Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
This looks quite interesting (we haven't discussed Hinduism often from a postmetaphysical perspective):
by Ellis, Thomas Baynard, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
The life and work of Jarava Lal Mehta (1912-1988) exemplifies the religio-philosophical encounter between India and Europe in the second half of the twentieth century. Garnering an international reputation for his work on Martin Heidegger in the 1960s, Mehta's work in the 1970s and 1980s represents aspects of modern Hindu thought seldom encountered in the works of other more popular authors (e.g., Vivekananda, Radhakrishnan, Gandhi). Mehta's works make at least two significant contributions to contemporary scholarship on hermeneutics and the Hindu tradition. First, Mehta articulates a postcolonial hermeneutics predicated on the rupture of the self through the encounter with the other. Second, he delineates a postmetaphysical interpretation of the Hindu tradition based on the withdrawal of the other found in the classical theme of viraha bhakti , or "love-in-separation." In this way, Mehta significantly contests not only forms of perennial philosophy committed to the search for a positive universal ground, but also the monistic ontology of Advaita Vedanta so often privileged by both classical and modern Hindu intellectual traditions. To serve these ends, Mehta proposes the model of the "pilgrim" to represent the self's encounter with the irreducible other. He argues that the pilgrim travels out to an other that interminably resists its intentions and representations: the pilgrim is ontologically incomplete and thus reconciled to its death. Mehta's emphasis on the self's rupture and death consequent to its encounter with the other suggests a significant alternative to the philosophical hermeneutic emphasis on the building up of self through such an encounter. Deploying this hermeneutic of the pilgrim in his interpretation of the Hindu tradition, Mehta suggests that the gopi (milkmaid) represents the postmetaphysical self reconciled to the withdrawn other, thereby displacing the monistic ontology of the Vedanta. To fully understand the complex horizon of contemporary Hindu thought, one must consider the life and work of J. L. Mehta.
Where's Kelamuni these days, I wonder? I'd enjoy his input on this one, I'm sure.
I was wondered the same thing. I think he's busy these days with the 'art of living' instead of philosophical investigations. Though he'd surely dispute this differentiation! (Or would've in the old days.)
I found a text on Mehta's postmetaphysical Hinduism by the same author: On the Death of the Pilgrim: The Postcolonial Hermeneutics of Jaraw....
Here's an excerpt:
Like Mehta's mama and na mama, Kakar also addresses two types of death. He writes, "The fear of death ... contains these two elements: the fear of dependence and obliteration as an individual in the state of fusion (e.g., mama), and the fear or unimaginable loneliness, emptiness and desolation in the state of separation (e.g., na mama)." Indra, of course, celebrates mama, the pole of fusion. He, in this way, would seem to be closer to the classical Hindu 'model': "For Hindus, the 'right,' 'healthy', or 'true' fulcrum on the continuum between fusion and separation is much closer to the fusion pole than in Western cultures." Kakar thus suggests that Hindus classicially privilege Indra's rim, and consequently Vedantic fusion. In fact, is it not the stasis of ritual excess that forms a definitive characteristic of Hindu orthopraxy? Did not the fear of ritual error replace the fear of death? Speaking of a Hindu child's extended family, Kakar proposes, "This 'widening world of childhood' employs religious tradition, ritual, family ceremony ... to shore up family and caste relationships against outsiders, and against the future." Again we see the deployment of ritual to thwart the effects of the future/time/death.
I propose that Mehta's Pilgrim contests precisely this predominant tendency within the Vedanta towards fusion and stasis. I suggest that Mehta's postmetaphysical interpretation of Hinduism in the end comes out on the side of separation and dynamism. Thus, the old order of fusion and Apollonian stasis, that is, the classical Vedantic order, is apparently succeeded. But notice further that Mehta's Pilgrim significantly exceeds Kakar's Hindu psychology as well. For Kakar, death in both its aspects is something which the Hindu fears. Kakar's "Hindu psychology" in effect disallows reconciliation to death. Now, is Mehta's Pilgrim fearful? No. Unlike Indra, Mehta's Pilgrim, Uddhava, becomes a bhakta, and like the gopis, fears not but lovingly embraces the structural separation from Krsna. Death through separation does not entail fear in Mehta's new order. Accordingly, the theme of separation is intimately connected to other themes and exclusions - Vedanta: Purana :: old order: new order :: Apollonian philosophy : ecstatic bhakti :: fusion : separation :: stasis : dynamism :: fear of alienation : embracing alienation :: fear of death : embracing death :: ritual : dance. Mehta's new Hinduism, his post-Vedanta Hinduism, overcomes its liturgical emphasis, for it has overcome the need to conquer the other/the future/deaht through the ritual shoring up of the self. Mehta's new order recognizes structural separation from the other, and thus recognizes the true movement of time. By embracing the na mama, Mehta's Hindu philosophy seemingly overcomes the Vedanta's mama. "Poetry and philosophy, both wordy affairs," writes Mehta, "are expressions of man's irrepressible urge to overcome his finitude, but as forms of mediation, they never allow this distance between man and transcendent reality to lapse totally." In this distance lies the novelty and contingency central to Mehta's philosophy, the "expansion of understanding ... the only safeguard against the dogmatism which ... halts the emergence of novelty."
I thus argue that Mehta escorts Hinduism through the epoch of posts and into the "epoch" of separation, a certain post-Vedanta epoch. For the bhakta/Pilgrim/Mehta, ever other is structurally other. The pilgrim is reconciled to incompleteness and thus to the death of its presumed transcendental identity. In this respect, Jackson notes: For hears his [Mehta's] own deeper cargo was concealed. 'Self knowledge' at the end meant being a pilgrim to one's Ur-revelation or spiritual mountain home, joined in postmodern communitas with fellow journeyers, all facing the common fate of losing their breath -- inevitable death." Mehta's Hindu logic begins with a need for fusion and stasis (recall Indra's rim) and ends in a passionate celebration of separation. The withdrawal of the sacred, Krsna's present absence, preculdes precisely such Advaitic fusion and immortality (pp. 192-193).
I can't resist this one: he's postmetaphysical with this mehtaphysics! Which of course is similar in some respects to our forum threads and posts.
The first thing that hits me is its relation to kennlingus fusion-differentiation-integration. Ritual in Vedanta is tied with fusion and stasis (Apollo), for Mehta its about separation and dynamism (Dionysis). They are on/in a continuum. And as noted, Mehta joins the postmodern in this shift to the latter. A worldview is corrected and replaced, and yet some aspects are included. The integration is in how these poles on the continuum are related as a withdrawn "present absence."
Again its about how the integration is generated, how we move from premodern to modern to pomo to popomo. The last 'stage' breaks with the heretofore linear fusion-separation-synthesis logic of stages into translogic. The only hint I have of Mehta so doing the popomo is 'present absence.' Up to that point is sounds a lot like pomo.