Response to the Postmodernist charge of “Essentialism”

My book's emphasis on difference is mainly about differences in axioms, truth-claims and philosophies. The purpose is to demonstrate that all truth-claims are not the same, and the intent is not to establish the superiority or inferiority of any. Some post-modernists do find all truth-claims to be essentialism, including all scientific claims; however, that is such an extreme view that I shall not bother to address it. My response here is to another kind of charge of essentialism - i.e. the use … [Read more...]

Is Karma-Reincarnation Compatible with Christianity?

It is commonplace these days to hear the word “karma” used in popular parlance. Broadly speaking, karma could be translated as, “as you sow, so shall you reap” and this is how it is usually understood and used by Christians. The word karma, in a popular context, underscores the idea that there is a universal law at work, that we do live in a just world and no action (or thought) is exempt from consequences. Many surveys also show that an increasing percentage of Americans believe in … [Read more...]

Response to the Doctrine of Sameness

Response to the Doctrine of Sameness The World Negating Thesis A notion has become widespread that non-duality is escapism from the mundane world. This has become the handle with which Vedanta got dismissed on the basis that: It does not bring about advancement in the human condition because it advocates that the human condition as we experience is a false construction, hence there is no need to try and improve it; It causes complicity with poverty, social abuse and is therefore … [Read more...]

Gandhi: Quintessentially Different and Non-Digestible

My book brings to the foreground some fundamental differences between Indian and Western civilizations, and explored at length the spiritual, metaphysical, philosophical and historical basis for such differences. I argue, that to gloss over these differences, reveals a dismal lack of civilizational self-awareness and wishful thinking on the part of Westerners, and low self-esteem by Indians resulting in part of an education system that seems to be still fulfilling the mandates of colonial … [Read more...]

The Tiger and the Deer: Is Dharma being digested into the West?

By assuming the mantle of the originators and bearers of universal truths – both sacred and secular – the West has often embarked on and justified programs, missions and schemes to bring the rest of mankind around to it’s own worldview. I use the metaphors of “tiger” and “deer” to illustrate the process of what I call the “digestion” of one culture by another, carried out under the guise of a desire to assimilate, reduce differences and assert sameness. The key point being made … [Read more...]

Challenging Western Universalism

One of the most important objectives of my recent book, Being Different, An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism (HarperCollins, 2011) is to refute Western claims of universalism. According to these claims, the West is both the driver of history and the ultimate, desirable destination of the entire world.  The West purportedly provides the ideal template to which all other civilizations and cultures must contort, be pruned, trimmed or reconfigured to fit, or else be eliminated or sidelined … [Read more...]

Yoga: Freedom from History

When I first moved to the United States 4 decades ago, I was struck by the efforts made by individuals, civic societies and the American government to instill in Americans a strong historical identity. Secular American society is filled with historical societies, with practically every American town engaged in the recording, analysis and preservation of past events, whether significant or not. National monuments of patriotic historical events dominate state capitals. Similarly, genealogy is a … [Read more...]

Civilizations of the Forest and Desert

BC.Picture-Forest-Desert-Redwoods

In my recent book, Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism (2011, HarperCollins India), I’ve discussed how a constant striving for balance and equilibrium between the forces of “chaos” and “order” (rather than the complete annihilation of chaos) permeates Indian philosophy, art, cuisine, music and erotica, distinguishes Indian culture from its Western counterpart and avoids the absolutism of Western sacred literature that views the two poles locked in a zero-sum … [Read more...]

Hindu Good News

The world is in a time of transition. Globalization, increasing movement of people across national boundaries, environmental challenges, religious conflict, emerging economies and a multi-polar world all demand shifts in thinking to resolve age-old human dilemmas and problems. Many of the solutions offered for resolving today’s challenges, seem tired, dated and inadequate. They and the institutions created to propagate them stem primarily from the worldview of the West, which has been … [Read more...]

Dharma is not the same as Religion

The word "dharma" has multiple meanings depending on the context in which it is used. These include: conduct, duty, right, justice, virtue, morality, religion, religious merit, good work according to a right or rule, etc. Many others meanings have been suggested, such as law or “torah” (in the Judaic sense), “logos” (Greek), “way” (Christian) and even ‘tao” (Chinese). None of these is entirely accurate and none conveys the full force of the term in Sanskrit. Dharma has no … [Read more...]