Some postcolonial theorists argue that the idea of a single system of belief known as "Hinduism" is a creation of nineteenth-century British imperialists. Andrew J. Nicholson introduces another perspective: although a unified Hindu identity is not as ancient as some Hindus claim, it has its roots in innovations within South Asian philosophy from the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries. During this time, thinkers treated the philosophies of Vedanta, Samkhya, and Yoga, along with the worshippers of Visnu, Siva, and Sakti, as (...) belonging to a single system of belief and practice. Instead of seeing such groups as separate and contradictory, they re-envisioned them as separate rivers leading to the ocean of Brahman, the ultimate reality. -/- Drawing on the writings of philosophers from late medieval and early modern traditions, including Vijnanabhiksu, Madhava, and Madhusudana Sarasvati, Nicholson shows how influential thinkers portrayed Vedanta philosophy as the ultimate unifier of diverse belief systems. This project paved the way for the work of later Hindu reformers, such as Vivekananda, Radhakrishnan, and Gandhi, whose teachings promoted the notion that all world religions belong to a single spiritual unity. In his study, Nicholson also critiques the way in which Eurocentric concepts—like monism and dualism, idealism and realism, theism and atheism, and orthodoxy and heterodoxy—have come to dominate modern discourses on Indian philosophy. (shrink)
Lecture 1. Hinduism in the world and the world of Hinduism -- Lecture 2. The early cultures of India -- Lecture 3. The world of the Veda -- Lecture 4. From the Vedic tradition to classical Hinduism -- Lecture 5. Caste -- Lecture 6. Men, women, and the stages of life -- Lecture 7. The way of action -- Lecture 8. The way of wisdom -- Lecture 9. Seeing God -- Lecture 10. The way of devotion -- (...) Lecture 11. The goddess and her devotees -- Lecture 12. Hinduism in the modern period. (shrink)
This paper is divided into six parts. The first presents a rudimentary definition of ethics based on Western philosophical theories, particularly their concern for articulating universal moral principles. The second examines the assumptions anchoring Western moral philosophies, and raises the question: are the philosophical presuppositions of modern Western philosophy consistent with the presuppositions of Hinduism? It concludes that the two are not entirely in agreement, particularly on the issue of personal and social identity. The third section locates areas in (...)Hinduism that discursively concur with the concerns of Western ethicists, and explores the limits of the semblance. The fourth identifies problematic areas, and raises the question: should the idea of universal ethics be abandoned for Hinduism? The fifth section concludes that such abandonment would be hasty, and initiates a searching look into the Hindu epics for concepts that, while not identical with may still be parallel to some Western notions of ethics. The sixth looks at the content of normative Hindu morality, and generalizes on the basis of this content about the nature of "Hindu ethics". (shrink)
The Protestant conception of religion as a private matter of conscience organized into voluntary associations informed early liberalism's conception of religion and of religious toleration, assumptions that are still present in contemporary liberalism. In many other religions, however, including Hinduism (the main though not only focus of this article), practice has a much larger role than conscience. Hinduism is not a voluntary association, and the structure of its practices, some of which are inegalitarian, makes exit very difficult. This (...) makes liberal religious toleration an awkward fit for Hinduism; granting religious toleration in India undermines equality and autonomy in severe ways. Yet Hinduism is not without its virtues, and has historically been what I call externally tolerant-it has been relatively tolerant of other religions. Liberal toleration, by contrast, is internally tolerant-it is tolerant of religions that fit the Protestant model, while its tolerance of others is considerably more qualified. I briefly speculate at the end of the article about how to combine these two models of toleration. (shrink)
Jvanmukti or 'living liberation' has been identified as a distinguishing feature of Indian thought; or, upon drawing a narrower circle, of Hindu thought; and upon drawing an even narrower cocentric circle of Vedānta - of Advaita Vedānta. In some recent studies the cogency of its formulation within Advaita Vedānta has been questioned - but without reference to the testimony of its major modern exemplar, Rama a Mahar i (1879-1950). This paper examines the significance of the life and statements of Rama (...) a Mahar i for the current debate in the context of neo-Hinduism. (shrink)
Jivanmukti or 'living liberation' has been identified as a distinguishing feature of Indian thought; or, upon drawing a narrower circle, of Hindu thought; and upon drawing an even narrower cocentric circle of Ved nta—of Advaita Ved nta. In some recent studies the cogency of its formulation within Advaita Ved nta has been questioned—but without reference to the testimony of its major modem exemplar, Ramana Maharsi (1879-1950). This paper examines the significance of the life and statements of Ramana Maharsi for the (...) current debate in the context of neo-Hinduism. (shrink)
The literature on Hinduism and the environment is vast, and growing quickly. It has benefitted greatly from the work of scholars in a wide range of disciplines, such as religious studies, Asian studies, history, anthropology, political science, and so on. At the same time, much of this work fails to define key terms and make fundamental assumptions explicit. Consequently, it is at least initially difficult to engage with it philosophically. In the first section of this paper, I clarify a (...) central, implicit assumption that many of the authors working in this area share?namely, the assumption that a plausible environmental ethic must attribute direct moral standing to individual, living, non-human entities in nature, such as animals and plants. In the second section, I offer a preliminary defense of this assumption. In the third section, I respond to objections, and conclude that the argument is at least initially convincing. (shrink)
Abstract In recent decades scholars in every major religious tradition have been commenting on the relationship between their own tradition and science. The subject in the context of Hinduism is complex because there is no central institutionalized authority to dictate what is acceptable Hindu belief and what is not. This has resulted in a variety of perspectives that are touched upon here. Historical factors in the introduction of modern science in the Hindu world have also influenced the subject. The (...) reflections in this paper are based on these. (shrink)
Abstract This essay is a response to three review articles on two recently published books dealing with aspects of Hinduism and science: Jonathan Edelmann's Hindu Theology and Biology: The Bhāgavata Purāṇa and Contemporary Theory, and my own, Hindu Perspectives on Evolution: Darwin, Dharma and Design. The task set by the editor of Zygon for the three reviewers was broad: they could make specific critiques of the two books, or they could use them as starting points to engage in a (...) broad discussion of Hinduism and science, or religion and science in general. In my response, I first provide a fairly detailed reply to David Gosling's many critiques of my book, and in the process call into question his Advaitic conciliation of Hinduism and science. Thomas Ellis's thesis of basic incompatibility between Hinduism and science is much closer to my own viewpoint. One of the main objectives of my book was to explain and illustrate this incompatibility with specific regard to Hindu and Darwinian perspectives on evolution. In this essay I provide a few examples in support of Ellis's incompatibility thesis, encompassing both epistemological and metaphysical dissonances. Finally, I reflect upon Varadaraja V. Raman's wide-ranging exposition on the all-encompassing nature of the Hindu tradition that readily accommodates both religious and scientific quests for knowledge. Raman uses the two books only as starting points for his own thoughts, without reference to my book. I confine myself, accordingly, to a brief critique of his complementarity approach to Hinduism and science, and of his radical inclusivism that enfolds basically all philosophical positions into the warm embrace of the Hindu tradition, including even the extreme antireligious materialism of the Cārvāka. (shrink)
Holism in environmental ethics is concerned with a harmonious relationship between man and nature. Hinduism seeks to identify and evaluate the distinctive ecological attitudes, values and practices of human beings by making clear their relations with the intellectual and ethical thought within scripture, ritual, myth,symbols, cosmology, and sacrament. In Hinduism the relation between man and nature is like the relationship between the microcosm (Pindānda) and the macrocosm (Brahmānda). The Panċamahābhuta in the Hindu tradition emphasizes that God is assigned (...) to every bhutas, and human beings have no specialauthority over the other nonhuman. Even the Yoga system of Pātanjali also tries to integrate environmental policies with the daily needs of human beings. Hindu philosophy believes that an animal killer is considered as a murderer and goes directly to the hell. This justifies the intrinsic value of the nonhuman species, which entail them to come under the purview of morality. On the basis of the various attitudes in Hinduism we can develop an ecological paradigm and strategy which is based on the concept of Vasudheiva Kutumbakam: every entity and organism is a part of one large extended family which is presided over by the eternal mother Earth. This position will help us to formulate a global environmental ethics by individuals, theologians, environmental philosophers and groups, scientists, politicians, economists, industrialists, and different government and non-governmental social organizations. (shrink)
Abstract The doctrines of Kanna and rebirth dovetail so neatly that they are often treated as a single philosophical package. This paper demonstrates that when they are each treated separately in their own right and their possible relationships are re?examined, it leads to a much more nuanced understanding of not only these concepts but also the issues they were developed to address.
Abstract. The science and religion discourse in the Western academy, though expansive, has not paid significant enough attention to South Asian views, particularly those from Hindu thought. This essay seeks to address this issue in three parts. First, I present the South Asian standpoint as it currently relates to the science and religion discourse. Second, I survey and evaluate some available literature on South Asian approaches to the science and religion discourse. Finally, I promote three possible steps forward: (1) the (...) literature must shift from high Hindu philosophical religion to the more prevalent bhakti traditions, (2) the Indian context must be understood in its own right without metaphysical assumptions attached to the concepts of science and religion, and (3) most importantly, concepts unique to the Indian worldview, such as dharma, maya, and cit, must receive better treatment in translation in order to facilitate a more accurate exchange of ideas across cultural boundaries. (shrink)
The compound “Hindu philosophy” is ambiguous. Minimally it stands for a tradition of Indian philosophical thinking. However, it could be interpreted as designating one comprehensive philosophical doctrine, shared by all Hindu thinkers. The term “Hindu philosophy” is often used loosely in this philosophical or doctrinal sense, but this usage is misleading. There is no single, comprehensive philosophical doctrine shared by all Hindus that distinguishes their view from contrary philosophical views associated with other Indian religious movements such as Buddhism or Jainism (...) on issues of epistemology, metaphysics, logic, ethics or cosmology. Hence, historians of Indian philosophy typically understand the term “Hindu philosophy” as standing for the collection of philosophical views that share a textual connection to certain core Hindu religious texts (such as the Vedas), and they do not identify “Hindu philosophy” with a particular comprehensive philosophical doctrine. -/- Hindu philosophy, thus understood, not only includes the philosophical doctrines present in Hindu texts of primary and secondary religious importance, but also the systematic philosophies of the Hindu schools: Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, Sāṅkhya, Yoga, Pūrvamīmāṃsā and Vedānta. In total, Hindu philosophy has made a sizable contribution to the history of Indian philosophy and its role has been far from static: Hindu philosophy was influenced by Buddhist and Jain philosophies, and in turn Hindu philosophy influenced Buddhist philosophy in India in its later stages. In recent times, Hindu philosophy evolved into what some scholars call “Neo-Hinduism,” which can be understood as an Indian response to the perceived sectarianism and scientism of the West. Hindu philosophy thus has a long history, stretching back from the second millennia B.C.E. to the present. (shrink)
Three doctrines have often been identified in the context of Hindu civilization as its distinctive markers: the doctrine of the varṇas (or the doctrine of the four classes), the doctrine of āśramas (or the doctrine of the four stages of life), and the doctrine of the puruṣārthas (or the doctrine of the four goals of life). The study of the last of these has been comparatively neglected and the doctrine has even been dubbed a myth (Krishna 1996, 189-205). The purpose (...) of this article is twofold: to establish the cogency of the doctrine of the puruṣārthas in the face of such criticism and to indicate the directions in which the doctrine could be developed further. (shrink)
Addressing one of the most difficult conceptual topics in the study of classical Hinduism, Ariel Glucklich presents a rigorous phenomenology of dharma, or order. The work moves away from the usual emphasis on symbols and theoretical formulations of dharma as a religious and moral norm. Instead, it focuses on images that emerge from the basic experiential interaction of the body in its spatial and temporal contexts, such as the sensation of water on the skin during the morning purification, or (...) the physical manipulation of the bride during the marriage ritual. Images of dharma are examined in myths, rituals, art, and even the physical landscape of the Hindu world. The varied and contingent experiences of dharma infuse it with a meaning that transcends a false analytical distinction from adharma, or chaos. Glucklich shows that when dharma is experienced by means of living images, it becomes inescapably temporal, and therefore inseparable from adharma. (shrink)
As propositions, Anatmavāda and Ātmavāda are simply negations of one another. Thus whatever serves as a criterion for truth of the one must serve as a criterion for the other. When we treat them both as a priori propositions, I claim that we are unable to determine their truth value. But if we treat them both as a posteriori propositions, I argue, we are only able to determine their truth value if we attain unqualified omniscience. Because the Hindu account of (...) knowing is far more conducive to the idea of unqualified omniscience, we might be tempted to assert that the empirical verification of these doctrines taken as propositions is far more likely in the Hindu tradition than the early Buddhist one. However, 'empirical omniscience' carries us very far from received views, thus I conclude that it makes no sense to treat these doctrines as truth-valued propositions. (shrink)
Veena Howard (2002). How I See the Other in Hinduism. In Steven Shankman & Massimo Lollini (eds.), Who, Exactly, is the Other ?: Western and Transcultural Perspectives: A Collection of Essays. University of Oregon Books/University of Oregon Humanities Center.score: 9.0
Machine generated contents note: Introduction; 1. Religious ethic and the philosophy of warfare in vedic and epic India: 1500 BCE-400 BCE; 2. Buddhism, Jainism, and Asoka's Ahimsa; 3. Kautilya's Kutayaddha: 300 BCE-300 CE; 4. Dharmayuddha and Kutahuddha from the Common Era till the advent of the Turks; 5. Hindu militarism under Islamic Rule: 900 CE-1800 CE; 6. Hindu militarism and anti-militarism in British India: 1750-1947; 7. Hindu military ethos and strategic thought in post-colonial India; Conclusion.
God is playful. Like a child building sand castles on the beach, God creates the world and destroys it again. God plays with his (or her) devotees, sometimes like a lover, sometimes like a mother with her children, sometimes like an actor in a play. The idea of God's playfulness has been elaborated in Hinduism more, perhaps, than any other religion, providing one of the most distinctive and charming aspects of Indian religious life. Lila or "divine play" can refer (...) to many things: to God's playful creation of the world and to religious dramas or "plays," as well as to various motifs in Hindu art. But despite the importance of lila in the cultural history of South Asia, few comprehensive studies of it are available, partly because scholars have tended to emphasize only one dimension of lila--either the theological or the performative--at the expense of the other. The Gods at Play fills this gap by bringing together scholarly essays on all aspects of this important Hindu idea, providing students with a broader understanding of popular Hindu culture and religion. (shrink)
Presenting biographies of such influential thinkers as Dayanand, Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Keshub Chandra Sen and Gandhi, this work includes enthralling extracts from key writings of modern Hindu thinking. It will be of special interest to students and scholars of religion, classical philosophy, and Indian literature, as well as to anyone interested in Hinduism.
Contemporary consciousness studies, where it is not explicitly religious, is mostly physicalist. Theories of self and consciousness in classical Hindu thought can easily be seen to contribute to religious issues in consciousness studies. But it is also the case that there is much in that that can be useful within broadly physicalist parameters of study as well. The Mīmāṃsā and Nyāya schools, while having (nonphysicalist) soteriological goals for the metaphysical self, nonetheless provide theories of its relationship with consciousness that allow (...) for interpretative strategies that can make their theories relevant to a broadly physicalist study of consciousness. Advaita Vedānta cannot be so interpreted, but its inquiry into the nature of consciousness can provide material for a fundamental critique of the project of objectifying consciousness. (shrink)
Mahādeviyakka was a radical 12th century Karnataka saint of whom surprisingly little has been written. Considered the most poetic of the Virashaivas, her vacanas are characterized by their desperate searching for Shiva. I attempt to convey Mahādevi's epistemology and its struggle to 'know' Shiva, necessitating a lifetime of searching for him; offer an interpretation of the innate presence of iva in the world and its consequences for epistemology; and explore the sense of tragic love inherent in devotional searching for Shiva. (...) My primary goal is to offer a powerful and positive, yet critical, interpretation of Mahādevi's beautiful prose on her relationship with Shiva. (shrink)
The political thought of Mohandas K. Gandhi has been increasingly used as a paradigmatic example of hybrid political thought that developed out of a cross-cultural dialogue of eastern and western influences. With a novel unpacking of this hybridity, this article focuses on the conceptual influences that Gandhi explicitly stressed in his autobiography and other writings, particularly the works of Leo Tolstoy and the Bhagavad Gītā. This new tracing of influence in the development of Gandhi’s thought alters the substantive thrust of (...) Gandhi’s thought away from more familiar quasi-liberal interpretations and towards a far more substantive bhakti or devotional understanding of politics. The analysis reveals a conception of politics that is not pragmatic in its use of non-violence, but instead points to a devotional focus on cultivating the self (ātman), ultimately dissolving the public/private distinction that many readings of Gandhi’s thought depend upon. (shrink)