On idols

17 08 2010

In India, the metaphysical Principle is regarded as both transcendent and immanent, being simultaneously supreme and accessible. Therefore, the hieratic icons, imbued with the mysterious presence of God, are likened to the deep pools where water is always available. The god Vishnu, who manifests and incarnates himself in many different ways, instructs his devotees that he, Vishnu, can be worshiped in embodied form only. So, allegedly, this mode of worship is revealed by Vishnu himself. There is no worship without the manifest forms and icons, ‘therefore humans should construct the Imperishable One in human form and worship him with utmost devotion’.

-Algis Uzdavinys, Philosophy and Theurgy in Late Antiquity

Free Pandit Jasraj concert

6 08 2010

Almost three hours of music found here

Fundamentalism and modernity

14 06 2010

Editorial note: I’m unavailable until Thursday. Posts will continue to appear, but this blog is on auto-pilot

I highly recommend the article, Rush Hour of the Gods by William Dalrymple (found via the Western Confucian blog). The article makes many counterintuitive points that I think any student of modern religion needs to take into consideration. While his analysis of Islam in south Asia was known to me, his analysis of modern Hinduism was particularly informative. Such an “ancient religion” is really not so ancient all things considered, and modernity has come to shape it just as much as it has contemporary Christianity.

My own exercise here is to compare and contrast what is going on with Hinduism and Islam in India with the long evolution of Catholicism in Latin America. In both cases, nationality, technology, scholarship, and the media are striving to define what Catholicism, Islam, and Hinduism are on a national and international scale, often in contrast with more local manifestations of these faiths.
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Pandit Bhimsen Joshi

17 04 2010

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Jag Mein Sundar Hai Do Naam

11 04 2010

Anup Jalota sings in the honor of the Hindu deity, Rama

Rang De Chunariya

26 02 2010

A bhajan in honor of Krishna

The Birth of Krishna

3 02 2010

Makes me wonder how Bollywood would remake the life of Our Lord if given the chance…

Notes on alchemy

12 11 2009

Mercury was, for them, the seminal essence of a god who (pro-)creates the universe sexually; indeed the origin myth of mercury tells us that quicksilver first arose when Siva spilled his seed at the end of a long bout of lovemaking with his consort, the goddess Parvati. This seed once spilled, became polluted through its contact with the earth. The alchemist’s craft therefore consists of returning mercury, through a series of chemical reactions of incredible complexity, to its original pristine state. Once he has perfected it in the laboratory, the alchemist may then ingest this mercury, which then transforms him into an immortal human, a “second Siva”.

-David Gordon White, “The Ocean of Mercury: An Eleventh-Century Alchemical Text” in Religions of India in Practice
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The myth of “interiority”

26 10 2009

india cross

I read the other day a post on the Lonely Goth’s blog concerning the Khrist Bhaktas or Indian devotees of Christ who are not baptized into the Church. Apparently, according to an article linked to on this site, a great number of people who make pilgrimages to Christian shrines and fills the pews on Sunday are not technically “Christians” as we would call them. They are devotees of Christ who do not seek baptism, since “receiving baptism is perceived as relinquishing one’s entire social and cultural patrimony and becoming assimilated to an alien culture”. Some Catholic priests even encourage this type of devotion to Christ, saying that they are there not to baptize people, but to “preach the Gospel”.

“Syncretic, cowardly compromise”, you might be thinking. The funny thing is, however, that Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, that bête noire of integrist Catholicism, when he was working in the Lord’s vineyard in French-speaking west Africa, almost did the exact same thing with many of the Muslim and animist populations. Realizing that many people due to tribal or marital circumstances (polygamy was common in many places) could not seek baptism, he created a class of “believer”, a sort of perpetual catechumenate, for those not quite ready to take the plunge of becoming an “official Christian”. His aim of course was to convert everybody, but he was realistic about what that really meant in practice. By creating a “third way”, he and other missionaries felt that some people were at least leaving the door partially open to the Church, and that such a committment should at the least be acknowledged by the hierarchy.
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23 10 2009