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By Vinay Lal

Deals a advisor to the foremost philosophical, literary, mythological and cultural traditions of this terribly assorted and pluralistic religion.

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Sometimes Ravana is elevated for loftier reasons. He may represent the traditions of pre-Aryan India in which tribal loyalty was supreme. Ravana was extremely solicitous of the welfare of his kith and kin. His devotion to Shiva was exemplary. There are many Ramayanas, and even Ramayanas within Ramayanas. The celebrated Indian writer Ananthamurthy speaks of a Kannada version in which Sita insists on accompanying Rama into the forest. Rama refuses. The self-reflexivity of some Hindu traditions has distinctly postmodern features.

41 Ahimsa or Non-Violence Is there anything common to Buddhism and Jainism? Both religions arose from the soil of India. The Buddha and Mahavira were born into Hindu families. Both religions rejected the caste system, the authority of the Brahmins, the ritualism of the Vedas and abstract thinking. 42 Lokayata: Indian Materialism Another response to Brahminism came in the form of avowedly materialist schools of philosophy. The most notable of these is called Lokayata [from lok, meaning people]. The name is telling, since Lokayata refers to the "philosophy of the people".

The Upanishads posit the idea of a unitary, all-pervasive reality which is called Brahman. Thus the formulaic expression, neti, neti: Brahman is "not this, not that". To be fully human means to aim at self-realization, to an understanding of the fact that Brahman, the Universal Soul, and the Atman, or the Individual Soul, are but one and the same thing. 33 Svetaketu's Story Philosophical dialogues and narratives are deployed to convey the Upanishadic conception of the Brahman and the nature of knowledge.

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