Prof. Arvind Sharma used to be an IAS officer. Then he became a Professor of Comparative Religion in Canada. In other words he is as stupid as shit.
This is him writing about ' How dharma and dhamma may seem similar but carry contrasting meanings'
This is nonsense. 'Dharma' is the Sanskrit word Buddhists used for 'dhamma'. It was translated as eusebia by the Indo-Greeks and corresponds to Latin 'pietas' and English 'piety'. You may describe a person as pious or possessing dharma even if they belong to a different sect or affirm no Faith at all. I suppose, in India, the emphasis is on piety, not on credo, because many belong to multiple religions. However their 'samskars'- i.e. pious observances- tend to be observationally equivalent.
No doubt, some religious leaders were also politically active while some political activists instrumentalized religion to further their aims. But we can't say that their activities changed the meaning of dharma, that is piety. Rather, they sought to enlist piety of a particular type to a specific socio-political end.
It is not the case that any Indian anywhere, except for Sharma in Canada, thinks that the meaning of dharma is different from dhamma. This is because it is obvious that dhamma is just a dialectical variation of dharma. To insist otherwise would be like saying that when I say 'yeggs' I mean something different from what non Tamils call 'eggs'.
How does Sharma justify his bizarre thesis? The answer- as we'd expect from an ex-IAS officer- is that he does so by telling stupid lies.
In this post I am deliberately contrasting dharma, as a broad and general category for Indic religions,
But it is no such thing. The broad category for Indic religions is 'Indic religions'. It isn't dharma. The fact is, Indian Christians use the term Isai Dharma for their religion. Clearly 'dharma' can't connote Indic religions, if Indians themselves accept that Christianity is Isai Dharma.
with dhamma, as understood by BR Ambedkar, as a socially liberatory formulation of Buddhism for the former untouchables.
For Ambedkar, his own Navayana (neo-Buddhism) was the right creed for his people to embrace so as to rise up. This does not mean that Ambedkar thought the word 'dhamma' had a different meaning from what Acharya Kosambi or Rahul Sankrityayan or Ayothidasa Pandithar or any other scholar of that period deemed it to be. Dr. Ambedkar was a profound scholar. It simply isn't the case that he has given a different meaning to dhamma such that Navayana is not a dharma in the same sense as Jainism or Saivism or Vaisnavism or Sikhism. To suggest otherwise is to fly in the face of the will of the people as India as represented by their democratically elected Institutions all of which hold Dr. Ambedkar and the religion he founded in the highest honor and esteem.
Sharma tries to justify his imbecility by producing irrelevant evidence.
A special feature of this contrast is that same or similar statements acquire very different meanings in the two contexts. Two examples illustrate my point
Swami Vivekananda once said that it is good to be born in a religion but not good to die in one. By comparison, Ambedkar expressed a similar (but not identical) sentiment that “I was born a Hindu, but I will not die a Hindu.”
There is no similarity between these two statements. The first is abstract and expresses a truth peculiar to dharmic religions- viz. moksha (liberation) is the aim and thus it is a lamentable outcome if, in articulo mortis, we remain trapped in samsara- i.e. the wheel of worldly bondage where ritual observances (samskar) are required. The second is personal and factual. Ambedkar said he would convert to another Religion- which he in fact did. Vivekananda did not.
Vivekananda’s statement is spiritual in orientation, while the one made by Ambedkar is social in orientation.
No. Vivekananda spoke of what is good for all mankind. Ambedkar spoke of a decision he had made regarding himself alone. Furthermore, Ambedkar was a lawyer by profession. He meant that he would undergo a process of conversion such that it was clear that he no longer belonged to the religion of his birth. This could have legal, but not necessarily social, consequences precisely because of Ambedkar's high standing as a jurist and framer of the Constitution. To be clear, Navanaya converts and their descendants could gain legal benefits of a kind well understood to Indian lawyers. This might involve more rational inheritance and other personal laws of the type which Jinnah wanted to give the Indian Muslims so they could rise up in Commerce- which, incidentally, is why Muslims of all sects admired and trusted him. Ambedkar knew he represented not only landless laborers but also Jatav millionaires in Kanpur. His actions were perfectly rational though, no doubt, his polemical tone was such as he felt expedient at the time.
Vivekananda’s statement is a call to do away with religious boundaries;
No it isn't. He said that religions should remain different but they should accept each other's spirit. However, since Advaitic Hinduism was the most spiritual, the Christians and Muslims and so on should work harder to become more like Hindus. If they couldn't convert to Hinduism before they died, they should at any rate reject the bondage of their creed before death.
Ambedkar’s is a call to draw them more firmly — so that the transition from one to the other is as clear as it could possibly be, in the interest of social emancipation.
This is nonsense. Ambedkar was a lawyer. He knew that he might still be classed as a Hindu even if he converted to Buddhism. Still, at one point, he improved his bargaining position by playing the conversion card. He pretty much got what he wanted. The Constitution stripped Muslim Dalits of affirmative action (Christian Dalits had been excluded by the 1935 Act) and such entitlements were restricted to Hindus (later also Sikhs and even later also Buddhists). Ambedkar and the older generation of Republican Party intellectuals were far sighted. Unfortunately, because of the throttling of free enterprise in India, Dalit millionaires could not play a vanguard role. Still some Dalit sub-castes rose up thus, hopefully, setting off mimetic effects beneficial to those lower down.
The context in which Ambedkar made the statement is worth noting. Untouchables had been carrying out a campaign for five years in the pilgrimage centre of Nasik to be allowed to enter Hindu temples. These efforts failed. Therefore, in 1935 he proclaimed, “I was born a Hindu, but I will not die a Hindu.”
The Brits closed the door to Christianity by excluding Dalit coverts to that Religion from affirmative action. The Muslim League pumped and dumped Dalit allies like J.N Mandal (who was Pakistan's first Law Minister just as Ambedkar was Nehru's Law Minister). Mandal, poor fellow, had to flee to India. Ambedkar himself soon found himself out in the cold. On the other hand Congress 'Harijans' rose and rose on the basis of ability and the fact that 'reserved seats' turned out to be a boon for the Party machine because of intense factionalism amongst the 'high castes'. People who failed to get a Party ticket could always say that they felt it beneath their dignity to sit in the Legislative Assembly with 'untouchables'.
Why does Sharma say the Kalaram temple satyagraha (in Nasik) failed? It started in 1930 and succeeded in 1935. However, Ambedkar always made it clear that he wasn't interested in having his people worship in that temple. Sharma makes it appear that Ambedkar resolved to quit being a Hindu because he couldn't get to worship at a particular shrine. This may go down well in Canada. White peeps might think that Dalits are the Blacks of India and they were protesting against 'Jim Crow' type laws. But Indians know this simply wasn't the case.
Vivekananda was not insensitive to the unjust dimension of Hinduism. As he declared: No religion on earth preaches the dignity of humanity in such a lofty strain, as Hinduism, and no religion on earth treads upon the necks of the poor and the low in such a fashion, as Hinduism.
Or Islam or Christianity or Buddhism or any other religion in any country as backward and poor as India. The fact is, what treads upon the necks of the poor is the fact that they have very very fucking low productivity.
To be fair, Vivekananda was merely speaking in a strain common to all ecumenical leaders of the time. They would simulate humility and speak of their failure to reach their own poor before calling for greater mutual understanding till finally concluding that the true end of irenicism would be attained once every other religion understood that it was on the path to become as perfect as their speaker's own creed. Their truly is nothing more utterly useless than 'multi-faith dialogue'. Vivekandanda understood that. Like, his contemporary, Brahmabandhab Upadhyay- a convert to Catholicism certified by the Archbishop of Calcutta who however performed prayaschitham and returned to the Hindu fold before he died- Vivekananda was a Nationalist for the excellent reason that self-government was necessary for rapid socio-economic progress. Talking bollocks, or converting to Buddhism or Bolshevism or Buggery, can't alter this brute fact.
As a case in point, Sharma's magpie mind next picks on a cretin who, for some reason of his own, he thinks equal to Vivekananda and Dr. Ambedkar.
In 1996, Kancha Ilaiah published a book with the provocative title: Why I Am Not A Hindu.
To which everybody responded 'Why would we give a fuck what you are?'
He explains his statement as follows: “I was not born a Hindu for the simple reason that my parents did not know that they were Hindus.”
This is foolish. His parents knew the name of their God. Those names were listed or could be listed in some official gazette or Court record as being in the pantheon of this sect or that sect. Such matters had legal consequences. Consider Budasna v Fatima (1914). It could have been appealed if the first husband's community could have been shown to be outside the Hindu fold. But no such evidence was forthcoming and Hindu law prevailed. We may sympathize with the woman who left her Hindu husband to, as she thought, marry a prosperous Muslim. But, the law said her first Husband was a Hindu and thus could not divorce her. Since he was still alive, she couldn't have two husbands. Thus, sadly for her, she had merely been the concubine, not the wife, of the Muslim.
Ignorance of the Law does not mean immunity from it. Kancha was born a Hindu because his parents were Hindus in the eyes of the Law. He may mean 'I don't feel I am a Hindu because I don't think my parents felt- or knew- they were Hindus at the time of marriage.' But others may say 'I don't feel Kancha has anything other than shit in his brain. Also I don't feel his parents would have got married if they knew they'd be the parents of such an utter shithead.' However, such feelings- though entirely understandable- are of no very great or general interest.
As Nicholas B Dirks explains in his Castes of Mind (p.297): He (Ilaiah) goes on to make clear that this was not because his parents belonged to some other religious identity but rather because his “illiterate parents who lived in a remote South Indian village, did not know that they belonged to any religion at all.”
But the progeny of imbeciles, not himself an imbecile, must accept that he had a religion at birth if the law deems it so.
Members of the Kuruma caste, breeder of sheep,
who worship the same god as I do- i.e. Murugan a.k.a Mailara a.k.a Kartikeya-
his parents brought him up in a world in which Hinduism was clearly the province of the upper castes — Brahmins, Baniyas, Ksatriays.
But, in the deep South, there are no Baniyas or Kshatriyas though there are Chettiars and Naidus etc.
“We knew nothing of Brahma, Vishnu or Eswara until we entered school. When we first heard about these figures they were as strange to us as Allah or Jehova or Jesus were.”
Or, indeed, as Ambedkar or Marx. Why does this fellow not say 'I do not belong to the homo sapiens species because my parents didn't even know what that term meant when they got married.' ?
According to Ilaiah, the cultural life of Hinduism, determined in large part by protocols of hierarchy, ritual, and purity, steeped in beliefs that were seen as inaccessible and foreign, was not something he shared.
This is certainly true of Rahul Gandhi. But that doesn't stop the Congress Party from claiming he belongs to the Dattatreya gotra.
Only in recent years, under the sway of a Hindu fundamentalist movement that has sought to recruit Dalits and other low-caste groups to a generic confessional idea of Hinduism, has he experienced any intimations of a possible connection.
This may well be true. He wasted his time in College studying shit subjects which he then went on to teach in a shitty manner.
And yet, as a political activist and theorist, sceptical of a movement that seeks to build new conditions for the hegemony of an upper-caste Hindu chauvinism, he has written a book to reject the right of Hindus, and Hinduism, to claim him.
Yet, if he dies intestate, Hindu inheritance will apply unless he has made an overt conversion to some non-Indic religion.
Now, basing his autobiography and his political identity in his lower-caste origins, he champions caste mobilisation as both a progressive political force and as antithetical to Hindu nationalism.
Has he succeeded? No. Has Modi succeeded. Yes.
Note, however, that the founder of the Hindutva movement, VD Savarkar, was an atheist,
No he wasn't. You can't affirm the non-existence of what is 'Nirguna'- i.e. without properties. That is Advaita 101. Savarkar was a Brahmin and rather a smart one at that.
and defined a Hindu as one who is not one.
Again, this simply isn't true. A definition can't be oxymoronic because in that case nothing or everything is defined by it.
To cite his own words, he ends his tract Hindutva with a paragraph which contains the following line: “A Hindu is most intensely so, when he ceases to be a Hindu;
because he has gained Moksha and is absorbed into the Godhead. We all cease to be whatever we were in life on the point of death. This does not mean we are most alive when we are dead. It is not the case that life is defined as being a corpse. Yet his is what Sharma is claiming. The fact is you may cease to conform to a particular definition at some particularly intense inflexion point. However, that definition still fits you for any pragmatic purpose.
and with a Kabir claims the whole earth for Benares…or at Tukaram exclaims: ‘My country? Oh brothers, the limits of the universe — there the frontiers of my country lie.’”
Savarkar was a poet.
So both Ilaiah and Savarkar claim to be non-Hindus
No Savarkar was a Hindu and headed the Hindu Mahasabha. Ilaiah says he is not a Hindu and has no time for that organization. What rotted Sharma's brain? Serving as an IAS officer, or teaching stupid shit in Canada?
— but again in very different senses.
Just as Sharma is a shithead in two different senses- one is that his brains are composed of shit and the other is that he has thrust his head into a bucket full of feces.
A clue for developing the point further is provided by another comment by Ilaiah, that the lower castes should look to Jesus and Marx and Buddha for their emancipation, rather than to the Hindu gods.
But the lower castes aren't looking at Ilaiah. Perhaps he should try appealing to the higher castes. Failing that he might go and try to interest sheep in his credo.
He would thus presumably opt for Ambedkar’s dhamma over dharma.
The guy claims to be an Ambedkarite. But he is OBC, not Dalit. Also he is as stupid as shit. What he 'opts for' matters to nobody. Vivekananda matters, Ambedkar matters, even Savarkar matters. But to this stupid ex-Babu, they are equal to Kancha Ilaiah who is now with the Maulana Azad National Urdu University- no doubt because the fellow only writes in Telugu and English.
That two words, so closely related to each other as dharma and dhamma, should end up possessing antithetical orientations, is an irony of Indian history.
No it is an irony of life in shite Departments in Canadian Universities which makes people stupider and more ignorant than they started of as whether they study or merely teach there.