Tradition, Culture, Religion & Law in Indian Society

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sudarshan
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Re: Tradition, Culture, Religion & Law in Indian Society

Postby sudarshan » 13 Jun 2019 08:38

Bottomline: It is the "disinterested in the material" nature of the Dharmic notion of God, which makes it possible for Dharmic faiths to dispense with the very notion of God - an Abrahamic faith cannot do this (whereas, at least two Dharmic faiths have actually done this).

Corollary: If a faith has de-emphasized or dispensed with the notion of God (but still retains a notion of "ethics" or "morality"), it is by definition Dharmic.

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Re: Tradition, Culture, Religion & Law in Indian Society

Postby SriKumar » 13 Jun 2019 08:59

1. yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharatah abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srujam yaham
suggests that god is interested, and jumps in to help ...under some circumstances. (I noticed the qualifier: material).
2. When talking about consequences arising from actions, do you mean 1. actions made in this life, 2. previous life, 3. both?

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Re: Tradition, Culture, Religion & Law in Indian Society

Postby sudarshan » 13 Jun 2019 09:20

SriKumar ji, I don't know if you've read Calvin and Hobbes. If not, it's about a boy (Calvin) who has a toy tiger (Hobbes), but he pretends the tiger is real, and actually playing with him and often fighting with him. Basically a boy's make-believe pet.

There was an interesting episode (I might not recall it exactly, but I remember the gist of it). For our purposes, let's forget that Hobbes is imaginary - it could be just two boys playing.

Calvin and Hobbes sit down to play monopoly.

Hobbes ends up getting a lot of properties and forcing Calvin to pay rent.

Calvin runs out of money soon enough. So he says "this is it, I'm robbing the bank."

Hobbes: You can't rob the bank!

Calvin: I don't have money, so I have no other option.

Hobbes: Well, if that's the way we're playing, then I'm robbing you!

<fight> <scuffle> <pant> <gasp>

Now if you were the parent of these two boys, what would you do? You have no interest in their game (the material world). But Dharma has gone to the dogs (robbing banks, robbing each other, fighting, tearing each other's hair and clothes). Of course you intervene.

Your options are - shut down the game and send them off to do some useful work (invoke Shiva, the destroyer). Or - let them play, if they promise to be good and play nice (Vishnu, the preserver).

With "Yada yada hi dharmasya," Krishna says that He comes down, in His role as preserver, to restore order and allow the game to continue, though He Himself has no interest in playing. The descent to the material is for the specific purpose of restoring order (Dharma), that's all. Then He's back to His abstract self (you heading back to the kitchen or garage to get on with your work).

"Disinterest in the material" still holds. The interest is in allowing the kids to continue enjoying their game, which they can't do if things get out of order. But it is your indulgence which allows the game to continue - if you're in the mood, you could just as well shut it down.

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Re: Tradition, Culture, Religion & Law in Indian Society

Postby sudarshan » 13 Jun 2019 09:45

Your second question:

It depends on how long it takes for the actions to produce reactions. The Dharmic tradition holds that actions could fructify in subsequent lives also, and I don't see a reason to disbelieve that. The principle of Karma is clear enough, but its workings are a mystery to us. Hence, I feel, Dharma is a guide.

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Re: Tradition, Culture, Religion & Law in Indian Society

Postby sudarshan » 14 Jun 2019 07:37

Found it -

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/388425/rob-bank

I think there might be some confusion between "disinterested" and "uninterested" also.

In a tournament game, cricket or badminton, you want the umpire to be disinterested (i.e., unbiased and without any stake in the game, and also not participating in the game himself).

You don't want the umpire to be uninterested (i.e., "game go to hell, what goes my father onlee").

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Re: Tradition, Culture, Religion & Law in Indian Society

Postby SriKumar » 14 Jun 2019 07:41

Got the 'disinterested' part right from when you first used that word, however I still tend not to believe it fully. There are many stories in puranas about gods granting boons to humans after penance etc e.g. Bhasmasura (humans to ashes), Arjuna (pashupata weapon etc). Perhaps they are exceptions. Gods were clearly influenced by humans petitioning them through hardship and/or bhakti. This aspect is not a major objection/concern for me though.

The part about previous life is a major objection for me, though. The issue is 'consequences of actions/karma' is so important and central and yet so much of it is predicated on previous lives, something that 99% of humans (maybe 99.999%) do not remember. If they had any idea, people actions and karma would converge rapidly to moksha. The part about previous life has to be taken entirely on faith, unfortunately. I guess it might be true, there's no way to explain why completely blameless people/kids suffer terribly- comes in news all the time. For your exposition though, you can add the matter of karma accumulation from a previous life as an assumption and continue with developing the theory. Back to lurk mode.
Last edited by SriKumar on 14 Jun 2019 07:55, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Tradition, Culture, Religion & Law in Indian Society

Postby sudarshan » 14 Jun 2019 07:53

SriKumar wrote:Got the 'disinterested' part right from when you first used that word, however I still tend not to believe it fully. There are many stories in puranas about gods granting boons to humans after penance etc e.g. Bhasmasura (humans to ashes), Arjuna (pashupata weapon etc). Perhaps they are exceptions. Gods were clearly influenced by humans petitioning them through hardship and/or bhakti. This aspect is not a major objection/concern for me though.

The part about previous life is a major objection for me, though. The issue is 'consequences of actions/karma' is so important and central and yet so much of it is predicated on previous lives, something that 99% of humans (maybe 99.999%) do not remember. If they had any idea, people actions and karma would converge rapidly to moksha. The part about previous life has to be taken entirely on faith. WIthout a knowledge of a previous life's actions (if indeed it exists), people will do what they want. For your exposition though, you can add the matter of karma accumulation from a previous life as an assumption and continue with developing the theory. Back to lurk mode.


Wow you are anticipating the upcoming points pretty well, I'm impressed :).

I was coming to the granting boons bit, I have a series of instances, which I intend to trace back to the axioms. No need to regard them as exceptions at all, they are consistent with the axioms.

I am also coming to the previous life, and why we don't remember it - and again, I intend to trace that back to axioms. Why don't actions and karma converge rapidly to moksha - again, to be traced to axioms. Don't take it on faith, take it on the principle of deductive logic - axioms to predictions to observations, if the observations match, then the axioms are a valid descriptor, if not, the axioms are false.

Still debating the best order in which to present stuff, and also the best format - this bulleted list is still rather dry.

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Re: Tradition, Culture, Religion & Law in Indian Society

Postby DharmaB » 14 Jun 2019 10:20

sudarshan wrote:Found it -

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/388425/rob-bank

I think there might be some confusion between "disinterested" and "uninterested" also.

In a tournament game, cricket or badminton, you want the umpire to be disinterested (i.e., unbiased and without any stake in the game, and also not participating in the game himself).

You don't want the umpire to be uninterested (i.e., "game go to hell, what goes my father onlee").


The problem is with the dictionary meaning of the words and the meaning that can/may be derived based on the context of situation when the word is used. Here there is no point in arguing what choice of word(s) you chose to use, but need to be able to express the intent or meaning of context efficiently. That is the reason any axiom first starts with a statement with few words (as in case of light, speed & observer) and is elaborated subsequently to ward of any wrong interpretations. But still words are words. The more words one use, the more confused one gets. After some point either you get it or not get it. The understanding must stop at some point as evolved consciousness, rather than leading to more words in order to understand the original words. This is the situation even with the Upanishads language. There are no absolute words (common dictionary) to express subtle things.

Any way to help understand the above context, the "disinterested" word (Nissang - in sanskrit) may be understood as combination of two:

1) "detached" - God is detached about the free will of humans, on what choices we make & what actions we take
2) "detached attachment" (to take the middle ground) - God is very much involved in his creation, evident by the imposition/workings of the mysterious laws of nature and visible only as the consequences in our lives (due to choices we make & actions we take). God is honoring the free will, and also making sure the creation continue in order (by shaping the results as He pleases) for eternity. But He is also caring enough to involve explicitly by incarnating as an Avatar to protect weak and establish Dharma (as per our Puraanas).

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Re: Tradition, Culture, Religion & Law in Indian Society

Postby sudarshan » 15 Jun 2019 06:27

DharmaB wrote:The problem is with the dictionary meaning of the words and the meaning that can/may be derived based on the context of situation when the word is used. Here there is no point in arguing what choice of word(s) you chose to use, but need to be able to express the intent or meaning of context efficiently. That is the reason any axiom first starts with a statement with few words (as in case of light, speed & observer) and is elaborated subsequently to ward of any wrong interpretations. But still words are words. The more words one use, the more confused one gets. After some point either you get it or not get it. The understanding must stop at some point as evolved consciousness, rather than leading to more words in order to understand the original words. This is the situation even with the Upanishads language. There are no absolute words (common dictionary) to express subtle things.

Any way to help understand the above context, the "disinterested" word (Nissang - in sanskrit) may be understood as combination of two:

1) "detached" - God is detached about the free will of humans, on what choices we make & what actions we take
2) "detached attachment" (to take the middle ground) - God is very much involved in his creation, evident by the imposition/workings of the mysterious laws of nature and visible only as the consequences in our lives (due to choices we make & actions we take). God is honoring the free will, and also making sure the creation continue in order (by shaping the results as He pleases) for eternity. But He is also caring enough to involve explicitly by incarnating as an Avatar to protect weak and establish Dharma (as per our Puraanas).


Yep, the axiom should be expressed in the simplest possible terms. However, I do feel that just making the statement of an all-powerful God isn't sufficient.

1. The Dharmic definition of God is very different from the Abrahamic one (in fact, in many ways, it is the antithesis of the Abrahamic definition) and this is mainly because of the disinterested or unattached nature of the Dharmic version
2. Because of this, any of the Dharmic faiths can simply do away with the need for God (not to negate God, but to be able to recommend that an ethical life is by itself sufficient, and that by doing this, God will not "get angry") - and in fact, two Dharmic faiths actually did this - whereas no Abrahamic faith can do this
3. It is necessary to emphasize that the Dharmic God does not have any "grand master plan" for any of us, and rebirth is also not something that God imposes on us - we choose to be reborn for our own selfish material goals
4. This again depends on the disinterested nature of the Dharmic God
5. In our tradition, God holds no grudges, God plays no favorites - if you pay the consequences of your "evil" deeds, you are free again to pursue your desire, God will not bring up your past actions again (after you've paid for them) - likewise, once you exhaust the enjoyment of your favorable karma-phala, there is no more favor bestowed upon you (unless you earn it all over again)
6. Thus, eternal hell and eternal heaven are both ruled out
7. This is why God will unhesitatingly and impartially grant your boons (desires), so long as you have earned them, regardless of whether you are a human, Deva, Asura, dog, mouse, mushroom, or virus

As I continue with the development, I will note the points which are dependent on this "disinterested" nature of God, and later we may see how to reword or revise the axiom.

You are right, beyond a point, it is futile to tinker with wordings. Whoever gets it, gets it, and the rest will have to figure it out whenever the tubelight moment hits them. Even Sri Krishna could not rectify the Kauravas, they continued to regard him as just a "mayavi" who was just acting smart and showing off.

Also, since the current exercise is STEM focused, we can initially make the assumption that the listener will be able to figure out these nuances in the wordings of the axioms. Later we might need modifications.

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Re: Tradition, Culture, Religion & Law in Indian Society

Postby sudarshan » 15 Jun 2019 07:28

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Re: Tradition, Culture, Religion & Law in Indian Society

Postby SriKumar » 15 Jun 2019 17:58

Some random comments:
1. Keeping it bulletized or numerically categorized does make it more tractable. Segregating them, as you did in your previous post (with text in it), allows one to know when we are moving to the next concept. And sometimes if a point is not clear, it allows us to move to the next point, and come back to the previous one later. You could add your rhetorical flourishes and analogies as yet another item.

2. Per point # 3- I do have an issue with it (and had alluded to it previously). I really think no human has a choice about re-birth. If one cannot recall a previous life, does it even exist? This approaches the realm of faith i.e. unquestioning acceptance. I have met 100's of people in my life but I dont know of a single one who can recall their previous life, or said they chose to be re-born. If you know of anyone, please provide specifics. But I am completely OK with taking this as an assumption and moving on with the rest of the exposition.

3. Items # 5 and 7,taken together lead to an interesting conclusion, (i) that one does not need to believe in Hinduism to get in the good graces of Hindu gods. (ii) As a logical consequence, people of any religion (Christian/Muslim) can derive the exact same benefits as a Hindu if their actions are in accordance with dharmic 'good deeds' while continuing with their total belief in Allah and Christ.

4. A dis-interested god can be a problem, man :D . Most people I know needed some help from 'upstairs' at some point in their lives :-) . And what to say of people, children who live on the roads (literally) and in slums that we have seen thousands of. DharmaB softened the stance a bit, on this matter. But again, I am willing to run with any definition to see where this leads. Let's get to the next stage.

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Re: Tradition, Culture, Religion & Law in Indian Society

Postby sudarshan » 15 Jun 2019 19:52

SriKumar wrote:Some random comments:
1. ....


Ok, fine.

2. Per point # 3- I do have an issue with it (and had alluded to it previously). I really think no human has a choice about re-birth. If one cannot recall a previous life, does it even exist? This approaches the realm of faith i.e. unquestioning acceptance. I have met 100's of people in my life but I dont know of a single one who can recall their previous life, or said they chose to be re-born. If you know of anyone, please provide specifics. But I am completely OK with taking this as an assumption and moving on with the rest of the exposition.



Yes, for now we can move on, but just to be aware of - Of those 100's of people, how many of them have seen God? Swami Vivekananda, in his childhood, used to go asking 100's of people - "have you seen God?" He did not want to believe it until he had evidence. The answer was always no. Eventually he met Sri Ramakrishna, who told him "yes, I have seen God and talked to God, just as I see you and talk to you now."


3. Items # 5 and 7,taken together lead to an interesting conclusion, (i) that one does not need to believe in Hinduism to get in the good graces of Hindu gods. (ii) As a logical consequence, people of any religion (Christian/Muslim) can derive the exact same benefits as a Hindu if their actions are in accordance with dharmic 'good deeds' while continuing with their total belief in Allah and Christ.



Yes, you're right. In fact, Sri Ramakrishna is said to have personally practiced Christianity and Islam, and shown that they also lead to God. Sri Sai Baba is another instance. The Sikh Gurus were careful to tell their followers that Allah was the same God that the Sikhs themselves worshiped - only, the atrocities that were committed in the name of Allah were unacceptable.

If this is taken as an opening to proselytize against Dharmics (and I know of instances where EJs tried to take advantage of this stance), then the natural thing to do is to point out that, according to this stance, eternal heaven and hell are both ruled out! If the EJ side is willing to concede this, then the Dharmic side has no problem with saying that your religion is immaterial in your quest for God.


4. A dis-interested god can be a problem, man :D . Most people I know needed some help from 'upstairs' at some point in their lives :-) . And what to say of people, children who live on the roads (literally) and in slums that we have seen thousands of. DharmaB softened the stance a bit, on this matter. But again, I am willing to run with any definition to see where this leads. Let's get to the next stage.


A disinterested God does not preclude help from upstairs. In fact, it is only a disinterested God, who does not tie that help to some other grudge or judgment that He may have.

But as you say, let's move on and start comparing axiom predictions against observations.

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Re: Tradition, Culture, Religion & Law in Indian Society

Postby sudarshan » 15 Jun 2019 20:11

Also, with these axioms, the aim right now is to show that:

a) these axioms are the guiding principle behind all our Dharmic faiths
or, failing that,
b) these axioms define the practices of our Dharmic faiths, and are the underlying basis for the scriptural records like the epics, Puranas, Upanishads, etc.

Not necessarily that the axioms fully describe our universe. That would be the universal theory of everything. I do intend to show that the notion of rebirth has some basis (how successful I will be, remains to be seen), but that is not necessarily our goal here.

With both a) and b), I don't think one can dispute the point that all Dharmic faiths do postulate rebirth. The argument isn't necessarily about whether this belief is justified/ valid or not, it is about - do all Dharmic faiths agree on this postulate?

sudarshan wrote:So basically:
  • I am postulating that there are three axioms which define (and are common to) all our Dharmic faiths,
    or, failing which,
  • That there are three axioms which are consistent with our Dharmic beliefs, and/or with the principles and stories presented in our Dharmic literature
  • The second statement above is of course much weaker than the first, but this might be all that I am really able to show
  • Please note the difference between what I refer to as "my postulate" and as "three axioms"
    • My postulate is that these axioms define our traditions
    • This postulate is of course falsifiable
    • Similar to the analogy of the universe as a "closed watch" above, it is not feasible to "open up" any of our Dharmic traditions and show what is its "real basis or axiom set"
    • Therefore, I plan to follow the deductive logic approach - first state the postulate (which I already did above), then present the axioms (to be done shortly), then take observations from our scriptures and show the match with the postulate (i.e., show that the selected observation from the scriptures can be derived from the three axioms to be presented)

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Re: Tradition, Culture, Religion & Law in Indian Society

Postby A_Gupta » 16 Jun 2019 21:01

Disambiguations, Polly Hazarika's Ph.D. thesis, should be accessible below.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/12gcs6o ... sp=sharing

She provided it to me in response to my question, "how does one jump from "such and such are problems with Hindus" to "the cause of these problems is lack of monotheism"?"

She writes: "The thesis is a bit dated, I would perhaps make the same arguments in a more measured way now. But the core of the problem with reform discourse and the problem in general of 19th century social reform in India has been looked at in a fairly consistent, systematic and coherent way."

If nothing else, please read chapter 1 - if that piques your interest, you can read the introduction and everything else in order.

I'm posting here because I think it is highly relevant to the discussion going on this thread, not on the "surface" but at a deeper level. I'd love to see people's take on the questions it raises.

Thanks!
-Arun


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