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Last updateFri, 23 Jun 2017 9am

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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Dharma and the new Pope

Dharma and the new Pope

Given the power of the Vatican, the choice of a new pope will impact people of all faiths, not just Catholics. Whenever there is a change of national leadership in the USA, China, Russia or other large country, it gets discussed and debated by people of all countries because it impacts everyone. Unfortunately, the discussions surrounding the change of the pope have been largely limited to the internal issues within the Catholic Church. I'd like to argue that this transition into a new papacy presents a historic opportunity to change the world in a significant way for the better. All of us, including non-Christians, are stakeholders in this conversation.

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What Indian Americans Can Learn During Black History Month

What Indian Americans Can Learn During Black History Month

February is celebrated as America's Black History Month, making it an opportune time to examine some important relationships between the Indian and black communities in this country. For one, there are longstanding ties between the two peoples that ought to be unearthed and rekindled. Mahatma Gandhi started his civil disobedience movement in South Africa where he spent 21 years honing his political philosophy and leadership skills. The event that became the turning point in his life was when he was thrown off a train, because as a person of color he was not allowed to sit in first-class even though he had a first-class ticket. The indignity of this event, similar to that experienced by all people of color in South Africa at that time, launched him into a life of social and political activism. His movement culminated in the eventual overthrow of the British Empire and colonialism in general.

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The Whitewashing of Bobby Jindal

The Whitewashing of Bobby Jindal

As a "rebuttal" to President Obama's inaugural address, Bobby Jindal, the Indian-American governor of Louisiana, delivered last week before the Republican National Committee what I consider a misleading and somewhat controversial address.

A likely presidential contender in 2016, Jindal played his card as a person of color. Referring to the string of offensive remarks and gaffes made by Republicans against women, minorities and the middle class, Jindal declared: "We've got to stop being the stupid party". Neglecting people of color was a big reason for losing elections, he claimed, implicitly positioning himself as the solution. But does Jindal truly speak for any community of color, or is this just another round of creative political opportunism? Most Indian-Americans have been dismayed to see that he has done nothing for our community, while soliciting us for campaign funds. He had morphed at an early age into exactly the kind of candidate that the people of his southern, conservative state would elect.

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