Book Review #708

A short time ago I began reading a book, the “Dharma Manifesto,” and promised a review. This post is meant to take care of that.

The book, I bought online for something really cheap like $16-$17. The book itself is written in very easy to understand language. For no more pages than the book has (264 pages), it’s actually a very fast read. The chapters are hardly noticeable since the entire book is pretty much flows from one subchapter to another, which makes it compatible with stop-and-go reading schedules.

Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya is certainly very intelligent and knowledgeable in many important areas of modern life and culture. I believe he holds a Ph.D. and has actually held a number of very unique and history-making positions in his life thus far. His writing, in this book, is concise and very clear. As would be expected with any kind of “manifesto,” the ideas he puts forth in this book are meant to be revolutionary, which he defines as, “…proactive and constructive in nature, rather than merely utopian or reactionary.” Many folks might be turned off by that approach to change, but in this work the manner of presenting his views is actually quite balanced and intense, but neither idealistic nor emotional.

Throughout the book, Acharya-ji touches on a huge variety of topics, some of which I mentioned in my earlier post. On a number of things, I agree with him to one extent or another. My own views can tend to be somewhat strong, and in this way I found interest in Achrya-ji’s words. For example, I at least somewhat agree with him in relation to…

  1. The U.S.’s International Policy must change.
  2. The history and employment of Abrahamic Faiths. (Although, I disagree with his view on the nature of the Truth inherent in each.)
  3. What should be sought in, and expected from, any political leader.
  4. The political and cultural history of India.

Beyond these topics and possibly a few others, I should note that as the page numbers increased I found my alignment with Acharya-ji’s views to decrease. There were a number of areas, which I don’t care to list or go into here, where I disagree with him on.

One thing he wrote on, about which I’m still somewhat unsure how I feel, is the topic of gays. On one hand, his approach seemed level-headed: no persecution. If I recall correctly, and I may not, I think he says that gays are a natural part of the human spectrum. He never actually said there is anything inherently evil in gays. However, he was clear that, while people identifying as homosexual would be left unbothered to live their personal dharmas, in a Dharma Nation there would be no such thing as equality as is known (attempted?) today. There would be no pride events. No marriage afforded to gays. All gays would be expected to live “in the closet.” Acharya is very clear that marriage is an integral part of the structure of societies, without which society would fall. He’s also very clear that marriage is strictly defined as male-female.

Actually, I started the last paragraph saying I’m still unsure how I feel about this. I lied. I’m quite sure. I disagree about as much as a person can in this regard. I do appreciate his level-headed, mostly non-violent approach to gays, but beyond that his view on this goes against my better reasoning.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya religious leaning, I’ll let you know that he’s a strict Vaishnava leader. This isn’t for me, but it’s just fine. In fact, for a brief time, I considered converting to Vaishnavism, with Acharya-ji as my guru. The mantra of his lineage doesn’t mean much to me. Vaishnavism isn’t entirely appealing to me(this is not to imply there’s anything at all wrong with it!), but I was hopeful that this American, non-Indian guru could be the center of my religious home.

I plan to purchase and read one other of Acharya’s books, and will likely write my own review of it as well, but through the Dharma Manifesto I’ve learned much, and a few things have become clear to me.

  1. It’s very likely that Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya will never truly be a leader I look to for guidance.
  2. It’s very likely that I’ll never be a Vaishnav. (Again, this isn’t to knock Vaishnavism in any way. This is just to say that through the example set by this particular Vaishnav leader, as well as the general example set by most of ISKCON-which I think Acharya-ji has ties to anyway, Vaishnavism isn’t home for me. My sincerest kudos to those who are able to find peace by taking refuge within the many folds of Vaishnavism.)
  3. Although I was really excited to have found a politico-Hindu book (it’s still the only book of its kind that I’m aware of or possess), and greatly looked forward to finally having my own political compass, I can safely say that I will likely never call myself a Dharma Nationalist.

Om Shanti!


Dharma Nationalist?

Some time ago, in a manner which I now forget, I came to know of a guru/acharya from Nebraska. He’s known as Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya. As far as the Hindu Dharma is concerned, he’s unique and is really a record setter. Among other accomplishments, he was the first like his self to hold the positions he’s held and he’s certainly the first (since ancient times) to convey brahmana thread to a female. The reactions he’s received as the result of his actions have been enough to prove that he’s not afraid to make waves for humanity’s betterment. I can also vouche, based on personal communication with him, that he’s attentive, super intelligent, and possesses a kind of “shanti” you almost wouldn’t expect. I can’t say he’s a personal guru of mine, but I can say, at least at this point, he seems very worthy of the devotion. He wrote a book, among others, called The Dharma Manifesto. He is the founder of the Dharma Nation Movement, which is meant for “Instantiating Natural Law in Modern Government,” and which seems very interesting to me.

Truth be told, I’m about as familiar with any form of politics as I am with variations of the Chinese language. That is to say, not very. I ordered a copy of The Dharma Manifesto for two main reasons: I enjoy having unique books in my personal library, especially ones pertaining to my own Dharma (this book is currently the first and only “hindu” book I own on politics), and I’m hoping this book will serve as a nice inexpensive investment in my political education. It’s ordered/shipped by Lulu and I was glad to see it arrive actually quite soon after ordering. The Manifesto seems pretty comprehensive, with chapters/subchapters like,

  • Dharma Nationalism and Electoral Politics
  • Usury
  • Flat Tax
  • Ownership Society
  • Class Cooperation… not Class War
  • Neither Capitalism, Nor Socialism
  • Economics
  • Sanskrit: The Universal Language
  • United Nations
  • Russia Policy/E.U. Policy/Isreal Policy/India Policy/Pakistan Policy/China Policy
  • Population Planning and Balance
  • Same Sex Marriage/LGBT Issues
  • Environmental Sustainability and Protection
  • Immigration
  • Strong National Defense
  • Energy Policy/Health Policy
  • Abortion
  • Judiaism/Pauline Christianity/Islam
  • Marxism/Atheism/Satanism

Those listed above are actually mostly subchapters, but should still offer a taste of what the Manifesto will cover.

According to the Dharma Nation website, “Our goal is to establish a government in which the eternal principles of Natural Law are institutionally instantiated, and to create a world of peace, justice, spirituality, reason, and joy.”

I feel like pointing out that Acharya-ji is a sure Vaishnav- which is not a bad thing in the least. The book’s dedications go to two people, one of which is the founder of the Hare Krishna Movement.

I’ve read most of the introduction so far, and have decided to start over, highlighter in hand. (Note: Highlighting in books is typically not my preference, but since I’m generally so clueless about anything political, I’m making an exception on the basis of “quick reference”) If anyone reading this has this book, or is planning to have it, and has any interest in doing an informal kind of book club or otherwise discuss anything they’re read in it, I’d be thrilled.

Om Shanti