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.

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