'Macaulay, not the traditional acharyas, created India's brown sahibs'
Dr. Vijaya Rajiva
The video of author and writer Rajiv Malhotra's talk in Bangalore ' Identifying the Elements of Heritage of Development in India' at The Institute of Social and Economic Change, Feb. 24,2012) shows a continuation of his agenda against Hinduism's traditional acharyas, whom he has castigated previously and now once again for not studying Western and non Hindu thought. At this talk (during the question and answer period) he goes a step further and claims that it is the traditional acharyas who created India's brown sahibs by nor providing a critique of western thought! His reasoning went thus: why did they not study and refute a Hegel or a Kant? It is this lapse that has created the present generation of brown sahibs alienated from their Hindu roots, so he pronounced.
This statement from someone who is relatively well informed is surprising. By now, most educated Indians are aware that it is Lord Macaulay's minutes of 1835 that turned Hindu education on its head and imposed British education on India. Since then colonised Indians have become the last of the Englishmen in their mental makeup and even in their lifestyles. Why then does Malhotra a seemingly well read and well informed Hindu from the diaspora repeat this misinformation during the question and answer hour following the talk?
The present writer has pointed out in previous articles that there is a threefold agenda that has characterised Shri Malhotra's trajectory in the last few years:
(1) the astonishing defence of Nityananda,
(2) the u turn to interfaith dialogue,
(3) the usurpation of the role of the traditional acharyas of Hinduism.
While number one has been quietly (hopefully) shelved, Mr. Malhotra persists with numbers 2 & 3. The present writer believes that there are three reasons for this. First, Mr. Malhotra is an autodidact and therefore is overwhelmed by his own achievements (a frequent weakness of some autodidacts, though not all). Hence, he has not fully understood that there are several scholars in India who are currently doing excellent work in the topics that Mr. Malhotra has mentioned in the talk in Bangalore. It is the political situation that prevents any action being taken to incorporate their suggestions in the educational curriculum. Equally, he seems unaware that the traditional acharyas are doing an excellent job of expounding the traditional knowledge of the Hindu scriptures. Distracting them from this serious task in order that they may read a Hegel or Kant is the most absurd suggestion any thinking Hindu can make.
That work of reading Hegel and Kant and rebutting their arguments should be undertaken by academics, scholars, free lancers like Malhotra, not the traditional acharyas who have been the backbone of Hindu civilisation since time immemorial and will continue to be so. They must be left alone to continue their work. Wisely, many of them who have been approached by Malhotra, have rejected him. And well they should!
The second reason is that Shri Malhotra is not fully focussed on whatever task he has taken upon himself (and this task is not yet clear). A variety of topics are listed at the speech: environment, reclaiming India's originality in the sciences, sustainable development, studying and reacting to non Hindu thought etc.
In other words, his reach has exceeded his grasp and the one liners and pronouncements are not based on a solid consistent line of thinking. The turbulence is all too evident. First, there is the publication of Breaking India, where he and his co author Aravindan Neelkandan detailed the dangers facing Indian amongst which is the Inculturation from the Christian Church. Then he speaks of devoting his life to Hindu Christian dialogue with the self same malafide sources(the Huffington Post blog), an INTERNAL CONTRADICTION in his thinking (about which the present writer has previously written)And now he is into various other projects which are not linked by a consistent vision.
By contrast, the acharyas know what they are doing. Take for instance the example of the Kerala Nambudiris who have maintained the Vedic traditions over several centuries with due diligence and devotion. They have not attempted to engage in any interfaith dialogue or travel abroad. Hindus owe it to them for the preservation of the ancient Vedic culture and traditions The recent death of scholar Fritz Stahl(who videographed the Athirathram ritual) has highlighted the performance in 2011 of the Athirathram, undertaken with scrupulous attention to every minutiae of the Fire Ritual from Vedic times. It has been noted that since the rise of Buddhism in India, many parts of India abandoned the Athirathram. Only the Kerala Nambudiris preserved this invaluable heritage. Hence, the Hindu Samaj must be extremely cautious in Malhotra's various prescriptions for what he sees are the limitations of the acharya tradition. Indeed, it is questionable whether his advice will even benefit the modern youth of India. Is this another version of FDI in retail ? One cannot lecture the youth to return to their heritage, even while hitting out at one of the pillars of the Hindu heritage .
The third reason is Shri Malhotra's blithe rejection of 'politics', especially the politics of interfaith dialogue. He is deeply mired in the 'politics' of his own rejection of politics. Many writers have pointed out that the interfaith dialogue as it stands, is a fraudulent process. It is the Church's most recent method of duping unsuspecting Hindus. Unless and until Hindus set the terms of the discussion/dialogue, they appear as guests at various such occasions and are persuaded to accept the host's point of view. And therefore until the proper conditions are met, the politics of interfaith dialogue will obstruct Hindus.
Is there a second front against Dharma being pursued by enthusiasts and their camp followers, to weaken and ultimately defeat the pillars of Hindu tradition of whom the traditional acharyas are an important pillar? The Hindu Samaj must be alert to such a possibility.
(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian universtiy. Her academic training is in Philosophy, Political Science, Literature, Political Economy & History).