Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

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

Postby csaurabh » 26 Dec 2014 18:10

Some of Vivekananda's ideas about 'universalism'

Taken from the essay "The Ideal of a Universal Religion"

Is there any mythological similarity, is there any mythological harmony, any universal mythology accepted by all religions? Certainly not. All religions have their own mythology, only each of them says, "My stories are not mere myths." Let us try to understand the question by illustration. I simply mean to illustrate, I do not mean criticism of any religion. The Christian believes that God took the shape of a dove and came down to earth; to him this is history, and not mythology. The Hindu believes that God is manifested in the cow. Christians say that to believe so is mere mythology, and not history, that it is superstition. The Jews think that if an image be made in the form of a box, or a chest, with an angel on either side, then it may be placed in the Holy of Holies; it is sacred to Jehovah; but if the image be made in the form of a beautiful man or woman, they say, "This is a horrible idol; break it down! " This is our unity in mythology! If a man stands up and says, "My prophet did such and such a wonderful thing", others will say, "That is only superstition", but at the same time they say that their own prophet did still more wonderful things, which they hold to be historical. Nobody in the world, as far as I have seen, is able to make out the fine distinction between history and mythology, as it exists in the brains of these persons. All such stories, to whatever religion they may belong, are really mythological, mixed up occasionally, it may be with, a little history.


Next come the rituals. One sect has one particular form of ritual and thinks that that is holy, while the rituals of another sect are simply arrant superstition. If one sect worships a peculiar sort of symbol, another sect says, "Oh, it is horrible!" Take, for instance, a general form of symbol. The phallus symbol is certainly a sexual symbol, but gradually that aspect of it has been forgotten, and it stands now as a symbol of the Creator. Those nations which have this as their symbol never think of it as the phallus; it is just a symbol, and there it ends. But a man from another race or creed sees in it nothing but the phallus, and begins to condemn it; yet at the same time he may be doing something which to the so-called phallic worshippers appears most horrible. Let me take two points for illustration, the phallus symbol and the sacrament of the Christians. To the Christians the phallus is horrible, and to the Hindus the Christian sacrament is horrible. They say that the Christian sacrament, the killing of a man and the eating of his flesh and the drinking of his blood to get the good qualities of that man, is cannibalism. This is what some of the savage tribes do; if a man is brave, they kill him and eat his heart, because they think that it will give them the qualities of courage and bravery possessed by that man. Even such a devout Christian as Sir John Lubbock admits this and says that the origin of this Christian symbol is in this savage idea. The Christians, of course, do not admit this view of its origin; and what it may imply never comes to their mind. It stands for holy things, and that is all they want to know. So even in rituals there is no universal symbol, which can command general recognition and acceptance. Where then is any universality? How is it possible then to have a universal form of religion? That, however, already exists. And let us see what it is.


We all hear about universal brotherhood, and how societies stand up especially to preach this. I remember an old story. In India, taking wine is considered very bad. There were two brothers who wished, one night, to drink wine secretly; and their uncle, who was a very orthodox man was sleeping in a room quite close to theirs. So, before they began to drink, they said to each other, "We must be very silent, or uncle will wake up." When they were drinking, they continued repeating to each other "Silence! Uncle will wake up", each trying to shout the other down. And, as the shouting increased, the uncle woke up, came into the room, and discovered the whole thing. Now, we all shout like these drunken men," Universal brotherhood! We are all equal, therefore let us make a sect." As soon as you make a sect you protest against equality, and equality is no more. Mohammedans talk of universal brotherhood, but what comes out of that in reality? Why, anybody who is not a Mohammedan will not be admitted into the brotherhood; he will more likely have his throat cut. Christians talk of universal brotherhood; but anyone who is not a Christian must go to that place where he will be eternally barbecued.


And so we go on in this world in our search after universal brotherhood and equality. When you hear such talk in the world, I would ask you to be a little reticent, to take care of yourselves, for, behind all this talk is often the intensest selfishness. "In the winter sometimes a thunder-cloud comes up; it roars and roars, but it does not rain; but in the rainy season the clouds speak not, but deluge the world with water." So those who are really workers, and really feel at heart the universal brotherhood of man, do not talk much, do not make little sects for universal brotherhood; but their acts, their movements, their whole life, show out clearly that they in truth possess the feeling of brotherhood for mankind, that they have love and sympathy for all. They do not speak, they do and they live. This world is too full of blustering talk. We want a little more earnest work, and less talk.


So far we see that it is hard to find any universal features in regard to religion, and yet we know that they exist. We are all human beings, but are we all equal? Certainly not. Who says we are equal? Only the lunatic. Are we all equal in our brains, in our powers, in our bodies? One man is stronger than another, one man has more brain power than another. If we are all equal, why is there this inequality? Who made it? We. Because we have more or less powers, more or less brain, more or less physical strength, it must make a difference between us. Yet we know that the doctrine of equality appeals to our heart. We are all human beings; but some are men, and some are women. Here is a black man, there is a white man; but all are men, all belong to one humanity. Various are our faces; I see no two alike, yet we are all human beings. Where is this one humanity? I find a man or a woman, either dark or fair; and among all these faces I know that there is an abstract humanity which is common to all. I may not find it when I try to grasp it, to sense it, and to actualise it, yet I know for certain that it is there. If I am sure of anything, it is of this humanity which is common to us all. It is through this generalised entity that I see you as a man or a woman. So it is with this universal religion, which runs through all the various religions of the world in the form of God; it must and does exist through eternity. "I am the thread that runs through all these pearls," and each pearl is a religion or even a sect thereof. Such are the different pearls, and the Lord is the thread that runs through all of them; only the majority of mankind are entirely unconscious of it.


Unity in variety is the plan of the universe. We are all men, and yet we are all distinct from one another. As a part of humanity I am one with you, and as Mr. So-and-so I am different from you. As a man you are separate from the woman; as a human being you are one with the woman. As a man you are separate from the animal, but as living beings, man, woman, animal, and plant are all one; and as existence, you are one with the whole universe. That universal existence is God, the ultimate Unity in the universe. In Him we are all one. At the same time, in manifestation, these differences must always remain. In our work, in our energies, as they are being manifested outside, these differences must always remain. We find then that if by the idea of a universal religion it is meant that one set of doctrines should be believed in by all mankind it is wholly impossible. It can never be, there can never be a time when all faces will be the same. Again, if we expect that there will be one universal mythology, that is also impossible; it cannot be. Neither can there be one universal ritual. Such a state of things can never come into existence; if it ever did, the world would be destroyed, because variety is the first principle of life. What makes us formed beings? Differentiation. Perfect balance would be our destruction. Suppose the amount of heat in this room, the tendency of which is towards equal and perfect diffusion, gets that kind of diffusion, then for all practical purposes that heat will cease to be. What makes motion possible in this universe? Lost balance. The unity of sameness can come only when this universe is destroyed, otherwise such a thing is impossible. Not only so, it would be dangerous to have it. We must not wish that all of us should think alike. There would then be no thought to think. We should be all alike, as the Egyptian mummies in a museum, looking at each other without a thought to think. It is this difference, this differentiation, this losing of the balance between us, which is the very soul of our progress, the soul of all our thought. This must always be.


What then do I mean by the ideal of a universal religion? I do not mean any one universal philosophy, or any one universal mythology, or any one universal ritual held alike by all; for I know that this world must go on working, wheel within wheel, this intricate mass of machinery, most complex, most wonderful. What can we do then? We can make it run smoothly, we can lessen the friction, we can grease the wheels, as it were. How? By recognising the natural necessity of variation. Just as we have recognised unity by our very nature, so we must also recognise variation. We must learn that truth may be expressed in a hundred thousand ways, and that each of these ways is true as far as it goes. We must learn that the same thing can be viewed from a hundred different standpoints, and vet be the same thing. Take for instance the sun. Suppose a man standing on the earth looks at the sun when it rises in the morning; he sees a big ball. Suppose he starts on a journey towards the sun and takes a camera with him, taking photographs at every stage of his journey, until he reaches the sun. The photographs of each stage will be seen to be different from those of the other stages; in fact, when he gets back, he brings with him so many photographs of so many different suns, as it would appear; and yet we know that the same sun was photographed by the man at the different stages of his progress. Even so is it with the Lord. Through high philosophy or low, through the most exalted mythology or the grossest, through the most refined ritualism or arrant fetishism, every sect, every soul, every nation, every religion, consciously or unconsciously, is struggling upward, towards God; every vision of truth that man has, is a vision of Him and of none else. Suppose we all go with vessels in our hands to fetch water from a lake. One has a cup, another a jar, another a bucket, and so forth, and we all fill our vessels. The water in each case naturally takes the form of the vessel carried by each of us. He who brought the cup has the water in the form of a cup; he who brought the jar — his water is in the shape of a jar, and so forth; but, in every case, water, and nothing but water, is in the vessel. So it is in the case of religion; our minds are like these vessels, and each one of us is trying to arrive at the realisation of God. God is like that water filling these different vessels, and in each vessel the vision of God comes in the form of the vessel. Yet He is One. He is God in every case. This is the only recognition of universality that we can get.


From an essay "The need for symbols"

To be religious, you have first to throw books overboard. The less you read of books, the better for you; do one thing at a time. It is a tendency in Western countries, in these modern times, to make a hotchpotch of the brain; all sorts of unassimilated ideas run riot in the brain and form a chaos without ever obtaining a chance to settle down and crystallise into a definite shape. In many cases it becomes a sort of disease, but this is not religion. Then some want a sensation. Tell them about ghosts and people coming from the North Pole or any other remote place, with wings or in any other form, and that they are invisibly present and watching over them, and make them feel uncanny, then they are satisfied and go home; but within twenty-four hours they are ready for a fresh sensation. This is what some call religion. This is the way to the lunatic asylum, and not to religion. The Lord is not to be reached by the weak, and all these weird things tend to weakness. Therefore go not near them; they only make people weak, bring disorder to the brain, weaken the mind, demoralise the soul, and a hopeless muddle is the result. You must bear in mind that religion does not consist in talk, or doctrines, or books, but in realisation; it is not learning, but 'being. Everybody knows, "Do not steal", but what of it? That man has really known who has not stolen. Everybody knows, "Do not injure others", but of what value is it? Those who have not done so have realised it, they know it and have built their character on it. Religion is realising; and I will call you a worshipper of God when you have become able to realise the Idea. Before that it is the spelling of the weird, and no more. It is this power of realisation that makes religion. No amount of doctrines or philosophies or ethical books, that you may have stuffed into your brain, will matter much, only what you are and what you have realised. So we have to realise religion, and this realisation of religion is a long process. When men hear of something very high and wonderful, they all think they will get that, and never stop for a moment to consider that they will have to work their way up to it; they all want to jump there. If it is the highest, we are for it. We never stop to consider whether we have the power, and the result is that we do not do anything. You cannot take a man with a pitchfork and push him up there; we all have to work up gradually.

Therefore the first part of religion is Vaidhi Bhakti, the lower phase of worship.


What are these lower phases of worship? They are various. In order to attain to the state where we can realise, we must pass through the concrete — just as you see children learn through the concrete first — and gradually come to the abstract. If you tell a baby that five times two is ten, it will not understand; but if you bring ten things and show how five times two is ten, it will understand. Religion is a long, slow process. We are all of us babies here; we may be old, and have studied all the books in the universe, but we are all spiritual babies. We have learnt the doctrines and dogmas, but realised nothing in our lives. We shall have to begin now in the concrete, through forms and words, prayers and ceremonies; and of these concrete forms there will be thousands; one form need not be for everybody. Some may be helped by images, some may not. Some require an image outside, others one inside the brain. The man who puts it inside says, "I am a superior man. When it is inside it is all right; when it is outside, it is idolatry, I will fight it." When a man puts an image in the form of a church or a temple, he thinks it is holy; but when it is in a human form, he objects to it!


So there are various forms through which the mind will take this concrete exercise; and then, step by step, we shall come to the abstract understanding, abstract realisation. Again, the same form is not for everyone; there is one form that will suit you, and another will suit somebody else, and so on. All forms, though leading to the same goal, may not be for all of us. Here is another mistake we generally make. My ideal does not suit you; and why should I force it on you? My fashion of building churches or reading hymns does not suit you; why should I force it on you? Go into the world and every fool will tell you that his form is the only right one, that every other form is diabolical, and he is the only chosen man ever born in the universe. But in fact, all these forms are good and helpful. Just as there are certain varieties in human nature, so it is necessary that there should be an equal number of forms in religion; and the more there are, the better for the world. If there are twenty forms of religion in the world, it is very good; if there are four hundred, so much the better — there will be the more to choose from. So we should rather be glad when the number of religions and religious ideas increase and multiply, because they will then include every man and help mankind more. Would to God that religions multiplied until every man had his own religion, quite separate from that of any other! This is the idea of the Bhakti-Yogi.


The final idea is that my religion cannot be yours, or yours mine. Although the goal and the aim are the same, yet each one has to take a different road, according to the tendencies of his mind; and although these roads are various, they must all be true, because they lead to the same goal. It cannot be that one is true and the rest not. The choosing of one's own road is called in the language of Bhakti, Ishta, the chosen way.

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

Postby member_22733 » 26 Dec 2014 23:06

^^^ Wow!

So Vivekananda ji understood what exclusivism was all about and was able to grasp the real dangers (of the ideological kind) posed by them.

Just wondering: Did he ever write more about it or try to educated the larger Hindu population about such dangers?

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

Postby Satya_anveshi » 27 Dec 2014 00:15

A phrase from one of the movies I saw caught my attention, which is applicable to west and islamist in general:

United we are thieves, divided we are people. Can be extended to 'United (or being Universal like a commodity) we are thieves, Divided (or being different or cherishing and adjusting to our differences) we are people.

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

Postby RajeshA » 27 Dec 2014 01:21

shiv wrote:
shiv wrote:When we in India fight with Islamism, it is useful to know what we are fighting. How much of the fight is between colonized minds and how much due to fundamental ideological differences. This is important because if we address Islamism the way the west does we may be scoring a goal for WU, against ourselves. We already tend to view ourselves the way the west views us. There is every possibility that we view Islam like the west does. What is the Indian view of Islam without a colonial/WU colour?
csaurabh wrote:WU based criticism of Islam is mainly about the 'excesses' of Islam from a present day Christian point of view:

-Jihad, terrorism and violence ( most common )
-Treatment of women in Islam
-Treatment of non muslims under Islamic rule
-Twisted bits in Islam ( ban on music, apostasy punishable by death, adulterers getting stoned, etc. )
-Political agenda of Islam, sharia law, absence of secularism.

They do not address the following theological points of view:

-One God
-One prophet
-One book, One language, one Vatican ( Mecca ) and other top down exclusive systems
-Concept of believers and unbelievers
-Finality and unchangeablility of book based beliefs
-Heaven and Hell, salvation
-Creationism
etc.

The reason is simple. The latter list is still there in Christianity, and thus can't be criticized without having a finger pointing back at them.

In fact, the former list or 'excesses' are actually a direct result of the latter list of theological beliefs taken to the extreme. And before the advent of 'secularism' and 'western universalism', Christianity still had all of those so called 'excesses'.

Saurabh - that is a great analysis as a reply, and saves me the trouble of thinking.

Let me classify your points as

A. WU does not like:
    -Jihad, terrorism and violence ( most common )
    -Treatment of women in Islam
    -Treatment of non muslims under Islamic rule
    -Twisted bits in Islam ( ban on music, apostasy punishable by death, adulterers getting stoned, etc. )
    -Political agenda of Islam, sharia law, absence of secularism.

B. WU is fine with:
    -One God
    -One prophet
    -One book, One language, one Vatican ( Mecca ) and other top down exclusive systems
    -Concept of believers and unbelievers
    -Finality and unchangeablility of book based beliefs
    -Heaven and Hell, salvation
    -Creationism
It turns out that both lists A and B are not OK with Hindus

But there are some Islamic things that are OK with Hindus that have not made it into your list
1. Islamic dress code
2. Call to prayer 5 times a day
3. The right to "be different"
4. The right to form a "jati" with its own codes of conduct within its own community

Islam survived and even changed in India because it was allowed these freedoms. It was only when Islam stepped outside these bounds that it provoked anger. Even today Muslims can live happily in India because these rules are still respected. It is only when behaviour steps out of the community and and impinges on the rights of another community in India that Islam causes strife. In the west there is a demand on Muslims that negates the right to wear an Islamic dress, the right to call out prayers 5 x per day, the right to be different and the right to your own self-ruling community. It is violence and forced conversion that is a problem.

The treatment of women in Islam can be debated till the cows come home. All of us (indian, Hindu) have bought into the westren concept of treatment of women - so we blindly support the west against Islamic attitudes to women. islamic attitudes are certainly not great - - but giving the west a clean chit is the problem. The west only pretends that woman are equal. Biolgically men and woman cannot be equal. Sociologically and psychologically there are huge differences and unless one can allow for that we are talking rubbish when we swallow western norms for the treatment of women.

This is a subject that I would like to take up in detail in due course.

Women are recognized in Islam as being necessary for populating the world and for that reason they are given separate roles, but islam goes overboard in the manner of a tribal Bedouin religion (which is what Islam is) holding on to women in desert camps while the men go out raiding. Medieval Europe had chastity belts. Islam has virtual chastity belts in the form of laws. And now the west has gone overboard in the opposite direction - in ways that are actually not healthy for society where individual greed trumps social need.


Jāti identity however was tied to birth and marriage, may be adoption too, but never to "conversion". "Conversion" breaks the laws of Jāti and imposes the laws of the Jāti onto other people as well. This is expansionary!

Jātis were given this freedom, simply because that was a freedom within the sovereignty of Dharma. As Islam's Dharmic antecedents may not be acceptable, the Jāti freedoms should not be taken for granted.

shiv wrote:The point is that India has its own viewpoint and its own way of dealing with the challenges posed by the monotheistic religions and a blind following of the "lead" by WU that simply tries to discard religion or insult religion as a variant of "freedom" is probably not the way Indians would behave. So even when we find ourselves on the same side as WU when it comes to the behaviour of radical Islam, our ways of dealing with it need not be the same as that of the west. This IMO requires further exploration


West can only attack Islam, superficially, due to the "Freedom of Religion" and "Equality" chains they have bound themselves to, and seem unable to confront Islam within Western societies OR they feel comfortable with it. I think one reason Christianity allowed this secular bunkum is because it wanted to spread itself under this overreaching umbrella. The temptation of harvesting souls in India and rest of Asia, probably led to compromization of West itself.

With regard to Islam, West is weak!

Dharma on the other hand looks at the whole system. If the core is Adharmic, then everything that supports that core is Adharmic. If Islam is assessed to be Adharmic, then anything that is considered belonging to or associated with that Adharma, becomes a target of "transformation". There is no blanket freedom or tolerance as a principle. That is what makes Dharma, the only effective real principle to take on Religion, not Western Universalism.

However we have lost the message of Gita, and wool has been pulled over our eyes regarding nature of Religion.

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

Postby csaurabh » 28 Dec 2014 13:18

LokeshC wrote:^^^ Wow!

So Vivekananda ji understood what exclusivism was all about and was able to grasp the real dangers (of the ideological kind) posed by them.

Just wondering: Did he ever write more about it or try to educated the larger Hindu population about such dangers?


Lokeshji,

The way I see it, Vivekananda was very far ahead of his time. Like literally 120 years, if you read his works and 90% of them can be directly applied in todays context.

At the time in which he lived, Hindus were practicing extreme forms of caste system, untouchability, child marriage and other moral degradation. It took a great visionary to see that this was not due to 'Hinduism', and realize that just because Hindus of those days were like that did not mean they were always like that or would always be like that. This is the point he keeps hammering.

The vast majority of Vivekananda's works are in English. This is in order to connect with the Macaulyzed Indian elite of his time ( and now, for that matter ) rather than preaching things like 'you must study Sanskrit to understand the Vedas' blabla and such like.

According to Hindu worldview truths are eternal. They just need to be restated from time to time to fit the context. When Krishna gave the advice to Arjun enshrined in the Bhagwad Gita , he was merely restating Vedantic knowledge. Similar is the case for Vivekananda. The best way to say it is that he writes in English, but is not colonized by English.

I believe we can all benefit from the works of Swami Vivekananda. They total some four or five thousand pages. I do not have the full corpus with me at the moment but one book with selected essays. They are also available fully online for free ( though reading online was never my thing ). Reading Vivekananda is somewhat heavy- you need to read and re read a lot but it has really benefited me - what I realize is that Hinduism is a supremely superior religion which I am very proud of- inasmuch as the terms 'Hinduism' and 'religion' can be defined.

Did he benefit the nation? Oh definitely. Many of the Indian freedom movement were inspired by his work- Gandhi, for example. Jamshedji Tata was inspired to set up Iron and Steel plant, IISc, etc. after conversations with Vivekananda- I read that in his biography. This btw is an issue close to my heart, being from the town of Jamshedpur, and could be explored in more detail later.

Swami Vivekananda also set up the Ramakrishna mission which helps a lot. To be honest though, all such types of activities were stopped soon after Independence by the King of Seculars who hated anything to do with Hinduism. Also dying at the age of 39 didn't really help Vivekananda's cause. In fact his whole "professional career" only spanned 9 years ( 1893-1902 )

The other thing Vivekananda hoped to do was to convert the West to Hinduism and then India would follow. This didn't quite work out. The West picked up some amount of yoga and Indic memes but never really got very far ( and we shouldn't expect them to ).

That said Swami Vivekananda was still a man of his time. He completely underestimates the threat of Islam ( or 'Muhemmadanism' ) for example. He was under no illusion about Islam but he didn't really see it as very different from Christianity , "western universalism" , capitalism , communism etc. ( they are all forms of exclusion basically ) which are his main focus. This was a long time ago you see- before the demand for Pakistan, Khilafat movement, Arab petro dollars, Congie 'secularism', Sept. 11, Taliban, ISIS... Muslims of his day were basically just another conquered race under the boot of the white man.

Instead of trying to understand Hinduism ( through Vivekananda or otherwise ), our great intellectuals have instead been debating secularism, communalism, marxism, caste system, Aryans...
Wah re wah. result is there for all to see.

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

Postby harbans » 28 Dec 2014 16:59

Shiv ji, acknowledge lot of aspects of Bedouin culture permeate Islamic mores. So do Talmud, Old Testament mores. Yet one instance for example the one about a Jew couple that was got to Mohammed on a complaint of adultery shows how some aspects that we consider barbarian today were also barbarian to many even in the 7th century. So when Mohammed asks the Jewish couple what punishment is there for adulterers in their book, they reply the custom of Rajam (stoning) is there in the book, but we no longer practise it and maximum faces are blackened in our tribes. To that Mohammed replied, no you have to be punished as your book says and orders the couple to be stoned to death. What i was pointing out earlier was that there were many 'liberal' aspects and that included a much greater relative freedom of women were trampled back with Islams' advent.

Sahih Bukhari 4.56.829:
Narrated Abdullah bin Umar: The Jews came to Allah's Apostle and told him that a man and a woman from amongst them had committed illegal sexual intercourse. Allah's Apostle said to them, "What do you find in the Torah (old Testament) about the legal punishment of Ar-Rajm (stoning)?" They replied, "(But) we announce their crime and lash them." Abdullah bin Salam said, "You are telling a lie; Torah contains the order of Rajm." They brought and opened the Torah and one of them solaced his hand on the Verse of Rajm and read the verses preceding and following it. Abdullah bin Salam said to him, "Lift your hand." When he lifted his hand, the Verse of Rajm was written there. They said, "Muhammad has told the truth; the Torah has the Verse of Rajm. The Prophet then gave the order that both of them should be stoned to death. (Abdullah bin Umar said, "I saw the man leaning over the woman to shelter her from the stones.")

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

Postby RajeshA » 28 Dec 2014 17:02

csaurabh wrote:At the time in which he lived, Hindus were practicing extreme forms of caste system, untouchability, child marriage and other moral degradation. It took a great visionary to see that this was not due to 'Hinduism', and realize that just because Hindus of those days were like that did not mean they were always like that or would always be like that. This is the point he keeps hammering.


We should be careful how we interpret "child marriage". In Hindu Samaj, child marriage, is often an agreement between two families to marry their children to each other when they grow up.

Secondly, the age of the bridegroom even if more than the bride, has a certain upper limit on the age difference, which means that if the girl is say 12 the bridegroom may be 17 or 18, and if the girl is 14 then the groom may be 20. The age difference cannot be more. In ways it also makes sense, because if the man is older, he can work towards securing the material needs of the family. If the girl is younger, than she has more time to bear children.

In Islam, on the contrary, child marriage is something totally different. It means 50 year old men, using their money to buy young girls, still children, using Mehr. This is pedophilia. It isn't child-marriage.

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

Postby harbans » 28 Dec 2014 17:23

Instead of trying to understand Hinduism ( through Vivekananda or otherwise ), our great intellectuals have instead been debating secularism, communalism, marxism, caste system, Aryans...
Wah re wah. result is there for all to see.


Actually any discussion on Hinduism automatically goes to Caste, Secularism, Sati, Jati, Paganism. When Yoga for instance is discussed, there is hardly any mention of HInduism for some reason. Patanjali is as secular and non HIndu it seems. Same thing with Meditation, when it is discussed there isn't any mention of Hinduism. Most Hindus would like Yoga and Meditation be synonymous with Hinduism, but it is not, particularly as most of us have encountered during myriad discussions. On the whole Yoga and Meditation are being used predominantly quite exclusive of Hinduism in recent years. My present take in this regard is the pains to define Hinduism on some line with Abrahmic orthodoxies. Hinduism seen from the Abrahmic Orthodoxy prism generates only a debate of Caste, Brahminism, Sati etc.

On the contrary when i say i am a Dharmic and feel free to select various Sampradayic orthodoxies/margs (Vaishnav/Dvait/ Advait/ Baud/Sikh/Jain/Sai Baba/Asaram whatever..) to chose from the context pivots change radically. The Caste, Brahminism debates cease. I've experimented with this many times, and would recommend people just try that approach for yourselves. Somehow even Westerners are more willing for some reason to even accept at face that exposure to Dharmic texts for instance fired up many of the European Renaissance/ Enlightenment philosophers.

Another aspect of Western thought contrasting with ours is that of absolutist Judgement day and Karma based upbringing. Somehow an upbringing based on Karmic retribution results in a more peaceful society than one based on the concept of absolutist Judgment day ones. Someone said its because it is easy to absolve sin by confession or saving some souls etc whereas in a Karmic based upbringing one reaps what one sows, so ones life goes by trying to sow the right seeds. Maybe he is right. Anyway apologies for digressing. JMT/s

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

Postby csaurabh » 28 Dec 2014 18:10

RajeshA wrote:
csaurabh wrote:At the time in which he lived, Hindus were practicing extreme forms of caste system, untouchability, child marriage and other moral degradation. It took a great visionary to see that this was not due to 'Hinduism', and realize that just because Hindus of those days were like that did not mean they were always like that or would always be like that. This is the point he keeps hammering.


We should be careful how we interpret "child marriage". In Hindu Samaj, child marriage, is often an agreement between two families to marry their children to each other when they grow up.

Secondly, the age of the bridegroom even if more than the bride, has a certain upper limit on the age difference, which means that if the girl is say 12 the bridegroom may be 17 or 18, and if the girl is 14 then the groom may be 20. The age difference cannot be more. In ways it also makes sense, because if the man is older, he can work towards securing the material needs of the family. If the girl is younger, than she has more time to bear children.

In Islam, on the contrary, child marriage is something totally different. It means 50 year old men, using their money to buy young girls, still children, using Mehr. This is pedophilia. It isn't child-marriage.


Certainly. But Vivekananda was against that as well.
Marrying kids in their teenage years gave them no opportunity to grow up properly.. also stopped the boy from going abroad for higher education ( Vivekananda wanted to send them to Japan and not Britain ).

In those days there was ridiculous things, like 'sight untouchability' - If a Brahmin saw an untouchable at a distance of 20 feet he would get 'polluted'. Yes this is the kind of nonsense Hindus were up to in those days. Lets be clear about it- such things are anti Dharma and should be condemned.

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

Postby RajeshA » 28 Dec 2014 18:48

csaurabh wrote:In those days there was ridiculous things, like 'sight untouchability' - If a Brahmin saw an untouchable at a distance of 20 feet he would get 'polluted'. Yes this is the kind of nonsense Hindus were up to in those days. Lets be clear about it- such things are anti Dharma and should be condemned.


Untouchability makes perfect sense in India, in order to stop spread of disease. Many professions and Jatis who were often into certain professions like skinning animals, garbage collection, sewage drain cleaning, etc. were simply considered as such who were more prone to have disease, and so many others kept them at a distance. One did not socialize with them for same reasons.

If Europeans had followed such rules, perhaps the plague would not have killed off so many Europeans.

Not just untouchability, even in families, often there is the concept of "Jhootha", something that has been touched by the mouth of another. Often one would not eat or drink, "jhootha" of another family member.

So untouchability in a sense was there within family itself.

Today you see pictures of doctors running around in Africa with full-body hazmat suits. Is that not "untouchability"? If people who have been in a region infected by Ebola, and they are kept in quarantines, is that not "untouchability"? How was it with Bird Flue? How was it with Swine Flu? How was it with BSE?

However if a person has taken up a profession which does not expose him to infectious diseases and lives in a community where the diseases are rare, then he stops being "untouchable"! "Untouchability" is not bound to his birth, but rather to his profession and environment.

Sure, this reasoning may have gone missing, as during the foreign invasions and rule, the various Jatis became more introvert and suspicious of others.

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

Postby csaurabh » 28 Dec 2014 19:51

RajeshA wrote:
csaurabh wrote:In those days there was ridiculous things, like 'sight untouchability' - If a Brahmin saw an untouchable at a distance of 20 feet he would get 'polluted'. Yes this is the kind of nonsense Hindus were up to in those days. Lets be clear about it- such things are anti Dharma and should be condemned.


Untouchability makes perfect sense in India, in order to stop spread of disease. Many professions and Jatis who were often into certain professions like skinning animals, garbage collection, sewage drain cleaning, etc. were simply considered as such who were more prone to have disease, and so many others kept them at a distance. One did not socialize with them for same reasons.

If Europeans had followed such rules, perhaps the plague would not have killed off so many Europeans.

Not just untouchability, even in families, often there is the concept of "Jhootha", something that has been touched by the mouth of another. Often one would not eat or drink, "jhootha" of another family member.

So untouchability in a sense was there within family itself.

Today you see pictures of doctors running around in Africa with full-body hazmat suits. Is that not "untouchability"? If people who have been in a region infected by Ebola, and they are kept in quarantines, is that not "untouchability"? How was it with Bird Flue? How was it with Swine Flu? How was it with BSE?

However if a person has taken up a profession which does not expose him to infectious diseases and lives in a community where the diseases are rare, then he stops being "untouchable"! "Untouchability" is not bound to his birth, but rather to his profession and environment.

Sure, this reasoning may have gone missing, as during the foreign invasions and rule, the various Jatis became more introvert and suspicious of others.


With this type of 'logic' you can justify almost anything.

It was precisely this type of nonsense that led to a steep decline of Hinduism in the 7th-9th century until it was rejuvented by Adi Shankaracharya ( however Muslim invasions were soon to follow after that, so his work was not quite complete ).

Let us, by the way, take this as a logical argument. If untouchables are more likely to contract diseases and die, it therefore follows that the number of untouchables would get lesser with every generation until they all died out. Which is... not what happened.

Swami Vivekananda is very clear about this. Untouchability has no basis in Hinduism. I believe him.

Hindus should be careful about falling into such traps again.

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

Postby shiv » 28 Dec 2014 20:04

csaurabh wrote:Let us, by the way, take this as a logical argument. If untouchables are more likely to contract diseases and die, it therefore follows that the number of untouchables would get lesser with every generation until they all died out. Which is... not what happened.

Saurabh - not disagreeing with the general point you make - but the above statement is incorrect.

What happens is that the population group that gets exposed to such dirty and diseased conditions suffers high infant and maternal mortality rates. But if they also get fed, their birth rate will be high enough to keep the population going. They need not die out.

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

Postby RajeshA » 28 Dec 2014 20:12

csaurabh wrote:Let us, by the way, take this as a logical argument. If untouchables are more likely to contract diseases and die, it therefore follows that the number of untouchables would get lesser with every generation until they all died out. Which is... not what happened.


There are no statistics on how many died and how many children so called "untouchables" used to have! Besides it doesn't rule out many developing resistance to these diseases over the course of time!

csaurabh wrote:Swami Vivekananda is very clear about this. Untouchability has no basis in Hinduism. I believe him.

Hindus should be careful about falling into such traps again.


Who said anything about "Untouchability" being part of any "Hinduism"? It was a practical option to contain contagions.

It is those who sat down and put together what constitutes "Hinduism", who made "untouchability" part of the "religion"!

It was precisely this type of nonsense that led to a steep decline of Hinduism in the 7th-9th century until it was rejuvented by Adi Shankaracharya ( however Muslim invasions were soon to follow after that, so his work was not quite complete ).


This is somewhat skewed logic, and perhaps chronology too!

Let's try to get out of this silo "religion" thinking on "Hinduism", and not include the habit of some cockroach-worshiping man somewhere in India as part of some monolithic "Hinduism".

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

Postby csaurabh » 28 Dec 2014 21:25

RajeshA wrote:
csaurabh wrote:Let us, by the way, take this as a logical argument. If untouchables are more likely to contract diseases and die, it therefore follows that the number of untouchables would get lesser with every generation until they all died out. Which is... not what happened.


There are no statistics on how many died and how many children so called "untouchables" used to have! Besides it doesn't rule out many developing resistance to these diseases over the course of time!


shiv wrote:
csaurabh wrote:Let us, by the way, take this as a logical argument. If untouchables are more likely to contract diseases and die, it therefore follows that the number of untouchables would get lesser with every generation until they all died out. Which is... not what happened.

Saurabh - not disagreeing with the general point you make - but the above statement is incorrect.

What happens is that the population group that gets exposed to such dirty and diseased conditions suffers high infant and maternal mortality rates. But if they also get fed, their birth rate will be high enough to keep the population going. They need not die out.


Well let us see. If the untouchables suffer from diseases while the others do not, it therefore follows that their percentage of the total population will decline as time goes on ( even if they do not die out ). This means that in the course of a thousand years ( say ), you would have the untouchable population decrease from say 80% to 15% as it is now.

Hmm.. sounds familiar? Yep, it's the Aryan invasion theory.

If untouchability was used to prevent plague- that means that whenever a plague struck the entire untouchable population would be wiped out ( and the rest would survive ). So over the course of many plagues all the untouchables would be wiped out- which is not what we see. By the way, European plagues were caused due to not bathing enough, which is a totally different thing.

I don't make personal attacks generally but I feel like this poster RajeshA is a great theorist, he earlier advocated 10 kids per Hindu family while not practising the same. If you can not put a theory to practise, the theory is of no use. This is what Swami Vivekananda keeps repeating, over and over again.

Hindus have fallen into the trap before. It wasn't just Muslim and Christian invasions that did us in. To paraphrase Vivekananda ( not bothering to dig out the exact quote ) - Entire centuries were spent debating such momentous things such as eating and drinking, I'll not touch you and you'll not touch me. when a society is degraded to such an extent, nothing can be expected from such a civilization.

Orthodox Hindus of Vivekananda's time would rather starve to death rather than accept food from untouchables hand, such was the state of affairs at the time!

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

Postby RajeshA » 28 Dec 2014 21:44

csaurabh wrote:Well let us see. If the untouchables suffer from diseases while the others do not, it therefore follows that their percentage of the total population will decline as time goes on ( even if they do not die out ). This means that in the course of a thousand years ( say ), you would have the untouchable population decrease from say 80% to 15% as it is now.

Hmm.. sounds familiar? Yep, it's the Aryan invasion theory.

If untouchability was used to prevent plague- that means that whenever a plague struck the entire untouchable population would be wiped out ( and the rest would survive ). So over the course of many plagues all the untouchables would be wiped out- which is not what we see. By the way, European plagues were caused due to not bathing enough, which is a totally different thing.


1) There is the concept of "developing natural immunity"!

Often foreigners or NRIs/PIOs/OCIs come to India, they are more prone to getting diarrhea than Indians living in India. BTW, Birds who carry "Avian Flu" often don't have "flu" themselves and they are only "carriers", but these can be dangerous for humans.

2) Not all diseases imply certain death.

csaurabh wrote:I don't make personal attacks generally but I feel like this poster RajeshA is a great theorist, he earlier advocated 10 kids per Hindu family while not practising the same. If you can not put a theory to practise, the theory is of no use. This is what Swami Vivekananda keeps repeating, over and over again.


:)

What? You didn't get an invitation to my 12th child's birthday?

csaurabh wrote:Hindus have fallen into the trap before. It wasn't just Muslim and Christian invasions that did us in. To paraphrase Vivekananda ( not bothering to dig out the exact quote ) - Entire centuries were spent debating such momentous things such as eating and drinking, I'll not touch you and you'll not touch me. when a society is degraded to such an extent, nothing can be expected from such a civilization.

Orthodox Hindus of Vivekananda's time would rather starve to death rather than accept food from untouchables hand, such was the state of affairs at the time!


Hindu Samaj or rather British-framed "Hinduism" has been smeared with Casteism, Suttee, Untouchability, and many others social ills.

It is important to frame the context of how these phenomena came to exist in India, how these phenomena became institutionalized and became tradition, and how they are not part and parcel of Dharma.

It is a Western project to show these as part and parcel of some immutable religion "Hinduism" so as to tarnish our traditions, and argue in favor of conversion!

May be you have misunderstood me. I am not speaking in favor of "Untouchability" or justifying it on any "religious grounds" or "social grounds". I am providing an explanation for the phenomenon on "health grounds". If the environment changes, there is also no reason to have "untouchability" on "health grounds" either. Modern research and medicine, hygiene, etc. changes the environment, the circumstances.

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

Postby shiv » 29 Dec 2014 06:26

Imagine.

Imagine a scenario where a section of society has dicovered that diesases like smallpox, cholera, typhoid etc can be spread by physical contact or by contamination of water supply or faecal contamination. Imagine that in this society, there existed people who did not have the power to change all of society to understand and accept these basic public health concepts and decided that they would implement public health measures for their own small clan/group/village and try and avoid doing things that cause disease. This would mean physical isolation and separation of food and water supply. In this day and age this is called "quarantine". So you have one section of society "quarantining themselves off" from other sections who will not or do not follow the anti-infection norms. In practice "quarantine" and "untouchability" are EXACTLY the same. But we learn that good doctors like me practice quarantine. Bad Hindu castes do the same thing. It is called "untouchability"

Both quarantine and untouchable are English words coined for concepts by Europeans to describe the same practice under different circumstances. Good people who fight disease use quarantine. Hindus indulge in untouchability.

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

Postby A_Gupta » 29 Dec 2014 06:34

What I find curious is on the one hand, among the untouchables were those who transported night soil, since sewers and such were not available; on the other hand, 600 million or so Indians supposedly don't have toilets, and presumably the percentage was even higher in the past.

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

Postby shiv » 29 Dec 2014 07:27

A_Gupta wrote:What I find curious is on the one hand, among the untouchables were those who transported night soil, since sewers and such were not available; on the other hand, 600 million or so Indians supposedly don't have toilets, and presumably the percentage was even higher in the past.

Arun transportation of "night soil" is required only when someone has one single central place to use a s a toilet - which would rapidly become unusable unless the material is "transported away". I suspect that most defecation was in separate spots out in the open - so "transportation" would be a reference only to a small sub-set of wealthy people who had a private toilet requiring clearing.

I did some Googling and came up with a Wiki ref
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manual_scavenging
Scholars have suggested that the Mughal women with purdah required enclosed toilets that needed to be scavenged. It is pointed out that the bhangis share some of the clan names with Rajputs, and propose that the bhangis are descendants of those captured in wars.There are many legends about the origin of bhangis, who have traditionally served as manual scavengers. One of them, associated with Lal Beg bhangis describes the origin of bhangis from Mehtar. Municipal records from 1870 show that the British organized municipalities in India which built roads, parks, public toilets etc. The British administrators organized systems for removing the night soil and employed bhangis.


But toilets apart there are other "high risk" jobs that can spread disease - eg butchers and people who handle dead bodies. At one time it is said that even people who did surgery were declared a risk because they handle blood and body fluids. One of these groups would not, for example, be employed as a cook.

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

Postby A_Gupta » 29 Dec 2014 07:36

^^^ So this class of untouchables was created by a rich, urbanized elite?

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

Postby shiv » 29 Dec 2014 07:52

A_Gupta wrote:^^^ So this class of untouchables was created by a rich, urbanized elite?

Not sure about "urbanized". Not sure about rich. But this class was probably fostered by a group who placed their personal view of safety and hygiene above those of the other group and made economic choices in that direction. To that extent they could be described as "elite".

I am sure that the "rich" - as in the ruling class and the business class (grain merchant?) employed people from the untouchable class (can we find a better word that this - like "high risk-unpopular job"). But even among the relatively poor (essentially priests, cooks etc) these same untouchables would be employed for the same work.

I wonder if "urbanization" and the building of fortresses and cities simply aided the expansion of this class into entire communities of untouchables living in ghettos of their own. It strikes me that a small community of 50 people may have only one person or two of this class, but a city of 50,000 would have an entire ghetto.

It is also worth remembering that the person who handled dead animals or humans did not handle feces and he left the fecal transport to yet another group. We concentrate on the feces handlers, but a whole lot of undesirable/unattractive professions were relegated to lower social status. For example Bangarappa (now dead former CM of Karnataka) belonged to a community of Idigas - who I believe were Toddy tappers. Toddy tapping is a decidedly high risk job, but it is hardly carriage of feces. Carrying feces is easier than toddy tapping. Hobson's choice. You become a toddy tapper - you get higher status and a higher risk job. Take the easy way out, carry faeces or carry dead bodies - you get lower status.

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

Postby csaurabh » 29 Dec 2014 08:16

Why don't you just accept the fact that untouchability was a crippling birth based injustice system. It had nothing to do with any disease.

Let us do a thought experiment. Supposing all modernity and technology magically vanishes and we are transported back into India of 1000 years ago. Will Hindus go back to practicing extreme caste system and untouchability? I would like to think we are better than that.

Here is what Vivekananda says

The solution of the caste problem in India, therefore, assumes this form, not to degrade the higher castes, not to crush out the Brahmin. The Brahminhood is the ideal of humanity in India, as wonderfully put forward by Shankaracharya at the beginning of his commentary on the Gitâ, where he speaks about the reason for Krishna's coming as a preacher for the preservation of Brahminhood, of Brahminness. That was the great end. This Brahmin, the man of God, he who has known Brahman, the ideal man, the perfect man, must remain; he must not go. And with all the defects of the caste now, we know that we must all be ready to give to the Brahmins this credit, that from them have come more men with real Brahminness in them than from all the other castes. That is true. That is the credit due to them from all the other castes. We must be bold enough, must be brave enough to speak of their defects, but at the same time we must give the credit that is due to them. Remember the old English proverb, "Give every man his due". Therefore, my friends, it is no use fighting among the castes. What good will it do? It will divide us all the more, weaken us all the more, degrade us all the more. The days of exclusive privileges and exclusive claims are gone, gone for ever from the soil of India, and it is one of the great blessings of the British Rule in India. Even to the Mohammedan Rule we owe that great blessing, the destruction of exclusive privilege. That Rule was, after all, not all bad; nothing is all bad, and nothing is all good. The Mohammedan conquest of India came as a salvation to the downtrodden, to the poor. That is why one-fifth of our people have become Mohammedans. It was not the sword that did it all. It would be the height of madness to think it was all the work of sword and fire. And one-fifth — one-half — of your Madras people will become Christians if you do not take care. Was there ever a sillier thing before in the world than what I saw in Malabar country? The poor Pariah is not allowed to pass through the same street as the high-caste man, but if he changes his name to a hodge-podge English name, it is all right; or to a Mohammedan name, it is all right. What inference would you draw except that these Malabaris are all lunatics, their homes so many lunatic asylums, and that they are to be treated with derision by every race in India until they mend their manners and know better. Shame upon them that such wicked and diabolical customs are allowed; their own children are allowed to die of starvation, but as soon as they take up some other religion they are well fed. There ought to be no more fight between the castes.

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

Postby shiv » 29 Dec 2014 08:26

Those who are familiar with the areas around Lal Bagh botanical gardens in Bangalore will know that some of the best seedlings and saplings outside Lalbagh can be bought in one of the dozens of privately owned, lush green nurseries around Lal bagh. These lands were settled by a community called "Tigalas" - renowned for their gardening skills. They were brought there by Hyder Ali to maintain Lal Bagh. Tigalas are considered a backward caste although some (according to Wiki) trace their ancestry to a Kshatriya army created by Draupadi.

But caste specialization in a particular vocation (jati+varna combination) was not necessarily negative or bad. And these skills were regularly used by one and all. But our public attitudes towards caste are inherited from what the British taught us

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

Postby shiv » 29 Dec 2014 08:37

csaurabh wrote:Why don't you just accept the fact that untouchability was a crippling birth based injustice system. It had nothing to do with any disease.

saurabh, I have no intention of being apologetic about reprehensible practices. But why don't you take your own thought experiment a little further and ask, what was it that made Indians particularly inhuman and vicious all those centuries ago in instituting and perpetuating a "crippling birth based injustice system" and ensuring that those who were declared to belong to that crippled class could not even generate the power and support to escape. How was it done? What were the circumstances? How did people stay in that system without revolting or fighting to come out? Could it be blamed on Hinduism and should people who call themselves "hindu" be perpetually apologetic and be made to admit that their own ancestry was somehow unsavoury because their ancestors instituted such a barbaric system?

Plain curiosity, if not good science would have to ask these questions. Vivekananda reacted to society as he saw it. He did not ask why it was that way, so no disrespect to him or his memory.

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

Postby csaurabh » 29 Dec 2014 15:05

Vivekananda saw some positive things in the caste or jati system. But he did not see any in untouchability, he says it has no Vedantic basis. And indeed if you look at Ramayana, Mahabharata, there was no untouchability.

Hinduism saw a big decline about two centuries BEFORE the muslim invasions even started. This is important to note. Adi Shankaracharya was able to reverse that trend to some extent but then the invasions happened and things became even worse.

The thing about Hinduism is that it is a living religion. It is capable of reform from the inside, and indeed has thrown up many such reform movements, from Kabir to Vivekanand and beyond. This is in contrast to Islam which is completely ossified in 7th Century Arabia and can never reform. Christians were able to reform to some extent by using 'secularism'. Unfortunately, secularism/atheism/etc. are basically empty ideologies which is why their society is in deep trouble.

I agree though we do not need to be apologetic. Most empires of those days such as Greek, Roman , etc. had slaves which could be considered as the closest analogue of untouchables. However slaves revolted all the time, while untouchables never did. That is a little curious.

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

Postby shiv » 29 Dec 2014 16:31

csaurabh wrote: However slaves revolted all the time, while untouchables never did. That is a little curious.

The conventional story, given to us after colonization, is that they did not know that they could revolt and the British taught them right from wrong and then they started fighting for their rights. In other words, people of the lowest castes were stupid and unthinking automatons until the British opened their eyes.

Let me pose my argument in a cruelly logical way
1. The lowest castes did not revolt or protest till they were taught their rights by the British because they were really dumb for many thousands of years. The lowest castes represent a fundamentally dumb people who are no better than cattle.

or

2. They were not dumb. For centuries they were not as oppressed as British/Christian historians make them out to be. The worst excesses started after the British came and classified the upper castes as the great victorious Aryan invaders from the north, and the lower castes as the dumb dasyus who had their asses kicked. The "degradations" of India were blamed on the mixing of upper and lower castes. This much is recorded history barely a century old. Social changes in India created the conditions for the worst racist behavior within India with the upper castes finding favour with the British for their own economic survival and the lower castes being left to their own devices or used as such by the British until a new colonial consciousness decided that the lowercastes needed "upliftment". This was what was recognized and combated by the likes of Vivekananda and Gandhi.

Our sense of continuous shame and constant apology about ourselves is, IMO, based on a completely absent analysis of our own past and a total internalization of our history as handed to us by the Brits

But how come we tend to follow the British story that they were dumb people whose eyes were opened recently and that the upper caste oppressors had no sense of compassion or shame?

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

Postby csaurabh » 29 Dec 2014 17:30

shiv wrote:2. They were not dumb. For centuries they were not as oppressed as British/Christian historians make them out to be. The worst excesses started after the British came and classified the upper castes as the great victorious Aryan invaders from the north, and the lower castes as the dumb dasyus who had their asses kicked. The "degradations" of India were blamed on the mixing of upper and lower castes. This much is recorded history barely a century old. Social changes in India created the conditions for the worst racist behavior within India with the upper castes finding favour with the British for their own economic survival and the lower castes being left to their own devices or used as such by the British until a new colonial consciousness decided that the lowercastes needed "upliftment". This was what was recognized and combated by the likes of Vivekananda and Gandhi.


Quite possible, this is a good way of looking at it.

But the truth is again that we don't really know. Most of what we call 'history' is simply what the British and later colonized Indians thought from their perspective.

You see.. there are certain passages to be found somewhere like 'If a Shudra hears the Vedas, pour lead in his ears'. The British historians applied a sort of reverse universalism on us- that just because it is mentioned in some 'book', this sort of thing was done Every where and Every time. Rather than looking at the actual geographical area and period and context.

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

Postby csaurabh » 29 Dec 2014 17:39

Some more evidence why studying "Arts" subjects in Western universities ( and probably Indian ones too ) are a complete waste of time. Nice read

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hippo-rea ... l?ir=India

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

Postby shiv » 29 Dec 2014 20:17

csaurabh wrote: 'If a Shudra hears the Vedas, pour lead in his ears'.

Pending further reading I must not comment on this. There are two books in particular -both of which I have that I must read before commenting. I think those books have had an inordinate effect on the British view of Hindus. One is Manu and the other is the "Gentoo code" by 11 random Brahmins which became the British guidebook on Hindus.

I think the shudra/lead ref comes from Manu. The British came with the idea that a single holy book was "universal" and that made them give undue importance to some works. As always we need to look for corroborative evidence.

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

Postby member_20317 » 29 Dec 2014 20:51

I think I remember reading that with high certainty. Then some place else on the same book you will find another similar statement that makes it illegal to kill among others a Shudra. So what to do in such clashing laws. Shruti then rules supreme. But what does Shrutis say about such cases. Well I am available at BRF. Pls do tell me too when you find that out.

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

Postby RajeshA » 29 Dec 2014 20:57

shiv wrote:
csaurabh wrote: 'If a Shudra hears the Vedas, pour lead in his ears'.

Pending further reading I must not comment on this. There are two books in particular -both of which I have that I must read before commenting. I think those books have had an inordinate effect on the British view of Hindus. One is Manu and the other is the "Gentoo code" by 11 random Brahmins which became the British guidebook on Hindus.

I think the shudra/lead ref comes from Manu. The British came with the idea that a single holy book was "universal" and that made them give undue importance to some works. As always we need to look for corroborative evidence.


For the record

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

Postby ShauryaT » 29 Dec 2014 23:41

csaurabh wrote: 'If a Shudra hears the Vedas, pour lead in his ears'. The British historians applied a sort of reverse universalism on us- that just because it is mentioned in some 'book', this sort of thing was done Every where and Every time. Rather than looking at the actual geographical area and period and context.
I have not found this one in an authoritative text. There are others equally reprehensible ones - judged based on todays standards, however have not found the above one. Ref: PV Kane.

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

Postby Sumeet » 30 Dec 2014 01:25

ShauryaT wrote:
csaurabh wrote: 'If a Shudra hears the Vedas, pour lead in his ears'. The British historians applied a sort of reverse universalism on us- that just because it is mentioned in some 'book', this sort of thing was done Every where and Every time. Rather than looking at the actual geographical area and period and context.
I have not found this one in an authoritative text. There are others equally reprehensible ones - judged based on todays standards, however have not found the above one. Ref: PV Kane.


Shaurya,

Its quoted by Adi Sankaracharya in his Brahma Sutra bhasya (Commentary). Although a reference (as in the verse number etc) is not provided in the commentary.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe34/sbe34107.htm

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

Postby A_Gupta » 30 Dec 2014 03:10

Sumeet wrote:
ShauryaT wrote:I have not found this one in an authoritative text. There are others equally reprehensible ones - judged based on todays standards, however have not found the above one. Ref: PV Kane.


Shaurya,

Its quoted by Adi Sankaracharya in his Brahma Sutra bhasya (Commentary). Although a reference (as in the verse number etc) is not provided in the commentary.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe34/sbe34107.htm


When I see Thibaut's translation of Vedanta Sutra bhasya by Ramanujam and by Sankaracharya the words are the same - is it Thibaut or is it the Vedanta Sutra? How can it be the bhasya, unless they plagiarized each other?

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

Postby Sumeet » 30 Dec 2014 03:13

ravi_g wrote:I think I remember reading that with high certainty. Then some place else on the same book you will find another similar statement that makes it illegal to kill among others a Shudra. So what to do in such clashing laws. Shruti then rules supreme. But what does Shrutis say about such cases. Well I am available at BRF. Pls do tell me too when you find that out.



Shruti doesn't deals with topics of dharma sastra/smritis. So you have many dharma sastras/smritis written by various folks who are sometimes in conflict with one another. In this case the best thing is to follow your conscience.

"For choosing your course of conduct at any time and place, keep in view the instructions given first in Sruti (Vedas), then in Smritis, Itihaas (History of great personalities) and finally you act according to your conscience."
(Manu Smriti, 11, 6).

It is in this spirit that Krishna declares to Arjuna:

http://bhagavad-gita.org/Gita/verse-18-59.html

"Thus the most confidential wisdom of all that is confidential has been described by Me to you; deliberation fully on this; accordingly act as you wish"

Recall the incident where Arjuna was asked to trick Drona into giving up his arms and cause a loss of his concentration by giving him false news about Ashwathama's death so that Drona could be removed.

Arjuna declined it because his conscience didn't agree despite the fact some days ago he had seen universal form of Krishna and knew perfectly that Krishna was God incarnate. Freedom to acting according to conscience has been natural and integral part of Sanatana Dharma.
Last edited by Sumeet on 30 Dec 2014 03:32, edited 2 times in total.

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

Postby Sumeet » 30 Dec 2014 03:29

A_Gupta wrote:
Sumeet wrote:Shaurya,

Its quoted by Adi Sankaracharya in his Brahma Sutra bhasya (Commentary). Although a reference (as in the verse number etc) is not provided in the commentary.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe34/sbe34107.htm


When I see Thibaut's translation of Vedanta Sutra bhasya by Ramanujam and by Sankaracharya the words are the same - is it Thibaut or is it the Vedanta Sutra? How can it be the bhasya, unless they plagiarized each other?



This is Ramanuja Sri Bhashya on the same Sutra

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe48/sbe48137.htm

He has quoted the same verse as Adi Sankara. This is a verse that appears in some scripture perhaps Manu Smriti or somewhere else. Both Ramanuja and Sankara have quoted it (the same verse) in Sanskrit in their respective bhashyas which Thibaut has translated into english hence the sameness.

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

Postby chanakyaa » 30 Dec 2014 04:45

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe48/sbe48137.htm

And on account of Smriti.

Smriti also declares this prohibition of hearing, and so on. 'The ears of him who hears the Veda are to be filled with molten lead and lac; if he pronounces it his tongue is to be slit; if he preserves it his body is to be cut through.' And 'He is not to teach him sacred duties or vows.'--It is thus a settled matter that the Sûdras are not qualified for meditations on Brahman

I'm not an expert on the subject, so one question. When such views were expressed (written or spoken), did we not reach a stage, Dharmic interpreation for masses was fcuked up, when job functions such as "Brahmans" and "Kshtriyas" somehow become "Caste"; thus restricting person's ability to choose between a job function by making it a birth right? Did "Brahmans" and "Kshtriyas" monopolize their functions by making it rules? I mean who would in their right frame of mind choose picking up sewage as career choice. Calling someone Sûdras, instead of a reference to a Sûdras job function, and limiting them access to other jobs by putting restrictions seems like time tested unionization technique, no?

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

Postby ShauryaT » 30 Dec 2014 06:08

Sumeet wrote:Shaurya,

Its quoted by Adi Sankaracharya in his Brahma Sutra bhasya (Commentary). Although a reference (as in the verse number etc) is not provided in the commentary.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe34/sbe34107.htm
Thanks: Although I myself use this site many times, better translations and sources are needed. I have seen the above quote attributed specifically to "Manu Smriti" many times and all I was saying is, I have not read that in the Manu Smriti, as an authoritative text on Indian law at least not in the BORI compilations under PV Kane.

My point is minor as the larger point of prohibitions on the Shudra from speaking on the vedas did exist in shastras.

Saurabh: I will encourage you to explore further on why and how the moronic Indian society that Vivekanada reacted to in his times came into being and how. Let us not blame the outsiders one bit but I will still ask that one try to find out how our society changed from what to what and why that would be the case. I will especially encourage one to explore, why was preservation of Varna deemed to be a corner stone of our systems. What were the values that would have underpinned such a system - assuming there is higher objective than a crass class based feudal society. What were these values, its principles and objectives. What would a resurrected "Dharma Smriti" of today look like, preserving its original values - if deemed worthy of preservation. Maybe at the end you will reach no different an answer that our constituent assembly did, which was to throw this baby out with its dirty bathwater.

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

Postby shiv » 30 Dec 2014 06:34

Hmmmm - curiouser and curiouser
Look at these two separate links

RajeshA wrote:For the record

and


The English transliterations in both are EXACTLY the same - and probably come from the same source. I am guessing that Sumeet's source is the original English/European language translatcion because it says at the top of the page:
The Vedanta Sutras, commentary by Sankaracharya (SBE34), tr. by George Thibaut [1890] at sacred-texts.com


The words in both are by George Thibaut: Both sources have these exact same sentences. Both are lifted from Thibaut
"The ears of him who hears the Veda are to be filled with molten lead and lac." For a Sudra is like a cemetery.
"His tongue is to be slit if he pronounces it; his body is to be cut through if he preserves it."


I will get back on this after looking at what Manu said and how it was translated. Typically, we find that apart from us - almost any Indian, scholar, swami or lay person is using the same-ol' European translations either because they are unable to translate the Sanskrit to English themselves or (like us) unable to read Sanskrit.

Colonization anyone?

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

Postby devesh » 30 Dec 2014 06:43

shiv wrote:
csaurabh wrote: 'If a Shudra hears the Vedas, pour lead in his ears'.

Pending further reading I must not comment on this. There are two books in particular -both of which I have that I must read before commenting. I think those books have had an inordinate effect on the British view of Hindus. One is Manu and the other is the "Gentoo code" by 11 random Brahmins which became the British guidebook on Hindus.

I think the shudra/lead ref comes from Manu. The British came with the idea that a single holy book was "universal" and that made them give undue importance to some works. As always we need to look for corroborative evidence.



I always immediately ask morons spouting Manu quotes: "so how many 'shudras' were given such treatment? any records? any numbers? did the noble-minded Brits ever record any instances of 'lead poured in ears' 'shudras' in all their research into the 'code'?"

never do you get any actual stats.

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

Postby shiv » 30 Dec 2014 07:08

devesh wrote:I always immediately ask morons spouting Manu quotes: "so how many 'shudras' were given such treatment? any records? any numbers? did the noble-minded Brits ever record any instances of 'lead poured in ears' 'shudras' in all their research into the 'code'?"

never do you get any actual stats.

It is necessary for us to learn to call out the fallacy and contradictory rhetoric that follows from this

Why are there no records/statistics?
Because Indians were poor record keepers/historiographers

But you see, if Indians were such poor record keepers, then the instruction to pour lead in the ears is also false and represents something having been mistranslated or misconstrued. One cannot be declared true and the other false depending on what is expedient,

On the other hand if it is true that lead was to be poured into ears, the records show that it was never carried out. It was a literary tool, not a literal law.


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