Nuanced understanding of Hinduism

Good friend Nitin Pai had sent me this interview of Jonardon Ganeri, author of “The Lost Age of Reason: Philosophy in Early Modern India 1450–1700″. It was a good interview. Clearly, Mr. Ganeri knows his subject well. His interpretation of Karma appealed to me:

The idea of karma is that every human action has consequences, but it is not at all the claim that every human action is itself a consequence. So the idea of karma does not imply a fatalistic outlook on life, according to which one’s past deeds predetermine all one’s actions. The essence of the theory is simply that one’s life will be better if one acts in ways that are ethical, and it will be worse if one acts in ways that are unethical.

Also, his comment about reading religious texts was interesting:

Reading a religious text, taking it to heart, appreciating it, is a transformative experience, and in the transformed state one might well become aware that the claims of the text would, were they taken literally, be false. So religious texts are seen in Hinduism as “Trojan texts” (like the Trojan horse, but breaking through mental walls in disguise). Such texts enter the mind of the reader and help constitute the self.

The full interview is here.

Similarly, for those of you who know Tamil, this exposition by writer Jaya Mohan on why one should read Bhagavad Gita is a MUST READ.

Not so curious

A.K. Bhattacharya of  ‘Business Standard’ has reviewed a book written by Shri. V. Krishnamurthy, former Chairman of BHEL, Maruti and SAIL, etc. The book may not have anything new and it may be the case that Mr. VK’s close connections to Mrs. Indira Gandhi and then her sons, etc. helped him. But, it is interesting to note that Shri. VK
has mentioned twice how his religious beliefs helped him come out of tight situations.

What is difficult to understand is Mr. AKB’s observation in the end about the ‘curious explanation’ of the author’s religious beliefs helping to rehabilitate him. What is so curious about that?

In difficulties, all people run into the limits of both rationality and their abilities. They seek some intervention. In India, most people seek divine intervention. In fact, limits of reason and ability are always evident except that we do not have the ability nor the humility to accept that.

What is reinforced – yet again – is the not-so-curious case of some members of the Indian English-speaking public not being in touch with India. No wonder the rest of India does not take them seriously as much as they themselves do. That is why they are way out of touch with their election forecasts, predictions, analysis and advice. They remain in their own cocoon.

No. Make that ‘echo chamber’. They live in their own ‘echo chamber’. It is noisy and it is a nuisance but they hardly matter to the lives of rest of us.