Hindu traditional view

Bijoy Misra bmisra at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Wed Dec 30 12:27:49 UTC 1998

On Wed, 30 Dec 1998, Robert Zydenbos wrote:

> > Comments on Hindu traditional views
> > -----------------------------------
> > Any assertion that a Hindu traditional view is akin to
> > a fundamentalist Christian view is wrong.
> I fail to see how anyone can seriously make such a sweeping categorical
> statement, esp. when so many examples of the contrary are readily
> available.
As I said (or didn't say) my observations are based on extensive
travel and interviews with hunderds of people all around India
over the decades.  I agree that a good sociological study has to be
done.  What gets written is cursory and is biased to support one
view or the other, in the name of the totality.

> You may discover at some later time that almost
> all of the remainder of your sermon reflects merely one possible
> ideological view, at the best, and certainly not 'the' traditional
> Hindu way of looking at things. (S. Radhakrishnan set an example for
> Advaitin fundamentalism with writings like his _Hindu View of Life_,
> which seems just one minority view.)

I hope the choice of the word "sermon" was not sarcastic.
To some, any contradictory opinion may sound like a sermon.
I know this since I say similar stuff to the organizers
in the local temple and they would use the word "sermon"
to ignore it.  Listening itself is an art.

>But this will demand a serious and
> open-minded study of materials from a variety of traditions,

The variety that seems to be a part of scholarly work does not
enter the fabric of life.  The variety appears to be in
religious parctices, but not in the philosophy of life.
The latter would not present itself unless one lives with
people and understands their intrinsic nature.  I am not
clear how an illiterate man in a remote area develops this
broad intrinsic nature of universality and mysticism.
But you discover it by just travelling around the country
and meeting ordinary people.

> which may
> not at all be possible next to your regular astronomical work. For
> professional Indologists, it is a full-time occupation.
good point.  I try.  At least have developed strong fluency
in Sanskrit and read Sanskrit literature as time permits.
> From this point, my views are based on original sources than
any interpretations.  How the literature has been compiled,
is another matter and we have to think as we proceed.
I might put together a course on Sankhya and astronomy.
I have been teaching in a local Indian cultural school for
the last fifteen years, and am trying to put together
a book.  More on this as I make more progress.

> Anyhow, I too wish a
> > Happy New Year to all of you..
> in which ideologies may recede into the background and the full, rich
> diversity and richness of, and truth about, India may receive greater
> attention.
I can't agree more..

On a more personal note, St Paul's Cathedral in Boston does a
midnight interfaith service on the New Year's Eve and somehow,
I was recruited two years ago to recite sections of Hindu
scriptures.  I have to prepare a 5 minute recitation.
I will like people to recommend any favorites.  I had chosen
the last hymn of Rkveda in 1996 and the nasadiya sukta in 1997.
I wish to give another try on the vedas this year.  You may
post it here or send me private mail.

Thank you and all the best in 1999..

- Bijoy Misra.

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