THE HINDU WORLD VIEW:
CULTURAL, SOCIAL AND SCIENTIFIC
Dr. Pramod V. Pathak
Satyam, Pundalik Nagar, Parvari, Goa, 403521
Phn 9975559155, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It was nearly two centuries ago that western scholars started studying the ancient Hindu texts. They had a different outlook towards these texts and fresh approach to interpret these texts. It was Prof. Max Muller, who undertook stupendous task of editing and bringing out the critical edition of the Hindu Holy text, "the Rigveda." That work was adored by the Indians. In fact he was admitted into their fraternity by the Vedic Brahmins from Varanasi bestowing him with the Brahminhood. Later on Max Muller undertook a translation task and brought out translations of many of the sacred texts in a series, "The Sacred Books of the East" in collaboration with many other Indian and Western scholars. At this juncture there appeared the difference of opinion among the Indian readers. They found that many of the Western scholars were not true to the spirit of scholarly approach.
THE WESTERN SCHOOL OF THOUGHT
There took root the distinct schools of thought. The understanding of the Indian i.e. Hindu ethos by the western scholars was questioned. The western scholars showed either the religio-cultural or Imperial biases . Their aim appeared to smear the Indian writing with socio-cultural denigration and to show these were second rate as valued against the Greco-Roman legacy they inherited.
The Aryan Invasion theory was propagated by many of the British scholars starting from Mecauley, J. S. Mill. Prominent among them in 20 th century was R.E.M. Wheeler who attributed the destruction of the Indus cities to the Aryan invasion. The conflict got aggravated when The Indus Culture cities were excavated. There appeared two major divisions among the scholars. Some endorsed the Aryan Invasion Theory while some opposed it.
While studying the ancient texts and evaluating these by many Western scholars, they clearly showed the lack of understanding of the cultural ethos in India and their ulterior motive of exacerbating the socio-cultural division amongst the Hindu society. While the Indian scholars advanced their arguments and proofs against the Aryan Invasion theory and considered the Vedic culture as rooted in India, they also had differing views on socio-cultural realities of the Hindu society. At times the Western scholars sort of denigrated the Hindu deities and heroes. Lord Ganesha was looked down upon as a sexual symbol. Another reputed American scholar undertook a sort of smear campaign for the most revered Hindu God Lord Rama. An American scholar showed Shivaji in poor light. There have been refutations of these attempts by many Indian-Hindu scholars.
In the recent times, the two diverging views are on the clashing path with announcement of constitution of the scholarly body for undertaking the translation of many of these ancient texts. A well-known scholar western Sheldon Pollack is to head the scholarly body. Indian scholars are aggrieved over SP's scholarship because he has in his earlier writings taken a dismissing view of many of the socio -cultural trends that he critically evaluated. A person with such biased views should not head the committee undertaking the work with long standing legacy.
It is to be appreciated that the Western scholars devoted their lives to study the Indian literature. Their exactness in the scholarly approach is admirable. Their access to the literature sources too is very wide compared to the Indian scholars. However, they appeared to commit very simple mistakes. Reputed scholar like Wendy Doniger in her comment on the Ramayana episode writes that father of Rama, King Dasharatha died five years after Rama's exile. This is a very gross mistake because in Ramayana Dasharatha was alive for only five days till Rama's charioteer Sumant, returned. These five days the grieving King felt like five years. Wendy has clearly goofed up in her statement and has become laughing stock among the Indian scholars. At certain point the main promulgator of the Aryan Invasion Theory, Wheeler conceded that his casually made statement of Indra and his Aryan hoard destroying the Indus was over blown. Many such examples can be put forward where the Western scholarship has been lacking in authenticity and has at times shown ulterior motives.
A HINDU WORLD VIEW
It is felt that an independent school of thought should emerge to take a fresh look at the ancient Indian texts which will encompass the social, cultural and scientific fields and interpret the ancient texts using the critical methods that have emerged over the period. These methods of evaluation are surely of THE WESTERN ORIGIN, however are widely accepted as methods of research. The great scholar like Vasudeo Sharan Agrawal, P. V. Kane, G. S. Ghurye , D. D. Kosambi and many others were followers of these methods and left behind the epoch making literature in the field of research on Indian Culture.
At this juncture apart from the socio-cultural studies many of the scientific texts and scientific concepts from the ancient literatures have been studied by the scholars from different disciplines. While following the scientific methods of researches, they differ from their western counterparts. To quote here an example by the present author, the narration in the Nasadiya Sukta in the Rigveda runs parallel with t X.129 the modern cosmological theory of Big Bang. The approach of Indian scholars, their assumptions, and their understanding differs from the westerners' approach. With due consideration, their approach is like a Hindu World View. The time has come to bring the scholars from different disciplines to consolidate the THE HINDU WORLD VIEW on social, cultural and scientific matters.
This work of consolidating the world view is a stupendous task and it can be given real shape by scholars from different disciplines working together. They will have to be drawn from many disciplines and will have to undertake multi-disciplinary research in diverse fields.
As a first step, some of them will have to evaluate the work of some of the Western scholar with whom they differ while using the widely accepted research methodology. The present author has undertaken such critical review work. He has evaluated James Laine's work on Shivaji and Wendy Doniger's work on "An Alternative History" for the Hindus. Vishal Agarwal in USA, has brought out a full volume on the Western scholar pointing out their lacunae and biases. There is need to move a few steps forward to bring these scattered reviewers and point out in no uncertain terms to the western scholar where they differ and why.
The next step will be to project a view which will consolidate as The Hindu World View. It will surely be different from the Western World View. This will involve work of an encyclopedic dimension. It can be developed taking definite topics of individual scholars' interest and they are to express their views on the topics they have chosen. Or an alternative could be to select certain texts and interpret these. Prof. M. M. Sharma has carried out outstanding work on ancient time and land measuring devices. At some point the views on scientific outlook in the society from the western point of view have to be re-evaluated . From all these efforts the Hindu World View, a distinct school of thought will emerge and scholars all over the world will have to take note and acknowledge it.