– By Durgadas Lingham, Ved Kovid,
R.A.P, A.Y.T, AMPKT
The Background Issue:
I want to address the elephant in the room – and no, it’s not Ganesha! It is something relative to the appropriation, misappropriation and proselytisation of all facets of not only Vaidika but all native traditions that occur on a daily basis, and often goes without notice.
Many wish to fast-track traditional systems and emulate great masters as Sri Ramana Maharishi, Sri Ramakrishna and others due to the egotism of this age of kaliyuga.
Personalities such as Sri Ramana Maharishi had rare realisations, even for advanced yogis. We cannot simply seek to emulate their atmajnanabhavas or self-realised states today, especially in the west becomes intellectual projectory alone. Sri Ramana was a Tamil Brahmin and Sri Ramakrishna was a Bengali Brahmin – even those of us Indians outside their own genetic lineages cannot find a real link with these older and more traditional Hindu people and regions, what to speak of the west!
Here, the digestion of both knowledge, like foods isn’t always lineal. Samtya or suitability here is also mentioned by Charaka (Charaka Samhita, Chikitsa, XXX, 315-19), especially relative to Chinese, Persians, Central Asians and Greeks habitually eating meats and taking wine and thus becoming accustomed to them and of southern Indians with lighter foods as tubers, roots and fruits and variations such as suitability of fish as in eastern India; in the Sindhi region, the liberal use of milk-products is noted and grains as wheat and barley with milk in the central region of India, and that despite being unhealthy, such accumstomed or suitable (satmya) foods should be given to these patients along with medicines for better health, rather than changing it and forcing a localised diet upon them!
Now, this is mentioned in Charaka in ancient times – yet today, we see the same people as the Europeans (Greeks and Persians mentioned in the classics along with Chinese), as being administered along with various herbs for their conditions, due to their (local and genetic) conditioning to being accustomed to such foods and is better than simply, say giving them a sindhi or south-Indian diet of root vegetables and milk products, which doesn’t even suit the eastern Bengalis as per Charaka, due to their customary eating of fish. Here, satmya or suitable items for one’s region alone should be prescribed say the classics.
Here, satmya is both relative to foods and also knowledge, hence why we had the varna system as per samskaras or inherent karmic traits, that cannot be wished, fabricated or forged as in today’s avatars, in the Orient and Occident! Moreover, we see the basic failure even from Ayurveda’s perspective that states of issues when one goes from eating meats genetically to simply taking up a pure vegetarian diet – something that even within peoples of similar genetic strains within the Indian subcontinent, is advised against, let alone the other non-Meditteranean people of the west (Nordic, Alpine etc.), when even caution here for western Mediterranean types (Persians, Greeks), is cautioned. What to speak of extreme dietary regimes as veganism!
All is done in the name of “Vedic” as if it has become the new Christianity which any man and his dog can adopt and succeed with, as if a panacea or genetic mantra for one and all! Such a liberalistic / socialistic view, while noble, doesn’t find rational sanction in either Hinduism, sacred Yogic and Brahmanical traditions, nor in accordance with the basic fundamentals of Ayurveda and it’s philosophy of individualisation, which contradicts the modern “Vedic Movement” in the west and its expounders’ zeal for proselytisation; the exact reason why Hinduism has survived thus far and so traditionally, is by keeping it within traditions, not seeking to ‘muddy the waters’ by outside influences!
Sadly, the Vedas and “Vedic” (now a misnomer) have become somewhat a pop-culture currency, which is against what it’s original intention was. These are some of the reasons I refused to accept people over the years and reduced people down. In many respects, as I have noted, the western genetics are just not there and everyone wants to try and achieve some success in one lifetime. Even yearning for moksha is actually rajasic and the opposite to the conditioning of the Hindu psyche and culture. For most, these things are simply a subconscious transferal of escapism: Jesus failed them, but they wish to embrace the Vedic will full zeal at an emotional-vital level, confused with spiritual or karmic (forcefully repressing the samskaras) and wishing to attain what even advanced Yogis in the Sat-Yuga and even Devas cannot attain. It is the same unconscious transferal of Christocentric qualities of a divinity, a saviourhood or a philosophy that will liberate them from the status quo, rather than seeking to karmically work out their issues, perform social seva to preserve the dharma.
If nothing is done to protect the dharma (as was done by Parashurama, Sri Krishna and Arjuna, Sri Haumanji, Sri Shankaracharya, Gorakshanatha and Hatha-Yogis, Swami Vivekananda, Maharishi Dayananda etc.), then the social side fails. Yet, the western “Vedic” wants to be heir to these teachings and adulate the masters, but doesn’t wish to emulate their lives and central core, let alone teaching to stand up, fight and also become a scholar over a neophyte two-work summary “Enlightened Master”, of which is usually their goal!
Everyone wants to become a monk, but even the historical monk took up arms, while the British-style monks sit in ashrams and his armchair, allowing the few kriyas and sadhanas he has done in the recent decades to fill his head with grandiose thoughts, not the same as atmic. ‘Dharmic‘, ‘atmic‘, ‘vedic‘ are simply all culturally misappropriated terms that come to validate, in the European psyche, the so-called “success” of their own austerities etc, forgetting the hundreds of lifetimes within native lineages true yogis, shamans and others had to undergo and continue to. Where this leads to is the reverse-polarisation of the de-magnetisation of the ahankara and instead, activates its rajasic side, which it cannot see in it’s egotistical myopia, simply repeating the mantras “dharmic – vedic – atmic”, believing that what they are doing is purely, solely and completely right, righteous, spiritual and of the highest quality alone, as per their Eurocentrism that has been fueled in many colonies by post-Colonial samskaras that remain.
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami reminded us that the ancient vast ashrama traditions of the ancient world didn’t just allow any Tom, Dick and Harry into their monasteries. In fact, many had to wait several decades – even lifetimes outside the walls of monasteries before being karmically mature and being allowed in. The west also adopted such approaches as we see in some forms of Catholicism. One cannot simply turn up one day and decide to become a Catholic Priest, monk or run for the Papal office as in more ‘lay’ systems of Christianity. Priests are required to be married to the Church and thus their celibacy – a facet of Catholicism as a layover from preexisting pagan traditions and older forms of Buddhism.
The European, however, wants to dive straight into the sphere of meditation, yoga, the Self and possess healing powers, without even understanding the very basic aspects of philosophical systems upon which they rest. They forget that all ancient lineages in the world had numerous sciences as metaphysics, astrology, cosmology, inner teachings, healing traditions and their own respective sub-branches that were to be perfected before one even thought about preparation for meditation, which was an advanced limb for advanced souls – not the average Joe!
Again, we see the same with Catholicism. Exorcists, for example, were trained and advanced priests who had the specific sanction of the Church and training for such purposes. They were neither an average Priest nor were they a member of the laity that decided one day they were ‘intuitive enough’ to take this on board!
The main issue here is that the west seeks to denigrate ancient systems and turn them into ‘faith-based’, rather than the academic traditions they were. Indian Acharyas taught at mathas (monasteries) and vishwavidyalayas (universities) that required academic study of texts first (swadhyaya) before any other higher teachings were given (which included asana, pranayama etc., long before meditation).
I am sure that all native people who have striven hard to seek a return of their ancestors’ native and authentic traditions and teachings feel the same as me, here! Sadly, what is “Vedic”, has been used in arguments by westerners to simply rename and reformat their Christian samskaras – these are often not “Vaidika” at all, not substantiated by shastra, tradition or otherwise, but simply the neo-Baptist style rambling of hearsay, so typical of the Christians to misappropriate Hindu terms as “dharma” and “atma” as they did Judaic concepts!
It is here that the native – whether Hindu, Polynesian, Native American, African, Chinese Taoist or Japanese Shinto is shouted down as the inferior, their doctrines used against them in a misappropriated manner, to seek to malign and undermine them, for the European is alone the sole authority on their traditions!
Eurocentric Dissonance and Second-Wave (or Cultural) Colonialism:
One of the things that the west has superimposed upon the eastern systems and all native systems is the second-wave of , or Cultural Colonialism, which is less blatant than before. It adopts the idea of a ‘Hindu apologetic’ while seeking to undermine it at the same time – cultural Marxism. The Christians adopted this same tactic through the Church for centuries to undermine the Jews and their Judaism, just as the Buddhists did in India centuries before Christianity by ignoring the symbolic traditions and Sanskrit interpretations of Brahmins and instead, generating their own ‘New-Age’ versions.
The west is quick to create a streamlined and pasteurised one-way, one-path and one-size fits all mentality, or a ‘cookie-cutter’ approach, often resting upon the virtue-signalling ideal of the pious Samaritan or the eastern appropriated form of ‘sattvas‘.
Such terms and facets of oriental philosophy are not used in the west to honour traditions, but to undermine them by misappropriating the terms out of original context; it seems to reshape and reformat these in line with the streamlined Christian approach, as well as the YOLO mentality, which hypocritically embracing karma and samsara, often using such terms as in negative, non-philosophical, unnuanced manners.
Others seek to proselytise from the ‘love and light’ ideals alone, thinking that all is to be shared and taught to one and all (by that, they mean their superficial hyperbolised facets of whatever they deem ‘dharma‘). This trait or samskara is a social one that is hard to scrub or remove, for the lust for proselytisation, especially of superficial ideals, is as old as the Romans and their own appropriated systems. It is a trait that was adopted, force-fed and became the central subliminal, if not unconscious thread of all Europeans as time went on, which only fuels their dissonance in such cases as aggressors.
The ‘Second-Wave Colonialism‘ is something I also term as the ‘Christocentric Superimposition’ and ‘Christocentric Samskara‘ in my works. Again, often unconscious and fuelled by cognitive dissonance and the Eurocentric narcissism when dealing with eastern philosophies, as also expressed by Sir John Woodroffe (Arthur Avalon). Some forms of this adopt the Christian approach of cherry-picking Bible verses out of context to screaming down traditional acharyas and scholars as Brahmins by their own strategically-placed Colonialist-sympathetic or Christian apologetic Swamis, notably Paramahansa Yogananda and Mahatma Gandhi. They will ignore the vast works of Swami Dayananda, Sri Aurobindo, Veer Savarkar, Swami Vivekananda and others – especially their complete contextual views on such topics, which they fail to read, let alone ever mention. Their own dissonance, fused with their subliminal superiority complexes to be “more right than the (savage) brown Hindu” derives from the Christian right to be “more correct about the Old Testament than the Jewish Rabbis” whence it arose. It is exactly the same heir of the white-skinned man being more correct by that trait alone than the swarthy Middle-Eastern Jew he’s appropriated from, or the more recent Hindu Brahmin he’s appropriated from.
The European seeks to become the master, before learning the ropes in all aspects of these within the New-Age spheres. He wants to be the proverbial pilot of the Boeing 777 by yelling and screaming as he’s watched another or Googled something, he can become a master and know all about it. The surgeon bereft of any knowledge of human anatomy, physiology or even pathology, let alone surgical knowledge that is allowed to roam free with a scalpel!
In many ways, we can compare these people somewhat to the behaviours of historical social classes as the nouveau riche and their somewhat often uncultured mannerisms, compared to the established bourgeoisie classes, born into wealth and their different behaviours. Such existed in all ancient systems and was also the basis of the Indian varna or caste system that established various classes of people and professions relative to social and individual karma. Trying to go against this (exceptions to the rule were not the rule itself) forcefully, interfered with one’s own karma as well as revealed the inferiority complex and spiritual unreadiness – like the layman with a scalpel or the average priest who has found a book of exorcism, but has no formal training and knowledge!
Here the historical lesson is to follow our own inner dharma, not that of others. This is stated by the great Philosopher-King and Statesman, Sri Krishna around 3200BCE (Bhagavad Gita, III.35), who stated that it was better to perform one’s actual or natural dharma (swadharma) or prescribed duty than to perform another’s, which is dangerous. This relates to the system of karma we are born with as per the actions and karmic impressions (samskaras) of our past-lives, known as prarabdha-karma.
Krishna also stresses it is better to perform one’s own duty (i.e. naturally allow one’s karma to unfold and act accordingly) imperfectly, rather than to perfectly perform the duties of another with perfection (which interferes with our karma and adds to our kriyamana–karma or future karma of the next birth). This is due to rajas (passion and motion) or lust (kama), which blinds us to act against our natural state – also known as our varna (karmic colouring, attributes or guna – mode of nature or state) which we must work with. This is why traditional systems require generally a pure blood-line or a deeper examination of the karma of individuals before allowing ‘outsiders’ into certain groups – despite how great their delusions (of karma and the mind) may be! One simply cannot ‘fake’ ones samskaras or varna one is born with – i.e. innate karmic traits! Again, Krishna warns that rajas here, as stated, is the reason most lust after others’ actions and professions or activities – a delusion (mudha) of the mind, rather than a natural state (swabhava).
This here relates to the niyama of santosha or contentment and hence being content with one’s own state according to their soul’s evolution and not wishing to become more, such as mentioned beforehand, even striving for moksha in one lifetime, which reveals an anxious and rajasic soul that has not yet perfectly evolved or understood the all-pervading nature of the Self he wishes to attain, which is localised, not apart from himself!
This is very dangerous, and the west has encouraged such pasteurised forms coming even from the east itself, such as Reiki, Pranic-Healing and Chakra-Balancing. These already pasteurised systems became further misappropriated in the west and turned into cults against the native traditions, in attempt to undermine and oversimplify them as the “idiot’s approach”, much like Pentecostal Christianity and it’s speaking in tongues and blind faith fails in comparison to the more rigid structure of both the Orthodox and Catholic Church, that had their own testimonies and systems of validation rather than being based on ‘feel’, ‘energies’ or ‘intuition’ – all of which were self-proclaimed. If such were that easy to master, then why did and do true traditional communities throughout the world guard closely their occult healing traditions and it took even those born into shamanic and Priestly blood-lines decades themselves to master such powers – let alone a Westerner, born into a Christian tradition as per their own karma and bereft of any blood lineage, let alone sadhana (spiritual discipline) and tapas (austerities) required on top, to gain these?
The question here is, how does the modern European have the ability to (a) transcend the system of karma and samsara and (b) fast-track the ancient systems by being born with white skin and therefore in-built ‘intuition’ that took so long for traditional systems to master?
The answer is simple: They have simply superimposed the Christian idea of a simplified doctrine (pasteurised Judaism), a belief that a Jewish zombie will save people and as a result, Jesus’ own coming made everything so much easier for mankind that one could dismiss with all of the ritualism and difficulties of the past.
This however does not wash with native traditions and is merely a culture of excuses and as noted, Second-Wave Colonialism to corrupt from within as the proverbial ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’.
The Modern Western Appropriated Model vs Traditional Logic:
We have mentioned the superimposition of Christian philosophies upon eastern tenets, but such isn’t the case alone. There are other aspects to be considered, apart from what we have discussed, as the nuances of the vaidika system itself traditionally. Let us take the example of how vedanta, the Hindu system of metaphysics is itself misinterpreted and distorted.
As an example, philosophical superimposition not only fails here but undermines the entire philosophy of vedanta itself, of the Bhagavad Gita and most of all, its system of debate and logic (nyaya) through the four pramanas that modern western vedantins also wish to omit; it was and is first, an intellectual tradition which is why the great yogis left us with so many texts and their bhashyas or traditional commentaries – that we may understand their words in true fashion, beyond our own preconceptions. Modern vedantin scholars as Sri Ramana, Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Sivananda and numerous others have also taught us what true vedanta is – which is merely more than self-hypnosis that we are the “Self”. As, unless we understand the philosophical nuances, what is even the purpose of saying we know about vedanta? It requires years of study of all branches of Hinduism.
In ancient times, pratyaksha (direct-perception) had many levels intermingled with moha-bhavas (delusional states) and interplay of the three gunas, viz. sattvas, rajas, tamas, even for advanced yogis and even the higher Devas or celestial beings! As a result, what was seen even by yogis through yogic drishti or perception was to be matched by the other three pramanas or testimonies of anumana (inference), upamana (comparison) and shabda (verbal testimony, i.e. shruti or revealed texts and bhashyas or commentaries as also aithihya or historical proofs).
Today, however, people take the rajasic or materialistic Gurus’ word for things in this Kali-Yuga – despite the clear warnings of such in the texts! One who displays siddhis or even mystic powers today mesmerises the masses and bewilders them, but is actually a cheap trick for the mediocre yogi, which is also an admixture of sattvas or desire to do good and spread good teachings and dharma, but somewhat like a Raja or king also, possessing some materialistic side (as with their ashrams, mandirs etc.) or rajo-guna, which even the Devas or celestials possess. Siddha classes (lesser Rishis or ordinary yogis) were not seen in ancient India, as even today as being of great value – yet today, even those who can lie, cheat and deceive are placed on a pedestal! If today’s Hindus even had half an education in their system, they’d learn that even Ayurveda classifies these types of beings and personalities and notes their weaknesses, despite their seemingly good sides! Many yogis historically – even Hiranyakashipu, Mahabali, Ravana and others, performed tapas and had supernatural abilities along with some Vedic knowledge – but did so for pure vanity; for some, even the power to attract people, become an Emperor or take over the three dimensions (earth, astral-sphere and the celestial sphere) – what to speak of today’s Gurus who did tapas for simply a few million followers and a lavish life! Can people not see through this?
The issue here and origin of this is due to pramana-less faiths such as Islam and Christianity, based on [blind] faith that have dominated India for the past 1200-600 years strongly (Islam), with Christianity in the past 200 years influencing the mainstream Hindu thought. It started to replace the logical system of pramanas in India with Guru hearsay, not backed up by shastras or even traditional learning and instead allowed Gurus to plagiarise and even invent things as facts and history they read from mainstream books (not traditional) – absolving them of the true Yogic and traditional need to have direct insight into shastras and actual systems over the “I’ve seen it in meditation – so don’t question me” technique used by so many today, reminiscent of Christianity’s “The Holy Spirit speaks through me” hyperbole!
In closing, part of the issue is also that the following points need to be addressed:
- While there are FEW westerners that really embrace tradition, few have been charged with actually defending Hinduism and no westerner, however great can understand the Indian Hindu tradition and racial issues deeply, nor has any right to speak on them as a ‘member’ of the community, but may call their white brethren out on such accounts.It should be noted however that most doing this are simply grandstanding so that they may be adulated above native Indian peers doing the same, as the white man NEEDS to be revered, adulated and placated.
- As noted, the westerner, even the ‘Hindu apologetic’ will often quote white masters and remain silent on the influences and referencing Indian teachers. This is another form of silent Colonialist racism in which their own cognitive and social dissonance shines forth. It’s worth thinking about.
- Stating and doing are two separate issues. Indian acharyas and others were born into native lineages of the Rishis and still practically learnt the texts and practised sadhanas intensely, not simply plagiarised ideas as the western pseudo-academic does. Here also, the importance of noting ancient Indian traditions as academic as opposed to merely faith-based is an important issue here.
It is the issue of seeing and tasting the apple are two totally different things. Unless we’ve tasted it, we have no right to describe it.
In closing also, just as the native Indian has no right to speak on and feel they represent or know the feelings speaking as an ancient Roman or Greek pagan thousands of years ago that was afflicted by The Church, so also, westerners (Europeans) today have no right and place in double-grandstanding to try and pretend to understand the plight of Indian Hindus and the dogmas against them and should, therefore, call their own people out, but not step on the toes of Indian and traditional teachers, which is in itself a form of dissonant racism.
There are, however, a few reliable westerners who have noted such issues and whose works reflect that of the true tradition, having embraced all traditional elements of it:
-Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe)
-Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
-Dr. David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri)
-Swami Satyananda Saraswati (Shree Maa Mandir)