Indra’s Net :: My Take
A Little Background
Sanatana Dharma is rooted in diversity; you can be a staunch Sri Vaishnavaite and be a Hindu, you can be a Shaivaite and be Hindu, you can follow the Advaita Vedanta of Sri AdiShankara and be a Hindu, you can be a follower of Dvaita Vedanta and be Hindu, you can follow a Guru who follows Sastra Pramana and be a Hindu. Moksha, the ultimate Aim of Sanatana Dharma, can be obtained in any of these ways.
Since this religion is different from the religions that follow one God, one book, one Prophet and only one way to salvation, there are many people in the west who do not want to call this a religion. There are many people who want to see this religion disappear from the globe. They want this culture to get fossilized and forgotten. Now some of them have started accusing Swami Vivekananda of manufacturing Hinduism. What makes the matter worse is the fact that some are using teachings of Adi Shankara, concocting and misinterpreting them to come up with a preposterous claim that Swami Vivekananda came up with a new religion. This book is a rebuttal to all the people who question the inherent Philosophical Unity of Hinduism. Here is the synopsis of the book.
Synopsis of the book
Defending Hinduisms Philosophical Unity, it is fashionable among intellectuals to assert that dharma traditions lacked any semblance of unity before the British period and that the contours of contemporary Hinduism were bequeathed to us by our colonial masters. Such arguments routinely target Swami Vivekananda, a key interlocutor who shattered many deeply rooted prejudices against Indian civilization. They accuse him of having camouflaged various alleged contradictions within traditional Hinduism and charge him with having appropriated the principles of Western religion to manufacture a coherent and unified worldview and set of practices known today as Hinduism. Indras Net: Defending Hinduisms Philosophical Unity provides a foundation for theories that slander contemporary Hinduism as illegitimate, ascribing sinister motives to its existence and characterizing its fabric as oppressive. Rajiv Malhotra offers a detailed, systematic rejoinder to such views and articulates the multidimensional, holographic understanding of reality that grounds Hindu dharma. He also argues that Vivekananda’s creative interpretations of Hindu dharma informed and influenced many Western intellectual movements of the post-modern era. Indeed, as he cites with many insightful examples, appropriations from Hinduism have provided a foundation for cutting-edge discoveries in several fields, including cognitive science and neuroscience.
The book starts with the Purva Paksha where Rajiv Malhotra explains the myths that need to be challenged. Some myths that are widely in circulation are
(i) Hinduism is manufactured
(ii)Hinduism doesnot have any coherence
(iii) Hinduism is founded on oppression
(iv) Seva (service to others) is a concept that Hindus adopted from the west
(v) Yoga was not treated as a path to salvation by Hindus and Hindus copied it from western science etc ..
Then he brings to light the stands taken by various Western Indologists. He speaks about the arguments of Paul Hacker, Agehananda Bharti, Ursula King, Rambachan, Richard King, Brian Pennington, Peter Van der Veer, Sheldon Pollock and others. He speaks about the hidden agenda and the larger picture that comes from it.
The way the works of these people support each other and the way all of them overlook a lot of historical facts are brought to light in a systematic way. The author dwells on “Anubhava” Vs “Sruti Pramana” in these sections. We get to see wonderful arguments in the offing when we read about Rambachan, the position he takes on Swami Vivekananda and Rajiv’s argument that expose the fallacies in Rambachan’s line.
The second part of the book deals (Uttara Paksha) brings to light Rajiv ji’s full-fledged rebuttal to the Western Indologists. Rajiv ji brings to light the pre-colonial unifies of Hinduism like Vijnanabhikshu. He attacks the lies that the Indologists present and propagate regarding Seva, altruism and Yoga, Adi Shankara’s position on Yoga. He even gives references where the West incorporated ideals from Hinduism (particularly regarding Seva etc.), and it was not the other way round.
The author presents numerous examples of the way Shankara did respect yoga and way both can complement each other and help a sadhaka in the path of Liberation. The way Shankara’s work is presented deserves a special mention it is very well researched and well presented.
The author then moves on to give a framework in which Hindu thought can dwell and empower itself. The open architecture, the common tool box, the poison pills, porcupine defense and Astika -Nastika distinction are proposed by the author as a way forward for all Hindus.
What did I like ?
1. The extensive research and the way the problem and solutions have been described.
2. The Purva Paksha, most of us don’t read about the way in which Hinduism is being targeted by various groups, we fall into the trap of believing every argument that
comes our way, more so, if it comes from a westerner. Rajiv Ji shows us the double-sidedness of some of these Western intellectuals.
3. The open architecture, Poison Pills, and Porcupine defense. Rajiv Ji does not leave it with questions, he gives a lot of answers, and that is important. I loved the way he gave answers and strategies to save our religion from digestion.
4. The concept of Indra’s Net itself where everything is in itself the whole and also the part of it. That’s a fantastic concept that I did not know before.
What did I not like ?
1. I did not read the book “Being Different” till now. In fact, this is the first book of Rajiv Ji that I read. Many a time he refers to what was said in Being Different, this made reading a little tough for me.
2. This is purely my personal problem; I was not able to read Purva Paksha. All those arguments against Swami Vivekananda were things I could not digest. As I was reading those pages, I was praying for them to be over and was wanting Uttara Paksha to start. Probably the Hindu in me was finding all these things unpalatable.
A must read for all Hindus. Please read the book. We ought to know the games of these Western Indologists and the ways and means in which our Dharma is being attacked. Digestion is one of the biggest threats to our religion today. The Open Architecture, the poison pills and porcupine defense are indeed innovative methodologies that Rajiv ji proposes.
You might agree with Rajiv Ji or you might disagree, however, the threat we Hindus are facing from these academicians of the west is real. We ought to wake up and think of ways and means to counter it. This book serves as a good starting point.
Please do read the book, you would have done yourself a great favor by reading this book.