Booknotes: Empires of the Silk Road

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:48 pm

Empires of the Silk Road: closing in on AIT/OIT, a new book on the Silk Road empires of Eurasia, with a lot of good information on PIE, IE languages, and the ‘homeland’ question.

From Hinduism and the manu code to Gurdjieff/Ouspensky

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:20 pm


The portrait in Doniger’s book on Hindus of the way the brahmin caste took over the yogic tradition and then made the whole thing keyed into the Manu code is very outrageous.

And we can see the same tactics being used in the Gurdjieff legacy, or, rather, by Gurdjieff, and Ouspensky, who wrote a book, please note, on the code of Manu, that spurious piece of crap that has done such immense harm.

It is important to snap out of it and not let this happen to the current civilization. Stop buying into the con-man claims of authority for these people.

Two posts from darwiniana.com

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:16 pm



The endgame of Buddhism: Tibet

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:53 pm

The strangeness of Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism on the verge of extinction?

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:34 pm

Discussion of Tibetan Buddhism and atheism

The question of Tibetan Buddhism is extremely tricky. In one way our criticisms here of many new age cults applies, but at the same time it is unfair to compare Buddhism to all these other disparate exploitations.


More on Doniger/Hinduism

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:40 pm

More on Doniger/Hinduism at Darwiniana

Home of the aryans: Witzel

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:56 pm

Witzel has a piece on Aryan homeland issues: http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/AryanHome.pdf

Wikipedia: Doniger

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:45 pm

Comment on Doniger:

James said,
28.03.09 at 10:58 am
Personally, I’m not sure what to make of Doniger. Witzel, for one, doesn’t consider her translations or scholarship to be reliable.

Her history of Hindus is eccentric from the word go, but such issues don’t concern me much: the question is to figure out the key to Indian history. This kind of slant has its plus’ and minus’.
Here’s the wikipedia article:
Wkipedia: Doniger

I was interested at a more general level: the various periodizations, among others, of the Rig Veda, the Mahabharata, etc,…


Doniger, The Hindus

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:24 pm

The Hindus: An Alternative History (Hardcover)
by Wendy Doniger
Have been reading a new history of Hinduism. Although it is supposed to be ‘alternative’ it is a reasonably straightforward account.
There is no concession to the OIT thesis, nor much to the AIT, but Doniger paints a persuasive portrait of the ‘late Rig Veda’ version, essentially a modified AIT approach, with no ‘invasion’.

What i find interesting (but this was my original view from the nineties) is the suggestions that the Axial Upanishad/Buddhism emergence is against the Brahmin/Vedic tradition of ritualism.
In other words, what is the source of the great yogic tradition? It is hard to see how it can be derived from the Vedas without some other intervening factor.
The combination of prior tradition and Axial Age transformation is the solution I thought about many years ago, and after multiple distracting bum steers, am returning to again, it seems.

From Booklist
Note that Doniger is the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of Religions at the University of Chicago and the author of many books. Note that alternative neatly defines her. Learned, fluent, and entertaining in spite of the complexity of this ambitious undertaking, Doniger is also controversial, a role she embraces, confident that fresh viewpoints are essential to understanding the worlds that shaped the Hindu tradition, and the ways Hindus shaped society. While Doniger delves deeply into the Vedas and the “two great poems,” Ramayana and Mahabharata, she searches other spheres for clues to the lives of women and the lower castes. She also analyzes depictions of animals, which are central to Hindu tales and the “cultural ideal” of nonviolence. As she energetically parses the relationships between gods and humans, karma and renunciation, asceticism and sensuality, priests and kings, men and women, she is also seeking glimpses into everyday Hindu life during each of India’s empires. Lavishly detailed, dynamic, and encompassing, Doniger’s multidimensional history celebrates Hindu wisdom, diversity, and pluralism with knowledge, insight, and passion.

Product Description
From one of the world’s foremost scholars on Hinduism, a vivid reinterpretation of its history

An engrossing and definitive narrative account of history and myth that offers a new way of understanding one of the world’s oldest major religions, The Hindus elucidates the relationship between recorded history and imaginary worlds.

Hinduism does not lend itself easily to a strictly chronological account: many of its central texts cannot be reliably dated even within a century; its central tenets—karma, dharma, to name just two—arise at particular moments in Indian history and differ in each era, between genders, and caste to caste; and what is shared among Hindus is overwhelmingly outnumbered by the things that are unique to one group or another. Yet the greatness of Hinduism—its vitality, its earthiness, its vividness—lies precisely in many of those idiosyncratic qualities that continue to inspire debate today.

Wendy Doniger is one of the foremost scholars of Hinduism in the world. With her inimitable insight and expertise Doniger illuminates those moments within the tradition that resist forces that would standardize or establish a canon. Without reversing or misrepresenting the historical hierarchies, she reveals how Sanskrit and vernacular sources are rich in knowledge of and compassion toward women and lower castes; how they debate tensions surrounding religion, violence, and tolerance; and how animals are the key to important shifts in attitudes toward different social classes.

The Hindus brings a fascinating multiplicity of actors and stories to the stage to show how brilliant and creative thinkers—many of them far removed from Brahmin authors of Sanskrit texts—have kept Hinduism alive in ways that other scholars have not fully explored. In this unique and authoritative account, debates about Hindu traditions become platforms from which to consider the ironies, and overlooked epiphanies, of history.


Origins of sufism

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:03 pm

Comment on Burton on Sufism

James said,
21.03.09 at 8:44 am
After reading through several books, I’m guessing that there aren’t any reliable historical accounts of Sufism. Apparently, its beginnings can’t be traced back any further than the late tenth century and without the doctrines that would become associated with it in later times:http://books.google.com/books?id=nYOh6T-sw9IC&printsec=frontcover&dq=julian+baldick#PPA35,M1

It is an unpromising subject, given the contemporary disinformation and the fact that most sufis are themselves victims of this system. As with Gurdjieff the set of lies involved is too much to penetrate.
Good to stay away from it unless you have some real angle on it.
We went through this at length over at Darwiniana in the ‘sillykitty’ period, and the only safe assumption is that self-styled sufi sheiks like e.j. gold are pathological liars. I am not aware of their having uttered a true statement! let alone a statement that is reliable about sufi history.

Gurdjieff shows signs of having ditched ‘sufism’ and moved towards his preoccupations with more ancient spiritual systems. But there again the hidden agenda behind the disinformation makes it a worthless path.
The later point is open to great hostility from followers, but it is a truth known to those who have wasted a few decades to these lies.

We can begin to repursue this question again.
I need to take up the suggestion to get Burton’s book.


Sinha, Bennett and Samkhya

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:01 pm

It is important to consider just what Samkhya Sinha is proposing, since coming to an understanding of this is never easy.
We have of course commented on Bennett’s version, and the distortions of Gurdjieff. I fear Gurdjieff wrecked the chance of modern Samkhya by pervading it with his lies and demonic game plays.

That’s very sad. The naive Samkhya of someone like Sinha might prove vulnerable here. But then again these Indians have from youth an instinct about their tradition, and Sinha’s explicit verbal formulation may not matter, as it points to an understanding in him on another level.


Comment on Sinha

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:55 pm

Comment from James on Sinha Preface

James said,
08.03.09 at 4:27 pm ·
Overall, I like the book, but I think Sinha makes a few mistakes. Monotheism, for instance, is mentioned quite frequently in the oldest Buddhist scriptures. It seems like the idea was circulating in the air during the Axial period even if the concept didn’t become popular in India until the medieval period.

Good point. The complexity of these issues is great. But I find it telling that two Indian leftists (The other is Bazaz, also quoted extensively on this blog) should write books expressing their sense of ‘ill ease’ at the Bhagavad Gita. (Note how they zero in on Samkhya, the materialist philosophy behind much Indian thinking (but note how the issue of the purusha/prakriti distinction tends to confuse them, as they emphasize materialist rationality).
I trust these leftists even as I distrust them, or their scholarship. It is both profound and confused. And mainstream scholars will soon cover up the issues.
They are stumbling on the exploitations of the gurus, and/or the chameleon adaptation to monotheism as it spread to India (certainly also granting James’ point that the ‘god’ idea was present already in the Axial period.

Monotheism and the Gita

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:49 pm

The question of Sinha’s Gita As It Was

James said,
08.03.09 at 4:27 pm ·

Overall, I like the book, but I think Sinha makes a few mistakes. Monotheism, for instance, is mentioned quite frequently in the oldest Buddhist scriptures. It seems like the idea was circulating in the air during the Axial period even if the concept didn’t become popular in India until the medieval period.

Correctly evaluating such complex historical scholarship is very difficult. Note the difference between this and the Bazaz material that I put on this blog.
The question of the Gita is thus very problematical.

Post on Nietzsche

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:48 pm

Don’t let Nietzsche’s fate be yours

Preface to Sinha’s Gita As It Was

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:37 pm

This was good link from James: you can get the whole document online.
I thought it appropriate to repost the preface here:


My search for the original Gita was inspired by my personal experiences of living in India and elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »