We, at Muktodhara feel very honoured by publishing your thoughtful article. I have read in full, and will read few more times; but I have some questions on the very basic premises on which you approach the subject.
From a stand point of 2015AD for a person like me, Religion is basically a two pronged issue. (1) Is religion a study of Truth? If so, then considering the diverse nature of so many religions small and large, it appears that religious Truth is highly dependent on the state of mind. In short Truth then is not exactly an absolute phenomenon, as is commonly understood, but a reality taking on different shapes to different persons in different localities. Comparative study of Religion becomes a complicated issue in this case. (2) Is Religion a social engineering effort born out of urge/need to form a cohesive society with common values. Gradually religious groups formed, society was made more cohesive by elaborate extension of the basic premises of religion. If this is the case, all religions have something in common, and perhaps comparative religion studies become little more comfortable to deal with. I am a bit unsure about the role of philosophy in dealing with comparative religion studies as whether philosophy (1) Evaluates the religious Truth, and the methods of ascertaining the Truth (2) Studies the nature of cohesive forces bonded by religion within society or (3) tries to ascertain the position of the Man with religious Truth at one co-ordinate and the cohesive forces in society at the other co-ordinate (may be, or both at same co-ordinate).
In fact I have quite a few queries cropping up one after another, and I really do not know if it will be too naive to raise them.
Eager to put on board some more issues which I think might prick a few minds who are not exactly familiar with philosophy as a scholastic study. In fact I really do not know if Philosophy and ‘Dharma’ as you elaborate according to Tagore are different entities.
Ashadi, thank you again for this wonderful effort.
Prof Asha Mukherjee
Thank you for all the interest for loading my published article on muktodhara, I hope this way it will reach to many more people.
I have just had a look at your comments.
Frankly speaking the search for Truth is The goal in every pursuit of knowledge. The Truth is also relative to the discipline. Truth in science depends on basically empirical investigations and predictions but truth in philosophy is a constant process of discovery by using critical tools, analyzing and questioning everything specially the foundations and presuppositions.Thus, philosophy could be of anything and of everything. Philosophy of religion is also a branch of philosophy.
BUT the real problem arises when we make a distinction between the PHILOSOPHY itself such as Indian Philosophy and Western Philosophy. It is often argued very strongly that Indian Philosophy is a PHILOSOPHY in very different sense. Amartya Sen also had to write a book called ARGUMENTATIVE INDIAN to prove that Indian Philosophy is not RELIGION or just spirituality but PHILOSOPHY in argumentative sense. All traditions of Indian Philosophy are not just a matter of faith in God, World, Maya, dharma, and rebirth but are philosophical positions where they enter into serious arguments.
One can just go on writing about TRUTH which is not out there, discovered by people in some sense but also in some sense it is “out there” independent of me/us. It sounds a bit contradictory but it is synthesis which one has to realize through one’s own experience, one’s own study, once’s own creativity and I guess this is what Tagore is also talking about-synthesis at every level!
I hope this makes some sense to you.
Regards and best,
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