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Thread: Rajiv Malhotra's U-turn theory

  1. #1
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    Rajiv Malhotra's U-turn theory

    Topic: The U-Turn Theory: How the West appropriates Indian culture

    Speaker: Rajiv Malhotra
    Chair: Prof. Girishwar Misra.
    Date and time: Friday, March 1st, 2006, 2-5 pm
    Venue: Main Psychology Lab, Dept. of Psychology, University of Delhi.

    There will be a short Mantra invocation by Shruti before the talk.

    Abstract: Westerners appropriate Indic ideas through a process which
    Rajiv Malhotra has called the U-Turn. In its basic form the U-Turn
    Theory states that a member of the dominant Western culture first
    whole-heartedly learns the Indic tradition. He or she, for a variety of
    reasons, then repackages it and projects the knowledge gained from
    India from within his/her own culture. The next thing you know is that
    s/he claims these ideas were always an integral part of Western
    culture. Some, but not all, also start demonizing the source Indic
    traditions using a lot of pretexts, such as calling them "world
    negating" or accusing them of "human rights" abuses. As an
    example, Malhotra has examined on how Jung appropriated much from Indic
    thought - including key ideas of collective unconscious, archetypes,
    and synchronicity - but did the classical U-Turn from Indic thought. In
    all, Malhotra has done 50+ case studies of such U-Turns, and each has
    its own story as to why and how it was done. U-Turns have played an
    important role in shaping Western ideas, literature and popular
    culture; yet they are typically ignored in discussions on the history
    of ideas. The U-Turn Theory also explains that many Indians internalize
    the Western adaptations of Indian culture and re-import them into
    India: For instance, Tantric healing is more fashionable as "energy
    healing" or as reiki; yoga's return to India's Westernized middle
    class owes a lot to the West's adoption of it; and Western research
    on cognitive science and neuroscience includes yogis who are mere

    About Rajiv Malhotra: Rajiv Malhotra is a US based public intellectual
    whose research includes the study of Western society's complex
    relationships with India. In particular, for the last ten years, he has
    been researching the Inner Sciences combining the Indic and Western
    perspectives. He has debated a variety of Western systems, such as the
    Science & Religion paradigms of Templeton Foundation, Ken Wilbur's
    claims to Integral Psychology, Jung's encounters with Yoga, the
    Christianization of Yoga, etc. In parallel, his Infinity Foundation has
    pioneered investigations into the Science of Consciousness at US
    institutions such as: University of California, Institute of Noetic
    Sciences, Kira Institute, MIT, Association of Transpersonal Psychology,
    etc. For eight years it has also had a research and teaching program on
    Indian Philosophy and Psychology at University of Hawaii. It also
    funded a pioneering non-duality curriculum Columbia University.
    Infinity started the 'Yogapsychology' Internet discussion group of
    international scholars and intellectuals. Infinity has sponsored
    academic scholars and programs in India, such as: International
    Conference on Integral Psychology, Pondy (2001); National Seminar on
    Psychology in India, Kollam (2001); IIT Kharagpur Conference on Mind
    and Consciousness (2002); National Conference on Yoga and Indian
    Approaches to Psychology, Pondy (2002); National Institute of Advanced
    Studies, Bangalore (2003); Institute For Human Science & Service,
    Andhra University (2003-5); Indian Psychology and Yoga Conference,
    Pondy (2004); IIT Kharagpur Conference on Indian Theories of Death &
    Dying (2005). It has sponsored the research and/or publishing of
    various books on Consciousness and Psychology, such as: "Psychology
    and its Transformation, Meditation Systems of the World" (Jonathan
    Shear); "Kalachakratantra" (Vesna A. Wallace), "Integral
    Psychology of Sri Aurobindo" (Don Salmon). It is funding the
    development of a college textbook series on Indian approaches to
    Psychology. Over ten years, Infinity Foundation has given about 250
    grants for research, education and philanthropy, to institutions as
    well as about 100 individual scholars. Mr. Malhotra was been appointed
    to the Asian-American Commission for the State of New Jersey, where he
    served as the Chairman for the Education Committee to start Asian
    Studies in schools. He also serves on the Advisory Board of the
    American Red Cross in New Jersey. Details of the Infinity Foundation's
    projects may be found at:

    The Department of Psychology, Delhi University looks forward to having
    you with us for this interesting event. It is open to the public.

  2. #2
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    December 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
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    Re: U-Turn Theory

    Interesting read. I am sad about the western influence on India. I regret that my country (USA) is corrupting my spiritual homeland (India). I support Hindu Nationalism in India and when the cause wins I hope they kick out all western influence but allow devoted westerners and other non-Indian Hindus (Bailinese, etc) unrestricted access.
    May the Supreme Spirit illumine us!

  3. #3

    Exclamation Re: U-Turn Theory

    Well, as a westerner, and a armchair theologian (I like to learn about all religions) I can say there is a very disturbing tendency to "borrow" from other religions to go on to whatever core Ideology they believe in. You have "Zen" everything, for instance.

    One particularly insidious example is how the west treats Kali Ma. You have new agers, neo-pagans, Wiccans, etc. saying "Oh, Kali is a dominant form of the Goddess, great for protecting and empowering women" and they just take her in as a convenient symbol, out of very many on the one hand and in the other you have satanists, occultists, black magicians, etc. saying "Kali is the symbol of death and destruction, she is the black goddess" and incorporate her as a convenient symbol, out of very many. The problem is, is despite her being a dominant protective force and the system of creation and destruction (She is NOT a goddess of death, for sure) she is not limited to only these two views, or any one aspect, do to her very being.

    When you take a Hindu Deity out of Hinduism, it loses the respect needed for it. Now, for people who follow her, like I do, she is the Isvari (I believe that is the right word for Ishvara in the feminine), the supreme being, as many would say Durga Ma is, or Sri Lalita-Tripurasundari, is, or whatever form of Devi Ma is deemed supreme and the others forms of the one Devi Ma, just the same as a Lord Shiva or a Lord Vishnu Bhakta would say of their Ishvara. Now then, beyond the fact Brahman can be expressed in many forms and many ways of showing himself, but you have to respect him, or her, in the form which is befitting to the Devi or Deva.

    That is not to say a Neo-Pagan, or even a Satanist couldn't be good people, or that their paths wouldn't be personally enriching (I have had nothing but trouble with Satanists but I try my best not to paint with a broad brush, even more so to large groups of people) but they would have to respect the deity and NOT use him or her as a tool, as they do all too often. I have seen neo-pagans try earnestly to also be Hindu with all their might and keep their wiccian identities, to what effect I do not know (I could show a website that Is prominent on my mind to that effect, if you would care to see what it is like, if there is demand for that)

    Now then, I hope I have covered this with tact and gentleness. Thank you all for your time ^_^;
    Last edited by KaliBhakta; 27 September 2010 at 04:24 PM. Reason: Minor typographical fix.
    Salutation be to you O Narayani, O you who are the good of all good, O auspicious Devi, who accomplish every object, the giver of refuge, O three eyed Gauri!

    -Devi Mahatmya Chapter 11, Verse 10.

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    Re: U-Turn Theory

    I think this was a good read. I would have loved to see the entire presentation. There's just one thing I'd like to point out. The westernization of Hinduism is not something that only happened through western people. The Indian gurus who went to the USA actually encouraged people to let this happen. They are equally responsible. This is not an ethnic thing, white versus brown, people with Indian background and westerners collaborated in this.

  5. #5
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    Re: U-Turn Theory

    Wow! Did Rajiv Malhotra hack into my mind and write this? LOL..

    This is exactly what is happening and attention needs to brought to the public.

  6. #6

    Re: U-Turn Theory

    This is great, I wish this was spread more throughout academic, religious and international circles.

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    Re: U-Turn Theory

    Rather than seeing Hinduism "Westernized," I'd like to see the West more "Hindu-ized."

    As I've stated before, I am a firm believer in the "Out of India Theory," that pre-Christian Europe is primarily a result of migrations out of India. This is different from the "Aryan Invasion Theory," which was based on Biblical nonsense and White Supremacist ideology...and espoused the idea that a pre-Vedic society colonized India, created its culture, then ran off to Europe. (Yes, an oversimplification...but I think most people here are probably familiar with it...)

    The OOI Theory however, states that the European cultures and religions were essentially created from the remnants of Vedic culture, which just took on different regional differences over the centuries, creating the different Celtic, Roman, and Norse names for the same Vedic gods and goddesses.

    Indeed, if you study ancient Roman Religion (Religio Romana), you find that it was, for the most part, very similar to Vedic religion. And when the Romans went to another area, Celtic, Norse, or even Indian, they just said to themselves, "Oh I see you call Jupiter by a different name here!" They understood that their religion was the same, or at least as much the same as other Hindu beliefs from different regions can be called "the same."

    It's late, and I'm rambling, but my point is that frankly...Hinduism is far more "Western" in spirit than any of these Middle-Eastern religions with their "We're the only way! Convert or die!" mindsets. I think there is something deep within the Western psyche that realizes this, and that is why Westerners often try to "reclaim" this lost heritage. HOWEVER, it should be done by going to the source...HINDUISM...THE VEDAS...INDIA...rather than trying to appropriate this knowledge and call it something else.

    Let's face it: Christianity has had almost 1700 years to basically destroy everything pre-Christian in Europe, and has largely succeeded. Anything left in the West is but a shadow, an imprint of a Golden Age. But the only way back to that knowledge is through humility, and that can't be attained if one still clings to aspects of those Middle-Eastern religions that led to the Dark Ages...or tries to repackage Vedic knowledge by calling it something else.

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    Re: U-Turn Theory

    Quote Originally Posted by Sahasranama View Post
    I think this was a good read. I would have loved to see the entire presentation. There's just one thing I'd like to point out. The westernization of Hinduism is not something that only happened through western people. The Indian gurus who went to the USA actually encouraged people to let this happen. They are equally responsible. This is not an ethnic thing, white versus brown, people with Indian background and westerners collaborated in this.
    Good point, there's no reason to blame any particular ethnic group for this. But whoever's fault it is, I have to say that Hinduism as seen by the West is very different than how I understand Hinduism, and I've lived in the West my whole life! Pretty much everything I know about Hinduism I learned at home from my parents, so it actually came as a surprise to me when I went to college and started hearing Westerners comment on my religion, and I often had to respond "uh...we don't believe/do that."

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    Re: U-Turn Theory

    Since I'm a student of Jung I'd just like to say a few words.

    In the introductory confereces on Analytical Psychology that Jung gave on Tavistock he stated:

    "We, the europeans, are not the only creatures in the world. We are just a peninsula of Asia, and in that continent there are old civilizations, where people trained their minds in introspective psychology for thousands of years, while we started our psychology not yesterday, but today morning."
    In the same conference he made reference to chakras (specifically the manipura chakra) and stated clearly that this was knowledge of the yoga tantra.

    When I was beginning to study Jung (and was also complete lost in relation to vedic knowledge) I always asked myself: Where's the psychology in the vedas? Where is it? Little I knew that the difficulty to realize was because EVERYTHING was the psychology. Psychology itself is scientific/empiric way to analyze the products of the soul.

    Notice that Malhotra states on this document:

    Jung was aware of quite sophisticated psychological theories of Indian schools of thought, and made explicit mention of them.
    Another thing is Jung at the end of his life was leaning a lot towards accepting reincarnation and when he was hospitalized at his later years he had visions that he was floating Earth and he approached a Hindu temple up there. Anyhow, my concern is just how the image of Jung may be presented, perhaps as just another plagiarist, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

    And Sahasranama that's a great document, for me specially the comparison of Jungian theory and Hindu knowledge is very important. Thank you for posting it here.

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    Re: Rajiv Malhotra's U-turn theory

    Last edited by Sahasranama; 13 August 2011 at 03:52 AM.

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