[INDOLOGY] dhanvantari

patrick mccartney psdmccartney at gmail.com
Tue Oct 3 02:34:57 UTC 2017

Well Nagaraj, how do you define these terms and what one ought to do with
them? You've asked a lot of questions of me, I gave you earnest responses,
I asked you to respond, and then you tell me it's all for nothing because
you don't like my response(s). So, it seems there are some interesting
suspensions of judgement happening here...or perhaps not.

You could continue this conversation by explaining how you understand the
point you make matters. I believe I asked you *if* it matters. Meaning,
what's your opinion? I believe I qualified my reasons why I think it maybe
doesn't matter all the time. I recall also saying that my response was
written quickly and might not be fully formed or articulated as cogently as
it might otherwise be.

I don't have to believe or personally accept as valid any truth claims
someone makes. I'm quite happy to listen to someone's 'truth'...I don't
have to accept it myself as 'true'...as we might just be talking about
opinions in the end. I'm abundantly aware of my privilege and the colonial
origins of anthropology. This history haunts every word I write. I'd like
to think I'm also quite aware of my own biases. For instance, I really
appreciate evidenced-based science over logical fallacies, correlation and
anecdotes... call me a scientist...call me someone who privileges one
knowledge system over other colonized systems of knowing and being. I can
still try and understand why non sequiturs and the like are important
points of validation for other people and how they are used to justify
normative practices within a social network. I don't have to agree with
them or believe them to write about them.

Are you telling me that I should accept as 'true' when I meet someone like
a high school principal during fieldwork in India, who tells me
emphatically that Australia is full of convicts, Australia has no culture,
my parents are sons and daughters of whores, I'm responsible for the
genocide of Indigenous Australians, and holds me personally responsible for
the murder of 1 lakh of Indian students in Melbourne, that I should do
what, exactly? Get in an argument with this person, who has never left the
state they were born in, let alone been to Australia? Shout them down? Call
them many names? Or should I instead, sit there, while drinking tea in
their house gritting my teeth, listen...to understand this individuals
subjective opinions about their lived experience in the world, and how they
relate to the global picture? And later possibly include their narrative in
the story I write about whatever it is I'm writing about?

What exactly would you suggest I do, other than listen and try to
understand this person's worldview, other than *suspend my judgment*, that
is...and NOT get in a verbal altercation with someone because I might
fundamentally disagree with their politics or worldview in general?

I'd sincerely like to know what you think you might / would do if you came
to Australia and interviewed a bunch of racist, bogan or upper class
Australians who think Australia is exclusively a white, Christian,
heterosexual country, and that the ~400k Indians that now call it home
should 'get out of our country...because it's full', and during your
conversation, they use a bunch of racist, sexist, patriarchal, misogynistic
and homophobic slurs towards you, your family, your friends, your country -
as if they are ever acceptable - would you perhaps suspend your judgement,
not react to their obvious attempts to provoke you, not respond to their
bigoted, essentialised rhetoric, and later, when writing up your field
notes, try and find a way to still privilege their perspective in your own
writing, and give it a voice, regardless of whether you agree with it, or

All the best,

Patrick McCartney, PhD
JSPS Fellow - Kyoto University
Visiting Fellow - Australian National University

Skype - psdmccartney
Phone + Whatsapp:  +61 414 954 748
Twitter - @psdmccartney

*bodhapūrvam calema* ;-)

academia <https://patrickmccartney.academia.edu/>



Edanz <https://www.edanzediting.com/expert/anthropology/patrick-mccartney>

Modern Yoga Research <http://www.modernyogaresearch.org/events/>

On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 4:26 PM, Nagaraj Paturi <nagarajpaturi at gmail.com>

> Thanks Patrick-ji, for your detailed response(s).
>  What an interesting way of defining 'suspension of judgement',
> 'privileging the emic perspective' !
> suspending judgement means not having an argument with someone who has
> taken the time to answer my questions; while privileging their perspective
> means including it in my narrative.
> No point to continue the conversation
> On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 9:34 AM, patrick mccartney <psdmccartney at gmail.com
> > wrote:
>> Dear Nagaraj,
>> Sorry, but I've been dealing with getting married 2x in two different
>> states over the past two weeks to respond.
>> Let me respond to your questions. Sorry if it is a bit over the place.
>> I've written in a bit of a rush.
>> * 'within the multi-trillion dollar wellness industry', what is the ratio
>> of the 'the global consumption of yoga-inflected lifestyles' ?  *
>> ++
>> The global wellness industry is valued at about USD 4 trillion and global
>> yoga is worth about USD 500billion. This link
>> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_India> explains the value of
>> tourism to India.
>> *Is your current research project focused, among other things, on the
>> 'socio, political, economic aspirations of the Indian state through AYUSH
>> and MEA' ? *
>> ++ yes. I am explicitly interested in the marketing of yoga, wellness and
>> mindfulness by AYUSH and MEA and the economic, social and political impacts.
>>  *Why are you interested in those aspirations? What is so intriguing
>> about a state having such aspirations? *
>> ++ because they are interesting. I'm intrigued by how different
>> narratives are woven together to create 'history', legitimacy and
>> authority, particularly when it comes to consumption of yoga within a
>> global framework - there are many reconstituted narratives that are used by
>> the Indian state and global yoga/wellness to sell commodified spiritual
>> tourism to India, which reifies and essentialises many things to create a
>> romantic, idealised, sanitized image of yoga and India. How these
>> narratives intersect fascinates me. How they are involved in promoting a
>> soft hindutva and banal consumption through the global yoga industry are
>> interesting. So, you could say i'm mostly interested in how the Indian
>> state 'weaponises' yoga in the pursuit of increasing its soft power
>> potential.
>> There are many criticisms levelled at consumers of global yoga: white
>> washing and cultural appropriation being the most egregious, but if you
>> look at the rhetoric of global yoga and the Indian state, they essentialise
>> an image of yoga that will possibly re-enchant worlds using the same 19th
>> century tropes. So, it's a bit hard to just go after consumers of yoga, who
>> are enticed by the many things, but also the official rhetoric of the India
>> state about magical, mystical, sacred, amulya bharat.   For instance, the MEA
>> says the following
>> <http://www.mea.gov.in/in-focus-article.htm?25096/Yoga+Its+Origin+History+and+Development>
>> :
>> +++
>> A Brief History and Development of Yoga:
>> The practice of Yoga is believed to have started with the very dawn of
>> civilization. The science of yoga has its origin thousands of years ago,
>> long before the first religions or belief systems were born. In the yogic
>> lore, Shiva is seen as the first yogi or Adiyogi, and the first Guru or Adi
>> Guru.
>> Several Thousand years ago, on the banks of the lake Kantisarovar in the
>> Himalayas, Adiyogi poured his profound knowledge into the legendary
>> Saptarishis or "seven sages”. The sages carried this powerful yogic science
>> to different parts of the world, including Asia, the Middle East, Northern
>> Africa and South America. Interestingly, modern scholars have noted and
>> marvelled at the close parallels found between ancient cultures across the
>> globe. However, it was in India that the yogic system found its fullest
>> expression. Agastya, the Saptarishi who travelled across the Indian
>> subcontinent, crafted this culture around a core yogic way of life.
>> +++
>> *Do you think 'Vedic Thai Yoga Massage' that claims to be 5000 years old,
>> and which also claims this date for the Bhāgavatam, and which explicitly
>> states that Dhanvantari is a Vedic god' is part of 'the construction of
>> narratives to also suit socio, political, economic aspirations of the
>> Indian state through AYUSH and MEA' ?*
>> ++yes. I argue that they built upon the official rhetoric of the state,
>> which is doing the opposite of decolonising yoga.
>> *Are you feeling bad that ' there are many people within yogaland who do
>> not have any appreciation for historicity, and would prefer for a sense of
>> magic and wonder to reenchant their lives.'? In a recent mail, you said,
>> " , my remit is to suspend judgement and disbelief, and try to privilege
>> the emic perspective." I said, "Do you think Indology centred around
>> /rooted in historical critical method and privileging emic perspectives
>> that are neither historical nor critical can go hand in hand? **" Here
>> is a sample of that mismatch*.
>> ++ I have no feeling, either way, towards what people do or not do within
>> yogaland. If people do want to live in a magic-fuelled world of
>> neo-orientalist imaginings, that's up to them.
>> It's a good question you raise - but I don't think what you say above
>> matters, does it? - are you really trying to say that we should not use the
>> historical/critical method? What would you prefer or offer as an
>> alternative?  As you know, history is complicated. So is what we as
>> individuals and groups do with it to create meaning and legitimacy. I'm
>> quite happy to listen to what someone believes to be 'true', I'm also happy
>> to accept in a subjective relativist way that it's 'true' for them. But
>> that doesn't mean we should not fact check and try and understand larger,
>> deeper, forces at play, and contextualise things. There are many, many non
>> sequiturs that I've endured, patiently, through fieldwork, which are
>> beliefs and opinions - suspending judgement means not having an argument
>> with someone who has taken the time to answer my questions; while
>> privileging their perspective means including it in my narrative. I'm
>> honestly not sure how else to go about overriding the mismatch you speak
>> of, other than this.
>> -----------------------------------------
>> *Who are the target market of this Vedic Thai Yoga massage ? Why or how
>> do they have a respect or attraction for the label 'Vedic' ? Indians,
>> particularly Hindus, more particularly traditionally oriented educated
>> Hindus may have a pull for the 'Vedic' label. Why at all does that label
>> matter for any customers other than of that category? Why does that label
>> create magic and wonder?*
>> ++ people who want massages and who want to feel connected to some
>> ancient, unbroken lineage.
>> Like I've already said, and I don't think it matters whether it's an emic
>> or etic perspective, 'vedic' just like Dominik asserts '5000' is more about
>> a feeling than anything else, its an appeal to tradition, emotion,
>> authority and purity.
>> But, it does matter. Obviously, because people are attracted to it. Why
>> not, instead, just call it Thai (yoga) massage, or Thai massage? Because
>> they are trying to create distinction and carve up a piece of crowded
>> market place. But I also think that Vedic is a more preferred term by
>> global yoga consumers as a euphemism, which helps many to digest the
>> indelible Hindu elements of the worlds they create and consume. But there
>> are many errors, for instance, with the 5000 yr date for the Bhāgavatam,
>> just one example. Another is mentioning that many purānic gods are vedic.
>> There is very little appreciation for the historical development from the
>> Vedic period today, it's just seen as a flatland without many, if any,
>> contours. Perhaps the time scale and depth and breadth are just too much
>> for most people. One certainly won't learn much, if at all, about these
>> complexities in a yoga teacher-training course. Certainly not anything
>> about the politics of yoga. Instead, one will be told many things, such as
>> the way in which the hieratic and structural inequalities of caste is
>> essentialised as simply true. These types of statements are too often
>> consumed uncritically. For instance, I was once told by a non-Hindu,
>> American yoga teacher who was visiting an ashram: "the reason there are
>> shudras is so we can do yoga, someone has to do the cleaning, otherwise
>> when will we get to do our yoga". There is so much going on in this one
>> statement. The uncritical support for caste oppression astounds me... One
>> thing is also for certain is that yoga-teacher trainees will most likely be
>> told that the pashupatinath seal is undisputed proof of yoga's claims to
>> antiquity. That is a stretch...as I'm guessing there were many people
>> sitting cross-legged on the floor 3500years ago. This same claim is made by
>> a few gurus as well, that because there are figures found in South America,
>> that this proves that these yogis mentioned above travelled there and gave
>> 'yoga' to the cultures of South America.  Are you suggesting, then, that we
>> should just not bother with the historical critical method and accept these
>> truth claims as true, because of someone's misinformed opinion? This sort
>> of epistemic relativism, combined with the disintellectualisation+cultivation
>> of affect that underlies the logic of the guru-disciple relationship, plus
>> the normalising group-think inherent in many social networks creates an
>> unsustainably toxic situation, in my humble opinion, that leads people to
>> accept many things as 'true' simply because the guru says it is.
>> All the best,
>> Patrick McCartney, PhD
>> JSPS Fellow - Kyoto University
>> Visiting Fellow - Australian National University
>> Skype - psdmccartney
>> Phone + Whatsapp:  +61 414 954 748 <0414%20954%20748>
>> Twitter - @psdmccartney
>> *bodhapūrvam calema* ;-)
>> academia <https://patrickmccartney.academia.edu/>
>>    -
>> Linkedin
>> <https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=241756978&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile>
>> Edanz
>> <https://www.edanzediting.com/expert/anthropology/patrick-mccartney>
>> Modern Yoga Research <http://www.modernyogaresearch.org/events/>
> --
> Nagaraj Paturi
> Hyderabad, Telangana, INDIA.
> BoS, MIT School of Vedic Sciences, Pune, Maharashtra
> BoS, Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth, Veliyanad, Kerala
> Former Senior Professor of Cultural Studies
> FLAME School of Communication and FLAME School of  Liberal Education,
> (Pune, Maharashtra, INDIA )

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://list.indology.info/pipermail/indology/attachments/20171003/2d6af38d/attachment.htm>

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list