"All Power Is Within You"
100 Years After
India & Her Culture
Relevance of Hindu Dharma
Renaissance of Hindu Dharma
Significant Role of Temples
Exalted Name Divine
India's Gift to world
INDIA'S CONTRIBUTIONS AND INFLUENCES IN THE WORLD
(July 12-14, 2002)
The Conference was organized by 'World Association
for Vedic Studies, Inc' (WAVES), at the University of Massachusetts,
Dartmouth, MA, USA. This was the fourth biennial international
conference of WAVES. The three previous ones were held at
Atlanta (GA) in 1996, Los Angeles (CA) in 1998, and Hoboken
(NJ) in 2000.
The Conference received an enthusiastic response
from world scholars. For the first time there were four scholars
from China speaking on influence of Vedanta, Nagarjuna's contributions
to Chinese thoughts, Buddhism, Chinese culture, Zen, and Islam
About 200 papers were accepted for presentation
and their abstracts were circulated. Persons from 11 different
countries - Belgium, Canada, China, France, India, Japan,
Nepal, Netherlands, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, and USA
- participated in the conference. In all there were 42 sessions
and 139 presentations by the authors themselves made. There
was a good mix of persons of Indian and non-Indian scholars.
The inaugural session had three distinguished
1. Dr. S. Kalyanraman (Member Sarasvati Nadi Shodh Prkalp,
and of Aklila Bharateeya Itihasa Sankalana Yojna, author of
1200 page book 'Sarasvati', compiler of 6 volumes of 'Encyclopaedia
on Sarasvati', and of 'Dictionary - Indian Lexicon of over
25 ancient languages', 'Indian Alchemy: Soma in the Veda',
): On "Sarasvati Civilization".
2. Professor Hope Fitz (Professor of Philosophy, Eastern Connecticut
State University): On "Ahimsa, Gandhi's Thoughts and
the Modern World".
3. Professor T. S. Rukmani (Chair of Hindu Studies, Concordia
Uni., Canada): On "Dynamics of Being and Becoming in
There were two keynote speakers -
1. Professor V. D. Misra, Professor of Sociology, Lucknow
2. Professor Francis X. Clooney, an ordained Catholic priest,
Professor of Comparative Theology at Boston College and Visiting
Academic Director of the Center for Vaisnava and Hindu Studies
at Oxford University, whose research has focused on Hindu
philosophical and theological traditions - Sanskrit and Tamil
- and particularly on the Purva Mimamsa, Vedanta, and Srivaisnavism.
His most recent book is Hindu God, Christian God, Oxford University
Press, 2001, and who is currently writing a book on Hindu
goddesses and Christian theology. He was also the first president
of the Society for Hindu-Christian Studies.
Other plenary speakers were:
1. Dr. Cromwell Crawford, Professor of Religion, Uni. of Hawaii
2. Yogi Amrit Desai
3. Dr. Koenraad Elst, Belgium
4. Mr. Francois Gautier, French Journalist
5. Professor Xinchuan Huang, Chinese Academy of Social Sci,
6. Dr. David Frawley, Vedic Institute, NM, USA
7. Dr. Vasant Lad, Ayurvedic Inst., NM, USA
8. Mr. Rajiv Malhotra, Indic Foundation, USA
9. Dr. June McDaniel, Professor of Philosophy, SC, USA
10. Dr. Bhupendra K. Modi, President, Indian Council of Religious
11. Professor Chhaya Rai, Professor of Philosophy, Jabalpur,
12. Professor K.L. Seshagiri Rao, Chief Editor, Encyclopedia
of Hinduism, SC, USA
13. Professor BhuDev Sharma, President, Hindu Uni. of America
14. Dr. Klaus G. Witz, Uni. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
There were numerous other experts and scholars
that included university professors, Vice-Chancellors, authors,
researches, journalist, intellectuals and practitioners who
presented papers and participated in discussions.
Amongst other highlights were symposia on 'Ahimsa
in the Past and the Present', 'Hinduism, Pluralism & Interfaith
Dialogue', 'Indian Theories on Consciousness', 'Ayurveda &
Health', Gita, & Mahabharata, as also panel discussion
on 'Current Global Influences of Vedic thoughts & Hindu
Ayurveda and Health, and Consciousness sessions
attracted the most delegates. Several presentations emphasized
the scientific nature of Ayurveda, and the opportunity for
an enormous market for Ayurvedic medicine in the west. Consciousness
studies are becoming popular in Psychology departments on
most US universities. According to Don Salmon of Salem, South
Carolina, said that "when compared to Indian Philosophy/Psychology,
the western psychology, neuroscience, and consciousness studies
combined do not correspond to even significant fraction".
On Sunday July 14, was held a two-hour special
workshop with Dr. Vasant Lad for interested participants on
the basic principles of Ayurveda. Dr. Koenraad Elst of Belgium
presented a lecture entitled "Hindu Influence on Christianity"
outlining some of the philosophical elements of Christianity
that have their roots in Vedic/Buddhist traditions.
The conference succeeded in recounting major
contributions of India in the fields of spirituality, science
& mathematics, religion & philosophy, governance &
administration, peace & harmony amongst men, pluralism
& multi-culturism, ethics & human values, literature
and linguistics. There were scholars and academics of the
East and the West from the fields of Vedas, Upanishads, Epics,
Shastras, religion and philosophy, as also persons of public
standing to share views on several matters in an environment
charged with understanding and curiosity. In the concluding
sessions, many participants spoke and greatly appreciated
the efforts of the organizers.
In the 'Panel discussion' on 'Current Global
Influences of Vedic Thoughts and Hindu Practices', panelists
Dr. Deen B. Chandora (Atlanta), Dr. Koenraad Elst (Belgium),
Mr. Francois Gautier (French Journalist), Mr. Rajiv Malhotra
(Princeton), Professor BhuDev Sharma (Orlando, Moderator)
and Professor Bal Ram Singh (Umass, Dartmouth) and several
attendees brought out many points of current Indian contributions
and influences. Apart from the significant role of immigrant
Indians in USA, UK and other countries in the field of several
professions - education, medicine, technology, information
technology, hospitality industry, etc., these included rising
influence and appreciation of Yoga, vegetarianism, belief
in theory of karma and rebirth, multi-culturism and respect
for diversity of faiths & religious practices. It was
pointed out that scientists are searching Indian/Vedic literature
for scientific study of consciousness, as also for ideas on
One of the non-academic, nevertheless an attractive
items of the conference was featured on Saturday July 13th
evening in the Main Auditorium of UMass Dartmouth. Wearing
gleaming garments that resembled flower petals, as well as
bangles, anklets, and jewelry that adorned even their hair,
professional dancers performed in sequences that lasted anywhere
from two to twenty minutes. This cultural program of dance
recitals was open and free to public. Mrs. Ranjani Saigal,
Director of Eastern Rhythms School of Dance, organized and
presented this program.
A general theme running throughout the conference
reflected on the deep scientific and systematic nature of
life of Vedic tradition people, and the culture of celebrated
diversity commonly visible even in today's India.
The Proceedings of the conference, carrying
edited papers shall be published as was done for earlier conferences.
The organizers have invitations for holding next conference
in Canada, Netherlands, Nepal and a couple of places in USA.
Professor BhuDev Sharma, President of the WAVES',
the overall coordinator of the conference organized the academic
program. Professor Bal Ram Singh, Director of the Center for
Indic Studies, UMassD along with his colleagues, Dr. Sukalyan
Sengupta and Dr. T. K. Roy of CIS at UMass Dartmouth worked
tirelessly for local arrangements. Mr. Ishwar Patel, Mr. Mahesh
Patel, and their families and friends provided for food, etc.
The conference was sponsored by Center for Indic Studies,
UmassD, Hindu University of America, Orlando and CASC, School
of Medicine, University of Connecticut Health Center.
|WAVES is a multidisciplinary
academic society, tax exempt in USA, open to persons of all
different views, races, religions, country of origin, etc. The
society has no ideology. Academics and Scholars in any area
of Indian/Vedic studies as well as those academically interested
in these areas are welcome to be its members and join in its
(Prepared by Prof.
Bhu Dev Sharma, President, WAVES)
The Center for Indic Studies (CIS) of
UMass Dartmouth, U.S.A, hosted the international conference
on "India's Contributions and Influence in the
World", on July 12-14, 2002. The conference was
coordinated by the World Association for Vedic Studies
(WAVES) Inc., which has organized such biennial conferences
since 1996. This was the fourth of such WAVES event;
the three previous ones were at Atlanta (GA) in 1996,
at Los Angeles (CA) in 1998, and at Hoboken (NJ) in
The conference attracted many international
scholars on Vedic literature and Indic civilization,
with nearly 200 abstracts submitted for presentations
to run in the course of three days. International and
local delegates including scholars from China, India,
Nepal, the Caribbean, Germany, Netherlands, UK, Canada,
and the U.S., were in attendance.
A general theme running throughout the
conference reflected on the deep scientific and systematic
nature of life of Vedic tradition, people and the culture
of celebrated diversity commonly visible even in today's
The program officially started on July
12. More than one hundred and fifty presentations ranging
from Vedic spiritual literature to science took place
over the course of 30 parallel sessions, in addition
to inaugural addresses, keynote speeches, plenary and
public lectures, keynote speeches, and a panel discussion.
The enormity and challenges in organizing
the conference can be judged by the fact that the organizers
had to run six parallel sessions simultaneously on various
special theme areas each afternoon of the conference
to accommodate the number of presentations.
Many prominent Indologists were in attendance,
like author Dr. David Frawley, who spoke on the Rig-Veda;
Professor Hope K. Fitz, who spoke on ahimsa in yoga
sutras; and Dr. S. Kalyanraman, member of the Akhila
Bharateeya Itihaasa Sankalana Yojana, who presented
an in-depth and scholarly lecture on Sarasvati Civilization.
Dr. Balram Singh, Dr. Suku Sengupta and
Dr. T. K. Roy of CIS at UMass Dartmouth conducted the
event. UMass Dartmouth with its beautiful and serene
campus provided its auditorium, lecture halls, parking,
housing facilities to the Center for Indic Studies to
host this conference. Dr. Shankha Bhowmick, Dr. Madhu
Jhaveri and many volunteers from the campus and the
community provided their assistance. Prof. Bhu Dev Sharma,
President of the Hindu University of America, was the
coordinator and arranged for most of the speakers in
various symposia in the conference.
The program concluded on July 14th with
remarks from Professor Bhu Dev Sharma and Mr. Dhirendra
Shah of WAVES. Dr. Balram Singh, Director of CIS, expressed
thanks to all the participants, the various organizations,
and the volunteers who worked to make the conference
|The proceedings of the conference
with all the edited papers presented in full-length is
planned to be published by the organizers and will be
available for public perusal and dissemination. Further
details can be accessed at their website: <www.umassd.edu/indic/waves>
* * *
the conference, both academic scholars and non-academic
practitioners presented Vedic and Upanishadic ideas to
address some of the most pressing global problems in today's
world. Ayurveda and Health, and Consciousness sessions
attracted the most delegates. Several presentations emphasized
the scientific nature of Ayurveda, and the opportunity
for an enormous market for Ayurvedic medicine in the west.
|Dr. Francis Clooney of Boston
College presented ideas how today's global audience with
diverse religious, philosophical, and cultural interests,
can still learn from the language, methods, and conclusions
of the Upanishads.
Prof. Hope Fitz of Eastern Connecticut
University stated that "never has there been a
time when ahimsa, basically non-harm and compassion,
was needed more than it is today." She elaborated
principles of ahimsa as practiced by Gandhiji as well
as in the Jain and Buddhist traditions.
The inaugural address presented by Dr.
Kalyanraman highlighted incrementally acceptable theory
and existence of on Sarasvati Civilization.
Dr. Frawley followed up on this in his
lecture on the Rig Veda and the Ocean, referring to
the significance of the discovery of the course of River
Sarasvati over 1,600 kms. from Manasarovar to Gujarat
(with an average width of a staggering 6 to 8 kms. of
palaeo-channels of the river, as seen from the satellite
images) and the discovery of over 2,000 archaeological
sites of the civilization (i.e. 80% of the so-called
sites of Harappan culture). The Rig Veda was composed
on the banks of River Sarasvati, the same river along
the banks of which Balarama (elder brother of Krishna)
goes on a pilgrimage for 40 plus days visiting the ancient
pilgrimage sites, rishi ashramas and offers homage to
the rishis and pitrs (as described in the S'alya Parva
of the Mahabharata in 200 shlokas). The continuity of
this Sarasvati culture in Bharata was elaborated by
presenting emphatic cultural markers, for example, wearing
of the sindhur by married women.
"What I would like to do is bring
India to the West," said French journalist and
author Francois Gautier. "I believe India is going
to be the spiritual leader of the world. That is why
I fight for India."
Dr. B. K. Modi, President of Indian Council
of Religious Leaders, presented a general overview of
India and Hinduism as an epitome of Arts and Sciences
of Human Welfare.
Mr. Rajiv Malhotra, President, Infinity
Foundation, presented ideas for repositioning Hinduism
in the American education system. He was particularly
critical of Western academicians who after learning
many ideas from the Indic traditions end up trashing
the source of their information.
On Sunday July 14, in the plenary session,
Dr. Vasant Lad of the Ayuvedic Instite, NM, gave a scholarly
overview of Ayurveda in daily life, followed by a two-hour
special workshop for interested participants on the
basic principles of Ayurveda.
Consciousness studies are becoming popular
in Psychology departments on most US universities. According
to Don Salmon of Salem, South Carolina, "when compared
to Indian Philosophy/Psychology, the western psychology,
neuroscience, and consciousness studies combined do
not correspond to even significant fraction".
Dr. Koenraad Elst of Belgium presented
a lecture entitled "Hindu Influence on Christianity"
outlining some of the philosophical elements of Christianity
including the doctrine of incarnation which have their
roots in Vedic / Buddhist traditions.
|The last part of the program,
which followed a lunch break, was a very lively panel
discussion on Current Global Influences of Vedic Thoughts
and Hindu Practices; panelists consisted of Dr. Deen B.
Chandora, Dr. Konraa Elst, Mr. Francois Gautier, Mr. Rajeev
Malhotra, and Dr. Balram Singh, with a very heavy participation
from the audience. Issues related to Hindu vs. India,
ways to include other groups who follow Indic tradition
of dharma and accept diversity of cultures and religions,
less than adequate representation of practicing Indians
to be involved in academic Indic scholarship, and need
for an assertive Indian/Hindu point of view were discussed.
* * *
AND ITS WORLD IMPACT
[Paper presented by Swami Jyotirmayananda
at the International Conference on "India's Contributions
and Influences in the World", July 12-14, 2002, organized
by the World Association for Vedic Studies (WAVES) Inc., at
the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, MA, U.S .A.]:
wisdom, which is the most profound heritage bestowed on
mankind by the great rishis, was evolved after generations
of intense explorations by the ancient seekers of Truth.
This paper first highlights this background of the earnest
enquiries in different directions which eventually integrated
themselves resulting in the Vedantic vision of the Reality.
The paper also emphasises the necessity of research to
present to the modern world a deeper idea of these links
that exist among the various disciplines of traditional
sciences and philosophy.
The paper gives a general survey of the
acceptance and reverence India's Spirituality gained
in many parts of the world from the days of yore, influencing
the cultural life and artistic expressions of many nations.
India's Spirituality had exerted a creative influence
on the inquisitive minds in several parts of the world
in ancient times and the philosophy succeeded in inspiring
and influencing the best scientific minds of today.
Any sensitive person who makes a study of the Vedantic
wisdom will quickly realize that it is a super-science
of human evolution and fulfilment.
It is this realization of the spirit of
Vedanta that inspired Sir Warren Hastings, the first
British Governor General of India, to write in his introduction
to the first translation of the Bhagavad Gita in English
by Charles Wilkins, the following words: "The writers
of Indian philosophies will survive when the British
domination in India shall long have ceased to exist,
and when the sources which it yielded of wealth and
power are lost to remembrance." We see today how
prophetic those words were!
|The paper emphasizes the relevance
of the Vedantic wisdom in the present-day world context
of overbearing materialism, to enable the modern man to
get a deeper perspective of human life and its fulfillment.
Many a Western intellectual points out the dilemma of
the people of the 'developed countries' troubled with
a sense of having reached a dead end and their existential
crisis. The paper points out the urgent need of intensive
research into many ancient spiritual disciplines and traditional
sciences and the necessity of presenting their rationale
in modern terms so that the people the world over can
be inspired with a new creative vision and urge by inculcating
in them the Vedantic knowledge about the deeper facts
of human life, man's relation with the universe and his
higher destiny and fulfillment.
I would like to highlight in this paper,
the world impact of India's spirituality that was evolved
after intense explorations and the experimentations
of the sages of yore through diverse paths of inquiry
and their integration. I would also emphasize the need
of all-embracing research to bring to light the links
that exist among the various disciplines of traditional
sciences and philosophy, and today's need to harmonize
the ancient knowledge with the modern scientific perspective
so that the world at large can get a clearer idea of
the life-evolving wisdom of our rishis. Any serious
student of the evolution of India's spirituality will
realize that all the branches of spiritual exploration
including Dwaita, Vishistadvaita, Advaita, Yoga, etc.,
based on Vedanta, are not contradictory but complimentary
paths that integrate themselves resulting in the Vedantic
vision of Reality. This ancient spiritual vision of
India, as we see today, is being accepted as in attunement
with the philosophy emerging from the most modern scientific
Our times call for a review of the extensive
acceptance of India's message for the evolution of a
greater humanity had received in the ancient world.
Today we have to take effective methods to spread this
life-harmonizing message throughout the world for the
cultural and spiritual evolution of humanity.
As early as in the very beginning of the
British domination of India, the thoughtful minds of
Europe were quick to realize that besides the material
wealth she possessed, India was eternally rich with
her spiritual treasures. It is this realization that
inspired Sir Warren Hastings, the first British Governor
General of India, to write in his introduction to the
first translation of the Bhagavad Gita in English by
Charles Wilkins, the following prophetic words: "The
writers of Indian philosophies will survive when the
British domination in India shall long have ceased to
exist, and when the sources which it yielded of wealth
and power are lost to remembrance."
In the midst of plenty and prosperity
the people of 'developed countries' are in a dilemma.
With an overbearing sense of having reached a dead end,
they have started asking whether human life has no other
destiny than repeated indulgence in sense pleasures,
which wane with age. They desperately seek a glimpse
of inner peace and aspire for freedom from insatiable
The intensity of this existential crisis
of the West is highlighted by the German philosopher
Dr. Graf K. Von Durekheim in his 'Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial
Lecture' (1974) in the following words: "The people
of the West are suffering from many kinds of maladies
which are caused by the hectic way of modern life, resulting
in what we call stress. Last year in Germany alone 500
top managers committed suicide because they could not
find a way out of the blind alley into which they had
been pushed by the stress of everyday life. But the
real source of these maladies is not external stress,
but the loss of contact with the true self. The deepest
frustration in this wholeness is that western man, being
occupied one-sidedly by the materialistic activities
in the outside world, has lost the living contact with
his inner self, his soul. This also is the cause of
a deep, widespread suffering for which there is no outward
Since basically the history of mankind
is the history of the development of the human mind,
the destiny of man, his possibilities, progress and
fulfillment are linked with the positive transformation
of the human mind. The western mind focuses on the gratification
of the physical senses and the resultant mechanistic
view of life makes man subservient to external circumstances
and a slave of insatiable desires. Therefore, amidst
the all-round luxury, but devoid of a sense of the higher
destiny of human life, the western mind does often suffer
from a sense of misery, of purposelessness, as indicated
by the above-mentioned statement. This alienation of
the western mind from a higher vision of life, and unlimited
desires provoke the Occidental man to evolve a heartless
system of exploration that results in cruelty and war.
In contrast, the great rishis of ancient
India looked at life in its totality and evolved from
their own experience of true illumination a science
of human fulfillment and this rationale of India's spirituality
makes it a true science of human evolution. From the
very ancient times, this science of human evolution
gave India a unique status in the history of the world.
The uniqueness of India's traditional knowledge is the
remarkable interconnections that exist between various
branches of knowledge. Astronomy, astrology and Ayurveda
complement one another and they blend with spirituality.
There is a science called Marma-vidya, which is still
prevalent in some parts of Kerala, but almost getting
extinct because of our sad negligence of our great treasures
in the impact of western education. It is the science
of the subtle channels of energy in human body, an ancient
knowledge that transcends the anatomical knowledge of
modern medical science and is said to be more advanced
than acupuncture. The Masters of this science effected
wonderful healings. Such fields offer great opportunities
for modern investigators. With will and patience they
will be able to revive many a great subtle science from
oblivion and shed new light on the deeper facts of man
and nature. A most important fact to remember is that
all these sciences are closely linked to the spiritual
concept of life.
India's spiritual message is clear as
declared by the rishis that the true happiness comes
from the spiritual dimension, which transcends all changes.
One could experience blessedness by one's own inward
journey. India's rishis did not deny the need for material
advancement but they reconciled material advance with
spiritual elevation and said that the model of development
must be need-based not greed-based. There can certainly
be material advance without resorting to crude materialism.
They declared that 'jiva' (man) must not end up as 'shava'
(corpse), but evolve as he has the potential to become
'Shiva', the Universal man.
Their aim was not any exclusive specialization
in any subject but to explore the underlying connections
in all fields of apparently fragmented existence and
to know the total relationship between man and nature.
They delved deep into their subjects of inquiry, which
opened up the wondrous dimensions of Reality. The various
branches of their enquiry, even though sometimes they
may appear contradictory, have an under-current of unity.
For instance, one who makes a deep study of the philosophies
of Dwaita, Vishistadvaita and Advaita will realize that
they are in fact complementary, not contradictory, as
some people would think. This complementary nature of
these philosophies is so well highlighted in the following
words of Sri Hanuman in Valmiki Ramayana when Sri Rama
asks Sri Hanuman about his true nature. Sri Hanuman
replies, "When I identify myself with the body,
O Lord, I am Your humble servant, (Dwaita perspective),
when I identify myself with the individuality I am part
of You (close to the Vishistadvaita perspective) and
when I identify myself with the Atman (the indwelling
Divinity) I am Yourself (Advaita perspective)".
This step by step ascendance of inquiry
from various angles, their integration and further reaching
to higher dimensions of Reality and ever greater concepts
about man and Nature, and their relationship, have been
the unique characteristic of India's inquiry into Truth.
In the fields of traditional sciences like astronomy,
astrology, Ayurveda, Marma-vidya and a host of other
traditional sciences a researcher would become aware
of their inter-connections and their basic relationship
with the spiritual concept of life. While in the West
an unbridgeable gap exists between religion and science,
in India the traditional sciences and spirituality integrate
themselves opening the doors to the supreme wisdom of
It is this evolutionary orientation of
India's spirituality that has attracted the thinking
sections of many countries from ancient times. Swami
Vivekananda highlighted this special characteristic
of India's approach in the following words: "Political
greatness or military power is never the mission of
our race; it never was and, mark my words, it never
will be. But there has been the other mission given
to us, which is to conserve, to preserve, to accumulate
as it were into a dynamo, all the spiritual energy of
the race and that concentrated energy is to pour forth
in a deluge on the world whenever circumstances are
propitious. Let the Persian or the Greek, the Roman,
the Arab, or the Englishman march his battalions, conquer
the world. The Hindu's calm brain must pour out its
own quota to give to the sum total of human progress.
India's gift to the world is the light spiritual."
It is this emphasis on the development
of the true human potentials that caused the spreading
of India's spiritual vision to several countries even
before the beginning of the Christian era, and today
draws the serious attention of the thinking sections
all over the world.
One who directs one's vision into the
ancient past will find the surprising fact that the
life-elevating ideas of India's spirituality had reached
the far corners of the world despite the limitations
of the means of communication and distance in those
far off days. He will find the monasteries with Indian
images and silken scrolls of Tantric Deities on the
banks of Lake Baikal in the central regions of Eastern
Siberia. Coming down to Mongolia he will find the translations
of thousands of Sanskrit works and rare icons of the
Divinities of India like Mahaakaala, Kaali, Ayushi,
Taaraa Devi and others.
India's spiritual heritage, it is well
known, had a great impact on Chinese culture and thought
and the mainland of China was inspired by the rich heritage
of the art, literature and philosophy of India. The
influence of India's spiritual heritage on Japan's cultural
evolution are well evident in the stories adopted from
the Mahabharata in the classical Japanese theatre, in
the influence of the artistic tradition of Ajanta in
the Horyuji temples and in the recitations of the Sanskrit
Mantras in the rituals.
There are many evidences indicating that
the spirit of Indian culture spread widely in the Central
In philosophy as well as in traditional
sciences India had always kept a close link with Tibet.
In the languages of Thailand and far off
Indonesia, there is a remarkable presence of Sanskrit
words. The Thai theatre maintains a passion for the
theme of Ramayana. The ceremonies of the Royal Court
of Thailad show powerful influence of Indian culture.
Hindu culture is a dynamic way of life in Bali even
Indian culture had maintained closer links
with Persia, countries of the Middle East and the Arabian
world. There existed constant exchange of traditional
sciences. Some scholars opine that there are reasons
to believe that there existed cultural relations between
South India and South America in the very ancient past.
Such matters are potent fields for study and research.
There is much scope for further study
of the cultural relations of India with Afghanistan,
Central Asia, China, Korea, Japan, Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia
Ceylon, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia,
Indonesia, Philippines, Middle East, Africa, Europe
Central Asia, Tibet, China, Japan, Burma,
Indo-China and Indonesia formed very powerful strongholds
of Indian culture. According to an eminent scholar Dr.
S. P. Gupta "the dispersal of Indian culture, at
least in Soviet Central Asia, can be traced from the
Early Stone Age which takes us back to about half a
The renowned historian, Dr. R. C. Majumdar,
says, "Our definite knowledge of the spread of
Indian culture in all its aspects, beyond India, begins
from the third century B.C., and we are in a position
to say that in the course of ages, that culture was
spread almost all over Asia, from Armedia to Japan,
and from Eastern Siberia to Ceylon and the islands of
Indonesia: even further beyond, it left its impress
upon other cultures."
Dr. Majumdar also says that it would be
news to many that there was an Indian colony in the
region of the Upper Euphrates river, to the west of
Lake Van, as early as the second century B.C., and the
temples of Hindu Gods, like Krishna, erected there,
were destroyed by the Christian monk St. Gregory, early
in the fourth century A.D., after defeating the Indians
who stoutly resisted the iconoclastic fury of the Christians.
It is hardly necessary to refer to the numerous magnificent
remains of Hindu temples in Indo-China and Indonesia
to prove the nature and extent of the missionary zeal
of the Hindus in remote parts of Asia.
The wealth and wisdom of India was a luring
attraction even to the people of the West. According
to the biblical legends, King Soloman had adorned his
palace with ivory, peacocks, etc., which evidently might
have been brought from Kerala, indicating that Soloman's
merchant fleet might have frequented Kerala coast as
early as 1000 B.C. Ancient Roman coins were discovered
from many parts of South India. There are indications
that lots of goods were transported in Indian ships
as well as in Roman ships to the Roman ports. It should
be remembered that Columbus accidentally discovered
America in his misdirected wanderings in search of the
The Arab had a flourishing trade with
India and much of the scientific knowledge they acquired
from India, was spread to Europe. The philosophy of
India has been a great lure for many intellectuals,
poets and writers of the West, like the German philosopher
Schopenhauer and others. Walt Whitman's passion for
Indian thought and wisdom is well known as expressed
in his books such as "Passage to India" and
in the poem "Brahman".
In the modern age, as if by a programme
of Mother Nature, great Masters like Sri Ramakrishna
and his illustrious disciple Swami Vivekananda, were
born among us to shower the light of India's spiritual
wisdom the world over. This was supplemented by the
teachings of the great saints like Sri Aurobindo and
Sri Ramna Maharshi, whose presence also graced our times.
Today the world is happily getting aware of the fact
that the new philosophical trends of modern science
are coming closer to the spiritual wisdom of the ancient
seers of India.
In this context, this International Conference
on "India's Contributions and Influences in the
World" assumes great importance and is a needed
step in the right direction. It can be a unique cultural
landmark because such a study and research into various
branches of inquiry of India's sages would help reveal
to the modern world the undercurrent of unity in the
material and spiritual dimensions of life and universe.
It would help the modern scientists to be aware of the
scientific temper of the ancient seekers of India and
would speed up the integration of science and spiritual
values. There is a great scope for research in this
direction and such conferences would inspire many to
take to the path of this essential inquiry, which will
bring to the modern man greater knowledge about the
deeper facts of human life, his relationship with the
universe, his destiny and fulfillment.
Let me conclude by quoting a few highly
significant lines pertaining to our subject matter,
from a recently brought out beautiful book which I happened
to come across in the residence of my host at Houston
where I stayed for a couple of days, last November,
when I was in the U.S, in the context of the Vedanta
Conference. The book abounds in varieties of illustrations
about India and the Indian way of life and traditions.
It is in fact a glowing tribute from a perceptive American
Author, to India and its traditional values which have
been handed down from posterity to posterity, and which
we have been cherishing in India even to this day, the
pernicious effect of the western life not withstanding.
While some of us, the Indians, are enamored of the tinsels
and trinkets of the western life and worldly excitements,
here is a conscientious American of the present day,
who is appreciative of our ancient culture and the hoary
values, with all our drawbacks and backwardness in some
other respects. The book, titled "India Unveiled"
authored by Robert Arnett of Columbus, Georgia, is elegant
and simply charming. Let me quote his words:
"In December 1988, destiny set my
path toward India. Without itinerary or expectations,
I began the first of the three solitary journeys, each
of which would last for six months. It was during that
short span of time on my second trip that my life was
transformed. Not only was Indian subcontinent unveiled
to me, but also in the process, I discovered the true
essence of my being.
"For thousands of years, the basic
cornerstones of Indian culture had changed very little,
and probably account for why some historians believe
India to be the oldest continuously surviving civilization
"Through the science of yoga,
India has given the West a far more valuable gift than
all the material wealth or technology the West could
give in return. Even today, India offers great inspiration
to those persons who are seeking oneness with God, and
through yoga anyone can find the direction, he or she
needs to succeed. That is India's gift to the world.
"Of all the nations in the
world, India is the most spiritually blessed. More and
more Americans are learning that materialism does not
give lasting satisfaction, and they are turning to India
for spiritual guidance.
"When Albert Einstein said,
'Science without religion is lame, and religion without
science is blind', he could have been describing the
contemporary America and India. India has become overbalanced
spiritually and cannot adequately provide for the material
needs of its own people. America leads the world in
consumer comforts, but veered sharply off course morally.
Each culture would benefit from adopting the best qualities
of the other. It is my belief that the United States
and India can give the world a new direction: a materially
efficient democracy that is spiritually guided. For
this to become a reality, each of us must do our part."
(Excerpts from "India Unveiled", by Robert
Arnett, Atman Press, Columbus, Georgia).
Do we not find here an echo of what Swami
Vivekananda said long ago, that the science and spirituality
should shake hands for the redemption of humanity, and
that India needs America, its vast and advanced knowledge
of science and technology for the material redemption
of its people, and that the materially and scientifically
advanced America needs India, its hoary spirituality
and eternal values to redeem it from the disaster of
crude materialism, sensate and shallow life resulting
in broken houses and all the attendant evils of a wayward
I take this opportunity to express my
sincere thanks to the organizers of this Conference,
particularly its President, Prof. Bhu Dev Sharma, for
giving me this opportunity to participate in it, to
think aloud before this august body of erudite scholars
specialized in various subjects of the Conference. Being
a humble sannyasin, I have chosen to think aloud on
the World Impact of India's Spirituality. I am neither
a scholar nor an extempore speaker, specialized in any
of the subjects except that of a little of the great
contributions made by the great Hindu Monk of India,
Swami Vivekananda of the hallowed memory, who made history
in this country more than a century ago (in 1893) when
he addressed the World's Parliament of Religions in
Chicago, with his endearing words, "Sisters and
brothers of America", and indelibly stamped on
the consciousness of the West, the age-old Hindu vision:
"vasudhaiva kutukmbakam", that the world is
one family, of which we are all brothers and sisters.
In a short span of life, that too in a very short period
of his public life of only nine years (of which he was
only for about four years in the U.S.), his contribution
to and influence in the world was stupendous. To put
it in his own words: "I have given humanity enough
for next fifteen hundred years."
Before I take my seat, let me draw you
attention to Swami Vivekananda's highly significant
words on the subject matter of this conference. Let
me quote, "As I look upon the history of my country,
I do not find in the whole world another country which
had done quite so much for the improvement of the human
mind and that India was the homeland of invisible powers
that ruled the destinies of men and nations and its
ancient scriptures could make it the teacher of the
In fact, most of the writings and speeches
of Swami Vivekananda were aimed at highlighting India's
greatness, India's immortal contributions to the world
in the field of religion and spirituality and the consequent
spiritual influence in the world.
|In the centenary year of Swami
Vivekananda's mahasamadhi (Swamiji left his mortal coil
exactly 100 years ago, on the July 4th, 1902) may we all
invoke his divine blessings, and may we all dedicate ourselves
to the cause that was very dear to his heart, namely,
to live up to the great spiritual ideals of India, and
to spread, in our own humble way, the knowledge of India's
great contributions, for the happiness and welfare of
one and all.
* * *
FOR VEDIC STUDIES, INC.
FIFTH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE:
"India's Intellectual Traditions in Contemporary
(July 9 - 11, 2004 -- Washington, DC, USA)
A BRIEF REPORT
was organized by 'World Association for Vedic Studies, Inc'
(WAVES), a USA based tax-exempt society, at the University of
Maryland, Shady Grove Campus, Rockville, MD. This was the fifth
biennial international conference of WAVES. The four previous
International Conferences were held at Atlanta (GA) in 1996,
Los Angeles (CA) in 1998, Hoboken (NJ) in 2000, University of
Massachusetts, Dartmouth (MA), in 2002.
The Conference received a very enthusiastic response from
world scholars of Indian/Vedic Studies. For the first time
there came four scholars from Bali, Indonesia. According to
the Treasurer of WAVES, Mr. Dhirendra Shah, the conference
had over 450 participants.
Over 200 papers were accepted for presentation and their
abstracts, printed in the Conference Souvenir, were circulated
to the participants. Persons from several different countries,
including those from Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Indonesia,
Nepal, and USA - participated in this successful conference.
In all there were 47 sessions and 152 presentations made.
There was a good mix of persons of Indian and non-Indian scholars.
- Professor T. S. Rukmani Professor and Chair, Hindu
Studies, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada -- Indian
Intellectual Tradition- Religion & Philosophy in Vedic
- Professor B. B. Lal, Former Director General, Archaeological
Survey of India - Flora and Fauna in RigVeda: Still More
Evidence Negating the Aryan Invasion Theory
- Professor Cromwell Crawford, Chair & Professor,
Department of Religion, University of Hawaii, Honolulu -
Gene Transfer Therapy or Enhancement, A Hindu Perspective.
|There were following
two keynote speakers -
- Professor Shiva G. Bajpai, Professor of History,
California State Uni., Northridge, CA -
The Burden of Bad Ideas: Some Critical Issues in the
- Professor Harold French, Professor Emeritus of
Religion, Uni. of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA --
Ramakrishna: A Model of Historical Renewal Through Incarnational
Consciousness and Role Playing.
|Also, there were following
two public lectures, attended by participants and other invitees
to the cultural program and Banquet respectively:
- Mr. Rajiv Malhotra, Infinity Foundation, Princeton,
NJ - Hinduism's Challenges and Blind Spots
in the Globalization Era
- Professor Shri Kant Mishra - Strategic Adaptation
of Ayurveda in North America
|Some of the other speakers,
mainly from different universities, included:
- Professor Satish Bhatnagar, University of Nevada, Las
- Professor Sidheshwar Bhatt, Professor of Philosophy, University
of Delhi, India
- Professor Suresh Chaturvedi, Professor of Ayurveda, Mumbai,
- Professor Rahul Peter Das, Professor, Institute fur Indologie
und sudasienwissenschaften, Martin-Luther-Universitat, Halle,
- Dr. K. K. Dwivedi former Vice Chancellor and currently
science and technology counselor, Indian Embassy, Washington,
- Professor Hope Fitz, Professor of Philosophy, Eastern
Connecticut State Uni., CT
- Dr. Peter N. Gillette, State Uni. of New York, Brooklyn,
- Professor Madan L. Goel, Professor of Political Sci, Uni.
of West Florida, FL
- Professor Malinee Goswami, Professor of Sanskrit, Gauhati
Uni., Assam, India
- Dr. Julia Jean, Dept of Sociology and Anthropology, Mount
Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA
- Professor Kusum Ketkar, Professor of Economics. Stillman
School of Business, Seton Hall Uni., South Orange, NJ
- Professor V. Krishnamurthy, former Dy. Director, Birla
Inst. of Technology, Pilani, India
- Prof. June McDaniel, Professor, Dept. of Phil. & Religion,
College of Charleston, Charleston, SC
- Professor Sabita Dutta Majumder, Head of the Dept. of
Mathematics, Kolkata, India
- Dr. Bala Manyam, Professor & Director, Dept. of Neurology,
Texas A & M, Temple, TX
- Professor Krishna Murari Mishra, Professor of Hindi, Aligarh
Muslim Uni., India
- Professor Shri K. Mishra, Professor of Neurology &
Coordinator Integrative Medicine, USC, LA, CA
- Professor Triloki N. Pandey, Professor of Anthropology,
Uni. of California, Santa Cruz, CA
- Professor Ramesh Rao, Professor of Communication, Truman
State Uni, Kirksville, MO
- Professor T. R. N. Rao, Louisiana State University, Lafayette,
- Professor Vaman Rao, Distinguished Prof of Economics,
Western Illinois Uni, Macomb, IL
- Dr. Lothar Schafer, Uni. of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
- Dr. Graham Schweig, Director, Indic Studies Program, Dept.
of Religious Studies, Christopher Newport Uni., VA
- Professor BhuDev Sharma, President WAVES, Clark Atlanta
Uni., Atlanta, GA
- Dr. Somvir, Udayana University, Bali, Indonesia
- Professor Jagdish N. Srivastava, CNS Research Professor,
Colorado State Uni., Fort Collins, CO
- Professor Betsy Singh, Southern California Uni of Health
Sciences, Whittier, CA
- Dr. Shashi Tiwari, Dept of Sanskrit, Uni. of Delhi, Delhi,
- Dr. Uma Vaidya, Head of the Dept. of Sanskrit, Wilson
College, Mumbai, India
- Professor Anand K. Yadav, Fort Valley State University,
Fort Valley, GA
- Professor Dr. I. Wayan Wita, Rector, Udayana University,
|And from streams outside
- Dr. Anand Samir Chopra, Head of the Clinical Department,
Wicker-Klinik Ayurveda, Kassel, Germany
- Mr. Bhola Nath Yogi, Principal, Hindu Vidyapeeth, Kathmandu,
- Dr. Bhupendra K. Modi, President, Indian Council of Religious
- Mr. Rajiv Malhotra, Infinity Foundation, Princeton, NJ
- Dr. Alex Alexander, MD
- Mr. John Engstrom, President, Inst. of Constitute of
Consciousness, Fairfield, Iowa
- Ms. Sandhya Jain, Journalist, New Delhi, India
- Dr. Yvette Rosser, Educationist
- Thomas Vallomtharayil, CEO, Kerala Ayurveda GmbH and
Vallomed Health Care, Castrop-Rauxel, Germany.
many other experts and scholars that included university academics,
authors, researchers, journalists, intellectuals and practitioners
who presented papers and participated in deliberations.
Amongst other highlights were symposia on 'Vedas and Consciousness',
'Philosophy', 'Academic Study of Indian Religion in US', 'Indian
Diaspora Experience', 'Gita in 21st Century', 'Hinduism and
Clash of Civilizations', 'Ayurveda in Public Health Care Systems
in Western Countries', 'Ayurveda: The Art & Science of
Healthy Living', 'Yoga and Meditation', 'Youth & Dharma',
'On Some Western Writers on India.'
There were sessions on 'Ramayana', 'Mahabharat', 'Peace and
Universal Vedic Messages', 'Vedic Mathematics & Sciences',
'Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants', etc.
Sessions on 'Hinduism & Clash of Cultures', which brought
a good discussion on current state of terrorism and its effects,
'On Some Western Writers on India', whose writings provoked
allegations of distortions and misrepresentations of Hindu
gods and heroes from many scholars worldwide, as also 'Consciousness'
and those discussing 'Indians & Influence of India in
the World', drew quite some attention. An important feature
this year was participation of IndiaDiaspora group, and youth
Plenary panel discussion on 'Directions for Healthy Academic
Study of Vedic Traditions', with six panelists representing
academics, journalists, educationists and public leaders was
another highlight of the conference. Panelists and participants
greatly appreciated the work of WAVES and gave several suggestions
for undertaking further.
A general theme running throughout the conference reflected
on the deep intellectual traditions in the life of Vedic people,
and the culture of celebrated diversity commonly visible in
Professor BhuDev Sharma, President of the WAVES', was the
overall coordinator of the conference and he organized the
academic program, helped by organizers of various symposia
- Professor Hope Fitz, Professor June McDaniel, Professor
Jagdish Srivastava, Professor TRN Rao, Professor Madan Goel,
Prof Rahul Peter Das, Professor Shri Mishra, Dr. Vishnu Purohit
& Dr. Kaushik Shastri, Dr. K. Sadananda & Satya P.
Agarwal, and Sanjay Garg.
|Local Organizer Dr. Satish C. Misra,
did a magnificiant job. In this he was helped by Dr. Ghanshyam
Gupta, Dr. Hari Har Singh, Dr. Parthasarthy Pillai, Dr. Prasad
Reddy, Dr. Lalji Mishra, Dr. Kaushik Shastri, Dr. Yogendra Gupta,
Dr. Bishnu Poudel, Dr. Jagdish Sharma, Dr. Anita Dubey, in looking
after local arrangements - facilities, hospitalities, transport,
food, cultural program, banquet, etc.
Banquet time on July 10, 2004, after the public lecture, many
persons coming from different places were introduced and following
persons were honored for their services to WAVES:
- Professor Bal Ram Singh, University of Massachusetts,
Dartmouth, MA, a Joint Secretary of WAVES: For being local
organizer of the Fourth International Conference, 2002;
- Mr. Ramendra N. Nandi, Jersey City, NJ, a former
Secretary of WAVES: For being local organizer of the Third
International Conference, 2000;
- Dr. Deen Bandhu Chandora, Atlanta, GA, a former
Treasurer: For being local organizer of the First International
Conference 1996, and for active role in founding the WAVES;
- Dr. Shashi Tiwari, New Delhi, India, Secretary,
India Branch: For Organizing seven India Conferences and
a conference in Nepal.
of the conference, carrying edited papers shall be published
as was done for earlier conferences. The organizers have invitations
for holding next conference in Canada, Bali (Indonesia) and
a couple of places in USA.
During the Conference, on the evening of July 9, was organized
a culturally rich entertainment program featuring Sitar-vaadan,
Kuchipudi style Bharat Natyam, a play, a folk dance, and a
dance-drama on ten-incarnations of Vishnu. Dr. (Mrs.) Anita
Dubey organized and presented this program, with brief appearance
of Patti Tripathi, former Anchor Person of CNN and Director,
World Association of Vedic Studies (WAVES) is a multidisciplinary
academic society. WAVES is not confined to study related to
Vedas alone or to India alone. WAVES explores worldwide traditions
commonly called Vedic - past, present and future. It brings
together academics from universities and institutions of higher
learning and knowledgeable other persons on its platform to
share their views and researches. It is a forum for all scholarly
activities and views on any area of 'Vedic Studies' popularly
called as Indian Studies or Indology. It is open for membership
and for participation to all persons irrespective of their
color, creed, ethnicity, and country of origin or any other
kind of persuasion.
WAVES has on its Governing Council persons from USA, India,
China, and Europe. Its next India Conference will be held
at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Dec 31-Jan 2, 2004-2004.
There are plans to hold conferences in China, Netherlands,
Germany and Bali (Indonesia), in coming years. Also, the Society
has announced book-awards, scholarships for higher studies
and research and is building a 'Speakers Bureau' for widely
and authentically educating and informing people world wide
of about India and Indians in all its fields, past and present.
Organizers thank numerous participants for conveying their
overwhelming compliments for organizing a conference with
grand success. For additional Information, please contact:
Professor Bhu Dev Sharma,
President, World Assn. for Vedic Studies (WAVES),
Email: [email protected] / [email protected]
Prof. of Math, Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta
Director, Hindu Uni. of America, Orlando
Address (Res.): 2495 D Briarcliff Road, Atlanta, GA 30329,
Phones: 404-248-9494 (Home), 404-880-6912 (O); Fax 404-880-8109
* * *
IN CONTEMPORARY GLOBAL CONTEXT
-- A Philosophical Perspective
(Paper presented by Swami Jyotirmayananda
at the Fifth World Conference, July 9-11, 2004, held by the
World Association for Vedic Studies, Inc. at Washington, DC.)
paper I am giving a general survey of the intellectual traditions
of India, their role in the development of the scientific and
philosophical wealth the country has acquired through the ages
since the Vedic age and its relevance in modern times. Mind,
intellect and Spirit or Self, according to Indian philosophy,
are the constituents of man and India's traditions give prime
importance to attune the mind and intellect to the Spirit. Different
lines of enquiry, which evolved this tradition of a higher vision
and meaning of life, are broadly mentioned in this paper. It
is also pointed out how some of the apparently contradictory
intellectual views such as the Shad-Darshanas becoming complementary
at later stages in carrying ahead the pursuit of knowledge for
an all-comprehensive vision of human life and its destiny. Special
emphasis is given to highlight the fact that in the background
of India's spiritual concepts there are well coordinated reasoning
and intellectual thought, which form a distinctive feature of
Hindu philosophy as against the blind faith of the Semitic religions.
This fact seems to be not well appreciated and amply highlighted
in modern times. It is to be specially noted that the difficulty
encountered by the modern mind to comprehend some of the profound
spiritual ideas of our heritage is because of this neglect in
highlighting this intellectual background. These important points
are discussed in this paper as a general survey of India's intellectual
traditions in the contemporary world context.
* * *
From the very ancient past, the India's inquiring mind has
been on a search of Truth behind the phenomena of life and
the universe. The wonder evoked the early ancestors eventually
led to intellectual questions one after another. This resulted
in a breakthrough for a meditative quest and discovery of
profound secrets of life by the great Rishis. Thus from the
very beginning, the quest had an intellectual background and
we can trace this pursuit and its fruition in transcendental
wisdom from the Vedic times. Intellectual discussions and
arguments were the means adopted by the thoughtful minds of
India for clarifying the ideas and insights in the course
of history and convey them to the people.
The Intellectual Freedom
Because of this freedom of thought, the inquirers were able
to grapplee with the misty currents of doubts and skepticism
and overcome them opening the greater vistas of knowledge.
It was through critical and logical means a strong philosophical
foundation was established in India. Through the intellectual
process of arguments and counter arguments light was shed
from different angles on several topics that deal with the
nature of human existence and destiny. It was in such a historical
context there emerged the six systems of philosophical quest
known as the Shad-darshanas. This enabled critical philosophy
to gain depth, clarity of thought and precision in definitions.
This process of intellectualization has ever been continuing
to explain the insights of the ancient Rishis in the prevailing
intellectual climate of every age. Because of this intellectual
basis of India's heritage, this process is continuing through
our modern times too.
The very name, 'Nyaya', one of the Shad-darshanas, means
'argument and conclusion'. It is also called the Tharkashashtra,
the science of right argument. Nyaya is a system of logical
realism and its main emphasis is on the sources of gaining
knowledge viz. the four pramanas -- perception, inference,
comparison and verbal testimony. Knowledge is derived by the
intellectual assessment of objects. This knowledge may be
valid or invalid. Valid knowledge is the right apprehension
of the real nature of an object. Vaiseshika, another system
of intellectual enquiry of the Shad-darshanas, seeks to gain
knowledge through particularization and analysis. This system
deals at length on the basis of Nature, the creation of the
material world, its destiny, the possible comprehension of
Reality and the way of finding fulfillment in human life.
This school of intellectual inquiry is based on the philosophy
of sage Kanada. Those who follow Dharma, according to sage
Kanada, attain material prosperity (abhyudaya) as well as
the highest good (nishreyasa). This bears clear testimony
to the fact that India never neglected social values and material
progress along with spiritual evolution. History reveals that
whenever the Indian atmosphere was filled with lofty spiritual
ideas there was material prosperity as well as flowering of
her great culture.
How this Freedom Influenced to Evolve
A Refined Culture
Some Western writers and their followers in India often try
to impress the world with the wrong idea that Indian philosophy
is otherworldly and impracticable. They say this is the cause
of India's backwardness. They conveniently neglect the fact
that it was the unfortunate foreign domination that had along
with it brought this backwardness and in the past India was
rich in every respect, which brought people from all over
the world to her soil. In fact, because of this highly intellectual
tradition, unlike many other countries, India could ever maintain
a refined, civilized, and humane culture. Let me quote here
the views of the eminent historian, A. L. Basham, from his
book "The Wonder That Was India". He points out
that in spite of the internecine wars, flood and plagues that
often brought havoc to the country from time to time, a cultural
unity gave India a distinctive character. Basham says: "Yet
our overall impression is that in no other part of the ancient
world were the relations of man and man, and of man and the
state, so fair and humane. In no other early civilization
were slaves so few in number, and in no other ancient law
book are their rights so well protected as in the Arthashastra.
No other ancient lawgiver proclaimed such noble ideals of
fair play in battle as did Manu. In all her history of warfare,
Hindu India has few tales to tell of cities put to the sword
or of the massacre of non-combatants. The ghastly sadism of
the kings of Assyria, who flayed their captives alive, is
completely without parallel in ancient India. There was sporadic
cruelty and oppression no doubt, but, in comparison with conditions
in other early cultures, it was mild. To us the most striking
feature of ancient Indian civilization is its humanity."
Basham further observes: "The European student who concentrates
on religious texts of a certain type may well gain the impression
that ancient India was a land of 'life-negating' ascetics,
imposing their gloomy and sterile ideas upon the trusting
millions who were their lay followers.... India was a cheerful
land, whose people, each finding a niche in a complex and
slowly evolving social system, reached a higher level of kindliness
and gentleness in their mutual relationships than any other
nation of antiquity."
When we enquire about the reason of such mellowness and culture
India has acquired through the millenniums, we will find that
the Puranas had an important role in this respect influencing
the masses. Puranas are not mere compendiums of legends and
stories as some people try to make others believe. One will
be marveled at the tenor of intellectual discussions on various
topics in the Puraanas, educating the masses on various aspects
of life and the universe. It is nothing but a wondrous feat
how the authors array the points and counterpoints with commendable
ease enabling people to arrive at creative conclusions. There
is no dearth of scathing criticism even against some topics
of spirituality, which the reader may feel quite justified
at first. And when he reads the calm and considered answers
in the same texts he finds himself furnished with new knowledge
and reaching an elevated realm of deeper understanding.
The Vast Range of Knowledge
It is nothing but a wonder to the many modern investigators
to find that there are in the ancient Sanskrit language many
words indicating that the ancients possessed the knowledge
of modern psychology that discusses conscious, sub-conscious,
unconscious realms of the mind. It is indeed a food for thought
for the most modern scientific intellect that the great Rishis
of yore symbolized the Dance of Shiva to reveal the origin
of time, evolution and dissolution of the phenomenal universe.
The Rishis bestowed an order to the unimaginable span of time
by calculating the staggering number of years of the Kalpas,
Manvantharas, Yugas, etc., while very short span of time,
1/50th of a second was given the name: pratatpara. In fact,
those people who discovered these, of course, were mighty
intellectuals. The difference between them and the present-day
intellectuals was that the ancient intellects did not give
much attention to make the artifacts that added to the temporary
luxuries of life or to invent weapons of mass annihilation.
Their goal was to know deeper about life and the universe
so that the knowledge can contribute to the greater evolution
It is the evolutionary view of life that is another important
attribute of India's spiritual heritage to the world of intellectual
thought. At the stage of man, evolution of life bestows life
a certain individuality, which expresses itself a personality,
which is ruled by the law of Karma. According to the natural
impressions gathered in the lifetime personalized existence
continues through one after another reincarnation till the
human soul harmonizes itself through appropriate Karmas and
liberates itself in being one with the Supreme Self.
The quest for truth and the spirit of free inquiry have been
the hallmark of Indian culture. There was no unquestioning
acceptance of authority. While in the West such an attitude
often paid the penalty in torture and death, in India one
was encouraged to ask questions and advised to accept the
teaching only after critical examination.
The intellectual quest in India is aimed at higher objectives.
This objective was to pierce the veil of ignorance that hides
the truth and to know the mystery of existence and how to
make existence itself an experience of freedom. Swami Vivekananda
says in his lecture on 'Religion and Science' ("Complete
Works" Vol. VI): "Experience is the only source
of knowledge. In the world, religion is the only science where
there is no survey, because it is not taught as a science
of experience. This should not be. There is always, however,
a small group of men who teach religion from experience. They
are called mystics and these mystics in every religion speak
the same tongue and teach the same truth. This is the real
science of religion. As mathematics in every part of the world
does not differ, so the mystics do not differ. They are all
similarly constituted and similarly situated. Their experience
is the same, and this becomes law."
Thus, the aim of intellectual knowledge in India ever has
been the search of the greater facts and to evolve the human
life to the higher dimensions of existence. It can be done
only by exploring deep into the internal world. Again let
me quote Swami Vivekananda ("Complete Works" Vol.
II):"There are two worlds: the microcosm and the macrocosm,
the internal and the external. We get truth from both these
by means of experience. The truth gathered from internal experience
is psychology, metaphysics, and religion; from external experience,
the physical sciences. Now a perfect truth should be in harmony
with experience in both these worlds. The microcosm must bear
testimony to the macrocosm and the macrocosm to the microcosm;
physical truth must have its counterpart in the internal world,
and internal world must have its verification outside."
Therefore, we must today have a better grasp of the direction
towards which the Indian intellectual thought has been trying
to carry man ahead. As pointed out earlier, it is not to make
artifacts of physical luxury or making weapons of mass annihilation
but to convey man to greater realms of existence. This has
to be achieved by altering his consciousness itself. It is
here that India's intellectual thought and worldview can show
the path to the modern world. The well-coordinated reasoning
and intellectual thought beubg in the background, India's
spiritual concepts can show the modern world how to achieve
this radically altered state of human consciousness to evolve
a greater humanity. Mind, intellect and Spirit or Self, according
to Indian philosophy, are the constituents of man and India's
traditional quest gives prime importance to attune the mind
and intellect to the Self. Reasoning should be the means to
convince the human mind to train itself to express the faculty
of intuition and intuition should eventually help man to experience
The Distinctive Character of India's Intellectual Pursuit
that can Help Evolve A New Line of Thought in the Modern World.
To highlight this distinctive character of India's intellectual
pursuits the following illuminating observation of Mr. R.
G. H. Siu, the Chinese scientist at M. I. T., U.S.A., in his
"Tao of Science", would serve very much:
"Rational knowledge is rational only because it is obtainable
through reason. The others obtainable through means other
than reason are not irrational; they are extra-rational....
"Broadly speaking, intellectual progress is an advancement
in concepts which man has formulated and handed down. But
let us dissect the statement further. We should contrast rational
knowledge and intuitive knowledge. The role of discovery is
quite different in these two forms. In rational knowledge,
it plays a promotional part. This is where science has contributed
greatly. In intuitive knowledge, discovery, of the patent
office variety, plays a minor role. Science has not accelerated
human development in this area. If anything, she may have
dulled man's sensibilities to intuitive riches by passive
and, in some instances, antagonistic attitudes. All that is
intuitively known has been recognized by persons living before,
in other settings perhaps, but practiced to equal perfection....
The silent and formless depth of life had passed many ties
before the mind of man in its full sweep. This type of knowledge
is not enkindled by mathematical formulae and scientific treatises....
"Logicians deprecate the fuzziness of intuition; the
intuitionists decry the strictures of logic. Actually, there
is no exclusiveness of one over the other. Discursive reasoning
is not possible without intuition.
"Yet, even intuitive knowledge itself is not the ultimate
search. Sooner or later, we hesitate at the limits of rational
and intuitive knowledge. Our faltering mind must then seek
repose and cure in what it cannot know. At this point, the
concept of Sage-knowledge or no-knowledge is introduced by
the Taoists. This is really not knowledge in the ordinary
sense. Knowledge, as we understood in the West, involves the
selection of a certain event or quality as the object of its
knowledge. Sage-knowledge does not do so. It concerns an understanding
of what the East calls 'Wu' (in Chinese language) or non-being.
The 'Wu' transcends events and qualities, it has no shape,
no time. As a result, it cannot be the object of ordinary
knowledge. At the highest level of cognizance, the sage forgets
distinction between things. He lives in the silence of what
remains in the undifferentiable whole."
Now, Dr. Siu differentiates between ignorance and 'no-knowledge'.
He says: "An important difference exists between 'having-no'
knowledge and having 'no-knowledge'. The former is merely
a state of ignorance; the latter is one of ultimate enlightenment
and universal sensibilities. To the confirmed rationalist,
'no-knowledge' may appear to be the hugger-muggery of the
mystagogue. Nevertheless, it is precisely its ineffability
that lends force to its reality. The mysteries of nature appear
to be mysterious only to those who refuse to participate in
"With rational knowledge, the scientist is a spectator
of nature. With 'no-knowledge', he becomes a participant in
nature. There is a communion of understanding....
"To plumb the depths of no-knowledge, one must relay
on his own ineffable awareness of the ineffable....
"There has also been much groping in the West for the
concept of no-knowledge. It is unfortunate, however, that
considerable effort has been wasted in rationalizing no-knowledge
or opposing it competitively with rational knowledge....
"With rational knowledge, one is in tune with the scientific
man; with intuitive knowledge added, one is in tune with the
total man; with 'no-knowledge' added, one is in tune with
What a remarkable insight these observations of Dr. Siu contains
regarding intellectual and 'sage-knowledge'. In Indian culture
the pursuit of intellectual knowledge, in fact, was considered
as the means to reach 'sage-knowledge'. Dr. Siu says that
rational knowledge makes one in tune with the scientific man.
But, the scientific man, unless he is also a spiritual man,
as we can well assume, may become a disadvantage to humanity,
as he may assist the dictates of the negative trends of the
human mind that bring havoc to mankind. When intuitive knowledge
is added to scientific knowledge, one becomes a man of culture
with a sense of commitment to his fellow beings and nature
and reaches near to perfection. This should be the goal of
the common people. Then human society will evolve into a greater
dimension of existence.
This is India's intellectual and spiritual message to the
world. In the present context of the world, this message assumes
a great relevance. With the above-mentioned essential concepts
in mind, we should make the best use of the great fund of
intellectual and spiritual knowledge India has for the benefit
of humanity. Our Puranas and other ancient texts are great
compendiums of such knowledge mostly camouflaged in story
forms, which some may mistake as mere legends. In the unconscious
areas of the human mind there are many hidden facts about
life and universe and these legends, in fact, are the means
to bring us in contact with these facts.
The Organized Attempts to Denigrate
a Great Culture
Several books that present us these legends are available.
But we should not confine to such presentation alone, as in
the modern age people are in quest of the inner significance
of these legends. In the olden times these legends served
to inculcate values among the masses while they conveyed spiritual
knowledge to the common folk without much intellectual exertion
on their part. However, the present day situation is different.
The masses are educated today and to convince them these are
to be intellectually interpreted to them. The hidden meaning
should be conveyed to them. It is necessary that research
efforts should emerge in this direction. People with the sensibility
to understand the Puranas and the spiritual symbols should
come forward for this essential work and they should be encouraged
and supported. Such efforts can make people aware of the practical,
social and moral application of the great fund of knowledge
in our ancient texts. Such efforts will be able to convey
the profound knowledge and wisdom that can console and give
a positive direction to today's humanity, which is disturbed
by anxiety and boredom without knowing the goal and meaning
of human life in these very uncertain times. We are very much
neglecting this essential intellectual need of our times.
If such an effort is not made in right earnestness, there
is the danger of gross misinterpretation of these ancient
texts. For instance, we all know today in what a detestable
and vulgar manner Prof. Paul Courtright of the Emory University
has presented the rich philosophical contents of the Ganesha
legends in his book in the pretext of a 'Freudian interpretation'
and 'academic freedom' hurting the religious sentiments of
the millions! It is nothing but abject absurdity to subject
to the outmoded Freudian interpretation such a highly spiritual
theme and present the interpretation as 'scientific'! It is
evident from that the professor had done it with scant knowledge
of Freud and no knowledge of the legends. And it is said that
the fabricated and obscene interpretation is circulated in
schools, colleges, etc., claiming it is a 'learned and scientific'
interpretation. It is pathetic that some journalists of Indian
origin (in the U.S.A.), who are expected to know better, are
also writing articles presenting this profane and bleak interpretation
as 'scientific', of course, revealing their own ignorance
of science and Indian philosophy.
Let me quote here Carl Gustev Jung, who was a colleague of
Freud and the renowned psychologist, about the inapplicability
of Freudian studies to matters of spirituality. Carl Jung
says: "It is not the children of the flesh, but the 'children
of God' who know freedom...That is what Freud would never
learn and what all those who share his outlook forbid themselves
to learn. At least, they never find the key to this knowledge....
We moderns are faced with the necessity of rediscovering the
life of the Spirit; we must experience it anew ourselves.
It is the only way in which we can break the spell that binds
us to the cycle of biological events."
What a wrong key Prof. Courtright offers to open a treasure
house of spiritual wisdom and misleads humanity through his
books. We find the sorry spectacle of even some journalists
getting misled by his 'scientific' interpretation!
Several books are available in different languages containing
the legends and other details relating to Sri Ganesha. But,
we seldom find major efforts to present the rationale of the
legends. In this context, I am glad to have come across a
book "SRI GANESHA", (third revised edition) written
by Srikant, the author of a well-known book: "Power in
Temples: A Modern Perspective". This book on Sri Ganesha
is published by Integral Books (Web site <www.integralbooks.com>
E-mail: <[email protected]>) as a volume of their
series called "Alphabet of Reality -- The Significance
of Divine Forms". The book gives the inner meaning of
several Ganesha legends. The legend of Sri Ganesha's birth,
which Prof. Courtright interprets in a nauseatingly obscene
manner, is presented in Srikant's book very convincingly as
a highly symbolic story of the emergence of life from matter,
its evolution from different stages and its ultimate unfolding
as the Divine Consciousness. The book also exposes the bleakness
and fallacies of Courtright's interpretation and presents
a powerful refutation of his misleading views.
Of course, the expression of our emotional outbursts and
protests against such gross injustice to a great culture has
its relevance. However, more than that our times call for
efforts to present afresh the rationale of many such symbolic
facts in logical and intellectual terms. Otherwise, books
containing such misinterpretations will only be available
to the people, which will mislead them beyond repair, as they
will find a niche in their subconscious mind.
The Need to Promote a New Awareness
The whole mankind is facing a very challenging situation today.
Science and technology are advancing and along with them human
uncertainty and anxiety are also increasing. The protagonists
of science believed that the rational approach of science
would curtail the irrational trends of religion, which has
done great havoc to humanity in the past. But science did
not offer any alternative for man to have a mooring in the
deeper Reality. In the recess of his mind, man knows that
there is something deeper in him and in the universe and contact
with it alone can give him peace and lasting sense of fulfillment.
The present stage of science and technology with its partial
knowledge is unable to give him any such contact with his
higher being. Therefore, the mind-narrowing religious dogmas
that have nothing to do with the life-expanding spirituality
still exert much hold on him. Under their dictates as we see
today many are engaged in the most irrational and cruelest
acts of terrorism in the name of a 'merciful God' they worship!
How true are the words of an eminent intellectual (I forget
his name): "There has been lot of progress during my
lifetime. But I am afraid it's heading in the wrong direction."
In such a context where can mankind find hope? The situation
calls for all efforts for the promotion of a global rethinking
in terms of a blending of material and spiritual progress.
Certainly, both science and spirituality can go hand in hand
for achieving this. But for this very essential need for effecting
such a bridging, there should be effort to convince the scientists
the scientific nature of spirituality. Here is the global
relevance of India's intellectual tradition, which has always
been in the background of India's spiritual vision and wisdom.
Every branch of knowledge that developed in India has an intellectual
background but we have to remove the dross that has gathered
through the passage of time and present the thought in its
pristine glory. The modern intellectuals are duty bound to
do this for the greater benefit of humanity.
The traditional sciences and the philosophical concepts of
India are pregnant with profound vistas of knowledge about
the human phenomenon and Nature. For example, the direct experience
of thousands keeps the traditional science of astrology alive,
even in our highly technological age, though it eludes a convincing
explanation in terms of modern science. This shows the existing
gap between ancient insights and modern scientific perspectives.
It points out that the ancient explorers had wrested out some
keys from Nature to open some of the mystery boxes of human
life and Nature.
Today we must pool all the human experiences derived through
spiritual striving and scientific explorations and evolve
an active philosophy of humanity instead of frittering our
energies in petty squabbles, clinging to mind-narrowing dogmas
or enclosing ourselves in the dry shell-bound intellectualism.
Man's inspired inner strivings and experiments through millenniums
have accumulated considerable knowledge on the deeper nature
of universe which remains beyond the bounds of modern science.
Yet, instead of blindly rejecting the ancient knowledge, scientists
have the responsibility to examine them and separate the real
content from the chaff. With the unbiased mind we must collect
information, study them with discrimination and imbibe all
that broaden our vision and expand our lives.
There are indications that a new scientific thinking is also
veering round the ancient perspective that the universe is
both mental and material. The trends indicate that the emerging
new science will be taking a more balanced view of the two
aspects of Reality -- mind and matter. Sir Roger Penrose,
Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and a
renowned scientist, in an interview, revealed that what prompted
him to write the book "The Emperor's New Mind" was
the reaction against people making rather outrageous statements
about the capacities of computers assuming that all we were
doing with our minds was computation. The emergence of the
new science calls for a deeper comprehension of the nature
of mind. In this context, the following observation of Sir
Roger Penrose in the interview assumes much significance:
"Whatever that future science is -- and we can point
to the direction it may take -- it will have quite a different
character from the science of today. What we have today cannot
come to terms with what mentality is."
In the evolution of this new science, the critical research
of the ancient knowledge which gives much emphasis to consciousness
is likely to contribute a great deal for a better understanding
about ourselves and the universe. The trend is very clear
and for the evolution of this new science, India's age-old
intellectual thought can contribute very much. But for this
purpose modern intellectuals have to shed some of their inhibitions
and take to an intensive study of India's traditional sciences
and philosophy. Much can be discovered by them, which would
help the integrated development of this new science.
India's Intellectual wisdom, which is thus oriented to evolve
and develop the inner resources of man, can help emerge a
practical science of human management through an integrated
approach of modern psychology and the spiritual insights in
the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads.
|Let me conclude with the following
words of Sri Aurobindo: "Indians must have the firm faith
that India must rise and be great and that everything that happened,
every difficulty, every reverse must help and further their
end.... The morning was at hand and once the light had shown
itself, it could never be night again. The dawn would soon be
complete and the sunrise over the horizon. The sun of India's
destiny would rise and fill all India with its light and overflow
India and overflow Asia and overflow the world. Every hour,
every moment could only bring them nearer to the brightness
of the day that God has decreed."
| Top | Next