Jul 2, 2015

Rajiv Malhotra on Hinduism (2)

Freedom to Choose a Personal Path (Svadharma)

In most dharmic traditions, each individual has a unique ‘svadharma’ (personal dharma) or purpose in this world. This is based on his or her ‘svabhava’ (character) as shaped by past karma and gunas and on the context or circumstances of the person’s life. Buddhists have the notion of’upaya’ (skilful means), which becomes the basis for mutual respect between those who are different. In the Jain tradition, principles of relative and multiple perspectives of truth, combined with the inherent uncertainty in knowledge, serve as protection against dogmas and universal absolutes. All of this demonstrates that dharmic spiritual practices are diverse, eclectic, and adaptable by communities, families, and individuals, and for specific circumstances.
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Jun 25, 2015

Rajiv Malhotra on Hinduism (1)

Freedom from History and Institutional Authority

In Hindu traditions, the state of consciousness of Jesus is achievable by each one of us and is not dependent on belief in a specific deity or historical event or institution. Nor do we have to die in order to achieve this state of consciousness; we can do so while living in this world, just as Christ presumably did. ‘Dhyana’, ‘jnana’, ‘tantra’ and ‘bhakti’ are some of the do-it-yourself methods and techniques that do not rely on external authority. There is no church, pontiff or central authority. Rather, numerous incarnations, prophets, saints and spiritual methods over several millennia have kept the traditions alive with fresh interpretations. As Sri Aurobindo puts it:
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Jun 15, 2015

Hijacking Sri Aurobindo – by Rajesh Patel

The religious culture which now goes by the name of Hinduism … gave itself no name, because it set itself no sectarian limits; it claimed no universal adhesion, asserted no sole infallible dogma, set up no single narrow path or gate of salvation; it was less a creed or cult than a continuously enlarging tradition of the Godward endeavour of the human spirit. An immense many-sided and many-staged provision for a spiritual self-building and self-finding, it had some right to speak of itself by the only name it knew, the eternal religion, Sanatana Dharma…. (Sri Aurobindo, 1919)

Of recent years there has been an academic controversy amongst the more scholarly followers of Sri Aurobindo on the subject of whether he should be considered a Hindu and whether his teachings could be classed as Hinduism.
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Jun 7, 2015

Did Sri Aurobindo Reject Hinduism? – Certainly not!

It is to Dara [1] that Sri Aurobindo wrote the following letter in the thirties, dissociating his Ashram from Hinduism:

The Ashram has nothing to do with Hindu religion or culture or any religion or nationality. The Truth of the Divine which is the spiritual reality behind all religions and the descent of the supramental which is not known to any religion are the sole things which will be the foundation of the work of the future.

(Bulletin, Feb 2001, p 72)
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Jun 1, 2015

The Three Basic Ideas or the Three Fundamentals of Hinduism – Sri Aurobindo

And if we are asked, “But after all what is Hinduism, what does it teach, what does it practise, what are its common factors?” we can answer that Indian religion is founded upon three basic ideas or rather three fundamentals of a highest and widest spiritual experience. First comes the idea of the One Existence of the Veda to whom sages give different names, the One without a second of the Upanishads who is all that is and beyond all that is, the Permanent of the Buddhists, the Absolute of the Illusionists, the supreme God or Purusha of the Theists who holds in his power the soul and Nature,—in a word the Eternal, the Infinite. This is the first common foundation;
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May 26, 2015

Let’s all be Hindu Fundamentalists – by Maria Wirth

Religious fundamentalists are on the rise and that is bad for our societies. Most people will agree on this. Yet few examine who religious fundamentalists are. Obviously, such persons would want to stick to the fundamentals of their religion. They want to live a life that is advocated in their holy books and would please their God. Now, since religious fundamentalists pose a problem, does it mean that the fundamentals of religions are bad for our societies? Let’s look at the three biggest religions:
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May 19, 2015

Did Sri Aurobindo Lie in the Uttarpara Speech? – Extract from Jugal Kishore Mukherji’s Letter

[The following extract from Jugal Kishore Mukherji’s first letter to the Ashram Trustees in June 1986 shows that Matriprasad Satyamurthy (the present secretary of the Ashram Trust) has been colluding with Peter Heehs for a long time. Peter Heehs was then editor of the Ashram’s Archives and Research magazine in which he first published his “great discoveries” on how Sri Aurobindo was a coward, on how he played a double game with the British police, on how he lied to the public with regard to instructing his lawyer Chittaranjan Das who defended him in the Court, etc, etc. This particular extract deals with the last distortion – that Sri Aurobindo continued to give advice to Chittaranjan Das in the Alipore Bomb Trial despite what he said in the Uttarpara speech on having left everything to God during his year-long confinement in Alipore Jail! – Bireshwar Choudhury]

At times, in the pages of our Journal Archives and Research, accounts of events given by some sundry persons are made use of in order to prove Sri Aurobindo wrong!! Sri Aurobindo’s own spiritual statements are controverted and are sought to be proved false – and that, too, on the authority of our young friend MATRIPRASAD! Too strange to believe? – Yes, so is it. Let me explain. 
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May 13, 2015

Amal Kiran on Sri Aurobindo's Adesh (republished)

SRI AUROBINDO, PARTHASARATHY IYENGAR AND PONDICHERRY


[For those who have publicly displayed their spiritual insensitivity and ignorance of the facts relating to Sri Aurobindo’s life, Amal Kiran’s article should be an eye-opener. The article was first published in the Mother India issue of May 1988, pp. 305-310 and later in Aspects of Sri Aurobindo (2000), pp. 196-204. It is a rejoinder to Peter Heehs’ interpretation of the Adesh (divine command) that Sri Aurobindo received in 1910 to go from Calcutta to Chandernagore, and then from there to Pondicherry. The discussion is subtle and abstract and even Amal Kiran says that at first he “was inclined to agree broadly” with Heehs. But he changed his mind “on a closer inspection” when he realised the deeper implications of the author’s presentation of the event in the Archives & Research issue of December 1987. For the consequences of whether you agree or not with Heehs’ presentation (as also in the recent case of his book) are tremendous. Either you conclude that Sri Aurobindo ran away in fear of being arrested by the British police or that the Divine commanded him to escape in order to make him undertake in Pondicherry the much greater work of the supramental transformation, of which he was perhaps not aware at that point of time. In both cases, the outer actions remain the same, but the motivations behind become totally different.]
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May 3, 2015

Matriprasad Satyamurthy’s Remark on a Controversial Take on Sri Aurobindo’s Life – by Bireshwar Choudhury

This is with regard to the news story titled “Bengal minister’s Aurobindo play sitting on a time bomb / Controversial Take On Guru’s Exit From Freedom Struggle” published in The Times of India (Mumbai edition) on 25 April, 2015. The controversial take is stated in the following manner:

“Did Rishi Aurobindo ‘run away’ from the freedom movement?”

“Standing behind prison bars, Hemchandra bursts out in anger: “You (Aurobindo) have saved yourself but history won’t forgive you.” In another scene, Aurobindo’s brother Barin says: “Why did I tell my brother’s survival lies only in mixing religion with politics? Little did I know he’d give up politics and take refuge in religion.”
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Apr 25, 2015

Sampdas on Jayantilal Parekh’s Article on Sri Aurobindo Ashram

It is no surprise then that the  Wellwishers of the Ashram Trust, knowing too well which side of the bread is buttered, have no qualms about keeping quiet when Sri Aurobindo himself is derated, but take up cudgels and loudspeakers on behalf of the Trustees. The guidepost for them is that those who question the wrong actions of the Trust are necessarily heretics and their actions are blasphemous. However, on their part, they are prone to take the easy path of “we see no wrong, we hear no wrong, we speak no wrong” on the actions of the Trust. They expect that wrongs against the Divine and sadhaks be not addressed at all by chanting the rhetoric, “the Trustees can do nothing wrong and people should accept everything that they do with the non-questioning maxim of conduct that “thou shalt not think or reason or question the Trustees even if they are wrong.” Their fundamental fallacy owes to the misplaced identification of the administrative outfit of the Ashram Trust with the Ashram itself. [extract – read full article below]
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Apr 19, 2015

Comment by an Ashram inmate who has been deeply pained by the Heehs Affair

The problem is not so much with the likes of Heehs and Doniger. Born in an alien culture, fed by the staple diet of Freudianism or else serving the cause of a militant Church, they are true to their dharma not caring about what the world may say about them. But what about us Indians who neither read nor think for themselves? Look at what happened with the Heehs issue.
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Apr 17, 2015

“The Hindus: An Alternative History” by Wendy Doniger ― Review by Ali Sheikh

There you have it. Weird Hindu doomsdays. Sex-crazed kings. Cruel gods. Men marrying dogs. Phalluses everywhere—some erect and some flaccid. Ladies and gentlemen, we finally have an alternative history of Hinduism. And yes, left uncontested, in all likelihood these are the “insights” a whole new generation of students and researchers might learn, internalize, and cite in future scholarly works. [Extract – read full review below]
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