Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Honesty, personal integrity and sacrifice

In other words, according to Dr. Elst, Indic studies by westerners during the colonial period must not always be viewed through a jaundiced political prism... Therefore, to an extent I do agree with Dr. Elst when he says that there were quite a few Indic scholars who had truly gone native and whose views on Hindus and Hinduism were far from being uncharitable.

The most exciting and polished work of scholarship I’ve seen in this new way of thinking is Andrew Nicholson’s excellent Unifying Hinduism. Nicholson’s book is a study of Vedānta, the Indian philosophical tradition that sees itself as expounding the Upaniṣads. He turns a close and critical eye on nineteenth-century scholars like Richard Garbe and A.E. Gough, pointing out their misrepresentations of Vedānta tradition and how many of those misrepresentations endure today (especially with respect to Vijñānabhikṣu, the main subject of his study). But he also points out the continuities of these Orientalists with the earlier tradition.
  1. Jeffery Long:
    This is brilliant, Amod. I am very fond of Nicholson’s work, and wrote a glowing review of Unifying Hinduism which can be found on James Madaio, a PhD candidate at the University of Manchester, who presented on a DANAM panel on Swami Vivekananda at the AAR this past November (Baltimore 2013), is doing work along similar lines, showing that excessive claims about discontinuity between the Vedanta of Swami Vivekananda and “classical” Advaita Vedanta rests on identifying “classical” Advaita with Shankara and ignoring the millennium of commentarial literature linking Shankara and Vivekananda. Of course, Vivekananda was certainly an innovator in many ways (as, arguably, was Shankara). But the point is that there is both continuity and discontinuity between the contemporary tradition and what was there before. To say that Swami Vivekananda simply cobbled together his Vedanta out of western influences is at least as wrong (and wrongheaded) as to identify him simplistically with an unchanging Vedanta going back to the Upanishads. At last, we are getting some balance in this conversation!
    I made a similar point–essentially a manifesto calling for this kind of approach–in my first book, A Vision for Hinduism. But Nicholson (and Madaio) deserve the credit for actually doing the work of digging into the Sanskrit sources and making the case on solid historical grounds. Rajiv Malhotra makes a similar case in his latest book, albeit in the controversial, confrontational fashion for which he has become known. But it is an important point to make, and hopefully we are seeing yet another generational shift, where we post-Baby Boomers make another course correction toward a ‘middle path’ between the earlier generation and the radical skepticism of our more immediate forebears.
  2. Amod Lele:
    Thank you, Jeffery. Sorry I missed your comment earlier. I think we’re in agreement here. I realize that after my previous interactions with Rajiv Malhotra I now tend to cringe instinctively at the thought that I’m agreeing with him on anything, which is ironic because I share his broad goal of getting the substance of Indian traditions’ ideas taken more seriously in academia. Did you ever see this old post of mine on the topic?

“There is an important role,” Sen said, “for a clear-headed, pro-market, pro-business party that does not depend on religious politics.” ... Liberalism stresses the primacy of the individual as an economic and ethical agent -- and, therefore, emphasizes individual power and responsibility, as well as a reduced role for government in making decisions for society. But, as Kaviraj points out, one of the prominent peculiarities of India's democracy is that it was introduced to the nation without a prior historical process of social individuation, as in the West, or “a prior tradition of liberal political thought.”

AAP's guerrilla warfare: Its extraordinary tactics have brought it limited gains and more losses - Economic Times-Jan 23, 2014 By G R Gopinath, TNN 24 Jan, 2014
Being an ex-army officer, i couldn't help thinking that the Kejriwal-led AAP siege of Delhi was classic guerrilla warfare, in which a small group of combatants use military tactics including ambushes, sabotage, raids, petty warfare, hit-and-run tactics and extraordinary mobility to fight a larger and less mobile, traditional army. Guerrilla warfare usually succeeds only when the cause is just and the guerrilla leader leads his band of irregular fighters fearlessly and selflessly.

The ideological vacuum Times of India (blog) ‎- by Santosh Desai 26 January 2014 
The AAP's woes continue. The admonishments keep flowing in and suddenly it seems as if the same party that had fired so many imaginations can do nothing right.