1. My book is not about India but about the western culture. It is a study of the western culture using one thread, namely, religion. To the extent I talk about India, I do so using some of the ‘facts’ that Indologists (and others) have so far used. My use of their facts (to show the opposite of what they believe they have shown) illustrates the consensus in the philosophies of sciences (of the last hundred years or more) that ‘facts’ are mostly facts of a theory.
2. In its simplest form my thesis is conditional in nature: “If Judaism, Christianity and Islam are what religions are, then Indian culture does not have ‘native’ religions.” By the same token, if ‘Hinduism’ etc are religions, then Judaism etc are no religions. The book builds this thesis in several ways: (a) through historical narrations and analyses; (b) through arguments; (c) by building a hypothesis, etc. If you want to challenge this thesis, you will have to build a thorough-going criticism of the entire book.
3. Let us agree to conduct our discussion in a systematic fashion. Doing so would allow us to (a) localize our disagreements; (b) formulate the criticisms succinctly; (c) identify the arguments we need to accept or reject; (d) indicate the manner of resolving disagreements etc.
With these preliminaries out of the way, let us begin at the beginning.
I argue that the western culture claims that religion is a cultural universal but that this claim is not the result of (a) empirical enquiries or of (b) a defensible theoretical hypothesis. In other words, I talk both about the western culture and about what this culture says. Do you disagree with this argument? If you disagree, you will have to show either (a) that a substantial empirical enquiry has been undertaken in the western culture to investigate the existence or non-existence of religions in other cultures or (b) there is a very satisfying theory about why religion should exist in all cultures. In both cases, we need references to details: either the names of people who have done such research and their works or a summary of such research. In case you feel that this is too broad for a beginning, let me propose an alternative: what reasons are there to believe that religion exists in all cultures? What would happen if we discover some or another culture that does not know of religion? Here, your arguments would suffice.
Depending on which of the two options you choose, we can look forward to a fruitful discussion.
- Commonalities and Similarities—S.N.Balagangadhara
- Review of Amartya Sen’s Argumentative Indian—S.N. Balagangadhara