Saturday, 7 April 2012

Does Hinduism promote Corruption?

Three students, all of Hindu heritage, at an American Business College think Indian corruption is at least partly attributable to something intrinsic to Hindu culture.
'Furthermore, Indian literary history fully embraces the concept of noble ends justifying dubious means. Three texts intrinsic to Indian culture and philosophy help to explain the current business landscape: the epics Ramayana and Mahabarata and the economic treatise Arthshastra.
'In both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, even gods resort to deceit and trickery to accomplish their ends. In the latter, Lord Krishna repeatedly devises "underhanded" methods to defeat the opposing army -- going so far as to encourage the protagonist, Arjuna, to attack and kill an unarmed adversary.
'In addition, the Arthshastra is often cited publicly by prominent politicians and businessmen as the foundation of their strategic thought. Written to advise a king on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy, the work advocates the use of deception and sometimes brutal measures for the common good. Max Weber described Machiavelli's draconian Prince as harmless when compared to Arthshastra, whose topics range from "when a nation should violate a treaty and invade" to "when killing domestic opponents is wise."

Before condemning these young students for not understanding the texts they mention, one must in fairness grant that they have indeed accurately portrayed the conventional wisdom regarding the Hindu epics as taught by leading American professors. Since these students are studying in America, it is perfectly proper for them to reflect what is taught there- they have gone to America to learn, not to teach.

It may well be that, if these students previously studied in India, they are also reflecting the conventional wisdom amongst high ranking Academics at leading Universities back home.

As students and young people, they can scarcely be blamed for parroting views held by the sort of people who grade their papers and determine their success in the corrupt Credentialist fraud that is Higher Education.

What the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, Arthashastra, Manu Smriti and so on have in common is that they teach that the path of absolute ethical Autonomy is highest of all and that no force, not even that of the Heavenly Gods (whose existence is part of Maya- Illusion- merely), can prevail against it. Corruption, Mendacity and Violence offer no advantage and pose no threat to an individual or collective which has chosen the highest goal and which has its feet firmly planted upon the path to it.

The Vyadha Gita shows how a merchant- in a trade that is a byword for fraud- gains prosperity, by pure means alone, while remaining firmly fixed in absolute Autonomy that is also Union with the Highest. His business dealings are pure, so he gains wealth. He reveres his own parents as Gods and thus is free from the pious frauds of priestcraft. He has no fear of Death, having gained the honeyed wisdom of the Chandogya Unpanishad. He is free and neither corrupts not is corrupted. 
Vegetarian nutjobs will say- 'but, he is a butcher! Chee chee!' The reason they will say this is because they are so full of shit their mouth has to take on some of the work of their arsehole.
Eating meat, including beef, is perfectly compatible with Hinduism as is brewing beer of distilling spirits.

The students use the term 'ethical equilibria'- which suggests some sort of Peyton Young type co-operative game theoretic dimension to their analysis. The point about co-operative games is that, as agents learn that the strategy of their counterpart is not of a myopic Hobbesian kind, their own behaviour changes such that suddenly it as though something we would call altruism, or ethics, or even aesthetics, is being collectively maximized.

The Mahabharata shows the futility of war but also points to the glorious fate of the one son of Vyasa who was free of the tri-gunas- Suka, who flies by the nets of illusion and gains the highest Union leaving his father behind, though yet at the morning of the world, cheerless and bereft.
The Ramayana shows that emotions as 'Darwinian algorithms of the mind' and Ethics as 'Customary Morality' are dangerously counter-productive whereas their true end is more perfectly realized along the path to the highest goal.

The Arthashastra, like Manusmriti, says the path of pure Spiritual Autonomy is highest. It is beyond the scope of Politics and Economics. There is some special pleading for existing 'kutniti' expedients, on some spurious grounds. For this reason both texts are rejected by the Saints. They have nothing to do with the living and immortal Religion though, because of a historicist judicial hermeneutics adopted by the East India Company, in English and English alone, these texts have acquired a sort of normative value. Incidentally, the Arthashastra was only rediscovered in the early years of the last century. 

I find no fault with the three students. But, I ask the question, how long can India survive if a false hermeneutic of Colonial manufacture continues to enjoy normative status in the English speaking Academy? 

It is useless to say kids will learn the true Hinduism at grandma's knee. Chances are, for these 3 students, their grannies were History Professors at JNU or something equally vile.

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