What Would Krishna Do? Or Shiva? Or Vishnu? A poser in NY times!

Thanks to Dr. Ranga Raj and Hari Gopalan I felt some excitement when I saw the heading of the N Y Times article they wanted me to read! And Lalitha Srinivasan posted it on F.B. I believed that there would be a tricky situation a la Mahabharata which would be answered and I would be educated by a philosopher with some new perspectives.  The questions intrigued me. Were they confused about our trinity? Has Krishna really replaced Brahma? In fact, Brahma has been ignored by us for some peculiar reasons. Anyway seeing our deities going global felt good.

The interview: It has some standard questions on Hinduism but no mention of our dear deities featured in the heading. 
I also had problems with the many words used in the interview, so I forwarded it to a few who know more philosophy than I do.The response from both Sriram and Mouli confused me further. They said nothing about the deities. Then I realized it was just an eye-catching heading and it has obviously worked as there are 381 comments as of today. I am jealous!

My first reaction to the name Jonardon Ganeri was not enthusiastic. It told me he was not an asli Indian. And I thought why ask him about our gods! Thankfully Sriram sent me to a link to another interview of his and I felt better. The author has many books to his credit and has chosen an approach which is in fact interesting. If this interview fails, it is more due to the interviewer and his agenda.

I suppose I can react to some of the questions:
G.G.: Does this mean that Hinduism is a religion without God?
D.S.:Are you serious? We have many many gods and while some have lost importance others new powerful ones have appeared. Some politicians and sports idols are the new gods and have immense power. Also Gramadevatas, the local gods, sometimes are very popular. For instance the Srirama temple which was bustling with activity when I was a kid has hardly anyone visiting. But a Shakti temple nearby is very busy. 

Going to a temple is in our blood. We also have other uses for our gods. We place pictures or idols of them in front of our houses to guard it from evil eyes and doers. And gods it seems are not upset. We even place pictures of them on compound walls to discourage men from urinating on it with probably 99% success. But of course the wall opposite without gods protecting it, is flooded.
G.G.: This sounds rather like the Kantian view that morality means doing what’s right regardless of the consequences.
D.S. Do you mean, Kant has said something similar? Wonder where he got it from? Is it not funny that you make it appear that we have copied Kant. It is like the time I heard someone describe yoga as a kind of Isometric exercise. Ridiculous!
G.G.: How do you respond to the charge that Hinduism has supported the injustices of the caste system in India?
D.S.  I guess it is an aberration which has corrupted what was once a logical classification. It is indefensible, but it seems no one is free from this. Look at what the Brits did in India. We were all treated as coolies. And I am sure given an opportunity you will do the same.

Please read further if you have the stomach for some serious discussions, but  the interview, right at the bottom, was not what I was expecting. You could also read the comments. Recommended. Some comments are interesting.
Read on::.
Sriram replied thus:
I think that I had sent an earlier interview from this series to you, as it was somewhat relevant to the "Na sattannaasaduchyate" phrase in BG Chap 13 verse 13 that was being discussed at Chinmaya Mission at that time.

http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/artha-india-and-the-global-preoccupation-of-philosophy/ - indicates that the person being interviewed for this latest article is half Indian, he seems to have dabbled in a lot of different areas, so I am not sure about his expertise in any one topic.

The question of whether God created man or whether man created God is always an interesting one, which of course leads to the question of what or who is God.  During my visit to Bangalore last year, I picked up a small booklet by DVG - "Rta, Satya, Dharma : ivugaLa anyonya sambandhagaLu" (Right, Truth, Duty : their mutual relationship).  This is actually a follow up booklet to his earlier one "Devaru" (God), I wish that I had got that one also, as that would have answered a lot of questions.  DVG equates God with supreme consciousness, with all qualities, including opposing ones.  One of the adjectives used for the Supreme is "agaNitha guNagaNa", DVG says that we elect to choose the ones that we like and associate it with God.  The three main ones are Sat, Cit and Ananda, and DVG starts elaborating on the word "Sat" in the booklet.

Mouli had more to add: 
I read this interview with Janordan Ganeri. It is a chaotic interpretation of facts, fiction, theory, rituals, religious customs, beliefs, superstitions, you name it of Hinduism in practice in a vast nation. Whatever may be the motive of this Professor at Abu Dhabi, we should REJECT HIS VIEW. Hinduism  CANNOT BE DEFINED OR EXPLAINED to a non Hindu. Hinduism has to be LIVED IN INDIA OR IN AREAS OF THE DIASPORA.
As Sriram says the BHAGAVAD GITA sums it ( not as HINDUISM ) up as A VISION OF THE INFINITE; AND ASKS MAN TO PURSUE FOUR PATHS OF YOGA to help him to move towards this VISION.
The other terms besides DHARMA, SATYA ETC will be in my view, understanding the SHARP DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHRUTI AND SMRITI.  I think the " learned " professor has yet to begin his STUDY OF HINDUISM. NOT AS IT IS, BUT AS IT MEANT TO ITS ADHERENTS OVER CENTURIES.
IT WILL BE good to open up a discussion on line with the old ( like me ), the young ( like Rakshit ) and those who call themselves Muslims, Christians, Buddhists etc.

The interview:

What Would Krishna Do? Or Shiva? Or Vishnu?

 AUGUST 3, 2014 7:00 PMAugust 3, 2014 7:00 pm 98 Comments
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This is the ninth in a series of interviews about religion that I am conducting for The Stone. The interviewee for this installment is Jonardon Ganeri, currently a visiting professor of philosophy at New York University Abu Dhabi and the author of “The Lost Age of Reason: Philosophy in Early Modern India 1450–1700.”
Gary Gutting: How might looking at Hinduism alter philosophical approaches to religion that take Christianity as their primary example?
Jonardon Ganeri: Taking Christianity as the exemplar of religion skews philosophical discussion towards attempts to solve, resolve or dissolve difficult philosophical puzzles inherent in monotheism: problems about God’s powers, goodness and knowledge; attempts to provide rational arguments for God’s existence; the problem of evil; and so on. Hindu philosophers have traditionally been far more interested in a quite different array of problems, especially questions about the nature of religious knowledge and religious language, initially arising from their concerns with the Veda as a sacred eternal text and as a source of ritual and moral law.
G.G.: Does this mean that Hinduism is a religion without God?

J.G.: Many Hindus believe in God, but not all in the same God: For some it is Vishnu, for others Shiva, for others again it is rather the Goddess. Some of the more important Hindu philosophers are atheists, arguing that no sacred religious text such as the Veda could be the word of God, since authorship, even divine authorship, implies the logical possibility of error. Whether believed in or not, a personal God does not figure prominently as the source of the idea of the divine, and instead non-theistic concepts of the divine prevail.
G.G.: What do you mean by “non-theistic” concepts of the divine?
J.G.: One such concept sees the text of the Veda as itself divine. Its language, on this view, has a structure that is prior to and isomorphic with the structure of the world and its grammar is complete (although parts may have been lost over the centuries). The divinity of the text inverts the order of priority between text and author: Now, at best, assignment of authorship is a cataloging device not the identification of origin. Recitation of the text is itself a religious act.
“There is something strongly anti-individualistic in this practice of inwardness, since the deep self one discovers is the same self for all.”
Another Hindu conception of the divine is that it is the essential reality in comparison to which all else is only concealing appearance. This is the concept of one finds in the Upanishads. Philosophically the most important claim the Upanishads make is that the essence of each person is also the essence of all things’; the human self and brahman (the essential reality) are the same.
This identity claim leads to a third conception of the divine: that inwardness or interiority or subjectivity is itself a kind of divinity. On this view, religious practice is contemplative, taking time to turn one’s gaze inwards to find one’s real self; but — and this point is often missed — there is something strongly anti-individualistic in this practice of inwardness, since the deep self one discovers is the same self for all.
G.G.: Could you say something about the Hindu view of life after death? In particular, are Hindu philosophers able to make sense of the notion of reincarnation?
J.G.: Every religion has something to say about death and the afterlife, and hence engages with philosophical questions about the metaphysics of the self. While Christian philosophy of self tends to be limited to a single conception of self as immortal soul, Hindu philosophers have experimented with an astonishing range of accounts of self, some of which are at the cutting edge in contemporary philosophy of mind.
G.G.: Could you give an example?
J.G.: The self as an immaterial, immortal soul is consistent with the Hindu idea of survival through reincarnation. But some Hindu philosophers have concluded that mind and the mental must be embodied. If so, reincarnation requires that mental states must be able to be “multiply realized” in different physical states. This led to the idea, much later popular among analytic philosophers of mind, that the mental is a set of functions that operate through the body. Such an approach supports the idea that there is a place for the self within nature, that a self — even one that exists over time in different bodies — need be not a supernatural phenomenon.
“Let me be clear. The idea of karma is that every human action has consequences, but it is not at all the claim that every human action is itself a consequence.”
G.G.: What sort of ethical guidance does Hinduism provide?
J.G.: One of the most important texts in the religious life of many Hindus is the Bhagavadgita, the Song of the Lord. The Gita is deeply philosophical, addressing in poetic, inspirational language a fundamental conundrum of human existence: What to do when one is pulled in different directions by different sorts of obligation, how to make hard choices. The hard choice faced by the protagonist Arjuna is whether to go to war against members of his own family, in violation of a universal duty not to kill; or to abstain, letting a wrong go unrighted and breaking a duty that is uniquely his. Lord Krishna counsels Arjuna with the philosophical advice that the moral motivation for action should never consist in expected outcomes, that one should act but not base one’s path of action on one’s wants or needs.
G.G.: This sounds rather like the Kantian view that morality means doing what’s right regardless of the consequences.
J.G.: There are ongoing debates about what sort of moral philosophy Krishna is proposing — Amartya Sen has claimed that he’s a quasi-Kantian but others disagree. More important than this scholarly debate, though, is what the text tells us about how to live: that living is hard, and doing the right thing is difficult; that leading a moral life is at best an enigmatic and ambiguous project. No escape route from moral conflict by imitating the actions of a morally perfect individual is on offer here. Krishna, unlike Christ, the Buddha or Mohammed is not portrayed as morally perfect, and indeed the philosopher Bimal Matilal very aptly describes him as the “devious divinity.” We can but try our best in treacherous circumstances.
G.G.: How does the notion of “karma” fit into the picture?
J.G.: Let me be clear. The idea of karma is that every human action has consequences, but it is not at all the claim that every human action is itself a consequence. So the idea of karma does not imply a fatalistic outlook on life, according to which one’s past deeds predetermine all one’s actions. The essence of the theory is simply that one’s life will be better if one acts in ways that are ethical, and it will be worse if one acts in ways that are unethical.
A claim like that can be justified in many different ways. Buddhism, for example, tends to give it a strictly causal interpretation (bad actions make bad things happen). But I think that within Hinduism, karma is more like what Kant called a postulate of practical reason, something one does well to believe in and act according to (for Kant, belief in God was a practical postulate of this sort).
G.G.: How does Hinduism regard other religions (for example, as teaching falsehoods, as worthy alternative ways, as partial insights into its fuller truth)?
J.G.: The essence of Hinduism is that it has no essence. What defines Hinduism and sets it apart from other major religions is its polycentricity, its admission of multiple centers of belief and practice, with a consequent absence of any single structure of theological or liturgical power. Unlike Christianity, Buddhism or Islam, there is no one single canonical text — the Bible, the Dialogues of the Buddha, the Quran — that serves as a fundamental axis of hermeneutical or doctrinal endeavor, recording the words of a foundational religious teacher. (The Veda is only the earliest in a diverse corpus of Hindu texts.) Hinduism is a banyan tree, in the shade of whose canopy, supported by not one but many trunks, a great diversity of thought and action is sustained.
G.G.: Would Hinduism require rejecting the existence of the God worshiped by Christians, Jews or Muslims?
J.G.: No, it wouldn’t. To the extent that Hindus worship one God, they tend to be henotheists, that is, worshiping their God but not denying the existence of others (“every individual worships some God,” not “some God is worshipped by every individual”). The henotheistic attitude can accept the worship of the Abrahamic God as another practice of the same kind as the worship of Vishnu or Shiva (and Vaishnavism and Shaivism are practically different religions under the catchall rubric “Hinduism”).
Without a center, there can be no periphery either, and so Hinduism’s approach to other religions tends to be incorporationist. In practice this can imply a disrespect for the otherness of non-Hindu religious traditions, and in particular of their ability to challenge or call into question Hindu beliefs and practices. The positive side is that there is in Hinduism a long heritage of tolerance of dissent and difference.
“The cultivation of epistemic skills is what stops the merry-go-round between cognitive error and mental distress.”
One explanation of this tolerance of difference is that religious texts are often not viewed as making truth claims, which might then easily contradict one another. Instead, they are seen as devices through which one achieves self transformation. Reading a religious text, taking it to heart, appreciating it, is a transformative experience, and in the transformed state one might well become aware that the claims of the text would, were they taken literally, be false. So religious texts are seen in Hinduism as “Trojan texts” (like the Trojan horse, but breaking through mental walls in disguise). Such texts enter the mind of the reader and help constitute the self.
The Hindu attitude to the Bible or the Quran is the same, meaning that the sorts of disagreements that arise from literalist readings of the texts tend not to arise.
G.G.: What ultimate good does Hinduism promise those who follow it, and what is the path to attaining this good?
J.G.: The claim is that there are three pathways, of equal merit, leading in their own way to liberation. Hindu philosophers have employed a good deal of logical skill in their definitions of liberation. To cut a long story short, for some it is a state defined as the endless but not beginingless absence of pain; others characterize it as a state of bliss. The three pathways are the path of knowledge, the path of religious performance and the path of devotion. The path of knowledge requires philosophical reflection, that of religious performances various rituals and good deeds, and that of devotion worship and service, often of a particular deity such as Krishna.
G.G.: Could you say a bit more about the path of knowledge and its relation to philosophy?
J.G.: Knowledge can liberate because epistemic (Relating to knowledge or to the degree of its validation.) error is the primary source of anguish, and knowledge is an antidote to error. I might err, for example, if I believe that I only need to satisfy my current desires in order to be happy. The antidote is the knowledge that the satisfaction of one desire serves only to generate another.
According to the Nyaya philosopher Vatsyayana, this is why philosophy is important. Doing philosophy is the way we cultivate our epistemic skills, learning to tell sound doxastic (Relating to an individual’s beliefs:to conjecture'.) practices from bogus ones, and the cultivation of epistemic skills is what stops the merry-go-round between cognitive error and mental distress. So it isn’t that philosophy and religion are not distinct, but that there is a meta-theory about their relationship.
G.G.: The liberation you’ve described seems to be a matter of escaping from the cares of this world. Doesn’t this lead to a lack of interest in social and political action to make this world better?
More From The Stone
Read previous contributions to this series.
J.G.: The great narrative texts of Hinduism are the two epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. These epics are drawn on as resources in thinking about ethical conduct; forms of just society; and the possibility of various kinds of political and social agency. They are vast polycentric texts, and are read as such by Hindus. One of the important virtues of these epics is that they give voice to a range of participants within Hinduism that tend to go unheard: women, the disenfranchised, the outsider, the migrant. They provide these groups with important models for social and political intervention. That’s one reason they have always been very popular works within the Hindu diaspora.
The mirror image of the idea that liberation consists in the absence of distress is that a free society consists in the absence of injustice; thus the removal of injustice, rather than the creation of a perfect or ideal society, is the target of political action. Just as the absence of distress is a minimal condition compatible with many different kinds of human well-being (we are back to the theme of polycentricism), so the absence of injustice is compatible with many different types of well-ordered community or society.
G.G.: How do you respond to the charge that Hinduism has supported the injustices of the caste system in India?
J.G.: I think it is important to see that Hinduism contains within itself the philosophical resources to sustain an internal critique of reprehensible and unjust social practices that have sometimes emerged in Hindu societies. The Upanishadic idea that all selves are equal, and one with brahman, for example, can be drawn on to challenge the system of caste. There are thus forms of rational self-criticism that the diverse riches of Hindu philosophy enable, and an individual’s social identity as a Hindu is something to be actively fashioned rather than merely inherited.
This interview was conducted by email and edited. Previous interviews in this series were with Alvin Plantinga, Louise Antony,John D. Caputo, Howard Wettstein, Jay L. Garfield, Philip Kitcher,Tim Maudlin and Michael Ruse.
allie G.
 New York 27 minutes ago
Nice to know new things about the most tolerant and secular ideology. All these people complaining about intolerance and violence in India, need to look at Muslim majority Pakistan and Kashmir where native Hindus have been decimated. Hindus in India have not done same to Muslims, despite numerous terror attacks by Indian Muslims.
 Atlanta, GA 27 minutes ago
If all of this sounds like so gobbledegok, that's because it is.

This kind of thinking runs away from the reality that is Existentialism.
Regarding the title "What would Krishna Do? ... Or Vishnu?", it implies Krishna and Vishnu are different, whereas Krishna is considered to be one of the 10 avatars of Vishnu. Is this an error or ignorance?
One of the best commentaries on Hinduism yet.

There are some glaring issues that do deserve dissent.

a. Arguments for 'dvait' or atman and brahman are connected but not the same, are also derived from the Upanishads. It may all be advait (as in - it begins and ends there - but there is a scenic detour of advait made possible in the Upanishad).

b. Mahabharat (and its subset, Gita), and Ramayan are viewed as divine, or historically accurate reports. Fair enough. But, they also are political doctrines. I.e., commissioned by the powerful to ensure the masses live in fear, subservience, unquestioningly doing their duty, tolerant of social injustices. Today's India reflects these outcomes. Surprised that the scholar does not mention Manusmruti, a wholly detrimental text that has kept India closer to a medieval than a modern society (it being the source of the caste system).

c. It is incorrect to say that attainment of bliss is equally likely from following knowledge, religious performance, and devotion. We have a culture where critical thinking is an alien concept, self-reflection is absent, and investment in keeping people ignorant is overwhelming. Aligned with a political philosophy, modern India is an outcome of the powerful telling the masses to engage in religious performance and devotion. Knowledge seeking is viewed largely as the ability to recite from memory without the slightest interest in inquiry or critique.

Loved the eloquence of Dr. Ganeri!

Chris Parel
 McLean, VA 42 minutes ago
What a lovely, thought provoking series this is.

Just one small thought. The fundamental conundrum is one of "outside" and "inside". Michaelangelo's god floats in an ether of space surrounded by angels and clouds. God is 'outside' the rest. But 'outside' requires an explanation--how did it come into being? Alternatively, if God is 'inside' he is a part of the whole--the whole is God. The Big Bang is God and what came before and after is also God. Evolution and evolutionary biology is God. And religions are picking up strands of the whole and interpreting them as God which is also inside, hence part of God. And so I am going out for a milkshake in the certainty that my action is god-like and I shall leave it to others to think through what is best for humanity, at least for the moment...
Sivaram Pochiraju
 Hyderabad, India 44 minutes ago
My comment pertaining to Brahma should be read as Creator of all creatures including humans and not simply humans only.
 Texas 1 hour ago
What a erudite and thoughtful exchange! The comments also explore the various levels of subtlety and intricacy possible in thought and word while thinking and expressing ideas about a Reality that is Inexpressible. Sanatana Dharma recognizes that though the start and the end of the journey is the same for all, the journey itself is unique for each. So within a structure, enough flex has to be allowed to adapt the philosophical ideas into rational practical framework suited for the individual. As Vivekananda remarked " We are on journey from a lower truth to a higher truth - not from sin to perfection" .

I for one am glad that Wendy Doniger is not a part of this discussion!
Roland Berger
 Ontario, Canada 1 hour ago
Christianity and hinduism have in common to have failed to bring real justice in societies. Their difference is about the relationship of people to the divine. Hinduism opens many roads to it, Christianity imposes its unique road, which came to be a wall between the individual and the divine, and between individuals.
 Cherry Hill, NJ 1 hour ago
In Hindu pantheism, gods are not like God in Christianity. Each god is a symbol or personification of a natural force or phenomenon – Vayu for wind, Varuna for water, Kama for desire, Rati for sex, and so on. The creative aspect in Nature is personified as Brahma; the protective aspect in Nature is personified as Vishnu; and the destructive aspect is personified as Shiva. Now, to create or innovate, we need knowledge, intelligence and wisdom. Therefore, Sarasvati, the goddess or the personification of knowledge and wisdom, is made the consort of Brahma. What is created has to be protected and taken care of. To care and to protect, one needs wealth and wherewithal. That’s why Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, has been made the consort of Vishnu. And,whatever is created ultimately dies or gets destroyed. But to destroy anything one needs strength or power (‘shakti’). Thus, Parvati (or Shakti), the personification of strength, is made the consort of Shiva.
As Mr. Jonardon Ganeri rightly says brahman or parabrahman is the ultimate Reality which is the essence in everything from quarks to quasars. (Thus parabrahman is the “Essence of Existence” or the “Unit of Existence.”) Again, as Mr. Ganeri says, Hinduism, the nonreligious religion, is essentially atheistic in its core.
 Woodway, WA 1 hour ago
"The ninth in a series of interviews about religion"?! My goodness, how long is this going to go on?

 Canada 43 minutes ago
Forever, just like Hinduism that has no end or a beginning.

Luke W
 New York 1 hour ago
Hinduism is replete with bigotry, intolerance and negative societal repercussions as is any other religion. The enormous amount of bloodshed and hatred between Hindus and Moslems is a case in point.

Hinduism has done no favors to India. For anyone who has travelled that country it has to be outside of sub-Saharan Africa the most unhygienic, backward, caste ridden, squalid place on earth. Income inequality is spectacularly enormous and from urban areas to the countryside the land is filled with pollution, trash and defecation.

The nation is in the hands of a fake democracy that is just another corrupt oligarchy that makes the Russian or Ukrainian oligarchy look positively honest in comparison. Hinduism is not responsible for all these problems but like the Catholic Church in Latin America it has been a major contributing factor.
 Austin, TX 43 minutes ago
I only have to look around the muslim nations on Earth Iran Iraq Pakistan UAE you name it to know which race is the most 'peace loving' and the primal cause of tensions.
Of course America is the embodiment of the Christian example, ready to sacrifice itself on the cross for other nations.

 nyc 1 hour ago
Philosophical claptrap.

The horrors perpetrated by Hindus against Moslems is obviously independent of any "religious" disposition, other than the "mine is better than yours" variety.

Look to social and economic realities to explain these horrors, with the precepts of "religion" twisted to provide a justification for utterly corrupt, violent behavior.

Best to abandon religious thought altogether and focus on mending the broken social and economic systems. Conversations like this -- pontifications from the academy and other loci well-insulated from the real world -- do more harm than good.
Petey Tonei
 Massachusetts 43 minutes ago
Surely, you live in an alternate universe with an alternate written history. You may benefit form reading a teeny bit about Muslim invasions of the Indian subcontinent.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_conquests_on_the_Indian_subcontinent
Where on earth did you infer that "the horrors perpetrated by Hindus against Moslems"? India is the home of the third largest Muslim population, outside Indonesia and Pakistan. Mosques, temples, churches, gurudwaras co-exist on the same street.
You have got to brush up on your history narrative.
James Andersen
 Virginia Beach, VA 1 hour ago
Mr Cutting,
I strongly recommend you interview Ravi Zacharis in Atlanta. Beginning with his childhood in a Hindu family from India through his education in philosophy and acceptance of Christ you will find no better source that can put all perspectives on spirituality and faith, including atheism into focus.
Petey Tonei
 Massachusetts 43 minutes ago
Paramahansa Yogananda, who arrived in the US in the early 1920s. His messages resonated with Christians and Jews everywhere he traveled in the country. His book the Second Coming of Christ speaks volumes about the acceptance of Christianity among Hindus as one of the several paths leading to enlightenment and liberation http://bookstore.yogananda-srf.org/c6/Scriptural-Commentaries-c12.html
 Syracuse NY 1 hour ago
This article addresses two very troubling tendencies of all religions in the modern world: teaching falsehoods as a baseline entry point to the wider religious/cultural tradition and the idea of reincarnation where a new, innocent life is called up to suffer for the bad acts of some now free, dead malefactor.
As an eleven year old pregnant girl left tied up in a religious facility, I experienced near death and the sort of communication accompanying that NDE/out of body/ call in what you will / out on the edge and between the worlds oneness with a higher entity. I heard that hell - on earth - is created by people who are willing to harm in ways that other people are not willing to harm and that most of the people in "hell" are there because of bad people. What we now call PTSD, OCD, schizophrenia, depression and groupthink used to be called demonic possession and much of it results from being exposed to mental, emotional and physical violence and being taught that this violence is fine and dandy when "our guys" do it and evil when "others" do it. Reincarnation is a simple way to blame "others" a priori for problems we don't yet have solutions for. The more we learn about neurotransmitters and how the Higgs Boson and other such particles work magnetically, the more we should seek truth and not mythological storytelling based on circumstances that existed 5000 years ago. We don't and can't know what we don't yet know.

 Boulder, Co 1 hour ago
In view of the reference to Kant, I wish to add a brief reference to Plato. I think it is human consciousness that gives life to Plato's ideal forms like "goodness" and, in turn, those ideal forms give us " a way of life."
Steve C
 Bowie, MD 1 hour ago
Mr. Gutting, Have you heard this question/response before? "How do you feel today?" "I feel a lot more like I do now than I did a while ago." I am looking for some traction on an icy road of explanation

I find Mr. Ganeri's answers very difficult to follow.

 NY 1 hour ago
Not a single " Hindu" scripture has the word Hindu in them. That should tell you something.
Sivaram Pochiraju
 Hyderabad, India 1 hour ago
This article is interesting to read. However,the discussion didn't revolve around the title.The title should have been "What is the concept of Hinduism". Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu,who is considered as Preserver of humanity. Shiva is considered as the Destroyer of evil and Brahma is Creator of human beings.
God being the creator,preserver and destroyer. Brahma,Vishnu and Shiva are assigned these jobs.

Hinduism doesn't really mean idol worship and millions of Gods. The devotees worship only one God in numerous forms. Hinduism also says,God has no shape . Since it's extremely difficult to concentrate on a God ,while worshipping ,having no shape,Hindus concentrate by worshipping God in numerous shapes of their choice.

Buddhism is not entirely different from Hinduism since Buddha was a Hindu prince called Siddhartha before taking Sanyas and then spreading his knowledge among his devotees,which later came to be known as Buddhism,after becoming enlightened while meditating under a tree.

The essence of all religions is live and let others live,unfortunately that's not the case for quite sometime.
 NY 1 hour ago
Hinduism, like Judaism, has a Golden Rule. " Vasudev Kutumbhkam. Srava Kalyanam Prathmo Dharmam."

Translation" All beings are one family. The welfare of all is our prime obligation."

If you follow and practice this Golden Rule you are Hindu. The rest is all bells and whistles.

The sage Hillel said the same about Judaism. " Do unto others as you would have them do to you. The rest is all bells and whistles." His response was to a young Jews who was pestering him to teach him all about Judaism.
 Philadelphia 1 hour ago
What, if anything, would Hinduism have to say about the deep and gross injustices that women face in India? My guess is that prof. Ganeri would say that Hinduism does not reinforce sexual repression and abjection .... what a shame its followers do. @otherminds
Petey Tonei
 Massachusetts 43 minutes ago
Its the same with Christianity, Mormonism or Islam, no? Treatment of women, subjugation of women, denying them priesthood etc, very rampant in organized religions of the past and present.

William Case
 Texas 1 hour ago
Hinduism’s “long heritage of tolerance of dissent and difference” includes the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Muslims as they tried to flee India for Pakistan in 1947 and subsequent decades of sectarian strife that frequently erupts in violence. Hindu extremists killed more than a thousand Muslims during the Gujarat Riots in 2002. In recent years, there has been an increase of Hindu violence against Christians, with Hindus conducting forced reconversions, burning Christian churches and murdering priests. In 1999, Hindus burnt a Christian missionary and his two sons to death as they slept in a station wagon.
Petey Tonei
 Massachusetts 43 minutes ago
Yet, Muslims choose to live in India amongst Hindus, sharing festivals and greetings with them, celebrating holidays together. Same with Christians some of whom have lived in India since the arrival of St Thomas the apostle. Where do you get your news from, some kind of biased media, NYT being one such, broadcasting distorted and sensational news.

 NY 1 hour ago
Humans would not need to believe if 1. they were not taught from childhood that one must believe in some sort of divinity, monotheist or not. 2. If society gave every individual a feeling of belonging and comraderie and fulfilling of basic needs, food shelter etc. the Scandinavian countries do that fewer and fewer Scandinavians are believers. In fact life in the mostly atheist Scandinavian countries, they all are in a post Christian era, is so good that strict monotheists such as the Muslims prefer to immigrate to Scandinavia than to rich Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia.
 new york 1 hour ago
Here's another way to understand the concept of liberation:

"If you believe that time and space are outside you, and that you are a separate entity trapped within time and space, then concepts such as karma, causality, rebirths, etc. apply. But if you have the realization that time and space are within you, then notions of separateness, suffering, karma, causality, rebirths etc. go away. That is liberation or enlightenment."

So the question of whether. Hindus believe in karma, reincarnation, etc are ultimately meaningless. One way to get to liberation is to analyze the nature of time and space. And for that you don't need religious texts.
 Houston,Tx. 1 hour ago
The writer fails to mention the role that religious leaders have played in all faiths, and in my opinion one can't successfully discuss faiths without such discussion. The world would be a better place with religious acceptance, and better recognition of the history of religious leaders is necessary to achieve such.
I remind us that there is no faith which is universally available, hence citizens must choose from that available wherever they're born or adopt the faith of their parents. The one thing all faiths agree on is that God is just, hence common sense and circumstance reveal that God will accept good people regardless of the faith we choose to follow.
Mark Morss
 Columbus Ohio 1 hour ago
I could not find much with which to grapple in this discussion, according to which Hinduism is an amorphous cloud, capable of enveloping anything. Am am left to wonder how the Hindu belief structure would be challenged by the propositions that all is matter and energy, developing in space-time; and that each animal consciousness is the individual result of electrochemical processes in the brain, and so cannot survive the destruction of the brain.
 New York 44 minutes ago
There would be no conflict with what you are saying. Hinduism would simply say that you need to examine the concept of time-space and determine whether you are within time-space or whether time-space is within you.

It is actually NOT challenged by Mark's proposition. It incorporates that proposition quite explicitly.


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