Dr. Tharoor writes-
Hinduism, with its openness, its respect for variety, its acceptance of all other faiths, is one religion which has always been able to assert itself without threatening others.
Yet, the only reason Tharoor's ancestors are Hindus, not Muslims or Christians, is because his own people were initially very good at fighting (and, I enviously add, making love and writing romantic poetry and all the sort of things I iz krap at) though, no doubt, it took the Brits to defeat Tipoo Sultan and put an end to forcible conversion. After the Moplah atrocities, the Arya Samaj enabled some who had been forced to convert to return to the Hindu fold. But it was the Brits who did the heavy lifting in suppressing the Muslims.
Sadly, there was another aspect to Tharoor's ancestral Hinduism. It used violence against lower castes so as to ensure its dominance.
It should also be remembered that the Nair Service Society (Tharoor is a Nair by caste) helped Indira Gandhi bring down the first Communist regime in Kerala. The martial qualities of this caste explains why Hinduism remained dominant there whereas, in Goa, it was reduced to subject status. This is not to say that Nairs are indifferent to the call of Hindutva and that many, I believe most, are no doughty fighters in the battle against caste prejudice and anti-national sentiments
Hinduism, like other religions which have survived, is not open to anything save what is in its own interest. It either more credibly threatens that which is a threat to it, or that which may profitably yield to it, or else it fails to burgeon. Indeed, Hinduism has been uprooted from its ancestral home in Pakistan. Tharoor's late wife's family had to flee the Kashmir Valley in the Nineties. Congress betrayed them. Now Tharoor is on bail for 'abetment to suicide' of that Kashmiri lady.
Tharoor thinks the content of a Religion determines its trajectory. This is foolish. Religions are like each other. None have magical properties. History shows that a Religion expands when Nations or Empires professing that religion expand. Missionaries can play a role but only by converting Kings or acting as advance agents for a Colonizing power. By contrast, a cult may spread where it is tolerated. But a cult is not a Religion.
But this is not the Hindutva that destroyed the Babri Masjid,
Hindutva did not destroy the Babri Masjid. Hindus did- specifically hereditary devotees of the presiding deity of the shrine. They were angry because some of their number had been killed in a police firing some months previously. The question was, would the Administration shed the blood of hundreds of devotees to protect a piece of property? The answer was no. It would have been political suicide. In any case, it is a disproportionate use of force to protect mere property. Remember the structure was not a Mosque because though it had been used for Hindu worship, no Islamic worship there had occurred since 1949.
Tharoor belongs to the same Congress Party that threw open the structure to Hindu worship. But it is run by the Catholic widow of the Hindu man who presided over that action. Another thing that Hindu man presided over was the massacre of Sikhs after the killing of his Mother. At that time, the Congress Party couldn't just threaten, it could kill those who threatened it. That's why it was a ruling party.
nor that spewed in hate-filled diatribes by communal politicians
Tharoor spews hate-filled diatribes at the ruling party. But hate is not enough. You have to offer better governance to survive in politics. This is where Tharoor's Party falls down. One reason it does so may be because it believes hating Hindutva makes one virtuous and being virtuous means getting elected and getting elected means one should fuck over the country by pursuing stupid economic policies.
Still, it must be admitted, Tharoor is right to say that his sort of Hinduism- which is based on Caste- is utterly antithetical to Hindutva. But, it is also true that the traditional Aristocracy of Christian or Islamic countries were wary off, and sometimes actively persecuted, egalitarian interpretations of those Religions which taught working people how to read the Scripture. They preferred that the masses remain illiterate so that they would not be able to for themselves. There have been 'Reformations' in Christianity and Islam- just as there have been in Hinduism- as well as ecumenical attempts to find common ground for a 'broad tent' for that Faith community.
The ecumenical aspect of Reformed Hinduism is Hindutva- the 'essence of Hinduism'. It is anti-Caste- particularly untouchability and the notion that 'backward' people should not hold high office- because that is what reduced the Nation to poverty, servitude and ignorance.
Tharoor is a sycophant of a Dynasty which is furious that a 'lowly' tea-seller has usurped the throne. It is no wonder he expresses great hatred of 'Hindutva'. But, this does not explain why his books on Hinduism are so crap. The truth is it is not hatred which has warped Tharoor's mind. He is simply a stupid, ignorant, blathershite who studied worthless shite at University and then worked for the UN as a professional blathershite of the brown nosing bureaucratic variety. His push for the top job failed and so he returned to India to join perhaps the most corrupt administration in Indian history. Now his prospects sink as the dynasty dies nasty. So he shits out books while on bail on charges of pushing his wife to suicide.Who knows? If he goes to jail, he may grow out his beard and become either a Marxist or a Maharishi or both.
Why did Tharoor, who had a good pension, join Congress? He knew it was a bunch of hooligans. He had seen them roaming around beating the crap out of anybody they didn't like- or handing them over to be tortured by the Police- in the year he graduated from St. Stephens. He knew very well what its thugs had done to the Sikhs ten years later. Why did he join hands with a bunch of corrupt, incompetent, thugs?
The answer may have to do with 'sweat equity'. Or maybe the guy likes hanging around with gangstas.
He writes- "How dare a bunch of goondas shrink the soaring majesty of the Vedas and the Upanishads to the petty bigotry of their brand of identity politics?"
A bunch of goondas dares do anything which another bunch of tougher goondas doesn't beat the fuck out of them for doing. There was a time when saying anything nasty about Sanjay Gandhi would have got your head kicked in. Now, even former Congress Ministers can't find anything good to say about Rahul.
Tharoor does not say that the Vedas and Upanishads are only part of 'twice born' Hinduism. There is no obligation on the majority of Hindus to keep up the knowledge and practice of the Vedic Sciences. This does not mean that a Kayastha or a Shudra or a Dalit can't 'shrink their majesty' into any soteriologically utile form. Building a Temple is one such form. This will go ahead by order of the Supreme Court. If Congress didn't want the Temple built why did it open the place to Hindu worship and permit the placing of a foundation stone?
Tharoor asks- 'Why should any Hindu allow them to diminish Hinduism to the raucous self-glorification of the football hooligan, or take a religion of awe-inspiring tolerance and reduce it to a chauvinist rampage?"
The answer is that a Hindu should allow things which is in his or her interest. Congress hooliganism was better and TMC hooliganism is better than Communist hooliganism. Hindutva hooliganism is better than purely Casteist hooliganism. Chelsea hooliganism is good for me if it keeps Millwall hooligans away from my boozer. No doubt, effective policing is better than hooliganism. But that means having to pay taxes to a Government which isn't utterly corrupt and incompetent. Hindutva- of Modi's variety- is not hooliganism. It is better governance than the dynastic or casteist parties could provide. But that may change. It is in everybody's interest that fuckwits like Tharoor are disintermediated or jailed so capable people can come to the fore. Fuck Shashi, we want people like K.K Shailaja who has won international plaudits for her handling of COVID.
Tharoor believes- "The common enemy lies in the forces of sectarian division that would, if unchecked, tear the country apart -
This is not the case for Hindu majority portions of India. The non-Hindu majority areas will be separatist in any case.
or transform it into something that most self-respecting Hindus would refuse to recognise
This again is simply not true. No 'self-respecting Hindu' would refuse to recognize that a Hindu Kingdom, or Republic, ruled strictly in accordance with Hindu laws and with non-Hindus whatsoever, was in fact a place where Hinduism prevailed. This would be true even if that Kingdom or Republic was established over the entirety of what is now India.
Of course, such a Hindu might decide she didn't want to be Hindu. At the least, she didn't want to be in a place where Hindus were not being attacked or vilified. But such a Hindu would be 'self-respecting' on the in the sense that a Masochist who likes being whipped and then shat upon is 'self-respecting'.It is foolish to say that Hinduism requires toleration of other Religions because there is no evidence there were any other Religions- certainly no Abrahamic ones- at the time when Hinduism became the dominant religion of the sub-continent.
Perhaps for this reason, Mahatma Gandhi thought belief in reincarnation is an essential requirement for being a Hindu. Since Hindus were fucked in this world, it made sense to adopt a wholly foolish and ontologically dysphoric political credo.
But Gandhi was wrong. An essence is something true in all possible worlds. There is a possible world where Gandhi himself received a proper religious education. Then he would have said that reincarnation is 'maya'- an illusion. It may be an exoteric belief but Hinduism's esoteric core is much more nuanced. That nuance, however, is not 'Strassian', rather it is part of the warp and woof of the Hindu Soteriology in both its Desi (Regional) and Margi paths- at least that is my experience when it comes to the shared Advaitic creed shared by me and Dr. Tharoor.
Strangely, he says something entirely different in his book 'The Hindu Way'. The following is excerpted in Scrol.in
Early in my United Nations career, my first boss, a lay preacher in his native Denmark, asked me a pointed question: “Why should a Hindu be good?”
Since being good means enjoying better outcomes or being more fit for purpose than being bad, the answer to the question 'Why should an X be good' is that it is better for X to be good than to be bad. True, there are exceptions- e.g the UN bureaucracy were being utterly site is considered grounds for promotion. Had this stupid Dane been good he'd have been laying preachers back home. Nobody can say them Lutheran Ministers aren't crying out for a good ass pounding.
Not, I replied, in order to go to heaven or avoid hell; most Hindus do not believe in the existence of either.
Nonsense! They firmly believe that those they don't like will burn in Hell- albeit not for eternity but a very very long time before being reborn as a particularly reviled amoeba.
If heaven is a place where a soul should sprout white wings and sing the praises of god, it must be rather a boring place, hardly worth aspiring to, and god must be a rather insecure being.
Whereas being a Congress MP perpetually singing the praises of a hugely psychologically insecure and bird brained Dynasty is not boring at all.
And as for hell, the very notion of hell is incompatible with Hindu cosmology,
No it isn't. Naraka is Hell and is a big feature of Hindu and Jain and Buddhist cosmology.
since it suggests there is a place where god is not, and that, to the Hindu, is impossible to conceive, for god is everywhere or he would not be god.
Nonsense! Indian Logic can't have an Anselm type ontological proof of God because Existence simply can't be a predicate in any Logical or otherwise symbolic Universe. Hindus, just like everybody else, can conceive of a being who is everywhere- including your toilet bowl- but who longs to attain the station of not having to be present in shitholes. Why deny God the right not to watch Tharoor poop?
If Hinduism is, indeed, a manava dharma, an ethical code applicable to the whole of humanity,
Fuck off! No 'ethical code' is equally applicable to babies as much as bishops- though both are human-all-too-human. There can't be a 'total ordering' of deontological preferences for any given person at any given moment let alone one for the whole of Humanity. No doubt, an omniscient being could have such a thing but only under pure Occassionalism- i.e. God is the only efficient cause- in which case there is no point having it.
then it is legitimate for a non-Hindu to ask why indeed should a Hindu be good.
In the UN it may be legitimate to ask a question which is as stupid as shit. But the UN aint Hindu.
First of all, because he is bound by the moral obligation to fulfil his dharma, the right action his religion enjoins upon him always to undertake.
But Krishna says this is all but unknowable. Still, even in an Occassionalist Universe, free will supervenes in at least one respect- viz the Yogis relationship with Yogishvara. Since 1965, the Catholic Faith holds similar view. The only mysteries are the mysteries of Faith precisely because nothing else binds (re-ligio) the like-hearted to a common Credo.
The Hindu is taught that there are six principal obstacles to the performance of dharma:
No. There is only one obstacle- Nesciecne which however may be instantaneously and gratuitiously dissolved.
two are Purusharthas gone wrong, kama as lust rather than desire,
Lust is the name we give to the overpowering of prudence and foresight by a sexual imperative. It is a Nescience arising out of instinctual drives which, however, are necessary to life
and lobha as greed and avarice for material possessions (beyond artha which is the legitimate acquisition of wealth and worldly goods for a worthy life).
No. Greed is the overpowering of prudence, foresight, 'economia', by an overmastering impulse to appropriate something. It may be perfectly 'legitimate' but it is not prudent.
Four other vices are personal failings that are within an individual’s capacity to prevent: krodha (hatred), mada (vanity), matsarya (envy) and moha (delusion arising from ignorance or infatuation).
These are not 'failings'. They are 'affects'. It may be prudent to curb them. It certainly shows foresight to train yourself to do so.
These six obstacles are prevented and overcome through
God's grace which dispels Nescience or else some Soteriological praxis of askesis which also yields supernatural powers
the practice of seven essential virtues laid down from the time of Adi Shankara: ahimsa (non-violence), satyam (truth), shivam (piety), sundaram (the cultivation of beauty), vairagyam (detachment), pavitram (purity) and swabhavam (self- control). The rejection of these vices and the practice of these virtues are essential for a Hindu to lead a good life.
Nonsense! God's grace knows no such limitations. Moreover, we can see for ourselves that all sorts and conditions of people live a good life without bothering with 'rejecting soi disant vices' or 'practicing virtues'. On the other hand, plenty of holier than thou fuckwits lead shitty lives and are avoided by everybody because they are boring, stupid, and vexatious to the spirit.
My boss was a worldly-wise man;
He worked for the UN. He was a useless tosser.
he wanted a more pragmatic reason for why a Hindu should be good.
Look, the stupid fuckwit was just trying to 'win your soul for Christ'. Some of your other bosses- if you had a cute bum- would have wanted you to possess a pragmatic reason for Hindus with cute bums to spread their butt cheeks on demand and not importunately plead for a reach-around.
If it was not the promise of a better life in the next world, or a desire to avoid eternal damnation in Hell, what was a Hindu’s incentive? I explained that whereas in Christianity the body has a soul, in Hinduism the soul has a body.
This is nonsense. The Catholics quote Jeremiah 1.5 ' Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you. God is the efficient cause of the fusing of the soul into the body at the moment of conception- which is why them dudes are so against abortion. But then, so are we. 'Garbha hatya' is a sin equivalent to killing a Brahmin- probably because most Brahmins have the same I.Q as a . Mine is lower. I'm a very very special little boy.
In other words, we are emanations of a universal soul, the atman, which does not die;
That is a Gnostic doctrine. It can be found in strains of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and even Zoroastrianism. But it isn't Hindu. Either the soul is univocal with the Godhead (Advaita) or it is an 'amsha' (limb) or else a gratuitous endowment such that Grace may have something to work on. But whatever the soul might be, good governance and the improvement of life-chances for all in a Society is good for it.
It is not the case that the existence of the soul is a providential argument for a shithead like Tharoor to justify his claim that combatting Hindutva is the Hindu's highest duty.
it discards its temporal form, the body, from time to time.
This is not the Hindu doctrine. A single soul may simultaneously be in multiple bodies or none at all. The soul is not limited by name, form, time or place.
Since the purpose of the soul is ultimately to reach moksha,
Nonsense! The purpose is to participate in 'Lila'- the Divine Sport or Play
to attain union with Brahman and stop the endless cycle of birth and rebirth in various bodies, the incentive for a Hindu to be good lay in the desire to progress towards this goal.
Yet Vaishnavs explicitly say they don't want moksha or kevalya, the want to be reborn so as to serve the Lord eternally. Saivites and others have plenty of 'Jivan Muktas' as well as other very spiritually advanced personalities who serve the Lord any way.
An amoral Hindu, one who lived in adharma, would be in disharmony with the world and be set back in his soul’s striving for moksha.
Not if God wills otherwise or they do smart things.
I am not sure he was satisfied with my answer, and I am not sure you, the reader, will be. There was, however, a catch in what I was propounding.
If the soul is permanent and the body is not, it makes sense that the soul sheds bodies and keeps returning to earth until it has attained moksha; from this flows the doctrine of punarjanmam (reincarnation), the idea that one will be reborn until one has attained that level of self-realisation.
But this idea coexisted with the notion of 'Chiranjeevis'- immortals- and Avadhoots and Parmahsansas and so on. Fuck is so great about Self-Realisation? Get over yourself. Do something useful.
The idea of reincarnation, emerging from the endless cycle of birth and rebirth, is basic to Hinduism.
No it isn't. Every Religion has it somewhere in its background. But it isn't basic to anything. Why? The Eschaton does not matter. Religion is solely an expression of the Katechon- i.e. what keeps things together till the Day of Wrath.
If in other faiths the individual is a body which has its own soul,
There is no such faith. God may either create the soul before Time itself exists or do so when He pleases. But God alone fuses the soul to a body. Golems have no soul. Nor do Canadians. In the Indic traditions, the Gandharvas play the vital role in 'antarabhava'. But this aint so different from the Islamic barzakh. Judaism has a notion of 'ibbur' and Islam one of 'ri'jat' or 'tansukh'
in Hinduism the individual is a soul which happens to be in temporary possession of a certain body;
No. Bodies don't matter. A soul does not have to be embodied or can have multiple embodiment.
the immortal soul occupies a mortal corpus,
not necessarily. Hinduism has Chiranjivis. Tharoor is speaking of a particular strain of Gnosticism which was thoroughly exorcized, if it existed at all, in Hinduism. It is not the case that a Demiurge created embodied souls for some silly dialectical reason. A Hindu may be Gnostic, Agnostic or whatever but Hinduism can't possibly be either. Why? Because, self-evidently, it has endowed survival value on an uncertain fitness landscape
which it discards at the end of its physical life, only to re-emerge in another form, until it accomplishes true self-realisation and moksha, and merges with Brahman.
This is not what Hinduism says. Some stupid cunts have said it but they are cunts and they are stupid and Tharoor has been reading them. The truth is neither Saivites nor Vaisnavites nor Saktas speak of merger with Brahman. To merge with a thing you must be separated from it. But that 'chorismos' is Nescience.
This cycle of birth, death and rebirth is known as Samsara, and it is a belief that addresses one of the central challenges facing every believer in god – if god is all-knowing, all-seeing, all-compassionate and merciful, why does he permit so much suffering, pain, inequality and inequity to bedevil his creations?
But, as Shakespear has said nothing is good or bad save thinking makes it so.
The Hindu answer is that such suffering is the result of man’s own actions in a previous life; our present circumstances are caused or enabled by our past deeds and misdeeds, action and inaction.
The problem here, as Draupati says in the Mahabharata is that since God is the Mayin- i.e. efficient cause- and sets up the whole thing- only He is stained by both the crime and the punishment. Thus no Theodicy can wholly escape the taint of predestination. But by regarding this as merely a mystery of Faith- not the World- Theodicy ceases to matter save as a conventional truth for a particular Faith group. Tharoor is not giving us that convention for the Indic Religions which ultimately says things like 'Samsara is Nirvana', 'I am Brahma', or, (in Jainism), that all beings attain Kevalya which they enjoy for a nondenumerable infinity of time.
The soul continues from life-cycle to life-cycle, hopping from body to body as a caterpillar climbs onto a blade of grass and jumps to a new one (the metaphor is Upanishadic, not my own.)
In English, caterpillars turn into butterflies, they don't jump into the bodies of other caterpillars. Tharoor should have chosen a different metaphor- e.g. gold being reformed into a more beautiful ornament by a goldsmith. Still regarding yourself as God, is just as pointless as identifying yourself with the Universe, or the Spirit of Enquiry, or any other such abstraction. However, for a collective soteriological purpose, the thing may be useful. This is where Tharoor falls down. He thinks Hinduism is a Theosophy. It isn't. It is a living religion which has to compete with other religions and ideologies on an uncertain fitness landscape.
I always considered this deeply unfair: why should a human being, conscious only of himself in his present life, have to suffer for wrongs he does not recollect and misdeeds he has no memory of having committed in previous lives of which he is unaware?
Yup. Theodicy is fucked no matter how you slice it.
Still, I had to accept it was a more coherent explanation than the contradictory ones offered by other faiths, which struggled to reconcile the world’s injustices with their theological belief in a merciful god.
But those countries which were doing better than others flattered themselves that Divine Providence was on their side. Theology doesn't matter very much. Religion flourishes when the community is flourishing relative to others.
If you thought of god as, for instance, an old man in a white beard looking down benevolently at you from the heavens, listening to your prayers and interceding when he saw fit, then it was difficult to accept that his benevolence stopped short of your well-being despite your prayers, or that he was indifferent to the cruelty and suffering assailing his creatures.
Why? The guy was storing up treasures for you in Heaven. Suffering was a good investment because the pay-off was eternal felicity.
If you stopped thinking of god that way, however, but saw god in everyone and everything, in the bad and the good, in the unfair as well as the just, as an impersonal cosmic force that just is – then you can come to terms with the world’s tragedies as well as its joys.
But you'd be either be a blathershite or a hebephrenic retard.
The idea of reincarnation is related to that of karma, or action – the accumulated actions of your life. So the very circumstances of your birth – the home, the place, the nation and the opportunities into which you are born – are determined by your soul’s actions in its previous incarnation. The time and circumstances of your death, too, are beyond human agency; when you have finished enjoying the benefits earned from (and paying for the misdeeds committed in) your previous life, your time on earth ends and your soul discards your body, to enter another. This is known as prarabdha karma.
Annie Beasant spent a lot of time thinking about how prarabhdha karma could be changed, like an arrow in flight struck by a swifter arrow. Ultimately she settled on a notion of transferable karma. This is certainly permitted in Hinduism. But so is the acknowledgement that the the entire notion is illusory or sublatable.
The fact is politics based on the essence of Religion, not its Aristocratic interpretation, has completely changed the type of life a person born in the oppressed class or gender can enjoy. Nelson Mandela was born as a third class citizen of South Africa. By his own efforts and that of many others, he became the President of that country. The type of Christianity in South Africa which denied that Blacks could be equal to Whites- let alone rule over them- chose, in 1986 to alter its doctrine. We might say 'the essence of Christianity' eventually prevailed in South Africa, just as 'Hindutva' has ultimately prevailed in India over Tharoor's self-serving version of that Religion.
Then there are your characteristics, tendencies and aptitudes, themselves emerging from the accumulated learnings of your previous lives; this is called sanchita karma and can be changed by your efforts, education and conduct in your present life.
One can do little by oneself. One needs to work with others on projects of mutual benefit. A career of sycophancy and opportunism which is rewarded by great wealth and social prominence is not an 'outward and visible' sign of theosis- as Tharoor, it appears, imagines. It is hypocrisy, mendacity and self-delusion- nothing more.
Finally there is agami karma, those of our actions which will pave the way for our future (reborn) life. Our evil words or deeds in the present life will mar our soul’s prospects in the next, whereas good deeds, right actions and the fulfilment of our dharma without regard to reward, will ensure our rebirth at a higher stage of the progress towards moksha.
But this belief is itself karmic because it is part of maya. In other words, it is sublatable. But 'endoxa' or conventions that solve coordination problems needn't be sublated in utile contexts. The meaning- i.e. 'artha'- of a precept- is in its use. This is a matter of economia, not akreibia.
To some this suggests another, somewhat simplistic, answer to the question “Why should a Hindu be good?”
Be good so that you are reborn in a better situation in your next life than in the present one; if you are good, you may reappear as a king or a sage, whereas if you are bad, you might come back as an invalid or a mosquito. (Or as Amartya Sen, the Nobel laureate, put it: “As a Hindu, if you are a good economist in this life, you come back in the next as a physicist. If you are a bad economist in this life, you come back in the next as a sociologist.”) Jokes apart, your prarabdha karma is established by what your soul has experienced in its previous foray in a human body: your incentive to be good is to improve its chances of a better time in its next innings.
Tharoor ignores the important aspect of this theory of karma. Essentially, it permits the notion that everybody in a particular lineage gets reborn in close connection with each other. Thus, as Obeyesekere points out, it binds 'small scale societies' together. This is why small communities like the Druze or Alawis have a similar doctrine.
Hindutva is about reforming Society so being born any type of Hindu won't involve having a miserable life voting for a corrupt and incompetent Dynasty and the worthless blathershites it keeps around for brown nosing purposes.
Tharoor says he is uncomfortable with this notion of karma but in the end settles for a theosophized version of it. This shows his argument is not with Hindutva so much as a Hindu India where people lower down the caste ladder than him can tell him to stick his ego up the same arse he pulls his books and articles out of.
I was never comfortable with this idea, since it seemed to me to have been devised somewhat self-servingly by the upper castes to ensure social peace. Do not rebel if you are born poor or “untouchable”, the doctrine seemed to imply, since it’s merely your soul paying for the sins of your past life; and do not blame us for leading a much better life than you, since we are merely reaping the benefits of our past good deeds.
Behave, conform, accept your lot and serve your betters, the doctrine seemed to suggest, and you will enjoy the rewards next time around. As a philosophy to reconcile people with their lot, and that would help maintain social peace, such a belief-system was of inestimable value. (It also justified human suffering in terms that no other religion’s theology could match.)
But I found it ethically dubious – and so, no doubt unfairly, looked askance at the idea of reincarnation itself. I was wrong to do so, since the socio-political rationale was irrelevant to the Hindu sages who had advanced the theory of punarjanmam. They were less concerned about issues of socio-political conformism than I was; the rishis’ interest lay in the soul’s unsteady and imperfect progress towards self-realisation and merger with the cosmos. Their doctrine was about the divine soul, not the social circumstances of the body it happened to occupy.
This is Gnosticism. It is not Hinduism. Essentially, Tharoor is saying 'I didn't like this bit of Hinduism. But, I don't want to help fight those elements in Indian Society which render the Caste system noxious. Instead, I'm going to pretend that the only problem in India is Hindutva because those hooligans have kicked out the Dynasty I serve. As for the Soul, that is God's business. Society is just fine as it is- provided those Hindutva hooligans are beaten up by some tough Pinjra Tod type lezzas.
Tharoor, to his credit, does not claim any great knowledge of Hinduism or even any high hereditary status within it. With disarming modesty he writes (in an excerpt published by Print.in)
I am a believer, despite a brief period of schoolboy atheism (of the kind that comes with the discovery of rationality and goes with an acknowledgement of its limitations). And I am happy to describe myself as a believing Hindu: not just because it is the faith into which I was born, but for a string of other reasons, though faith requires no reason.
Tharoor may believe all sorts of things. But 'The Hindu Way' must have some beliefs which differentiate it from 'The Christian Way' or 'The Muslim Way' or Clint Eastwood & an orangutan in 'Every which way but loose'. Tharoor thinks he has found one such difference but, because he does not understand the Hindu doctrine of reincarnation, he is wrong.
One reason is cultural: as a Hindu I belong to a faith that expresses the ancient genius of my own people.
So, Tharoor makes an invidious distinction between Hinduism and 'foreign' Religions. The fact is the 'ancient genius' of the Indians led to them being conquered or colonized by those of alien faiths. It would be a good idea to change the ancestral Religion so its adherents don't remain wretchedly poor and unable to defend themselves.
One may with great plausibility argue that the 'ancient genius' of advanced countries involves adopting the best, not the indigenous, Religion on offer.
I am proud of the history of my faith in my own land: of the travels of Adi Shankara, who journeyed from the southernmost tip of the country to Kashmir in the north, Gujarat in the west and Odisha in the east, debating spiritual scholars everywhere, preaching his beliefs, establishing his mutths.
So, a guy from Tharoor's Province walked around a lot. Wow! Isn't that cool!
I am reaffirmed in this atavistic allegiance by
some Swamy or Acharya? Nope. It was
the Harvard scholar Diana Eck writing of the ‘sacred geography’ of India, ‘knit together by countless tracks of pilgrimage’.
unless they lie across the border of an Islamic Republic or Chinese occupied Tibet.
The great philosopher-president of India, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, wrote of Hindus as ‘a distinct cultural unit, with a common history, a common literature, and a common civilization’.
Perhaps he meant Indian Hindus. Those in Bali have a different history.
In reiterating my allegiance to Hinduism, I am
consciously laying claim to this geography and history, its literature and civilization, identifying myself as an heir (one among a billion heirs) to a venerable tradition that stretches back into time immemorial.
Does Tharoor think Indian Muslims or Christians can't 'consciously lay claim' to precisely the same thing? If so, the Law disagrees with Dr. Tharoor. From the Hindu point of view, a person who continues to perform ancestral rites in the traditional manner is a Hindu even if their 'Ishta Deva' is Lord Jesus Christ or Shirdi's Sai Baba or any other 'Avatar'.
I fully accept that many of my friends, compatriots and fellow-Hindus feel no similar need, and that there are Hindus who are not (or are no longer) Indian, but I am comfortable with this ‘cultural’ and ‘geographical’ Hinduism that anchors me to my ancestral past.
But it doesn't really. Either Tharoor is performing the prescribed rituals or he isn't. If he is, then 'karma kanda' anchors him. Not some vacuous shite he pulled out of his arse.
But another ‘reason’ for my belief in Hinduism is, for lack of a better phrase, its intellectual ‘fit’.
Tharoor is a cretin. Thus his Hinduism is cretinous. Nothing wrong in that- provided he is performing his karma kanda obligations or else is receiving instruction from a Spiritual preceptor or else follows a Devotional path.
I am more comfortable with the tenets of Hinduism than I would be with those of the other faiths of which I know.
Probably because you know shit about Hinduism. I personally was comfortable with the tenets of Christianity- Santa Claus bringing you prezzies- till I found out you weren't allowed to masturbate in Catechism class. Heaven isn't worth it.
I have long thought of myself as liberal, not merely in the political sense of the term, or even in relation to principles of economics, but as an attitude to life.
Blathershites tend to be liberal with vacuous bombast.
To accept people as one finds them, to allow them to be and become what they choose, and to encourage them to do whatever they like (so long as it does not harm others) is my natural instinct.
Cool. If you meet Tharoor you are welcome to call him a blathershite till you are blue in the face.
Rigid and censorious beliefs have never appealed to my temperament.
Because rigid beliefs aren't vacuous. However, Tharoor does have 'censorious beliefs' with respect to the BJP. The problem is those beliefs are vacuous.
In matters of religion, too, I found my liberal instincts reinforced by the faith in which I was brought up.
Which suggests that the arrow of causality pointed in the opposite direction.
Hinduism is, in many ways, predicated on the idea that the eternal wisdom of the ages and of divinity cannot be confined to a single sacred book;
Nonsense! It is predicated on the idea of karma- either ritual or other soteriological actions which alter your prospects in your next life. Wisdom, by itself, has no soteriological force whatsoever. A demon or Brahmarakshasa may be very wise. As for Divinity- the Gods themselves are subject to karma. The good news is that karma is itself maya- illusory. Sadly, this belief too is maya so you are back to square one.
we have many, and we can delve into each to find our own truth (or truths).
which, sadly, are maya of a particularly stupid type
As a Hindu I can claim adherence to a religion without an established church
So can a Christian or Muslim or Jew who has left the sect of his ancestors. By contrast, Tharoor's Dad adhered to a Religion which was patronized by the Ruler and which had 'Acharyas'- who correspond to Cardinals- with one particular Acharya being the 'Pope' of his particular sect. There was no choice as to which 'rituals and customs' had to be followed. There were degrees of orthopraxy- but this is true of any Religion.
or priestly papacy, a religion whose rituals and customs I am free to reject, a religion that does not oblige me to demonstrate my faith by any visible sign, by subsuming my identity in any collectivity, not even by a specific day or time or frequency of worship. (There is no Hindu Pope, no Hindu Vatican, no Hindu catechism, not even a Hindu Sunday.)
There is no Christian Pope. There is a Catholic Pope, though there may also be an Anti-Pope. But Catholicism isn't coextensive with Christianity. A non-denominational Christian is no different from a non-denominational Hindu or a nominal Muslim who prefers the Tavern to the Mosque.
As a Hindu I follow a faith that offers a veritable smorgasbord of options to the worshipper of divinities to adore and to pray to, of rituals to observe (or not), of customs and practices to honour (or not), of fasts to keep(or not).
There are plenty of nominal Christian who worship Buddha and Ganesha and some Japanese guy who teaches you how to get a BMW by chanting.
As a Hindu I subscribe to a creed that is free of the restrictive dogmas of holy writ, one that refuses to be shackled to the limitations of a single volume of holy revelation.
Yet, other Hindus who most people would describe as more typical or better exemplars of the Religion subscribe to a creed which has a Holy Scripture and highly restrictive dogmas.
A Hindu can be astika or nastika:
just as a nominal Christian or Muslim or Jew may be a religiously unobservant atheist or agnostic but may yet claim, for a political purpose, to belong to that religion.
the terms are said to relate more to orthopraxy (action) rather than orthodoxy(belief), but action proceeds from a set of convictions.
The actions of principled people may indeed proceed from their convictions. But selfish, self-regarding, actions may lead to criminal convictions. Tharoor is currently on bail, charged with abetment to suicide.
As an astika he can accept the sacredness of the Vedas, the existence of atman (the soul) and belief in God, or he can reject one or more of these credos and still be Hindu, an adherent of the nastika variant of Hindu philosophy.
In the same way that a person who refuses to watch cricket because it is boring and stupid could be said to be a non-observant cricket fan.
As an astika Hindu he can subscribe to any of the six major schools of philosophy, the Shad Darshanas (which I describe later);
Just as an observant cricket fan can watch one day matches instead of the yet more boring Test matches which just go on and on and on.
as a nastika Hindu he can declare allegiance to one of five schools, including Buddhism and Jainism, which after arising as reform movements against the ritualistic Hinduism of their day, were practically re-absorbed into the parent faith (though their adherents may not see it that way).
Or a nastika could sacrifice babies to Moloch.
Or the nastika can attach himself to the materialist Charvaka School, whose followers denounced most religious practices and devoted themselves to wealth and profit. The palette of options available is as colourful as the most inventive artist’s.
Sure. Because being a nastika means you can believe God is a dinosaur who lives in a flying saucer.
At the same time, as a Hindu, I appreciate the fact that Hinduism professes no false certitudes. Its capacity to express wonder at Creation and simultaneously scepticism about the omniscience of the Creator are unique to Hinduism.
Only in the same sense that a non-observant cricket fan could be said to be sucking God's dinosaur cock in a flying saucer currently hovering above the Oval. By ex falso quodlibet, anything at all can be predicated of something so oxymoronic as be incompossible with any logical Universe.
There is a marvellous story in the Upanishads about a sage who is asked to define the nature of God; the wise man, normally loquacious, falls silent.
He'd have done the same thing if asked to define the nature of nature.
He is pressed by his disciples for an answer, and he replies that that was his answer, for the Absolute is silence; the mystery of the divine reality cannot be reduced to words or speech.
Neither can the mystery of anything else. If it can, it isn't a mystery. If there is no mystery there is no Religion. There may be a purely transactional Priestcraft which would be similar to the service Astrologers provide. But there will be nothing to bind together a Faith Community. There is no 'costly signal' establishing a 'separating equilibrium'. But, from the economic and political view, such equilibria can more than pay for themselves. That is why they endow survival value.
Vacuous, 'cheap talk' of Tharoor's sort helps nobody. It isn't the case that Tharoor's worthless books are persuading Hindus to stop voting for Modi.
Neither thought nor words can suffice: ‘It is not understood by those who understand it,’ says the Kena Upanishad, ‘it is understood by those who do not understand it.’
Nonsense! The Kena Upanishad is an esoteric text for people who earned their living by means of a particular type of priest-craft. It was highly meaningful for them and, in any case, served as a 'costly signal' establishing their professional standing. To understand this Upanishad one must already be doing a lot by way of 'Tapas' and 'Damah' and 'karma-kanda'. Otherwise, it will make as much sense to you as a handbook on Organic Chemistry would mean to me. I might garner one or two ideas but I can scarcely be said to have grasped it.
The Upanishads say those who become immortal- i.e. know their past and future lives and transcend that condition- understand the ancient doctrine. There are plenty of people who claim to have done so. They also have lots of other cool super-powers. That's why you should give them money. On the other hand, you could say 'I love God only. I want to serve Him for all eternity. So I won't give you money even if you can get me reborn as Beyonce.'
The final words of the Upanishads are ‘neti, neti’—‘not this, not this’—signifying the unspeakability of the Absolute.
Everything is unspeakable. That's how come, saying 'Beyonce! Appear before me' in ancient Sumerian won't actually cause Beyonce to appear before you. I should know. Some email scammer got me to fork out £9.99 for the formula.
For many sages, their consciousness of the Divine is untranslatable to others,
all consciousness of anything at all is untranslatable. This is because consciousness is pre-verbal. On the other hand what one says is translatable- though it may be vacuous shite of Tharoor's stripe.
for those who have not attained the same realization cannot grasp it through word or sign: it is ‘that of which nothing can be said’.
which is still something said.
And while I am, paradoxically, listing my ‘reasons’ for a faith beyond understanding, let me cite the clincher: above all, as a Hindu, I belong to the only major religion in the world that does not claim to be the only true religion.
Hinduism says all other Religions are only efficacious because the God of Hinduism is a nice guy. Still, the good non-Hindu has to be reborn as a Hindu to attain moksha. Buddhism and Jainism have the same dogma.
I find it immensely congenial to be able to face my fellow human beings of other faiths without being burdened by the conviction that I am embarked upon a ‘true path’ that they have missed.
Is Tharoor equally happy facing BJP politicians who, in his view, have a different view of Hinduism? Does he accept that the BJP, not Congress, has a more truly advantageous path for India's development?
This dogma lies at the core of the ‘Semitic faiths’, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father [God], but by me’ (John 14:6), says the Bible;
but the risen Christ may have decreed that coming to Him through Krishna was perfectly kosher.
‘There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His Prophet’, declares the Quran, denying unbelievers all possibility of redemption, let alone of salvation or paradise.
Not wishing to be fatwa'd, I'll keep quiet about this. Still, there is wriggle room arising out of the notion of 'barzakh' in Ibn Arabi
Hinduism asserts that all ways of belief are equally valid,
No it doesn't. It would be stupid to say that a 'way of belief' which consists of scratching your arse is just as good as a 'way of belief' which makes you a great asset to the community.
and Hindus readily venerate the saints, and the sacred objects, of other faiths.
Credulous people- regardless of Religion- may do so. But then, they may also give blowjobs to homeless people who claim to be the Archangel Michael
I am proud that I can honour the sanctity of other faiths without feeling I am betraying my own
Fair enough. If this cretin said he was proud of his books or his career in Indian politics, he'd be inviting a good kicking.
After all, as the philosopher Raimon Panikkar
a Jesuit whose daddy was Malyallee and thus who had inherited Tharoor's blathershite gene.
put it so brilliantly in his The Vedic Experience, ‘It is precisely faith that makes thinking possible,
Which is nonsense. Biology makes thinking possible. Faith only appeared relatively recently in our evolutionary tree.
for faith offers the unthought ground out of which thinking can emerge.
Shite thinking, sure. But laziness does an even better job.
It is faith that makes moral and other decisions possible,
No. Faith only has salience in Newcombe type problems. Otherwise, Faith may make moral and other decisions impossible coz it turns out Gravity is a real thing and angels won't actually carry you gently to the ground if you jump off a cliff.
opening to us the horizon against which our actions become meaningful.’
Fuck does that mean? Nothing at all. Our actions are meaningful to us because they enable us to survive. The fitness landscape is the only relevant horizon for decision theory.
As a Hindu I seek meaning in my actions within the context of my religious beliefs.
No you don't. You are lying. The only reason you are gassing on about Hinduism is because you thought your Party would benefit by presenting itself as 'Hindutva-lite'. But you failed. Why? Your vacuous shite was more vacuous and more shite than the other side's vacuous shite. In the competition between the douche-bag and the turd, the douche-bag wins. Why? It is more useful. Tharoor & Co have concentrated on being utterly useless. That is why the Dynasty is dying nasty.