Hinduttva

This is a follow up to Global alliances and wheels within wheels:

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.

Many prominent Indian Americans and Tulsi Gabbard distanced themselves from it:

“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.”

Activists challenge World Hindu Congress over links to global fascism

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.

Opponents of the Hindu right began organizing their resistance far in advance of the WHC. The AJA extensively researched the conference, its speakers list and its attendees. CEOs, government officials and even the Dalai Lama were among the VIPs. Identifying key attendees was crucial to the aforementioned letter-writing campaign. On Sept. 4, AJA announced that this effort had prompted the withdrawal of delegates from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party — the political wing of the RSS.

The goal of AJA’s investigative approach has been to prevent progressives from being co-opted into the vast network of Hindutva organizations that have been working for decades to guarantee the supremacy of dominant-caste (also known as “upper-caste”) Hindus. The RSS, which was founded in 1925, boasts large volunteer and paramilitary sections, and was inspired by the Nazi party and had connections to Mussolini’s fascists. The RSS founded the BJP as its political wing in 1951 and the VHP as a cultural organization in 1964.

The protest outside the Lombard Westin. (Twitter)

In an effort to carefully cultivate a more benign profile, Hinduvatis and their sympathizers have obscured this history. For instance, the American branch of the VHP includes commitments to providing community service and bridging faith communities in its mission statement. Yet this pretense of moderation has helped spread far-right militancy among Hindu American diaspora leadership. Organizers from Chicago South Asians for Social Justice noted that WHC speakers used eugenic language. During the closing plenary, one speaker, framing racial science in religious language, exhorted Hindus to have bigger families due to a supposed decline in Hindu births relative to Muslims.

Historian Maia Ramnath, who is a member of an AJA ally group known as the South Asia Solidarity Initiative, argues that the right-wing militancy that drives these groups originates from a politics of “wounded egos” and “victim consciousness” among members of dominant-caste power structures. The closing plenary speeches overflowed with resentment and were obsessed with a mythic homeland that had been overrun by the British, Islam and Christianity. Ramnath says this forms a distinctive part of their ideology of racial supremacy, which extols caste and religious hierarchies that became more rigid as they adapted to colonial rule by Britain.

“Their logic is that they are supposed to have been supreme,” she said, “but the colonialists denied [them] this rightful supremacy. They will now exercise that supremacy over their so-called inferiors,” such as the Dalits, Adivasis (India’s indigenous people), Muslims and other minority communities.

After reading this I am even more confused. What specific Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh leaders are they referring to? What specific views are controversial or are they interested in clarification regarding? Is it partly about the Varna system? [Or the division of labor based on gunas (qualities of a person), interest, merit, competence, capacity.] If the issue is the Varna system, are any Hinduttva leaders publicly discussing it? If it is not about Varna, what are the different perspectives?

Can there be a dialogue and discussion between “Hinduttva” leaders (whatever “Hinduttva” is and whoever its “leaders” are) and people who regard themselves as “secular”, “liberal”, “progressive” and “left”? Perhaps this way I and everyone else can get some color or idea about what the heck everyone is talking about.

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fist edit:

Shafiq R, thanks for your very informed and thoughtful comments.

Many nonmuslims back conservative Islamists and Jihadis against reasonable muslims. This goes back a long time to the era of European colonialism, China and the Marathas in India. This tendency increased during the cold war. And now it has hit a fever pitch.Few things scared me more than when the southern poverty law center wrote a 15 page hit piece describing Maajid Nawaz as an Islamaphobe . . . despite his deep popularity and legitimacy with muslims (Ummah) the world over.

The phenomenon strikes me as much bigger than marxists, communists and post modernists backing conservative Islamists and Jihadis against reasonable muslims. It has spread to the larger nonmuslim global society and to most powerful global institutions.

In what way is this connected to the demonization of Hinduism/Buddhism/Jainism/Sikhism/Sanskrit/Arya? I ask because I don’t know or understand.

We know that the young Karl Marx (in his teens and twenties) was fascinated with India, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sanskrit. He wrote fifty articles trying to discredit, de-legitimize and deconstruct the east as an oppressive imperialist colonial hegemonic exploitative system. From the beginning one of the main aims of global communist, marxism and post modernism was to undermine and deconstruct eastern philosophy, culture and civilization.

This fit the purposes of European colonizers well; which is why imperialist colonizers used Karl Marx, communists and post modernists until 1948. Communism, Marxism and post modernism flourished under broad international institutional backing.

Perhaps partly for this reason there was an intense anti communist backlash in former European colonies 1947 to the 1990s; who were fighting against the colonizers and oppressors of their mind.

However has a new generation of “darkies” and “caucasians” has now been born which has forgotten this dark imperial history? Could this be part of what is going on?

Is part of what is going on is that caucasians no longer feel guilty for their ancestors creating and exporting post modernism and communism all over the world, killing over 100 million people . . . almost all darkies?

But even if this is part of the story, there has to be more to it than this. Might the fear about Hinduttva and eastern philosophy extend beyond post modernists and communists? Kabir in the below comments brought up a difference between Hindu nationalism and Hinduism. What is this difference. What is Hindu nationalism?

What specific Hinduttva and Hindu ideas, concepts, philosophies (manas), intuitions (buddhi) and feelings (ananda maya kosha)  are controversial and why? Where is the dialogue of ideas (manas), intuition (buddhi) and feelings (ananda maya kosha) between Hinduttva and those who have concerns about Hinduttva? To repeat, I ask because I neither know or understand.

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second edit:

This is in interesting American Hinduttva perspective. The patriotism and character of American Hindus are increasingly called out much the way American Jews are called out for Israel. American Hindus are increasingly blamed for islamaphobia, and supporting radical Nazis that hurt people in India.

I still don’t understand the difference in concerns about Hinduttva and Arya philosophy or Hinduism more generally. Let me summarize some other possible causes of concerns about Hinduttva on the part of post modernists and others. Eastern philosophy makes the following assumptions:

  • humans are potentially powerful (east and European enlightenment liberalism agree regarding this)
  • humans are potentially wise (east and European enlightenment liberalism agree regarding this)
  • humans are divine (European enlightenment liberalism says “sovereign”)
  • humans are entitled to free art, thought (manas), deep intuition (buddhi), deep feelings (ananda maya kosha)   (east and European enlightenment liberalism agree regarding this . . . albeit neuroscience is only now in the process of adding color to the meaning of deep intuition and deep feeling)

Post modernists disagree with these assumptions. And often respond by calling those who believe in these assumptions Nazis.

Additional questions:
  1. Is this accurate?
  2. This can’t be all of it. What other issues do post modernists find so distasteful?
In the responses to this, other commentators have so far suggested a few alternate reasons post modernists might be so angry:
  1. The claims and pride in an ancient civilization and culture
  2. Fear about the economic rise of Asians who live around the world and in Asia
  3. Post modernists currently back conservative Islamists and Jihadis against moderate muslims and nonmuslims; and feel the need to back them against non muslim Asians as well?
Could there be any truth in these suggestions? What other grievances and concerns might be contributing? Thanks again for everyone’s insights.
Here are an additional three videos by people accused of being Hinduttva and Nazi:

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Edit 3

Adding two other video on two other Hindus often accused of being Nazis, including PM Modi of India (who I consider to be one of the two most pro muslim PMs in Indian history) and Sham Sharma:

This video describes how the New York Times has been brainwashed into an anti Eastern philosophy (here defined as 10 Darshanas of Sanathana Dharma plus Bon, Toaism + Zorastrianism + some parts of Sufism) agenda:

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Edit 4

Increasingly Hindu spiritual leaders are coming under attack by Americans and Europeans. Of course many prominent Americans such as Kanye West praise these same Hindu spiritual leaders.

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Author: AnAn

http://2.gravatar.com/avatar/2a60f8ed9535fd0dca77aa3a6fd94018?s=96&d=mm&r=g

25 thoughts on “Hinduttva”

  1. Where is Nilesh (pls pass my rgds, tx)? Well, the topic is very broad and requires deep thinking, even from the local experts not only from us, long time distant relatives, before any conclusion is made. I know for e.g. that David F. (I think he is a Jew) is a prominent OIM proponent. I think that OIM was dominant until few months ago but now, especially with genetics research, they are losing the ground.

    At the next Open Thread I will provide to those who are interested one genetics research which (even 10 years old) can explain many things from the past in contemporary discussions and may have influence some future policies.

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    1. Milan, please e-mail Nilesh directly. You are a smart informed guy and I think Nilesh would be very interested in your research and observations.

      Do you think part of the reason Arya culture and eastern philosophy are viewed so suspiciously because of the claims of ancient historical civilization?

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      1. Met already, all good. Your question is very important and requires longer elaboration. A half of the answer is a contraquestion: ‘suspiciously by whom?’ Will talk about this. Related to your question is a text I sent 2 hours ago to Sat SA Questions (it was there for 5 min and disappeared).

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  2. I think the leftist liberals are some of the venomous people around. The kind of outright lies they spread against the so-called Hindutva is disgusting. With the kind of filth and falsehoods they spread with impunity, I feel a greater desire to assert my Hindu or Vedic identity. The Govt needs to tighten the screws around these filthy liars. I have little sympathy for such vile distortionists.

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    1. I haven’t picked up on the anti-Hindu bias of the left. But it certainly makes sense as Muslims and progressives become allies.

      Also there is a tendency to want to diminish Dharmic identity in order make better Westernised consumers..

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      1. There is a difference between Hinduism and Hindu nationalism. The left is not fond of Hindu nationalism just as it is not fond of other right-wing nationalist ideologies.

        Hinduism as such is a religion and there is no reason why people who practice that religion cannot be secular and liberal in their personal lives. Shashi Tharoor is a Hindu yet he is not a follower of Hindutva.

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          1. I think there is something wrong with any nationalism which treats minority groups as second-class citizens. Countries should belong to all their citizens.

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        1. Who here is defending how Aasia Bibi has been treated?

          State-sponsored persecution and mob violence are both bad.

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          1. No State sponsored persecution is much worse – Pakistan is literally killing Aasia Bibi; India didn’t kill those innocent Muslims, Indians did. Big distinction!

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          2. It’s not a competition between India and Pakistan. Not much to choose from between being murdered over eating beef or over committing “blasphemy”.

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        2. Most of the Islamic movements all over the world could be characterized as right-wing nationalist movements. Political Islam is very very right wing, religious chauvinism and naational chauvinism are very near siblings. Sometimes they coincide (Israel, India) often they overlap closely (Pakistan, Russia, Serbia etc). Hamas is a clear ultra-right wing religious nationalist movement. And Hamas is loved by western left. Western Left’s love affair with right wing Islamists is something that is a very prominent thing in today’s world and needs deeper analysis than just shallow rhetorics.

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          1. I guess the Western left and right wing Islamists are the ones who “dislike” the status quo the most. Whereas right wing Xtians & Dharma are pretty okay with the Westphalian nation state (the main issues become national demographics)

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          2. I would say that both religious chauvinism and national chauvinism are problematic.

            As for Hamas, I don’t think the “western left” loves its ideology. I think they just recognize that Hamas is resisting the Occupation of Palestine. Recognizing the conditions under which something exists is not the same as endorsing it.

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  3. Please see the edit at the end of the last article. What is the difference between what Kabir calls “Hinduism” and what Kabir calls “Hindu nationalism”? I don’t know.

    “As for Hamas, I don’t think the “western left” loves its ideology.” I agree. Caucasian activists generally know almost nothing about what they are advocating for and are generally not curious to learn. Among those few who bother to learn about Palestine, there is a condescending pretentious patronizing contempt for Hamas, or the Palestinian wing of the Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood); just as there is contempt for the Ikhwan around the world.

    “I think they just recognize that Hamas is resisting the Occupation of Palestine.” Hamas and Palestinians are two very different mostly unrelated things. Non Palestinians can back other Palestinian organizations advocating for Palestine. They don’t have to back Hamas. They back Hamas out of choice. And they mostly back Hamas against Fatah/Palestinian Authority and Mustafa Barghouti; versus against Israel.

    “Recognizing the conditions under which something exists is not the same as endorsing it.” This is nonsensical. Ikhwan is one of the most powerful global institutions by any measure. They are part of the global establishment. Ikhwan is a soft Salafi Islamist organization (Salafi and Islamism mean different things) that seeks to take over global society over the long run (through mostly nonviolent means) and implement a type of global Shariah. Hamas is a foreign imposition on Palestine heavily funded from outside Palestine.

    Hamas governs the PA state apparatus in Gaza. The vast majority of Gazan government spending and charitable spending is not funded by Gazan tax revenue and donations–but by international aid. In addition, Hamas’ direct budget unrelated to the state is funded internationally. Hamas isn’t an independent organization that runs its own affairs.

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    1. Hinduism is a religion. Hindu nationalism is a political ideology. One can be against a political ideology (even if it is based on an interpretation of a religion) without being against people who practice that religion. Shashi Tharoor is a practicing Hindu. You can’t argue that he hates Hinduism even though he is against Hindu nationalism. Similarly, it is possible to be against political Islam without being against Muslims.

      Hamas was elected by the people of Gaza. Recognizing that fact doesn’t mean that one supports their ideology.

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      1. Kabir, I am not debating you. I don’t understand you. What is “Hindu nationalism”? What is its “political ideology”?

        I have physically met and talked to Sashi Tharoor. He is trying to win elections and acting as a politician. There is nothing wrong with it. Trump, Modi, Angela Merkel and Imran Khan are doing the same. However Sashi Tharoor is no longer publicly speaking as an intellectual and thought leader. His actual private views are unknown.

        I could write a dozen articles about Sashi’s many perspectives and my views on that. However I have never seen him discuss Hinduttva at a deep granular level. Nor should he given that he is trying to win elections and do good as he sees it. Sashi is an Indian patriot.

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        “Hamas was elected by the people of Gaza. Recognizing that fact doesn’t mean that one supports their ideology.” This is my position after the January 25th 2006 Palestinian general election. And it remains my position. I was accused of being an anti-semite for expressing it. However:
        —that was a long time ago
        —many on the left go far beyond this and actually back Hamas against Fatah/PA, Mustafa Barghouti, Arab League, GCC, OIC, UN, Quartet and other non Israelis. This, I think, is what Shafiq is referring to.

        Why is this happening?

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  4. On beef eating, here is my understanding. About 4 million cows are stolen and killed in India per year–generally from the poor because the poor can’t protect themselves. This is devastating to very poor people who lose their economic livelihood and what they see as their own child. India is one of the least policed nations in the history of the world. Often there is less than one police officer per 2000 people. When poor people in India call the police the police often never respond or respond days later. Police are often disrespectful and dismissive about attacks and theft against poor people.

    In almost no cases do poor people do anything about the attacks against them. However in less than 10 cases per year in a country of 1.36 billion people, poor people respond. A gang goes to try to recover their cows (which they see as their own child). When they find out their cow is dead . . . they respond emotionally and violently. Which is completely unacceptable and Adharmic. [Imagine how Europeans would react if someone killed their pet?]

    In 2016, 16 people were killed by poor people in a country of 1.36 billion people for the theft and murder of 4 million cows. This is statistically almost nothing. Why is this even a global media issue?

    I don’t understand at all.

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    1. Hey AnAn, do you happen to listen to Sadhguru, just asking? I ask that because in one of the recent events he was a part of(I think in IIM-A), when asked about his opinion on the issue of “Gauhatya”, he made the same argument as you make over here, and I think there is certainly some weight to it.

      Though I doubt the number is as high as 4 million as you state, could you provide any source for this? I’m not denying the fact that most of such cases go unreported, so the official numbers could be misleading.

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      1. Dheeraj, I heard the four million number from Sadhguru. I don’t have another source on the 4 million number. Do you have access to better data?

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  5. Zach, the Western left is deeply uncomfortable and jealous about the economic rise of Asians (who live in Asia or live in the rest of the world). Do you think part of this is feeding into the attack against Hinduttva?

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  6. @Zack

    “India has nothing comparable to this; there is a difference between state-sponsored persecution and mob violence.”

    Zack you’re correct, as nation it does not, but that is because India is made up of far more diverse regions and cultural zones. We do not see episodes like this in south india, but let us not forget episodes such as Godhra or Kandhamal, where a Hindutva government ascendant with a vulnerable minority population, things seem to happen and lives are easily lost. There is a lot of double speak in Hindutva, promising “tolerance”, while slyly revising textbooks with fantasy (the vimanas were real don’t you know) and inciting attacks on lower castes and religious minorities. The islamists are a bit more straightforward on what their agenda is, we don’t need guess their motives, at all.

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  7. ME, thanks for your observations.

    In other words, part of the attack by “liberals”, “secularists” and “progressives” are “the claims and pride in an ancient civilization and culture” cited in the blog post above”?

    “inciting attacks on lower castes and religious minorities” Please elaborate.

    What other agenda do Hinduttva thought leaders have?

    Why do you believe there is “double speak”?

    My general observation is that most people, Hindus/Buddhists/Jains especially perhaps, are very confused, incoherent and internally conflicted. There isn’t a deep interdisciplinary understanding of the correlations and connections between many related fields of study, thought, intuition and feelings. This extends to leadership as well. Why do you see this as “double speak”? This ties in to the following quote from the above article:

    “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 part of your observation a critique of “politicians” in general? Deshis are generally dismissive of “politicians”?

    Please share what I misunderstood with as much granular detail as you have time for. Thanks 🙂

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    I think the way to deal with “the claims and pride in an ancient civilization and culture” is to carefully study ancient claims, documents and ancient science with modern science and find out. Very little of this has yet happened. Far more needs to happen.

    My hope is to write an article series on this.

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