Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya and His [Negative] Obsession with the term “Hindu”

The Denunciation of the term “Hinduism”:

“The word “Hinduism” is not found anywhere in either Vedic or classical Sanskrit, nor in any of the recognized sacred scriptures (shastra) of this spiritual path.  Rather, the proper name of this spiritual tradition, the name that is found throughout the scriptures of the tradition, is Sanatana Dharma, or the Eternal Natural Way.  Additionally, followers of Sanatana Dharma are not properly referred to as “Hindus”, but as “Dharmis”, or followers of Dharma.” [1]

First of all, I have to question what the “recognized scriptures” refer to? The actual Vedic shastras that are authoritative are actually in the Vedic and older Sanskrit, not in the classical Sanskrit and include the four Veda Samhitas (viz, Rig, Sama, Yajur, Atharva), the primary Upanishads (excluding the later) and the Brahmanas – the latter of which comprise the Vedic commentaries and metaphysics. In addition, the authoritative commentaries acting as etymologies or Nirukta and Nighantu are by Sakatayana and the more recent by Yaskacharya.

Now, the term “Hindu” derives from the Persian version of the Vedic Sindhu, the name given to the people dwelling along the banks of the Indus-Sarasvati civilisation, which also came to be known as the “Hindu” later by the Persians. And since “Hindu” is an Iranian term, related to the same branch of Indo-Iranian languages as the Indo-Aryan Sanskrit, from which Sindhu derives, it becomes much more native.

There is also nothing in the Samhita portions of the Vedas, which are considered arsha (revealed) and shruti (heard) as opposed to the later smriti (remembered) texts, which include the Puranas, that notes of a Sanatana Dharma. In fact, the term Arya is used instead, denoting ‘one of pure (sattvic) qualities’. Thus, the self-proclaimed Hindu Master that authored this quote appears to liberally use the term “Vedic”, but actually applies it to what traditional Hinduism, or traditional “Sanatana Dharma” knows as the smriti and post-Vedic literature, of a secondary nature.

The term ‘Dharmi’ also appears nowhere in the Vedas, while the concept does appear and is known as Rta or cosmic law and order in the Rig Veda, upheld by Mitra and Varuna. Now, the term for the oldest Vedic people, such as Ila, the daughter of the progenitor Manu, is called as “Maitravaruni” – but not as a “Dharmi”, nor as a “Sanatana Dharmi“. This is a clear invention of ‘Acharya-ji’ himself!

This said however, the author also openly displays his origin within the Vaishnava system of ‘Hindu-ism’ as we shall call it (since Sindhu and Arya identify the Vedic people in the Riig Veda clearer than “sanatana” does), which itself lends its ear towards the system of Bhakti-Yoga or the Yoga of devotion – in their case, blind devotionalism which, like fundamental Islam and Christianity, is hell-bent on criticising everything else around them, but being lenient towards Islam and Christianity, and even reducing the Vedas or traditional shruti texts down as secondary to the post-Vedic classical-Sanskritic Puranas, notably the Bhagavad Purana, which itself, has many inconsistencies with the original Mahabharata (of which the Bhagavad Gita forms a part of), relating to their tutelary deity, Krishna!

For a start, Krishna in the Mahabharata is a reincarnation of Narayana Rishi, not the god Vishnu-Narayana and his peer, Arjuna, of Nara-Rishi, both from Badrinath.

Now, unlike this Dharmi claimant who is of “European-American of Italian and Spanish descentI am of Indian descent and was brought up in a family that recognised the validity of only the arsha or shruti scriptures, of which, we used the term Hindu and Arya and also Rishi-tradition or Arsha, but we never used “dharmi“, which does not occur in our sacred texts, whereas, as noted, Sindhu, the Iranian term for Hindu did – the Iranians who were and are, our sister-culture of Zoroastrians or now Parsis.

The term Arya / Aryan appears in the Rig Veda as “krinvanto vishvamaryam” (Rig Veda, IX. 63.5) as clearly the name of Vedic people, as also when Indra gives the earth or world (bhuma) to the Aryas (Rig Veda. IV.26.2). Indra himself in the former stotra (I) actually identifies himself with the archetype and progenitors of the Arya people – namely Manu, his father the Sun (Surya), Ushana (Shukracharya), Kakshivan (Dhanvantari Divodasa) and Kutsa Arjuni. In this respect, the Vedic people are more “Aindras” than Dharmis etc. and again points to Sindhu‘s indigenous origin. Sindhu is also the supreme of all rivers (Rig Veda.I.75.1).

Sindhu also derived the Persian term Hindu and thereby Indus in Greek and finally in the English-language, India, of which, like the terms in English such as zero and sugar, had a true “Vedic” origin, but the word “Vedic” itself is a more recently-inspired word for these groups of people! We can however say that the Vaidika texts belonged to and were sacred to the Arya people who lived along the banks of the Sindhu river!

Secondly, the two have had much more relationship with each-other than a “European-American of Italian and Spanish descent”, which also doesn’t seem to be mentioned in any of our texts, either! I guess as “America” is not mentioned, we might as well not validate ashrams and temples in America, since these are also “not found anywhere in either Vedic or classical Sanskrit, nor in any of the recognized sacred scriptures (shastra) of this spiritual path”.

We thus begin to see how ridiculous this all sounds, and also how contradictory it sounds – not to mention, like Max Muller, this comes from a Westerner who has the typical Christian attitude of putting the native Hindus in their place (oh, you naughty savages!), but an enlightened Italian-Spanish Hindu, thank the Devas, is here to place us and our tradition on the right track!

Have I missed something here, or have the poles clearly shifted?

We also continue…

“Sri Acharyaji was the very first Sanatana Dharma guru and scholar to write and publically speak about the unfortunate divide that exists between the two separate Vedic communities of A) Indian Hindus, and B) Western Yoga practitioners. Indian Hindus and Western yogis rarely communicate with each other, have found it challenging to relate to one another, have vastly different approaches to Vedic spirituality, and have remained two radically distinct communities. “

Interestingly, now we use the term “Hindus” and also “Indian” and have no issue with it being a non-Vedic, non-sanctioned term. Of course, this man is also writing in English, which, when I last looked, wasn’t even invented at the time classical Sanskrit or even later variants such as Pali came on the scene! But, I guess as Acharya-ji is much more knowledgeable than us native Hindus, he must be right and exercises the right to chastise others for their incorrect use of these terms, but he, being a Supreme Purusha, may act as he pleases!

We should point out here that even Vedic is an anglicised Sanskrit term, derived from Vaidika in Sanskrit, which means “of / pertaining to the Vedas (four Veda Samhitas) and again, implies nothing of these classical and supposed “Vedic” (rather, post-Vedic) texts that Acharya-ji himself commonly quotes from. His own antagonism towards the term Hindu actually comes from his own lack of knowledge and true education on the Vedas (of which, tradition doesn’t require you have a western Doctorate in – that has always historically been the issues with misleading translations and misrepresentations along the path!), as also his own Vaishnava roots in ISKCON, of which he now appears to be ‘closeted’ about.

Sadly for him and his cronies however, I am a Hindu and an Arya – not an Italian-Spaniard who thinks he can still dominate the world by cloaking his Paganism in another dress and giving it another name so he may be revered, just as his own Latin people such as Constantine did with the Pagans of Europe under what is now known as “Christianity”!


The Misleading Information about “Vedic” Texts:

In addition to denouncing “Hinduism”, Acharyaji also appears to have his own interpretation of what constitutes the Vedic texts. He states that the Gita is the most important of all “‪Vedic” texts and also states:


“In addition to the 
‪‎Bhagavad Gita, the most important sacred texts in the Dharma tradition include the Yoga Sutras, Narayana Upanishad, Narada Bhakti Sutras, Lakshmi Tantra and Bhagavata Purana, among others. ” [2]

Now for a start, as I have noted above, and just to reiterate here, none of these are ‪Vaidika, which implies the four‪ Vedas, the Brahmanas, principal ‪Upanishads (which doesn’t include the Narayana). These are POST-VEDIC texts and smriti (remembered), not shruti or authoritative (as their simple minds cant’ grasp the true original and vast Vaidika-sphere!).

In addition, tenet five of Acharya-ji’s “International Sanatana Dharma Society” is also misleading and reads:


“5) Vedic Authenticity: We are radical traditionalists in our approach to the Vedic way. We seek to practice Dharma in as traditional, authentic, orthodox and uncompromisingly real a manner as is possible in the modern era. There is nothing new, “New Age”, or concocted in how we teach or practice the Vedic way. Moreover, we do not “mix and blend” our practice or understanding of Sanatana Dharma with those of other, non-Vedic paths. If you are interested in the ISDS, the teachings of Sri Acharyaji, or being involved in our movement, please do so knowing that what you will be taught and will be following nothing less than the authentic and ancient religion of Sanatana Dharma – the Eternal Natural Way.” 
[3]

Well, this is my take on the above: You DO mix and blend your practices, you are not “radical traditionalists” – otherwise you’d mention the authority of all the original texts as per TRADITION, not as per “New Age” and “concocted” views that you appear to teach!

There is nothing AUTHENTIC and everything WESTERN and NEW AGE about this organisation. Including their overt use of the term “God”, which is a Germanic and Western term with negative monotheistic connotations that one would expect this ‘Acharya-ji‘ with a Doctorate in Religious Studies, would be able to identify from an academic and philosophical perspective!

Such westerners jump on their own band-wagon and misrepresent Hinduism, which then gets re-imported into the uneducated masses in India and Hindus as well as others in the West. One cannot merely “invent” and “re-invent” Hinduism as it suits them. If one wishes to do so and limit the shastras down to what THEY think is correct, then they’re better off going back to their Christian roots and staying there in my opinion…

The Pizza-Effect:

To conclude, the main issue I have with these types of Acharyas is that they actually gravely misrepresent tradition, import Christocentric / misappropriated views into Hindu traditions and then pass them off as “traditional”, which are then reimported back into India, where the scores of both uneducated Hindus, wishing to learn about their ‘spirituality’, not from the local Yogi, but from the likes of these American Acharya-jis and their books, which then becomes the mainstream. This is also how Buddhism once swept the nation of India and required Shankaracharya to restore true and authentic Hinduism, which had become very corrupted and debilitated due to these other cults.

A similar wave is hence occurring now. These Western Swamis appeal to both the West and also to Indians, usually as the latter, as noted, are largely ill-informed as to their traditions and there is a clear lack of viveka or discrimination in Hindus overall.

In closing, I quote Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe), a British turned Hindu-Shakta, and an authority on Hinduism with knowledge far surpassing the neo-Vedantins and others points out and his Shakti and Shakta in 1918 (“Tantra Shastra and Veda, Chapter IV), re the misinterpretation of Hinduism and Hindu concepts, and also how many Hindus (Indians) themselves follow likewise (thus affected by the Christocentric Superimposition):

“Even when giving an account of Eastern thought the Western is apt to take up a “superior” attitude because he believes himself to be superior. The Bishop of Durham very clearly reveals this sense of superiority (Christian Aspects of Life, by B. F. Westcott, 175) when after stating that the duty of the Christian missionary was to substitute for “the sterile theism of Islam and the shadowy vagueness of Hindu Philosophy a belief in a living and speaking God” he goes on to point out that “our very advantages” by way of “the consciousness of social and intellectual superiority with which we are filled” and “the national force which sets us as conquerors where we come as evangelists” constitute a danger in the mission field. It is this notion of “superiority” also which prevents a right understanding, and which notwithstanding the facts, insists on charges which, if established, would maintain the reputation for inferiority of the colored races. It is this reiterated claim to superiority that has hypnotized many persons amongst Eastern races into the belief that the European is, amongst other things, always a safe and learned critic even of their own beliefs and practices…”

He continues (with respect to how this affects the Hindu psyche):

“There are, however, still many Indians, particularly those of my own generation, whose English Gurus and their teaching have made them captives. Their mind has been so dominated and molded to a Western manner of thinking (philosophical, religious, artistic, social and political) that they have scarcely any greater capacity to appreciate their own cultural inheritance than their teachers, be that capacity in any particular case more or less. Some of them care nothing for their Shastra. Others do not understand it. The class of whom I speak are, in fact, as I have said, the Manasaputra of the English in a strict sense of the term. The Indian who has lost his Indian soul must regain it if he would retain that independence in his thought and in the ordering of his life which is the mark of a man, that is of one who seeks Svarajya-siddhi. How can an imitator be on the same level as his original? Rather he must sit as a Cela at the latter’s feet. Whilst we can all learn something from one another, yet some in this land have yet to learn that their cultural inheritance with all its defects (and none is without such) is yet a noble one; an equal in rank, (to say the least), with those great past civilizations which have molded the life and thought of the West. All this has been admitted by Indians who have discernment. Such value as my own remarks possess, is due to the fact that I can see and judge from without as an outsider, though (I will admit in one sense) interested observer — interested because I have at heart Indian welfare and that of all others which, as the world now stands, is bound up with it.”

 

References:

  1. http://www.dharmacentral.com/acharyaji.php 
  2.  http://www.dharmacentral.com/dharmainfo/dharmafaq.php 
  3. http://www.dharmacentral.com/dharmaactivism/about_ISDS.php 
  4.  Rig Veda Samhita

 

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