal view" on this?

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby csaurabh » 14 Jan 2015 18:27

shiv wrote:It takes a thief to catch a theif. csaurabh has pointed out how he discovered and erased his own mental colonization.

The same thing happened to me and even I am a "post-independence" child - born in "free India" although I was around in chacha Nehru's time. The layers of colonization run deep because our studies and in a language whose books were written by people steeped in the knowledge of "Orientalism" where the European was a fundamentally superior being whose methods were benign and to be emulated by the faulty, corrupt Oriental.

My own school taught me attitudes that would have made me a good colonial master, but to its credit it also instilled a deep sense of patriotism as well as training me and my classmates towards and armed forces career.


I am fast coming to the conclusion that the English language based 'secular education'is the bane of India. For two reasons: It is completely deracinated and it is totally mugging based without giving any real life skills.

I studied in an 'English medium' school where 1/3 of the day was denoted to learning 'English 1', 'English 2', 'English 3'.. and I read huge masses of Noddy, Enid Blyton and Hardy Boys from the local library while growing up. Kalidasa's Shakuntala was relegated to an obscure 'mugging fact' in a history chapter while we performed 'Merchant of Venice' in class ( I can give any number of such examples ).

The English language is hard to learn because it is extremely contextual and practically every word has multiple meanings. Such as the word mean: to mean, to be mean to others, denoting an average. When I see a lot of 'regional medium' students struggling in college, it is because they don't read English literature, and thus find English hard.

( Aside: I think Abrahamic duplicity results from multiple meanings being built into the language. It tells them subconsciously that you can say something and do something else )

So therefore you have this strange situation where in order to do well in "science", you need to first master the English language by reading English. But here's the catch. Vast majority of English literature is written by Westerners for the west, Orientalists or mentally colonized Indian 'seculars'. If you keep seeing papers every day talking about 'Hindu communalists rioting' then you will naturally come to the obvious conclusion. This is not just about literature and print media but also TV and Islamised Bollywood "Jo dar gaya woh mandir gaya". all of which are firmly under the control of leftist "seculars" backed by their foreign masters.

In addition to this apart from "science subjects" ( and sometimes even including those ) everything is taught in a 'mugging fashion'. Write an essay on Delhi- results in mugging an essay which says "Delhi was the capital of India since pre historic times. In Mahabharata it was called Indraprastha. Mughal rulers also made it their capital. Then also the British came". This sort of nonsense makes you grow up in an utterly distorted world with no real knowledge of anything. For example, when I saw some weird "chinese looking" football team at IIT sports meet, I asked them what country they were from. They replied Nagaland!

It is kinda remarkable over the last 6-8 years I have got rid of all this junk cluttered in my sub-conscious mind , such as 'South Indians are Madrassis', 'All science was discovered by the west', 'Politics is only for thugs and criminals' and so on. The internet helped a lot, as well as travelling all over the country. It is not that easy though, to decolonize oneself. To borrow a Christian expression, every man must bear his own cross. You cannot preach decolonization. It must come through self realization with some external guidance ( which I, and most of us, didn't have, but we can change that )

The way forward is not very easy. A revival of sanskrit and vernacular education is necessary with English taught as a foreign language ( the way Chinese, etc. do it ). But I must warn against the dangers of 'translation'. I'll give one simple example that I noticed recently:

In the Isro satellite application centre, the word satellite is translated as 'upagraha'. The reasoning behind it is that first moons of planets were called satellites, then spacecrafts were called artificial satellites , and gradually they were just called satellites and the moons of planets were largely just called moons. 'upagraha' translates to sub-planet, which is an acceptable name for moons ( natural satellite ). But I don't think Isro is in the business of launching any of those!

There has to be a real attempt to think differently, not just produce a garbled 'translation' for show. I see this all the time, and not just with Hindi. Malayalam and Kannada signboards often just have the English words written down in that script. This won't do, and neither will garbled translations that will result in GIGO like satellite townships being renamed 'upagraha nagar'.

This is such an immense task that I don't think it will be achieved in my lifetime. But still, we can think about it :)

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby deejay » 14 Jan 2015 19:34

csaurabh: brilliant piece. You had me nodding with every line. Keep them coming Sir.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby csaurabh » 14 Jan 2015 19:59

shiv wrote:
csaurabh wrote:itihaasa - texts that denote 'history' and 'mythology'

I think what is important about itihaasa is that it not only gives Hindus a sense of what things were like in our past but also continuously and relentlessly illustrates ethics in the form of dharma. In comparison - "history" is a dry compendium of what are alleged to be facts - like a telephone directory whose accuracy cannot be confirmed if it is old - like a 50 year old telephone directory. You have to believe it, that's all, and you cannot read it or hear it being recited, and it teaches you nothing. That is so unlike itihaasa.


Indeed.

Here are Swami Vivekananda's views on the matter, taken from the essay "thoughts on the Gita", translated from Bengali
http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/ ... e_gita.htm

The book known as the Gita forms a part of the Mahâbhârata. To understand the Gita properly, several things are very important to know. First, whether it formed a part of the Mahabharata, i.e. whether the authorship attributed to Veda-Vyâsa was true, or if it was merely interpolated within the great epic; secondly, whether there was any historical personality of the name of Krishna; thirdly, whether the great war of Kurukshetra as mentioned in the Gita actually took place; and fourthly, whether Arjuna and others were real historical persons.

Now in the first place, let us see what grounds there are for such inquiry. We know that there were many who went by the name of Veda-Vyasa; and among them who was the real author of the Gita — the Bâdarâyana Vyasa or Dvaipâyana Vyasa? "Vyasa" was only a title. Anyone who composed a new Purâna was known by the name of Vyasa, like the word Vikramâditya, which was also a general name. Another point is, the book, Gita, had not been much known to the generality of people before Shankarâchârya made it famous by writing his great commentary on it. Long before that, there was current, according to many, the commentary on it by Bodhâyana. If this could be proved, it would go a long way, no doubt, to establish the antiquity of the Gita and the authorship of Vyasa. But the Bodhayana Bhâshya on the Vedânta Sutras — from which Râmânuja compiled his Shri-Bhâshya, which Shankaracharya mentions and even quotes in part here and there in his own commentary, and which was so greatly discussed by the Swami Dayânanda — not a copy even of that Bodhayana Bhashya could I find while travelling throughout India. It is said that even Ramanuja compiled his Bhashya from a worm-eaten manuscript which he happened to find. When even this great Bodhayana Bhashya on the Vedanta-Sutras is so much enshrouded in the darkness of uncertainty, it is simply useless to try to establish the existence of the Bodhayana Bhashya on the Gita. Some infer that Shankaracharya was the author of the Gita, and that it was he who foisted it into the body of the Mahabharata.

Then as to the second point in question, much doubt exists about the personality of Krishna. In one place in the Chhândogya Upanishad we find mention of Krishna, the son of Devaki, who received spiritual instructions from one Ghora, a Yogi. In the Mahabharata, Krishna is the king of Dwârakâ; and in the Vishnu Purâna we find a description of Krishna playing with the Gopis. Again, in the Bhâgavata, the account of his Râsalilâ is detailed at length. In very ancient times in our country there was in vogue an Utsava called Madanotsava (celebration in honour of Cupid). That very thing was transformed into Dola and thrust upon the shoulders of Krishna. Who can be so bold as to assert that the Rasalila and other things connected with him were not similarly fastened upon him? In ancient times there was very little tendency in our country to find out truths by historical research. So any one could say what he thought best without substantiating it with proper facts and evidence. Another thing: in those ancient times there was very little hankering after name and fame in men. So it often happened that one man composed a book and made it pass current in the name of his Guru or of someone else. In such cases it is very hazardous for the investigator of historical facts to get at the truth. In ancient times they had no knowledge whatever of geography; imagination ran riot. And so we meet with such fantastic creations of the brain as sweet-ocean, milk-ocean, clarified-butter-ocean, curd-ocean, etc! In the Puranas, we find one living ten thousand years, another a hundred thousand years! But the Vedas say, शतायुर्वै पुरुषः — "Man lives a hundred years." Whom shall we follow here? So, to reach a correct conclusion in the case of Krishna is well-nigh impossible.

It is human nature to build round the real character of a great man all sorts of imaginary superhuman attributes. As regards Krishna the same must have happened, but it seems quite probable that he was a king. Quite probable I say, because in ancient times in our country it was chiefly the kings who exerted themselves most in the preaching of Brahma-Jnâna. Another point to be especially noted here is that whoever might have been the author of the Gita, we find its teachings the same as those in the whole of the Mahabharata. From this we can safely infer that in the age of the Mahabharata some great man arose and preached the Brahma-Jnâna in this new garb to the then existing society. Another fact comes to the fore that in the olden days, as one sect after another arose, there also came into existence and use among them one new scripture or another. It happened, too, that in the lapse of time both the sect and its scripture died out, or the sect ceased to exist but its scripture remained. Similarly, it was quite probable that the Gita was the scripture of such a sect which had embodied its high and noble ideas in this sacred book.

Now to the third point, bearing on the subject of the Kurukshetra War, no special evidence in support of it can be adduced. But there is no doubt that there was a war fought between the Kurus and the Panchâlas. Another thing: how could there be so much discussion about Jnâna, Bhakti, and Yoga on the battle-field, where the huge army stood in battle array ready to fight, just waiting for the last signal? And was any shorthand writer present there to note down every word spoken between Krishna and Arjuna, in the din and turmoil of the battle-field? According to some, this Kurukshetra War is only an allegory. When we sum up its esoteric significance, it means the war which is constantly going on within man between the tendencies of good and evil. This meaning, too, may not be irrational.

About the fourth point, there is enough ground of doubt as regards the historicity of Arjuna and others, and it is this: Shatapatha Brâhmana is a very ancient book. In it are mentioned somewhere all the names of those who were the performers of the Ashvamedha Yajna: but in those places there is not only no mention, but no hint even of the names of Arjuna and others, though it speaks of Janamejaya, the son of Parikshit who was a grandson of Arjuna. Yet in the Mahabharata and other books it is stated that Yudhishthira, Arjuna, and others celebrated the Ashvamedha sacrifice.

One thing should be especially remembered here, that there is no connection between these historical researches and our real aim, which is the knowledge that leads to the acquirement of Dharma. Even if the historicity of the whole thing is proved to be absolutely false today, it will not in the least be any loss to us. Then what is the use of so much historical research, you may ask. It has its use, because we have to get at the truth; it will not do for us to remain bound by wrong ideas born of ignorance. In this country people think very little of the importance of such inquiries. Many of the sects believe that in order to preach a good thing which may be beneficial to many, there is no harm in telling an untruth, if that helps such preaching, or in other words, the end justifies the means. Hence we find many of our Tantras beginning with, "Mahâdeva said to Pârvati". But our duty should be to convince ourselves of the truth, to believe in truth only. Such is the power of superstition, or faith in old traditions without inquiry into its truth, that it keeps men bound hand and foot, so much so, that even Jesus the Christ, Mohammed, and other great men believed in many such superstitions and could not shake them off. You have to keep your eye always fixed on truth only and shun all superstitions completely.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 15 Jan 2015 06:18

csaurabh wrote:Here are Swami Vivekananda's views on the matter, taken from the essay "thoughts on the Gita", translated from Bengali
http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/ ... e_gita.htm
In ancient times there was very little tendency in our country to find out truths by historical research



Unfortunately even Vivekananda is a victim of the need to use English to communicate with Indians in which he uses words like "truth" and History" in their commonly understood senses and not the special way in which they are interpreted in the west.

I have been researching the word "history" and it becomes more and more clear to me that the Indian past is not clssified as history at all. We are so sooo mentally colonized by our education that we pick up school "history" books lovingly put in our bags by our mummies at age 6 or 7 and are praised for learning what is in those books.

But, in fact, those books contain a western view of history because it was in the west that the word history was coined and defined. History has an axis - a starting point and that starting point is Christ. The little that is accepted as history before that (eg Indus valley and China and Egypt) are simply taken as sideshows that were leading humans inevitably to the axial event of history - the birth of Christ.

Arjuna, Krishna or even Parikshit and Janmajeya are all fluff. Bullshit to be discarded as nonsense because they are not "history" - they are myths.

We need an entire new subject that is no longer called "history" but "Our past".

Here is an article of how history can be written or interpreted very differently by different people:
http://msc.gutenberg.edu/2001/02/the-im ... f-history/

The author uses the examples of two books about Columbus at about the same time - but the two histories are so different, they could be about different people. But this author too uses the same words that all western sources use "We have forgotten our past". But for India this is nonsense. We never forgot our past. Our past lives on with us in the form of innumerable stories and tales along with lessons for the future. That is all you need from the past. The dates of birth, exact names etc are as irrelevant as whether Arjuna has viral fever or whether Draupadi had a difficult childbirth.

The entire subject called "history" has to be revamped and renamed. History is a toxic word.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby csaurabh » 15 Jan 2015 06:37

deejay wrote:csaurabh: brilliant piece. You had me nodding with every line. Keep them coming Sir.


:) I sometimes feel like we here talk too much and do too little.

We need to spread awareness among friends and family, but this must be done slowly and subtly. You should not 'preach' to them. Rather you should really just tell them what they already know, deep down. I usually concentrate on 3 main points:

-The Western world's relationship with India is fundamentally one of acquiring cheap labor /resources and a market to sell their products. From colonialism to outsourcing, this hasn't changed one bit. Also their attempts at 'charity' are largely to make themselves feel better or worse an effort to harvest souls. When Hindus really get rich and powerful, they feel scared.

-A big part of the reason we don't measure up to the West's 'standards' are because we assume them to be 'global' or 'universal' when infact the whole thing is rigged in their favor to begin with. Rather than winning a booker prize, why don't we check how many Europeans are winning the Sahitya academy awards in India? Same thing with oscars, nobel prize, etc..

-Post independence India created Nehruvian legacies that largely ended up blocking the very things they are meant to do. For example the education system blocks learning, the development agencies block development, the law system blocks justice, etc.

These are simple points that are not hard to understand for those who already have independent experience of these things.

Then there is stuff that I like to call 'disruptive thinking' - it is completely contrary to the stuff one has been accustomed to thinking the whole life. Such as- 'Hinduism is not a religion', 'The Aryan Invasion of India is a nonsense invented by British', 'Taj Mahal is a Shiva temple' , etc. I haven't been successful at conveying disruptive thinking, also this can damage personal relationships so one needs to be careful here.

In this context I am again really annoyed with the so called 'Arts' and 'Humanities' 'scholars'. While the 'science' chaps were busy bringing India into the modern age, these worthies were busy writing reams and reams about secularism, socialism, feminism, caste system and Aryans. ( To be fair, it is not just their fault. It happened with the active collaboration of western universities and the congie-secular mafioso ruling at the centre ) Now it seems like it is again the 'science' chaps who have to dig us out of this hole. Seems like things have come to a pass that IITs are supposed to solve every problem of the nation, from biology to politics. Arre yaar, aur log bhi kuch to karo? Little bitter about this.

I do not think the solution lies in sending people to universities to learn 'post-colonial studies'. That is the wrong approach. Rather, we should get people ( I'm talking about 'science' chaps here since their mind is relatively clear ) to think about decolonization as a second career. Rajiv Malhotra is a good example.

'Hinduism is not a religion' should be the title of a bestseller. The real question is who is going to write it.

ramana
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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby ramana » 15 Jan 2015 07:07

Why don't you put up a chapter outline and see how it progresses in GDF?

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby member_22733 » 15 Jan 2015 07:49

http://www.firstpost.com/business/livin ... 45211.html

In an earlier essay for Open magazine, Taseer admits ““I grew up in late 20th century India, in a deracinated household.” He writes that “a cultural and linguistic break had occurred, and between my grandparents’ and my parents’ generation, there lay an imporous layer of English education that prevented both my father in Pakistan, and my mother, in India, from being able to reach their roots.”

That also makes him an Indian writer who confesses that the literary past of India is closed to him.

And the past, because it is a closed book, “imporous” to millions of Indians, turns into a sort of Rorschach test in which we see what we want to see. Some discern ancient airplanes, plastic surgery and advanced genetics. Others simply dismiss it. When Toby, the ex-royal and Sanskrit scholar in The Way Things Were is asked about how people of his class regarded his interest in classical India he replies “With dismissal, at best. Or suspicion.” There is a fear that an interest in history is really shorthand for finding a slogan for the next rathayatra - code for figuring out what temple lies beneath which mosque.


I hope this guy finds out the extent of colonization that all of us were gifted with. He is already beginning to write some stuff that asks the same questions as this thread.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 15 Jan 2015 07:57

csaurabh wrote:-A big part of the reason we don't measure up to the West's 'standards' are because we assume them to be 'global' or 'universal' when infact the whole thing is rigged in their favor to begin with. Rather than winning a booker prize, why don't we check how many Europeans are winning the Sahitya academy awards in India? Same thing with oscars, nobel prize, etc..

-Post independence India created Nehruvian legacies that largely ended up blocking the very things they are meant to do. For example the education system blocks learning, the development agencies block development, the law system blocks justice, etc.

These are simple points that are not hard to understand for those who already have independent experience of these things.

Then there is stuff that I like to call 'disruptive thinking' - it is completely contrary to the stuff one has been accustomed to thinking the whole life. Such as- 'Hinduism is not a religion', 'The Aryan Invasion of India is a nonsense invented by British', 'Taj Mahal is a Shiva temple' , etc. I haven't been successful at conveying disruptive thinking, also this can damage personal relationships so one needs to be careful here.

One on one endeavours are useless.

You need to use the "seed dispersal" routine of trees or the "ejaculation into open water" of fish. You don't know whom your message will get through to, and you won't know where your children are born - but it works.

For that, the open forums of BRF are good.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby member_22733 » 15 Jan 2015 08:17

I am very short of time. there used to be long arguments on the Indo-UKstan thread with some folks who seemed to like English that English was nothing but a "language".

English can be nothing but a language if the baggage from it is shaved off and cleansed for Indic/non-western consumption. But the fact is that so much of a language and its abstract constructs borrow from its past (not history), that the meanings of words get overloaded.

What I am starting to realize (from this thread and from my own experience is) :- Language and culture are hard to separate, due to "overloading" and "intranslatables". Thus while we can "deconstruct" and clean the English language of its cultural baggage and derive a rather clinical English free from its past, it would be rather impossible to then use it to describe our own past.

The process of decolonizing, or deconstructing the symbols that were installed in our brains by means of colonial hijack is massive in its scope. We grew up as colonial children, we will mostly remain so. We can, and we must, use English to help others deconstruct and cleanse themselves from this hijack.

The path forward is rough, look at the link language thread for example. Or some previous avatar of the Indo-UQstan thread when English and its utility was questioned.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby shiv » 15 Jan 2015 08:29

LokeshC wrote:What I am starting to realize (from this thread and from my own experience is) :- Language and culture are hard to separate, due to "overloading" and "intranslatables". Thus while we can "deconstruct" and clean the English language of its cultural baggage and derive a rather clinical English free from its past, it would be rather impossible to then use it to describe our own past.

The process of decolonizing, or deconstructing the symbols that were installed in our brains by means of colonial hijack is massive in its scope. We grew up as colonial children, we will mostly remain so. We can, and we must, use English to help others deconstruct and cleanse themselves from this hijack.

Lokesh brain connections that develop in a young child and language learning are interlinked. Babies pick up emotional cues as well as words. If the word for meat is learned along with an expression of revulsion from mummy - the child grows up to find meat revolting. A lot of this stuff is not being "discovered" (LOL!!) in the "neurosciences" but that is laughable. The religions and human society have known this for thousands of years. That is how Islamic indoctrination put in a dislike of kafirs at an early age. And English education in India puts into our minds and the minds our little ones a sense of contempt for the Easter/Oriental "mumbo jumbo".

But because we in India work in 2-3 languages - all hope is not lost. We can compare attitudes in one's own language with those acquired in English. The reason we are discussing this topic at all is because all of us have felt discomfort in the "feelings and emotions" evoked in our respective mother-tongues compared to what we were taught in English. All of us have embraced English because without that we would not have had the education we have now.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby Tuvaluan » 15 Jan 2015 08:33

Shiv wrote:You need to use the "seed dispersal" routine of trees or the "ejaculation into open water" of fish. You don't know whom your message will get through to, and you won't know where your children are born - but it works.


:) That be truth, shivji.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby Vayutuvan » 15 Jan 2015 10:38

See the thing is that I was taught math by my uncle and dad from both Euclid and bhaskara's leelavati. PuarANika katha and stories of Shivaji from aunts and grand moms, plus hari katha, burra katha and bagawata papaya at the local temples.
Strangely I also knew how to operate a "maggam" (a loom) and even a wooden lathe etc., drive a bullock cart, use a catapult to drive away birds just before harvest time, milk a water Buffaloe, get water from river bed, cook for a large number of people, carry a dead body to the river bank, start the pyre and wait till kapala moksha, recognize various flora and fauna, select fresh vegetables at the farmer's market - all while having a fun filled childhood full of gilli danda, wooden tops, kite flying, tree climbing, picknics and hikes, going to Jataras, swimming in the local lakes and ponds and even open wells.

All said and done English was the key to the door behind which a whole universe full of knowledge existed. By mastering a small part of that vast knowledge I am able to put food on the table, cloth and shelter my family.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby csaurabh » 15 Jan 2015 12:28

shiv wrote:You need to use the "seed dispersal" routine of trees or the "ejaculation into open water" of fish. You don't know whom your message will get through to, and you won't know where your children are born - but it works.
.


That is a good way to put it!

Yes, we need better way of mass communication. Internet, blogs, forums, books, whatever. And the mistakes of denying knowledge or 'lead being poured into ears' ( literally or figuratively ) should not happen again.

One on one endeavors are not useless though. They have their uses.

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby member_22733 » 15 Jan 2015 12:34

One curious question I have is (short on time so cannot write more about it):

If the following was true: "A shudra listening to Veda == lead in shudras ears". Then does it not mean that the following is true as well: "Once a shudra, always a shudra" and the following as well: "Once born in a particular varna, you cannot change it?".

Since if either of these statements were not true it would then mean that "A shudra can change into a Brahman, and learn Vedas, so no need to pour lead into the ears of one who hears it whether by accident or not".

Something seems anachronistic here when viewed from the POV of WU style history. Was such a thing practiced after a varna was ossified into birth based professions or was it just a way of telling a "story" in our Itihaasa?

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Re: Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

Postby member_22733 » 15 Jan 2015 13:04

Someone in Indian time zone (and with time in their hands) please attend this: Seems relevant (Added later: We all know who Aatish Taseer is, but looks like he is being raised to the point of being able to set such Narratives, it is important for us to know at what stage of decolonization he is in and where his loyalties lie. Just to be sure: We dont need to agree with him, but we do need to know him):
Aatish Taseer's new novel: Sanskrit, history and our 'embarrassment with Indian things'
by Aatish Taseer

Editor's Note: On the surface The Way Things Were, the new novel by Aatish Taseer is about four decades of Indian history from the Emergency to the rise of Narendra Modi. But the history is really a panoramic backdrop for a debate about the idea of India and the engagement of Indians, from the Lutyens elite to Hindutvawadis, with their own history. In this excerpt Toby, an ex-royal and a Sanskrit scholar introduces his new girlfriend Uma, an air hostess, to the acerbic writer Vijaipal and an evening of drinks by the river turns into an impassioned discussion about what Indian means to Indians.

Aatish Taseer will be the featured guest of the inaugral Firstpost Salon, a series of conversations with India's best minds and biggest names. We will be live streaming "The rise and fall of the Lutyens' elite" on Friday, January 16th, from 5 to 7 pm. Do tune in for what will be a lively discussion about one of the more incendiary topics in Indian politics. And don't forget to send us (@firstpostin) your questions for Aatish on Twitter or on Facebook so we can include them in our conversation.

(Toby) left them to get (Uma) a drink and to recover his equanimity, to revel in the passive pleasure of listening to someone, for whom your feelings are new and strong, make conversation with someone who is a stranger to them, but not to you. He poured the drink slowly, as conversation began behind him, with the shy discomfort of musicians warming up, every note seeming at first to sound false. By the time he’d returned with Uma’s drink, he had almost to fear for his own inclusion.
‘Toby, Mishi was just . . .’
‘Uma,’ he said, handing her her drink.
‘Uma?’
‘It’s true. It’s my real name.’

‘Is it really? And they called you Mishi? I’m afraid Toby is right . . .’ He stopped himself. ‘These names! Where do they come from? From an embarrassment with Indian things, no doubt, an embarrassment even at the sound of Sanskrit?’
‘It’s funny you ask,’ Toby said, suddenly at his ease. ‘People have a strange relationship with these things. No one would seriously give their child a name like Mishi or Toby, never as their real name – they would only ever give them a Sanskrit name – but as—’
‘I know what you mean. In the place where I grew up, a terrible place, not worth mentioning, I used to know some people, so culturally denuded, that their names had become Neel and Diamantine. You, Toby must know—’
‘Nala and Damayanti?’ he said, laughing, and glanced at Uma, who had drawn up her feet and was leaning back against a bolster.
‘Exactly! People would have you believe that none of it was important; they would have you believe these are trifles: but, of course, it is important: important how India is thought of in India, no? How, for instance, Toby, is your interest in classical India regarded among your class of person?’
‘With dismissal, at best. Or suspicion.’
Toby felt her gaze on him, a questioning gaze. He felt her form her earliest impressions of him.
‘Right! Suspicion that you might have some right-wing political agenda, that your interest is but a cover for a hatred of Muslims or some such.’
‘Yes. But for so many it is. And I’ve always regarded the men in saffron as the true enemies of the Indian past . . .’
‘Because . . . ?’
‘Because,’ and now he looked at Uma, to make sure she was interested in their conversation. ‘Because . . .’ he repeated abstractedly, then the words came: ‘they would see it reduced – all the glory of ancient India – to slogan.’
‘To slogan, yes! Slogans and pamphlets. Very nice, very nice thing to say. And then, of course, in that form it has no meaning. It is no longer an intellectual thing, no longer interesting.’
‘No,’ he said, trying not to look, but afraid they were boring her, ‘in that form it is worthless.’
Silence.
He interpreted it as brought on by them having lost her, but it was broken – to his great joy! – by a question of some intensity from her. A question that made him feel that the thing he loved most in life might one day get along with the thing he was beginning to like more and more.
‘How did it begin for you?’ she said. And, though Vijaipal had asked him something similar a moment before, it felt so fresh and heartfelt coming from her that he was almost flattered by it.
‘You know,’ he began, addressing her, then thinking better of it, turned to Vijaipal, whose drink he could see was empty, ‘I think it was Latin and Greek in school.’
‘In England?’
‘In England.’
‘Oh, I see, I see. The regard one place has for its things producing in you a similar regard – a need, even – for your own things. I understand that very well. I’ve known such a need myself.’
‘It’s true. Because, you know, here, the Sanskrit teacher is invariably a figure of fun.’
‘A kind of holy fool, no doubt! Caste-marked and full of outdated ideas. Probably everyone in the school had a kind of contempt for a man like that. Not attractive and interesting-seeming, not like the English teacher, say?’
‘That’s it. But once I was able to connect the Sanskritic world with the classical world at large, it came to seem like the greatest discovery of my life.’
‘How so?’ Uma asked.
Again he felt a flush. ‘Well, I think more than anything, in a country where so little was planned, everything haphazard and shoddy, here, at least, was an example of the most exquisite planning. Proof that things had not always been as shitty as they are today. Because, Vijay,’ he said, turning to the writer, ‘if we were to associate the genius of a place with one particular thing – the Russians with literature, say, or the Germans with music, the Dutch and Spanish with painting – we would have to say that the true genius of Ancient India was language. Not so much the use of it as the study of it: their grammars were peerless, easily the most profound meditation on language in pre-modern times. And once I discovered them I could never again think of India as merely the shabby place I saw around me. It changed my entire relationship with what remained of old India in India . . .’
‘To the past?’ Vijaipal said.
‘To the past, yes. But also my idea of East and West.’
‘Those distinctions would have broken down. Of course! It would have come to seem like a shared past.’
‘It is a shared past,’ Toby said. ‘Where these languages are concerned – the Indo-European ones, at least – it is most definitely a shared past. And while, in Europe, this is only a point of curiosity – a confirmation of the Biblical idea of the Tower of Babel, say – in India, it was like permission to respect oneself anew.’
Suddenly he became aware of her presence. Uma, who had been sitting across from him, got up, as if drawn to him by his intensity, and came to sit next to him.
Vijaipal glanced at her, then laughed. ‘Like discovering, while mired in deep poverty, that you are, in fact, the first cousin of the King.’

‘It’s true, Mr Vijaipal!’ Uma said.
‘Vijay, surely!’
‘Vijay. Because we grew up with so little. We had nothing. And the worst part was that we made the people below us, who did have something, believe that what they had was worthless. We forced them, if they were to enter our ranks, to surrender their culture.’
‘Such a bad business, isn’t it? Confusion heaped upon confusion. The more I travel in the colonial world, the more it feels like a general condition.’
For some time now Laban had been waiting. Seeing an opening, he said softly, ‘Khana.’
Dinner had been laid out for them in a partially enclosed veranda overlooking the river on three sides. They discussed the trip ahead, how long they would wait in Kalasuryaketu, how long the drive would be, where they would stop, where they would stay.
At one point Uma said, ‘What makes it so important, Hampi? Why do you people keep going back?’
Her question produced an awkwardness among the two men, as though they both acknowledged their reasons as being very different and wanted, out of courtesy, to give the other way.
‘My reason is simple, Uma,’ Toby said. ‘I find it beautiful. But hear Vijaipal out.’
‘I’ll tell you, Uma, I’ll tell you. In my work it is not so important to have historical information as it is to have a historical sense. To be able in some way to give the past shape. And you will see how a place like Vijayanagara, with its unique history, will do that for you automatically.’
He said this and looked out at the Tamasā, where through the gaps in the muslin curtains it was possible now to see the lit shapes of long boats on its dark surface.
Last edited by member_22733 on 15 Jan 2015 13:13, edited 1 time in total.


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