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Books > Philosophy > Hindu > Ways to Truth: A View of Hindu Tradition
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Ways to Truth: A View of Hindu Tradition
Ways to Truth: A View of Hindu Tradition
Description

From the Jacket

In India, there has long been a tendency to emphasize the spoken word which is passed on alive from an individual teacher to each individual student. But, through the development of modern media, more use is now made of the written word which records information externally, in institutions that have been industrially, socially and culturally organized.

How then can we understand the Hindu tradition as alive today with its ancient emphasis upon the spoken word and the living individual? That is the question which this book investigates, Accordingly, it asks for a broader understanding of history, which would allow for a rightful accounting of the Vedas and of other oral learning.

Through its continued imphasis upon the living word, the Hindu tradition asks for a deeper understanding of reasoned inquiry. Such a reasoning does not work primarily through mechanical instruments in the restricted way that modern physics does. Instead, it works essentially through a reflective investigation of our living faculties, which are thus cultivated and clarified.

The goal of truth is not here sought through an institutional consensus; but rather as a common ground, which is approached quite differently through different personalities and institutions of culture.

About the Author

Ananda Wood, as his name suggests, is one of those people with a rather mixed background. He was born and brought up in India, studied mathematics at King's College, Cambridge, and went on to a Doctorate in Anthropology at the University of Chicago. After completing his university education, he returned to India, where he has now settled down to concentrate on a long-standing interest, in the modern interpretation of Advaita philosophy.

Preface

This book is one of many attempts to make some sense of Hinduism as a living tradition, which is now joining into a globalizing world. This particular attempt is centred on the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, so it provides only one of many points of view. Each view has its insights to contribute for a general audience, including those who might see things quite differently.

A general reader will notice that diacritical marks are often used, to transliterate words that come from Sanskrit. These marks show how to pronounce the Sanskrit letters, as indicated roughly in the footnote below. The reader need not worry too much about this, because English equivalents are provided repeatedly, to help avoid the need for Sanskrit terms.

In the end, it doesn't really matter whether Sanskrit terms are used or avoided. What matters is a willingness to investigate beliefs and assumptions that are taken blindly for granted, by force of unexamined habit, in one's own language and ideas and attitudes.

 

Contents

 

Preface ix
Part 1 – Learning from the Past  
HISTORY AND LEARNING AMONG HINDUS  
Living History 1
'Heard' and 'Remembered' Texts 2
By Word of Mouth 4
Traditional Authority 6
An Individual Emphasis 7
SOCIETY AND CASTE  
Social Classes – Jati and Varna 9
Brahmins 17
Ksatriyas 19
Vaisyas 20
Sudras 21
Outcastes 22
Renunciation 25
CHANGING VIEWS OF EARLY INDIA  
When and Where? 28
Horses and Immigrations 29
Knowledge and Travel 30
Energy and Inner Light 32
Vedic Texts and Archaeology 33
The Current Immigration Picture 35
Time-scales of History 37
Another Picture, from Old Riverbeds 39
Encoded Knowledge 40
Uncertain Pictures 42
History and Living Knowledge 43
FOUR AIMS  
Kama - Desire 46
Artha - Wealth 47
Dharma – Well-founded Order 47
Moksa - Freedom 50
Part 2 – Authority and Power  
CREATION IN THE VEDAS  
Subjective and Impersonal 53
A Skeptical Creation Hymn 55
Looking in 61
REBIRTH AND DISSOLUTION  
The Mantra 'Om'  
Krama Srsti – Cyclic Cosmology 67
Karma – Transmigration and Psychology 71
Yugapat Srsti – Creation All at Once 75
Differing Accounts 78
NATURE'S MANIFESTING LIFE  
Personal Ego and Impartial Objectivity 80
Illuminating Consciousness 82
Knowing and Doing 84
Expressive Energy 88
Living Kinship 90
The Self in Everyone 93
THREE QUALITIES  
Natural Activity 96
Transcending Ground 98
Arjuna's Fear 101
FIVE LEVELS OF EXPERIENCE  
The Traditional Five Elements 103
A Comparison with Modern Physics 106
Reflecting Back to Ground 109
World and Personality 111
YOGIC DISCIPLINE  
Control of Mind 116
Training of Character 121
Altered States 128
Undying Truth 131
DETACHMENT FROM PERSONALITY  
Karma Yoga 133
Personality and Self 136
Establishment in Truth 141
Part 3 – Learning and Enquiry  
SOUND AND SEEING  
The Sense of Sound 149
Vibration and Light 151
Shining Out 154
Chanting and Enquiry 156
Learning from Source 159
LEVELS OF EXPRESSION  
The Science of Language 161
Differences and Knowledge 164
Three Levels 165
The Essence of Speech 168
Levels and Ground 170
LANGUAGE AND TRADITION  
Natural Development 172
Gifted by Seers 174
Growth from Seed 177
Elaboration over Time 180
INTERPRETATION AND RETELLING  
Freedoms of Choice 184
Intensive Use 186
Poetic Ambiguity 188
Objective Analysis 189
Reflective Questioning 190
Changing Times 198
SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT  
Sasana – Traditional Instruction 201
Vidyas – Branches of Learning 206
Darsanas – World Views 214
APPROACHING TRUTH  
Sat - Existence 223
Cit - Consciousness 225
Ananda - Happiness 228
An Afterword – For a Globalizing World  
TRADITION AND THE LIVIGN INDIVIDUAL  
Individual Centering 231
Reconciling Different Views 233
Personal and Individual 237
Ancient and Medieval Institutions 240
Free-Thinking Individualism 244
Academic Institutes and Living Knowledge 247
Bibliographic References 255
Index  
General Index 257
Index of Quoted Passages 268

Sample Pages













Ways to Truth: A View of Hindu Tradition

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From the Jacket

In India, there has long been a tendency to emphasize the spoken word which is passed on alive from an individual teacher to each individual student. But, through the development of modern media, more use is now made of the written word which records information externally, in institutions that have been industrially, socially and culturally organized.

How then can we understand the Hindu tradition as alive today with its ancient emphasis upon the spoken word and the living individual? That is the question which this book investigates, Accordingly, it asks for a broader understanding of history, which would allow for a rightful accounting of the Vedas and of other oral learning.

Through its continued imphasis upon the living word, the Hindu tradition asks for a deeper understanding of reasoned inquiry. Such a reasoning does not work primarily through mechanical instruments in the restricted way that modern physics does. Instead, it works essentially through a reflective investigation of our living faculties, which are thus cultivated and clarified.

The goal of truth is not here sought through an institutional consensus; but rather as a common ground, which is approached quite differently through different personalities and institutions of culture.

About the Author

Ananda Wood, as his name suggests, is one of those people with a rather mixed background. He was born and brought up in India, studied mathematics at King's College, Cambridge, and went on to a Doctorate in Anthropology at the University of Chicago. After completing his university education, he returned to India, where he has now settled down to concentrate on a long-standing interest, in the modern interpretation of Advaita philosophy.

Preface

This book is one of many attempts to make some sense of Hinduism as a living tradition, which is now joining into a globalizing world. This particular attempt is centred on the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, so it provides only one of many points of view. Each view has its insights to contribute for a general audience, including those who might see things quite differently.

A general reader will notice that diacritical marks are often used, to transliterate words that come from Sanskrit. These marks show how to pronounce the Sanskrit letters, as indicated roughly in the footnote below. The reader need not worry too much about this, because English equivalents are provided repeatedly, to help avoid the need for Sanskrit terms.

In the end, it doesn't really matter whether Sanskrit terms are used or avoided. What matters is a willingness to investigate beliefs and assumptions that are taken blindly for granted, by force of unexamined habit, in one's own language and ideas and attitudes.

 

Contents

 

Preface ix
Part 1 – Learning from the Past  
HISTORY AND LEARNING AMONG HINDUS  
Living History 1
'Heard' and 'Remembered' Texts 2
By Word of Mouth 4
Traditional Authority 6
An Individual Emphasis 7
SOCIETY AND CASTE  
Social Classes – Jati and Varna 9
Brahmins 17
Ksatriyas 19
Vaisyas 20
Sudras 21
Outcastes 22
Renunciation 25
CHANGING VIEWS OF EARLY INDIA  
When and Where? 28
Horses and Immigrations 29
Knowledge and Travel 30
Energy and Inner Light 32
Vedic Texts and Archaeology 33
The Current Immigration Picture 35
Time-scales of History 37
Another Picture, from Old Riverbeds 39
Encoded Knowledge 40
Uncertain Pictures 42
History and Living Knowledge 43
FOUR AIMS  
Kama - Desire 46
Artha - Wealth 47
Dharma – Well-founded Order 47
Moksa - Freedom 50
Part 2 – Authority and Power  
CREATION IN THE VEDAS  
Subjective and Impersonal 53
A Skeptical Creation Hymn 55
Looking in 61
REBIRTH AND DISSOLUTION  
The Mantra 'Om'  
Krama Srsti – Cyclic Cosmology 67
Karma – Transmigration and Psychology 71
Yugapat Srsti – Creation All at Once 75
Differing Accounts 78
NATURE'S MANIFESTING LIFE  
Personal Ego and Impartial Objectivity 80
Illuminating Consciousness 82
Knowing and Doing 84
Expressive Energy 88
Living Kinship 90
The Self in Everyone 93
THREE QUALITIES  
Natural Activity 96
Transcending Ground 98
Arjuna's Fear 101
FIVE LEVELS OF EXPERIENCE  
The Traditional Five Elements 103
A Comparison with Modern Physics 106
Reflecting Back to Ground 109
World and Personality 111
YOGIC DISCIPLINE  
Control of Mind 116
Training of Character 121
Altered States 128
Undying Truth 131
DETACHMENT FROM PERSONALITY  
Karma Yoga 133
Personality and Self 136
Establishment in Truth 141
Part 3 – Learning and Enquiry  
SOUND AND SEEING  
The Sense of Sound 149
Vibration and Light 151
Shining Out 154
Chanting and Enquiry 156
Learning from Source 159
LEVELS OF EXPRESSION  
The Science of Language 161
Differences and Knowledge 164
Three Levels 165
The Essence of Speech 168
Levels and Ground 170
LANGUAGE AND TRADITION  
Natural Development 172
Gifted by Seers 174
Growth from Seed 177
Elaboration over Time 180
INTERPRETATION AND RETELLING  
Freedoms of Choice 184
Intensive Use 186
Poetic Ambiguity 188
Objective Analysis 189
Reflective Questioning 190
Changing Times 198
SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT  
Sasana – Traditional Instruction 201
Vidyas – Branches of Learning 206
Darsanas – World Views 214
APPROACHING TRUTH  
Sat - Existence 223
Cit - Consciousness 225
Ananda - Happiness 228
An Afterword – For a Globalizing World  
TRADITION AND THE LIVIGN INDIVIDUAL  
Individual Centering 231
Reconciling Different Views 233
Personal and Individual 237
Ancient and Medieval Institutions 240
Free-Thinking Individualism 244
Academic Institutes and Living Knowledge 247
Bibliographic References 255
Index  
General Index 257
Index of Quoted Passages 268

Sample Pages













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