Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

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

Postby UlanBatori » 08 Jul 2014 06:53

What about present-day Indians? Do they not "believe" in anything? Not even AkashVani, DoorDarshan or The Hindu? :shock:

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

Postby SwamyG » 08 Jul 2014 07:31

Any one who trusts in a black stone, or a figure stuck on two sticks, or some supra humans roaming in uber icy or tropical mountains, or Khushboo to comfort or punish is a 'believer'.

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

Postby shiv » 08 Jul 2014 08:06

A_Gupta wrote:Yes, but the net result is that we have adopted their understanding of us as our own, and that is what we're now passing off as "an arrogant assumption of our rightness". That is the death knell of our culture. The OIT thread is just one (feeble) attempt to throw out this "colonial consciousness".

Yes, this is a problem area although I see mitigating factors that I will not spell out because they will merely digress from the issue.

I think, for instance, India's "secualrism" is one such problem area, but let me stick to the problem area that I referred to earlier.

Hindu dharma is called a religion because Hindus have, like Christianity and Islam, faith in a superhuman/God.

But Hindu dharma goes beyond mere faith. In fact a Hindu need not have faith in any God or superhuman by following a set of Hindu beliefs about the self and the universe - all of which are standard Hindu practices.

If "faith in a superhuman or God" = A

Then Hindus, Muslims and Christians display feature "A"

But in addition one can reject every single God and still be Hindu, or one can accept every single God and still be Hindu by pointing out that all features of all Gods are rendered irrelevant by a core Hindu concept of the ultimate consciousness/reality representing the universe and the cosmos and everything there is (and isn't). This is definitely not feature "A". Let me call it feature "B"

So we have Hindus who follow feature A and B. Other religions follow feature A alone. Aspects that go beyond religion (feature B ) have no comparable feature in other "religions". Equal equal is not possible. The name "religion" refers to feature "A". How can Hindu dharma be restricted to feature "A" alone

Indians have erred in accepting that Hindu dharma is merely a religion. What exists of Hindu dharma transcends religion. It goes beyond religion. Those aspects that go beyond religion (feature B ) have no comparable feature in other "religions". Equal equal is not possible. Why do we accept it?
Last edited by shiv on 08 Jul 2014 08:18, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby shiv » 08 Jul 2014 08:16

SwamyG wrote:The then Greeks or Indians, believed in gods who were superhumans and influenced the human lives. So if different people believed in super humans intervening in lives, why cannot they be compared?


They can be compared but how do you compare aspects of Hindu dharma that do not exist in Islam and Christianity. Religion is defined in the dictionary as systems in which people believe in gods or superhumans. This is true of Hindus, Greeks, Romans, Christians and Muslims. To that extent they can be compared

But what about aspects of Hindu dharma that reject the concept of "superhuman" or "God" and refer only to the ultimate reality/existence? This allows one to say that there is no such thing as Allah or Ganesha. Only the absolute truth is. It is a different matter that the absolute truth is referred to as Ishvara or paramatma - but this absolute truth neither coerces you to follow Allah/Ganesha nor reject him. It is neutral to such activities.

What is the comparable feature of Islam and Christianity?

The point I am trying to make is that we have accepted the use of the word "religion" for Hindu dharma although it has features that no other religion has. We have taken an apple and an orange and have accepted that both are oranges.

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

Postby UlanBatori » 08 Jul 2014 08:41

I am trying to see what to make of all this. Do we then declare ourselves to be ABOVE all discussion of religion, since religion is simply a habit of the lesser mortals who have been misguided? The danger there is that we get declared to be Pagans, or Heathen, whatever those mean, and are denied our space among people who already have some Belief System/Faith/Certainty/Whatever.

The whole takleef behind all these threads is that denial of space. And that is what we really want to end. So, IMO, we do have to be able to present our (XXXXXXXX) in terms that relate to others.

To do otherwise is like saying: Look, I won't sell you my computer code because, unlike all your ideas of computer code, this is not a computer code at all. This transcends mere computers. Wouldn't allow InfoSys to retain a high stock price, hain?

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

Postby RamaY » 08 Jul 2014 08:50

Batoriji

I already gave the answers to your questions in Epics thread.

Hindus believe in Karma (ownership & unavoidability of actions/results), oneness of God (they cannot exist separate from God) and pursuing their Artha/kamas in a Dharmic way. You can go & ask any Hindu these three things and you will get the same answer from a Veda-Brahmana or Chandala.

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

Postby SwamyG » 08 Jul 2014 08:52

A_Gupta wrote:
1. What are your core beliefs/values?


Is this meant to be "beliefs or values"? Is there an implication that values arise from beliefs? etc.

Anyway, I will give an answer to move the conversation along:

The four goals of human existence are dharma, artha, kama, moksha. The latter three are to be pursued in accordance with dharma. This is the core of Hindu life. You tell me if these are "core beliefs/values".

I am just making a guess based on my own small sample set growing up as a Hindu in a Hindu world - most of Hindus never knew about Purusharthas. True some knew the individual terms, but it was not connected and life was not led by those goals.

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

Postby shiv » 08 Jul 2014 08:54

UlanBatori wrote:IMO the reason why "western XXXXism" is a big deal, fill in any of many things into the XXX, is that yindoos have been traditionally unable or unwilling to give a clear, coherent answer to the questions:

1. What are your core beliefs/values?
2. What is the hierarchy of your literature that I can go look up to learn more about these?

The answer usually degenerates into
1. The Question is Improper!
2. It is wrong to even THINK of Core Beliefs or Values, those are WESTERN concepts!
3. Our literature starts with the Vedas (sorry, it is blasphemy to speak of the Vedas as literature onlee), Ramayana (no that is not Vedas), BG (no, that is not Vedas),Puranas (obviously not)..
4. But my Core Belief is that if I don't dunk my skull into this pond, facing to the East and holding my nose and/or my ears, before 7AM every day, the whole Universe may go down the tubes. Rain or shine. If you try this in a land where the pond is frozen, well, that is your fault for cross the seas. Brasht onlee!

This is why XXXX Universalism and all other nonsense run riot in yindoostan, not to mention every where else. So develop clear answers. Or frame new questions that anyone can ask and get clear answers, that define SD/Hinduism/ whatever u call it.


Magnolian your lament is true for the majority of educated Indians, who should have some grasp of what they are and what their beliefs are.

Most educated Indians are offered the choice of "Western Univeralism" versus Indian family values and they choose the former because they are unable to face up to questions or comments that state up front
1. The caste system is bad (whoops its easier to hide the fact that I and my entire extended family are Madhwa Brahmins than explain. So I say "yeah. Caste is bad. I don't follow it)

2. Idolatry is bad (oops we do have idols at home so I say "Well uh er not really. We believe in one God bla bla)

3. You believe in an elephant headed God or a bloodthirsty goddess? (Er um these are primitive beliefs. people are moving away from all that)

4. Do you believe in arranged marriages (oooops - mine was arranged so I'll say "Oh you see it's not like that you know. Nowadays you get to meet and get to know your future partner)

Indians have, exactly as AGupta pointed out, internalized and accepted the characterizations of Indian society made by others. It is those same others who are now offering us jobs and wealth and either we accept their definitions or we get branded as someone not worth associating with.

Let alone explaining Sandhya vandanam which most people do not do, we are unable to admit that our jati is our extended family and our jati is still used in India for education and job reservations. So much for the lie that the "caste system" is going away. We find it difficult to point out that we have no caste. Only jati. But the connection of jati with profession does not exist any more. The system of jati ("caste") based reservation was precisely to remove the link between varna and jati. Unfortunately even the Indian legal system has internalized the western definition of caste. The people who wrote our constitution an our lawmakers have internalized that.

We are unable to explain that we still have arranged marriages. we are unable to say that Indian society is a family centered society. When you have a son or daughter, your mother or mother in law will come and live with you to help. But we are unable to admit that we are a family centered society. The system of arranged marriages was designed to remove family objections and interference in an attempt to reduce incompatibilities. The fact that it does not necessarily work is not the point.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with idol worship. In fact the name "idol worship" is a misnomer. The idol serves as a central point which serves as an area around which people collect for prayer. The concept of having a church or a mosque is also merely to have a collection point. There is s philosophical issue in Christianity and Islam where it is alleged that if you sit in front of an image you will start believing that the image is God. This is complete nonsense. No Hindu believes that an image of God is God. The image is simply a meeting point for worship and prayer. Anyone who pays brief attention to the meaning of Hindu prayers (as recited in Sanskrit) will know that the first act of prayer in front of any idol is to pray to a formless omnipresent God to please come and occupy the idol for a brief while while you worship that god within that idol. "Invocations" that are sung before any Indian/Hindu function are simply a prayer-invitation for God to be present there and guide us. God is invariably "invoked" at the outset. Note that we never blow out lamps or candles. Fire/Agni is life. We always light them. Next time you have a birthday party, light lamps, don't blow them out.

The multiarmed "bloodthirsty" durga and the elephant headed God are simply artistic manifestations of stories of good over evil and the power of God to help you or make you feel better - no different from any other type of worship
Last edited by shiv on 08 Jul 2014 09:22, edited 2 times in total.

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

Postby shiv » 08 Jul 2014 09:12

UlanBatori wrote:I am trying to see what to make of all this. Do we then declare ourselves to be ABOVE all discussion of religion, since religion is simply a habit of the lesser mortals who have been misguided? The danger there is that we get declared to be Pagans, or Heathen, whatever those mean, and are denied our space among people who already have some Belief System/Faith/Certainty/Whatever.

The route I take is that I have simply stopped referring to myself as a follower of a religion, but as a follower of Hindu dharma.

Dharma and religion have some differences. Religion is the belief in and the worship of God and that is there for all Hindus who wish to worship God.

But there is something more for those who do not believe in God.

The first is a system of moral values which govern society (dharma) - to be followed whether or not you believe in God.

The second is a philosophical exploration of the origins of the universe and cosmos - explanations that are said to become self evident if one is interested in following the rules of study, meditation and yoga that form part of the Hindu body of knowledge. In fact the Vedas deal in this most esoteric aspect of Hindu dharma.

That is as good as I can make it, in brief

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

Postby symontk » 08 Jul 2014 10:54

But what about aspects of Hindu dharma that reject the concept of "superhuman" or "God" and refer only to the ultimate reality/existence? This allows one to say that there is no such thing as Allah or Ganesha. Only the absolute truth is. It is a different matter that the absolute truth is referred to as Ishvara or paramatma - but this absolute truth neither coerces you to follow Allah/Ganesha nor reject him. It is neutral to such activities.

What is the comparable feature of Islam and Christianity?


Islam doesn't have superman or superwoman, and believes in ultimate reality. But does it help? Again what is this "ultimate reality"? is it God? if yes them we come to the full circle, right?

For a belief system or a company to be successful, the CEO or the topmost guy or the "ultimate reality" has to be in touch with the all its followers or employees

NB: Please see the video of Yahya Khan talking to journalists about being in touch with Bangladeshis. My favorite management video on how not to do things

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

Postby johneeG » 08 Jul 2014 11:31

RamaY wrote:JohneeG garu,

Bhestern Universalism doesn't squeeze X-ism. It just squeezes (if at all) the institution of Church; because there is a new institution called Govt has been created (king has to rule, you know...).

shudh-desi Sikularism squeezes Yinduism; not just yindu institution called ????; there is no church equivalent in pagan-yinduism. In yindustan, the king always rules...

So, Bhestern universalism, Seckularism, Socialism, Communism and even modern science all agree that the dominant religion has to be weakened or eliminated. For this purpose, the support of the 'minority' creeds is taken.


this is factually wrong. None of these social ideologies have any fight with X-ism per se. The X-ism has issues with 'modern' science because it disagrees with Xism in some aspects.


This is a bit convoluted topic, saar. The relations seem a bit murky and difficult to make out. But, one can clearly see that X-ism has declined in the bhest. And has been replaced by the socialism, capitalism, science, bhestern universalism, feminism, gayism, ...etc. So, one can say that Bhestern universalism does squeeze X-ism.

At the same time, X-ism has been supported in the dhesh by the same forces. This is quite similar to athiests being the enemies of X-ism in the bhest. But in the dhesh, athiests are the friends of X-ism. In fact, many X-ists project themselves as athiests to sling mud on Hindhuism.

But, interestingly, the church has not become weak. I would say that church was perhaps at its weakest around 1750-1800. After that period, the church again seems to have reinvigorated.

This is an interesting paradox: church(particularly Watikan) has become rich and strong, while X-ism has declined in Bhest. How to explain this?

Maybe, we are making a mistake in trying to understand these ideologies which are always evolving or mutating.

I personally think that these ideologies are constantly mutating like a bacteria to survive and thrive. They don't have any core philosophy to sustain them or keep them grounded.

symontk wrote:If one says that these acts of killing are merely 'judgements', then the question will rise: it was never said in the commandments that one could kill in certain situations.

>> Yes it is correct. Try to understand Christian Trinity and Dual nature of Christ

The commandment seems to be simply saying 'don't kill'. Of course, Moses himself supposedly killed people for praying to an idol of golden calf immediately after obtaining these commandments. So, Moses and 'god' both violated the injunction 'not to kill'. Every soldier violates this commandment.

>> If anyone (Moses or soldier) violates the commandments, price have to paid. I explained the God's part earlier

Similarly, according to the X-ism myth, 'god' had affair with wife of somebody else and jesus was born. This is against two commandments:
thou shall not desire the wife of your neighbor.
thou shall not commit adultery.

>> wrong, Mother Mary was pregnant before marriage

By the way, according to OT, Abraham pimped his own wife to pharaoh of Egypt. When Pharaoh thought she was Abraham's sister(Abraham misrepresented it). So, Pharaoh was furious when he came to know the truth and returned the wife of Abraham to him. So, Abraham's wife violated the commandment of 'adultery'. There is also a hint of incest here.

>> Yes its correct and commandment do apply. BTW it was Abraham's decision and not God's to do like that

If killing of jesus (Yashas) was an act of 'god', then again he violated the command of 'not killing'.

>> Wrong, Killing of Jesus was done by people not by God

Jesus himself has supposedly said that he was here to break the families. It seems that disregarded his family and mother according to New Testament. So, this goes against the commandment of 'thou shall honour your father and mother'.

>> Jesus didnt tell that, he told that by believing in Jesus your family members would hate you. he was warning his followers about the challenges ahead

And all people(including X-ists) make images and idols. So, this goes against the commandment of 'thou shall not make graven images'. Perhaps, Zorasthrians are the only ones who don't make any image and pray only to fire. But, all other groups make some images or idols to venerate them.

>> Yes correct, its against commandments

Anyway, this whole idea of some other life being sacrificed for benefit of another set is highly abhorrent. Somebody else being killed for my sake or your sake is wrong. No one should be killed for the mistakes of another.

Of course, one can be punished for one's own mistakes. Thats the theory of Karma.

In this theory, if jesus was the son of 'god' and he suffered, then his suffering must be due to his own doing.

>> I dont think Jesus follows Karma, but why you say that others cannot be sacrificed for your mistakes? It may be abhorrent but why it is wrong

Anyway OT to the topic


Indeed, the discussion on this would go off-topic. But, if you are interested in some serious criticism, please read Kristumata Chedanam by Chattampi Swamy of Kerala. Link to his work

It is a very detailed and highly informative criticism of every aspect.

About Jesus character and New Testament: I think its just crypto-Buddhism. I think Jesus character is based on Yashas character and Buddha character.

Link to the posts on Buddhist origins of New Testament

Link to another post on same topic

Now, the final point:
I dont think Jesus follows Karma, but why you say that others cannot be sacrificed for your mistakes? It may be abhorrent but why it is wrong


This is the basic issue. Most ideologies and cults mutate into evil ones because they miss this basic point. The basic point is that all beings are inherently similar. This is a very important point.

The problem starts when some beings feel they are special(better or worse) than others. If they feel they are worse than others, it leads to self-pity, grief, ...etc. It is a destructive path. On the other hand, if a being feels that they are better than others, then it leads to arrogance, vanity and cruelty towards others. Most of the time, most of the people and ideologies vacillate between self-pity and arrogance. They oscillate between hurting others or mutilating themselves. The reason is: they think they are different or special.

There are lot of similarities in all beings. Every beings wants to live a happy life and avoid the pain. Every creature has some basic needs(physical and emotional) which need fulfillment. All creatures have insecurities and fears. These are some basic similarities among all beings.

The nature is designed in a way that one creature cannot live without hurting another creature. So, violence is unavoidable. It is not possible to follow absolute non-violence(atleast, it is not possible for everyone).

But, the difference between good ideologies and bad ideologies is(similarly, difference between good people and bad people is):
Good ideologies or good people believe that all creatures are same same. So, they don't advocate or support hurting one creature for the convenience of another creature.

Evil ideologies or evil people believe that they have can hurt others for their own convenience. This leads to slavery, war, deception, and all sorts of evil things. People and ideologies who believe in such a thing are worse than animals.

Animals only resort to violence for some basic needs like food, territory and sex. Also, animals cannot hurt beyond a limit. On the other hand, ideologies and human beings have much greater ability to do good and to do evil. So, if evil ideologies are believed, then people will do much harm. If people believe that others can be hurt/harmed/deceived for one's own convenience, then it leads to all sorts of wrong activities.

The simple definition to good and evil is given by Vyasa:
para-upakaraya punyaya, papaya para-peedanam

Helping others is the good(dharma/punya), hurting others is sin.

But, the basis of this thinking is: Hindhuism says that all creatures have same/similar soul/self i.e. Aathma.

Some sects of Hindhuism equate this Aathma or soul/self with God/Goddess.
Some sects of Hindhuism believe that Aathma or soul/self is part of God/Goddess.

However, the common point is that they all agree that the souls/selfs of all creatures are same same. Since all creatures are inherently same same. No creature should hurt another creature unless its self-defence. For example, a tiger killing a deer for food will not be wrong. However, if the same tiger kills the same deer merely for fun, then it would be wrong. In first case, the tiger would die without food, if it does not eat the deer. So, its an act of self defence. In second case, the tiger is hurting another creature for no reason.

Most of the other ideologies start with some people being special. This makes them justify all sorts of activities.

If hurting others for XYZ's own convenience is alright, then why should not everyone be enslaved for XYZ's sake? Why should not many people be killed or maimed for XYZ's convenience?

Link to a post on importance of this idea

----
About basics of Hindhu Dharma:
johneeG wrote:In my limited understanding, the primary axioms of Sanathana Dharma(Hinduism) is:
a) 'Veda(s) are the eternal truth.'

b) 'Veda(s) are divine. They are not man-made.'

c) 'Veda(s) are the authority on all things.'

d) 'All the experiences, words, customs and ideologies of the people that are in consonance with the Vedic teachings are acceptable. And all the experiences, words, customs and ideologies of the people contradictory to Vedic teachings are rejected.'

The word Veda refers to all the four Vedas along with Vedanta(Upanishads).
-------
Based on the above fundamental axioms, Indic philosophies have been categorised as Astika and Nastika.

Astika Philosophies are 6(Shat Darshanas). They accept the Vedic authority. They are:
a) Nyāyá, the school of logic (by Gautama)
b) Vaiśeṣika, the school that proposes atoms (by Kanada)
c) Sāṃkhya, the enumeration school (by Kapila)
d) Yoga, which assumes the metaphysics of Sāṃkhya (by Patanjali)
e) Mimāṃsā or Purva Mimāṃsā, the tradition of Vedic exegesis that stresses on the importance of Vedic rituals. (restored by Kumarilla Bhatta - who is disciple of Jaimini - who is disciple of Vyasa)
f) Vedanta or Uttara Mimāṃsā, the Upaniṣadic tradition.(restored by Adi Shankaracharya - who is disciple of Govinda Bhagavatpada - Gauda Bhagavatpada - Shuka - Vyasa)

Nastika philosophies. They reject the Vedic authority. They are:
a) Buddhism (supposedly by Siddhartha Gautama)
b) Jainism (supposedly by Rishabha, the first Tirthankara. Mahavira is the last of the 24 Tirthankaras.)
c) Cārvāka - Materialistic and hedonistic school of thought.

-----
Then, there are Tantras or Agamas. The Tantras like Darshanas(Philosophies) can also be Vedic or Non-Vedic. All the Tantras/Agamas (or the aspects of Tantras) that are in consonance with Vedas are acceptable. Rest are rejected.

The Tantras also claim their origin from divine beings. Even so, if the teachings are contradictory to Vedas, they are rejected.
-----

Then, there are Smritis or Dharma Shaastras. Smritis are authored by the Rishis. They deal with the rules of conduct. There are several Smritis.

The general rule is that the whole (or part) of a Smriti which is conflicting with Vedas is rejected.

-----

Then, there are Itihasaas(Ramayana & Mahabharatha) along with the 18 Puranas and 18 Upa-Puranas. Generally, they can be treated similar to Dharma Shaastras.

-----

Finally, there are traditions of family. Each family follow certain traditions and customs which it has inherited from its ancestors. These traditions are also acceptable and encouraged as long as they are not in conflict with the above mentioned scriptural teachings.

------

IMHO, the above is the outline of Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma.


About Dharma:
johneeG wrote:Now coming to the topic of Hindhu position:
johneeG wrote:There has been a serious debate on Dharma on this thread.

In Hinduism, there are 2 types of Dharma:
a) Samanya Dharma (General)
b) Vishesha Dharma (Special)
(Contextual)

Samanya Dharma(General):

It seems, according to Manu:

ahimsa satyam asteyam shaucham indriyanigraham
etam samasikam dharmam chaaturvarnye abhravin manuh


Ahimsa(Non-violence), Satyam(Truth), Asteyam(Non-Stealing), Shaucham(Cleanliness) and Indriya-nigraham(Control of senses) are the Dharma of all the 4 varnas.

The general Dharma applicable to all are:
Ahimsa(Non-violence),
Satyam(Truth),
Asteyam(Non-Stealing),
Shaucham(Cleanliness) and
Indriya-nigraham(Control of senses)

The priority is also clear. Ahimsa(Non-Violence) has the highest priority(over and above Satya/Truth also).
Ahimsa Paramo Dharmah.
Ahimsa is the highest Dharma.

So, when there is a conflict between Ahimsa(Non-Violence) and Satya(Truth), then Ahimsa get higher priority.

Ahimsa(Non-violence) can cover topics like: Murder, genocide, harassment(of any kind), injury(direct/indirect), abortion(killing of foetus), ...etc.
Satya(Truth) is self-explanatory. It can cover topics like: Cheating, scams, misrepresentations(specially in public discourses), breaking the agreements, adulterating the items ...etc.
Asteya(Not-stealing) can cover topics like: stealing, bribes, extra-marital affairs(stealing others' wives/husbands/girl-friends/boy-friends ... etc).

The above three are guarding against the wrong actions.
Shaucha(cleanliness) is a quality that is to be encouraged and inculcated.

Shaucha can cover topics like: personal hygiene, keep the environment clean and safe, pollution(air/water/land/sound...etc).

Finally, the bonus quality which is to be respected, admired and rewarded.
Indriya Nigraha: Control of senses(including mind). Indriya Nigraha forms the basis for all other Dharmas. One who is hankering after the sensual enjoyments would hardly care about law or dharma.

These 5 are the general rules for all.
Then, there are special rules. The special rules are based on the time, place, circumstance and subject. It varies from person to person, from gender to gender, from place to place and time to time.

The Special rules have higher priority than the General rules. So, a soldier, whose special duty is to kill, is exempted from the general rule of Ahimsa.

What happens when a person is forced to perform one himsa(violence) or the other?
This is not a hypothetical question, it is based on the reality of life. Ahimsa is a huge topic, so briefly: The reality of the world is that there is conflict and violence in all dealings directly or indirectly. So, no one can abjure violence completely. So, the rule is that as long as one is acting with in one's own needs/duties, himsa(violence) is alright. For example, when a tiger kills a deer, its alright. Similarly, when a soldier kills an enemy, its alright.

A person must not harm anyone(even a plant or animal or insect) beyond one's need/duty. There is a story of Vidura's past life in MB. If one harms even insects, unnecessarily, then it accounts as severe violence. If one kills other men also, as part of duty/need(self-defense), then such a violence is negligible.

Killing oneself(suicide) is considered highest himsa(violence). Suicide is a bigger offense than the Murder. Murder/injury of a close relative/friend is a bigger offense than killing a stranger. Killing/harming someone who helped you in the past is a great offense.

The punishments given for the same crime are not equal. The one with higher privileges gets higher punishment for the same crime.

A robbery by an uneducated poor hungry guy is not the same as the robbery by an educated rich powerful guy. That means the punishments for the rich and powerful(elites) would be more severe than the punishments for the ordinary.

The taxes are equal to all. 1/6th of one's earning. No indirect taxes. The good ruler must take care of the invalids in one's country. The ruler must encourage the entrepreneurs. He must create situations such that the loans are easily available. The ruler must take care that the farmers are provided by seeds and fertilizers. The farmers must also have the chance to sell their produce for fair amounts.

This is the Hindu system.

Link to post

So, Hindhuism is neither strictly contextual nor totally ignorant of context. The problem that other systems generally suffer is when they are either totally contextual or totally devoid of context. Hindhuism has more elegant solution to this by dividing the Dharma into two parts one that is based on context and one that is absolute.


Link

I think the problem starts when people ask Hindhus about Hindhuism. The assumption is that the Hindhus must be knowledgable about Hindhuism. But most of the time, most of the Hindhus are not knowledgable about Hindhuism. This is a very common thing in the world. Followers of most of the ideologies do not know the full details of their ideologies. People only know certain aspects of the ideology which they follow. Only those who study the ideologies in full detail would know it properly. Others would only have some vague and general knowledge.

So, most Hindhus would have some knowledge about Dharma, Karma, re-incarnation, Gods, Goddesses, ...etc. But, they are not the right people to go to, if one wants the full knowledge about Hindhuism.

The best thing is to ask an expert(guru) or to consult the scripture when one wants know about a topic. Thats why importance of guru has been stressed.
johneeG wrote:Coming to the point...

If you ask a hundred Hindus to define Sanatana Dharma, you will get a hundred conflicting, confused answers. If you ask a thousand Hindus, you will get a thousand answers. This, to me, indicates that Hindus have LOST TOUCH WITH THE AXIOMS OF THEIR FAITH. They are unable to agree on a consistent definition of Hinduism (or more accurately, SD). The fact that they cannot explain their faith in one sentence, indicates that they do not understand SD at all.


I agree with your above observation. And I also agree with you that this is a major problem. Further, I agree with you that this problem needs to be solved.

But, before we solve the problem, lets try to find out the reasons for this problem i.e. what is causing this problem?

There are two possible answers:
a) The conflicting and confused answers of the people reflect the conflicting and confused state of Hinduism.
OR
b) The conflicting and confused answers of the people reflect their ignorance about the basics of Hinduism.

In short, we have two options:
a) Blame the religion for the faults. Solution: Reform the religion.
b) Blame the ignorance of the people. Solution: Educate the people.

------
Lets consider Option a)
The conflicting and confused answers of the people reflect the conflicting and confused state of Hinduism.

The solution to the above problem would be reform the religion such that it is suitable and simplified for modern clients.

But, there is a huge contradiction here. Why? Because this above approach confirms the charges of your cousins. Charges of your cousins are:

"Why is Hinduism such a confused mish-mash? How can you people be so stupid as to follow all this?"


If we choose option (a) and admit that there is a problem with the religion itself, then we cannot blame your cousins for pointing out, what we ourselves are admitting.

There is another problem here. People will ask a pin-pointed question: Is Hinduism right or not? If it is right, then there cannot be any major reforms. If it is wrong, then it is wrong.

Any attempt at adding a new concept or dropping an original concept will only confirm the charge that Hinduism was always a mish-mash of various opinions that keep changing with people. It also signals that people who are trying to reform, have no faith in the true-ness of the religion.(It applies to X-nity also, if they are trying to digest Indic or Hindu concepts).

So, as soon as one chooses option (a), one admits their lack of faith in Hinduism. This position is more or less a position that supports the charges of your cousin.

--------

Now, lets consider option (b):
The conflicting and confused answers of the people reflect their ignorance about the basics of Hinduism.

The solution to the above problem is to educate people. But before we educate people. We need to know what exactly is leading to their confusion or ignorance.

IMHO, the real problem for all the confusion is: Each individual is formulating his own view on what constitutes Hinduism.

The attitude of Hindus goes like this: I am a Hindu. My family is Hindu. So, what we do, what we believe and what we know, constitutes Hinduism.

This is the root of all the problems. Because most of these people don't have much knowledge about Hinduism. They come to their own conclusions. They create their own arguments. None of them is related to what Hinduism is actually saying.

Let me give you an example: If I say, "I am an Indian. My family is Indian. So, whatever we do, we believe and we know, is what constitutes Indian culture or ethos. I don't have to read any history to know about India. Because I am already living it. I don't have to read the constitution to know what is the real constitution, because I already living it. I don't have to go to any expert. I know everything about India."

Do you see the problem with the above attitude? This is exactly the attitude that many hindus have. I don't want to sound pompous, so let me admit that I also had the same attitude not too long ago.

What happens with this attitude is that, not only are people ignorant but they are so ignorant that they don't even know they are ignorant. This ignorance combined with smug feeling that they know, is used by the missionaries. The missionaries know that their targets have no knowledge about their religion. They also know that their targets think they know about their religion. They use this. They ask silly and simple questions. Their targets can't answer them. Does not mean there are no answers for these silly and simple question in Hinduism. It just means that the target is unaware of the original Hindu position. So, when faced with this situation:
a) Some emotional people succumb to the missionary. Eg: Your brother.
b) Some intelligent people try to create their own answers to the missionary's questions. Eg: You.
c) Others are left confused.

The whole problem starts with people having their own definitions of Hinduism.

The solution is to know what Hinduism is saying. What is the definition of Hinduism according to Hinduism? This is THE most important point.
Similarly, what is the position of Hinduism on various issues? THAT is what we should learn. One has the freedom to agree or disagree to what Hinduism is saying. But misrepresenting Hinduism must not happen because that leads to unnecessary confusion.

Instead of knowing the official Hindu position(Orthodox Hinduism) on various issues, people are creating their own definitions of Hinduism(Heterodox Hinduism). Infact, this exercise is not limited to Hinduism. Many Hindus have false ideas about other religions also. They make up their own definitions about Islam, Christianity, Buddhism,...etc totally unrelated to what those religions themselves are saying. Armed with these false ideas, people go on to postulate that all religions are equal.

When someone says that all religions are equal, he is simultaneously misrepresenting all religions. His understanding of all religions is flawed. He is unable to appreciate the differences that these religions have from each other.(Of course, there would be similarities also).

So, in conclusion, the problem is that people make up their own ideas about something, instead of trying to find out the truth. Incidentally, Vedanta's definition of Maya is exactly this. People look at a rope and think its a snake. And they panic. People create their own ideas without verifying whether those ideas stand upto the truth. Similarly, people make their own opinions about what constitutes Hinduism. Then, some of them, go on to reject it and convert to some other religion. The irony is that these people have no knowledge about the religion they are leaving or the religion they are entering.

------
Solution:
Solution to the problem is to stick to the official position of Hinduism(or for that matter, any other religion). When we talk of Hinduism, me must not talk about what we think Hinduism is. Instead, we must stick to what Hinduism itself says(through scriptures and Orthodox Gurus).

Of course, people can agree with Hinduism or differ with it. Its their choice.
------
I think even you will agree that what you identified as axioms woefully fall short on any or all of these criteria. Again, no offense.


Saar,
these are not my axioms. These are the traditional orthodox axioms. They are Hinduism's axioms according to traditional and orthodox scriptures, commentators and Gurus. One may or may not accept them. But one should not misrepresent the basics of Hinduism's for one's own convenience. Because, it is precisely this misrepresentation, that leads to confusing and conflicting ideas about what is Hinduism.


Link

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

Postby rajpa » 08 Jul 2014 18:59

How about science as an example of universalism?

Essentially it is the belief that anything can be refuted unless proved otherwise.

Neti, neti??

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

Postby RamaY » 08 Jul 2014 20:39

But, interestingly, the church has not become weak. I would say that church was perhaps at its weakest around 1750-1800. After that period, the church again seems to have reinvigorated.


JohneeG garu,

Secularism was invented in late 1800s or early 1900s. So Church is strengthening while its core areas are secularized? what gives :wink:

If you take the premise Xnity = Church+ then what I said make sense.

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

Postby UlanBatori » 08 Jul 2014 20:46

RamaY:
Hindus believe in Karma (ownership & unavoidability of actions/results), oneness of God (they cannot exist separate from God) and pursuing their Artha/kamas in a Dharmic way. You can go & ask any Hindu these three things and you will get the same answer from a Veda-Brahmana or Chandala.


I would agree. Thx. Except your No. 2 is rejected by the MadhavAcharya / "Dvaita" school of thought, per my limited understanding. Corrections welcomed. IMO most of the justification for worship comes from that, and hence the entire "religion" aspect of SD comes from that. Otherwise one finds oneself worshipping oneself (which of course is fine with me), which negates the effort put into building temples, learning music and dance, skills of any sort except the absolutely required hunting and fishing. IOW, y bother onlee?

JohneeG:
Request permission to steal from your statements above. How should one refer to the fact that they are stolen from you? The list of "schools" is very succinct and exactly what I was looking for, among other things.

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

Postby RamaY » 08 Jul 2014 21:47

UlanBatori wrote:I would agree. Thx. Except your No. 2 is rejected by the MadhavAcharya / "Dvaita" school of thought, per my limited understanding. Corrections welcomed. IMO most of the justification for worship comes from that, and hence the entire "religion" aspect of SD comes from that. Otherwise one finds oneself worshipping oneself (which of course is fine with me), which negates the effort put into building temples, learning music and dance, skills of any sort except the absolutely required hunting and fishing. IOW, y bother onlee?


Even Dwaita IMHO separates the seeker & goal only till Moksha. Once Moksha is achieved, the seeker merges with Param. This is different from non-Indic dwaitas.

I wouldn't call it worshiping oneself; but realizing oneself. This is the individual journey. But when this journey is done in groups; temples come into picture. Temples etc are tools/forums to help each other so we achieve that realization in a collective manner; eventhough the Moksha comes at individual level. This is like all of us going to same university/class but gain the knowledge at individual level.

All those why-bother things help you sharpen the (intellectual) saw. Same as people bi-hearting mathematical tables, periodic tables etc., so that when you are in deep meditation/focus/tapas things align properly.

The indic dances/arts/pujas etc., all are linked to yoga. Your breathing, postures etc get synchronized in a manner that specific enzymes get released and certain sukshma-centers etc gets activated/energized. You should do some of these to realize the connection. For example watch this song from a telugu movie Swarnakamalam. You can see how effortlessly she performs some of the very difficult asanas/pranayama combination...

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

Postby UlanBatori » 08 Jul 2014 21:52

The Indic dances/arts/pujas etc., all are linked to yoga. Your breathing...

Thoroughly agree, for performer AND watcher reclining against the Roller Pillow... 8)

only till Moksha.
Of course, one needs no Vedas or religion or belief or Karma or Dharma after that, because one is One with The One. So Dwaita does separate the individual from the Ultimate for the full extent of the Integral - from 1st birth if any, until Moksha.

Temples are more than meeting places. The motivation to put the very best in architecture, wealth, arts, and probably sciences in the old days, into the temple is IMO to offer those as worship. The act of striving for excellence is itself offered as worship, and is seen to be in line with Learning.

This constitutes another Core Belief: that activity brings points towards Moksha, IF done with due devotion. Whether the IF is an IFF is a matter of debate, one would certainly expect the Omniscient to know and count as long as the activity is not harmful, but it does provide encouragement.

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

Postby ShauryaT » 08 Jul 2014 22:21

shiv wrote:
The second is a philosophical exploration of the origins of the universe and cosmos - explanations that are said to become self evident if one is interested in following the rules of study, meditation and yoga that form part of the Hindu body of knowledge. In fact the Vedas deal in this most esoteric aspect of Hindu dharma.

That is as good as I can make it, in brief
Shiv ji: To add, between the lakshanas (Personal Values/Traits) and an exploration of the nature of the universe, comes an entire way of life in Sanatan Dharma. SD teaches you how to live in harmony with society by establishing rules for varnas. SD teaches you how to live through the various stages of your life by establishing codes for Ashramas. SD provides us with life objectives by way of the puruSharthas with a fairly elaborate breakdown of how to go about fulfilling these objectives. SD provides us with high principles of Satyam, Ritam and Yagnyam sourced from the vedas. So, the SD framework is fairly complete with principles, rules, values and objectives with an evolved set of traditions and rituals to follow, for man and his immediate and far off relationships - including the one with the gods.

SD has a fairly well established literature set, segmented into shruti or time independent teachings and smriti, which can be revised in various ages. The purpose of shruti and smriti is not to establish the codes of dharma but to use them as allegories to understand the workings of Dharma. I have also equated smriti to be our ancestors versions of today's soaps. Instantly consumed by most audiences over a boring documentary. One does not have to master all these works, for even one mantra from this entire set can do its job but the curious and ego driven mind craves for more. I myself have wished many times for a better organization of these shrutis, puraans and smritis but the type of works that would work for me may not work for the next person and hence there are many paths and many levels within these works.

The job of codifying SD rules and laws belongs to the dharma shastras (just like the 10 lakshanas sourced from manu smriti). These shastras are largely coherent in the way laws work, they have evolved on the principle of precedence and changes in these laws are adapted in light of the past and present circumstances through the ages - similar to how modern laws and frameworks work. Although this evolution of shastras degraded and then stopped - opening space for other "isms" to define our workings - leading to a "ism" derived constitution, new values and principles and codes of living.

To me, this under emphasis by SD preachers on the values, rules, principles, objectives, laws and codes of SD is part of the problem. The obsession of the preachers of SD with Moksha and renunciation or detachment has to stop. The other "isms" have had two things going for them that India and SD has lacked.

1. An organization structure that vests spiritual power and interpretation in authorities to serve as a guide - we have sampradayas, which somewhat approximate but the multitude numbers dilute the benefits derived from structural and doctrinal unity.
2. A strong political union or a union of states (until 1947) that regulates and protects life and the living practice of SD in all its social, political and economic dimensions.

At least one of the above is a necessary but maybe not a sufficient condition to the sustenance and preservation of SD. While I remain unconvinced that either political hindutva or our traditional scholars would be able to bring sufficient new vigor to re-evolve the stagnating works of our smritis and shastras. I remain hopeful that under a sustained political union in due course a sufficient number of people would invest their time and energies to revive the living traditions of SD for the current era. Like you had suggested to me in the past.

It would be foolish to dismiss the impact and effect of the "isms" on Indian temporal and dare I say spiritual life. Below is an example of someone who drops in to "educate" the natives of India - and the folks who listen are some of our best thinkers, who in turn advise our current crop of largely moronic law makers. 70% of the consituent assembly was trained in western jurisprudence and the effect of the "isms" can be seen.

Robert Post is Dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Before coming to Yale, he taught at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Boalt Hall). Dean Post’s subject areas are constitutional law, First Amendment, legal history, and equal protection. He has written and edited numerous books, including Democracy, Expertise, Academic Freedom: A First Amendment Jurisprudence for the Modern State (2012); For the Common Good: Principles of American Academic Freedom (with Matthew M. Finkin, 2009); Prejudicial Appearances: The Logic of American Antidiscrimination Law (with K. Anthony Appiah, Judith Butler, Thomas C. Grey, and Reva Siegel, 2001); and Cons titutional Domains: Democracy, Community, Management (1995). He publishes regularly in legal journals and other publications; recent articles and chapters include “Theorizing Disagreement: Reconceiving the Relationship Between Law and Politics” (California Law Review, 2010); “Constructing the European Polity: ERTA and the Open Skies Judgments” in The Past and Future of EU Law: The Classics of EU Law Revisited on the 50th Anniversary of the Rome Treaty (Miguel Poiares Maduro & Loïc Azuolai eds., 2010); “Roe Rage: Democratic Constitutionalism and Backlash” (with Reva Siegel, Harvard Civil-Rights Civil-Liberties Law Review, 2007); “Federalism, Positive Law, and the Emergence of the American Administrative State: Prohibition in the Taft Court Era” (William & Mary Law Review, 2006); “Foreword: Fashioning the Legal Constitution: Culture, Courts, and Law” (Harvard Law Review, 2003); and “Subsidized Speech" (Yale Law Journal, 1996). He is a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Law Institute and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has an A.B. and Ph.D. in History of American Civilization from Harvard and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

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

Postby shiv » 09 Jul 2014 09:10

VS Naipaul, in his book, "India - a wounded civilization" quoted a passage from a chap called Camus, whose name, I am told is pronounced as "K'moo" and not "Caymuss" in relation to what had befallen the Indian civilization as he contemplated the ruins of Hampi.

Naipaul said that the ancient Indians had found all the answers they needed for life within themselves and were content to live that way because no further answers were required. So when the invaders and looters came, they had no answers.

For many of us, theory masters as we are in everything Indian, it is clear that the ancient Indian civilization, having reached its zenith actually forgot some of the most important aspects of dharma - that is the karma or actions that one must undertake to preserve dharma.

Indian universalism is universal only in the way in which it can be found within every single human being. It is inward looking and contemplative. For many years - perhaps over a decade now I (and others) have pointed out that if you remove violence from Islamism, it will cannot spread. Western Universalism also comes with pain attached to not conforming, and less pain, even reward, in conforming. It shows you a route. It does not necessarily show you a Universal route. That which "requires to be applied on others" is technically not universal but no one will listen to such logic.

I would prefer to call it Western pseudo-Universalism.

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

Postby shiv » 09 Jul 2014 14:44

rajpa wrote:How about science as an example of universalism?

Essentially it is the belief that anything can be refuted unless proved otherwise.


Interesting thought. It follows that if something cannot be proven or refuted, it is neither true nor untrue.

There is no proof that God exists, but his existence cannot be refuted.

I can see, feel, hear, smell and taste things and for me that is reality. They exist. But if I cannot sense something, does it exist? One way of getting around this is to trust someone else and say "If that person/that group of people can sense something, it exists"

But here it becomes belief. You have to believe someone else and you have to, at some stage believe anything that someone else says on the grounds that what you cannot sense can be sensed by someone else. In every case above, reality or existence, or proof of existence is relative. If there is something that neither you nor others can sense - it cannot exist at all. Or can it?

Ultimately "science" as we are taught tells us that anything that exists must be sensed or detectable to be measured, weighed, compared and assessed to be allowed to exist. If something does not conform to those requirements, it does not exist.

Hindu science posits that human senses are limited. The inability of humans to sense something (by some means or other) does not rule out its existence. It also postulates the occurrence of an entity called the "absolute reality" which exists outside of all ability to sense or measure.

However it is important for clever Hindus to remember that the existence of an absolute reality does not absolve one from the need to live day to day life as it is to be lived - i.e. study, work, procreate, help, feed, give comfort and protect.

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

Postby rajpa » 09 Jul 2014 18:29

shiv wrote:
rajpa wrote:How about science as an example of universalism?

Essentially it is the belief that anything can be refuted unless proved otherwise.


Interesting thought. It follows that if something cannot be proven or refuted, it is neither true nor untrue.

There is no proof that God exists, but his existence cannot be refuted.

I can see, feel, hear, smell and taste things and for me that is reality. They exist. But if I cannot sense something, does it exist? One way of getting around this is to trust someone else and say "If that person/that group of people can sense something, it exists"

But here it becomes belief. You have to believe someone else and you have to, at some stage believe anything that someone else says on the grounds that what you cannot sense can be sensed by someone else. In every case above, reality or existence, or proof of existence is relative. If there is something that neither you nor others can sense - it cannot exist at all. Or can it?

Ultimately "science" as we are taught tells us that anything that exists must be sensed or detectable to be measured, weighed, compared and assessed to be allowed to exist. If something does not conform to those requirements, it does not exist.

Hindu science posits that human senses are limited. The inability of humans to sense something (by some means or other) does not rule out its existence. It also postulates the occurrence of an entity called the "absolute reality" which exists outside of all ability to sense or measure.

However it is important for clever Hindus to remember that the existence of an absolute reality does not absolve one from the need to live day to day life as it is to be lived - i.e. study, work, procreate, help, feed, give comfort and protect.


There is a concept of falsifiability introduced by Karl Popper.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability. Quoting from wikipedia:

Popper stresses the problem of demarcation—distinguishing the scientific from the unscientific—and makes falsifiability the demarcation criterion, such that what is unfalsifiable is classified as unscientific, and the practice of declaring an unfalsifiable theory to be scientifically true is pseudoscience


Science, interestingly is not so much about measurability as it is about repeatability (of a phenomenon or experiment).

Also Hinduism talks about the four states of consciousness, which are ultimately related to human observation of reality.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turiya

While Hinduism nailed down thought experiments, western science nailed down lab experiments and are reaching out into the pure thought experiment stage, though not quite there yet IMHO.

For example search google for Stephen Hawking - No need for God. There is also a Discovery/NatGeo video of Hawking explaining how the initial parameters of Big Bang can be explained by well known current laws without requiring a God.

My favourite hypothesis is that the universe is a work in progress. And so therefore, is universalism.

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

Postby shiv » 09 Jul 2014 21:01

rajpa wrote:There is a concept of falsifiability introduced by Karl Popper.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability. Quoting from wikipedia:

Popper stresses the problem of demarcation—distinguishing the scientific from the unscientific—and makes falsifiability the demarcation criterion, such that what is unfalsifiable is classified as unscientific, and the practice of declaring an unfalsifiable theory to be scientifically true is pseudoscience


Science, interestingly is not so much about measurability as it is about repeatability (of a phenomenon or experiment).

Actually all of modern science depends on observation and measurement for the purpose of repeatability and falsifiability.

When observation and measurement are not possible it is neither possible to prove nor disprove (falsify). But in these cases "scientists" have sometimes simply fudged issues and have pushed as "correct" what "seems to be right to me" sometimes based on socio-cultural factors and religion.

As a complete digression - for some reason over the last 2 weeks I ended up watching every single video available on YouTube about "rebirth"/reincarnation. Many have appeared now and it is interesting that all the events recorded in the west have initially been met with skepticism and later mixed belief and disbelief. On the other hand, similarly well documented cases from India and Sri Lanka (also on YouTube) show the native populations accepting "rebirth" as normal and not unnatural.

What is interesting are some of the sceptic scientists interviewed. Some are clearly bullshitting in the face of what appear to be completely inexplicable and well documented cases of people remembering/knowing things they could not possibly have known.

Western science works because they (and we who use the same methods) do not believe in mumbo jumbo and in what can be falsified by observation, measurement and logic. The problem with rebirth is that it cannot be falsified. What is unavailable is a mechanism to explain the cases within the framework of modern science. This is an unusual instance where science and religion in the west (primarily Christianity) are in agreement - so it is a double whammy for anyone who goes through the experience.

Science tends to place "uncommon, unexplainable but unfalsifiable" things (like UFOs) in a sort of wastebasket - the same wastebasket that includes all AIT sceptics and anyone who claims that writing and text, or even intelligence and langauge were present before some date "X" even though fragments of text and other evidence of intelligence seem to exist from well before a "scientifically accepted" era.

Unfortunately, science is also manned by a huge number of people of varying capability, varying competence and honesty. There are many areas in which people will accept what seems likely and dismiss what seems unlikely (falsification by personal incredulity)- and this has been particularly true in the case of linguists and archaeologists poaching off each other to build complex fortresses of nonsense - but we have looked at all this in the OIT thread.

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

Postby johneeG » 09 Jul 2014 22:01

UlanBatori wrote:RamaY:
Hindus believe in Karma (ownership & unavoidability of actions/results), oneness of God (they cannot exist separate from God) and pursuing their Artha/kamas in a Dharmic way. You can go & ask any Hindu these three things and you will get the same answer from a Veda-Brahmana or Chandala.


I would agree. Thx. Except your No. 2 is rejected by the MadhavAcharya / "Dvaita" school of thought, per my limited understanding. Corrections welcomed. IMO most of the justification for worship comes from that, and hence the entire "religion" aspect of SD comes from that. Otherwise one finds oneself worshipping oneself (which of course is fine with me), which negates the effort put into building temples, learning music and dance, skills of any sort except the absolutely required hunting and fishing. IOW, y bother onlee?

JohneeG:
Request permission to steal from your statements above. How should one refer to the fact that they are stolen from you? The list of "schools" is very succinct and exactly what I was looking for, among other things.


:) Thank you, saar. Please go ahead and use it. There is no need for attribution in this case.

----
Shiv saar,
johneeG wrote:Pramana means 'means of knowing a truth'.

There are 3 pramanas:
a) observation (Prathyaksha)
b) words of others (Shabdha)
c) inference (anumaana)

Observation (Prathyaksha) and words of others (Shabdha) form 'facts'. Inference (anumaana) forms 'theories/hypothesis/opinion'.

But, as is commonly seen in the world, there is lot of difference among observations of different people. Similarly, different people say/write different things. So, in such situation, what is to be accepted as the absolute foundation?
Modern science implicitly views 'observation' (Prathyaksha) as the absolute foundation. Of course, in practice this is not followed. For example, most of the physicis theories on origin of universe, or theories like relativity are not based on 'observation' (Prathyaksha). They are based on inference or rather guestimate(or imagination) i.e anumaana by some people. The common people take the words (Shabdha) of these 'experts' and believe them.

The reason is simple, at any higher level of discourse, it is understood that observation (Prathyaksha) cannot be the basis. All people cannot directly observe things by themselves. So, they depend on words of others for the knowledge. Of course, it also needs to be understood that any knowledge that is not based on direct observation (Prathyaksha) is merely approximation only.

So, invariably, one has to depend on the words of others to learn(at least initially). So, whose words(Shabdha) to believe?

In Hindhuism,
Hindhu sects or philosophies all agree on one basic fact: Vedhas(including Upanishadhs) are the Pramana. This is called Shabdha Pramana. All Hindhu sects & philosophies agree that words(Shabdha) of Vedhas are to be believed. According to Hindhus, Upanishadhs(Vedhantha) is an integral part and parcel of Vedhas.

In Buddhism,
The words(Shabdha) of Buddha are taken as the pramana.

In Abrahanic creeds,
the words(Shabdha) of their respective so-called prophets is taken as pramana.

But the differences are:
Hindhuism says that one has to depend on others words only for sometime(initially). Ultimate aim is to get the direct observation(Prathyaksha) of the truth(whatever that truth maybe).

Buddhism says that some special personalities(called Bodhisattvas) alone can learn the truth. The common people are not qualified to learn the truth. Only Bodhisattvas can become Buddhas. A Bodhisattva is a special being who has the potential to become a Buddha. Of course, common people can aim to become a Bodhisattva if they try for many lives. Also, it is not necessary to become a Buddha or Bodhisattva to get nirvana. Nirvana itself has two meanings: 'state of nothingness' and heaven.

Abrahanic creeds say that some special personalities(called prophets) alone can learn the truth. And this truth is revealed to them by the god. god only reveals what he wants to reveal. The prophets don't have any power to learn beyond what the god reveals. god reveals to prophets by sending messages to them through angels. So, generally, prophets do not talk to god directly. They do not see the god directly. They only know what they are told by the angels according to Abrahanic creeds. This is the state of so-called prophets. As for the common people, their situation is truly miserable. According to Abrahanic creeds, the common people are sent messages by the god through prophets(who are sent messages through angels. We don't know how angels get message of god). If the common people do not accept the words of the god sent through prophets, then they will burn in hell for eternity. If the common people accept the words a 'false' prophets, then they will burn in hell for eternity. And common people have no way of verifying whether a particular claimant is a 'real prophet' or 'false prophet'. The common people, themselves, have no way of ever knowing the truth directly(prathyaksha). They are prohibited from using their inference(anumaana).

You can clearly see the devolution of ideas starting from Hindhuism to Buddhism to Abrahanic creeds. Hindhuism says that everyone will ultimately perceive the truth for themselves(Prathyaksha). Direct experience of the truth(whatever it maybe). Buddhism says that such experience is reserved for Buddha. And only a Bodhisattva can become a Buddha. But, Buddhism does not completely close the door on common people. So, common people can become a Bodhisattva. Of course, it is taken as a rare occurrence. And Buddhism says that common people can get their liberation without the need of becoming a Bodhisattva or Buddha. Abrahanic creeds go one step ahead on this path. They say that direct experience is not possible for anyone. Everyone depends on the words of others. People depend on the words of so-called Prophet. So-called Prophets depend on the words of so-called angels. So-called angels claim that they are speaking on behalf of so-called god. And so on. No one has anyway of verifying these claims.

So, according to Hindhuism,
the 'facts' are words(Shabdha) of Vedha. They are treated as axioms.

According to Buddhism,
the 'facts' are words(Shabdha) of Buddha.

According to modern science,
the 'facts' are whatever theory(anumaana) that is popular at that time.

But, the difference between Buddhism and Hindhuism in this regard is:
all the dominant Hindhu sects and philosophies have no dispute on the content of the Vedhas(including Upanishadhs/Vedhantha). So, as far as Hindhuism is concerned, there is no dispute on the basic 'facts' or 'axioms'.

But, the same is not true in the case of Buddhism. In Buddhism, as far as I know and understand(and please correct me if I am wrong), there is dispute on the 'facts' or 'axioms' itself. What are the 'facts' or 'axioms' of Buddhism? The 'facts' or 'axioms' of Buddhism are: words of Buddha i.e. teachings of Buddha.

There are different versions of Pitikas(baskets). Pitika refers to the contents of teachings of Buddha. And different schools(which are categorized as Buddhist) have different versions of pitikas. The number of pitikas(baskets) can vary from 3 to 12(or perhaps even more). Over the years, 3 pitikas have become popular because that is adopted by the Theravadha school. According to the Buddhist history itself, the thervadha school became popular because of the royal patronization(in Magadh). Thats why Theravadha school adopts the maagadhi(i.e Paali) language as its official language(of course, it may also have to do with controlling the narrative by controlling the language, but that would be a digression in this post).

So, there are different versions of the teachings of Buddha. One version accepted by one school is not accepted by the other schools. So, there is dispute on the very basic 'facts' or 'axioms' itself. (This is similar to different versions of hadiths. Different versions of Hadhiths have different portrayals of Mo. naroK is interpreted on the basis of these hadiths.)

But, in case of Hindhuism, there is no dispute on the teachings of Vedha. There is no dispute on the words(Shabdha) of Vedha. The dispute(or disagreement) is on the interpretation of the words(Shabdha) of Vedha.

I hope you are able to see the difference.

Vaishnavas, Shaivas, Shaaktheyas, Gaanapathyas, Skaandhas, and Sauras all quote Vedhas to prove their supremacy. They argue with each other on who is the supreme according to Vedhas(including Upanishadhs).

Similarly, different Hindhu(Aasthika) philosophies quote Vedhas to prove themselves.

There is no dispute on the words of Vedha. The dispute is on interpretation. For example, Taththavamasi is part of Vedha. All Hindhu philosophies and sects agree on this. But Dhwaitha and Adhwaitha have different interpretations of the same words is different. The dispute is one whose interpretation of words of Vedha are correct.

But, in case of Buddhism, the very teachings of Buddha are disputed. What exactly are words of the teachings of Buddha, that in itself, is disputed by the various schools of Buddhism.

For example, tell me what is the teaching of Buddha about the reality of the world(including heaven and hell)?
Does the world(including the heaven and hell) exist or not according to Buddha?


Link

johneeG wrote:
it is the ONLY process left for our human mind to understand what are the workings of the world we see.

The first and foremost thing for a human mind to understand is the human mind itself. Everything that is seen and understood is done through the prism of human mind. As long as the mind itself is not fully understood, all the other understandings(which are derivatives of the mind) are on a shaky ground.

People reach understanding of things in the following manner:
a) observation (Prathyaksha)
b) inference (anumaana)

You observe a phenomenon and then you make a inference(i.e. you propose a theory to explain the observation). The observation is supposed to be facts while the inference(or theory) is supposed to be an opinion. A theory(or opinion) that best explains the available facts(observations) is generally accepted. If a better theory, comes up, then that new theory will be accepted.

But, there are several problems in the above approach:
First and foremost, not all the facts are verifiable for everyone by observing. What I mean to say is that not everyone can observe and verify for themselves certain 'facts'. For example, not everyone can go to a space station and personally observe whether earth revolves around the sun or not. Or if the earth is circular or oval. ...etc.

In such cases, people have to depend on others' words. Words can be either heard or written. For example, most people obtain their knowledge by reading words in text-books, magazines, articles, papers, ...etc or they obtain their knowledge by listening to the words of 'experts'.

Word is called 'Shabdha' in Sanskruth.

People have to listen to the words of others and then, either accept them or reject them. Whether to accept someone's words or not, is again a subjective matter and not any objective matter.

Generally, what happens is if all people say the same thing, then it is accepted as the truth because there is no one challenging it or doubting. But, if there is a contrary view, then the controversy starts. When there are different views(on what are the facts), then which view to accept? That means the 'facts' themselves come under a scanner and are doubtful. This problem is frequently encountered in study of 'history'. When a record of history is taken, how does one know whether that record is truthful or not? Frankly, there is no way unless one can see into the past directly(i.e. make a direct observation). Any other method is only an approximation.

In 'science', people depend on 'experts' to get their facts. People believe that these 'experts' have personally observed(prathyaksha) and then arrived at their theories(anumaana).

Now, at a certain level, experiments are repeatable for laypeople and satisfy themselves. For example, there is gravity on earth. One can satisfy oneself by simply dropping any object and verifying it.

But, after a certain level, experiments are not repeatable for lay people. For example, gravity exists on moon. or gravity does not exist on moon. Now, unless one travels to moon and performs this experiment oneself, one cannot directly verify it.

In such cases, people would depend on those who claim to have done those things. So, their words have to be taken and believed. From this point on, there are 3 factors:
a) observation (prathyaksha)
b) words (shabdha) of others who claim to have observed
c) inference or theories (anumaana)

As I said, it is easy to believe others words, if there is only one viewpoint. But if there are multiple opposing viewpoints then, it becomes a question of which viewpoint one would like to believe.

For example, there are people who claim that they have seen God or Goddess. And similarly, there are people who claim that they have seen aliens or UFO. There are people who claim that they have gone to Moon and observed Earth. So on and so forth.

Now, from a neutral viewpoint, it is not possible for a person to verify any of the above claims. One is forced to simple accept or reject those claims. That means one is forced to place blind faith in the words of others. And generally people make decisions of whom to trust based on their biases. If a person is inclined to believe in Gods or Goddesses, then he may believe certain claims. If a person is a huge fan of modern day science, then they may believe aliens or UFO or landing on Moon ...etc. Basically, it comes down to the mentality of the person. What he likes and dislikes. What he wants to believe and not believe.

There is another point: people lie frequently.

People frequently lie. It happens all the time at all the places. Scientists, politicians, soldiers, doctors, lawyers, technicians, priests, ...etc all lie. And if people are forced to choose between lying and forgoing their jobs/perks/pleasures, then the lying will increase.

So, people are prone to lying and open to lying. Further, people are also prone to being fooled by others. All of us can fool others and be fooled by others.

Then, everyone has certain needs and weaknesses. And most important point is that there are powerful groups in the world who can control things by controlling the finances. So, which scientific experiment needs to be funded and which should not be funded is ultimately decided based on whether its useful or not to the person who is funding it.

And if these powerful people form into a cartel, then they can easily dictate what kind of 'facts' and theories are encouraged and which are discouraged. These cartels can be government bodies or private bodies or quasi-government bodies.

These bodies will make sure that no person can make claims of observations or inferences that run contrary to their interests.

And if they control the media, which frequently they do because the media also needs money to run, then they can also make sure which theories become popular among public and which are considered as 'superstitions' or 'loony'.

Basically we can divide science(including physics) into two categories:
a) verifiable for laymen by performing the experiments themselves. (Prathyaksha)
b) unverifiable for laymen and hence depend on others. (Shabdha)

In (b), physics is no different from any religion. One has to have faith in the words of high priests. Thats that.

In (a), one can make direct observation one self.
But, the point is 'beauty is in the eye of beholder'. That means what you see is based on your mind. What you think you observe is the interpretation of your mind.

Most of the times, mind makes many assumptions to fill in the blanks. It sees only partially and then makes certain fill in the blanks to optimize. So, one's mind itself is doing some internal chores which most of the time one is not aware of.

So, the basic question is:
when you observe an object, are you sure that that object actually exists in that manner only?
It is an accepted fact that certain circumstances can create tunnel vision.
Soldiers in battle generally have tunnel vision. So, their observations cannot be accepted completely because their vision is not proper. The problem is not with their eyes. The problem is with their minds.

Taking this further:
When you make an observation, are you sure that this object of your observation actually exists in the first place?
Because this is the fundamental question, right. Again, it is common experience that people observe objects that do not exist in physical realm. Such observations are made in dreams, hallucinations or delusions. But a critical thing to notice is that the person who is dreaming does not know that he is dreaming. Or the person who is hallucinating does not know that he is hallucinating. So, for them, the observation is as real as it gets.

So, one realizes that one is dreaming only when one has woken up. But that raises important point, then how do we know that when we make an observation, we are not dreaming or hallucinating or deluding? How do we know that the object that we see actually exists?

One simple way of verifying would be to ask others whether they can also see the object, right!

Here is a scenario:
You see a huge car hanging from the roof of a building. You ask a passerby whether he also sees the same, he says that he does. So, you assume its true. Then, you wake up from your dream and realize that both the car hanging from the roof and the passerby were part of the dream. So both of them were the creations of your own mind.

So, how can any one be sure that when one observes an object, the object exists?

Link

Link

Basically, at too higher(or lower) levels of physics, physics transforms into philosophy.

Link

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

Postby ShauryaT » 10 Jul 2014 00:25

shiv wrote:Naipaul said that the ancient Indians had found all the answers they needed for life within themselves and were content to live that way because no further answers were required. So when the invaders and looters came, they had no answers.
True. The breadth and depth of disparity in values and socio-political systems can be gauged by the following anecdote. With the first British engagements with Indian life in Bengal, they were amazed to find that the concept of a "ownership" of land by individuals did not exist in the way they imagined it to be.

For many of us, theory masters as we are in everything Indian, it is clear that the ancient Indian civilization, having reached its zenith actually forgot some of the most important aspects of dharma - that is the karma or actions that one must undertake to preserve dharma.
Swami Dayanand Sarasvati of Arya Samaj has a very plausible theory on how this disconnect between Dharmas' spiritual and temporal systems occurred. He traces this in part to the loss of the use of Sanskrit language amongst the general population, especially the kshatriyas. It is quite plausible for there are no known (to me)prakrit based works say pre-Kalidasa?

Indian universalism is universal only in the way in which it can be found within every single human being. It is inward looking and contemplative. For many years - perhaps over a decade now I (and others) have pointed out that if you remove violence from Islamism, it will cannot spread. Western Universalism also comes with pain attached to not conforming, and less pain, even reward, in conforming. It shows you a route. It does not necessarily show you a Universal route. That which "requires to be applied on others" is technically not universal but no one will listen to such logic.
It is a simple test from Dharma's perspective. Only that which is eternal or sanatan can qualify to be universal. So, in this context most of our smritis, traditions, rituals, shastras, sampradayas and even the devtas are NOT sanatan and hence not universal. For each of them has a context and many are time and space bound. So, my continued striving is to test the "sanatan" aspect of our shrutis to test its limits. It is an interesting exercise, a dominating quest to find the answer to the all consuming question, Who am "I"?.

I would prefer to call it Western pseudo-Universalism.
Certainly and entirely tied to the current state of geo-political equations. For a true state of universal view has to stem from what can be found within each human being. However, no excuses for not being able to compete in temporal aspects. This fight has to be won on both the spiritual and temporal planes simultaneously.

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

Postby SwamyG » 10 Jul 2014 05:10

shiv wrote:They can be compared but how do you compare aspects of Hindu dharma that do not exist in Islam and Christianity. Religion is defined in the dictionary as systems in which people believe in gods or superhumans. This is true of Hindus, Greeks, Romans, Christians and Muslims. To that extent they can be compared

But what about aspects of Hindu dharma that reject the concept of "superhuman" or "God" and refer only to the ultimate reality/existence? This allows one to say that there is no such thing as Allah or Ganesha. Only the absolute truth is. It is a different matter that the absolute truth is referred to as Ishvara or paramatma - but this absolute truth neither coerces you to follow Allah/Ganesha nor reject him. It is neutral to such activities.

What is the comparable feature of Islam and Christianity?

The point I am trying to make is that we have accepted the use of the word "religion" for Hindu dharma although it has features that no other religion has. We have taken an apple and an orange and have accepted that both are oranges.

The concepts you refer as 'Hindu Dharma' are what I would call as the 'philosophical component' of the Hindu system. Be it from a god-fearing or god-appeasing angle or be from a philosophical angle, humans come up with theories and beliefs to help their life observations and situations. The theist and non-theist philosophical components have always influenced each other, sometimes to the extent where these cannot be differentiated clearly. Such is the case of 'monism', which considers just the Ultimate, and its manifestations.

Both Christianity and Islam have their own philosophical components - that answer similar questions as that of Hinduism. However, being strongly tied to the Book; they do not have the same freedom to explore different answers. Like an apple that cannot role far away from a tree, these religions' philosophical components stay close to the Book. Hinduism, like the seeds tend to float further away from the tree. It is a different matter if we like or reject the existence of philosophical components in Christianity and Islam. After Christianity gained foothold in Europe, it co-opted and heavily borrowed from the ancient Greeks and Romans way of life.

So when the theist components can be compared; and one can discuss the merits and demerits of the rituals, monotheism, polytheism, pantheism etc; one could also compare the philosophical components attached (or that co exists) with these. Hinduism has wider range and deeper explorations and explanations.

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

Postby member_26011 » 10 Jul 2014 05:30

^^^ "Philosophy" vs. "Religion" -- Dharma yes, Rk yes, Ganesha no.
How do we really do that?
Here, for example is https://vedavichara.com/vedic-chants/rig-veda.html
Listen to audio of Ashtakam 1, Adhyayam 1, Apree Suktham (001) and you recognize
(गणानां त्वा गणपतिं हवामहे) -- gaNaanam tva gaNapatim...
So, how can we decouple Ganapati (unless Ganesha is only one form of Ganapati, or more nonsensically this is just another way of saying GaNaapaathi, but I've never heard either case being made and further profess near total ignorance of Vedas).
Is it just fashionable (or even logical) to pull out God in favor of concepts of truth, connectivity...but is that actually what the vedas do and can such a separation make any sense?

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

Postby shiv » 10 Jul 2014 06:45

SwamyG wrote:Both Christianity and Islam have their own philosophical components - that answer similar questions as that of Hinduism. However, being strongly tied to the Book; they do not have the same freedom to explore different answers. Like an apple that cannot role far away from a tree, these religions' philosophical components stay close to the Book. Hinduism, like the seeds tend to float further away from the tree. It is a different matter if we like or reject the existence of philosophical components in Christianity and Islam. After Christianity gained foothold in Europe, it co-opted and heavily borrowed from the ancient Greeks and Romans way of life.

So when the theist components can be compared; and one can discuss the merits and demerits of the rituals, monotheism, polytheism, pantheism etc; one could also compare the philosophical components attached (or that co exists) with these. Hinduism has wider range and deeper explorations and explanations.

The philosophical components of Islam and Christianity have hardly achieved the volume and depth of Hindu philosophy and I cannot accept any kind of equality there - to be set aside as "one equally matched philosophical component of Hindu dharma and the Abrahamic religions" and then move aside to discuss the theist components.

I see two serious objections in this.

First, the "theist" components of the Abrahamic religions are restricitive (one God) and coercive (punishment/no reward if you do not believe)

The second part is that once you take a Christian or Islamic Acharya/Pandit/Shastri and and set up a debate with a Hindu Bishop or Mullah/Atatollah you find that the Hindu Bishop/Mullah's debate is chock full of observations about the self and Brahman while the Christian or Muslim shastri/acharya deal at the level of belief in what is written in a book, punishment (or lack of reward) for not believing and either heaven or hell. No life after death. Death is the end of life. No theory about where the soul comes from or where it goes that does not involve God or heaven. You must believe first and then ask where you come from and where you go. From the viewpoint of science that is utter nonsense and it is allowable only because the Abrahamic religions pre-date western science.

Despite a wide gulf between the Hindu and non Hindu worldview, we (Hindus) are in my view over eager to accommodate and accept similarities and ignore glaring differences. This is true even of written works by Hindus dating as far back as the 18th century where the author, often a scholar in his own right is anxious to claim that "All religions have the same goal/intent" That is a load of crap that sounds like secularism forced on free thinking Hindu scholars.

I do go so far as to admit that as a philosophy, Hindu dharma does not lay much stress on the identity or power of a "God" and does not care if someone wants to worship a particular avatar as God. If someone wants to worship an iPod - the Hindu accepts it and starts dwelling on the act of worship itself and its sublime goals. The Abrahamic religions object to the iPod God and claim that worship should only be allowed for officially mandated Gods. So really it is, in my view counter productive to split the philosophical and theist aspects.

Sarva Dharma Sambhava is a load of crap unless you are dealing with sarva dharma - ie all dharmas. If there is theism and no dharma there is no comparison, no equality.

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

Postby shiv » 10 Jul 2014 08:27

People have said that "Western Universalism" is a modern day offshoot/extension of Christianity and I have some views on this.

It would probably be wrong to say that Western universalism promotes religion, per se. But I think we need to step back in history to the initial conflict between Islam and Hindus - a conflict that actually settled into a sort of "stalemate" until the British came with armed force to enforce Christian values.

But let me go back to an even earlier era - an era when Christian values were being propagated along with the spread of Christianity. Christian values (at least on the surface) promoted equality of all humans in society. As a standalone concept, this sounds very good, provided it is implemented honestly and without bias.

In actual fact - one had to be Christian first in order to become equal. This was a great concept when the Romans were persecuting Christians. Becoming Christians united people and equalized them in their group and they no longer had the hierarchy of Roman rule. But when Christians gained power and were able to persecute others, they continued to demand change of faith for full equality. And even change of faith was not good enough if social beliefs tended to declare some humans (such as blacks) as sub-human. If you are sub-human you cannot be equal to a human.

This was the stage in which the British came to India. They were able to relate to Islamic values, which demanded things very similar to Christianity - namely faith in one God, no idolatry, going by one book, and equality of all under (one) God. By these standards Hindus failed on many counts
1. They did not have one God
2. The were idolaters
3. They had social classes which were advertised as an anathema to the "egalitarian" Christian tenets

In other words from the British (=western=Christian) viewpoint All Hindus were:
Polytheist pagans, idolaters and racists/slavers (did not consider humans equal)


Hindu Dharma (mislabelled as Hindu religion) itself and all Hindus were branded as such and the name 'Hindu" carries all three "black marks" as classified by powerful ruling western Christians who came into India as Europe was expanding to rule the world

In this day and age, when the west has rejected God, Hindu polytheism is not an issue, nor is idolatry. But the social classification and social branding of Hindus continues as being different from "Western Universalism". Western models of social discrimination are actually similar to the Hindu model but it is up to Hindus to point out how Christian social values are used as western Universalism, and western social discrimination, very similar to the discrimination that Hindus stand labelled as representing, is sidelined as not being a major issue.

The Positive News USA thread deals in some aspects of western social discrimination that exist under the guise of an equal and fully empowered society.

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

Postby SwamyG » 10 Jul 2014 08:52

I never said the philosophical components of Christianity and Islam are anywhere near Hinduism. In fact I state Hinduism has wider explorations and explanations. I also state they are closely tied to the Book and lack freedom to explore. So I do not know where we differ for you to object.

You have your right to see theism and philosophy unitedly. However, the common man when praying to his favorite god to help him in his exams, get a good job, health for his parents and family, some wealth and a cricket win operates at the level where he expects the god to intervene. He does not posit if Brahman manifests or not, he does not care for Saguna vs Nirguna. Growing up I never encountered these terms, let alone be taught and asked to explore. Coming from a semi orthodox Brahmin family, if such is the lifestyle of a city Brahmin, and looking at my past circle of family and friends, nobody discussed philosophy. Religious rituals were conducted as per individual's community traditions.

When rubber meets the road, there was not much difference between a Kuppusamy, Kuppuswamy, Kadhir, Kaadhir or Kevin worshipped their gods. Sure their outlook and respect of other religions and thoughts were shaped by their own tradition and books.

Both options of no choice and two choices are equally bad. Polytheism stemmed from multiple ideas and ability to view the World using different lens.

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

Postby rajpa » 10 Jul 2014 13:23

shiv wrote:
rajpa wrote:There is a concept of falsifiability introduced by Karl Popper.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability. Quoting from wikipedia:

Popper stresses the problem of demarcation—distinguishing the scientific from the unscientific—and makes falsifiability the demarcation criterion, such that what is unfalsifiable is classified as unscientific, and the practice of declaring an unfalsifiable theory to be scientifically true is pseudoscience


Science, interestingly is not so much about measurability as it is about repeatability (of a phenomenon or experiment).

Actually all of modern science depends on observation and measurement for the purpose of repeatability and falsifiability.

When observation and measurement are not possible it is neither possible to prove nor disprove (falsify). But in these cases "scientists" have sometimes simply fudged issues and have pushed as "correct" what "seems to be right to me" sometimes based on socio-cultural factors and religion.


Physics and mathematics have moved into exceedingly complex definitions of observability and measurability.

About rebirth etc.. it is important to have a clear problem statement that can be termed as scientific. Then tests can be performed to validate, prove or disprove it. I dont think we are at that stage yet. Like I said, work in progress.

OTOH, to believe in rebirth just because a few people say a few things about their "past lives" invites skepticism as well. It is just as good as believing in Yama sitting with a sword over his head. Nice to read but needs more than a grandma's tales to believe as truth - after a certain age atleast! :)

Here is a question to the Pope: Will Argentina win the world cup?

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

Postby shiv » 10 Jul 2014 14:14

rajpa wrote:OTOH, to believe in rebirth just because a few people say a few things about their "past lives" invites skepticism as well.

Good science cannot rely on "personal incredulity" as proof of anything. Things that "invite scepticism" actually prove nothing either way - other than reveal an inbuilt bias that makes one look for solutions that one does not somehow "feel sceptical about". The number of things that "invited scepticism" and even death sentences (at one time in the past) make a mockery of the entire community of people who call themselves "scientists"

But that is a digression from this thread.

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

Postby shiv » 10 Jul 2014 14:38

SwamyG wrote:
You have your right to see theism and philosophy unitedly. However, the common man when praying to his favorite god to help him in his exams, get a good job, health for his parents and family, some wealth and a cricket win operates at the level where he expects the god to intervene. He does not posit if Brahman manifests or not, he does not care for Saguna vs Nirguna. Growing up I never encountered these terms, let alone be taught and asked to explore. Coming from a semi orthodox Brahmin family, if such is the lifestyle of a city Brahmin, and looking at my past circle of family and friends, nobody discussed philosophy. Religious rituals were conducted as per individual's community traditions.

When rubber meets the road, there was not much difference between a Kuppusamy, Kuppuswamy, Kadhir, Kaadhir or Kevin worshipped their gods. Sure their outlook and respect of other religions and thoughts were shaped by their own tradition and books.


Two significant errors in the quote above - but they are errors that have become commonplace ever since Indian education had to move out of traditional Hindu education to a British style "technical education" in search of employment - that started among Indians, starting with forward castes in the late 1800s.

The first (relatively minor) error lies in the (claimed) lack of awareness of Hindu tradition beyond simple bhakti/worship as performed at home - and an assumption that one's personal level of awareness in this regard can be generalized to apply to all others. But these are true of a lot of modern day Indians with 150 years of secular education in their family history

The second is much more interesting to me. It is a very very Hindu idea that the act of worship is the same for Kathir, Qadir and Kevin. It is not. For Qadir it is not worship at all if it is not Allah that is worshipped. For Kevin, if he a proper Christian, a belief in Jesus and other Christian tenets are mandatory. It is only the secular Hindu Kathir Selvan who imagines that his worship is the same as that of Qadir and Kevin. He is only right insofar as the demands made (I would like to pass my exams) and the mental comfort obtained. But he is wrong in assuming that Kevin or Qadir could do exactly what he does and feel the same comfort. Kathir does not demand that Kevin or Qadir should worship Murugan or Siva. He might get just as much comfort from praying to Allah. But others cannot do that without guilt and/or fear of punishment. Both are violating the tenets of their religion if they agree with Kathir.

You have unwittingly set up the classic secular/communal conflict of India. For a Hindu to be secular, he has to say that all religions are equal and that all Gods are the same, and that one can be replaced by the other. But for the devout Christian or Muslim all Gods are not the same and their one God (whatever his name) cannot be replaced by any other. No other can be worshipped. This is the "secular covenant of India" in which the Hindu denies the reality of Abrahamic religions and lies to himself that his worship is the same as any other. The more he ignores his own complex culture, and the less he knows, the more secular it gets.

Hindu pluralism has been smothered with a forced secularism that makes us lie to ourselves about the true nature of Non Hindu religions. We simply delude ourselves by doing equal equal and make no effort to understand what makes Kevin Christian or Qadir Muslim.

How this relates to Universalism is that Hindus have, over 150 years, placed themselves in a position of apology and defensiveness where they automatically agree that their traditions must be wrong. For an Indian to be a world citizen he has to be in denial and apologetic about his culture - and the less he knows and the more he fudges the easier it is to be a "world citizen".

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

Postby rajpa » 10 Jul 2014 14:42

shiv wrote:
rajpa wrote:OTOH, to believe in rebirth just because a few people say a few things about their "past lives" invites skepticism as well.

Good science cannot rely on "personal incredulity" as proof of anything. Things that "invite scepticism" actually prove nothing either way - other than reveal an inbuilt bias that makes one look for solutions that one does not somehow "feel sceptical about". The number of things that "invited scepticism" and even death sentences (at one time in the past) make a mockery of the entire community of people who call themselves "scientists"

But that is a digression from this thread.


Skepticism is not the same as mockery or incredulity. It can and is often a real base for development of scientific thought.

--edited later--
Doc - Skepticism does have other nuances, as you have yourself correctly interpreted. We could just call it critical thinking. There is no bias except towards a developing a kind of experiment/phenomenon/product that is repeatable, observable and measurable - by physical, thoughtful or mathematical means. This is universal.

I still say that this whole thing is a work in progress.

-- Slight Digress --

I once had a long discussion with a RoPer - I asked, if everything is there in the Q, then where is the design manual for the mobile phone or the internet? The reply was that these were man made. My counter is that there is nothing that is "man made". Even that which is "man made" is made by the Original Thingie. So for some reason, the OT wanted to create the cell phone and the internet in this particular century instead of any other time in the past. Why? Because the universe is a work in progress. One way of putting it would be that the old gives way to the new. Our purpose is to create and further extend the creation of the Original Thingie. Too much OT! :)
Last edited by rajpa on 10 Jul 2014 17:32, edited 4 times in total.

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

Postby RamaY » 10 Jul 2014 18:17

What is work in progress, the universe or the human understanding of universe?

What is the definition of universe? Is it only the visible/material universe or does it include both perceivable/non-perceivable? If scientific universe, which includes the so-called 'dark' matter, the ultimate universe or can there exist something beyond it?

स॒हस्र॑शीर्षा॒ पुरु॑षः । स॒ह॒स्रा॒क्षः स॒हस्र॑पात् ।
स भूमिं॑ वि॒श्वतो॑ वृ॒त्वा । अत्य॑तिष्ठद्दशाङ्गु॒लम् ॥
पुरु॑ष ए॒वेदग्ं सर्वम्॓ । यद्भू॒तं यच्च॒ भव्यम्॓ ।
उ॒तामृ॑त॒त्व स्येशा॑नः । य॒दन्ने॑नाति॒रोह॑ति ॥

sahasra’śīrṣā puru’ṣaḥ | sahasrākṣaḥ sahasra’pāt |
sa bhūmi’ṃ viśvato’ vṛtvā | atya’tiṣṭhaddaśāṅguḷam ||
puru’ṣa evedagṃ sarvam” | yadbhūtaṃ yacca bhavyam” |
utāmṛ’tatva syeśā’naḥ | yadanne’nātiroha’ti ||

That Purusha has thousand (infinite) hands| Purusha also has thousand (infinite) feet|
He/Purusha covered this earth, and that whole universe | And also goes 10 digits/dimensions beyond that universe||
That Purusha is everything/sarvam (vyakta/perceived and avyakta/unperceived) | Purusha is beyond that past and future.

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

Postby SwamyG » 10 Jul 2014 20:12

shiv wrote:Two significant errors in the quote above - but they are errors that have become commonplace ever since Indian education had to move out of traditional Hindu education to a British style "technical education" in search of employment - that started among Indians, starting with forward castes in the late 1800s.

The first (relatively minor) error lies in the (claimed) lack of awareness of Hindu tradition beyond simple bhakti/worship as performed at home - and an assumption that one's personal level of awareness in this regard can be generalized to apply to all others. But these are true of a lot of modern day Indians with 150 years of secular education in their family history

Addressing the minor error in this post.....
I knew the counter argument of generalization based on personal experiences is bound to come when I made my point. Yes, from a pure argumentative perspective there are limits to generalization of personal experiences to the whole population. However, my generalization was not based on just the small sample set. I was not making a remark on a far off land (for example say Australia) based on what I read or hear. Growing up in India, I lived with Indians. India still being a Hindu majority, has Hindu culture in several areas of life. So my experiences and observations are not unique and I did not have extra sensory perceptions of people's intentions when it came religions.

When one observes the local culture of a city (or a town), by living in it, going to temples and conducting religious ceremonies and just living the life like everyone else, it is easy to conclude that people do differentiate religious ceremonies versus philosophy. Granted some of the recent ideologies, even spread by some of the Dravidian movies (especially the MGR movies) about ONE GOD, have people say "kadvaul onnu dhan" (there is only one god), but these conclusion of people does not arise from a reading of scriptures or philosophical texts; but arises because of the subtle changes happening in society.

If one understands the spread of Hinduism, as we now know it, the big ideas were preached by rishis/muni, poet/philosophers and Kings. Local worship rituals were folded into the umbrella called Hinduism. The villager worshiping the grama daivata did not think about philosophy; he had a specific purpose when conducting the worship. The non-Vedic cultures had their own versions of worship and life style.

My points do not come because of my own lack of good understanding of Hinduism or local traditions, but based on my observations of people.

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

Postby symontk » 10 Jul 2014 20:35

shiv wrote:For a Hindu to be secular, he has to say that all religions are equal and that all Gods are the same, and that one can be replaced by the other.

How this relates to Universalism is that Hindus have, over 150 years, placed themselves in a position of apology and defensiveness where they automatically agree that their traditions must be wrong. For an Indian to be a world citizen he has to be in denial and apologetic about his culture - and the less he knows and the more he fudges the easier it is to be a "world citizen".


I don't think this was imposed by minorities by Hindus. It might have been assumed by Hindus. But truth is that secularism can be achieved even if Hindus believe in their Gods and other minorities believe their own Gods. There is no need for Hindus to be denial and apologetic about their culture

shiv wrote:The philosophical components of Islam and Christianity have hardly achieved the volume and depth of Hindu philosophy and I cannot accept any kind of equality there - to be set aside as "one equally matched philosophical component of Hindu dharma and the Abrahamic religions" and then move aside to discuss the theist components.

There is no Hindu philosophy, its only collection of multiple philosophies.

shiv wrote:The second part is that once you take a Christian or Islamic Acharya/Pandit/Shastri and and set up a debate with a Hindu Bishop or Mullah/Atatollah you find that the Hindu Bishop/Mullah's debate is chock full of observations about the self and Brahman while the Christian or Muslim shastri/acharya deal at the level of belief in what is written in a book, punishment (or lack of reward) for not believing and either heaven or hell. No life after death. Death is the end of life. No theory about where the soul comes from or where it goes that does not involve God or heaven. You must believe first and then ask where you come from and where you go. From the viewpoint of science that is utter nonsense and it is allowable only because the Abrahamic religions pre-date western science.


This is wrong info about Christianity. Christianity is all about after life. From the first book / chapter of Bible to the last book / chapter it deals with that only

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

Postby shiv » 10 Jul 2014 20:56

SwamyG wrote:
If one understands the spread of Hinduism, as we now know it, the big ideas were preached by rishis/muni, poet/philosophers and Kings. Local worship rituals were folded into the umbrella called Hinduism. The villager worshiping the grama daivata did not think about philosophy; he had a specific purpose when conducting the worship. The non-Vedic cultures had their own versions of worship and life style.

Actually Hindu tradition was maintained by folk arts and retelling of the epics - all dying now. India was 80% rural even when I was in college. The culture was kept alive mainly by retelling of the epics by travelling drama groups, local and travelling holy men, and regular "yatras" to kashi (which took months even as recently as 1900). The more esoteric concepts are pretty well known - at least as legends of people who meditated and "saw God". Veda recitation was and is commonplace at weddings and in temples. Parleys with holy men and discussions I think have always been possible for people who visit places like Kashi, Rishikesh or Dwaraka. I think a connection with the Mathas of the South would keep one in touch with the deeper aspects of philosophy. It is the loss of that regular contact with Hindu culture that came from with Macaulayite education that has resulted in a large number of people with the experience you relate.

As I see it - the earliest Hindu Macaulayites who started "losing the plot" as it were belonged at least to my grandfather's generation (1880s onwards) - although I see evidence of that even earlier. I think the effect of Macaulayism on Brahmin families was recorded in a biography of the mathematician Ramajujam (The Man Who knew Infinity- Robert Kanigel) in which it was noted that men changed to western attire and spoke English while the family traditions of worship and festivals were maintained by the women. The women were typically kept away from the social functions. So it is possible that men who received "Western" education would beget children and grandchildren with little knowledge of Hindu culture but plenty of embarrassment, shame and apology.

Embarrassment, shame and apology were part of the education.
Last edited by shiv on 10 Jul 2014 21:12, edited 2 times in total.

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

Postby shiv » 10 Jul 2014 20:56

symontk wrote:There is no Hindu philosophy, its only collection of multiple philosophies.

Balderdash.

symontk wrote:This is wrong info about Christianity. Christianity is all about after life. From the first book / chapter of Bible to the last book / chapter it deals with that only

Not my problem. "It's there in the books" is a great excuse for saying any damn thing. Hear it every time someone's head gets lopped off in Pakistan.

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

Postby shiv » 10 Jul 2014 21:06

symontk wrote:
shiv wrote:For a Hindu to be secular, he has to say that all religions are equal and that all Gods are the same, and that one can be replaced by the other.

How this relates to Universalism is that Hindus have, over 150 years, placed themselves in a position of apology and defensiveness where they automatically agree that their traditions must be wrong. For an Indian to be a world citizen he has to be in denial and apologetic about his culture - and the less he knows and the more he fudges the easier it is to be a "world citizen".


I don't think this was imposed by minorities by Hindus. It might have been assumed by Hindus. But truth is that secularism can be achieved even if Hindus believe in their Gods and other minorities believe their own Gods. There is no need for Hindus to be denial and apologetic about their culture


Never said it was imposed by minorities. Secularism has already been achieved in India by Hindus being apologetic and accepting responsibility for all social ills while non Hindus are not to be blamed in case the edifice of secularism should be broken down.

Anyhow enough of this or I will get into a theology discussion that I don't want on this thread

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

Postby Rudradev » 10 Jul 2014 21:14

Shiv, per Rajiv Malhotra's formulation the categorization of belief systems into "science" or "religion" occurs thus:

Religion is a belief system that relies on truth-claims: i.e. assertions regarded to be true but which are in and of themselves unverifiable. For example, what happens after one dies.

Science is a belief system that relies on "truths" as defined by the "scientific method": testable hypotheses that can be verified by direct, empirical experimentation that yields reproducible results.

Rajiv also makes a distinction between the belief systems themselves and the "codes of conduct" they inspire. A "code of conduct" is a set of behaviors, assumptions and worldviews that spring from a belief system. It includes personal (both internal and external), social, and in some cases economic and political behavior. Science also has a code of conduct with its own commandments: thou shalt not plagiarize, thou shalt not falsify data etc.

The fundamental point of difference, however, is the truth-claim vs. verifiable truth. The first thing to realize about Western Universalism in this context is that the distinction between "unverifiable truth-claim" and "scientific truth" appears to be very cut-and-dried only in Western schema... not necessarily in Indian or other schema. This is because of the history-centric demand for literal belief that Abrahamic religions impose on their followers. So for example, a "truth-claim" may be that God created everything in six days 4000 years ago, or that the sun goes around the earth. When Galileo or Darwin offer empirical evidence to the contrary, using the scientific method, there is great opposition and conflict because the "scientific truth" has rammed head-on into the "truth-claim" asserted by religion. It should be recognized that before Galileo and the telescope, the "truth-claim" of the sun going around the earth was "unverifiable" from the Western point of view... but when science and technology reach a stage where such things become "verifiable", there is invariably conflict.

However, "science" also has its "truth-claims" which are not currently verifiable at any given time, and which are nonetheless accepted on the basis of saying "the best available evidence suggests so". For example, the speed of light in a vacuum is experimentally verifiable by the Michelson-Morley experiment; it is a "truth" in science. However, Einstein's special relativity is a hypothesis (and remains one to this day, despite its wide acceptance) based partially on the results of Michelson-Morley. Some day Einsteinian physics or Darwinian biology might be proven or disproven with direct empirical evidence, but it has not been for now. As such, we cannot imagine how exactly we would ever be able to "prove" relativity or natural selection directly. Yet, the extent to which circumstantial or prerequisite evidence appears to support special relativity (or natural selection), coupled with the absence of evidence to support alternative hypotheses, is "good enough" for these truth-claims to be accepted by scientists even in the absence of "necessary and sufficient" direct empirical evidence.

This feature of Western science becomes even more emphatically clear in the instance of medical practice vs. biological science. In the laboratory you can demonstrate that Angiotensin II, for example, has numerous physiological effects that may be deleterious in heart failure. However, when you conduct a clinical trial of an angiotensin receptor blocker, the results you get are almost never 100% (or even 80%) successful. Some patients get better while others get worse and die. It is virtually impossible to establish whether the mechanisms of angiotensin blockade seen in a nice clean laboratory setting were in fact responsible for improving the health of all the patients who got better, or indeed that they did not contribute to worsening the condition of the patients who died. Yet the "truth-claim" that angiotensin receptor blocker is effective for treatment of heart failure is generally accepted, and people are prescribed these drugs all the time. Same for virtually every pharmaceutical product; a double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial with statistically effective results and no serious adverse events is all the "evidence" needed to put it on the market.

So in the Western Universal Setting you have two sources of strain between Science and Religion:

1) As science and technology progress, new methods evolve to compile empirical evidence that will challenge assertions based on Religious truth claims like geocentric universe or creationism.

2) It is a necessary part of the macro-level "scientific method" that theories and hypotheses that are not immediately provable by direct empirical experimentation to give reproducible results, nonetheless are "accepted" as the foundations for further research, exploration and even application; this effectively elevates them to "scientific truths" while in fact, by the very definitions of science, they remain unverifiable "truth-claims".

However, the "truth-claims" of science (one hopes) can and will be discarded or revised based on their contradiction and supercession by direct experimental evidence in the future. They are not *sacred*. So here we have another fundamental point of distinction between science and religion: the "truth-claims" of science are not adhered to as a matter of faith, and can be discarded based on future evidence, while the "truth-claims" of religion are adhered to as a matter of faith and will be adhered to even in the face of contrary scientific evidence.

Rajiv Malhotra articulates these ideas to pose the argument: all that has been described above is true in the context of Western Universalism, i.e. true of Abrahamic Religion and Western Science (the "scientific method" officially articulated and adopted following the Western "Age of Enlightenment"). Therefore,

1) Is it possible to classify Hindu Dharma as either a Science or a Religion, exclusively, per the definitions of Western Schema?

2) Can Hindu Dharma be considered as a "science" based on the fact that Western "science" itself relies on a large number of currently unverifiable truth-claims which, unlike Abrahamic religion, it will either discard or continue to support based on the arrival of direct empirical evidence in future?

3) If (2) is true, then are ANY of the truth-claims of Hindu Dharma "Sacred"? After all it is the notional quality of "sacredness" that makes Abrahamic Religion unwilling to discard its truth-claims even when Western science comes up with contradictory evidence. Will Hindu Dharma discard or revise any of its principles or currently-unverifiable truth-claims based on the course of evidence that accumulates in future?

4) If it will, then what is the role of "Faith" in Hindu Dharma? "Faith" in Abrahamic Religion is a blanket defence against ever having to give up unverifiable truth-claims even when science disproves them. What does "Faith" do for Hindu Dharma if Hindu Dharma is (like Western science) open to revising or discarding truth-claims on the basis of future evidence?

We know what Hindu Dharma is from an experiential standpoint because we breathe it and live it every day. However, to defend it from Western Universalist onslaught (a two-pronged attack that comes simultaneously from both from both Abrahamic Religious forces and so-called "rationalist, reformist" forces), we have to be able to articulate it in terms of the Western Universalist lexicon... is it a religion or science? Giving some vague mealy-mouthed answer is inadequate, because we are still under attack. We have to frame the argument in terms of Western Universalist terminology, and use that argument itself to counterattack the West.

We have to show why Western Universalist notions of "Religion" and "Science" are THEMSELVES inadequate and full of contradictions, are in fact useless at clearly defining such categories even in the West itself, and are therefore completely unsuitable for framing any descriptions or criticisms of India. At present, these Western categories are used to relentlessly frame, define, characterize, criticize and bash India BY DEFAULT... that is why they are a Western "Universalism", a usurpation of the mantle of worldwide human values by the West. And that is why understanding Western Universalism is such a big deal.

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

Postby shiv » 10 Jul 2014 21:27

Rudradev wrote: At present, these Western categories are used to relentlessly frame, define, characterize, criticize and bash India BY DEFAULT... that is why they are a Western "Universalism", a usurpation of the mantle of worldwide human values by the West. And that is why understanding Western Universalism is such a big deal.

Good post Rudradev. I have some thoughts about other parts of your post that I will post later, but I will start with this.

The reason why the above statement is true is because a very large number of Indians have been co-opted into this thought process and have right from the 1850s, received benefits from adopting western viewpoint and no benefits/even punishment from retaining an Indian, "Hindu" character.

The "Western viewpoint" has gradually morphed from the 1800s to the 21st century. The only common skein is a conviction of the superiority of the western way. In the 1800s and early 1900s, the western way included racism, bigotry and misogyny and the promotion of a Christian ethos. Over a century and a half later the racism is nuanced and pushed into corners, the misogyny has taken on a different character and the co-opted Indians have changed to celebrate homosexuality which they disliked 30 years ago. But the educated Indians' contempt and derision for Indian traditional knowledge and a blind admiration of the west have remained constant from the 1850s.

Indian Hindus are a nation in apology and need to understand that. it is not that difficult to pose an alternative to western Universalism - but the apology and self doubt have to be understood.


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