The God Project: Hinduism as Open-Source Faith

Discussion in 'Religion & Culture' started by ajtr, Jun 5, 2010.

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  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    The God Project: Hinduism as Open-Source Faith


    Trying to explain the core beliefs of "Hinduism" to an interested observer can be challenging to say the least. Its often stated that the word "Hinduism" itself is a total misnomer, as it basically refers to the sum total of spiritual and religious thought and practice that has taken place on the Indian subcontinent over the past 5,000 years. And lets just say it's been a busy 5,000 years.

    The sheer volume of spiritual literature and doctrine, the number of distinct gods worshiped (over 30 million, according to some sources), the breadth of distinct philosophies and practices that have emerged, and the total transformation over time of many of the core Indic teachings and beliefs can be disconcerting to those raised in monotheistic cultures, as we are used to each faith bringing with it a defined set of beliefs that -- with the exception of some denominational rifts over the centuries -- stay pretty much consistent over time.

    However, the key point of differentiation between Hinduism and these other faiths is not polytheism vs. monotheism. The key differentiation is that "Hinduism" is Open Source and most other faiths are Closed Source.

    "Open source is an approach to the design, development, and distribution of software, offering practical accessibility to a software's source code."

    If we consider god, the concept of god, the practices that lead one to god, and the ideas, thoughts and philosophies around the nature of the human mind the source code, then India has been the place where the doors have been thrown wide open and the coders have been given free reign to craft, invent, reinvent, refine, imagine, and re-imagine to the point that literally every variety of the spiritual and cognitive experience has been explored, celebrated, and documented.

    Atheists and goddess worshipers, heretics who've sought god through booze, sex, and meat, ash covered hermits, dualists and non-dualists, nihilists and hedonists, poets and singers, students and saints, children and outcasts ... all have contributed their lines of code to the Hindu string.

    The results of India's God Project -- as I like to refer to Hinduism -- have been absolutely staggering. The body of knowledge -- scientific, faith-based, and experience-based -- that has been accrued on the nature of mind, consciousness, and human behavior, and the number of practical methods that have been specifically identified to work with ones own mind are without compare. The Sanskrit language itself contains a massive lexicon of words -- far more than any other historic or modern language -- that deal specifically with states of mental cognition, perception, awareness, and behavioral psychology.

    At the heart of the Indic source code are the Vedas, which immediately establish the primacy of inquiry in Indic thought. In the Rig Veda, the oldest of all Hindu texts (and possibly the oldest of all spiritual texts on the planet), God, or Prajapati, is summarized as one big mysterious question and we the people are basically invited to answer it.

    "Who really knows?
    Who will here proclaim it?
    Whence was it produced?
    Whence is this creation?
    The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe.
    Who then knows whence it has arisen?"

    While the god of the Old Testament was shouting command(ment)s, Prajapati was asking: "Who am I?"

    Since opening the floodgates on the divine question, Indic thought has followed a glorious evolutionary arc from shamanism, nature worship and sacrifice through sublime and complex theories on mental cognition, the nature of consciousness, and quantum physics.

    Through tracing the subcontinents relationship with the deities of the Vedas, we can trace the course of Indic thought over the centuries. One of the first things we notice is that not only does the people's relationship to god change over the centuries, the gods themselves change. Shiva, for example, appears in the vedas as Rudra, the howler, god of storms, still something of a lesser deity. Reappearing over the centuries as Bhairava -- he who inspires fear -- Pashupati, lord of beasts, the god of yogis, and the destroyer, Shiva finally, by the 9th century, achieves status in Kashmir as the fundamental energetic building block of the entire universe. Neat trick.

    But as much as the gods change and the evolution of Indic thought leads us to increasingly modern and post-modern views of the nature of reality, the old Vedic codes still remain front and center. One of Hinduism's defining factors is that the historic view of god, the nature worship and shamanism, never went away, so that god as currently worshiped exists simultaneously as symbol and archetype as well as literal embodiment. That Shiva, for instance, could simultaneously be the light of ultimate consciousness and an ash-smeared madman who frequents cremation grounds is a delight to us spiritual anarchists, while mind numbing to most western Theologists.

    Western and Middle Eastern monotheistic faiths have simply not allowed such liberal interpretation of their God. They continue to exist as closed source systems.

    "Generally, [closed source] means only the binaries of a computer program are distributed and the license provides no access to the program's source code. The source code of such programs might be regarded as a trade secret of the company."

    One of the defining facts of Christian history is that access to God has been viewed -- as in most closed source systems -- as a trade secret. The ability to reinterpret the bible, or the teachings of Christ, or the Old Testament, or to challenge the basic fundamental authority of the church has been nonexistent for most of the church's history. Those who dared to do so were quite often killed.

    In Indic thought, there is no trade secret. The foundation of yoga is that the key to god, or the macrocosm, or the absolute ... lies within the individual and can be accessed through a certain set of practices. It's a beautifully simple but ultimately profound concept that has been allowed to flourish unchecked for millennia. The process of discovering and re-imagining the divine is in your hands. The God Project.
     
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  3. Known_Unknown

    Known_Unknown Devil's Advocate Stars and Ambassadors

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    ^^Open source? Not entirely. Not for the Dalits, Shudras, Adivasis, or lower castes. They are universally despised by all sects of Hinduism. Only reason Hinduism isn't an "us vs them" type of religion is because when it developed, there was no "them". Hinduism has never had a serious competitor in India since its inception, the Buddha, Mahavir and Guru Nanak notwithstanding.
     
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  4. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

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    Nice article AJTR.

    Are you sure? Your reasoning is based upon your own judgement. I have 2 hands, 2 legs, 2 eyes, a 250gm brain, I think you and me are the same. Do you?
     
  5. smitra

    smitra New Member

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    1st. Casteism has nothing to do what the author wrote about. He has said "and the total transformation over time of many of the core Indic teachings and beliefs" . Casteism or Community-ism is everywhere and it does not comes up as a argument here, There is no concrete proof of the core belief has anything to do with Casteism, arguments has been exchanged over the Varnashrama system, even taking the most negative side of it and taking it for granted varnashrama=todays caste system one cannot deduce or come to conclusion Hinduism is all about that or none without that. A clear demarkation from other rigid systems.

    2nd. Serious Competition for what? Hinduism or any other Indic faith was never about competing for political power that often other abrahmic faiths have indulged into. The clear demarkation of Priestly class and Warriors was there, the orthodoxy of the priestly class taken into consideration, and all the transformations or subjugations by them to various other peoples of the society that we call as todays "lower castes" does not prove otherwise the fact that was it done out for not for power..or not for human greed etc? One cannot proof that it was followed like the code as captain jack would put it as the assymetricity of the statistical data is too diverse to come to a single opinionated conclusion to follow, precisely what the author talks about.

    3rd. Over period of time no country in the world has produced such diverse thinkers/philosophers than this part of Asia has..24 Thirthankaras..Tukaram...list goes on.

    4th. The concept of "us vs them" is still not there in religious level, if it was not there it was never meant to be there. that said if Pope Wants to take control over India it is natural for them to protect their culture. A simple regional case being immigrant workers from the state of bihar beaten black and blue at times in mumbai due to seeing them as a threat to the local culture/community and tradition. Hinduism flourished along with Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Sufism because they are considered Indic in its heritage, the god as the author has pointed out too is open source in them, just the means are different without the quotent of demarking us and them by putting them in line of sword has let them flourish.

    5th. Acceptance is universal concept in Indic faiths, point to be noted for Zoroastrians, Assyrian Christians and the Jew tribe. While Hindus can happily build Temple of Allah and Temple of Jesus, if it was done in Arabia blood will flow through the street, if the same Temple of Buddha is established in India tourists will flock! Catch the Drift..? Again giving it the open source nature, the same is not for other faiths atleast thats not what official such as Alberuni, Babarnama tells us.

    6th. The etimology of the very terms that you have used, Two of them Adivasi and Dalit is not more than a century old.
     
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  6. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    This essay exploits a few facts to misrepresent the greater reality. It is also a sanitized and romanticized Western interpretation of Hinduism which has never existed in practice. The roots of this revisionist view point lies not in the history of Hinduism or the Indian sub continent, but rather the counter culture movement of the 60s which originated in the United States. The reforms emanating from the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 radically changed the migration pattern to the US from being Europe centric to Asia. With an increasing influx of educated Hindus, liberated from the oppressive cultural burdens of Indian society pouring into the US and seeking social acceptance there was further championing of this sanguine version of Hinduism. Eventually this became the narrative which came to be accepted on a wide scale in the West.

    Now, it is true that India's history is rife (and rich) with pluralism and heterodoxy where multiple schools of thought were allowed to flourish in their own domains and the information was also slowly collated and further disseminated as time went on. This was in addition to the countless other forms of paganism, animism etc. which were later "absorbed" into Hinduism either by design or by denomination (in many cases by non Hindus). However to attribute this phenomenon to an "open source design" would be incorrect. It was the absence of regulation or wide scale regulatory mechanisms that enabled the decentralization of the practice of religion.

    The core of Hinduism was never an open source system by any means, if anything it was one of the most exclusionary religious order in human history. Not only did it spawn the institutionalization of the hierarchical caste system but it also maintained a high level of illiteracy to preserve the social order. The author identifies the vedas as the central theme of Hindu belief, but doesn't address the fact that only a few were actually able to read and interpret the texts. It is true that every religious order has at one time or another maintained an aristocratic clergy class, however in the case of Hindusim it is clear that this class distinction was extreme and the effects of which are still felt to this day in the form of a horribly pyramidal society where about 80% of the population sports an abysmal socioeconomic status. Internal barriers and social obstacles due to the perverse hierarchy is also responsible for the unparalleled poverty, pathetic human development indicators and an overall low standard of living. A stark disparity in literacy, health, life expectancy and most other pertinent human development indicators between the low and the high caste is evident even today.

    It has also become common practice for "upwardly mobile" Indians and Hindus to promote this facade of a roseate version of the religion and social order to the developed world when in fact the Indian society at large still suffers greatly from the exclusionary social practices of the past. This may be either out of embarrassment, insecurity, reactionary jingoism (the worst) or avoidance of a reality far too harsh to bear.

    IMHO if India is to rehabilitate itself and continue on a path to prosperity this has to change; the first step would be to correct this faulty narrative provided by the misguided author.
     
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  7. Phenom

    Phenom Regular Member

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    Religious beliefs around the world has solidified, they are not going to change anymore like they used to in the past. The only large scale religious change that we are likely to see is people changing from theism to atheism. Its unlikely that any new form of religion would be able to change the world's religious belief.
     
  8. Known_Unknown

    Known_Unknown Devil's Advocate Stars and Ambassadors

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    What you and I think is irrelevant. What society thinks as a whole is what matters. There are almost daily reports of killings of lower caste people in India if you bother to read the newspapers. They are segregated in the places where they live, treated with contempt and they face discrimination at every step in their lives. Despite what you or I may think.
     
  9. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    This was my first reaction too; because I didn't see the connection between casteism and contribution to religious literature, thereby putting it out of scope in regards to the argument at hand. However after more thought I realized that this wasn't the case. The caste system may not be directly related to the author's observations, it is however very much a factor which serves to negate his hypothesis.

    His portrayal of the "open source system" would require all contributors to have some what of an equal access to a uniform and centralized canonization process. The caste system clearly indicates that this was not the case since the core of the religious activity was the tightly guarded dominion of the Brahmins. Furthermore the interaction between the Brahmins and the lower castes was anything but equal, and religious dictum itself was used to enforce this dynamic.

    What is true however is that any community of any strata of society was free to believe in what they chose without risking being charged with apostasy. (Incidentally, breaking caste rules would have put one at a much higher risk of danger on account of being labeled as an apostate.)

    This indicates heterodoxy but not the open source analogy the author uses.
     
  10. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

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    You are right mate. But how come it affects the whole of India? There are honor killings even in Canada.
     
  11. johnee

    johnee Elite Member Elite Member

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    Partly true. You have to appreciate that 'Shudras', 'Dalits', 'Adivasis'...etc are not homogenious groups. They have different sub-castes. And each caste looks down on the lower caste. Thus, a dalit could at once be discriminating and discriminated at. Infact, even the so-called lower castes like to marry within their caste(or perhaps higher) but not lower. Thus, the 'universal despise' is over simplification.

    Inspite of this hierarchy, most of the Hinduism and its gods are open to all. Most of the Puranas, Ithihaas and other devotional literature has always been popular in the masses percolating all the layers. The only exception is vedas. You would frequently find many small temples in villages(dalits), or in forest locations(adivasis), where the ritual is not strictly in accordance with the accepted norms. It is understood that it is part of the culture and is accepted passively. Contrast that with a regular temple where vedic rituals are strictly conducted. Thus, not only is the source open but it is also allowed to be used according to one's convenience with some nominal rules. People from other religion can get confused at this sort of 'inconsistency'. Infact, even the author displays this confucion partly. His non-indic though pattern is unable to fathom that Shiva can simulatenously be a pashupati, bhairava, rudra, shiva and the ultimate para brahman.
     
  12. sesha_maruthi27

    sesha_maruthi27 Senior Member Senior Member

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    According to the VEDA's cast is based on merit. Becoming a warrior makes a person kshatriya, studying VEDA's and MANTRA's makes a person brahmin, doing business makes a person a vysya and other people who dont like to do anything but to sit and eat makes a person sudra. :happy_7:
     
  13. sesha_maruthi27

    sesha_maruthi27 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Actually the word hindu is not specified in any puranas or upanishads.

    The people who were living on the banks of the river sindu were commonly called as sindu's. But in the arab world they dont pronounce sa or sindu, instead they say ha or hindu.

    Later at the time of the british raj they invented the word hinduism and made it a religion to create a division among the people.

    "This is visible by their policy of DIVIDE AND CONQUER".:emot180:
     
  14. sesha_maruthi27

    sesha_maruthi27 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Actually it is called as "SANAATHANA DHARMA". It is the path of truth. It says you are GOD. GOD is inside you and YOU are GOD. Know the truth and go in the path of liberation to achieve enlighteness.:happy_2:
     
  15. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    This seems to be a bit of a stretch. In a tradition oriented society when anyone is pigeonholed into a certain way of life the concept of equal opportunity or true meritocracy becomes moot. Furthermore the concept of varna endorsed by the Rigveda also contradicts a meritocratic system judged entirely by actions and choices. There is very little evidence suggesting practical meritocracy and far too much pointing to a rigid hierarchical social order that was hereditary in nature and which became more rigid over time. Indian society has always believed in and practiced social distinction by caste where patrimony was the primary factor, not meritocracy. To suggest anything else might be a tad bit dishonest.

    Also, suggesting sudras did nothing but sat around and ate is asinine. In an agrarian society, they probably did the most work and ate the least.

    It seems to me that over time a lot of Hindus (practicing or otherwise) have engaged in mental gymnastics to convince themselves of these improbable theories (me included) out of embarrassment. Mostly because in today's world such practices are considered inhumane. This however only makes things worse.
     
  16. sesha_maruthi27

    sesha_maruthi27 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Excuse me Sir Energon ,what you know about Sanathana Dharma and India and its History is little. It is not easy or correct to comment by just reading the history from books. Hope you know what meditation is. If you know about meditation, please do meditation and in due time while practising meditation you will come know the truth.:happy_8:
     
  17. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    Sorry sir, but please tell me you're joking. If all the answers are to be "revealed" through the practice of meditation instead of objective assessment and reasoning then Sanathana Dharma is an epic fail and I want absolutely nothing to do with it. So yea, I'm going to stick with what people have in fact observed, learn from what trends over time have shown and most of all, try and understand the disastrous situation that confounds us today through basic powers of reasoning, common sense and intellectual honesty.

    Now I admit I'm not a scholar of Sanskrit and am hence unable to decode all the pertinent literature, however I would wager a guess and say the same applies to you. What I can do however is closely examine what has happened in recorded history in order to understand this phenomenon. So just to reiterate, there is very little evidence in the social history of India pointing to a mass system or culture of equal opportunity based on choices, furthermore many of India's current problems can be traced back to a social system that didn't evolve to promote meritocracy. These facts negate your interpretation of the Vedas.

    As a side note, I do not know what your definition of meditation is, but if it involves self delusion and mental gymnastics then you're probably doing it wrong. I would hope meditation enables liberation of the mind, letting go of biases and seeing reality for what it is with a calm mind so that effective strategies can be formulated.

    Lastly, I won't be surprised if there are self proclaimed "religious scholars" out there proliferating this nonsense, because it still doesn't change the fact that these "interpretations" defy reality as we see it.

    So I leave you with a quote from a nice book I once skimmed through...
    "As a man can drink water from any side of a full tank, so the skilled theologian can wrest from any scripture that which will serve his purpose."
     
  18. sesha_maruthi27

    sesha_maruthi27 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Sir, actually there was no vedas written on papers or palm leaves. It was taught by a Guru or a teacher to his deciples(sorry if the spelling is incorrect) through reciting the verses. There is noproof to prove my point on merit of the casts. But it is the truth.

    Meditation is knowing the world arround you from inside of you. When you go into deep meditation you can see the Universe from inside yourself. I am not joking nor I am telling any fairy tales. To know the truth one should experience the truth.

    If you want to know what you are and what is this universe in which you live in and from were did come, you practice meditation.

    I practice meditation and I know what is the truth. I cannot express it because one must experience it to know what is it.

    If you tell that a particular item of food is very tasty, say a piece of cake or pastry to any one on the phone he cannot know rthe real taste which tasted and you are saying it is delicious. He should taste the same piece of cake for himself to tell whether it as tasty as you mentioned to him.

    So, in the same way you practice meditation and you will know the truth about everything which is arround you.
    I am not saying that you cannot know the truth from history or history books. I am telling that everything which is on the paper is not the truth. The other day I saw an article saying a man from India flew an airloplane made of mercury engine two days before the wrught brorthers flew their a desing of airoplane.

    And one thing I am not here to prove what is the truth. Truth is always the Truth and now one can change the Truth. There is nothing I get by proving the truth.

    I want everyone to know that they are the children of GOD and all are the same.

    In olden days some idiortic people who told or preached themselves as a Brahmin and as the supreme cast, they manipulated the history of INDIA.

    Remember one thing, THE MEANING OF BRAHMIN IS " THE ONE WHO KNOWS EVERYTHING IS ONE EVERYBODY IS ONE, EVERYTHING WHICH SURROUNDS HIM OR EVERTHYING HE STANDS UPON IS ONE AND EVERY LIVING BEING OR ORGANISM IS ONE AND LAST BUT NOT THE LEAST, HE IS EVERYTHING". wHICH IS THE TERM "AHAM BRAHMASMI". WHICH MEANS I AM EVERYTHING.

    "EKAM JYOTHI SWAROOPAM".
    Sorry if I have offended you in any way. Please try know the truth. Please do meditation. You will know the truth and you will get peace inside your heart. You shall see that the universe is within you.
    MAY THE SUPREME BEING BLESS YOU.

    AND IF YOU THINK WHATEVER I TOLD HERE IS BULL SHIT, YOU WILL COME TO KNOW THAT THIS IS THE TRUTH.:happy_8:
     
  19. sesha_maruthi27

    sesha_maruthi27 Senior Member Senior Member

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    ATLEST TRY TO DO MEDITATION AND TRY TO SEE WHETHER WHAT I SAID IS TRUE OR NOT. THERE IS NO HARM IN TRYING.:happy_8:
     
  20. Tolaha

    Tolaha Senior Member Senior Member

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    Energon,
    Are you aware that it was (unfortunately not the case in recent history) possible for a family to have members belonging to different caste?
    For eg. Dad a brahmin, Mom a vaishya, Son a kshatriya and daughter a shoodra?
     
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