Living and Dead Systems

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed May 26 21:43:45 UTC 1999

>I should think that Agehananda Bharati's "pizza effect" will take care of
>this. Tibetan Vajrayana will impact Indian society through the fame and
>following it has amassed in the West.

May be. But from what I've observed, the modernists in Indian society,
though easily impressed with all things "Western", have a tendency to
enhance their ethnic values with new ideas, rather than adopt the new ideas
in toto. And where it truly matters they generally abide by the tradition.
This can be observed in the great popularity of 'arranged' marriages to this
date in the society. They might probably flock to a gathering addressed by
Richard Gere just because it is the hip thing to do, but for true religious
need, they would return to Lord Ganesha.

And there's nothing that Buddhism can offer, that mainstream Hinduism
doesn't already have. For plain bhakti, you've the temples, bajans etc For
more spiritual practices, meditation, yoga etc there're so many genuine
gurus on hand to help. For philosophy, there's always the traditional
mathams, the neo-VedAntist groups like Ramakrishna Mutt etc

And from what I observed on television channels in Madras, almost the entire
morning schedule is dominated by topics spiritual. Even a newspaper as
Western oriented as the Times of India carries a daily column called Sacred
Space - carrying quotes from the VedA to the Buddhist SutrAs! Indigenous
spirituality is definitely on the rise.

And for color and festivities, Buddhism can hardly match Hinduism.

Hinduism has become an all round package - a way of life - evolved over the
ages to meet the cultural, civilizational and religious needs of the people.
At this point in time, it would be very difficult - nay, impossible - for
any religion to confront, let alone upstage Hinduism in BhArath.

>By the way, the Mahabodhi society is trying to promote dialogue/debate
>between Buddhists and Advaita Vedantins.

I've been to their unit in Madras and know the bhikshu quite well. They
teach the dhamma, hold vipAsana sessions etc They attract followers from the
Dalits and a few from the Tamil elite 'disappointed' in 'brAhmanical'

Debate with foreigners? Some time back, a meeting organized by some Japanese
gurus to meet with Indian gurus. The present ShankarAchArya of Kanchi -
Jayendra Saraswati, was also one of those who attended. And from what I
remember he didn't have anything pleasant to say about the affair! There was
just an attitude of tolerance.

No, I feel that there'll be debate with the traditionalists only if the new
comers try to proselytize from the upper classes, which I anyhow think, will
not find much success. And even if such a debate arises, I think it'll be
only with fellow countrymen and not foreigners.

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