[Advaita-l] shaDdarhana and other unorthodox schools

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com
Wed Jan 24 14:07:01 CST 2007

On 1/22/07, Ram Garib <garib_ram at yahoo.co.in> wrote:
> Sri Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian wrote:
> > Just wondering. Why do we need to justify - to
> > ourselves or anyone
> > else - the value of "indian philosophy"?
> Let me make it clear that my intention was never to
> question the value of Indian philosophy. The point of
> contention was whether a differentiation is justified
> between sectarian ideologies and philosophical schools
> in the context of hinduism. Surely someone yearning
> for a spiritual experience can hardly be bothered by
> the classification. Unfortunately, discussion veered
> to a completely unintended direction (and I accept
> full responsibility for that).

Dear Sri Ram Garib,

In my experience, it pays to be very careful about what Western
writers write about India/Philosophy/Customs/Whatever. Sometimes you
get really good stuff such as the book on Ganapti or any of his other
books by Grimes, The artful universe by Mahony, etc.
Sometimes it is pure, 100%, unadulterated garbage such as "Dreams,
Illusions and Reality", by Wendy Doniger.

Sometimes it is works by people like Jan Gonda, which are excellent
philological studies and very useful references. However, since he was
not acquainted with the practical vedism, you just have to be on the
watch out for speculative thoughts versus real analysis.

Sometimes nonsense is written by people, since they are basically
Christian apologists in "multi-cultural" disguise (this is about 80-90
percent of the time IMO). Some are even borderline/actual racists. One
particular discussion in the old Indology list comes to mind - where
one gentleman dismissed all Indian engineers as of poor quality (based
on perhaps some bad experiences). An indian posted the results of a
survery of deans in US schools about the best 25 univs in Asia and all
the IITs were listed. So one venerable professor from an ivy league
school was kind enough to inform that Japan had more good schools on
the list inspite of a lower population! And our very own Vidyasankar
pointed out that the venerable humanities and social sciences scholar
had fogotten to normalize for socio-ecomomic criteria. Nary a word of
apology from our good professor. If he had made a comment like this on
some African studies list or women studies list, you can be sure his
rear-side would have hit the curb practically instantaneously. Look at
Lawrence Summers.

It's our own fault that this is happening. Foreign authors have to
prove to *us* about their capability. The sorry state of affairs is
*we try to prove to foreign authors* that we also know about India!
IMO, foreign authors have to prove to us why their conception of
philosophy is better than us. Someone pointed out Sanskrit as a
foreign language. Does the good professor in UT Austin know that
Panini was smack in the Indian sub-continent when he wrote his
suutras? Why not take a step back and say everything is from Africa,
since Lucy is from Africa? But our good professors of European origin
wouldn't want to do that, would they?

The problem is the lack of self-respect we have. Will any Tibetan
Buddhist scholar dare to say nothing is from Tibet, everything is
actually from India? Not really, we wouldn't want to annoy Richard
Gere would we?


More information about the Advaita-l mailing list