[INDOLOGY] bhakti

Luis Gonzalez-Reimann reimann at berkeley.edu
Wed Nov 9 23:09:09 UTC 2016

I sent this response yesterday, but by mistake it only went to Patrick 
and not the list, so I resend it here.

I now see that Valerie made the same point about using "Indian astrology."


Hi Patrick,

It would be easy to replace the name Vedic astrology with Indian 
astrology. It's more accurate, anyway, because that encompasses what 
could be called Jain, Buddhist, Hindu, etc. astrology.

There certainly has been a pattern for centuries of appropriating the 
label "Vedic" for enhancing the prestige of one's own tradition or text 
and making it seem very ancient. There are claims of being the nectar of 
the Vedas, as in the /Bhāgavata Purāṇa/, as well as statements about the 
Vedas ultimately being about this or that god or goddess. These are 
clearly sectarian claims.



On 11/8/2016 4:27 PM, patrick mccartney wrote:
> Robert,
> The term 'Vedic astrology' is certainly interesting. I have been 
> contacting astrologers in the West who use this term on their 
> websites. Their responses as to what they actually mean by it are 
> revealing of a certain discomfort and cognitive dissonance. One 
> particular respondent said they did not like the term but it was 
> something of an 'industry standard', so not using the term was counter 
> productive to their own vocational interest. They also said that 
> 'Hindu astrology' sounded even 'less authentic'. This is while knowing 
> that the predictive aspects of 'Vedic astrology' developed well past 
> the Vedic period.
> Personally, I find the phrases 'Vedic capitalism 
> <http://www.sabhlokcity.com/2012/09/vedic-capitalism-clear-affirmation-of-equality-and-pursuit-of-wealth/>', 
> 'Vedic socialism 
> <http://www.sabhlokcity.com/2010/08/what-is-vedic-socialism/>' and 
> 'Vedic communism 
> <http://vaniquotes.org/wiki/I_think_the_Vedic_concept_of_socialism_or_communism_will_much_improve_the_idea_of_communism>' 
> to be amongst my favourites.
> I wonder if anyone has a .pdf of this book 
> <http://www.worldcat.org/title/vedic-socialism/oclc/643866103> ?
> All the best,
> Patrick McCartney, PhD
> Fellow
> School of Culture, History & Language
> College of the Asia-Pacific
> The Australian National University
> Canberra, Australia, 0200
> Skype - psdmccartney
> Phone + Whatsapp:  +61 414 954 748
> Twitter - @psdmccartney
> academia <https://anu-au.academia.edu/patrickmccartney>
>  *
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> <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X80KxW2bb0w><http://chl.anu.edu.au/news-events/events/658/yoga-and-body-past-and-present-symposium?#tab>
> Ep1 - Imagining Sanskrit Land <https://youtu.be/jMi7tkPBbJ4>
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> One of my favourite song 
> <http://trinityroots.bandcamp.com/track/all-we-be>s
> The Philosophy of Cycling 
> <http://elibrary.com.ng/UploadFiles/file0_2221.pdf>
> On Wed, Nov 9, 2016 at 4:59 AM, Robert Zydenbos 
> <zydenbos at uni-muenchen.de <mailto:zydenbos at uni-muenchen.de>> wrote:
>     By coincidence, just yesterday I gave a lengthy interview to a
>     lady from the Bavarian radio who is doing a program on bhakti. She
>     came with a heap of references and quotes and asked me what we are
>     to make of all this. As with so many things, it is context-sensitive.
>     patrick mccartney wrote:
>     > While 'bhakti' is mentioned at least in the above upanishad, I
>     thought 'bhakti yoga' was quite clearly a post-vedic development,
>     and that the bhakti movement developed from the 6th century CE. To
>     the devotee this statement might seem unproblematic, but to the
>     scholar it appears to conceptually and temporally conflate
>     disparate things.
>     Perhaps it is relevant to stress that the occurrence of a word as
>     a series of writing symbols in a text is one thing, and that the
>     meaning of the word in a given context may differ from the one in
>     another context. For instance,
>     Howard Resnick wrote:
>     > […] I will add that the Bhagavad-gita often mentions bhakti,
>     bhakti-yoga, bhakta etc, and the Gita is one of three standard
>     members of the ‘Vedanta apparatus.’
>     Shyam Ranganathan wrote:
>     > When I was a grad student in Joseph O'Connell's class on Bhakti
>     in the 90s, he started the class with a review of some portions of
>     the Mantra section of the Vedas, as a backdrop to later
>     developments in Tamil (āḻvārs etc.,) and further developments in
>     Bhakti Vedanta---including Gaudiya Vaishnavism.
>     If such statements are meant as claims that bhakti is Vedantic or
>     even ‘Vedic’, they are purely theological, not historical. By this
>     I mean that a word such as ‘bhakti’ is ‘interpreted’ by later
>     religious thinkers as ‘implied’ in the ‘Veda’ or ‘Vedānta’. Indeed, as
>     George Hart wrote:
>     > Gaining legitimacy through identification with the Vedas is
>     nothing new.
>     Already at a conference in Toronto, 26 years ago, I argued that
>     the word ‘Vedic’ in a traditional sense is just a sort of
>     sociological label and means nothing more than ‘accepted by
>     brahmins’. (Here one must again be careful and ask ‘which
>     brahmins’ and ‘why’.) Only when one accepts the religious
>     authority of brahmins does the ‘legitimacy’ to which George Hart
>     refers become relevant. (For instance, Vīraśaivism is a bhakti
>     tradition, but for the vast majority of Vīraśaivas it is not
>     relevant whether bhakti can be called ‘Vedic’ or not.)
>     Therefore (this is for Patrick): watch out. Böhtlingk and Roth’s
>     Petersburger Wörterbuch (vol. 5, col. 163) tells us that the word
>     ‘bhakti’ is already found in the Ṛgveda (8,27,11) in the sense of
>     ‘distribution’ („Austheilung, Vertheilung“). Böhtlingk and Roth
>     give a long list of other, later meanings. But if you say
>     > […] I thought 'bhakti yoga' was quite clearly a post-vedic
>     development, and that the bhakti movement developed from the 6th
>     century CE.
>     then you are starting from a particular concept that is labelled
>     ‘bhakti’, and in that sense you are right. If, for instance, one
>     soberly reads the Bhagavadgītā without later commentaries, one
>     must conclude that later ‘bhakti’ is a far cry from the rather
>     subdued theism in that text. The same goes for the
>     Śvetāśvataropaniṣat.
>     > I am interested in how organisations operationalise the 'vedic'
>     sign in their marketing and promotional material to generate
>     'authenticity' and legitimacy.
>     It is basically simple: the brāhmaṇa varṇa claims the exclusive
>     right to vedādhyāpana, in other words: traditionally, brahmins
>     decide what the Vedas and ‘Vedic’ literature are and what their
>     meaning is. With some imagination, one can declare all sorts of
>     things ‘Vedic’ (my personal favourite is ‘Vedic astrology’).
>     The words ‘Veda’ and ‘Vedic’ at some point in time acquired a
>     special halo, and this is associated with the brāhmaṇa varṇa in
>     its idealized, mythical form (cf. BhG XVIII.42: śamo damas tapaḥ
>     śaucaṃ, etc.). This sometimes happens to words (e.g., ‘democracy’.
>     Everybody wants to be ‘democratic’, even if there are big
>     differences of opinion about just what democracy is and how it
>     should be. Meanwhile, it’s November 8, and the world is shuddering…).
>     RZ
>     --
>     Prof. Dr. Robert J. Zydenbos
>     Institut für Indologie und Tibetologie
>     Department für Asienstudien
>     Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU)
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