Maharshi. So developed my Vedantic view of the world. I developed an interest inVedas and in
(astrology). In the '70s, with the natural healing movement,I became interested in ayurveda.
How would you define your identity?
I usually don't define myself. I define what I do. But I see myself as a bridgebetween the East and the West, the ancient and the modern. My approach toVedic knowledge is interdisciplinary because yoga, ayurveda, Vedanta, Jyotish areall aspects of the culture whose foundations are in the Vedas. Also, in India, I'veaddressed some of the contemporary issues. What is the state of society, whereis it going? At IIT Delhi, I spoke about the current situation, globalization, the ITrevolution, high-tech, and how it can be made relevant in the age of greaterconsciousness that is coming forth.
How do you reconcile with high-tech?
I am not against anything. But the high-tech world is still at the level of information, not intelligence. Intelligence helps you grasp the fundamentalprinciples behind anything. With just a lot of data you don't necessarily reach theright conclusion. The current globalization is at the information level, but to havereal globalization you need a connection at the consciousness level. We excludethe role of nature in globalization. Globalization that destroys nature is notplanetary. It becomes human destruction of the planet.
So you do feel that there is a movement towards one culture.
One culture but in the Vedic sense—pluralistic. Not the triumph of one religion orone language or one race. The American culture is spreading, but it's superficial.Many cultures—particularly traditional, native and indigenous—are beingdestroyed. Just as bio-diversity is necessary for the health of the planet, socultural diversity is necessary for the health of society. Western civilization is toolarge and intensely destructive. It doesn't recognize other cultural paradigms andcivilizational models.
You've had some association with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
A little bit. I've had association with many organizations, the BJP, RSS, AryaSamaj, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the Sringeri and Kanchi Shankaracharyas, RamanaAshram, Pramukh Swami and the Swaminarayan order.
Have you formally converted to Hinduism?
Yes, but it's not a question of conversion, but of finding your dharma. I don'tbelieve anybody is saved by conversion. It's your own karma, your own acts thatsave you. I don't believe that names and forms matter. If somebody is a goodperson, the background doesn't matter. We should judge a person's actions andstate of mind.
But you would call yourself a Hindu.
Yes, because I follow those ideas. I believe that Vedantic philosophy makes themost sense, and I've been following gurus of this tradition like Ramana Maharshi.
Is the Hindu nationalistic awakening good and positive?
I would most agree with V.S. Naipaul. Overall, every awakening has its fringegroups; for instance, when the blacks in America awakened on civil rights issues,there were extremist groups. For Hindus the awakening is necessary today. TheChristians have done it, the Muslims have done it, even the Buddhists have doneit. Hindus need to say that we have a place in the world, we have a point of view,you don't need to step on us.