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n.rao at rz.uni-sb.de n.rao at rz.uni-sb.de
Fri Apr 14 17:14:21 UTC 1995

In a comment to the following sentence
>Neo-Hinduism, which sees Bhagavadgita and Upanishads, and even Veda 
>  ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>> as 'sacred texts' is of a recent origin)

Vidyashankar wrote
I am afraid this is not really true. Regarding the Vedic corpus as  
>'sacred texts' is at least some two millenia old, if not older. It is  
>not for nothing that the Vedas were termed "apaurusheya". One of the  
>major accusations levelled against Buddhists and Jains, from the  
>earliest times, was that they were nAstikas - i.e they refused to  
>acknowledge the authority of Sruti. The Samkhya, Nyaya and Yoga  
>systems escaped that "censure" because they accepted the Vedas as  
>apaurusheya, even if such acceptance was nothing more than token  
I am quite aware of the fact that Vedas were regarded 
as 'Apaurusheya'. However, it is necessary to raise the question, 
whether that meant the same as 'sacred texts' (because revealed
 to a Prophet by God as some sort of commands) as Bible and
 Quoran are understood in the context of Christianity and 
Islam respectively? Similarly, even though there were
 certainly dissensions, controversies, and conflicts,
 in pre-Islamic India, and in the text-tradition identified 
broadly as 'Hindu'-Buddhist-Jain..etc. ,  can we assume that the 
concepts used to understand and justify them, were the same as 
those used today, borrowed from an intellectual tradition very
 strongly influenced by Christianity? I would very much like
 to know whether there is any research carried on about the implications of
 saying that vedas are 'apaurusheya'. I haven't been reading on
Indian philosophy recently, but the kind of books available
  in 70s just took up the the notion of 'apaurusheya' as if it is
 the same as 'revealation' as it is discussed in Christian
 theology. There was not even a hint that these concepts
 belong to entirely different traditions. Of course it is possible 
to proceed like that if we assume that human beings
 everywhere  cometo think in the same way, and in India
 in spite of lot of other 'apparent'  differences in their
 thinking, somehow people chanced upon the concept
 of 'revealation' as did the semetic tradition.
 All that I am saying is that this is too big an assumption
 to make, and if you concur with this judgement, some
 questions arise with regard to our (present academic) 
 understanding about Indian text tradition as well the
 past life in general in India.  
Vidyashankar writes further 
>None of this says anything about "idolatry", by the way. For an  
>Aurangazeb, it should have been of little concern whether the Hindus  
>even had any sacred texts or not. Quite obviously, they were on par  
>with heathens and pagans, not having an Abrahamic legacy...
As far as I know, already during Babar's time (with his active support)
some muslim theologians wanted to accord to 'Hindus' the status 
of people with a Religion of the Book just like in the case Christians
 and consider them too as fit for protection. Islam, unlike medieval 
Christianity, did establish empires in such a vast area with such vast 
different practices, that a lot of juggling was done with regard to the
notion of 'Religion of the book', if not for any other reason, just for the 
pragmatic reasons of the State.

Mr. Daud writes:
" The anti-Jain and anti-Buddhist 
rhetoric ....  But I am 
not trying to deny that temples were destroyed by Muslims  (a truly 
revisionist position).  I simply want to ask why other sorts of 
oppression and religious intolerance are elided in this political agenda.  
Why emphasize these appropriations of space and not the Saiva and Vaisnava.." 
I do agree that there was an attempt to underplay 
conflicts in ancient India and build a myth in the Nationalist
 historiagraphy. I do not have much idea what could
 be the correct kind of historiagraphy, but certainly to 
consider every kind of a conflict between people as of
 the same variety is not a good  historiographical 
procedure.  My point was  not  not that 'Islam or
 Islamic rulers destroyed temples' and till then al
 was honey and milk in India as Nationalist 
historiagraphy tried to paint. My point is to 
suggest the following as plausible:  
when Islam came to India  there was indeed
 some kind of stupefaction and 'incomprehension
 in India, because the Islamic theology and its ways
 of looking at practices and justification for them was
 indeed massively different (and this stupefaction
 is perhaps mutual) than what was familiar in India.
 It is interesting to ask why no textual tradition with
 regard to the conflict between Islamic theology and
 other schools identified as 'Indian philosophy'
 exists? (Or am I wrong to assume this?). 
The reason why this plausibility has to be
 considered seriously as a hypothesis for empirical 
research is that the alternative involves a too large
 an assumption of cultural universality. 


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