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Books > Hindu > A Hindu View of The World (Essays in the Intellectual Kshatriya Tradition)
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A Hindu View of The World (Essays in the Intellectual Kshatriya Tradition)
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A Hindu View of The World (Essays in the Intellectual Kshatriya Tradition)
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About the Book
A feature of the current Indian intellectual scene that Strikes an outside observer (as I consider myself) is its excessive inhibition. There appear to be certain boundaries that most Indian intellectuals will not venture to cross, choosing rather to work within a self-imposed framework bounded by taboos. One of these taboos is raising questing about the claims of certain religions and their icons on humanistic grounds; this is simply not done. Another is a re-examination of the role of Mahatma Gandhi in modern history, especially his position as the pre-eminent leader of Indian nationalism . A few others have been brought forward and discussed in this book.

This is not healthy situation. It is fifty years since India became independent – a passage of time long enough to allow a re-examinations of her past. If this calls for breaking some taboos, it is time we did so even if it makes some people unhappy. A few ruffled feathers cannot be allowed to stand in the way of truth and progress. As Sri Aurobindo put it:

...We should be absolutely unsparing in our attack on whatever obstructs the growth of the nation, and never be afraid to call a spade Excessive good nature will never do ... in serious politics. Respect of persons must always give way to truth and conscience ...

What India needs especially at this moment is aggressive virtues, the spirit of soaring idealism, bold creation, fearless resistance, courageous attack; of the passive tamasic inertia we already have too mach.

This spirit of aggression is what I have tried to bring to the collection of essays presented in this volume. It is attempt to be an ‘intellectual Kshatriya’ – borrowing a phrase from my friend and colleague David Frawely. I have held no one to be above criticism, nor treated any subject as taboo. This I believe was the spirit of the Vedic Renaissance (or Hindu Renaissnce) that stirred the souls of thinker like’ Maharshi Dayananda Sraswayi, BankimaChandra Chatterji, Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda. This was the moving spirit during the early phase of the national movement.

It is time that we regained the spirit of the Vedic Renaissance, for, if present trends of moral weakness and expediency are allowed to continue unchallenged, the nation may be headed towardas a mortal and cultural abyss from which there is no return. As the great Greek historian Michael Psellus recorded in his Fourteen Byzantine Rulers, it was such loss of vigor that turned the once mighty Byzantine Empire into an effete bureaucracy.

If newly independent India is to avoid a similar fate, the first step is to recapture the Vedic spirit which demands a willingness to ask uncomfortable questions and take unpopular positions. Failure to do so has resulted in an intellectual climate filled with “Shuffling insincerities and shallow evasions” as Sri Aurobindo put it. These, as the same sage tells us, are “the weapons of the weak”.

About the Author

Navaratna S. Rajaram is a mathematician, computer scientist and linguist and historian of science. He has more twenty years’ experience in teaching and research at several universities in the United States. Since 1984 he has been an advisor to the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA).

His most recent interest is in study of the scientific foundations of ancient history, particularly the history of ancient India. He has worked on the connections between Vedic mathematics and the mathematics of ancient Egypt and Old Babylonia. His other books published by Voice of India, are The Politics of History: Aryan Invasion Theory and The Subversion of Scholarship (1995), Secularism: The New Mask of Fundamentalism (1995), and Vedic Aryans and The Origins of Civilization: A Literary and Scientific Perspective (1997) written on collaboration with Davis Frawely.

Preface

The Role of Intellectual Kshatriyas

A feature of the current Indian intellectual scene that strikes an outside observer (as I consider myself) is its excessive inhibition. There appear to be certain boundaries that most Indian intellectuals will not venture to cross, choosing rather to work within a self-imposed framework bounded by taboos. One of these taboos is raising questions about the claims of certain religions and their icons on humanistic grounds; this is simply not done. Another is a re- examination of the role of Mahatma Gandhi in modern history, especially his position as the pre-eminent leader of Indian nationalism. A few others may be mentioned, but these suffice for the moment.

This is not a healthy situation. It is fifty years since India became independent - a passage of time long enough to allow a re-examination of her past. If this calls for breaking some taboos, it is time we did so even if it makes some people unhappy. A few ruffled feathers cannot be allowed to stand in the way of truth and progress. As Sri Aurobindo put it:

We should be absolutely unsparing in our attack on whatever obstructs the growth of the nation, and never be afraid to call a spade a spade. Excessive good nature will never do ... in serious politics. Respect of persons must always give way to truth and conscience ...

What India needs especially at this moment is aggressive virtues, the spirit of soaring idealism, bold creation, fearless resistance, courageous attack; of the passive tamasic inertia we already have too much.

I find this spirit to be lacking in much of the intellectual discourse in India today. The result is a quality of intellectual output that is unbecoming of a nation with the size and the intellectual capital which India represents. What is perhaps more disturbing is a subtle intolerance of excellence and free spirited inquiry behind a facade of self-righteous rhetoric. This is often presented as 'tolerance' necessary in a multicultural society. The reality is quite otherwise; this diffidence is often rooted in a fear of criticism, and an unwillingness to take and defend unpopular positions on moral and intellectual grounds. This is neither tolerance nor compassion, but what Krishna in the famous phrase called: kshudram bridaya-daurbalyarn - or 'mean faint-heartedness.' Again as Sri Aurobindo put it:

A certain class of minds shrink from aggressiveness as if it were a sin. Their temperament forbids them to feel the delight of battle, and they look on what they cannot understand as something monstrous and sinful ... The Gita is the best answer to those who shrink from battle as a sin and aggression as a lowering of morality.

This spirit of aggression is what I have tried to bring to the collection of essays presented in this volume. It is an attempt to be an 'intellectual Kshatriya' - borrowing a phrase from my friend and colleague David Frawley. I have held no one to be above criticism, nor treated any subject as taboo. This I believe was the spirit of the Vedic Renaissance (or Hindu Renaissance) that stirred the souls of thinkers like Maharshi Dayananda Saraswati, Bankima Chandra Chatterji, Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda.

This was the moving spirit during the early phase of the national movement.

Following the death of Lokamanya Balgangadhara Tilak (1920), and especially following "Indian Independence in 1947, this freedom of spirit was eclipsed by the rise of the politics of expediency. In the intellectual fields also certain names and slogans -like Gandhi and 'secularism' - came to be frequently invoked to forestall honest debate. It has led also to a serious lowering of the quality of intellectual life draining it of the vitality needed to raise fundamental questions - let alone answer them. To take just one example, nearly all important advances in our understanding of Indian history and civilization have resulted from the work of outisiders - scholars like Sethna, Frawley, Talageri, Bhagwan Singh, Ram Swarup, Sita Ram Goel, Natwar Jha and others. The establishment scholars in comparison have contributed little of substance. They have shackled themselves with their own taboos cloaked in timidity. Empty rhetoric and ideological posturing have become their refuge.

It is time that we regained the spirit of the Vedic Renaissance, for, if present trends of moral weakness and expediency are allowed to continue unchallenged, the nation may be headed towards a moral and cultural abyss from which there is no return. As the great Greek historian Michael Psellus recorded in his Fourteen Byzantine Rulers, it was such loss of vigor that turned the once mighty Byzantine Empire into an effete bureaucracy.

If newly independent India is to avoid a similar fate, the first step is to recapture the Vedic spirit which demands a willingness to ask uncomfortable questions and take unpopular positions. Failure to do so has resulted in an intellectual climate filled with "shuffling insincerities and shallow evasions" as Sri Aurobindo put it. These, as the same sage tells us are "the weapons of the weak". As just noted, this feebleness has given rise to much self-righteous posturing.

The present volume is intended partly as a corrective. If at times the book appears excessively provocative, it is because I feel that such provocation is needed, and it is better to err on the side of aggressiveness. The essays in the present volume cover considerable ground. Their central theme is that nothing should be placed beyond reason and debate. For this reason I do not accept anything as revealed truth, as standing above reason and human comprehension.

In this I am guided by the words of the Buddha when he said: "Accept nothing on my authority, think and be a lamp unto thyself"; and by the words of Madhvacharya: "Never accept as authority the words of any human. Humans are subject to error and deception. One deludes oneself in attributing infalliability to a human, believing that such a person - free from error and deception - ever existed, or that he alone was the author of the [revealed] text." This is the spirit that India needs today.

In other words, I approach my task as an empirical scientist, as one who seeks rational explanations for observable phenomena. My guide in this is the great Gayatri mantra of the Vedic sage Vishwamitra which I see as the source of both science and true mysticism. I see this as the unifier of spirit and reason which is the foundation of the Hindu Civilization in its pristine state which it is our duty to recover from its present moribund condition.

As far as my approach is concerned, it is guided by a pluralistic vision in the Hindu (and the Pagan Greek) spirit that emphasizes freedom of conscience, and freedom of exploration. For this reason I totally reject the notion of moral relativism which holds that all religions and ideologies must be judged on the basis of their own claims, even when they deny such freedoms. Above all I reject the notion of sarva dharma samabhava. I regard it as an escapist doctrine that has caused immense harm by sanctioning inhumanity by justifying the victimization of innocents. Since adharma happens to be the dharma of some individuals (and institutions), sarva dharma samabhava asks us to accord the same respect to anti- humanism as we do to humanism; to stretch the point, we must then grant the same legitimacy to slavery as to free- dom. The emancipator and the enslaver then become morally equal for each being true to his own beliefs and practices

Contents

Preface to the Reprintvii
Preface: The Role of Intellectual Kshatriyasxi
Part IReligions and Ideologies: Hinduism, Christianity and Islam
1A Scientist Looks at Hinduism3
2Faith and Freedom12
3Faith and Politics32
4Science on Prophets and Revelation52
Part IIHistorical Themes: Correcting Distortions
5Indus Script and the Myth of the Aryan Invasion63
6Vedic Dravidians77
7The Meaning of Ayodhya89
8From Somnath to Haj103
9Dead Sea Scrolls Shatter the Christian Myth109
10The Real Mother Teresa136
Part IIIThe National Scene: Conflicts and Values
11A Country at Odds with Itself145
12More Education, Less Politics154
13The Historic Role of Caste161
Part IVTile Kshatriya Spirit: Recovering Cultural Nationalism
14Sri Aurobindo on the Kshatriya Spirit173
15Needed: A New National Vision Emphasizing Heroic Virtues180
16Contrasting Visions: Mahatma Gandhi and Sri Aurobindo195
Selected Bibliography227
Index229
Supplement: Jihad, Terrorism and Dhimmitude251
Sample Pages

















A Hindu View of The World (Essays in the Intellectual Kshatriya Tradition)

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NAM820
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2003
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About the Book
A feature of the current Indian intellectual scene that Strikes an outside observer (as I consider myself) is its excessive inhibition. There appear to be certain boundaries that most Indian intellectuals will not venture to cross, choosing rather to work within a self-imposed framework bounded by taboos. One of these taboos is raising questing about the claims of certain religions and their icons on humanistic grounds; this is simply not done. Another is a re-examination of the role of Mahatma Gandhi in modern history, especially his position as the pre-eminent leader of Indian nationalism . A few others have been brought forward and discussed in this book.

This is not healthy situation. It is fifty years since India became independent – a passage of time long enough to allow a re-examinations of her past. If this calls for breaking some taboos, it is time we did so even if it makes some people unhappy. A few ruffled feathers cannot be allowed to stand in the way of truth and progress. As Sri Aurobindo put it:

...We should be absolutely unsparing in our attack on whatever obstructs the growth of the nation, and never be afraid to call a spade Excessive good nature will never do ... in serious politics. Respect of persons must always give way to truth and conscience ...

What India needs especially at this moment is aggressive virtues, the spirit of soaring idealism, bold creation, fearless resistance, courageous attack; of the passive tamasic inertia we already have too mach.

This spirit of aggression is what I have tried to bring to the collection of essays presented in this volume. It is attempt to be an ‘intellectual Kshatriya’ – borrowing a phrase from my friend and colleague David Frawely. I have held no one to be above criticism, nor treated any subject as taboo. This I believe was the spirit of the Vedic Renaissance (or Hindu Renaissnce) that stirred the souls of thinker like’ Maharshi Dayananda Sraswayi, BankimaChandra Chatterji, Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda. This was the moving spirit during the early phase of the national movement.

It is time that we regained the spirit of the Vedic Renaissance, for, if present trends of moral weakness and expediency are allowed to continue unchallenged, the nation may be headed towardas a mortal and cultural abyss from which there is no return. As the great Greek historian Michael Psellus recorded in his Fourteen Byzantine Rulers, it was such loss of vigor that turned the once mighty Byzantine Empire into an effete bureaucracy.

If newly independent India is to avoid a similar fate, the first step is to recapture the Vedic spirit which demands a willingness to ask uncomfortable questions and take unpopular positions. Failure to do so has resulted in an intellectual climate filled with “Shuffling insincerities and shallow evasions” as Sri Aurobindo put it. These, as the same sage tells us, are “the weapons of the weak”.

About the Author

Navaratna S. Rajaram is a mathematician, computer scientist and linguist and historian of science. He has more twenty years’ experience in teaching and research at several universities in the United States. Since 1984 he has been an advisor to the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA).

His most recent interest is in study of the scientific foundations of ancient history, particularly the history of ancient India. He has worked on the connections between Vedic mathematics and the mathematics of ancient Egypt and Old Babylonia. His other books published by Voice of India, are The Politics of History: Aryan Invasion Theory and The Subversion of Scholarship (1995), Secularism: The New Mask of Fundamentalism (1995), and Vedic Aryans and The Origins of Civilization: A Literary and Scientific Perspective (1997) written on collaboration with Davis Frawely.

Preface

The Role of Intellectual Kshatriyas

A feature of the current Indian intellectual scene that strikes an outside observer (as I consider myself) is its excessive inhibition. There appear to be certain boundaries that most Indian intellectuals will not venture to cross, choosing rather to work within a self-imposed framework bounded by taboos. One of these taboos is raising questions about the claims of certain religions and their icons on humanistic grounds; this is simply not done. Another is a re- examination of the role of Mahatma Gandhi in modern history, especially his position as the pre-eminent leader of Indian nationalism. A few others may be mentioned, but these suffice for the moment.

This is not a healthy situation. It is fifty years since India became independent - a passage of time long enough to allow a re-examination of her past. If this calls for breaking some taboos, it is time we did so even if it makes some people unhappy. A few ruffled feathers cannot be allowed to stand in the way of truth and progress. As Sri Aurobindo put it:

We should be absolutely unsparing in our attack on whatever obstructs the growth of the nation, and never be afraid to call a spade a spade. Excessive good nature will never do ... in serious politics. Respect of persons must always give way to truth and conscience ...

What India needs especially at this moment is aggressive virtues, the spirit of soaring idealism, bold creation, fearless resistance, courageous attack; of the passive tamasic inertia we already have too much.

I find this spirit to be lacking in much of the intellectual discourse in India today. The result is a quality of intellectual output that is unbecoming of a nation with the size and the intellectual capital which India represents. What is perhaps more disturbing is a subtle intolerance of excellence and free spirited inquiry behind a facade of self-righteous rhetoric. This is often presented as 'tolerance' necessary in a multicultural society. The reality is quite otherwise; this diffidence is often rooted in a fear of criticism, and an unwillingness to take and defend unpopular positions on moral and intellectual grounds. This is neither tolerance nor compassion, but what Krishna in the famous phrase called: kshudram bridaya-daurbalyarn - or 'mean faint-heartedness.' Again as Sri Aurobindo put it:

A certain class of minds shrink from aggressiveness as if it were a sin. Their temperament forbids them to feel the delight of battle, and they look on what they cannot understand as something monstrous and sinful ... The Gita is the best answer to those who shrink from battle as a sin and aggression as a lowering of morality.

This spirit of aggression is what I have tried to bring to the collection of essays presented in this volume. It is an attempt to be an 'intellectual Kshatriya' - borrowing a phrase from my friend and colleague David Frawley. I have held no one to be above criticism, nor treated any subject as taboo. This I believe was the spirit of the Vedic Renaissance (or Hindu Renaissance) that stirred the souls of thinkers like Maharshi Dayananda Saraswati, Bankima Chandra Chatterji, Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda.

This was the moving spirit during the early phase of the national movement.

Following the death of Lokamanya Balgangadhara Tilak (1920), and especially following "Indian Independence in 1947, this freedom of spirit was eclipsed by the rise of the politics of expediency. In the intellectual fields also certain names and slogans -like Gandhi and 'secularism' - came to be frequently invoked to forestall honest debate. It has led also to a serious lowering of the quality of intellectual life draining it of the vitality needed to raise fundamental questions - let alone answer them. To take just one example, nearly all important advances in our understanding of Indian history and civilization have resulted from the work of outisiders - scholars like Sethna, Frawley, Talageri, Bhagwan Singh, Ram Swarup, Sita Ram Goel, Natwar Jha and others. The establishment scholars in comparison have contributed little of substance. They have shackled themselves with their own taboos cloaked in timidity. Empty rhetoric and ideological posturing have become their refuge.

It is time that we regained the spirit of the Vedic Renaissance, for, if present trends of moral weakness and expediency are allowed to continue unchallenged, the nation may be headed towards a moral and cultural abyss from which there is no return. As the great Greek historian Michael Psellus recorded in his Fourteen Byzantine Rulers, it was such loss of vigor that turned the once mighty Byzantine Empire into an effete bureaucracy.

If newly independent India is to avoid a similar fate, the first step is to recapture the Vedic spirit which demands a willingness to ask uncomfortable questions and take unpopular positions. Failure to do so has resulted in an intellectual climate filled with "shuffling insincerities and shallow evasions" as Sri Aurobindo put it. These, as the same sage tells us are "the weapons of the weak". As just noted, this feebleness has given rise to much self-righteous posturing.

The present volume is intended partly as a corrective. If at times the book appears excessively provocative, it is because I feel that such provocation is needed, and it is better to err on the side of aggressiveness. The essays in the present volume cover considerable ground. Their central theme is that nothing should be placed beyond reason and debate. For this reason I do not accept anything as revealed truth, as standing above reason and human comprehension.

In this I am guided by the words of the Buddha when he said: "Accept nothing on my authority, think and be a lamp unto thyself"; and by the words of Madhvacharya: "Never accept as authority the words of any human. Humans are subject to error and deception. One deludes oneself in attributing infalliability to a human, believing that such a person - free from error and deception - ever existed, or that he alone was the author of the [revealed] text." This is the spirit that India needs today.

In other words, I approach my task as an empirical scientist, as one who seeks rational explanations for observable phenomena. My guide in this is the great Gayatri mantra of the Vedic sage Vishwamitra which I see as the source of both science and true mysticism. I see this as the unifier of spirit and reason which is the foundation of the Hindu Civilization in its pristine state which it is our duty to recover from its present moribund condition.

As far as my approach is concerned, it is guided by a pluralistic vision in the Hindu (and the Pagan Greek) spirit that emphasizes freedom of conscience, and freedom of exploration. For this reason I totally reject the notion of moral relativism which holds that all religions and ideologies must be judged on the basis of their own claims, even when they deny such freedoms. Above all I reject the notion of sarva dharma samabhava. I regard it as an escapist doctrine that has caused immense harm by sanctioning inhumanity by justifying the victimization of innocents. Since adharma happens to be the dharma of some individuals (and institutions), sarva dharma samabhava asks us to accord the same respect to anti- humanism as we do to humanism; to stretch the point, we must then grant the same legitimacy to slavery as to free- dom. The emancipator and the enslaver then become morally equal for each being true to his own beliefs and practices

Contents

Preface to the Reprintvii
Preface: The Role of Intellectual Kshatriyasxi
Part IReligions and Ideologies: Hinduism, Christianity and Islam
1A Scientist Looks at Hinduism3
2Faith and Freedom12
3Faith and Politics32
4Science on Prophets and Revelation52
Part IIHistorical Themes: Correcting Distortions
5Indus Script and the Myth of the Aryan Invasion63
6Vedic Dravidians77
7The Meaning of Ayodhya89
8From Somnath to Haj103
9Dead Sea Scrolls Shatter the Christian Myth109
10The Real Mother Teresa136
Part IIIThe National Scene: Conflicts and Values
11A Country at Odds with Itself145
12More Education, Less Politics154
13The Historic Role of Caste161
Part IVTile Kshatriya Spirit: Recovering Cultural Nationalism
14Sri Aurobindo on the Kshatriya Spirit173
15Needed: A New National Vision Emphasizing Heroic Virtues180
16Contrasting Visions: Mahatma Gandhi and Sri Aurobindo195
Selected Bibliography227
Index229
Supplement: Jihad, Terrorism and Dhimmitude251
Sample Pages

















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