Wednesday, December 5, 2012

RMF Summary: Week of November 28 - December 4, 2012

November 29 (continuing discussion from November 20)
The Fully Digested Deracinated Chairman of the Press Council of India
Manish shared:

"Justice Katju (retired judge of the Supreme Court of India), distributes his pearls of wisdom from the vantage point he occupies as Chairman of the PCI. One sample, from his blogpost, titled ''What is India''.

India is broadly a country of immigrants, like North America.  Over 92% people living in India are not the original inhabitants of India.  Their ancestors came from outside, mainly from the North West.

A few more.....
The original inhabitants of India, as it is believed now, were the pre-Dravidians tribals, who are called adivasis  or Scheduled Tribes in India e.g. the Bhils, the Santhals, the Gonds, the Todas, etc., that is, the speakers of the Austric, pre Dravidian languages e.g. Munda, Gondvi, etc.  They are hardly seven or eight percent of the Indian population today.  They were pushed into the forests by the immigrants and treated very badly.  Except for them all of us are descendents of immigrants who came mainly from the North West of India

... a common culture emerged in India which can broadly be called the Sanskrit-Urdu culture. ..."

Rajesh responded:
"...Justice Katju sounds less than informed on the issue of Indian "pre-history". Genetics research tell a different story, and so do our traditions.

99% of all Indians are actually indigenous if one considers the last 40,000 years. Or seeing it differently, it may be true that ancestors of all Indians came from outside, if one goes by the Out-of-Africa Theory.

But the Aryan Invasion Theory mess is something successive Indian Governments have nurtured, so it is to be expected that even among high functionaries of GoI, there would be many who agree with such thinking..."
Bhattacharyya adds:
"...Rajeshji: Regarding your comment below, while I agree that the study of Sanskrit should be encouraged, one must be cautious when interpreting remarks like the one Katju made. In this regard, Sheldon Pollock, a well-known U.S. scholar
[], has made very similar statements ..." 

Rajiv Malhotra commented:
"...The post by S. Bhattacharya below is very important to understand. (BTW Pollock I think got the Padam Bhushan, higher than Padam Shri).

My recent encounter with Anantanand Rambachan ... caused me to investigate his background. It is amazing how most Hindus are unaware of his role in claiming that mantras are strictly "intellectual" devoid as energies, vibrations, etc. They are mere sentences like ordinary English. He is also against adhyatma-vidya/inner sciences and critical of yoga/meditation as something that contradicts Shankara. Also understand his pioneering role in undermining Swami Vivekananda and the whole movement he calls Hindu nationalism. This started with his 1984 PhD dissertation thesis written under a well known Catholic theologian in England. Ever since he has been nurtured by the Catholic Church as a "useful Hindu". There is so much eye opening stuff that I cant say more until I have written a longer article just on this.

One has to connect dots between Rambachan and others like Brian Pennington (who became famous for his book titled, "Was Hinduism Invented?" and Pollock who became famous for writing "The death of Sanskrit". Pollock is a left-wing sanskritist who claims that the old Brahamanical sanskrit is long dead; and he is reviving the "real" Sanskrit that belongs to subalterns like dalits, women, etc. whose voices have been oppressed. He got funded big time by Narayan Murthy's private foundation with a grant to select and translate Indian classical works. ..

Uday shares some information:
I am very thankful for having seen the video - this has been very insightful to get a sense of the mind of an academic scholar.!

coincidentally, I got another video that elaborates why sound had a special quality in Indian traditions as eloquently articulated by Rajivji and as easily dismissed by Sheldon. 

Clearly, this man is a Samskritam scholar, has even visited Sringeri and fairly well informed about Indian traditions - despite this, I was amused by the way in which he uses the Saraswati example in a derisive manner, expresses surprise on why the ancient Indian philosophers were also great poets, etc..."
Krishnan adds:
"...This what BD is all about. Katju may be say of 68 years of age, which means that he would have started education 63 years ago which would be when the British influence had not waned; It was at its peak. This would indicate that he would hve not known anything other than what has been taught by Missionaries or those Indian teachers who had been newly indoctrinated with the venom of POOR INDIANS. What else can you expect from other than what he is expressing? BD wants each one of us to get this poison out of the system and understand that we have to shift the chaff from the wheat. Berating or writing anjti katju slogans will get us know where. At least for us who have been introduced to our new selves let us make a change and think/talk/feel and behave differently..."

This next thread will be covered in depth in a separate thread, given the depth of the discussion and its implications.

November 29 (continuing discussion from November 12)
Very successful Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, Ahmedabad
I just returned from India after attending the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha's 5th Bi-annual Conference in Ahmedabad. I was fortunate to be invited to deliver a...
.... Rajiv comment: I too have been talking with westerners since a few decades. But thats not good enough to make a comprehensive assessment.

1) I have also provoked them beyond the surface goody-goody demeanor by questioning some of their cherished assumptions, thus forcing a choice between mutually contradictory beliefs. (Example: reincarnation cannot be reconciled with Nicene Creed, so which one do they reject? ..

December 1
Indian Rationalist charged by authorities, flees death threats for claiming leaky pipe caused "Crying Jesus" Statue
Curved_sabre shares:
"Indian Rationalist charged by authorities, flees death threats for claiming leaky pipe caused "Crying Jesus" Statue.The Govt. of India caved into pressure from the Bible-thumpers.."

Rajiv Malhotra responds:
"So much for Indian claims of secularism, science, rationality. Send this to the media, justices and scholars who love to portray Hinduism as superstitious and support "anti-superstition" laws. Under such laws, the very notion of blasphemy must be challenged as something based on superstition and encouraging superstition." 

December 2
An illustrative dialog on HuffPost
While browsing through HuffPost I found the following interesting exchange in the comments of section of this article:...

December 3 [New Post]
The most prominent Hindu public intellectual to challenge prejudiced Western representations of Indian civilization, Rajiv Malhotra is President of Infinity Foundation (IF), which has been funding and running projects to rehabilitate and valorize the unique achievements of the Dharma traditions. Desi Talk interviewed him after the Society for Hindu-Christian Studies panel in Chicago around his recent book, Being Different: The Indian Challenge to Western Universalism.

Q.What was your professional background before establishing IF?

A. I was educated in physics, then computer science, worked as a techie, then as a corporate executive in strategic planning. Later I became a management consultant to the tech industry and finally started my own ventures before taking early retirement at age 44.

Q. How has IF been serving the cause of Indian civilization?

It pioneered in identifying areas neglected by gurus, Hindu civic leaders, as well as by the academy, areas where Indian civilization was being under-represented and misrepresented in prevailing discourse. Sometimes it is out of ignorance, but often there are well funded institutional mechanisms that perpetuate such discourse. IF identified these areas, spoke forcefully against them, and got people interested among all three constituencies. I am disappointed by the level of progress in instituting corrective measures that would make a lasting impact... "

December 4 [New post]
Rajiv Malhotra posts:

The above is an interesting and innovative use of BD's thesis. Clearly, the author has invested serious time and persistence to understand BD in depth.
[My response would be: thanks, Rajiv ji. I just connected the dots.]

Meanwhile, the 'Life of Pi' continues to generate a vigorous debate
December 4 (continuing discussion from November 24)
Life of Pi - lessons for Hindus
Equal-equal Hindus might feel encouraged by the attention paid to that idea in Ang Lee's visually magnificent movie, "The Life Of Pi". A sampling of Christian...

Manish watched the movie and reviews it:
"I saw the film yesterday. Apart from the visually rich moments, which incidentally had nothing to do with the theme of the film, it left me unimpressed, and even offended at the attempt to exoticise India and Hinduism. We are real people, practising the oldest continuing faith of the world, with a highly advanced philosophical foundation; we are not merely subjects to be exoticised in Hollywood films for the consumption of largely western/Christian audiences. To me, it looked like a disguised attempt at digestion.

And, there was the gratuitous contrast between the French quarter (clean) and the non-French areas (filthy) of the town.

I also agree with Raj Vedam that the martinet father was hugely miscast. Incidentally, we saw the same phenomenon of using a miscast ugly father in Aamir Khan's ''Taare Zameen Par''.

Sadly, ''The Life of Pi'' seeks to exoticise Hinduism, and in the process, even resorts to perpetuating fallacies. The most egregious of these is the old cliche about ''33 million'' deities in the Hindu pantheon. Even while spreading misinformation, they got it wrong --- the widespread misconception is ''330 million / 33 crore'', not ''33 million''.."

Surya K quotes from the Upanishads to highlight a factual error in the movie:
"Then Vidaghdha, son of Shakala, asked him, "How many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?"
Yajnavalkya, ascertaining the number through a group of mantras known as the Nivid (hymn on the Visvadevas), replied, "As many as are mentioned in the Nivid of the gods: three hundred and three, and three thousand and three."
"Very good," said the son of Shakala, "and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?"
"Very good, and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?"
"Very good, and how many gods are there, Yajnavalkya?"
"Two." ... "One and a half." ... "One."
"Very well, which are those three hundred and three, and three thousand and three, Yajnavalkya? ... "

Hemachandra comments on the book:
"... The boy cannot make sense of
Christian religion ("peculiar psychology", "Son appears only once in far away West Asia", "sense of disbelief", "bothered by it", etc) and is baffled by it. But, it suddenly cops out saying "I could not get Him [Christ] out of my head"
"the more He bothered me, the less I could forget Him"
and concludes "the more I learned about Him, the less I wanted to leave Him" The author forcibly makes the kid a Christian believer without a single good argument for him to follow Christ."

Ganesh adds:
"...Life of Pi was a definite attempt to clandestinely sell christianity to Indians. Just pointing out a few dialogues I noted.

1) Irrfan Khan says he is a Catholic Hindu.

2) Says "thank you Vishnu for showing me Christ through you".

3) There is a scene where pi as a kid says "I want to get baptized" and his Hindu mother (enacted by Tabu) gives an approving smile...
5) One scene shows the cast away pi beating up a fish, feeling bad but again saying "thank you Vishnu for coming in the form of a fish and providing food".

6) One can't get away from the fact that there was a definitive attempt to show that only christianity has is THE most righteous religion which has all the say about love and knows the true meaning of love..." 
Carpentier senses an overreaction:
"I think some people are making too much of the film as if it were a scholarly treatise on Hindu philosophy. It is not, it is a multi-cultural work of fiction that brings to life for an international audience the esoteric wisdom contained in the Indian scriptures and in others as well. The fact that all great Hindus from Antiquity to our days felt a natural kinship with and understanding for the real spirituality of other traditions (leaving aside dogmas and cultural habits and mores) is what the life of Pi emphasizes because it transcends monotheistic creeds..and gives a metaphysical symbolic reading of reality which in effect invalidates orthodox "semitic" theology. The fact that the Churches are uncomfortable with the film for obvious reasons should not make Hindus behave similarly because they should realise that the film symbolises the quest for mokshas (liberation from the ego) and its not an attempt at converting people to one or another religion."

Moderator responds:
"..Moderator's Note: ..., "Thanks Vishnu for leading me to Christ", said in word and deed, is not even that ambiguous....
.... This may not be commenter's intent, but it sounds like advice to Hindus to take the 'high road' and not criticize, while the Tiger goes about it's business of digestion. Even Pi, the movie's hero, understood the tiger better than that :) ...

Ganesh responds to Come Carpentier and argues that the movie is more about fate:
".."the film symbolises the quest for mokshas (liberation from the ego) and its not an attempt at converting people to one or another religion".

Neither does the film symbolise the quest for moksha nor does it attempt to hide the ulterior motive of wanting to influence audience (especially in India and China) towards christianity by using carefully crafted, emotionally tugging visuals with dialogues like I had stated in my earlier mail to the group.

That many movie critics have even gone on to give the review based on superflous understanding of the movie is quite astounding. I'm sure most Indian movie critics would've just done a copy paste job of reviews from abroad. Really funny that people want to say Life of Pi gives out the message that one needs to believe in God, while I seemed to be one of the few who understood clearly that the movie in effect was driving the point that one needs to believe in fate. The scene at the very end of the movie, when the Japanese insurers come to meet the cast away pi admitted in a hospital requesting him to narrate his unbelievable story in a logical way that they could understand, highlights that point. Irrespective of the two versions that pi narrates, what was unambiguous was, it was because of fate that he became a cast away, it was fate which ordained the ship to sink on that particular night leaving him stranded on a life boat with those animals,.."


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