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A book that counters the Hinduphobia of the west

July 3, 2007

Most of us Indians are well aware that Hinduism is not respected in the west. My brief discussions about Hindusim with both Christians and Muslims got far too sticky for me to pursue. In any case I knew that I was far too ignorant about my own religion to start explaining it to anyone else.
What I do know however is that Hinduism is a great religion with deep roots in philosophy and spirituality. Unfortunately those who do not understand Hinduism tend to quickly relegate it into the realms of superstition.

What has thrilled me is at last there is a scholarly work called Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America, that analyses and presents the bias against Indian culture and Hinduism because of “negativity caused by rigorous training in Indian languages and cultural nuances”. The book is a scholarly work and as this overview of the book says:

India, once a major civilizational and economic power that suffered centuries of decline, is now newly resurgent in business, geopolitics and culture. However, a powerful counterforce within the American Academy is systematically undermining core icons and ideals of Indic Culture and thought.

Biased writings about Indian culture have influenced public perceptions in the west…through the media, the education system and the policymakers. The book tears apart these writings and destroys the very basis of the “evidence’ on which such writings are based. It presents these writings as mere opinions of people who are incapable of understanding an ancient culture and religion so widely different from their own.

The book is politically impartial and has been written after years of research. It basically unravels the mystery behind “Hinduphobia,” which originated in the American academia.

The contributers of the book are Aditi Banerjee, Antonio T. de Nicolas, Alan Roland, Arvind Sharma, S.N. Balagangadhara, Pandita Indrani Rampersad, Kalavai Venkat, Krishnan Ramaswamy, Vishal Agarwal, Ramesh N. Rao, Sankrant Sanu, Yuvraj Krishan, Yvette C. Rosser. You can read more about their background here.

This link gives more details about this Hinduphobia of the west.

To buy the book you can either go directly to the book site or buy it from here.

The book is not available at Crosswords, which is supposed to be one of the biggest bookshops in India. I guess there is no option but to buy it online.

Related Reading: The Age of the Gurus
Too much emphasis on rituals is harmful
One of the reasons why wildlife survived in India for so long is because of the Hindu culture

32 Comments leave one →
  1. axinia permalink
    July 3, 2007 7:13 pm

    I have never heard of Hinduphobia, it is probably only an American phenomenon. But I can
    very well understand the lack of understating of Hinduism. Being a spiritual person with atheistical background, i can only say it took me years to get somehow to understanding of the world main religions. And, honestly, Hinduism is probably the most difficult and knowledgeable of all of them! And also the oldest one…

    You are also right in saying that modern Hindus are not very much aware of the true value and deep beauty of their religion, I have also noticed that. While blogging I got many compliments on understanding Hinduism and the culture around from Indians themselves. One guy even though i was Indian living in Europe 🙂 – that is my favorite!

    I believe that Hinduism – probably more that any other religion – needs high investment of time and attention to understand it. Not many people – especially fast Americans – want to take it this way.
    But what shocks me the most, is that people here are often speaking about “Indian mythology”, assuming it is all myphos, not serious enough..!?!

  2. July 3, 2007 8:01 pm

    Nita, this book may be an excellent resource to counter/clear the hinduphobia of the west.
    However, how would one clear the Hinduphobia of Indians (read Gujarat, aftermath of Mumbai blasts and Babri Masjid fiasco).
    How about writing a book clearing the phobias of encounter killing by police gangs of Vanzara & Co, while innocent Isharat Jahan’s loose their lives.
    One counter my views with train blasts in Mumbai, well then we still do not have answers for blasts in Hyderabad.

  3. July 3, 2007 9:31 pm

    Axinia, you do have a your deep understanding of our culture and religion. What you said is so right. Understanding Hinduism takes so much study and time that even Hindus don’t bother about it much. There are layers within layers in Hinduism. Nothing is cut and dry, there are no commandments, no rules, no ex-communication, no rejection….there is only spirituality, philosophy and wisdom. HInduism takes into account human weakness and works around it. Thats why I am so proud to be a HIndu. I have a very practical streak running through me and I feel that trying to attain a Nirvana or get into an ideal state that is impossible for most ordinary mortals will constantly leave a human with a feeling of guilt and being incomplete.
    The pursuit in life for everyone is happiness and if religion gives you negative feelings of any sort, whether its guilt, revenge, or hatred, then the religion has defeated its very purpose.
    I am ofcourse talking of normal ordinary individuals who carry with them a burden for almost nothing…

  4. July 3, 2007 11:52 pm

    The subject is very complex to explain and/or to understand. You are right as far as misconception prevailed in western countries about Hinduism. This is due to the powerful media the west has possessed. Unfortunately, Indian media has imitated the western media to become westernized. Hinduism , admittedly go much deeper in spirituality then most of religions. Hinduism , Buddhism , Jainism etc., with the long history of sages and profound thinkers, have penetrated the human mind has found the way to discover truths.

    Everyone wants to pursue happiness, but if one goes deep in the philosophies of these religions you will find that even pursuit/desire of happiness is obstruction to achieve nirvana/ moksha.

  5. axinia permalink
    July 4, 2007 1:24 am

    Wow, Nita, I LOVE this descritpion!!! “HInduism takes into account human weakness and works around it.” – this is exactly the point!!
    Your understanding is so simple and deep at the same time, I am very much impressed. Thanks a lot for brigning it up.

  6. krenim permalink
    July 4, 2007 12:10 pm

    [[Hinduism is not respected in the west.]]

    That is a very broad and I’m afraid inaccurate statement.The West/Christianity doesn’t really have much of an issue with Hinduism or indeed any of the faiths it spawned.

    I mean everyone believes in his faith more than others but I really haven’t seen any significant anti hindu comments except perhaps one or two rants by the popular press.
    Yes there are fanatics in every religion but nothing close to a broad apathy against Hindus.

  7. July 4, 2007 1:49 pm

    I really wish it were so Krenim. But facts are facts I am afraid. The term Hinduphobia is not coined by me. I think you should read the book.
    And about Hinduism being respected in the west as a general statement, yes I believe it to be true. I have traveled a lot in different parts of the world and talked to people, even strangers about this subject and for them Hinduism means multiheaded Gods, monstors, superstitions and the rest. Ofcourse if you meet politically correct people then they aren’t going to talk. I also have close relatives who are second generation Americans (four cousins in fact) who have married whites…and you should hear what they say about what the west thinks about Hinduism. They are Americans, though of Indian stock, and by Americans I mean real Americans. They don’t live in ghettos, they have only American friends.
    If the majority of Hindus who lived in the west felt that Hinduism is respected, then I would say yes, its respected.

  8. neshika permalink
    July 4, 2007 2:39 pm

    As a portuguese, living in Berlin (Germany) I think i am in the west and to be one western – or am in the middle? maybe then it is better to be called a “middlern” because i have no prejudices or any wrong idea about hinduism. i dont know much about it also. but i am much certain that many christian friends of mine have all the respect to hinduism and to any other religion. indeed each religion is only a language that explains the human being the unknown – i would say.

  9. July 5, 2007 6:51 pm

    Thanks a lot for writing about this. I was going to myself, after reading Tavleen Singh’s column in Indian Express.

    You’ve covered it beautifully, focusing on the core topic. I might have added another spin by imagining how other religions would have reacted if their saints and gods were degraded in such fashion…the way Hinduism has responded speaks volumes in itself.

  10. axinia permalink
    July 5, 2007 9:38 pm

    Nita, one more remark: it just came to me that actually in Austria (where I live) officially Hinduism IS NOT CONSIDERED to be a religion!!! Islam – yes, Hinduism – no. Imagine!!!
    And that is one of the leading European democracies…
    That really shocked me when I learned about it.

    One of the reasons may be that Catholic Church is very powerful here and they just do not let anyone to get their sheeps; and everyone who declare himself catholic should pay Church-taxes (about 150 euros per year)! – imagine! – otherwise a poor Catholic will not be able to get married or buried in a catholic tradition…
    that is really something…imagine this happens in India!

  11. July 5, 2007 10:19 pm

    This is indeed very surprising Axinia, specially as Hinduism is the world’s oldest religion. But I wonder why they have not acknowledged it as a religion?
    I think I do not want to know!

  12. krenim permalink
    July 6, 2007 2:09 pm

    [Austria (where I live) officially Hinduism IS NOT CONSIDERED to be a religion!!! ]

    Hang on! Austria is part of the EU and the EU certainly recognizes Hinduism as a religion infact it is the prime reason the EU does not ban the swastika.Probably the reason it isn’t notified on Austria’s statutes is the very tiny number of Indians residing in Austria as opposed to muslims and others.I am yet to hear of anyone in austria out to ban hinduism or anything or indeed Hindus in Austria appealing to the government to include them and getting turned down or something .Infact why don’t you write to your representative?

    Yes the Catholic church is very strong in Austria but then that is the only significant difference between Austria and Germany otherwise the same race,language, traditions and government structure.Basically Prussia was protestant and the southern germanic states it annexed are catholic Bavaria etc.Germany was formed in 1871 BTW.

  13. Phantom permalink
    July 6, 2007 5:44 pm

    One of the reasosn why hinduism is so often not understood, or misunderstood is because there is no significantly buyant, large and active enough forum or lobby to promote discussion and thought around this faith. To begin with , hinduism does not seek to promote conversion, unlike islam and christianity. This straihtaway means that a huge element of information dissemination and distribution is missing.

    Secondly, there is no such thing as being a “good hindu” in that there no strictly defined frameworks for what it is to practise hinduism. One can just go to a temple and one is for all intents and purposes a hindu. This is because, for millenia, hinduism was a way of living life, and not a how to or why to of life. Forget about the rituals, those are society imposed.

    Among hindus as well there is no pan-hindu sense of binding as such. A kannadiga brahmin will practise hinduism in a slightly different way to say a bengali, than compared with say a gujrati or a punjabi….in terms of the festivals celebrated, the unique customs followed etc. Having said that, I believe there is more of a commonality in the hinduism tpractised across the regions of India than variance. However, there is still no dynamic pro-active body that aims to spread awareness of the faith or try and bring new people into it.

    I feel there is no so much phobia in the west against hinduism, as there is a lack of understanding. This lack of understanding is accompanied by a whole outlook towards hinduism that encourages stereotypes and examines only the ritualistic symbols of hinduism as seen from a very narrow lens, without delving into the deeper meanings and aspects of the faith. Classic example is the mindset that hinduism is literally all about not eating cows, wearing a red dot on the forehead, having multiple gods etc etc.

    I live overseas and have never faced any aggression, ignorance instigated hatred, or even religious persecution against hinduism. I have seen non-indians express a sense of wondrement at hinduism, treating it as some quaint exotic cult type following from the mysterious east.

    End of the day, my take on the matter is, who cares if people dont want to bother learning about hinduism. I have also met learned and knowledge hungry people who seem to know more than the average joe about hinduism, and I respect them for wanting to and actually learning more than they need to.

    What does bug me is how the west seems to craftily adopt several practises that originated within hinduism, prime example being Yoga. Yoga as a disciplien and practise has been branded purely by the west, primarily the americans, who with their penchant for anything new, exotic and seemingly spiritual, latched onto Yoga in the mid-60’s, and by now of course it has become a highly branded mainstream discipline. However, nowhere in all that branding and yoga-talk, do I see clear references to the actual origin of this discipline. It is perhaps an indictment on the hindu forums or administration (if there is one) that aspects of hinduism are not culturally exported with due hold on claim to origin. Moot point perhaps, but as with anything, one tends to feel deprived if something from one’s heritage is used withot due acknowledgmet of the true origin, or if practised/consumed in a manner not in line with the original considerations and intentions.

  14. krenim permalink
    July 8, 2007 5:18 pm

    [[However, nowhere in all that branding and yoga-talk, do I see clear references to the actual origin of this discipline]]
    I believe everyone who signs up for a course in yoga knows it started in India.

    [[Moot point perhaps, but as with anything, one tends to feel deprived if something from one’s heritage is used withot due acknowledgmet of the true origin]]

    So I assume you would refer to the British Empire everytime you sit in a court of law as we wrote the IPC still in existance 🙂

  15. Phantom permalink
    July 9, 2007 7:17 am

    Krenin – everyone in India with some level of education does know that our legal system is based on the british one.

    Re Yoga – I think I phrased myself incorrectly. Yes, agreed that it is universally accepted that yoga did hail from india. Issue is, the way yoga as a mainstream practise in contemporary times has evolved, is different to the considerations with which it was practised back in the days. From a disciple that incorporated a balance between physical action, spritual meditation, a knowledge of the different aspects of the human anatomy, knowledge of how breathing affects life form……it has now evolved in the west, to an acticvity that mostly houswives or younger men/women with eclectic tastes indulge in, in a hope of improving flexibility and the even more silly hope that thir sporadic average attendance of a wed 7 pm session will provide some spiritual gratification.

    Point is – nothing overly wrong about the way yoga has evolved into a mainstream activity……it is good in a way, that non-indians too can enjoy the benefits of it and learn about it. However the casual way with which it is currently practised is indicative of the lack of underdtsnding within the west, of hinduism….I say this cos yoga in ancient hinduism wasn;t a casual activity, it was a spiritual, mental and physical exercise that was part of one’s life, to the core, well, to the practitioners anyway.

    Perhaps the blame should reside with the indians or rather the hinduism lobby for not being pro-active enough in spreading awareness of hinuism related practises. This lack of effort on the part of differnt iterest groups relating to indian history/heritage, exists right across the board. Case in point – relics, monuments, historical events of indian heritage are not branded and glorified nearly as much as say the chinese do for their culture. This attitude of disinterest is visible within the bureaycracy as well. I remember attending a function at the Chinese Counsul General’s residence in an english speaking OECD country and that residence was an absolute gorgeous one, very tastefully decorated, the event perfectly coordinated. I compare that with the Indian High Commissioner’s (not just the counsul general, but the high commissioner, a higher post) residence in the capital city, which is an old almost-dilapidated villa, that actually had leakage issues. Other examples of this lack of professionalism include the indian high commission not even having a decent voice mail system set up.

    Maybe i’m ranting and raving…. 🙂

  16. krenim permalink
    July 9, 2007 10:17 am

    Look from an every day perspective your culture traditions etc will matter to a man on the street more as your economy and with that how much you touch western lives increases.

    Notice how Japanese cullture went from being joked about in the 1950s to being respected by the average man on the street in the early 90s as their economy caught up with the west.

    India too has in concert with its economic progress increased its image greatly from a land of maharajas and snakecharmers to well.. something better.

    So its all about economics and always has been, there is a latent respect for a westerner in even the most staunch asian nationalist because we at this time are so far ahead of Asians economically and regardless off knee jerk rantings about culture and tradition and confucian values and materialism of the west vs spirituality of the east blah blah in your hearts of hearts you want to live as well as we do so…

    And as for yoga not being taught like it was 2000+ years ago well times change and we change with them.

  17. Phantom permalink
    July 9, 2007 12:35 pm

    Krenin – its not about yoga NOT being taught the way it was practised 2000 yrs ago…..if the west adopts an eastern discipline and modifies its usage to suit western appetite…then so be it… horses for courses…..its about the hindu lobby NOT apparently trying hard enough to spread awareness of the hindu religion. Forget about how the west percieves indian culture…agreed that with economic might comes a latitude of cultural acceptance and sychpphancy as well. I’m referring to the fact that if the wst has evolved yoga practise to a completely westernised template….then that has come about purely by their own efforts, the hindu lobby did nothing to try and shape the destiney of that evolution of yoga usage.

    Let me use a anology here – if I’m a craftsman or artist and i’v developed a new technique for creating something…..a proven, effecient and powerful technique. Then, if others want to use my technique, to also benefit from the wonders of this technique….then as a self-respecting artist/creator….i will try to ensure that others learn and implement the technique with the correct consideratons, techniques, to achieve the right results. U see….as the creator of that technique, i OWE it to artistry if u will, to try and help other users to truly understand the creative energies thah helped me to develop and implement that technique. If i dont give a damm or if i dont bother to impart my original knowledge/experiential wisedom……then the other users will of course learn and implement the technique in any way they see fit, and chances are, the new mode of implmentation will be different, less intense and less efffective than the original methodology…cos new users may not be able to achieve the depth of understanding and experience that the original creator developed over the years.

    So, i’m not talking about the west not understanding hinduism/indian culture…..i’m talking about india not being pro-active enough to promote the essence of our culture. Simpel example…i read a while ago that a texan foods company was trying to get the global patent to sell basmati type rice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 How ludicrous is THAT???? And know what…i disn’t hear any hooo haaa from the indian contingent about this. Try telling the french that any bubbly can now be caled champaigne…or the japanese that anyone can make and sell sushi as their own?????

  18. Phantom permalink
    July 9, 2007 12:47 pm

    Btw krenin – don’t confuse material ambition with cultural values. Yes….deep inside, literally every indian wants to live the comfortable life of the average westerner. But i can bet u every last $$$ that NO indian would be willing to give up evern 1% of his/her cultural traditions. For indians, the cultural values and ethos is too deepmy ingrained. We may wear all the hip clothing from the west, listen all the rock music, purchase all the brands…but at the end of the day, we ALSO want to partake in our native culture….the generic indian culture as well as the more specific sub-culture that every indian belongs to….we want to listen to our music too, eat our food, wear our traditionl clothes……celeberate our festivals, speak our languages. Of course…there are many in the indian diaspora who have grown up abroad not imbining muc of their indian culture….and as far as i’m concerned….they’re the ones losing out.

    And to be honest….a lot of asians (incl indians) feel that the the west does not have cultural traditions and heritage, and that it is a relatively modern and new culture etc. By west….i mostly refer to america and england. Continental europe is diff…everyone knows that the french, italian, spanish etc have deep cultural roots.

    But when it comes to british and american cultures….certainly how its evolved in the modern sense, even the most well to do anglicised indian will, deep inside, feel a cultural superiority over the west.

    So ur right – knee jerk reactions of nationalism aside……every asian does want to live the material lifestyle of the west, but not at the expense of eastern cultural values. Its not a contest between the material superiority of the west and the culteral depth of the east…..its apples and oranges here, an irrelevant comparison. But its important for the west to know that not every easterner is dying to give up his cultural values just to partake in the material comforts enjoyed by the west.

  19. July 9, 2007 1:35 pm

    Hey guys, its but human to feel a certain sense of superiority towards those who belong to different groups, races, cultures, countries…
    I am sure the west has hundreds of things to feel superior to India and the east, and sure, we too have something. As to who is actually superior, well, nobody and I think we all know it.
    At the end of the day we all are human and the way each race, culture has evolved has a lot to do with so many historical influences and its so complex to analyse that I know we cannot do it. But one thing I strongly believe – that we are all human and yes, we are the same, whether black or white, muslim or christian or hindu. We have our weaknesses and our vulnerabilities which have a lot to do with the social and cultural milieu in which we are brought take a baby of any race and culture and put him in a particular environment and well, that will affect him.

  20. krenim permalink
    July 9, 2007 2:19 pm

    [[But i can bet u every last $$$ that NO indian would be willing to give up evern 1% of his/her cultural traditions]]

    Well culture is a function of society we don’t live like we did in the 1500s. Indian culture or indeed any eastern culture never really entered the industrial age whereas Anglo Saxon culture having introduced industrialization is what defined it,this is the standard to which others are referenced frankly India/Rest of the World looks more western than the other way around.
    I mean I am pretty sure arranged marraiges a part of most eastern cultures is declining in India as well just as it is now a very small percentage of Japanese marraiges, Japan being the most advanced/westernized eastern country in addition most indian men wear shirts and trousers because again this is what you wear to work in an industrialized set up. So yes cultures do adapt and change and there is nothing wrong with it.

    Ultimately the success of a culture is /always has been the quality of life that it affords its adherents,the east had it for much of human history but at this point of time national pride aside you have a lot more to learn from us than the other way around.

  21. Phantom permalink
    July 9, 2007 5:46 pm

    By all means india has a LOT to learn from the west with regards to industrialisation, work-related ethics, resource alllocaston, dignity of labour, egalitarianism (although elitism does indeed exist within the west as well, as in any society, less so than in older cultures tho).

    However, these are all issues related to material progression, to do with impersonal cold-hard aspects of modernisation. These are not relevant to societal and cultural issues. What does the west have to teach the east with regards to cultural or social issues????

    “Indian culture or indeed any eastern culture never really entered the industrial age whereas Anglo Saxon culture having introduced industrialization is what defined it” >>>> yes, completely agree. However when u say industrial age….we’re st aight away only talking about industrial progression, its got absolutely nothing to do with culture. Japan, sth korea, singapore all entered the industrial age way way before india and china (although much after the west), but they stilll preserve indegenous culture (sure its evolved and has incorporated much of western popular culture, but there is still such a thing as lorean,japanses culture).

    Material progression and cultural progression are two very diff things, no point talking of them in the same breath.

    Indian culture has hugely evolved from say even 100 years ago, and this has been alongside with the slow ambling pace of material progression. However, I think u’d be hard pressed to find asians, indians, orientals who will acknowledge that they have much to learn from the west regarding cultural progression??? Learn about industrial and material progression….sure, the whole of asia needs to learn from the west, but the learning stops there.

    I get the impression that you’re viewing lifestyle purely from the perspective of material progress.
    However in India and asia, lifestyle is viewed with modernity and material comfort as an important parameter sure….but cultural consumption is viewed as an equally important parameter too.

    I for one think the west has a fair amount to earn from the cultural depth and substantiality of the east too.

    Hey, every team’s got its strengths right, and we all got to strenghten our weaknesses and consolidate on our strengths. Certainly from a cuisine perspective, England seems to be enjoying indian stuff….aren’t tandoori chicken and chicken tikka masala almost the national dishes now 🙂 . On the other hand…no matter how many fast food chain enter India, no matter how much western cusine penetrates the indian market…..end of the day, the overwhelming majority preference will always be for indian local cuisine.

    Same story in america….mexican, chinese, japanse, italian cusine are what define the culinary landscape more so than american food .

  22. krenim permalink
    July 9, 2007 6:23 pm

    [[I for one think the west has a fair amount to earn from the cultural depth and substantiality of the east too]]

    Well considering that the West is one and Greece goes back a tleast as long as rigvedic India I would say its more of an evenly balanced meeting of equals rather than accede to the patronizing Indian “we got culture you don’t have culture nonsense” some of the Indians should realize how ridiculous they look besides I can say that I myself am more educated about Indian history than the vast majority of Indians claiming pride in their history.I mean I feel indians should adopt a more global curriculum like we have which touch upon things like Plato,Confucious,Omar Khayyam and the upanishads etc in our comparative history classes instead of just claiming to be the source of knowledge.

  23. Phantom permalink
    July 9, 2007 8:27 pm

    I wouldn’t exactly mix greek history along with anglo-saxan or germanic history. Sure the greeks were a very advanced civilisation. Its NOT a contest here…..between indian culture and greek/roman culture. In some respects, oriental culture, or ancient persian, mesopotamian/greek/roman culture is more advanced than ancient indian vedic culture.

    And I’m not referring to ancient indian cultural heritage here…..that was done and dusted, and quite frankly, I’m not one of those indians who wallows in a deluded sense of past grandeur. I’m talking about culture in the modern sense, culture in the sense of having diverse depth and latitude in things such as cusine, dress sense, music, religion, festivals, cultural practices, bollywood etc. In aspects like having family values, attaching value to the role of women as a sister, mother, wife, in having religious tolerance.

    Sure there are many cultural by-products that our society can happily live without, such as dowry abuse, the occasional religion related riots (which are a serious indictment on the secular and toleranrt nature of indian heritage) etc. However by and large, modern indian society has evolved by retaining many elements of indian cultural heritage, which is what lends us an identity, a sense of individuality.

    In contrast to that, in my opinion, british or american culture is bland. Again, this is my opinion only, not meant to offend others who think otherwise.

    I won’t say the same about the french, italian, spanish, portugese, greek cultures as they too have a deeply ingrained cultural identity.

    You’re right – the indian education system is really messed up, it was established by Macaulay, and hasn’t evolved much since that time. At the risk of basking in ancient heritage, our education wasn’t always what it is….the ancient gurukul system of education was a very holistic and well rounded one, focussing on all major disciplines – the sciences, arts, warfare, astronomy, human behaviour, etc.

    You’ve mentioned in one of your earlier posts that you attend school at Rugby. Well, as someone who, like you, had the benefit of an english public school education, i can confidently say that the education you’re getting is very good, and that is the benefit of being in a first world country. No point in lambasting the inadequacies of the indian education system….it is what it is for a whole plethora of reasons – bureaucracy, political ineffectiveness, etc etc.

    Its great that u take so much of an interest in other cultures….i respect that, but that is NOT indicative of the average brit or the avg american. In my experience, even today, with information so readily accessible through the internet, many educated, professional peolpe I’ve met from england, america, NZ, aus, canada….still have absolutely no clue about their own cultural heritage, let alone the cultural map of the world.

    History repeats itself. If you notice, nearly all the regions in the world that enjoyed successful and progressive civilisations in the ancient world have, for the past century anyway, dwindled far from their position at the top of the artistic, academic, commercial radar of achievment – the persians, mesopotamians (modern day Iraq), indians, chinese. The romans and greeks have not lost out as much as the others of course…but greece and italy are hardly the leaders they once were.

    And now, the world looks to india and china to be the biggest drivers of economic growth for th next few decades. Who knows, 50 years from now…India may have reached a level of economic might where the problems really do start getting solved. We will still ahve our cultural values and elements then, cos quite frankly….that is an existential reality.

    And as far as I’m concerned….the indians who prefer to take excessive pride in their ancient heritage (which by they way they themselves had no direct invovement in, so I question the need for excessive pride, in the first place) are just as bad as the brits who still adopt a patronising air of superiority against an asian…both individuals are blinding themselves to the true picture on account of their pre-concieved notions of grandeur.

  24. krenim permalink
    July 10, 2007 2:51 pm

    [[I wouldn’t exactly mix greek history along with anglo-saxan or germanic history]]

    Well in which case I wouldn’t mix histories of different parts of the Indian subcontinent which today mostly lie within the boundaries of the Republic of India 🙂
    India is more of a stand alone civilization block which from a historical perspective should be and in the UK is compared to that of the whole of the west of which Greece and UK are parts of.

    [Well, as someone who, like you, had the benefit of an english public school education, i can confidently say that the education you’re getting is very good, and that is the benefit of being in a first world country.]
    Really! Which one? I assume by public schools you are referring to the original 6 {Eton,Harrow,Rugby,Shrewsbury,Winchester} aren’t you?

  25. Phantom permalink
    July 11, 2007 5:49 am

    There is far greater convergence betwen the different sub-cultures within the indian sub-continent, than there is within british and greek or italian cultures.

    No one is mixing histories within the indian sub-continent here. Ancient vedic civilisation spread pretty much thorughout modern day india, with regional varinces of course, in terms of language, cusine, physical appearence, etc, but with certainly a lot of convergence.

    On the other hand, back in the days of the greek civilisation….what was in britain???

    I’d say that it is convenient for the british to claim allegience, heritage, association with ancient greek, roman cultures as perhaps it provides a warm blanket of cultural and civilisational depth. Ha – try convincing the greeks that their ancient civilisation also includes that from britain, doubt if they will agree.

    I’ve never heard of their being a WESTERN civilisation. Academically speaking there were the greeks, romans, persians, mesopotamians, vedic, chinese…..these were the principle civilisations of the ancient age.

  26. Phantom permalink
    July 11, 2007 10:35 am

    Krenin – no I did not attend one of the original 9 schools that initially were referred to as public schools. I went to one of the schools in sussex. Although, the strictly appropriate term for private tuition based schools outside of these original 9 is “independent” schools, I suppose these days a lot of people do use the term public school for some of the others too. I’m sure patrons of the original 9 will “politely” disagree with other independent schools also being given the public school label.

    I did play Eton and Harrow in a 1st 11 cricket match once, we won both times 🙂

    Forgot to mention that in the Public School yearbook published in 1889, there were 25 boarding schools that were deemed as public schools, including my alma mater.

  27. krenim permalink
    July 11, 2007 12:25 pm

    [[I’ve never heard of their being a WESTERN civilisation]]
    Try googling:)
    The 3 pillars of western civilization are
    1.Ancient greece and the wellspring of Greek knowledge philosophy etc etc
    2.Judeo Christian traditions
    3.The Roman Empire and roman law,traditions etc etc

    Th West as I define it are those countries/people originating from those countries.

    I went to one of the schools in sussex]]

    I see so you are a British Asian then ?

  28. Phantom permalink
    July 11, 2007 7:46 pm

    No, I’m not a british asian. I’m an Indian, born in India, and proud of it 🙂 I’ve lived overseas since I was 14, went to england then to study, and now live in a different OECD country.

    Semantics aside – i’m talking about actual hertiage and linkage to a civilisation, and britain does not have links to the greek civilisation. Any links to the romans were more as a conquered province of that huge empire. Can’t imagine much of civilizational contribution to the greek/roman ones originating from britain, or even britain being involved in significant development of those civilizations.

    Anyway, all that is isomwahat rrelevant now, cos much of global culture has gone throough a ton of inter-mingling and evolution.

  29. March 11, 2008 2:13 pm

    Interesting discussions here. Thanks to blogger nitawriter for this blog, & the discussions.

    The most important service one can do to global cultural understanding, and to promoting diversity is to understand how well Indic culture(primarily Hindu-Buddhist-Jain-Sikh, etc..) has practised unity in diversity over the ages.

    Scholarly misrepresentations of hinduism (by ‘experts’ who ought to know better) have been clearly exposed by the book Invading The Sacred…

    Hindus, first & foremost, need to be made aware of where all the media & public misinformation on hinduism is origination from…it is these scholars cited in the book (Wendy Doniger, & her disciplesPaul Courtright, Jeff Kripal, etc…and many other ‘pucca establishment types)

  30. katnip kid permalink
    May 24, 2008 8:52 am

    Hello All
    I found this discussion by accident, as a link from somewhere else on another article on the decline of sparrows in India.
    I would like comment on the topic. It is true that in the USA there are many yoga classes taught that do not teach the spiritual side of yoga. However, it depends on where the class is taken. Some yoga schools do indeed stress the religious aspect of that discipline. The local YMCA or health club doesn’t do that. The students body can be comprised of all age groups, including the elderly and Hindu curious folks like myself! Perhaps yoga is an example of cultural exchange. When such an exchange takes place, it is likely that aspects of a tradition may be muddied or lost, esp. if the source of the tradition is far away. We all know that yoga originated in India, however.Perhaps yoga is often taken out of context, but maybe that is what happens in cross cultural exchange. Anyway, there are places that at least attempt to present yoga in a religious context.
    I have never heard of Hindu phobia. I am in the Eastern USA. We even have Hindu temples here, built by a growing population of Indians. A huge temple was just built near my home. I am in no way resentful or fearful of Indians or the Hindu faith, I assure you! In fact, I have gotten a book that explains the Hindu religion. I can’t wait to read it! I will keep in mind what I have read here on the message board concerning the spiritual aspects of the Hindu religion.

  31. katnip kid permalink
    May 24, 2008 9:09 am

    Also, I am sure that the readers here understand that it is important to learn just who wrote a book, and what that persons qualifications might be. Here in the USA, a person can write just about anything about any topic. So, be cautious in believing everything that you may read. There are some utterly ridiculous and inaccurate books out there on all sorts of topics. As I said in an earlier post, I have never heard of Hindu phobia. Nor have I heard of such a movement being taught in our schools. If anything, colleges are stressing a global, mulit cultural outlook, with great respect given to cultures and religions other than our own. I don’t understand or agree with the authors statement: ” powerful counterforce within the American Academy is systematically undermining core icons and ideals of Indic Culture and thought.”

  32. October 3, 2011 7:09 pm

    The world is worried of innumerable experiences round the clock. We try to solve but it re bounces in some other fashion post ordained that exist as existence Itself. That is IT. Nothing more to add or detract.

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