BrownCast Podcast episode 15: conversations with a Carvaka

Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on LibsyniTunes and Stitcher. Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe at one of the links above. You can also support the podcast as a patron (the primary benefit now is that you get the podcasts considerably earlier than everyone else…this podcast has been up for nearly a week on the patron page).

As far as show notes go, just check out Kushal Mehra’s YouTube page.


32 Replies to “BrownCast Podcast episode 15: conversations with a Carvaka”

  1. After the episode with Carl Zha (#12), the count went off by 1 – seems like “British India armies”, “Hindutva”, and “Carvaka” should be #13, #14, and #15.

  2. I am not very knowledgeable in linguistic theory and cognitive (psycho-?)linguistics so people who are fairly knowledgeable in them are requested to correct my mistakes but I don’t think L2 (non-first language) language acquisition ease/difficulty in a cognitive sense depends very significantly on just the fact that they belong to two different genetic language families or stuff like that. The ease/difficulty of acquisition of L2 indeed does depend on the extent of separation between it and L1 – the lower the better. But the key point is that this has nothing entirely to do with phylogenetic classification of languages but historical convergence. And convergence happens irrespective of phylogenetic classifications and just social interaction between disparate groups is enough to achieve it.

    So with this background, it is quite intuitive to see how Tamil and Gujarati (both languages’ ancestors participated in the Indian area convergence and their descendants continued to do so for a long time) are far more closer to each other than either is to the Germanic grammatical patterns of English. The basic structures of most north Indian languages and Dravidian languages are virtually identical except for some quirks exhibited by Hindi due to Persian influence. But even after that, Hindi is far more closer to Tamil in the above linguistic sense than English is to Hindi (and Tamil). I, a native Telugu speaker, face a lot more difficulty mastering the ridiculously detailed tense system, syntactic grammar rules, etc. of English than the difficulty involved with the relatively much lower number of quirks associated with the gender system, haiN-support-requirement, etc. in Hindi (I’m bad at both English and Hindi).

    The vocabulary plays a role too and English is obviously removed from all Indian languages in this regard too because of its Latinate nature while the Standard Hindi and other north Indian languages Dravidian languages have a lot of common (as well as divergent) tatsama Sanskrit vocabulary. But still, it is important to note that the role of vocabulary in this business is not as high as of grammar because one has to graduate past vocabulary (that may just help in short tourist-related environments) into actual grammar if one is desiring to actually acquire an L2 beyond all the superficialities.

    So basically every opinion that exists in the minds of common people regarding this problem seems to be arising mainly because of sociolinguistic reasons associated with stuff like xenophobia, racial pride/inferiority complex, elite dominance, etc. that native-L1 people have with respect to native-L2 people and nothing to do with any real cognitive linguistic criteria. In the particular case of the contest between Hindi and English and why Hindi does not appeal much to Tamil people, I think it is majorly because of the asymmetric nature of the scale and power of English compared to Hindi, its older association with modern science and technology, and stuff like that, supplementary of course to the usual suspects like association of Hindi (and also Sanskrit) with “Aryans”, some serious envy for Hindi because a lot of people speak it, and some reasonable/unreasonable belief that English as a very distant and bygone remnant language of the past era may not threaten the existence of Tamil as may Hindi which is far more near and newly powerful.

    And also according to my cognitive linguistic criteria above, I personally believe that Hindi is far more easier as a lingua franca to acquire for Indians than the other extreme ridiculous suggestion which is Sanskrit. Sanskrit is a frozen copy of an Old Indo-Aryan language and while it shows evidence of extensive grammatical convergence with languages from other big genetic families of India, it is the New Indo-Aryan languages that have the more extensive and more complete grammatical convergence with the Dravidian languages and not-necessarily-Sanskritised-to-ridiculous-extents Hindi is possibly the only reasonable choice because already large percentages of north Indian and south Indian populations speak it, it is big, and it does not have weird phonology like Bengali. Lol!

  3. About Carvakas , a 17th century Dutch traveler/missionary Abraham Roger , groups them as a Hindu Brahminical sect . His informant was a local Brahmin at Pulicat , near Chennai and there are ruins of Dutch fort there I think

    “The Bramines are distinguished from one another both in respect of their faith and in respect of their manner of life. In respect of their faith the Bramines are of six kinds: the Weistnouwa, the Seivia, the Smaerta, the Schaerwaecka, the Pasenda, and the Tschectea (Vaishnavas, Saivas, Smartas, Sarvakas, Pasendas (?), Saktas).

    The fourth sort, called Schaerwaecka (Sarvaka), are of the race of Epicureans and believe that life is the end of man, and that after this life no other followeth. All that others say of the future life, that they deny, and say that men must prove and show to them so that they may see with their own eyes; otherwise, they will not believe. The Bramin Padmanaba said that if in their dealings with men they conduct themselves well, they do it not to gain any good therefor in the future life, but to win them praise from men. These seem mostly to be of the humour of Pliny, who ridiculed all that men say of the abode of the soul after the death of the body, and who held such things for madness and a dream; and said that after the corpse is dead, there remaineth no more of the man than there was before he was conceived and born; and who laughed at those who believed that souls survived, and sought thereby to console themselves in the hour of death.”

    That is a hard-core atheist position – life is an end in itself, nothing after death, go by your senses and experience

  4. It will be perhaps interesting to attempt to reconstruct the possible body of specific Charvaka philosophy and teachings if there is a sufficient amount of skeletal structure available. People might have already done this – I don’t know. I would be especially interested to see what possible kinds of ethics it brings about and what kinds of elevated/reduced potential it has for the development of a germ of modern mathematical sciences in an alternative historical path in Indian lands compared to the dominant Vedantic systems and also the other lesser popular systems like Sankhya. But still, it is important to realise that a very important component involved in the correct characterisation of a philosophical sect/religion is the actual behaviour of the followers themselves under the assumption that they are trying to follow their own philosophy without dissonance and contradiction and also based on some hidden/interior stuff which we as outsiders don’t understand/know but only they know and feel. But since we don’t have that kind of a large body of data about Charvakas, it is very difficult to assess what they might have stood for and how their system of thought compared to other similar systems.

    If really hedonism-like, then it’s simply not as respectable and powerful as many might view it – because hedonism is not at all helpful to human society, fortunately or unfortunately – even if the school is atheistic and may state the probable truth that beings are not special and there is no way in which the reality bothers with beings after their deaths.

    1. The carvaka school was born literally after the vedas and before the appearance of Buddhism and jainism, and has been mostly absorbed by the two religions. The prime points are to deny the following:
      Authority of the Vedas.
      Life after death.
      Existence of God.
      Theory of karmic action and cycle of rebirth.
      Mediation and Fasting as important ascetic practices

      I do not understand why this will be hedonistic (but I may be wrong); and but for the last point, carried over by the two religions above. There are universities that offer complete courses in carvaka philosophy.

      A key point in carvaka philosophy that was carried over to the 19th and 20th centuries is: “if the dharma does not treat all people as equal; if it mistreats based on the skin color, race, birth, or occupation; if it does not strive for welfare of all, and for welfare of a few; it is not dharma at all”.

      This was literally copied over into Jyothiba Phule’s Maratha treatise on castes (but he does not refer to the carvaka name); and referred to by Chatrapathi Sahu maharaj of Kolhapur as the rationale for reservation for BC/SC in 1894.

      One can see a straight line from Ajita Kesakambalin to Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and Prof M M Kalburgi.

      1. Hello Vijay,

        Thank you very much for the very important information and knowledge to my badly lazy self of today (I did no homework about Charvakas and assumed many wrong things in my post above.)

        “A key point in carvaka philosophy that was carried over to the 19th and 20th centuries is: “if the dharma does not treat all people as equal; if it mistreats based on the skin color, race, birth, or occupation; if it does not strive for welfare of all, and for welfare of a few; it is not dharma at all”.”

        Extremely admirable indeed, if true, which I am very inclined to believe it is. But it is also interesting to see how this compares with the Vishishtadvaitic position that all beings are equal in every possible way in the front of Narayana, irrespective of differences in occupations, castes, etc. Did one or the other engage in more ground-level activism regarding their beliefs? Etc.

        (But something that seriously bothers me personally and existentially a lot about this issue is that all/most ancient Indian philosophy, including all the seemingly socially liberal systems of Charvaka, etc. seems to assume without questioning the rigidity of occupations based on birth as a given (I don’t even care about the stupid endogamy stuff at this point) and here I sense a very profound disconnect of modern India (and my very being) with its ancient past). I personally can never fathom myself continuing to slog off in agricultural fields without my love in it and without having the awareness and freedom to study engineering and linguistics and other stuff (though I might turn out to be not extraordinarily excellent at both ultimately). I shudder at the thought of my Dalit-background friend not having the opportunity to excel like he has done in engineering. So these days when I find myself thinking and talking very positively about ancient Indian stuff, it pains me significantly on the side because I really should not be supporting such views as they are all mostly very unfriendly to my recent familial history and my recent ancestors’ and my chosen paths of life. I must, and I think I do, only support modern descendants of those ancient belief systems if they have descended into this day having modified themselves to suit my personal existential necessities and sensibilities. This way I can try to get rid of my anxieties and dilemmas and stay connected to both ancient India and modern India perhaps.)

        1. But all the probably inappropriate sentimentality in the last paragraph of the above post aside, the rigidity regarding the occupation-from-birth system may have been theoretical and it is possible that it may not have been as rigid in practice as it was in theory. I did read about some examples of people being able to shift occupations in the ancient past but even such shifts seem to have been of en-masse caste groups or a few powerful families here and there, etc. Anyway, I’m outing myself more and more these days and I really don’t like these developments lol. Just because I want to be seen as a normal patriotic Indian, not because I’m trying to infiltrate the patriotic Indian circles like here by lying about myself while actually being an evil anti-national radical leftist guy with a malicious and destructive intent regarding India or anything. Hahahaha!

      2. But there is no direct correlation between atheistic philosophies and social justice , whether in India or Greco-Roman world . Roman atheists were also part of slave owning society and were not revolting against it. Indian charvaks or others who believed everybody equal before god were not anti-caste activists

  5. Claim: Indian Charvakas or those who believe that everybody equal before god were not anti caste activists.

    Data: Roman atheists were part of slave owning society

    Warrant: No correlation between atheism and social justice.

    You see the problem with this line of argumentation? That was not even the argument made.

    The argumentation is as follows:

    Indian philosophy has two systems: vedic and non-vedic.

    The non-vedic corpus has the following historical line: Charvaka, Buddhist and Jain. Not only they reject god, but they reject the authority of the Vedas; Life after death; Existence of God; morality. Once the Buddhist and Jain tradition took over only remants of Charvaka system were left; we see brief interludes in 6th centuty BC and in 10th century AD. It is even unclear if the charvaka system coexisted with rigid endogamy ; thus “charvaka X caste system” is a meaningless argument. However, the rationalists took the non-vedic belief systems from Charvaka to Jain and Buddhist to argue against the present-day ills. That was why Ambedkar converted with his followers to Buddhist (not Charvaka; there is not a body of literature that exists with that thought).

    If you wish to trash rationalists and present day rejectionists of non-vedic tradition, please do so. However, reaching to some atheists were rich and slave owners, hence the non-vedic line of philosophy is not anti-casteist is not an argument.

    1. There is massive misunderstanding in conflating Charvakas – if they correctly described as rejecting any afterlife or god or no higher authority than sese-perception/experiecce on the one side and Jainism/Buddhism on the other side. Jain/Buddhists reject vedic authority , OTOH like vedic sects they also believe in karmas/ rebirth and the ultimate object of religious life as Nirvana, Kaivalya or Moksha of orthodox Hinduism.

      If Carvakas deny anything after death , then they are a different kettle of fish than Buddhism or Jainism . Also Buddhism is heavily dukha oriented i.e. life is full of suffering – doubt Charvakas thought of life that way.

      1. I think this conversation is going nowhere, and I congratulate you having a strong legal mind that focuses on poking holes in an argument, rather than identifying any understanding or learning. If I were to say Buddhists sought suffering in life, then you will point to rich Buddhists. If I say Carvakas rejected the authority of vedas and god and are (kind of ) atheists, then you will point to some atheists who worship money and power. If I say the non-vedic system corpus comprises of Charvakas, Buddhists and Jains, then you say that the distance between them is greater than the distance from the Vedas, and hence they are not classifiable as non-vedic.

        Since the aim is always to identify the flaw of an argument, there is truly nothing to understand here.

        1. To dismiss the aims of dharmic religions as ‘legal mind’ is indeed going nowhere. If the ultimate aim is not Liberation from the cycle of life , called Moksha or Nirvana or Kaivailya , then they are not indic sect, vedic or non-vedic .

    2. \trash rationalists and present day rejectionists of non-vedic tradition\

      That is a straw man argument
      I am not trashing anyone – people continue to be Rational in their everyday life and people continue to reject whatever they don’t like.

      ism in Rationalism is a 19th century western invention. People are rational and they don’t need an ‘ism’ .

      1. Who has the final claim over rantionalism ? What determines if something is rational or an ism ?

        To call anything {except advancement of Science during a certain period} as Western invention shows the lack of understanding & the extent of blind spots that Eurocentric academia has resulted in.

      2. Nice exchange between two Vijays. Let me throw in my own 2 cents. Firstly, a note of caution. Saying anything with absolute certainty about Charvaka philosophy is fraught with risks, because no primary source material of this philosophy survives in the modern times. Whatever is known about Charvaka philosophy is thru secondary sources, usually from the competing schools of thought, so obviously that is not likely to be an adulatory view.

        Having said that, I find some of the assertions made by Vijay polemical. He opines that Charvaka thought was a precursor to Jainism and Buddhism, and this thought later merged into Jainism and Buddhism. This goes against the commonly held views that Jainism/Buddhism arose from Sharvana traditions. Also, the materialistic realism of Charvaka school does not align well with the renunciatory streak of Jainism and Buddhism.

        Secondly he makes a claim that Charvakas rejected Morality itself. That is not founded in facts. It probably comes from the false charge of hedonism laid upon them from rival schools. More likely they taught that morality is desirable by itself, and not because following morals will get you some free gift vouchers in next life or paradise of whatever lies beyond this life.

        I appreciate your feeling of respect for social reformers like Mahatma Phule and Ambedkar. However attributing their teaching of an obscure philosophy like Charvaka (of which, I must repeat, no primary source material is available), is something of a leap of faith.

        1. Yes I had read this stuff long ago when I was a teenager and after writing my faulty comments yesterday I took to Wikipedia again to go see that table about the 6 samaNa views critiqued in Pali literature. The amoralism guy is actually a different one called pUraNa kassapa. But he is one real radical amoralist though. He apparently taught,

          “…In acting or getting others to act, in mutilating or getting others to mutilate, in torturing or getting others to torture, in inflicting sorrow or in getting others to inflict sorrow, in tormenting or getting others to torment, in intimidating or getting others to intimidate, in taking life, taking what is not given, breaking into houses, plundering wealth, committing burglary, ambushing highways, committing adultery, speaking falsehood — one does no evil. If with a razor-edged disk one were to turn all the living beings on this earth to a single heap of flesh, a single pile of flesh, there would be no evil from that cause, no coming of evil. Even if one were to go along the right bank of the Ganges, killing and getting others to kill, mutilating and getting others to mutilate, torturing and getting others to torture, there would be no evil from that cause, no coming of evil. Even if one were to go along the left bank of the Ganges, giving and getting others to give, making sacrifices and getting others to make sacrifices, there would be no merit from that cause, no coming of merit. Through generosity, self-control, restraint, and truthful speech there is no merit from that cause, no coming of merit.”

          The Charvaka guy ajita keshakambalI apparently taught majorly materialism and no information is available about his ethical teachings other than above. But for what it is worth, this guy as his name keshakambalI indicates apparently wore a blanket made of human hair all year long and Buddhists felt it was “which is described as being the most miserable garment. It was cold in cold weather, and hot in the hot, foul smelling and uncouth.” And the pUraNa kassapa guy apparently committed suicide by drowning at some point. Anyway, this is what Pali literature had to say about these two very interesting guys.

  6. @Razib, I must object to your analysis from 38 -42 mins, regarding the hostility of South Indians towards Hindi.

    Regarding the hostility to Hindi, from a historical POV, the main source of it really was from Tamil Nadu, with the founding of the Justice Party and their most popular ideologue – EV Ramasamy (Periyar). (The historical background of the movement can be summarised in this extremely informative thread

    So this hostility was not seen to much extent in Kerala, Karnataka or even the Telugu state(s), either pre Independence or early Post-Independence. Perhaps you may read some hostility from “South Indians” nowadays who are mostly Twitter warriors, but there is certainly very little affinity towards the North – South divide, on the ground level, outside TN.

    To show an example of a positive adapatation of a Northern language, there is great influence of “Hindustani” on the Telugu spoken by Telangana people, influenced by the Bahmanis/Asaf Jahis. If you were to analyse many Tollywood movies of today, it’s common to see Hindi/Urdu words used in great frequency, and even more “Aryan” pronounciation of words – this can be explained by the movie industry located in the heart of Telangana, and with greater influence of Telangana culture on the industry nowadays.

    In terms of North Indian rule in the South, you did not account for the rule of the Delhi/Madurai Sultanate in the 14th Century, nor even the “Aryan” rule of the Marathas circa 18th Century. If you were to include Telangana as part of South India, then the Bahmani/Asaf Jahi rule would have to be accounted too. So there was definitely more than minimal contact with North Indian empires.

    1. ppl from AP dislike being classed with ‘madrasis’ so that rings true on the whole.

      In terms of North Indian rule in the South, you did not account for the rule of the Delhi/Madurai Sultanate in the 14th Century,

      the delhi sultanate period was short and minimal in its impact.

      1. Razib, I have long been fascinated by the Delhi Sultanate. Maybe this is a difference in perspectives . . . however I think that the Delhi Sultanate had a larger effect on global, Asian and SAARC history than some others do. 🙂

        Much of the world’s Sufi tradition emerged from SAARC during the Delhi Sultanate. The change in SAARC jurisprudence from traditional Dharmic derived law to Shariah happened during this period.

        Major changes in total factor productivity also happened during this period.

  7. I must also issue a strong objection to Kushal’s claim that the closest political ideology to Hinduism, is Libertarianism.

    This ignorant claim usually comes up with other stupid claims like “oh we had kamasutra and Khajuraho, so we must be extremely liberal!”. A study of Hindu texts and previous Indian societies would show that they were definitely conservative on nature; however this conservativeness does not originate from Christian radicalism, which is why it is incoherent for BJP and the Republican party to have much in common. I’m afraid that Kushal’s conception of Hinduism is marred by the projection of chic values of “liberal” ideology of the status quo onto the past, in order to make it look cool.

    To issue some very basic points, libertarianism sees individual as the basic unit. Hinduism (atleast the Vedanta portion of it) prioritizes the family, caste and village over the individual, atleast on the social/material plane (the “cool” parts of the Upanishads like Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam usually refer to the spiritual plane – outside of social organization ideals). Libertarianism upholds a rights-based order, which is derived specifically from Christianity, and is very much for a limited state. Both of these ideals don’t have much support in Hinduism either.

    1. // To issue some very basic points, libertarianism sees individual as the basic unit. Hinduism (atleast the Vedanta portion of it) prioritizes the family, caste and village over the individual, atleast on the social/material plane (the “cool” parts of the Upanishads like Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam usually refer to the spiritual plane – outside of social organization ideals). Libertarianism upholds a rights-based order, which is derived specifically from Christianity, and is very much for a limited state. Both of these ideals don’t have much support in Hinduism either. //

      What you are missing is that most if not all Indic texts are prescriptive in nature & secondly texts were always a record of elites and not a true reflection of the society as a whole.

      Lastly Caste depended upon per politics & policies of the state since ancient times. Remember specialization in modern times is quite similar to caste except missing some features like endogamy {it would still happen but then the division will be regional due to language barrier}, few specific community specific rituals etc. except now all options in the form of subjects are available to everyone yet social mobility has not improved substantially & inequality has increased many folds.

      You need to look at the period when ‘Individualism’ became the source of enlightenment & the role of colonization in making it a central theme of enlightenment. I would also urge you to check these papers –

      Or read works about Jesuits encounters in East & how it affected both sides –és

    2. Hari, please share what texts you are drawing these perspectives from.

      The ancient society during the times of the Ramayana and Mahabharata (two different times to be sure) were globalized and free market. Government was generally low regulation with regulations being as simple as possible. Top marginal tax rates were low. Multinational business was encouraged. Business law and courts facilitated business, contracts and derivative contracts. Property rights were deeply valued. The powers of the state to confiscate property via eminent domain was limited. Due process is an ancient concept.

      My understanding is that the Sumerians were similar.

      Kushal is completely right in saying that libertarianism (I would say European Enlightnement Classical liberalism) was very similar to the system of the ancient world. So much so that a case can be made that European Enlightenment Classical liberalism is a derivative of Chaarvaaka Darshana.

      Maybe Brown Pundits needs some articles on this subject.

      Eastern philosophy is based on the following assumptions:
      —people are potentially powerful (classical liberalism conforms. Marxists disagree)
      —people are potentially wise (classical liberalism conforms. Marxists disagree)
      —people are divine (classical liberalism says “sovereign.”. Marxists disagree with both.)

      Chaarvaaka have a different understanding of “divine” than the other 9 Darshanas and is closer to the classical liberalism understanding.


      What does “conservative” mean? What do you think the “Republican” party stands for?

      What does “caste” mean to you? This is not a Sanskrit word. Do you mean Varna or Jati or something else?

      People first help themselves so they have the ability to help their family. They help their family so that they have the ability to help the village. They help their village so that they can do lokha kalyan (help the world). These are all permutations of love. Love in action is Dharma. Service flows from love.

      The Dharma Shastra and Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata do not apply right now. This said, they contain many individual rights. Including with respect to business law, property and inheritance. In fact when I first read old Roman law texts, I was struck by the similarities between old Roman law and Dharma Shastra.

      “Libertarianism upholds a rights-based order, which is derived specifically from Christianity” . . . please elaborate. Wasn’t the Roman legal system also a rights-based order?

  8. This is my problem with folks coming from Hindu backgrounds getting schooled in Western education and developing values from European enlightenment and then searching high and dry for some equivalent in the Indian subcontinent and rediscovering Charvaka. It just doesn’t cut it.

    There is a thing called living tradition, guru-shishya parampara. Either trace back your philosophy via your living guru from whom you took shiksha to the actual time when Charvak philosophy was around, or else keep that name out of your mouth. Matter of fact one should be forthcoming about their real gurus being writings of Darwin or Stephen Hawking etc.

    Also yes a new tradition of “rationalism/atheism relevant to Indian context” can be created starting from say 1900s but don’t piggyback onto a tradition that we all know died out without any disciplic succession. It does boil down to the concept of adhikaartva or authority…

  9. Hello Bharotshontan,

    This is slightly off-topic but is there any possibility within Indian thought for people to have multiple spiritual teachers? Like for example, great grandma, grandmas, Liberals, Conservatives, the Lord, etc., all of them at once? I know logically that does not make any sense but I just felt like asking because it seems like ethics-wise each of the above may be appealing to a person in their own ways and the person may be influenced by all of these above at various points in life. This seems like a very non-Indian (and overall non-religious and non-spiritual and just plain opportunistic) type of thing at the first glance though and probably one is expected to have complete adherence to one and only one coherent worldview in all its aspects.

    1. ” is there any possibility within Indian thought for people to have multiple spiritual teachers? Like for example, great grandma, grandmas, Liberals, Conservatives, the Lord, etc., all of them at once? ”

      Yes. This is part of Sanathana Dharma (or Arya or Bharatiya or Hindustani) culture.

      Dattatreya–the great Guru of Gurus–famously had 24 gurus. One of his gurus was a bright young girl. Another of his Gurus was a beautiful wise female prostitute. We never know who is who (until our pratyaksha is perfected). Therefore we need to treat everyone as God (or divine or Allah or sovereign or pick your synonym)

      There are many great people who have started to their own lineages of spirituality, philosophy or culture. Hope Kushal in time will do the same. Kushal is still developing his philosophy of philosophies. He is one of the few public interfacing deep thinker atheists in India today. [Excluding the legion of Indian experiencially spiritual atheists.] I look forward to listening to Kushal’s descriptions of his own pratyaksha and mystical experiences.

      Note that Chaarvaaka is thought to have been taught by Brihapati (planet Jupitor and Guru of the Gods) himself. Chaarvaaka is a deeply respected and revered tradition in Sanathana Dharma.


      As a side note, wouldn’t it be nice if Jihadi Islamists accepted bright young girls and beautiful wise prostitutes as their spiritual Gurus and masters? Islamists could learn a lot from them in all seriousness.

    2. Santosh

      Yes people CAN have multiple gurus. And then write their own methodology while giving appropriate credit to ALL their sources and also their own growth and study. This is what Guru Nanak to Osho all have shown.
      But while under learning from one guru, the student needs to consciously shed their ego completely and learn fully with the idea that they’re not looking to “take a bit from here and there later” but instead that the path of the guru (current) is all that is necessary. Shri Ramakrishna for example was a fully devoted Muslim for 2 years of his life, even ate beef while doing all that was Sunnah and was a mureed of his local Sufi mursheed.

      This is the other thing. Mixing and matching does require an elevated level of proper self realization to pull off successfully. I don’t know what better analogy to use than say perhaps weight control/general physical healthiness etc. For a man, a good healthy stat could be maintaining 8-12% body fat percentage. Now let’s say you are a generally healthy person around 15% body fat and you want to know what’s the best way to kick it up that last notch. Now you could take as your guru somebody that runs 20 miles in a week as part of their lifestyle. You could also take someone who is weightlifting 15 hours in the gym as your guru. Note the two don’t do each other’s regimen. Both the individuals have the ideal body fat percentage but are getting there in very different paths. If you decided one week I’ll do weightlifting approach and next week I’ll do cardio approach, you’re not only going to not reach your goals, you will regress from even where you are currently. Best is to admit you know nothing of either road, choose one and dedicate entirely to that. A day may come, maybe after a year, maybe you get an injury in one process, or something happens and you may then try the other process. And then few years later you can have your own take on a mixed and matched regimen. But not from the get go.

  10. Hello AnAn, I am not sure about the last paragraph but thank you very much for the rest of the post. But the problem is that I’m not sure if we can really consider ourselves similar to personalities like Dattatreya. Our motivations may be good and innocent but we being of lower intelligence compared to entities like Dattatreya, might end up getting in trouble if we try to imitate him. But it is okay if we try to inflict spiritual harm upon ourselves too perhaps, if that is what we genuinely want underneath all.

  11. The podcast interview was itself quite delightful – though I don’t agree with some opinions.

    Kaushal said (I paraphrase) “Religion will be a lot less important in the future (50 years from now)”. This contradicts demographic trends of atheists and careerists having a significantly lower fertility rate. Absent other artificial restraints (like in China), even considering low constant rate of erosion of “belief” – this leads to maintenance if not increase in religiosity levels. As such, feminism, careerism, atheism etc.. have tended to by dysgenic traits in the modern environment (with easy access to contraception). This may be observed in shifts in demographics worldwide (orthodox among Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus etc..)


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