Wednesday, January 29, 2014


For responses sets 1 to 5 kindly visit:
61. Swami Vinayachaitanya:

I have wanted to write, but the discussions on the blog have been not very stimulating for me and also nobody seems focus on the main points that you raise, and it has become just a discussion on Buddhism. Will try again

62. P.Milan:
A debate on the cultural significance of Buddhism/s is of course a significant. reconceptualizing. Buddhism in the light of culture entails so many things like history, power, and hegemony. From this perspective, we can consider Buddhism as a cultural response to the social conditions of then India. After Buddha, there had many historical developments within Buddhist traditions. Ambedkar’s embrace of Buddhism in the recent past was another significant response to the caste hegemony. That means, Ambedkar was using Buddhism as a cultural discourse to negotiate power structure and power relationship. Cultural reasons behind the ejection of Buddhism from India are yet to be brought out. Sankara’s alleged driving Buddhism out from the religio-philosophical plane seems to be implausibility. Because it is irrefutable that Sankara has assimilated Buddhist logic through his masters Padmapad and Goudapada. At the same time, Advaita’s monism is totalitarian. Absolutism of any kind is socially oppressive.
63. Sasidharan:
Prof. Milan’s suggestion on Sankara’s alleged role of annihilator of Buddhism from India and the understanding that Sankara’s monism as totalitarian and oppressive are really interesting. Milan seems to imply that there are apparent contradictions in the way Sankara has been counter posed to Buddhist tradition in India. No doubt such a history is shrouded in mystery. Again, it is embarrassing to see that the roots of Buddhism as such have been traced to the Vedas and Upanishads. It appears that the present day Hinduism is felt threatened more by the cultural practices inspired by Buddhism rather than the doctrinal or philosophical Buddhism. 

62. Rajesh Komath:

There is a wide perception among the followers of Hindu-Brahmanical notion of spiritual life that Budhas Dharmas, again a component in which the Hindu tradition consists of. This is a new set of claims so that they could embrace untouchables and Sudras in the the folder of so called Hindu/tva. Buddhism, I think, matters in contemporary India when the Dalit-Bahujan start thinking about an organised social form of life-that seeking for a spiritual legitimacy. The Navayana tradition of Buddhism, thereby, delve into the aspects of Dalit art, images and spirituality. Thus, the political, art and culture and the spiritual integrate as a whole. This triggers as a cultural politics because of the internal potency of the Buddhism.

63. 64. Sasidharan:

it is interesting to see your reasoning on Navayana Buddhism.  Of course it is a significant response towards the continuing caste hegemony in India. But I feel the present day world as such might be beneficial if there is much broader conceptual framework for cultural and political intervention. It seems there is much to learn or imbibe from Buddhist cultures to that respect.  Here we need to provide or advance justification for why cultures do matter.

65. M. Dasan:

Buddhism or the core ideas of Buddhism matters to today as one of the means  to purge people from their  obsession with religion, irrationality and consumerism. Could think of how Ambedkar tried to incorporate the cardinal principles of Buddha's teachings in proposing navayana with an aim to end discrimination of all kind and to create an egalitarian society
66. Sasidharan:

you have brought out two important points for discussion. It seems we need to have serious thinking on why our popular/public intellectuals hesitate to consider such things. There seems to have an unconscious strategy operating to undermine such concerns and efforts. An exploration on how such unconsciousness has been stabilized may worthier. More rigorous argumentation in favor of whatever that has been trivialized needs to be advanced as counter-strategic operation. We may also require debating more in terns of concrete historical and social facts rather than being abstract theoretical.

67. Jackson K. David:
First of all, I should congratulate  Sasidharan, the author to attempt on a topic where a lot of apprehensions are built throughout the ages. Kudos to you! for employing Malayalam to substantiate your stand that too in a impeccable fashion.
Silhouetting Buddha over Shankaracharya and contrasting and comparing it vice verse somewhere the extensions of evolving Buddhism is anticipated. The way you suggested and invited confrontations from both the sects; namely, Brahmins and the Dalits is also appreciated (even though you have tried your level best to down play it).
How to get into the remains through the present is detailed in an array sublime where the existence of a being is investigated. Even scores of avalanches cannot hide the clues to the past…… I can see a wonderful space letting out towards a realm where many can put their heads and minds on.
When we read the article against the contemporary history of India (If I can put it) where everyone is dying hard to ascertain one’s identity exploring ‘the roots’ to affirm the existence, how can we neglect the political, cultural and social imaginations alluded while portraying different dimensions of boudhayana.   
Buddha evolves and that is the key concept dealt with in the essay. When we treat Buddhism as a religion we forget to capture this. Establishment needs history to construct it and reasons to survive but Buddha doesn’t need it….it evolves….as a text gets evolved in the hands of its readers.
Good attempt!!!


68. P. Madhu:

On the myth of the ‘ontology of present’
The present, it is said, is historical. However, what we cannot be sure what history is.  Those which are projected before us as histories are nothing beyond the artworks historians produce. The present, it is said, is futuristic. Similarly, we cannot be sure what the future is. The projected futures are the aspirations of the current.
History is a futurization project irrespective of the historians’ interests or aims.  History happens as historians interpret past or present and lay a trajectory towards the futures influenced by the singularities of their academic syntagm.  For some contingent reasons, most projects of history writings happened to be projects trim the pasts into limited ideal types of tapered future, a contribution towards a ‘global history’ of humanity.  The global history projected is as vicious as the ecology deprived of its diversity by the projections of power elites. An awareness of futures and pasts as multiple temporalities breaking out always from the presents would avert historians from sedating their subscribers towards a tapered future.
The ontology of present is not merely historical but also futuristic. However, it will be simplistic to say the ontology of our present existence is both futuristic and historical because neither there exist a factual history lying out there to be described in all its details nor a factual future whose trajectory is already laid. History and future are both discovered and invented.  The multiple presents hold multiple pathways of the pasts and futures which can be modified by presents as they come forth.  There are infinite histories and futures to be discovered or invented. The greater we understand the creative power of the multiple presents the lesser we would dare to limit the ontology of the present in terms of past or future.
Neither the pasts nor the futures are finished products. They are as unfinished as the presents are. Both futures and pasts are live temporalities as the presents are. In other words, pasts and futures are the extensions of the multiple-presents rather than determiners of the ontology of any monolith of the present. There exists no finished ontology of time to be described or to look ahead.  However, it appears to me, presents always have the power to enliven pasts and futures.
Time as history or future is the unbecoming temporized and presented as linear chunks of periods trajectorized from past to future. The periodized chunks of temporalities adulterated with ideologies of convenience, histories and futures are projected.  The ontology of present is sought within the projected trajectories. The ontology of present to exist, there should be an ontology of the trajectory moving from the past to the future through present. The unbecoming is moment to moment disbandment of time rather than a trajectory being constructed from past to future. To be more specific, the disbandment is experienced by us as time. However, history is produced disregarding that history is imagined only through ideological constructs of temporalities and trajectories. The endeavor of history itself thus can be understood as projects essentializing time while time per se has no such order, trajectory or uniformity. Temporalities are understood by many thinkers as hetero-temporal, pluri-temporal manifold experienced through ideologies of mindscapes that are subjected to layers of ideological presuppositions.
The presentation and projections of history and future, seen from this perspective, is entangled within the ideological presuppositions almost in its entirety. Hence, seeking guidance either from history or future will be nothing better than getting entangled within the ideological muddle. Such a history or futurity has nothing liberative in them. Merely, they immerse their subjects into one or another bad faith. This poses a major problem to social thinkers and theorists. Social Scientists, I suggest, instead of producing history or future, could de-ontologize the history, future and the present. De-ontologizing history would require, de-essentialzing and de-ideologizing time.

How to go about de-ontologizing time could be a question arising now. One way to de-ontologize time as history or future is to expose the ideological syntagm within which the histories and futures are produced. Also we could expose the hetero-temporal, pluri-temporal and assemblage effects of time constructions. Yet another way is to examine the events and counter events torpedoing sets of constructed times and trajectories. The other way is to expose the unfinished character of time that never allows any finitude of past or future. Exposing the non-linearity, co-presents co-opting temporalities, anti-presents repelling temporal trajectories, exploring the processes of othering, demystifying continuities and many such research endeavors may let historians to make sense of time in its ever unbecoming nowness. The virtue of such orientations of history and future will be reminding its students of the ever unbecoming present. The virtue of scientific understanding of history or future is, I would say, to release time from the ideological clutches produced them.  


Buddhist traditions are unique for their heterogeneity and adaptability. The absence of a transcendental principle upon which believers could rely on at the moment of testing-time in their everyday life is attributed to be one of the reasons for the so-called abandoning of Buddhism/s by the majority of people from the subcontinent. That way, the decline of religious Buddhism in India is said to be caused by its internal weakness. Sometimes the exit of Buddhism from India has been trivialized as being only a matter of it getting integrated within the region’s dominant stream of spiritual and cultural heritage represented by Vedas and Upanisads. The outward posture of Buddhism as one of the major heterodox traditions is taken to be a negligible factor. That is done on the basis of seeing its apparent differences with the Vedic practices get vanished when matters are taken in relation to the essential spiritual core. In its core Buddhism has been viewed as having any quarrel with the Vedanta spirituality.   A strategy of decontextualising seems to be at operative behind such an integrationist argumentation. This way the argument for the internal weakness of Buddhism seems to get set aside. Because when the decline of Buddhism in India is seen only as a matter of self purging of its historical aberrations from the philosophical or spiritual core, the presumed decline turns out to be a process of actualization and accomplishment of what Buddhism is in its core. Such an integrationist argumentation seems to have become frozen so as to provide an institutionalized framework for an ahistorical and apolitical discourse of Buddhism by which Buddhism gets itself neutralized in confronting the cultural challenges that Buddha had thrown open before humanity. This may be the context in which we need to look for alternative ways of signifying Buddhism/s. Further it seems to be the context in which the question ‘how does Buddhism matter today’ becomes more a political imperative rather than theoretical or religious.