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Some problems with the 'Universal' values of Dharmic tradition

Pushpahaas
When people attempt to cast values in the mold of ‘universal values’ of religions, it creates numerous problems for both Dharmic and non-Dharmics people. However, these are nothing in comparison to the violent, exploitative and demeaning effects of proselytizing Abrahamic religions. Such effects are not discussed at all simply because Abrahamic religions share a common view towards people professing other religions. Whenever such issues are raised, enterprises like interfaith dialogue or the comparative study of religions, etc. reduce to the level of squabbling.

The claim of ‘universal spiritual truths’ (like Vedanta) for all religions, differences of various schools, sects and philosophies of tradition at the cost of finer truths. This process was akin to the grafting of republic of India on Bharat. The 'Universal' truth and ‘experiential’ values of Dharmic tradition create a lot of confusion among the Dharmic folks as to what is Karttavya Karma and what are not? This article is an attempt to open some such issues for discussion. It hopes to bring to fore clarity as to terms and their scope so that we take clearer, honest and informed stand and don't follow some mumbo jumbos popularized in the public sphere by various forces.

The fate of Dharmic people has been peculiar ever since colonial times. After the victory of Western colonialism, they tried to study and define their tradition in the fashion of the Abrahamic tradition. The power of in the administration was daunting. While comparing Dharmic tradition with others many earlier scholars realized that Dharmic tradition possesses wider, holistic and superior values and patience towards dissidents. They interpreted this as true Universal values in the realm of spiritual experiences, philosophy and ethics. Though this was factually incontestable, the basis for such claims were shoddy generalizations, diffidence and intellectual trickeries.

The university educated hybridized scholars (of Dharmic tradition and philosophy) were overawed by the Western civilization. They neither held traditional authority (like some Acharya), nor were they honest practicing Dharmics. They were petty mercenary scholars primarily concerned with their jobs, career-promotions and secured livelihood. Such scholars selectively glorified some teachings-values of Dharma shastras and tradition and mocked at others from external (universal) perspective. It all started in Calcutta with Raja Rammohan Roy, Kesub Chandra Sen, Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, and Rabindranath Tagore.  Since such scholars lacked traditional rigor, authority and knowledge, in this enterprise, they also relied upon foreign translations, interpretation theories and so on.

The pattern of engagement of university educated scholars with traditional (Samskrit) scholars was no less deceitful. Even serious scholars-translators studiously avoided criticisms made by traditional pundits. The foremost casualties of this process of standardization-homogenization in textual interpretations were finer nuances and holistic connectedness. The colonial and post colonial education system ensured idealization of such works for students as if these works were standard works. Even today all Indian universities pledge on standardized works of Griffith, Max Muller and S. N. Dasgupta etc. Its effects have been deadly, first the practicing scholars (who happened to be the true heirs of tradition) were marginalized; second hybrid non-practicing, disconnected scholarship was firmly established as the mainstream.  
We all are accomplice and victim of this phenomenon.

To verify this let us honestly answers the following propositions. Do you think :

1. We distinguish between Ehalaukik and Paarlaukik concerns, Apara and Para knowledge, Vyaahavharik and Paarmarthik truth. Higher planes of consciousness are available for all people irrespective of their religious cultural tradition.

2. Since higher planes of truth/consciousness (reality) constitute basis of Dharmic ethics and moral code, we should deal with people on the basis of such universal values, irrespective of their religious or cultural proclivity.

3. That Dharmic folks need to visit Vedas and Upanishads only if they want true spirituality.

4. That discrimination followed by the votaries of Varnashrama Dharmic is abhorrent. For example denying temple entry to an European or Muslim is obscurantist.

5. Karmakand with philosophy of heaven-hell is primitive and illogical. It doesn’t fit well with ‘scientific and rational’ Upanishadic Vedantic teachings.

6. Nivrutti Marga encapsulates the essence or crux of Sanatana Dharmic; Pravrutti Marga (the way of householder) is for common people who cannot overcome their base carnal instincts. That Pravrutti Marga is no better than any other religion.

7. Dharmic has got limited role in modern polity. It is a private matter of individuals and its excess reliance on this will weaken the nation.

If you believe any of the above propositions true, then in all probability you too study and understand Dharmic values in Abrahamic universal values; you have internalized alien universal values. Your false attempt to create Dharmic universal values actually dilutes and weakens them.

To understand this properly, comparison is a good tool. The Dharmic universal values are not merely philosophical positions that you can intellectualize, they are experiential and based on Dharmic values. The foundation of Dharmic value is Viveka just as the base of Abrahamic value universe is commandment and law.

A concept like Viveka presupposes supreme reality be it Sat-Chit-Ananda (truth-existence, knowledge, bliss), Ishwara or Parmatman as Antaryami (controller of inner core of self). This ‘unitive’ experience makes individual responsible of deeds. The role of Dharma shastra code is limited to maintain conducive environment for such values at individual, family and society level. The Commandment – legal code of Abrahamic religion is based on external divine authority and associated legal mechanizations. Thus Dharmic Universalists who celebrate secular Non-Dharmic polity as an ideal ultimately lead to stealth entry of Abrahamic values in Dharmic universe.
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