A RISA list mail from Fred Smith was shared by Indrani:
I am also struck by the way new but mediate ideologies are influencing the body politic and sectarian affiliations. An example is the influence of Lingayat gurus in Karnataka who seem to draw from both sides, from their own space in the middle, as well as from local political arrangements. For this, see Aya Ikegame, “The governing guru: Hindu mathas in liberalizing India,” in Jacob copeman and Aya Ikegame, The Guru in South Asia: New Interdisciplinary Perspectives, pp. 46-63 (Routledge 2012). Her work is well worth following. I suspect that local configurations and affiliations are present in many states in India that most of us are unaware of.
John Cort reminded us of the posters and hoardings of a muscular macho Vivekananda in Gujarat as recently as this year, used as props by the BJP. Consistent with this, Adam Bowled noted, is a report in the Hindustan Times “that the BJP government in Haryana has appointed Dinanath Batra to guide a committee of educationists in Haryana. The accompanying photo shows Dinanath Batra in an (his?) office with a statue of Vivekananda in the foreground.” http://www.hindustantimes.com/
Rajiv's reply to this was thus:
- Fred Smith is well known in Hinduism studies, and I have had many dealings with him and his students/cabal over 2 decades. I will give some background so readers have a context for what he says above. (This perspective I can offer is an example of "getting out of my comfort zone" numerous times.)
- His position above is what Indra's Net criticizes as the Neo-Hinduism theory of Hinduism - i.e. looking for evidence to depict modern Hinduism as a political fabrication by Vivekananda, Gandhi, etc. to unite Indians against Brits, which later fell into the hands of the Hindutva to use against Muslims minorities.
- If he were a good scholar, he would refer to my book and its counter arguments, and address my issues directly. But he cannot face that, so he simply ignores IN. He mentions various experts who I have already dealt with and criticized. So he gives a one sided view.
- Robert Zydenbos, Gwilym Beckerlegge, Mark Singleton, Ellen Goldberg, Amod Lele - these persons he cites are especially nasty anti-Hindu persons I have dealt with before.
- Pankaj Jain (named by him) was my follower/supporter for years; told me he got inspired by my work to leave IT and enter a career in Hinduism studies; got my help to enter Columhia U's MA program; got much mentoring my to understand the issues. But once he went for his PhD to Univ. of Iowa, where Fred Smith rules, he flipped sides completely - I was to be avoided in order to suck up to Smith cohorts. Upon entering the job market as a junior prof, he realized he was a nobody; so he started lobbying with the Hindu diaspora for support to boost his career. Many knew him from the earlier days, and stayed away, seeing him as untrustworthy. But several went around campaigning for him seeing him as a goody-goody face to help us. Eventually most of these supporters also left him, and now he is sitting in a corner of the kurukshetra with nothing important to say. Neither here nor there - inconsequential.
- Pankaj and Jeff Long are cited by Smith to make it seem he has also mentioned the "Hindu side" and hence he is balanced. But neither is strong enough or creative enough, so they are "useful" to serve in this role.
- On Jeff Long, I refer you to three urls where we had prior discussions on him, right here:
- http://beingdifferentforum. blogspot.in/2013/08/did- jeffrey-long-out-rajiv- malhotras.html
- http://beingdifferentforum. blogspot.in/2014/04/the-role- of-prophets-in-judaism-and. html
- http://beingdifferentforum. blogspot.in/2013/09/bhagavad- gita-is-not-bible-of-india. html
- Another product of U of Iowa Fred Smith was Makarand Paranjape, a prof of English at JNU who likes to presents a pro-Hindu tilt. He has had to dance between working w me and appeasing his academic sponsor Fred Smith. He has agonized over this, at times telling me that his open association with me has cost his standing with them, and they stopped inviting him every summer to give lectures in USA like they used to. That's what this "intellectual freedom" amounts to. In any case, Makarand has been largely on the sidelines of important debates for the past decade, and writes relatively non-controversial stuff. This despite the fact that his mentor at JNU was Kapil Kapoor, a no-nonsense, fiery speaker solidly on our side.
- Fred Smith has crisscrossed both sides of Hinduism, presenting himself as insider or outsider depending on what best suits his interest in a given situation. He is now translating the last 5 vols of Mahabharata for the Univ of Chicago - this is planned to become the international standard on Mahabharata. (Its initial volumes defined the lens: [kshatriya] was translated as "feudal lord" and shudra as "slave". The editor James L. Fitzgerald said the text should be seen as "God's genocide". You get the picture. )
Now on the subject of Swami Vivekananda who is the subject of much study as shown above, here's a paper by Rajiv Malhotra which was published in the official RK Mission book commemorating his 150th anniversary and released by the President of India.