Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sai university academics need to publish articles on Sathya Sai teachings/philosophy in fields of religion and Indian philosophy, in academic literature as well as mainstream media

The post contents below is an edited version of my comment on this Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1640855739464330, which I felt appropriate to put up as a separate post.

Well, I have been reading up on what some academics in universities the world over do in terms of contributions to academic literature and to mainstream media, on the topic of religion. While many in the Sai university (Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, SSSIHL) would be deeply dedicated to Swami, that is a personal journey and perhaps the journey of a group of persons in the hostel/university. That does not have much of an impact on the world outside.

In particular, for the intellectual/scholarly world outside to sit up and take serious notice of Sri Sathya Sai Baba's teachings, there have to be academic contributions to scholarly literature on religion & philosophy. In my small exposure to scholarly literature on religion I was so pleasantly surprised to see full fledged academic departments not only on religion & comparative religion but also on Hinduism! But almost all, if not all, the top world-level academics of this field today, including academic Hinduism, are based outside India! What a shame! Do you know who is perhaps the leading academic on Hinduism today? It is Prof. Diana Eck from Harvard, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana_L._Eck, whose fairly recent book, India, A Sacred Geography, http://www.amazon.in/India-Sacred-Geography-Diana-Eck/dp/0385531923, is an awesome treat for lovers of Hinduism.

And when, in early 2014, some very strong criticism of Hinduism from other academic specialists in Hinduism, like Prof. Wendy Doniger of the University of Chicago (among other things, she claims that it is established or something like that, that Rama is a fictional character!), made it to mainstream Indian print media (like The Hindu), did one academic from the Sai university write anything about it, at least on some blog somewhere? If they did, I did not come to know of it.

The same Rama took Avatar again as Sathya Sai and founded a university. I would have expected that university to have been at the forefront of the academic criticism of Wendy Doniger's claim that Rama has been established to be a fictional character. Instead, it was others in the country (Mr. Dinanath Batra) and abroad (notably Rajiv Malhotra, a US based NRI) who challenged Wendy Doniger but as they were not proper academics their challenge was more in the media and in the court of law in India.

BTW I have written strongly against Wendy Doniger's claims and participated in The Hindu article web pages' discussions on the matter, both of which can be viewed in my blog post here: http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2014/02/book-having-baseless-criticism-of-hindu.html. If any academic of the Sai university has done something similar in public please let me know of the blog post url/link or equivalent.

I did not mention my blog post to boast about what I have done, though some may level that criticism at me. I mentioned it and the rest of the stuff in this comment (post) to show that there is an urgent need for Sai university academics to contribute to (publish articles in) academic literature on religion and Indian philosophy, as that is vital to cement a place for Sathya Sai teachings/philosophy in scholarly literature on religion & Indian philosophy.

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