Nov 27, 2013

One Being, Many Vectors: Sanity in Politics & Religion

Veda could be characterized as an unlimited collection of sane points of view, and a rejection of not-so-sane 'packaged' half-truths that come bundled with beliefs, affiliations, etc. एकं सत् विप्रा बहुधा वदन्ति । "Truth is One, the learned call it by many Names." - RigVeda 1.164.146

'Sanity' is measurable in terms of a genuine relationship with all branches of knowledge, and holistic processes to recognize that knowledge. A point of view that answers more questions than it causes to be raised, and which offers a pragmatic process of further cognition and more mature questions, is worthy of being adopted. A point of view that does not square with reasonably related branches of knowledge, or that has no pragmatic method to it, is worthy of rejection. [Check out Agniveer: 'What is Vedic Religion?']

The fact that there are unlimited points of view is emphasized in Hindu philosophy itself -
तर्कोsप्रतिष्टः श्रुतयो विभिन्ना
नासावृषिर्यस्य मतं न भिन्नम् ।
धर्मस्य तत्तवं निहितं गुहायाम्
महाजनो येन गतः स पन्थाः ॥
- Yudhishthira in The Mahabharata, Vana-parva, 313.117
"Dry arguments are inconclusive. A philosopher/teacher/prophet (muni) whose opinion does not differ from others is not considered a purified intellect. Simply by studying the shrutis (books that were "heard" by the teachers), which are multifarious, one cannot come to the right path by which Dharma is understood. The solid truth of Dharma is hidden in the heart of an unadulterated, self-realized person. Consequently, as the shaastras confirm, one should accept whatever progressive path the great ones advocate."

Enlightened seers all have a unique and different point of view! This is an astonishing assertion of Hinduism. Yet Dharma is one and unified, as is the multifarious tree of knowledge - i.e. there is a consilience of knowledge.

It also says that dry argument without reference to being-ness (asmita) is always inconclusive. Cultural or civilizational identity is clearly a component to understanding. A particular culture will have a greater bandwidth for truth if it can accommodate a greater diversity of the civilizational spectrum, including the deracinated sections of society.

Therefore, "Hinduism" cannot be defined by some kind of doctrinal manifesto like most typical "religions". Rather, it appears to be a broad culture of a never-ending curiosity about truth. Finito.

The Politics of Hindutva

Then there is the consideration of the political philosophies derived from a Vedic mindset. On his bed of arrows on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, the grandsire Bhishma equated Politics with the practice of sannyasa.

The set of political philosophies claiming affiliation with the Veda has come to be called Hindutva in the current day and age. [Insert: Some people differentiate Hinduva from Raj Dharma (BRF).]

Like a true philosophy, it ought to have a consideration from different vectors. It would be wonderful for India's social and political discourse at large if educated sections of its people could break out of their old, encrusted categories and recognize the fundamentals of Hindutva, as outlined above in this blogpost -- and then participate in it and enrich it, for there is plenty of space for many viewpoints, and plenty of need for different methods to tackle India's (and the world's) varied problems in its various regions.

But many currently think of the political philosophy of Hindutva as a monolithic, opportunist juggernaut that can be pigeonholed into some Western category (like "right-wing" ideology), and whose internal differences of opinion are only ramifications within that category. But the fact is that it doesn't really fit any Western category. Even using a Western lens, an honest survey shows that there are as many clearly leftist people within Hindutva as there are right-wingers. Hindutva can easily occupy both sides of the aisle, even in its current nascent form.

It is actually a different dynamic of governance, i.e., one based on a different form of social and cultural capital -- created on an evolving civilizational resource rooted in native experience rather than one imported and "thrust fully formed" on the civilization. Yet, some tendentious opinion-makers have tried to bury its distinct diversity and subtle nuances under some rather unsettling labels imported from other civilizations with a very different historical experience. Once that is done, it becomes a matter of forcing an identification based on the merest similarity. This semantic confusion is sheer insanity. Such an intellectual priesthood and its sepoys have become active carriers of this contagion, with little regard for real facts and honest analysis.

Old order must pass

In the Vedas, there is an eternal Truth (satyam), and a continuously changing modality of Truth (Rtam). Cultural nationalism means to create a system for the recognition of the modal nature of old and new truths through time, where dynamic Rtam can be fostered, and where static half-truths that try to monopolize, limit, or distort it can be weeded out as time flows by. For sure, there will be ideological casualties - not to be construed as 'victims'. From the post 'Bruce Lee and Bhakti - 2' -
"Politically, it follows that all bona fide sectarian cultures must point to the unified Tree of supra-subjective knowledge. The ideological sources of any religious or ideological sect can be objectively evaluated for this complete structure and continuity with Knowledge. If it fails in this due to a fixation on one point in history, one personality, or one obsession with an ideal, then its destruction is written in the stars and the politics of Dharma must aid this process. Any political party that seeks to prevent their destruction is doing so at the cost of the general sanity of the environment."
But if pseudo-"secular" mavens of spin and their gullible 'educated' consumers in India cannot bring themselves to understand this cultural nationalism and break out of their ignorant prejudices, then to quote Bob Dylan's lyric:
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.
- (link to song)