Preface: Why this book xiii
Introduction: Debating Hinduism 1
Overview 1
Two opposing camps: continuity vs. discontinuity; unity vs. disunity 2
We are all jewels in Indra’s Net 4
Indra’s Net and Buddhism 13
Influences on modern society 15
Who is a Hindu? 18
Hinduism: Surfing Indra’s Net 20
Framing the debate in three disciplines 22
Part 1 Purva PaksHa
(Examination of My Opponents’ Positions)
1. Eight Myths to be Challenged 29
Myth 1: India’s optimum state is Balkanization 30
Myth 2: Colonial Indology’s biases were turned into Hinduism 31
Myth 3: Hinduism was manufactured and did not grow organically 32
Myth 4: Yogic experience is not a valid path to enlightenment and tries to copy Western science 33
Myth 5: Western social ethics was incorporated as seva and karma yoga 35
Myth 6: Hinduism had no prior self-definition, unity or coherence 36
Myth 7: Hinduism is founded on oppression and sustained by it 38
Myth 8: Hinduism presumes the sameness of all religions 39
Summary of both sides of the debate 39
2. The Mythmakers: a Brief History 44
My wake-up call: How I discovered the myth 44
Missionary origins 46
Founders of the Myth of Neo-Hinduism 48
The Chorus Line 55
3. Paul Hacker’s construction of ‘neo-Hinduism’ 62
Initial romance with Advaita Vedanta and its personal influences on Hacker 62
Hacker starts his attack on contemporary Hinduism 64
Alleging political motives and appropriations from the West 68
Hacker on Vivekananda and the West 70
Allegation 1: Importance of Direct Experience 72
Allegation 2: ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ ethic 74
Allegation 3: Nationalist agenda 77
Allegation 4: Inclusivism and sameness 79
4. Agehananda Bharati on Neo-Hinduism as a ‘Pizza Effect’ 81
Pizza Effect: Indians copy Westerners 82
Hinduism deviates from Indian tradition 84
Fear of sexual impotence drives neo-Hindus 85
Bharati’s definition of neo-Hinduism tenets 86
5. Ursula king’s bridge from Hacker to rambachan 88
6. Rambachan’s argument to fragment Hinduism 96
Using Shankara to shoot down Vivekananda 96
Issues with methodology 102
Essentializing Shankara 107
Challenging the direct experience of the rishi-yogi 110
Is Rambachan fixated on Christian assumptions? 113
Allegation that yoga makes people less rational and intelligent 117
Political allegations 118
Western scholars’ support for Rambachan 119
Many scholars disagree with Rambachan 120
7. The Myth Goes viral 125
Richard King 126
Brian Pennington 133
Peter van der Veer, Sheldon Pollock and others 137
Hindu leaders echo the chorus 143
Some academic defenders of contemporary Hinduism 145
Part 2 uTTara PaksHa
(My response)
8. Historical Continuity and Colonial Disruption 153
Traditional categories of astika (those who affirm) and nastika (those who do not affirm) 154
Pre-Colonial Hindu Unifiers: Example of Vijnanabhikshu 159
From Vijnanabhikshu to Vivekananda 162
The colonial disruption 163
European debates: Are the Hindus Aryans or Pantheists? 165
Reduction into ‘Indian schools of thought’ 167
Post-modern and post-colonial distortions 171
Challenging the Neo-Hinduism thesis 172
9. Traditional Foundations of social Consciousness 174
Western methodological straitjacket misapplied to Vivekananda 177
The ‘world-negating’ misinterpretation of social problems 181
Origin of Christian Philanthropy 183
Conditions that led to the revival of Hindu seva 185
Sahajanand Swami and social activism in contemporary Hinduism 187
Swami Vivekananda’s sevayoga 191
Challenging the Neo-Hinduism thesis 197
10. Harmonizing vedanta and Yoga 198
Vedanta’s evolution at the time of Shankara 201
Theory of two realities 206
Yoga and classical texts 208
Shankara’s mentor’s writing 209
Upanishads 209
Bhagavad-Gita 211
Shankara’s own kind of yoga: cognitive shift without action 213
Systematic withdrawal from particular to universal 213
Dissolving the text/experience gap 215
Difference from Patanjali’s Yoga 217
No causation is involved 218
Flexibility on anubhava 218
Summarizing Shankara’s posture on anubhava/yoga 222
Respect for yoga 222
Yoga as preparation for higher practices 223
Comparing different levels of meditation, dhyana 224
Reasons for rejecting yoga at times 225
Advaita Vedanta beyond Shankara 226
Four historical periods 227
Vivekachudamani 229
Other later texts 231
Challenging the Neo-Hinduism thesis 232
11. Mithya, Open architecture and Cognitive science 233
The unity of all existence 235
Purna 235
Mithya as Relative Reality 236
Samavesha principle of integrality 240
Common toolbox and open architecture 242
Adhyatma-vidya 246
Rishis and cognitive science 251
Robustness of the ecosystem over time 254
Challenging the Neo-Hinduism thesis 259
12. Digestion and self-Destruction 260
The metabolism of digestion 260
The flea market of modern gurus 264
Digestion and the neo-Hinduism thesis 268
Conclusion: The ‘Poison Pill’ for Protection of Hinduism 269
Hinduism’s predicament today 270
The Porcupine Defence and the Poison Pill Protection 273
Astika and Nastika: Redefining the terms of the interfaith debate 278
The criteria for nastika: Principles that must be rejected 283
History Centrism 283
Disembodied knowing and self-alienation 284
Synthetic cosmology 287
Fear of chaos 288
Controversial Implications of the Astika/Nastika Approach 289
Refuting the myth of sameness 295
Poison pill versus digestion 300
How the poison pill strategy works 303
Notes 310
Bibliography 351
Acknowledgements 363