In "Real Face of Hinduism", Dr. Raghavendra Katti, an eminent engineer bends the faculties of a scientific mind to a critical analysis of the 'Badarayana Suthras' --- one of the PrasthanaThrayas and shows how exhilarating this spiritual journey could be.
Indian Philosophy has two main schools: The Vedantic absolutism and the Vedantic Theism. Both speak of primal richness of the Indian mind and spirit. Dr. Katti refers to Dr. Radhakrishnan lament that "it is not easy to decide what the Upanishads teach. Students of Upanishads read them in the light of this or that pre-conceived theory".
A scholar differentiating the non-dualism of Acharya Shankara from the dualism of Acharya Madhwa said: " If the Advaita explains the prevailingly absolutistic standpoint of Upanishadic teaching by postulating only one reality and explaining the rest of the universe as its appearance, the Dvaita (of Madhva) does the same by postulating God as the only supreme entity and explaining the rest as altogether dependent upon him". Dr. Katti's illuminating study suggests that the distinction is more fundamental, rich and subtle. 'Real Face of Hinduism' amply rewards the reader.
I feel immensely happy and honoured to write a foreword in appreciation of the work 'The Real Face of Hinduism" by Dr. Raghavendra Katti, a self-made scholar in the domain of Darshana. It was indeed a surprise for me, when I was offered this job by a revered and renowned academician Prof. Saroja Bhate. I hesitatingly agreed to write a few lines. I realised the grace of such a wonderful blessing when I started reading the books authored by Dr. Katti. An engineer by profession and a philosopher by passion, Dr. Katti invested a huge amount of time of his life for serious studies in Vedanta Darshanas. The books he penned are the results of his study and matured and wise investigation.
I found that many of his views may not be acceptable to the readers who have been monotonously drilled to think in uni- directional way. However, the views he has placed before the readers would make them to revise their thinking pattern. The logically sound arguments that he presents in the current work, are based on the thought Dr. Katti propounded in his two earlier works on Brahmasutras. The current work "The Real Face of Hinduism" is an essence of his philosophical inquiry and a conclusion in this series. Hence, in order to understand the concept fully or to make the understanding complete, I strongly recommend to study his other two books either before or after reading this book.
Both by birth at home and by study at Gurukula, I am a well informed student of Dvaita school of thought. However, as an academician I have some reservations if someone jumps to the conclusion simply by faith or on the basis of shallow sources and vague reasons. However, the' author of this book has carefully studied the different viewpoints and analysed them with strong acumen, which resulted into a convincing argument even to the opponent party. I therefore do. not hesitate to value this as a successful attempt in putting the age-old ideas in a new fashion. The idea of Hinduism emerged as a result of medieval age interactions with many non-native religions in the Bharata-varsha. The ideological and observational differences between Vedic, Buddhist, Jain and other traditions within India never held Hinduism as a separate identity as a religion. The term Hinduism became popular with the current connotation to hold it as a religion only during the period of Indological studies initiated by European scholars. This influence is still continuing despite the scholastic efforts to create a right opinion on the notion of Hinduism. The same notion has influenced the author to consider Hinduism as a religion. Anyway the popular meaning of Hinduism is the aggregate of thought, belief and practice of certain traditions of the Indian continent. This has roots in Vedic literature, which is considered to be Apourusheya (no-author-composition). The Hindu Dharma is called Sanatana-Dharma i.e. eternal value system. It has got evolved as multifaceted belief system. No one is authorised to decide or to authenticate something except the Vedic authority. Every sectarian path has its root in the Vedas. Basically Vedic literature propounds multidimensional upasana paths. The ultimate goal remains same for all paths. The supreme self is the only one who is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. That 'supreme being' can be termed by any name viz., Vishnu, Shiva, Brahman, Indra, Varuna, Surya etc. All names and sounds, even small syllables denote Him. The entire universe is His creation. All souls who are desirous to get his blessings for salvation should go to His shelter. Such a wonderful way to salvation is very much apparent in Vedas. This tenet is interpreted in different schools in different ways. Only the Advaita tradition of Shankaracharya has become popular among several Vedanta schools, which is of course a partial picture of the entire Vedantic Traditions. To eradicate this popular fabrication, the current thesis of Dr. Katti puts forth many justifications to show that this multi-tiered world reality itself is the evidence for the supreme being and His will to create this real world. This world is not an illusion and whole variety does not get into one reality. It remains same. Such a notion of dualism has been in practice in Hinduism which is coming from the Vedic sources. This fact has been overshadowed by the 'monism' (adviata) along with the notion of 'maya' (illusion). It is therefore necessary to reestablish the stand of dualism as the basis of the Hindu thought and practice. This is what Dr. Raghavendra Katti wants to convey to the audience outside India. I appreciate his shraddha in his parampara and his efforts in making his thesis perfect. As an academic enterprise, except the method of narration, I do disagree with him on his views that the real face of Hinduism is Dualism alone and it has nothing to do with Adviata Vedanta. This opinion he has developed may have some justification. Nevertheless, we can not exclude the philosophy of 'Idealism cum Monism' from the broader Hindu thought. I offer my salutations to Sri. Dr. Raghavendra Katti, for his erudition and for venture in this matured age to author a book with a new idea to the modern readers. His language and style are simple for novice readers and a sumptuous food for thinking for elite class. I deem this book as a fresh challenge to the idea of idealism cum monism.
Hinduism is one of the four major religions in the world, which are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Out of the world population of about seven billion, one billion are Hindus. A common Hindu inherits his religion and some general concepts of a philosophy of life according to Hinduism. And yet, earning a livelihood is his first priority, and religion is of secondary importance. He feels that religion and a religious philosophy are not a matter of necessity for leading a happy life. The celebrated writer, Ruskin Bond, narrates :
'And what's your philosophy (of life)?' I asked my sabziwalla (vegetables-vendor), as he weighed out a kilo of onions. 'Philosophy? What's that?' He turned to his assistant. 'Is this gentleman trying to abuse me?'
But, a common Hindu remembers God, an imaginary divine power, when he faces a calamity, either to pray for a way out or to blame Him for wrongfully targeting him. However, in my opinion, along with food, water and air, man needs a faith, a religion and a spiritual pursuit in order to live a happier and fruitful life.
I studied Hinduism for almost thirty years. My objective study shows that Hinduism has been mostly misunderstood, the world over. It is universally accepted that BaadaraayanaVyaasa's work of 5th century BCE, known as Brahmasootra or Vedaantasootra codifies the quintessence of pristine Hinduism. But unfortunately this work has been interpreted by a number of preceptors as advocating different and divergent doctrines like Advaita, Dvaita, Vishishtaadvaita, Dvaitaadvaita, and so on. And the common man's confusion continues. I have studied this work for 15 years, referring to the three principal commentaries on it, namely those of Shankaraachaarya, Raamaanujaachaarya and Madhvaachaarya. I have tried to understand objectively what Baadaraayana Vyaasa intended to convey through these Brahma-Sootras (aphorisms), depending on the syntax, semantics, contextual propriety, schematic relevance, etc. of the words used in the Sootras.
I have published two books on this study. My first book, 'Brahman, the Supreme Being, in Brahmasootras', published in March, 2013, covered the study of the first two Adhyaayas (divisions) of the Brahmasootra. It was my thesis submitted to and accepted by the University of Pune for a Ph. D. degree in Sanskrit. My second book, 'Meditation in Brahmasootras', published in September, 2015, covered the study of the remaining two Adhyaayas.
Though these books are well-received, a major portion in them being in Sanskrit, the books have found a place only in University libraries and with some scholars. Thus my findings have not succeeded in reaching the general intelligentsia. Therefore, I have now written this book, 'The Real Face of Hinduism' only in English, with one or two page reference notes at the end of the chapters, in which Sanskrit is used. In this book, I have tried to show the historical compulsions which caused the misunderstandings about Hinduism. I have presented my understanding of the main tenets of Hinduism and the general practices followed in Hinduism.
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