Which brings me to the topic of this blog. My past “dharma” has occasionally involved being asked to help combat attacks by certain powerful and pompous entities with grand academic titles. It was not that I was knowledgeable: my role was that of an Active Scare-Crow, to shoo away the Rakshasas who came to desecrate the prayers and offerings of decent people. My ignorance bothered me, nearly as much as the looming shadows of Karma from what I had done to said Entities, as much as they deserved it. Note that the Rakshasas in our Puranas have always been quite learned and knowledgeable, they just lacked ethics, fairness etc and were instead consumed with greed, hate, anger, lust and all those other things we mentioned in the prior post, that contribute to Vipareeta Buddhi.
I decided that when I got a chance, I would learn what I could about my own religious background and write it down, so I could be more effective. I am the type who must write down and make sense of what I am learning, or nothing sticks in my brain. So I sought a way to make my beliefs make sense, connect them, find solid references that discussed these things, and tie everything together. I got help from various quarters, but as Valmiki learned at the end of his robber days, they should not be blamed for my actions. When I realized that I was getting a reasonably filled puzzle, I decided to publish it. This became an introductory textbook on Sanatana Dharma. I mean every word there. “Introductory”, not “Authoritative, Definitive”. “Textbook”, because it does offer a structure, explanations, facts and in-depth references for those who wish to learn. Not a work of fiction, which Padma has long been declaring as being most suited to my dreamy temperament. And certainly not an Authoritative Prescription distilled from vast knowledge. Just a documentation of what we had learned, why it made sense to us, and where others could find what we found, and more. Sanatana Dharma, the topic. Hinduism, the mindless Colonial usage that assumes that our beliefs came from a (now) Pakistani riverbank.
Here I have a not-so-secret to reveal. I have spent most of my “free” time over the past 19 years associating and debating with strongly religious/political people, often studying their psychology in self-defense. Started with the most rabid of Pakistanis, on whose psychology and even linguistics I am now considered an expert in the Quarters where they know…. But eventually, as Pakistanis slid from their high-rolling prestige of the 1990s into their present state of worldwide welcome, my attention was turned to the wars that Hindus were having to fight for their children, in both India and The West.
The book, I knew, would attract stone-throwing from the self-appointed Holies of my own belief system. So I first sent drafts discreetly to several people who, I knew, were well-steeped and formally trained in the Vedas and our traditions, but **ALSO** keenly aware of the challenges that we have faced in recent times, fighting off the Rakshasas. You can see what we say of them in our Acknowledgement – some were kindest by being silent. These are all people of true substance. Rarely did they agree with me in the past, but they knew that I would be honest, and they could be very blunt with me as well. Their reviews, after many rounds of corrections and refinements, gave me assurance that we had got the book mostly right. But I still knew that I had not encountered the real issues which motivated me to research and write the book instead of just quoting out of a Handbook Handed Down From a Guru.
So I started venturing into the places frequented by people who consider themselves very religious and religiously-educated. The temples. Religious conferences. Recently I have hit the “mother lode” – petulance and rage. And this motivates me to develop a detailed list of comments and responses. I will phrase these as answers to questions.