Sunday, August 30, 2015



Stung by the effectiveness and popularity of the counter by activists like Rajiv Malhotra, Western academics are resorting to personal attacks. They see him as a threat to their sense of superiority on which their identity rests. Their goal is to control  and discredit Hinduism and dictate how Hinduism is presented even by elite Hindu institutions like the Sringeri Mutt.

N.S. Rajaram
(slightly modified by the editor of sookta)

            Nassim Nicolas Taleb, widely recognized as one of the leading thinkers of our time, best known for his controversial books "Fooled by Randomness" and "Black Swan" recently observed, “You never win an argument until you are attacked personally.”

            Put another way: abuse takes over when argument ends because one party is not able to defend its positions. This is the meaning of the personal charges like plagiarism against the well- known writer and activist Rajiv Malhotra.

Shri Malhotra is the founder and head of the Princeton based Infinity Foundation. He has published several books and he is a popular speaker at universities and youth groups in India and the U.S. He has made himself unpopular in Western Indology circles because of his criticisms of their motives and methods.

Hindu hatred or Hinduphobia as Malhotra terms it, is institutionalized in Western academia. It is commonplace to see academics in the U.S. and Europe to employ language and rhetoric against Hindus and Hinduism that would land them in serious trouble if used against say, Jews and/or Africans and other minorities, especially Islamic Jihadi elements.

When I brought this to the attention of the president of Harvard University where the long-time Hindu baiter Michael Witzel teaches, I was informed his verbal attack on Hindus and other writings were protected under its policy of academic freedom. But this principle was conveniently forgotten when courses and lectures by Dr. Subramanian Swamy and Raiv Malhotra were cancelled by Harvard (and later by Oxford) for their supposedly unacceptable criticism of Islam and Malhotra’s writings on Religious studies programs in the U.S.

Hindu compliance: highjacking Shankaracharya

            As Malhotra notes, this is made possible to large  extent by the servile attitude of many Hindu scholars, who like Indian sepoys who fought for the British, making the British Empire sustainable. It took Netaji Subhas Bose and his INA to persuade Indian soldiers and the Navy to see themselves as defenders of India rather than as protectors of the British Empire.

            As Malhotra pertinently observed: “I showed that many well-known Indian writers from Romila Thapar to Pankaj Mishra had picked up this thesis from the West and popularised it in India. This book [by Malhotra], has also generated attacks trying to find pedantic, technical flaws in my work that are irrelevant to the main thesis, and then over-exaggerating them.”

“The latest attack that I am presently in the middle of fighting was triggered by some sudden dramatic events last year. That is when it was discovered that the legacy of Adi Shankara and the international representation of the famous Sringeri Peetham was about to be handed over to American scholars, who are atheists and leftists, and whose work I had criticized earlier. Under the leadership of Sheldon Pollock at Columbia University, some NRI businessmen wanting limelight in the university’s prestigious ‘networking circles’ had negotiated with Sringeri Peetham to set up chairs for Adi Shankara studies in US universities. The first chair was in the process of being set up in Columbia. Within 4 to 6 weeks from the time I learned about it, the official announcement was scheduled to be made publicly, after the formality of signatures. I was disturbed that our Hindu legacy would be outsourced to scholars who are not only non-practitioners of our faith, but whose work has explicitly been to ‘expose the abusiveness’ in the Vedic tradition.”

The involvement of Romila Thapar and Pankaj Misra is understandable, as inveterate Hindu haters. But even people of the great Sringeri Mutt and Hindu philantropists should support and patronize such Western scholars in the belief it raises their status in Western circles is nothing short of tragic. This mindset needs to change, just as Indian soldiers’ mindset changed thanks to Netaji’s leadership.

Hijacking Sanskrit

            Malhotra in his next book plans to expose Western Sanskrit scholars as politically motivated and inspired by Christian leaders. This was true even in the nineteenth century when such a famous scholar as Max Muller was funded by the British. As he himself wrote of his edition of the Rigveda:  “The ancient religion of India [Hinduism] is doomed. If Christianity does not take its place, whose fault will it be?”

            In this context it is necessary to examine the claims of Western Sanskrit scholars and see its shallowness. Westerners began the study of India and Sanskrit at the same time when Indians began to learn English. Many Indians have attained distinction as English writers. But there is not a single Sanskrit work by a Western Sanskritist worth reading. They have produced no R.K. Narayan, let alone a V.S. Naipaul.

Personal attack as last resort

            This brings us back to personal attacks on Rajiv Malhotra by these discredited scholars who know they are headed into the dustbin of history. This type of personal attack was exactly what Witzel and his henchmen tried against me and my colleagues 15 years ago when my colleagues demolished their "Aryan Invasion" theories and "Harappan as non-Vedic."

            Followers of cricket will recognize this as similar to what England’s captain Douglas Jardine did by getting his fast bowler Harold Larwood to attack Bradman’s body because they could not counter Bradman’s run making skill.

            But we should continue our battle and send these Western Academics calling themselves Indologists into the oblivion of history where they belong.

No comments:

Post a Comment