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Saturday, December 5
by Rich on December 5, 2009 08:56AM (PST)
As reported by the Hindu, Justice A. S. Naidu of the Orissa High Court has stayed proceedings in a criminal case against Peter Heehs in the court of the subdivisional magistrate, Cuttack. This means, for those unfamiliar with legal terminology, that the case has been taken from the hands of the magistrate, and that all proceedings in the case have been halted until the matter is disposed of by the High Court. In addition the High Court has quashed (nullified) an order that had been passed by the subdivisional magistrate. The fact that the case in the lower court was stayed even before the magistrate was given a chance to hear it shows that the High Court found it to be fundamentally unsound in law
Monday, November 9
by Rich on November 9, 2009 10:07PM (PST)
Generally, modern historians tend to stick to the terra firma of inscriptions, coins, the accounts of foreign travelers, and other precisely datable sources. There are obvious advantages to such a method, and we can certainly learn critically important things from such evidence; but one unfortunate byproduct of these choices is that modern histories of India, heavily empiricist in the narrowest sense and loaded down with unwieldy records of temple donors and royal land grants, tend to be boring.
No one would say such a thing about Wendy Doniger's new book. Experts on India and professional historians of South Asia will, no doubt, find something to disagree with on every page; but they will also, I think, be charmed by Doniger's scintillating and irreverent prose (perhaps against their better judgment) and by the unexpected, strangely delightful connections she makes. Her book is no ordinary trek through inscriptions and chronicles. It is more like a psychedelic pilgrimage to sites, ritual moments, and beloved texts scattered over three millennia. Make no mistake: it's a bumpy ride, with a provocative and erudite guide who scorns the usual rules of the historical guild. That is not to say that this improbable history lacks method. There is a sense in which Doniger is close to the indigenous South Asian, "puranic" model of writing history, of the type that put off al-Biruni. more »
Saturday, July 4
by Debashish on July 4, 2009 11:50AM (PDT)
Partha Chatterjee, founding member of the Subaltern Studies editorial collective, is director of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, and visiting professor of anthropology at Columbia University. Chatterjee's interests are diverse and include Bengali theater. He has acted in Mira Nair's adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's story The Namesake.
Chatterjee's work on anticolonial and postcolonial nationalism has left a definitive mark on contemporary scholarship. He has grappled with the problem of an Euro-American modernity politically institutionalized by the nation-state, in its implementations in terms of resistant cultural nationalisms among non-western and colonized peoples and their imagined communities.
The present inflection of his work moves towards postcolonial governmentality and the grassroots cultural politics of claiming identities within its categoric specifciations.
Chatterjee points out how the standard secular form of post-Enlightenment nationalism has been adapted in attempts to arrive at alternate forms within non-western cultures, yet how such adaptations have been marked by serious ambiguity, becoming co-opted by the forms they have sought to resist, rendered impotent or transformed into fascict ideologies. He calls for a continuous popular/communitarian creativity in understanding and dealing with such transformations, though his voice in this matter, judging by India's postcolonial history, tends towards pessimism.
For example, this is what he has to say about the moibilization of religion in its anti-colonial adaptations:
The innovations in nationalist thinking and nationalist mobilizations which have occurred in the postcolonial world have tended to get repressed by the emergence of fairly standardized forms of governance. Many of these innovations were actually repressed because they were not seen to be consistent with the known forms of the modern state. For instance, if you had movements or parties which were largely based on religion, this was seen to be somehow inconsistent with the idea of a modern constitutional state. Therefore, there was always this problem of what to do with such movements. Yet, those movements have been very influential and powerful in terms of mobilizing people against colonial rule.
So, once the objective of decolonization and transfer of power to a new nationalist elite had been met, the question was how to contain or manage these forces that had been released in the course of the national movement. That is where many of these tensions remained unresolved. If you look at the case of post-independence India, this whole debate about the "secular" state and what the secular state must do and what it means, in a sense, reflected this unresolved tension. In the historical process of the emergence of that state, a great deal of the mobilization had used religion, had depended on extremely powerful religious reform movements, of actually shaping what were seen to be religious beliefs and religious practices but changing them, reformulating them, in order to conform to what were seen to be the new challenges of the modern world.
So these religious reform movements were often completely part of the broader set of social changes that brought about nationalism, that brought about the new state, that brought about new political formations. They were integrally tied with many of those movements and yet the requirements of the secular state presumably forbade religion in public places or public life, or forbade political parties based on religion, because these were somehow inconsistent with a modern nation-state. Very often, there were all kinds of shortcuts or repressive ways of keeping those things under cover, as it were. Many of the tensions around secularism, for instance, and the kinds of challenges that emerged later on, in the case of India's Hindu right-wing in the 1980s for instance, were very much part of these unresolved questions from within the national movement. What the Hindu right then appealed to was not to say that nationalism was all wrong; they said, in fact, that they were the "true" nationalists. The reason why that could be said persuasively was because of a great deal of religious-based rhetoric and the presence, as I said, of these powerful religious reform movements, which were always part and parcel of nationalism.
So these remained unresolved problems. The overall frames remained derivative, almost imitations of forms of the state as developed in the West, but in actual practice what had to be done was to find completely innovative practices at the localized level. The real problem occurred when many of these local adaptations and innovations required a new translation into the larger frame. more »
Saturday, June 13
Much ado about Ganesha: Paul Courtright, Wendy Doniger, and the Hindu Right (Rajiv Malhotra) by Amardeep Singh - (w/ Courtright review)
by Rich on June 13, 2009 07:25PM (PDT)
Malhotra makes some good points, but he lacks restraint. Because the western scholarship on Hinduism he singles out is markedly psychoanalytic in nature, he feels it is appropriate to "reverse psychoanalyze" the critics in question. He speculates on the sexuality of these scholars in ways that are extremely distasteful at best, and libelous at worst. Here is an example of a particularly ugly passage from Malhotra:
1) Western women, such as the famous professor herself, who are suppressed by the prudish and male chauvinistic myths of the Abrahamic religions, find in their study of Hinduism a way to release their innermost latent vasanas, but they disguise this autobiography as a portrayal of the “other” (in this case superimposing their obsessions upon Hindu deities and saints). For example, here is Wendy acknowledging projecting her psychosis onto her scholarship:[lxxx] “Aldous Huxley once said that an intellectual was someone who had found something more interesting than sex; in Indology, an intellectual need not make that choice at all…. Is sex a euphemism for god? Or is god a euphemism for sex? Or both!” 2) American Lesbian and Gay women's vasanas, also suppressed by Abrahamic condemnation, seek private and public legitimacy, and therefore, interpret Indian texts for this autobiographical purpose. 3) Sexually abused Western women, seeking an outlet for anger, find in the Hindu Devi either a symbol of female violence or a symbol of male oppression -- another cultural superimposition
Ugh. To Mr. Malhotra: if you disagree with the arguments and methods of these scholars, debate them respectfully... more »
Thursday, March 5
by Rich on March 5, 2009 10:44AM (PST)
I have continued to follow the extensive sustained outpouring of responses, comments and discussions surrounding the conflict which erupted like a chemical reaction to the catalyst of Peter Heehs' Lives of Sri Aurobindo. For it has indeed revealed and exposed much hidden beneath the surface of our spiritual demeanor.
Unfortunately for us transitional humans, Transformation can be such a messy business. Messy because it forces us to see precisely what we don't want to see in ourselves. Which are precisely the things that need to be transformed. So despite our primitive genetic predisposition for self-deception and self-deceit, light eventually lasers through, mercilessly revealing even our most sacred and sacrosanct shadows, "outing" that strange cast of characters we harbor in ourselves -- in our personal, collective and culture-conditioned selves. more »
Saturday, January 10
by Debashish on January 10, 2009 10:05AM (PST)
Controversy surrounding the representation of a "nationalized" Indian mystic comes late to Sri Aurobindo. Pre-dating the latter in personal chronology as in nationalism and the modern articulation of a global Vedantic spirituality, Vivekananda precedes also in the matter of contemporary debates on representation. In the present 2005 piece by Makarand Paranjape, some of the recent histories of representation and the all too familiar stakes are rehearsed and can be instructive to our consideration of the present controversy raging around "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo." Who gets to authorize the representation? What are the relative uses of hagiographny and biography? Are not both of these varieties of fiction? What purposes do they serve? Where does cultural tradition come in? What is the place of hermeneutics in all this? Paranjape's reflections and call for a balanced realism is much needed for us to heed and reflect on in these times of myth-making and madness. more »
Friday, December 12
by Rich on December 12, 2008 01:13PM (PST)
The single omnipresent historical reference in the American media immediately in the wake of September 11, 2001, was, of course,”Pearl Harbor”-- and those code words for it, "infamy" and "day of infamy," splashed in mile-high letters across the front pages of papers. What we had experienced, it was commonly said then, was "the Pearl Harbor of the 21st century." And with that image of the Japanese attack that began the Second World War for the United States went powerful, if only half-conscious, memories of how that war ended, of nuclear holocaust, and so the place where the World Trade Center towers went down was promptly dubbed "Ground Zero," previously a term reserved for the spot where an atomic blast took place.
Naturally, the idea that 9/11 was an "act of war," and that we were "at war," quickly and heavily promoted by the Bush administration, followed; and all of this would have been appropriate to a surprise attack by a nuclear-armed state, but not to an assault by 19 terrorists backed by a ragtag organization spread from Hamburg, Germany, to the backlands of Afghanistan. That the framework for taking in what had happened that day was so thoroughly askew mattered not a whit to most Americans at that time; and the rest, including the President's "Global War on Terror," came easily, if disastrously, in its wake. Now, "9/11" has become the "Pearl Harbor" of the twenty-first century, the antecedent and analogy of choice, and so, not surprisingly, it was on all but a few media lips, during the recent massacre and siege in Mumbai, India.
Arundhati Roy, the Indian activist and author of the prize-winning novel The God of Small Things was one of the earliest, strongest, sanest voices on this planet of ours to take on George W. Bush and his Global War on Terror. "The freshest voice on Earth," I called her back in 2003. She was an inspiration. Now, she turns to the events in her own country, in Mumbai, and explains just why using 9/11 as the analogy of choice there, as we once used "Pearl Harbor" here, will lead in no less terrible directions. .... more »
Saturday, August 9
by Debashish on August 9, 2008 11:41AM (PDT)
SCIY Editor Vladimir Yatsenko will teach an online course in the Vedas starting in October 2008. We carry the details here as well as a link to one of the lecture transcripts posted earlier in SCIY. more »
Monday, February 4
by Ron on February 4, 2008 02:00AM (PST)
...at 7 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, Feb. 4...NASA will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its first space mission — the launch of the Explorer 1 satellite — by using the system of huge antennas that usually listen for inbound signals from space to send one outbound instead: the Beatles’ song “Across the Universe,” which as it happens was mostly recorded exactly 40 years earlier, on Feb. 4, 1968.
Reception will be best in the general direction of Polaris, 431 lightyears away, which is where NASA is aiming the signal. (That would be the North Star to us laymen.) But it ought to be audible in plenty of places on Earth as well, at least by imitation: NASA is encouraging space fans and Beatle fans alike to play the song themselves at the same time.
NASA’s press release includes some perfectly in-character comments from Sir Paul McCartney (”Amazing! Well done, NASA! Send my love to the aliens. All the best, Paul.”) and from Yoko Ono, widow of John Lennon, the song’s main author (”I see that this is the beginning of the new age in which we will communicate with billions of planets across the universe.”). ... more »
Sunday, July 8
by Ron on July 8, 2007 02:45AM (PDT)
'Hindutva' has been described and defined by many. The first definition has come from Veer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1923, in his pamphlet entitled" who is a Hindu?" to describe movements advocating Hindu Nationalism. Thereafter, a spate of definitions and interpretations have arisen, but none of them carries the full Import of the struggles of the Hindu life on this Earth.
Firstly, all the previous efforts in defining it were rooted in some type of a Social or Religious motivations (all religions in their present status are materialistic in practice - and not truly Spiritual), or Political motivations. Now, presently the effort is for gaining a lost self-identification motivation.
Secondly, in view of the laws of 'the spiritual evolution', eternally functional and in operation in the universe, the human cognitive limits have always failed to realize fully the true agenda of their life. Vedic knowledge is the only guide available to the struggling human mind; and Hindus have inherited and attempted to follow this wisdom to a large extent. Therefore, the concepts or definitions of organized religions, Natural Sciences and even 'Spirituality' 'Dharma' are all in the crucible. ... more »
Thursday, June 14
by Ron on June 14, 2007 04:00AM (PDT)
...Man is not final, says Sri Aurobindo, the great Indian mystic. Man is a transitional being, he says. Beyond him awaits the “divine race, the superman”, with super-consciousness. Aurobindo sees a progressive divination of the human race.
We are actors in this cosmic drama that is unfolding before us, not mere onlookers. The Gita says: Ceaseless action is the lot of man! -- But the ways of the world differ. Europe has chosen one way, we Hindus have chosen another and the Muslims have their own way. Each has its merits. They must be left free to seek their different ends. We must not force on the world one way as the Christians and Muslims are trying to do. ...
The two ways are not hostile to each other. They are in fact complementary. ... more »
Friday, April 13
by Ron on April 13, 2007 11:18AM (PDT)
Thanks to Yatanti for referring us to this site re "The Works of Rabindranath Tagore" and other sacred texts. ~ ron
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was a Bengali poet, philosopher, artist, playwright, composer and novelist. India's first Nobel laureate, Tagore won the 1913 Nobel Prize for Literature. He composed the text of both India's and Bangladesh's respective national anthems. Tagore travelled widely and was friends with many notable 20th century figures such as William Butler Yeats, H.G. Wells, Ezra Pound, and Albert Einstein. While he supported Indian Independence, he often had tactical disagreements with Gandhi (at one point talking him out of a fast to the death). His body of literature is deeply sympathetic for the poor and upholds universal humanistic values. His poetry drew from traditional Vaisnava folk lyrics and was often deeply mystical.more »
LAST night I dreamt that I was the same boy that I had been before my mother died. She sat in a room in a garden house on the bank of the Ganges. I carelessly passed by without paying attention to her, when all of a sudden it flashed through my mind with an unutterable longing that my mother was there. At once I stopped and went back to her and bowing low touched her feet with my head. She held my hand, looked into my face, and said: "You have come!"
In this great world we carelessly pass by the room where Mother sits. Her storeroom is open when we want our food, our bed is ready when we must sleep. Only that touch and that voice are wanting. We are moving about, but never coming close to the personal presence, to be held by the hand and greeted: "You have come!" ...
Thursday, February 15
'The Doctrine of the Subtle Worlds: Sri Aurobindo's Cosmology, Modern Science, and the Metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead'
by Ron on February 15, 2007 11:11PM (PST)
This is an unusually long article for SCIY. It's copyrighted by Eric M. Weiss, and was his dissertation for his Ph.D. at CIIS, the California Institute of Integral Studies, with a concentration in Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness. I'm taking the liberty of posting it here because, in my opinion, it's one of the most thorough and insightful treatments of the core concern of SCIY; the multiple & interpenetrating relationships between science, culture, and consciousness, placed within the contextual framework of Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga. - Warning: This is challenging material, but I believe working through it and contemplating its implications is well worth the effort. - My deepest appreciation goes to Dr. Eric Weiss for his extraordinary and groundbreaking work. ~ ron
...Here we are, at the dawn of the Twenty First Century, and I have awakened to find myself living in a science fiction novel. If this novel were to be written from the standpoint of the 23rd century, looking back to the beginning of the 21st, it might start something like this:
At that time, the certainties of science had faltered. The great charism of the men in white lab coats had faded. The bastions of materialism had crumbled from within, and the civilization that it had fostered was losing its way.
Meanwhile, three centuries of rapacious assault on the biosphere were, at last, showing decisive results. The globe was poisoned, people were sick, species were being slaughtered by the tens of thousands, global temperatures and global sea levels were both beginning to rise. A civilization was ending, and in its death throes, it was bringing to a close the Cenozoic Era. The Earth was preparing for a fresh creation.
Looking back, too, we can see that the promise of the new civilization had already begun to shine. The iron cage of the material world, in which the species had been trapped for centuries, was starting to dissolve. Here and there, the experiences of the subtle worlds were breaking through. A few intrepid explorers had seen the promise, and had just begun to glimpse the vast freedoms and the limitless horizons that we now enjoy, but the darkness was still thick and Kali was dancing wildly across the face of the globe. This is the story of those early pioneers… more »
Tuesday, February 6
by Ron on February 6, 2007 12:35AM (PST)
Thanks to Koantum for suggesting this article by Aurovillian Francois Gautier.
Today, there is a sense of deep satisfaction, of gloating even, in India... we see a much more dynamic and self-confident India, galvanised by the liberalisation taking place at this very moment.
But if one looks closer at what is happening here, one is bound to feel a little unsettled. For what we see today is an India veering blindly, without restraint, towards total globalisation and Westernisation. — Yes, there are great values in the Western world: Freedom, democracy, equality (not always though), respect for the environment, less corruption. And India must, and has already borrowed from these qualities. — But since the last two, three years, it seems the Indian political and intellectual mind is pushing these qualities to an illogical extreme, as if it wants to prove to the West that 'we are as democratic, as liberal, as free as you are.' — Thus, democracy in India has been hijacked. It takes a fortune to be elected. Politicians, elected by and for the people, once they are locked in the ivory tower that is Delhi, forget all about the people.
This process of copying the West to the point of aping it has, of course, already happened many times in the developing world. And it killed the soul of many countries, making them just another replica of the West -- with a youth that wears the latest Calvin Klein jeans, knows the No 1 bestseller on the Time list, can quote a few lines from Dante, reads The Times of India, but knows nothing about pranayama, has never read a verse from Kalidasa and does not know who Sri Aurobindo is. ... more »
Wednesday, December 13
by Ron on December 13, 2006 05:49PM (PST)
I'm posting this portion of Chap. 5 of "Trialogues at the Edge of the West" because I think it may relate to the discussion presently under way re the article titled: "Instruments of Knowledge and Post-Human Destinies." My hope is that some of the new theories now surfacing in contemporary science may support our work in deconstructing the insights presented both in traditional Hindu and Buddhist texts and in Sri Aurobindo's more recent writings.
For example, the initial section of "Trialogues" that I quote below raises some interesting ideas about the possible relationship between light, perception, mind and consciousness. (ron) more »
A Review of Dipesh Chakrabarty's "Provincializing Europe" by Amit Chaudhuri (London Review of Books) Debashish
AntiMatters vol 3 no 4 is out koantum
Classicism, post-classicism and Ranjabati Sircar’s work: re-defining the terms of Indian contemporary dance discourses by Alessandra Lopez y Royo Debashish
LACMA 111909 - Debashish Banerji Debashish
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler