Tradition, Culture, Religion & Law in Indian Society

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

Postby shiv » 19 Apr 2016 08:25

One thing I wanted to examine as part of a discussion here is attitudes to homosexuality and Indian tradition/culture/Dharma

I will first speak for myself - because that allows me to state up front the biases that have stamped my mind before I talk of what changes my biases have been asked to undergo from various sources.

To put it mildly I personally find homosexuality is not my cup of tea, nor a cup of tea that I would recommend. I will stop at that statement and say that this viewpoint served me perfectly well for the first 30 odd years of my life. Even when I first travelled abroad there was a tendency (in the UK at least) to see homosexuality the way I did. But the West gradually changed. Attitudes in the West were moulded by a lot of events.

As an aside I would like to say that AIDS (Acquire Immune Deficiency Syndrome) as a disease was something that we were taught in the last 70s and early 80s as a disease that affected Ashkenazy Jews. Later - by the early 80s it was a homosexual's disease transmitted by anal sex. Gradually prominent and well known people started falling to AIDS. Liberace died of AIDS and he was gay and much mourned. Meanwhile it was OK to be gay. In the UK singing sensation Boy George was gay. George Michael - the singer of superhit "Careless Whisper" was gay. Elton John was gay, as was Martina Navratilova. In the Western world it turned out that the walls of denial built up against gay behaviour came tumbling down like dominoes in a row. Gradually in the years that I happened to spend abroad legal and western societal attitudes changed from what I had traditionally felt to something more like what they are today.

Being gay was never open in India. As a young man I was accosted by gays in India a couple of times - and the stories of what I did to put them off simply became hilarious stories exchanged in drunken parties. But even before that - in school (boys only) we students used to believe that half our teachers were gay. Never proved but this only caused laughter and fingers pointed at certain "favourite" students being favoured by gay teachers.

Only much later I stated thinking about the fact that whether I liked it or not, there was, for some reason, a community of homosexuals hidden in the shadows around me in India. But by this time I had been exposed to the changes in western society and it got me wondering about what place gays had in Indian society.

I will digress here for a bit. I always used to wonder wtf "Hijras" were. In India it is no longer PC to use the term hijra. It is now transgender. But from a medical viewpoint the chances of being born with indeterminate sexual organs is so soooo remote that the "natural causes" of transgenders are virtuallly non existent. So obviously hijras were not natural born with indeterminate sex. Later I learned that Islamic kings would castrate young men (by crushing the testicles between two plates - and act that can kill). Those who survived served as hijras in Mughal harems and courts. Ok so that was a second reason for having transgenders. Then I heard of criminal syndicates who would kidnap and castrate boys to create hijras for begging syndicates and passive partner male prostitutes and that gave me a third explanation of the existence of hijras - but none of these was either pleasant, legal or tolerable for me to accept. They should not exist, I used to feel.

But it turns out that there are two or three other categories of transgender. One set is males who feel female and voluntarily become cross dressers. I have no idea whether the undergo castration. Another set is simple cross dressers. But all in all it appears to me that transgenders had a role in Indian society. They were a recognized group who were allowed into certain rituals and on the side some certainly served as passive partner male prostitutes for homosexuals.

It now occurs to me that India allowed homosexuality by the creation of one more group called hijras/transgenders who were allowed to exist in society and given a role and some jobs. I am not at all sure whether the role played by Arjuna in the last year of their hiding was that of a hijra - I will leave it to others to educate me.

For its part Dharma, which revolves around the preservation of society does not specifically mention gay marriage. marriage is to make a family and to bring up children and by default that rules out gay marriage as valid.

I would judge that Indian society made a place for gay behaviour but did not include is part of Dharma compliant behaviour required to preserve and propagate society. I think our views on gays need to be based rationally on our tradition than what the west did. if the end result is the same - fine, But the end result must not be arrived at simply with western inputs
Last edited by shiv on 19 Apr 2016 08:34, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby shiv » 19 Apr 2016 08:32

Gus wrote:on a side note - you can see that the west has pushed this hygiene thing to absurd levels of carrying pocket size sanitizers in bags, cars, desks, restrooms and over use of disinfectants at home. i know people who don't give their infants to others for holding for fear of contamination by germs, and they say something polite like baby not feeling good, or it does not go to other people etc.

I actually think that this sort of sterility messes with immune response calibration, causing the allergy stuff. but that's just me..i am a caveman type on these things.

transport that parent to an indian home with no handy disinfectant products to be used for all guests coming in - i can see aspects of 'untouchability' beginning

heck, growing up, my mom would not let me touch anything when i come home after playing in the streets as we all know how indian streets are - dust and dirt, dog poos, people poos, dead animals and what not. sometimes i have to go back and take a bath in the back before i can get into kitchen for food.


Gus I am broadly with you in all this. But the discussion may be more suited to the WU thread because I see the West confidently making errors that they feel will get corrected by human innovation and intervention. I would be less sanguine about that. But there are actually deep philosophical difference that lead to certain types of behaviour that i see emerging in the west - such as a quest to remain young and immortal, but OT for this thread. There is confidence in human ingenuity to set up permanent colonies on other planets. Exciting stuff but my reasons for scepticism are not germane to this thread.

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

Postby RoyG » 19 Apr 2016 08:58

shiv wrote:One thing I wanted to examine as part of a discussion here is attitudes to homosexuality and Indian tradition/culture/Dharma

I will first speak for myself - because that allows me to state up front the biases that have stamped my mind before I talk of what changes my biases have been asked to undergo from various sources.

To put it mildly I personally find homosexuality is not my cup of tea, nor a cup of tea that I would recommend. I will stop at that statement and say that this viewpoint served me perfectly well for the first 30 odd years of my life. Even when I first travelled abroad there was a tendency (in the UK at least) to see homosexuality the way I did. But the West gradually changed. Attitudes in the West were moulded by a lot of events.

As as aside I would like to say that AIDS (Acquire Imune Deficiency Syndrome) as a disease was something that we were taught in the last 70s and early 80s as a disease that affected Ashkenazy Jews. Later - by the early 80s it was a homosexual's disease transmitted by anal sex. Gradually prominent and well known people started falling to AIDS. Liberace died of AIDS and he was gay and much mourned. Meanwhile it was OK to be gay. In the UK singing sensation Boy George was gay. George Michael - the singer of superhit "Careless Whisper" was gay. Elton John was gay, as was Martina Navratilova. In the Western world it turned out that the walls of denial built up against gay behaviour came tumbling down like dominoes in a row. Gradually in the years that I happened to spend abroad legal and western societal attitudes changed from what I had traditionally felt to something more like what they are today.

Being gay was never open in India. As a young man I was accosted by gays in India a couple of times - and the stories of what I did to put them off simply became hilarious stories exchanged in drunken parties. But even before that - in school (boys only) we students used to believe that half our teachers were gay. Never proved but this only caused laughter and fingers pointed at certain "favourite" students being favoured by gay teachers.

Only much later I stated thinking about the fact that whether I liked it or not, there was, for some reason, a community of homosexuals hidden in the shadows around me in India. But by this time I had been exposed to the changes in western society and it got me wondering about what place gays had in Indian society.

I will digress here for a bit. I always used to wonder wtf "Hijras" were. In India it is no longer PC to use the term hijra. It is now transgender. But from a medical viewpoint the chances of being born with indeterminate sexual organs is so soooo remote that the "natural causes" of transgenders are virtuallly non existent. So obviously hijras were not natural born with indeterminate sex. Later I learned that Islamic kings would castrate young men (by crushing the testicles between two plates - and act that can kill). Those who survived served as hijras in Mughal harems and courts. Ok so that was a second reason for having transgenders. Then I heard of criminal syndicates who would kidnap and castrate boys to create hijras for begging syndicates and passive partner male prostitutes and that gave me a third explanation of the existence of hijras - but none of these was either pleasant, legal or tolerable for me to accept. They should not exist, I used to feel.

But it turns out that there are two or three other categories of transgender. One set is males who feel female and voluntarily become cross dressers. I have no idea whether the undergo castration. Another set is simple cross dressers. But all in all it appears to me that transgenders had a role in Indian society. They were a recognized group who were allowed into certain rituals and on the side some certainly served as passive partner male prostitutes for homosexuals.

It now occurs to me that India allowed homosexuality by the creation of one more group called hijras/transgenders who were allowed to exist in society and given a role and some jobs. I am not at all sure whether the role played by Arjuna in the last year of their hiding was that of a hijra - I will leave it to others to educate me.

For its part Dharma, which revolves around the preservation of society does not specifically mention gay marriage. marriage is to make a family and to bring up children and by default that rules out gay marriage as valid.

I would judge that Indian society made a place for gay behaviour but did not include is part of Dharma compliant behavior required to preserve and propagate society. I think our views on gays need to be based rationally on our tradition than what the west did. if the end result is the same - fine, But the end result must not be arived at simply woth western inputs


I have gay friends and personally I find the behavior perfectly normal, although I do cringe a bit when I do see gay PDA.

As far as Indian views on homosexuality, I heard that at one point in ancient times the punishment for being gay was to pick up a bucket of water and pour it over oneself. Indian stone work detailing fellatio between men and other acts is well documented. I honestly don't feel it was really considered "immoral" behavior up until Islamic and European colonialism.

The reason being is that we weren't a "moral" society but rather one built on dharma. The goal of the individual was to attain moksha. We share one desire - to exist. And this desire clings to everything. Homosexuality can be one expression of this desire just like having a sweet tooth or love for music.

Homosexuality runs contrary to the role of adam and eve in the garden of eden and the patriarchy of the semitic holy books. Semitic society is a top down ponzy scheme which needs to invent "sinfulness" to keep itself going. The more internal schisms, the better. The individual had multiple compartmentalized desires unlike ours and the individual was constantly at war with oneself which caused him to be at war with others. Hence, the need for 10 individual commandments. The Calvinists and Anabaptists were quite adept at playing this game.

http://cdn.youthkiawaaz.com/wp-content/ ... -India.jpg

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... ulptor.jpg

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

Postby shiv » 19 Apr 2016 09:09

RoyG wrote:As far as Indian views on homosexuality, I heard that at one point in ancient times the punishment for being gay was to pick up a bucket of water and pour it over oneself. Indian stone work detailing fellatio between men and other acts is well documented. I honestly don't feel it was really considered "immoral" behavior up until Islamic and European colonialism.

The reason being is that we weren't a "moral" society but rather one built on dharma. The goal of the individual was to attain moksha. We share one desire - to exist. And this desire clings to everything. Homosexuality can be one expression of this desire just like having a sweet tooth or love for music.


Interesting. My own attitudes and upbringing (at least in school) were strictly Victorian and what you say was never revealed to me given my life experiences.

But my own observations (as i stated earlier) is that gays had an outlet in society in the form of transgenders, with the latter being given a legitimate place in society and not banned in olden days. But the same Victorian attitudes that made me have made the modern laws of my country and that is how transgenders were pushed out.

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

Postby JE Menon » 19 Apr 2016 09:54

>>So, saying that all literature must be human made, is 'religious engineering'? :lol: I thought it was common sense. How is this Dogma different from believing in divine origins of Quran or some other literature?

The difference is that none of what we now call Hinduism is dogma. Fundamental difference. Dogma, a Greek word by the way, is indicative of a doctrine or set of doctrines which is held as absolutely true and imposed by terrestrial authority, often by the threat of violence or social measure.

Where is KLP Dubey, an expert on Mimamsa, when you need him? I note it has been dismissed as "nonsensical dogma" - very unfairly in my opinion.

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

Postby johneeG » 19 Apr 2016 14:11

JE Menon wrote:>>So, saying that all literature must be human made, is 'religious engineering'? :lol: I thought it was common sense. How is this Dogma different from believing in divine origins of Quran or some other literature?

The difference is that none of what we now call Hinduism is dogma. Fundamental difference. Dogma, a Greek word by the way, is indicative of a doctrine or set of doctrines which is held as absolutely true and imposed by terrestrial authority, often by the threat of violence or social measure.

Where is KLP Dubey, an expert on Mimamsa, when you need him? I note it has been dismissed as "nonsensical dogma" - very unfairly in my opinion.


Dogma is a greek word which means 'belief' or 'opinion'. And it particularly applies to any opinion unsupported by logic or facts. Thats how I used that word in my post.

About the origins of Vedhas:
Nyaya school(which later clubbed with Vaisheshika and became Tarka) believes that God is the author of Vedhas.
Mimamsa school refuted this belief of the Nyaya/Tarka, as Mimamsa did not believe in the existence of God. Mimamsa believed that Vedhas have no human origin, but simultaneously Vedhas don't have any divine origin either.

In that sense, Nyaya school's dogma was more sensible and similar to the belief of muslims about Quran. In short, Nyaya thought of Vedhas as revelations to rushis. In Abrahmic creeds, prophets play the role that rushis play in Indian context. Mimamsa's position on this is most illogical. Mimamsa was established by Jaimini who seems to be quite influential as we see his name appear in many scriptures. Eventually, Mimamsa and Vedhantha clubbed together with Vedhantha accepting some of the Mimamsa positions. This seems to have happened during the time of Adi Shankara. Then, Vedhantha came to be called Uttara Mimamsa. Earlier we find some Vedhantic texts(Upanishadhs) even have disdainful attitude towards Vedhas. (Even BG shows this attitude in the first 6 chapters). Some other Upanishadhs treat Vedhas as equivalent to Ithihaasa and Puraanas. Its only later that Vedhas were ascribed this neither human nor divine origin based on Mimamsa school.

Saankhyas seem to have started off by rejecting the Vedhas and Vedhic rites. Infact, Mimamsa seems to have been born precisely in reaction to Saankhya. Eventually, Saankhya seems to have adopted the position of Nyaya that Vedhas are authored by God. Saankhya and Vedhaantha are concerned with Moksha and frankly the origins of Vedhas are irrelevant to them. Only Mimamsa is principally concerned with Vedhas.

Anyway, without going into all these subtleties. All literature is man-made. Vedhas themselves seem to show that they are man-made. Here is an article arguing that Vedhas are man-made. It has harsh language against Brahmins, but its content on Vedhas being man-made is worth looking.
Link

There is an interesting contrast between Indian schools and western schools:
In west, theistic schools believing in rituals base their ideas on the belief the existence of God. In west, rational and secular schools reject the existence of God.

In India, ritualistic school(Mimamsa) denied the existence of God. In India, logical school(Tarka/Nyaya) believed in the existence of God. The reason for Indian rationalists(Tarka/Nyaya) believing in God is that they rightly concluded that there must be a maker if there is an item. Something cannot come out of nothing. The reason ritualists denied the God is because they felt that once the God is accepted, then it leads to philosophy which would take away the focus from rituals. Eventually, all of ritualists moved into the orbit of faith(Bhakthi). Then, Vedhic rituals were replaced with agamic(tantra) rituals. Agama/Tantra texts also claim to have super-natural origins. All agamas are not accepted by all sects and schools.

Strictly speaking, Hindhuism as it is practiced today is mainly based on Agamas and Vedhantha. Vedhas and their origins are not really important except as dogma. Vedhas may be more important from a historical perspective rather than theological perspective.


----
About the castes:
Macualay or British did not bring castes to India. Caste system was born in India, for Indians, by Indians long before British ever set foot in India. The oppressed and oppressors were Indians. The caste system was justified on religious, social and other basis. The fragmentation of society of caste basis allows foreign invaders to divide and rule. Caste system is not equal to Hindhuism and Hindhuism is not equal to Caste system. Hindhuism can survive(even prosper) without Caste system and Caste system can survive without Hindhuism. But, it seems that caste system weakens Hindhuism and India because it provides readymade faultlines for others to exploit and I would be highly surprised if caste divisions didn't play important role throughout history whenever the invaders succeeded against India. Now, caste system is a weakness for any religion, but organized monotheistic creeds can minimize the effects of this weakness to some extent. On the other hand, caste system is a fatal flaw for a polytheistic, unorganized, and multi-linguistic society.

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

Postby JE Menon » 19 Apr 2016 15:04

>>Dogma is a greek word which means 'belief' or 'opinion'. And it particularly applies to any opinion unsupported by logic or facts. Thats how I used that word in my post.

Well, then you used it wrongly. Dogma is an ancient Greek word originally meaning opinion or belief (in ancient Greek). It has stopped meaning that from Christian times. As for the notion that the word dogma "particularly applies to any opinion unsupported by logic or facts", that is patently incorrect both in past usage and in present Greek (which fortunately in this case I happen to speak reasonably well). In current usage, dogma is not an assessment of an "opinion unsupported by logic or facts". It is simply something that is considered by "an authority as incontrovertibly true" - whether in fact it is true or not. No particularity to it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogma (or any dictionary definition). In practical use today, the Greek churches use Christianiki Dogma to mean Christian Doctrine, not an opinion. So I totally reject the notion that the Vedas are dogma, as the word is used today and the meaning with which it is used today.

Finally, what has caste got to do with all this? I never referred to it here. And as far as I know, everybody here on BRF agrees that the practices of institutionalised inequality that emerged from the system that is referred to as "caste" is inherently wrong and must be ended.

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

Postby johneeG » 19 Apr 2016 15:32

JE Menon wrote:>>Dogma is a greek word which means 'belief' or 'opinion'. And it particularly applies to any opinion unsupported by logic or facts. Thats how I used that word in my post.

Well, then you used it wrongly. Dogma is an ancient Greek word originally meaning opinion or belief. It has stopped meaning that from Christian times. As for the notion that the word dogma "particularly applies to any opinion unsupported by logic or facts", that is patently incorrect both in past usage and in present Greek (which fortunately in this case I happen to speak reasonably well). In current usage, dogma is not an assessment of an "opinion unsupported by logic or facts". It is simply something that is considered by "an authority as incontrovertibly true" - whether in fact it is true or not. No particularity to it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogma (or any dictionary definition). In practical use today, the Greek churches use Christianiki Dogma to mean Christian Doctrine, not an opinion.

Finally, what has caste got to do with all this?


Hmm...so, Dogmas can't exist without an earthly authority's coercion? Anyway, the same wiki page also has another section called 'other usage' where it says that "The term "dogmatic" can be used disparagingly to refer to any belief that is held stubbornly, including political and scientific beliefs." I used it in that sense. I think any strong view without logic or evidence qualifies as dogma. Earthly authority's coercion is not necessary.

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

Postby shiv » 19 Apr 2016 17:04

johneeG wrote:Strictly speaking, Hindhuism as it is practiced today is mainly based on Agamas and Vedhantha. Vedhas and their origins are not really important except as dogma. Vedhas may be more important from a historical perspective rather than theological perspective.

Hindhuism can survive(even prosper) without Caste system and Caste system can survive without Hindhuism. But, it seems that caste system weakens Hindhuism and India because it provides readymade faultlines for others to exploit and I would be highly surprised if caste divisions didn't play important role throughout history whenever the invaders succeeded against India. Now, caste system is a weakness for any religion, but organized monotheistic creeds can minimize the effects of this weakness to some extent. On the other hand, caste system is a fatal flaw for a polytheistic, unorganized, and multi-linguistic society.

This man's intent as a closet evangelist should be perfectly clear from the bolded part. The imagination that he knows how Hinduism is practised and others don't is pompous and dismissive.

BRF has been embracing a well informed evangelist for long. I have no problem as long as the intent is clear. After all there are Indians who are converts and who are evangelists and who spend much effort in mapping what is acceptable in Hindu belief systems on to Christianity, But the pre-requisite for that is to dismiss Vedanta and the Vedas.

I was hoping this evangelist would not poop on this thread, but I think I had better let my feelings be known because I too have thoughts and ideas that I want to discuss and I see a complete dismissal of my own faith and background by a closet missionary as something that I can live with as long as there is no sneakiness.

I just loved this bit:
caste system is a weakness for any religion, but organized monotheistic creeds can minimize the effects of this weakness to some extent. On the other hand, caste system is a fatal flaw for a polytheistic, unorganized, and multi-linguistic society.


Caste is Indian. It is fatal for polytheistic polytheist and polylinguistic people but it is OK for followers of monotheistic religions .

Remember only Hindus with a love for their tradition would want to look for explanations of how caste arose. Accepting definitions without explanations is the most obvious thing for the evanjihadis and that is what I see here


We have had BRFites slobbering over this man's verbose "scholarship" as he gradually pushes his agenda on BRF chipping away at Hindu tradition, Hindu belief and carefully dismissing vedanta while promoting the similarities of bhakti traditions with Christianity; gradually narrowing down "Hindhuism" to one tradition and then claiming that the same one tradition is there in "monotheistic religions" Congratulations. My doubts had begun over one year ago when he posted a video with content about Lemuria.

Of course my pointing out these posts as that of a closet evangelist has earned me the accusation of making a cheap shot. But I think dismissing Vedanta and twisting the system around in huge verbose posts is a much more sinister cheap shot than any I may have made.

Will cross post in another thread because I think I want my views to be seen

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

Postby johneeG » 19 Apr 2016 17:13

What nonsense! So, you are going to play munafiq-kafir accusation game?! I can throw that right back at you. Just because your login ID is shiv doesn't mean you are a Hindhu. You could easily be a muslim for all I know. Your lack of knowledge of basic Hindhuism was quite evident when you were saying that Sayana was Dvaitist. Yet, you try to play more Hindhu game with me, that too online. Not only do you try to justify caste system and even untouchability by writing verbose rants, but then try to bully others when they object to justification of caste system and untouchability. Its mind boggling. I hope some admin or mod cautions you. I am going to report that post.

And, I think philosophy is the best thing produced by India. And I think Abrahamic religions are lacking because they lack philosophy.

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

Postby shiv » 19 Apr 2016 17:19

johneeG wrote:What nonsense! So, you are going to play munafiq-kafir accusation game?! I can throw that right back at you. Just because your login ID is shiv doesn't mean you are a Hindhu. You could easily be a muslim for all I know. Your lack of knowledge of basic Hindhuism was quite evident when you were saying that Sayana was Dvaitist. Yet, you try to play more Hindhu game with me, that too online. Not only do you try to justify caste system and even untouchability by writing verbose rants, but then try to bully others when they object to justification of caste system and untouchability. Its mind boggling. I hope some admin or mod cautions you. I am going to report that post.

And, I think philosophy is the best thing produced by India. And I think Abrahamic religions are lacking because they lack philosophy.

No I may not be Hindhu. But you used to be a closet evangelist hiding your intent. Now it is out in the open. Why let that stop you? I am not stopping you. Carry on.

Naturally you will accuse me of all sorts of things, including lack of knowledge. And you will naturally object to what I write. But what YOU say about ME is about ME, not you.

You are a South Indian converted Christian missionary with a fair amount of study under your belt. But I can recognize unbiased study of Hindu dharma when I see it. And I can see your bias

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

Postby johneeG » 19 Apr 2016 17:32

Look Shiv, I know that you are allowed to get away with almost anything on BRF. But, really, this is too much. I do hope some mods take some action. If any other poster had done half of what you get away with, that poster would have been banned for life. If I had accused you or anyone else, I would have been banned. But, you can go around calling all sorts of names! BTW, what exactly is your point that all those who oppose untouchability must be christian missionaries? Arrey, what nonsense. I know you post lot of nonsense, but realy this is nonsensical even from your standards.

JEM, I remember you warning and banning another poster just because he was similarly attacking another poster on nationality or religion. He was working on maps. Yea, found his name: Jambudwipa. Link to post

Jambudwipa called some one 'Hidden brown sepoy'. 3/4 posts later he was banned.

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

Postby JE Menon » 19 Apr 2016 17:35

>>Hmm...so, Dogmas can't exist without an earthly authority's coercion?

Are we talking of the meaning of the word dogma, which you used, or are we not? And where does "can't exist without an earthly authority's coercion"come from? I said "often" involving violence or social measures. This is accurate. Christian history is a perfect example.

>>Anyway, the same wiki page also has another section called 'other usage' where it says that "The term "dogmatic" can be used disparagingly to refer to any belief that is held stubbornly, including political and scientific beliefs." I used it in that sense.

So hold on, you are saying you used it sarcastically or disparagingly? Perhaps so, but it does not change the meaning of the word, just that the context is disparaging. There's a whole movie on that called Dogma. Good one too.

>>I think any strong view without logic or evidence qualifies as dogma. Earthly authority's coercion is not necessary.

What about a strong view with logic or evidence? There is substantial evidence of the existence of some characters in the New Testament story, but that is part of Christian dogma. You can attempt to give your own meaning to the word, and in a sense that too is justifiable (because no two people attribute absolutely identical meaning to any word, as meanings are drawn from unique experience). But it is not the generally accepted one.

Like I said, you used the word dogma incorrectly. That is fine. Just pointing it out so we can don't refer to the Vedas as dogma, which they are not.

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

Postby JE Menon » 19 Apr 2016 17:38

Shiv,

Please desist from the personal.

JohneeG,

In a way you have begun this by suggesting shiv is ignorant of something in the above post. I suggest you desist from that line of argument as well.

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

Postby johneeG » 19 Apr 2016 17:49

JE Menon wrote:Shiv,

Please desist from the personal.

JohneeG,

In a way you have begun this by suggesting shiv is ignorant of something in the above post. I suggest you desist from that line of argument as well.


No, he started making these accusations from 2 days. I know that people make all sorts of accusations on each other when they don't have much to argue and it happens more on online forums. So, I clearly told him that I was not christian by birth or faith. But, he seems to think that this is the only argument he has and seems to be pursuing it vigorously. I would not have reported it, if mods or admins had taken action before on his earlier post. Even after my clarification and telling him off, he still continues it brazenly.

Here is the post where he starts making these personal attacks. Link to post

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

Postby ShauryaT » 19 Apr 2016 20:48

shiv wrote:We have had BRFites slobbering over this man's verbose "scholarship" as he gradually pushes his agenda on BRF chipping away at Hindu tradition, Hindu belief and carefully dismissing vedanta while promoting the similarities of bhakti traditions with Christianity; gradually narrowing down "Hindhuism" to one tradition and then claiming that the same one tradition is there in "monotheistic religions" Congratulations. My doubts had begun over one year ago when he posted a video with content about Lemuria.

Of course my pointing out these posts as that of a closet evangelist has earned me the accusation of making a cheap shot. But I think dismissing Vedanta and twisting the system around in huge verbose posts is a much more sinister cheap shot than any I may have made.

Will cross post in another thread because I think I want my views to be seen
Thanks Doc. I started reading this thread and am excited to join in, however on seeing johneeG's post, my blood was boiling to a point, where it was unsafe to post. I do not care, if he is a closet evangelist or not but countering his ill informed views and knowing his penchant for verbosity, lack of nuance and use of sources who are decidedly evangelist in nature, makes for a very unfruitful discussion. In one discussion, he started equating some original christianity to Buddhism - again a classic evangelist technique to steal the Buddha of SD, who I worship and claim him as the rational one and separate from SD and hence similar to rational Jesus. Just for one of these events, I wish you had your wings back to clip such posts and keep some threads sane. I will join in, when the mind is calmer.

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

Postby shiv » 20 Apr 2016 06:11

Shaurya, decades ago magazines like "Readers Digest" at the height of Western dominance used to publish stuff like this - which you may have read: It was a comparison of continents or countries to women. It was obviously both clichéd and sexist, but I did not realize it at that time. I do not recall all the details but it was something like this:
America: A loud confident woman with no culture
Europe: - Stylish, sophisticated
India: Familiar, loyal, everything well known about her, no mystery
Africa: Hot, mysterious, unexplored


By the 1900s "everything was known" about India and everything had been written and documented. That being the case there is absolutely no reason to have this thread at all. We know quite well that India is the origin of the Hindu religion, the Hindu religion is part racist and came up with concepts like Sati where brides are burned with dead husbands, untouchability where some people are too dirty to be touched, polytheism where even animals like monkey, cattle, rats and snakes are worshipped as god. There is no mystery in India.

But growing up Hindu and Indian causes one to pause an think how much of these characterizations are possibly misrepresentations of acts that were alien to alien people. We do know now that Indian history is written from texts by people like Al Beruni and Chinese travellers, numismatics and inscriptions. We also know that India has long literary tradition but that tradition has been declared unreliable as history.

The reason for starting this thread was to explore if Indian behaviour could have alternate explanations. For example I have clearly stated that untouchability existed but there are areas where untouchability has been practised with a stated purpose. This is not a denial, it is just the opening of a little information window to a less well known aspect of untouchability

I did start this thread by saying:
My idea is to explore and explain why Indians might behave in a particular manner.
...
there are cultural aspects to group behaviour and group behaviour is the sum total of multiple decisions made by individuals of a group.


I am also unashamed to reiterate the following statement that I made:
Remember only Hindus with a love for their own culture would want to look for explanations of how caste arose.

I can see no harm in revisiting some of the clichéd explanations of Hindu behaviour which is familiar and well known to all to see how the country and the faith ended up with the worst reputation that anyone can possibly acquire.

If the purpose is to simply reiterate those old positions and not even be willing to look at any other explanations - we get into a controversy between established dogma on the one hand versus possible "revisionism" on the other. These arguments are well known, and I have no problem with being accused of being revisionist provided I can point out how established dogma is used to sully the culture and reputation of people whose culture I love. When the traditional norm is bitter criticism and dismissal of anything Hindu, what could possibly be a good reason for anyone to object to alternate perspectives that might serve as a window into the thinking of an ancient civilization?

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

Postby RoyG » 20 Apr 2016 11:32

About the castes:
Macualay or British did not bring castes to India. Caste system was born in India, for Indians, by Indians long before British ever set foot in India. The oppressed and oppressors were Indians. The caste system was justified on religious, social and other basis. The fragmentation of society of caste basis allows foreign invaders to divide and rule. Caste system is not equal to Hindhuism and Hindhuism is not equal to Caste system. Hindhuism can survive(even prosper) without Caste system and Caste system can survive without Hindhuism. But, it seems that caste system weakens Hindhuism and India because it provides readymade faultlines for others to exploit and I would be highly surprised if caste divisions didn't play important role throughout history whenever the invaders succeeded against India. Now, caste system is a weakness for any religion, but organized monotheistic creeds can minimize the effects of this weakness to some extent. On the other hand, caste system is a fatal flaw for a polytheistic, unorganized, and multi-linguistic society.


Shiv, reminds of my childhood pet parakeet. :lol:

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

Postby RajeshA » 20 Apr 2016 13:03

johneeG wrote:but organized monotheistic creeds can minimize the effects of this weakness to some extent. On the other hand, caste system is a fatal flaw for a polytheistic, unorganized, and multi-linguistic society.


I agree with this. As far as I understand this, this characterization has little to do with prejudice or ideology and everything to do with strategy and common sense.

Every society has centripetal and centrifugal forces. Jātivāda is a centrifugal force and even if socially its ferocity has come down, politically it is still a major factor.

Pointing out that religion-based brotherhoods as in Abrahamic religions often manage to contain this centrifugal force through sheer overwhelming focus on religion and religion-based competition and strife, is simply pointing out the obvious. Indian Muslims also have residual Jāti consciousness, but it can be hidden under the constant crying of "Islam khatre men hai".

We Hindus don't use our religion in that manner to forge all-encompassing religious brotherhoods. Some see it as a cultural expression, even a collective cultural expression. Others see it as a path to individual moksha. Others look for philosophical answers, while yet others see it as the bedrock of our ethical consciousness. In many ways, Hinduism lacks the function of "religious brotherhood" and thus a centripetal force available to Abrahamic religions.

As such the centrifugal force of jātivāda cannot be neutralized or compensated through a stronger centripetal force of "religious brotherhood" in Hinduism.

Basically one would think this is an obvious insight, so I fail to understand the reason why such a statement should trigger people to come down on somebody like a ton of bricks.

Don't get me wrong, Hindus have a different array of centripetal forces, but "religious brotherhood" is not one of them.

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

Postby shiv » 20 Apr 2016 16:29

Jati is what kept society together in India. No group was forced to fight to keep their behaviour, belief and tradition. They were allowed to carry on separately with rights within their own group, but did not necessarily have the same rights in other groups.

Even if one assumes that the worst jati discrimination practices were 100% true across the board, it was never jati that led to the occupation of India. India went through phases with various religions popping up, spreading and even dominating, but it was not jati that allowed foreign invasions and it was not jati that caused new religions to emerge. None of the new religions changed anything much in society with regard to jati atitudes. Even after the Islamic invasions jati was not the trigger point of any societal divisions. Islam divided society on religion, not on caste. Islam simply adopted the jati system in India. It was only the efforts of Christian missionaries, indologists and sociologists who were intelligent enough to read, document schisms in Indian society combined with the British government that took over from the East India company that started actually causing jati based splits in Indian society.

And even after they did that Indian society was still cohesive enough to see jati as a less problematic issue than the British occupation. In fact religions and jatis simply united to fight the British. I do not believe this simplistic centripetal, centrifugal business based on jati as valid simply because jatis have been around for 5000 years and the bar on intermarriage for 1500 or more years, but jatis were used to divide society only in the last 150 years or so. Most people still swear by their jatis. Few Indians dislike the jati system except where they are ill treated. The old ill treatment was discrimination but we must recall that it was probably 80-90% discriminating against 10-20% because unless Indians were extraordinarily stupid they really would have revolted against jati discrimination centuries ago if 10% were ill treating 90%

Even today jati offers strengths and weaknesses - the main weaknesses being the use of jati for conversion to Christianity based on what I see as misrepresentation and outright lies . The other force that is leading to disruption regarding jati is reservation. The lies and misrepresentation are a favourite point used by Evangelists. Since I think the use of jatis by evangelists is misrepresentation I will try and point that out where possible.

Jati divisions are not going anywhere any time soon and the argument that a monotheistic religion is "somewhat better" is a strawman offering a non solution that will spread some religion but not remove jatis using the excuse that the country is being broken up by the jati system. The Jati system works partly because polytheism is allowed with jatis having different deities. Some jatis will definitely say bugger off to the evangelists and actually protect themselves rather than fall for this idea "Let's all become monotheistic and encourage centrifugality". The problem is how to stop a divisive and jealous faith from spreading itself via lies among gullible underinformed people who have a right to be told the truth about monotheistic religious spread.

These are my opinions. My opinion does not have to be the only opinion expressed, but I have not yet seen anything to change it.

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

Postby Arjun » 20 Apr 2016 17:10

johneeG wrote:but organized monotheistic creeds can minimize the effects of this weakness to some extent. On the other hand, caste system is a fatal flaw for a polytheistic, unorganized, and multi-linguistic society.

I don't think India's historical experience supports this assertion...Isn't it generally accepted today that it is the Buddhist majority regions of Bengal, Kashmir and North West India that proved more receptive to Islam than the Hindu majority ones? If that is correct - anti-jativaad Buddhists seem to have succumbed to monotheistic Abrahamism far more easily than jati-conscious Hindus. How do you explain this phenomenon?

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

Postby shiv » 20 Apr 2016 17:49

The word "caste" carries such a negative connotation for Indians that the first reaction of anyone you speak to is to deny it and criticize it. Woe betide the person who says anything positive about it and the instant reaction to an earlier post of mine is an illustration of that.

But jati does not evoke that kind of negative reaction and in a classic case of "emperor is naked" the entire country has people who publicly denounce caste while their personal lives keep jati as personal as it has been for thousands of years. There are hundreds of jatis and hundreds of millions of Indians who live by their jati, pray to their favourite jati deities, and prefer marriage within their jati. Many jatis also employ their own rather than other jatis. Jati is alive and well in India.

As discussed thousands of times in hundreds of forums, the Indian constitution has made "cast discrimination" illegal but it has not made jati illegal, and it never will. In fact the Indian constitution has made it advantageous to belong to certain jatis thereby ensuring that discrimination based on jati continued unabated under law.. Most jatis in modern India are not in the business of discrimination - as far as is required by the law, they follow the law. It is a small section of jatis at the bottom of the social pyramid who are being told that upper castes are out to get them and that if they change their religion to Christianity this will not happen, In essence they are being told that the
organized monotheistic creeds can minimize the effects
of jati - a scurrilous white lie if ever there was one.

If white lies are being told for conversion by one set of people, the other set of people who are following the jati system in their personal lies are being suppressed fro speaking the truth about their attitude towards jati. Just because millions of Indian live by their jati does not mean that they are active discriminators against others and are law breakers by birth.

I think we need to get past this stupid tongue tied attitude and talk openly. The only narrative I hear is about cruelty and discrimination. But there are far far more stories than that - many don't get told because they are stories of compassion and humanity and not jati stories. It was jati that started the story, but compassion that gave them a happy ending. The constant repeating of negative stories irritates me enough to point out that there are other stories that must be told. And guess who would not want them told? Who would protest and scream "Foul!" if they are told?

Let me give some examples from my personal knowledge: My (now deceased) uncles and aunts had live in servant families at home who would serve them 24x7. But the children of those servants were educated and looked after and those children are now working - one as a lawyer, another as a plumber and a third as a bank clerk. The son of the bank clerk is a software engineer.

So the jati stories that are spread are purely negative.The negative stories and narratives only help evangelists and unless we can summon up the grey matter to see wtf is happening we are going to be wallowing about making up fancy theories
Last edited by shiv on 20 Apr 2016 17:52, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby RajeshA » 20 Apr 2016 17:52

Jātī is not the culprit in Indian society. I hardly think any Hindu, from whatever Jātī would claim that.

Jātīvāda however is a different animal, as it refers to treating others differently based on other person's Jātī, and that treatment can vary from high respect and deference to absolute disgust and exclusion depending on what one's own Jāti is and how the other's Jātī is considered hierarchically w.r.t. own Jātī.

Everybody holds on dearly to one's own Jātī and Gotra as it provides one with a certain belonging and origin and identity and support. That's welcome.

I find jātī actually something orthogonal to Dharma, though some "orthodox" Hindus have tried to make Jātī overlap with varṇa vyavastha. Basically they have played power games by abusing a Dharmic-philosophical concept. These power games used to restrict others and to consolidate position of own Jātī into monopolies have created historical disaffection and anger. That is our combined heritage which still needs a lot more solving and healing.

I know we all seem to be in a sort of a hurry to put all that behind us, snarling at anybody who reminds us of this unhappy social history, but all of us need to develop a better vocabulary and attitude on how to heal these rifts and discrepancies. Calling others as cryptos x and y is less than helpful and I would say we can do better than that. It is not an insurmountable problem, but if Bharatiyas do not develop a better vocabulary of healing, yes missionary and jihadi vultures would be more than happy to provide their own vocabularies to define this problem. Denying that there is a problem at all of historical social and economic marginalization of picchṛī-jātīs does not contribute positively to the process.

I am not saying that specific jātīs are solely responsible for jātīvāda. No this goes all the way up and down. Almost everyone had somebody else to discriminate against and to mistreat and this structure received support and encouragement from the guardians of social norms. One can hardly say some jātī was solely being mistreated or discriminated against, because people of that jātī received sanction from the system to go and do the same to some other jātī. Nobody protested too much because in a way, we, or rather our ancestors, were all partners in crime, and so a status quo was established. At some point in time, this status quo, this understanding, broke, and for some time even as we continued to hold our prejudices against those who were on the receiving end of our jātīs, we started protesting against those from whom we felt discriminated against and whom we thought were denying us resources and piece of the pie.

Of course jātīs from all walks of life resisted the British and I would say the Islamics as well. Why shouldn't they? Why wouldn't they? Each jātī felt just as attached to this country and to Dharma as any else! But collective resistance itself does not heal the fissures or rights the historical wrongs.

Ambedkar refused to be converted to Islam or Christianity and his adoption of Buddhism was also only as a mark of protest against the entrenched orthodoxy among Hindus. Basically all jātīs were happy being Hindus because I think they refused to fault our gods for this social order. We have come a long way since then in breaking the Jātī-varṇa equation.

Saying it again, I think we need a new vocabulary of how to deal with this issue, without some resorting to the ready-made vocabulary of the colonials, missionaries, marxists and mullahs, nor the others living in complete denial and at the slightest whim accusing others of pandering to colonial vocabulary and of attacking "Hinduism".

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

Postby A_Gupta » 20 Apr 2016 18:53

shiv wrote:The word "caste" carries such a negative connotation for Indians that the first reaction of anyone you speak to is to deny it and criticize it. Woe betide the person who says anything positive about it and the instant reaction to an earlier post of mine is an illustration of that.


Woe betide anyone who says anything objective about "caste". E.g., the flack Balu caught for writing this: (emphasis added):

As an example, consider one of the things that Europe ‘knows’ about India: the Indian caste system. Almost everyone I know has very firm moral opinions on the subject. Many see in it the origin of all kinds of evils in India: from the denial of human rights to oppression; some see in it obstacles to progress and modernization and so on. I suppose we agree that we need to understand a phenomenon before making moral judgments. With this in mind, if you try and find out what this famous caste system is, and why people either attack or defend it, you discover the following: no ancient book exists that tells us what the principles of the caste system are; no Indian can tell you about its structure or its organization; no scientific theory has been developed that explains how or why it continues to exist. Simply put, nobody understands what it is or how it functions. In that case, how can anyone be pro or contra the caste system? If we focus on how people normally describe this system and understand how easy it is to turn such a description upside down, the absurdity of the situation becomes obvious. While emphasizing that I do not attack and much less defend the caste system in what follows, let us look at the existing descriptions and their consequences.

(a) Caste is an antiquated social system that arose in the dim past of India. If this is true, it has survived many challenges – the onslaught of Buddhism and the Bhakti movements, the Islamic and British colonization, Indian independence, world capitalism – and might even survive ‘globalization’. It follows, then, that the caste system is a very stable social organization.

(b) There exists no centralized authority to enforce the caste system across the length and breadth of India. In that case, it is an autonomous and decentralized organization.

(c) All kinds of social and political regulations, whether by the British or by the Indians, have not been able to eradicate this system. If true, it means that the caste system is a self-reproducing social structure.

(d) Caste system exists among the Hindus, the Sikhs, the Jains, the Christians, the Muslims… It has also existed under different environments. This means that this system adapts itself to the environments it finds itself in.

(e) Because new castes have come and gone over the centuries, this system must also be dynamic.

(f) Since caste system is present in different political organizations and survives under different political regimes, it is also neutral with respect to political ideologies.

Even though more can be said, this is enough for us. A simple redescription of what we think we know about the caste system tells us that it is an autonomous, decentralized, stable, adaptive, dynamic, self-reproducing social organization. It is also neutral with respect to political, religious and economic doctrines and environments. If indeed such a system ever existed, would it also not have been the most ideal form of social organization one could ever think of?

How can we try to understand this odd state of affairs?


From: http://www.hipkapi.com/2015/10/01/what-can-india-offer/

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

Postby KJo » 20 Apr 2016 18:54

Can someone explain in simple language how caste and jati are different? And are there any similarities?

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

Postby shiv » 20 Apr 2016 18:55

RajeshA wrote:I find jātī actually something orthogonal to Dharma, though some "orthodox" Hindus have tried to make Jātī overlap with varṇa vyavastha.

Interesting thought there.

Prima facie Dharma has no connection with jati, but it does not, as far as I can tell, either predict or prevent the creation of a society with jatis. The concept of Dharma likely arose much earlier than the dissolving of society into multiple jati groups.

I cannot see any logical explanation of the statement that claims that purity and cleanliness are a consequence of jati as has been claimed earlier in this thread
Cleanliness, education, food, money, power,...etc. were results of caste system, not causes


Food, money and power are likely to encourage the formation of jatis to preserve the food resources (land, lakes, wells) , keep money in the family and keep power among family, not the other way round. That means jati was the consequence of food, money power. It is not as if jatis formed first and the formation of those jatis magically caused cleanliness, education, food, money, power- all as a result of that jati formation. That is complete nonsense but that is what the sentence below looks like to me. It can only be seen by me as illogical tripe.
Cleanliness, education, food, money, power,...etc. were results of caste system, not causes



That aside I cannot think of any explanation why lack of cleanliness would come as a consequence of jati. It is more likely that lack of cleanliness (secondary to lack of resources and education) were used as an excuse to keep the less educated and people seen as less clean as a separate jati. Cleanliness and lack of it could be a reason for formation of jatis, not a consequence that follows the formation of jatis.
Last edited by shiv on 20 Apr 2016 19:25, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby shiv » 20 Apr 2016 18:58

A_Gupta wrote:Even though more can be said, this is enough for us. A simple redescription of what we think we know about the caste system tells us that it is an autonomous, decentralized, stable, adaptive, dynamic, self-reproducing social organization. It is also neutral with respect to political, religious and economic doctrines and environments. If indeed such a system ever existed, would it also not have been the most ideal form of social organization one could ever think of?

How can we try to understand this odd state of affairs?

From: http://www.hipkapi.com/2015/10/01/what-can-india-offer/

Beautiful. And while I credit myself for coming up with some such thoughts, I cannot avoid the possibility that it was the man quoted above who sent me on that route in the first place. A guru if ever I had one

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

Postby JE Menon » 20 Apr 2016 19:07

>>A simple redescription of what we think we know about the caste system tells us that it is an autonomous, decentralized, stable, adaptive, dynamic, self-reproducing social organization. It is also neutral with respect to political, religious and economic doctrines and environments.

Fabulously put. Further, it integrates the heirarchic principle - an essential part of the system that we refer to as "nature"...

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

Postby shiv » 20 Apr 2016 19:15

KJo wrote:Can someone explain in simple language how caste and jati are different? And are there any similarities?

Similarities:
  • Many names that we call as "jatis" in India are called "caste" by Indians and others. Madhwa Brahmin is a jati and a caste. Idiga is a jati and a caste. Nadar is a jati and a caste English speakers call it caste. Indian native language speakers with no exposure to the word "caste" call it jati

Differences:
  • "Caste" is a complex word that attributes racist behaviour to certain jatis. In "caste" some jatis (upper castes) are racist and discriminate against other jatis (called lower caste) who are oppressed. If you belong to some jatis (upper castes) you are automatically an oppressor and for some jatis (lower castes) you are automatically oppressed according to the conventions followed about the word "caste'
  • Jati has no such automatic relationship with oppression or privilege. Jati is merely one's ethnic group or tribe related by intermarriage and social customs as well as religious rites.
  • It is varna that is associated with occupation and it is Manu's description of the role of higher and lower status varnas that has been mapped on to Hindu society as a "law" creating a "caste system" that is unbreakable.
  • Manu's book in translation was declared "Hindu law" by fairly shoddy and superficial process in order to separate "Hindu law" from secular penal codes. This had been easy for Christianity (Bible) and Islam (Quran) until the British "Code of Gentoo Laws" got accepted as the source of all Hindu behaviour. Manu's description of varnas being borm from various body parts of a supreme being - with Brahmin being head and Shudra being feet or some such thing became unbreakable Hindu law from the day it entered the Indian legal system set up by Brits which separated Hindu law as accepted by them from secular IPC law.
  • Hindu society did not create a "caste system" That system is a construct that was made by a British requirement for a single source "Hindu law" book to separate religion from state.
  • Only Jatis were created by Hindus in India. Caste is a word that Hindu learned from the British. Jati is a word recognized by every Indian
  • Saying all this will earn me the automatic accusation that I am blaming the British. Wait for it. It will come. That accusation helps certain interest groups.

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

Postby RajeshA » 20 Apr 2016 19:31

Arjun wrote:
johneeG wrote:but organized monotheistic creeds can minimize the effects of this weakness to some extent. On the other hand, caste system is a fatal flaw for a polytheistic, unorganized, and multi-linguistic society.

I don't think India's historical experience supports this assertion...Isn't it generally accepted today that it is the Buddhist majority regions of Bengal, Kashmir and North West India that proved more receptive to Islam than the Hindu majority ones? If that is correct - anti-jativaad Buddhists seem to have succumbed to monotheistic Abrahamism far more easily than jati-conscious Hindus. How do you explain this phenomenon?


Human mind, in fact not just human mind, but the brain of many human species, are intrinsically socially attuned. Without society, there is no interaction, there is no food for the mind. Now, I am not so sure, but Buddhism and Jainism basically promise a sort of Nirvāṇa which means that one finds a closure from even a need to be social, there is no more bandhan. Nirīśvarvāda in Hinduism also promises something similar. Excessive preaching of "Detachment" can lead to people not caring about their traditions enough.

Moksha in Īśvarvādī Hinduism is somewhat different. It is a fusion with God, as far as my understanding of it goes. The component which appeals to the social brain is retained and hence the bond is much stronger. As such there is something which stays as the fix point in one's life. Something larger (Paramātma) shares one's cultural space with oneself (the Ātman).

Steadfast Nirīśvarvāda may be good for some few of strong psyches but most people seek something to hold on to and Nirvāṇa and Moksha is not everybody's cup of tea.

That is my 2 paisa to that.

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

Postby RajeshA » 20 Apr 2016 19:37

"Ja" refers to "birth". Jātī simply refers to the "community in which one is born". "Community" however can be denoted by tribal origin, some eponymous ruler, geography or occupation depending on the community's evolution.

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

Postby A_Gupta » 20 Apr 2016 19:53

See this Mathur Vaishya gotra and business type:
http://vaishya-samaj.blogspot.com/2014/ ... athur.html
Full disclosure: My ancestry is Mathur Vaishya. My immediate family has no idea how accurate the table referenced above is.

Someone who studies old Hindi etc. (I currently forget his name) told me that literary-wise, Mathur Vaishya is mentioned about a thousand years ago; and they were likely scattered across North India from their original villages around Mathura by the depredations of Mahmud of Ghazni.

What the table suggests to me, with its super-specializations, is that jati was a way of conserving knowledge, especially practical knowledge. There were no institutions in the ancient world where one could go to learn about, e.g., grain wholesale trade, not just the methods, but all the contacts for buying, selling, transport, financing, etc.. There were no publications, directories, web-sites etc., where one could find such information. The mechanisms for propagation of market prices from market area to market area would be quite primitive, compared to today. It is practical knowledge that is most readily available within the extended family, that is conserved by jaati. Or else, one needs a guild & apprentice system, which is what I think prevailed in Europe.

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

Postby A_Gupta » 20 Apr 2016 20:11

The guild (shreni) system in ancient India:
http://www.infinityfoundation.com/manda ... ameset.htm

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

Postby Agnimitra » 20 Apr 2016 20:29

A_Gupta wrote:What the table suggests to me, with its super-specializations, is that jati was a way of conserving knowledge, especially practical knowledge. There were no institutions in the ancient world where one could go to learn about, e.g., grain wholesale trade, not just the methods, but all the contacts for buying, selling, transport, financing, etc.. There were no publications, directories, web-sites etc., where one could find such information. The mechanisms for propagation of market prices from market area to market area would be quite primitive, compared to today. It is practical knowledge that is most readily available within the extended family, that is conserved by jaati. Or else, one needs a guild & apprentice system, which is what I think prevailed in Europe.

A_Gupta ji, the guild and apprentice system prevailed in India too - that is what pugas, mandalas, etc were. Tolas and other micro-educational networks also formed the educational web of society. On top of this was the university system, and ancient India had the world's biggest universities and libraries, accepting thousands of foreign students, what to speak of people from different Indic castes!

However, due to predatory invasions that were aimed at destroying the culture and civilization itself, the universities and libraries were torched, and a lot of the micro infrastructure was destroyed. It was in this scenario that the only viable way of preserving residual knowledge was father-to-son, or within the extended family and jaati. Thus, jaati was the autonomic fallback mechanism to survive when the more complex and delicate circuits went out. That survival mechanism of vocation-Jaati can never lead to more sophisticated civilizational systems - it is only a survival mechanism, from which the civilization has to bounce back and recover rather than retroactively justify it as "best". It is tough and durable, but not "best".

Arjun wrote:I don't think India's historical experience supports this assertion...Isn't it generally accepted today that it is the Buddhist majority regions of Bengal, Kashmir and North West India that proved more receptive to Islam than the Hindu majority ones? If that is correct - anti-jativaad Buddhists seem to have succumbed to monotheistic Abrahamism far more easily than jati-conscious Hindus. How do you explain this phenomenon?

Arjun ji - Re: Buddhism collapsing under invasions - it goes to the above point - they patronized the more sophisticated trans-social and even trans-national systems like the sangha and other mercantile networks...but didn't have the fallback mechanism - in fact Indic Buddhism was a layer of abstraction on top of the "Hindu" substrate. The destruction of Buddhism is not an argument against caste-transcendence - it is merely indicative of how both parts - the caste-matrix and trans-social institutions - must go together in sync with one another. We don't need some rabidly anti-caste nutcases who propagate indiscriminate "intercaste marriages" and such like; but we don't need retroactive justifications of caste as a perpetual template... because trans-social institutions and ideologies fulfill the important dynamic of regularly infusing new blood into existing castes, or forging new castes. The overarching institutions that can do this are not just secular but also religious - and that's where Indic monotheism can play a part. [However, it is to be noted that monotheism can also reinforce endogamy in certain contexts - it is a double edged sword.]

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

Postby A_Gupta » 20 Apr 2016 20:36

^^^ Who said anything about "best"? If we keep arguing about "best", etc., we're not going to get anywhere. Can we get to an objective discussion without value judgements? Let's understand the "system" or "systems" or "jungle (no system)" first, what were its drivers, how did these preserve themselves from displacement, etc., how did it achieve these qualities "A simple redescription of what we think we know about the caste system tells us that it is an autonomous, decentralized, stable, adaptive, dynamic, self-reproducing social organization. It is also neutral with respect to political, religious and economic doctrines and environments" ?

Why do we keep having to set and reset the terms of the discussion thusly? It is simply a distraction.

...Jaati can never lead to more sophisticated civilizational systems - it is only a survival mechanism, from which the civilization has to bounce back and recover rather than retroactively justify it as "best". It is tough and durable, but not "best".
....
We don't need some rabidly anti-caste nutcases who propagate indiscriminate "intercaste marriages" and such like; but we don't need retroactive justifications of caste as a perpetual template that undermines trans-social institutions that regularly forge new castes or infuse new blood into existing castes.

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

Postby Agnimitra » 20 Apr 2016 20:39

A_Gupta wrote:^^^ Who said anything about "best"? If we keep arguing about "best", etc., we're not going to get anywhere. Can we get to an objective discussion without value judgements? Let's understand the "system" or "systems" or "jungle (no system)" first, what were its drivers, how did these preserve themselves from displacement, etc., how did it achieve these qualities "A simple redescription of what we think we know about the caste system tells us that it is an autonomous, decentralized, stable, adaptive, dynamic, self-reproducing social organization. It is also neutral with respect to political, religious and economic doctrines and environments" ?

I agree! The "best" comment was not directed at you. However, you did indicate that non-jaati guilds, etc were not there in India and only found in Europe. Not true, IMHO! To understand the "system", we need to know that BOTH parts existed in India - the caste-matrix, and also trans-social institutions. And to go with that were two parallel ideologies. Possible to think of it as the different parts of the nervous system to control conscious and unconscious processes.
Last edited by Agnimitra on 20 Apr 2016 20:41, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby A_Gupta » 20 Apr 2016 20:40

However, due to predatory invasions that were aimed at destroying the culture and civilization itself, the universities and libraries were torched, and a lot of the micro infrastructure was destroyed. It was in this scenario that the only viable way of preserving residual knowledge was father-to-son, or within the extended family and jaati. Thus, jaati was the autonomic fallback mechanism to survive when the more complex and delicate circuits went out.


Presumably, with the collapse of the Roman Empire, and the entry of Europe into its dark ages, European micro-infrastructure was largely destroyed. Was it somehow different from the destruction of Indian civilization so that some other mechanism of preserving residual knowledge could prevail? Or did Europe have a "caste system" too for a while that was later eclipsed by the guild system? etc.

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

Postby A_Gupta » 20 Apr 2016 20:43

Agnimitra wrote:However, you did indicate that non-jaati guilds, etc were not there in India and only found in Europe. Not true, IMHO!


Please don't read more into what I wrote than what is there. I simply wrote that guild are what prevailed in Europe. To prevail means to win out, to succeed. Which does not mean guilds did not exist in India or jaati did not exist in Europe. It remains true that the guild system is what prevailed/became widespread in Europe as it emerged from its dark ages.

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

Postby Agnimitra » 20 Apr 2016 20:53

A_Gupta wrote:Presumably, with the collapse of the Roman Empire, and the entry of Europe into its dark ages, European micro-infrastructure was largely destroyed. Was it somehow different from the destruction of Indian civilization so that some other mechanism of preserving residual knowledge could prevail? Or did Europe have a "caste system" too for a while that was later eclipsed by the guild system? etc.

In Europe it is well documented how following the collapse of the Roman Empire, the civic, administrative and social responsibilities were taken over by the Catholic Church. Thus ironically, the Catholic Church became a repository of classical 'pagan' memes which formed the matrix of that knowledge-base, even though ideologically it waged a campaign against that pagan substrate!

So in Europe's case, the trans-national institution became the "fallback" mechanism in the event of classical collapse. However, it is worth noting that the social dynamics of this was different - because this trans-national entity wasn't necessarily trans-social - it still drew only from the aristocracy of each nation, and grew deep links between the upper echelons of the different nations, but didn't necessarily have a trans-social emulsifying impact within each nation itself.

So Europe used a religious-ideological monotheistic trans-national institution as the dominant fallback mechanism - whereas in India it was the social-biological framework that provided a fallback. I think the Indian system is far healthier and more natural in the long run - but only when "religious-ideological" Indic-monotheistic institutions can have free play on that platform in regenerating the Rashtra. So in a "classical" vs "sacred" ideological paradigm, differing roles of trans-social institutions can be further dissected:

Yukta-Vairagya: Natural merger of Classical & Sacred

A_Gupta wrote:
Agnimitra wrote:However, you did indicate that non-jaati guilds, etc were not there in India and only found in Europe. Not true, IMHO!


Please don't read more into what I wrote than what is there. I simply wrote that guild are what prevailed in Europe. To prevail means to win out, to succeed. Which does not mean guilds did not exist in India or jaati did not exist in Europe. It remains true that the guild system is what prevailed/became widespread in Europe as it emerged from its dark ages.

Got it.

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

Postby JE Menon » 20 Apr 2016 20:56

>>It remains true that the guild system is what prevailed/became widespread in Europe as it emerged from its dark ages.

Very true. For instance the Dutch East India Company (VoC) was a guild-driven enterprise. I was at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam earlier this year when they had an exhibition of their engagement with Asia (including India by the way) and came away nearly in tears at the amount of Indian artefacts and sculptures (some of them heartbreakingly beautiful) on display. One or two were even described as being the result of plunder.


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