Mar 15, 2014

Yukta-Vairagya: Natural merger of Classical & Sacred

The Hindi metaphor, sone pe suhaga (borax on gold) refers to an ideal amalgam of two things - one intrinsically valuable, the other worthless by itself but possessing some useful reactive properties with the thing of value. Gold in native state is a dull metal that has no glitter or resemblance to what we know as gold. It gains its aesthetic brilliance and practical value when borax is added to it, with heat.

My friend Rajesh A. (BRF) reasons that there is a distinction between 'sabhyata' - the process - and 'sanskriti' - the product - of civilization. In this view, patriotic dedication to nation-building and security is a legitimate form of worship [the conversation was in response to this blogpost: Head, Heart & Connectedness: Browsing the marketplace of identities].

Unfortunately, its common to hear pseudo-liberals in India and outside say things like: "Transcending religion and culture is the goal of human evolution. The sooner religion dies out, the less problems the world will have." But there is a difference between transcendence and mere deracination.

Personal confusion (at an individual level) or petty politics (at an organizational or national level) is based around an artificial conflict between "sacred" values and "classical" worldly values, or between cultural-spiritual and material issues. Whereas mature personal ethics or organizational politics is based around an amalgamation of the sacred and the classical in a sort of annealing process. Like that Hindi metaphor, sone pe suhaga. Isha Upanishad, mantra 11:
विद्यां चाविद्यां च यस्
तद् वेदोभयं सह ।
अविद्यया मृत्युं तीर्त्वा
विद्ययामृतम् अश्नुते ॥ 
"Only one who can learn the process of nescience (classical worldly knowledge) and that of transcendental knowledge (spiritual culture) side by side can transcend the influence of repeated birth and death and enjoy the full blessings of immortality."
In a genuine annealing process of the self or of nation-building, the hard dichotomy between 'sacred' and so-called 'profane' melts away in favour of dovetailing and then amalgamation. This has been described by the paradoxical term yukta-vairagya (harnessed in renunciation) in the terminology of the bhakti shāstras. Amalgamation of the numinous and the phenomenal applies as much to the nation (rāshtra) as it does to the individual. Some observations of the characteristics of these two configurations (corrections and additions are welcome):

Learning by:
·         Training and creative evolution.
·         Practice.
·         Letting go of concepts, and by co-creative (or service-oriented) involution.
·         Practice.
Recognition of value by:
·         Perception and estimation of observable characteristics.
·         Immediate perception of contextual quiddity beneath observable data.
Social scope:
·         Objective.
·         Results of and in This world.
·         Subjective.
·         Results of and in Other world.
Epistemological scope:
·         Extensional.
·         Normative.
·         Descriptive.
·         Intensional.
·         Positive.
·         Prescriptive.
Type of reality:
·         By experiment and agreement.
·         By a priori personal conviction.
Attitude to change vs fixity:
·         Uses a probabilistic model, which models uncertainty itself as an element.
·         Emphasis on continuity of sabhyatā – the civilizing process that generates culture.
·         Seeks continuity and permanence as observer of constant change.
·         Wants devotional activity (seva) to serve Time.
·         Uses a deterministic model, which strives to root out uncertainty.
·         Emphasis on continuity of sanskriti – the cultural products of the civilizing process.
·         Seeks permanence in escape and transcendence from temporal change.
·         Wants to achieve a state where  Time is in the service of the devotional activity (leela).
Pedagogical type:
·         vyāsa-kūṭa
·         dāsa-kūṭa
Typical method of communication:
·         By demonstration or argument.
·         Peer-reviewed agreement by individuals considered 'qualified'.
·         Specialization of knowledge and authority.
·         By suggestion or insinuation.
·         Gradual creeping or sudden invasive ideological mould.
·         Generalization of knowledge and authority.
Type of logic:
·         Inductive.
·         Ascending process.
·         Elevationism.
·         Deductive.
·         Descending process.
·         Salvationism.
Mass vs. significance:
·         Bias towards significance.
·         Does not attach importance to physical mass or its force.
·         Considers clearing of mental mass and its reactive mental force as highly desirable.
·         Subtle contempt for mass as purely temporal and its mental force as impinging on clarity of conscious thought.
·         Prefers subsuming lower significance with larger significance rather than force-reduction of Other or Self.
·         Bias towards mass and its force.
·         Attached to maximum demonstration of mass and its physical or emotive force whenever possible.
·         Considers mental mass and its emotive force as mystical source and causative.
·         Subtle contempt or neglect of intellectual significance as being manufactured and therefore less ‘real’, with presence of mass being primary reality.
·         Prefers force-reduction of Other, and sometimes of Self, in confrontation and negotiation.
Propagation pattern:
·         Scatter-gather pattern of survival and propagation, or other multi-vector type of algorithms to allow itself to learn and evolve.
·         Alternating between syncretism (bee-like gathering from diverse flowers) and detached cooking / abstraction of essence.
·         Not averse to sacrificing quantitative mass to extract qualitative significance.
·         Greedy algorithms, or any linear quantitative pattern like an incremental tree structure to encyst the individual mind or involve a society.
·         Alternating between expansion and consolidation.
·         Averse to sacrificing mass and its force, re-interprets significance to accommodate maximum mass-force at any given time.
Symbiotic/competitive strategy:
·         Cuckolds sacred spaces for thought seeding and power projection, without asserting ownership of it.
·         Infiltrates the associative command networks of the sacerdotal and puts its own ideas on those communication lines.
·         Employs one set of sacred memes to differentiate itself from competing classical cultures and their memes.
·         OR alternatively, it facilitates interfaith dialogue between competing sacerdotal networks in order to create new significance via forceless subsuming of competing significance.
·         Marries or takes ownership of classical culture and uses it as a carrier for legitimacy of its own cognitions or commands.
·         Subverts the liberality of the classical culture to protect its own freedom to operate.
·         Uses the complex thought-products of the carrier for argument – albeit in a reductionist form.
·         Employs its classical carrier culture to envelop and project power into the classical space of another competing sacerdotal network. Ultimately wishes force-reduction of competing sacred networks – to demolish or derogate competing sacred spaces and their material symbols.
Socio-political fingerprint:
·         Elite formation in different fields with agreeable or submitted mass base in tow.
·         Formal and institutional relationships.
·         Diversification of social opportunity into formal roles based on qualification.
·         Based on Individual cognition, demonstrated abilities, and aesthetic / ethical orientation.
·         Relationships are personal.
·         Re-tribalization of society, forging of discrete, homogenous caste-collectives based on identification with a general aesthetic or orientation.
Cultural attitude:
·         Celebration of diversity.
·         Cultural relativism.
·         Liberalism.
·         Multipolar world order.
·         Emphasis on different entitlements earned on adherence to universal values underlying diverse aesthetic preferences or orientations.
·         Preference for democratic institutions.
·         Celebration of exclusivity.
·         Hierarchical specificity.
·         Asserts its own socio-political separateness.
·         Unipolar dispensation.
·         Emphasis on equal entitlements based on affiliation to totalitarian uniformity (mistaken for "universal" and “egalitarian”).
·         Preference for absolute monarchy.
Via media:
·         Participation in formation of mainstream outlets of social discourse and educational networks.
·         Individual authority, around whom a small group forms aloof from mainstream society, which then uses plug-ins to the mainstream via willing individuals (disciples or agents).
Polarity on psycho-spiritual spectrum:
·         Partial towards Daivic side of spectrum.
·         Partial towards Asuric side of spectrum.

Dangerous dichotomies of Classical & Sacred - process and precedence
Problems arise when the sacred and classical memes are at odds within the individual or the body politic. Isha Upanishad, mantra 9:
अन्धं तमः प्रविशन्ति
येsविद्याम् उपासते ।
ततो भूय इव ते तमो
य उ विद्ययां रताः ॥ 
"Those who engage in the culture of purely phenomenal processes shall enter into the darkest region of ignorance. Worse still are those engaged solely in the culture of so-called transcendental knowledge."
Two circumstances can result in problems such as blind fanaticism, OR deracination mistaken for transcendence. The first is imbalance between attention due to "classical" phenomenal and "sacred" numinous processes, where one overwhelms the other. E.g., Communist or theocratic societies. The second is the artificial separation between the sacred and classical, in a way that hinders the continuous process of their interaction. E.g., artificial pseudo-secularism and separation of church and state as evolved from a particular civilization with an adverse historical experience with a particular type of sacred memeplex.

The healthy interaction of the sacred and classical is not facilitated by either of the above two types of nation-building experiments. Rather, it is facilitated by a fleshed-out varṇāshrama operating as per the laws governing the harmonies between the 4 main purushārthas - dharma (physical and metaphysical laws), artha (ambition for possession or havingness), kāma (pleasure), moksha (spiritual release). And what is the operator precedence assigned to these fundamental instincts in Indian civilization? Following is from a lecture at Samskrita Bharati California. It talks about how to approach Vedic literature, what to read and in what sequence, and what to avoid reading/following:
YOUTUBE: Discussion of Madhusudana Saraswati's Prasthāna-Bheda - by Shri Narendra Khapre
Why and when would one ignore a religious scripture? It says: "If it interrupts or impedes a purushārtha." That's an essentially classical view. But in a purely sacred dāsa-kūṭa tradition, or an Abrahamic religion like Islam, it goes something like this: Refer to your awliya (saints and their predecessors), but if their justifications contradict the statements of the sahābā (Companions of the Prophet), then reject it and go with that of the Companions, and if the words of a Companion contradict that of the Prophet and Qur'an, then bypass that and go with the Qur'an and prophetic Sunna. In other words, its "logic" is purely deductive and has no anchor point in the real world in Present Time.

Now as the above lecture indicates, Madhusudana Saraswati's compilation is not merely an individual's opinion, but rather it is a commentary on a civilization's classical tradition. In that traditional opinion, a particular historical source is to be bypassed if it impedes the Purushārthas. The purushārthas are rooted in the real world in Present Time. It is based on the individual's current condition, and even then it is not merely prescriptive for different conditions, but actively involves the personal judgment and decisions of the individual. It is a descriptive tradition rather than prescriptive - the prescriptive texts of various dāsa-kūṭa sects are embedded within this tradition.

At the same time, the lecture talks about the meaning of "Bhārata". Being a Bhārata (or Bhāratiya) is to undertake tapas for the love of knowledge, or for knowledge of love. Bhārata = One who is addicted (rata) to pursuing Light (bhā) even at the cost of everything, like a moth is drawn to a flame. So the etymological derivation of "Bhārata" itself extols Light - the light of cognition and knowledge and love. It is not biased either towards an obsession with "salvation" or an obsession with "elevation" to some esoteric knowledge. It is an innate neediness for cognition and learning and serving that process only. In sum, Dharma = logical Buddhi + unselfish Heart.

Among all types of nations and cultures and their respective configurations of the sacred and the classical, only the one with a Bhārata culture is chosen by the Vedic gods. A premature or wrongly-ordered form of 'release' is either a half-baked pseudo-liberal deracination from sacred culture; or a horrible perversion by an essentially malicious sacred core wherein the individual becomes captive or compulsive, his intelligence clouded.

Pehle devālaya phir shauchālaya
Clearly, those political forces whose agenda is obsessed with sacred fetishes are for the worse. They are fascist fanatics who will eventually create a contra-survival situation for the rāshtra, first spiritually and then materially. Kauṭilya warns:
अन्नहीनो दहेद् राष्ट्रं मन्त्रहीनश्च ऋत्विजः ।
यजमानं दानहीनो नास्ति यज्ञसमो रिपुः ॥ 
"There's no enemy like a yajna (sacred sacrifice)
...that leaves the food reserves of the nation depleted,
...and/or that is executed by an intermediary (priesthood, brotherhood, etc.) that doesn't understand the meanings of the mantras,
...and/or and that is commissioned by one who doesn't understand the meaning of charity."
Therefore, as Modi put it, pehle shauchalaya, phir devalaya:

Cultural Nationalism
On the other hand, the Rāṣtra (civilizational dominion) has its roots in paurohitya (cultural wizardry; spiritual meaning and purpose for civilization). A Rāṣtra disconnected from visionary guidance will not be on a firm footing or endure very long. Brahminical varṇa is placed clearly and unambiguously as the reference frame for kṣatriya varṇa, where the brahmaṇa is a context (śarman) from which the kṣatriya operates. Only when Kshātra and Paurohitya are yoked, will the mercantile class be observant of national justice, This common sense significance of purohita to rāṣtra is in ancient sources like the Aitareya Aranyaka (8.40.25):
क्षत्रेण क्षत्रं जयति बलेन बलम् अश्नुते यस्यैवं विद्वान् ब्रह्मणो राष्ट्रगोपः पुरोहितस् तस्मै विशः संजानते सम्मुखा एकमनसो यस्यैवं विद्वान् ब्रह्मणो राष्ट्रगोपः पुरोहितः । 
"By lordly power he conquereth lordly power (kṣatram - soft power projection),
By might he attaineth might (balam - hard power projection),
Who hath for Purohita to guard the dominion,
A Brahmaṇ with this knowledge,
For him are his people in harmony,
With one aspect and one mind,
Who hath for Purohita to guard the kingdom
A Brahmaṇ with this knowledge."
Thus, those political forces whose guiding ideology does not go beyond supposedly pragmatic secular preoccupations - at the cost of the sacred soul of the rāshtra - are also making a fundamental error. By limiting the national discourse only to material issues, they corrode away the spiritual-cultural basis of nationhood instead of allowing it to evolve in a healthy manner by contact with the torrent of the material world and its flux.

Unless democratic politics at a national level goes hand-in-hand with a genuine liberal personal culture and civilization, it will be subverted or abused by non-liberal cultural and civilizational forces that deliberately or unwittingly undermine the very idea of the empowerment of the individual in relation to the collective.

Conversely, in order to fight off a non-liberal "sacred" meme, one needs to draw on one's own "sacred" memes and deploy them strategically, both, as sources of inspiration as well as means of aggression. An appraisal of the overall balance of sacred and classical memes within one's own culture would constitute the risk assessment of doing so. For instance, 90% of Hindu or Buddhist core source literature is liberal spiritual in content, whereas 90% of Islamic or even some Christian core source literature is blood-curdling. The risk assessment to intrinsic liberalism in deploying the sacred is clearly different in each case, and anyone who tries to slip in a false moral equivalence between the two is either ignorant or a liar. Whence the Dharmic case for ecstatic religious-cultural deployment:
॥ इन्द्रं वर्धन्तो अप्तुरः कृण्वन्तो विश्वं आर्यं अपघ्नन्तो अराव्णः ॥ 
"Augmented by Indra's (Soma's) strength, civilize the world by destroying the non-liberal and jealous ones." ~ Rigveda 9.63.5
 See also: Violence and Kshātra: War, Religion & Philosophy

Mar 6, 2014

Head, Heart & Connectedness: Browsing the marketplace of identities

I was wondering why a disproportionately large number of Hindu political thinkers identify themselves as "atheist", while that does not seem to be the case with Hindu spiritual leaders and teachers. Are they contrapuntal considerations of the same truth-stream? What are the risks involved?

At least over the last 100 odd years, the "atheist"and "theist" labels have been used to analyze Indian religious and philosophical systems. Those are Western Christian labels, of course. But even before that, the "astika" and "nastika" labels were used within India to categorize different sects. Astika were those sects that accepted the "authority" of the Veda (can be theistic or atheistic schools), while nastika were those that did not require the Vedic word as evidence (again, can be theistic or atheistic schools).

I think intellectual categorizations (created essentially for the purpose of debate) are often taken too far, and they obscure the big picture, knocking the student off center as he tries to fit himself or herself into this or that category.

Rather, categories are best used by the student to understand various phases of his own experience as an integral individual approaching completion. He/she may wax and wane through various categories, but always remains an entity at the intersection of all categories (and transcendental to them) rather than trying constantly to belong to one or the other category or label (उपाधि).

In the same vein, this astika/nastika and also the theist/atheist division are themselves false dichotomies introduced as exclusive categories at some point into the socio-political discourse.

If Sikhism is called nastika just because Guru Nanak poetically or rhetorically coaxes us to give up being obsessed with the words of the Veda, then the Bhagavad Gita must also qualify as a nastika text:
याम् इमां पुष्पितां वाचं
प्रवदन्त्यविपश्चितः ।
वेद-वाद-रताः पार्थ
नान्यद् अस्तीति वादिनः ॥
कामात्मनः स्वर्ग-परा
जन्म-कर्म-फल-प्रदाम् ।
भोगैश्वर्य-गतिं प्रति ॥ 
"Men of small knowledge are much attached to the flowery words of the Vedas, which recommend various fruitive activities for elevation to heaven, good birth and karma, power, and so forth. Being desirous of sense gratification and opulent life, they say that there is nothing more to religion than this." - Bhagavad Gita 2:42-43
Here, Krishna denigrates the Vedic karma-kanda, or at least those who remain confined to the karma-kanda worldview. The BG isn't considered anti-Vedic; it's one of the prasthana-traya in Vedanta. But this passage is no less denigrating than any verse from the honorable Guru Granth that brushes aside those who remain addicted to Vedic karma-kanda. So if Sikhi gets classified as 'nastika' (and therefore non-Hindu), then does that make the Gita a nastika text, too?

Similarly, is the Bhagavad Gita the epitome of Hindu theism? Or does the Gita leave the door open for atheism? Krishna seems to be quite comfortable with atheism as an alternative route to better spiritual ability, at least at a preliminary point in the process:
अव्यक्तोsयम् अचिन्त्योsयम्
अविकार्योsयम् उच्यते ।
तस्माद् एवं विदित्वैनं
नानुशोचितुम् अर्हसि ॥
अथ चैनं नित्य-जातं
नित्यं वा मन्यसे मृतम् ।
तथापि त्वं महाबाहो
नैनं शोचितुम् अर्हसि ॥ 
"It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable and immutable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body. If, however, you think that the soul [or the symptoms of life] is always born and dies forever, you still have no reason to lament [because you know it is destined to end anyway], O mighty-armed." - Bhagavad Gita 2:25-26
So since the Gita has no problem with its disciple NOT believing in any metaphysical existence, doesn't that mean that it is OK with, both, atheism or theism? Or rather that those words from Western categories have a very limited significance within the Indic context?

This sort of categorization or labeling is practically nonsensical, in my humble opinion. Rather, a nastika or negating condition is an inherent part of the Vedic understanding of Existence and how to DEAL with it constructively. My 2 cents on where such classifications and dialectic devices fit into the larger picture:

Example from Vedic Source
सत्यम् / याथातथ्यम्  (Satyam)

The condition of immediate creation without persistence, and is the condition of existence which exists at the moment of creation and the moment of destruction, and is different from other considerations in that it does not contain survival.

कूटस्थ अनादि – Highest or fundamental eternality.
स पर्यगाच्छुक्रम् अकायम् अव्रणम्
अस्नाविरं शुद्धम् अपाप-विद्धं
कविर्मनीषी परिभूः स्वयंभूर्
याथातथ्यतोsर्थान् व्यदधाच्छाश्वतीभ्यः समाभ्यः ।

“Such a person must factually know the greatest of all, the Personality of Godhead, who is unembodied, omniscient, beyond reproach, without veins, pure and uncontaminated, the self-sufficient existence as is, who has been fulfilling everyone's desire since time immemorial.”
– Isha Upanishad, mantra 8
यज्ञः (Yajna)

It is the consideration which introduces a vector change in an As-Is-ness, and therefore time and persistence, into an As-Is postulate in order to obtain persistence or continuity, i.e. Dharma.
ऋतं च मेsमृतं च मेsयक्षमं च मेsनामयच्च मे जीवातुश्च मे दीर्घायुत्वं च मेsनमित्रं च मेsभयं च मे सुगं च मे शयनं च मे सूषा च मे सुदिनं च मे यज्ञेन कल्पितम् ।

“May my Rtam, my immortality, my freedom from decay, my life, my longevity, my freedom from non-aligned (unallied) forces, my freedom from fear, my happiness, my inactive rest (lying down safely), my beautiful dawn (rising), and my lovely day be created (kalpita) by Yajna.”
– Yajur Veda, 18.6
ऋतम् (Rtam)

It is an apparency of existence brought about by the continuous alteration of an As-Is postulate. When agreed upon, this is called reality.

प्रवाहत अनादि – Eternality of flowing from source.
अनृतम् / मिथ्या (Anrtam / Mithya)

It is the effort to handle, or gain control over, or gain freedom from an Is-ness by reducing its condition through the application of force. It is an inferior apparency and cannot entirely vanquish an Is-ness.

It is likely to eventually succumb and become subsumed under that existing Is-ness. (Therefore, the creation of a new, bigger Is-ness via a fresh Modified-Is-ness is the wiser option if the intention is really abrogation.)

The skillful application of an opposing Not-Is-ness is essential to serving the persistence of the Is-ness.
ऊँ इति सत्यं नेत्यनृतं । तद् एतत् पुष्पं फलं वाचो यत्   सत्यं, स हेश्वरो यशस्वी कल्याणकीरतिर् भवितोः पुष्पं हि फलं वाचः सत्यं वदति । अथैतन् मूलं वाचो यद् अनृतं तद् यथा वृक्ष आविर्मूलः शुष्यति स उद्वर्तते, तस्माद् अनृतं न वदेद् दयेत त्वनेन । पराग् वा एतद् रिक्तं अक्षरं यद् एतद् ऊँ इति तद् यत् किंचोम् इत्याहात्रैवास्मै तद्रिच्यते स यत् सर्वं ऊँ कुर्याद् रिञ्च्याद् आत्मानं स कामेभ्यो नालं स्यात् । अथैतत् पूर्णं आभ्यात्मं यन् नेति,   स यत् सर्वं नेति ब्रूयात् पापिकास्य कीर्तिर् जायेत, सैनं तत्रैव हन्यात् । तस्मात् काल एव दद्यात् काले न दद्यात् तत् सत्यानृते मिथुनी-करोति, तयोर् मिथुनात् प्रजायते भूयान् भवति ।

“’Yes’ (Aum) is affirmation and ‘no’ (na) is negation. And affirmation is the most beautiful fruit   and flower of language. Whoever speaks the flower and fruit of language will become a famous ruler with a spotless reputation, i.e., he who speaks positive affirmation. However, the root of language itself is negation. Just as a tree whose roots are exposed must dry out and perish, so too must a human being dry out and perish if he allows negation to be sounded, for he exposes his own roots. Therefore, he should not allow negation to be sounded, and instead should exercise caution. Truly, ‘yes’ (Aum) is a forward-looking, an outgoing syllable. Whenever he says ‘yes’ (Aum) to someone, he gives something away. And if he were to say it to everyone, he would not leave enough for his own needs, for he would have given himself away completely. But ‘no’ is a syllable turned in on itself, a full [remaining syllable]. If he were to say ‘no’ to everyone, his reputation would be loaded with curses. And this would crush him on the spot. Therefore, there is a time when one should give and a time when one should not give. In this way he makes a united pair out of affirmation and negation, and through this pair he becomes more than he was before.”
– Aitareya Aranyaka 2.3.6

Bhakti, as the very substance of consciousness, is transcendental to "beliefs", and cannot be bottled in any philosophy, theistic or atheistic. Of course, ideas can give it shape and form, protect and direct it, and help to grow and develop one's ability to have more bhakti. Ideas depend on scale and perspective. So also, it looks like the Gita, or Hinduism in general, is a very different approach to "religion" or "philosophy" as defined in the Christian West or in Islam. It is bigger than "beliefs" and operates at a different level than mere affirmations and/or negations (and their attendant philosophical justifications).

It may be that Hindu spiritual leaders concern themselves more with higher echelon processes like SatyamYajna and Rtam, while Hindutva politicians seem focused on defence of a sense of control or freedom from an overwhelming effect, especially by the application of Anrtam. Wisely or not - that will depend on the deference and sincere relationship of the "rational" or "religious" Hindutva politician to true spiritual leaders and their long-term vision. Time stands poised like a hooded cobra over ideological and material politics, either to strike dead, or to serve and protect.

A friend commented on the "atheist" posturing of several Hindutva leaders (BRF):
""Atheism" or describing oneself as "atheist" while being "Hindutva leaders" comes out possibly of both a linguistic as well as philosophical difficulty. 
Linguistic - because one feels pressurized or an urge not to identify with what passes currently for "theism" or the "theist" version of contemporary "Hinduism". They are reacting against the conventional imagery of "theism".  
"Philosophically - because the primary language of expression, required also for the very necessary political mobilization on all fronts at both internal Desh "educated" levels as well as abroad [spiritual as well as material] is English. That is an extremely inadequate language to accurately describe the insights from the core of Vedic or post-Vedic explorations.
Theism-atheism, god-no-god-beyond-god, ityadi - all are inadequate descriptions of the concept of the spiritual matrix of reality/world/universe/life from the core of "Hindu" thought that transcends all of those hard-boundary mutually exclusive categories. Now how to explain that in "English"?!!! So better stick to "atheism" as the label. 
"Having said that, some of the "leaders" might be desperately resolving their own issues of feeling the need to distance themselves from what they have subconsciously been conditioned to look down upon as "superstition" [a la selective and pseudo moralism of the later Abrahamic], and atheism is a convenient shield to defend oneself from having to sympathetically look on those "superstitions" as sometimes little understood or non-long-forgotten ancient insights and symbolic representations of those insights in natural processes and life. 
"People here have found my attitude towards RJM [Ram Janma Bhumi] building a strange contradiction to my supposedly otherwise "rational" no-ritualistic attitude. But I navigate this minefield without any dilemma. I have not formally worshiped at any pilgrimage or temples, but I have done the "parikramas" keeping the "hardship" aspect in mind with full respect. Even if I do not always participate in rituals, I deeply sympathize and have my respects for the underlying symbolisms. They are my ancestors own, almost often a poetical rendering of deeply symbolic insights into nature and life. It is crucial to respect the rituals and understand their full import as a coded passing on of our ancestral civilization's understandings at their times.  
"Hindutva leaders should take a neither-reject-nor-accept attitude to the past accumulation of such stuff. There is no need to feel ashamed of them, nor is it necessary to get bogged down in the formal magical enchantment of the rituals and their symbolisms, and have a deep appreciation as to what they stand for, and how they really should be looked at and that regard and appreciation passed onto the next generations in one unbroken continuity of ever-increasing philosophical insight."
I think so , too. Hindu political thinkers are making a statement rejecting western categories. But its still interesting why they choose "atheism" as the most convenient label. They often introduce themselves as such. Perhaps it is a ruse to avoid being equated with other "religious fundamentalists" such as the inevitable comparison with Pakistani Islamists, or with heavily funded Evangelicals that a running amuck in vast swathes of India. Or is it because the Abrahamics have decided among themselves that they have a monopoly over what they call "monotheism", and so the Indic is turning away in disgust at being shut out, and rejecting the Western 'theism' itself? Or is it because they are distancing themselves from their own confused inability to make sense of the Hindu Pauranic traditions? (I remember reading Arun Shourie ji's book on Hinduism [a person whom I otherwise have the greatest respect for], and I couldn't believe the shallowness of his "rational" critique, pointing out so-called "conrtadictions" without being able to offer any perspective, like it was nothing more than priestcraft over a rather ignorant and superstitious civilization.)

In his classic 'The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire', Edward Gibbons devotes considerable attention to the religious-philosophical currents prevalent at the time of the beginning of that decay. In it, he points out the dry, speculative, aloof and cynical philosophical trends that were fashionable among the educated elites in stark contrast with the devotional and somewhat superstitious attitudes of the masses whom they looked down upon. This internal cynicism and disconnect between the intellectual and emotive streams within the people and the body politic as a whole was a symptom of the beginning of the end of true creative energy in that civilization.

नास्ति बुद्धिर् अयुक्तस्य
न चायुक्तस्य भावना ।
न चाभावयतः शान्तिः
अशान्तस्य कुतः सुखम् ॥

"One who is not connected [with the divine through a spiritual process] does not have a sound transcendental intellect, and neither does he have a steady flow of feeling in his heart. There is no tranquility and contentment without a steady and full heart, and without peace how can there be happiness?" - Bhagavad Gita 2.66

Whatever be the case with Hindutva political leaders and thinkers, in my humble opinion the inclination to identify with "atheism" and their aloofness from the kumbha-mela of popular Hinduism could backfire in other ways - at a civilizational level - if their intellectual stances and hearts are not tempered with a real adherence and connection to the processes of spiritual development. In this respect, it appears that only Narendra Modi appears to stand apart from the others at this time. In a marketplace of identities, his Asmita seems a bit more connected than any other.