The Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology

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University of California Press, 1980 - History - 411 pages
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In this pertinent and valuable study O'Flaherty answers the crucial questions such as, what solutions did the Hindus offer to the problems of evil? How did these arise and develop historically? And, how if at all can these various solutions be subsumed under a unified world view? The problem of evil, in particular the question of theodicy, has long been overlooked or misunderstood by Indologists, who have maintained that there is no problem of evil in Indian thought, or that it was "solved" by the doctrine of transmigration and karma. Writers on Indian philosophy have touched upon the problem but no one has treated the extensive mythology of evil in Vedic and Puranic texts, which offer the full range of Indian approaches to the problem. The intense emotional weight of the question of evil drove Hindus to generate literally hundreds of diverse and often contradictory alternative answers, presupposing but quickly transcending the logical yet unsatisfying "answer" offered by the doctrine of karma. The very bulk of these texts indicates the importance of the subject in Indian thought, and the failure to take into consideration some of the rather idiosyncratic Indian attitudes to this most basic problem has led to widespread misunderstanding of Indian religious thought in general.
  

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The belief of the Hindus was that all Hindu scriptures were holy and sacred and therefore it was sacreligious to produce manuscripts or books. Hindu scriptures remained mnemonic right from the beginning of the birth of Hinduism. During the long periods of Hindu (Guptas and their successive dynasties, southern kingdom of Vijayanagar and Mahrattas) and Muslim rule, Hindu Scriptues such as the Vedas, the Ramayana, the Mhabharata, the Puranas and other devotional songs and prayers were not preserved in manuscripts or printed books However, it was due to the ingenious ideas of William Jones, Colebroke and Wilson that a new face to Hinduism was crafted. British scholars of Asiatic Society ‘constructed’ a new Hinduism by utilizing fake contemporary manuscripts and projecting them as genuine. Wellesley established in 1800 Fort William College, modeled on Oxford or Cambridge, with a staff of professors teaching Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Sanskrit, as well as courses on Muslim and Hindu law, English jurisprudence, and traditional European studies such as the classics.The British scholars of Asiatic society employed Sanskrit-knowing Brahmin priests to recite from memory century old Hindu scriptures Scientists say that memory loss begins at the age of 40. Brahmins recited by including many Christian and contemporary ideals which were popular in Calcutta at that time to make Hinduism modern. Even Indian History was constructed by British scholars from scratch. The Indus Valley civilization was brought to light by John Marshall and the very existence of Emperor Ashoka was revealed to the world by James Prinsep in 1837. According to Thapar, British scholars of Asiatic Society “constructed Hinduism.” So it was a new, remodeled and expurgated Hinduism written in chaste English including Christian and contemporary ideas that was presented to the West to get their admiration.  

Contents

TIME FATE AND THE FALL OF MAN
14
THE NECESSITY OF EVIL
46
GODS DEMONS AND MEN
57
THE BIRTH OF DEATH
212
CROWDS IN HEAVEN
248
GOD IS A HERETIC
272
3 The problem of imitation 286 4 Gautama and the Seven
310
GOOD AND EVIL WITHIN MAN
321
gration
360
THE MANY PATHS OF THEODICY
370
The one and the many 370 2 The varieties of Hindu experience
376
INDEX
397
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