Broken Illusions And Enlightenment

I see one of the main differences between India and west is of breaking down of the illusion of religious harmony in the west. The inter christian violence between catholics and protestants in 30 yr war led to westphalian peace. It was here that leaders in west accepted that there was no choice but to accept the reality of heresy/bigotry .It also meant over time that they realized no stable peace could be built on religion but only by transcending it through effective political and civic institutions. There is a strange argument nowadays where values gained from transcending religion is also being credited to religion. This reminds me of “everything comes from India” man in the comedy series of Goodness Gracious me.

In India , because among dharmic religions, the degree of violence was low without full scale wars with millions dead, the belief among Indian and Hindu elites has been to continue to pursue this path of compromise among various communities under the goal of religious harmony. Even now, many use slogans of “sarv dharma sambhav” , all these create illusions that brings much heartache and sense of betrayal among people when they dont come true now with evangelical monotheism. One hence feels cheated by the elites rhetoric and it is here congress has to break away from this. Had one been realistic about this, much of the violence during partition could have been avoided . This illusion needs to be broken. In the west it took violence in large numbers to get over the idea that solution could be found within Christianity itself . In India one must get over this before much violence happens and that can only happen if people move away from naive Gandhian view of religious harmony so that it would become embarrassing to even say that.

Much of the problem I see in Indian religions ,society and civilization to me is merely the willingness to compromise or to solve issues through syncretism to avoid larger violence. This leads to low optimal solution at local level rather than to scaling the powers of state and political institutions and upgrading the civics of the people and their understanding of it. The same is true for caste violence as well. I dont believe there ever was large scale mobilized caste wars. Had this happened the society would have no choice but to address it as well. The illusion now is carried over by Hindu atheists as well, a willingness to just let things be.Here is where I think even atheists are going wrong as well. Their belief that answer to problem of religion lies in atheism.Their denial of the religious nature of man is the issue. This is a reality irrespective of whether they be theistic religions or atheistic ones like marxism. They too are better off insisting on good polity,civic institutions as a solution. A model in order to work must work for extreme cases and not merely local ones where compromise is possible. Until this illusion of compromise remains there is no value placed on political realism and India will remain under threat of significant violence in its future. It is important therefore to make the case for impossibility of religious harmony and compromise and let people know there is no getting around the issue of religious bigotry on all sides. No answer to the issues of religious bigotry can be found inside dharma. And in general I think it is true that we forge ahead better in a sure footed way when our idealistic illusions are seen to be broken. Indian liberals,left and atheists must abandon the denial of religious bigotry and simply accept that there are bound to be religious bigots even among minorities and constitution protects that as well. They need to make this absolutely clear for otherwise they are seen to be either cheating the people with false illusions of harmony or engaging in what is termed as minority appeasement. To me, the most charitable view of their behavior is idealistic delusion. Enlightenment ensues as a result of breaking down of such illusions.

10 thoughts on “Broken Illusions And Enlightenment”

  1. “There is a strange argument nowadays where values gained from transcending religion is also being credited to religion. ”
    Do not know if you wrote this piece before or after a serious of comments on your other post between me and an Indian Christian poster, but he did precisely this. Ascribed so many achievements of the Western civilization to Christianity.
    It is not that hard to make a reasonably proper ascription if one were to leave politics and agendas out.
    It is reasonable to ascribe the genesis of the Western Cassical music to the Christian tradition but the Western inventions such as Science, Allopathic Medicine, Double Entry Book Keeping, Secularism, Steam Engine can not be so! There are areas that are influenced by religion but are not a direct consequence of it.. The Western Legal System and comes to mind.
    In India too, not everything is Hindu. The Indian mathematics and astronomy were influenced by dharma but not a consequence of it. Yoga however is soundly Dharmic!
    I would put Ayurveda and Arthshastra firmly in the secular domain!
    There is so much cognitive dissonance that people like Deepak Chopra make a ridiculous comparison.. If Yoga is Hindu, Gravity is Christian!
    But then again, with Chopra, it is hard to tell if he is being deluded or simply peddling his interests.

    1. Well yoga doesn’t require you to believe in dharma.

      You can can love Jesus and still practice and benefit from yoga.

      Hindus and Buddhists pretty much have opposite views of the atman.

      And yet a Nath Yogi and a Tibetan Buddhist Yogi have very similar practices.

      1. “Well yoga doesn’t require you to believe in dharma. You can can love Jesus and still practice and benefit from yoga.”
        Not sure I understand your objection.
        Please re read my post, it speaks of the origin.Western classical music is largely secular today but it originated from Christianity. Same with Yoga.
        Differences notwithstanding, both Sanatan Dharma and Buddhism share a lot.. Yoga being one of those things. It does not negate its Dharmic Origins.
        I occasionally go to the Christian churches(especially the African American churches) to feel the amazing Gospel music induced spirituality. Do not believe in Christian Theology at all! But that does not take away the fact that it is a CHRISTIAN church.

        1. Hi, sorry about that just had another look at your post. I missed the point you were making the first time around.

          I agree with you.

          And the other thing is India doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel with regards to the scientific method etc.

          Just needs to copy what works from the west, and play catch up, for the time being.

  2. I think a lot this stuff will get resolved if the country becomes richer / educated.

    To do this it needs to find scalable industries we here the country has resources/market fit and exploit them.

    There are a few industries where India managed to achieve a degree of prominence like IT consulting, diamonds, textiles, pharmaceuticals etc. It needs to build many more.

    Religious liberty is great, but failing a decent level of education that allows people to see through religious BS, I think letting religious movements run amok can do more harm than good.

    The primary goal in the country needs to be get richer and in the meantime any religious fervour needs to be managed so mobs of people don’t kill each other.

    I don’t think all think all religions are the same in that regard. My more left leaning friends see Hindutva as a big problem due to overall population. So they seek to undermine it.

    I on the other hand am much more confident about Indian people’s ability to reform Hinduism compared to Islam or Christianity.

    We own the religion and it doesn’t have the same sort of baked in toxic mimetic exclusivity as the Abrahamic religions.

    If we look east for inspiration… Japan got rid of hereditary caste, has religious freedom, and became a developed country.

    But they outright banned out the Christianity for 300 years. And then tried to copy the best that the west had to offer in the Meji era starting in the (1880s). But even Christianity wasn’t one of the ideas they sought to emulate and they sort of dragged their feet in unbanning it.

    Today Japan is maybe 1% Christian. Shinto and Buddhism exist harmoniously in a largely non-religious backdrop.

  3. yoga is religious, no atheist would even discover meditation or yoga. Their very survival is due to this. music on other hand is universal.

    1. yoga is religious, no atheist would even discover meditation or yoga. Their very survival is due to this.

      i was an atheist when i got into meditation. Still an atheist. lol.

      If you mean ‘discover’ as in create. There is this non-religious guy, Wim Hof, who figured out something similar to Tummo meditation on his own.

      Has been tested in a lab as being able to consciously influence his own body temperature / immune response. etc.

  4. you need to stop conflating atheism and irreligion. one can be religious and atheist. unless one is a Muslim or Christian. pretty weird how indians are ‘abrahamic this’ and ‘abrahamic that’ but then they go around using constructs/correlations that make sense in a christian-muslim context (for judaism the issue of god is complex, but it is far more a matter of adherence to ritual/religious law than orthodoxy…and Islam in btwn xtianity and Judaism arguably)

  5. Not all illusions/delusions are equivalent, some are worse.

    Religious compromise is practiced in Indian setting and by its political space because that is an organic reaction of the ground reality, i.e. None want a Non-Religious space to emerge.
    Congress or whoever don’t just do it for the lulz and neither do the BJP and co do it for that reason either.

    Your argument for Congress to let go of its commitment would have been valid IF BJP wasn’t pushing an even worse more-religion line instead of the NO Religion line.

    When West operated under Westphalian paradigm, almost everyone existed on a Religious spectrum meaning it was a normalized vector. When human groups now and going forward are going to have that spectrum widen, it means we’ll finally see what Religion has been all this while, a human disease in the true sense of the word.

    Development and Religious adherence (of the high kind, which India does have, surveys around how important Religion is to you corroborates this, as can anecdotes from everyday lives) are not compatible (even less so when peer human-groups pressure is present) and only resource luck can help country break from this and even then its a struggle.

    When everyone was religious around the world, it didn’t really matter but now it will because the gap of religiosity is bigger and the outcomes will compound. China is a huge factor in this, they might be Chinese who are superstitious but the spectrum gap they (as a group/State) exist on relative to many/most parts is of a very high degree and humans react to success no matter the rhetoric, eventually.

    Religiosity is on its dying legs, meaning it will burn a bit brighter than usual for a while and we’re likely in that era right now.

  6. @razib, was that addressed to me. I have made distinction between Hindu atheists, atheists and atheistic religion like marxism. Though there could be some confusion too regarding the different types of atheists among Hindus.

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