The conference, Hindu Religion in Australia – Its Roots and Growth, is the domain of academia and one must first answer why non-academics are stepping into an essentially academic domain.
In his preface to the third edition of A Survey of Hinduism, Klaus K. Klostermaier writes,
“It was especially gratifying for me to see it appreciated by Hindu students and scholars—a token for the fulfilment of my ambition to present Hinduism in such a way that Hindus would recognise their own traditions in it.”
A wonderful sentiment, especially since in most of the books on Hinduism by Western scholars, Hindus themselves don’t recognise that it is about them!
In this survey, the second chapter of the Gita is claimed as its essence. The orthodox Hindu view is that it’s the fifteenth chapter. This is an example of how even this sympathetic 700-page page survey falls short of capturing the Hindu religion, albeit not by much.
The story when it comes to academia, Indology and its view on Vedas and the “pre-historic” speculations about Hindus, borders on disbelief. A majority academic position is that scholars like Sayanacharya and Dayananda Saraswati were ignorant of the modern “scientific” philological tools. We should throw their commentaries overboard and let the philological analysis only tell us about Vedas.
The less said about the Aryan Invasion theory the better. If one doesn’t support both these theories, it is impossible to get published in peer-reviewed journals or get a good publisher for your books. Subconsciously we all feel that a book published by Penguin or Oxford Press is much more valuable than that published by Garuda Press. These attitudes have been impressed upon our minds with careful strategies, least of all the veneration for the English language. The absence of any counter view in the peer-reviewed journals is adduced as the final proof that no counter view is valid.
The story of the media is even fantastic. The international left network and its media fronts cannot write about Hindus without derogatory mention of the caste system, utter misuse of Hindu icons or finding only erotica in it, horror and ridicule of cow worship, insistence on uprooting yoga from its Hindu roots.
These are just a few horrors that one is sure to find in any news story about India. The scattered but influential right media with its think tanks shamelessly promotes their ideology at the expense of the Hindus using the fodder provided by the left.
What must then a Hindu do? What must a Hindu think, who has an unshakable faith in their received knowledge to get a vision of God? How must Hindus in Australia pass their beliefs to their children, who know only English and learn everything about their religion in English? What misery must a Hindu feel when their Deities are “proved” by learned scholars to be erotic symbols?
An easy way for Hindus is to shut out the academia, the media, the think tanks, and all those silent attacks to which they cannot respond. Subscribe to the popular notion of the subjective versus objective; intuitive versus rational divide, ignore the objective and real, and pursue the intuitive and subjective. Subscribe to the “multicultural” notion and develop its unique religion as perhaps done in Fiji, the Caribbean, and South America. This will be a big mistake.
The aim of every philosophy, oriental or occidental, is one and only one – to seek that is truly pure. If one can be so bold as to proclaim, it is only given to Hindus to get hold of the philosophy, Eastern and Western, and make it one living thing.
In speaking about Spinoza and Giordano Bruno, Schopenhauer comments that:
They do not belong either to their age or to their part of the globe, which rewarded the one with death, and the other with persecution and ignominy. Their miserable existence and death in this Western world are like that of a tropical plant in Europe. The banks of the Ganges were their spiritual home; there they would have led a peaceful and honoured life among men of like mind(WORLD I 422, N. 2).
I quote this not to hint at the superiority of one thing over another but merely to say that Spinoza who is considered the father of metaphysics was talking about the same thing as talking on the banks of the Ganges. How can his true intellectual children be different? Spinoza believed that: The essential character of this bondage, however, suggests the possibility of escape from it. (in Introduction to Ethics by Benedict De Spinoza, page xxviii). This is pure and simple Bhakti Yoga.
When one reads the Western philosophers, minus the prejudice created by “academic” philosophers, one realises that the labels given to Western and Eastern philosophies do not hold. This is for the Hindu to discover and with this discovery make their life fuller and richer in their adopted country Australia.
For Hindus to have a fuller life, not weighed down by academia, the media, and the left, we must start thinking on our own. There is really no human who doesn’t have thoughts that are unique to them. It is only a fortunate few who can develop their thoughts enriching their lives and the lives of others.
It doesn’t have to be so, Religion is unique in the sense that it provides us with a 24 x 7 laboratory. We don’t need multibillion-dollar particle colliders, we do not need a hierarchical institutional structure, we have all that we need to develop our religious ideas free of costs in the body made of five elements.
Hindu Religion in Australia – Its Roots and Growth, Australian Hindu Conference 2021, has a large vision in its sight. This conference is for Hindu scholars to know that there are people willing to listen to them and learn from them. It is to let every Hindu in Australia know that discovering new ideas within their religion is one gift of God that we all possess.
There is no need to outsource the intellectual part of the religion to anyone. We can have the banks of the Ganges here in Australia if we are bold in our thinking and truthful in its pursuit. Let us digest the whole of the philosophy and make a wonderful religion here in Australia. Let that be the grand destiny of every Hindu in Australia. Aiming for anything less won’t be worth the trouble to leave those wonderful banks of the Ganges.
We wait to welcome you call to the conference.
Author: Himanshu Pota
Australian Hindu Conference 2021
Hindu Religion in Australia — Its Roots and Growth
9 am – 5 pm Saturday 3 July 2021
2 Australia Ave Sydney Olympic Park NSW 2127
Contact email: [email protected]