While the Abrahamic religions are wary of relativism out of the fear ofrelativizing the Word of God revealed in the Bible or the Koran, BrahminicalHinduism (and Hindu nationalism) thrives on a hierarchical relativism toevade all challenges to its mystical ways ofknowing. Rather than accept empirical theories ofmodern science as contradicting the Vedantic philosophy--which theyactually do--Hindu nationalists simply declare modern science to be trueonly within its limited materialistic assumptions. They do not reject modernscience (who can?) but treat it as 'merely' one among the many differentpaths to the ultimate truth, known only to Vedic Hinduism.***They do not deny that modern science has discovered some truths aboutnature. But they declare them to be lower-level truths, because they merelydeal with dead matter, shorn of consciousness. Notwithstanding all piousdeclarations of the 'death' of the Newtonian world view of matter obeyingmechanical laws, the fact is that any number of rigorous, double-blind testshave failed to show any signs of disembodied consciousness or mind-stuff innature: matter obeying mindless laws of physics is all there is. But in theVedic science discourse, the overwhelming evidence for adequacy of matter toexplain the higher functions of mind and life are set aside as a result of'knowledge filtration' by Western-trained scientists.Take, for example, the emerging theory of 'Vedic creationism' (whichupdates the spiritual evolutionary theories of Sri Aurobindo and SwamiVivekananda). Its chief architects, Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson,claim that Darwinian evolutionary biologists and mainstream biologists havebeen systematically ignoring and hiding evidence that supports the theory of'devolution of species' from the Brahman through the mechanism of karma andrebirth. All knowledge, they claim, is aproduct of interests and biases. On this account, Vedic creationism,explicitly grounded in Vedic cosmology, is as plausible and defensible asDarwinism, grounded on the naturalistic and capitalist assumptions of Western scientists.Vedic creationism is only one example of 'decolonised science.' Moregenerally, Hindu nationalists routinely insist on the need to develop ascience that is organically related to the innate nature, svabhava or chittiof India. India's chitti, they insist, lies in holistic thought, in keepingmatter and spirit, nature and god together (as compared to the 'Semiticmind' which separates the two). Hindu nationalists have been using thispurported holism of Hinduism as the cornerstone of their argument: anyinterpretation of modern science that fits in with this spirit-centeredholism is declared to be valid Vedic science while naturalistic, mainstreaminterpretations are discarded as 'Western.' The overwhelming enthusiasm forRupert Sheldrake's occult biology (which builds upon the failed vitalistictheories of Jagdish Chandra Bose) and the near unanimous recasting ofquantum mechanics in mystical terms are examples of the kind of hybriditysanctioned by postmodernists.
But it gets worse. Hindu nationalists have been keen on proving that thelandmass of India was the original homeland of the 'Aryans,' and thereforethe cradle of all civilization. 'Vedic Aryans,' on this account, were theauthors of all natural sciences which then spread to Greece, Sumeria, Chinaand other major civilizations in antiquity. To substantiate these claims,all kinds of modern scientific discoveries are read back into the Rig Veda,the most ancient of all Vedas. But such boastful claims raise the questionof methodology. How did our Vedic forebears figure out the speed of light,the distance between the sun and the earth and why did they code it into theshape and size of fire altars? Similar questions arise for the more generalclaims that are basic to Hindu metaphysics, namely that there is a higherrealm of ultimate reality (Brahman) that cannot be assessed through sensorymeans. How did our Vedic forbears know it exists and that it actuallydetermines the course of evolution of species, and makes the matter that weall are made of? How can you experience what is beyond all sensoryknowledge? But even more important for the claims of scientificity of theVedas, how do you test the empirical claims based upon that experience?Here one finds an incredibly brazen claim: Because in Hinduism there are nodistinctions between the spirit and matter, one can understand laws thatregulate matter by studying the laws of the spirit. And the laws of spiritcan be understood by turning inward, through yoga and meditation leading tomystical experiences. Within Hinduism, it is as rational and scientific totake the non-sensory 'seeing'--that is mystical and other meditativepractices--as empirical evidence of the spiritual and natural realm. Thispurported scientificity of the spiritual realm, in turn, paves the way fordeclaring occult New Age practices like astrology, vastu, quantumhealing, and even yagnas as scientific within the Vedic-Hindu universe.
Rather than encourage a critical spirit toward inheritedtraditions, many of which are authoritarian and patriarchal, postmodernistintellectuals have waged a battle against science. As the case of Vedicscience in the service of Hindu nationalism demonstrates, this misguidedattack on the Enlightenment has only aided the growth of pseudoscience,superstitions and tribalism.