What Would Krishna Do? Or Shiva? Or Vishnu?

Over the summer, several readers emailed me a link to this great interview with Jonardon Ganeri, a professor of Philosophy whose work has largely focused on the Sanskritic Indian traditions. His interview is a part of an ongoing series in The Stone, the philosophy blog at New York Times online.

He does an excellent job of speaking to the internal diversity in Hinduism: “The essence of Hinduism is that it has no essence. What defines Hinduism and sets it apart from other major religions is its polycentricity, its admission of multiple centers of belief and practice, with a consequent absence of any single structure of theological or liturgical power.”

Check out the interview below. And thanks to those who shared the link!

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/03/what-would-krishna-do-or-shiva-or-vishnu/

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The Bhagavad Gita and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s Nurses

BGKrishnaArjuna

Krishna teaching Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita

D.D. Kosambi, the Indian Marxist historian, once dismissed the Bhagavad Gita as “700 fratricidal verses.” And while this text has been extolled by champions of nonviolence such as Thoreau and Gandhi, Kosambi does have a point: Krishna – God himself who has taken on human form – urges Arjuna, the reluctant warrior, to fight in battle against his teachers, cousins, and friends. Why? Because his dharma requires him to do so. Arjuna must act in this battle in order to preserve the order of the universe, even if it means slaughtering his kin. Continue reading

Dharma: The First Lesson

A previous post has some thoughts on the idea of dharma and its importance within Hinduism and Hindu ethics. This post will sketch out a lesson plan I do with students in the hopes of introducing them to this complex idea.

At the start of class, I make a drawing on the board with four columns, asking the students to copy it into their notes. Then I ask them to think of 5-10 examples (depending on age of the students) of responsibilities for each of the following individuals. Usually I go with something like these four:

You [The students] | Mr. H [me] |   Your Dentist  |  President Obama/Head of School*

Continue reading