Tuesday, May 1, 2012

COGNITIVE DISTORTIONS IN HINDU MINDS AND THOUGHTS : CONFUSED DESHIS IN INDIA AND IN DIASPORA CREATING FRANKENSTEINS OF HINDUISM? (PART I)

FINAL VERDICT ON "FRAKENSTEINS OF HINDU MIND AND THOUGHTS"/ by G. P. Shrinivasan In the year 2000, Sri Ramakrishna Math had constructed a magnificent temple, for Sri Ramakrishna at Mylapore, Chennai, with a huge budget. The Temple incorporated architectural features of major religions of the world apart from Hinduism. Religious Motifs and Sacred Symbols, of all religions were part of the fusion and pressed on cement, on the walls and roof of the building. Those who conceived the project thought it was the finest way to remember Sri Ramakrishna‟s “Universal message”, as they thought would be the best way to begin the new millennium, and the unique structure was given the name “Universal Temple”. There were knowledgeable people within the mutt, who questioned the very idea of engraving symbols of Islam and Christianity on the walls of the temple dedicated to the Hinduism's most revered saint. They raised pertinent questions like “which Muslim would perform Namaz here?” and “which Christian Priest would conduct a mass there”? For the consecration ceremony the Ramakrishna Mutt, had invited dignitaries from all religions. Frankly they did not expect any trouble on that auspicious occasion, that too from invited dignitaries! They did not expect in the least, expect a guest they had invited, in all good faith, would put them in quandary, in their own premises, in front of thousands of devotees drawn from five continents. When the VIP representing Islam, was called to speak, rose up, cleared his voice , walked across to the mike , and said in the open meeting ― You are calling this temple Universal Temple, right...If you are calling Hinduism a Universal religion, ―why then did you destroy the Babri Structure.‖The President of the RK Mutt who sitting on the dais with the dignitary could not believe his ears, what his VIP guest was doing? The normally passive Ramakrishnaites, who believe in the validity of all paths, were shocked, by the loaded question, thrown at them, by the political person, when they were totally unprepared, for answering such complex issues. Luckily to save the honor of the Mutt, there were some people, in the audience who got the message. The argument was presented before an audience, who were a-political & spiritual minded- Hindus. With the commotion created by the speaker, there were some participants, who raised objection to this, but were motioned to stop. Soon after they issued a printed pamphlet that said: 1] Ayodhya is the most sacred place for Hindus & not Muslims 2] Here the Temple of Sri Rama was destroyed by Mir Baqi the general of Babur 3] How come a dome representing a Muslim mosque came there in the first place?  GUNA-DOSHA PARIKSHA UNPLEASANT FACTS: FRANKENSTEINS OF THE HINDU MIND AND THOUGHT PROCESSES 4] The site was the birth place of Sri Rama and always will be a Janmasthan Temple, and was there a Mosque ever? I cannot help but mention the name of late Swami Mukhyananda of the Sri Ramakrishna order, who was with the mission‘s institute of culture, Kolkata who wanted to issue a rebuttal to the Prince of Arcot, under an assumed name. He actually wanted to publish it in his own name. But was disappointed when his stature in the Mutt, would jeopardize such activities, and he was subtly pressurized, not to publish, it in his own name for unknown fears and political correctness. Later the pamphlet was published by Prof. Rangarajan in his name. Though the Prince of Arcot had violated the code of conduct laid down for dignitaries, as a Muslim would do in a Hindu function, some self respecting Hindu Swamis of the Mutt rose up to the occasion, but with the press hovering nearby looking for some juicy gossip, they were also gagged. The big lesson here is when Muslims bully, within the precincts of a Hindu Temple in a Hindu function, even a big organization like Ramakrishna Mutt run for cover without facing the bully. Any Hindu who toys with the idea of "Debates‘ with Semitic religions under the guise of ―Universalism or ―Advaitha--- on their own turf, in the presence of thousands of followers needs to learn a lesson form the above historical event. It is the ̳ever tolerant Hindu‘ who yields, and not the intolerant Muslim‘. What has it got to do with Rajiv Malhotra‘s new book,"BEING DIFFERENT‘? Rajiv Malhotra is no stranger to Ramakrishna Mission. Three years ago he was instrumental in putting up a stout defense in "INVADING THE SACRED‟ against Jeffrey Kripal. The blurb says "Being Different" is "an Indian Challenge to western universalism." The small print says, the book project was a "Joint venture" with the India today group. [It is not clear what the terms of the joint venture were(?). It was not specified in the book]. The previous book, "Breaking India" was written by Shri Rajiv Malhotra and Thiru Aravindan Neelakandan. Mr.Malhotra has announced his next book will be "U Turn." What is this about? I am not able to guess or get more details. [I hope this book will be free of 'bugs‘ unlike the present book]. MY BRAND OF UNIVERSAL PHILOSOPHY Not only the RK matth, but also hundreds of Hindu organizations, small and big that have come up roughly within the last 220 years have been proudly promoting vigorously their own brand of 'universal philosophy‘, and have become prisoners of their own creation. This strange creation has no sanction in the Vedas, Brahma Sutras or in the Gita. Not only are they becoming victims of their Frankensteins but are also leading millions of na├»ve followers into deep pacific trench. The example is indicator, of 'public snub‘ that Hindus are receiving in good dose, but not recorded in their brains. The point that I am trying to get registered here is, though Rajiv Malhotra‘s defense team comprising Krishnan Ramaswamy, Antony de Nicholas, and Aditi Banerji, did a ground breaking assignment in defending the Ramakrishna Math & Mission, [without which, their complete past would have been tarnished beyond anybody‘s imagination] but has this nasty experience, taught any major lesson to Ramakrishna Mutt and Mission, that they were willing to undergo any major course correction? We do not have the answer, and it will be not acceptable. Sources tell: The organization is internally at work officially," which cannot be detailed here, as this is not the forum. In the first place it was the same Ramakrishna mission that had allowed insidious characters like Jeffrey Kripal 1] To undertake research projects on their founder‘s saints 2] To stay in their premises and 3] Extended undue patronage to a white man. 4] But will the Mutt allow the same facilities to any other Hindu researcher? 5] Why double standards are adopted by not only Ramakrishna Mutt, 6] But also all other Hindu Ashrams, give unabashed preferential treatment to white skinned foreigners as against Brown Hindus? All the Hindu ashrams are attracting foreigners in droves, due to their liberal policy. That brings good revenue. But the ashrams are stubbornly refusing to consider ground realities and the impact of the 'Universalism‘, 7)FRANKENSTEINS OF THE HINDU MIND AND THOUGHT PROCESSES  promoted by them, on their Hindu followers. Clueless, Hindus are becoming more and more attached to some cult or the other and are getting uprooted, from their moorings, and their future vaporized. In the memory of late Swami Mukhyananda who refused to yield to the bully, his friends from outside the Mutt are planning to release the pamphlet shortly. The Swami had published many a rebuttal in the course his career spanning seven decades, under prevalent conditions, in an assumed name of Baba Sakshi Gopal. Subsequently he passed away two years ago at the ripe age of 90. His friends are planning to bring out a book in his memory with all his writings from the period 1977 to 2001.If Sri Ramakrishna Mission is refusing to put itself in the line of fire, at least some members were willing. This humble write up is dedicated to him. STOP Treating HINDUS WITH CONTEMPT For the want of a nail the war was lost. So, I am going to say about small things that I noticed even before I purchased a copy of the book. Of course, I cannot criticize the author for mistakes of the distributor-Flipcart.com. When an order was placed with flip cart for books, the promised time for delivery was two days. But it took full two weeks. I had to make several calls, to crack the mystery of the missing book, before they responded. The courier that Flipcart.com had contracted delivered the book at my door steps, with a vague explanation that the book was lying with a local delivery agent for many days. I pointed out to them, that my phone number was given to Flipcart.com, and they could have called me. There was no explanation offered by delivery man, for the delay, of the book parcel. My surmise is that down the line, Courier delivery boys; do not want to waste their calls in prepaid for calling customers that they would rather spend for personal calls. However the price offered by Flipcart.com was cheap; for two books it was Rs 898/-, even though a single book was priced at Rs 599/- On an earlier occasion the book ordered was sent by a reputed courier never reached the bureaucrat secretary to whom it was intented. Any number of phone calls resulted in the same reply from the Delhi office of the courier company. Computer tracking shows the book is still-in-transit. Though Hindu intellectuals write tactical books, their job does not end with writing. There is inadequate mechanism available to ̳advertise‘, ̳promote‘, ̳endorse‘, their wares. There is no appropriate market supply & delivery channel, that announce new arrivals, take orders, and deliver, as per schedule, to the clientele. Clooney “a Jesuit on A mission TOWARDS „FULFILLMENT of his theology‟ Prof.Francis X.Clooney and his association with Ramakrishna mutt Sri Ramakrishna mutt and Ramakrishna mission Belur, west Bengal: In a commemorative volume on “Swami Vivekananda: Hundred Years since Chicago", (12.january 1994), carried an article written by Francis. X.Clooney: “Realization, Religion, and Renunciation of Swami Vivekananda”. Truth may be eternal, but it is only the most graced among those who bear witness to the truth whose words continue to bear fruit long after their deaths. It is therefore a testimony to the power of Swami Vivekanada‟s message, that people of different religious traditions still ponder his words today and, indeed, live by them. Indeed, there is so much to choose from, in the rich store house of spiritual and theological insights, that comprise his writings, and our world is in many ways so different from his, that one may be tempted to pick and choose, to single out some theme or angles, which seems most applicable, to the contemporary, reader. One reader may be inspired by his encounter with Sri Ramakrishna; another may admire his reaffirmation with Sri Ramakrishna, another may admire his affirmation of the ancient ideal of renunciation; a third may be intrigued by his theory of religion. But if we are to appreciate him adequately, a century after his visits to the west, we must strive to treat his message as a whole, lest glimpses of spiritual biography or selected practices or certain theories may become detached themes only optionally connected, left largely, to the reader to invest with meaning”. Clooney goes on further: all of Vivekanada‟s ideas must be understood in a larger perspective, and pondered together. One must thus seek the simpler core of his vision, in which, three fundamentals remain deeply connected: first, the necessity of an encounter with a person who has truly seen-realized- god: second, an understanding of religion and life in which the advantages of such an encounter can be maximized and the obstacles minimized; third a program of life according to which that encounter eventually enables one to become free of all attachments, physical, psychological, and spiritual.......... “Here and in the pages inside Clooney negates subtly the Vivekanada‟s theory of religions. “First, he incorporates a psychological–pedagogical explanation, suggesting that the differences among religions are attuned to the needs of different kinds of people”. Clooney‟s subtle “criticizing without saying it is criticism and one he is criticizing” has not been understood by the Ramakrishna mutt people before they sent this for print in the commemorative volume. Where Clooney is planting enough bugs, for a writer like Jeffrey Kripal to exploit, expand and develop further with “such culturally ambiguous words”, “loaded words”, in Clooney‟s “American English”. Meanings are in people and that to imaginations of a frenzied mind like Jeffrey Kripal in his book "Kali‟s Child." Clooney is the real Jesuit in action “praise of renunciation as the foremost spiritual requirement in the current age”. The Hindu concept of renunciation has no parallel (like the comforts of well funded institutional set ups, well oiled Jesuit lodges, where Clooney can lodge himself across the world in his missionary zeal}. His religion does not have not only parallels, but also, subtly condemn the Sanyasa Ashrama, roughly translated into English as “renunciation”[ one can renounce coffee, tea, ice cream,, tobacco, liquor and even religion and that is not Sanyasa Ashrama]. He criticizes without, telling he his criticizing, while referring to the lecture of swami Vivekananda in his famous lecture given in new York and London in 1896, of his “my master”. Clooney goes on in depth to the different versions available, and how they vary, in his foot note. It is not surprising Clooney is giving more importance to this one lecture than anything else, by showing it as a separate foot note of the commemorative volume on page 75. Why is he giving such treatment? He writes: Here we can examine these connections in only a single case, the lecture “ my master”, which among other things , weaves together the three characteristic elements : Vivekanada's account of the life of Ramakrishna as a person whose realization of god has put into motion a spiritual wave which can transform the world; a theory of religion whose realization of god has put into motion a spiritual wave which can transform the world; a theory of religion , including the equality of religions and observations and observations on the respectively more and less materialistic characters of the occident, and the orient : praise of renunciation as the foremost spiritual requirement in the current age.” Clooney twists words, subtly, English being a tenuous language. He communicates primarily with his weird western audience, western mind set even though he is writing for an eastern magazine. See what he writes: “As we shall see, this is precisely the position Vivekananda was when he first met Ramakrishna; for both of them, too, the direction to take will be the same. [If Clooney had concentrated on the irregularities and irreconcilable differences with the four gospels of Christianity, it would serve his community well and educate him]. Here in a commissioned an article for Ramakrishna mission and that too on the swami Vivekanada‟s centenary publication in 2004, he writes in the foot note, which no Swamiji of Ramakrishna mission had edited, as they did not understand Clooney‟s language which was soon taken over by a wayfarer Jeffrey Kripal. Although Sri Ramakrishna the great master and my master do not necessarily report the same encounter, presumably they do fact, they are harmonized in some of the secondary retellings of the meetings of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda. See for instance the account cited in the life of Swami Vivekananda, volume i page 77, in which the described in sri Ramakrishna the great master has added to in question, “ have you seen god, sir ? In account given in swami prabhananda's first meetings with sri Ramakrishna , the questions "do you believe in god, sir; and have you seen god, sir, are both added to the briefer account found in sri Ramakrishna the great master”. Clooney continues “he continues his accounts with a strong statement of the limits of religion. He approvingly cites Ramakrishna's views that religion can be given and taken more really and tangibly than anything else in the world, and adds his own comments, which in effect contrast "true religion‟ and mere "religions‟;” Clooney goes on to quote a full paragraph from Vivekananda , and suffixes it with his unwanted comment. “Religion is neither words nor doctrines, nor theories; nor is it sectarianism. Religion cannot live in sects, and societies. (Clooney belongs to the society of Jesus). It is the relation, between the soul and god; how can it be made into a society?...religion is the relations between soul and god . It lies in realization, not in words, or in joining religious bodies [which has probably personally affected a sensitive Jesuit like Clooney], or in the performance of drill-like ritual [catholic mass which Swamiji criticized]. Clooney criticized Swamijis method as “but here to realization comes by the narrow gate of renunciation”. It is not surprising the dumb editors of the volume have included this essay of Clooney, wherein he provides fertilizer for further Christian imagination from Jeffrey Kripal. In 2009 when a concerned Hindu raised this issue with Clooney, among many other issues, Clooney sent a reply: ...”I was honoured to publish with RK Math, and they were pleased to receive my reflections. Please discuss the matter with them.” [E-mail correspondence between Shri.K.Prabhakar and Prof.Clooney. The Three incompatible Templates "Subsequently, I procured the book being different and read through the pages in great detail. The three Templates of Abrahamic religions are different. They are as much different as Tigers from Lions and Lions from Hyenas. The Dharma Religions of India are like Cows to Sheep to Giraffes. The in-compatibility of the three Abrahamic religions, even among themselves, is like three competing carnivores on the three clashing templates   of the Middle East. They are also incompatible with the Dharma Religions, which have co-existed, despite some difficulties. "WE THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK" It is important Hindus know some bits of these religion, so that they will be able to participate in the discussions, as we are doing now. Though, the "people of the book", as they would like euphemistically call and share similarities; they have fundamental theological differences, difficult to reconcile under present state of affairs. Judaism is the oldest religion. It has got the book, Torah and the Old Testament. Christianity derives its roots from Judaism, but denies any such connection, in the popular discourse, even though academicians accept it in their studies. It is the next oldest Abrahamic religion. The oldest sect Roman Catholicism does not see eye to eye with the Protestants. The pope calls ―Protestant faith not a proper church in a 16 page document issued by the pope on July 11.2007 (Vatican Press briefing notes). Some sects claim Old Testament, as their religious books; and some, the New Testament; and some both the Old and New Testaments. Some modern sects that came up in the 18th century like the Mormons have their own book which they call "Mormon Bible" that has connection with the OT & NT. Islam is the youngest of the three religions and its holy book is Koran. Due to historical reasons Islam is fundamentally divided into two conflicting camps; the shias and Sunnis. Judaism, Christianity and Islam the three Abrahamic Religions have different views on their fundamental beliefs, their shared history and origins. They share common features like ―One God; ―One Book; ―One Messiah; ―One Savior, & ―One prophet. They do not even agree among themselves on these vital parameters. They do not agree on who 'THE REAL GOD IS‘. Now that we have seen the basic differences, that we can take the comparison to the next stage. They do not share their Gods with others. Their books are exclusive. They have exclusive Messiahs, Saviors and Prophet. They differ on the Concept of God, nature of human existence, nature of creation, concept of time, Angels, Demons, good and evil, heaven and hell, fate of believers at the end the of time, and non believers who will be consigned to eternal damnation. The one thing they all share is that, followers of their own religion will go to heaven or paradise and followers of the remaining two religions will receive eternal damnation (eternal Hell) at the end of their time limited universe. Hence they struggle among themselves to convert. Over the years the Jews have changed, and become less dogmatic. But that cannot be said about the other two religions. Both Christianity and Islam have tried without success to exterminate Jews from the face of the earth, but failed. These mutually incompatible templates clashed with each other for over 2500 years is the historical legacy, which we must keep in mind before; any Hindu Sadhu venture out into debates. HISTORICAL LEGACY Their conceptualization of time is very tribal and very Middle Eastern. Their visualization of the Universe, Time, and Earth in their religious texts is based on chaotic views - juxtaposed - with superstitions beliefs - and infused with intolerance - and imposed with cruel authority, with deep political colorings and maneuverings. These texts are presented as the ultimate authority on their religions, superimposed on a historical context on the hapless people of who are followers of the religions in the Middle East and elsewhere. Unless one learns the basic templates of each of the Abrahamic religions, it will be futile to club them together in one Middle East basket. It is important to see these religions as their followers do see; believe; practice; hear; and live. Unless we see the way they see the world and the other two Abrahamic Religions who populate the world, it will be difficult for us to understand how they view each other, within the Abrahamic tradition. It is important to know how Judaism, views Christianity? How Christianity views Judaism? How Islam views Judaism and Christianity? How they view each other separately? An analysis of these categories will lead to the first fundamental shift in our understanding and lead to first differentiation. This analysis will bring out how difficult it will be to put all the three into the same basket of THREE ABRAHAMIC RELIGIONS IN ONE MIDDLE EAST BASKET   'Abrahamic religions‘ as the respective followers of these categories will stiffly oppose tooth and nail to any such concern to dump them all into one basket. THE LANES OF JERUSALEM Any short walk across the narrow strip on the Galilee, the lanes of Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Ramallah, where the three templates collide – what reading tomes on Middle East will not convince even the most skeptical, a 15 minutes, walk will convince even a layman that all is not well. Any adventurous can take the exercise to the next level to walk through the streets of Teheran, Baghdad, Karbala, Peshawar and Kabul. The more ambitious may organize adventure tours to Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro where the people of three belief systems (three templates) fought murderous wars in 1998, in the heart of the 'modern civilized‘ Europe. Such tours will convince followers of Sanatana Dharma that they fare well, on matters of civilization and humaneness; that a man on the street, can teach a lesson or two, on matters of 'Nyaya‘ & 'Dharma‘ to university professors, the Pope, and political leaders there on the birthplace of these three religions. Walk the lanes of Jerusalem to experience the tremors of the clashing templates. These lessons of guided tour to Middle East and Bosnia, Croatia, Hetizgovania, if expanded further could include a visit to Germany and study Nazi history a little bit. A study of the reasons, why Adolf Hitler, exterminated Jews, as an ethnic group, will shock them beyond belief, as to what they are dealing with? Are they Human Beings or Asuras? (I am not providing any answer here as to why Hitler eliminated the Jews. I am not aiming my article at those knowledgeable individuals who know all these things before racing this article but most of Indians readerhese three religions) Those who are not familiar with the history have to do their own research). This will be first lesson in interfaith dialog. CATEGORISATION OF THE INDIC SET Rajiv Malhotra debates with "Abrahamic Religions" on behalf of religions which he again groups in a basket called the "Dharmic Religions". Although it may be elating to make such intellectual comparisons, and though the debate opens up flood gates, of similar comparisons, he actually debates with only one of the Category of Abrahamic Religions, namely Christianity and to some degree with Judaism, without Islam in "Being Different." It is another question whether any Christian institution will ever accept his arguments? It is also doubtful whether any Imam can be convinced by Rajiv Malhotra. He groups Indic religions under one umbrella (as Dharma Group) which is a very ancient heritage. Groups of disciples or followers of a particular guru or diety assemble under an umbrella that has unique features in every aspect in south Indian temples (Thirumalai) have huge ritual umbrellas that are taken around over villages in a ritualistic procession every year that brings people to worship the diety and pay respects, give offerings and pay taxes. Nadars of Tuticorin and Thirunelveli groups have their own ―kodai.(Umbrellas), under the tutelage. Each group has its own Kodai. Every year generations after generations come together travelling long distances, to perpetuate the traditions of the family diety, Kodimada Swami and Muthu Parvathi, Temples, a tradition that goes back to Atharva Veda. Memories are rejuvenated and re-connected with friends and relatives they go back home every year during November and December. When I discussed this categorization of Indic religions, with knowledgeable people, scholars, with deep knowledge of Sanskrit, and Tamil, (the two extant oldest languages in India, that preserve the ancient Hindu Scriptures), they opined that It will be better to catalog Indic religions as Vedic Dharma. They would like to define it further as a name of a culture and subcultures. A GUIDED TOUR TO AUSCHWITZ ,BREMAN,DACHAU,TREBLINKA NAZI CAMPS Each of the Middle Eastern categories would like to maintain their distinct identities. How can anybody, or Rajiv Malhotra, dumps all these competing religious categories into one basket of “Abrahamic Religions”? There ought to be three different baskets: baskets a, B & C.    FRANKENSTEINS OF THE HINDU MIND AND THOUGHT PROCESSES  themselves as Astika or followers of Vedas, who are believers of Iswara, Vedic deities, Karma, and Brahman including karma kanda and Gnana kanda of the Vedas and also Vedic Nastika, and on the other hand they would like to define Buddhism and Jainism as A-Vedic Nastika Religions. This is how traditional revered Hindu Rishis, Acharyas, and learned scholars define themselves, with reference to themselves with reference to the two other two religions - Buddhism and Jainism even though they both share many commonalities including common ancestors. But Rajiv Malhotra puts all the three Astika and Nastika Religions, into one basket. For the sake of convenience even though these three religions, share many features, like concept of Infinite Time, Dharma and Karma, Papa and Punya, many births, rebirth, methodology of Tapas and Moksha. Buddhism and Jainism do share many of these features but not share the same platform with the Hindu Pantheon of Hindu Gods, and their disbelief in Vedas, especially karma kanda, though they may share many similarities of the Gnana Kanda. They also do not accept Upanishads, Brahma Sutras or the Bhagavad Gita. The ancestry of Sanatana Dharma, Jaina and Buddhist, converge, on some points in common ancestors and principles of Dharma, and move away, based on points of disagreement in philosophy based on logic and debates and Buddha is treated as one of the ten avatars of Vishnu. Though there are many similarities and differences between Vedic/Astika/Nasthika categories and A-Vedic/Nastika categories which include Jainism and Buddhism. Rajiv Malhotra has conveniently overlooked these differences, just as he ignored the differences and similarities in the Middle East basket composed of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Since these religions do not accept Vedas they will come under A-Vedic Nasthika category. To summarize:  The first differentiation ought to be Vedic/Astika/Nasthika vis a vis A-Vedic/Nastika.  A Second differentiation will go deep into Vedic Dharma and its many philosophic varieties.  The third differentiation will study Vedic/Astika/Nasthika Dharma.  The fourth will study the Avedic-Nastika categories of the Middle East separately.  Again there is the 'problem of plenty‘ within the Dharma religions and the many modern cult categories.

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