A Hindu Theory of Liberation (book review) Anantanand Rambachan

150417: my limited knowledge of hinduism of any sort has primarily focused on it as religion, on caste, on inequalities, so this on advaita-vedanta (hereafter av) is very enlightening. the writer does begin with forceful argument this is 'theology' rather than 'philosophy' but as the essential human problem is 'ignorance' and the answer 'knowledge', i think of this as somewhere between the two... this does use many religious texts, vedas, upanishads, and of the several ways to understand av this is definitely the 'scriptural' rather than 'experiential' such as [book:The Experiential Dimension of Advaita Vedanta|6048382]..


part one, is mostly av as a way of thinking/acting, as an essentially hindu insistence on 'non-duality', that is, no world vs self, no world vs enlightenment, no god vs self, beginning with the same insight as buddhism's first noble truth (there is suffering) but arguing that the human cause is a feeling of inadequacy. this can only be solved by knowledge that one is brahma, that all other desires for worth (wealth, power, fame) are transient, illusory, insufficient. to be brahma is to recognize one is already adequate as being part of infinite brahma...


part two, there is the distinction reached (pg 110) between what is 'heard', 'sruti' (vedas, religious texts) and what is 'remembered', 'smrti' (human authored interpretations). sruti is authorless, divine, truth by definition, of knowledge we humans could not otherwise learn. smrti, on the other, is human, fallible, built out of sruti, influenced by culture. av is here portrayed as a kind of 'liberation' theology, that is, one concerned to show religious knowledge useful in the here and now world, to practice justice, compassion, generosity, in all forms...


this part focuses on here and now cultural barriers to realizing intrinsic value of self as part of brahma: patriarchy, homophobia, anthropocentrism, childism, caste. the same theme is applicable, similar quotes from sruti and smrti. basically this is the contention that brahma is present in all things, thus all have equal value, that distinctions are imposed and not there, that oppression is mistaken because this is an attempt to go against non-duality, and violates 'ahimsa' (non-violence) in immediate, in structural, in conceptual ways... in everything from denying women agency, education, to denying children play, joy, caring...


i count this as 'philosophy' partly because it seems mostly 'smrti', human understandings, rather than simply 'revealed' sruti, but then maybe i have just not read enough religion/theology. this certainly educates me on av and through this hinduism in general. i will read more av...

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