Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

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

Postby Shreeman » 07 Jan 2015 22:34

shiv wrote:Rhetorical question before I retire

1. IF we support Western Universalism and lampoon Islam and Mohammad, will WU reciprocate and NOT lampoon Hindus?
2. If WU does not give a damn for ANY religious sentiment, Christian, Muslim or Hindu should we cheer WU for lampooning Christianity and Islam but get angry with WU for lampooning Hindus? Will they give a flying fuk for our feelings?
3. Considering that WU does not give a damn for ANY religious sentiment, what attitude should we take? Allow Jesus and Mohammad sex cartoons in India and ban any such stuff about Hindus published abroad and let NRIs deal with whatever disrespect Hindu icons get in the west or in Islamic nations


1. Only if hinduism will agree to include altar boys instead of devdasis. Celibacy, you know.
2. Yes, they care deeply. From Berkeley to woodstock about the loss of their winter homes in utter pradesh and goa.
3. Leave expression alone. Above ground you can analyse and counter it. Below ground, it is jihad dangerous. Ban nothing non-violent unless absolutely necessary. Like slots at an airport, fixed bannungs. Once in a century.

You are still playing WU if you pay attention to this "insult" and ganesha underpants business. And with the worst of the offenders. Leave religion in the confines of the praying place. Keep middle finger handy to show where you see hypocricy. *Any* absolute empowerment by annointment (prince andrew, the lama, the pope kr the bukhari) always leads to the same results. The sheep are tired of the wool being used as eye masks.

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

Postby A_Gupta » 07 Jan 2015 22:41

shiv wrote:But strictly speaking, freedom of expression to deride a religious icon is not tolerated by Hindus. We don't like our deities to be lampooned, and although we may cheer the publication of Mahomet cartoons, this does not fit in with Hindu morality or a Hindu sense of propriety. Of course the religion of peace has reacted in the way that it does normally - by murder. But that is a different issue.


Historically speaking all the evidence is that prior to becoming conscious of comprising a "religion" in competition with the Abrahamics, Hindus were **indifferent** to the lampooning, etc., of their deities, etc. Please distinguish what people **say** to which Hindus were really "couldn't care less" and what they do, such as trash a temple, which Hindus would not tolerate.

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

Postby A_Gupta » 07 Jan 2015 22:48

shiv wrote:Is it really possible or desirable for us to be Hindu hypocrites, getting upset at MF Husain paintings and protesting Ganesh icons on slippers while we cheer and support "freedom of expression" in the publication of similar material about Mohammad.

I think that we need to get this clear. If we try and pretend that Hindus have some view on this, let us discuss those views here. We cannot pretend to oppose western Universalism and yet show conflicting attitudes towards satire or vulgarity regarding religious icons.


I can only speak for myself:

1. The reason I'm upset at MF Husain is not because of his paintings as such, but because there is a double-standard, everyone implicitly understands that he would be killed if he tried some such thing with the Prophet of Islam, and that danger is considered to be just the way things are instead of something to be combated vigorously.

2. That an MF Husain or French or Dutch cartoonist is effectively muzzled by fear of Islam sets me back in my effort to decolonize the Hindu mind. Because it seems to the weak-minded that copying Islam by becoming a "religion" and becoming feared is more effective than any other approach to protecting Hindu traditions.

3. At a personal level, I'm against vulgarity. I'm not really interested in wounding anyone's sentiments either, and I won't, without cause. But if someone insists on acting as an idiot by copying inappropriate actions of the Prophet, then I'm going to speak up and criticize those actions of the someone and those of the Prophet.

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

Postby vishvak » 08 Jan 2015 00:00

The difference between M. Hussain and the Dutch Cartoonist is that MF Hussain wasn't killed off, and M. himself never told anyone that he ran away from summons given by the Supreme Court. M. Hussain lived a great life outside - sports cars etc - in very Islamic countries - where he would be hanged publicly if he painted Allah naked or Mohammed naked in his own famous style.

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

Postby Rudradev » 08 Jan 2015 00:04

shiv wrote:Let me bring up a topic that has, in the past, attracted one particular viewpoint, but I now raise it in terms of Hindu morality and the way Western Universalism has approached the subject. This is about religious sentiment. Western nations, in the name of "free expression" and "free speech" allow the publication of cartoons and satire about any religion starting with Christianity. I have seen cartoons of Jesus indulging in a homosexual act with a clone Jesus. Fine. I can take the attitude - "This is OK. It is freedom of expression". Of course the West allows the publications of cartoons about Mohammad. And it is because of that we have today seen a terrorist attack in Paris, killing some cartoonists.

But strictly speaking, freedom of expression to deride a religious icon is not tolerated by Hindus. We don't like our deities to be lampooned, and although we may cheer the publication of Mahomet cartoons, this does not fit in with Hindu morality or a Hindu sense of propriety. Of course the religion of peace has reacted in the way that it does normally - by murder. But that is a different issue.

Is it really possible or desirable for us to be Hindu hypocrites, getting upset at MF Husain paintings and protesting Ganesh icons on slippers while we cheer and support "freedom of expression" in the publication of similar material about Mohammad.

I think that we need to get this clear. If we try and pretend that Hindus have some view on this, let us discuss those views here. We cannot pretend to oppose western Universalism and yet show conflicting attitudes towards satire or vulgarity regarding religious icons.


Good question Shiv and it brings up three issues.

1) The etymology of the "Hindu" behavioral tradition of "thou shalt not hurt anyone's religious sentiments by showing disrespect to the icons they revere". Where exactly does this come from? Is this "Hindu" tradition, really? What is its basis in Sanatan Dharmic spiritual tradition? Is it a sacred principle? Or is it simply an acquired tenet of social behavior that became assimilated and ingrained into the normative structure of Hindu society over time, because as a principle of civil coexistence it just happened to work in the long term? In the latter case, what is wrong with applying it selectively?

2) The issue of what Rajiv Malhotra calls "mutual respect". In "Being Different" he elaborates that for various reasons (history-centrism primarily) the Abrahamic faiths are incapable of showing "mutual respect" to each other or to Dharmic faiths, being prepared to offer "tolerance" at best. This is why such things as the Charlie Hebdo incident, and all that led up to it, are quite inevitable in Abrahamic societies.

If one takes up the Malhotra view on WU and how to counter it, the solution is to insist that respect between faith traditions must be mutual. If we (Hindus) are respected, if our deities are shown respect in Abrahamic societies at a level that precludes any consideration of "free expression", then we will show the same respect to their religious icons regardless of whether we consider them worthy of worship or reverence. If not, then we won't. And we are entitled to find whatever joy we wish when mutual disrespect between two Abrahamic faiths blows up in the faces of both.

3) The nature of "hypocrisy". What is hypocrisy, exactly? Is it a concept that can even be considered in the absence of an avowedly WU context? Hypocrisy is defined as "the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform." The question arises: "moral standards" according to what rubric?

The Abrahamic may well argue that Arjuna was a hypocrite for having allowed his charioteer to talk him into slaughtering a large number of his blood relatives. This is because all Abrahamic discourse implicitly relies on the assumption of a single, universal moral standard as the rubric for judging the quality of everyone's morals... i.e. the standard spelled out in the (name your holy book of choice). Thou shalt not kill means thou shalt not kill, period (unless the persons to be killed are of infidel, heathen or kafir persuasion, in which case it is ok).


In dharma, morality is context sensitive, never absolute. It has no meaning independent of context. What is right in one situation is not necessarily right in every other. Unlike the Abrahamics, we do not pretend to the existence of a single moral standard as defined by a universally applicable set of laws. For this reason, by our own dharmic compass, it is perfectly legitimate to retaliate against the denigration of our deities by Abrahamics or apostates, while not necessarily taking the same position with regard to instances of mutual disrespect between Abrahamic cultures.

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

Postby Rudradev » 08 Jan 2015 00:09

shiv wrote:
csaurabh wrote:
Now, coming to capitalism as developed by Europeans. These organizations or 'companies' were all top down ( just like the church ) and the wealthy capitalists had no moral issue with horrifically mistreating the rank and file worker, forcing them to work under inhuman conditions. Socialism arose as a reaction to capitalism, and its basic demand is more dignity for workers.

------------------

Before going further I think we need to address the issue of 'equality' .

The point I want to make is that socialism and capitalism are basically forms of exclusivism and centralization. In this way they are no different from Islam, Christianity or Communism.

Very perceptive.

In fact the word "capitalism" should have given me a hint. The word is derived from the word for "head" (In fact there is a Sanskrit equivalent - "kapala - meaning skull). It is top down alright. The fact that socialism also became top down, using 20-20 hindsight is easy to see. The organization of socialism required a central coordinating force - and that is as top-down as capitalism.

Equality is always a problem. I'm not being cynical or facetious when I say that the ultimate state of "Brahman" from which all the universe is derived is the only "equal" state. The universe that we detect with our senses exists because of inequality and differences and gradients. While capitalism is "right" in accepting inequality, the fundamental problem is in concentrating on one aspect alone - that is wealth. When dealing with humans what matters is not wealth alone and capitalism makes the case for wealth alone. Health is rightly recognized as an important factor but what matters is not just physical health but psychological health. Wealth does not guarantee psychological health or even physical health for that matter. This is something that was recognized a long time ago in India when the duties and desires of man were classified as dharma, artha, kama and moksha. In particular dharma and moksha set limits on the amount of physical wealth and sensual pleasure a human must look for. But these are not top-down laws. they are duties for individuals. They are not offered as "individual choices" in that you can take it if you feel like and reject it if you don't. They are taught in childhood as a social ideal in Hindu society. But I digress.

Equality cannot be imposed from above and the idea that someone is imposing equality or that there is someone or some group that stands for equality (like the religions) is completely fake. It is a fake promise that says "Join us, we will make you equal". Equality is imposed only at the expense of something else. If you have a human population that has varying amounts of nutrition and you try and "equalize that" by providing "more nutrition" for those below an arbitrary line that you call "undernourished" - what you end up doing is putting environmental pressure elsewhere to produce more food and even as you feed the undernourished, you are creating a whole class of "overnourished" fat people. The funny thing is that there is now no top down system available to force overnourished people NOT to eat. Like kama and artha - the choice of eating less and and exercising more is left to the individual. So we have a human created issue that simply achieves equilibrium at a different steady state.

In the earlier steady state there were a moderate number of undernourished, a good number adequately nourished and a few over nourished. By forcing the overproduction of food and creating market forces to supply that food to everyone we are reaching a new steady state where there are very few undernourished and an increasing number of overnourished people. The same rules apply to wealth and money.


On this subject, here's something I blogged about a while ago:

http://indospheric.blogspot.com/2013/03 ... stern.html

Rejecting the Dialectic of Western Materialism

I would caution very strongly against applying such categories as "Capitalist", "Socialist", "Liberal", or even "Right-wing" and "Left-wing" to anything within the Indian system. Not just because they are foreign, but because the very assumptions from which these classifications derive are completely disjointed from an Indian worldview.

For example, there is a pernicious idea that the traditional Vaishya Dharma, or the relationship of Indian mercantile classes to wealth, is essentially "capitalist." This could not be further from the truth. "Capitalism" is a form of sophistry developed by the apologist Adam Smith to philosophically justify the accumulation of wealth as a natural outcome of Protestant work ethic, in the face of pre-existing memes in Western thought that glorified poverty. Socialism is a response to Capitalism that re-establishes the glorification of poverty without the earlier tone of overt religiosity. This entire back-and-forth proceeds across a playing field whose geography is dictated by the contours of Western Materialism. The precepts of Western Materialism themselves could not be further removed from the way in which Vaishya Dharma regards the concepts of wealth and prosperity.

Indian Vaishya Dharma is nothing at all like Capitalism, because in our view, the accumulation of wealth is itself a task consonant with divinity; there is no sophistry required, and nothing to apologize for. To cast one thing in the mold of the other, is like asking Pt. Bhimsen Joshi to sing Raga Maalkauns in "F sharp minor, allegro moderato". It's meaningless.

It's well known that Hindu civilization produced a nation with a quarter of global GDP share, even as late as the 1750s when Islamist colonialism and plunder had shafted us for a thousand years ( I wonder what the figure would have been in Skanda Gupta's day.) History as written by Abrahamic Materialists will attribute this simply to the fact that India was blessed with natural resources and a convenient location on many trade routes; meanwhile, it will characterize the Indian people themselves as lazy and detached from worldly reality, as opposed to the hard-working Europeans whose enterprising spirit made them colonial masters of the planet.

The truth, of course, is that Indians have always had a civilizational sense of what constitutes a healthy relationship with artha. It is one of the purusharthas, an aim of human existence whose fulfillment enhances an individual's proximity to the supreme. Artha-shastra, or economics, is the science of managing God-given resources, and hence an entirely noble pursuit. The idea of wealth as an abstraction of these resources is a concept sparked by divine inspiration, and wealth itself a manifestation of divinity. Some observers correctly allude to this when they mention that Lakshmi is worshiped in India, but it would be entirely wrong to conclude that such traditions have anything to do with "capitalism."

While this view of artha is what continues to inform many Indian businesspersons and business families as they go about their work today, it is not what defines any discussion of economics at the social or political levels... not even, sadly to say, in India. Those discussions are completely overwhelmed by the Neo-Abrahamic worldview of wealth, wherein an imposed dialectic of "development vs. social justice", "capitalism vs. socialism", "rich vs. poor" underlies any argument made by *both* sides of the debate.

I say "Neo-Abrahamic" here because to give credit where it is due, the original Abrahamics-- the Jews-- have always had a healthier relationship with the concept of wealth, much more like our own albeit with different philosophical grounding. Together with the fact that Jews don't engage in predatory conversion, this trait is a saving grace of their civilization which will make the Hebrews quite possible for Indic civilization to co-exist and even cooperate with, in the long run.

With Christianity, Islamism and Marxism, the very notion of wealth has been twisted into something so vastly different that it is quite incompatible with the way India has traditionally regarded prosperity, and the way in which we need to regard it once more in order to achieve success on our own terms.

Beginning with Christianity, a new dialectic of Western Materialism was imposed upon all social, political and historical narrative. By controlling this underlying dialectic, religious institutions in Christianity and Islam assured their own supremacy over the debate at both ends, and positioned themselves as ultimate arbiters of justice between the opposing camps. Later on, the youngest of the Abrahamic spawn... Marxism... may have done away with "God", but it still held on to this fundamental philosophical mother-lode from which both "Capitalism" and "Socialism" sprang, under the name of "Dialectical Materialism". That's how powerful it is, as a lever for the control of historical narrative... and therefore, of history itself.

So what are the principles of this dialectic, and how are they incompatible with Vaishya Dharma?

1) The Transference of Responsibility:

In the Indian view, karma ensures that ultimately, every individual is responsible for his or her own actions. For this reason, the accumulation of wealth, the pursuit of Vaishya-dharma, the generation of artha are noble pursuits as long as they are conducted as all good work must be; i.e., without falling prey to the egotistical temptations of raaga (craving) or dvesha (repulsion.)

Karma has no place in the neo-Abrahamic worldview; for, if individuals were to be considered ultimately responsible for their own actions, how could any institution claim a privileged position as the authoritative narrator of history (including the authentication of specific "divine interventions")? Also, what need would there be for messiahs, prophets and revelations if individuals were capable of achieving their own salvation?

For this reason, Western Materialism transfers the "responsibility" for sins to the object of raaga/dvesha... wealth itself... from those who succumb to these foibles. Hence, "money is the root of all evil." Hence, Jesus "threw out the money changers from the temple".

In the final analysis, the promise that the power-brokers of Neo-Abrahamism hold out is that of "salvation" by an external "saviour". The Christian Judgment Day, its Muslim equivalent, and the Marxist revolution to bring about a "stateless society" are all manifestations of this empty promise... follow us, and we will bring about change, because there is no way you can hope to save your puny selves. Individual responsibility has at best a limited temporal role (to live a life free of doctrinally-mandated "sins") , and no ultimate role at all. The Transference of Responsibility is therefore fundamental to all Neo-Abrahamic doctrine, and in its economic form, manifests as Western Materialism.

2) The Fetishization of Poverty:

The concept of the "beautiful poor" is something that the Church, the Ulema and the Marxists have always held out to less deprived classes as a romanticized ideal of the human condition. This can be observed in century after century of cultural references from the neo-Abrahmic world, such as in literature or poetry, wherein the poor are invariably romanticized as somehow "noble", "simple", "honest", "good" and otherwise characterized by an idyllic homogeneity.

From the Christian point of view, the "beautiful poor" represent an opportunity for the "haves" to achieve salvation through that most insidious of socio-economic processes: "charity". The rich were told that to go to heaven, they had to give money away to the poor: Jesus even spoke some sage words about how it was easier for a camel to pass through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter heaven (this has to be one of the worst mixed metaphors in the literature of Western civilization, but anyway.)

Charity, as defined in Neo-Abrahamic doctrine, is a terrible thing for any society. It isn't the same thing as upliftment; in fact, it is the enemy of upliftment. When pursued for its own sake ... as the power-brokers of neo-Abrahamic civilizations have invariably mandated... Charity fosters dependency, and ensures the need for more Charity in turn, generation after generation. The power-brokers of Neo-Abrahamism, be they Church, Mullahs or Socialist Parties, are the only real beneficiaries of Charity. They alone retain the power to grant approval, salvation or absolution to the "haves" who hand over their wealth to the "have-nots". It is through their agency alone that the mechanics of Charity must be implemented.

Everyone from the early Christians to the modern Left has needed a "beautiful poor" as the objectified focus for their programs of "charity". It is integral to all of their schemes that the poor be kept poor for exactly this purpose.

Consider what Aatish Tasseer has said about Arundhati Roy in this regard:

" I don’t think she’s a friend of the poor at all. She would like to doom them to a permanent state of picturesque poverty. They are beautiful to her–the poor–beautiful, benign and faceless. And that is exactly how she wants them to stay. Let me say also that it is not the poor who animate her politics. Oh, no! The people who get her into the streets are the new middle classes. This class, still among the most fragile in India, people who have newly emerged from the most dire conditions, are despicable to her. She mocks their clothes; their trouble with English; she hates their ambitions; when India wins the cricket and she sees them celebrating, her skin crawls; she wants, more than anything, to do these people down. And it is her overwhelming hatred of them that allows her to be a friend of movements that are seemingly far apart. The jihadists, the Maoists, the Kashmir movement, the anti-development people…they’re all her friends. Anyone who can prove a credible threat to the future of India is a friend of that woman. I would go so far as to say she has a prurient fascination with the enemies of India. And where do they love her? In Pakistan, and in the faculty rooms of Europe and America. No surprise there.

Also, this business of pretending she’s a lone voice in the wilderness. What rubbish! At least have the good grace to admit that not one thing she says is provocative or new; it is perfectly banal. And we know how well the universities Europe and America reward this bogus cant!"


Because they fetishize poverty, and use Charity as a mechanism to reinforce their own power... the power-brokers of Neo-Abrahamism are fundamentally against upliftment. Of all social classes, they hate the rising middle class the most.

3) The Absolution from Guilt:

The Fetishization of Poverty is one side of the Western Materialist coin, facing the poor; on its other side is the promise of Absolution from Guilt, offered by neo-Abrahamic power brokers to the rich.

By maintaining a "beautiful poor" class, the neo-Abrahamics are able to justify Socialism. By offering Absolution from Guilt, the neo-Abrahamics relieve Capitalists of any qualms they may feel about the accumulation of wealth, and yet maintain a philosophical environment in which people who become wealthy automatically feel guilt that needs to be absolved. Invariably, the process by which the rich are offered Absolution involves the same old scam... some form of Charity... in which neo-Abrahamic power-brokers always play a central and privileged role.

In Vaishya-Dharma a clear distinction is made; it is not money, but raaga/dvesha that is the wellspring of adharma. Wealth itself will not make you evil simply by possessing it. In Western Materialism, wealth itself carries a taint; yet, that taint can be removed by the intercession of neo-Abrahamic institutions on behalf of a doctrinally-mandated "saviour."

This is what turns Capitalism into essentially a justification for greed... a means to accumulate wealth with as much dvesha as you like, as immorally as you wish... because the Church, Ulema or Party will absolve you of that guilt ultimately. It is this strange, self-perpetuating cycle of guilt and justification that has enabled the West to countenance colonialism, imperialism, slavery, and genocide as acceptable methods of material expansion. In Neo-Abrahamism, there is no need for personal responsibility in your pursuit of artha because, no matter how much suffering you cause to others in acquiring it, you will eventually be absolved by the intercession of an external "saviour." The only caveat is that you must "keep the faith"... i.e., admit the supremacy of the neo-Abrahamic power brokerage concerned.

*****

The entire dialectic of Western Materialism, then, is rooted in philosophical assumptions that have no basis whatsoever in Indic thought. This is why it is not simply meaningless, but dangerous for us to transplant notions of "right", "left", "liberal", "conservative", "socialist" and "capitalist" into considerations of Indian society, politics and economics. If we internalize this nonsense, we are implicitly granting credence to the very streams of thought whose adherents pillaged our prosperity for a thousand years.

A debate premised on Western Materialism is exactly what has spawned the "pro-poor" sophistry that the Indian National Congress government instrumentalizes as a justification for its platform of plunder. Our insistence on buying into the terminology of this debate ultimately condemns us to what is known, with infinite irony, as a "Hindu Rate of Growth".

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

Postby Rudradev » 08 Jan 2015 00:14

shiv wrote:
csaurabh wrote:Left wing vs Right wing.

These terms were coined during the French Revolution. In parliament, the supporters of the King sat on the right side ( right wing ), and supporters of the revolution sat on the left side ( left wing ).

What relevance does this have for an Indian living in the 21st century?
Nothing, really.

There is a tendency to paint Indian politics in the following way: Left wing commies, Right wing BJP, centrist and moderate Congress.
In reality almost all the parties in India would fall to the left or far left on the scale as measured by how the West sees it. Maybe the BJP can be described as centrist.

You see, right wing is just a sort of abuse word thrown at Hindutva orgs ( just like fascist, communal, terrorist, etc. ) using a sort of moron logic:
What is Hindutva -> right wing. What is right wing -> evil communal Hindutva

It is simpler to classify based on pro India and anti India. The BJP is pro India. The Congress and Commies are anti India. Everyone in between are not largely pro or anti India but they are in it for what they can get out of it. They are like feudal jagirdars - just want to be king of their own hill.

Absolutely "Right wing" and "left wing" are nonsense words in India used by colonized English speakers who have no idea of the origins of the terms.

"Right wing" - in Europe were "conservative" - who wanted to conserve the old order of monarchical and feudal rights
"Left" wing were those who were demanding change from the untrammelled power of the monarch and his chelas (feudal lords), apart from rights to own property etc.

There is no equivalent comparison for India - and it at all we must compare it is the BJP that is trying to change things - so it is the BJP that is "NOT conservative" and the Congress that is "conservative"/right wing in trying to conserve the existing system.

This is another example of deep mental colonization where we try to copy paste western concepts on our people and polity and take an enormous GIGO dump.


Just to add to the discussion on conservative vs. liberal, etc. Here's one of my blog posts from 2008. Would be interesting to see if it still holds water.

http://indospheric.blogspot.com/2008/10 ... ative.html

Afterword on Quigley's Comparative Analysis: The Indian Political Spectrum


A tangential thought inspired by Quigley’s comparative analysis of national (and hence political) cultures in East and West, is that given their markedly different paths of development, there is no grounds for the universal application of political terminology.

In talking of Western political philosophies, the terms “Conservative” and “Liberal” are fundamental. Given the picture Quigley paints, of Western national culture evolving through a series of transformative revolutions, this dichotomy is only natural. New technologies resulted in new technics, changing society in unprecedented ways, creating environments conducive to the emergence of new ideas, engendering new types of demands that still newer technologies were birthed to satisfy, only to influence society in their turn.

The accelerated pace of social change became pronounced as never before in the early twentieth century… finally, a time had arrived when a person might see the world around him, and society itself, unrecognizably altered within his own lifespan.

A “Conservative”, then, was one who favoured traditional ideas and values, and resisted the acceleration of new and unfamiliar trends: technological, social or intellectual. He believed that rushing headlong into the future, propelled by an engine of change that had taken on a vitality of its own, was a perilous path of development that risked eliminating many useful and desirable elements of the status quo.

By contrast, a “Liberal” was one who was welcoming of new ideas, and championed the freedom to incorporate them into existing modes of social, political and economic thought. An openness to economic ideas, particularly laissez-faire capitalism and the power of the market, were the traditional hallmark of the Liberal viewpoint when the label first came into wide usage.

Today things have changed slightly, at least in America where the Conservative favors an unbridled free-market and the Liberal would prefer a degree of government regulation. That’s because these definitions are necessarily dynamic… following Quigley’s model, transformative change is essential to the progress of Western society. The Conservative and Liberal differ only in their adherence to conventional ideas vs. their openness to new ideas… what those ideas may actually be, is entirely a matter of temporal context.

Given the complete dissimilarity of the developmental path followed by Asiatic national cultures, these terms become nonsense when applied in the Asian context.

What is a “Conservative” in the context of independent India, for example, where conventional political thinking is very often at odds with traditional Indic values or conventional notions of social order?

In my view, the term makes sense only when applied to those who would want the nature of the Indian Republic to stay true to the political philosophy enshrined in the 1950 constitution.

By that definition, Jawahar Lal Nehru is a “Conservative”, and so is anyone who describes himself as holding “Nehruvian” views. From a Western point of view, of course, Nehru is almost indistinguishable from the English Liberal… enamoured with Fabian Socialism, an opponent of imperialism, a product of the colonial era who resisted colonialism. However, he is no “Liberal” when seen in the Indian context. Far from being open to new ideas, particularly the relevance of native social norms to governing a newly independent nation, he rejected them in favor of Western ideas that he had been trained to accept as superior.

Sherwani-clad Western “Liberalism”, with all its prejudices, is the conventional philosophy that independent India started off with at square one. Hence, its proponents in the Indian context are the only ones who can properly be called political “Conservatives”. The Indian National Congress is India’s most politically “Conservative” party. Its adherents, who vote generation after generation of Nehru descendants to power out of a faith in its stature as India’s first and only natural party of governance, are India’s most fervent Conservatives.

This of course makes nonsense of the conception, much bandied-about among our Westernized elite, that Hindutvavadi parties are somehow “Conservative” while the Congress is “Liberal”. Those appelations are absurd in the Indian context. Hindutva is a recent phenomenon in independent India, and as a philosophy, it is anathema to the Congress loyalist who swears by conventional Nehruvian secularism. Who then is “Conservative”, and who “Liberal”?

On an internet forum I used to frequent, the term “Hindu Fake Liberal” is being used to refer to a nominal Hindu who denounces his co-religionists’ emerging claim to a political identity. However, such a person believes that in order to maintain his commitment to secular pluralism, he is required to condemn the Hindutvavadi. That belief is about as conventional, and conservative an attitude as one is likely to encounter in Indian politics. The epithet “Liberal” is entirely unsuitable.

Rather than the Conservative-Liberal dichotomy of the West, with its attendant connotative pitfalls and its tendency to render a discourse vulnerable to hijack by motivated Western interests… I propose a different nomenclature for the spectrum of political opinion represented in modern Indic society.

Essentially, there is one group which would like to deal with change in such a way as to preserve the Nehruvian ethos as closely as possible, and two others which would prefer to effect a change in the Indian political order, to one extent or another.

The first group, which is in effect conservative, is perhaps best described as “Accommodationist”. They may acknowledge their personal identity as Hindus, and even claim part of that heritage proudly for themselves, their families and their communities. However, they believe that the public face of a political identity based on Hinduism is worth suppressing, and indeed must be suppressed, in order to preserve the nation’s secular ethos. They are content to keep their Hinduism at home, and insist that other Hindus must also do the same, while giving minority religious groups free rein to leverage their political identity.

The Accommodationists may subscribe to a wide variety of opinions on the economy, foreign policy and so on. However, the social equilibrium they seek to preserve is, by and large, very similar to the equilibrium that Nehru envisioned.

Opposed to this conservative group and to each other, are two others which may be termed the “Revivalists” and the “Externalists”. Both these groups want fundamental changes in the political character of the Indian Union.

The Revivalists believe that they should have a right to a political identity as inheritors of an Indic civilizational legacy; and that such an identity, far from being suppressed, ought to be recognized as an essential aspect of Indian nationhood . The change they would like to effect is reflective of those beliefs. At the most extreme end of the spectrum, it involves across-the-board infusion of the Indian government and constitution with a profoundly Indic character. At the most moderate end, it favours a reversal of what are widely seen as double-standards in Accommodationist policy, so that the government is equally indifferent to the religious backgrounds of all its citizens when it comes to administering the rule of law, and equally sensitive to majority and minority religious sentiment when it comes to the formulation of policy.

Of course, as with all political nomenclature, the boundaries of these categories are ill-defined. It’s probably safe to say that the ideological perspectives of most Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains fall somewhere between the Moderate Revivalist and the Accommodationist viewpoints. Such nebulousness and flexibility are, in fact, probably more innately representative of traditional Indic society than any tendency towards rigid orthodoxy.

The third group, the Externalists, also seek to effect changes in the political character of the Indian Union. However, the basis for the types of change they desire, has nothing to do with an identity based on their traditional Indic heritage. In fact, their defining characteristic is an active repudiation of any sort of Hindu identity, in favour of a driving philosophy entirely alien to Indic civilization. Most typically this philosophy is some form of Marxism, or one of its derivatives. However, adherents of pro-Western internationalism and free-market capitalism whose loyalties extend to compromising the Indian national interest, a behaviour observed in certain titans of industry during Operation Parakram, would equally qualify as Externalists. So would the deracinated elite who consider themselves too enlightened to subscribe to something as basely revanchist as a Hindu political identity.

How many Externalists are there? It is hard to tell, but very likely they have acquired a public profile out of all proportion to their numbers. Much of today’s Indian media is Externalist, or under the influence of Externalists in the service of one or another alien political philosophy. Also, many Externalists have access to resources provided by the outside principals whose agendas they serve.

The enthusiastic Revivalist will all too often perceive the rest of Hindu society which does not openly share his perspective as being arraigned against him in a monolithic bloc. It is important that he learn to identify and distinguish between the motivated Externalists and the sincere, if committed Accommodationists… instead of exerting himself on fighting against Accommodationists and even moderate Revivalists.

For their part, the Externalists have certainly perfected the art of exploiting differences between the Hindu Revivalists and the Accommodationists to gain leverage for their own agendas. Today, a potentially dangerous situation is developing whereby India’s ruling party, the Congress, has come under the influence of those who appear to have Externalist rather than Accommodationist motives. Combined with the cynical machinations of that party’s vote-bank manipulators, the effect is one which is broadly perceived by Revivalists as an existential assault on the Indian national interest… on a spectrum of issues ranging from Missionary activity in Orissa to the India-US nuclear deal. Consequently, Hindu society threatens to become increasingly and perhaps irreconcilably polarized between the Revivalist and the Accommodationist points of view.

The vast bulk of the population, of course, does not vote or act in accordance with any of the above political philosophies. Their priorities are good governance, access to civic and rural amenities, an honest and effective judicial system, and economic security if not prosperity. They are more interested in improving their quality of life, and securing a better quality of life for their children, than in waging ideological battles. Sometimes, however events such as economic crisis or chronic terrorist threats to personal security will force popular opinion to a threshold--opening up a context in which the competition between these ideologies becomes, at least temporarily, a matter of great consequence to the polity at large. It is at these watershed periods that the political destinies of most nations are decided, and India is no exception.

Finally, a word about India’s Muslims. The above categories, of course, do not apply to a community whose engagement in the politics of religious identity has not been suppressed, but rather, traditionally encouraged and exploited. To some extent, the Indian Muslim political spectrum is a mirror image of the Hindu spectrum.
The most moderate are Muslim Accommodationists like Asghar Ali Engineer, Saeed Naqvi and Shabana Azmi. They seek to uphold Muslim responsibilities under the social contract that the original Hindu Accommodationists, under Nehru, offered Indian Muslims on behalf of all Hindus. The terms dictated to all Hindus by the Hindu Accommodationists… including the suppression of Hindu religious identity… are the only terms under which Muslim Accommodationists can see Indian Muslims being willing to claim a stake in the Indian national interest. Unsurprisingly, these Muslim Accommodationists are quick to blame Hindu Revivalists as the instigators of communal disharmony, and cite Hindu Revivalists as being the primary threat to the only kind of social contract that enables Muslims to live alongside Hindus as fellow citizens.
The most extreme are the Islamists, who might be described as Muslim Revivalists. Of course, from the Hindu point of view, Islam is not intrinsic to the Indic civilizational canon, and Islamists would therefore fall under the category of Externalists! Equally so the Missionaries who attempt to save “benighted” Hindu souls by converting them to Christianity.

In between the Muslim Accommodationist and Islamist poles is a fairly wide spectrum of Muslim political opinion.

Politicians like Syed Shahabuddin, Asaduddin Owaisi and Imam Bukhari campaign aggressively against any attempts to cull the special status accorded to Muslim law under the constitution, ascribing Hindu Revivalist motives to those who argue in favour of an uniform civil code. They exploit the politics of religious identity to the hilt, citing Muslim Solidarity as their ideological basis. However, they emphasize preserving the social contract offered to India's Muslims by the Nehruvian Accommodationists, rather than bringing about radical change in the constitutional structure. In that sense, they are conservative.

Further along the spectrum, groups like the Darul Uloom of Deoband are ideologically committed to Islamism, and would like to Islamize the entire Indian subcontinent; yet, they too have accepted the Nehruvian Accommodationists' social contract, if only because they saw it as a likelier path to achieving their goals than joining Pakistan would have been. This is in contrast to SIMI, who are Islamist Externalists all the way, and believe in destabilizing any social contract based on Accommodation. By and large, the Hanafis tend to be Accommodationist, while the Salafis are Externalist; the Kashmiri National Conference are Accommodationist while the Hurriyat are Externalist, and so on.

Of course, there are other dimensions to the ideological compulsions of Indian Muslim political entities-- regional priorities, sectarian rivalries, economic agendas and so on. Yet, from the Hindu point of view, it is the Muslim-Accommodationist/Islamist dimension that is most relevant. Most Indian Muslims adhere to a political philosophy situated somewhere along that ideological spectrum. It is only a few rare individuals, such as President Kalam and some distinguished classical musicians, who actually subscribe to a Revivalist ideology in the Indic (rather than Islamist) sense.

It is vital to note that the Hindu Revivalist has room in his worldview to accept the Indian Muslim or Christian as possessing as much right to claim an Indic heritage as he himself does. It is, in the view of the Revivalist, the intrinsically exclusivist nature of Islamic or Christian beliefs that prevent Indians of those religious minorities from laying claim to their civilizational legacy. In the present situation, their religious identities preclude their full acceptance and appreciation of that legacy, serving to separate rather than unite them from the rest of the population.

If only the Indian Muslim and Christian eschewed the exclusivism of their faiths, and fully reconciled their ownership of an Indic identity with the fact of their religious beliefs, these two facets of their identity would stand genuinely on par with each other. That, in the view of the Hindu Revivalist, would lay the foundation for a new and more viable kind of accommodation, a more durable and egalitarian social contract than the one Nehru imposed on us all.

The most likely point of consensus between these disparate perspectives, occupies a middle ground to which both the Hindu Revivalist, the Hindu Accommodationist and the Minority Accommodationist camps must all find their separate ways. Each group would have to make sacrifices of some sort, as concessions to the perspectives of the other two... but that is hardly an unrealistic proposition. Adjustment and flexibility have always been far more characteristic of the Indic ethos than doctrinaire rigidity.

Minority Accommodationists would also have to persuade the bulk of their community's citizens to a point of view which favoured making the necessary concessions, and thereby secure a mandate to negotiate on their community's behalf. To do so might prove a greater challenge than achieving reconciliation between Hindu Accommodationists and Hindu Revivalists; yet, if enough of a residual Indic ethos continues to pervade those religious minority groups as well, it should certainly be possible.

In a vibrant, prosperous India where all had a stake in reaching such a consensus, the matter might be smoothly settled in this fashion. The reason why that hasn't happened yet, and shows no sign of happening, is the motivated pursuit by the Externalists of their own various agendas... and their relentless exploitation of India's faultlines towards the advancement of those agendas.

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

Postby shiv » 08 Jan 2015 06:42

^^
Rudradev - if you wrote that it 2008, it was prescient. I now recall that you might have posted it here or written something similar. I did not fully understand it then because I needed the push I got from SN Balagangadhara's writing to reveal to me that I needed to understand how the West sees itself and how the West coins its words before I realized that we were doing cargo cult GIGO by using terms like Conservative, liberal, right wing, left wing etc

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

Postby shiv » 08 Jan 2015 07:00

Rudradev wrote:2) The issue of what Rajiv Malhotra calls "mutual respect". In "Being Different" he elaborates that for various reasons (history-centrism primarily) the Abrahamic faiths are incapable of showing "mutual respect" to each other or to Dharmic faiths, being prepared to offer "tolerance" at best. This is why such things as the Charlie Hebdo incident, and all that led up to it, are quite inevitable in Abrahamic societies.

I would strongly recommend a book by SL Bhyrappa - called "Avarana" - originally in Kannada but avialable as an excellent English translation.
http://www.amazon.in/Aavarana-The-Veil- ... 8129124882

It is written as a fictional story of a Hindu woman who converted to marry a Muslim man - but the story is based on deep scholarly research - about the destruction of Hampi in Vijaynagar which is written as if it was done by the lady protagonist in the book.

Early in the book she points out that when two villages fought over resources, the victors would plunder, but they would still pray at the temple of the village they attacked. But in Hampi, Islamic invaders, finding it difficult to break the idols, filled the temples with wood and set the wood alight to crack the stone and after the fire had burnt out they set about breaking the cracked stone. It was Bamiyan, 1000 years ago

Islam shows no respect for non Islamic sentiment and therefore deserves no respect in return. It appears that Christianity is no different.

I am currently reading Edward Said's Orientalism and I am surprised to learn that from the outset - Mohammad was considered in Europe as an imposter - a pretender who wanted to be Jesus. So the mutual love of Islam and Christianity is understandable

Hindus are "the odd man out" as it were. Hindus have a tradition of according "maryada" (propriety) in these matters. I suspect it was because Hindus did not know what types of asshole viewpoints were spread by the two religions.

So yes, I think respect and propriety need to be mutual. I give you what you give me.

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

Postby A_Gupta » 08 Jan 2015 19:40

A good article.
http://www.merinews.com/article/open-le ... 3250.shtml
John Stewart Mills noted more than a century back that, 'your liberty to swing your fist ends where my nose begins'. This is the basic principle of responsible social liberty and democracy. I request Raju Hirani and Vishal Bhardwaj and his Bollywood ilk not to bloody the nose of Hindus to show off their liberty.

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

Postby ramana » 09 Jan 2015 00:36

X-Post...

vishvak wrote:I was reading about Vasco da Gama journey to India from Portugal. He was no better than another bloody barbarian - looting pilgrims, bombarding population - all these on strength of famous Portuguese bombard canons.
link
Da Gama rounded the Cape in June, stopping in Sofala, East Africa, to buy gold |12|. In Kilwa, he forced the local sovereign to make an annual payment of pearls and gold before making for India. Off Cannanore (70km north of Calicut - today Kozhikode), Da Gama waited for Arab ships returning from the Red Sea, to seize a ship, on route from Mecca, with pilgrims and a valuable cargo. Part of the cargo was seized and the ship set on fire, resulting in the death of most of its passengers and crew. Next stop was Cannanore where he swapped gifts (gold for precious stones) with the local sovereign without making business, estimating that the price of spices were too high.
..
Following the Samudri’s (local Hindu sovereign) refusal, Vasco da Gama ordered the bombardment of the town, following in the footsteps of another Portuguese sailor, Pedro Cabal, in 1500. He set for Cochin at the beginning of November where he bought spices in exchange of silver, copper and textiles stolen from the sunken ship. A permanent trading post was established in Cochin and five ships were left there to protect Portuguese interests.

Before leaving India for Portugal, Da Gama’s fleet was attacked by more than thirty ships financed by Calicut Muslim traders. A Portuguese bombardment led to their defeat.
..
When, at the end of the 15th Century, Western European powers launched their conquests of the rest of the world, European standards of living and level of development were no higher than those of other large areas of the world. China was unquestionably ahead of Western Europe in many ways: in people’s living conditions, in the sciences, infrastructure |14| and agricultural and manufacturing processes. India was more or less on a par with Europe, as far as living conditions and quality of manufactured goods were concerned (Indian textiles and iron were of better quality than European products) |15|. The Inca civilization in the Andes in Southern America and the Aztecs in Mexico were also flourishing and very advanced.

The last line of the quotes demonstrates how Europeans were perhaps the most poor of all - poorer than Inca and Aztec civilizations that they destroyed later.

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

Postby csaurabh » 09 Jan 2015 09:57

Regarding notions of sovereignty, nationality, citizenship. These terms are all derived from the idea of the Westaphalian nation state.

What is the significance of lines drawn on a map of the Sahara desert? I would say nothing, really. The desert does not change if you cross over from one side of a line to another. Actually, even the people of the towns are not going to be very different. They are all arabic speaking peoples, just ruled by different regimes. So why would a visa or passport be necessary?

If an Indian gets an American citizenship, does he 'become' an American. One would think so, but it doesn't really work that way.

Europe now has a huge problem that it can't define. It has huge minorities that have their countries citizenship, but don't really think of themselves as European. Muslims are asked to identify with the global 'ummah' rather than any particular country.

If you really think about it, the Westaphalian nation state as a concept is breaking down. Most of the countries of Africa and the middle east are largely artificial in nature and relics of colonial rule. Pakistan is another example.

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

Postby csaurabh » 09 Jan 2015 20:26

Just had a discussion with a chap. He did not agree with many things but I did manage to convince him of one thing: Hinduism is not internally defined. There is no word like Hindu or Hinduism in any 'Hindu' text. The word Hindu came about originally from a geographical term , which became a religious term, and this was defined by 'outsiders'.

Of course the logical conclusion to this is that Hinduism does not exist. Which is not true.
I will put it to you that Hinduism does exist, but it is not a 'religion'. Rather an umbrella term for the following meta elements:

sanskriti - Elements of 'culture' and 'religion', such as Bharatnatyam, Indian art, architecture etc.
bhakti - Devotion or worship of various deities that represent forms of the Brahman
dharma - a system of duties and ethics
itihaasa - texts that denote 'history' and 'mythology'
vigyaana/shastra - traditional knowledge systems like yoga, ayurveda, mathematics, astronomy

Put it this way and Hinduism makes perfect sense!

But this is a very difficult concept to get across. Indians are totally brainwashed into believing that 'Hinduism' is a 'religion' and additionally sidetracked by nonsense like caste system and Aryans.
I realize that people will not get it in one day. I myself took around 4 years to get around to understanding this ( largely by myself, independent of BRF, though reading Vivekananda helped a lot ). But then I have an extremely high IQ ( this is not a boast, just fact ) so maybe that has something to do with it or maybe not.

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

Postby Rudradev » 09 Jan 2015 21:06

shiv wrote:
Rudradev wrote:2) The issue of what Rajiv Malhotra calls "mutual respect". In "Being Different" he elaborates that for various reasons (history-centrism primarily) the Abrahamic faiths are incapable of showing "mutual respect" to each other or to Dharmic faiths, being prepared to offer "tolerance" at best. This is why such things as the Charlie Hebdo incident, and all that led up to it, are quite inevitable in Abrahamic societies.

I would strongly recommend a book by SL Bhyrappa - called "Avarana" - originally in Kannada but avialable as an excellent English translation.
http://www.amazon.in/Aavarana-The-Veil- ... 8129124882
.


Will certainly get hold of this, thanks for the recommendation. Have you read Bhyrappa extensively other than this book? I know him only through reputation. Please recommend any others of his works that you might think germane to this topic.

This reminds me of something related. Girish Karnad (whom I have the pleasure :roll: of being acquainted with via my family) was once a big admirer of Bhyrappa's. In fact, he made a film once based on a novel of Bhyrappa's entitled "You Have Become An Orphan!" (in Kannada of course) which was a brilliant condemnation of WU and its role in maintaining colonization of the modern Indian mind. In his younger days, Karnad himself was once equipped with the intellectual rigor to delve deeply into itihasa and offer some compelling interpretations, in literary form, for today's Hindus (consider Hayavadana and Naag-Mandala).

However, something happened and Karnad became a full-two secular lefty fanatic, attacking everyone from Naipaul to Tagore to even Bhyrappa himself as "reactionary Hindutvavadi chauvinists" and what not. The tone of his attacks has been 100% Western Universalist in its etymology... all the typical garbage theories of the cargo-cult, Marxism, Secularism, Feminism etc. are trotted out to assault traditions which he is no stranger to. I have to wonder what causes this to happen. In BRF the standard answer is material inducement (money, foreign trips, nobel peace prize or whatever) but I don't think these would have necessarily worked on Girish Karnad, or at any rate, been enough on their own to compel a u-turn of this magnitude.

I think something happened whereby the Karnads of the world, a prior generation of post-independence Indians who were once actually at the forefront of indigenous cultural revival and repudiating WU, felt that somehow, control over the narrative (to which they were "rightfully entitled") had been wrested away from them. And then they turned on those who had taken over the reins of the counter-WU narrative, using WU itself as the basis of their assault... whether out of spite alone or something else one does not know.

The phenomenon of the Revivalist-turned-Externalist is extremely important to understand, because it may very well repeat itself in our generation and more to come. WU can defend itself from attack, and maintain persistent colonization of the Indian mind, as long as it has the capacity to compel such U-turns amongst indian intellectuals.

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

Postby shiv » 09 Jan 2015 21:25

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.

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

Postby shiv » 09 Jan 2015 21:41

csaurabh wrote:Regarding notions of sovereignty, nationality, citizenship. These terms are all derived from the idea of the Westaphalian nation state.

I wish I knew, or could think of, a word that is used to describe something in a flattering or positive way when, in reality that "something" that is being described is the exact opposite of the description.

The examples are too many to count. One simple example is "religion of peace"

The concepts of "nation state" with borders. "national laws" of a "sovereign state" and rights of citizenship bestowed by such laws in a sovereign state are by definition restricted to being inside a line on a map. It is preposterous that laws and concepts that exist within the line on the map can be pushed as "Universally applicable". By definition they cannot. If, for example you say that Americans must be wealthy and secure, and "wealth and security" are universal concepts, it is nonsense because American wealth and security of Americans can only happen in relation to someone else whose wealth and security may be adversely affected. So "wealth and security" cannot be both American and universal. It sounds a bit like "World famous all over Bengaluru"

But SL Bhyrappa in the preface to his book "Avarana" (which could mean "veil") that I recommended to Rudradev says this in the preface:
"The act of concealing the truth is known as "avarana", and that of projecting untruth is called "vikshepa". When these occur at the level of an individual it is known as "avidya", and when the occur at the level of the group or the world, it is known as "maya"


The sentence just blew me away. I think those words hold something that could describe what I was looking for.

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

Postby csaurabh » 10 Jan 2015 17:29

shiv wrote:I wish I knew, or could think of, a word that is used to describe something in a flattering or positive way when, in reality that "something" that is being described is the exact opposite of the description.


Doublespeak?
Do read Orwell's 1984. The subject is explored in great detail.

Actually, "The West" itself is an example of doublespeak. If you are talking about geographically west of 0 deg meridian, a good many 'western' countries lie in the east of that, not to mention Australia/NZ. Infact geographical west is simply a relative term, like India is west of Myanmar.

what the "West" actually stands for is "White Christian people" only they don't say that these days.

Aawaran iirc, a sanskrit word meaning 'cover'.
I checked and there is a Hindi version of that book apparently, but that doesn't seem to be available online. I think Sanskritized Hindi would be a better translation than English . Actually, there is almost no type of truly original Indian literature these days. It is just rediculous that I have to "make do" with pre independence stuff like Tagore and Premchand.

It is as if entire generations have forgotten how to read and write and think.

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

Postby shiv » 10 Jan 2015 18:28

I read Orwell's 1984 in the 1970s - need to read it again.

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

Postby shiv » 11 Jan 2015 07:52

Continuing to read Edward Said's "Orientalism" - I am getting new insights into how Europe developed its attitudes towards the "Orient". Said's work is useful to me because he is less concerned about India and more concerned about European attitudes to the "Orient" as defined as "Egypt" and "Islam". This allows me to see the commonality between the way Europe dealt with India and the middle east - both of which were considered "Orient". Said has many of the same complaints that we have on here - that is the way general conclusions are drawn from just one (or very few) examples.

But what gave me a sudden insight was the way Said points out that after European Orientalists reached these general conclusions about the "inferior" Oriental people and nations, they put them into books - "scholarly" works that had all the biases, errors and fudging. And Said points out that hundreds of Europeans then acquired their entire knowledge of the Orient based on these books - without meeting a single person from the Orient or travelling anywhere. (That is how we have European Sanskrit scholars whose Sanskrit - including "knowledge" of the Vedas learned entirely in Western university libraries.) Oriental chairs in European Universities often had a Professor who was an "India expert" simply based on his knowledge of Egypt or Syria - because it was all "Orient" anyway

But the mess does not end here because our own (Indian) mental colonization begins because we learn about ourselves from the same biased books and articles written by people whose entire knowledge of "the Orient" , or India was learned from textbooks in European libraries.

So our own (Indian) intellectuals are teaching us (in schools) about India from books written by European "orientalists" who have themselves written about India after book-based knowledge gathered from books written by early Orientalists who wrote biased and racist generalizations about the "Orient". That is how we end up seeing and judging ourselves and the middle east the way European do.

We need to reach our own conclusions and have our own scholarship about Europe and Islam. Unfortunately at least some Indian attempts to do that are beaten down as "right wing Hindutva" - which, as we have discussed, is complete nonsense. People are using terminology like "right wing" in a completely inappropriate sense - but what it does is to give the biased Eurocentric pushed by our seculars more weight by portraying Europe as a liberal light and anyone who speaks for Hindus as being backward like a mullah or a Christian fundamentalist.

We need to be very careful here. Every time we praise France for its "liberal" attitude we are reinforcing the position of Europe as superior, when, in fact it is not necessarily that way. Our own biases based on the murder and mayhem that islam has imposed on us makes us automatically take the European side - but that is not always right. The European side is biased against us and we need to be more discriminating. For example, if a society allows Muslims to wear the Hijab, is that society liberal compared to a society that makes it illegal. How does French liberalism with regard to Hijabs compare with American liberalism?

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

Postby shiv » 11 Jan 2015 07:55

csaurabh wrote:
what the "West" actually stands for is "White Christian people" only they don't say that these days.


Actually White Anglo Saxon Protestants mainly

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

Postby Agnimitra » 11 Jan 2015 08:39

shiv wrote:But SL Bhyrappa in the preface to his book "Avarana" (which could mean "veil") that I recommended to Rudradev says this in the preface:
"The act of concealing the truth is known as "avarana", and that of projecting untruth is called "vikshepa". When these occur at the level of an individual it is known as "avidya", and when the occur at the level of the group or the world, it is known as "maya"


The sentence just blew me away. I think those words hold something that could describe what I was looking for.

Even more interesting is that the avarana-shakti (concealing energy) is the same "sattva-guna" (mode of 'goodness' and 'knowledge') that is extolled so much in popular Dharmic society. The unwholesome pursuit of 'sattva' leads to truth actually being concealed, and a complacency and ignorance that goes with self-satisfied comfort and bliss. The truth of sattva is itself the ultimate veil before the root of truth.

From the Paingala Upanishad:

गुणसाम्याsनिर्वाच्या मूलप्रकृतिर् आसीत् ।

(१) तत् प्रतिबिम्बितं यत् तत् साक्षि-चैतन्यम् आसीत् सा पुनर् विकृतिं प्राप्य सत्त्वोद्रिक्ताsव्यक्ताख्याsवरणशक्तिर् आसीत् । तत् प्रतिबिम्बितं यत् तद् ईश्वर-चैतन्यम् आसीत् । सः स्वाधीनमायः सर्वतः सृष्टिस्थितिलयानाम् आदिकतां यगद्कुरूपो भवति । तस्मिन् विलीनं सकलं जगद् आविर्भावयति प्राणिकर्मवशादेष पटो यद्वत् प्रसारितः, प्राणिकर्मक्षयात् पुनस्तिरोभावयति । तस्मिन्नेवाखिलं विश्वं संकोचितपटवद् वर्तते ।

"From primordial nature, (mula-prakrti), which is perfect equilibrium of all 3 guNas and altogether inscrutable, springs forth avyakta (unmanifest nature), owing to the preponderant influence of sattva-guNa (mode of goodness), and this is the power to conceal (avaraNa-shakti). Reflected in it was pure consciousness styled as Ishwara (Controller), the seed of the manifest universe; he it was that first brought about processes of creation, preservation and dissolution, taking possession of the primordial and obscure capacity to unfold variety (maya). Concealed within him was the entire universe; it becomes manifest by the actions of beings, like a cloth being spread out, and it gets dissolved in it when the actions of beings cease, even as a cloth is folded up."

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

Postby csaurabh » 11 Jan 2015 09:56

shiv wrote:
csaurabh wrote:
what the "West" actually stands for is "White Christian people" only they don't say that these days.


Actually White Anglo Saxon Protestants mainly


True that.

I was reading a book about the collapse of Lehman brothers. One of the characters in that ( a Hungarian Jew ) was complaining a lot about being discriminated by WASPs ( got the acronym now ) and 'Western Jews'.

European 'Aryan' race theories were so muddled up that in the World War, white Jewish people became a 'race' rather than a 'religion'.

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

Postby shiv » 11 Jan 2015 10:25

csaurabh wrote:European 'Aryan' race theories were so muddled up that in the World War, white Jewish people became a 'race' rather than a 'religion'.

A lot of independent titbits of information are now getting tied up together - in fact information that I happened to dig up in that "out of India" thread.

The Jews (along with Arabs) were Semites and therefore the "other". Initially Europeans loved Sanskrit and the "Aryan" idea because it seemingly gave them a history older than the Semitic history that they found in the "near east" (for them). All the big names of Oriental studies started out as philologists - and that includes names like Jones, Burnouf, Gobineau, Anquetil etc All these names appear and Sanskrit and "Aryan" studies.

Initially Sanskrit and the Indian civilization were the thing that gave Europe "one-upmanship" over the Semites - but gradually they found that Indians could not be included. They wanted Sanskrit and the Vedas, not Indians. So Indians started getting all the "entomology" like attention that the Egyptians got - our society was studied like insect society. Even today you don't have to live among ants or understand their compulsions to learn about ants. Same about India. You can sit in a university in Europe/USA and "know" everything about India and write a book which will become a textbook for your students - like Witzel and Doniger have done.

Edward Said deals with the way faulty book descriptions become the "truth" about Eastern societies, and when I say the word truth it takes me back to all those words coined for search for the truth like "epistemology" and "dialectic". You can be Indian, be a scholar about India and Indian tradition or texts but your words will be bullshit in the west because your methods for speaking the truth - your epistemology and dialectic do not include studying the volumes of vomit written over the last 200 years about India.

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

Postby csaurabh » 11 Jan 2015 15:43

I just finished reading Rajiv Malhotra's book "Breaking India".

This is an exhaustive tome, very long and tedious ( may be interesting academically if you want to cross check references, but a little boring to read ). The message is clear however. The west ( various institutions, churches, government bodies and universities ) has been continuously attacking and trying to break India by using 'Aryan' race theories . Especially among Dravidians, Dalits, tribals and North East.

The initial chapters of the book also describe the formation of race theory in Europe via 'Indologists' and 'Orientalists'. William Jones, Max Muller, the lot. The main objective of these theories was to de legitimize anything interesting in Indian thought and attribute it to 'Aryans' ( who were supposedly white europeans of some sort ). Everything that was bad in India was blamed on 'Hinduism' and the racial mixing between Aryans and Non Aryans.

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

Postby shyams » 12 Jan 2015 03:14

shiv wrote:
csaurabh wrote:
what the "West" actually stands for is "White Christian people" only they don't say that these days.


Actually White Anglo Saxon Protestants mainly


In particular for USA, as per Samuel Huntington (his book "Who We Are" covers this in detail), the identity is basically: "White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Christian country".

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

Postby shiv » 12 Jan 2015 06:21

The Charlie Hebdo massacre by the religion of peace and reactions to it in India, ranging from the (appropriate) outright condemnation to the egregious BSP MP offering 51 crores to killers, and Mani Shankar Aiyar's complete buffoonery in claiming that the murdered people had it coming should give us an opportunity to understand how we in India misunderstand and misuse the word "liberalism".

The reason why I make such a hue and cry over that word is that in today's India "liberal" is good and conservative is considered bad. I will not argue with whether this is right or not - but will accept it as is. I have tried to state time and again that "Liberalism" in Europe was a revolt against the Church and monarchies whose rule was as oppressive as the Church. And for us seculars in India who instantly go all mushy on hearing the name "Father Thomas" and enter a reverie recalling the strains of "Saa-aailent Naaight, Ho-oly Naaight" I need to point out that your school Christmases may have been only joy, but in Europe the Church ruled absolutely - like dictatorship.

Here is a link cross posted from the EU thread courtesy the Prophet of good links Arun Gupta
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/1 ... e-context#
. They (the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists) expressed a deep hatred of organized religious institutions, first and foremost, and for most of them (but not all) a rejection of all religious thinking. This is what their work was all about: attacking religious authorities and sometimes religion in general, and this blanket attack grew straight from the French revolt against an extremely oppressive Catholic Church in the 18th century.

The visual and intellectual equipment of both anticlericalism (attacking religious institutions) and antireligion (attacking religion in general) was consolidated around 1900. Anticlericalism was at the heart of the secularization of all public spaces (including schools) which took place in France between 1880 and 1910.


These cartoonist represented classic liberalism in Europe in which they revolted against the strictures of faiths like Christianity and Islam.

In India this is completely misunderstood. We look at Europe and see only "Christianity" and we go all mushy with "Saa-aailent Naaight, Ho-oly Naaight". We cannot understand that "liberalism" in Europe goes against this. Instead we idiotically do a two-man comedy routine in India where one man says "You are an idiot" and the other guy says "yes I am"

In India the people who protect the Catholic church and the clericalism of Islam call themselves "liberal". That is stupid by itself. What is worse is that Hindutvavadis, who revolt against the illiberal strictures represented by the Church and Islam and who rebel against government control of Hindu temples are the actual liberals. But they are as ignorant as the Congressis. They agree withe Congressi self description as "liberal". This is totally stupid.

Liberalism is fundamentally a fight against the restriction of freedom imposed by "orgainized religion" - i.e the church and Islam. We Indians look at European freedoms and think that liberal Christianty creates these freedoms. We are too naive and ignorant in india to understand that it is secularism in Europe that leads liberalism and a revolt against religion. The secularists of India are pro-organized religion, pro-Church and pro-mosque. They are NOT liberal. They are illiberal. But I think those of us who think they have an alternate viewpoint need to get out own heads screwed on straight and stop referring to sickularists as "liberal".

It is a brainless Hindutvavaaddi self goal that declares sickulars in India as "liberal" when the liberal views come from the Hindutva side - so this is exactly like Sickular joker telling Hindutva joker "You are an idiot" and Hindutva joker accepting that, saying "Yes I am". Going against the restrictions of the Church or mosque is liberalism by definition so how do Indian say that Khaangress is "liberal" or Mani Shankaar Aiyer or Adoti Roy are "liberal" when everything they represent is anti-liberal?

From the link
A second, more virulent strain of secularizers did think that religious beliefs in and of themselves were medieval superstitions to be rooted out, that reason and enlightenment would eventually lead humanity on the road to complete atheism. For these "free-thinkers" (as they styled themselves), New Age types from Boulder would be just as bad as Fundamentalist Christians from the Bible Belt, or Islamists for that matter; all would be denounced as benighted brains clutching at shadows.

Charlie Hebdo's cartoonists were generally both anticlerical and antireligious, though some of them would probably have been agnostics, and merely anticlerical. But it's important to keep in mind that in both traditions, Islam held no special position at all; and also that in practice, anticlericalism was much more important than antireligion.

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

Postby csaurabh » 12 Jan 2015 07:58

shiv wrote:It is a brainless Hindutvavaaddi self goal that declares sickulars in India as "liberal"


I am not sure that they do that, but if they do, "liberal" is basically an abuse word vs seculars just like they use communalist, fascist, etc.

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

Postby Arjun » 12 Jan 2015 08:40

csaurabh wrote:I am not sure that they do that, but if they do, "liberal" is basically an abuse word vs seculars just like they use communalist, fascist, etc.

Not sure I understand this. In what way is 'liberal' a term of abuse similar to fascist, communalist ??

I've been one of the few posting on this forum to use 'liberal' as a preferred self-descriptor, for many years now.

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

Postby ShauryaT » 12 Jan 2015 09:04

Shiv ji: The erstwhile "liberals" of India, the people who framed and decided our constitution, set an ameliorative agenda against the Hindu social order, primarily of caste and also framed the republic as a secular and non-sectarian republican order. They saw themselves as "liberators" by providing to the Indian people a framework, borrowed from the west, that would liberate its teeming and poor masses from the old orders of the past and unleash a social transformation to reorder society led by scientific values.

Regardless, of what actually happened and the relative success and failures of these lofty goals, are you saying the tag of being a liberal, even if borrowed from the west and this tag in the west being associated with their struggles with a church and a monarch were not appropriate for India at that time - transposed to an Indian context?

The problem today is indeed a funny one. The party that sought to be called liberals and maybe rightly so for its time around Independence have continued to claim this liberal tag. The folks who call themselves "liberals" today do not know what are they seeking liberation from and the folks who want to conserve are unclear on what are they seeking to conserve.

The question to answer though would be to what degree did our founding Fathers succeed in achieving the ameliorative agenda they had set, especially as it relates to the social and political aspects of the agenda. One will have to give them some credit, for the very existence of this thread proves their success to some degree.

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

Postby A_Gupta » 12 Jan 2015 09:19

You all can safely lampoon this prophet - which I guess takes much of the fun out of it. Anyway, I think this is a good link too:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/1 ... g-it-wrong

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

Postby abhischekcc » 12 Jan 2015 10:01

I am currently reading a book by BR Ambedkar, called - 'Problem of the Rupee - Its Origin and Its Solution'.

Reading it, I find that there was much congruence between the thinking process of BR Ambedkar and the bruts. Not necessarily the POV, but certainly, the thinking process was very much similar. It is no wonder that this man was chosen to be the constitution writer of India.

--------------

We all talk about the 'overground' leaders and their role during the final days of independence/partition - Gandhi, Subhash, Patel, etc. But what was Ambedkar doing during those days?

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

Postby Arjun » 12 Jan 2015 11:51

Came across a phenomenal book: "The Origins of the Modern World: Fate and Fortune in the Rise of the West" by Robert Marks. Even the parts that are available on the web through Google Books for general reading - are well worth it for those who are interested.

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

Postby Agnimitra » 12 Jan 2015 12:48

abhischekcc wrote:I am currently reading a book by BR Ambedkar, called - 'Problem of the Rupee - Its Origin and Its Solution'.

Reading it, I find that there was much congruence between the thinking process of BR Ambedkar and the bruts. Not necessarily the POV, but certainly, the thinking process was very much similar. It is no wonder that this man was chosen to be the constitution writer of India.

--------------

We all talk about the 'overground' leaders and their role during the final days of independence/partition - Gandhi, Subhash, Patel, etc. But what was Ambedkar doing during those days?

What "thinking process"? Could you explain what you are insinuating?
What was Ambedkar doing? I suppose he was frantic about ensuring that India doesn't move back into the hands of feudals and other aristocratic arses the way Pak did, where in the name of "leadership" and religion the caste system is enforced.

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

Postby abhischekcc » 12 Jan 2015 13:44

I am not 'insinuating' anything. You don't have jump on a horse and start galloping everytime a pan falls :)

What I simply meant was, the constitution would be embedded with Ambedkar's unconcious biases. One of the biases can be seen in the sheer size of the Indian constitution, which is the largest in the world. In other words, Ambedkar did not build a principles-based constitution (like US, for example) because, he did not understand and/or acknowledge Indian Principles, or perhaps he did not believe in any universal Indian Values. Does this show his British mindset?

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

Postby Agnimitra » 12 Jan 2015 14:27

abhischekcc wrote:I am not 'insinuating' anything. You don't have jump on a horse and start galloping everytime a pan falls :)

:) OK.
abhischekcc wrote:What I simply meant was, the constitution would be embedded with Ambedkar's unconcious biases. One of the biases can be seen in the sheer size of the Indian constitution, which is the largest in the world. In other words, Ambedkar did not build a principles-based constitution (like US, for example) because, he did not understand and/or acknowledge Indian Principles, or perhaps he did not believe in any universal Indian Values. Does this show his British mindset?

No, IMHO making the Constitution a fleshed-out document that details not just legalities but also context and intent is very Indian. In Indic thinking, "principles" are placed in a non-legalistic, abstract space, separate from any legalistic enforcing power. Principles relate to Ethics, whereas constitutions and laws pertain to Justice & Morals. These are philosophically at two different levels.

Principles are a brahminical jurisdiction, whereas laws and constitutions are kshatra. Traditional Smriti literature, and Vidhis, etc, are properly understood to be bound by desha-kaala-paatra, and usually spell out modalities. [If anything, there is a problem of non-Indic thinking when certain 'traditionalists' try to derive principle from smriti literature - such as that pertaining to caste system versus Varna theory, to take one notorious example. Or who try to interpret shruti in light of smriti, rather than interpreting smriti in the light of shruti + historical circumstance.]

With the US constitution, while it is brilliant as a document, one can already see certain articles and amendments being treated with absolutism, like religious law. Whether it pertains to gun laws, or the role of religion in society, or freedoms of expression, or the exact kinds and role of diversity, the letter of the constitution there is often treated very legalistically and with absolutism - or conversely its application has been self-contradictory for most of US history. Debate about its context and intent revolves around the other non-legislative writings of individual founding fathers, the publius papers, etc. But because the constitution there is so minimalistic, it becomes a very big deal to introduce any further amendments or clarifications. The words and the personalities related to the US Constitution have come to be idolized.

The Indian Constitution has a preamble, which states policy direction. Each article typically indicates timelines, as well as scope of applicability. The rest of it details provisions and detailed specifications, as it should. In fact, if we hold it up to the preamble and Ambedkar's other writings, we find that it was Nehru ji, and more concretely, Mrs. Indira Gandhi who subverted, both, the letter and spirit of the Constitution. This can easily be proven from the specific detailed words of the Ambedkarite constitution itself.

Discussion of principles can happen in various fora, including the legislature. But the Constitution itself should contain time-bound and scope/context specifications, not abstract principles. Amendments to these specifications must go through a process of clear discussion of principles. This, IMHO is the Indic theory of the separation of legal and constitutional specifications from ideals and principles. Whereas it is a Semitic tendency to conflate principles with enforcable law, a tendency that found its way into Rome via the assimilation of Christianity. My 2c.

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

Postby ShauryaT » 12 Jan 2015 19:37

abhischekcc wrote:What I simply meant was, the constitution would be embedded with Ambedkar's unconcious biases. One of the biases can be seen in the sheer size of the Indian constitution, which is the largest in the world. In other words, Ambedkar did not build a principles-based constitution (like US, for example) because, he did not understand and/or acknowledge Indian Principles, or perhaps he did not believe in any universal Indian Values. Does this show his British mindset?
It is wrong to accrue primary credit to Ambedkar for the simple reason that Ambedkar was in charge of the drafting committee. The "framework" "architecture" and key decisions were made by JLN and Patel, as acknowledged by Ambedkar himself and others who were in the know of how things worked. There are a whole host of lesser known souls responsible, who were in the Ambedkar led drafting committee (I can get you the names, if interested). Ambedkar certainly added his own British trained "expertise" into the mix and did his part as leader of the drafts. As for the charge that Ambedkar did not understand Indian principles and that those did not help him frame the constitution, that part is true as was the case for 70% of the constituent assembly members, including Patel and JLN, who were in the same boat. Ambedkar or our framers, including key ones JLN/Patel can hardly be faulted for not sticking to Indian universal values for the times they lived in the Indian social order was upside down, Indian political authority decrepit, a society divided, its educational base was washed over.

To understand the activities of Ambedkar, Arun Shourie has a critical book on him. The Maharashtra government has a multi volume printed works on Ambedkar. If I have to sum up Ambedkar, then Ambedkar's experiences was and to a degree is the challenge to Indian society, where instead of using our nationalist glue, common principles and values of the land to promote an Indian social order, our social divisions of caste, sectarian and to some degrees class based divisions, along with uprooting or "deracinations" of the upper classes and to no small degree an inability of those championing the nationalist cause inability to frame a positive agenda, an alternative framework or even alternative values and principles, as different from western universals that capture the imaginations of its elite and aspiring classes continues to be a challenge to Indian society.

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

Postby A_Gupta » 12 Jan 2015 19:54

^^^
If we take democracy as a ideology, then we run into western universalism (e.g., "making the world safe for democracy")

If we treat democracy as a technology then it no more leads to western universalism than does mobile phone technology.

If we treat democracy as an ideology, then it is what is right, and what is anti-democracy is wrong. If we treat democracy as a technology, then it helps achieve some purposes, it has some strengths and some drawbacks. Like any technology, it is simply a means to help us achieve our goals, and is not an end in-of-itself.

I just picked democracy as an example, but it applies to everything - nation, human rights, equality, liberty, etc.

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

Postby shiv » 12 Jan 2015 20:11

ShauryaT wrote:Regardless, of what actually happened and the relative success and failures of these lofty goals, are you saying the tag of being a liberal, even if borrowed from the west and this tag in the west being associated with their struggles with a church and a monarch were not appropriate for India at that time - transposed to an Indian context?

<snip>

The question to answer though would be to what degree did our founding Fathers succeed in achieving the ameliorative agenda they had set, especially as it relates to the social and political aspects of the agenda. One will have to give them some credit, for the very existence of this thread proves their success to some degree.


I think it would be instructive to understand the environment that our "founding fathers" were given to work in and what actions they too that they felt were liberal.

India was given a rule-book in which it had already been declared by the British that Hindu-ism was a "religion" with a Holy book (Gita) and a clergy (Brahmins) and terrible practices like caste and sati. To their credit the writers of the constitution straightaway recognized that Sati was not part of the "Hindu religion" and it was booted out and banned (because "secular laws" can take decisions on that which is NOT religion) Certainly this was a "liberal" decision and a truthful one. India also wrote progressive and "liberal laws" like voting rights for women and equality for all people under the law. Even the west did not, at that time give this sort of equality to all. Furthermore (as stated in an article posted recently about Savarkar) no one in India in the 1930s knew exactly which way the world was heading. The British were offering either continued occupation or weird solutions like separate electorates. Europe in the 1930s appeared to have states that were doing very well with Italy under Mussolini and Germany under Hitler. So no one in India could foresee what political system would be "right". And independence came suddenly after much strife with no clear way forward. even today "parliamentary democracy" has failed in many states and hardly works in a standard way all over the world. Of course one might ask why the "founding fathers" accepted "caste" as part of the "Hindu religion" - but I suspect this was forced on them. But if it was part of the religion, how come the "secular government" can make laws about Hindu castes because in secular governance the government must not touch religious practices. There is some GIGO here.

Governance is an issue that the world has not solved at the world level. India's parliamentary democracy suits India but it suits us because our decisions are still taken at ground level by people and that happens to gel fairly well with the principles of democracy. What happens in India would be called lawlessness in many western nations. Let me give you two examples. One is relatively innocuous and the other politically explosive - but both are examples of what happens in India. I will try and state what would typically happen in Britain, a "law abiding" society where I have lived, in similar circumstances,

Imagine a petty thief like a handbag or chain snatcher. If such a man is caught in India he is given a sound thrashing there and then, and nowadays, the police are then called in. The police have to get witnesses, book a case, judge issues of the need for detention depending on the severity of the offence, then take it to court etc. If it cannot be proven that the man snatched a bag (or a necklace) then the man is let off. But what happens in India is "instant justice". The word "justice" here is the issue. When justice needs to be delivered by a third party who is totally uninvolved with the case (with the idea that such a person would be "neutral") - you have a lumbering top down system that is very unwieldy and people intensive. The "Indian way" can be accused of being "lawless" and unfair, but it is a ground level justice system implemented by eyewitnesses with little delay. The severity may vary - but that is an issue that I will not deal with now. Maybe later. This was the "relatively innocuous" example.

Let me now come to the more explosive example. A crowd of people of one religion are walking through an area shouting slogans that are insulting to someone else. Videos of Muslims doing that in Britain have been posted on this forum. Everyone is "law abiding". People get angry but do not react. A third party (the Police) monitor this with the sole purpose of maintaining "law and order". Provocative words are accepted as "Free speech", but being provoked is unacceptable. If anyone does not like this - say a White Christian Brit - he simply has to get angry and if he has a complaint - that complaint must be made to the police or some "higher authority". The higher authority, who is always a judge who was not present at the scene may make an unsatisfactory judgement that allows provocative speeches to be made, with no possibility of any action.

What would happen in India. We would have a riot. of course it would be a communal riot. Law and order would be restored by a lathi charge or police firing followed by a sec 144 clampdown and arrest of violent people who are caught.

But what is the difference between the UK and India? Are Indians lawless? Do we take law "into our own hands"? Well, yes and no. We do not believe in a top down system where some uninvolved party who did not feel the insult or provocation reaches judgement on a situation that is far removed in time and place from the judge. Such a top-down system is a formula for allowing anger to simmer. But every time a riot occurs each community learns some lessons about what can and what cannot be done. Instant justice, riots and "taking the law into one's own hands" fills a gap that a top down system cannot fill. If communities must live together - each community must show a degree of tolerance for the other. This tolerance cannot be imposed from above by laws created by some detached external third party. That will only lead to simmering discontent. Some issues must be sorted out at community level. A riot is only the extreme manifestation of a system where the top-down laws are not working.

When it comes to Islam, the top down laws of Islam demand zero tolerance for unbelievers. Islam is a parallel justice system that tries to run alongside a national government. This needs to be understood. When Muslims have to follow national laws - such as British or French law, they are by definition breaking their own Islamic laws. That is why, in western democracies, Muslims have to be forced to follow national laws on pain of punishment, while they are given rights to protest. But what happens when violence is introduced into the mix? Strong nation states always ensure that the government has a monopoly on violence. If Islam gets into a fight, the state will always win. That is always projected as "Persecution of Muslims". It is essentially a conflict between top-down nation-state laws versus top-down sharia. If sharia wins the state is destroyed.

In India we have the same top down system and the same caterwaul by various parties that Muslims are being persecuted. But the truth is that the Indian constitution cannot substitute for sharia if there is a demand that sharia is the only law a Muslim can follow. That means conflict that seeks to bring down the state between a demand for "islamic law" and the Indian constitution. The British and Muslims wanted a parallel system with islands of sharia with separate Hindu electorates. Ultimately that is EXACTLY what happened. It can happen again as long as the state seeks to protect "Islamic " or "Christian" religious sentiment against Hindu resistance. The state cannot impose its writ from above without creating more Pakistans. But people can reach solutions from below.

Once again I would like to point out that the Gujarat riots were a clear indicator of how Hindus feel and will react if state secularism is biased to allow unfettered spread of "top down" religions in India. I do not write this as a Hindutva threat - but riots are always an indicator that the laws are unfair. We cannot have a parallel top-down system in India that challenges the constitution, but if the constitution selectively seeks to shut out Hindu freedoms and award freedoms to other top down religions then we have a serious constitutional crisis in India.

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

Postby Agnimitra » 13 Jan 2015 06:49

A_Gupta wrote:^^^
If we take democracy as a ideology, then we run into western universalism (e.g., "making the world safe for democracy")

If we treat democracy as a technology then it no more leads to western universalism than does mobile phone technology.

Exactly! Principles should remain aloof from a legally enforceable space. Constitution and law should be limited to technical Specifications, bound by scope, time and context.

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.

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

Postby Tuvaluan » 13 Jan 2015 07:17

ShuryaT wrote:
. If I have to sum up Ambedkar, then Ambedkar's experiences was and to a degree is the challenge to Indian society, where instead of using our nationalist glue, common principles and values of the land to promote an Indian social order, our social divisions of caste, sectarian and to some degrees class based divisions, along with uprooting or "deracinations" of the upper classes and to no small degree an inability of those championing the nationalist cause inability to frame a positive agenda, an alternative framework or even alternative values and principles, as different from western universals that capture the imaginations of its elite and aspiring classes continues to be a challenge to Indian society.


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.


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