Don’t Cry Dona from Chicago

By Naveen Chandra

The article The Repression of Religious Studies by Wendy Doniger touches on many topics of which I chose to answer a few.

A. Intellectual Territorial Integrity Violations

Soon after Rajiv Malhotra’s seminal book, The Battle For Sanskrit, came out, scholars from various fields signed a petition to remove Pollock from the leadership of MCLI, among who was Makarand Paranjpe, a JNU professor of English. He answered in his erudite way outlining the reasons why this petition was signed. Either the Dona from Chicago didn’t read it or didn’t understand it or chose to ignore it or all the above, we don’t know. Didn’t she also do a similar thing in the past? Sheldon Pollock himself invaded the intellectual territory of others on August 27, 2015 when he signed a petition to bar Mr. Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister from going to Silicon Valley, which effort was characterized as “far Left” by the Silicon Engineers who signed a counter petition welcoming Mr. Modi, as “a very strong representation from faculty in engineering disciplines, who, arguably, are best prepared to comment on Digital India as well as the Aadhaar program.’ Obviously Pollock’s efforts were not on par with the engineers’ qualifications with the implication that he was not qualified to comment on Digital India.

Qualifications of Sheldon Pollock Questioned

1. Pollock’s previous experience with Clay Library has to be looked into. Translations by Doniger (“Harsh Ratnavali”) and Pollock ("Raghu Vamsa "and "Rasamanjari") were found to be have many pitfalls (https://hrdayasamvada.wordpress.com). His translation of a verse from Chandodogyopanishad was found to contain many errors (http://www.jagritbharat.com/index.php/bfs/browse-shashtrarth/1210-pollock-s-translational-woes-continue-12-errors-found-in-his-handling-of-a-single-two-line-sanskrit-verse.)

2. It is clear that Pollock is man of contradictions. For example in his paper published in 1985 he at one place says sastras are prescriptive followed by the statement later that there were professions which did not follow any sastras. Elsewhere he says at one place Sanskrit helped the languages of Southeast Asia followed by statement that Sanskrit killed those languages.

3. He works a theory, cites data supporting that theory and ignores data that don’t. His theory was that the sastras were repressive of the society. He says these texts are dogmatic, regressive used for political and social oppression, without providing any evidence. People read an Upanishad or one of the Darshanas or Geeta because they find them enlightening, freeing and progressive. He quotes Kautilya who showed disdain for sastras but does not follow up on this stream of thought and ignores it when concluding.

4. For a man who spent 40 years writing about Hinduism his knowledge of his subject matter leaves many gaps. He missed major paradigm shifts in Hindu philosophy - Vedas, Upanishads, Darshanas, Advaita, Visishtadvaita and Dvaita each represented a change suggesting an evolution of thought. He does not mention this most important feature of Hindu philosophy.

5. He said that the worship of Ram is a ‘cult’ popularized around the 12thC to rally the masses against the Turkish invaders by projecting them as the demonic ‘other’. Is he suggesting that Ravana the villain of Ramayana was a Muslim? Even though Ravana was a Brahmin he did not escape punishment for his misdeeds. Historical evidences to Ramayana date back, as Nandita Krishna says, to Lumbini pillar erected by Ashoka in 249 BCE. Famous Sanskrit books such as Uttararamacharita by Bhavabhuti in 8th and Raghuvamsa by Kalidasa in 5Th based on Ramayana were written well before 12th century. In Sangam literature, in the book Puranaanooru, in verse 378, on page 604, there is a mention of jewels of Raman’s wife Sithai. This could have been anytime between 4th Century BCE and 5th Century CE.

6. According to him Mahabharata is the most dangerous political story in the world because it is a deep meditation on the fratricide in civil war. Mahabharata war was not a civil war. It was a war fought between two clans- Kauravas and Pandavas who were cousins not brothers. His admiration for Moguls is well known and he should know that the history of Moguls is the best example of meditation on the fratricide.

7. His opinion that Sanskrit is a ‘dead’ language whose revival was done by barbarous invaders coupled with carefully read this “The German Holocaust was inspired by the Nazis reading of Sanskrit texts” is not evidence based.

8. His statement that Rama didn’t have free will and was a fatalist to accept decisions made by his father assumes that Rama was incapable of making any decisions independently. The events in Ramayana show otherwise- his dealings with Sugreeva, Hanuman and Vibheeshana show him as a very sagacious person and his conduct in War show him as a capable leader and fighter. Sam Harris says,” Decision is already made before you are aware of it. We are not the conscious makers of our actions”, thus nullifying the concept of Free Will. Spinoza thought that there was no Free Will. Thus even the western opinion is divided on this issue. What is Pollock doing criticizing Rama for not having free will?

There are many other issues on which Pollock either does not understand Hindu documents or is willfully misrepresenting them for a higher goal such as breaking up of India. These are enough to show that he is not capable to run a classical library of Indian languages translated into English.

B. Need for Swadeshi Indology

The Battle For Sanskrit argues that South Asian Studies first carried out under the aegis of European Orientalism, and when money ran out there found a new lease under American Orientalism, is nothing but a mutual admiration society that has as put by an observer “little regard to due process, academic rigor and rational approach to theorizing”, as seen by allowing Pollock to formulate theories without evidence as shown above. His theory on oral tradition, his penchant for using outdated works in interpreting ancient Hindu books, his dismissal of ideas that run contrary to his theory without giving a reason or evidence, declaring “social and grammatical orders are related by their very nature” without proof, and his famous contradictions that go unchallenged all point to the breakdown of peer evaluation in the process of publications on South Asian Studies. Is this treatment reserved for Hindu studies alone? Will they make statements like these on other religions? Academic freedom allows classifying Ramayana and Mahabharata under mythology but no book under Islam, Christianity or Judaism is classified as mythology according to Rajiv Malhotra.

Ursula King spins a theory that Vivekananda borrowing ideas from the west such as compassion erected an edifice of modern Hinduism which otherwise did not exist before. This is well explained in Malhotra’s earlier book, Indra’s Net. In doing so he contradicted Adi Sanakara’s theory of attaining mukti from jnaana path alone. This statement became the lynch pin of the entire western Indology that relegates Hinduism to a meaningless conglomeration of a million unconnected narratives, ideas, processes, personalities events and places. In the worst case scenario these Indologists compare Hinduism to Humpty Dumpty put together by Vivekananda with glue of western ideas. For Ursula King nothing seems to have happened in Hinduism in the eleven hundred years from Sankara to Vivekananda which is either total ignorance or total willful misrepresentation of history to undermine Hinduism.

Besides Advaita in the eighth century two other equally important schools of thought emerged one in the eleventh century called Visishtadvaita proposed by Raamaanujaachaarya and the second one in the thirteenth century called Dvaita proposed by Madhvaachaarya. While Advaita in a nutshell says Brahman and Prakriti are same, only Brahman is Real, Ramanuja says they are both same and real, and Madhva says Hari and Prakriti are different and are real, Narayan and Hari respectively taking the place of Brahman in the two traditions. These fundamental differences are debated by scholars showing a robust evolution of thought in Hinduism totally ignored by western scholars. All three Achaaryas as they were known also gave Bhashyas to Upanishads and Geeta in accordance with their theories. Many other thinkers gave interpretations to the three theories themselves essence of which was there were many ways to attain mukti. Sankara wrote three great poems that are the source of puja even today- Bhaja Govindam, Mahishaasura Mardanam and Kanakadhaara stotram evidence that he advocated Karma and Bhakti besides Jnaana as paths to Mukti.

Those who criticize Hindu society for lack of compassion forget David Copperfield, Les Miserables, Count of Monte Cristo, Brothers Karamazov, Grapes of Wrath and others where Western Society’s inhuman behavior towards other human beings is portrayed in great detail. The violence that marked Europe is conveniently forgotten. The colonialism, oppression, suppression, slavery, imperialism are shoved under the rug from everybody’s view. Of all the societies in the past Hindu society was the most egalitarian and giving. Hindus didn’t borrow compassion from the west. The borrowing of compassion was done in the fifteenth century by the Jesuits who took it to Europe where it became digested and now passes on as a western commodity.

Great many western Indologists come with background of Theology, Seminary training and Evangelical fervor, Ursula King, Wendy Doniger and Richard Fox young being the prominent examples. Thus their interest in Hinduism is not limited to an objective study of but to nitpicking and putting down Hinduism paving the way to conversions.

These later day interpreters of Hinduism pay no attention to earlier thinkers like Bailey, Playfair, Voltaire, Hodgkinson, Thoreau, Durant, Emerson, Toynbee, Romain Rolland, Oppenheimer, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Goethe, Mark Twain and others who showered encomiums on Hinduism, but they instead push their critical view to damage Hinduism with sole purpose of . carrying on culturally genocidal conversion. In this they are ably led by Marxists like Pollock who cling onto outdated theories of class struggle that have failed in the erstwhile USSR beside other countries including India.

The contributions made by Hindus are never mentioned in California text books but only negative aspects thanks to South Asian scholars at Universities. Thankfully, there has been a growing chorus of Hindu voices complaining about this now. The utter failure of Max Mueller in writing the true history when added to the current crop make Hindus cringe at the prospect of foreigners writing their history. If somebody said to Gandhi,”France is ruled by French, Germany by Germans, but let us rule India, as we know better”, what would he have said. Furthermore all academic work done in India is ignored by American Orientalists on one pretext or other.That is why there is a need for Swadeshi Indology, a term and concept developed and proposed by Rajiv Malhotra.

C. Book banning case study; Satanic Verses

The author of The Hindus did not in her own words suffer from the case. The book was not banned. It was sold under the counter stealthily. She likes it that she has upped the Hindu objectors. She made money albeit immorally bordering on intellectual dishonesty, whereas Satanic Verses was banned. Does the author claim her book is comparable to Verses in literary values such as style, creativity and language? Why did Verses fail so much financially and faired so much worse politically but excelled intellectually? Why did her book an instrument in the hands of evangelists did better financially and politically but miserably failed intellectually? Does she stop to think? Which book will survive in the long run? Compare the magnanimity of Hindu objectors that allowed the sale of The Hindus to be continued to the dogged, mindless and vicious campaign that banned Verses, a great literary work. By the way on what side is she and her friends are on banning Verses?

D. What does Rajiv Malhotra say?

Rajiv Malhotra says of Pollock, “I found Pollock's modus operandi to be work back from a conclusion, offering selective references to support it, and oftentimes simply base it on an assumption with no evidence to back it.”

We saw above ample evidence for this. Malhotra asks questions such as did Sanskrit prevent anyone from learning, are Hindus fatalists, are sastras repressive, did Vedas prevent growth of knowledge, are the Rishis same as Christian priests of Europe of a bygone era, what is the true meaning of four ashrams, what is the true meaning of four purusharthas, does Karma prohibit meaningful engagements of individuals in making families and communities prosperous, is Sanskrit responsible for German debacle, is Hindu society chaotic, and many others and asks Hindus to learn about their history, practices and greatness much to the chagrin of South Asian Studies scholars who give answers denigrating Hinduism. Malhotra asks Hindus to do poorva paksha and uttara paksha to get to the truth much to the discomfort of American Orientalists. Malhotra brings to the attention of Hindus the works of Reinhold Guenendahl that refute Pollock but does not get the public exposure they deserve as the space is occupied by more wealthy Americans who control the media.

Naturally a truth seeker like Malhotra gets the ire of a prevaricating Dona from Chicago.

F. Brahmins Blamed Again
Dona from Chicago says the wealthy Brahmins in the US support Malhotra in his battle against her and Pollock. American Orientalists’ favourite target finds its rightful place in this write up. Is there any grain of truth in this yarn? Why didn’t the Dona from Chicago do some home work before she made this baseless allegation? American Orientalists have signed close to fifteen petitions against Hinduism, India, Modi and similar causes some time in the numbers that exceeded 500, including the Dona from Chicago. Many of these are also persons of Indian origin. Did she check how many of them were Brahmins? Isn’t it a bit hypocritical to cry that Brahmins support Malhotra at the same time drawing huge support from them to her cause? She is promoting hatred which is illegal in the US and the FBI would like to take a look at her.

Conclusions: American Orientalists are outdated in their knowledge, are prevaricating, are hypocritical, are unscientific, are irrational, are promoters of hatred against Brahmins, are ignorant of Hinduism, lack academic integrity- these are only a few among other character flaws. I as a Hindu would not want them write about Hinduism.



Working draft - Players and priorities in the Kurukshetra

Players and Priorities in the Kurukshetra
By Rajiv Malhotra

While 25 years ago I routinely faced serious resistance from our community when I discussed how our discourse is dominated by outsiders, today there is enough awareness of this problem. Despite this awareness, we have not yet achieved much by way of actually changing the discourse in the mainstream. One of the reasons is that too often our opinion leaders do not start with a clear statement of our goals in the mainstream; they tend to jump ahead to opine or start taking actions that might not be well thought through.

In this brief note, I want to focus one issue one: the relationship between deep structures and superficial discourse. From this follows my analysis of the types of players who are active and what prevents better coordination among ourselves.   

Can superficial involvement topple the deep structures?

There are many levels and sub-levels of discourse, but for my purpose here I will discuss the two extremes (namely, the deep level and the superficial level). My thesis is succinctly stated below.

  1. While mainstream media and pop culture tend to discuss things superficially, there lies a deep level of discourse that requires more specialized expertise to engage. This is where the intellectual power resides. One must drill down to this level to really know what is going on that matters.
  2. Our opponents have worked hard at the deep level for the past several generations. They have systematically established their ideologies, assumptions, loyal players, and the means of knowledge production and distribution. Often, they have not only conceded the superficial level to us as a way to make us happy and complicit, they have also actively helped us at the surface level to seem like allies. By now, very few among us are aware of what goes on at the deep level, and fewer still are concerned about this with enough passion and fearlessness to be able to make any impact. Most of us are negotiating their place within the deep structure controlled by others.
  3. We are micro-optimizing our position in the sense of short sighted improvements and benefits for a few. We are sacrificing the marco situation as a result. We have been doing this for many centuries. First it was the Muslims in control, then the Europeans, and now the Americans. 
  4. Over the past 25 years, there has been a groundswell improvement of public awareness of this predicament. However, not much has been achieved in the deep levels where the structures remain hostile to our civilization. We are fighting superficial battles even after becoming aware of the serious predicament we face.
  5. The deep structures cannot be disrupted by using superficial methods and superficially trained minds. This is where the crux of my issue lies.
  6. The deep level of work required is inherently tough, multi-disciplinary, risky, and there is no quick victory or personal gratification in the conventional sense. In other words, it is thankless work demanding high sacrifice and with high personal risks.
  7. Given the enormity of the deep level challenges, we need multiple experts each specializing in different kinds of issues. There is room for plenty of leadership without tripping over each other or trying to bring each other down. However, we lack such broad vision among many of the leaders. Why?
  8. There is too much opportunism, and this is because the easy/quick superficial levels are more enticing, and because most of our people reward the superficial work. It is a quick way ahead for many. This means there is neglect of the deeper levels, and to much glorification and limelight for superficial work. Many are turning the deep discourse into superficial level for quick fame. Who will do the heavy lifting then?
  9. My advice to individuals wanting to be deeply involved is to pick a movement and dedicate yourself to it.
  10. Match your work with your svadharma, and turn that into your yajna.
But first, I will give a simple overview of the different types of players in the battlefield. Then was can find ways to organize ourselves better to achieve the goal of toppling the deep structures and discourse that we have inherited from the past.

Categories of players

The simple view most of us have is that there are just two kinds of players in the intellectual battlefield, our home team and our opponents. My movement has been to fight those opponents who are the thought leaders, and not waste time fighting the ordinary ones. I choose those opponents where I can make a game changing impact, and especially where others on our ideological side have not taken up the fight yet, or at least nobody has done the heavy lifting required to spark such a fight. I am now doing this kind of pioneering work with Pollock, and I have earlier started similar movements against other heavy weights like Wendy Doniger.

Individuals on my home team are those supporting my strategy, identification of targets, plans and methods. In other words, they must be team players and must have enough tapasya and competence to be useful in pragmatic ways.

However, another major category of players is of those who are not on my home team, who are other pro-dharma leaders aligned with our ideals and fighting for dharma on their own. For example, I have great respect for leaders of dharma such as Dr. Subramanian Swamy and Baba Ramdev, and intellectuals like S. Gurumurthy, Madhu Kishwar and Koenraad Elst, who have each achieved their own independent impact in a substantial way. The diagram below shows these three types of players.





The point to appreciate is that these other dharmic forces (type 3) act independently of my work; but we appreciate each other’s work, try to stay in touch privately and help each other when we can. One can use the analogy of coalition partners – separate identity and organizations, but aligned strategically.

Focus: the type 4 nuisance

I wish life in the kurukshetra was this simple. Unfortunately, much of my energy is wasted on a fourth category of persons. The reason form writing this paper is to draw attention to this group. The other categories are mentioned very briefly just to locate the type 4 group and discuss them in detail.

This is a very large set of individuals acting in disruptive ways while thinking they are helping our cause. To put it simply, these are persons who are unwilling to fit into my home team (type 2) and are not competent enough or effective enough to have become high-impact players in their own right (type 3). I want to discuss this type 4 individual in detail. The diagram that follows shows all four categories I have introduced thus far.

The problem with such misfits can be understood by first appreciating the importance of any enterprise having a common strategic plan. A master chef has a well-developed recipe he wants to make with the help of others, but he cannot afford to allow helpers who have their own recipes no matter how good. Imagine that a chief town planner has developed the master architecture for a major project, complete with standards, methods, priorities and so forth. Then imagine some workers join who don’t want to follow these plans but have their own rival or conflicting ideas. Yet they do not want to go away and take responsibility for developing their own separate town somewhere else. They want to work here but not follow the narrative that has been put in place to guide the project. Any leader would find this behavior an obstruction and look for a way to get rid of such people. The same can be said for someone who joins a surgical team for a complex surgery, but who revolts in the middle of the surgery against the plan being carried out by the chief surgeon. A military commander would not tolerate some on his team that argues in the middle of battle and demands his own approach to battle be carried out instead. These are all examples we learn in the corporate world as team builders and leaders.

There is a time for brainstorming to make decisions, and a time to comply with the team’s playbook once that is set. Too often, I find that we Indians lack this kind of team dynamics and there tends to be internal fighting when the focus ought to be to unite against the opponents out there.

In my career as an entrepreneur, I used to offer such rebellious but otherwise intelligent individuals a chance to lead their own project, one in which they would be the boss. Many did take up such challenges and performed very well. They would be classified as type 3 in the above diagram – i.e. those cut out to be their own autonomous leaders. But many such rebellious individuals were not capable to lead their own ventures, because they lacked the necessary strategic thinking, leadership experience and risk taking. They were not cut out to take responsibility and be accountable for producing the results expected. Nor would they follow the lead of someone else. Such team misfits have to be removed after some attempts have been made to try and work with them. This becomes important for the sake of the health of the overall enterprise.

Many such individuals turn out to be opportunists who sneak in under the guise of wanting to help. But they want to quickly pick up some ideas or resources, and then go away to try their own mobilization. Some of them have the audacity of demanding that I should work for them. They try to impose their own scheme/narrative of how to do things and constantly argue against the approach I have developed over many years and one that works for me. After internal bickering which is unproductive, one has to ask them to leave us alone. This can turn into acrimony as the person feels insulted that their capabilities were rejected. Indians must learn more team work and accept that often a good individual worker might be a bad team member. For the sake of team performance, it become better to remove the individual. Anyone who has run complex projects knows what I am talking about.

Once such a relationship has become antagonistic, there is a range of potential outcomes possible. One hopes the person peacefully goes away. We can be friends from a distance, leaving each other alone. But too often the disgruntled person become a hijacker because by now he knows too many secrets.  I have had individuals try to blackmail me with warning that they will join my enemies. Many indeed have done so. Some persons vacillate between playing a positive role in one of my teams and turning toxic when we reject his or her ideas.

At some stage, one must recognize that the relationship cannot be salvaged and it becomes a matter of damage control. I see them as pests or hecklers that I must try to contain somehow. The diagram below has many signature qualities listed in bullet points under type 4. This might seem strange to readers who are inexperienced in this kind of work, because they assume that Hindus would come to seva with a spirit of dedication and surrender of the ego. In practice, this is not how it works.

In the recent clash with R. Ganesh, several type 4 individuals showed their true colors. I have this side of them for many years. Some are newcomers who tried marching in and demanding to take things over, and when politely asked to leave us alone, they turned hostile. I am not naming persons here, but if you look at the archives on some Facebook and others discussions you will find such patterns of behavior.

As for R. Ganesh himself, I never expected that he would want to work in my home team following our grand strategy. But it would have been nice if he had carved a niche in the kurukshetra and become a responsible leader of type 3. We could be friends from a distance while sympathizing and morally supporting each other. A sign of slavery of a defeated people is this silo mentality. To get out of this we need to put lacs of our youth through corporate leadership roles where they learn how to play roles from the big ones to the small ones, in harmony and with the use of diverse people with specialized strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, our education system does not emphasize leadership or management or strategic thinking skills.



The fifth type of person is someone who does not want to commit to concrete roles in a type 2 or 3 setting, and nor is ambitious as a type 4 activist wanting to do things his own way. Such individuals stay out of the limelight, and might do things like retweeting or supporting from the outside once in a while. They can be very useful because we have a large number of them and collectively they definitely matter. We cannot count on them to do big tasks, but nor are we concerned that they might turn toxic and destructive. Those who wish to remain passive readers in order to learn for the sake of self-improvement belong here as well. While many of them will remain here long term, several will migrate to one of the other categories.

Let me return to the challenge I posed earlier: How can we align the players and formulate priorities to topple the deep discourse? The simplistic grid like I have presented here, though far from perfect, allows readers to crystalize a view of the internal politics we must deal with deftly.

Unfortunately, many talented individuals are sitting and watching, some are splashing water to get attention, some are trying to trip the hard working leaders out of excitement or to get personal attention; some do this out of jealousy and spite.

Not only should you avoid becoming another type 4 destructive person, I suggest that you must actively engage in fighting the type 4 persons. Just as the body’s immune system defends it from threatening forces, so also we need help to fight off such disruptive forces even if they are micro-optimizing and seem to have good intentions on the surface.


A limited assessment of and response to some statements of Professor Tyler Williams

This blog initially appeared here and is penned by Megh Kalyanasundaram

On 2016 April 15, in a talk at Columbia University by Shri Rajiv Malhotra, a member of the audience, introduced himself as “…Tyler Williams…I am a Professor of Hindi and Urdu, I also teach a bit of Sanskrit, bit of Persian, I also teach about Bhakti, teach about Indian religion…” (Video time stamp (VTS): 54:29-54:37) and  curiously, chose not include in his introduction, the name of the university he taught at.
In what was meant to be a question, Tyler Williams (TW) made a few statements, which can be called misrepresentations and/or allegations. This short piece highlights 2 such statements (in italicised-blue below) and evidence from Shri Malhotra’s scholarship as to why these statements can be called misrepresentations.
Tyler Williams’ (wilful or otherwise) Misrepresentation #1‘Insiders and Outsiders’ related
Tyler Williams said (VTS 56:04-56:10)) …the schema that you have given, that I am outsider and they are an insider, the white students are outsiders 
Evidence (from RM’s scholarship) on why TW’s statement is a misrepresentation:
Evidence 1:
I also wish to clarify that I do not consider all Western scholars as ‘outsiders’, nor all Indians or Hindus as ‘insiders’. These are provisional terms to get the conversation started. My suggestion to the reader is that s/he should first read the Conclusion chapter that concisely articulates the final takeaway message of this book. It lists a set of debates I want between the insiders and outsiders on a range of issues raised in this book.  (Source: Rajiv Malhotra, The Battle for Sanskrit, Introduction, Hard Copy version Page 28, Kindle Location 508-518) 
Evidence 2:
My book frames these issues in terms of two opposing lenses: the lens of insiders, who are those with loyalty to the Vedic worldview, and lens of outsiders, who are those who dismiss (or at least marginalize) the Vedas and look at the Sanskrit texts primarily through Marxist and postmodernist theories of social oppression and political domination.
Adopting the insider perspective, my main objections to Pollock and other outsiders concern the following methods and views:
•The methodological separation between the secular and the sacred in studying Sanskrit tradition;
•The claim that racial and ethnic oppression, class discrimination and gender bias are intrinsic to Sanskrit and its conceptual matrix in the Vedas;
•The side-lining of the oral tradition as a dynamic part of Indian history and thought;
•The politicizing of the genre of kavya;
•The outright dismissal of the positive value of shastra;
•The insistence on a dramatic split between Sanskrit and the vernaculars;
•The determination to show maximum split between Hinduism and Buddhism;The distortion of the Ramayana as socially abusive and as harbouring anti-Muslim rabble rousing (Source: Rajiv Malhotra’s blog Insiders Vs Outsiders: Who speaks for our heritage?
Tyler Williams’ (wilful or otherwise) Misrepresentation #2: ‘Dalits’ related
Tyler Williams said (VTS 56:04-56:10) “…the idea that Dalits are outsiders to the Hindu community…” (Video time stamp 56:13-56:16)
Evidence (from RM’s scholarship) on why TW’s statement is a misrepresentation:
Evidence 1:
In 4 of out 5 books which Shri Rajiv Malhotra has authored, the string ‘Dalit’ appears over 533 times (book-wise detail included below).
Book
Number of occurrences of the string ‘Dalit’ occurs, as part of the word ‘Dalits’ or as stand-alone wordKindle version location number
The Battle for Sanskrit (Is Sanskrit Political or Sacred, Oppressive or Liberating, Dead or Alive?)
20
456, 1143, 1211, 1258, 2241, 2250, 2273, 2334, 2702, 2711, 2892 3560, 3685, 4479, 4605, 4785, 5550, 6104, 8046
Breaking India (Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines)
> 500; The word ‘Dalits’ appears 152 times
Too many to list
Indira’s Net (Defending Hinduism’s philosophical unity)
10
659, 894, 2316 (twice), 2566, 2619, 4500, 6436, 6530, 6801
Being Different (An Indian challenge to Western Universalism)
3
6296, 6298, 6301
Where exactly, in any of these 533+ locations  specified above (or for that matter anywhere else) has Shri Malhotra, propagated the idea “…Dalits are outsiders to the Hindu community…” as alleged by Tyler Williams?
How can anyone who has actually read Breaking India (which has the word Dalit in its title sub-text: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines) and Indra’s Net, logically allege that Mr. Malhotra considers Dalits are outsiders to the Hindu community?
Evidence 2:
In fact, the opposite of Tyler Williams (Dalit-related) allegation is perhaps closer to the truth, evidenced by Mr. Malhotra’s thesis (in his words) pitted against the ‘Neo Hinduism’ thesis, from the book Indra’s Net (Defending Hinduism’s philosophical unity).
From Indra’s Net->Part 1 PURVA PAKSHA->Summary of both sides of debate->Tabulation (9 of 10)
Neo-Hinduism
Contemporary Hinduism (My thesis)
Hinduism is inherently oppressive of minorities such as Muslims, Christians, Dalits and women. It forces others into its own homogeneity for gaining political control. Hindutva is its later incarnation and its goal has been to impose homogeneityContemporary Hinduism renews the coherence and unity of diverse Indian traditions. It does not harm their diversity, and has, in fact, the most open architecture among the main faiths of the world. Its lack of historical absolutes (in the sense of Abrahamic religions) accounts for these extraordinary qualities)
‘My thesis’ above refers to Rajiv Malhotra’s thesis
Of course, the above misrepresentations could have been reconciled to atleast some extent had Tyler Williams said he had not read Shri Rajiv Malhotra’s books. One could perhaps then rationalise and allow for a benefit of doubt about Tyler Williams position (and/or complicity in furthering a separatist propaganda) in view of not having read Mr. Malhotra’s scholarship.
However, does Tyler Williams allow room for such a benefit of doubt to be extended given his:
> claim “…I have read your book” (VTS 56:46-47; 58:18-23) and yet misrepresenting (evidence provided above), all this despite being a “Professor”, of whom the expectation of correctness , atleast in the academic way of referencing, would normally be higher than a lay man?
&
> false (implied) allegation that Shri Rajiv Malhotra may tarnish TW’s name like that of he did of TW’s colleagues (VTS 54:44-54:47), while what he actually did could be construed as attempting to tarnish Shri Malhotra’s name, by bringing up plagiarism allegations, which have been comprehensively addressed at various levels, including clarification between related publishers.
(To read a comprehensive analysis of the plagiarism allegations, refer here: https://traditionresponds.wordpress.com; To extend your support to Rajiv Malhotra, sign this petition: https://www.change.org/p/publishers-of-rajiv-malhotra-s-books-do-not-yield-to-mafia-pressure-tactics-that-seek-to-compromise-intellectual-freedom)

The deepest Orientalist - By Prof. Makarand R Paranjape

This is a reproduction of an articles that first appeared in the Business Standard penned by Prof. Makarand Paranjape.

From its colonial origins in Justice Sir William to its consummation in SS Obersturmführer Wüst [a Nazi official], Sanskrit and Indian studies have contributed directly to consolidating and sustaining programs of domination.

—Deep Orientalism

The author, or should I say authority, behind these words is Sheldon Pollock, Arvind Raghunathan Professor of South Asian Studies at Columbia University, and Mentor-Chief Editor of the Murty Library. The Murty Library, with its generous endowment of $5.6 million has, however, been mired in controversy. A petition, signed by several concerned academics, asked for the removal of Mr Pollock from the project, as well as a re-think of its methods and goals.

If Mr Pollock’s condemnation of the Vedic-Shastric tradition as rigid and oppressive was injurious in The Theory of Practice and the Practice of Theory in Indian Intellectual History (1983), Deep Orientalism (1993), is even more insulting. Here Mr Pollock claims that German Orientalists and Sanskrit not only aided the “colonization and domination of Europe itself,” but in “the ultimate ‘orientalist’ project, the legitimation of genocide.” Sanskrit implicated in the extermination of six million Jews?!

Why should Mr Pollock give such extraordinarily evil agency to India’s “sacred” language, which he is elsewhere at pains to prove “dead”? In his oft-cited paper, The Death of Sanskrit (2001), he doesn’t so much prove that Sanskrit is/was dead. When he fails to “kill” it, he resorts to a strange sleight of scholarly hand: “Sanskrit had never been exactly alive in the first place.” Traditional Sanskrit scholarship in India being already destroyed, this attack on German Orientalism leaves only one powerful competing scholarly tradition standing: American Indology.

Reinhold Grunendahl critiques Pollock convincingly. Deep Orientalism has one unambiguous, if ambitious path: “‘Indology beyond the Raj and Auschwitz’ leads to the ‘New Raj’ across the deep blue sea.” But the “New Raj” of American Indology has one thing in common with the old Raj of British imperialism. Its Rajas and Nabobs, such as Mr Pollock, are increasingly funded by the “sweat, toil, and blood” of Indians, in this case, Indian “cyber-coolies,” who have made companies like Infosys rich. American Indology backed by Indian philanthropy is a lethal combination. It leads us to laud, fete, fund, and award Padma Shris to Mr Pollock and his ilk.

One thing is absolutely clear after the smoke settles in the recent crossfire over the Murty Library: American Indology today occupies an almost unquestionable authority over Indian traditions. Any move to critique its hegemony is met with multiple attacks against individuals questioning its methods and results, both of which are exalted to levels of near infallibility.

In this context, a passing but telling observation in Rajiv Malhotra’s The Battle For Sanskrit is worth recalling. Indian soldiers were recruited by the British colonialists to fight in over 100 battles against fellow Indians, not to mention other “enemies” of the British including the Afghans, Burmese, Chinese, Turks, Germans, and Italians. But they couldn’t raise a single battalion of the Chinese to fight for them, let alone against their fellow-Chinese. This should tell us something of the Indian mentality. Most of Mr Pollock’s “sepoys” are Indians themselves, either trained in elite American universities or sold on images of their past produced by American neo-Orientalism.

Let me offer one more example. In Ramayana and Political Imagination in India (1993), Mr Pollock argues that India’s multiple medieval Ramayanas actually served to create a “political theology” to demonise and attack those who stood outside its “sanctioned polity”. Bringing this theme up to date, Mr Pollock damns the Ramayana tradition as the “mytheme par excellence that reactionary politics in India today” uses “in the interests of a theocratization of the state and the creation of an internal enemy”.

Again, frustrated with the persistence of Ramayana, Mr Pollock concludes, “because of even the Sanskrit text’s instability…there may no longer exist any such thing as the Ramayana, if ever there did.” No surprise that Mr Pollock and his followers want to abolish the very existence of “India” as an academic entity substituting it by the meaningless epithet “South Asia” — south of what and for whom?

How deep an Orientalist Mr Pollock is clear only towards the close of Deep Orientalism. Given that both “history" and “object” of the “field of knowledge” called Orientalism was “permeated with power,” he declares that Orientalists are now at a loss because they “no longer know why they are doing what they do.”

But, apparently, Mr Pollock knows exactly what he is up to. He has re-invented Orientalism so that wealthy Indians endow his professorship, pay him for desacralising Sanskrit and secularising Sanskriti, signing anti-Narendra Modi political petitions, and hectoring the world’s largest democracy how it should conduct itself.

The writer is professor of English at Jawaharlal Nehru University