Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Hindu Ethics vs Ethical Hinduism.

Hindu Ethics refers to the Norms observed by Hindus. Ethical Hinduism is the critical hermeneutics of Hindu Ethics.
To grasp the distinction, I will permit you a small glimpse of my personal life.

It so happened that a young friend invited me for his son's upanayanam (sacred thread) ceremony. I accepted graciously and mentioned what time he should pick me up. A couple of days later, I was having a drink or two and got to thinking.
My friend was certainly observing Hindu Ethics but was he really practicing Ethical Hinduism? Anyway, I sent him a Skype message to the following effect-
'Chiranjivi Sanjay,
You are a wealthy young man and carry on the philanthropic tradition of your ancestors. No doubt, you will provide us a splendid meal and have given a big donation to the Temple so the Swami is bound to deliver a marvelous sermon. Your son, too, is now sure to follow in your footsteps. It seems you have discharged your debt to the Manes while also benefiting numerous worthwhile charities.
I have no hesitation in saying that you are doing your duty as laid down by Hindu Ethics.  However, it seems to me, something is lacking. Your earning power is such that whatever sum you give away, you will earn more very quickly. Your nature, and that of your family, is so happily constituted that you get more pleasure from contemplating the benefit gained by the recipients of your charity than any you could have purchased for yourself. Where, then, is the sacrifice on your part?

'It is not enough to observe Hindu Ethics. You must practice Ethical Hinduism- which is founded upon sacrifice. Cut off your arms, roast them properly and then set off to feed some hungry cannibals or animals. After that, by all means, proceed with your son's upanayanam.'

I didn't get any answer. Next day I woke up late with a headache. The auspicious muhurath for the upanayanam had already passed. I asked my house-bound neighbor whether my friend had come to ring my bell. He was supposed to pick me up in his car. My neighbor said no one had rung my bell for months except the bailiffs. Anyway, I rang my friend and left some messages but got no answer.
A few days later I saw my friend's wife in the Ambala Sweet Shop. She saw me too but I was able to cut off her escape.
'What, I say, is wrong with your husband? I instructed him to kindly cut off his arms, roast them and find some hungry cannibals or animals to feed them to. Ethical Hinduism demands no less. Seems he is ignoring me completely! Didn't even come to pick me up for your son's upanayanam! Won't even answer when I ring! What sort of behavior is this? How he can still call himself Hindu?'
'Uncleji,' his wife replied, 'he cut off arms just as you advised. That is why he was unable to drive to your house or to pick up phone when you ring. I offered to do it for him, but he said only he can discharge his own duty- by learning to use his legs and prehensile toes- and must incur sin till he is able to do so. Let me give you his new private phone number. Leave as many messages on it as you like. Be sure he will answer you once he has properly trained his legs and toes.'

I must tell you, I felt greatly relieved to hear this. But along with relief, I also felt some remorse. I should not have recklessly accused my young friend of being an acharabrashta and Hindu by name alone.

This remorse was unwarranted. I just bumped into the fellow today. He explained that due to global liquidity trap arising from the Singerian sub-prime catastrophe relating to the currency of deontic Utilitarianism, there is contango in the alms market creating a Parrando's Game type Arbitrage strategy for Effective Altruism applicable to arms chopped off to feed hungry cannibals or animals. Thus his current arms actually belong to his younger self and can't discharge obligations undertaken after they had themselves been given up.
Since, as readers of this blog know, I am an expert on Financial Matters, I was easily able to understand how contango arises in this context.
Yet another reason that, as Varoufakis says, we Ethical Hindus must unite to slay the Global Minatour of Capitalist Humbuggery.
Meanwhile, kindly cut off your arms, roast them nicely and feed them to hungry cannibals or animals.

2 comments:

  1. P.J.
    Sacrifice in Hinduism can never be self-destructive merely but always maximally altruistic. Fruit of good karma (i.e. individual's meritorious deeds) for the sake of universal salvation is essence of the view. The mighty arms are praised when they dispense alms most bountifully. If he cuts them off, who will uphold Justice? Who will defend against aggressors?
    Presumably you are saying Hindu ethics is same as Ethical Hinduism and 'critical philosophy' is empty in the context. However, this is a false view. Hinduism does not claim its first order deontic language contains its own truth predicate. If Brahmana is Shruti, so is Upanishad. This is Vedanta position considered normative for Hinduism these many years.
    No doubt, you have your own view based on amazing research into bottom of whiskey bottle. Some may find it hilarious, others less so.
    Hinduism is like any other Religion. It never says it is superior. It is a Faith, not a set of sublatable, or mutually inconsistent, Beliefs.

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    1. Yes. This is conventional view. However you make 2 mistakes.
      1) Hinduism does not claim its first order deontic language contains its own truth predicate
      Of course it does. In my last book I have referred to the relevant workaround for Tarski.
      2) Faith may be Hindu, but Hinduism is merely a belief for you. If something changes, you are welcome to post your poem here.

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