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Preface

Preface

 

������ Hinduism and the Clash of Civilizations continues the line of thought introduced in my earlier books. Arise Arjuna: Hinduism and the Modern World (1995) articulated the need for Hindus to stand up and project their tradition in order to face the current cultural and religious challenges assaulting them on every side. My subsequent book, Awaken Bharata: A Call for India�s Rebirth (1998), emphasized the need for a new intelligentsia, an �intellectual kshatriya� or intellectual warrior class to handle these challenges in a systematic way.

 

Over time it became clear that such an intellectual movement requires a school of thought, a world-view as its proper foundation. Naturally, an intellectual kshatriya should be trained in a Vedic or dharmic school of thought. Therefore, the present volume arose to articulate the greater Hindu world view�the perspective of the Hindu mind on the current civilizational challenge, which is not only a cultural assault on India but a churning within all cultures throughout the world. Today as a species we stand at a critical juncture, before either a new age of global harmony and world spirituality or a possible global catastrophe from a voracious materialistic civilization out of harmony with nature.

 

The wisdom of the Hindu tradition, rooted in universal consciousness, can be a great aid in helping us move in the right direction, but it is seldom brought into the picture even in India. Hinduism is now a global force as the third largest religion in the world, the largest non-biblical belief, and the largest of the pagan, native or indigenous religions. Therefore, a Hindu voice not only on spiritual but also on cultural issues is necessary to provide a balanced view on the global situation today.

 

Hindu or Indic ideas are now present in most countries in the world today, generally in a dynamic way through Yoga, Vedanta or Vedic sciences like Ayurveda. However, there is little recognition of the overall civilizational perspective behind them. Most of the focus is on a spiritual side of these traditions and the broader civilizational concerns are ignored. While Christian, Islamic and western secular points of view are readily available on most issues, the Hindu view is seldom recognized and does not have corresponding spokespersons or information outlets in the world forum. Hence the need of the present volume to encourage the projection of such a Hindu perspective.

 

������ The current clash of civilizations is not merely a commercial or religious encounter. It is an encounter between the schools of thought, the way of thinking that each civilization represents. Each civilization has its own language, logic and history of ideas that shape and mold its perceptions and actions. When civilizations clash it is first at this level of ideas and beliefs. In the present world context, the Hindu or Indian (Bharatiya) idea of civilization and culture is overlooked. If Hindus enter into debate, it is in the context of the western school of thought, which is not sympathetic to or even aware of the logic of Hindu ideas or how the Hindu mind works. Like players in a game that has rules they don�t understand, the Hindu cause seldom comes out well.

 

Therefore, Hinduism must project its entire dharmic view, its unique vision of the universe, God and humanity, rather than simply respond to side issues framed by the western mind. It must articulate its own critique of civilization, including that of western civilization, which modern Hindu thinkers like Aurobindo or Gandhi so eloquently expressed. There is also an older, comprehensive and well-articulated Indian school of thought through the Vedas, Sutras, Puranas, Tantras and Shastras and a related literature on consciousness and dharma through Buddhist and Jain traditions as well. But these are often out of date and don�t consider the changed circumstances of the world today. Hence my emphasis on the need for a �New Indic School of Thought�, specifically on the need for new �Vedic schools�, developing and articulating the older dharmic traditions of India to meet the new circumstances today.

 

A new Western dharmic school of thought is also important, taking the insights of the Indic school and applying them in the western context. Ultimately, a new global dharmic school of thought is the goal. Hopefully, the new Indic School of Thought can provide a model and a starting point for it.

 

While Hinduism and the Clash of Civilizations is a sequel my earlier books, it brings in new themes that neither Awaken Bharata or Arise Arjuna addressed. It has a more futuristic vision and a constructive as well as critical side, outlining a Hindu vision for the entire world. It not only seeks to remove obstacles but also sets forth ideas and models for a new creation�a new age of consciousness on Earth initiated by a revival of Vedic wisdom and culture.

 

Naturally, I was always asked how I, as someone born in the West, was able to take up this cause or write such books. For this reason, I wrote How I Became a Hindu: My Discovery of Vedic Dharma (2000). That recent book is also relevant to the current title. Hinduism and Clash of Civilizations also supplements my books on ancient India like Gods, Sages and Kings, the Myth of the Aryan Invasion, Vedic Aryans and the Origins of Civilization (with N.S. Rajaram), and the recent the Rigveda and the History of India. However, the present volume focuses on the background philosophical and cultural issues behind the historical concerns examined in detail in these other works.

 

Besides history, the book examines Vedic Science, including its relationship with modern science, which I have not addressed significantly in previous titles. It touches the subject Vedanta, which was explored in my book Vedantic Meditation: Lighting the Flame of Awareness. Hinduism and the Clash of Civilizations, therefore, has a broad scope and looks to the future as well as to the past, to spiritual as well as cultural issues.

 

The book is divided into three sections. The first surveys the challenges of India and Hinduism today and its scope for the future. The second examines the clash between western intellectual culture and the spiritual and intellectual culture of India. It highlights why an independent Indic School of Thought is required, not just an Indic perspective in the current world dominant western school.

 

The third section suggests principles and main lines for a new Indic/Vedic school of thought. I have separately discussed in Vedanta, Yoga, Ayurveda and Vedic astrology in specific books on these topics. The purpose of their discussion here is relative to their place in a new school of thought, not to delineate their approaches in detail.

 

������ Some chapters have appeared as articles in various publications in India like the Times of India, Vedanta Kesari, the Advent, the Organizer, Naimisha Journal etc. I have rewritten these to fit in with the flow of the book and avoid unnecessary repetition. I would like to thank various individuals who have stimulated my thought in the book including Subhash Kak, N.S. Rajaram, Aidan Rankin, Michel Boutet, Ram Swarup, Swami Dayananda, J.C. Kapur, and many young Hindus, both individually and in different groups and organizations.

 

Jai Durga!

Dr. David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri)

July 2001

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