Cambridge, MA. Readers will recall that back in June, I blogged on an essay on Beliefnet by Rajiv Malhotra, on "'Spirit' is not the same as 'Shakti' or 'Kundalini.'"
I intended simply to call attention of American readers to this thoughtful post by a Hindu author. The comments on my piece however indicated that here was an issue worthy of further debate, and some seemed disappointed that I did not pursue the dialogue with Mr. Malhotra.
But recently, the time came for such a follow-up. He and I had the opportunity to engage in a prolonged conversation in an event sponsored by the Center for Indic Studies at the University of Massachusetts, South Dartmouth campus. Rajiv has recently published a very interesting though not entirely uncontroversial book, Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism. As with the essay on Shakti and Spirit, in the book Rajiv makes the case for the important differences between Indian religious thinking and Western/Christian ways of thinking and – importantly – Western misunderstandings and distortions of how Hindus have thought over the millennia.
I was asked to be a respondent to the book at a presentation at the Indic Center on December 5th. You can find the video of Rajiv’s introduction of his book, my commentary on the book, and his response, at his website. In this case, there was more light than heat in the room, and I think the entire conversation was illuminating and constructive. Quite different, I suggest, than the media-driven case of yoga and the devil I discussed in my last blog.
Interreligious dialogue need not be only a ceremonial visit between religious leaders, but can proceed as a more serious and in depth exchange on ideas of wider import, and I think we did this in South Dartmouth.
But judge for yourself!