The Middle Path: Towards a Liberal Conservatism in India (Part 1)

I listened with interest to Brown Pundits’ recent podcasts with Gaurav and Tony on the current state of Indian politics. I could relate to some of their agonies and predicaments, although I profoundly disagree with some aspects of Tony’s worldview.  Slapstik’s recent post Indian woke wears saffron also contains some good insights on the nature and roots of the current Hindutva movement. In this post, I have picked on three strands of Slapstik’s argument: the comparison between Hindutva and woke culture, the genesis of the Bhakti movement and the nature of the leadership of the Indian National Congress both before and after independence.

While I share Slapstik’s assessment of the importance of the Bhakti movement, I do not regard the Bhakti movement as a radical rupture from the pre-Islamic Dharmic traditions. I also argue that by only highlighting the role and influence of the liberal modernist elements of the Indian political leadership in the colonial and early post-colonial periods, Slapstik overlooks the equally if not more salient part of the leadership that sought its inspiration from the country’s indigenous Indic heritage. In doing so, I seek to highlight the deep and abiding roots of India’s Dharmic consciousness that is characterised by cultural continuity.

In my next post, I take these arguments forward and suggest that this abiding consciousness and cultural continuity makes India a civilization state. I argue that it is incumbent upon the Indian state to conserve, protect and promote Dharmic culture and values.  Building on my criticism of woke Hindutva, I propose a framework that goes beyond the binary of Nehruvian secularism and Hindutva. This middle path- what I call liberal conservatism- provides a normative framework for those who seek to conserve and promote India’s Dharmic sociocultural heritage without compromising on liberal democratic values.

Hindutva and woke culture

I fully agree with Slapstik’s observations on the similarities between Hindutva and woke culture. I share his distaste for the behaviour and reflexive anti-intellectualism of many of its ideologues and cheerleaders. The lack of tolerance for any viewpoint that deviates even marginally from their viewpoint is another similarity between the Western and Hindutva woke crowd. I agree that the current followers of various other ideologies in India- from the left-liberals to feminists to Islamists- also display woke characteristics. Perhaps this is partly a function of the social media age we live in. However, by virtue of their sheer size, volubility and access to power, woke Hindutva is particularly dangerous.

The combination of intolerance and nastiness towards contrary viewpoints and gratuitous bigotry, especially towards Muslims, that characterises woke Hindutva is not edifying. When this ideology is internalised by those in power, it becomes more insidious than that. Just like their far-left counterparts, these ideologues are unafraid to use arbitrary power against those they disagree with: the cancellation of Atish Taseer’s overseas citizen of India status and the incarceration of Dr. Kafeel Khan due to his anti-Citizenship Amendment Act speeches are cases in point. They also take a completely instrumentalist view of power and politics: no quarter is conceded or fault acknowledged even in very clear moral cases as long as the ends i.e. the fulfilment of ideological goals are achieved. For example, there cannot be a moral framework in which state inaction against cow vigilantes involved in street violence against Muslims accused of eating beef can ever be justified.  Yet, by engaging in obfuscation and whataboutery, woke Hindutva has enabled a culture of impunity where the state chooses not to enforce the rule of law against street criminals.

I also agree with Slapstik that the response to this will test India’s institutional resilience. But the solution is a bit deeper than this. At a philosophical level, it involves a recognition of a basic social contract by all sides. This covenant has its basis in the foundational principles of the Indian Constitution: the fundamental rights to equality before the law, freedom (including freedom of expression) and life and liberty. A state which fails in its duty on these counts should be criticised and shamed by all sides, and ideologues who justify or worse cheer a government’s failings on these counts should be banished from the public square.

Since public discourse has become tribalistic- an outcome I regret as it precludes the possibilities of compromise and nuance- I will use a sporting analogy to drive home my point. The basic social contract is a bit like a sporting contest where everyone is passionate about their “team”, but equally recognises that the contest must happen within the rules of the game. Anyone who breaches this basic framework is shown the metaphorical red card. This framework gets its legitimacy from the very foundation of the modern Indian Republic. It was ratified by a Constituent Assembly representing a swathe of Indian opinion, from the socialist left and the conservative right within the Indian National Congress, to socialists, federalists, Ambedkarites and Hindu nationalists outside of it. All political dispensations have over the years failed in some ways to maintain this framework. The current dispensation is simply the latest and amongst the most egregious. The starting point would be an effort towards a consensus whereby public intellectuals and others in public life maintain a principled consistency on this matter, calling out breaches regardless of the identity of the culprit.

Beyond this basic framework that must be acknowledged by all, there is inevitably a parting of ways. As a liberal conservative, the two areas which define my thinking are the role of the state in the economy and the direction the state should provide to sociocultural life. As regards the former, I would argue for a market-based economy circumscribed by the rule of law and sensible regulation. As this is not relevant to the current debate and has been elaborated by many including yours truly elsewhere, I will focus my attention on the latter. This is where we come to Slapstik’s insight into the Bhakti movement and the roots of Indian identity and nationhood.

The Bhakti movement and roots of Dharmic identity

Slapstik’s observation as regards the pan-Indian spread of the Bhakti movement – both in geographic and social terms-  is again accurate. However, it gives the impression that the movement was sui generis. It overlooks the deep reservoirs of socio-cultural experience and memory which had permeated the length and breadth of India which this movement drew upon. It is true that the Bhakti movement did help expand the Dharmic faith in the periphery, particularly in North East India. The kingdoms of Assam, Manipur and Tripura were all Hinduised and sanskritised in the medieval period. However, in the core region, the impact of the movement was regenerative rather than revolutionary.

It is a mistake to view Indian theology and liturgy exclusively through the lens of stratification: the subjugation of a vast laity by a select few castes, with the Brahmins at the top. A more accurate reading of the history of Indian religion is one of confluence. The abstract philosophical musings and spiritual enquiries of the Vedic and early Upanishadic rishis and rishikas were not just superimposed on an unwilling population. Instead, these doctrines interacted in multiple ways with the pre-existing deep rooted folk traditions and wisdom of the populace to produce, by osmosis, five distinct but interconnected schools of thought. I call these the Five Spokes of Dharma: Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, Buddhism and Jainism. The first three traditions tend to draw from or connect to the Vedic and Upanishadic doctrines, whereas the latter two tend to distinguish themselves from those doctrines. However, that is a moot point for the purposes of this argument. The more pertinent point is that each of these traditions had deep organic roots and widespread resonance with vast sections of the populations across the length and breadth of India by the time of the Islamic invasions.

Even if the institutional apparatus (e.g. certain temples or monasteries) were captured by the Brahminical clergy, at the fundamental spiritual level, even the traditions that reconciled to Vedic and Vedantic authority were always more democratic and egalitarian. There are obvious recognisable examples across these traditions that one can point to: the great Vaishnavite epics of the Ramayana and Mahabharata built upon folk wisdom and traditions. These were narrated by bards and wanderers across the land outside of the institutional religious structure. Their key deities, particularly Krishna, have humble pastoralist beginnings and a consistently universalist message. Likewise, the Shakta traditions of worship of the divine and eternal feminine energy by visiting sacred shrines have deep and organic prehistoric roots. Most of these shrines were always open to and accessible by the masses. Perhaps the most interesting and instructive example is that of Shiva. There is evidence of his importance as a deity even in Indus Valley times. As a yogi and ascetic, Shiva is above and beyond caste, and certain doctrines of Shaivism are not just universally accepting and accessible, but positively radical even by modern standards.

There are two other important points that further explain the latter success of the Bhakti movement. The first is the argumentations and interactions between the various Dharmic schools led to rigorous and profound doctrines across a range of areas of philosophical enquiry: from theology and metaphysics to ethics and eschatology. The Bhakti movement drew from this wellspring of philosophical depth. It is this analytical rigour which helped Hinduism survive against the odds, where other polytheistic traditions failed. The final point is the pan-Indian nature of these Dharmic traditions, which was sustained by a shared language of theology and liturgy (Sanskrit) and more importantly, by pilgrimage sites across the length and breadth of the land, which created a sacred geography and shared civilizational consciousness. This helped create a set of common habits, mores, customs and traditions which would hold India in good stead in the centuries to come. There is literal physical evidence across the subcontinent to back this thesis. The map below, for example, shows some of the Shakti peethams (shrines revered in the Shakta tradition) and the mathas (monasteries) established in the wake of the yatras (journeys) of the eighth century philosopher-theologian Adi Shankara, who consolidated and propounded the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta.

Location of some of the Shakti Peethams and the route of the Shankarachrya’s yatra. Source:

The civilization that was thus forged over nearly two millennia before the Islamic invasions went beyond ethics and religion and permeated every aspect of sociocultural life- from art and archaeology to dance, language and music. This essential nature of India as a civilization state is consistently underestimated by left-liberal and Islamist critics of India, who then feign surprise when their favoured predictions about its resilience do not pan out as expected.

Dharmic thought and practice may have ossified by the middle ages when the Bhakti movement emerged. But in reviving it, the Bhakti movement drew upon the deep foundational roots amongst the proletarian masses as set out above which, while under some duress from the Islamic incursions, had never quite withered. This arc connecting ancient Dharmic India to the medieval Bhakti movement would continue during the colonial period and beyond.

The nature of the Indian freedom movement

Slapstik is partly correct in his assessment that the Congress leadership was “reformed (and deracinated)” and “in awe of the Empire” which then carried over “that reforming/civilizing role into independent India”. This was true of the founding members and the early leadership in the late nineteenth century. Men such as Dadabhai Naoroji, Madhav Govind Ranade and Surendranath Banerjee were dyed in the wool metropolitan liberals from Bombay and Calcutta. This is also true of the Nehruvians who came to dominate politics in the 1950s and 60s. However, it misses the clearly Hindu conservative roots of the nationalist leadership in the interregnum. The Swadeshi movement in the early twentieth century was led by Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and Bipin Chandra Pal- the eponymous Lal Bal Pal drawn from the Punjab, Bombay (Maharshtra) and Bengal respectively. Each of these leaders, whose roots may loosely be described as provincial bourgeoisie, were explicitly motivated by Dharmic ideals and the Hindu civilizational ethos. This is exemplified by their co-option of the imagery of Bharat Mata- the personification of India as a mother goddess. It can be convincingly argued that the nationalist movement genuinely gained traction with the masses under their leadership and not that of the earlier liberal elites.

Bharat Mata as depicted in the 1920s. Source:

These leaders were followed by the Mahatma. While Gandhiji is the first amongst equals in the Indian freedom movement and therefore above the fray, it is hard to escape the extensive use of Hindu motifs and imagery in his discourse. Concepts such as ahimsa (non-violence), Ram Rajya (ideal state), dharma (duty) and karma (good deeds or action) are explicitly Dharmic (in his case Vaishnav-Jain) in their roots, inspired by his Gujarati Bania upbringing.

The Congress leadership on the eve of independence was also preponderantly Hindu conservative. The grassroots membership was even more so. Two out of the triumvirate that surrounded the Mahatma- Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and C. Rajagopalachari (a.k.a. Rajaji)- his heart, hands and head respectively- were on the right of the party. Gandhiji chose his heart as his successor and the party went along with it, but at time, this was by no means a foregone conclusion. Even with Pandit Nehru firmly in charge as the prime minister, the Hindu conservatives were by no means completely sidelined, at least in the initial years of independence. Stalwarts from the right of the party, such as Rajendra Prasad, K.M. Munshi and Govind Vallabh Pant, held key positions and continued to have influence on the national debate as evidenced during the reconstruction of the Somnath temple in Gujarat. However, Pandit Nehru’s personal popularity with the masses, aided by events such as the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by the Hindu extremist Nathuram Godse, ensured that the Nehruvian consensus largely prevailed within the Congress, and by extension, nationally.

In the first few decades after independence, the conservative movement outside the Congress was splintered into two factions: the cultural nationalism of the Jan Sangh (the precursor to the modern BJP) and the liberal conservatism of the now defunct Swatantra Party.  The Swatantra Party was founded and led by the outstanding philosopher, polymath and politician Rajaji. Stifled by the Nehruvian takeover of the Congress, this former congress stalwart started this new liberal conservative party when he was nearly eighty. These conservative parties accounted for 10-20% of the national vote in the first few elections. There is of course no way to objectively measure the conservative vote that continued to go to the Congress in those decades as the de facto party of the freedom struggle. It is fair to say that while the Nehruvians may have dominated the academy, English language media and other organs of culture in the metropolitan areas, the average Congressman and Congress voter at the provincial level was a cultural conservative.

Bharat Mata as depicted in the 1970s. Even during the heyday of Nehru-Gandhi rule, the idea of India as a civilizational state did not lose its allure. Posters of Bharat Mata are still quite popular and can be found as wall hangings in shops and homes, particularly in the smaller cities and towns of India.  Source:

The history of the Indian right since the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in the 1980s is well known, so I won’t elaborate on this here. The point above is merely to highlight that the idea of India as a civilizational state with roots in antiquity and the notion that we should look at these roots for inspiration never lost its allure even during the supposedly halcyon days when the Nehruvian Idea of India dominated Indian politics. The current Hindutva movement is not a flash in the pan that emerged in the 1980s, but merely the latest manifestation of Indic civilizational consciousness, albeit with a radical illiberal edge.

What if the Congress and by extension the Indian state was controlled by the conservative right rather than the Nehruvians after independence? Despite some genuine achievements of the Nehruvian state, including the establishment of institutes of higher learning and a culture of accommodation and respect for India’s diversity, one cannot help but think that the country would have been better served if men like Patel and Rajaji had taken the helm. While counterfactuals are always debatable, I would submit that a liberal conservative state that would have nurtured Dharmic values and a path of gradual grassroots led reform would have led to a better outcome than the securalist-socialist dirigisme of the Neuhrivan era. For one, it would have occupied some of the political space claimed by the Hindu nationalists, pre-empted some of their grievances and perhaps even co-opted and channelled the remarkable community spirit and energy of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its affiliates towards purely positive endeavours such as Seva (community service), stripped of the ugly Hindu chauvinistic elements.

While it is not possible to recreate history, the counterfactual does provide some ideas for a direction that the political opposition to Hindutva could take. In my next post, I will build on these ideas to develop a framework that seeks to conserve India’s civilizational genius while shedding the rough edges of Hindutva. I call this liberal conservatism.


Published by

London Observer

I am an Indian professional based in London. I am interested in history, philosophy and politics, especially that of the Indian subcontinent.

27 thoughts on “The Middle Path: Towards a Liberal Conservatism in India (Part 1)”

  1. London observer – extremely well argued piece I must say. I have a long piece in my medium archives -along these lines which I will promptly abandon as you have argued these ideas extremely well.
    I have some disagreements but that would be nitpicking – I agree with the core argument .

    Title seems to be missing in the post though.

    Looking forward to Part2

  2. Great Post !
    Would be great to see liberal conservatives in opposition. Question is when will the opposition come to that consensus?

    Someone needs to bell the cat in congress and boot out the (fake)Gandhi family. But they keep on betting on the same horse over and over again. No amount of gotra search for Rahul can bring any luck to them!
    The old guard is no better. They are smug about how everyone but they are wrong. Maybe best to make a fresh start.

  3. Using terms like woke culture for Hindutva is just silly when its biggest opponent is Islam. Recently Muslims started a riot in Bangalore because they were triggered by a facebook post. They literally behead people who criticize their religion and for the longest time the so called liberals have been defending them. Gandhi even blamed Hindus for the Moplah riots and the assassination of Swami Shraddhananda. Just yesterday the liberals got a publisher to cancel a book because of the political company the authors keep. The liberal twitter banned Anand Ranganathan for 10 days because he simply quoted a verse from the Quran. If by cancel culture you are referring to the government following laws and not making exceptions for nobility like Taseer, then I’m all for it.

    Some degree of anti intellectualism is bound to seep into a society when the so called intellectuals are incredibly biased and are not working to establish the truth but their political narrative. Take for example the case of the Somnath temple. In 7th century, Mohammed desecrates the idols in Mecca and issues elaborate sermons on how to treat polytheists Then we have Ghazni, having the first name Mohammed, destroy Somnath in the name of Islam. And then our intellectuals say that destruction that nothing to do with Islam. There comes a time when people realize that many of the so called intellectuals are propagandists. Repairing this will take time and effort on both sides.

    As a Hindtuvavaadi I disagree with parts of your article. But overall, what you are proposing could have been a stable solution for our society instead of violently oscillating from one extreme to another. Nehru got a lot of leverage from the assassination of Gandhi and milked it to the extreme by banning the RSS. However, that had to be short lived since, as you rightly point out, a substantial section of the freedom movement was inspired by the Dharmik roots of India and it was only a matter of time before it made a comeback. The question is will Hindutva make concessions when it’s winning?

  4. a fundamental problem with much of islam is that it hasn’t retconned its outgroup hostility toward many religions, especially non-abrahamic ones. the core texts are literal ‘hate-speech’

    that being said, the Hebrew bible is worse, enjoining extermination rather than conversion (this is the reason when you compare the bible and the koran the bible is far more violent and brutal). in areas where muslims are minorities tbh they need to be challenged on the issue and will no doubt come up with creative reinterpretations (just like in the USA muslims basically ignorantly lie and say FGM is an ‘african’ custom, not realize it is normative in shafi madhab and even accepted in other traditions)

    1. @Razib – these creative re-interpretations are simply lying – or Taqiyah
      ( And should not be trusted by Kafirs )
      and will be discarded when no longer in minority – Remember all of Darul-Islam once was Muslim minority

      I would say the mullahs are more honest and less dangerous to kafirs, because they dont lie about what islam says must be done to kafirs

      1. all religion is creative lying. and sunnis don’t talk much about taqiyah. your paranoia is unfounded.

        again, i’m not going to convince you guys because your data-poor conspiracy theories have ‘all bases covered.’ basically you agree with muslims on the nature of Islam, but where they think it’s good you think it’s bad. the gap between you and muslims is far smaller than the gap btwn someone like me and you two.

        this is just not how religion ends up working though. more complicated than that. but no one cares. *shrug*

      2. Taqiya probably has different origins, meaning, practice in muslim countries (Iran, SA, etc). But, the real character is shown in mixed religions countries (e.g. Bosnia). Jihad and sharia are some kind of ‘policies’ i.e. collective actions which are primitive, especially in the 21st c. but they can be logically explained. Taqiya is also a ‘policy’ but executed by an individual as his personal choice. This is an underlining ethic and the philosophy of the movement. For some societies, built on different paradigms is simply incomprehensible such ethic. For me is even more incomprehensible that none wants to denounce this practice at least as a rhetorical gesture. For long time I was thinking that these people feel ashamed of such relict from the past which is a mirror of their movement.

        But I was wrong. I read that they feel superior over the movement’s surrounding. Where this sense of superiority comes from? I see a picture of, for e.g. an American court, where a member of the movement is invited to give his pledge that he would speak truth, only truth and nothing but truth with his hand on the holly book. I hear him saying – you guys are such idiots, I can tell you whatever it suits me without any shame and you will assume that I will do my best to speak the truth and that we all come to the truth. I think that this superiority comes from this – there is no shame, no guilt, not even sense that is something wrong in this. The previous probably can be confirmed by using the lie detector which is probably useless in such cases.

  5. Nitpick – the cancellation of Aatish Taseer’s OCI, incarceration of Kafeel Khan for anti CAA speeches have no resonance among the masses. These are Twitter feuds.

    Selecting a just and true cause will greatly amplify your voice and need. Even anti-beef vigilante actions fail to provoke any moral upwelling.

    Without a fulcrum, this piece lacks emotional appeal.

    On the other hand, the proponents of Hindutva have identified half a dozen causes that generate funds, ground support and political action. When the cause succeeds, the returns come in heaps.

    Just take a look at today’s Twitter – the first KFC has opened in Kashmir and it’s residents are agog. Such a mundane, routine affair. What can be more everyday? Which great strategic expert or communal harmony expert ever wrote of such things? In such moments does Hindutva slip the ground from beneath it’s opponents. These ordinary feats were made possible only by the hard-line “anti-constitutional” actions of Hindutva leaders.

    These are beyond the ken of Nehruvian secularists or social conservatives. They only dream of propriety and rules. They think that a hard sword can be made by cold water alone. Only Hindutva posseses the forge! There will be missteps, no doubt. But the path is clear!

  6. I think it’s dumb to use “woke” as a basic descriptor for any touchy illiberal movement. If anything, this is the natural state of politics, and wokes are only remarkable for reintroducing illiberalism to the Western mainstream.

    Turkish nationalists? Triggered by the mere mention of Armenians or Kurds. Chinese nationalists? God help you if you imply that Tibet or Taiwan are anything but eternally and inherently part of China. Islamists? We know what happens if you criticize the prophet. There’s nothing new or special about Wokism.

    1. I think you are misunderstanding what wokeness is when you call it “touchy illiberalism”. It’s that, but it’s also enforcement of politically correct speech and action, and is coupled with a cancel culture where one can be ostracized from society for believing in “wrong” things.

      In authoritarian countries like Turkey or China, cultural forces and societal ostracism have strictly less power than what the state can muster. (OK, this is probably a lot more true of China than Turkey, where the presently authoritarianism is probably a cultural revolution in part.) Why bother to cancel anyone when the state can swat them away like flies? Wokeness has similarites with authoritarian illiberalism for sure, but is a salient concept mainly in democratic countries.

  7. @London Observer
    Please stop calling “Bharat Mata” title(term created by Indian subcontinent Nationalist to fight British) is not true reality, since Bharat(male) is Indo -Aryan tribe and Mata (indigenous Indian tribe existing from 70,000 years).
    Stop insulting the woman of India
    I will not comment on Indian politics since most of you have no guts to write real names because you can get in trouble in India(speaks volume about Democracy of India)
    Perception of religion is pure joke(insulting) written by you. I guess everybody can become observer without grappling the politics(current/ancient times) behind it.
    Since you don’t understand difference between monotheism/polytheism or even what is dharma/vedantic?

    1. Bharat Mata originates from Bharati — Bharat clan goddess — who is also known as Hindu goddess of knowledge and music more commonly known as Saraswati. Furthermore, a cult of mother goddess is also visible archaeologically in IVC — very similar to Saraswati Goddess. Therefore, Bharat Mata — no matter how you see — is ages old.

      Also, why do people love to fight so much? I believe, we should all strive to be the best we can be.

  8. Well written post! Explains why we see what we see in India, where it matters; votes, on-ground public sentiment.

    Twitter and English language media (both newspapers and TV) at this point are just noise.

    Look forward to part 2.

  9. Good post. Much i would like lot of stuff written to happen, alas the time for reconciliation b/w Hindu trads/liberals and Hindu right has long passed. A bit like events around partition. No one really changes track when they are winning, and we know who’s winning now.

  10. Well written and gives an apt liberal conservatism name to the middle path approach that I believe is the inevitable ‘steady state’ for India. Hindutva is not sustainable on the long run but perhaps a temporary needed lurch rightwards. Quite exciting synthesis. Sign me up! Swatantra 2.0

  11. LOL, When Swatantra 2.0 itself has moved towards the hard Hindu right, u know what type of future one is looking at.

  12. “I agree that the current followers of various other ideologies in India- from the left-liberals to feminists to Islamists- also display woke characteristics. Perhaps this is partly a function of the social media age we live in. However, by virtue of their sheer size, volubility and access to power, woke Hindutva is particularly dangerous.”

    Just last week the hegemonic Hindutva ‘woke’ just got their book cancelled by the supposed minuscule left-liberal “dont-matter” outrage. Sheer size, lol

    As i said lot of folks could do better with just expanding their twitter stream. And that there exists a real India, and BP commentators’s India.

    A view from the right (who oppose the ban)
    When Bloomsbury, leading liberal, global, publisher prints book on Delhi Riots & chickens out

    A view from the left (who support the ban)
    Bloomsbury Bends: This is what an ideological victory should look like

  13. Welcome to BP London Observer.

    “Five Spokes of Dharma: Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, Buddhism and Jainism.”

    Why only these five? What about all the other Darshanas? Do you consider Samkhya and her subset Yoga to be part of Shaivism . . . with close links to Jainism and Buddhism? What do you think about Bon Po?

    What time periods are you referring too?

    Since you bring up Shankaraachaarya, have you read his Bhaashyas? 4 of the 5 major Mathas insist that he was born 509 BC? What are your thoughts regarding this?

    Have you studied the 31 heavens (or levels of meditation) that Buddha described?

    1. @ AnAn

      It is not just the Sankara who has been telescoped forward in history by around 1100 years.

      The Buddha, by all Indian, Tibetan and Chinese sources, lived in the 2nd millennium BC.

      It was Samudragupta (Guptas) who ruled in 300 BC, not the Mauryas. This is the reason why Megasthenes, Lucian, Plutarch, Pliny make no mention of Buddhism or Buddhists in their descriptions of India. They only talk of Gymnosophists (Jainas, Ajvikas etc).

      I had a running argument with @sbarrkum in the earlier comments thread. The real problem with Indian history is that it has been snipped off at both ends – 1500 BC and 300 BC – by compression. There is not a single legitimate explanation on how the Greek historians (over 12 of them) fail to write anything about Buddha or his sect at the peak of its spread by official sanction.

        1. Hoju,

          The dating of Buddha to approximately 1800 BC comes from the king list in several Itihaasas:

          When I read these old texts one of my hypothesis was that there might have been many Buddhas.

          Here is a completely out there question, could the dates of Babylon in the Bible possibly be moved back in time? Could the date of “Abraham” be moved back in time? Could the date of Cyrus be pushed back one or two centuries? If so, many other dates get moved back as well.

          Within many ancient texts detailed star maps are given for various events. Some of these events date back 100 K years or more. Albeit these dates as per the texts do not relate to Homo Sapiens. BTW, for dates more than 300 K years ago, the current Nakshatra star dating system does not work.

  14. “Five Spokes of Dharma: Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, Buddhism and Jainism.”

    Agree with AnAn, there need not be a limit here, but an open approach including syncretism of previously nondharmic approaches. Those are flesh on the bones concepts….

    1. What would be an example of a non Dharmic approach?

      Some carbon samples attached to the Gunung Padang pyrimid (one of the largest in the world) have been carbon dated to 21,000 BC. How to determine whether this is Dharmic or not?

      The Bon Po date themselves to 18,000 BC. Do you consider Tonpa Shenrab Dharmic or not Dharmic? Today the Bon Po attach themselves to the Dalai Lama as one of the 8 Tibetan Buddhist Sampradaayas.

  15. AnAn,
    I didn’t mean in ancient time, but syncretic approaches such as Sikhism and Sai Baba…. i call the previously nondharmic not from the perspective of its Hindu practitioners but from the Muslim or Christian adherents. I am also curious of other forms of neosyncretism opportunities such as Christian yoga…. I think the potential of yoga as today’s Mahayana for the assimilation of faiths to the dharma way. I would call it the middle path approach. Women of Nondharmic faiths are especially tired of the intolerance of monotheism and are in search of a middle path that is assimilative but are fearful of Hindutva and what it represents.

  16. It’s not about preserving Dharma but expanding it.

    You have an Akbar view vs Alamgir one you’re still a melech.

    Liberal democracy has no place in Dharma, end of||
    All aspects of the world: social, political, economic must be Dharmic.

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