European Cartesianism and Hinduism

“Only believe what you experience on yourself”, said the Buddha 2500 years ago. Indian philosophy and spiritual thought was thus always very down to earth and attempted to define scientifically and logically the different means and ways to reach the goal: “If you do this, this is what will happen; if you breathe in this way, this is what may result; if you practice this particular posture, these are the results you will gain”…

Yet the West is today wary of anything which has a Hindu flavor and is quick to label as “sects” everything that does not spring from the larger conventional family of Christianity. It is true that gurus teaching in  the West can be a mixed lot, and some of them might have brought a bad name to Hinduism, but the ordinary Indian meditating every morning, or doing his pujas, practicing his asanas, chanting bhajans, or doing pranayama,  does not feel he is doing anything out of the ordinary. There is no sectarism here, no fake mysticism, no pagan obscure rites.

 To understand India and Hinduism, one then has to go beyond the clichés of paganism and the accusations of sects that have been applied to Hindus, particularly after the coming of Christian missionaries to India who had a vested motive to show Hinduism in  a bad light. It is true that Hindus adore Gods made out of stone or cast in brass. But is it less rational or Cartesian to think, as the Catholics do, that Mary conceived a child while remaining a virgin, or that Christ came back from the dead and ascended physically to heaven (and not in his subtle body, which is more likely)? Muslim invaders were also immensely shocked by this worshipping of images and gods and set upon destroying hundreds of thousand of temples and idols. But Alexandra David-Neel, the remarkable French explorer, writer and mystic, had noticed that the role that Gods play in India is unique “because the images or statues are like a battery which is charged over the ages by the adoration of the devotees, who in turn can draw energy, inspiration, or grace from these statues”. She goes on: “As a battery, the energy in the statue will not get discharged, as long as the faithful continue worship it by their cult and adoration”. And she concludes: “Gods are thus created by the energy given out by the faith in their existence”.

 At any rate, Hindus are great rationalists: they have discovered for instance that the sound Aum, “Amen” for the Christians, possesses very strong vibrations which take you to the deepest level and that the Creator is the Original Verb: Shabda Brahman; that the ragas, these few notes of music on which one can improve indefinitely, have also a strong inner power; or that the breath is the physical conduit to the Divine, which they have codified into  pranayama, the Indian science of breathing. Sri Sri ravi Shankar has today shown that breath has no religion and can be practiced by anybody. But nothing, without any doubt, is more scientific, more logical, more Cartesian, more noble and prophetic than the Vedas, the most ancient and sacred Scriptures of Hinduism, which are nearly totally ignored in the West and misunderstood in India. (To be continued)

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8 responses to “European Cartesianism and Hinduism

  1. Hi,
    I like your blog post. Keep on writing this type of great stuff. I’ll make sure to follow up on your blog in the future.
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  2. I agree but have a doubt. All the things like pranayam ragas asanas idols is fine accepted..its good!
    But doesnt the vedas create differences socially?! Arent there statements in vedas that prevent some of us to use the knowledge. I realy want to know about all those practices that led to formation of harijans dalits outcastes satis n such brutal practises…

  3. Excellent write up as always Gautierji,
    Vedas were described as ‘Na Bhutho Na Bhavishyathi’ ( Literally-neither in the past nor in the future) meaning this kind of wisdom was not available before, nor any such wisdom can be available (compiled) in the future, how so? The wisdom encrypted in the slokas are so full of meaning whatever is out there is in here and what is not here is nowhere else to be found. The hindu elite are slowly rediscovering their ancestral path especially those of us who have left the shores of Asia. Thankfully a small part of west is exploring and getting enthralled discovering the wisdom of sanatana dharma texts. Please google ‘western hindu’ and track the many more such chain blogs given there to witness the hubub in the west. Advaita doctrine stunned the world to the core.Look forward to the follow-up piece. Namaste.

  4. Very nicely written! Just a thought though…you say, ‘Muslim invaders were also immensely shocked by this worshipping of images and gods and set upon destroying hundreds of thousand of temples and idols.’ Perhaps the invaders were not shocked at the act but the fact that such worship still continued after it was abolished in their lands? For what religion/religious practices did the people of Middle-east follow before the Prophet arrived? How much do we know of that?

  5. What’s up mates, its great article regarding educationand fully explained, keep it up all the time.

  6. ad4urblessings

    @fair lady
    NO its not like that … castism(jatiwaadh) is not part of hindu religious texts…the word is varanwad means on the basis of knowledge … like if a kid in gurukul was inclined towards studying texts he was called brahmin, if he was interested in army, then kshyatriya and same for others … it wouldnt matter if his family was brahmin or kshyatriy or vaishya or shudra … but since hinduism is like lakhs of yrs old so castiesm became the part of society slowly coz of corruption etc… in reality there was no role of casteism but knowledgeism …if someone is able or interested to do one thing he is alowed to do .. this way when every one does the work he is interested society progresses…no miss intereuuption of religious text by some idiot person …and also a lot of time of society was saved coz if every would read the texts the time is consumed and development and progress of society slows …

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