For the last several centuries, the Western academic discourse on Vedic civilization has been applying Western categories to the Vedic culture, but the Vedic culture hasn’t applied its categories to the West. If we don’t apply our categories to others, we are molded by their categories. If we don’t respond to how others see us, by telling them how we see them, we empower and endorse their characterization while submitting ourselves to their view of us. In this post, I will discuss how the West has characterized the Vedic civilization and then give a reverse characterization of the West from a Vedic viewpoint.
This reverse characterization is unflattering. So, before we get into it, a few words must be said. Many people oppose the criticisms of others. Their idea of love and humility is politeness. I have given a counter to this widely prevalent notion of love and humility earlier. But if that doesn’t suffice, then below are words from Śrila Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswati Thakur that equate love and humility to the readiness to undergo personal hardships while speaking the truth. Bhakti is not devotion to humanity; it is devotion to the truth.
A chanter of the Kirtan of Hari is necessarily the uncompromising enemy of worldliness and hypocrisy. As a chanter of the Kirtan of Hari, it is the constant function to dispel all misconceptions by the preaching of the truth in the most unambiguous form without any respect of person, place, or time. That form has to be adopted which is least likely to be misunderstood. It is his bounden duty to oppose clearly and frankly any person who tries to deceive and harm himself and other people by misrepresenting the Truth due to malice or bona fide misunderstanding. This will be possible if the chanter of Kirtan is always prepared to submit to be trodden by thoughtless people if any discomfort to himself will enable him to do good to his persecutors by chanting the Truth in the most unambiguous manner. If he is unwilling or afraid of considerations of self-respect or personal discomfort to chant the Kirtan under all circumstances, he is unfit to be a preacher of the Absolute Truth. Humility implies perfect submission to the Truth and no sympathy for untruth. A person who entertains any partiality for untruth is unfit to chant the Kirtan of Hari. Any clinging to untruth is opposed to the principle of humility born of absolute submission to the Truth.
Śrila Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswati Thakur defines a humble person as one who is “always prepared to submit to be trodden by thoughtless people … [while] … chanting the Truth in the most unambiguous manner”. A person who stops speaking the truth out of fear of retribution, personal difficulties, or breaking fickle social bonds, is unqualified to speak the Absolute Truth. With that humility—that will seem arrogant to most—, I will tell inconvenient truths.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Current State of Academic Research
- 2 Misrepresentations of Vedic Texts
- 3 The Politicization of Varṇāśrama Dharma
- 4 Requirements for Intellectual Honesty
- 5 Applying Vedic Lenses to the West
- 6 An Alternative Worldview in the Vedas
- 7 Why Different Religions Aren’t Equal
- 8 Three Cardinal Traits of False Religions
- 9 The Struggle for Civilizational Credibility
- 10 The Nature of a Kali-Yuga Dharma
The Current State of Academic Research
Colonized Academic Discourse
A rigorous academic program can assist the understanding of Vedic history, texts, and civilization. But modern academic programs do no such thing because (a) they were designed during colonial times, (b) with the aim to either denigrate Vedic civilization or to co-opt it as a part of Western ancestry, (c) thus creating baseless methodologies for studying the Vedic texts:
- North Indians (Aryans) have fairer skins compared to South Indians (Dravidians), which necessarily implies a racial divide,
- Aryans must be of European ancestry while Dravidians must be native Indians, indicated by their skin color differences,
- Aryans must have invaded India from the North pushing Dravidians down South, to create an Aryan-Dravidian divide,
- The darker skin color of the Dravidians must mean that they are inferior to the Aryans who had previously invaded India,
- Even Aryans must be inferior compared to Europeans because their skin color wasn’t as white as the colonialist Europeans,
- Racial inferiority was also implied because Europe had abandoned pagan religions while Aryans were continuing with them,
- Vedic texts must be studied just like the mythologies of pagan religions, rather than as truthful descriptions of reality,
- We should not study these texts through custodian disciplic successions as they are inferior compared to Europeans,
- Vedic texts should be studied by Europeans as historical relics and artifacts to grasp their worth and relevance to modernity,
- Text diversity implies the presence of religious discord, suppression, and rebellion, followed by societal confrontations,
- We must postulate that an ideological evolution is occurring in history as a result of the discord occurring in society.
The entirety of the colonial method of studying Vedic texts was rooted in racist ideologies. The goal of that method was to prove European superiority. Any intellectual prowess found in Vedic texts had to be attributed to European ancestry. Thus, the colonial academic discourse began with Europeans trying to study the Vedic civilization just as they had studied Greek, Roman, Babylonian, or Egyptian civilizations previously. They ignored the fact that the Vedic civilization was alive, while the others were dead. While studying a dead civilization, you glean everything from historical records because you cannot meet the people. But for studying a living civilization, you meet the people of that civilization, observe their lives, understand their practices, and try to see the world through their eyes. The academics were not ready for that. They employed the same methods they had used to study dead civilizations.
It was like trying to imagine the Egyptian lifestyle by studying Egyptian mummies while refusing to meet the living Pharaoh. By treating a living civilization as dead, the academic discourse became irrelevant to the living civilization, and an insincere agency of ignorant propaganda.
Use of Non-Synonymous Dictionaries
English dictionaries created during the colonial era mapped non-synonymous words to each other, most often because European languages did not have equivalent words for the Vedic civilizational meanings. For example, the word “dharma” is translated as “religion”, when every class and every stage of life has a different dharma within the Vedic system. Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaisya, and Sudra do not follow mutually exclusive scriptures, worship mutually exclusive gods, or obey mutually exclusive prophets. And yet, they had different dharma. If dharma is equal to “religion”, then (a) Brahmana and Kshatriya must have different scriptures, gods, and prophets, or (b) if they have identical scriptures, gods, and prophets then they must dissolve the social class structure.
This is an example of how bad dictionaries contaminate the discourse. By equating non-synonymous words, you create discord between reality and the name by which it is called. Then, instead of changing the name for reality, you try to change reality to conform to the name. The Vedic society must either give up its social system to conform to the word “religion”, or it must be broken into many “religions” that follow different scriptures, prophets, and gods.
Similarly, there is no word to distinguish dharma from sanātana-dharma. If we call sanātana-dharma “spirituality” it means rejecting scriptures, God, and prophets because this is how spirituality is contrasted to religion in the West. If we call sanātana-dharma “religion” then we are compelled to include material worldly social rules and regulations within it as they are part of “religion”.
This problem pervades every aspect of Vedic philosophy because Sanskrit words have non-synonymous English counterparts, and a literal translation isn’t the true meaning. By creating dictionaries of false equivalences, the West created a problem under which every Sanskrit text translated into English is incorrect because the European languages don’t have Sanskrit equivalent words.
This departure between meanings applies even to scientific words such as space, time, matter, causality, and law. The words that are currently considered to be English equivalents of corresponding Sanskrit words are not understood the same in European cultures and in the Vedic tradition. When we translate Sanskrit into a European language, we almost always create misrepresentations. When Western academics criticize these translations, which their community has created, they are criticizing misrepresentations of these texts. Their criticisms are literally strawman arguments—they have constructed a false caricature of Vedic texts, and they now criticize that false caricature.
Rejection of Disciplic Successions
The problem of non-synonymous dictionaries created by Western academics does not mean that we should stop translating. It rather means that we should produce the correct equivalent translation. Āchāryas have always tried to give a correct translation. For example, the guna of prakṛti are translated as “modes of nature” because a guna is not just a part, but also an aspect or facet of nature. The term kāla is translated as “Causal Time” rather than just time, because time is the cause of changes, not simply a changing parameter as in modern science. You always live “inside” a planet rather than “upon” a planet, because space is divided into many nested “boxes” and is not a uniform big “box”.
Since accurate translations are possible, therefore, they must be done, they have been done, and we should continue doing that. However, Western academics reject the translations given by Āchāryas. They are not interested in creating a correct dictionary of word-meanings. They would rather stick to the falsely concocted dictionaries of non-synonymous word-meanings created by colonial academics. By disregarding the correct equivalent word-meanings and superimposing false word-meanings produced by Western academics, the academic system refuses even to acknowledge its mistakes and prefers to perpetuate its falsehoods. When you equate two non-synonymous words, then the speaker uses words in one sense and the listener interprets them in another sense, based on their respective cultures. They are not talking about the same thing, but everyone thinks that they are indeed doing so. When you reject the translation given by Āchāryas, then you confirm your cheating propensity.
Misrepresentations of Vedic Texts
The Concoction of Polytheism
The standard Western characterization of the Vedic system is “polytheism” because in the entire history of Western thinking there has never been a philosophy in which reality has many facets, it is understood differently through multiple facets, and it must be understood from many perspectives before we can know all of reality’s facets and appreciate it fully. For the West, if one thing is described in many ways, then only one of those descriptions can be true at best; every other description must be false. If more than one description is true, then it must pertain to different things rather than the faces of one thing.
The Western characterization of the Vedic system as “polytheism” tells us everything we need to know about the Western lens of seeing reality—(a) there are many separate things, (b) each thing is only one thing, (c) multiple descriptions either pertain to different things or they are false. While the Vedas describe many forms of God as facets of one God—seen from different perspectives by devotees in different moods—the West sees it as many gods. According to its lens, at most one of these gods could be true, but if people accept many of these gods, then we must conclude that each of these is a false god. Thus, nobody in the West uses the allegory of the elephant and the five blind men to discuss the nature of contextualized truth. Either you see the truth, or you don’t see the truth. You can never see the full truth partially.
This Western lens has been formalized as logic. Some claim is either true or false. Two contradictory claims cannot be simultaneously true. If one of the claims is true, then its opposite claim must be false. The Western lens can also be restated as—(a) reality is logical, (b) logic is the three principles of identity, non-contradiction, and excluded middle, (c) if these logical principles are violated, then the claim must be irrational, and (d) any form of logical irrationality in conceiving reality must mean that the claims cannot be true.
The Western lens ignores the fact that the Vedic system has also developed an alternative logic called Nyāya that follows the same principles of the elephant and the five blind men—there are many partial aspects akin to the elephant’s tail, trunk, legs, ears, and stomach, and there is a full truth called the elephant. You don’t understand the elephant unless you know that it has a tail, trunk, legs, ears, and stomach, and you don’t know that something is a tail, trunk, legs, ears, or stomach, unless you know these to be parts of an elephant. You understand the parts through the whole, and you understand the whole through the parts. If you don’t understand Nyāya, then you don’t understand anything else.
When we reject the Western lens for interpreting Vedic texts, we are rejecting their logic, supplanting it with a different logic, in which the whole has many aspects, it is fully known if all the aspects are known, and the aspects are understood only if we understand the full truth. This is the rejection of Western logic based on identity, non-contradiction, and excluded middle, because the elephant is simultaneously opposites like tail and trunk, the existence of the trunk doesn’t imply the absence of the tail, and the fact that the elephant is both tail and trunk doesn’t mean that the tail is identical to the trunk.
When we reject Western logic, we reject everything that is based on it, follows from it, or utilizes it. Before we study Vedānta, we master Nyāya, because Vedānta is the description of reality and Nyāya is the lens through which we see reality. If our lens is dirty then we cannot see reality the way Vedānta describes it. We have to clean the lenses through which we see before we can see. This vision is called darshan. It is falsely translated as “philosophy”. Darshan is not philosophy. It is the vision of reality through clean lenses. Interpreting Vedic texts using the Western system of identity, non-contradiction, and excluded middle is therefore a grand folly of immeasurable proportions.
The Concoction of the Caste System
The Western lens doesn’t see people as different cooperative but unequal parts of a social body. It sees conflicts between people that can only be resolved by giving each person equal status in society. Hence, Western academics equate Varṇāśrama to a “caste system” as an oppressive system in which classifying people means limiting them, rather than understanding them, giving them jobs best suited to their ability and interest, without conflicts between classes.
Under this lens, the West equates Varṇāśrama to hereditary castes akin to blacksmiths, carpenters, and masons, that existed in Europe, and a person’s name was divided into two parts—the given name and the family name; the family name pertained to a person’s caste. For example, John Mason denotes a person from the masonry caste. Various people with the second name of Smith were derived from the caste of blacksmiths. Similarly, Jesus is called “Jesus Christ” in the European tradition because Jesus is the given name and Christ is the family name. Jesus is the son of God—who is called Christ. So, Christ is appended to Jesus as the family name of Jesus. In complete contrast to this, Indian names were never divided into given names and family names. Kṛṣṇa is just Kṛṣṇa, not Kṛṣṇa Yadava. Arjuna is just Arjuna, not Arjuna Kuru.
The British introduced the system of first and second names in India. Since the second names were not used in India, the British equated their second name to their class, just as Europeans had their second names equated to their classes. As a person is given a second name, all his children get the same second name. Since the second name denotes a person’s class, the child of a person from one class becomes a person of the same class. The son of a mason was also called a mason, names were reality, and classes were hereditary. These second names were concocted during colonial censuses and became their legal names.
For example, in India, there are second names such as Vedi, Dwivedi, Trivedi, and Chaturvedi, which denote a “caste” concocted based on whether someone centuries ago knew one, two, three, or four Vedas. By cooking up second names, equating them to family names, and making the family name hereditary, the child of a person who only knew one Veda had to be called Vedi. He can never become Dwivedi, Trivedi, or Chaturvedi, as the knower of more than one Veda. The children who had not read any Veda would still be called by the same ancestral family name. The traditional Vedic system would consider them ignorant, but the British colonial system called them by Veda-educated names.
The principle of classes in Varṇāśrama is that endogamy is rare because the child generally inherits the mental qualities of the parents and then marries a person with similar mental qualities. However, since mental qualities are not always inherited, hence, a person born of parents from one class can also move to another class and marry a person of their mental quality. A newborn child doesn’t have a family name. It just has the first name. If he changes his class later, he doesn’t have to change his name as there is no second name.
When the British created family names and fixed them for life as a parental class, having the second name of Dāsa or Dāsī implies that they belong to servant castes. A person with the second name Dāsa can never change the second name to Swami. The children of a Dāsa also can never be Swami. They must remain servants. A system of hereditary names thus became hereditary castes. The system of hereditary castes was a Western concoction to divide people into castes, give them both first and second names, and use these to count the number of people belonging to one class. Later, they became tools to divide people along caste lines and make them fight each other.
The Concoction of Impersonalism
The academic discourse has latched on to impersonalism, which was inducted in the Vedic system specifically to defeat Buddhism, and had been dead for 1000 years due to later Vedanta commentaries, until it was revived by impersonalists to respond to the colonial charges of polytheism and caste system. The impersonalist buys into the Western conception of logic and says: “one thing is indeed one thing, and hence, the appearance of many things is an illusion”. Instead of applying the true Vedic lens of seeing everything in terms of its many aspects, from many perspectives, to fully understand it, the impersonalist applies the Western lens of logic to reality and rejects diversity as an illusion.
Instead of saying that the many forms of God are many aspects of God, the impersonalist says that all forms of God are an illusion. Instead of saying that the many classes in society are like many body parts serving a singular soul, the impersonalist derides the division of society into classes and espouses uniformity. This is how impersonalism “fits” into the Western lens of viewing reality. That “fitting” of Vedic texts into Western lenses is a false caricature. It was introduced into the Vedic system specifically to critique Buddhism and then discarded like a tool that had outlived its usefulness. The fact is that we can critique Buddhism without impersonalism, and the impersonalist critique of Buddhism is also atheism because it equates the soul to God, and rejects the varied personal forms of God. Thereby, the impersonalist critique of Buddhism is neither necessary nor sufficient. It is just a historical fact.
By elevating an incidental fact of history to the final truth, the West converted two false accusations—i.e., “polytheism” and “caste system”—into one false conclusion of oneness, further disconnecting the academic discourse from the Vedic texts. In fact, because impersonalism claims that Upaniśads are the “true” Vedas, while Purāņa, Tantra, and Itihāsa are not, the West now fragments the Vedic system into many parts, pitting one text against another, cherry-picking whatever they want, mistranslating it based on bad dictionaries, and critiquing or supporting those false translations in academic journals.
Impersonalism sowed the seeds of disunity in the Vedic system, as their claims were contrary to most Vedic texts—including most Upaniśads—and upholding them as the ultimate truths required rejecting the verdicts of the four Vedas, Purāņa, Tantra, Itihāsa, and five of the six Darśana. Those who want to criticize the Vedic texts align with impersonalism and criticize whatever they want to criticize. Impersonalism is just like the Trojan Horse in which the critic of the Vedic system hides to enter the City of Troy, under the pretext of being a gift to the goddess Athena, and when the city sleeps, the critic hiding within the horse slays its citizens. The West uses this Trojan Horse on the Vedic system.
The Politicization of Varṇāśrama Dharma
The Destruction of Varṇāśrama
In Varṇāśrama, everyone produces something useful and is compensated for their work, but nobody is an “employee” exclusively bound to an “employer”. Everyone is a freelancing entrepreneur. A Brahmana can perform yajñá in many households; he is not an employee of a specific household. The Kshatriyas can move from one king to another; there is no passport-visa system to restrict movement. The Vaisyas produce food but they are not bound to sell it to one person. The Sudras produce useful things but they are not bound to sell those things to a specific person. There is no guaranteed monthly salary for anyone. While working for one person, nobody is forbidden from working for another.
Contrast this to the present society where a person working for one company cannot work for another company. A person working for the government cannot hold a job in the private sector and vice versa. Every employee is in an exclusive, non-disclosure, and non-compete contract with their employer. No employee is free. Everyone is a slave to their employer. People get so dependent on their employer that they fear losing their jobs, and do whatever immoral things their employer tells them to survive. The immorality of the employer becomes the immorality of the employee due to their employment.
The British could not control a freelancing entrepreneurial society. To bring India under control, they used different techniques to destroy each of the entrepreneurial vocations in India in different ways. For instance, Brahmanical education was destroyed by telling people that Brahmanas were discriminating against other classes. The Kshatriyas were destroyed by making small kings fight each other so that most Kshatriyas would be killed in petty battles, while the remaining ones would move to bigger kings who would then be instigated to fight with bigger kings to kill each other and further reduce the Kshatriyas. The Vaisyas were destroyed by levying heavy taxes on their produce to the point that the only choice they had was to die of starvation or die during imprisonment due to non-payment of taxes. The Sudras were destroyed by cutting off their hands, breaking their instruments, and replacing their work and products with the work and products done by laborers and machines in the West.
Replacing Varṇāśrama by Slavery
As the entrepreneurial structure was being destroyed, the British offered people government jobs but restricted them to people of one caste. For instance, Brahmana castes were given the job of clerks, Kshatriya castes the job of policemen, Vaisya castes the job of cooks, and Sudra castes the job of sweepers. Entrepreneurship became a risky vocational choice while a government job was lifelong “job security” and everyone preferred a government job over entrepreneurship. Every section of society became dependent on the British government because they could not survive otherwise. Government slaves were compelled to do immoral things asked by the employer to survive. Caste-based employment solidified the caste identity, and by giving different salaries to different caste-based jobs, the British sowed the seeds of distrust between castes, weakened all castes, and gained control over them.
A person’s dharma, falsely equated to “religion”, thus became enmeshed with employment, job security, and survival. The British blamed the problems that they had created on Varṇāśrama and taught people how to hate their tradition. The politicization of classes continues. It equates Varṇāśrama to a system of hereditary rigid castes, destroys the spirit of entrepreneurship, offers security through government jobs, discriminates between castes in government job reservations, and makes them reliant on government freebies. Identifying with a “lower caste” is now economically and politically beneficial to a person. The caste system got ossified because it was politicized by the British to give people caste-segregated jobs, then politicized as a “social justice” system, and it remains politicized in the hands of secessionists, secularists, socialists, communists, revolutionaries, and many other kinds of political opportunists.
All Western-educated sociologists, economists, and political theorists play with this politicized system of classes. Their theories are built upon the study of Western ossified classes and class conflicts, the persecution of some classes, followed by “social justice” programs to rectify the mistakes of the past. On one hand, these theorists dole out addictive drugs to perpetuate the caste system in the form of socialism, and on the other, they offer drugs for deaddiction from this caste system through capitalism. They blame the Vedic tradition for the problems that the West created and offer Western solutions to the same problems, despite the failure of both socialism and capitalism in Western countries. They never accept the misdoings of the past, and never accept the superiority of the Varṇāśrama system. Keeping the society enslaved, keeping the people fighting with each other based on castes, and never allowing the people to become free of the scourge of false ideas, is in their personal interest.
Politicized Western Agendas
The political left has vested agendas in destroying all traditions to establish a new secular, atheistic, and materialistic modernity. The political right has a vested agenda in destroying non-Western traditions to universalize and globalize Western culture and civilization. The political left and right are opposed to each other in the West. But they are united in marginalizing and destroying non-Western civilizations. The Vedic tradition is an especially big thorn in their sides because of its vast intellectual heritage, its openness to diversity, and the freedom it affords. The Vedic tradition shows itself to be superior to the West marred by religious and intellectual persecutions. The Vedic tradition shows itself to be superior to Western modernity when it rejects materialism, socialism, capitalism, secularism, and equality by fiat.
The West cannot fathom how a culture can be traditional and yet diverse. Their conception of tradition is something religious, closed, and uniform and their idea of modernity is materialism, openness, and diversity. If you are modern, then you must reject your tradition and accept materialism, secularism, democracy, and capitalism. But if you keep your tradition, then you must be closed, bigoted, dogmatic, and fanatical. There cannot be anything that is both diverse and traditional. There cannot be anything that is neither bigoted nor modernist. Every single Western theory about humanity, morality, society, economics, politics, and religion fails when applied to the Vedic tradition because it has the best of both sides (e.g., tradition and openness) and lacks the worst of both sides (e.g., dogmatism and materialism) found in the West.
The Vedic tradition is an exception to Western theories due to the simultaneous presence of traits that are mutually opposed in the West, and the simultaneous absence of opposite traits found in conflicting camps in the West. How can something be neither or both of the opposites? To describe something that is both and neither, we have to invent new categories which will falsify the either/or doctrines. This is deeply problematic for the West. While the left and the right fight each other in the West, they are united in opposing the Vedic civilization because it is an exception that disproves their theories. They are not interested in how the Vedic tradition is different. They are interested in proving their theories by destroying the outlier. If the suit doesn’t fit a person, then we must chop off his body parts until the body starts fitting the suit.
The left and the right political groups are equally wolves in sheep’s clothing. If you talk about your tradition, they will reduce you to their system of bigotry, dogmatism, and fanaticism. If you talk about your openness, they will expect their system of democracy, capitalism, and secularism. If you talk about your science, they will call you pseudo-scientific based on their conception of science based on mathematical laws. If you talk about your religion, they will call you a polytheistic, feudalistic, enslaving, casteist, pagan religion.
The West doesn’t know that we define matter as duality and spirit as non-duality. Matter is either/or while spirit is both and neither. Science and religion may be opposites for the West, but for the Vedic tradition, their opposition makes them matter. Spirit in the Vedic tradition is that which is both rational and cooperative, but neither blind faith nor individualism. So, you cannot fit spirit into the materialistic either/or categories. You must reject these dualities to embrace neither and both non-dualities. That is the rejection of binary logic—the lens through which the West sees everything—to understand spirit.
Requirements for Intellectual Honesty
Understand Before You Start Talking
Any honest understanding of the Vedic tradition requires us to see its ideas as being different from those prevalent in the West. Western ideas are denoted by Western linguistic words, such as those in English. They do not match the meanings in the Vedic texts. But when we translate Sanskrit into non-synonymous English words, we use the English words to communicate a misrepresentation. We have discussed one such misrepresentation while translating dharma into “religion”. I will now try to demonstrate the same problem in the translation of a scientific word—ākāśh—into a non-synonymous “space” in English. When ākāśh is translated as “space”, a part of the meaning is known, in which space is a container of things. But the other part—in which the property of ākāśh is śabda, which is translated as “sound” in English—remains hidden, because the sound is a vibration although space is not.
Modern scientific developments talk about space as something that expands, contracts, bends, and straightens, but locations in space are not vibrations. Quantum physics, instead, treats energy and matter as vibrations. However, attempts to extend the ideology of vibrating particles to space have failed because particles are discrete and calculus requires continuity of space. Science is not able to unify the ideas of space with those of matter because matter vibrates but space does not. The theories of space and matter have to be kept separate because they are mutually irreconcilable. The problem of reconciling the ideas of matter with space is called the unsolved quantum-gravity problem.
The correct understanding of ākāśh involves two ideas—(a) it is a container for other things, and (b) it is a vibration—which means that we must treat space just like matter. The answer to this quandary is that a location in space is like a verse that contains its purports. Since the verse contains purports, hence, the verse is a “space”—i.e., a container of purports. Since the container is a verse, hence, it is a vibration. The thing that is ākāśh is also śabda. The purports are in the verse, but there are many correct purports of a verse. You can explain the same verse in many ways, but you should explain one verse in one way in some context. The verse is a bag of purports, and you pull out one purport from the bag. You should not assign purports that are absent from the verse bag, and not select a purport inappropriate to the context, although it might be present in the bag. There are many valid explanations of a verse, but every explanation is not valid, either because it is invalid for a context or absent from the bag.
The purport that you pull out of a verse is also a vibration. Hence, you pull one vibration out of another vibration. Since that purport can be further expanded, therefore, it is also a space of even more detailed explanations. Thus, you pull one space out of another, like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
The first rabbit that you pull out of the hat is something you can hear and touch, but cannot see. That rabbit is also a hat from which can pull out a second rabbit that can be heard, touched, and seen. The second rabbit is also a hat from which you can pull out a third rabbit that can be heard, touched, seen, and tasted. Finally, you pull out a fourth rabbit out of the previous hat that can also be smelt. You call these rabbit-hats as the five gross elements that are both “spaces” and “matter”. We cannot understand that conception unless we can reconcile space with matter in current science, and we know that we don’t have a conceivable method of doing so within a physical model of nature.
To understand ākāśh, we have to understand the quantum-gravity problem and its solution. Space and matter are contradictory concepts in modern science, but they are both matter in Vedic texts, and one kind of matter springs out of another kind of matter, so both are described in the same way. By that description, we understand the subsequent elements. The English translation of ākāśh as “space” doesn’t do that. Since there is a Western preconceived notion of “space”, when we translate ākāśh as “space”, we trigger the Western preconceived notion in people’s minds, which is not what ākāśh is. Then, as we talk about the other elements as “air”, “fire”, “water”, and “earth” we don’t get anything, because we did not get the correct meaning of ākāśh to begin with. By using English words, you can never understand how earth is smell, how water is taste, how fire is form, and air is touch, just as you could not understand how space is a vibration, śabda, or sound until we explain it in the above way.
Similarly, “God” doesn’t just mean “one thing” because it is also like a verse with infinite purports. “God” is such a nuanced verse that trillions of universes spring out of Him—as purports—and yet, the verse is not fully understood because infinite other things are going to spring out of it in the future.
Likewise, “soul” doesn’t mean “one thing” because infinite things can spring out, and they spring out through eternity if the soul is liberated from material influence. However, under material influence, the soul is the interpreter and matter is the verse. The successive bodies of the soul in one life (childhood, youth, and old age bodies) are successive purports of one verse, springing out from the verse due to the presence of an interpreter. The successive bodies of the soul in different lives (bodies of different individuals and species) are also successive purports of different verses. Those bodies will not spring out of the verse in the absence of an interpreter. Hence, there in no body without a soul. The purports are interpretations of the soul and matter. We can say that the body of the soul is a body of matter and yet a body of the soul.
The soul-matter interaction is that of an interpreter with a text. When an interpreter is bound to a text, his freedom is finitized because he is permitted some, not all, interpretations. If the interpreter pulls out one of the possible interpretations from the text, the interpretation may be inappropriate for that context. Hence, the choices of interpretation must be judged to be right or wrong. Based on these judgments, the interpreter is assigned a text that can be interpreted in many more ways (if the interpreter interprets the text correctly based on context, thus increasing his freedom) or in fewer ways (if the interpreter misinterprets the text based on context, thus reducing his freedom).
The process of choosing to interpret some text, judgments of interpretations as right or wrong, and the assignment of a new text that can be interpreted in more or fewer ways, is the law of nature or dharma-karma. Dharma means contextually correct text interpretation, and karma means the judgment of whether the interpretation is contextually correct. The result of karma is a text that affords greater or lesser freedom to interpret. Correct interpretations increase freedom and incorrect interpretations decrease freedom. Freedom is the mind-body-world complex. If that complex is used correctly, then freedom increases. If they are used incorrectly, then the freedom decreases.
Everything is known correctly if ākāśh is śabda. Everything is misunderstood if ākāśh is “space”—where “space” denotes the Western connotation of a static universal container. Based on the understanding of ākāśh, we define dharma as the contextually correct interpretation of a text. When we translate dharma as a universalized “religion” we create a misinterpretation of dharma. Incorrect translation of one word can result in the misinterpretation of every single Vedic text. A correct translation of one word can result in the correct understanding of every single Vedic text. This is how important each syllable, word, and verse are. One minor change and you get a wayward interpretation.
Understand Linguistic Assumptions
Materialism is in-built into English. For instance, other European languages use gender pronouns for things—e.g., apple is masculine in German (Apfel) and feminine in French (Pomme)—but English doesn’t. All things are substituted by the “it” pronoun—even animals like dogs and cats are replaced by “it”—which means that you will always depersonalize and objectify the world if you speak in English. Similarly, materialistic ideas of space, time, matter, causality, and law pervade the European languages from which modern science has been constructed. Vedic philosophy rejects all these conceptions.
For instance, space in Vedic texts is hierarchical, not flat, because there is a rabbit inside a hat, which is also a hat, and we can keep pulling out rabbits from inside successive hats. We cannot reconcile the conception of matter with that of space in modern science because the former is a vibration and the latter is a container. That is possible only if both are treated as vibrations with meanings. The meaning is in the sound, and it is yet another sound, which can produce more meanings, just like pulling rabbits from inside a hat.
Time in Vedic texts is cyclical, not linear because we can pull many rabbits from inside the same hat, and we pull different rabbits one after another, cyclically. Matter is like a word with meaning; the meaning is hidden inside the word, and it has to be pulled out by a choice. Thereby, causality is manifesting an unmanifest reality by choice rather than moving an object by force.
Finally, the laws of nature pertain to causality. But since causality is choice, the laws of nature are laws of choice. One choice pulls one rabbit out of a hat and the effect of the choice is that some other rabbits are hidden. Science calls this the “transformation” of some rabbits into other rabbits, which is false. They are both present, but not simultaneously visible, as the effect of choice.
Likewise, because a word like “dog” is defined as “not cat”, hence, “not cat” is also within the “dog”. We can also pull out a “cat” from a dog. This would be called a misperception, falsity, or untruth. It will not work or behave as expected and can be falsified by using it appropriately, just like the perception of a rope as a snake can be falsified. However, even when we perceive a rope as a snake, we are pulling “not snake” out of a rope, converting the negation into an assertion. Thus, a thing can produce even that which it is not. Examples of such misconceptions include the purports of a verse that are absent from the verse, and yet, one can interpret the verse falsely quite like seeing a rope in a snake. If we test that interpretation, it will not work, and it can be falsified, however, most such interpretations are never tested and falsified.
The choices of pulling rabbits out of hats are based on what we like and dislike, and are therefore called good and bad (i.e., pleasing or displeasing). But good choices can be contextually inappropriate wrong choices, and bad choices can be right choices. Thus, (a) there are false choices of pulling snakes out of ropes that can be falsified by testing, and (b) there are wrong choices of using a rope in inappropriate ways that cannot be falsified immediately but they produce long-term suffering, and they are corrected only by that suffering.
We can contrast Vedic meanings of words to those in English, where space is flat, time is linear, matter is a fixed object, causality is a force, and laws of causality are laws of force. There is not one synonym. And yet, there is space, time, matter, causality, and law. What the Vedic tradition means by these words is not the same as what these words mean in the English language. The English language is filled with Western cultural presuppositions. These are not the Vedic cultural presuppositions. So, how can you dialogue with another person who uses the same words but means something totally different?
The problems don’t end here. Once we get past these preliminaries, then we have to talk about the distinction between binary and non-binary logics, quantities vs. qualities, separability vs. inseparability, and objects vs. persons. For instance, the meaning is distinct from the word, but not separable from the word. Hence, we cannot use binary logic with a reality that is like word-meaning, because that logic is meant for an object-like reality—either two objects are identical to each other or they are separate from each other.
We cannot use binary logic with body and mind, because binary logic assumes objectivity. Body and mind are two separate objects, creating the famous mind-body problem in which the pain of the body must not be the pain of the mind and the pain of the mind must not be the pain of the body. After all, pain is a property of the body, and not of the mind. So, how can the property of one thing become the property of another? Your mental illness should not have any bodily effects, and the bodily illness should not result in any mental illness because they are separate. At most, the mind can know about bodily pain, as the effect of the body, but it cannot feel any pain or be in pain due to the body.
The way English uses prepositions and conjunctions is also not how Sanskrit means them. For example, in English, we talk about “living on a planet” while in Sanskrit we speak of “living in a planet”. This is because a “planet” is a “graha” which means a “house”. You live in a house, and not on a house. So, when we translate “graha” into “planet”, and a planet is assumed to be a ball, we can never understand how a person is under house arrest within a planet, and cannot leave the house. In Vedic philosophy, our body is born from the house, as one of the many interpretations of the word “Bharata Varśa” and it cannot be detached from the word or attached to another word. My body and the earth are distinct, but my body is inside the earth, just like the meaning is inside the word. This body cannot be detached from earth and attached to another planet because that involves detaching the meaning of one word and attaching it to a radically different word. If such a thing were ever possible, then every word could mean everything else, and language would become useless.
Whatever we call “motion” in science is not a moving object. It is rather the succession of meanings spawned from a verse. For instance, if I move my hand upward, then I have manifested a different meaning from the word verse “body” while the other meanings are hidden. But it is not necessary that when my hand moves up, the previous position of the hand must be hidden. It is also possible that both stages of the hand can be manifest simultaneously. Thereby, I can have 10, 20, or 100 hands in different positions, doing different things. The Śrīmad Bhagavatam describes Kārtavīrya Arjuna as having up to 1000 hands.
The Vedic Tradition of Śāstrārtha
Debates were called Śāstrārtha in the Vedic tradition; it means discussing “the meanings of words in Śāstra or Vedic texts”. Everyone may not agree on the same meaning, and hence, there was a tradition of discussing what the correct meaning is. The Vedānta Sūtra describes that the correct meaning of the Vedic words is that which reconciles all Vedic statements. If our view accepts some statements but rejects others, then we have misunderstood the texts. Our understanding is negated by the exclusion of some statements. Thereby, Śāstra is the “empirical evidence” and our interpretation of the Śāstra is tested by ensuring that it accepts and explains all the “empirical evidence” completely.
Śāstra is also a hat from which we can pull out many meaning-rabbits because a word underdetermines the meaning. But all those meanings are not true, right, and good. We can test that truth, right, and good by accepting some meaning in our lives and we will see its effects. But if we like, we can judge that truth, right, and good simply by checking if it matches the other Vedic statements. Thus, the principle of consistency and completeness is applied to the Vedic texts—we use one text or statement to understand the other text or statement, and by reconciling all the statements we obtain the correct and complete understanding which can be verified rationally and empirically.
Vedic “debates” or Śāstrārtha were about the correct interpretation of Vedic texts by citing other Vedic statements. If you think that ākāśh is space, then we will cite a statement where ākāśh is śabda. If you think that the body evolved from previous bodies, with genetically heritable traits, then we will cite the stories of Kārtavīrya Arjuna whose parents or children did not have more than two hands. The creativity of the debaters was measured by which contrary statements they could bring from Vedic texts to bear on an issue.
Nobody said during a Śāstrārtha—(a) maybe this sentence is wrong, (b) maybe it should be excluded, (c) maybe it is misspelled, or (d) it is the opinion of a different person and so it doesn’t match the opinions of other persons. Due to Śāstrārtha, there was always a possibility to arrive at a better interpretation that reconciled more Vedic statements. Nobody claimed that they have the final interpretation. They only claimed that we have a complete set of statements, that can be used to arrive at the final truth if we could reconcile all statements. Hence, debates were welcomed, as long as they were leading to exegetical progress, based on the criteria of reconciling more Vedic statements.
Impersonalists reversed these criteria of Śāstrārtha when they rejected Vedic texts, cherry-picking some statements from some texts they had conveniently selected, and giving them interpretations that were either inconsistent with other statements in the same text, or with statements in other texts. Impersonalists relied solely on lexicography and grammar to interpret a statement in isolation from other statements. Later Āchāryas rejected the methodology of impersonalism by reviving the criteria for a Śāstrārtha.
Western textual analysts use the impersonalist methodology of textual interpretation rather than the technique of Śāstrārtha. That methodology is materialistic. We are not opposed to ruling out interpretations based on grammar—those that are outside the bag of possible purports. But that doesn’t fix the interpretation—there still are many interpretations in the bag, one of which has to be chosen carefully based on the context, and any disagreement must be resolved through comparison with other statements in other texts.
The lenses the West uses to understand the Vedic tradition suffer from (a) the absence of semantically equivalent words in Western languages, (b) neglect of statements that don’t concord with the Western word-meanings, and (c) the use of techniques that interpret a sentence in isolation from the other sentences rather than understanding each sentence in the context of all other sentences.
A disciplic succession gave the student one of many possible interpretations and justified it based on other statements. As the West gives itself the freedom to interpret texts, it doesn’t accept the responsibility of interpreting the text consistent with all other texts. We reject such interpreters on methodological grounds. This is not how any text can be understood. For example, the sentence “I agree” can be understood by a prior statement on what the claim is. Similarly, the meaning of words is not universal. Each word has many meanings. One meaning is fixed by including more sentences. In the limiting case, all statements have to be included. Isolated interpretations of statements will never result in exegetical progress. They can only produce exegetical regress. Those who are eager to produce regress, are rejected by the progressives.
There are two different interpretive lenses involved here. The West sees the past as comprising cheaters and speculators who concocted myths and doctrines to control the ignorant masses. The Vedic tradition sees the past as comprising truthful visionaries that presented texts to liberate the educated masses. The West is conditioned by its history to see other past civilizations through the same lens as they see their past. The West also has a linear lens for time—the present is better than the past. That is also not our lens for time—time is cyclical, so the past can be better, worse, or the same as the present. We have to still prove that the past is better than the present by understanding and reenacting it. We don’t blindly reject our past, like the West. Rather, we prove that the past was better by reenacting it. It has been reenacted in every generation, and hence its value is known through successive generations.
Applying Vedic Lenses to the West
The Emergence of Contractual Law
The Vedic lens to interpret Western civilization is the same as our lens for ourselves—we seek that root from which many trunks, branches, and leaves have sprung. We seek that idea that establishes unity in the statement diversity across Western religion, science, and society. In the following sections, I will describe such a lens that unifies the West into a single coherent entity. While the West sees itself as internally diverse and often conflictual, and it applies the same lens of diversity and conflict to the Vedic civilization, the Vedic civilization sees unity in diversity. There may be many things, but they have sprung from one thing. What is that one thing from which many things have sprung?
Everything in Western thinking is built upon the concept of a contract. You give something and you get something in return, and the guarantee that the give-and-take transaction can be completed is called a contract. You always negotiate a contract to minimize what you give and maximize what you take.
This process is called the least action principle in science—”action” is what we give, and minimizing the “action” for some outcome is the law of nature. The action can be different in each scientific theory. But every natural law must reduce to the least action principle. To discover the natural law, we undergo a process of “contract negotiation” where we try to increase the taking and reduce the giving until the contract breaks down. That limit—in which we cannot further decrease the giving and cannot further increase the taking—is called the natural law based on the least action principle. A natural law now necessarily entails the absence of voluntary action without any expectation in return.
Marriage between two people is a contract, not love. Society is a contract between people and their rulers, not a duty. Religion is a contract between man and God, not gratitude. In every contract, demand is maximized and supply is minimized. For example, in one religion’s contract, God relinquishes control of the world to allow humans to enjoy their worldly life. The guilt of enjoyment is overcome by the forgiveness of sins and the faith that after death God will take the faithful to eternal heaven. God is not expecting us to become better people. God accepts our flaws, forgives our sins, and rewards us despite our wickedness. This is an instance of minimizing the investment and maximizing the return.
Every selfish person tries to push the contract limits—maximize what they take and minimize what they give. We often need ingenuity and creativity to arrive at the most beneficial contract for ourselves. Since a contract can be creatively renegotiated to a more beneficial status, hence, there is no such thing as an eternal truth. Government laws, social codes, religious decrees, and scientific equations are not eternal truths. They can be changed, and they will be, as we try to negotiate the most beneficial contract in our self-interest.
There are several problems with the contractual conception of science, society, and religion. For example, if a lawful world is part of man’s contract with God, then why aren’t the natural laws included in the contract document—the religious scripture? Did prophets forget to include them in the scriptures? Since God is omniscient, He could have given prophets the mathematical equations of nature to be included in the scripture because that would naturally increase people’s trust in the scriptures. Since they have been excluded, are they not part of the contract with God? If an important aspect of the contract is excluded from the scriptures, then maybe religion is not a contract with God?
Similarly, as science progressed with its natural laws, religions found out that science encroaches upon moral topics—such as the origin of life—that had originally been kept out of science. If science knew all the laws, then it would erode the role of religion in society. To preserve a role for religion, some religions now claim that scientific laws are insufficient to create life and that God must intervene to design life. Thus, the world must be partially governed by laws and partially by God. If laws expand, then God’s role shrinks. If God’s role expands, then laws shrink. To keep God relevant, we have to keep the laws of science inadequate while also calling these inadequate laws God’s creation. But why should God’s choices not look just like laws? Isn’t He acting rationally such that His mind can be described lawfully? If we knew the mind of God then we could formalize His rationality as laws, and we would have made God redundant because natural laws suffice to explain everything, wouldn’t we?
The problem of interfaith dialogue is also created by a contractual conception of religion because contracts are negotiable, so every religion can create an alternative contract with God, leading to many religions, each of which claims to have a contract in their hands, but the person with whom they have a contract is not accessible to resolve the differences between these contracts. To maintain peace, ideally, all religions following different contractual systems must live separately or independently of each other. But if they live together, then the contract resolution is impossible. There is simply no room for a rational discussion because the contract has already been signed and it is now legally binding. Who can say which contract with God is better, truthful, or universal? Can the problem of multiple contracts ever be solved?
Contracts are signed between sovereign parties that need something from each other. If God is the creator of everything, then He needs nothing. He can create everything and is self-sufficient. Then, God is the only sovereign, and the material world and the soul are His properties. How can one property (i.e., the soul) claim to be the proprietor of another property (i.e., the world)? How can one property (i.e., the soul) become a sovereign to sign a contract with a sovereign (i.e., God)? Isn’t this the silliness of God’s property trying to sign a contract with the sovereign owner of the property? In which court of law will a contract between the property and the owner be legally permissible?
Finally, before we acknowledge the reality of natural laws, science has to show where mathematical laws are computed. Mathematical computation is the only way to enforce a mathematical law. Unless a universal computer computes laws, natural law has no value, because the law is useless without enforcement. The postulate of such a computer, however, requires infinite additional universes to compute the laws of one universe. Therefore, the concept of a mathematical law is meaningless because we cannot find its enforcement mechanism.
The fact is that religions rooted in contractual laws have created a science and religion that are constantly at war with each other. We can never resolve these contradictions and conflicts because expanding science requires minimizing religion and expanding religion means minimizing science. The fact is that any religion that claims to have entered into a contract with God isn’t making a coherent claim because—(a) the laws of nature are missing from the contract, (b) contracts are signed between sovereign parties, (c) the separation between moral and natural laws is not well-defined, and (d) if the boundaries between these are not well-defined, then there is no way to resolve conflicts.
The Emergence of False Religions
The central problem in interfaith dialogues is that we suppose that everyone talking about God is talking about the same thing. That is not the case, as we can see from the above. We can talk about having a contract with God, but there is no God who will sign a contract. We can talk about a God who gives us control over the material property in return for worship, but there is no such God.
Everyone called “God” by such religions is a demigod who gives rewards based on the fulfillment of contracts. Western religions are derived from pagan religions by replacing many demigods with one “God” but without replacing the ideology and philosophy of pagan religions with a monotheistic philosophy. Pagan religions were worshipping demigods, who are souls that have ascended to powerful positions by dint of their good deeds, and occupy these positions for a fixed period of time. They are not eternally in that position. Thereby, one can ascend to “heaven” by such worship, however, it is a temporary ascension. The religions that talk about one God who enters into contracts with mortals are talking of a non-existent God. Those who enter into contracts are demigods, who are temporarily occupying a position and are many in number.
One of the central ideas in Vedic philosophy is that everything is defined not just by what it is but also by what it is not. The negations of a thing are present within that thing as absences. For instance, an apple is not an orange. But how do we know? If we observe an apple by our senses, we can at best say that we find the absence of evidence of an orange, which cannot be equated to the evidence of absence. But that claim is true because there is also evidence of absence (along with the absence of evidence of an orange) although we cannot perceive that evidence by our senses. We perceive the evidence of absence mentally as an absence and by that perception, we know that an apple is not an orange.
The entire universe is thus hidden inside an apple as an absence. When we misperceive an apple as an orange, that absence is transformed into a presence, and we call it a misperception. Misperception is the act of converting what something is not into what it is because even what it is not is present in the observed reality. Similarly, when we see something and interpret it in a new way—e.g., seeing a planet and thinking of a particle—we are misperceiving the planet but the misperceived reality is present in the planet as an absence.
This principle applies even to God. He is defined not just by what He is but also by what He is not. God is the creator, controller, and enjoyer of the world He creates. But He is not one to enter into a contract with those living in that world. If this negative statement was not present in God, then we could not assert the claim that “God doesn’t enter into contracts with the soul”. Similarly, evil exists in God as what God is not. If evil wasn’t present in God as what He is not then we couldn’t say that “God is not evil”. The things that God is not, are manifest from God just like the misperception of a planet as a particle or the misperception of an apple as an orange. What He is not is converted into something that is.
The material universe is a product of what God is not. It is the negation of God, that existed within God. In this universe, there are false gods who fulfill their desire to be God through a temporary ascension to a powerful position, taking part in transactional relationships. The soul who wants to enjoy the delusion of being God is allowed to ascend to this false idea of godliness for a short period of time. By worshipping these demigods, or what God is not, one gets to go to the heavenly planets and live with the demigods for a short while.
In “Cosmic Theogony” I discuss how (a) Judaism evolved from the pagan religion of the seven stars, (b) Christianity evolved from the pagan religion of sun worship, and (c) Islam evolved from the pagan religion of the moon worship. Each system of paganism had many associated demigods. Collectively these demigods constituted three kinds of calendars—sidereal, solar, and lunar.
Demigod worship is criticized in the Vedas as karma-kānda, like “monotheism” rejects pagan religions. However, there is one key difference—the demigods exist, although they are false gods. In Western logic, only truth exists and falsity does not. If this was true, then nobody could have a false idea. We have false ideas because falsehood exists. But it exists temporarily. Truth is defined not by existence vs. non-existence. It is defined by eternal vs. temporary existence. When “monotheistic” religions rejected false gods, they assumed that such gods don’t exist. In the Vedic system, the demigods are false gods, and yet, they exist. They are, in fact, responsible for the control of material nature, instead of mathematical laws. The control rules are eternal, but they are not due to the demigods. Rather, the same control rules apply even if the demigods change.
The demigods are just like policemen. They don’t make the laws, but they enforce laws. If one policeman doesn’t enforce the law, then he will be replaced by another. Demigods are not lawmakers. They are law enforcers. The difference between a lawmaker and a law enforcer is the same as that between a mathematical law and a computer that computes these laws to enforce them. Mathematical laws are not real. But there are natural laws. They have been given by the Lord. But He is not enforcing them. He has delegated law enforcement to demigods. The demigods enjoy the delusion of being “God” while enforcing God’s laws, just like a policeman might feel empowered while strutting around in his dress decorated with weapons and equipment.
A policeman might sometimes guide a person lost in a strange place. He might reduce the sentence of first-time offenders. In a dispute, he might favor an innocent person over a known criminal. If you ask a policeman nicely, he can help you in some appropriate way. But we cannot bribe a policeman to abuse his powers to favor one citizen over others. A well-behaved and honorable citizen can even be appointed as a policeman to enforce law and order. However, a policeman is not a machine. He is a person. He has discretionary freedom. The policeman exists to enforce law and order, not to create or violate laws.
When “monotheistic” religions rejected false gods, they imagined that the plurality of gods is false, and replaced it with singularity. In pagan religions, nature is governed by demigods. In monotheism, God has delegated the control of nature to mathematical laws. A pagan religion had temporary heaven. Monotheism converted it into eternal heaven. Polytheism had contracts. Monotheism preserved them. Thus, they denied what exists (demigods) and asserted what doesn’t (contracts with God). By rejecting demigods, they instituted mathematical laws. This is how modern science is joined at the hip with monotheism: Both have arisen from the rejection of demigods.
This is what we call a false religion. A falsity uses real concepts but combines them in non-existent ways. For example, I can say “the universe is a gigantic apple”, which uses real concepts but their combination is unreal. This claim is not even temporarily true. It is just a figment of my imagination. Hence, if we follow a false religion, we won’t even go to the temporary heaven, and we certainly won’t go to the eternal heaven. This makes it worse than a pagan religion where you could have at least gone to the temporary heaven.
We don’t measure a religion just by its words. We also measure a religion by the effects it produces. In an earlier post, I discussed three such criteria of true religion, namely, morality, knowledge, and bliss. These are effects we can see right now, in this life. Similarly, there are effects in the afterlife, such as going to temporary or eternal heaven. If you don’t see the requisite effects of morality, knowledge, and bliss in this life, then you won’t get the anticipated effect of heaven in the afterlife. The new body of a soul is based on the current mental reality. Hence, you can judge who is going to which kind of heaven, if at all, based on their current mental reality of morality, knowledge, and bliss.
The Emergence of False Sciences
Modern science began with the famous Cartesian mind-body divide. Materialism had reached a point in the evolution of European history where people could not distinguish the soul from the mind, prompting Descartes to proclaim “I think therefore I exist”. Nobody asked: Do you cease to exist during thoughtless sleep? If not, then the self cannot be thought. If I am not thought, then thought must also be material, just like the body. Both mind and body have to be governed by the same laws of matter. We cannot model a body in ways contradictory to modeling a mind. Any system of knowledge that separates mind from body is going to keep dividing the body into many parts because each model of the body without the mind will prove to be inadequate.
Similarly, we cannot describe dreaming as contradictory to waking. Empiricists proclaim an idea of perception rooted exclusively in waking. They do not consider: We see the same things during dreaming. So, why is a world necessary for empiricism when we perceive even during dreams? They also did not try to develop a model of reality consistent with experiences during dreams.
The correct causal model that reconciles waking and dreaming requires us to think of everything as many potentialities that are manifest either through an interaction with another thing, or they can be manifest automatically without an interaction. Since the manifest property was previously a potential, hence, the effect is not the result of a transfer from another thing, because nothing is being transferred during a dream. Hence, nothing should be transferred during waking. A person becomes angry in association with an angry person and a mob of people behaves differently than separate individuals. Those individuals have anger and violence in them but association manifests it. Anger and violence also come out naturally from a person with more anger and violence in them. Hence, anger and violence can manifest without an external trigger in some cases, and due to an external trigger in other cases. Likewise, latent impressions can be manifest from a mind during dreams and they can be manifest from the mind due to an external trigger. The causal model that reconciles waking and dreaming requires no transfer, no give and take, no contract, no negotiation of maximizing taking and minimizing giving.
But if we are still not going to give without taking, then we can envision laws of give and take that permit you to take based on what you have given in the past. This also requires changes to the basic models of causation in which everything everywhere does not always interact with everything else everywhere always. One thing can interact with another thing if they have a currency to interact with. This is why some people sleep in beds, while others sleep on the streets. Some people get good food while others go hungry. If you postulate—as science does—that all things interact with all things always, then you have created a contradiction with the obvious discrepancies of life. A demigod is one who mediates the interaction between two things, based on the currency of past contributions. The demigod is the bank, the debit card, the locker of storage, or the container of our earned currency. Based on your currency holding, they can give you access to things that you would otherwise not have access to.
Remember that you cannot take a loan of karma from the future. You cannot mortgage your existing assets, while you continue to enjoy them. You have to earn before you can spend. If you are spending, it is always from your bank balance. The bank requires you to have a minimum balance in the account, and the bank takes some money out of your account just to maintain the bank account. That deduction from your account is the price you pay for living in an ordered universe. Order is not free. We have to pay for that order. There is no free computer computing the universe’s equations freely for you. A minimum balance must be kept in the bank account so that you can be prosecuted and punished at your expense, not at someone else’s expense. An honest man is not going to pay taxes to feed a criminal in jail. Rather, a criminal’s property will be taken by the government to feed him, as he endures his incarceration.
The active role of demigods in causality falsifies both modern science and “monotheistic” religions. Modern science is false because everything doesn’t interact with everything else everywhere all the time. That interaction is mediated by demigods enabling or disabling the interaction. “Monotheistic” religions are false because they reject demigods, and as a result, cannot explain why someone is rich or poor, healthy or sick, hungry or full. The Cartesian mind-body divide is false because both mind and body are matter, the self is separate from both mind and body, the laws of nature pertain to both mind and body, and because these laws depend on manifesting the unmanifest (to reconcile dreams and waking), demigods control both realities.
An Alternative Worldview in the Vedas
The Unity of Science and Religion
Modern science and “monotheistic” religions are joined at the hip by a falsehood—the rejection of demigods—as science tries to replace demigods with mathematical laws and religions try to designate demigods as God. The conflict between science and religion arises because they are calling the same thing—the work of demigods—by two false names: The mathematical laws of science and God’s work. The laws of science are the work of demigods. However, these demigods are not truly God. And yet, the demigods are employed by God.
God is an autocrat. But He is not a malicious, ignorant, or whimsical autocrat. He acts rationally, morally, and lovingly. His love is not the exclusion of morality. Rather, He loves the immoral person by punishing him minimally. He doesn’t send anybody to eternal hell, because His punishment is minimized to the least bit necessary to correct the immorality—an outcome of His love. Likewise, He doesn’t accept anybody in eternal heaven unless the person has corrected the immorality—as an outcome of His morality. If we know how God operates, it suffices to know the order in nature. However, that order is not reducible to mathematical laws because no mind is reducible to mathematical laws. If our minds don’t work mathematically, then God’s mind doesn’t work mathematically, and the laws of nature—which are nothing but God controlling the world rationally, morally, and lovingly—are not mathematical.
Now, there is no science-religion conflict or debate because there is just a rational, moral, and loving will controlling everything, rather than a will in conflict with mathematical laws. There is no interreligious conflict because there is one God, who does not sign contracts with His helpless dependents. All other questions reduce to the question of knowing God and religion or science must be measured by whether they can answer them. We have to provide a sufficient reason for every law—i.e., why this law and not another? Those reasons must delve into why God chooses to will in one way or another.
The Rejection of Contract Ideology
The Vaishnava tradition considers equating demigods to God as one of the ten great offenses. It is the offense of equating what God is not to what He is. Calling the relationship with God a contract is also an offense in which you imagine that God needs something from you that you have although God doesn’t. Then, even if such a contract was signed, in which God gave you dominion over the material world in return for obedience to His commands, the fact is that you have already breached the terms of the contract by continuous sinning, asking for forgiveness, transferring sins from one person to another, and expecting an ascension to heaven despite your sins. You sign an obligatory contract and then you renege on your side of the bargain and expect the other party to adhere to His side of the bargain. That is not even a contract. It is just cheating.
We don’t develop the love of God unless we change our attitudes. Instead, we descend into immorality, ignorance, and unhappiness. They mutually feed on each other to increase each other, and the resulting suffering then makes a person reject God. The fact is that people reject religion in the West because of the immorality of religious people. The entire contract with God is so one-sided that God has effectively become the supplier and servant of the people who demand everything and supply nothing. As people become atheistic, the leaders of these cheating religions do not acknowledge mistakes in their ideology and do not send people toward better answers. They are like an incompetent doctor who will let a patient die than send him to a qualified doctor. My way or the highway; if I cannot have someone, neither can you. They will sacrifice the love of God to maintain their dogmas for false prestige and position.
The fact is that a religion that ignores karma, dharma, and transmigration of the soul is not a religion because it cannot create a moral society. A moral society is created when you tell people: “As you sow, so shall you reap”. If you teach people that God forgives your sins, and someone else dies for your sins, as you freely concoct one-sided contracts, then you can never produce a moral society. Instead, religion will become an insincere rationalization of sin.
Similarly, a science without demigods is not a science because nature is governed by demigods and the laws of nature are contextual rather than universal moral laws. If we try to separate natural and moral laws, then we get neither natural nor moral laws because they cannot be separated. The mind of demigods cannot be reduced to mathematical laws, just as our minds don’t work mathematically. Any science that tries to model nature as mathematical laws will fail because the real law is based on the working of the mind, and it operates contextually and individually, while the mathematical laws are trying to subsume this contextuality and individuality of the laws under universality. There are so many exceptions to universal laws when we incorporate contextuality and individuality. All these exceptions become the falsifications of the universal laws and undermine the discovery of the complete truth.
The fact is that everything in “monotheistic” religions has to be dismantled to accommodate karma, dharma, and reincarnation. Similarly, everything in modern science has to be dismantled to accommodate the action of demigods.
Some people say—a “monotheistic” religion also talks about the soul and God, so it is also a religion. This is like saying that physics and economics are similar because both use calculus or words like “curve” and “slope”. The true similarity is defined by conceptual proximity. We can easily convert two conceptually similar things into each other. The conceptual distance between two things is understood by how many changes we need to make to transform one thing into another. If we have to discard everything to convert one thing into another, then two things are not similar to each other. Such transitions are needed to transform modern science and “monotheistic” religions into consistent and complete truth because the semantic distance between the truth and these ideologies cannot be overcome by making minor modifications.
Separation of Religion and Politics
Almost the entirety of Western religious history is motivated by political needs: “Monotheistic” religions were formulated due to the need (a) for rulers to control people under them, (b) by abrogating diverse legal systems found in different pagan religions, (c) bringing them under one autocrat or theocrat by replacing pagan rules with “monotheistic” rules, (e) and absorbing, as far as possible, the prevalent cultural, social, economic, and political ideas into one scripture. Political control required religious uniformity and religion had to be universalized for political control. The birth of these religions was bloody. It involved killing and destroying anyone who disagreed with their ideas.
Someone can argue that these wars are the mark of religious zeal—their followers did a good job of destroying false religions and replacing them with the true religion based on God’s words. But this claim falls apart if we find that scriptures are being repeatedly modified. If their followers truly believed in the words of God, then why would they modify those words and not preserve them? Is it that God can’t make up His mind on what He wants? Even if the book had spiritual power, to begin with, it loses that power because it has been modified so many times. Most believers stop treating them as eternal and complete truth and treat them as allegories, parables, and metaphors to learn from.
Continuous modification of religious scriptures is evidence of the political motivations underlying a religion. When people continuously modify scriptures—long after their prophet or messiah is gone—then it is subject to all human defects such as imperfect senses, illusions, speculative mistakes, and cheating propensity. The role of politics in religion is the cheating propensity. It tries to craft a more convenient truth, but due to imperfect senses, illusions, and speculative mistakes, it doesn’t find it. An example of a convenient truth is a ruler modifying religious scripture to claim that God demands what the ruler is demanding, and He rewards those who fulfill the ruler’s demands with material well-being and an eternal place in heaven. By such modifications, religious scriptures become the offshoots of a ruler’s grand political ambitions.
The Vedic system, under the control of Brahmanas, kept Vedic texts free of political influences. The rulers came and went, but the texts remained unchanged. The same Samhitas, Upaniśads, Purāņa, Tantras, and Itihāsas were studied under the rule of many kings. The Vedic scriptures stayed unchanged even under foreign rule. An advanced society, with a clear conception of spirit and matter, knows how to separate spirit from matter. It treats current political affairs as material artifacts with no relevance to the eternal truth.
We cannot compare books that arose out of political compulsions and have been continuously modified over ages due to political compulsions, with those that have stayed independent of such compulsions. We compare two things if the points of similarity are greater than the points of difference. When there are no points of similarity, then there is no comparison. When we cannot find equivalent English words for the Sanskrit words, as we have discussed above, then there is no reason to equate or compare one religion with another.
A Vedic society unites under the guidance of a Brahmana while the Western society unites under the control of a Kshatriya. The Brahmana guides Vedic society to transcendence while a Kshatriya guides Western society toward war. A Brahmana sees religion as the path to knowing the ultimate truth, while a Kshatriya treats religion and academics as instruments of worldly power. Wealth and power come and go, but the truth stands. Vedic texts are true because they are unchanged. They are unchanged because the Vedic system separates religion from politics. The West has instead always mixed religion with politics. We reject the politicization of religion for material goals.
Why Different Religions Aren’t Equal
Four Types of Religious Ideologies
A transcendent religion sees God’s presence in everyone and everything, and it tries to enlighten those who cannot see that presence and helps them manifest that godliness by removing the traits that are currently obscuring godliness. Such a religion says—I am not important; only God is important; everything pleasing to God is good and everything not pleasing to God is bad. A sattva-guna religion is dutiful but detached from worldly objectives. It says—detachment, renunciation, and austerity are means to my liberation from the birth-death cycle. A rajo-guna religion works for material benefits by uniting people to make the world a more enjoyable place. It says—I ascend to a powerful position through charity and sacrifice for others. A tamo-guna religion rationalizes sin in various ways—it calls sins God’s commands, blames them on ancestry, forgives them by prayer, and transfers them from one person to another. It says—I fight wars, subjugate people, steal their stuff, and shape the world in my interest because God has privileged me as His exceptional and chosen ruler.
This is the final Vedic lens to see other religions: We classify them into four classes based on their traits and rank them from best to worst. Since these traits can be mixed, hence, we also rank everything based on which of these traits is dominant. There can be subordinate sattva and rajas traits in a tamas religion. There can be subordinate sattva, rajas, and tamas traits in a transcendent religion. For instance, the 18 Purāņa are divided into three groups of 6 Purāņa each in sattva, rajas, and tamas. The religion is transcendent, and yet, there are subordinate sattva, rajas, and tamas traits within transcendence.
Elevation Comes Through Punishment
To elevate a person from a lower to a higher state, he is allowed to vent his nature and then punished for it to make him realize his mistake. A tamo-guna person is allowed to create war and then is punished for that destruction to make him realize his mistake. A rajo-guna person is allowed to do charity and sacrifices for others, rise to heaven, and then be sent back to earth when the results of his deeds have been consumed, to make him realize his mistake. A sattva-guna person is hindered in his duties by a tamo-guna person so that he will take shelter of the Supreme Lord, and transcend the material world.
If the tamo-guna person did not exist, then the sattva-guna person would rarely transcend material nature. He would instead remain satisfied, dutiful, and detached, and yet, not devoted to the Lord. Hence, the tamo-guna religion exists to torture the sattva-guna religion, to make them take shelter of the Lord. Impersonalism and voidism are such sattva-guna religions. They teach peace, non-violence, detachment, simplicity, frugality, and austerity. But this is not enough. One has to additionally transcend the three modes of nature.
Queen Kunti says to Lord Kṛṣṇa: “My dear Kṛṣṇa, Your Lordship has protected us from a poisoned cake, from a great fire, from cannibals, from the vicious assembly, from sufferings during our exile in the forest and from the battle where great generals fought. And now You have saved us from the weapon of Aśvatthāmā. I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer see repeated births and deaths.” Pāndavas are in sattva-guna, but they are tortured by those in tamo-guna to make them take shelter of Kṛṣṇa. They are unable to mitigate their suffering in any other way. Therefore, they call Kṛṣṇa to protect them. The person in sattva-guna doesn’t resent this torture at the hands of the person in tamo-guna. He considers it a blessing. Thereby, Queen Kunti asks for the same calamities to occur again and again.
Protective and Destructive Faces of God
Factually, God is present even in a tamo-guna religion as the force of destruction. For instance, Lord Kṛṣṇa states in Bhagavad-Gita—”Time I am the destroyer of all the worlds and I have come here to destroy all these warriors. With the exception of you (the Pāndavas) everyone else will be annihilated”. God’s destructive form is also one of His forms. When we see destruction in the world through a destructive religion, we see God in His destructive form.
The Supreme Lord reveals the loving or destructive forms as a reciprocation of our actions. We can live eternally with a person who reciprocates our love. But we cannot eternally live with a person who reciprocates our hatred. Even a thief wants an honest accountant. Even a killer wants protection. Even a criminal wants mercy. When the Lord cheats, kills, and destroys, our desire to be treated honestly, kindly, and lovingly reforms us. Both love and war are eternally present in the Lord, but the war form is displayed occasionally to reform the soul while the loving form is displayed eternally to reciprocate the soul’s love. When devotees see destruction, they feel inner bliss, because they know that this is also one of the faces of the Lord. And yet, they criticize the destructive ideology because prevention is better than the cure. Their bliss is due to their love for the Lord. Their criticism is due to love for all the suffering souls.
Three Cardinal Traits of False Religions
The Endless Factory of Falsehoods
Three cardinal traits of a tamo-guna religion are lying, stealing, and killing. A tamo-guna person lies to present himself as a good guy, a friend, a saint, or a cultured person. By lying, he builds up a foundation on which he will rationalize his subsequent actions—stealing and killing—as actions for the greater good. The sophisticated lies are rooted in religion, philosophy, or science, as the intellectual rationalizations of theft and murder.
Secularism is a lie to demand religious equality in non-Western countries but not to give religious equality in Western countries. Academic freedom is a lie to demand the right to criticize non-Western cultures but not to give the right to criticize Western culture. Equality is a lie in which God created everyone equal but some nations and races are exceptions to the rule. Democracy is a lie in which elected representatives that serve their people’s interests are overthrown by Western powers to install dictators that oppress their people while they serve Western interests. Capitalism is a lie in which some people work hard to earn money while others create it out of thin air in a printing press. A free market is a lie in which the monopolistic acts of a corporation are called fair competition but those who try to end the exploitation of a monopoly are called fascists and communists. The rules-based order is a lie in which the rule-maker breaks his rules but demands that everyone else should follow them. The scientific method is a lie in which a materialist theory is called science despite its failure to predict and explain but a non-materialist theory that predicts and explains completely is called pseudo-science. One would be a fool to imagine the presence of some truth in places where the lies haven’t yet been detected.
All these lies collectively constitute the basis on which a person in tamo-guna projects himself as the good guy, saint, friend, or cultured person, while his real purpose is to lull people into sleep to enable him to steal stuff and murder those who resist. As crimes of such a person are exposed, he whitewashes them as deeds done for the greater good. The effectiveness of a lie is measured by how much you can steal and kill with it. Hence, lies can be improved over time to increase stealing and killing. The liar therefore never talks about the truth. He always talks about the pragmatic effectiveness of his ideas. That is because he knows that he is going to change his theories repeatedly in self-interest.
Use of Religion for Materialistic Goals
A religion based on lies is evaluated based on how much power, wealth, conquest, and hegemony it brings. A science is also evaluated in the same way. If a non-Western country excels in science, it makes the West nervous about losing its power and wealth. They are not excited about discovering the truth. They are worried about losing their power. If a non-Western religion increases its membership, then the West feels nervous about it. They are not excited that people are finding peace, happiness, fulfillment, or love of God. They are worried that their religion is being marginalized. They use their wealth and power to convert people to their religion by giving them money and jobs, and use them to rig elections against contestants of other religions. Thus, religion and science are tools for the same end—political ambitions and wealth.
The British made attempts to divide India into Hindu, Sikh, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Jain, and Muslim countries. Their secularism would put sectarianism to shame. They succeeded in separating the Muslims from the rest, while every other community rejected that separation. From all such practical examples, we see that in the view of the West, a religion is not about the love of God. It is not even about joining hands and utilizing each other’s strengths to make the world a better place. Religion is rather a tool to divide people into fighting factions.
Sigmund Freud spoke about the depravity of the Western mind and how it was being suppressed by Victorian morals to create a semblance of order but seething underneath that civilized behavior was a desire for the destruction of order. Freud, Nietzsche, and other Western intellectuals were responsible for giving free rein to this depravity. Initially, this depravity was unleashed on non-Western civilizations, and when that depravity was not satisfied, then it was unleashed within the Western civilization. It continuously wages wars.
Unnecessary and Excessive Violence
The left- and right-wing politics disagree on science and religion but never on war. Whichever ruler comes to power, tries to advance war, by supporting some religion or science. This is because religion and science in the West have always been instruments of politics. You can find disagreement on the premises and intermediate arguments, but you never find disagreement on the conclusion of war. Whatever disagreement on war exists, is only because the war is hurting the people involved. The day they see their profit through war, they will—and they have—always supported war. Their premises and intermediate arguments can be materialism, but the conclusion will be war. Their premises and intermediate arguments can be “monotheism” but the conclusion will be war.
We see the war in Ukraine, and ask overselves: What is this war really about? The answer is that it is a war to bring Ukraine under Western control. Either Ukraine comes under Western institutions to be controlled by them, or they will be indebted—by giving them money and weapons for war—to an extent that they will have to relinquish control of their country as repayment for the debt they owe to the West. Ukraine is mortgaging itself to fight a war, and the West will collect after the war. The war cannot be ended quickly because the West wants to ensure that it has mortgaged Ukraine sufficiently and permanently. Theatrical performers have been recruited to make lies seem plausible.
The West has been defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan by goat herders, who did not want to be controlled by the West. Then why wage wars against more powerful enemies, when you cannot win wars against weaker enemies? The answer is that the West needs constant validation. Excessive consumption and endless wars are how the West validates itself. For the last 2500 years, the West has believed that a superior person wins wars, occupies foreign lands, subjugates their citizens, steals their stuff, and enjoys endlessly. Since there is no other measure of self-worth, hence, war is necessary. Even if they lose a war, they create more wars—for self-validation—until total annihilation.
The Struggle for Civilizational Credibility
The Destruction of Credibility
Every society is divided into four classes—intellectuals, politicians, businessmen, and workers. The problems of tamo-guna begin at the bottom—i.e., the workers. Then they reach the businessmen. Then they spread to the politicians. And finally, they infect the intellectuals. If we observe Western society, then its lower three classes have already been discredited. Intellectuals are the last class that still has some credibility in some academic areas—e.g., mathematical and natural sciences—because this is how science began in the West, and every other form of Western science has been modeled after it. There is now active discrediting occurring in natural science areas like particle physics and cosmology. The problems of logic and mathematics are still hidden from people, but I have highlighted them many times previously.
Most of the credibility attached to intellectuals is not well-founded. It is validated in the echo chambers of those who are irrationally committed to an ideology. But that credibility has been lost everywhere else. It is a matter of time before these echo chambers of irrational commitment to an ideology will collapse and self-destruct, as people find that these ideologies hurt them more than they benefit them. A false ideology always follows the Law of Diminishing Returns—it works well initially, then it stops giving as good a return as it was in the initial stages, and finally, the ideology’s costs outrun its benefits.
The Struggle to Maintain Credibility
As this credibility is destroyed, people start seeking honest answers. But a dishonest doctor will rather let a patient die than send him to a more qualified doctor to get cured. The academic system of the West is such a dishonest doctor. It exists to indoctrinate people into thinking that “there is no alternative”. Stop looking for better doctors. We are the best you will ever get. Live as we tell you, or die trying. The Western academic study of the Vedic system is especially meant to stop people from seeing it as a worthy alternative. The Western media shows selected and exaggerated images of poverty, illness, and conflicts in India, and contrasts them with selected and exaggerated images of wealth, health, and peace in the West to prevent people from looking anywhere else.
If something non-Western enters the West and becomes inevitable, then the West coopts it in a way that it is absorbed in the Western way of life without being perceived as an alternative. For example, when yoga and meditation came to the West, they were described as satanic rituals and new-age brainwashing cults. But now that these claims are not working, hence, there are active attempts to mix yoga and meditation with Western neuroscience and psychology. People mix yoga with Christianity to create a “Christian Yoga” notwithstanding the rejection of karma and reincarnation in Christianity. You push people in a direction where they will not read Vedic texts and only read Western-authored books. Even if you get nectar by some fortune, always mix it with some poison to reduce its effectiveness. This pollution is touted as a “more acceptable solution” when it is only meant to minimize its value.
Crusades on Other Civilizations
The fact is that due to the continuous modification of religious scriptures, the academic discourse on the “monotheistic” religions doubts the historicity of prophets, questions the authenticity of books, and analyzes hundreds of textual differences over the ages. They cannot do that with the Vedic texts due to the continuous preservation of texts through disciplic succession. They don’t have anything substantive to pin their criticism on. And yet, due to political compulsions, they criticize. They pin their criticism on diversity—many forms of God, many books, many Āchāryas, many paths—to claim that diversity implies conflict. Their claims don’t work because we cannot find incidents of religious crusades in Vedic history. And yet, the West doesn’t consider intellectual discrediting final and fights endless wars to validate itself.
The Western academic war on the Vedic civilization is yet another example of a credibility war for self-validation. It works by pointing out flaws in perfection through misrepresentation, and spreads the false propaganda that “We might not be perfect, but others are also imperfect”. They try to confuse everyone about what is true and false, right and wrong, good and bad. The Western academic study of the Vedic texts is that lying propaganda. It uses strawman arguments based on misrepresentation, rejects those who present the truth as biased, produces false judgments by applying flawed lenses to judge others, uses divide-and-rule tactics to accept what seems convenient against what seems inconvenient, and hides behind the academic freedom to talk while refusing to accept the academic responsibility to speak the truth.
The truthful Brahmana who was independent of the Kshatriya, and considered socially superior to him, is replaced by a subservient priest and academic in the West who works for the ruler to help him wage war and advance his power. By inverting the status of the Brahmana and the Kshatriya, or by mixing these roles to a point where they are either identical or profiting from each other, religion and academics become pawns in the game of politics and war. Deception is an accepted tactic in politics and war. Hence, deception is also considered an accepted tactic in religion and academics as the offshoots of politics.
The Nature of a Kali-Yuga Dharma
The Meaning of Kali-Yuga Dharma
Vedic texts divide time into four ages; the present age is called kali-yuga. The term kali comes from kalah—which means quarrels and fights. A kali-yuga dharma is that which creates kalah in society—division, conflict, secession, destruction, and war. Dharma is meant for progress. But for some people, progress occurs only after they have seen outcomes of regressive ideologies and rejected them. A kali-yuga dharma is created by the Lord for progress—for those who will not accept progress in any other way. They have to be shown the face of destruction before they will reject their regressive ideologies and return to the path of progress. They are allowed to regress before they progress.
Progress and regress are not based on our definition. They are based on God’s definition. I cannot create arbitrary definitions of order that suit my interests. Order is that which God considers order. This order is defined in six ways in Vedic texts—knowledge, beauty, wealth, power, fame, and renunciation. Those who serve order, create more order. Those who want to enjoy order, must serve order and create order prior. An increase in order is progress. Dharma exists for progress. But kali-yuga dharma envisions progress by destroying order instead of creating order, stealing order rather than giving it in charity, and lying about what order truly is while rejecting true order. There is no heaven for such people. There is just a long hellish tenure for them. And yet, this is the only feasible method by which some people will return to progress.
Unless the fantasy of destruction is slayed within a person’s heart, he cannot approach the truth. We cannot destroy that fantasy by suppressing it. It has to be vented and punished to remove it. Hence, kali-yuga dharma rationalizes the fantasies of destruction to allow sadistic people to enjoy it for some time. They blame their sins on ancestry, claim that God forgives sins, and sacrifices His favorite son for the sins of others. This is the religious rationalization of sin, that increases sins. Then they are punished in a sadistic way to make them realize their faults. Thus, kali-yuga dharma is also an agency for progress.
The Complete Inversion of Truth
Vedic texts describe reality in terms of six ideologies—(a) love, (b) respect, (c) self-realization, (d) duty, (e) profit, and (f) force. The ideology of love is the highest, and that of force is the lowest. The ideology of love is about voluntary, selfless, and constructive action, while the ideology of force is about coercive, selfish, and destructive action. As we descend down this hierarchy, the best ideology is transformed into its very opposite and the worst ideology. This descent is marked by the progressive addition of ego and individualism.
The ideology of love is devoid of ego. That of respect is slightly more egoistic as it divides individuals into mutually respectful and yet distant individuals. The ideology of self-realization is even more egoistic as a person becomes self-absorbed and disconnected from others. The ideology of duty is even more egoistic as a person restricts himself to the demands of his role and doesn’t go beyond the call of duty. The ideology of profit is even more egoistic as it involves transactional business dealings. Finally, the ideology of force is the most egoistic as it oppresses others for self-validation. The ideologies of duty, profit, and force are respectively called the philosophies under sattva, rajas, and tamas.
All these progressive ego additions are called māyā, or that which is not God. Māyā is a part of God because the negation of a thing (as the definition of what it is not) is a part of the thing. And yet, it is not-God. Hence, due to māyā, there are progressively many things that are less and less like God. If God is Angelic, then māyā is Devilish. If God is order then māyā is chaos. If God is masculine, then māyā is feminine. If God is revelation, then māyā is hiding. If God is the truth, then māyā is an illusion. Hence, there are manifestations from God that reflect what He is along with manifestations that reflect what He is not.
If we understand this hierarchy, then we can see why kali-yuga religions are the complete opposites of the religion of unconditional love. As we descend in this hierarchy, we find different conceptions of God. In the tamo-guna religion, God is seen as a selfish, oppressive, dictatorial, and violent person. The fact is that this is also a face of God, because everything is manifest from God, so violence is also manifest from God. But violence is also what God is not. It is a revelation in which His love is hidden or covered by māyā. God manifests a face to us based on who we are. Different cultures have created different kinds of religions as external projections of their own nature. They cannot imagine something radically different from themselves. They impute upon God their nature, which also exists in God, but maybe as what God is not. Of course, nobody can accept a religion in which God is violent, oppressive, selfish, and dictatorial. Hence, if such a religion rises, people reject its tenets, and the result is atheism.
There is no way to progress from atheism other than to (a) improve our nature, and (b) rise through the above-said hierarchy. As we improve our nature, we will accept a better religion and reject the inferior religion. Otherwise, we can remain atheistic, but we will not get a better life. We will descend into more selfishness, oppression, dictatorialness, and violence, and God will show us His selfish, oppressive, dictatorial, and violent face. Of course, this is not the only face of God. But God shows us a face commensurate with what we are. Hence, unless we change, God is not going to show us a different face. Thereby, we can have militant religion or militant atheism. Believing or not believing in God isn’t such a big deal because our life will remain unchanged in either case.
Even Falsehoods Exist for Purification
God is eager to bring everyone to His home. He has extended an open invitation. But before we go to a superior person’s home, we take bath, wear clean clothes, comb our hair, and decorate ourselves in various ways. In the same way, to go to God’s kingdom, we have to become clean and presentable. We cannot go to God with a stinking body or mind. Hence, everyone has to be purified in a different way, based on their nature. Some nature is worse than other nature, and it has to be purified in a different way. Dharma exists for purification. But due to different kinds of natures, we talk about the dharmas in sattva, rajas, and tamas, why sattva is better than rajas, why rajas is better than tamas, and yet, each of these dharmas is temporary and cannot be perfect unless the three kinds of material qualities are removed completely.
Since everything is manifest from God, He is present even in a tamo-guna religion. This is just like color is present in red, taste is present in sweet, and shape is present in square. As we enlarge this hierarchy and the distance between the higher and lower concepts increases, we get things that are unlike the source from which they have sprung. Hence, even as God is present in a tamo-guna religion, His innermost nature of love is hidden and His outermost nature of force is revealed. Due to the existence of opposites, two things that seem mutually opposed are merely two faces of the same thing. This opposition is a contradiction, and yet, it is not a refutation of the existence of both faces.
Therefore, the Vedic lens to see the West is (a) seeing its ideologies as a kali-yuga dharma, (b) a form of tamo-guna, (c) that creates destruction all over the world, (d) to reform both sattva-guna and tamo-guna tendencies, and (e) hence also a face of God in which God’s love is hidden behind a harsh face.
God’s real nature is seeking pleasure. But He accepts tapasya or austerity because that leads to pleasure. If you know that your austerity is going to result in pleasure, then you don’t consider that austerity painful, although it is painful. The excitement produced by the thought that austerity will produce pleasure mitigates any temporary pain. Thereby, those in knowledge don’t consider austerity miserable. Similarly, even as austerity is not God’s nature, He accepts austerity for pleasure. The creation of the material world is austerity for God. Austerity is not a virtue in itself. Pleasure is a virtue in itself. And yet, if austerity will produce pleasure, then it is accepted as a virtue. Thereby, even as the material creation is not-God, God accepts it as a virtuous activity.
Lord Kṛṣṇa states in Bhagavad-Gita 4.11: “As they surrender to Me, I love them accordingly. Everyone follows the path toward Me”. God’s punishment is also love because by that punishment the person reforms and progresses on the journey toward God. Thus, a tamo-guna religion is also the path toward God. But it is not the shortest, sweetest, and easiest path toward God. Bhakti is the shortest, sweetest, and easiest path toward God. But that doesn’t mean that others are not on the path toward God. The Lord is like the ocean, and a religion is like a river flowing toward that ocean. All rivers flow toward the ocean. But they don’t always follow the shortest path toward the ocean. We can row our boats in those rivers to reach the ocean but after considerable effort.
This fact stated by the Lord is echoed by Āchāryas when they accept many paths to God, including other religions. They are not saying anything different from what the Lord has stated. But they also criticize other religions because their path is not the shortest, sweetest, and easiest path toward God. All roads lead to God, but all roads are not the shortest, sweetest, and easiest roads to God. The magnanimity and criticism of Āchāryas are merely two sides of the same coin. One who has acquired the perfect understanding can appreciate both.