It is fashionable on H-twitter to say

Conventional Left-Right or conservative-progressive divides don't apply to India

They v much do
The only reason they're muted is because our politics revolves around H-M conflicts

Once that is sorted, a mature Left-Right divide will emerge
There is nothing western about conservative vs progressive conflict

What to conserve, and what to discard?
At what pace should we adopt change, and challenge traditional norms?
What is the tradeoff between stability and "progress"

These are universal questions
India will grapple with these questions more explicitly once the religious question is sorted, and we stop debating ideas of India at the hustings.
For those who think a "Dharmic" India will be apolitical are in a fool's paradise

There will be politics in a "Dharmic" India too

You will have liberal progressive Hindus
You will have conservative, traditional Hindus

Even in 3rd cen Magadha, I'm sure there was such a divide
Recently I read this line in @harshmadhusudan and @RMantri 's book -

Paraphrasing it roughly

"How can the land of Radha and Krishna oppose live-in relationships" - or something to that effect

But then, even in a H-only India, you will have conservative-liberal divide
There will always be a conflict between mainstream conservative brahminical ideas / norms, and the more radical ideas within Hinduism which do find expression in so much of our Bhakti literature

Both are legitimate

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More from @shrikanth_krish

6 Nov
With this likely loss for Trump, it's worthwhile to reflect on his political legacy

To me his signal achievement was political

In 2012, the mantra was "demography is destiny"
We were told demographic changes gave Democrats a permanent majority

Trump took that on and succeeded!
I remember in 2012, all pundits sang in unison

For Republican party to succeed again, it has to become more endearing to non-whites and the poor. Move to the center on a number of issues

Trump sort of did that, but not by moving to the center. But moving further right
What Trump did was akin to a batsman moving inside the line of the ball to hit a ball on leg stump over cover

Or akin to what Laxman did in 2001. Hit Shane Warne against spin rather than with the spin!

Totally ignoring conventional wisdom
Read 5 tweets
27 Oct
Good discussion

Probing questions from @raghman36

Trads argue on one front that present day notions should not be used to judge Dharmashastras. Fair. But the corollary of that would be Dharmashastras have little relevance today.

You can't have the cake and eat it too
Another intersting angle probed in the discussion

Academics of religion tend to examine texts with a historicist lens

E.g. Dharmasutras pre-date Dharmashastras.

What causes the tone used in Apastamba to deviate from those in the extant Manu Smrti?
Trads in contrast abhor historicism

They don't see these texts as an outcome of a historical process

When you see these texts as works for eternity independent of a certain time and place which gave rise to them, your attitude towards them is a lot more uncritical
Read 11 tweets
22 Oct
When one discusses the pre-history of South India, the origins of Dravidian speakers invariably comes up

When did the Dravidian languages make their entry in India?

Were they pan-Indian at any point?

On this - the views of Nilakantha Sastri / Fuerer Haimendorf are interesting
This is somewhat dated as these individuals operated some 70 years ago in academia

But their theory is -

1. Dravidian languages were never quite pan-Indian or dominant in North India

2. They have always been spoken mostly in the region where they are spoken now (lower Deccan)
3. It is likely the Dravidian speakers have affinity to the Armenoid race-type, who colonized South India through sea travel from the west, leaving their original homeland in Central Asia (Anatolia, Armenia, Iran)
Read 13 tweets
22 Oct
One of the things that distinguishes Hinduism and the Vedic religion from other traditions is the importance ascribed to the shabda

Reciting texts in the original with correct pronunciation (ucchAraNa) and the right tonal modulations (svara-pATha)

The meaning takes a backseat
But does this have traditional sanction?

Is it OK to equate vedic study with mere chanting "pArAyaNa") as opposed to understanding the import of the works?

What's fascinating is that the tradition itself appears divided on this.
First of all learning through the oral tradition is clearly one of the obligatory duties of a brAhmaNa. There are no two ways about it.

Even Manu himself is explicit about this in his smRti -

Verse 1.88

अध्यापनमध्ययनं यजनं याजनं तथा
दानं प्रतिग्रहं चैव ब्राह्मणानामकल्पयत्
Read 14 tweets
20 Oct
Interesting piece, but it stereotypes the interaction of "brahminical thought" with the traditions of the hoi polloi

The paternalist attitude of the brAhmaNas is less evident in Southern India, where the give-and-take was more even…
This is most evident when one studies the history of the Alvar and Nayanar saints of Tamil country

Where the cultural interaction of the brAhmaNas with local vellAlars was definitely not characterized by a supercilious attitude of the brahmin towards local traditions
Two good examples are -

1. The relationship between Appar and Sambandhar in Nayanar lore

2. The very high status accorded to Nammalvar in Sri-Vaishnava lore
Read 8 tweets
20 Oct
Often encountered the question in discussions -

"Why are you not a libertarian/classical liberal"?

I was one, back in my 20s

Outgrew that for a few reasons

1. Classical liberalism is predicated on "reason". Tends to dismiss prejudice altogether

2. It ignores history/culture
Classical liberalism is fundamentally anti-politics

Because it is based on the universalizing notions of individual liberty, economic freedom

It does not acknowledge "groups", "special interests"
E.g libertarians insist on low tariffs

But then zero tariffs are always in general interest. They may reduce prices for everybody just a wee bit

But not in the special interest of any group.

So if the idea is to support domestic industry, zero tariffs may not be beneficial
Read 13 tweets

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