[Buddha-l] FW: Buddhist stupa to be moved from NM Petroglyph Park

jo 05jkirk at gmail.com
Wed Sep 26 11:01:42 MDT 2012


I especially love the reference in this piece to geological features named after Hindu gods, by which the author is undoubtedly referring to the Vishnu schist, the Brahma schist and the Rama schist. I saw no objection to the Bright Angel shale, however. I reckon we can eventually expect to see demands that the Hindu features be renamed the Jesus schist, the Paul schist and the Peter schist, to be known collectively as the Holy Schist. And just to be on the safe side, I think the Dox sandstone should be renamed the Orthodox sandstone.

Richard Hayes

A point to note about both authors on these two links is that neither one of them deign to mention that there is a 'Buddha Cloister' also in the Grand Canyon. One also notes that the explorer, Dutton, seems to have been a comparativist rather than a chamber of commerce type.
Start names in the GC here:
Richard having raised the intriguing point about religion associated with our Grand Canyon, 
I lucked out finding these reflections by Indians on the Hindu deity names applied therein. For those fascinated by the spectacular formations of a canyon in the grandest sense of the term, read on:

Vedic Gods names of mountains in the Grand canyon

(This is from an article on a Hindu membership blog titled The Hub, about the Hindu names in the Grand Canyon, cribbed from the link following this one. I found this one first, so no need to include it with the fair use quotes from the next link):

"Dutton's own account of the Canyon furnishes some clues as to how he was thinking. From Point Sublime, where Dutton spent many hours (thus "Point Sublime"), one could detect a long and rather wide promontory that separates the Shinumo Amphitheater from what Dutton called the "Hindoo Amphitheater". He does not say why he called it the "Hindoo Amphitheater", but his remarks on Vishnu's Temple are rather more revealing. Noting the presence of a butte more than 5,000 feet high, "so admirably designed and so exquisitely designed that the sight of it must call forth an expression of wonder and delight from the most apathetic beholder", Dutton found this "finest butte of the chasm" to have "a surprising resemblance to an Oriental pagoda": "We named it Vishnu's Temple." In this species of reasoning, a Vaishnavite temple is no doubt an instance of "an Oriental pagoda", to be amalgamated easily into a generic form of Oriental temple architecture, and until well into the twentieth century, Americans routinely described Hindu temples as 'pagodas': one need not snivel at this kind of Orientalist ignorance. Dutton's remarks on Shiva's Temple are yet more profuse and pointed: describing it as a "gigantic mass", Dutton thought Shiva's Temple to be the "grandest of all the buttes, and the most majestic in aspect, though not the most ornate." But Shiva's face did not present the most benign aspect: the summit looked down 6,000 feet "into the dark depths of the inner abyss" over a succession of impossibly difficult ledges. The butte stands, Dutton wrote, "in the midst of a great throng of cloister-like buttes, with the same noble profiles and strong lineaments as those immediately before us, with a plexus of awful chasms between them. In such a stupendous scene of wreck it seemed as if the fabled 'Destroyer' might find an abode not wholly uncongenial." 

(This author, Vinay Lal, cites the names of Chinese sages Confucius and Mencius, and one Hindu sage, Manu, names unmentioned in a couple of other GC place name lists I found online.)

...It was Dutton, in any case, who decided to give most of the various peaks and buttes in the Grand Canyon their extraordinary names....the Himalayas, that Dutton was thinking of when his explorations carried him into the Canyon. ...The author of a recent monograph on the Canyon states that "to overcome what he [Dutton] considered the linguistic poverty of English, he brought in new descriptive terms from Spanish, French, and even native Hawaiian and scrapped stock Alpine analogies for striking allusions to architectural forms, even those of the Orient." But what were these 'Oriental' architectural forms, and what could Dutton have known of them? And whose Orient is being adverted to? In the mid- to late-nineteenth century, few Europeans or Americans thought of Hindu art or architecture as anything but worthless, and the images of Indian deities were, in the words of one scholar, "much maligned monsters". Little is known of what impelled Dutton to ascribe 'Oriental' names to some of the buttes and peaks in the Grand Canyon, but he did: and so it is that the visitor today may 'worship' at the temples of Mencius, Confucius, and the Buddha, and at these Hindu temples: Vishnu; Shiva; Brahma; Rama; and Manu.
... "Forms so new to the culture of civilized races and so strongly contrasted with those which have been the ideals of thirty generations of white men", Dutton suggested, "cannot indeed be appreciated after the study of a single hour or day." "The first conception" of them might even, Dutton thought, "not be a pleasing one." The engineers were there to plumb the depths of the Canyon, and the book of nature was not there merely for the opening: yet in his quest for names that would reveal the inner meanings and majesty of the Canyon, Dutton had merely to repair to some received notions of Hinduism.

...Though both Emerson and Thoreau had an extraordinarily subtle understanding of Hinduism, their knowledge was confined to some -- albeit an interesting variety -- of the classic Indian texts. They knew nothing of popular Hinduism...All over India, there are barely a handful of temples dedicated to Brahma, and the 'dedication' of a temple to Brahma in the late nineteenth century, as was done by Dutton at the Grand Canyon, cannot be considered as nothing but anomalous. Similarly, it is striking that one of the buttes should have been named after the Indian law-giver Manu, of whom even today only a minority of educated Indians can be said to have any knowledge, and whose name would have been an altogether unknown entity among Americans in Dutton's own time, except of course to a few dedicated transcendentalists. Indeed, G. Buhler's translation of The Laws of Manu in the famous "Sacred Books of the East" Series did not appear in an English translation until 1886, four years after Dutton's Tertiary History, and one can only surmise that Dutton's familiarity with Manu (if it was Dutton who named the butte "Manu", as seems very likely) was gained from Thoreau's and Emerson's concerted efforts to lay the sayings of Manu before an American audience. It was in the early 1840s that Thoreau compiled excerpts from "The Laws of Menu" and had them published in The Dial, the new and short-lived journal of the Transcendentalist group; and it is Manu who is being referred to in Walden when Thoreau praises the "Hindoo lawgiver" for his enlightened view of the human body and its functions. As for Emerson, his journals amply testify to his view of Manu as a wise and lofty lawgiver beyond comparison: if in 1821 he was to write, "As long ago as Menu enlightened morality was taught in India", in 1836 he was adverting to "the brave maxim of the Code of Menu: 'A Teacher of the Veda should rather die with his learning than sow it in sterile soil, even though he be in grievous distress for subsistence.'" 

In having furnished some of the more striking buttes and peaks in the Grand Canyon with Hindu names, Dutton revealed (howsoever inadvertently) something of the reputation that Hinduism had acquired in America, and had given credence (in howsoever unusual a manner) to a formal and textbook interpretation of Hinduism. It is instructive that he was able, without any fanfare or loud trumpeting of the virtues of multiculturalism, to designate the monuments of America's most well-known and beloved rock formation by names that were undoubtedly exotic and remote to the American imagination. Any such endeavor today would be fraught with hazardous consequences, the cultural right heralding such acts of naming as 'politically motivated' concessions to religious and ethnic minorities."

The author goes on to make his case for Las Vegas being a city of Hinduism possibility because of its love of gambling and its visual excess. Summing up, he wrote:

"But whereas Dutton's Hinduism was of the text-book variety, the kind that 'modern' Hindus in America, Britain, Canada, and even urban India so eagerly embrace, Las Vegas brings the true worshipper to a more vibrant understanding of the faith. One begins with illusion and may perhaps graduate from ignorance to knowledge; nowhere else in the world are the senses so relentlessly attacked and do the demons rush in to stake their claims. Here there is no sanctuary, except the inner self of which Hinduism has always spoken; but perchance as this self is no more distinct from the outer self than the seed from the tree, one recognizes that in the noisome and nauseous splendor of Las Vegas Hinduism will find its possibilities and teachings fulfilled."

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