"Today there is no living Hindu society in India. The process of decay of Hindu society and religion, which must be distinguished from Hindu spirituality, began very long ago.... So far, I, for one, have seen no signs of a genuine renewal. And the future is dark; more so because our vision is obscured by a false light." With these challenging words, "The Crisis of Hinduism", the last chapter of the present volume, begins.
The distinction between Hindu religion (which is inseparable from Hindu society, and susceptible of decay) and Hindu spirituality (which is perennially alive) is not a mere hypothetical or heuristic device: it is presented by Saran as an essential aspect of the ever-irreducible Mystery of autology (Amavidya) which lies at the center of the coterminous reality of Man and Tradition. Plumbing the depth of the predicament of contemporary Hinduism from this radical ontological perspective, Saran shows that a fatal confusion between the two (Hindu spirituality and Hindu religion) has underlain the "false consciousness" of the Hindus which began with their encounter with Islam, developed in the Bhakti movement, and further and further advanced through the religio-social (both reformist and revivalist) movements under the British rule down to the present day-when it has taken the most corrosive form, i.e., the ideology of "synthesis of tradition and modemity".
Together with this monumental work, the present volume collects Saran's three other essays focusing on the nature of Hinduism and its contemporary situation, including another representative writing of his, "Religion and Society: The Hindu View" (the first chapter) which, while revealing the essential inadequacy of modern sociological approaches to Hinduism, directly tries to illuminate the traditional Hindu social system from its own central frame of reference, viz., the autological question "Who am 1?"
Professor A. K. Saran (1922-2003) is known as one of the most radical spokesmen of Tradition in today's world. Following contemporary exponents of Philosophia Perennis such as Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, René Guénon, Marco Pallis and Frithjof Schuon, Saran especially took on the negative side of the task as his vocation-i.e. breaking of the "spell" by which modern man has been deluded into the suicidal pursuit of a mirage, becoming utterly forgetful of who he is and of the eternal truths that Tradition embodies.
Serving for a long time as a teacher in the fields of social sciences at various universities both at home and abroad, Saran's consistent endeavor was, thus, to work out thorough internal critique of those pseudo thought systems of modernity. This internal critique critique proceeding dialectically from within the very system that is being critiqued is of a quite unique kind: in spite of certain seeming similarities, Saran's critique of modernity is totally distinct from fashionable discourses like that of "alternative outlook", "new age", "postmodem", or "postcolonialism"-all of which, for Saran, are simply new devices for masking the truth.
What characterizes Saran's thinking, in a word, is its dialectic-the one which enables him to go to the very root of the matter while at the same time remaining truthful to the absolute incommunicability of the Mysterium Magnum.
CIHTS is bringing out his Collected Works under the Samyag-Väk Special Series. So far ten volumes have been published. Forthcoming volumes include:
• Hinduism in Contemporary India
• Sociology in India Critique of Positivism
• Sociology in Crisis
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Art & Culture (739)
Emperor & Queen (491)
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