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Indian Philosophy (sarva darshana saamkathya)

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Indian Philosophy (sarva darshana saamkathya)

The Devotionalistic
Gods in Hinduism

While the old gods of the Vedas (Indra, Agni, Dyaus, Mitra, Varuna, etc. [note]) eventually were demoted by Hinduism to a position inferior to the Vedas themselves, in the Brahman came to be conceived as the Supreme Being, or just Being -- the One. According to the Dvaita Vedânta interpretation of the, Brahman is a personal God, distinct from individual souls (atmans) and from matter.[1] Such a personal Brahman, whether formulated philosophically or not, comes to be identified in popular religion with either Vis.n.u or Shiva. Since different gods are thus proposed as the One God, Hinduism is an unusual kind of monotheism: it contains virtual sub-religions consisting of the devotees of Vis.n.u, the Vaishnavites, and the devotees of Shiva, the Shaivites. It is best to see this as an instance of the "multiplicity of explanations."

On the other hand, the earlier (and perhaps more faithful) interpretation of the is found in the Advaita Vedânta of Shankara [2], where Brahman is identical with the Âtman and is an impersonal Absolute beyond any devotionalistic Gods.[3] Since the personal Gods could all be seen on the same footing in relation to an impersonal Brahman, an attempt was made, we know not by whom, to tidy up things through the doctrine of the Trimûrti:

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The Devotionalistic Gods in Hinduism, Note 1

In Indian philosophy, the doctrine of a personal God who is distinct from matter and souls is usally associated with Madhva, who lived in the 13th century AD. Madhva was a Vaishnavite.

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The Devotionalistic Gods in Hinduism, Note 2

7th century AD. This is about as early as Vedânta occurs, and some speculate that its development was occasioned by the advent of Islâm.

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The Devotionalistic Gods in Hinduism, Note 3

In the 11th century a personal Advaita Vedânta was proposed by Râmânuja, who denied that Mâyâ was illusion and made it, with multiple âtmans, part of Brahman, whom he identified with Vis.n.u (ontologically, this is essentially the docrine of the Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza, although his God is still impersonal).

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The Devotionalistic Gods in Hinduism, Note 4

Cosmic time is infinite and cyclical in India. The world we are familiar with is that of our Mahâyuga, or æon. This divided into the Kr.tayuga of 4800 years, the Tretâyuga, of 3600 years, the Dvâparayuga, of 2400 years, and the Kaliyuga, of 1200 years. These decline in quality as well as in length, and can be characterized as the golden, the silver, the bronze, and the iron ages, respectively. We are in the Kaliyuga, which is supposed to have begun around 900 BC, at the time of the climactic battle in the Mahâbhârata. However, it has now obviously been much more than 1200 years since then, so the reckoning now is that the 12,000 years of the Mahâyuga are not ordinary human years, but "years of the gods," which are 360 human years. Thus, the Mahâyuga is 4,320,000 years long, and the Kaliyuga 432,000. In those terms, the Kaliyuga is supposed to have begun, still with the battle in the Mahâbhârata, on 18 February 3102 BC (identified by the Arab historian al-Bîrûnî [973-1048]).

The Kaliyuga is an age of decline and decadence, with the Pân.d.avas preserving as much good as they could from the previous yuga. This is rather like Tolkien's sense, in The Lord of the Rings, that great things are passing away (like the Elves), but as much good is preserved as possible. At the end of the Mahâyuga will be some sort of Apocalypse, either destroying the world or renewing it in some less catastrophic sense.

Seventy-one mahâyugas make a manvantara. This will be either 852,000 years or, with the years of the gods, 306,720,000 years. Fourteen manvantaras make a kalpa. The kalpa, as described in the text, is thus 11,928,000 or, with the years of the gods, 4,294,080,000 years. A Day and the Night of Brahmâ, each a kalpa, are multiplied by 360 to give a Year of Brahma (8,588,160,000 or 3,091,737,600,000 years); and 100 years of Brahmâ make the Life of Brahmâ (858,816,000,000 or 309,173,760,000,000 years).

The kalpa is also a basic unit of Buddhist cosmology, although there are different versions of it. Thus a Buddhist kalpa can be 15,998,000 years long, comparable to the shorter version of the Hindu kalpa, or it can be "incalculable" in length. Eighty such kalpas make a mahâkalpa, "Great Kalpa," but even this is a fraction of the asam.khya kalpa, which is a multiple of 1059 kalpas (of one kind or another). Three asam.khya kalpas are necessary for someone to become a Buddha. This is discussed in detail by Akira Sadakata in Buddhist Cosmology [Kôsei Publshing Co., Tokyo, 1997, pp.96-97]. The Hindu periods are explained by A.L. Basham, in The Wonder That Was India [Rupa & Co., Calcutta, Allahabad, Bombay, Delhi, 1954, 1967, 1981, 1989, p.323].
Dear All,
Greetings. I'm a first year research student at the Study of Religions, SOAS working on the Gita-gudhartah-dipika of Madhusudana Sarasvati. In the introduction, verse no. 4 Madhusudana has termed the Vedas as tripartite having karma, upasana, and jnana kandas respectively and has mentioned the Gita too as having three kandas in 18 chapters accordingly. I've got a bit information that Sayanacarya in his Vedabhasya has also divided the Vedas into three parts and it has been a tradition to consider the Vedas as having three parts even before the advent of Sankara. Could you help me throw light on the question as to whether Sayana divided the Vedas into karma, upasana, and jnana kandas and Madhusudana has borrowed the idea from Sayana or it could be taken otherwise.

With sincere regards
Niranjan Saha

The World of Myth
Feb 7 2005 | Views 8884 | Comments (221)
The 'clash of civilizations' is mostly about the adumbration of religious ideas and the practice of religion. This clash is acted out by Muslim fundamentalists who cut the throats of hapless journalists, engineers, and other Christians, born-again or not, lost in the alleys of Karachi or Karbala or Kirkuk. Fellow Christian religionists then drop 3,000-pound bombs from 30,000 feet up in retaliation. Meanwhile both seek to poke the eyes of Hindus, who demand from the two some promise of a 'Sarva dharma samabhava' (All religions are equal) which by all accounts is a concept dead on arrival at the Vatican or in Mecca. Roman, Greek, Mesopotamian and other pagan cultures are 'dead and buried', and the tribal cultures and religions of Africa, Australia, and South America have been decimated. What is left for the predatory religions are one another and the pesky Hindus who keep pushing wrongly, I believe, the idea of 'Sarva dharma samabhava'.

In a recent conference that I attended, one of the speakers told the Hindu-American audience that if they are confronted with the question – 'So, what is your Bible?' – to tell the questioner that Hindus don't have a single book but a library. This 'sound bite' made us all happy but we were still left with the queasy feeling that the reality on the ground was much harsher and more invidious.

One way it is invidious can be discerned from how 'religions', 'myths' and 'philosophies' are taught in American schools and colleges. I am told that only two American universities offer a Ph.D. in Indian philosophy. It seems as if the learned scholars of Indic and Hindu traditions in the West have taken to heart the assertion by the maverick Nirad Chaudhuri. In his bombastic, know-it-all style, the diminutive Bengali with a Napoleon complex proclaimed that, “There is no such thing as thinking properly so called among the Hindus, for it is a faculty of the mind developed only in Greece, and exercised only by the heirs of the Greeks.” (The Continent of Circe: An Essay on the Peoples of India, paperback, p. 163). Chaudhuri also mimicked the Christian missionaries and the Muslim fundamentalists when he compared the books of the Semitic religions with the Vedas: “Their (Vedas) prestige is not accounted for either by their contents or by the use that has been made of them. The Judaic, Christian, and Islamic books are revealed scriptures of the type made familiar by these historic religions, but the Vedas are, if I might extend the word used for the religion of the Hindus for their basic texts as well, 'natural' scriptures. They are not the word of any God or gods, but mostly words addressed to gods.”

Because the Hindus are marked as neither having a religion nor expounding any philosophy, then much of what is contained in their scriptures is proclaimed 'myth'. Mythologies can be interesting, profound, symbolic, and entertaining. I don't have any problems with mythologies. However, when a distinction is made between mythology and religion, and mythology and philosophy, then we see the continuation of the divide between peoples of the 'book', and peoples 'without books' as well as those who have too many books.

The problem struck home when I discovered that a 'world mythology' course taught in our university to bright 13-15 year olds in a 'summer academy' included 'Greek, Roman, Hindu, Chinese, Buddhist, and Native American mythology' but not any Semitic mythology. The course instructors were my good friends and colleagues, who seemed to have bought into the distinction without a protest. They taught the Ramayana and the Mahabharata as mythology in the course and deleted Christian, Muslim, and Jewish stories. The World Mythology textbooks they used included the Ramayana as myth but did not include any stories from the Bible or Koran. Separate translations of the Mahabharata were prescribed to the teenagers as part of the readings for the class. I protested. The Mahabharata was removed as a separate text, but the confusion continued about what is myth and what is religion. What I have noted is the extreme reluctance to include specific and explicit mention of Christianity in the course.

One can very easily speculate the reasons why the administrators of the program advised instructors what not to include, but it is distressing to see how easily teachers are seduced to teach such intellectually dishonest courses. Whatever the reasons for their decisions, such practices go on to perpetuate the false divide between Semitic/ monotheistic religions and the 'other' world religions. Unfortunately, we know that throughout the world the two aggressive monotheistic religions are considered 'great religions', while other religions/ religious traditions are relegated to 'myth' and 'false religions' status. To perpetuate that 'myth', whether benignly or otherwise, in a university or school setting, is extremely dangerous.

Many of the 'World Mythology' textbooks do not include Muslim and Christian stories. Reviewers on the Amazon web site, for example, include comments like these: 'The title is something of a misnomer. This is a fine collection of ancient myths found throughout world history. However, it is intellectually dishonest because the author fails to recognize some of the most powerful myths in human history -- namely those found in the Bible and Koran'. You will not find the names of Adam and Eve, or Jesus or Mary, or Mohammed or Allah in these textbooks, whereas Rama, Krishna, Indra, Buddha all make multiple appearances, including pictures of Benares!

I told my colleagues that the Mahabharata is considered by many as the 'Fifth Veda', not just because it includes the Bhagavad Gita but because Vyasa himself is considered an incarnation of the Gods and Ganesha is his amanuensis. The Ramayana of course is a story about Rama and Sita, and all over India they are worshipped as Gods and not merely as 'folk heroes' (as Indian Marxists claim), I reminded them.

I also pointed out that there is a group of scholars, led by S. N. Balagangadhara of the University of Ghent, who have been arguing that 'religion' in the Western sense is scientifically false, and that Hinduism is not a religion in the Western/ Semitic sense. Balagangadhara's study of the encounter between the early Christians and the Roman pagans and between the modern Europeans and the Indian pagans, leads him to formulate the following problem: (a) Christianity recognizes itself as a religion; (b) The terms under which Christianity recognizes itself as a religion are also the terms under which Islam and Judaism recognize themselves as religion; © Christianity singled out both the Roman and the Indian traditions as rival religions; (d) Judaism and Islam also singled out these same traditions as their religious rivals; (e) Both the Roman and the Indian traditions did not recognize themselves in the descriptions Christianity, Islam, and Judaism gave of them: they did not conceive of themselves as rivals to these three.

Without accepting the fact that their religions are 'scientifically false', some Western teachers of 'myth', however, continue to make the distinction between religion and myth, privileging the former over the latter. A little more nuanced in their understanding of world cultures and other religions, some teachers argue that when teaching about myth to young students one has to be careful about their sensitive nature. Thus, Christian mythology is not included for it might distress students to find out that what they believe is 'true' includes 'stories/ fiction'. These teachers define mythology as 'a set of stories, beliefs, and traditions of a people, accrued over time'. 'We don't evaluate them as good or bad stories', they proclaim.

But these practices raise some questions in the American context:

1. Are students in these classes only Christian?
2. Are they all of such strong faith and belief that including stories from Christian mythology will shock and discomfort them?
3. Are there Muslim and Hindu students in the classes?
4. Why are Muslim and Jewish mythologies not taught as part of the course if the concern is only about Christian students? Is it because of the fear what the Jewish-American League or the Council on American-Islamic Relations will do if they find out?
5. Is sensitivity to students' concern more important than academic honesty and academic integrity?
6. If students are sensitive about such matters, would instructors then go the extent of not teaching Darwinism and scientific cosmology to Christian students?
7. If there is a Hindu student in class, how are the instructors going to explain why his/ her religion can be taught as mythology and not his/ her classmates' religion?
8. Hinduism is not 'dead' like Roman and Greek and Pagan 'religions'. There are one billion Hindus in the world, and they have survived despite the best efforts of proselytizers and marauders to convert them or to erase their religious/ spiritual/ cultural identities. The Mahabharata and the Ramayana are part of the daily spiritual life of Hindus all over the world.
9. Most importantly, will the deliberate decision to exclude Christian, Muslim, and Jewish mythologies make these teachers willing collaborators in a belief system that categorizes religions as 'true' and 'false'? India is still a battleground and a marketplace for buying and trading souls, as most of the rest of the world is. How will the deliberate exclusion of Semitic faiths from World Mythology courses affect students who then may continue to believe that indeed there is merit to the unverifiable claims of aggressive monotheistic traditions?
Bringing such academic concerns to the fore is tricky. One always has to take into consideration matters of 'academic freedom', and what rights teachers have in bringing in different kinds of material to the classroom, and who has what kinds of rights in critically evaluating such practices. I was one among a group of eight Indian-American representatives that met with Emory University officials this past February regarding the idiosyncratic interpretation of Ganesha by Emory University professor Paul Courtright in his book, 'Ganesha – Lord of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings'. I have also written about University of Chicago professor Wendy Doniger who was quoted in The Philadelphia Inquirer calling the Bhagavad Gita 'a dishonest book' that 'justifies war.' Thus, when I found out what was happening in my own school, I had to raise the matter with the administrators of the summer program, and the teachers who taught the course.

Some Indian-Americans don't see much merit in complaining about these matters or correcting what is egregiously wrong in American school textbooks or classroom practices. For them, Hinduism is a 'mish mash' of cultural practices accrued over millennia. Most of these beliefs and practices is plain obscurantist nonsense, they proclaim. By conflating the obscurantist aspects of Hinduism with the world of Hindu knowledge and culture, they ignore the explicit practice of religious supremacy and academic discrimination in their own neighborhood. By labeling these concerns as merely that of the 'Hindu Right' or of the 'RSS' Indian-American activists and academics are collaborating in the decimation of local culture and religious practices in India.
© Ramesh N. Rao., all rights reserved.

A Comparative History of World Philosophy: From the Upanishads to Kant (Paperback)
by Ben-Ami Scharfstein (Author)

The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies (Hardcover)
by Thomas McEvilley (Author) "Ancient cultures from the eastern Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean were shaped through a continuous interplay with one another, an interplay only dimly seen, which..." (more)

This unparalleled study of early Eastern and Western philosophy challenges every existing belief about the foundations of Western civilization. Spanning thirty years of intensive research, this book proves what many scholars could not explain: that today’s Western world must be considered the product of both Greek and Indian thought—Western and Eastern philosophies.

Thomas McEvilley explores how trade, imperialism, and migration currents allowed cultural philosophies to intermingle freely throughout India, Egypt, Greece, and the ancient Near East. This groundbreaking reference will stir relentless debate among philosophers, art historians, and students.

From the Publisher
Two Worlds, One Philosophical Cradle:

Scholar Explores Hidden Kinship Between Eastern and Western Culture in Revolutionary Study;

In the Early Days, Ideas Traveled Freely Between India and Greece

A revolutionary study by the classical philologist and art historian Thomas McEvilley is about to challenge much of academia. In THE SHAPE OF ANCIENT THOUGHT, an empirical study of the roots of Western culture, the author argues that Eastern and Western civilizations have not always had separate, autonomous metaphysical schemes, but have mutually influenced each other over a long period of time. Examining ancient trade routes, imperialist movements, and migration currents, he shows how some of today’s key philosophical ideas circulated and intermingled freely in the triangle between Greece, India, and Persia, leading to an intense metaphysical interchange between Greek and Indian cultures.

As the author explains it, "The records of caravan routes are like the philosophical stemmata of history, the trails of oral discourses moving through communities, of texts copied from texts. . . .What they reveal is not a structure of parallel straight lines—one labeled ‘Greece,’ another ‘Persia,’ another ‘India’—but a tangled web in which an element in one culture often leads to elements in others."

While scholars have sensed a philosophical kinship between Eastern and Western cultures for many decades, THE SHAPE OF ANCIENT THOUGHT is the first study to provide the empirical evidence. Covering a period ranging from 600 B.C. until the era of Neoplatonism and a geographical expanse reaching across the ancient world, McEvilley explores the key philosophical paradigms of these cultures, such as Monism, the doctrine of reincarnation in India and Egypt, and early Pluralism in Greece and India, to reveal striking similarities between the two metaphysical systems. Based on 30 years of intense intellectual inquiry and research and on hundreds of early historical, philosophical, spiritual, and Buddhist texts, the study offers a scope and an interdisciplinary perspective that has no equal in the scholarly world.

With a study like THE SHAPE OF ANCIENT THOUGHT, students and scholars of history, philosophy, cultural studies, and classics will find that their field has been put on entirely new footing. Yet as editor Bill Beckley points out, the merits of this work reach into a broader social context: "More recently, events have leant an unexpected urgency to the [book] by focusing the world’s attention on Afghanistan (ancient Bactria), where much of the story unfolds in this volume, and where the difficult karma of cross-cultural contacts is still alive."

For many, certainly for me philosophy started with Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. What a mistake! What we think of as Greek Philosophy is a mix between Indian and Greek philosophy based on extensive exchange of knowledge starting no later than 550 BC at the time of Buddha in India and Pythagoras in Greece. Up to 350 AD you can find the same concepts in India and Greece. Therefore Western thinking being unique, at least up to that point in time, is an illusion. It was joint East West thinking.

So you may ask, so what? The surprising merit of this book is that by comparing the different schools of thought in India with those of Greece I developed for the first time some real understanding of the differences. A second merit is that the book proves that what appear to be important differences between East and Western ways of thinking are due do misinterpretation of texts. There are differences and overlaps between the schools but that does not depend on whether they are Greek or Indian. Finally I feel more comfortable by knowing that our philosophical base is based on the joint efforts from two great philosophical traditions.

There is no book on which I have spent more hours in reading time. But it was worth it. For an easy start begin with the last chapter, number 25. Even reading only that chapter makes the book worthwhile to buy.

News Flash: Plato was a Yogi & Greeks may have made a major contribution to Buddhism.
This is a magnificent and most provocative piece of scholarship. In the course of 732 pages of beautifully written and carefully documented prose, McEvilley establishes the evidence for a number of surprising conclusions of great relevance for Yoga Science.

First -- Pre-literate Sumerians were the first scientists.
Based on observations made over generations, Bronze Age Mesopotamians, in the millennia before writing (probably by 3000BC), had figured out the precession of the equinoxes and how a number system based on 60 - the "sexagesimal system" that we still use today - has great advantages for measuring time.
They had also figured out that this number system works better than the decimal system for the tuning of string and pipe musical instruments -- of which there were many in ancient Mesopotamia.
This work long preceded and set the stage for Pythagoras and the rest of the pre-Socratics to whom we generally attribute the origins of science.

Second -- Plato was a Yogi.
In 559BC Darius I of Persia established the Achaemenid empire that reached from the Aegean, Black, and Eastern Mediterranean Seas (including a slew of Greek cities), across Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Persia, Central Asia, and all the way to the Indus river. Darius collected all manner of precious things from across his empire including medical systems and philosophies. His Royal Road reached from Susa (in present day Iran) across Iraq and Asia Minor all the way to Sardes (near the Aegean end of present day Turkey). He maintained a large retinue of translators in his capitals to facilitate communication. As a result, goods, people, and ideas from India, in its early Upanishadic period at the time, moved readily into the stream of pre-Socratic philosophy.
McEvilley tells this story in such a way that you feel you get to know the pre-Socratics - folks like Pythagoras, Parmenides, and Empedocles - as real people. He does side-by-side comparisons of their writings and those of contemporary Indian philosophers - the documents make the case.
He reviews why no-one had ever done this comparison before.
The tale leaves little doubt that the influence here on Greek thought was deep and lasting. The net result, by the time we get to Plato, some 150 years later, it is clear that forms of life practice that we would now recognize as Yoga, had also become an integral part of the practice of Greek philosophy.
Plato's Academy was a Yoga ashram, in effect.

Third -- Nagarjuna was a Greco-Buddhist.
Greek thought developed rapidly - by the time of Alexander, another century had passed, and Greek philosophy was now considerably more sophisticated than contemporaneous Indian in its manner of argument and had developed mature forms of syllogism and dialectic.
Alexander did not move just to conquer the Persians militarily - he went to remake Persia into a Greek - or "Hellenic" civilization. He equipped himself to establish Greek colonies, with a set pattern for urban infrastructure and the people needed to build and inhabit these centers. He took with his army their families, teachers for their kids, craftsmen of all kinds, physicians, philosophers, and tens of thousands of prospective colonists.
He lefts dozens of "Alexandrias" across Persia, into Central Asia, and North Western India. The legacy of all this in Central Asia and Northwestern India was a dynamic Greco-Indian civilization. Many of Greek descent embraced Buddhism and appear to have played a significant role in the emergence of the Mahayana and its spread into China from Central Asia. King Ashoka was himself most likely half or quarter Greek. Greek logic -- the syllogism and the dialectic - were adopted by the Greco-Buddhists and most eloquently elaborated by Nagarjuna in the 1st or 2nd Century AD.

Bottom line - Science was Yoga Science in these ancient formative times. This is my conclusion from McEvilley's evidence.
What happened next? In the East, development of the Greco-Buddhist civilization was cut off by what appear to have been a number of factors - my impression is that these include climate change with desertification of Central Asia, invasions from various Steppe nomad groups, and Islamization of the region during the centuries of the late first and early second Millennium AD. In the West, Greco-Indian thought was summarized by Plotinus and the Neo-Platonist movements he spawned in the early 1st Millennium. Then, the collapse of the Roman Empire and the rise of Christianity and Islam led to a complex subsequent history.
What happened to this Greco-Indian synthesis? In the East, elements of it were preserved in the Asian Buddhist traditions, perhaps most completely in Tibet. In the West, Neo-platonism fed into the stream of esotercism that is being documented by scholars such as Antoine Faivre, Wouter Hanegraaff, and their colleagues.
Yoga Science as an effort to re-integrate the seemingly divergent streams of this vastly complex history into a coherent whole as key to our global inheritance - scientifically updated and philosophically streamlined for the future.
Thank you, Dr. McEvilley!

Thomas McEvilley, 'The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies.' New York: Allworth Press, 2002. ISBN 1581152035. Hardback, 731 pp. Illustrated with b/w plates, maps, and with a detailed bibliography and index.

The orthodox position regarding the early Greek philosophers might be thought of as a view which likes to see Ancient Greece as a self-contained clearly demarcated autochthonous entity, and the Greeks as more or less like us in meaning by 'philosophy' what our orthodox professors such as Guthrie, Kirk, Raven, Barnes etc., mean by the term.

Over this orthodox landscape the American scholar Thomas McEvilley has arrived like a thunderbolt of Indra with a burst of brilliant light that enables us to see clearly for the first time things that without him we might never have seen.

As a classicist who is competent, not only in Greek and Latin but also in Sanskrit and several other languages, and who is conversant, not merely with the history and primary texts of an isolated and clearly demarcated 'Greece' (which never existed except in the minds of the orthodox), but with the larger Indian-Mesopotamian-Egyptian-Greek complex, he has devoted thirty years research to bringing before us a massive and comprehensive account of the philosophies that burgeoned and grew within that complex.

It was a complex in which an enormous amount of movement took place with innumerable people of various sorts engaged in travel by both land and sea - statesmen, ambassadors, emissaries, couriers, merchants, bankers, financial agents, healers, soldiers, sailors, scholars, students, priests, missionaries, religious mendicants, holy men, wonder workers, tourists, sightseers, etc.

It was also one in which people still retained their natural curiosity about others, their ways of life and beliefs, and would have been eager to listen to the wise and informed no matter what region of the earth they hailed from. This open-mindedness, naturally enough, led to a great deal of cross-fertilization of ideas which McEvilley, a man who happily is similarly open-minded, sets out before us in detail. What he shows us is that, while it is undoubtedly true that Indian thinkers learned certain things from the Greeks, it is equally true that the Greeks learned some very important things from the Indians.

By all means read Guthrie and Kirk and Raven and Barnes and the rest of the tribe of the Orthodox, but be aware that - imprisoned as they are in the cave of wishful thinking with its ceaseless and seductive whisper - autochthonous ... autochthonous ... autochthonous - they are giving you only an incomplete and distorted picture of what ancient Greek thought was really about. For the bigger and truer picture you will most assuredly need McEvilley's truly magisterial study, a study which throws a dazzling and brilliant light over what has hitherto been the somewhat dim and distorted landscape of the orthodox.

The Upanishads (Classic of Indian Spirituality) (Paperback)
by Eknath Easwaran (Introduction, Translator) "AMPLY THE LONGEST and certainly among the oldest of the Upanishads, the Brihadaranyaka touches on every Upanishadic theme and covers the range of its styles..." (more)

Though the nAstIka mata-s in their reactionary fervor chose to keep away from deva-bhASha, its lure could not be avoided. The precision and abilities of deva-bhASha, as well as the need to keep up with the shAstra-s and disputations of their AstIka rivals, made them eventually accept devabhASha. This was facilitated to a great extant as the AstIka brain drain into these heterodoxies gained momentum with brAhmaNa and kShatriya scholars converting to these mata-s. Thus, deva-bhASha become the language of the educated from gandhara to pANDuraNga in Champa (central Vietnam) suvarNadvIpa in the sea (Java). But in the larger nAstIka sphere the anti-Sanskrit undercurrent linked closely to the anti-AstIka sentiment was never fully lost. This attitude was stronger among the jaina nAstIka-s, and persisted much longer than in their bauddha counterparts – they tended to use the deshI medium much more, with Sanskrit works becoming prevalent only somewhat later. This is also corroborated by the jaina story of the Acharya siddhasena who wanted to render their deshI and Prakrit works into devavANI, but was made braShTa for that suggestion, until he performed prAyashchitta. Yet, due to the brAhmaNa brain drain even the jaina-s adopted saMskR^itAnusAra quite early for the purposes of philosophical discourse around the first 2 centuries of the CE. One of the first to do this was the great jaina philosopher umAsvAti (umAsvAmI according to the digambara-s). vAchaka umAsvAti’s work the tattvArthAdhigama sUtra-s (=tattvArtha sUtra-s; TAS) is one of the important hallmarks in the history of Indian thought that is comparable to the AstIka darshana sUtra-s. Its role as the primary pillar of the jaina mata is clear from the fact that it has been studied across sectarian lines among them and studied and commented by several notable jainAcharya-s – siddhasena, haribhadra sUrI, devagupta, akala~Nka bhaTTa among others. Among the AstIka-s, even the medieval period, TAS was studied as a pUrvapakSha and cited by vidyAraNya in his sarvadarshana saMgraha.

Of vAchaka umAsvAti we know not much and whatever accounts exist are confused and conflicting. At least one jaina account mentions that he belonged to the brahminical harita gotra but another contradicts this and mentions his gotra as kaubhiShaNa (or unknown origin). There is some agreement that he was a teacher in the jaina school of pATalIputra. A study of the TAS reveals certain key points about umAsvAti-s origins:
1) The main stay of the early jaina mata were the vaishya-s and their royal kShatriya patrons. This is clear supported by the fact that the vaishya occupations are considered the best options for a jaina. Secondly, this is also consistent with the use of the deshI medium which was indeed the prevalent speech of the vaishya-s and possibly also some the earlier kShatriya dynasties like maurya and nanda. In contrast to this trend, the TAS is the first recorded instance of a jaina author composing a text in Sanskrit – few other jaina texts were composed in Sanskrit for a while after the TAS.
2) umAsvAti uses the sUtra style closely mirroring that used in the AstIka systems authored by brAhmaNa philosophers. Thus, the TAS also represents the first time the jaina-s used the style of sUtra-s similar that prevalent from the vedic period among the AstIka-s. In its organization the TAS consciously mirrors the foundational sUtra-s of various AstIka darshana-s like those of kaNAda, akShapAda, pata~njali and bAdarAyaNa. The TAS has a closely linked commentary (by umAsvAti himself according to shvetAmbara tradition) that resembles the yoga sUtra-s and their integrally linked bhAShya, the vyAsa bhAShya.
3) The contents and philosophy of the TAS are clearly jaina, yet they have several elements that definitely reflect AstIka thought. The TAS positions itself as a shAstra for mokSha-dharma – this is same as what vedAnta does (although their ideas of mokSha might differ). The presents restraints and control of the senses (e.g. 7th adhyAya) which resemble those of AstIka ascetic practices enjoined by the yoga tradition (e.g. ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya, aparigraha etc.). Importantly, the TAS mirror nyAya and vaisheShika thought in its analysis of substance and the atomic theory (adhyAya 5).
Thus, it appears quite likely that umAsvAti was a brAhmaNa convert to the jaina mata, who brought in the Sanskritic sUtra tradition as well as a certain philosophical elements (this will definitely offend hardline jainas who want to separate themselves from the rest of Hindu tradition). In the process he ended up writing what were probably the first sUtra-s of the jaina-mata, equivalent to those of the AstIka darshana-s, and thereby set the jaina darshana on level ground with the astIka for the battles to ensue.

umAsvAti’s sUtra-s includes a feature that is not common in the principal AstIka darshana-s, namely the sUtra-s that describe geography/cosmography and types of deva-s (adhyAya-s 3 and 4). The description of the types of deva-s including multiple indra-s and their vimAna-s (“spaceships”) is primarily to establish an alternative system that purposely differs from that of the AstIka-s from whom they branched off (we have noted before examples of how the bauddha-s as well as jaina-s did this on these pages). In contrast, the principal AstIka darshana-s affiliated with the veda did not need to include such sections because their versions were the standard versions which were already provided by their shruti and original itihAsa-purANa. By creating such parallel versions the jaina-s (and other nAstIka-s) could now set up cosmographies and theographies that could claim a hierarchical superiority over the standard model. For example by creating a system of multiple serial indra-s they could trivialize the foremost deva of the vedic AstIka-s. However, the nAstIka-s were not unique (and possibly not original) in this regard – the sectarian astIka-s too set up such systems to supersede earlier systems in their cosmographic/theographic hierarchy. For example, among the shaiva-s we the lAkula-s who succeeded the veda-affiliated original pAshupata-s (who have no cosmographic sutra-s) added a new system of shiva-s (e.g. vidyeshvara-s) to supersede the original rudra-s of their predecessors. This process continued with the siddhAnta tantras with new shiva-s being added on top of the lAkula system till sadAshiva is reached. Finally, the trika and shrIvidyA systems even place preta-s of sadAshiva and others in the throne of their respective devI-s.

However, the most important intellectual contribution of vAchaka umAsvAti was his analysis of life forms and matter. It is in this he preserves some of the early aspects of Indian scientific thought. We had earlier discussed on these pages the zoology of umAsvAti and his classification of animals based on various anatomical and reproductive characters (adhyAya 2). In adhyAya 5 of the TAS we find the early exposition of jaina atomism:
nANoH || 5.11
There are no further divisions in the ultimate atom of matter.
aNavaH skandhAsh-cha || 5.25
Matter may exist in the form of either pure atoms or clusters there off (skandhAH – molecules). The jaina authorities in elaborating on this sUtra mention niyama-sAra 6 which declares the paramANu to be that particle which cannot be divided further, and is itself the beginning, the middle and the end of the particle. The associated bhAShya of the TAS also cites an ancient unattributed verse which is reminiscent of mammaTa’s opening of the kAvyaprakAsha which declares the paramANu to be the ultimate cause, minute and indestructible.
A remarkable feature of umAsvAti’s atomic theory is the postulation of two forces to mediate the interactions between the ANu-s:
snigdha-rUkShatvAd bandhaH || 5.32
“snigdha” and “rUkSha” are the two properties that mediate atomic combinations.
He then formulates a system of rules involving these forces that mediate atomic combinations.
na jaghanya-guNAnAM | gunasAmye sadR^ishAnAM | dvyAdhikAdiguNAnAM tu | bandhe samAdhikau pAriNAmikau || 5.33-5.35
aNu-s possessing the minimum one degree of snigdha or rUkSha cannot combine; aNU-s which have the same degree of snigdha or the same degree of rUkSha cannot combine; two snigdha aNu-s or two rUkSha aNu-s can combine if the snigdha or rUkSha of one is two or more degrees higher than the other; during combination the aNu with equal or higher degree of rukSha or snigdha transforms the property of the dissimilar aNu to its own. Thus, umAsvAti postulates the existence of charge-like properties to explain atomic combinations.

Vedic creationism in America


Vedic creationism is attracting friendly attention from both the old-fashioned Biblical creationists and the new-fangled intelligent design theorists. And Vedic creationists, in turn, are doing their best to encourage and support all varieties of creationism.

The International Society of Krishna Consciousness, which propagates the theory of Vedic creationism, is a big hit in the West. Here, Western devotees at a religious gathering organised by ISKCON in Allahabad.

DARWIN is under attack in the United States yet again. Exactly 80 years since the Scopes "monkey trial", the teaching of Darwin's theory of evolution is facing legal challenges in many parts of the country. Even though the court in Dover, Pennsylvania, recently ruled in favour of teaching Darwinian evolution in schools, the fate of another trial is awaited in Cobb County, Georgia. In all, 14 States are debating new regulations on teaching evolution. Kansas has taken a lead by changing the very definition of science to make room for supernatural explanations of natural phenomena. President George W. Bush is in favour of "equal treatment" for creationism in biology classes. It is open season on Darwin.

This time around, the challenge comes from a new breed of sophisticated, scientifically trained creationists who are pushing the theory of "intelligent design" (I.D.). The `ID-ers' do not interpret the Bible literally. They accept fossil record as evidence of the evolution of human beings from apes, and they accept that the earth is about 4.6 billion years old (and not 6,000 years old, as the earlier generation of Biblical creationists believed.) But they draw the line at natural selection, the hallmark of Darwinian evolution. They insist that the complexity in biological structures - the intricacy of the eye, for example - could not have come about by natural causes alone. From this they surmise that there must be an intelligent designer responsible for the wondrous intricacy of life.

It is these I.D.-creationists who are leading the current barrage of anti-evolution lawsuits. But they are not alone. They have found enthusiastic allies among the Hare Krishnas, followers of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), who have been actively propagating their theory of "Vedic creationism", "Krishna creationism", or "Hindu creationism", as it is sometimes called. Vedic creationism is attracting friendly attention from both the old-fashioned Biblical creationists and the new-fangled I.D.-creationists. And Vedic creationists, in turn, are doing their best to encourage and support all varieties of creationism.

Earlier this year, the Hare Krishnas filed an amicus curiae brief supporting I.D.-creationists. The case in question involved a school district in Cobb County, which wanted to put "warning stickers" on biology textbooks, as if books teaching Darwin's theory were injurious to the mental health of the students. The stickers warned the students that "evolution was a theory, not a fact", and that students should approach it with a "critical attitude". In January 2005, the court threw out the stickers as a ruse for creationism. The court argued - correctly - that all science is made up of theories and students should approach all knowledge, not just Darwin's theory, with a critical attitude. But the issue came back before the court on appeal. The final decision is still awaited.

In the Cobb County case, the Hare Krishnas appealed to the court to keep the anti-Darwinian warning stickers. As the stickers only attack Darwin without endorsing a specifically Christian God, Hare Krishnas see them as an opportunity to introduce Vedic creationism into American schools. They know that once one religion gets its foot inside the door, all others will automatically get equal time to bring in their own creation stories and cosmologies into science classrooms in America.

If the Hare Krishnas hope to sneak into science classrooms through the door opened by I.D. creationists, the IDers use the Hare Krishnas to bolster their own image. `I.D.' is often accused of being a scientific-sounding cover for Christian creationism. The ID-ers conveniently use the support of Hare Krishnas to paint themselves in multicultural colours. Prominent I.D. theorists (Philip Johnson, Michael Behe) and some Catholic creationists have endorsed Vedic creationism. Any enemy of Charles Darwin is their friend - that seems to be the operating logic.

The intellectual force driving Vedic creationism is a pair of American Hindus, Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson, both resident "scientists" of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, the research wing of ISKCON. Cremo recently published a huge book, Human Devolution: A Vedic Alternative to Darwin's Theory, which ties together his (and Thompson's) previous and even larger book, The Forbidden Archeology, with literature on paranormal phenomena to argue for creationism from a spirit-centred, Vedic-Hindu perspective. While Cremo insists he is offering a "scientific" alternative to Darwin, almost all of his evidence comes from paranormal phenomena, including studies of extra-sensory perception, faith-healing, reincarnation and past-birth memories, UFOs (unidentified flying objects) and alien abductions. (He needs the paranormal to make a case that purely spiritual causes can modify the DNA and create new life forms.)

WHAT are the Vedic creationists saying? They deny that different species of living beings, including humans, have evolved, or risen up, from simpler organisms, as Darwin claims. Instead, they claim that all species, including humans, have "devolved", or come down, from a highly evolved, super-intelligent being, which is pure consciousness itself. Different species of plants and animals are simply material forms adopted by pure consciousness, or Atman, as it transmigrates in endless cycles of births and rebirths over billions and billions of years. Spiritual growth is the driving force of evolution: higher species emerge when Atman trapped in all matter takes on a higher (more "subtle" and sattvic) life-form as a result of good karma, and lower species result when Atman "forgets" its purity and indulges in "gross desires".

Vedic creationists claim to derive this picture from the "Vedas", in which they include the Puranas as well, especially the Bhagvat Purana. Here it must be added that theories of spiritual or "integral" evolution have been proposed before, notably by Sri Aurobindo and Madame Blavatsky, the founder of theosophy. But the Hare Krishnas are the first to support their theory with "scientific" data - if data from psychics and UFO sightings can be called scientific.

Like all fundamentalists, Vedic creationists take the Bhagvat Purana, along with the Bhagvad Gita, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, to be literally true. They then proceed to use the "facts" described in these sacred texts to condemn Darwin and all of materialist science.

For example, Cremo and Thompson accept the notion of the "day of Brahma" lasting some 4.32 billion years as literally true. They also accept as fact the idea that the "current day of Brahma" began two billion (2,000, 000, 000) years ago. A literal reading of the Ramayana convinces them that humans and monkey-like hominoid creatures coexisted. Putting the two ideas together, they come up with the fantastic notion that the ancestors of modern human beings have existed for two billion years. They want us to believe that human beings walked the earth at a time when fossil records show that only bacteria existed on the earth.

This completely contradicts the best scientific evidence from fossil records and radiocarbon dating that show that the ancestors of modern human beings only appeared around 200,000 to 100,000 years ago: that is, after the appearance of fish, amphibians, and reptiles and other mammals and hominoid species, from which humans have evolved. Vedic creationists set aside all this evidence as a mere social construct of Western archaeologists and palaeontologists who, they say, have been brainwashed by an atheistic, materialistic worldview. Once you remove the "knowledge filter" of Western-Christian materialism, they tell us, "spiritual sciences" will become dominant again, just as they used to be before the "reductionist" science of the West banished the gods from nature.

ON the face of it, Vedic creationism with its longer time spans looks more "scientific" than the old-fashioned Bible literalists who insist that the earth is only 6,000 years old. But what the two creationists share is the belief - entirely unfounded on verifiable facts - that human beings have been around since the beginning of life, and that they have not descended from the apes. (In fact, A.C. Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON, used to describe Darwinians as "rascals" and "fools" for believing in such "nonsense" as the evolution of humans from apes. Prabhupada's spirit lives on in Vedic creationism.)

The shared ground extends into the more "advanced" I.D. as well. Proponents of I.D. bring in a Designer God to explain the existence of "irreducible complexity" of life, which they think cannot be explained by natural causes alone. Proponents of Vedic creationism likewise, bring in Atman because they think that the existence of consciousness cannot be explained by natural causes alone. Just like the ID-ers completely ignore the mass of studies showing how complex structures such as eyes can arise out of natural causes, Vedic creationists completely ignore the mass of studies showing that the phenomenon of consciousness can be explained by purely natural causes. In both cases, there is the same wilful neglect of scientific method and scientific evidence in order to defend a religious conception of natural order.

Vedic creationism as an "ism", as a "scientific" challenge to Darwin, has been more influential in America than it is in India. But the ideas of Vedic creationism - the enormous time spans, the cyclical yugas, the day and night of Brahma, the creation of new species as a result of transmigration of the Atman - are obviously better known in India than in America.

Indeed, most of what the Vedic creationists are talking about is part and parcel of a common perception held by a majority of Indians. Even well educated, scientifically trained Indians believe in karma-transmigration as the force propelling evolution or devolution of species. Many of us encounter Darwin in our schools and college curricula. But thanks to the rote learning that goes on in most of our science classes, Darwin hardly makes a dent on the Vedic creationist ideas we absorb from our myths and religious discourses. For all intents and purposes, Darwinism remains quite irrelevant to our picture of the world. (Yes, most Americans, too, believe in their God over Darwin. Perhaps that is one reason why America, among all advanced Western countries, remains so hospitable to Christian fundamentalism. We surely do not want to imitate the worst traits of American culture.)

Yet most educated Indians take pride in how receptive our religion and culture is to scientific ideas. Many educated middle-class Indians compare Hinduism favourably with Islam and Christianity on precisely this issue of openness to new ideas. Muslims and Christians are often put down as "illogical", "superstitious" and "fundamentalist" while we see ourselves as enlightened and open to arguments and evidence.

But we remain receptive to science only by ignoring its substance. We can keep celebrating the "argumentative Indian" who is supposedly open to arguments and evidence, only by not really engaging with the content of new ideas. An honest engagement with Darwinism would mean acknowledging that if we actually believe that Darwin is right then Vedic creationism cannot be right, and vice versa. Honest engagement would involve revising our views in the light of more persuasive evidence (from fossils and biology) that supports the Darwinian theory of evolution. I do not see many signs of this kind of critical engagement with science in India today.

The complicity of Vedic creationism with Christian creationism in America will hopefully make us take a critical look at our beliefs. If we are troubled and tickled by the creationist challenge to the scientific understanding of evolution in America, it is time, perhaps, to look at the anti-scientific creation stories that we ourselves subscribe to. Can we, in all honesty, believe in Vedic creationism and still think of ourselves as modern, scientific and enlightened?
ISKCON is getting weirder. Especially since it's been taken over by 'ex' christians from the west.
And if the Hare Krishna Ford is the grandson of anti-Semite Henry Ford (read that first paragraph if you haven't yet) and if the Ford Foundation is connected to him in any way, then can't he disband the anti-Dharmic Ford Foundation? I would have thought it an obvious thing to do for one whose publicly-declared Ishtadevam is Krishna, the champion of Dharma....

Hindus have never insisted on creationism. We've got several Puranas on how we came to be. One of them is that we came from monkeys (the pre-Darwin christobrits laughed at us... not laughing anymore, eh? See for instance which discusses it). Even the whole Dasavataram of Vishnu has always been seen as how Bhagavan helped us progress from fish to amphibian to mammal to half-animal ('intermediate' stage) to little man to man-with-axe to man-with-bow to agriculturalist to livestock domesticator to Kalki.
Meanwhile ISKCON has the presumption to speak for all Hindus, and that too while not too long ago they used to specifically say they were not Hindu.

And what is all this nonsense by openly-communist Meera Nanda about ISKCON and its opinions being "Vedic" anyhoo? (Then again, Meera Nanda being a communist would not know anything about Hinduism to distinguish.) Do ISKCON do any Homams or recite the Vedas. No they don't. Next to that, ISKCON literature regularly says something to demote the Vedas (even mis-interpreting and mis-presenting Gita's own words on the matter; all Krishna says is that the Vedas are not the <i>end</i> themselves). The Gita is indeed very central to Hindu Dharma, but so are the Vedas (and Ramayanam and Mahabharatam and various other core Hindu scriptures). Yet if one reads the ISKCON's Bhagavad Gita As It Is (I have it and don't know how I ever managed to read it through before), its sections giving the detailed "meaning" of the verses often have very little to do with the actual Bhagavad Gita. They just go off on a tangent, whereas the untampered verses of the Gita's verses are truly full of meaning even if not all of them were easy enough for me to understand them on the first few reads. (It took me many reads to start getting some of the less obvious stuff...., the VishwaRoopam bit was all I could follow on the first go.)

Just like their 'take' on the Gita, this whole creationism hobby seems to be another far-fetched weird thing they're into.

ISKCON looks more and more like its steering has been taken over by anti-Hindus doing very christian things. I wish they would go back to their famous public declarations that they're not Hindus. And why are they proselytising in India amongst <i>Hindus</i> anyway and making ISKCON converts from Hindus <!--emo&:blink:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/blink.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='blink.gif' /><!--endemo--> ? (Others would have noticed too.) We are Hindus, leave us alone, stop stealing our religion and repackaging christianity in it in order to shove christoislamism down our throats that way. We are not confused about Krishna. Oh and Krishna has nothing to do with jeebusjehovallah.

Really, why is it only ISKCON that has gone so similar to christianism with its very christo-style monotheism and its open declarations of affinity to christoislamism's gawd? And the creationism. And the proselytising. And its strict scripturalism.
Why do western people who get into ISKCON always start debating to convert us to their point of view? They are supposedly reading and citing Hindu texts, but they make it sound like a western theological debate...

You can't see Michel Danino or Ishwar Sharan do this stuff: traditional Hinduism doesn't do it. So it's not the country of origin of the followers. And Arya Samaj, which converts (Indians) to Hinduism doesn't behave like ISKCON. Similarly, Ramakrishna Math too, going by those of its literature publications that I could get my hands on, is as traditionalist Hindu as the rest.

It's something else about ISKCON. I'm thinking it's the way it's set up that has enabled it to mutate into this, and others are certainly taking advantage of some of the western-style trappings inherent in it.

I don't admire ISKCON for exporting "Hinduism". I don't think Hinduism is an export-product or a product. People to whom Hinduism speaks will find their way to it, like Morales did. Others may find Shinto or something else the right tradition for them or find they are agnostic.
I don't think it right for Hinduism to be modified to appeal to people in the west. It then attracts people for the wrong reasons: precisely for the similarities it has with their previous religions of christianity and islam, instead of giving them freedom from those ideas. Rather than improving their states, they then nudge its form more toward their pattern of thinking. Which seems to me what's happened with ISKCON. (Though that still doesn't explain the case of the "BG As It Is" book.)
<!--QuoteBegin-Husky+Apr 29 2008, 04:42 PM-->QUOTE(Husky @ Apr 29 2008, 04:42 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->ISKCON is getting weirder. Especially since it's been taken over by 'ex' christians from the west...
... ISKCON looks more and more like its steering has been taken over by anti-Hindus doing very christian things. I wish they would go back to their famous public declarations that they're not Hindus. And why are they proselytising in India amongst <i>Hindus</i> anyway and making ISKCON converts from Hindus <!--emo&:blink:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/blink.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='blink.gif' /><!--endemo--> ? (Others would have noticed too.) We are Hindus, leave us alone, stop stealing our religion and repackaging christianity in it in order to shove christoislamism down our throats that way. We are not confused about Krishna. Oh and Krishna has nothing to do with jeebusjehovallah....


ISKCON, as an organization and philosophical path, underwent tremendous changes after the death of its "founder-Guru" Prabhupada. The organization was completely taken over by christian whites, and plunged in conspiracies and corruption scandals that would make any christian cult group, including the infamous Jeff Warren's Mormon cult in Texas (whose dirty secrets of polygamy, women abuse and child abuse came to surface recently) proud to claim brotherhood with the ISKCON.

That the majority of current ISKCON members are unable to shed their fundamental christian identities is apparent if one observes their modus operatus and the 'philosophy' they spew out. There is hardly any 'hinduism' in it. Although the vedas were given tremendous importance by Prabhupada in his time, the distortion of the vedas and Prabhupada's teachings related to it, and the final complete undermining of the vedas as a key scripture in the ISKCON movement, reached its zenith soon after Prabhupada's death. The Hindu Gita slowly emerged as the counterpart of the christian Bible, and very soon the ISKCON became an extension of christianity, with many members advocating and promoting the myth of krishna and the christ being one and the same. The ISKCON movement has now become nothing but a white radical movement rather than a spiritual path drawing its inspiration from Hinduism and Hindu scriptures.

More information on the current ISKCON's operations and scandals, and its infamous leaders, may be found at

<!--QuoteBegin-acharya+Apr 29 2008, 09:43 AM-->QUOTE(acharya @ Apr 29 2008, 09:43 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->MEERA NANDA
Prominent I.D. theorists (Philip Johnson, Michael Behe) and some Catholic creationists have endorsed Vedic creationism.
[right][snapback]81005[/snapback][/right]<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Without knowing it, Nanda has said something revealing.
ISKCON repeating the pattern of cosying up with christo(islamism) while distancing itself from Hinduism. They see eye-to-eye on nearly all the christo points:
- creationism: playing with the big boys from the church. Rather than being like the masses of Hindus and taking facts in stride. Has a Hindu org anywhere ever caused such a riot over creationism? No. Only christoislamis have - from US, UK to Turkey. And ISKCON. Curious.
- monotheism. They say Krishna is jeebusjehovallah but won't allow anyone to equate any of the Hindu Gods to Krishna. (Even Vishnu - one of whose forms is Krishna - has to play second fiddle.) Which is odd considering that in Hindu literature all the Hindu Gods have been equated with Brahman but never with jeebusjehovallah for obvious reasons: Brahman isn't a non-existent tyrant.
- conversion frenzy. Church-planting movements amongst the heretic Hindoos. I mean, ISKCON building planting movements everywhere in India and aimed at Hindus in other countries.
- scripturalism and all that other jazz. Oddly enough they've reduced Hindu literature to only the versions penned by their own organisation. That is, it's generally about <i>their</i> version of Srimad Bhagavatam, <i>their</i> Bhagavad Gita As It Is, their little booklets.

The only stepping stone that Indian Hindu entrants into ISKCON now need to convert to full-fledged christianism is to get over the "idolatry" of ISKCON into the True Idolatry of the True Religion Catholispasm. And you thought it was hard.
Whereas ISKCON Indians will find mainstream Hinduism far less relatable/understandable once they've entered into the ISKCONian mindset: for one thing, Hindus have nothing to do with mono-poly(thei)sm. We don't go around evangelically spreading some good news and loudly insisting that Russia have a temple too like Someone Else from America did not too long ago. When we read Krishna in the Gita explaining to Arjuna "The Brahman revealed in the Vedas that you have heard of, I am that" we don't confuse ourselves by thinking this is some kind of 'Mutual Exclusion' declaration meaning that suddenly none of the other Hindu Gods can therefore be Brahman. <!--emo&:blink:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/blink.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='blink.gif' /><!--endemo--> Typical christoislamic mistake that. Especially since their literalism is accompanied by their avoidance of other Hindu literature which declares the same (Brahman) about Devi, Shankara and our other Gods.
Hindus don't oppose evolution, though perhaps not all Hindus might find it following naturally from their observation. (Just like not all Hindus fit reincarnation into their understanding of the world as is the case with a relative of mine.) Then again: Hindus haven't always agreed about various Hindu ideas either. But that has given us no cause to bring in lawsuits to push our views onto others. It's a particularly christoislamic method to monopolise idea spaces and force their theologies onto others, trying to throttle others' thoughts.

And future ISKCON generations will only be increasingly closer qua mindset to Catholispasm and the Other Troo Religions, while finding Hindu Dharma entirely alien. Especially since they already "know" from their ISKCON education that Krishna is <i>supposedly</i> no other than jeebusjehovallah itself, while they've been taught how he is specifically not any other Hindu God. From there, it will be easy to turn them into sheep of the Troo Gawd. (Just author a few more ISKCON books bringing in how the babble is the truth and supercedes the BG As It Is, and you're done.)
The Kashmirian efflorescence was a remarkable, even if brief phase, in the intellectual development of Hindus. Almost simultaneously we witness the emergence of several great savants, even as Kashmir defied the Islamic onslaught of the accursed Mahmud of Ghazna and his successors. It was one of the last blazes of Hindu productivity before it was seized and dented by the savagery of the barbaric Mohammedans. We see many great figures like abhinavagupta, somadeva, kShemendra and mammaTa. The last of these has possibly been more influential in erudite Sanskrit circles than few others. rAjAnanka mammaTa the author of the kAvya-prakAsha (KP) belonged to an scholarly clan: His father jayyaTa was a co-author along with vAmana bhaTTa of the famous grammatical work kAshikA. His first brother kayyaTa wrote a once well-known commentary on the mahAbhAShya of pata~njali. His second brother was the famous uvvaTa, a protégé of rAjA bhojadeva paramAra, who is renowned for his commentary on the shukla yajurveda and its shrauta deployment.

The learned scholar Ganganath Jha brings attention to a statement that used to be prevalent in among brAhmaNa-s whose traditional education required the study of mammaTa’s work:
kAvyaprakAshasya kR^itA gR^ihe gR^ihe TIkA tathApyeSha tathaiva durgamaH |
TIka-s on the kAvyaprakAsha have been composed in every house yet it remains difficult to understand as ever!
Consonant with this statement apparently 49 commentaries are known to exist in different states of survival for the KP. The difficulties aside, mammaTa’s work presents something interesting for every Hindu – after all it was consider an integral part of traditional education. A few points that struck me run closely in parallel with the other great kavi from those regions, kShemendra (we had earlier described his words from the kavikaNThAbharaNa on these pages), especially in terms of the description of the attainment of kavitvam. Another point of note that roused my interest early one while reading Ganganath Jha’s commentary on the work was the respect the KP had among the later nyAyAyika-s like gadAdhara and jagadIsha. This is particularly interesting in light of the fact that jayanta bhaTTa, an earlier Kashmirian vedicist, had expressed the view that the AstIka thought should primarily be modeled after nyAya thought rather than advaita vedAnta. This implied that among the Kashmirian vedicists there was a strand that was primarily affiliated with nyAya, as against vedAnta, which was quite popular among the vedicists of the drAviDa regions. Via the KP we obtain evidence that mammaTa was very much a nyAyAyika in thought.
In the prose expansion on the first kArika in the first chapter (ullAsa) in comparing the real world to the imaginations of the poets mammaTa states:
“niyati-shaktyA niyata-rUpA sukha-duHkha-moha-svabhAvA paramANvAdyupAdAna-karmAdi-sahakAri-kAraNa-paratantrA ShaDrasA na cha hR^idyaiva taiH tAdR^ishI brahmaNo nirmitir-nirmANam”
The real world is controlled by the natural laws, form governed by laws, has the subjective experiential nature of pleasure, pain and illusion, and its existence is the consequence of matter and its interactions, respectively the atomic particles and forces; it has only 6 tastes (rasas) and these too not always of a pleasant nature.
We find mammaTa expressing a rather deep stream of thought here:
-He is firstly contrasting the unconstrained nature of poetic expression to the real world, which he described as being governed by natural laws. The word he uses is niyati, i.e. niyati shaktyA niyata-rupA, to express the natural laws and the form of the universe developing by natural laws. This word niyati from the brAhmaNa period has been used to describe the natural laws (e.g. in the kauShitaki/shAkhAyana brAhmaNa and the shvetAshvatara upaniShat e.g. “kAlaH svabhAvo niyatir yadR^icchA bhUtAni yoniH puruSheti cintyam |” SU 1.2).
-Then mammaTa goes on to describe the basis for the real world: 1) The substantial cause or matter (upAdAna) is comprised of the evolutes of the fundamental particles i.e. paramANvadi. 2) The causes governing cooperation or interactions (sahakAri-kAraNa) which are the forces i.e. karmAdi.
-Finally he uses a pun to mention that in our sensory sphere we distinguish 6 tastes, in contrast to the 9 rasa-s typical of poetic imagination.
Thus, we see that the naturalistic theory for the basis of the universe governed by natural laws in the form of fundamental particles and their interactions, so succinctly presented by mammaTa, is clearly that of nyAya-vaisheShika thought.

Then mammaTa goes on to describe the essentials for being a kavi:
Shaktir-nipuNatA loka-shAstra-kAvyAdyavekShaNAt |
kAvyaj~na-shikShayAbhyAsa iti hetus-tadudbhave || 3

shaktiH kavitvabIjarUpaH saMskAra-visheShaH yAM vinA kAvyaM na prasaret prasR^itaM vA upahasanIyaM syAt | lokasya sthAvara-ja~NgamAtmaka-loka-vR^ittasya | shAstrANAM Chando-vyAkaraNa-abhidhAna-kosha-kalA-chaturvarga-gaja-turaga-khaDgAd i-lakShaNa-granthAnAm | kAvyAnAM cha mahAkavi-saMbandhinAm | AdigrahaNAd-itihAsAnAM cha vimarshanAdvy-utpattiH |
kAvyaM kartuM vichArayituM cha ye jAnanti tad-upadeshena karaNe yojane cha paunaH-punyena pravR^ittir-iti | trayaH samuditAH na chu vyastAs-tasya kAvyasyodbhave nirmANe samullAse cha hetur-na tu hetavaH ||

The kArika first summarizes the essentials:
“Poetic genius, knowledge gained from study of the world, of scholarly works, of poetry, study and practice of the teachings of those well-versed in kAvya; these together compose the basis of poetry.”
Then he goes one to elaborate in prose: “Poetic genius (kavitvaM) is the seed of poetry. This is a peculiar ability, without which there would either be no poetry or, if there were, it would be laughable.”
Like kShemendra, mammaTa describes kavitvaM to be a pre-requisite for kAvya. But apparently unlike the kShemendra he sees this as an innate natural ability that has to be there in the first place – he does not describe any means of mantra-prayoga here to acquire it (unlike the sarasvatI and bAlA mantras recommended by kShemendra). Apparently unlike kShemendra he also does not see kavitvaM as coming from human effort. mammaTa describes that as a distinct pre-requisite.
Then he goes on to elaborate on the study of the world and scholarly works:
“Poetic ability is developed by a study of the world, the organisms and inorganic objects, and the ways of the universe; [also through the study of] shAstra-s, prosody, grammar, thesauri and lexicons, the kalA-s, the matters of the 4 puruShArtha-s, texts dealing with study of animals (e.g. horses, elephants etc.) and weapons (swords etc.); [also by] studying kAvya-s and keeping company of great poets. The word Adi (i.e. its use in the above series) implies the itihAsas and also the [knowledge] emerging from critical examination/discussion of these topics; [also by] frequently practicing writing poetry under the guidance of those capable of writing and discussing it. The above three (i.e. innate genius, study of the world through observation and scholastic endeavor and practice of writing with guidance) conjointly, not singly, comprise the origin, the formation and brilliance of poetry; they are the source, not sources [of poetry].

Agreeing with kShemendra, mammaTa sees the kavi as being a naturalist and scholar who acquires knowledge both through new observation of the world as well as by scholastic study. He stresses that genius, study/observation and practice should combine into a single entity for kAvya to shine. Here, it appears that he envisions these abstract entities as almost combining into a single entity – kAvya, like the atoms of nyAya combining into a single molecule of a substance. Thus, again as in the case of kShemendra we observe that the medieval Hindu kavi maintained continuity in spirit with the kavi-s of the veda, even though the veda was no longer counted along with classical kAvya – they were not mere versifiers but holders of knowledge.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The Kashmirian efflorescence was a remarkable, even if brief phase, in the intellectual development of Hindus. Almost simultaneously we witness the emergence of several great savants, even as Kashmir defied the Islamic onslaught of the accursed Mahmud of Ghazna and his successors. It was one of the last blazes of Hindu productivity before it was seized and dented by the savagery of the barbaric Mohammedans. We see many great figures like abhinavagupta, somadeva, kShemendra and mammaTa. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan reflected this:

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>The mohammadan conquest, with its propagandist work and later the Christian missionary movement, attempted to shake the stability of Hindu society and in an age deeply conscious of instability, authority naturally became the rock on which alone it seemed that social safety and ethical order could be reared. The Hindu, in the face of the clash of cultures, fortified himself with conventions and barred all entry to invading ideas. There were no longer any thinkers, but only scholars who refused to strike new notes, and were content to raise echoes of the old call.  </b>If the leaders of recent generations have been content to be mere echoes of the past and not independent voices, if they have been intellectual middlemen and not original thinkers, this sterility is to no small extent due to the shock of western spirit and the shame of subjection.

While the above could have been true for rest of the large parts of India, however in case of Kashmir, we still saw original thinkers for a few more centuries.

HHji, have you also written about udbhaTTa and his contribution?
Bodhi-ji I have not written anything on udbhaTTa thus far. But definitely he is a great topic for further discussion from view point, not just because of his role in the development of alamkAra but because of his contribution to the kAlikrama tantra. Navjivan Rastogi touches upon some of this. There were some works on Anandavardhana which also touch on udhbhaTTa at some length.

Some seeds of light!

I am wiping out this illusion about jeebus and allah among the ISKONites whenever they venture into jehovallah territory. Happily there are some more people in my group who are getting glimpses of how Xtianity has been changed over the centuries (but they are not at the Caesar's Messiah level yet). Some ISKON pandits take it upon themselves to try to co-opt this jehovallah-mohammed business into their lectures, basically repeating psec lies, and I break the truth to them. Some others (not quite at the CM level) also make attempts, though they do not have enough facts, but it is good to see that people are wide awake.

About Vishnu etc: They think every universe has its own Bramha-Vishnu-Mahesh, and Krishna is the ulitimate one ruler of all of them. Man, they need to stop all this retro-fitting BS.

The "preachers" there who do know sanskrit well do not go into semitic crap theology, I have noticed. And I overheard a white ISKONite talking about how the Aryan Invasion Theory was dreamed up by the colonialists. So there is light at the end of the tunnel; ISKON-reformation can be done to make ISKON a viable Hindu organization. The time scales are huge, but it fits in other worthwhile projects like spreading the Good News about the non-existence of jeebus and the real nature of islam..

<!--QuoteBegin-Shambhu+May 3 2008, 04:15 AM-->QUOTE(Shambhu @ May 3 2008, 04:15 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->About Vishnu etc: They think every universe has its own Bramha-Vishnu-Mahesh, and Krishna is the ulitimate one ruler of all of them. Man, they need to stop all this retro-fitting BS.[right][snapback]81198[/snapback][/right]<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->ISKCON has some very odd ideas. The most offensive is how they could ever place Krishna alongside the invented gangster jeebusjehovallah. That is just SOOoooo wrong. <!--emo&:mad--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/mad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='mad.gif' /><!--endemo-->

In Hindu Dharma, MahaVishnu <i>does</i> give rise to everything, just like Shiva gives rise to everything, and Lalitha gives rise to everything, and ... you see the pattern. (Because they are all Brahman/Purusha Prakriti/Shiva-Shakti - you know, the "All".)

As Krishna explains in the Gita, from him (he explains how he is Brahman) emerges all of existence and at dissolution's end we return/contract (in)to him. Krishna, when he speaks in the Gita, speaks openly in his capacity as MahaVishnu: that is, he is then no longer restricting himself to the role that he intended as the Avataram; no longer keeping Arjuna - and others fortunate enough to be listening - in the dark as to who he is. (At which point Arjuna is astounded and even apologetic, because he didn't realise who Krishna was. Arjuna says something along the lines of "all those times I joked with you I never meant to have said anything disrespectful".)
Mahavishnu, when he has created everything, enters into every particle. He and Lakshmi are there in every one of us. Just like Uma-Shankar are. There is no escaping them <!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo-->

Since the topic is Mahavishnu/Krishna: Rama, Krishna, Narasimha... the avatarams - they are all MahaVishnu to the fullest. Hence Brahman to the fullest. There is no difference between praying to one or the other. It is as we choose. (Choose all!) In so far as there are any 'differences' between Shiva, Vishnu, Meenakshi or our other Gods/Goddesses - they are only in terms of their manifestation. And yet each manifestation is entirely complete in him/herself. You need no other. They are all perfect, different, yet the same manifestations. I don't know if it's a good analogy but it's like viewing the universe at a different angle in order to understand it from another side, while it's still the same universe ultimately.

Again, who we choose depends on us. And we needn't really choose between them at all, as we can have all of them at the same time, depending on whether one finds it easier to see them as distinct or the same.

But the modern nonsense of jeebusjehovallah being "the same as our Gods too" is just pure fiction though. Besides, jeebusjehovallah is not just merely fiction himself, he is also a very evil character; the most monstrous villain ever presented in literature. And sadly, fiction <i>does</i> kill: as the ideologies of the koran and bible regularly do.

Thus there are many views on Divinity/Gods in Hindu Dharma (maybe I should have inserted the above universe analogy here). And Hindus never found them confusing or mutually conflicting because they aren't conflicting - precisely in the same manner as how <b>MahaVishnu's names include both Eka and Naika: "One" and "Many"</b> (naika 'many' comes from na eka = 'not one'; explanation taken from a Hindu booklet on Vishnu's names that I possess). We are not monopolytheists. Number games are meaningless in Hinduism, as One and Infinity (and everything in between) are all Hindu ways of looking at Divinity/God. Form and formless. Gendered and genderless. Manifest and unmanifested. Present here, there, everywhere and Beyond. All of this is mentioned in the Gita and explained much better there. Tao is unmanifest and everywhere, even though it is often abstracted/referred to as feminine in spite of the formlessness. Kami can be manifest and unmanifest. Great Spirit is manifest and unmanifest and is beyond, is here, there everywhere.

Compare that with jeebusjehovallah (for the moment, assume he exists): his character is very gendered - absolutely gendered. Until recent times his location was fixed as the sky ("heaven, de hemel, himmel") until people actually went up into the sky and space and found that even there he didn't exist. In christoislamism, his character is not allowed to be visible: the most faithful christian <i>cannot</i> see him in this life (this is as per christian theology which is unrelenting on this point; and there are many priestly theological refutations of what is meant by seeing "as a child" - or whatever the biblical phrase was, and how it <i>does not</i> mean seeing god).
Jeebusjehovallah is one, exactly one. Never more. Complicated christian "maths" is used to show that their holy ghost, jesus and jehovallah are still monotheistically one... Actually, that depends on the christian sect and century. In the early centuries, the innumerable inimical christian sects argued on the True Nature of jeebus (most of them killed each other until mostly one kind remains today): see It's <b>hysterical</b>.

But after all that they will declare that the Hindu is the one who is confused. No we're not. Because for us, 1 to Infinity have always all represented the same thing: our Divinity, viewed as our Bhagavan and/or Devi and/or Ishvara and/or Umachi and/or ... who exist(s) everywhere.
<!--QuoteBegin-Husky+Jun 8 2008, 07:40 PM-->QUOTE(Husky @ Jun 8 2008, 07:40 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Because for us, 1 to Infinity have always all represented the same thing: our Divinity, viewed as our Bhagavan
just 1 to Infinity was not enough for us. Also, and above all, zero! which they find very confusing. :-)

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