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Challenging Western Universalism

Challenging Western Universalism

One of the most important objectives of my book,Being Different, An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism (HarperCollins, 2011) is to refute Western claims of universalism. According to these claims, the West is both the driver of history and the ultimate, desirable destination of the entire world.  The West purportedly provides the ideal template to which all other civilizations and cultures must contort, be pruned, trimmed or reconfigured to fit, or else be eliminated or sidelined by some means.

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A Different Kind of Hindu-Christian Dialogue

A Different Kind of Hindu-Christian Dialogue

For over a decade, I have used interfaith exchanges as opportunities to introduce the concept of mutual respect and why it is superior to the patronizing notion of “tolerance” that is typically celebrated at such events. BEING DIFFERENT(Harpercollins, 2011), is entirely about appreciating how traditions differ from one another rather than seeing them as the same. In parallel with these works, I have been in conversations and debates with numerous thinkers of traditions other than my own.

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Hindu Good News

Hindu Good News

The world is in a time of transition. Globalization, increasing movement of people across national boundaries, environmental challenges, religious conflict, emerging economies and a multi-polar world all demand shifts in thinking to resolve age-old human dilemmas and problems.

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Yoga: Freedom from History

Yoga Freedom from History

When I first moved to the United States 4 decades ago, I was struck by the efforts made by individuals, civic societies and the American government to instill in Americans a strong historical identity. Secular American society is filled with historical societies, with practically every American town engaged in the recording, analysis and preservation of past events, whether significant or not. National monuments of patriotic historical events dominate state capitals. Similarly, genealogy is a thriving discipline in the West with both amateurs and professionals engaged in the collection and recording of family and community histories. And New York City’s parades by various ethnicities show the importance given to incorporate every minority’s sense of history into the overall historical American tapestry.

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Civilizations of the Forest and Desert

Civilizations of the Forest and Desert

In my book, Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism (2011, HarperCollins India), I’ve discussed how a constant striving for balance and equilibrium between the forces of “chaos” and “order” (rather than the complete annihilation of chaos) permeates Indian philosophy, art, cuisine, music and erotica, distinguishes Indian culture from its Western counterpart and avoids the absolutism of Western sacred literature that views the two poles locked in a zero-sum battle in which only order may triumph. This perpetual reordering, fundamental to Indian culture and religion, has privileged dynamism and creativity, and yielded the diversity evident in Indian life and cultural artifacts.

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Dharma Bypasses ‘History-Centrism’

Dharma Bypasses History-Centrism

Most of the religious conflicts and wars involving the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) stem from disputes over what exactly God said and how he said it and what exactly it means. To ensure that order prevails, canons of “authentic” texts are formed and creeds, or condensed forms of crucial affirmations and beliefs, are debated, written down, and carefully observed as litmus tests for participation in the faith.

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Response to WSJ Op-Ed Calling For Bible Education In Public Schools

Response to WSJ Op-Ed Calling For Bible Education In Public Schools

The Wall Street Journal's editorial has the bold title: "Public Schools Should Teach the Bible: Westerners cannot be considered literate without a basic knowledge of this foundational text".While I certainly support the idea that students should be better informed about world religions, I vehemently oppose giving special preference to the Bible over other faiths.

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