Should Hinduism survive?

I have read the annhilation of caste by Ambedkar in my teens,read Gandhiji’s Harijan ,one copy, where he answers to some perverse people who justify untouchability .I have read the horror stories of human sacrifices in parts of India coming from parts of Hinduism. And I have been revolted beyond measure and have at various times felt the sheer horror of it all. And I have abandoned Hinduism, I gave up my traditional faith, I have for various other reasons including personal ones come back to it, but in a different way. With more a sense of nyaya/vaisheshika, the need to rid oneself of delusions. I think untouchability, caste violence and violence in general against women, many of these are horrors we still live with and if One cannot get rid of these horrors in 150 odd more years. or not make very significant progress, then one must end it for it is not good and is not defensible. It has the right to flourish as that had been hijacked by historic forces. If it doesnt work in the end, then it must end too.

I once began reading the book of arundhati roy,” listening to the grass hoppers”, even after I had become atheist, I was in depression , and the book made it much worse, I didnt finish that book, I still have it somewhere. If there is nothing to be salvaged knowing all the worst there is, then there is nothing there to value any of it. But one shouldnt be ignorant. And make choices on that. There is something in its philosophies, if not vedanta, then nyaya, if not nyaya, then bhakti, if not bhakti, then yoga, if not yoga, then , karma yoga. Or may be a combination of many. It has a richness in its diversity, whether it be ramanuja who took a shudra as his guru,invited him to his home for meals and was not there when he did come, his wife served but later washed the home and bathed herself, and ramanuja on returning didnt like this, many such incidents pushed him to become monk instead tried to work to bring this to end.

There are problems in all people, in him and others as well, but this here points to atma stuthi(conscience) and sadachara( ethics of good people from all classes) , while these methods were hierarchically less in value compared to texts, They in time as more texts were written led to movements of various gurus possible.For ethical learning could happen with out the texts from the good people as well. This was the one good escape route for more general ethical learning that played a part in bhakti movement. While it is interesting that the earliest dharma shastra apastambha sutra was better than the later manusmriti, for it put mutually agreed ideas superior to vedas, for he considered “dharma and adharma do not fly around declaring this is righteous and this isnt, even gods and demi gods cannot declare so.”

As patrick olivelle says, apastambha argued that parts of vedas are lost and one can only infer from the behavior of people to find the true ideal dharma , so one must learn from customs of men and women. On the other hand manusmriti doesnt like reasoning to be the sole basis for declaring moral issues either. So while Hinduism over time began to value different opinions, it didnt find “reasoning” to be the primary source to discover this, Inspite of nyaya being a recognized tradition.

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11 Replies to “Should Hinduism survive?”

  1. And I have been revolted beyond measure and have at various times felt the sheer horror of it all. And I have abandoned Hinduism, I gave up my traditional faith

    So did you primarily leave it due to ethical reasons? You were not concerned with any issues regarding the mapping of your beliefs/practices with observable reality?

    For example, the potential healing powers of a spiritual guru who could focus the chakra onto potential disease spots on the human body?

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    1. Both, I had my doubts for over decade. Its hard to tease apart one from other. I was a science student, both supplemented my skepticism along with curiosity. I am the curious cat that got killed

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  2. Yes, Hinduism should thrive and survive. It is the longest standing spiritual tradition that asks questions that few other traditions have. It has inspired stupendous works of art and literature that represent very complex ideas and techniques.

    Hinduism has entire movie industries dedicated to propagating its ideas and values. This is a facility that Christianity never got, and Islam has so far missed out on.

    If I were you, I would not get so influenced by exchange rate literature like Arundhati Roy etc.

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    1. This is strange, I am more unorthodox and more blunt, you on the other hand seem moderate and perhaps more religious than me. As for arundhati roy, I stopped listening and reading to her once she claimed capitalism didnt improve quality of lives . A lunatic.

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      1. bb, at the end of the day, I am of the opinion that people’s livelihoods and professions shape their values and even their psychology far more than religion/literary tradition. That doesnt mean that religious differences dont matter, they do. But in the long scheme of things, ecology and technology triumph theology.

        After all the convulsions, core Abrahamic areas like Europe did move to a regime where the interests of business and natural sustainability were given more importance than theocratic or even cultural ones. The flexibility of polytheistic traditions prevents the convulsions, but does imply that change happens more gradually. So I would say Hinduism will actually have a much easier time surviving as a living tradition in India than Christianity in Europe.

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  3. I like the idea of the Hindu religion and keeping the traditions going. I’ve been very careful about avoiding beef, even when attending school as a young kid in the West in the 1980’s when often times there weren’t great meal options. I have the patience for that.

    But other times there’s some religious festival or occasion/puja and I can’t help but think, “Wait, you want me to do what? Is this religion or is this superstition? Or are they two sides of the same coin?” I hate thinking that, but many of the practices need to be simplified/changed to facilitate the religion for the modern, urban age.

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  4. Although I am a non-conformist & thus even that’s a label that i would contest but still here are my views about the issue –

    Should Hinduism survive ? Yes & here are the reasons –

    It’s role in changing the world & in Enlightenment –
    https://www.academia.edu/34695452/From_Christian_Apologetics_to_Deism_Libertine_Readings_of_Hinduism_1650_1730

    While everybody has heard about Manusmriti but how many people know about ‘Vajrasuchi Upanishad’ ?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vajrasuchi_Upanishad – It tries to dismiss all forms of Human divisions.

    Now let’s end the Brahmanical debate here {on the basis of Hindu texts} & move forward to the framework of knowledge in which current caste & caste relations have been debated.

    ——————————————————————

    I asked a question in some other forum with some reference material which you may find interesting –

    Can identity based questions force the individuals to identify more rigorously with the identity in census ? Can this be used for deliberate Identity manipulation & if yes then what can be salvaged about the true nature of past ? Think about these ques. & apply to the “caste studies” of South Asia.

    When people points to earlier reports of travelers accounts of Caste system they forget to mention that they all described castes very differently by mentioning different no. of castes or communities, different ways of communities of different regions & their interactions.

    https://wiki2.org/en/Megasthenes#Indica
    http://cw.routledge.com/textbooks/9780415485432/3.asp

    http://cw.routledge.com/textbooks/9780415485432/13.asp – Xuanzang

    http://cw.routledge.com/textbooks/9780415485432/14.asp – Al’Biruni
    http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/digital/collections/cul/texts/ldpd_5949073_001/pages/ldpd_5949073_001_00000155.html?toggle=image&menu=maximize&top=&left=

    Faxian
    http://www.namobuddha.net/Books/T51n2087/The%20Great%20Tang%20Dynasty%20Record%20of%20the%20Western%20Regions%20(BDK).pdf – Search Castes & Note “Shudra” King worshipping Devas, Vaisya caste King, Kshatriya caste king etc. {What i gather is that ‘Varna’ was birth linked but ‘Jatis’ were not.}

    Muslim period also had ‘caste system’ but it is less well documented.

    https://roundtableindia.co.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9281:caste-in-muslim-theology&catid=129&Itemid=195

    https://roundtableindia.co.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5379:caste-and-caste-based-discrimination-among-indian-muslims-part-1&catid=124&Itemid=140 – Series of articles regarding castes among Muslims but author ultimately blames Hinduism for it.

    ——–

    Yes endogamy has existed in India for 1500-2000 yrs. but first it does not prove casteism since all feudal societies have had endogamy & there is a long history of continuous mixing as well & genetics show a complex picture as well –

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3234374/

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3769933/

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2842210/

    http://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/113/6/1594.full.pdf – 1500 yrs. endogamy proving paper but endogamy does not require caste since we find the similar situation in feudal empires of ancient world as well.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/113/6/1594

    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/03/31/292581 – Latest findings regarding Indo Aryan debate.

    ———

    So now I want to move to the period of Indian empires falling & colonizers making inroads –

    http://research.flw.ugent.be/en/projects/colonial-consciousness-and-caste-system-20th-century-india-study-intellectual-and

    https://countercurrents.org/2016/06/18/re-reading-dr-br-ambedkars-earliest-paper-on-caste-100-years-later/

    Books –

    Missionary Tropics. The Catholic Frontier in India

    Caste and Christianity – Attitudes and Policies on Caste of Anglo-Saxon Protestant Missions in India

    Castes of Mind – Colonialism and the Making of Modern India

    Beyond Caste: Identity and Power in South Asia, Past and Present

    Caste Society and Politics in India from the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age

    ———-

    I would like to mention about the sources of knowledge & the framework in which it is observed & it’s effects – {Best example is ‘Orientalism 1979’}

    http://www.nzasia.org.nz/downloads/NZJAS-Dec04/6_2_3.pdf
    Search this – This transformation of caste depended upon a denial of its political salience, and an insistence upon its essentially religious character.

    So we are dealing with a problem started because of Indian social system’s description via Missionaries & this knowledge of categorizing & linking every day things to religion forms the basis of ethnographic knowledge of colonial rulers & from colonial period onwards the Indians have been debating the issue in this framework.

    Why colonizers did this ? Was it because of their understanding was emanating from the ways Jesuits have portrayed India, it’s people & customs or because Brahmans informed them or both ?

    http://www.hipkapi.com/2011/04/02/mantras-of-anti-brahmanism-colonial-experience-of-indian-intellectuals/

    https://cindyanguyen.com/2016/03/26/orientalism_caste/ – Lots of references if one wishes to check them out themselves.

    Colonial Usage of Knowledge –

    http://www.piketty.pse.ens.fr/files/Cassan2014.pdf – Identity Manipulation in Punjab using Punjab Land Alienation Act, 1900

    Communal award, Race Science theories, Identity manipulation & Identity politics, Criminal Tribes Act, interchangeable usage of terms like race, caste, tribe, community, gentoos etc.

    http://scienceandculture-isna.org/mar_apr_11/01%20Andre%20Beteille.pdf

    http://www.csas.ed.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/38426/BATES_RaceCaste_and_Tribe.pdf

    https://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/martial_races_theory_of

    https://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/world/asia/15india.html – Anglo Indian Money & Job preference.

    Now it is for Historians to decide the fluidity of system during history & the rigidity after colonialism.

    ———-

    Archeology, epigraphs & manuscripts –

    https://www.academia.edu/471330/Orientalism_ideology_and_identity

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/once-dalits-were-landowners-vellalas-slaves/article18405606.ece

    https://www.academia.edu/471328/Anthropological_historical_archaeological_and_genetic_perspectives_on_the_origins_of_caste_in_South_Asia

    I Will further expand the material. if anyone is seriously interested in engaging with Caste issue of South Asian regions then you are most welcome.

    ————————————————————————–

    How Govt. forced all Indians to identify with their castes since modern India’s inception, here is how –

    Some court rulings High Court & Supreme Court rulings about Caste –

    http://www.livelaw.in/person-can-change-religion-faith-not-caste-belongs-caste-linkage-birth-sc/

    https://barandbench.com/caste-person-birth-marriage-supreme-court/

    epaper.timesofindia.com/Repository/getFiles.asp?Style=OliveXLib%3ALowLevelEntityToPrint_TOI&Type=text%2Fhtml&Locale=english-skin-custom&Path=TOIBG%2F2010%2F01%2F23&ID=Ar02102

    http://www.thehindu.com/2005/12/22/stories/2005122204111300.htm

    http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/changing-surname-does-not-change-caste-of-person-hc/

    & other than these you also know the benefits the govt. provide for maintaining castes like various reservations.

    https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/when-caste-restricts-but-also-uplifts-how-a-masan-jogi-woman-became-sarpanch/story-2PGUmJmZRLjBbYzdvkUtUJ.html

    Here are some books & articles about caste interactions in Modern India –

    http://www.india-seminar.com/2012/633/633_balmurli_natrajan.htm

    The Culturalization of Caste in India: Identity and Inequality in a Multicultural Age (Routledge Contemporary South Asia)

    Recasting Caste: From the Sacred to the Profane {This book provides some info about few Indian Hindu diaspora & the presence and absense of castes in them.}

    Indians have never been provided with the option of Individuality since modern India’s inception. So to blame them for caste & Casteism is one of the greatest injustice that has been going on in Abrahamic world.

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    1. Deep Bhatnagar, are you willing to post all of this in an article at Brown Pundits. I am looking to write a series of articles on Sanathana Dharma at Brown Pundits:
      http://www.brownpundits.com/2018/02/03/ancient-arya-culture/
      We share a lot in common. Very few Hindus have seriously studied the scriptures. For example as a teenager I read a five volume translation of the Dharma Shastras. I have found that many opine about it without having studied it. I believe that Sanathana Dharma is the source of the ancient Greek and Roman legal systems and philosophy–seeing many similarities between them.

      Manu Smrithis evolve over time. There were big differences between the Dharma Shastras, Bhishma’s speech on the bed of arrows, and Chanakya’s artha shastra. In the ancient scriptures for example, there were legal means for a woman to marry many simultaneous husbands. But woman marrying many husbands is no longer generally considered appropriate for modern times. Extraordinary flexibility and rapid change is part of Sanathana Dharma.

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      1. Nah I am not into peddling opinions, what i shared here are the scholarly findings on which i base my understanding in this matter.

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  5. Similarly within the Ambedkar’s writings esp. in “Annhiliation of Caste” i can point to some instances of his thought process being affected by Oriental colonial knowledge –

    1) 8 [Caste prevents the uplift and incorporation of the aboriginal tribes]
    http://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/projects/mmt/ambedkar/web/section_8.html

    Notice the views he takes with regards to Indigenous people which are more akin to the views which colonizers had of the world which they used to justify their actions with aka Civilizing mission.

    2) 24 [A true priesthood should be based on qualification, not heredity]
    http://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/projects/mmt/ambedkar/web/section_24.html

    Notice –
    Demand for structured true religion.
    One book.

    Important features of Abrahamic religions. Here he also acknowledges the presence of ideals like Fraternity, Liberty & Equality in Upanishads.

    3) 21 [Internal reform of the Caste System is virtually impossible] – http://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/projects/mmt/ambedkar/web/section_21.html

    He sees the reform impossible because it is religiously sanctioned {The point that has been debunked by scholars & is basically an ‘Orientalist’ construct about Indian society as i explained in my earlier post.}

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