Akhandadhi Das, a Vaishnav Hindu teacher and theologian

The protests in America are inspired by Martin Luther King.
Martin Luther King was inspired by Gandhi.
Gandhi was inspired by Hinduism.

Oh yes, Hinduism. I wasn’t going to mention it, but now that it’s appeared so naturally I may as well talk about it. Blah, blah, blah, ….

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15 thoughts on “Akhandadhi Das, a Vaishnav Hindu teacher and theologian

  1. “Hinduism, in its extraordinary, insightful, exclusive, indispensable wisdom says: don’t be violent; don’t loot; and don’t be racist.

    (On that last point you might naturally call to mind the caste system. But I don’t).”

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    1. I’m not sure the caste (or Varna) system is racist but it certainly appears divisive of humanity and not something that you would expect an all-knowing god to think up.
      Perhaps Mr Das can explain next time he is on but I very much doubt it.

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  2. Missed this, and playback doesn’t appear to be working. But I assume he didn’t mention a living Hindu who might be having a more direct influence.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/trump-modi-india-pm-visit-trip-us-relationship-a9362261.html

    “Since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took power in 2014, Modi and his regime have presided over a steady erosion of the institutional and ideological foundations of the Indian secular republic to realize the political horizon of a Hindu Rashtra (nation) where minorities are second-class citizens, if not cleansed from the body politic altogether.”

    “Yet, what appears to be the Trumpification of India, to be sure, precedes Trump. Rather, the “New India” might be what Pankaj Mishra calls “Trump’s spiritual home”.”

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  3. The world is in a complete mess right now. What we need is a pandemic of secular humanism and the dominance of science, technology and reason over primitive superstition and dogma.

    One wonders if the pandemic gets so bad that those in the thrall of the priests will realise that the priests and god have absolutely no power to stop C19 that religosity will decline.

    And religion has made the pandemic worse through the convictions inserted by the pious into the heads of their adherents … adherents who simply resort to prayer and the hope that god will somehow save them or conversely hope that gods promised end of times will deliver them to an eternal celestial loveliness. Yeah right. Good luck with that.

    Religious leaders seek power by exploitation of threats and promises of hellish burning and eternal paradise. And politicians seeing easy votes pretend to be religious and take the free ride to power. Get the top priest and the top politician in cahoots with each other, and like the N&S poles of a magnet they do attract each other, you get real trouble. Trump wants the votes of the credulous and f**k to everyone when the pandemic is exponentially spread by those carrying two viral infections … god and Covid-19

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    1. One analysis of the Trump / evangelical alliance in 2016 suggested that it was a conscious decision on the part of US evangelical leaders to support Trump because it was pretty much their last chance, the only show in town. Trump is an atheist or an agnostic, a non church-goer, someone who has said several times that he doesn’t need god’s forgiveness for anything, and a serial philanderer / sex pest – hardly a poster boy for Christianity. But he was manipulatable, and he needed support. So they threw their lot in behind him on the assumption that he would go full throttle on all their key obsessions (sexuality, abortion, generally despising women). And he did. As the article pointed out, Trump needed them, and they needed Trump. This was not an opportunity they were going to miss.

      The analysis went on to say that as Trump’s wider base withered away, the blue-collar Americans who voted for him out of desperation, Trump became effectively in thrall to the evangelicals. If they left, he would have only the white supremacists left, and there simply aren’t enough of them. So Trump has consistently upped the religious rhetoric, because he has nothing else to do.

      Yesterday’s bizarre events are just this. Under massive pressure, the fragile ego of the president sought refuge in the only place he knew how – find a pliant set of supporters and pander to them, then sit back and let the praises wash over you. The problem for him was that firstly he has nobody left in his circle that can restrain him, and secondly that he chose the wrong churches. Nobody is capable of pointing out to Trump how ridiculous he looked standing holding a bible, pointing at a bible, and then saying “This is a bible”, all the while with his serious-to-the-point-of-comatose face on.

      And then, with commendable speed, both the Episcopal Church and the Roman Catholic Church condemned him for using them as a backdrop. The Episcopalians in the US are liberal, anti-racist, in favour of social programmes, pro-choice (though disagreeing with abortion), and happy to allow same-sex marriages in their churches. The Catholics are less liberal for sure, but they also condemned Trump. If anything symbolises how badly this is going for Trump, it is that even his staged photo-ops, aimed at his base, have done nothing but weaken his base.

      There is a religious movement in the US that is building, one that positions the church much more like it is here, or even as it is in South America (not Brazil). That is, left-leaning, socially aware, attempting to be inclusive, a friend of anyone who is poor, sick, or who has a deficit of power. The chance of turning Americans into atheists any time soon is remote, but the chance of turning them, or some of them, into benign, socially-conscious believers is growing. We saw that yesterday.

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      1. “that he chose the wrong churches. ”

        I suspect that division parallels pretty well the division between those religions which have accepted scientific orthodoxy on Covid and follow public health advice, and those who present it as a moral/supernatural force to be countered with faith.

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      2. Are American theologians turning left or are they quickly retreating and disociating from the ever more exposed white supremacist toxic underachieving lunatic Trump. Who, when we look back on his hopefully single term of office, will stand out in solitary isolation as simply the unchallenged all time worst POTUS that ever was.

        And as an addendum to yesterdays discussion on the underhanded methods of clerics one has to wonder why the brutal suppresion of female rights and mysogeny is such a strongly rooted trait of most / all religions. Some say the roots are in the ancient holy texts, and that may well be the case, but the modern clerics still undermine the rights of women, especially reproductive rights, so as to gain numerical superiority over those of other religions. Its like a interfaith arms race. The profligate reproductive rates of catholics, I grew up close to a catholic family of 2 parents with 14 kids, being the prime example. And the pope will still not allow contraception despite a burgeoning unsustainable global population and the scourge of AIDS. Or does the pope consider death from AIDS as a useful method of population control? Probably not but he and his ilk simply cannot, in the face of all the grim facts, bear to change the disgusting ancient inhuman dogmatic rules.

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      3. “There is a religious movement in the US that is building, one that positions the church much more like it is here, or even as it is in South America (not Brazil). That is, left-leaning, socially aware, attempting to be inclusive, a friend of anyone who is poor, sick, or who has a deficit of power.”

        That’s how the CofE likes to portray itself, certainly – but it isn’t always the reality as anyone who has been involved in a dispute with it will know. It can be extremely ruthless in stamping hard on anyone asking difficult questions, even when it is very well aware that the person involved is vulnerable for whatever reason. Inclusivity only tends to apply to those who go along with the myth that it’s a benign, caring organisation and don’t make any waves or ask difficult questions about its unjustified privileges and lack of accountability.

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      4. Are American theologians turning left or are they quickly retreating and disociating from the ever more exposed white supremacist toxic underachieving lunatic Trump.

        The problem is that there isn’t one set of American theologians. The US is deeply divided on political and economic matters, and this division is reflected in religion also. The ultra-conservative American wants a pastor who will tell him he’s right, so he goes to that church, and avoids the one’s like the Episcopalian Church who would tell him he’s wrong. We get a very one-sided view of US religion, because we only hear about the shouty and intolerant evangelicals. They make better news.

        …one has to wonder why the brutal suppression of female rights and misogyny is such a strongly rooted trait of most / all religions.

        It’s a good question, and I don’t know the answer. Certainly the texts are this way because they are mostly rules of ownership for tribal leaders. Women, children, servants – all these are described as objects in the OT, which has nothing to say to them directly. My guess would be that the men who run the conservative churches cling to these messages because it reflects the unchanging world they crave. Mummy stayed home and had twelve kids, so I don’t see why all women shouldn’t do the same. And as with all discriminatory hatreds, there is fear at the core. Fear of having to deal with women at work, having to compete in a wider field, having to answer to a set of people you do not feel you can understand. And of course, fear of being an individual, not just part of being a monolithic block (men) that you can use as an explanation for everything.

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      5. Inclusivity only tends to apply to those who go along with the myth that it’s a benign, caring organisation and don’t make any waves or ask difficult questions about its unjustified privileges and lack of accountability.

        I certainly wouldn’t want to downplay the ability that the church has to dominate people, but I feel that in this case also, there isn’t one church. My experience with the CofE recently has been quite limited, but it has tended to be open and welcoming, non-preachy, and not in any sense dogmatic. On the other hand, it would be wrong of me to extrapolate that experience across the whole church.

        In terms of leadership, my view is that the top two (Canterbury and York) are both liberal and inclusive people who struggle with their desire to hold a disparate church under one roof. This seems particularly true of Justin Welby, who I am sure would much rather tell the Ugandan delegation that they are a bunch of [expletive deleted] homophobes who need to [expletive deleted] and form their own [expletive deleted] church. But he can’t, because that’s not in the job title (*).

        (*) Also, I think he feels that keeping them inside gives him at least some influence, and that this is a better situation for gay Ugandans than if he kicked their bishops out of the church.

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  4. Last year, Jerry Coyne posted about a paper that suggested the proportion of Americans who are atheists could be as high as 26%: https://whyevolutionistrue.com/2019/05/16/how-many-atheists-are-there-in-the-u-s-a-new-paper-says-about-26-of-the-population/ It’s only one paper, and its methodology might not be watertight, but it might be a straw in the wind.

    Meanwhile, I am reminded that a few years ago Trump asserted that the Bible was his favourite work of literature, despite not being able to quote a single verse of it. When asked whether he was a bigger fan of the OT or the NT, he replied ‘Probably equal’.

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  5. The CoE is not a benign bunch of nice men in silly dresses with a few token women bishops chucked in for political correctness. They weild power way above their representation in the population and enjoy some unaccountable soft treatment and undeserved santimonius respect from many people who should know better.

    They have unelected political representatives in the Lords who stonewall legislation they do not like.
    They stand in the way of Assisted Dying. Which is inhumane and cruel.
    Control a large portion of schools filling the heads of children with antiscience gumph. My local CoE primary is bestrewn with childrens work on the veracity of creationist stupidity, the patently impossible flood and the power of prayer. They have a notice board outside that every couple of weeks declares a word like Justice or Equality is the work of and somehow the property of christianity.
    Oppose womens reproductive rights.
    Claim sex is only for married heterosexual couples.
    Oppose legally binding Humanist marriage in England and Wales.
    And on and on.

    No the CoE is not harmless. Quite the opposite.

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    1. Control a large portion of schools filling the heads of children with antiscience gumph. My local CoE primary is bestrewn with childrens work on the veracity of creationist stupidity, the patently impossible flood and the power of prayer.

      This is blatantly untrue. I know several people whose children attended CofE primary schools, and the curriculum was EXACTLY the same as in non faith schools. In fact, the CofE schools are not independent of the government BY LAW (Education Act of 1944). This is a consequence of the establishment of the CofE – they are not permitted to run their schools as independent schools as other religions and denominations could do.

      I think you might also be surprised at the amount of prayer and bible stories in all primary schools. I’m not sure any child gets through primary school without being taught the story of Noah.

      They don’t oppose humanist marriage.

      They don’t oppose reproductive rights, except abortion.

      In all these cases, they do not have the power to stop legislation (see same sex marriage).

      The presence of CofE bishops in the House of Lords is a disgrace, but they do only have limited power. You paint it as some sort of powerful cabal who can prevent legislation if they choose, but they can’t. Have they created delays? I’m not sure they have stonewalled any legislation, at least not for long, but I am happy to see your examples.

      The CofE takes a very different stance to me on very many subjects, but I am not aware of them in any way imposing their views. As such, they are relatively benign (*). Disagreement is not something to be scared of.

      (*) I’m sure there are individual cases of CofE vicars overstepping their position, and psychologically dominating vulnerable people. I am not aware that this is widespread or condoned by the leadership. Again, you might know of examples to correct my perception.

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