IntroductionThis detailed post, which analyzes the work of Sheldon Pollock, Professor of South Asian Studies at Columbia University, is a sequel to the article in this space that exposed the Hinduphobia of his protege Ananya Vajpeyi, and her 'Breaking India' network. We recommend that you read that post here first, to understand the background to this post. We must subject to intense scrutiny, the actual positions and writings of influential people like Pollock, who only appear to be on the side of Dharma, in order to avoid falling into the trap of getting misled and digested. Readers will discover here that what is going on is nothing short of a brazen attempt to hijack Sanskrit away from Hindu dharma.
Additional Background on 'digestion'
'Digestion' is a term coined by Rajiv Malhotra and has been discussed in various threads on this forum. To understand the process of digestion (if you are not familiar with the concept), please refer to these threads on this forum, or better still, join the discussion forum (link at the end of this post).
Difference between Digestion and Conversion
Why are Hindus Celebrating the Digestion of Hinduism? - Part 1 and Part-2
Jesus in India and Digestion of Hinduism
Here is a video link from Rajiv Malhotra's site for his book Being Different, which deals with this subject of digestion.
After summarizing Rajiv Malhotra response to Ananya Vajpeyi's article in the Hindu and elaborating on the ecosystem that is nurturing and promoting Hinduphobic scholars, it is important for us to take a step back and refocus on the bigger picture, starting with her mentor, Sheldon Pollock, who is currently very influential as an 'Indophile' among intellectual circles both in India and abroad. More importantly, he is gaining huge financial backing from wealthy and influential but misguided Indians who believe very naively that he has Dharma's best interest at heart.
This post might be updated in multiple parts over time, owing to the fact that this expose is slowly but surely developing as more scholars begin to scrutinize Pollock's work seriously and share their findings. This blog is a detailed introduction to readers to make them aware of a clear and present danger to India's Sanskriti, and Hinduism due to this well-entrenched and well-funded cabal of Hinduphobic scholars.
Who is Sheldon Pollock?
(picture linked from http://www.columbia.edu)
Rajiv Malhotra started the discussion by noting that Pollock was someone potentially more dangerous than Wendy Doniger, Professor of History of Religions at University of Chicago or Michael Witzel, Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard University, because while the latter two were discredited before they had made their way to Indian billionaires and their deep pockets, it was a different case with Pollock. Doniger's and Witzel's sphere of influence was limited to the Indian leftists but Pollock was different in that he could persuade wealthy Indians into pledging huge funding to the Western nexus involved in project Breaking India. This is a hypothesis Rajiv Malhotra is now researching in order to get to the bottom of things.
Rajiv Malhotra says:
Pollock is the most successful person from this club to solicit millions of dollars from wealthy Indians. He is the new "raja of Sanskrit" as some Indian supporters like to call him. Pls see attachment in India Abroad newspaper showering praise for him -- dressed in dhoti etc and called a "pandit". Remember Sir William Jones who was saluted as a pandit by Indians? The PR machinery at Columbia has used many pathways to reach Indian media and wealthy Indians. He became useful to the Indian Left because he dished out "data" on Sanskrit which fit the views of Kancha Ilaiah, Arundhati Roy, and numerous others who were too ignorant of Sanskrit to backup their views. Now he wants to "secularize" sanskrit to make it more "mainstream".
There is also a write-up on Pollock which appeared in the India Abroad magazine this June. Pollock is one of the recipients of the India Abroad Person of the Year 2013 Award. The document is embedded here.
Sheldon Pollock--India Abroad Award as FRIEND OF INDIA AND MEDI-1
Sadly, our fellow Hindus are quite often incapable of distinguishing a friend from a foe.....
Sheldon Pollock's worksSheldon Pollock comes across as a disciplined and charming individual who plays his cards close to his chest, saying the right thing, dropping the right names, and doing what is necessary to keep his projects going smoothly. To use a poker analogy, one has to scratch beneath the surface to detect Pollock's 'tell' - parsing the seemingly India-friendly statements by Pollock to detect those parts that gives his agenda away. Shalini reviewed the pdf to draw some important conclusions:
This pdf tells us that Pollock's friends in Karnataka include UR Ananthamurthy and Girish Karnad, both known to be Hinduphobic, and virulently anti-Modi. However, identifying Pollock's tell also involves recognizing what Pollock leaves unsaid: and Pollock has absolutely nothing positive to say about Dharma and Sanskriti. Guru posted a two-part video of Pollock's interview to Tehelka, an Indian magazine. The video links can be found here and here.
A Hindu-funded Hijacking of Sanskrit
- First he established his credentials as a young Sanskrit scholar by doing translations of Sanskrit texts into English - using dictionaries as he is said to be unable to converse in Sanskrit. These were non controversial works =just to get established. But he is not a sadhak, hence it is textual analysis only.
- Then he turned into a Leftist social scientist and started producing a large quantity of anti-Sanskrit works like the above quote. His thesis is that Sanskrit has been abusive against dalits, women, minorities. That the Aryans brought Sanskrit and its texts to India. That Hindu chauvinists are trying to revise history and claim otherwise. The above para quoted says it all.
- Finally, he started to champion the revival of Sanskrit but in a specific manner: He wants to secularize it by removing or criticizing references that are Hindu. He considers mantras to devatas unimportant or even a problem. He is leading many projects in USA to bring Dalits to Columbia and train them in Sanskrit - which would be great if it were not done with any political spin. So what he ends up facilitating is a doctored up approach to Sanskrit that is not in line with our traditional approach. He praises this as "modernizing Sanskrit". This is similar to decoupling Yoga from Hindu in the name of "modernizing Yoga". The implication is that tradition is flawed and must be upgraded by de-contextualizing it of its dharma and thereby modernizing = secularizing it.
- Freudian psychoanalysis
- Western feminism
- Subaltern studies
- 'Dalit studies
- Subsequent selections as per contract will be 100% controlled by Columbia U.
- The power center for Sanskrit studies will shift from Sringeri to USA. This means adhikars to run conferences and journals, control translations (Pollock already does that with Murthy's $5 million), produce the next generation of PhDs for deployment worldwide including India.
- This chair will be cited as a role model to approach all other matthas and Hindu organizations. Taking Hindu money and using it to control their discourse will become a fashion in the name of "collaboration", "globalization", "modernizing", etc.
A very important discussion has also started on the issue of setting up Hinduism chairs at universities in America using funding from Indians. We are adding it to this thread since it impacts very strongly here too. Sheldon Pollock is also in the process of getting the Shringeri Mattha to set up a chair at Columbia.
Bahu wrote in to say that Dharma Civilization Foundation (DCF) had an announcement to make which was that they were facilitating the setting up a Center for Dharma Studies in partnership with the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) at GTU, California. The announcement also stated that the first two courses were going to be offered in the fall semester of 2014.
Here is Rajiv Malhotra's response and a very important one too.
- I take some blame for having educated our diaspora for 20 years on the importance of entering the academy with Hinduism studies. But these folks are stuck on Release 1.0 of my proposals, whereas my experience with 20+ such academic initiatives has caused me to move on much further.
- Typically, a group of businessmen want to become important, seen by the public to be helping dharma, want limelight as the next thing to achieve personally.
- They lack specific competence to evaluate the subject matter expertise and content of the academy -- which requires far greater tapas than any of them did on this type of analysis or would be capable of doing.
- Hence they look at superficial things. I constantly hear things like "they are nice people", "they say good things about Hinduism", etc.
- These rich donors do not even know basic things about the history of de Nobili, William Jones, Max Mueller, and the armies of modern anthropologists. They lack understanding of concepts like digestion, sameness, etc. They are so easily duped and impressed.
- They dont know, and worse still, they do not want to know, details that would be discomforting and would require getting outside their comfort zones. To use business terminology qwhich they understand, they have not done independent due diligence on the subject matter. In their own field of specialty they would never invest millions on some venture with no due diligence just because the recipient of the investment is "a good person". They know that persona of the other party is not enough to support some project. But here that mental faculty gets switched off. What takes over is the craving for acceptance at the high table of white establishment, maybe a deep inferiority complex that even millions of dollars has not overcome.
- To get legitimacy, they rope in some blessing from a well-know Hindu guru, preferably by naming a chair after him or his organization.
- But the guru, though extremely well-meaning, has not gone into specific details. He assumes these people have done that already. So he trusts them and gives his blessings. After all, gurus routinely bless those who are sincere devotees.
- To do "industry analysis" of this field, one has to survey prior experience in 20 or so similar initiatives. What happened to the programs later on? Did they produce anygame-changing impact in our favor? Was the activity merely for show, lots of meetings, events, gatherings, talks, etc. -- but so what? Did they change the discourse in our favor on any specific issue? The answer is always NO. I have yet to meet any donor who can answer such questions in a satisfactory manner.
- Even when the first appointment is pro-Hindu, the long term control is lost. That's how the contracts read in all such cases. A good example is the UCLA chair on Indian History named and funded by Naveen Doshi, a real estate millionaire in LA. After his own friend Prof Sardesai (who was good for us) retired as the first occupant of the chair, UCLA insisted on selecting their own choice, despite Doshi's complaints and threats to litigate. The small print gave them that right. His "nice guy" contacts (God Cops) vanished, and let the "academic system" (of Bad Cops) decide as per it "own procedures". Here's the irony: THE DOSHI CHAIR OCCUPANT TODAY DOES NOT WANT TO EVEN SIT DOWN WITH MR DOSHI FOR A CUP OF TEA, DOES NOT RETURN HIS CALLS OR EMAILS. Doshi ji says there is no cooperation and the Chair occupant is a radical leftist who hates everything Doshi cherishes about Indian history. I feel sad for Navin Doshi, a kind man who meant well.
- The single biggest problem I have is that DCF is empowering a Christian Seminary to run the discourse on Hinduism. I dont care who sits on that chair at least short term.
- Analogy: Would you like the idea of outsourcing the job of purohit/acharya to the Vatican, if they came with a proposal to do a good, professional job? Believe me, I come across morons who say "Yes, why not, if they can do a good job". Would you outsource the Indian Army work to the Pak army if they came with a cost-effective proposal? I hope no Indian army official is foolish enough to say "yes".
- The long-term issue is transfer of adhikar, transfer of prestige of learning centers from India over to Western controlled centers. Its like relocating Varanasi to the Vatican. Already Nalanda-like universities that attracted the brightest from all corners of Asia are now in the West in terms of global influence. Future generations of scholars from Indian ashrams would be sent to these seminary-controlled centers of learning as in the case of Berkeley, or leftist controlled as in the case of Columbia. Hinduism will become like a library of clip art for others to cut-paste and add to their own repertoire, and what unusable will sit in museums.
- Next we might expect some announcement that another major guru has set up his chair in Saudi Arabia because some rich sheikhs promised good things and because they can do a great job for us.
- How can people be so stupid, even after complaining so angrily that control of yoga has slipped away from Hindus over to Western institutions?
- Why are such initiatives not first discussed in open hearings with Hindu intellectuals invited to voice issues, and debate in the true spirit of dharma? Why the hush hush until "it is a done deal" and then announced with a guru's blessings to make it beyond question?
- Why is there no uproar comparable to what we saw against the Doniger matter?This sellout from within is far worse because it is sold in the name of helping Hinduism become mainstream.
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