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Some Impressionistic takes from the book of
Rajiv Malhotra
“Being Different”
by Ramki
ramaddster@gmail.com
About the Author
 At the peak of his career when he owned 20 companies in several countries, he
took early retirement at age 44 to pursue philanthropy, research and public
service. He established Infinity Foundation for this purpose in 1994.
 Rajiv has conducted original research in a variety of fields and has influenced
many other thinkers in India and the West. He has disrupted the mainstream
thought process among academic and non-academic intellectuals alike, by
providing fresh provocative positions on Dharma and on India. Some of the
focal points of his work are: Interpretation of Dharma for the current times;
comparative religion, globalization, and India’s contributions to the world.
 Rajiv Malhotra is an internationally known researcher,
writer, speaker and public intellectual on current affairs
as they relate to civilizations, cross-cultural
encounters, spirituality and science.
 He studied physics and computer science, and served
in multiple careers including: software development
executive, Fortune 100 senior corporate executive,
strategic consultant, and successful entrepreneur in
the information technology and media industries.
 Being Different is both a critical exploration of the two vastly different
metaphysical/ religious world views (the Abrahamic and dharmic
families of spiritual traditions) dominant in the United States and India
respectively, and a challenge to what the author finds to be an
asymmetric power relationship between them.
 Malhotra does not take up these tasks from a neutral and
disinterested point of view.
 He writes with passion from within an avowedly dharmic stance and
with the intention of undermining the attempts to domesticate and
expropriate the Indian traditions in a process of inter-religious
dialogue that is ultimately based on a Western cosmological
framework and religious assumptions.
 In drawing out the contrast between "tolerance of other religions" and
"mutual respect between religions" in his "experiments in proposing
mutual respect" in chapter 2, he brilliantly exposes the pretense in
Western affirmations of cultural pluralism.
Prelude
 He further insightfully suggests that the West—especially the United
States—suffers from what he calls "difference anxiety" that can be
controlled only by producing a worldwide religious homogeneity that
effectively contradicts the deceptively overt commitment to having a
diversity of cultures.
 Against those within the dharmic framework who envy the "riches" of the
globalized world (a "difference anxiety" from below, compared to that of
the West), he shows that accepting Western cultural assumptions is not
essential to participation in the benefits of globalization.
 An essential reading for Western scholars engaged in cross-cultural
studies. Malhotra espouses an "audacity of difference" in any such
enterprise that defends both the distinctiveness and the spiritual value of
Indian thought that effectively reveals the cultural chauvinism of much
Western thought in its encounters with other cultures.
 Entertaining such audacity without assuming it is simply an apology for
Hinduism could well transform the current global multicultural dialogue
to positive effect.
Prelude
 Why do religious differences have to be encouraged? Is it
better being different or getting digested?
 What is cultural digestion and how does it create serious
problems?
 Why mutual respect is better than tolerance?
 How does the West and the East react to chaos,
complexities, and ambiguities?
 How does Indian civilization differ from Western history-
centric religion?
The arguments which the author gives for all these questions
make the reader understand what is present in Indian civilization
or Hindu worldview and how is that gets digested in Western
universalism.
Questions raised by the author
 The author states that Purvapaksha “is the traditional dharmic
approach to rival schools.
 It is a dialectical approach, taking a thesis by an opponent
(‘Purvapakshin’) and then providing its rebuttal (‘Khandana’)
to establish the protagonist’s views (‘Siddhanta’).
 The Purvapaksha tradition required any debater first to argue
from the perspective of his opponent in order to test the
validity of his understanding of the opposing position, and
from there to realize his own shortcomings.
 The author strongly advocates mutual respect rather than
religious tolerance. He makes the readers to understand
easily by quoting ‘no husband and wife would appreciate
being told that his or her presence at home was being
tolerated
The Audacity of Difference
 Tolerance, in short, is an outright insult. Whereas mutual
respect merely means that, ‘I am respected for my faith, with
no compulsion for others to adopt or practice it’.
 In this chapter, adding to the terms religious tolerance and
mutual respect, the author has coined a term “difference
anxiety.” This term refers to ‘the mental uneasiness caused
by the perception of difference combined with a desire to
diminish, conceal, or eradicate it.’
 This chapter describes the ways by which the difference
anxiety pushes the western thoughts towards the
homogeneous ideas, beliefs, and identity.
 As a way of resolving difference, the western civilizations
take out the best elements of other religions, place them in
their own concepts, and formulate themselves as progressive
races.
The Audacity of Difference
 This categorization privileges the western gaze and enables it to
declare itself as the universal norm for others to emulate.
 Gives the historical evidence of slow invasion of the West in
Indian culture, which later made Indians feel proud to follow the
west and feel ashamed or inferior calling themselves as Indian.
 This leads to the digestion of the so-called inferior religion by the
West. When a particular civilization labels itself in the position of
superiority, it tends to dominate the less powerful civilization and
kill the less powerful religion.
 The author strongly claims ‘the cross-fertilization among cultures
can be sustained longer than the merging of one into another.’
 To give more clarity, he speaks about the Indian traditions that
embody the approach of difference with mutual respect based
on the radical idea that differences are not a problem to be
solved
The Audacity of Difference
Chapter -1 Take away- Being different or Getting Digested ?
1 Digestible difference  That which can be resolved by one
appropriating from other
 Example : Inculturation
2 Non-Digestible difference  Mutual contradiction, hence cannot be resolved
by appropriation
 Example: Status of Jesus in Islam &
Christianity
 Example: Karma-Reincarnation Vs. Nicene
creed ( core Christian Belief)
3 Poison Pill  Dangerous to the host if swallowed
 Example: Yoga undermines History-Centrism
of Nicene Creed.
 This chapter mainly focuses on giving clarity to the readers
that Indian culture is not history-centric but inner science.
 In Dharmic tradition, through spiritual practices, an ordinary
man can recover the ultimate truth and can understand the
true self and the highest truth.
 Dharmic emphasis on an individual’s ever-present divine
potential runs contrary to the Judeo-Christian emphasis on
‘salvation from sin’.
 From the Dharmic point of view, the Judeo-Christian fixation
on history is strange.
 For the West’s continuous claim that the stories on India are
entirely mythical with no historical evidence, author explains
very clearly that Dharmic spiritual practices do not rely on
some anthropological values
Yoga: Freedom from History
 Further he says ‘truth is not dependent on history; rather,
history is a manifestation of it’.
 Thus, Dharmic relation between history and myth is not
comparable to Western relation between truth and fiction.
 This understanding of highest truth never showed Indian
sense of manifest destiny to rule the world.
 Having explained very clearly the inner science of Dharmic
worldview, he questions the western religion: Will the western
worldview exist if their history is destroyed?
Yoga: Freedom from History
Chapter -2 Take away -1/2
Embodied Knowing: Dharmic alternative to History-Centrism
1 Definition of
Embodied knowing
 Each human has the innate potential to achieve the
highest state consciousness without recourse to any
historical events.
 This is because the human being is inherently divine &
not a separate essence from God.
2 Implications  No Limit to number of enlightened masters, hence no
exclusive prophets.
 New enlightened masters refresh old canons,
challenge central institutions.
 Pluralism galore; open source architecture of
knowledge.
 Creative experimentation, no finality, closure or
imperialism .
Chapter -2 Take away -2/2
Western Religions are History-Centric
1 What is History-
Centrism ?
 God’s truth accessible only via unique lineage of
prophets.
 This history is exclusive, literal, absolute & universal
 Non-negotiable because it is from God
 All other accounts of history of God’s interventions
must be falsified or there will be chaos.
2 Implications  One history, one truth, one institution to control it and
spread it uniformly, dissent in dangerous & chaotic.
 Source of exclusivism, expansionism, religious
conflicts.
 Religion=History club= centralized authority & control.
3 Secular versions (
Hegel’s influence)
 Grand narrative of America, Founding father, Manifest
destiny.
 Tens of thousands of historical societies across USA
 Here he explains integral unity as “ultimately ONLY the whole
exists; the parts that make up the whole have but a
RELATIVE existence.
 The whole is independent and indivisible.” It can be
discovered and experienced through spiritual practices.
 According to the Dharmic worldview, creation is not separate
from God and God is not merely the creator (the external
force) of the world.
 However, as per the Abrahamic faith, synthetic unity starts
with the parts that EXIST separately from one another.
According to the Western worldview, physical and non-
physical parts. have independent existence and are linked by
external force i.e. the divine power.
Integral Unity & Synthetic Unity
 The Judeo-Christian worldview is based on the separate
essences for God, the world and the human souls.
 This result has been a forced unity of separate entities, and
such a unity always feels threatened to disintegrate and
remains synthetic at its best. In Dharmic worldview,
everything emerges from unified WHOLE. Moreover, this
makes the readers understand God is the world.
Integral Unity & Synthetic Unity
Integral Unity vs. Synthetic Unity: The Idea
 Integral Unity of the Dharmic world: Involution and Evolution cycle
 Concept of infinity: Purna
 Synthetic Unity: Creation and Evolution irreconcilable
Dharma Judeo-Christian
The Ultimate reality Belief independent
Impersonal, multiple forms
God not separate from
world
Belief based
Male, Father
God and world distinct
The Human Individual: sat-chit-anand
Reincarnation
Self-made destiny-karma
Moksha: individual effort
Individual: sinner
One life
Circumstances unexplained
Salvation: Grace of god
The World Infinite cycle of creation
No collective end; moksha
personal
Finite time and space, linear
Judgment day for humanity
Integral Unity vs. Synthetic Unity: Issue of Contention
 Synthetic Unity: Binary world of True and False
 Emphasis on reasoning to bifurcate promotes ego or isolation
 Higher isolation/ inflated ego leads to higher needs
 Inflated ego promotes selfishness and violence
 Result, pursuit of infinite growth in a finite world
 Focus on freedom to
 A range of states: (7 in number) Negation, Approximation,
Absence, Difference (with some similarities), Reduction /
Diminution, Badness / unworthy, Opposite/ contradictory
 Concept of prana –unifying mind and body focused on feeling
 Process to integrate self with the ultimate reality, by eliminating
ego
 Focus on freedom from
Integral Unity vs. Synthetic Unity: Implications
Description Dharmic Judeo-Christianity
World view Cosmic centered system Human centered system
Time horizon Infinite Finite
Relationship with nature Interdependence Subordinate to human
Approach to problem Discover solutions Invent solutions
Concept of Progress Sustainable co-
existence
Material progress
 Binary mode of view vs. multiple hues of dharma is seen as
dharma being ‘unethical’
 Means vs. end debate and Krishna in Mahabharata
 A view that ethics as a guide applies only in self-centered
actions
Chapter -3 Take away
Nature of Unity : Integral Or Synthetic ?
1 Dharmic idea of
integral Unity
 No “ thing” exists separately by itself; ( Brahmin in
Hinduism, Dependent co-rising in Buddhism) Unity in
diversity.
2 Biblical synthetic unity  Separate essences of: God/humans; one soul from
another; God/Cosmos; human/cosmos
3 Secular: Aristotle to
Descartes
 Inherent self –existence of “Building blocks”
 Intellectual project is to create unity our of part =
synthesis.
 Hellenism vs. Hebraism ; Science Vs Religion;
Colonial appropriations.
4 Implications for West  Artificial unity always at risk of filing apart; need for
control, aggression
5 Implication of Dharma  Comfort with diversity , “chaos” because unity is
inherent in existence.
 After reading about the synthetic unity, readers can comprehend
very clearly the author’s view of the deep-rooted anxiety of
western worldview towards chaos, uncertainty, and complexity.
 To make it clear that Dharmic worldview is decentralized and is
flexible with chaos, the author brings in Sri Aurobindo’s quotes
on decentralization that “unity must be created, but not
necessary uniformity.”
 Adding to this, the chapter describes how Dharmic worldview
sees chaos as a creative catalyst built into the cosmos to
balance out order and hence it adopts a more relaxed attitude
towards it.
 In this chapter, the author gives a beautiful analogy – Dharmic
as forest and Judeo-Christian as desert.
 This analogy will help readers get a clear idea of Dharmic
worldview’s flexibility towards chaos.
Order & Chaos
Anxiety Over Chaos vs. Comfort with Complexity: The idea
 Defined, permanent bifurcation vs. Subjective, temporary, classification
 Biblical view: Good and Evil inherited, Noah and three sons: Ham,
Shem, Japheth
 Dark-skinned Ham & ancestors punished for violating honor
 Dharmic View: Good and evil, vision based
 Kashyapa =Vision, Diti= limited/ divided, limited, Aditi= limitless
 Source of Difference: Desert origin vs. Forest born
Anxiety Over Chaos vs. Comfort with Complexity: Issue of
Contention
Uni-dimensional Ethics:
 Commandments or the one Right path for all
 Push for Uniformity
Contextualized Dharma:
 Universal dharma an oxymoron
 Dharma is life-stage specific, occupation specific and era-
specific, Dharma is open ended and evolves
 Practice can be both right and wrong; they are context specific
 Push for unity
Anxiety Over Chaos vs. Comfort with Complexity: Implication
Satyam-Shivam-Sundaram implications
 Western view:
 True, good and beautiful is integrated
 White skinned, symmetric gods and heroes, dark
skinned, malformed villains
 Was used to justify slavery
 Dharma View:
 Beautiful need not be good, good need not be beautiful,
both good and beautiful need not be permanent, i.e. true
 Dark skin seen as beautiful and good, : Rama, Krishna,
Vishnu
Chapter -4 Take away
 The author argues about the problematic impact of translating
and representing the Dharmic worldview in western
frameworks.
 Dharmic worldview is in Sanskrit.
 This is the reason why Hindu worldview cannot be translated
on western framework.
 In Sanskrit, the fundamental sounds have a link to the
experience of the object they represent i.e. the root sound
and vibrations.
 This chapter clearly states how the digestion happens due to
this kind of translation to western worldview, which actually
cannot be translated at all.
Non-translatable Sanskrit versus Digestion
Cultural Digestion vs. Sanskrit Non-translatebles: The Idea
 Four levels of Vak (the root/ source of creation): un-manifest,
subtle potential, mental image and outer expression
 Words have multiple meaning and is context specific
 Bridaranyaka Upanishad: The 3 meanings of Da
 Translating Sanskrit into other western languages misses the
essence
 It is like assigning constant value to an algebraic variable
 Brahman and Ishwara ≠ God, Impersonal vs. Personal,
universe vs. creator
 Shiva ≠Destroyer, Shiva is transformer, there is no end
 Atma ≠Soul; True self vs. waiting to be save by God
Cultural Digestion vs. Sanskrit Non-translatebles: Implication
Religion viewed Differently
Aspects Christian view Dharmic View
Divine Distinct from individual Within; but not essential as in
Buddhism, Jainism, Carvaka
Source of
Knowledge
Single source Multiple sources; library vs.
books
Governance Institution of Church Not essential
Route to
salvation
A standard set:
repentance and
acceptance
Multiple routes: Jnana, Bhakti,
Karma,
Membership Formally granted No formal membership, a way
of life
Chapter -5 Take away
Non-Translatable Sanskrit Mantras
1 Unique claim of
Sanskrit
Vibrations , not merely meaning, each
vibration has a defined effect.
One vibration cannot be substituted for
another, hence non-translatability.
2 Sanskrit protects
dharma from digestion
When fully translated , dharma dissolves as
subset of ludei-Christianity.
Add certain Sanskrit words into English;
potential as poison pills.
Sanskrit influence on pan-Asian Sanskriti
3 Examples of non-
translatables
Numerous mis-translations explained in the
book.
Western Universalization
Idea
 Globalization means westernization
 Progress is salvation or scientific secular progress
 Concept of Universal History, linear in nature
Issues of Contention
 Binary categories like sacred/ secular, monotheism/polytheism,
creation/evolution, political right/left cannot explain Dharma with
multiple hues
Implications
 Other cultures selectively used to forward Westernization:
Germany and Sanskrit
 Uni-dimensional concept of success
 Cultural genocide in the name of development
 Eliminating local production and seasonal eating
Chapter -6 Take away
Challenging Wester Universalism
1 Definition  Use of west’s historical experiences, ideas &
assumptions as basis for a universal standard on
which all civilizations are mapped & judged.
 Went hand in hand with conquests, genocides &
colonization.
 Implicit toady in language, worldviews, “
development’ institutions.
2 Major
Challenges
 Islamic Universalism & Confucian Universalism
 Postmodern critiques within the west.
3 Expanding
western
Universalism by
digesting
others.
 Book explains Hegel & colonialists using Indology to
appropriate & construct notions of European
selfhood, while trashing the source.
Purva Paksha
Use Western
Categories
Use Dharmic
Categories
Gaze at Indian
Civilization
Colonial Indology and
humanities in today’s
South Asian Studies
Pre-colonial Indian
intellectuals
Gaze at Western
Civilization
Postcolonial Indian
scholar who attack the
West using western
categories
Very rare but the Authors
goal
Effective prerequisites for Purva Paksha
 Level playing field, terms of debate mutually agreed
 Intention to pursue truth, not conversion
 Pursue truth irrespective of ego impact, no compromises to get win-win;
 Basic self-control /mastery a prerequisite for the practioner
 Be well informed in both the schools
Best example: Mahatma Gandhi and his fight against Colonial rule
Purva Paksha-Take Away
Purva Paksha : Reversing the Gaze upon the West
1 Definition  Understanding the other authentically, with mutual
respect.
 Responding /evaluating through our own siddhanta/
lens
2 Indians gazing at
others
 Traditionally a central part of education, research.
 Inadequate purva paksha of the west
 Postcolonialist gaze at west is not based on Indian
siddhantha.
3 Necessary today  Undermines the fashionable teaching of “ Sameness”
 Helps us understand “ Who we are” on own terms
 Helps resist being digested into western civilization as
junior partner.
 Dharmic universalism deserves a seat at the table
Mail your comments to
ramaddster@gmail.com

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Being different

  • 1. Some Impressionistic takes from the book of Rajiv Malhotra “Being Different” by Ramki ramaddster@gmail.com
  • 2. About the Author  At the peak of his career when he owned 20 companies in several countries, he took early retirement at age 44 to pursue philanthropy, research and public service. He established Infinity Foundation for this purpose in 1994.  Rajiv has conducted original research in a variety of fields and has influenced many other thinkers in India and the West. He has disrupted the mainstream thought process among academic and non-academic intellectuals alike, by providing fresh provocative positions on Dharma and on India. Some of the focal points of his work are: Interpretation of Dharma for the current times; comparative religion, globalization, and India’s contributions to the world.  Rajiv Malhotra is an internationally known researcher, writer, speaker and public intellectual on current affairs as they relate to civilizations, cross-cultural encounters, spirituality and science.  He studied physics and computer science, and served in multiple careers including: software development executive, Fortune 100 senior corporate executive, strategic consultant, and successful entrepreneur in the information technology and media industries.
  • 3.  Being Different is both a critical exploration of the two vastly different metaphysical/ religious world views (the Abrahamic and dharmic families of spiritual traditions) dominant in the United States and India respectively, and a challenge to what the author finds to be an asymmetric power relationship between them.  Malhotra does not take up these tasks from a neutral and disinterested point of view.  He writes with passion from within an avowedly dharmic stance and with the intention of undermining the attempts to domesticate and expropriate the Indian traditions in a process of inter-religious dialogue that is ultimately based on a Western cosmological framework and religious assumptions.  In drawing out the contrast between "tolerance of other religions" and "mutual respect between religions" in his "experiments in proposing mutual respect" in chapter 2, he brilliantly exposes the pretense in Western affirmations of cultural pluralism. Prelude
  • 4.  He further insightfully suggests that the West—especially the United States—suffers from what he calls "difference anxiety" that can be controlled only by producing a worldwide religious homogeneity that effectively contradicts the deceptively overt commitment to having a diversity of cultures.  Against those within the dharmic framework who envy the "riches" of the globalized world (a "difference anxiety" from below, compared to that of the West), he shows that accepting Western cultural assumptions is not essential to participation in the benefits of globalization.  An essential reading for Western scholars engaged in cross-cultural studies. Malhotra espouses an "audacity of difference" in any such enterprise that defends both the distinctiveness and the spiritual value of Indian thought that effectively reveals the cultural chauvinism of much Western thought in its encounters with other cultures.  Entertaining such audacity without assuming it is simply an apology for Hinduism could well transform the current global multicultural dialogue to positive effect. Prelude
  • 5.  Why do religious differences have to be encouraged? Is it better being different or getting digested?  What is cultural digestion and how does it create serious problems?  Why mutual respect is better than tolerance?  How does the West and the East react to chaos, complexities, and ambiguities?  How does Indian civilization differ from Western history- centric religion? The arguments which the author gives for all these questions make the reader understand what is present in Indian civilization or Hindu worldview and how is that gets digested in Western universalism. Questions raised by the author
  • 6.  The author states that Purvapaksha “is the traditional dharmic approach to rival schools.  It is a dialectical approach, taking a thesis by an opponent (‘Purvapakshin’) and then providing its rebuttal (‘Khandana’) to establish the protagonist’s views (‘Siddhanta’).  The Purvapaksha tradition required any debater first to argue from the perspective of his opponent in order to test the validity of his understanding of the opposing position, and from there to realize his own shortcomings.  The author strongly advocates mutual respect rather than religious tolerance. He makes the readers to understand easily by quoting ‘no husband and wife would appreciate being told that his or her presence at home was being tolerated The Audacity of Difference
  • 7.  Tolerance, in short, is an outright insult. Whereas mutual respect merely means that, ‘I am respected for my faith, with no compulsion for others to adopt or practice it’.  In this chapter, adding to the terms religious tolerance and mutual respect, the author has coined a term “difference anxiety.” This term refers to ‘the mental uneasiness caused by the perception of difference combined with a desire to diminish, conceal, or eradicate it.’  This chapter describes the ways by which the difference anxiety pushes the western thoughts towards the homogeneous ideas, beliefs, and identity.  As a way of resolving difference, the western civilizations take out the best elements of other religions, place them in their own concepts, and formulate themselves as progressive races. The Audacity of Difference
  • 8.  This categorization privileges the western gaze and enables it to declare itself as the universal norm for others to emulate.  Gives the historical evidence of slow invasion of the West in Indian culture, which later made Indians feel proud to follow the west and feel ashamed or inferior calling themselves as Indian.  This leads to the digestion of the so-called inferior religion by the West. When a particular civilization labels itself in the position of superiority, it tends to dominate the less powerful civilization and kill the less powerful religion.  The author strongly claims ‘the cross-fertilization among cultures can be sustained longer than the merging of one into another.’  To give more clarity, he speaks about the Indian traditions that embody the approach of difference with mutual respect based on the radical idea that differences are not a problem to be solved The Audacity of Difference
  • 9. Chapter -1 Take away- Being different or Getting Digested ? 1 Digestible difference  That which can be resolved by one appropriating from other  Example : Inculturation 2 Non-Digestible difference  Mutual contradiction, hence cannot be resolved by appropriation  Example: Status of Jesus in Islam & Christianity  Example: Karma-Reincarnation Vs. Nicene creed ( core Christian Belief) 3 Poison Pill  Dangerous to the host if swallowed  Example: Yoga undermines History-Centrism of Nicene Creed.
  • 10.  This chapter mainly focuses on giving clarity to the readers that Indian culture is not history-centric but inner science.  In Dharmic tradition, through spiritual practices, an ordinary man can recover the ultimate truth and can understand the true self and the highest truth.  Dharmic emphasis on an individual’s ever-present divine potential runs contrary to the Judeo-Christian emphasis on ‘salvation from sin’.  From the Dharmic point of view, the Judeo-Christian fixation on history is strange.  For the West’s continuous claim that the stories on India are entirely mythical with no historical evidence, author explains very clearly that Dharmic spiritual practices do not rely on some anthropological values Yoga: Freedom from History
  • 11.  Further he says ‘truth is not dependent on history; rather, history is a manifestation of it’.  Thus, Dharmic relation between history and myth is not comparable to Western relation between truth and fiction.  This understanding of highest truth never showed Indian sense of manifest destiny to rule the world.  Having explained very clearly the inner science of Dharmic worldview, he questions the western religion: Will the western worldview exist if their history is destroyed? Yoga: Freedom from History
  • 12. Chapter -2 Take away -1/2 Embodied Knowing: Dharmic alternative to History-Centrism 1 Definition of Embodied knowing  Each human has the innate potential to achieve the highest state consciousness without recourse to any historical events.  This is because the human being is inherently divine & not a separate essence from God. 2 Implications  No Limit to number of enlightened masters, hence no exclusive prophets.  New enlightened masters refresh old canons, challenge central institutions.  Pluralism galore; open source architecture of knowledge.  Creative experimentation, no finality, closure or imperialism .
  • 13. Chapter -2 Take away -2/2 Western Religions are History-Centric 1 What is History- Centrism ?  God’s truth accessible only via unique lineage of prophets.  This history is exclusive, literal, absolute & universal  Non-negotiable because it is from God  All other accounts of history of God’s interventions must be falsified or there will be chaos. 2 Implications  One history, one truth, one institution to control it and spread it uniformly, dissent in dangerous & chaotic.  Source of exclusivism, expansionism, religious conflicts.  Religion=History club= centralized authority & control. 3 Secular versions ( Hegel’s influence)  Grand narrative of America, Founding father, Manifest destiny.  Tens of thousands of historical societies across USA
  • 14.  Here he explains integral unity as “ultimately ONLY the whole exists; the parts that make up the whole have but a RELATIVE existence.  The whole is independent and indivisible.” It can be discovered and experienced through spiritual practices.  According to the Dharmic worldview, creation is not separate from God and God is not merely the creator (the external force) of the world.  However, as per the Abrahamic faith, synthetic unity starts with the parts that EXIST separately from one another. According to the Western worldview, physical and non- physical parts. have independent existence and are linked by external force i.e. the divine power. Integral Unity & Synthetic Unity
  • 15.  The Judeo-Christian worldview is based on the separate essences for God, the world and the human souls.  This result has been a forced unity of separate entities, and such a unity always feels threatened to disintegrate and remains synthetic at its best. In Dharmic worldview, everything emerges from unified WHOLE. Moreover, this makes the readers understand God is the world. Integral Unity & Synthetic Unity
  • 16. Integral Unity vs. Synthetic Unity: The Idea  Integral Unity of the Dharmic world: Involution and Evolution cycle  Concept of infinity: Purna  Synthetic Unity: Creation and Evolution irreconcilable Dharma Judeo-Christian The Ultimate reality Belief independent Impersonal, multiple forms God not separate from world Belief based Male, Father God and world distinct The Human Individual: sat-chit-anand Reincarnation Self-made destiny-karma Moksha: individual effort Individual: sinner One life Circumstances unexplained Salvation: Grace of god The World Infinite cycle of creation No collective end; moksha personal Finite time and space, linear Judgment day for humanity
  • 17. Integral Unity vs. Synthetic Unity: Issue of Contention  Synthetic Unity: Binary world of True and False  Emphasis on reasoning to bifurcate promotes ego or isolation  Higher isolation/ inflated ego leads to higher needs  Inflated ego promotes selfishness and violence  Result, pursuit of infinite growth in a finite world  Focus on freedom to  A range of states: (7 in number) Negation, Approximation, Absence, Difference (with some similarities), Reduction / Diminution, Badness / unworthy, Opposite/ contradictory  Concept of prana –unifying mind and body focused on feeling  Process to integrate self with the ultimate reality, by eliminating ego  Focus on freedom from
  • 18. Integral Unity vs. Synthetic Unity: Implications Description Dharmic Judeo-Christianity World view Cosmic centered system Human centered system Time horizon Infinite Finite Relationship with nature Interdependence Subordinate to human Approach to problem Discover solutions Invent solutions Concept of Progress Sustainable co- existence Material progress  Binary mode of view vs. multiple hues of dharma is seen as dharma being ‘unethical’  Means vs. end debate and Krishna in Mahabharata  A view that ethics as a guide applies only in self-centered actions
  • 19. Chapter -3 Take away Nature of Unity : Integral Or Synthetic ? 1 Dharmic idea of integral Unity  No “ thing” exists separately by itself; ( Brahmin in Hinduism, Dependent co-rising in Buddhism) Unity in diversity. 2 Biblical synthetic unity  Separate essences of: God/humans; one soul from another; God/Cosmos; human/cosmos 3 Secular: Aristotle to Descartes  Inherent self –existence of “Building blocks”  Intellectual project is to create unity our of part = synthesis.  Hellenism vs. Hebraism ; Science Vs Religion; Colonial appropriations. 4 Implications for West  Artificial unity always at risk of filing apart; need for control, aggression 5 Implication of Dharma  Comfort with diversity , “chaos” because unity is inherent in existence.
  • 20.  After reading about the synthetic unity, readers can comprehend very clearly the author’s view of the deep-rooted anxiety of western worldview towards chaos, uncertainty, and complexity.  To make it clear that Dharmic worldview is decentralized and is flexible with chaos, the author brings in Sri Aurobindo’s quotes on decentralization that “unity must be created, but not necessary uniformity.”  Adding to this, the chapter describes how Dharmic worldview sees chaos as a creative catalyst built into the cosmos to balance out order and hence it adopts a more relaxed attitude towards it.  In this chapter, the author gives a beautiful analogy – Dharmic as forest and Judeo-Christian as desert.  This analogy will help readers get a clear idea of Dharmic worldview’s flexibility towards chaos. Order & Chaos
  • 21. Anxiety Over Chaos vs. Comfort with Complexity: The idea  Defined, permanent bifurcation vs. Subjective, temporary, classification  Biblical view: Good and Evil inherited, Noah and three sons: Ham, Shem, Japheth  Dark-skinned Ham & ancestors punished for violating honor  Dharmic View: Good and evil, vision based  Kashyapa =Vision, Diti= limited/ divided, limited, Aditi= limitless  Source of Difference: Desert origin vs. Forest born
  • 22. Anxiety Over Chaos vs. Comfort with Complexity: Issue of Contention Uni-dimensional Ethics:  Commandments or the one Right path for all  Push for Uniformity Contextualized Dharma:  Universal dharma an oxymoron  Dharma is life-stage specific, occupation specific and era- specific, Dharma is open ended and evolves  Practice can be both right and wrong; they are context specific  Push for unity
  • 23. Anxiety Over Chaos vs. Comfort with Complexity: Implication Satyam-Shivam-Sundaram implications  Western view:  True, good and beautiful is integrated  White skinned, symmetric gods and heroes, dark skinned, malformed villains  Was used to justify slavery  Dharma View:  Beautiful need not be good, good need not be beautiful, both good and beautiful need not be permanent, i.e. true  Dark skin seen as beautiful and good, : Rama, Krishna, Vishnu
  • 25.  The author argues about the problematic impact of translating and representing the Dharmic worldview in western frameworks.  Dharmic worldview is in Sanskrit.  This is the reason why Hindu worldview cannot be translated on western framework.  In Sanskrit, the fundamental sounds have a link to the experience of the object they represent i.e. the root sound and vibrations.  This chapter clearly states how the digestion happens due to this kind of translation to western worldview, which actually cannot be translated at all. Non-translatable Sanskrit versus Digestion
  • 26. Cultural Digestion vs. Sanskrit Non-translatebles: The Idea  Four levels of Vak (the root/ source of creation): un-manifest, subtle potential, mental image and outer expression  Words have multiple meaning and is context specific  Bridaranyaka Upanishad: The 3 meanings of Da  Translating Sanskrit into other western languages misses the essence  It is like assigning constant value to an algebraic variable  Brahman and Ishwara ≠ God, Impersonal vs. Personal, universe vs. creator  Shiva ≠Destroyer, Shiva is transformer, there is no end  Atma ≠Soul; True self vs. waiting to be save by God
  • 27. Cultural Digestion vs. Sanskrit Non-translatebles: Implication Religion viewed Differently Aspects Christian view Dharmic View Divine Distinct from individual Within; but not essential as in Buddhism, Jainism, Carvaka Source of Knowledge Single source Multiple sources; library vs. books Governance Institution of Church Not essential Route to salvation A standard set: repentance and acceptance Multiple routes: Jnana, Bhakti, Karma, Membership Formally granted No formal membership, a way of life
  • 28. Chapter -5 Take away Non-Translatable Sanskrit Mantras 1 Unique claim of Sanskrit Vibrations , not merely meaning, each vibration has a defined effect. One vibration cannot be substituted for another, hence non-translatability. 2 Sanskrit protects dharma from digestion When fully translated , dharma dissolves as subset of ludei-Christianity. Add certain Sanskrit words into English; potential as poison pills. Sanskrit influence on pan-Asian Sanskriti 3 Examples of non- translatables Numerous mis-translations explained in the book.
  • 29. Western Universalization Idea  Globalization means westernization  Progress is salvation or scientific secular progress  Concept of Universal History, linear in nature Issues of Contention  Binary categories like sacred/ secular, monotheism/polytheism, creation/evolution, political right/left cannot explain Dharma with multiple hues Implications  Other cultures selectively used to forward Westernization: Germany and Sanskrit  Uni-dimensional concept of success  Cultural genocide in the name of development  Eliminating local production and seasonal eating
  • 30. Chapter -6 Take away Challenging Wester Universalism 1 Definition  Use of west’s historical experiences, ideas & assumptions as basis for a universal standard on which all civilizations are mapped & judged.  Went hand in hand with conquests, genocides & colonization.  Implicit toady in language, worldviews, “ development’ institutions. 2 Major Challenges  Islamic Universalism & Confucian Universalism  Postmodern critiques within the west. 3 Expanding western Universalism by digesting others.  Book explains Hegel & colonialists using Indology to appropriate & construct notions of European selfhood, while trashing the source.
  • 31. Purva Paksha Use Western Categories Use Dharmic Categories Gaze at Indian Civilization Colonial Indology and humanities in today’s South Asian Studies Pre-colonial Indian intellectuals Gaze at Western Civilization Postcolonial Indian scholar who attack the West using western categories Very rare but the Authors goal Effective prerequisites for Purva Paksha  Level playing field, terms of debate mutually agreed  Intention to pursue truth, not conversion  Pursue truth irrespective of ego impact, no compromises to get win-win;  Basic self-control /mastery a prerequisite for the practioner  Be well informed in both the schools Best example: Mahatma Gandhi and his fight against Colonial rule
  • 32. Purva Paksha-Take Away Purva Paksha : Reversing the Gaze upon the West 1 Definition  Understanding the other authentically, with mutual respect.  Responding /evaluating through our own siddhanta/ lens 2 Indians gazing at others  Traditionally a central part of education, research.  Inadequate purva paksha of the west  Postcolonialist gaze at west is not based on Indian siddhantha. 3 Necessary today  Undermines the fashionable teaching of “ Sameness”  Helps us understand “ Who we are” on own terms  Helps resist being digested into western civilization as junior partner.  Dharmic universalism deserves a seat at the table
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