What exists in India, given ‘Hinduism’, ‘Buddhism’, etc. do not exist

1. The first thing is that my book is about the western culture and a specific religion, which brought the former forth. It is only indirectly about India because I interrogate the way India was looked at by the western culture. I proffer some hypotheses about India there by consciously remaining within the western framework.

2. You are right in saying that I deny that ‘religions’ called ‘Hinduism’, ‘Buddhism’, ‘Jainism’ exist in India. Indeed, I show why the western culture had to necessarily create (for itself) such ‘religions’. This is one half of a story.

3. There is also another half to the story, which requires another book. We can raise it in the form of a question: Even if such entities do not exist in India, even if western culture had to create them, were they totally hallucinating when they thought they saw ‘religions’ in India and elsewhere in Asia? That is, did they simply suck a fancy story out of their thumb or did they see something in India?

4. This question is about the nature of Indian traditions. Here the explanatory task is double: (a) we need to say what there is in India, if Hinduism, etc. do not exist; (b) we need to show how what does exist in India appeared to the European eyes the way it did. That is, we have to explain at a much deeper level, how and why they took fragments from different phenomena and built Hinduism, Buddhism, etc, out of them.

5. These will be tackled in the second half of the story because it will be about India, the way the first half of the story is about the West. That book is being slowly composed in my mind, even as I try to re-describe the Indian traditions using the 21st century vocabulary. It is in this book that I tackle the kind of questions you raise. (You are right, in one sense, to suggest that a theory of religion should also answer this question; in another sense, of course, a theory of religion does not have to answer what an object is if it is not religion.) Here, using the vocabulary available to us today, I will be reformulating such notions as chittashuddhiavidyaGyaannodaya and so on. I will show that Indian traditions do cohere but not as a whole in the senses of the ‘whole’ that we have in the western languages today. I am excited by the results of my preliminary work and these results are also strengthening the adhyaatmic desire and tendencies in me as well.

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