Ramayana is both spiritual and socio-political


Rajiv Malhotra responds (marked in blue or red) to a forum member's comments quoting Hindus who attack TBFS and clearly appear to subscribe to Sheldon Pollock's Hinduphobic ideas. Emphasis and highlights are ours. Also, Rajiv ji shares some important updates on the impact of the Swadeshi Indology conference series.

I came across a group of people, who subscribe to manasataramgini (@blog_supplement) line of thinking, with comments like these in the context of chapter 5 of the book "Battle for Sanskrit":

1) "....that the ramayana played a great role in moulding the nascent political consciousness of medieval Hindus against the evil of islam. this is something iirc rajiv malhotra or someone else had a problem with. IMO we should be proud of ramayana's role and openly state it was the great itihasa which inspired hindus to fight islam"

[Rajiv: Ramayana is both (A) spiritual and (B) social-political. That is the role of the Avatara and it also applies to Mahabharata. It is spirituality in action, the divine manifesting to play a role in the laukika realm. So his assumption about me is false. All my career I have tried to argue against the otherworldly interpretations and have showed that our exemplars were very engaged socially and politically. The problem with Pollock is his REMOVAL OF (A). His is a non/anti spiritual interpretation. That is the issue I focus on. My interpretation is that politics is there, however not in the secular sense, but as rooted in dharma. To understand my purva-paksha these lazy Hindus need to read more fully both Pollock and my rebuttal. They are too tamasic and want to cut-paste here and there either to dismiss it, or to claim it as their own for quick blogs/lectures.]

"RM attempts to dissuade the reader from thinking Ramayana had anything to do with modern Hindutva movement because he attempts to shun BJP/RSS/VHP and condemn their ways. Also the use of "secular" for vyavgarik realm is rather offputting".

[Rajiv: Wrong again. Pollock's claim I refute is that: (A) modern Hinduism is DISCONTINUOUS from past Vedic tradition, (B) that it was fabricated by Swami Vivekananda, (C) that this fabrication borrowed heavily from Christianity and the West, and (D) that this was done to overcome Vivekananda's inferiority complex.
Furthermore, the idiot is one more example of jealous Hindus always trying to create a wedge between me and RSS and/or with Swami Vivekananda.]

"i just feel that there is nothing wrong in describing ramayana as a book which teaches us to totally exterminate evil.. of which mohammedanism is clearly an egregious example. pollock might whine about it as he is a frigging yahoodi saboteur and has duty in defending his fellow Abrahamic Muslims.. but for hindus if the ramayana did indeed inspire anti Muslim violence then its a holier than holy book than what could be normally ascribed to"

[Rajiv: This person did not read Pollock or my response. Probably saw some 2nd/3rd hand commentaries of my work. The core Pollock thesis I refute is that Ramayana was not popular prior to Muslim invasion and Hindu kings popularized it artificially specifically to fight against Muslims. Implication of this claim is that it lacks any spiritual legitimacy, and that it is solely a decide to fight against Muslims.

Is the Hindu critic in above quote agreeing with this Pollock view? I find such shallow Hindu critiques too stupid but they are common, unfortunately.

Basically, allegation is that Rajiv is promoting Gandhian line of "Non-Violence". Wonder What Rajiv has to say on it.



Rajiv: Several points I want to make:
...Why is it not possible for experienced IKs to respond to very simple allegations? Am I supposed to play father figure for every IK? When will they grow up, take responsibility?
The individuals he quotes have been hounding me for long time. These Hindus are the 3rd front we have to fight - jealous, incompetent, opportunistic, lazy but over-ambitious, no tapasya, but lots of opinions. Pls do NOT drag me to have to respond to them. I need to move on in my research and have 15 books to finish, much deeper to go in my journey. The 1st front is western Indologists. 2nd front is Indian Left/sepoys. 3rd front is Hindu pseudo-intellectuals popping up everywhere but with little competence. Mostly a hit and run style all over the space.
The Swadeshi Indology conf is their opportunity to contribute serious scholarship if they have something important to say.
The SI organizers have an independent team of senior scholars who do peer review of every paper submitted. Neither side knows the other identity, so these are blind reviews. The problem is they find very very few Hindu so-called intellectuals to be able to write proper papers. Mostly opinions, too lazy and lacking rigor. The reviewers end up rejecting most papers received. This pisses off the old school Hindu established scholars, who are not used to being rejected. They assume accolades due to senior status or network of contacts, or some prestigious affiliations. IFI rejecting them causes anger.
What should IFI do? If it lowers standard to become popular, then it might as well fold up, because too many organizations exist holding conferences, meetings, seminars, etc already. But these lack original research as pre-requisite for presenting. This is the gap IFI fills.
Luckily, SI1 and SI2 are being v successful in training new, young scholars. These are mostly unknown names because they are not in the social media making noises with opinions. Very hard work with few solid successes each time. So it will be a while before we get the 108 we need.
SI1 papers are ready as a 400-page book to be finalized for publishing. All papers focus on Pollock - so the man opining above ought to have sent his paper to SI for evaluation.
SI2 will likewise turn into a major research book on Pollock specifically.
In addition, SI2 will have 2 major single-author monographs each a detailed academic analysis of Pollock on some specific item. One is in fact on Pollock's Ramayana. (100+ pages each and these will turn into two major volumes.) So in Si 1 & 2 we will have at least 4 major books coming out.
Starting with TBFS, this means we will have FIVE VOLUMES OF RESPONSE TO POLLOCK, from a team of 25+ scholars.
Never before has a team of solid scholars taken up one specific Western Indology school and give such a thorough purva paksha and uttara paksha. This is what Arvind Sharma told me when he complimented me for starting this initiative.
There are more concrete outputs coming with heavy impact that are to be announced shortly.
Next we will move beyond Pollock and deal with other Indology opponents one by one. This is what I am up to. I only respect scholars who are serious and not casually hitting out here and there. Hence other IKs should deal with them and not waste my time.

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