- Mar 2013
- Edwardsville, Illinois, USA
You make some good points here, especially the last two sentences. I completely agree that traditional religious beliefs should be re-evaluated and social values based on traditional interpretations of scriptures are in many cases degrading and harmful if looked at by modern standards. This does not just apply to Hindu scriptures, but also to the Bible and Qur’an. I think scientific analysis can help to undo some of that by showing where literal interpretations can’t be correct because they would be contrary to evidence and fact, which forces a reinterpretation of the scriptures.There are sufficient studies and indological findings about the origin of the texts and the chronological order, more than enough.
As the Indian traditions cannot be measured against scientific standards, because the formation of myths is a decisive factor, scientific research is usually rejected.
It is assumed that scientific research deliberately reinterprets history for colonialist reasons or wants to present it as less authentic than Christian history (because research is of course so interested in strengthening Christianity, ehmm).
In short, a great conspiracy theory against science, which claims it has a vile motivation not to undergo historical-critical research.
Very interesting are the Puranas. The Puranas are stories, a wild mixture of invented, distorted or even true narratives. Each Indian religious current creates its own stories to confirm its own convictions.
They are all considered authentic knowledge as long as they share the conclusions of the original scriptures. In Western society this would rightly be answered with a shake of the head.
If one would open oneself to science and admit that these texts are not 10000 years old or similar, perhaps the social aspects contained in them would be questioned. This would of course mean that some social structures would have to be questioned. For example, the position of women, caste system and similar.
That doesn’t make any new interpretations people may come up with correct, of course. A new revelation from God is needed to set the standard for understanding past scriptures, just like the New Testament provides keys to understanding the Old Testament which are frequently different from traditional interpretations by the Jews, and the Buddha provided a very different understanding of Hindu traditions that existed at the time. Baha’u’llah provides a very different understanding of past scriptures as well, which to me both makes better sense than traditional interpretations and also speaks to my heart and spirit. That is a key difference between a strictly scientific approach and a new divine revelation, science speaks to the mind, true revelation speaks to both mind and heart.