Revisiting Indra’s Net

A devotee once asked Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a great spiritual master and an enlightened saint of 19th century India as to what was the way for worldly people to attain liberation, he quickly remarked:

“Prayer and the company of holy men. You cannot get rid of an ailment without the help of a physician. You should constantly seek it for the disease has become chronic. Again, you cannot understand the pulse rightly unless you live with a physician. Moving with him constantly, you learn to distinguish between the pulse of phlegm and the pulse of bile.”

What to ascertain of those great western scholars who do not imbibe the right pulse of the teachings of Swami Vivekananda within the broad framework of Hinduism and construct a whole new thesis called “Neo-Hinduism“?

They assert that Hinduism has never existed as a united whole previously and the modern interpretations of Hinduism are nothing but western ideas imported by Swami Vivekananda and presented in Sanskrit so as to appear as a true, authentic, unified religion which it is not. Well, they don’t stop there and claim that Swami Vivekananda had digressed from the traditional Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta so much so that the essence of the mahavakya (The Great Saying) “tat tvam asi– That thou art” was twisted from its true interpretation. Are they even minimally qualified as a legitimate authority on the subject to posit the above views?

 Just as living with a physician and constantly learning for a certain period of time, may help one understand the workings of the pulse, living with the descendants of Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Order and having healthy discussions with the Hindu community would have perhaps facilitated the western minded to imbibe the right spirit of the teachings of Swami Vivekananda and its contribution to the organic development of Hinduism before they jump on board to make such erroneous, bizarre statements.

It took the intellectual scholarship of Shri Rajiv Malhotra to debunk their illogical assertions and also shake the cozy cocoon shells that Hindus have lodged themselves in. Interestingly, today, far from giving a befitting reply to those “western scholars”, most of the Hindu practitioners in India aren’t even aware that their Dharma is being misrepresented at the highest western academic circles and widely circulated as “neo/contemporary Hinduism” influencing the psyche of people at various levels.

Indra’s net systematically elaborates the integral unity and dynamic evolution of Hinduism since the ancient times, how it transformed itself under different thinkers and scholars in response to the exigencies of various circumstances without losing its core essence, the current challenges it faces and the way to boldly face them in a rational fashion. Anyone who reads the book will certainly be fascinated with the amount of research and in depth analysis that has gone into the making of it.

From Adi Shankaracharya to Vijnanabhikshu to Vivekananda, how did Hinduism as a progressive force reincarnate itself in the light of new, modern developments in the society? Indra’s net provides a one stop solution in understanding the intricacies and complexities surrounding the natural growth of Hinduism.

As the western scholars allege, did Swami Vivekananda, out of inferiority complex, really import western ideas to make Hinduism look legitimate, rational and scientific before everyone’s eyes? The above statement is downright hilarious and clearly depicts the intellectual immaturity of people making such claims. Our ancient rishis and yogis had developed Adhyatma Vidya– (the knowledge of inner science) thousands and thousands of years ago, owing to which Hinduism had not the least need to look elsewhere to draw its own concepts.

For those who believe that Hinduism existed only as a narrow, isolated religion operating in silos because of its myriad customs and practices, it is but natural to ask-

Is Hinduism really broad enough to encompass various schools of thought, different gods and goddesses, different forms of worship, rituals and practices?

Shri Rajiv Malhotra propounds a charming “open architecture framework” of Hinduism which accommodates rich variety but at the same time preserves the underlying unity and integrity. It drives the message firmly that the unity of Hinduism is not a manufactured one rather it is an in-built unity which has survived invasions after invasions only to manifest itself with greater intensity and power.

Today, Yoga, which was gifted to the global community at large from the invaluable ancient heritage of India, is being fragmented, isolated from its roots and sold as “Christian Yoga“; mudras in Bharatnatyam (a classical dance form of India) are being distorted and mapped onto biblical framework giving rise to Christian inculturation of Bharatnatyam, destroying its originality and sanctity. To safeguard Hinduism from selective fragmentation, digestion and absorption by abrahamic religions, Shri Rajiv Malhotra had innovated “porcupine defence” and the “poison pill strategy” which would act as a strong defence wall for Hinduism and help retain its pristine purity. It is high time that the concepts and strategies proposed in Indra’s net are seriously discussed, debated and implemented by the Hindu community in order to better equip themselves and defend their Dharma from western onslaughts.

Deepthi Damaraju

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