Monday 6 March 2023

Internet Encyclopedia wrong on Bhagvad Gita

The cretin Shyam Ranganathan has this to say in the 'Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy'

Historical Reception and the Gītā’s Significance

The Gita has the most impressive 'theophany' of any Scripture or Religious tradition. Also, though celebrating devotional piety, it supports a karma based theodicy which many seekers find attractive no matter where they come from. 

The historical reception of the Gita- like the historical reception of Shakespeare- has been good because the text, even in translation, is very very good.  One might add that Darwin's big idea made reincarnation seem more 'scientific' than 'bodily resurrection'. 

One could certainly write a lot about specific literary traditions- e.g. in England the influence of the Gita on Matthew Arnold, Yeats, Eliot etc- but you'd have to actually know a little about literature to do so. 

Ranganathan is innocent of any such thing. He writes- 

The relationship of the Gītā to what is known as Hinduism,

because it is a Kripkean rigid designator used as such by Law Courts all over the world 

and to what we understand as religion,

speak for yourself Ranganathan. What you understand is shit.

is more complicated and problematic than a straightforward philosophical study of the Gītā.

Only if your brain is full of shit. 

In a world dominated by Western imperialism,

which ceased to exist, as far as South Asia was concerned, in 1937 when Provincial Autonomy took root and something similar could have been achieved at the Federal level if the Muslim League had not objected.  

it is common to take religious designations at face value, as though they are dispositive of the “religious” traditions and not an artifact of colonialism.

This is common because it is sensible. This shithead may think that Muslims want to eat pork and drink wine so as to get closer to God. Sadly, Whitey fooled Muslims into thinking they ought to do no such thing.  

An historical claim commonly made, as we find in the Encyclopedia of World Religions, is that the “Bhagavad-Gītā” is “perhaps the most widely revered of the Hindu scriptures.”

For Iyers- and Ranganthan, though good looking, is as stupid as shit and thus more likely to be an Iyer than an Iyengar- Adi Sankara confirmed this view. 

The expectation that the Gītā is a religious work

It is. It counts as an Upanishad. 

leads to the notion that there is some type of thematic religious development in the text that is distinct from the philosophy it explores.

Quite true. I've described it. However, to be fair, it wasn't till the work of Von Neumann, Nash, Aumann, Shapley, Schelling etc. penetrated to lowly Econ undergrads that I had the vocabulary to do so.  

So, for instance, the same entry suggests that the religious theme of the opening lines of the Gītā is to be found when Arjuna (the protagonist) is faced with a fratricidal war. “The problem for Arjuna is that many other revered figures, such as Arjuna’s teacher, are fighting for his cousins. Seeing in the ranks of the enemy those to whom he owes the utmost respect, Arjuna throws down his bow and refuses to fight” (Ellwood and Alles 2008: 49-50). That is not at all how events unfold, however.

Nonsense! That's exactly what happens though, obviously, a Hindu like me would give a richer account. 

Arjuna, upon arriving at the battlefield, provides three distinct arguments

No. He says he won't fight and gives different reasons why he won't fight. 

based on three prominent ethical theories that comprise what we might call conventional morality (Virtue Ethics, Consequentialism, and Deontology)

This is a recent academic availability cascade. Virtue is prudent and mindful of consequences. Utilitarianism can be purely deontological because of Knightian Uncertainty, reputation or mimetic effects, etc. Deontics arises only if there is a duty to have a duty and is thus essentially meta-ethical and dependent on justiciable social arrangements.

Hindus, like me, reading Gita, are on tenterhooks as to whether Arjuna's unvested boon of being able to see whatever he wants in the way he wants to see it will, by reason of 'Vishada', or self-alienation,vest in himself such that he sees that

1) Krishna is God

2) Karna is his true elder brother. There can be no War because Yuddhishtra will immediately concede Karna's right to dispose of the Pandavas. 

and then concludes on the strength of these objections that he should not fight. Expecting to distinguish the thematic development from the philosophy in the Gītā

there is a thematic development of Samkhya-Yoga philosophy and its integration into Vedanta. But there is no Benthamite Utilitarianism because that is an economic (Artha Shastra) doctrine and beyond the scope of the Gita.

is like attempting to distinguish the thematic development in a Platonic dialogue from the philosophy:

A Platonic dialogue is a thematic development of Platonic philosophy.  

It cannot be done without great violence—

Nonsense! Plato wrote to be understood.  

and the fact that we might expect this as possible in the case of South Asian philosophy but not in the case of Plato is inconsistent.

Both the Gita and Plato are clear enough- save to cretins like Ranganathan. 

Moreover, the gloss that the Gītā is scripture is mistaken on points of history.

No. Hindu history- which is known to Hindus- describes Gita as an Upanishad. It is Scripture. 

Historically, and in the South Asian tradition, the Gītā was not thought of as scripture.

Yes it was. It is literally the Song of the Lord containing the theophany of the Godhead.  

Indeed, “scripture” is often reserved to designate texts that are thought to have a revelatory character, like the Vedas,

No. The Vedas are for the the three 'twice-born' castes. The Gita is for everybody. It is both smriti- being part of Itihasa, as well as shruti being a direct revelation of the Godhead.  

and are called śruti (what is heard). The Gītā, in contrast, was thought to be an historical or commemorative document, or smṛti (what is remembered), as the Mahābhārata, of which it is a part, was regarded as such historical literature.

The shruti/smriti distinction is only relevant for Brahmins or Shastris. I'm a Smartha Brahmin not a Shrauta Brahmin and thus perform different rituals. But, soteriologically speaking, I would follow प्रस्थानत्रयी which includes Gita and Brahma Sutra. Since 'apoorvata' is needful for reception, it doesn't matter whether the thing is heard or remembered. What matters is that the novelty or fresh illumination is received. Otherwise the thing is just a mechanical exercise. 

Calling it scripture is ahistorical.

No. Sankara treats Gita as scripture and those who follow him naturally do so too. That's over a thousand years of history right there.  

The motivation to regard the Gītā as a religious text is no doubt derivable from the uncritical acceptance of the Gītā as a basic text of Hinduism. By analogy to other religions with central texts, the Gītā would apparently be like a Bible of sorts. In this case, the confusion arises because of the ahistorical projection of the category, “Hinduism,” on to the tradition.

What this nutter is getting at is that India was inhabited by savages and kaffirs till Muslim or Christian invaders showed up. 

As Western powers increased their colonial hold on South Asia, there was pressure to understand the South Asian traditions in terms of a category of understanding crucial to the West’s history and methodology of alterity: religion (Cabezón 2006).

But 'Western powers' already knew about Hinduism and Buddhism and Confucianism because of Jesuit and other missionaries and merchant adventurers. Once colonies were established, Colonial courts had to codify the Religious laws of different sects so as to resolve disputes. 

Religion isn't a 'methodology of alterity'. It is a protocol bound ipseity which is worth acquiring knowledge about so as to promote mutually beneficial interchange.  

Historical research shows that it was under the British rule of South Asia that “Hindu”—originally a Persian term meaning “Indus” or “India”—was drafted to identify the indigenous religion of South Asia, in contrast to Islam (Gottschalk 2012).

Fuck off! The ancient Greeks had not just visited the country the called India but some had converted to Buddhism or Vaishnavism.  

By default, hence, anything South Asian that is not Islam is Hinduism.

unless it is Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism etc, etc.  

Given its baptismal context that fixes its referent (compare Kripke 1980), “Hinduism” is a class category, the definition of which (something like “South Asian, no common founder”) need not be instantiated in its members, and the function of which is rather to describe Hindu things at the collective level.

Nonsense. There is a rigid designator for sects which the Greeks found in the place they called India. But, pragmatics alters the scope and range of such terms.  

“Hinduism” as a class category is much like the category “fruit salad”:

Only in the sense that 'Catholicism' is.  

Fruit salad is a collection of differing pieces of fruit,

Catholicism is a collection of different Churches not all of which are exclusively devoted to child molestation.  

but members of a collection that is fruit salad need not be, and would not be, a collection of different pieces of fruit.

Yes they would. You can empty a bowl of fruit salad and say 'look- this is a collection of different types of fruit.'  

Indeed, it would be a fallacy of composition to infer from the collective definition of “fruit salad” that there is something essentially fruit salad about pieces of fruit salad.

Nonsense! You can eat pieces of fruit or you can eat fruit salad. There is no 'fallacy of composition' here. Ranganathan is as stupid as shit.  

Similarly, at the collective level, we might include the Gītā among Hindu texts because the collection is definable as being South Asian but with no common founder.

Veda Vyasa is the common founder. He edited the Vedas and authored the Mahabharata etc. This man isn't just stupid, he is incredibly ignorant.  

It would be a fallacy of composition, though, to infer that the Gītā bears defining traits of being Hindu, or even religious, for that matter, as these characterize the collection, not the members.

The Gita is Hindu and religious just as the Vedas are Hindu are are religious. Moreover, as Adi Sankara showed, they are univocal.  

If, as history shows, the only things that world religious traditions share is

that they are religious traditions are are found in the world 

that they have non-European origins,

Roman Catholicism is plenty European. Greek Orthodoxy is...urm...Greek. Anglicanism is English. The fact is St. Paul was a Greek speaking Roman citizen. He may have been from the wrong side of the Mediterranean but, at that time, it was part of the same oikumene. 

that the philosophical diversity across all things religious is equivalent to philosophical diversity as such,

which is not true at all. There is less diversity between religions than there is diversity in the philosophy of mathematics.  

and that religious identity was manufactured

by Prophets and Seers who existed long before there was any fucking 'Western tradition' 

as a function of the Western tradition’s inability to explain and ground non-Western philosophical positions in terms of the Western tradition (Ranganathan 2018b),

This is sheer nonsense. Any non-Western philosophical position can be easily expressed within the Western tradition- e.g. Celtic tuirgen is parallel to Shantideva's paratman parivartana. 

then Hindu texts would be treated as essentially religious and not primarily philosophical because of their South Asian origins.

Hindu religious texts are religious though, no doubt, they can be explicated by recourse to the 'darshanas' which are Indian philosophical traditions. But the same point may be made about Christian or Islamic of Taoist scriptures.  

This depiction of texts such as Gītā as religious, however, like the historical event of defining Hinduism, is a straightforward artifact of Western colonialism,

This simply isn't true. Al-Biruni was describing Hinduism long before there was any Western colonialism. 

and not a trait of the texts being studied under the heading of Hinduism.

This worthless shithead doesn't get that his ancestors, like mine, studied Hindu texts because they were Hindus. No doubt, they may have described themselves as Smartas, Shrautas, Vaishnavas, Saivites etc, etc, but they had no difficulty in accepting the name of 'Hindu' if that is what they were.  

Historically, to be Hindu is

to practice Hinduism- which is what a billion people do. 

apparently to share nothing except philosophical disagreements on every topic:

Nobody gives a toss about 'philosophical disagreements'. 

One can be an evolutionary materialist and atheist, as we find in the Sāṅkhya Kārikā,

but there are no atheist followers of Sankhya or Yoga.  All one can say is that the philosophy does not need to posit a Creator though its adherents are free to do so. 

or take a deflationary view about the reality of the Gods while endorsing Vedic texts, as we find in Pūrva Mīmāṃsā works,

This is an interpretation merely. Where will you find a Mimamsaka who merely goes through the motions of ritual activity? The thing is a logical possibility- nothing more.  

and be a most orthodox Hindu merely because one’s philosophical views are South Asian and because they can be grouped in the category of South Asian, with no common founder (Ranganathan 2016a, 2018b).

But Hinduism has a notion of a common founder in Manu or Brhaspati.  

Yet, the common expectation is that religions are kinds, not classes,

No. The common expectation is that religions actually exist. There must be an extensional class corresponding to a particular religion. Whether there is an intensional definition of this class is  a separate matter. A stupid person, like Ranganathan, wouldn't be able to supply such a definition, but a smart person could do so. As a matter of fact, Indian law has a good enough definition.  

that specify criteria of inclusion that are instantiated by their members, as this is true of virtually every other religion.

Nonsense! Is the Mormon religion part of Christianity? What about the Ba'bis or Ahmadiyas? Do they fit into Islam? These are matters which can have great legal import. Currently we feel Mormons are Christians. Ba'hais are separate from Islam. But this was not always so. In Iran, some Ba'hais registered as Zoroastrians (which is what they may originally have been) so as not to be regarded as apostates. But then several Hindu sects- e.g. Brahmos and Swami Narayanis- have tried to claim to be non-Hindu so as to get minority status.  

Under this particular set of expectations—that examples of Hindu things must exemplify something distinctly Hindu—the Bhagavad Gītā has come to be valued not merely as a popular contribution to moral philosophy, but as the Hindu equivalent to the Christian Bible, something one can swear oaths on, and can look to for religious advice (compare Davis 2015).

Hindus are welcome to seek religious counsel from the Quran Sharif or the Holy Bible or the Book of Mormon. Plenty of Christians have found great spiritual consolation in the Gita and the Upanishads.  

Attempting to project this colonial development back onto the tradition, though commonplace, is mistaken.

There was no such 'colonial development'. Suppose there had been, then every part of Africa- which has a very rich indigenous spiritual tradition- would, once colonized, have been given its own religion and revealed scripture. Sadly, colonizers are interested in making money, not helping indigenous religion. In the Indian case, barristers could make money by studying religious law and in any case there was a big indigenous market for print versions of sacred texts. At a later point, Hindu religious leaders played a big role in the Freedom struggle though one result of this was the partition of the sub-continent on religious lines.           

It generates the perception that what we have in the Gītā is not primarily philosophy, as we have decided to ignore it.

Religion matters. Philosophy is stupid shite. That's why we ignore the latter and pay attention to the former.  

The depiction of the Gītā as essentially religious,

because Lord Krishna discloses his awe-inspiring Cosmic Form 

and not contingently religious given the colonial artefact of religious identity,

but if religious identity is a 'colonial artefact' why did no other colony have a world religion named after its people? Surely there should be a Kenyan religion and a Ugandan religion and a Zimbabwean religion? Why is there only a Hindu religion which gains converts in the West on the basis of the Bhagvad Gita?  

is a self-fulfilling prophecy that arises when we do not pay attention to the history of South Asian philosophy

South Asians decided that philosophy was stooooopid just as Western Europeans and everybody else did.  

as relevant to understanding its texts because we have assumed, as a function of the colonial history that makes up religious identity, that such texts are religious.

A text about a guy who discloses his Cosmic Form as the Lord of the Universe can only be religious. It can't be philosophical save adventitiously by way of providing a synoptic soteriology. That's what the Gita does. It truly is a work of art though, no doubt, part and parcel of 'uncreated' Revelation. 

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