A Brief Note on Madhvåcårya, Yoga, and Inappropriate Appropriation

How to Cite

Deepak Sarma. (2022). A Brief Note on Madhvåcårya, Yoga, and Inappropriate Appropriation: Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 14(1), 177–184. Retrieved from https://ivsjournal.com/index.php/jvs/article/view/96


Cultures often change by appropriating themes, practices, or doctrines from one community or culture (the “source community/ culture”), adopting and adapting them, and then making them their own. The Advaita School of Vedånta, for example, has taken a number of Buddhist doctrines and modified them so that they would fit Advaita parameters. Though members of the source culture are often flattered by the attention and what is, ostensibly, respect paid to them, there are also times when they find that their beliefs or practices have been altered in ways that seem offensive, sacrilegious, or bereft of the original or the intended sacrality. How are
Jews, for example, to understand Britney Spears’ and Madonna’s fascination with Kabbalah? Should Jews be pleased or offended when Spears’ or Madonna’s fans wear tank tops with Kabbalah images? If they are offended then should fans be forbidden from wearing them? More formally, are there practices or beliefs that cannot or should not be taken out of the appropriate or prescribed context? If there are, then do the members of the source culture have the right to demand that appropriated practices or beliefs must be followed properly? If members of the source culture have had their sentiments hurt is this sufficient criteria to restrict or control appropriation? Or, as Brown proposes in his Who Owns Native Culture?, is cultural theft by colonizing cultures preventable only via legal means such as enforcing intellectual property rights.

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