Pakistan – an innovation hub

I just got visited by a very old friend/colleague of mine who I hadn’t seen since I was 18 (I’m 33 now)!

He’s Hungarian and done really well for himself at a big consulting firm (mA). What’s interesting is that he lives in the Middle East but commutes into Pakistan. He’s been more to Pakistan than I have been (haven’t been for a decade).

A few points he made:

(1.) Visas into Pakistan is so difficult to get for Westerners. He wanted to take his family up north for skiing but dropped the idea.

(2) Hotels in Karachi are sh!t. Bombay (Mumbai) and Dubai are far far superior in quality. Food is excellent but hygiene questionable in the Land of the Pure.

(3.) he won’t go to India since that will mess up his Pakistan visa.

(4.) Bill & Melinda Gates are putting a lot of money into Pakistan. For a lot of global corporations Pakistan is in a sweet sport; large, consumer driven economy untapped and somewhat sophisticated BUT awful reputation. So if u cut through the crap Pakistan has great opportunities.

(5.) he’s pioneered an amazing global innovation for his firm using Pakistan as a test case. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of Pakistan being an innovator hub..

Important WhatsApp Forward on the State of Pakistani politics

This is one of the few times that the Army has dramatically underestimated the will of the Pakistani people. Even though I dislike democratic parties in Pakistan; I stand with the Sharifs. The arguments that they are the only corrupt forces in Pakistan is laughable and derisive.

This has to break the back of the Army and I think the time has come to return to the barracks. The fear of Balkanisation in Pakistan is constantly stirred up by the Army to justify its interference.

Pakistanis are not interested in continued aggression with India and frankly there is only force in Pakistan that perpetuates it. I’m very upset with the Military since I dislike hypocrisy.

Imran Khan is a moron, the Bhuttos are just not a serious force (BB forgot to localise her kids) and it’s only the Sharifs that have that tactile touch to rally the population.

General State

A sinister game is underway to install Imran Khan and his ilk. This is the same man who has labeled a sizable number of people of Punjab as donkeys. His right hand man in KP, Pervez Khattak has said in a rally that “wherever I see flags of PPP and other parties flying over homes, I immediately come to know that the residence is occupied by children of prostitutes.” What Imran Khan’s ticket holder Aamir Liaqat has said about Maryam Nawaz is so disgusting that it cannot even be repeated here! This is the mindset which is going to rule this country in the coming days as DG ISPR has already indicated that this year is the year of change. Continue reading “Important WhatsApp Forward on the State of Pakistani politics”

Caste and the 1,000 Families

I’ve noticed that our caste thread has once again exploded. My new policy is to simply skip over comment threads once they become negative.

I thought I would add 2 points. I’m very suspicious when white liberals “ally” in the war again caste since there is little doubt that caste was tremendously strengthened during the colonial era. I’m not arguing that it was created during the time of the Brits, the genetic data shows otherwise, but for the purposes of administrations & control, rigid lines were always drawn over the population. The Brits were not benevolent masters as so many on this blog like to believe.

I will share a little anecdote since I love stories. A senior female academic of Indian origins who was asked to speak at a conference wrote in asking as to why she was the only woman featured and why weren’t there more women. The white lady academic/administrator replied, very defensively, that “Genderism isn’t the only discrimination there’s racism, class and caste discrimination.”

As soon as I heard that snippet I realised what the white lady was trying to do; a dog-whistle. She was using caste as a way to attack the Indian academic. This is not the only story where this has happened. Another Indian female academic stopped going into a prominent college because everything she went in she was stopped by the porters (Oxbridge college have porters). This didn’t happen to the other white students.

As soon as this story made public there was a reactionary pushback by many white liberals that an “upper caste” Indian was trying to defame the white working class porters. This is bs because caste distinctions isn’t picked on by Westerners.

So I am very suspicious when white people try to get involved in the caste system since frankly it’s none of their business but I applaud that Ms. Girls had the chance to tell her story on her terms.

Finally what about Pakistanis; are we allowed to talk about caste? I’ve reflected on this a fair bit, ultimately I straddle the divide (to some extent) but it’s important to talk about Pakistan’s social system.

I do not think caste is at all operative above the middle classes who are Urducised and Muslimicised. It’s absurd to think caste has any real salience in a culture that takes its cue from Islamic values.

However there is a very strong clique in Pakistan that operate almost as a caste (but much more fluid – think Boston Brahmins) and are the sub-elite. They aren’t the most powerful or the richest or even celebrities but they are on the periphery of all 3 circles and in fact gel them together. I tweeted about them in a thread (I’ll link to it later) but they are the 1,000 families:

(1.) they live in Defense, Karachi; Clifton maybe. You could even go into particular phases

(2.) they school in KGS then go abroad for undergrad. Some stay in the West most (?) return

(3.) “Muhajir” families but most of them are the descendants of the administrators/ministers/leaders of post-independence Pakistan, when Karachi was the capital and migrants from UP provided the initial leadership cadre.

(4.) very well-spoken English and of course some Urdu for effect (Ghalib etc).

(5.) they love their drawing room politics and are entertaining to a fault. Virtually all of them drink.

(6.) they conform to a particular look since Punjabis and Pathans (other foreigners) have also married into this class but overt “ethnic” markers preclude entry into this class. If a family speak Punjabi or Pushto or even Urdu predominantly they simply are not a member of the 1,000 families. All have ultimately foreign origins (Persian, Arab, Morocco but like all recent Indian Muslim elite mostly Afghanistan) with Shijrahs and can usually pass for other parts of the Ummah.

(7.) they love to talk about how Partition was/may have been a mistake (virtually all are liberals) but deep down are the “germ of Pakistan”. They embody and pulsate the Pakistan ideal.

(8.) the other cities in Pakistan are not their territory. Karachi is their only base. Kashmir is another world (that is a Punjab-Isb-Pindi issue) since they all still have residual links into India proper.

(9.) Benazir Bhutto was an honorary member of this class; Sharifs are definitely not. Imran Khan, in his playboy heydays, was but now is not. It’s an ephemeral feeling but when “you know you know.” A lot of their fathers and grandfathers were celebrated Pakistanis either in the diplomatic corp. It’s why Pakistanis were known for being particularly suave in foreign affairs in the 60’s-80’s. This class probably lost power with Liaquat and with the rise of the first military govt; never regained it.

(10.) this class has also fallen on hard times. They became decadent in the 80’s and rely on good marriages and salaried employment to get them through. Not good at business (Memons etc) but rely on political connections.

This wouldn’t be a caste exactly because the boundaries are so slippery and ill-defined. However I would call them a “clique” that verges on a caste since it combines some Islamic and Hindu elements with a very strong colonial overlay.

Beyond the Military, Pakistan raison d’etre is really this highly successful sub-elite. They form that all-important ideological core since they set a national standard that Pakistanis/Pakistaniyat conform too.

The best name for the 1,000 Families are the Neo-Mughals since they embody (much like the Mughals) highly contradictory elements. In one go they are valiant defenders of Islam & Pakistan but on the other hand they are hedonistic and partial to all the “European” vices (alcohol, gambling, adultery, promiscuity). Straddling contradictions is what makes this clique-caste so compelling and a glue to Pakistan.

If India wants to eradicate Pakistan it needs to level Defense and KGS since the ideological core of the nation would be wiped out. The Muhajir psychosis, which is now the Pakistani psychosis, bubbles with them. Without them and their integration of all elite sectors of Pakistani society into a hedonistic socialising partying set; Pakistan would be more like Yugoslavia, which it’s avoided.

Of course the greatest failure of the neo-Mughal class was 1971 since Dhaka seemed to have a great number of these people.

11year old girl gang-raped in Chennai-

This is an extremely disturbing story of a little girl raped in her complex repeatedly by dozens of men and blackmailed into keeping her mouth shut. These cases really need to come to an end now somehow.

I really believe that India needs to urgently revamp its legal code to summary execution when the evidence is on hand especially with regards to crimes on women and children. The idea of “rights” needs to be balanced by a societal need for protection of the vulnerable.

All the men involved should simply be publicly executed as soon as possible to make a statement.

Kailasha and Soma central to Arya culture?

Please read the following:

Is the famous Mount Soma another name for Mount Narodnaya? I don’t know. Many have been trying to identify the famous Mountain Soma–which appears in so much of ancient Arya literature and is one of the most important sources of Arya culture. Mount Soma is in Uttara Kuru. Soma, also called Chandra, is synonymous with the moon. Which means that the moon, and Monday (Moon Day or Selene Day or Luna Day), are very closely connected with this mountain. The famous Chandra vamsha or Soma vamsha (or Jati of Moon and Monday) originates from Mount Soma.

Long ago the seventh Manu (Vaivasvata Manu or progenitor of hominids) had a son called Ishvaku, father of the Surya Vamsha (or Jati). For tens of thousands of years hominids came from the Ishvaku dynasty, including during the time of the Ramayana. Then, based on my interpretation of the texts, tens of thousands of years later a new hominid came called Illa. Illa, another daughter of Vaivasvatu Manu, lived for many, many generations of normal humans (which suggests that she is a different species, or alien, or had some type of advanced medical technology to avoid aging, or was born multiple times the way the Dalai Lama is.) She was a great proponent and practitioner of daily gender fluidity, changing gender hundreds of times. At times she was androgynous with no gender or parts of both genders. There are many Ardhanarishvara class beings in the east. In fact the goal of spiritual practice in the eastern philosophy is to transform ourselves into an Ardhanarishvara. To be a perfect man and perfect woman at once. Eventually transcending all philosophies, all genders,  all concepts, all forms and all qualities.

This gender fluid Illa is the progenitor of the Chandra Vamsha. She married Budha (Mercury or Hermes or Woden [Odin]), and had a son called Pururavas. Budha is a personification of the planet Mercury and Wednesday (day of the week). In the eastern system Mercury is the de facto son of the Moon and the de jure son of Jupitor (Zeus or Thor). The legal consort of Jupitor (Brihaspati), mother of Mercury (Budha) and combination Guru/mentor/friend/lover of the Moon is Tara.

Illa had many children, both as a mother, father and androgynous being. Her son Pururavas was also from Mount Soma (associated with the Moon). He married the Apsara (or different branch of hominid or non hominid or alien) Urvaśi. As an aside Illa answered some of the most asked questions of all time:

  1. Is it better to be a man or a woman?
  2. Who enjoys life better?
  3. Who enjoys reproduction more?

For readers slow on the uptick, the obvious answer to these much asked questions is very simple . . . woman. This is yet another reason woman are considered far superior to men in the east. [Krishna said that woman have seven divine qualities versus men having only three divine qualities.]

Let me posit a hypothesis for consideration and testing. Might the Surya Vamsha be an allegorical reference to the south east Asian branch of humans from 50,000 to 75,000? Might Chandra Vamsha be a reference to the the Iranian or Turan farmer from around 9,000 years ago? How can these hypothesis be tested?

What is Mount Soma, which along with Mount Kailash is central to Eastern and Arya philosophy? Other than Mount Narodnaya what other tall mountains west or north of South Asia could it be? Note that Sugreeva says not to go north of Mount Soma. Could this be because of the northern Polar ice cap? Are the areas north of Mount Soma a reference to Aurora Borealis?

“On passing beyond that mountain in Uttara Kuru, there is a treasure trove of waters, namely vast of Northern Ocean, in the mid of which there is gigantic golden mountain named Mt. Soma. Those who have gone to the sphere of Indra, and those who have gone to the sphere of Brahma can clearly see that lordly Mt. Soma, situated in the vast of ocean from the vast of heavens. Even though that place is sunless it is comprehensible as if with sunshine, since it is illuminated with the resplendence of Mt. Soma itself, which will be irradiating that place as if with the resplendence of the Sun. The God and Cosmic-Souled Vishnu and Shambhu or Shiva, an embodiment of eleven selfsame Souls, called ekaadasha rudra-s , and the god of gods Brahma who is surrounded by Brahma-Sages, will be sojourning on that Mt. Soma.”

This suggests that Mount Soma is also a reference to deep personal mystical experience. Note that the eleven Rudras are a reference to Shiva. In the ancient Vedic Samhitas 33 gods are repeatedly referenced [12 Adityas + 8 Vasus + 11 Rudras + two others]. This has many layers of meaning which can only be understood through deep meditation. One layer of meaning is 33 sections of the spine. From a certain perspective the 33 Gods are when someone enters Samyama or Samadhi with respect to 33 different parts of the nervous system. This might also be linked to a common theory among  neuroscientists that the human brain has 33 senses instead of 5 senses. Mount Soma is linked to Monday, the Moon, and the 8 Vasus (one of which is the moon). 

Continue reading “Kailasha and Soma central to Arya culture?”

Why am I an Untouchable

'Why Am I An Untouchable?'

Sujatha Gidla was part of the lowest class in India's social hierarchy — the untouchables. When she left India for the United States, she was finally free of caste, but the psychological toll left her feeling inferior for years.

Posted by HuffPost Perspectives on Thursday, July 12, 2018

This is an important video to see- we have of course discussed caste endlessly in BP however it is powerful to see an Untouchable speak about it first-hand.

In some ways Dalit is an euphemism so I’m referring to Ms. Gidla’s use of lingo.

A “carvaka” perspective historicity of myth and religion

A comment thread below discussed the issues relating to the historicity of Jesus, Muhammad, and Hindu figures such as Ram and Krishna. The assertion is that while Jesus and Muhammad are historical figures, Ram and Krishna are mythological.

To some extent, this is a religiously fraught topic. People from Abrahamic backgrounds are wont to dismiss Dharmic tradition as pagan, heathen, and yes, mythological. In many Abrahamic traditions pagan gods, a class into which Hindu deities are often bracketed, are emanations of true supernatural powers, but demonic ones. In the West, this tendency within Christianity has been pushed to the background. But it still exists in more conservative denominations and traditions.

Therefore, those who adhere to false and marginal religions have “myths.” Those who adhere to true and cultural dominant religions have “stories” or “narratives.” That is the cultural context which we must admit. Even in places where non-Abrahamic religions or traditions are dominant, the past few centuries of European cultural and imperial hegemony have imposed certain interpretive frameworks which are Abrahamic.

And yet that being said, as someone who believes all religious supernatural claims come from the realm of our minds, as opposed to reality, there is a qualitative difference between Jesus, Muhammad, and Ram and Krishna. If Ram and Krishna did exist, they are individuals who lived in “prehistory.” That is, from a period not accessible to us even at some remove through non-religious text. In this way, they are like Abraham or Zoroaster. In contrast, the Buddha, Confucius, Mahavira, and various figures in Hebrew legend and myth such as David, Solomon, and Jeremiah are liminal figures. The world in which they lived was stepping out of prehistory and archaeology, and into the written word, but it was not a fully-fleshed world.

Finally, you have the prophets and religious leaders who are “of history.” Jesus, along with Muhammed and Mani are generally agreed to be figures of history. But we don’t have contemporaneous records of their lives outside of religious traditions, and even in that case only from texts dated to later periods from when they flourished. This means that the context and the details of who these figures were may not align with what current religious tradition suggests and argues for their significance (though since Manichaeanism is dead as a living religion that is a separate case).

A common revisionist case for the nature of the “historical Jesus,” is that he was a Jewish reformer in the tradition of Rabbi Hillel. The emergence of a religion of universal salvation, as opposed to a different form of Judaism, was a process which then developed in the generations after the death of the historical Jesus, the Rabbi Yeshua ben Yosef. Roman Christianity as a sect cannot be understood without appreciating its birth in an Empire where syncretistic “mystery cults” were revolutionizing popular religious life (e.g., Mithraism). The elite Roman Christianity of the 3th to 6th centuries cannot be understood without the cultural priors brought to the religion by converts from aristocratic or educated backgrounds steeped in Greek philosophy (e.g., Origen, Athanasius, and in the West Augustine).

In short, a person around whom the legend and myth of Jesus grew almost certainly existed. But the Jesus of myth is to a great extent the creation of a Christianity which developed long after he died.*

Much the same can be said of Islam. A certain legend exists of Muhammad the warlord within Islamic traditions. But outside of these records, in the contemporaneous ones of the Byzantines, he is not noted (little remains of the records of the Persians and Ethiopians). This would not be surprising, because outside of modern Yemen, and the liminal zones of the Levant and the fringe of the desert on the western shore of the Euphrates, Arabia was of little consequence. So long as the spice flowed (e.g., frankincense), the goings on of the Arabs were not of note unless they impinged upon the civilized world.

And yet that did happen indeed, with the defeat of the Byzantines at Yarmouk and the Persians at al-Qādisiyyah. But as highlighted by revisionist scholars, the Byzantines took many decades to perceive in the Arab armies as anything but heretics and schismatics. This is also echoed in some ways in particular Islamic traditions which emphasize the relative impiety of the Umayyad Caliphate, denigrated in some sources as the “Arab Kingdom” due to its ethnocentric nature.

Compared to the later Abbasid period we don’t know much about the Umayyads. Part of the reason is that the winners write the histories, and the Abbasids won. In Hugh Kennedy’s The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In, he argues that Muawiyah was clearly a far more influential and important figure in Islamic history than one might think from the attention he receives from classical scholars and thinkers. But that’s because the Shia detest him, while the Abbasids and the Sunni Islam which evolved under their aegis minimized him.

But there is a great deal of circumstantial evidence that compared to the Abbasids the Umayyads were very much a skeletal barracks-state where Arabs imposed an ethnic dominion, rather than a religious one. Even in the Islamic histories, there are attestations of Christian Arab tribes who were exempt from the jizya tax, while mawlā individuals of Persian origin were subject to the same indignities of non-Muslim Persians.

In fact, archaeological evidence shows that Umayyads in Syria patronized the creation of mosaics which continued the Late Antique Hellenic visual tradition, depicting both humans and animals. And, Greek was the administrative language of the Umayyads for the first few generations. The last of the Church Fathers, John of Damascus, was a Greek-speaker of Syrian background who served as a civil official under the Umayyads in the years around 700 A.D.  In contrast, the elite Barmakid family which was so prominent under the early Abbasids were of Buddhist background, but had to convert to Islam to become part of administrative apparatus which was becoming distinctively Muslim by this period.

All this is to set up the contention that Islam as we understand it, just like Christianity as we understand it, may actually not be the product of the first few decades of its flourishing as commonly understood, but of a later period when certain orthodoxies were understood and internalized, and grand narratives were later retroactively imposed. This aligns with the arguments in Lost Enlightenment and Warriors of the Cloisters that Islam, as we understand it today, was fundamentally shaped by the shift to the east initiated by the early Abbasids.

Which brings me to Mormonism, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Unlike Jesus or Muhammad, there is no great debate about the details about the life of the Joseph Smith, the prophet of the religion that became Mormonism. Smith was born in Greater New England, and the Mormon church emerged as a sect in the Restorationist Protestant tradition. Its cultural context was among the Yankees of the American North. Smith’s family had been involved in radical Christianity, in particular, the Universalist Church.

Over the decades of Smith’s life as leader of the church, and later after his death, his sect became a new religion, fundamentally different from the Protestant milieu in which it emerged. Mormon religion early on took a jaundiced view of Nicene Christianity, holding to the Restorationist perspective that all other Christian churches were fallen and corrupt. But Mormonism deviated by innovating and transforming its theology, away from the dominant orthodoxy as articulated by early thinkers such as Bishop Irenaeus.

Due to secret revelations late in Joseph Smith’s life, Mormon leaders developed a Christology which was fundamentally different from that of other Christian traditions. Rejecting Trinitarianism and much of Greek metaphysics, Mormons believe that Jesus Christ was God the Heavenly Father’s bodily son, with Lucifer being his rebellious brother. Additionally, God the Heavenly Father has a Heavenly Mother, who is his wife. Father and Mother live on a planet in this universe in physical bodies.

There is much more which is exotic and strange to non-Mormons, whether Christian or not, in their theology. But, because Mormonism has existed in the light of history non-Mormons can look upon its claims with a much more critical eye. It is obvious, to many, that early Mormonism was just another Restorationist Christian church. Why did Mormonism deviate so far from mainstream American Christianity in its beliefs and practices?

It is important to remember that Mormonism is simply the westernmost and most successful offshoot of Joseph Smith’s religion. The Community of Christ, previously known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, remained located in Missouri when most of the community migrated west. Under the leadership of the descendants of Joseph Smith, the midwestern Mormons eventually merged back into the mainstream of liberal Protestant Christianity. Why?

I suspect one of the reasons that this occurred is simply the fact that the western Mormons became a very distinct ethno-cultural community, geographically separated from other Americans. In contrast, the Midwestern Mormons remained just another church among churches, albeit with a peculiar origin. And, like many “independent churches” in Africa founded in the 20th century, as it matured and stabilized, it slowly moves back into the mainstream of the dominant tendency of American Protestantism (with a few doctrinal quirks).

Since I began talking about Hinduism and the Abrahamic religions, to Hinduism we come back. A lot of the discussion online (and on this weblog) is difficult to follow because there is Hinduism, and then there is Hinduism. Hinduism as the religion of the people of India is an old concept, and a generic one. But elite philosophical schools of Hinduism, such as Advaita Vedanta, crystallized much later, even down into the period when Muslims began to first make incursions into India.

I have alluded to here to the book The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies. The focus on Greeks and Indians is due to the fact that aside from the Chinese these were the two ancient cultures which developed a fully elaborated philosophy that we in the modern world would understand, from metaphysics to ethics (Jewish and Persian philosophy in a distinctive sense tended toward religion).

Though they exhibited different biases and emphases, but it is clear that the Greeks saw in Indian “gymnosophists” kindred souls. The great Neoplatonist, Plotinus, reputedly inquired into the nature of Indian philosophy through meetings with scholars in Persia according to his classical biographers. The correspondence between Advaita Vedanta and Neoplatonism is rather clear, and probably due to a common set of monistic ideas which were in currency across the trading network between Alexandria and southern India, as well as through Persia, which spanned the edge of Roman Syria and into modern Pakistan, as well as ruling substantial Buddhist domains in Turan.

One of the generalizations often made about the development of Hinduism in the subcontinent over the past 1,000 years is that it is as if Islam did not even exist. That is, the indigenous religious traditions persisted and maintained themselves at such a remove that their evolutionary development was unperturbed by the exogenous cultural intrusion.

Crossing the Threshold: Understanding Religious Identities in South Asia, presents the argument that both Muslims and Hindus exhibited much more religious fluidity until the past few centuries. This is often argued in the context of peasant folk religion, where this is obviously true. But the author makes the case that groups like Hussaini Brahmins were much more numerous in earlier periods, especially before the emergence of a later Mughal orthodoxy under the aegis of Naqshbandi Sufis. Not only did this mean the forced conversion of many Ismailis to Sunni Islam, but also the shift of some liminal groups away from Islam and toward adherence to a Sanskritized Hindu identity. The reason for this is obvious: heretical or ghulat sects of Islam are viewed far more negatively by Sunni enforces of orthodoxy than Hindus, who were outside of the pale of Islamic writ in any case. This is analogous to the early decades of the Christian Roman Empire, when persecutions were directed primarily to heretical sects, rather than the pagan majority, which was neglected.

As must be clear by this point: Christians, Muslims, and though I have not addressed it, Jews, seem to have “cleaned” up their history.** In fact, one might even say they “retconned” their history so that present beliefs naturally lead from ancient beliefs, even though that is hard to see logically and empirically quite often where the ancient leads to the modern (e.g., reading the Synoptic Gospels, and then the Athanasian Creed, is confusing without any historical context).  I believe that many modernist Hindus, living in a world of explicit and demarcated confessions, and formal beliefs and portable and digestible holy texts, have attempted to do something similar.

First, Hinduism becomes a religion of deep antiquity, despite its historical development over the past 2,000 years. Just as modern Muslims, Jews, and Christians look to the legendary Abraham, who lived 4,000 years ago, outside of the gaze of history, so modern Hindus look to the mythos of Ram, Krishna, and the Vedas, and built their house upon those rocks. This, despite the detachment of multitudinous folk Hinduisms from this ancient foundation, as well as the relatively tenuous connections of highly intellectualized philosophical Hinduism to the concrete and corporeal character of the early Vedas (Vedas venerated by vegetarian “Hindu fundamentalists” which clearly depict vigorous beef-eating warriors!).

Second, the localized diversity of Hinduism becomes flattened in an atomized world characterized by anomie. Just as ‘traditional’ Javanese Hinduism tends to flourish in the village, but not in the urban centers, so ‘traditional’ Hinduism of locality is not portable or plausible in the great fleshpots of modern India. Urban Hindus need something that gives them religious succor and is also in keeping with their understanding of their traditional origins. Something that is not a rupture from the past, but an extension and evolution. A “perfection” as Christians would say of Judaism and Salafi Muslims of traditional Islam.

Just as urban Indonesian Muslims who shift from abangan Islam to a more “orthodox” world-normative santri Islam view themselves as reclaiming a more pure and primal Islam, so it strikes me that modern Indians who adhere to a “Vedic religion,” stripped of locality and universalized and extended, create a mythos and narrative of reclamation, not innovation.

Over the 21st century, India will urbanize, and the villages will fade away in memory and with time. It is plausible that as this occurs modern urban Hinduism will produce a relatively standardized, and yes, deracinated, a spirituality which is more amenable to a people who move from one end of the country to another, as their professions take them on peregrinations over their lifetime.

To some extent the Abrahamic religions, and Buddhism, have already been through this. Torn away from a specific soil that nurtures them in a distinct local culture, these religious traditions have developed portable variants, which eventually become normative, uniting disparate peoples with distinct folkways. As India becomes its own world, and different cultures within it synthesize and merge, a need will develop for a more portable and flexible Hinduism. Both secular Hinduism and Hindu fundamentalism are faces of this transition, and both are likely the seeds of sectarian traditions which will wax and elaborate over the coming decades.

* Reading the Gospels, this is most clear in the writings of “John.” A grand and conceited figure, in contrast with the modest Jewish prophet of Mark.

** Orthodox Judaism as we understand really congealed in the 6th century with the Babylonian Talmud. Therefore, I argue it is a sister religion to Christianity, with both deriving from sects of Classical Judaism. Some scholars have in fact argued that Christianity is an extreme derivative of a form of Hellenistic Judaism!

23 & Vidhi

Who knows I ended up marrying a Pakistani in the end! Of course I did tell Vidhi she should be a little more partial to Pakistan considering that she’s one of us.

Of course Sindhi Bhaibands have their ancestry from Punjabi Khatris (Sikhs & Hindus) who migrated down the Indus in the late medieval era. So the heartland of the Sindhi Hindus is really the Indus Valley..

Thankfully and more importantly Vidhi’s only has a slightly increased risk for celiac disease but thankfully as a South Indian born & bred she prefers rice to bread.

It is interesting though just how “Pakistani” the Hindu Indus people are in their culture; very extroverted etc. That’s why Sindhis love Dubai so much; reminds them of their lost homeland, Karachi.


What is BHUTAN? Inside Asia's Hidden Country

Have you ever heard of BHUTAN? It's a tiny country of 800,000 people, sandwiched between India and China in the Himalayan mountains.I arrived here just 2 days ago, and it has REALLY fascinated me in terms of cleanliness, friendliness and natural beauty. Bhutan is unique. It's innovative. They take great measures to protect their cultural identity and natural environment, which consists of 72% forest. There are many other things that Bhutan does, which puts them in another league when compared to the rest of the world. BHUTAN IS THE WORLD'S ONLY COUNTRY WHO:- has banned the sale and consumption of tobacco- absorbs more CO2 than it gives out, making them 'carbon negative'- largest export is renewable energy- measures their country's prosperity by happiness, not wealth- can sentence you to life in prison for killing an endangered animalProtecting their environment has had a positive correlation with the happiness of its people — Bhutan consistently ranks as the happiest country in Asia and top 10 in the world overall. Maybe the rest of the world should take their lead?In this video, I did my best to sum up Bhutan in less than 4 minutes. This will be the first of 5 (possibly 6) videos on the country. Stay tuned to learn more!Follow Drew Binsky for daily travel videos, and come say hi on Insta @drewbinsky 🙂 Music: Epidemic Sound

Posted by Drew Binsky on Sunday, July 15, 2018

I was offended by the use of “chaotic” to refer to India & China.I also dislike the way the massive ethnic displacement of Nepali migrants in Bhutan is casually airbrushed. I called Drew out on that and it sparked a mini-thread on the column.

I do think the “third” world must enact a “mirroring” policy, which replicates visa processes on a reciprocal basis. Passport privilege is the last and most pervasive privilege as it is protected by law.India, China, Pakistan and other such countries should make sure that Western nationals have the same visa processes that they’re citizens have in going to the West.

I deeply dislike some of the casual and condescending comments I see Westerners make about the East (I should really write on the AlphaGo movie I saw at ICML but again that’s deep thinking that doesn’t suit my social mediaesque surface level observations – I leave deep thinking to my wife). Diasporas are in fact deeply unhealthy and I admit that I am a member of a diaspora.

If I had been resident of either Pakistan and/or Iran or even India; maybe my relative progressiveness would have helped my society. Of course the fact that there is a Western option means that a good chunk of the sub-elite (the layer above the middle classes but below the ruling classes) will evaporate to the West.The “sub-elite” is an important constituency because they aren’t as hide-bound as the middles but not nearly as powerful as the ruling castes of the third world.

When they disappear because of migration they take with them thoughts, ideas and sometimes irreplaceable skills. I must sound like a complete hypocritical since I’m a Briton of foreign extraction and I do benefit from the various privileges that accrue from it. I do think though that for a more equitable world that we must go “back home” and effect reform. Continue reading “Bhutan”