Saturday, July 31, 2004

The representation of Hinduism in US academia

This has been a major point of contention among Hindus for a while now. To put it succinctly, it appears as though US scholars treat Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism with respect.

But they treat Hinduism as though it were a) a dead religion, not a living faith, b) as something they can 'mine' for their thesis, c) as one whose practitioners are anthropological specimens (shades of Margaret Meade) whom they can hoodwink. And they feel they have the right to trash Hinduism left, right and center.

It is as though we live in colonial times, and the prejudices of Semitic types about a religious way that is the opposite of their bigoted exclusivism are to be taken as, as it were, the gospel truth. Of course, a lot of stealth-Marxist-with-Hindu-name 'sepoys' both in the US and India are happy to help them in this endeavor.

Now Hindus are standing up and objecting to this ill-treatment. I wrote about this a while ago, too: http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/nov/01rajeev.htm

Here is an article by Dr. Anand Sharma that lays out some of the background. This is a little dated, as it was circulated on the Net a few months ago, but still useful.

Rajiv Malhotra's seminal article on Sulekha can be found with a google search. So can Sankrant Sanu's critique of Microsoft Encarta, which led to Encarta dropping Wendy Doniger's oversexed and titillating depiction of Hinduism with Arvind Sharma's more respectful version.

http://www.trincoll.edu/depts/csrpl/RINVol7No1/Hindus%20and%20Scholars.htm

The Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public LifeTrinity College, Hartford CT

RELIGION IN THE NEWS
Spring 2004 Vol. 7, No. 1
Hindus and Scholars
by Arvind Sharma (McGill University, Montreal)

On January 5, 150 Hindu nationalists armed with bats and chains vandalized the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) in the city of Pune in Maharashtra, India, to protest a scholarly monograph on a 17th-century Hindu ruler named Shivaji by James W. Laine, a religious studies professor at Macalaster College in Minnesota.

According to the Global News Wire January 7, the nationalists, calling themselves (after Shivaji's son) the Sambhaji brigade, attacked BORI "because one of the scholars cited by Laine happens to be a member of the Institute's managing committee." Two weeks earlier, members of the nationalist party Shiva Sena had tarred the face of another Indian scholar because Laine had mentioned him in the preface of his book.

...

A reader responds to the assertions of a devout Christian

Again, without comment:



http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/796815.cms

THE SPEAKING TREE
Central Mystery of Christian Faith
JANINA GOMES
[ SATURDAY, JULY 31, 2004 12:00:00 AM ]
The most well-known mystery in Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It is said that three men died on crosses in occupied Palestine sometime during the fourth decade of the Christian era. The carrying out of a death sentence in this manner was a relatively routine matter. In this case, all three were convicted as disturbers of the Roman peace. On one cross, however, the Romans affixed a sign: "The King of the Jews", but in contempt — yet the "king" has lived on for more than 2,000 years. On the basis of the experience of the resurrection, his disciples would see the life and death of Jesus in a whole new light. The message of the New Testament is the message of the resurrection.

With this belief, everything fell into place. For his disciples, Jesus was Christ, the Anointed One of God. The titles given to him — 'Son of Man', the 'Suffering Servant', the 'Son of God', the 'Lord', and 'Son of David' — became confessional, and were used in prayer and worship, thereby gaining a metaphysical and theological character. The resurrection is now seen as a saving event because Jesus was handed over to death for the sins of humankind and raised up for the justification of all human beings.

Once the resurrection led to acknowledging the divinity of Jesus, it helped us view his birth as the incarnation, as the Word of God. In fact, the crucifixion and the resurrection have a deep connection. Jesus's life is now seen as the culmination of a life of obedient humiliation within the human condition.

"Though he was in the form of God, he did not deem equality with God as something to be grasped at. Rather he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men. He was known to be of human estate, and it was thus that he humbled himself, obediently accepting even death, and that too, on a cross", said St Paul. A forgiving Jesus initiated a new form of table fellowship between God and humankind. He promised salvation. One of the mysteries of Christianity is that Jesus came to proclaim and establish the Kingdom of God — that is, to exercise His divine power on our behalf. The one who proclaimed the Kingdom in his own lifetime, became the one who proclaimed it after his death. The early Church gave its own testimony of faith in the risen Lord and all else in the New Testament flows from that — forward and backward. The redemptive value of the cross assumes meaning in the light of the resurrection. "Unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies it does not produce fruit".

Christians understand the final redemptive power of God already at work, realising itself in the individual's experience of reality, in his relationships with other persons, and with social and political institutions.

Jesus's earlier life with Joseph, a carpenter, as foster father, was quiet, hidden and a silent preparation for his life's mission. His public life began only in his 30s and the power with which he preached God's Kingdom, the miracles he performed, the people he cured and healed is linked to this central mystery of Christian faith, which is the resurrection. From this mystery, Christianity moves forward to the exaltation of Christ and backwards to the crucifixion, passion, minis-try, early life, birth and even pre-existence of Jesus.

The resurrection of Jesus and other related mysteries of the Christian faith have inspired millions to believe that they too will rise from the dead. As it happened to the first born of the new creation, so it will happen to all humankind.

==============================================================

RESPONSE

Saturday, July 31, 2004

The Editor
Times of India
By e-mail

Sir

Janina Gomes, in her 'Central Mystery of the Christian Faith' (Speaking Tree – 31st July 2004), fails to unravel the greatest Christian mystery of all: the myth of 'Jesus Christ' himself! For, as it now appears from contemporaneous sources, no single person known by that name ever existed!

'Jesus' is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew 'Yehoshua' (literally, 'Jehovah Delivers'), while 'Christ' is the more recent form of the Hellenic 'Christos', mistakenly given by early Greek translators of the Aramaic Testaments to the Jewish expectation of 'messiah' or 'saviour'.

The crucifixion and resurrection that form the very basis of the faith are fraught with inconsistency and controversy. It seems there were several people strutting around in Palestine at that time claiming to be 'messiahs'.

Barabbas, who was apparently tried along with 'Jesus Christ' but acquitted in deference to the wishes of the Jews, also enjoyed the prefix 'Jesus' according to an older version of the gospel of Matthew. In Hebrew, 'Bar' means 'son of' and 'abba' means 'father' or, in a wider sense, 'God'. So, there were two people with the same claim! Is Ms. Gomes sure who was released and who was crucified? The Quran states at 4:157 that 'Jesus' was never crucified! 'Resurrection', according to Gnostic writings (now bolstered by the long-suppressed Dead Sea Scrolls) was strictly meant symbolically, NOT literally.

We need to urgently reconcile ourselves to the truth that the record was doctored and suppressed – some even invented - to suit Pauline 'Christianity'. Otherwise, like Ms. Gomes in her otherwise convoluted piece, one would be forced to engage in verbal calisthenics to fit inconvenient fact to untenable doctrine!

Indeed, wasn't it Pope Leo X (1513-21 C.E.) who is reputed to have remarked, "It has served us well, this myth of Christ"!

Yours sincerely
Bhalchandrarao C. Patwardhan
kurundwad@eth.net

Rebuttal to a Christian fanatic

Without comment:

HAF responds to Hindu Phobic Evangelist in India Abroad
Printed on page A2 of India Abroad - July 9th, 2004
http://www.hinduamericanfoundation.org
July 9, 2004

To: Editorial Office, India Abroad
From: Executive Council, Hindu American Foundation, Inc.

Re: Interview with Ravi Zacharias (IA, June 25, 2004)

Dear Editor: We are disheartened to read the comments made by Ravi Zacharias on Hinduism and Buddhism during his interview with Shakti Bhatt [India Abroad, June 25, 2004, A29]. His misrepresentations of the essence and principles of these spiritual traditions reflect his own ignorance and bigotry rather than any deficiency within Hinduism and Buddhism. While Mr. Zacharias sees the complexity and layers of meaning within Hinduism as being "confused" and "inconsistent," he lacks the understanding or respect to recognize the underlying harmony and wisdom of the diversity of strands of thought within it.

Mr. Zacharias is right in noting that Hinduism encompasses traditions ranging from atheism to pantheism and just about everything in between them. However, this plurality of traditions does not symbolize any internal contradictions or inconsistency. A true Hindu knows that his own path, whether it is that of bhakti, karma, gyana, or raja-yoga, is but one of many and has equal respect for all the winding paths that lead to the same Truth called by different names. The true Hindu recognizes that individual souls are like raindrops falling along their own unique path to the same ocean. The true Hindu does not need to judge the path taken by others as being good or bad, right or wrong, because she knows that the destination is the same, that all paths lead to the same goal.

Different expressions of the truth do not reveal any underlying contradiction. There are layers and levels of meaning, and the expression of them changes with time. Neither Hinduism nor Buddhism, nor any system of philosophy based on dharma, are stagnant. They are constantly evolving systems, perpetually adapting and customizing themselves to meet the needs of societies and cultures as they change and grow over time. While the underlying essence of Truth is changeless, the way it is expressed and manifested constantly changes according to place, time, and context. Human beings are ever evolving and with this evolution comes deeper understanding of the profound truths of all religions.

This is why there is such a diversity of traditions and practices within Hinduism today. Mr. Zacharias is gleeful in pointing out purported skeletons in the closets of non-Christian religions. While all cultures have their failings, he is unfair in focusing only on the societal problems confronting Eastern religions. While the foibles of the East may be more obvious and repugnant to him, it is because of his own ideology and biases that he cannot analyze or evaluate these cultures in a fair and balanced manner. Messianic zeal and a need to convert, to show others as being less worthy, less deserving of respect and acceptance, subvert his commentary into a superficial and bigoted condemnation of all that is non-Christian.

The correlation of the rise of prostitution in Thailand with Buddhism is a completely false and egregious allegation, as correlation does not in any way indicate causation. Socioeconomic circumstances and the exploitation carried out by foreign tourists are responsible for the situation, not the spiritual ethos of Buddhism. It would be just as inappropriate to hold Christianity responsible for slavery, colonialism, the genocide of Native Americans, the Holocaust, and the pedophilia of Catholic priests.

As for the sweeping generalization that Hinduism does not recognize the individual dignity of each person, that is yet another false stereotype. Hinduism sees all beings as manifestations of divinity and acknowledges the unity underlying all living forms, so that every single living being, not just humans, are to be respected and honored. Mr. Zacharias' comments are an affront to all those who believe in tolerance, pluralism, and understanding. We hope that Mr. Zacharias will reconsider his views and that India Abroad, as a respectable publication for all Indians,will provide the space for alternate views challenging such prejudice and misrepresentations to be aired.

Sincerely,
Aditi BanerjeeMember,
Executive Council

Pawan DeshpandeMember, Executive Council

Please visit Hindu American Foundation. Now you can use HAF's secure, online Paypal payment system to support the efforts and vision of The Hindu American Foundation.www.hinduamericanfoundation.org

Shadow Warrior: Why?

In the spirit of the Akira Kurosawa film, "Kagemusha". There the shadow warrior is a warlord's alter-ego, and is hired to rally the troops when the warlord is seriously ill. The point I wish to emphasize, though, is that when the enemy is strong, it is important to avoid head-on battles, but to take diversionary tactics. Thus, you have to be fluid, phantom-like: difficult to pinpoint, appearing and disappearing at will, wearing the enemy down. Guerillas, if you like. Forcing the enemy to fight shadows. That is the sense I use the term in, as opposed to the other sense of someone tilting at shadows or windmills. Nizhal yoddha means shadow warrior in Malayalam.

Another example is that of the shadow warriors of Linux as compared to the imperial legions of Microsoft. Unlike its normal foes, whom it can vanquish through well-established means, Microsoft has found it frustrating to deal with the phantom warriors of the GNU/Linux world. See an old column of mine as well: http://in.rediff.com/news/2001/jan/01rajeev.htm

Speaking of Kurosawa, he would have appreciated the element of surrealism about the way history is handled in India. Each protagonist interprets history in ways that are self-serving, "Rashomon"-like; and each insists that his own point of view is the only one that is authentic. None are more prone to this than the Marxists of India.

Two suicides: In China and in Kerala

An 18-year-old student commits suicide in China

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/01/international/01CHIN.html?hp=&pagewanted=all&position=

A 21-year-old engineering student commits suicide in Kerala

http://www.rediff.com/news/2004/jul/29rajeev.htm

An interesting study in contrasts, and I wonder what the Marxists of Kerala have to say about the situation for the poor in their idolized country, China. It is clearly far worse there for all but the urban elite. And the kind of rioting led by the Marxists in Kerala would not have been tolerated in China. The rioters would have been shot on sight.

Kerala's Marxists should be packed off to China. They don't know how good they have it in India.

The full 9/11 Report

The full report is available for free at www.gpoaccess.gov , the us govt. printing office'swebpage. it's a 4.4 meg pdf file with 587 pages. i downloaded a copy with not much trouble.

an alternate address is www.9-11commission.gov

factoid: number of times the word 'pakistan' is mentioned in the report body -236

however, after much cogitation, in a breathtaking example of pretzel logic, thereport arrives at the conclusion that the musharraf show must go on withunabated american support and largesse! big 'if' indeed about Musharraf's intentions, what?

Recommendation: If Musharraf stands for enlightened moderation in a fight
forhis life and for the life of his country, the United States should be willing
tomake hard choices too, and make the difficult long-term commitment to the
futureof Pakistan. Sustaining the current scale of aid to Pakistan, the United
Statesshould support Pakistan's government in its struggle against extremists
with acomprehensive effort that extends from military aid to support for
bettereducation, so long as Pakistan's leaders remain willing to make
difficultchoices of their own.

India-China parleys

These are going on at the moment, but I believe they are meaningless. Here are two takes on the matter, one from Indian strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellaney, and the other from the Economist magazine. Brahma has a lot more credibility, in my opinion. The Economist stringer appears to be merely regurgitating conventional wisdom. Besides, NATO has always leaned towards China (and any other dictatorship), and the Economist is pretty much the Voice of NATO.

The first article is at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/5922_914013,0015002200000057.htm

Forever Shanghaied: Brahma Chellaney

The second article is premium content at the Economist. I post only the first paragraph below:

Vaulting the Himalayas
Jul 29th 2004 DELHI
From The Economist print edition

The principle of peaceful coexistence: keep talking as long as possible

AMONG the mementoes Natwar Singh, India's foreign minister, showsvisitors is a photograph taken in Beijing in 1957. It captures him asa young diplomat, alongside Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders. Itis a souvenir of a lost era of third-world solidarity, when India andChina devised and embraced their "five principles of peacefulcoexistence", whose 50th anniversary was celebrated in June. In 1962they flouted them all by fighting a brief, bloody border war. Chinarouted India, which has sulked ever since. Relations may now be on thepoint of recovery, though the "brotherhood" the giant Asian neighboursasserted in the 1950s remains a distant memory.

...

Rethinking Indian History

Indian history has become a great battleground where the storm troopers of the Left have attempted, with considerable success, to brainwash an entire generation with a manufactured 'history' that fits into their pre-conceived notions of 'class struggle'. The most recent battles are now taking place under the auspices of the HRD ministry, which is hell-bent on re-toxfying textbooks with undigested half-truths and cold-blooded lies. At least someone is making noise about it:


THE PIONEER Saturday, July 31, 2004

TOP STORIES

Why should History books keep to the Left?Barkha Goel/ New Delhi

http://www.dailypioneer.com/indexn12.asp?main_variable=front%5Fpage&file_name=story5%2Etxt&counter_img=5

Politicisation of education needs to be stopped.If the UPA considers the NDA history texts to bebiased, the earlier texts are full of flaws,distortions and have Marxist
leanings. This iswhat leading scholars have briefed President APJAbdul Kalam
about as they sought to promote ahealthy national debate on history.In a letter
addressed to the President, elevenscholars headed by Swami Dayanand Saraswati,
hadasked the Government to work for a lighter,fulfilling and stimulating
education, based oninnovative "pedagogy and promoting great humanvalues and
achievements" of the Indian culture. ...