Monday, October 10, 2011

Tribal Warfare at the Dinner Table...When Scholars Debate

A few years ago I read a book review in the New York Times about the invention of Hinduism***. The spiritual practice/religion was millennia old, yes, but didn't exist as Westerners know it, until it was existed.

In other words, it took the British Empire, the colonialists, to codify, encyclopedia-ize and, most of all, explain Hinduism so the west could get it. We are a simple peoples, we westerners, simple. But cruel.

A review ("The Most Versatile of Mystics") in the esteemable Los Angeles Review of Books brings this home, er, reinforces the fact that on the one hand, in temples, churches, mosques, mountaintops, people worship and get our comfort, we do; on the other hand, in research libraries and Ivy League archives, scholars dissect. The Library of Alexandria had its archives. Disassociated and disembodied research--not all of it bad, of course, but all of it worthy of challenge--is eons old.

That the Los Angeles Review of Books reviews the book which critiques a psycho-sexual critique of a religious hero (I'm okay with hero) is all for the good. Since the debate is ongoing the debaters, especially those who have both have heart and brain in the arena, must be heard. So more thanks-- for Swami Tyagananda and Pravrajika Vrajaprana's Interpreting Ramakrishna, and again to Los Angeles Review of Books for the review.

***If anyone can locate that NYT review... I remember discussing it with a friend, we were Tompkins Square, he doubted me, I sent on the review, he no longer doubted. Four or five years ago. I can't locate it now. However, here is an essay on the same topic, written earlier than the review in question ... NS Essay: How the British Invented Hinduism.

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