[INDOLOGY] bhakti

Luis Gonzalez-Reimann reimann at berkeley.edu
Thu Nov 10 22:03:27 UTC 2016


You are generalizing.

I simply point out the fact that invoking the Vedas or Vedic knowledge 
to boost one's own tradition is commonplace in Indian religious 
traditions. Yes, each case can be studied in its own cultural context 
and so on, but that doesn't change the fact. In some cases, it may 
almost a cliche, but it is prevalent. The sectarian competition is clear 
in the literature. It can be a different matter for the everyday 
believer, who doesn't need to be bothered with theological distinctions.

For the /Bhagavad Gītā/ the Supreme god is Kr̥ṣṇa, for the/Īśvara Gītā/ 
it is Śiva, for the /Devī Bhāgavata Purāṇā/ it is Devī. Likewise, 
different texts say that their preferred divinity*is* the Vedas, or 
brahman, or some variant of that idea. And Puranic stories often tell of 
how a certain god couldn't accomplish a certain job and had to ask for 
help from another one who, therefore, is portrayed as the highest.




On 11/9/2016 8:44 PM, Nagaraj Paturi wrote:
> 1. Cultures mixing with each other, new mixed cultures being born out 
> of intercultural interactions, religious and cultural syncretisms, 
> these products of mixtures being named after one of the components of 
> the mixture are all not the special features of India.How such 
> syncretisms are received too varies from social group to social group. 
> It may be called a 'good thing' like here 
> <http://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/is-religious-syncretism-a-good-thing>. 
> It may not be called a 'good thing' elsewhere.
> 2. One model of such namings of the mixtures can be called a 
> river-tributary model. Even after tributaries join the main river , 
> later course is called with the name of the main river only. In some 
> cases, the cultures/traditions being given the name 'Vedic' has this 
> feature.
> 3. When cultural assimilations take place using the (perceived or 
> real) commonalities between the two or more interacting cultures, 
> these commonalities, described in Indian Sanskrit knowing 
> sections using the word ēkavākyatā, are described using the language 
> of the available doctrinal articulations. Upanishads and Vedanta are 
> examples of such articulations used to describe the ēkavākyatā.
> 4. Viewing ancient intercultural interactions deterministically in a 
> (class)-conflict model, and viewing ancient cultural assimilations as 
> class-war averting or class-war pre-empting strategies on the part of 
> one of the components of admixture is a typical deductive and 
> historical determinist model.
> 5. Most of the findings of cultural mixings, or assimilations or 
> anything like that found in a current culture by the researchers of 
> that current culture may not be known to the insiders of that 
> investigated culture. So to theorize as if the culture insider knew 
> the 'non-Vedic nature' of his culture and still used the word Vedic 
> for a prestige is to attribute unjustifiable motives to the tradition 
> bearer.
> On Thu, Nov 10, 2016 at 4:39 AM, Luis Gonzalez-Reimann 
> <reimann at berkeley.edu <mailto:reimann at berkeley.edu>> wrote:
>     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.
>     Best,
>     Luis
>     _____
>     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>
>>      *
>>     Linkedin
>>     <https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=241756978&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile>
>>     Edanz
>>     <https://www.edanzediting.com/expert/anthropology/patrick-mccartney>
>>     #yogabodyANU2016 symposium
>>     <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>
>>     Ep 2 - Total-am <https://youtu.be/7tAp8m9RHPU>
>>     Ep 3 - Jalam ≠ Chillum <https://youtu.be/cLZeuCT_mwQ>
>>     Ep 4 - It's Time to get Married
>>     <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_B3un7aHEAc>
>>     A Day in our Ashram
>>     <https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=ek+din+hamaare+ashram+mein>
>>     Stop animation short film of
>>     Shakuntala<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVqBD_2P4Pg>
>>     Forced to Clean Human Waste <http://youtu.be/y3XfjbwqC_g>
>>     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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> -- 
> Nagaraj Paturi
> Hyderabad, Telangana, INDIA.
> Former Senior Professor of Cultural Studies
> FLAME School of Communication and FLAME School of  Liberal Education,
> (Pune, Maharashtra, INDIA )

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