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Western Universalism - what's the big deal?

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

Postby JE Menon » 15 Jan 2015 13:13

>>You need to use the "seed dispersal" routine of trees or the "ejaculation into open water" of fish. You don't know whom your message will get through to, and you won't know where your children are born - but it works.

>>For that, the open forums of BRF are good.

400% agreement. And not just BRF. Open our own blogs in the hundreds, write our own stuff in the thousands, give our own views at every opportunity - be as rigorous and disciplined in your work as is possible to be. And then let each output gestate. Some will bear beautiful flower. Others will not. But there will be organic development. Over time, a lot of flowers will bloom. Above all, never be despondent. And never give up.

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

Postby csaurabh » 15 Jan 2015 15:00

LokeshC wrote:I am very short of time. there used to be long arguments on the Indo-UKstan thread with some folks who seemed to like English that English was nothing but a "language".

English can be nothing but a language if the baggage from it is shaved off and cleansed for Indic/non-western consumption. But the fact is that so much of a language and its abstract constructs borrow from its past (not history), that the meanings of words get overloaded.


If you follow linguistics theory developed in the West, then indeed, English is just a language. And there are Aryan languages, and Dravidian languages. But we did not know these things before the British colonization. Why?

1) Indians are fundamentally stupid. They were not even aware of the basic differences between "Dravidian languages" and "Aryan languages" and this denoted a Dravidian invasion of India. They needed to be enlightened about this obvious fact by British.
or
2) Indians were not stupid. They understood language in a much better way than the 'western linguists'. If the words denote the same concepts, then the languages are equivalent. English is a foreign language because it is not equivalent. We have grown up and constantly use lots of words like 'religion' and 'secularism' without the least understanding of what they mean and unaware of the fact that these words have no equivalent translation in the Indian world view as it was before.

Language, culture and history cannot be so easily separated.

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

Postby Vayutuvan » 15 Jan 2015 23:06

In India's case, Language culture and history cannot not only be not separated but they are one and the same dating back to antiquity. In antiquity samskritam and Tamil arose out of culture and history which in turn were enriched by these mothers of all languages. Everything is intertwined in a completely organic way with the six darshana as the roots which take nutrition form the soil called vEda to grow the tree called Santana dharma.
Last edited by Vayutuvan on 16 Jan 2015 10:18, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby ramana » 16 Jan 2015 03:33

Shiv, I need you to write a piskoanalysis 101 for the benefit of our members.

If possible address how to piskoanlyze any subject.

Atri had a post on looking at things from an Indian perspective.

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

Postby shiv » 16 Jan 2015 05:26

ramana wrote:Shiv, I need you to write a piskoanalysis 101 for the benefit of our members.

If possible address how to piskoanlyze any subject.

Atri had a post on looking at things from an Indian perspective.


LOL. Will give it a try - need to organize my own thoughts (like cleaning up a room and putting things in their place)

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

Postby shiv » 16 Jan 2015 05:48

Please pardon me for a digression folks. I was researching something for a post that will appear on the Islamism thread when I suddenly realized the unnecessary crap passed off as "history". We have all been through this in school.

I will use a Wiki page on the Ottoman empire and first quote verbatim all the details from that page and then remove the fluff and just leave the necessary information to contrast between what is considered "history" and what is more than enough to get a sense of the past
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Empire
Original
The Ottoman Empire, also historically referred to as the Turkish Empire or Turkey, was a Sunni Islamic state founded by Oghuz Turks under Osman I in northwestern Anatolia in 1299. With conquests in the Balkans by Murad I between 1362 and 1389, and the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed II in 1453, the Ottoman sultanate was transformed into an empire

Ertuğrul, father of Osman I, founder of the Ottoman Empire, arrived in Anatolia from Merv (Turkmenistan) with 400 horsemen to aid the Seljuks of Rum against the Byzantines.[14] After the demise of the Turkish Seljuk Sultanate of Rum in the 14th century, Anatolia was divided into a patchwork of independent, mostly Turkish states, the so-called Ghazi emirates. One of the emirates was led by Osman I (1258–1326), from whom the name Ottoman is derived.[15] Osman I extended the frontiers of Turkish settlement toward the edge of the Byzantine Empire. It is not well understood how the Osmanli came to dominate their neighbours, as the history of medieval Anatolia is still little known.[16]
Battle of Nicopolis in 1396. Painting from 1523.

In the century after the death of Osman I, Ottoman rule began to extend over the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans. Osman's son, Orhan, captured the city of Bursa in 1324 and made it the new capital of the Ottoman state. The fall of Bursa meant the loss of Byzantine control over northwestern Anatolia. The important city of Thessaloniki was captured from the Venetians in 1387. The Ottoman victory at Kosovo in 1389 effectively marked the end of Serbian power in the region, paving the way for Ottoman expansion into Europe.[17] The Battle of Nicopolis in 1396, widely regarded as the last large-scale crusade of the Middle Ages, failed to stop the advance of the victorious Ottoman Turks.


What you need to know:
The Ottoman Empire or the Turkish Empire, was an Islamic state founded by Turks under Osman I in the region of Turkey around 1300. Over the next 100 years an empire was formed by the conquest of the Balkans and Constantinople (Istanbul) The name "Ottoman" comes from "Osman I" who established the empire.


History - like the Bible is recorded as life of Christ/Mohammad/Kings and every little thing they did. Recordings of the King's time of eating, time of shitting, birth, death date etc becomes history. Nothing is recorded of people, life, their travails, their culture etc. That is not history. History is, in the main, a list of kings and their conquests - just like Bible or Quran are stories of a particular sovereign and his life or conquests

But when it comes to the study of other "races" - their memories are discarded as useless and the people are described in detail as "sociology"."anthropology" etc

And whenever other people describe Europeans or others using similar terms it is called racism. Europeans classifying other people is "academic" - sociology, philology, anatomy, anthropology. Others doing it is bigotry, xenophobia and racism

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

Postby Agnimitra » 16 Jan 2015 06:07

^^^ When it comes to "Middle Eastern Studies", a knowledge of Arabic is considered necessary, and possibly Persian and Turkish. Petrodollar funding is making sure of that. So at least Western scholars try to do the Lawrence of Arabia immersion thing.

With Indic studies, it hasn't even got as far as that yet. No immersion in Sanskrit is considered prerequisite, and no even in the current Prakrits. With some dubious grammatical knowledge and 175 years of arrant nonsense churned out in English, one can become the arbiter on matters of Indian history and sociology.

The immediate aim should be to make Sanskrit proficiency -- written and spoken -- a prerequisite for scholarship in any Indic social sciences. Immersion in Sanskriti should be the prerequisite. In this respect, it would not be a problem to engage the Sheldon Pollacks and other "trojans" who at least make a show of their Sanskrit-philia and immersion. Let the samudra-manthan begin, with Sanskrit proficiency and knowledge of Traditional sources as the pivot.

Current levels of Sanskrit popularity in general is not an obstacle. First academia, then society. Like how the aam adbul points to the authority of the "ulema" who have knowledge of Arabic and traditional sources, the mango Indian must also demand a sound knowledge of Sanskrit and Prakrits in order for anyone to call himself or herself an "expert" in any Indic social science.

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

Postby shiv » 16 Jan 2015 06:56

Agnimitra wrote:^^^ When it comes to "Middle Eastern Studies", a knowledge of Arabic is considered necessary, and possibly Persian and Turkish. Petrodollar funding is making sure of that. So at least Western scholars try to do the Lawrence of Arabia immersion thing.

With Indic studies, it hasn't even got as far as that yet. No immersion in Sanskrit is considered prerequisite, and no even in the current Prakrits. With some dubious grammatical knowledge and 175 years of arrant nonsense churned out in English, one can become the arbiter on matters of Indian history and sociology.

The immediate aim should be to make Sanskrit proficiency -- written and spoken -- a prerequisite for scholarship in any Indic social sciences. Immersion in Sanskriti should be the prerequisite. In this respect, it would not be a problem to engage the Sheldon Pollacks and other "trojans" who at least make a show of their Sanskrit-philia and immersion. Let the samudra-manthan begin, with Sanskrit proficiency and knowledge of Traditional sources as the pivot.

Current levels of Sanskrit popularity in general is not an obstacle. First academia, then society. Like how the aam adbul points to the authority of the "ulema" who have knowledge of Arabic and traditional sources, the mango Indian must also demand a sound knowledge of Sanskrit and Prakrits in order for anyone to call himself or herself an "expert" in any Indic social science.

All European Indologists of the past were Sanskrit "scholars". Also Witzel and Doniger.

The problem is not knowing Sanskrit - it is learning Sanskrit in a western University, out of books, out of context and using translations of Sanskrit made by others who "mastered" Sanskrit by these means. The cultural context is totally removed and had already been removed by "translators" and "commentators" and "philologists" and "indologists" and "Orientalists" even 200 years ago.

Exactly the same holds true for Arabic studies. It is not the knowledge of the language - it is more a problem of fitting in texts and information into pre-existing biases and boxes that already inform the "expert" - "Hindus are like this' or "Arabs are like that". Any new information is reconciled with the old biases and old "structure".

All Indian languages have taken something from Sanskrt and all Indian languages have the same cultural roots - so more than Sanskrit it is important to keep Indian language literature alive and have good English translations by decolonized Indians.

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

Postby Agnimitra » 16 Jan 2015 07:14

shiv wrote:All European Indologists of the past were Sanskrit "scholars". Also Witzel and Doniger.

Most of them very dubious scholars. Sw. Dayananda was scathing about Max Mueller's Sanskrit knowledge. Donniger's bloopers could add humour and colour to Witzel's pasty mug. The kind of "scholarship" is purely bookish, and even that not of a very high standard as found in traditional Sanskrit pathashalas.

Apart from traditional Indic standards of Sanskrit scholarship, proper references to traditional sources should be required. Immersion may or may not be, but if someone wants to write about Veda or Vedanta, then logically, thorough knowledge of traditional sources on these should be made necessary.

Of course, this won't stop subversion and digestion projects, or Pollock'ism. But it will tie Indology to Sanskrit and Traditional sources. Then a crop of true Indics can step onto the playing field and battle it out. Right now Indics are at a total disadvantage stepping onto the field that has been built on 175 years of colonial nonsense.

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

Postby Agnimitra » 16 Jan 2015 07:25

^^ Added: The other problem is that when they refer to "Indian" sources, it is usually those who arose during th dark night of colonial rule, and whose mentalities were themselves compromised, as is natural. So "Hinduism" is defined mostly with secondary references to, say, Swami Vivekananda, who has often spoke of Aryan "race" and its conquests, who acknowledged that the Varna system was a conqueror's mercy for the upliftment of the conquered (he compared it to genocide of native Americans), etc.

That's not acceptable. Referencing the writings of Hindu social and spiritual leaders during colonial days only is not sufficient. Rather, primary sources going back to antiquity, and a proper psychohistorical analysis of the varying interpretations and applications must be necessary.

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

Postby csaurabh » 16 Jan 2015 08:09

shiv wrote:History - like the Bible is recorded as life of Christ/Mohammad/Kings and every little thing they did. Recordings of the King's time of eating, time of shitting, birth, death date etc becomes history. Nothing is recorded of people, life, their travails, their culture etc. That is not history. History is, in the main, a list of kings and their conquests - just like Bible or Quran are stories of a particular sovereign and his life or conquests

But when it comes to the study of other "races" - their memories are discarded as useless and the people are described in detail as "sociology"."anthropology" etc

And whenever other people describe Europeans or others using similar terms it is called racism. Europeans classifying other people is "academic" - sociology, philology, anatomy, anthropology. Others doing it is bigotry, xenophobia and racism


'History' is very biased in terms of 'important people' , such as Kings.
Here is a good video about the role of women in the past


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

Postby csaurabh » 16 Jan 2015 08:14

Agnimitra wrote:^^ Added: The other problem is that when they refer to "Indian" sources, it is usually those who arose during th dark night of colonial rule, and whose mentalities were themselves compromised, as is natural. So "Hinduism" is defined mostly with secondary references to, say, Swami Vivekananda, who has often spoke of Aryan "race" and its conquests, who acknowledged that the Varna system was a conqueror's mercy for the upliftment of the conquered (he compared it to genocide of native Americans), etc.


This is unwarranted. I have seen no evidence he ever spoke in such terms. Please tell me where in his writings he says such things ( not a 'book' about him which is probably written by orientalists or colonized seculars ). Also you have to take into account the context. He has written numerous times decrying the upper castes as 'mummified skeletons' etc. This doesn't mean he was 'anti upper caste' , he was just reacting to how people behaved at the time.

Getting 'real sanskrit scholars' into western universities to study 'India studies' is not going to work. That will mean playing their game, which you can't win.

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

Postby Agnimitra » 16 Jan 2015 10:13

csaurabh wrote:This is unwarranted. I have seen no evidence he ever spoke in such terms. Please tell me where in his writings he says such things ( not a 'book' about him which is probably written by orientalists or colonized seculars ).

Whether a book is written by anti- or pro- people, orientalist sepoys or viraat Hindus, as long as they provide authentic references, one cannot deny a quote. Of course, one can certainly dispute its context. Here is a quote from a book which I'm only using for its references here (original references provided in the linked book):
Sw. Vivekananda wrote:"Wherever you [Westerners] have found weaker races, you have exterminated them by the roots, as it were...

...India has never done that. Aryans were kind and generous...and would there have been this institution of Varnashrama if the Aryans had exterminated the aborigines had in order to settle their lands? ... The means of European civilization is the sword; of Aryans, the division into different Varnas. This system of division into different Varnas is the stepping stone to civilization, making one rise higher and higher in proportion to one's learning and culture."

Of course, at another place Swami ji also said:
Sw. Vivekananda wrote:"...the caste system is opposed to the religion of Vedanta. Caste is a social custom, and all our great preachers have tried to break it down... Caste is simply the outgrowth of political institution of India; it is a hereditary trade guild. Trade competition with Europe has broken caste more than any teaching."

Note that in this case the second quote does not cancel out the first - the initial genesis of Varna is still assumed to be a method of assimilating conquered peoples by conquering "Aryans".

Its also interesting that the argument above is exactly the argument of Islamists around the institution of kafaa'at and Arabization/Islamization.

csaurabh wrote:Also you have to take into account the context. He has written numerous times decrying the upper castes as 'mummified skeletons' etc. This doesn't mean he was 'anti upper caste' , he was just reacting to how people behaved at the time.

Of course. Where did I doubt this? His teachings and intentions in his Present Time context are clear, which is why he is an enlightened national hero. But in the field of certain scientific or sociological disciplines, he speculated according to the fashions and 'scientific' theories of the day, and the enslaved Indian's positive or negative reaction to them. That's all I'm saying.

csaurabh wrote:Getting 'real sanskrit scholars' into western universities to study 'India studies' is not going to work. That will mean playing their game, which you can't win.

My whole point is that a "new game" has to be started by pivoting the push-and-pull of opposing viewpoints on the prerequisite of Sanskrit proficiency and thorough knowledge of Traditional hermeneutical resources. Tethered to this Indic axis, Indic scholars will certainly be much better positioned to enter the field. Then let the samudra manthan play out. All this can be made possible by the not unreasonable demand that scholars ad publications have adequate credentials.

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

Postby Agnimitra » 16 Jan 2015 11:54

A film about Martin Heidegger's philosophy - he grappled with the "technological idea of being" that the West was now trying to use as the vehicle of its universalism, and spoke of its conception of moving in a time-linear way through different epochs where different other ideas of being predominated.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9nEhrt5X1I


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

Postby shiv » 16 Jan 2015 17:34

Agnimitra wrote:A film about Martin Heidegger's philosophy - he grappled with the "technological idea of being" that the West was now trying to use as the vehicle of its universalism, and spoke of its conception of moving in a time-linear way through different epochs where different other ideas of being predominated.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9nEhrt5X1I


Oh flipping heck. These guys are trying to explain the concept of karma yoga and cautioning against materialism. It has been done, but they don't know. Watched all 80 minutes.

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

Postby csaurabh » 16 Jan 2015 21:21

S.V. on occasion mentions an 'Aryan race' but he hardly ever takes the view that the caste system came into being as a means for oppressing 'non-Aryan' peoples. In any case he was very far ahead of his time compared to any other and this was solely due to Vedantic thought process. Lets just leave it at that.

I am currently reading a huge book called 'Book of Modern Indian speeches', about all the speeches and letters by all of the 'important people' of India in late 19th upto 1860s. It is astonishing how mentally colonized these peoples minds are. Aryan Invasion is taken for granted, Hinduism is a religion, Muslims are a race, secularism, communalism, socialism, atheism etc. are all debated endlessly. From time to time though there is a brief ray of light shines through and they express some original thoughts.

By contrast, Muslim league leaders ( particularly Jinnah ) are quite clear in their understanding. I will post some of the speeches and type out some excerpts if an online source is not available.

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

Postby csaurabh » 16 Jan 2015 21:31

Excerpt from M.A. Jinnah, Lahore resolution 1940

Now the question is, what is the solution of this problem between the Hindus and the Mussalmans? We have been considering, and as I have already said, a committee has been appointed to consider the various proposals. But whatever the final scheme of constitution, I will present to you my views, and I will just read to you in confirmation of what I am going to put before you, a letter from Lala Lajpat Rai to Mr. C. R. Das. It was written, I believe, about 12 or 15 years ago, and that letter has been produced in a book recently published by one Indra Prakash, and that is how this letter has come to light. This is what Lala Lajpat Rai, a very astute politician and a staunch Hindu Mahasabite, said. But before I read his letter it is plain that you cannot get away from being a Hindu if you are a Hindu. (Laughter.) The word 'nationalist' has now become the play of conjurers in politics. This is what he says:

"There is one point more which has been troubling me very much of late and one [about] which I want you to think carefully and that is the question of Hindu-Muhammadan unity. I have devoted most of my time during the last six months to the study of Muslim history and Muslim law and I am inclined to think it is neither possible nor practicable. Assuming and admitting the sincerity of Mohammadan leaders in the non-cooperation movement I think their religion provides an effective bar to anything of the kind.

You remember the conversation I reported to you in Calcutta which I had with Hakim Ajmal Khan and Dr. Kitchlew. There is no finer Muhammadan in Hindustan than Hakim Ajmal Khan, but can any Muslim leader over-ride the Quran? I can only hope that my reading of Islamic law is incorrect."


I think his reading is quite correct. (Laughter)

"And nothing would relieve me more than to be convinced that it is so. But if it is right then it comes to this, that although we can unite against the British we cannot do so to rule Hindustan on British lines. We cannot do so to rule Hindustan on democratic lines."

Ladies and gentlemen, when Lala Lajpat Rai said that we cannot rule this country on democratic lines it was all right; but when I had the temerity to speak the same truth about eighteen months ago, there was a shower of attacks and criticism. But Lala Lajpat Rai said fifteen years ago that we cannot do so, viz., rule Hindustan on democratic lines. What is the remedy? The remedy, according to Congress, is to keep us in the minority and under the majority rule. Lala Lajpat Rai proceeds further:

"What is then the remedy? I am not afraid of the seven crores of Mussalmans. But I think the seven crores in Hindustan plus the armed hordes of Afghanistan, Central Asia, Arabia, Mesopotamia and Turkey, will be irresistible." (Laughter.)

"I do honestly and sincerely believe in the necessity or desirability of Hindu-Muslim unity. I am also fully prepared to trust the Muslim leaders. But what about the injunctions of the Koran and Hadis? The leaders cannot over-ride them. Are we then doomed? I hope not. I hope your learned mind and wise head will find some way out of this difficulty."


Now, ladies and gentlemen, that is merely a letter written by one great Hindu leader to another great Hindu leader fifteen years ago. Now, I should like to put before you my views on the subject as it strikes me, taking everything into consideration at the present moment. The British Govemment and Parliament, and more so the British nation, have been for many decades past brought up and nurtured with settled notions about India's future, based on developments in their own country which has built up the British constitution, functioning now through the Houses of Parliament and the system of cabinet. Their concept of party government functioning on political planes has become the ideal with them as the best form. of government for every country, and the one-sided and powerful propaganda, which naturally appeals to the British, has led them into a serious blunder, in producing a constitution envisaged in the Government of India Act of 1935. We find that the most leading statesmen of Great Britain, saturated with these notions, have in their pronouncements seriously asserted and expressed a hope that the passage of time will harmonise the inconsistent elements in India.

A leading journal like the London Times, commenting on the Government of India Act of 1935, wrote that "Undoubtedly the difference between the Hindus and Muslims is not of religion in the strict sense of the word but also of law and culture, that they may be said indeed to represent two entirely distinct and separate civilizations. However, in the course of time the. superstitions will die out and India will be moulded into a single nation." So according to the London Times the only difficulties are superstitions. These fundamental and deep-rooted differences, spiritual, economic, cultural, social, and political have been euphemised as mere "superstitions." But surely it is a flagrant disregard of the past history of the sub-continent of India, as well as the fundamental Islamic conception of society vis-a-vis that of Hinduism, to characterise them as mere "superstitions." Notwithstanding thousand years of close contact, nationalities which are as divergent today as ever, cannot at any time be expected to transform themselves into one nation merely by means of subjecting them to a democratic constitution and holding them forcibly together by unnatural and artificial methods of British Parliamentary statutes. What the unitary government of India for one hundred fifty years had failed to achieve cannot be realized by the imposition of a central federal government. It is inconceivable that the fiat or the writ of a government so constituted can ever command a willing and loyal obedience throughout the sub-continent by various nationalities, except by means of armed force behind it.

The problem in India is not of an inter-communal character, but manifestly of an international one, and it must be treated as such. So long as this basic and fundamental truth is not realised, any constitution that may be built will result in disaster and will prove destructive and harmful not only to the Mussalmans, but to the British and Hindus also. If the British Government are really in earnest and sincere to secure peace and happiness of the people of this sub-continent, the only course open to us all is to allow the major nations separate homelands by dividing India into "autonomous national states." There is no reason why these states should be antagonistic to each other. On the other hand, the rivalry, and the natural desire and efforts on the part of one to dominate the social order and establish political supremacy over the other in the government of the country, will disappear. It will lead more towards natural goodwill by international pacts between them, and they can live in complete harmony with their neighbours. This will lead further to a friendly settlement all the more easily with regard to minorities, by reciprocal arrangements and adjustments between Muslim India and Hindu India, which will far more adequately and effectively safeguard the rights and interests of Muslim and various other minorities.

It is extremely difficult to appreciate why our Hindu friends fail to understand the real nature of Islam and Hinduism. They are not religions in the strict sense of the word, but are, in fact, different and distinct social orders; and it is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality; and this misconception of one Indian nation has gone far beyond the limits and is the cause of more of our troubles and will lead India to destruction if we fail to revise our notions in time. The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, and literature. They neither intermarry nor interdine together, and indeed they belong to two different civilisations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspects on life, and of life, are different. It is quite clear that Hindus and Mussalmans derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, their heroes are different, and different episode. Very often the hero of one is a foe of the other, and likewise their victories and defeats overlap. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent, and final. destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state.

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

Postby Agnimitra » 17 Jan 2015 00:00

csaurabh wrote:I am currently reading a huge book called 'Book of Modern Indian speeches', about all the speeches and letters by all of the 'important people' of India in late 19th upto 1860s. It is astonishing how mentally colonized these peoples minds are. Aryan Invasion is taken for granted, Hinduism is a religion, Muslims are a race, secularism, communalism, socialism, atheism etc. are all debated endlessly. From time to time though there is a brief ray of light shines through and they express some original thoughts.

Very true. They were a product of their times. I still consider many of them to be enlightened - in terms of the way they dealt with the environment they found themselves and India in. Even the generation born immediately post-independence...I get the impression they are psychologically trying to prove something...to themselves. This is natural for a people who are emerging from slavery.

To return to my original point - Indology studies cannot be allowed to get away with limiting Indian inputs solely to the opinions and speculations of Indians over the past 150 years - or even the past 800 years. Rather, they must go to original sources as far back as possible, and later sources must be interpreted in the light of psychohistory - rather than interpreting earlier sources in light of post-invasion adaptations and interpretations.

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

Postby Agnimitra » 17 Jan 2015 00:08

shiv wrote:
Agnimitra wrote:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9nEhrt5X1I

Oh flipping heck. These guys are trying to explain the concept of karma yoga and cautioning against materialism. It has been done, but they don't know. Watched all 80 minutes.

Heidegger's concept of Time and its relationship with Being was revolutionary for them. He still spoke of time-linear Western historical epochs and dispensations - with each one using a different vehicle to propagate its own false 'universalism'. But the way he thought of Time itself was different from past ages. It reminds me a lot of Korzybski's general semantics, time-binding, non-elementalism, etc. Korzybski came up in the same time period as Heidegger. He was Jewish, and a lifelong practicing Buddhist.

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

Postby csaurabh » 17 Jan 2015 06:40

MK Gandhi address to Benaras Hindu University, 1916

We have been told during the last two days how necessary it is, if we are to retain our hold upon the simplicity of Indian character, that our hands and feet should move in unison with our hearts. But this is only by way of preface. I wanted to say it is a matter of deep humiliation and shame for us that I am compelled this evening under the shadow of this great college, in this sacred city, to address my countrymen in a language that is foreign to me. I know that if I was appointed an examiner, to examine all those who have been attending during these two days this series of lectures, most of those who might be examined upon these lectures would fail. And why? Because they have not been touched.

I was present at the sessions of the great Congress in the month of December. There was a much vaster audience, and will you believe me when I tell you that the only speeches that touched the huge audience in Bombay were the speeches that were delivered in Hindustani? In Bombay, mind you, not in Banaras where everybody speaks Hindi. But between the vernaculars of the Bombay Presidency on the one hand and Hindi on the other, no such great dividing line exists as there does between English and the sister language of India; and the Congress audience was better able to follow the speakers in Hindi. I am hoping that this University will see to it that the youths who come to it will receive their instruction through the medium of their vernaculars. Our languages the reflection of ourselves, and if you tell me that our languages are too poor to express the best thought, then say that the sooner we are wiped out of existence the better for us. Is there a man who dreams that English can ever become the national language of India? Why this handicap on the nation? Just consider for one moment what an equal race our lads have to run with every English lad.

I had the privilege of a close conversation with some Poona professors. They assured me that every Indian youth, because he reached his knowledge through the English language, lost at least six precious years of life. Multiply that by the numbers of students turned out by our schools and colleges, and find out for yourselves how many thousand years have been lost to the nation. The charge against us is that we have no initiative. How can we have any, if we are to devote the precious years of our life to the mastery of a foreign tongue? We fail in this attempt also. Was it possible for any speaker yesterday and today to impress his audience as was possible for Mr. Higginbotham? It was not the fault of the previous speakers that they could not engage the audience. They had more than substance enough for us in their addresses. But their addresses could not go home to us. I have heard it said that after all it is English educated India which is leading and which is leading and which is doing all the things for the nation. It would be monstrous if it were otherwise. The only education we receive is English education. Surely we must show something for it. But suppose that we had been receiving during the past fifty years education through our vernaculars, what should we have today? We should have today a free India, we should have our educated men, not as if they were foreigners in their own land but speaking to the heart of the nation; they would be working amongst the poorest of the poor, and whatever they would have gained during these fifty years would be a heritage for the nation. Today even our wives are not the sharers in our best thought. Look at Professor Bose and Professor Ray and their brilliant researches. Is it not a shame that their researches are not the common property of the masses?

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

Postby shiv » 17 Jan 2015 07:17

How "Hindu Laws" were created
http://www.cscs.res.in/dataarchive/text ... 11505/file
THE TRADITION OF THE DHARMASASTRAS AND INVENTION OF HINDU LAW IN EARLY COLONIAL BENGAL

This paper dwells on the fundamental argument that ‘Hindu law’ –an established category in the socio-legal terminology in colonial and, indeed post-colonial India was an early colonial invention. ‘Hindu law’ as constructed and defined by the 18th century Englishmen in Bengal did not exist in pre-colonial India. Hindu law was constructed on the basis of the appropriation of selective branches from the prescriptive, normative and moralistic tradition of the Dharmasastras, especially the Smrtis to produce Hindu law as an integral component of the empire in order to facilitate their administrative machinery- both revenue and judicial.

In 1772, when the East India Company took over the direct administration of Bengal. Warren Hastings became the first Governor-General. As is well known, land revenue remained the prime concern of the Company in the initial phase.
Hastings and also his immediate successors had to accomplish the dual task of ensuring the maximum amount of land revenue as the accrual was invested in the conquest of other parts of India to build the Indian Empire and also in the Far Eastern trade, mainly china, coupled with the introduction of a judicial administration- both civil and criminal -which would command the authority over the native subjects. The colonial Codes on Hindu law, compiled and rendered in English during the latter half of the 18th century, were the direct outcome of this dual concern.

The early rulers of the company made very little pretence that they would retain the traditional law as far as criminal law was concerned. But primarily, being apprehensive of the popular resentment against the newly established regime, the early officials repeatedly proclaimed that in terms of civil and personal laws, such as property, inheritance, succession, marriage, adoption etc, they would administer traditional laws to their native subjects. A binary was created in the administrative terminology- Hindu law and Muslim law. It is evident from the contemporary documents that during the early era, the rulers were more concerned with the construction of ‘Hindu law’ than the Muslim counterpart.

Hindu law was created on the basis of selective appropriation of the Dharmasastras, especially the Smrtis and to some extent the Nyaya-Mimamsa tradition (the tradition of logic and interpretation) as the methodological tool. It is rather intriguing how Hindu law was perceived as the civil and personal law of the Hindus. In fact, since the earliest days, many British ideologues and officials such as J. Z. Holwell, Willial Bolts, Luke Scrafton, Alexander Dow and Harry Verelest referred to the “Sastras” or “Sastahs” as the civil and personal laws of the Hindus.

On the basis of this perception, Hastings appointed a team of eleven Pundits to compile a code on Hindu law in 1772. Vivadarnavasetu, the original Sanskrit version was later on was first rendered in Persian and then into English under the title – A Code of Gentoo Laws from the Persian rendering by N. B Halhed. It was first published in 1776 followed by several editions and reprints in different European languages. This text was repeatedly referred and described in the contemporary documents as the ‘standard handbook on Hindu law’. However, the discrepancies in the meanings of original Sanskrit compilation and the English rendering is very significant in the process of the metamorphosis of the traditional literature of the Dharmasastras and invention of Hindu law. Vivadarnavasetu literally means ‘a bridge on the ocean of disputes’. The meaning was totally transformed in the English rendering. It imported the following terms – ‘code’, and ‘law’ from British legal terminology and a new tradition was invented through the appropriation of the prescriptive, normative and moralistic principles expounded in the traditional literature of the Sastras. Another compilation was undertaken within twenty years under the initiative of the erudite orientalist with knowledge of Sanskrit – William Jones and with the patronage of the Cornwallis – the then Governor-General of Bengal and the architect of permanent settlement of land revenue in the year 1793. Jones appointed Jagannath Tarkapanchanan, the legendary scholar on all branches of the Dharmasastras to compile Vivadabhangarnava –that literally means ‘a break wave on the ocean of disputes’. Due to the untimely death of Jones, H. T Colebrooke translated the text under the title – A Digest of Hindu Law, first published in 1801. Again, the importation of British legal terminologies such as ‘digest’ and ‘law’ tried to legitimize the transformation of the prescriptive guidelines enshrined in the Sastras into legal rules to be directly administered through court. It must also be mentioned that William Jones translated Manusmrti as the ‘authentic’ laws of the Hindus. The text was first published in 1794. Manusmrti literally means the memories from Manu. He translated this text under the title – The Institutes of Hindu Law. Again, the terms- ‘Institute’ and ‘law’ used in defining a text belonging to Smrti genre were culturally contextual to contemporary England. Thus, the systematic projection of the Sastras as Hindu law may be noticed since the earliest era of the British rule in Bengal.

A brief analysis of the tradition of the Dharmasastras is necessary to clarify further the notion of invention. It is a vast corpus of literature- the language of which was Sanskrit- “a strange, crisp, terse lingua franca which made no concessions to the beginners” as described by J. D. M Derrett. The contents of the Dharmasastras can hardly be described by any single category such as law, religion, philosophy or intellectual discourse. Dharmasastra means the ‘teaching or science of righteousness’. The word Dharma literally means ‘to hold, to support, to maintain or to sustain’. The rules expounded here provided prescriptive, normative and moralistic guidelines for the ‘twice-born’ (Brahmin, ksatriya and Vaisya) and marginally for the Sudras. The prescriptions were designed to regulate the entire life-cycle of a Hindu individual- both male and female. They were encouraged to perform the righteous duties appropriate to his or her sex (Stripuruso dharma), status (Varna) and stages of life (asrama). In the end, the entire literature envisaged not only worldly happiness and a harmonious social order but also hopes of blissful existence in heaven.

The origin and development of this millennium old tradition is shrouded in uncertainty and myth. The ultimate source is known to be the Vedas, though the word Veda does not strictly refer to the texts, but to the totality of knowledge and the sum total of understanding of all religious and moral truths, whether revealed or not. Smrtis are held to be indirect perceptions founded on memory (a literal translation of the word) on the basis of which Dharma grew into a discipline or science- Dharmasastra. A definite date for their beginning has not been identified. Manu is held as the first among the authors on Smrti, such as Yajnavalkya, Narara, Devala, Katyayana and many others, though the identity of Manu is still a debated and controversial issue. However, the tentative date of Manusmrti is held between 500 and 400 B. C and the period of writing Smrti literature till 800 A. D. The early British rulers described Manusmrti as the most “ancient” and “authentic” laws of the Hindus.

The process of evolution to which this millennium old tradition responded so well demonstrate that it was not a static tradition. The durability and dynamics were gathered through the emerging traditions of Tikas and Nibandhas. Tikas were the illustrative commentaries on the original Smrtis. But the interpretations of the same text varied among authors in different regions and periods of time. For example, Medhatithi’s Manubhasya or Kulluka Bhatta’s Manavarthamuktavali did not offer same interpretation on specific verses or issues. About the Nibandhas – dwelling upon certain texts, the authors would make a choice by offering a critique of others and write a discourse. The basic principle was to extract the meaning of Dharma from vast mass of literature and put forward one’s own views. The issues ranged from Dayabhaga (division of property), Vyavahara (principles of jurisprudence), Prayaschitta (penance), Suddhi (purification), Vivaha (marriage) and other aspects of familial, social, moral and religious conduct.

The tradition was bifurcated 10th or 11th century onwards into two broad intellectual traditions – Dayabhaga and Mitaksara. The original propounder of Mitaksara was Vijnesvara, the 9th century commentator from Mithila/Benaras. There was further ramification within Mitaksara tradition over several centuries along geographical boundaries, such as Maharastra or western India and South India or Deccan in addition to Benaras or Mithila tradition. However, Jimutavahana, the 10th/11th century commentator from Bengal produced his discourse on Dayabhaga (division of property) which marked a cleavage from the earlier discourses along Mitaksara line. These two intellectual traditions differed on certain fundamental principles such as time of division of ancestral property, mode of division of joint property and women’s property – especially widow’s rights and entitlements. The Dayabhaga tradition pronounced more liberal rights for women in general and widows in particular. It may explain the reason why Sati was more frequently practised in Bengal.

The proliferation of Tikas and Nibandhas indicate a buoyant environment for the tradition to be flourished over centuries and millennia. In fact, unabated growth of such discourses till the beginning of colonial rule suggests that Islamic power in India accepted or accommodated the autonomous domain of the Sastras. The pre-eminence and dominant influence of the Brahmins as reflected in the writings of the early British ideologues and officials indicate that even the Mughal rulers did not integrate this tradition within state hierarchy of command and control. There was virtual decline of this tradition during the colonial period. Instead, a new trend of translation of prominent treatises of the Smrtis and discourses on Dayabhaga and Mitaksara had begun under the colonial regime. Indian participation in this new enterprise was minimal.

Extant pre-colonial evidences suggest that the Sastras evolved as a tradition of intellectual and philosophical knowledge rather one integral to administration. The community of scholars ran academia known as tols or chatuspathis. The students were part of teachers’ household. The students received titles from the preceptor depending on their merit and quality such as Sastri, Tarkalankar, Nyayalankar, Kavyalankar and so on. They opened their own academia after successfully obtaining the degree. Among the scholars, Sri Chaitanya, Gadadhara, Basudev Sarbabhauma, Raghunath Siromoni were some of the luminaries from pre-colonial Bengal. It must also be mentioned that migration via river-route and intellectual exchanges played an important role in the development of this tradition. There is no evidence to indicate at all that such institutions were controlled or managed by the state. Indeed, the tradition of knowledge received both appreciation and material support from the local and regional authorities. Occasionally debates (tarka) were organized in the royal courts.

The legal elements, if any, of the Sastras were reflected in the treatises on Vyavahara; but these accounted for only a fraction of the Smrti literature. Derrett translated the term as ‘litigation’ whereas Halhed discussed this section under the title ‘justice’. A very significant and noticeable feature of the discussion on Vyavahara or in that case in the entire Smrti literature is the absence of a Sanskrit term synonymous to the English word ‘law’. Derrrett defined the Western notion of ‘law’ as follows:

“Law is the body of rules (namely positive and negative injunctions and prohibitions), which can be enforced by judicial actions. A rule which will not be observed, directly or indirectly, in a court or before a tribunal is not law. What ought (in some people’s perception) to be law is not law. Ethical injunctions are not law. That which is left to choice is not law.”

Much of what is described as ‘not law’ by Derrett is in fact the central concern of the Smrti literature. In other words, the rules expounded in such literature lacked the quality of instrumentality or the coercive element that should be the most essential component of law. There is no evidence to suggest that such rules were directly administered through the pre-colonial courts. Moreover, the Sastras defined ‘wrong’ actions as ‘sin’ rather than ‘crime’ and they would best impose strictures and penances as symbol of repentance. The penances were by no means equal to punishment or conviction.

Raghunandana, the 15th/16th commentator from Bengal and an encyclopaedic author of 28 treatises clearly stated in his discourses on Vyavahara (Vyavahara tattva) that Lokavyavahara or popular custom, convention or the existing social practice enjoyed far superior edge over Sastric norms. He elaborated that if there was a dispute of larger dimension which could not be solved locally, the parties would report to the king or the Zamindar. The king would appoint an expert – Pradviveka (usually Brahmin, but occasionally a ksatriya with exceptional ability) proficient in both Sastric norms and customary practices. He questioned both parties, and after careful consideration he was expected to offer his opinion. Finally, the king would pronounce the final verdict as the supreme authority, though he was expected to ratify Pradviveka’s opinion under usual circumstances.

Indeed, the Pundits played the role of advisor or arbitrator as emphasized in the discourses on Rajadharma (duties of a king) included in the Sastric literature. The Pundits role as arbitrator was also recorded in Panchanan Mondal’s collection of letters – collected from the rural areas of Bengal covering the period between 1684 and 1883. Mondal had shown that the Pundits were consulted on matters relating to property, inheritance, conjugal disputes, adultery, choosing an auspicious day for marriage or journey or other important events, condemning a person as an outcaste etc. On being consulted, the Pundits would offer Vyavathas (settlement or arrangement). The written Vyavathas were called Bhas or Pati in Bengal. In this context, Mahammad Raza Khan, the Naib-Nazim (revenue administrator) of Bengal during Diwani era 1765-1772, made the following statement in response to the queries of the British officials on Pre-colonial forms of justice:

“If the Hindus would decide amongst themselves by their Brahmins, their disputes regarding inheritance and Partition of estates etc., why should they come to the court of Magistrate to complain? But when their disputes can not be settled by their Brahmins and the heads of their caste, they complain to the Magistrate from whose opinion they can not deviate”.

Reza Khan’s statement clearly demonstrated that neither Sastric prescriptions nor the opinions of the Pundits were treated as letters of law. Punitive justice was dispensed only by the Magistrate or the Kazis.

Thus, for the Hindus, every aspect of life was governed by Dharma. Therefore, it was wrong on the part of the colonial rulers to assume that certain prescriptions enshrined in selective literary discourse could be circumscribed by either religion or law and by no means religions law. Therefore, there was a gross deviation from tradition in the early colonial attempts to restrict Dharma to a short list of topics – codified and translated under the category of law and made essential instruments of colonial governance.

It is difficult to ascertain whether it was genuine misperception or deliberate misrepresentation. But Derrett offered an interesting explanation for the metamorphosis. He argued that the young and inexperienced officials mistook the ‘sastras for a system a kin to course law’. He emphasized that it was an ‘error on the part of the 18th century foreign students of few Sastric texts then available to them to expect to bind a complete code of law, readymade on European lines’. He justified the mistake on the ground that the early officials had “no inward knowledge of the civilization they undertook to protect, and thus could not have applied the precepts even if recognized them as such”. He explained that this misperception marked the beginning of an evolutionary passage from the Dharmasastra to Hindu law, the celebrated Anglo-Hindu Jurisprudence, and he believed that without such a misunderstanding, India would have never got a uniform Hindu law, which was eventually achieved only after 200 years of British rule.

The Pundits compiled a text under the title – Vivadarnave setu – A Bridge in the Ocean of Disputes. It was translated under the title – A Code of Gentoo laws. Both the concepts of “code” and “law” were foreign to the entire tradition. Likewise, Vivadabhangarnava was translated as “The Digest of Hindoo Laws”. Both Digests and law were culturally contextual to England or Europe, not Bengal. It must be mentioned in this context that the first code in Europe was produced in 1804 – the Napoleonic Code in France.

Jones translated Manusmrti under the title “Institutes of Hindu law or Ordinations from Menu” – a complete transformation in the entire basis of literature. Jones considered Manu as “the most ancient legislator of India”, but assessed the text with a condescending tone. It is very interesting that he characterized the text as “system of despotism and priest craft”, but “both indeed limited by law”, though he observed:

“It is filled with strange Conceits in metaphysics and natural philosophy, with idle superstitions, and with scheme of theology most obscurely figurative, and consequently liable to dangerous misconceptions; it abounds with minute and childish formalities, with ceremonies generally absurd and often ridiculous, the punishments partial and fanciful”.

It is evident from Jones’ observation that he considered this text as anything but ‘law’. Still he projected this text as law which was, in his view, “actually revered, as the word of Most High” by the Hindus. Then he spelt out the importance of the Hindus to the nascent colonial empire:

“Nations of great importance to the political and commercial interests of Europe, particularly by many million Hindu subjects, whose well directed industry would add to the wealth of Britain, and who would ask for no more in return than protection of their persons and places of abode, justice in temporal concerns, indulgence to the prejudices of their old religion, and the benefits of these laws, believe sacred, and which they can possibly comprehend”.

The imperial designs behind the codification of Hindu law are coherently expressed in the above discourse on behalf of the native subjects. The imperial motivation can possibly explain the hiatus between misunderstanding or deliberate misrepresentation of selective branches of the sastras as Hindu law and blissful ignorance of the Hindu subject about the metamorphosis of the tradition as an instrument of command of control as well as an agency to implement colonial policies.

However, Jones and his contemporaries did not include female subjects in the scheme of “well directed industry” and “wealth of Britain”. Women in Bengal especially the widows enjoyed a residual but substantive rights of property. In that case, the entire corpus of Smrti literature including Manusmrti, despite its vulgarly misogynic utterances, elaborated several categories of female heirs – widows, mothers, unmarried daughters and recipient of stridhana. Manusmrti introduced the concept of ‘Putrika’ – a ‘son designate’. According to Dayabhaga tradition in Bengal, the widows were entitled in inherit the entire property of her deceased husband – both divided and undivided properties. The Dayabhaga tradition also prescribed a special share to the unmarried daughters along with Putrika as a separate category. The early officials also had to encounter a considerable number of both large and small female proprietors. In fact, all the big Zamindaries in Bengal – Burdwan, Rajshahy, Dinajpore, Tamlook, were, at some points of time under the management of female Zamindars.

It appears from the contemporary colonial evidence that this fact came as a culture shock to the company officials. In contemporary England, women did not enjoy such rights to property and inheritance. The officials adopted various strategies, so that women would not be able to pay revenue to the Company’s treasury. As for example, Philip Francis, an important member of Govern-General in council sought to establish a court of wards under the following categories – ‘minor’, ‘idiot’, ‘lunatic’ and ‘female’. John Shore, the Governor-General, next to Hastings, declared women as ‘disqualified landholders’ by invoking the oft-quoted dictum from Manusmrti: ‘women are protected by their father in childhood, by husband when young, by the souls in old age. Women are never independent: There are several evidences of how the officials became hostile when a woman tried to defend her right from the encroachment of male relatives. The judicial documents such as Justice Hyde’s Manusmrti Diary, Supreme Court Records and Jones’ Manusmrti Diary reveal a similar attitude. The ultimate objective of the British advocates and judges were to subvert and suppress women’s rights to property and inheritance, through several manipulations including condemning women as unchaste and importing more conservative prescriptions from Benaras.

But the most striking feature of the colonial Codes could be found in their advocacy of the practice of Sati as a symbol of ‘faithful widowhood’. The second text – Digest – even invoked the notion of ‘power’ of the faithful widow who by the act of burning herself would extricate her husband from innumerable sins and also both the parental and husband’s family would acquire virtues through her.

On numerous discourses, the early officials condemned Sati as savage and barbaric and appropriated it to project the inferior attributes of Indian civilizations their subject nation. Finally, the second Code defined women as NIRINDRIYA – translated as ‘lacking in the faculty of knowledge of law’ therefore ‘weaker sex’ and hence disqualified landholders.

Codification almost always involves reduction of laws customarily observed by a particular set of people to a more or less permanent, organized and written form through a comprehensive piece of legislation. It has been emphasized that an act of codification is always a somewhat revolutionary step in the sense that it represents a certain intellectual break with the past. It may be observed that all governments have used the opportunity of codification to make innovation and changes in old laws, using them as channel to perpetuate their authority. However, colonial codes on Hindu law were not simply an organized, written and perhaps reformed version of an existing set of laws. Instead, they transformed the prescriptive, normative and moralistic codes of conduct embodied in the Sastras into legal rules to be directly administered by the Court.

The 19th century witnessed series of so-called liberal reforms for women – but, by then, women were literally on the verge of loosing their grounds. Therefore, it would not be wrong to say that with the invention of Hindu law – a new form of Patriarchy emerged in India – may be termed as reformed Patriarchy – defined and designed by ‘rule of law’ and legislative acts – the legacy of which is still felt by the women in India.

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

Postby shiv » 17 Jan 2015 07:59

^^^
I bought the above book - I believe it is an important reference volume of how "Hindu laws" were cooked up by the British for administrative purposes

http://www.infibeam.com/Books/search?q= ... ni%20panda
Appropriation And Invention Of Tradition- The East Indian Company And Hindu Law In Early Colonial Bengal [Paperback 2013]
By Nandini Bhattacharyya Panda


Here is a book review
http://www.telegraphindia.com/1080328/j ... 059489.jsp
A NEW EDIFICE
Warren Hastings

APPROPRIATION AND INVENTION OF TRADITION: THE EAST INDIA COMPANY AND HINDU LAW IN EARLY COLONIAL BENGAL
By Nandini Bhattacharyya-Panda,
Oxford, Rs 645

Is there something called Hindu law? This scholarly book’s emphatic answer to the question would be in the negative. Nandini Bhattacharyya-Panda argues rather convincingly that what is known as Hindu law in common parlance and in Indian jurisprudence is a late eighteenth century construction by British administrators based on a very selective and deliberately lop-sided reading of the Dharmasastras.

Her points of departure are two. First, the literature of the Dharmasastras, as indeed the name suggests, was not, and was not intended to be a manual for law in the way British officials of the eighteenth understood the term ‘law’. The literature embodied certain moral guidelines, normative codes of conduct and social philosophies. These never had the status of codified laws. Second, given that in the late eighteenth century the British had come to acquire with full sovereign right large tracts of territory in Bengal, they needed, for the purposes of ruling, the existing laws relating to property and inheritance.

Such a body of knowledge was not readily available. So the British, for their own imperial interests, created it. They “transformed the prescriptive, normative, and moralistic rules embodied in the Dharmasastras into legal rules to be directly administered in court’.” The British thus invented a tradition.

Bhattacharyya-Panda argues her case through an archive that has never been tapped before, even though scholars knew of its existence. This archive consists of the Sanskrit texts the British used (with the help of Brahmin pundits) to arrive at what they called Hindu law. It is rare to find a historian of modern India equipped to read and use Sanskrit material. The author of this book is that rare scholar, and she should be congratulated for having opened up a new line of enquiry in the field of modern Indian history.

What the British produced was the first digest of “Hindu law’’ in Sanskrit, the Vivadarnavasetu, and its English rendering (by N.B. Halhed), The Code of Gentoo Laws. The initiative to produce this was taken in 1772 by Warren Hastings soon after he was appointed Governor-General. He appointed a team of 11 pundits to prepare the compendium. A second initiative was taken by William Jones. This was the compilation called Vivadabhangarnava. Jones began the translation of this text; he died before he could finish the work and it was completed by H.T. Colebrooke and published as A Digest of Hindoo Laws in 1801.

Hastings, Jones and the Britons involved in the project of producing a body of Hindu law ignored the fundamental point that “the primary concern of the Dharmasastras was the community and the individual and not the state.’’ The Brahmin pundits involved in the project were unaware that one of its purposes was the undermining of the authority and influence of Brahmin pundits in society. They may have often not understood the questions posed to them by their white masters.

This is by no means an easy book to read. The subject matter is complex and the argument is based on a very close reading of arcane texts . Bhattacharyya-Panda in many ways does an admirable job in a difficult scholarly terrain. Her book shows that the British conquered India in many ways, by the sword and also through knowledge. To build an empire, it was necessary to plunder and to build an edifice that was new but had the acquiescence of the subject people.


Buy the book folks - hardcover is Rs 700 or so and paperback 350. Spread the word..

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

Postby csaurabh » 17 Jan 2015 08:24

^^Wow. So Vivadarnave setu – A Bridge in the Ocean of Disputes became 'A Code of Gentoo laws'

Amazing. It is literally a different language.

What on earth is a 'Gentoo' btw? ( seems to be a mix of 'Gentleman' and 'Hindoo' )

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

Postby Pulikeshi » 17 Jan 2015 09:33

How secular family values stack up

...according to a 2010 Duke University study. Many psychological studies show that secular grownups tend to be less vengeful, less nationalistic, less militaristic, less authoritarian and more tolerant, on average, than religious adults.


One telling fact from the criminology field: Atheists were almost absent from our prison population as of the late 1990s, comprising less than half of 1% of those behind bars, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons statistics. This echoes what the criminology field has documented for more than a century — the unaffiliated and the nonreligious engage in far fewer crimes.


PS: I am no problems with Atheism - albeit it suffers from foundational conundrum.

What is with sociology that produces such non-science (pun intended) conclusions?

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

Postby Vayutuvan » 17 Jan 2015 09:51

2015 = 1916 + 99

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

Postby A_Gupta » 17 Jan 2015 09:55

^^^ Europeans had law codes long before 1804. E.g., http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/top ... -Justinian

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

Postby shiv » 17 Jan 2015 10:23

A_Gupta wrote:^^^ Europeans had law codes long before 1804. E.g., http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/top ... -Justinian

http://www.cscs.res.in/dataarchive/text ... 11505/file
A very significant and noticeable feature of the discussion on Vyavahara or in that case in the entire Smrti literature is the absence of a Sanskrit term synonymous to the English word ‘law’. Derrrett defined the Western notion of ‘law’ as follows:

“Law is the body of rules (namely positive and negative injunctions and prohibitions), which can be enforced by judicial actions. A rule which will not be observed, directly or indirectly, in a court or before a tribunal is not law. What ought (in some people’s perception) to be law is not law. Ethical injunctions are not law. That which is left to choice is not law.”

Much of what is described as ‘not law’ by Derrett is in fact the central concern of the Smrti literature. In other words, the rules expounded in such literature lacked the quality of instrumentality or the coercive element that should be the most essential component of law. There is no evidence to suggest that such rules were directly administered through the pre-colonial courts. Moreover, the Sastras defined ‘wrong’ actions as ‘sin’ rather than ‘crime’ and they would best impose strictures and penances as symbol of repentance. The penances were by no means equal to punishment or conviction.

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

Postby Arjun » 17 Jan 2015 12:06

Pulikeshi wrote:
One telling fact from the criminology field: Atheists were almost absent from our prison population as of the late 1990s, comprising less than half of 1% of those behind bars, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons statistics. This echoes what the criminology field has documented for more than a century — the unaffiliated and the nonreligious engage in far fewer crimes.

PS: I am no problems with Atheism - albeit it suffers from foundational conundrum.

What is with sociology that produces such non-science (pun intended) conclusions?

There may be something to this research. Karma, Jnana & Yoga Marg are likely to attract more evolved beings, than does Bhakti Marg. Hence the observed inverse correlation with prison population.

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

Postby csaurabh » 17 Jan 2015 14:32

Western atheism is based on a rejection of Christianity. Indian ideas of nastik, nirakar, etc. are nothing like that.
Bharatiya dharma is a system of ethics and duties that has nothing to do whether you worship a particular god or not.
Western society has committed a huge blunder- it has reduced man to 'homo economicus', by reducing everything to material worth. This can only work for a short time. Ultimately man needs religion, but not in the sense of Christian religion.

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

Postby Arjun » 17 Jan 2015 15:06

csaurabh wrote:Western atheism is based on a rejection of Christianity. Indian ideas of nastik, nirakar, etc. are nothing like that.
Bharatiya dharma is a system of ethics and duties that has nothing to do whether you worship a particular god or not.

Western terminology is way too inadequate and primitive compared to the Indian ones. And that was exactly my point.

Consider what the article referenced by Pullakeshi says:

He was surprised by what he found: High levels of family solidarity and emotional closeness between parents and nonreligious youth, and strong ethical standards and moral values that had been clearly articulated as they were imparted to the next generation.

“Many nonreligious parents were more coherent and passionate about their ethical principles than some of the ‘religious' parents in our study,” Bengston told me. “The vast majority appeared to live goal-filled lives characterized by moral direction and sense of life having a purpose.”

What Bengston intends to say is that a person driven by Dharma alone can lead as good if not better life than one driven by Bhakti (though 'God Fearing' is not necessarily the same as Bhakti, but close enough). To Westerners this is a surprising conclusion - but to someone who is using Sanskritic sociological constructs that affords higher insight, the result does not seem as surprising.
Last edited by Arjun on 17 Jan 2015 15:20, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby Agnimitra » 17 Jan 2015 15:18

Arjun wrote:What this person intends to say is that a person driven by Dharma alone can lead as good if not better life than one driven by Bhakti (though 'God Fearing' is not necessarily the same as Bhakti, but close enough). To Westerners this is a surprising conclusion - but to someone who is using Sanskritic sociological terminology that affords higher insight, the result does not seem as surprising.

How about a 'bhakti' that is founded on ethics, and then yoked with holistic knowledge?
Sorry, but I don't think Traditional Indic sources put down 'bhakti' in favour of an 'intellectual' ethic or anything of the sort. E.g., just posted this in the Sanskrit thread: viewtopic.php?p=1781390#p1781390

I agree with csaurabh ji here.

Western 'salvationist' religions have often been misused to free the conscience of guilt due to irresponsible indulgence, or even reckless violence, or lack of conscious direction in life. In that context, the focus on ethics by Western atheism is commendable.

Further, 'New Atheism' exponents like Sam Harris are also emphasizing a "psychological" aspect via the practice of meditation, certain forms of Buddhism, etc., thus bringing it closer to Indic Nastika in theory and practice.

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

Postby Arjun » 17 Jan 2015 15:47

Agnimitra wrote:Sorry, but I don't think Traditional Indic sources put down 'bhakti' in favour of an 'intellectual' ethic or anything of the sort.

The Traditional Indic sources do not put down Bhakti - and nor am I putting down Bhakti. The margas are equivalent in terms of ability to lead to moksha. But Bhakti is probably the easiest to subscribe to - hence its popularity in terms of population who use Bhakti techniques. As you are probably aware - Hinduism started with Karma & Jnana margas but only became popular with Bhakti Marg catching on.

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

Postby Agnimitra » 17 Jan 2015 16:24

Arjun wrote:As you are probably aware - Hinduism started with Karma & Jnana margas but only became popular with Bhakti Marg catching on.

OT, we can take this elsewhere in GDF if needed. :)

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

Postby ShauryaT » 17 Jan 2015 17:35

shiv wrote:^^^
I bought the above book - I believe it is an important reference volume of how "Hindu laws" were cooked up by the British for administrative purposes

http://www.infibeam.com/Books/search?q= ... ni%20panda
Appropriation And Invention Of Tradition- The East Indian Company And Hindu Law In Early Colonial Bengal [Paperback 2013]
By Nandini Bhattacharyya Panda
While we may not have lived life as per "law", it does not mean we had no laws. Indians lived their life as per "shastras", which encompassed many aspects of law as the British knew it. I would turn the argument around and say, it is English that does not have an equivalent of the word "shastra" --- no scripture is a poor and Christian centric translation. This chopping and slicing and dicing from Indian sources to "fit" European understanding of society and their experiences is what we are left with today.

Our Dharma shastras were very evolved set of works, used extensively to "administer" Indian society - not a set work of scripture. Their enforcement was directly proportional to the strength of Indian political power - but done so, in our own ways, which were bottom-up. Their evolution also degraded as Indian political power did. We have to be careful not to junk our shastras, just because the British found use/misuse in them to further their goals. The writers of our constitution did that mistake, IMO.

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

Postby shiv » 17 Jan 2015 18:38

ShauryaT wrote:While we may not have lived life as per "law", it does not mean we had no laws. Indians lived their life as per "shastras", which encompassed many aspects of law as the British knew it. I would turn the argument around and say, it is English that does not have an equivalent of the word "shastra" --- no scripture is a poor and Christian centric translation. This chopping and slicing and dicing from Indian sources to "fit" European understanding of society and their experiences is what we are left with today.

Our Dharma shastras were very evolved set of works, used extensively to "administer" Indian society - not a set work of scripture. Their enforcement was directly proportional to the strength of Indian political power - but done so, in our own ways, which were bottom-up. Their evolution also degraded as Indian political power did. We have to be careful not to junk our shastras, just because the British found use/misuse in them to further their goals. The writers of our constitution did that mistake, IMO.

There is no need to be apologetic about lack of obvious "laws" and this topic is spot on for the WU thread.

The idea that "all cultures have laws" was based on the Christian idea of God the sovereign making the laws and handing them down. "Laws" by definition must be enforced so they come with coercive punishment. That is why Christianity and Islam have concepts like "damnation", "excommunication", "burning in hell" etc. There is no need for a culture to have such laws. They can have ethics implemented by positive encouragement from childhood. These are psychology and child upbringing 101 concepts that were applied to Indian society 5000 years ago. Don't threaten and punish. Use positive encouragement. I would go so far as to ask you "Guess why Hindus are not constantly aiming to kill those who disagree"

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

Postby A_Gupta » 17 Jan 2015 21:38

Shiv,
Understood the Western meaning of law, but that is not what the issue is. I was referring to this:
The Pundits compiled a text under the title – Vivadarnave setu – A Bridge in the Ocean of Disputes. It was translated under the title – A Code of Gentoo laws. Both the concepts of “code” and “law” were foreign to the entire tradition. Likewise, Vivadabhangarnava was translated as “The Digest of Hindoo Laws”. Both Digests and law were culturally contextual to England or Europe, not Bengal. It must be mentioned in this context that the first code in Europe was produced in 1804 – the Napoleonic Code in France.

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

Postby Vayutuvan » 18 Jan 2015 02:29

Ultimately man needs religion, but not in the sense of Christian religion.


That can be argued against. Let us say humans are born with or learn vichakshaNa gnyAna (ability to discriminate between ethical and unethical). I argue that religion (abrahamic, sanAtana dharma, or any other kind) is not strictly required other than as a placebo for those who are suffering pain from either a physical and/or mental illness.

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

Postby Pulikeshi » 18 Jan 2015 12:52

matrimc wrote:
Ultimately man needs religion, but not in the sense of Christian religion.


That can be argued against. Let us say humans are born with or learn(1) vichakshaNa gnyAna (ability to discriminate between ethical and unethical). I argue that religion (abrahamic, sanAtana dharma (2), or any other kind) is not strictly required other than as a placebo for those who are suffering pain from either a physical and/or mental illness.


(1) All social creatures have to evolve a code (for lack of better word in English). For humans this has taken multiple tracks - unstructured tribal codes, loosely organized feudal codes, organized religious codes, etc. Given the complexity of what is involved, most of it is taught memes transmitted by oral, written and now digital.

(2) SD is firstly not an organized religion, and its main concern is not suffering pain, physical or metal illness. You are better off seeking the help of a doctor, psychologist, sadhu or an auyurvedic expert. Its primary concern is the organization of living and non-living (entire universe) according to the codes of Rta (Righteousness) or natural order. Its focus is Karma (action not fate) of each and every actor, not limited to humans. Therefore to make this congruous with this natural order.

(3) In the system of SD one can still deny a supreme being and yet be bound by codes unique to it.
However, Dharma is not Ethics/Religion, Smriti is not Law and Sruti is not Religion/Religious Books.
Every human being is born without the knowledge of the codes, Dharma has to be taught and defended.

Finally, we don't need no organized religion, we don't need no thought control, but yes we need codes. I choose SD :mrgreen:

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

Postby shiv » 18 Jan 2015 17:03

The point is that it is entirely possible for civilizations to have a working ethical code without any organized religion to go with it, And that code can be encouraged or implemented without coercive laws. If that is not the height of civilization what is? The only problem is that the system is vulnerable to disruption by organized crime that goes by the name "organized religion"

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

Postby shiv » 18 Jan 2015 17:08

Does "freedom" mean what someone above you or more powerful than you tells you is "freedom", while that powerful entity retains the right to restrict your freedom?

Or does freedom mean your personal freedom to choose whatever path you might want to choose without a superior coercive power telling you this, that, or the other.

If criticism of the latter path is that such freedom may impose upon someone else, then is the solution a restriction of your freedom by threat of punishment (i.e. "laws"), or is the solution an education of all people of what is right and what is wrong and what freedoms affect other people and need to be curtailed voluntarily?
Last edited by shiv on 19 Jan 2015 05:43, edited 1 time in total.


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