Hindu Political Thought: Liberal, Conservative and Reactionary

Introduction

 

This essay is intended to provide a theoretical introduction to the three varieties of political thought that have emerged among the Hindus in modern times. The circumstances of modernity naturally give rise to these three, as well as other forms of political discourse, all of which are traceable to a Western past. But the fact that modernity originated in the West and was transported to India, and that too under colonial conditions, problematizes in the Indian context, the relevance of the Indian past, which is usually designated as Hindu. In case of the West, modernity is a transformation of its own past and in that sense its past survives, albeit in an altered shape, into modernity. On the other hand, in case of India because modernity is a foreign import one is confronted by the issue of the abandonment of its past. Continue reading “Hindu Political Thought: Liberal, Conservative and Reactionary”

Out of Egypt: metaxy, memory, and Moses the Egyptian

 

I. Introduction

Draw a distinction.
Call it the first distinction.
Call the space in which it is drawn the space severed or cloven by the distinction.
—George Spencer-Brown[1]

Nothing, in fact, is far away from anything; things are not remote: there is, no doubt, the aloofness of difference and of mingled natures as against the unmingled; but selfhood has nothing to do with spatial position, and in unity itself there may still be distinction.
—Plotinus[2]

We find from time to time that the wisdom found in one field of study is applicable to another. George Spencer-Brown was writing about the space of logical and mathematical construction; Plotinus was speaking of unity on the most fundamental level, that of all things in the One. Taking these together, we see that every distinction between things is simultaneously a line of contact between them. That which we cleave apart, conceptually speaking, we necessarily and in the very same instance cleave together. Every separation is thus a connection. Such a line, of boundary as well as contact, not only cleaves a given space but is a space in itself, an interval or betweenness which has been called metaxy.

Continue reading “Out of Egypt: metaxy, memory, and Moses the Egyptian”

Religion, counter-religion, and the weirdness of modernity

I. Cultural Space and the Problem of Secularity

 

It can be supposed that in every age there are men who take for granted the peculiarities of the spatial-temporal location in which they happen to find themselves. But in every age there is also a connection to the past through living ancestors, myths, rituals, institutions, names, recorded history, and so on; and a connection to the future through concern for one’s descendants, as well as the maintenance of myths, rituals, and so on.

Such a connection can be called vertical, as it extends up and down in time—as opposed to horizontal cultural connections which exist between people of the same generation. Today, of course, we are notably lacking in vertically transmitted ideas and practices, and rather than calling the past back into conscious (and unconscious) life through myth and ritual, we often see our own cultural past as a strange place with foreign values and customs. This is, in part, because older and younger people do not socialize with one another in the same ways, or with the same frequency, that they did only a century ago. Continue reading “Religion, counter-religion, and the weirdness of modernity”

Conversations: On Devadāsīs

contemplationist: What are the views on devadasis here?

neelambuj_: It was not really as evil a practice, as was portrayed by the prude Britishers. Natis were not really “disrespected”.

NikhilD: I’m not much knowledgeable about Devadasi system so have no views on it.

maisooru: Were highly respected, especially for being the repository of traditional arts.

contemplationist: Church assault on it renewed.

maisooru: There is a place in Karnataka where one can find devadasis even now, but not the types of 19th century.

maisooru: Church has always played the game of “bringing them to mainstream”, since many many decades. Fact is, they were the mainstream for arts in Hindu society.

Continue reading “Conversations: On Devadāsīs”

Pagan and Monotheistic Violence

This essay is a meditation on the second chapter of Jan Assmann’s Of God and Gods, titled ‘Seth the Iconoclast: Polytheism and the Language of Violence.’

Polytheistic societies were not peaceful, tolerant or non-violent but the nature of their warfare, intolerance and violence was political and not religious. It was required for maintaining the political order.

Continue reading “Pagan and Monotheistic Violence”