Author :- Shivoham (@integralunity).
(Original version published here in 2012)
The Bandhu Principle
How does Integral Unity make Hinduism antifragile? For that we turn to the Bandhu principle, which is described in ‘Being Different’ as follows:
“Bandhu is a concept used to explain how the whole and the parts are held together in integral unity. All aspects of the world stem from a common ineffable source, and what we perceive as nature is but a pointer to a higher reality. There is interlinking among the various faces of this reality, such as sounds, numbers, colours and ideas, and this interlinking is bandhu….
Furthermore …. Not only does each discipline presume this unity; so does the relationship among disciplines. All the arts and sciences are interrelated and may be seen as manifold ways in which human nature, itself an emanation of cosmic unity, expresses itself. One discipline contains and reflects the others. Delving deeply into any one of them eventually leads to similar integral principles and structures…
… Bandhu accounts for the survival of dharmic spirituality, for even when certain disciplines and practices were destroyed, other disciplines encoding the same principles survived and helped revive the overall tradition.“
For more on Bandhu, please see the works of Prof. Subhash Kak.
A reason why Pakistan’s society (whose ancestors where dharmikas for millennia) has not yet totally self-destructed despite the massive scale of violence in every dimension upon its peoples is due to the residual latent layer of a Dharmika Samaj and its integral unity. This last line of defense is what Pakistani leaders have, as a national priority, actively tried to erase since inception. If Bhutan’s measure of prosperity is gross national happiness, then surely Pakistan’s metric has to be gross national foolishness. And what is truly a matter of deep concern is India is starting to tread this path.
The West is beginning to see the benefits of such highly decentralized ‘antifragile’ designs – something that India instinctively understood and employed for thousands of years. The study of complex network systems in the aftermath of the West’s financial collapse of 2007 reveals some interesting preliminary results [see this 15-minute video]. The talker notes the high degree of centralization of ownership as well as the high levels of interactions between the nodes in the network.
A takeaway from this talk for insiders to the dharma traditions is that it is important for the world, its environment, and India that these traditions be carried forward authentically without poor Western translations, uncredited appropriations, digestion, and new-age makeovers. Among other things, it also provides crucial answers, feedback, and examples to some of the most complex practical and dire problems facing societies in the world today and in the future.
Black Swans and the future of Hinduism
The Amazon book description says “Antifragile is a blueprint for living in a Black Swan world.” Let’s go back to the Taleb interview once again.
“LG: Does all this connect to your black swans?
NNT: Those are rare events with extreme impacts that lie outside the realm of regular expectations because nothing in the past can convincingly point to their possibility. The global financial collapse is one example …
LG: How do we get out of the way of these rare catastrophic events?
NNT: We can’t measure the probability of rare events because small measurement errors will cause those predictions to explode. The real point of my book The Black Swan is not to talk about the weird things that can happen but to be able to identify how resistant and robust you are to computationally small probabilities…“
Yes, Dharma Civilization has survived a few totally unexpected and incredibly hostile attacks, and even thrived in some ways. However, Bharata has also paid a very heavy price in terms of territorial and staggering human losses, and in recent times, a decay in Hindu Samaj. Some of the questions that it faces today are:
– can this increasingly materialist Hindu society that was once a vehicle of integral unity be induced to implode?
– what if Dharmic Civilization is attacked by an adversary that simulates the Bandhu principle? Isn’t this precisely the method of inculturation being adopted by elements of the Church in India.
– Can this ‘ultimate antifragile’ exemplar withstand such a viral attack whose dimensions we are yet to fully fathom?
For the specific purpose of this essay, it is convenient to partition the last 150 years of Indian history into three stages to distinguish between the types of invasive attempts mounted by the Church on Hinduism:
Stage 1: 1757 – 1857: Overt
Openly convert natives and the use of physical violence. One of the effects of the 1857 war of Independence was to discourage the use of this type of a frontal attack. This is not to say that all attempts until 1857 were overt (e.g. read the book ‘Breaking India’).
Stage 2: 1857 – 1947: Uprooting the ‘Beautiful Tree’
Government-sanctioned methods to impart Church-friendly / Western-Universal, convent-English education and the quiet destruction and marginalization of native traditions, teaching, and training methods. Sri Dharampal’s works shed more light on this.
Stage 3: 1947 – present: Constitutionally backed Invasion of the Sacred by the Judiciary
The political freedom gained by India ended the blatantly pro-Abrahamic methods but not the Western-Universalism that Gandhi of ‘Hind Swaraj’ fought against. The Western-universalism conditioned judiciary, government officials, media and educational material contain ample anti-Hindu messaging that largely encourages the rejection of the Indian lens, preferring textbooks that employ a western lens and are riddled with straw-man arguments. Furthermore, distributed stealth-marketing methods employing native force multipliers (inculturation using newly converted Fundamentalists) are able to operate openly in the guise of spreading ‘diversity’ (sans integral unity). The current stage, by far, has the maximum chance of success.
To summarize, this latest approach attempts to destroy Hinduism:
a) from the inside-out, by
b) employing not just a single central agency, but a union of varied agents having diverse talents, and in pursuit of their own objectives, and
c) outwardly simulating a Hinduism-like integral unity, taking advantage of the urban Indian’s decline in dharmic grounding.
Note that (c) is just a simulation and obfuscation since this ploy is merely another (admittedly clever) instance of synthetic-unity at work given the history-centric core of the adversarial sections of the West. In stage-1 and stage-2, the Hindu society, either willingly or reluctantly, joined hands with the India’s Islamic society to repel Western universalism, but paid a heavy price in terms of territorial and demographic losses apart from enduring a cultural genocide. How it will be able to defend itself against this novel inside-out attack is an open question. Toward this, let us briefly review how different civilizations respond to threats.
Robustness in History-Centric (HC) Cultures
The robustness and fragility of History-Centric (HC) versus Dharmic cultures are compared side-by-side, and some hypotheses postulated.
Hypothesis 1: Working HC-systems aim to become (strategically) robust to make up for their poor antifragile properties.
A History Centric faith’s key weakness is its complete dependence on history. This results in a Synthetic but not Integral Unity (Ref: ‘Being Different’ book). All additional theology are derived dependencies and extensions of this HC core. As an analogy, this resembles a “Star-wars Death-Star” model. If the core is damaged beyond a point, the system falls apart, a la Jarasandha. History-Centrism is a non-regeneratable resource. If the fabrications in history-writing are systematically exposed on a large scale, a HC system can be neutralized. Consequently, it is a strategy that even a low-grade threat to their unique HC artifacts (e.g. religious structure/one book/one prophet) must receive a disproportionately severe response. HC cultures are fortified to appear robust in order to recover from ‘first order’ attacks, so their first layer of defense is tight. They have the support of oil-rich countries or Western nations with strong military, economic, and information base.
Hypothesis 2: Working Dharmic systems (e.g. Hindu society) today are typically non-robust that leaves them vulnerable to sustained pressure. Their antifragile properties are being continually studied by adversarial HC systems and being ignored by the Hindus.
In stark contrast, the contemporary Hindu response to such attacks on its dharmic resources typically elicits a disproportionately muted or a disproportionately emotional response, and does not appear to be gaining from stressors anymore. Temples damaged, texts and concepts distorted, Yoga, Ayurveda, Advaita digested, etc., elicit nothing more than a whimper and online petitions. Disunity has increased with sub-groups deciding to tactically optimize their local objective; add to this a lack of strategic investment in understanding and embracing dharma’s integral unity, and we can see why such failures are virtually guaranteed. Unlike HC theologists whose main task is to memorize ‘HC Smriti’ (Claim: A machine is sufficient to replicate and teach all necessary HC theology?), the wise Guru carries with her or him, the ‘DNA’ of Hinduism that can be used to re-generate and propagate Dharmic concepts and inspire future leaders of the nation. However, Hindus appear to be too mentally colonized and fragmented to offer an integral response to any systematic attack (Stage 3) on Hindu Gurus and diverse dharma traditions in India and all over the world.
However, the heartening news is that the pioneering books such as “Breaking India” and “Being Different” have
a) deciphered the mechanism, tactics, and analyzed the strategy employed by the adversary
b) Prescribed important methods and techniques that can be employed toward preserving the DNA of the ultimate antifragile system of the universe.
The book ‘Indras’Net’ explains these points in more detail.
Recommended References: –
- Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism. Rajiv Malhotra. Harper Collins. 2011.
- Indra’s Net: Defending Hinduism’s Philosophical Unity. Rajiv Malhotra. Harpercollins India. 2014.
- Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines . Rajiv Malhotra. 2011.
- The Collected Writings of Dharampal. Aditya Prakashan; 2007.
- Art and Cosmology in India. Subhash Kak. Sutra Journal. 2015.
- Incerto: Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, The Bed of Procrustes, Antifragile. Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Random House Trade Paperbacks; Box edition. 2016.
Shivoham is a follower of Sri Rajiv Malhotra’s works. He has a doctorate in engineering and is a student of Bharatiya Ganita traditions. He blogs at indicportal.org and is active on twitter @integralunity. View More.