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Forthcoming Title – The Indian Diaspora: Hindus and Sikhs in Australia

hindu temple australia

Purushottama Bilimoria, Jayant Bhalchandra Bapat, Rev. Dr. Philip Hughes

Since the late 1990s, the Indian community in Australia has grown faster than any other immigrant community. The Indian Diaspora has made substantial contributions to the multi-ethnic and multi-religious diversity within Australia. The growth of Hinduism and Sikhism through gurus, temples, yoga and ritual of many kinds has brought new colours, images, customs and practices to the profile of Australian religion, and the Australian landscape more widely. At the same time, Hinduism and Sikhism have themselves been transformed as Hindus and Sikhs from different parts of India as well as Fiji, Malaysia and other parts of the world have come together to establish a pan-Indian ethos. Hindus and Sikhs here have also interacted with other sectors of the Australian population and with religions from the Western world. This is the theme of this book. The Indian Diaspora covers the theory of diaspora, the historical development of the Indian communities in Australia since the late 19th century to the present times, current practices and statistical profiles of Hindus and Sikhs in Australia, and interactions between Hindus and Sikhs with the wider Australian community. There are case studies of the Indian students and women in the Australian community, of Indian communities in Melbourne and South Australia, and of temple building.

The book has been edited by and contains contributions from Purushottama Bilimoria, an internationally known scholar of philosophy and religion, Jayant Bhalchandra Bapat, one of Australia’s most senior Hindu priests and a scholar of Hinduism, and Philip Hughes, a leading analyst of the religious profiles of the Australian people. It also contains contributions from several other prominent scholars. Included are special essays on the importance of diaspora by the late Ninian Smart and on the 19th century Afghan cameleers and Indian hawkers.

Purushottama Bilimoria studied Philosophy, Sanskrit and Indian Religions in India, Australia and Oxford. He is the Editor of Sophia Journal of Philosophy and Religion, and the International Journal of Dharma Studies. He teaches, researches and publishes widely in Australia and the United States – on Indian ethics, Gandhi and global civil rights, Indian personal law and justice, diaspora studies and Indian dance in Australia.

Jayant Bhalchandra Bapat is a Hindu community elder and a priest in Australia and holds a doctorate in Organic Chemistry and Sociology. Currently, he is an Adjunct Research Fellow at Monash University Asia Institute and has published widely in Hinduism studies. Dr. Bapat’s research interests include Hindu goddesses, diaspora studies and temple priests and rituals. He has edited two books in this field.

Rev. Dr. Philip Hughes has been the senior research officer for the Christian Research Association in Australia since 1985. His research projects engage cross-cultural and multi-faith discourses. He is editor of Australia’s Religious Communities: A Multimedia Exploration. Dr Hughes is an honorary research fellow at Edith Cowan University and the University of Divinity, as well as a minister with the Uniting Church in Australia.

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Ayurvedic Astrology

vedic astrology

Ayurvedic Astrology

History and Insights from the Ancient Vedic Periods

Durgadas (Rodney Lingham)

 

Review: Gwendolyn Taunton

 

This is an intriguing gem of a book which is suitable for anyone interested in its signature topics; Ayurveda and Astrology. A fascinating aspect for prospective readers is the fact that unlike many books on Ayurvedic material, this is not a  ‘New Age’ book written for hippies by fake gurus  – it is a book which deals with the subjects from a traditional perspective. It is also important for readers who have a broader interest in topics relating to Hinduism because astrology has a huge overlap with a number of other areas of Hindu esotericism. That being said, having read both Western and Indian texts on astrology, despite them both being based on the same astrological phenomenon, the Indian system (Jyotiṣa) is significantly more complex because of the way in which natal charts are calculated. Both systems clearly have the same basis and much in common, but Jyotiṣa adds a few extra dimensions which aren’t found in Western astrology. Furthermore, a basic knowledge of Jyotiṣa is also necessary for an understanding of Hinduism, as many rituals and texts have an astronomical or astrological perspective.

This book is a good solid primer for people who wish to explore these areas without having to wade through New Age material, and those who already have an understanding of health and astrology from a Western perspective will be quick to note the similarities and differences betwixt the two.

The book covers topics such as the Eight Limbs or divisions of Ayurveda, Tridoshas (Three Humours), the Guṇas, the integration of spiritual aspects with the material/biological, and other aspects of health. The book also highlights how astrology is connected with astronomy and the Rig Veda.

One particularly pleasant surprise was a section on the Mahavidya (Aspects of the Devī mentioned in Śākta Tantrism and how this is integrated with Ayurveda and astrological factors. Some seed (Bīja) mantras are also included for those who have a bit more advanced knowledge.

Recommended for people who are familiar with alternative medicine or astrology in the West, and who wish to further their knowledge by exploring these topics in the Hindu context, or people who are interested in how these are integrated within Śākta Tantrism.

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Heard about Moorcock?

Heard about Moorcock?

There’s no danger if you haven’t.

Just read chapter ten of Science Fiction Seen from the Right. It will tell you all you need to know.

It’s like this. Michael Moorcock is an English fantasist, born in 1940. Usually, when his work is discussed, it’s all about him having written about the decadent dandy Jerry Cornelius, having edited the mag New Worlds in the 60’s and having written a pamphlet against Heinlein.

I, on the other hand, in Science Fiction Seen from the Right, focus on Moorcock’s fantasy, his Eternal Champion saga. This epic hasn’t been properly estimated in the literary community.

About this saga I for instance say:

The Eternal Champion is a tapestry of adventure, ontology and moral. The main purpose is entertainment but the saga has a way of sneaking up at you and delivering some profound wisdom. And, to this, some bare-bones nihilism… [however, this] nihilism you have to live with in the Moorcock lands.

There might be some “passive nihilism” in the Eternal Champion saga. Moorcock is no Tolkien. However, Moorcock has many other qualities. He is, indeed, “a myth-maker, an epic fantasist”. And he has written song lyrics for Blue Öyster Cult, like “The Great Sun Jester”: a fine myth that one, a fire clown, going all over the place and lighting up a grey culture.

The chapter in question covers many a good aspect of the Moorcock epic. I also note that Moorcock has some traits in common with Philip K. Dick (1928-1982), uncrowned master of sf. They both wrote short novels, brimming with energy. Then I make this list of what they more have in common:

. Being Men of the Left but not letting this influence dominate their fiction as a whole, making their respective fiction into a tapestry of Life, the Universe and Everything.

. As writers sometimes said to suffer from the hectic pattern of ”having to write another paperback in an instant” but as a mere result the novels seldom came out bad.

. The novels having a slightly repetitive pattern, a kaleidoscope slightly turned around for each new opus, seemingly new and perfectly recognizable at the same time.

. Their novels tend to focus on one hero, venturing out by way of Fire and Movement, the sky’s the limit.

There you have it. Moorcock and Science Fiction Seen from the Right are worth checking up. Apart from Moorcock the book covers fantasy authors like Tolkien, Dunsany, C. S. Lewis, Lovecraft and Robert Holdstock. And in the realm of science fiction proper it looks at Heinlein, Dick, Herbert, Pournelle, Niven, von Harbou, Huxley Boye, Bradbury and Borges. All this, and H. R. Giger, are waiting for you in Science Fiction Seen from the Right.

Related

Info About the Book on My Blog

Manticore’s Presentation of the Book

Buy the Book on Amazon

 

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SF Novels: Three Good Reads

In Science Fiction Seen from the Right I speak about the science fiction genre as I know it. And since I’m a conservative it’s done from a conservative point of view. The book gives you an opinionated overview, presenting 20th century sf literature, film and comics from the angle of eternal values. I’ve mentioned this before on the blog, when presenting the book by looking at Robert A. Heinlein.

Heinlein is a portal figure of the study. And I liked re-reading some Heinlein books before writing it. Now, as for other books I enjoyed checking up I’d mention these three, viable conservative sf classics that have some pizazz, energy and allure to them, in this or the other respect. They convey timeless wisdom and they are good reads.

First, I’d mention Dorsai! (1960) by Gordon R. Dickson. In the book’s chapter 32 I summed it up thus:

With its brainy reflections, its elaborations in a tight but eminently readable framework, Dorsai! is an alltime lodestar, not just of military SF. It’s the novel to read for the executive, responsible mind. Also, Dorsai! portrays a human interstellar culture (= no aliens), thus forming a conceptual chessboard of grand-scale politics, strategy and technology. — Dorsai! burns with a quiet fire, a Dune before Dune, an Asimov with a sense of urgency.

Another sf classic of the conservative kind is L. Ron Hubbard’s Return to Tomorrow (1954). It might not be overly original as such, this story of a young man becoming a spaceman and learning to assume responsibility. However, compared to Robert Heinlein (God bless him) and his similar space stories Hubbard’s had more allure, more basic artistry. In chapter 28 of my study I for instance say this about the book:

This is also a novel about taking responsibility, praising the traditional values of the service life: duty, courage, self-restraint and self-determination. Memorable is a scene at the end where Alan has become the captain himself. A navigator comes onto the bridge and sits down by the plotting table, putting a whisky bottle on it. He’s an alcoholic and the former captain tolerated this drinking while on duty. But now Alan grabs the bottle and throws it into the wall, shattering it. There’s a new regime on deck – Alan’s regime. That’s a symbolic scene of resonsibility and leadership, credible as such, mirroring the life at sea that Hubbard knew as a naval officer. Smashing the bottle (…) brought the message home, that of the Responsible Man taking charge.

Finally, as for discreet sf classics of the conservative kind I’d pick That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis. This is part three of his “space trilogy” — and if part one and two were entertaining reads with a traditional slant then it was all taken to an even higher level in part three, being both an impressive stance against negative nihilism and a good read. In chapter three of my study I say this of the book:

That Hideous Strength (1947) stands in line with Nineteen Eighty-Four, Anthem and Brave New World as a critic of our times, a warning against the forces of nihilism and leveling and an apology for spiritual values and humanity, all the more efficient by being set in contemporary England but still having fantastic elements. And by stressing the need for the spiritual dimension, for individuals to acknowledge the Inner Light, the spark of the Divine Light, the soul-light that essentially makes us human.

There you have it. As intimated all the quotes are from Science Fiction Seen from the Right, published by Manticore Books in 2016, possibly the only modern study conceptualizing the sf genre from a traditional point of view. I mean, virtually all the others are cosmopolitan and left-leaning (q.v. Aldiss, Disch, Lundwall…).

Related

Buy the Book on Amazon

Hommage à Heinlein

Publisher’s Presentation of the Book

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The Power of the Evil Eye

Evil Eye

Juleigh Howard-Hobson

The power of a gaze can be palpable—we’ve all experienced that weird sensation of knowing when someone is staring at us. Perhaps that’s not all we’re feeling.  Perhaps it’s a little more darkly fascinating than that.

While Medusa may have epitomized the power of the malevolent stare, Sumerian cuneiforms from 3,000 BC include references to what we’ve come to call ‘the evil eye’: the ability of negative energies to pass from one person to another solely by the power of vision.

Black magicians know how to harness the power of their eyes to create problems for their victims, indeed, up to about 1736 (when the British witchcraft laws were revised) the ability of a witch to ‘fascinate’, or ‘overlook”, was established fact. Usually, though, the evil eye is passed through envy more than malice (‘envious eye’), and the passer is not aware of the damage that their jealous glance is creating. But, no matter whether it is intended or not, the evil eye can create quite a negative turn for the worse in the life of those who have been ‘blinked’.

Sickness, injuries, lost love, impoverishment, sometimes even death are all the results of an evil eye cast upon a person. And, since more often than not the perpetrators have no intention of putting their envious eyes anywhere, and therefore can show no outward signs (unlike witches and magicians who often sported squints, sties, drooping lids and so forth), there is no telling where anyone might encounter a glance baleful or jealous enough to stick. Or when.

 There is no record of the evil eye having ever been banished. Like so many other ancient beliefs, it has been downgraded from a reality to a myth. Which isn’t all that comforting when you think about how, for the longest time, the city of Troy was considered a myth. Until they found out it wasn’t.

So what can a person do about the evil eye, just in case?

Enter folk and sympathetic magic. In sympathetic magic, it is held that like things can fight like things as homeopathic treatments do today. In folk magic, it is held that a good defense is the best bet. These overlap quite a bit where evil eyes are concerned.

There are as many ways to defeat or cure the evil eye curse as there are cultures, but hands down, the power of an evil eye is best deflected by another eye. Hence the symbol of the protective eye is found just about everywhere human culture is found. From the eyes painted on the prows of boats in the British Isles and rural India, to the Middle Eastern ‘hamsa’ (an amulet of a hand with an eye in its palm), to the Ancient Egyptian Eye of Horus shining out from the American dollar bill, the dark energies of evil eyes are cast back and away even today.  Target-like Greek ‘eye’ amulets and Pennsylvanian Dutch Hex signs that include center circles are symbolic eyes which work as protection devices in the same way.  Interestingly, birds of prey are similarly repelled by large ‘eyes’, whether on insect wings or as representations hung from farmer’s trees–as above so below.

Carrying an eye with you — be it realistic or symbolic, as a necklace, a bracelet, an amulet, a tattoo, a keychain, etc.—is the surest way to go if you don’t want to risk ever being ‘blinked’.  Placing an eye (or a Hex sign) outside your house, in your vehicle, and having one where you sleep are good ideas as well if you’d rather be safe than sorry.

After all, the world is only as fascinating as we allow it to be.

 

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New Book: Richard Wagner – A Portrait

richard wagner, lennart svensson

richard wagner, lennart svenssonFollowing his English language literary debut Ernst Jünger – A Portrait, author Lennart Svensson concentrates his focus on another controversial character, Richard Wagner.

In Richard Wagner – A Portrait Svensson offers a well-rounded biography of Richard Wagner’s life and work. As a long-term admirer of Wagner’s music, Svensson is also unafraid to look at the controversial aspects of the composer’s life – including his relations with Friedrich Nietzsche and the influence his music would come to have in German Nationalist circles and in the work of the Italian poet d’Annunzio.

In addition to relating the personal history of Wagner in the biography, Svensson also examines the compositions themselves, such as The Fairies, Rienzi, The Flying Dutchman, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Wieland the Smith, Tristan and Isolde, The Master-Singers of Nuremberg, The Ring of the Nibelung and Parsifal.

Svensson’s new biography also provides an in-depth analysis of the themes that Wagner chose to work with in his compositions, such as forbidden love, Teutonic mythology, the Grail saga, and tragedy.

Lennart Svensson holds a BA in Indology and his previous works include Antropolis and Camouflage. Ernst Jünger – A Portrait was his debut in English.