Kushal Mehra is one of Hinduism’s and atheism’s greatest thought leaders and scholars. Kushal does not identify as Hinduttva and describes himself as non left. However he is deeply respected by Hinduttva people and knows many of her leaders. He is a Hindu Atheist. Of the 10 ancient Darshanas (or sights or views or philosophies) of Hinduism he follows Chaarvaaka. [Other philosophies include Buddhism, Jainism, Samkhya/Yoga, Purva Mimaamsaa/Uttara Mimaamsaa, Nyaaya/Vaisheshika, Ajivika]
Ali and Armin are two heroes of the world’s 1.6 billion muslim heritage global community. I am only 4 minutes into the above video but intend to watch and comment on it.
This is to address some of the comments here about hinduism/vedanta/enlightenment etc made here, twiter and the other article about Hindutava by Annan.
I am frequently surprised by how much difference there is in “web” hindutva/hinduism (including this blog) and on the ground Hinduism/Hindutva. Let us be very very clear the ethnicity and traditions from which on the ground hindutva is driven. It isnt driven by high level intellectualism which has been professed here/ twitter etc. Its driven on the ground by Hindu conformists/ conservatives of North Indian stock. There is nothing problematic about it. But let us be at least honest about it. In India because every “hindu” community is so large that they feel what they profess is real “Hinduism”. I have met Bengali “hindu” and Tam Brahm who possess no electoral power back in their own state go on and on teaching others about Hindutva/Hinduism. The hindutva world does not run for better or for worse on Tukaram/ Adi Shankracharya/ Vivekanda/Charvaka. Had it been then Arya Samaj would have been bigger than RSS. It runs on Ram /Hanuman and for females(Durga). It projects masculinity(again not a value judgement) and not on “enlightenment” values/intellectualism. Its not run by hindu “free thinkers” like the ones we find over the internet. The web space is not projecting the real face (positive or negative) of the movement on how its conducted on the ground. Please lets separate what we want and our own projection over the movement and our analysis on what the movement really is. The day some other “Hindu” movement (led by Slapstick Teasari and Annan) becomes bigger than the current one i will happily accept that.
What is Hinduttva? Is it Hindu + Tattva (Hindu quality)? Or is it something else? I still have no idea. Three of the four panelists in this discussion are widely ridiculed and vilified by self described “liberals”, “secularists” and “progressives” as hard right, bigoted, prejudiced, sectarian, Hindu extremist and Nazi:
Pavan Varma, Former MP Rajya Sabha and Author
Prof. Makarand Paranjape, Professor & Poet at JNU
David Frawley, Vedic Scholar
Sadia Dehlvi, Columnist & Writer
46 minutes 26 seconds in: “the problem in India is that we have thought phobia as Sri Aurobindo said in his letter to barendra in 1920; hundred years later I am at a university and I find that people have an incapacity to think clearly, because they immediately reduce every debate to a political position”
Is this the reason for the cries of “Nazism”, “racism” and so forth? Is this partly a difficult to reconcile debate about freedom of art and thought. If so, how can this issue be resolved? Eastern philosophy (Arya Varsha plus Bon plus Toaism) is based on freedom of art and thought. Without freedom of art and thought, there is no eastern philosophy.
Did the panelists say anything else that is controversial or offensive? Is their Sarva Dharma [all religions are authentically divine and true, all paths lead to the same goal, all is love], their celebration and eulogization of pluralism, diversity and universalism the problem? If that is the problem, what does “secularism” mean? What should “secularism” mean?
For example why do so many self described “liberals”, “secularists”, “progressives” and “leftists” find videos such as this so offensive?
Note, I am not criticizing anyone. I can’t criticizing them because I have no idea what they believe and why. I am thoroughly confused.
Recently there was a world Hindu conference keynoted by the Dalai Lama. It had many Jain, Sikh, Buddhist and Hindu delegations from all around the world and was not an “Indian” or “nationalist” affair. [Does anyone know if Sufi and Shiite delegations participated?] In addition to the Dalai Lama, many other Mahayana Buddhist delegations came. Along with delegations from many different Latin American, European, African and Asian countries. [Lebanon for example has had a Hindu community that is over 3,000 years old. They believe that they date from 4400 years back when they helped construct and operate the Baalbek temple. Similarly, there are ancient Hindu communities throughout the world.]
Note that Tibetan Buddhists (Vajrapani Mahayana Buddhists) in particular have been members of Hindu Akharas for thousands of years and have significant influence on intra-Hindu affairs. Maybe because Tibet was close enough to India for the Tibetan Buddhists to send delegates to meetings. By extension this applies to all Mahayana Buddhists. But the ones in China and Japan were too far to be more than intermittently involved in day to day affairs in India. But they were involved:
Japanese Buddhists were significant stakeholders in the Khmer empire Hindu establishment and Angkor Wat. The beginning of this video on Angkor Wat describes deep continual involvement of Japanese Buddhists in Cambodian, Laotian and Vietnamese Hindu affairs going back to the sixth century AD.
I generally avoid Desi conferences because they usually don’t have a spiritual or religious focus. Many use it for business networking, tech networking and partner networking (“romance” for home-gamers). But I don’t know about the World Hindu Congress this year.
“However, to quote Representative Tulsi Gabbard — the first Hindu elected to U.S. Congress — it was a “partisan Indian political event.” Neither was the WHC merely a benign political event. It was, rather, a platform for modern India’s most extreme sociopolitical figures and organisations to propagate their supremacist ideology, Hindutva, which is a form of religious nationalism.”
Political speakers from the U.S. establishment who were invited to speak at the WHC ran the gamut from left to right. Several progressive Democrats who had been invited to attend the conference eventually backed out after being targeted by an AJA letter-writing campaign.
“Do I think all attendees were Hindu Nationalists?” AJA organizer Ashwin Khobragade asked. “No, I think that many of the attendees are looking to use their faith as a platform to give back to their communities.” There were many community service organization that also attended the gathering.
At the same time, those in AJA believe it is imperative to push back against what it identifies as a move to co-opt well-meaning organizations into a fascist agenda. “We wouldn’t want people with social justice values sitting down with people who are like Richard Spencer,” Khobragade explained.
Among the politicians who declined an invitation was Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, an icon of Bernie Sanders Democrats, who cited “ethical” concerns with “partisan Indian politicians” on the speakers list. Gabbard has been known to be an admirer of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been accused of being linked to the Gujarat genocide and Hindu nationalism more broadly. She has also come under scrutiny for other relationships with the far right and her support for the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria.
Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, another progressive Democrat, also became the focus of AJA’s accountability letters. Unlike Chicago State Senator-elect Ram Villavam and Alderman Ameya Pawar, Krishnamoorthi has not disavowed the WHC. He has continued to insist that the gathering promotes “acceptance,” despite the links to the far right that protesters have elucidated.
Buddhism is probably the best demonstration of Indian Soft Power ever. It’s fascinating though how quickly Buddhism detached itself from the Bihari(?) Motherland.
Shockingly I just noticed on the map that Mindanao Island was a focal point for Buddhism. In some way Hindu-Buddhist culture among the Malay peoples lay the foundation for Islam.
The Hindu-Buddhist cultural revolution was strongest in the coastal areas of the island, but were incorporated into local animist beliefs and customs tribes that resided more inland. The Rajahnate of Butuan, a fully Hindu kingdom mentioned in Chinese records as a tributary state in the 10th century AD, was concentrated along the northeastern coast of the island around Butuan. The Darangen epic of the Maranao people harkens back to this era as the most complete local version of the Ramayana. The Maguindanao at this time also had strong Hindu beliefs, evidenced by the Ladya Lawana (Rajah Ravana) epic saga that survives to the modern day, albeit highly Islamized from the 17th century on wards.
Sultanates and Islam
The spread of Islam in the Philippines began in the 14th century, mostly by Muslim merchants from the western part of the Malay Archipelago. The first Mosque in the Philippines was built in the mid-14th century in the town of Simunul. Around the 16th century, Muslim sultanates: Sulu, Lanao and Maguindanao were established from formerly Hindu-Buddhist Rajahnates.
As Islam gained a foothold over most of Mindanao, the natives residing within the Sultanates were either converted into Islam or obligated to pay tribute to their new Muslim rulers. The largest of the Muslim settlements was the Sultanate named after the Maguindanaoans. Maps made during the 17th and 18th centuries suggest that the name Mindanao was used by the natives to refer to the island, by then Islam was well established in Mindanao and had influenced groups on other islands to the north.[dubious – discuss]It intersected with another random thought of mine when I saw the below video (Happy Janmashtami):
Osho talks about Lord Krishna’s “material detachment” (which to me sounds a bit stark) but I immediately guessed Osho was a UPite. I was right, he’s from MP and born to Jain parents (apparently there is a strain of Jainism in Bundelkand).
My intuition just came about because I feel there is a sweet spot for philosophical and religious development in the Hindi CowBelt (BIMARU). Extremely dense populations, relatively low material standards (compared to the coast) and insulated from foreign influences (when we think about westernised India, we mainly think Mumbai).
Like the oceanic churn of early Hindu mythology so in the same way this belt churns out religions and philosophies that “catch on” to the outer world.
It touches on as well about the “Inward Looking” nature of India in contrast to the more “Outward Looking” nature of Pakistan (the same terms apply in Academia as well). The rather frenetic nature of Pakistan struggling in the Great Geopolitical Games may echo its ancient geography as being a crossroads of sort; one of the many roads to India.
Due to the events of the last millennia when foreign incursions have shifted India’s geographic focus to the Punjab-Delhi axis it may be more worthwhile for India to start projecting as an “Indian Ocean Hegemon” as opposed to leaving it clear for the Chinese. Being caught up in Central Asian intrigue isn’t necessarily the most optimal path for India because the Islamic world forms an ideological wall to Indian/Hindu concepts in the way that the Far East doesn’t..
It parallels how keenly Indians are in emphasizing Pakistan’s (and sometimes Afghanistan) “Indianess” but seem extraordinarily ambivalent about Bangladesh (instead they complain about “Bangladeshi infiltrators”).
It makes me ponder that Pakistani Non-Muslims (of the upper and middle stratas) sometimes have it better than Indian Muslims. Pakistan is explicitly a Mughal-Muslim Republic and once one buys into that preliminary identity, it’s easy to become accepted (I’m excepting the lower stratas who have immense difficulties). However like Israel India is also trying to maintain it’s liberal credentials and therefore there is much majoritarian resentment towards the “privileges” of the minority. Therefore Muslims are always perceived as some sort of 5th column. If for instance the Bangladeshi emigrants in the North-East were never allowed the vote then it would be a Gulf Khaleej type situation where 80% of the population could be disenfranchised but no one would be too bothered about it because it was more about the economics than politics anyway. However India refuses to budge from it’s Nehruvian firmanents and that actually makes her susceptible to populism..