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Indology Debate: Insider Vs. Outsider

Statue carved on the wall of a temple, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India

By Nithin Sridhar

Indology, especially, Hinduism studies has come under a lot of criticism in the recent past- be it the withdrawal of Wendy Doniger’s ‘The Hindus: An Alternative History’ by the publisher, after the book was widely criticized for its inaccuracies, bias, and sexual connotations, and a court case was filed; or the sharp critique of Sheldon Pollock’s work on Sanskrit by Indian American author Rajiv Malhotra in his recent book ‘The Battle for Sanskrit’.

These western Indologists have been criticized for showing utter disregard for how Hindu practitioners themselves perceive their religion and traditions, and for superimposing their own biasness and worldviews on Hindu practices in the pretext of presenting an objective view. Sheldon Pollock, for example, and scholars subscribing to his school of thought, try to portray Sanskrit language and literature as being political and oppressive, as against the insider’s perception of Sanskrit being a ‘Divine language’, that caters to both mundane and transcendent.

This attempt by the ‘Outsiders’ to hijack the narrative about India and Hinduism from its indigenous practitioners and then project their own biasness and superimpositions as ‘Objective’ and ‘Authentic’ interpretation of Hinduism is at the heart of the debate raised by Rajiv Malhotra in his book. This insider vs. outsider, technically referred as ‘emic’ vs. ‘etic’, debate is not a new development. This could be traced back to at least the second half of the 18th century, when the British Orientalism started. This is not to say that there was no outsider’s account of Indian society before that period. We have extensive accounts left by the Greeks, Chinese, Muslim, and Portuguese travelers and chroniclers. But, it is only after the arrival of the British, do we encounter a serious and systematic examination of Indian traditions and practices by those who were outside the tradition.

These attempts of the outsiders (mostly perspectives rooted in Abrahamic worldviews and/or Western philosophical worldviews) to hijack Hindu religion and practices, appropriate and digest elements perceived as useful, and demonize elements, which does not fit their worldviews, and finally regurgitate back the digested, secularized, and demonized version of Hinduism as the ‘authentic’ and ‘objective’ Hinduism, have pretty much become mainstream today. And academia and media, both in India and the West, more or less accept this regurgitated Hinduism as the mainstream narrative on Hinduism. As a result, the outsider’s view on Hinduism has gained legitimacy, whereas the insider’s view has been sidelined, and painted as being backward, superstitious, and irrelevant.

To understand this global Kurukshetra in the academic field of Indology, it is imperative, that one recognizes the fact that ‘Outsider’ is not a homogenous entity or school of thought. One can easily classify ‘Outsiders’ into various categories based on their location, time-period, methodology adopted, etc. Secondly, the terms ‘Insiders’ and ‘Outsiders’ is not a geographical reference as such. It is a reference to the worldview a commentator on Hinduism adheres to. Anyone who is trying to present the Dharmic perspective is an insider, and anyone who is using Abrahamic or Secular worldviews is an outsider.

Let us now look briefly into various categories within the Etic tradition of Indology:

European Orientalism/Colonial Indology

Indology as a systematic study of Indian history, culture, and languages, with special focus on Sanskrit and Hinduism, started with the arrival of the Europeans, especially the British. This European Orientalism has been described as a beginning of “European enterprise with Indians as objects of Knowledge” (Gyan Prakash, 1990). In other words, its primary purpose was to assist the British to further strengthen their control over India by creating narratives of Indian history and culture that would justify European colonialism. These colonial narratives also served the cause of Christian missionaries, who used these narratives to harvest the souls.

In fact, European Orientalism could be broadly divided into two categories: Early Orientalists and Anglicists. The former, like William Jones and James Prinsep, who were influenced by rationalism of the 18th century are often considered as being more sympathetic to Indians than the latter, like Charles Grant, Thomas Babington, Macaulay and James Mill, who were influenced by evangelism and who considered India was ripe for spreading Christianity. In any case, the agenda of European Orientalism, which was dominated by German Indologists, was to justify the British colonialism, establish the superiority of the Europeans, and dismantle the Indian and Hindu society, so as to open it up for Christian soul harvesting.

Charles Grant, for example, perceived Indian society as barbarian and considered English education as the only way to plant Christianity in India. Similar views were held by Macaulay and Max Muller. The complete dismantling of the indigenous education system and their replacement by English education; the creation of the narrative of ‘Caste’, which was extracted from the European racial division of ‘Casta’ and then superimposed on the Indian society by misrepresenting scriptural Varna and the indigenous groupings of Jati and Kula and amalgamating all of them under a single racial ‘Caste system’; and the creation of the ‘Aryan invasion’ myth, which continues to divide Indian society even today, are the few examples of Colonial narratives that were created to further the cause of British colonialism.

Apart from these Academic orientalists, there were Christian missionaries, who created books and pamphlets demonizing Hinduism and Hindu practices, and used various academic productions to further their proselytization.

American Orientalism

Just as Europeans created colonial Indology to serve as aid to further their hold on India and in the words of Macaulay. “to create a class of people, who were Indians in blood and color, but, European in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect,” in the last few decades there has been newer attempts to hijack Indology and Hinduism studies from their Indian contexts, and secularize Hindu literature and practices by uprooting them from their sacred traditions. But, this time, it is the American academics, whom Rajiv Malhotra has rightly called as ‘American Orientalists’, who are calling the cards and driving the secularization project.

On the one hand, American academics like Wendy Doniger, Paul Courtright, Jeffrey Kripal, and Sarah Caldwell have created a new genre of scholarship wherein they use Freudian Psychoanalysis and project a sexual meaning and interpretation of Hindu Gods and symbols. Paul Courtright, for example, has described Lord Ganesha’s trunk as a limp phallus and Lord Shiva as a notorious womanizer. Similarly, Sarah Caldwell has described Goddess Kali as a ‘mother with a penis’, and Jeffrey Kripal has written a book describing Ramakrishna as being a homosexual and a pedophile.

On the other hand, American academics like Sheldon Pollock have portrayed Sanskrit as a political, oppressive, and a dead language. They have further attempted to secularize Sanskrit language and literature, by uprooting them from their Adhyatmika (spiritual) and Paramarthika (transcendental) foundations. They also contend that Hindu literature, especially Kavyas including the Ramayana, have been used as tools for imposing political hegemony and are inherently oppressive and discriminatory towards women and Dalits. Then, there are other Western Academics like Michael Witzel, who still propound the Aryan migration theories into India.

Indian Leftist narrative

Since India’s Independence in 1947, Indian Academia, especially in humanities department, has been slowly taken by the Marxist/Leftist historians and scholars. Indian textbooks, for example, still teach Aryan invasion/migration theories as the absolute truths, though a large number of counter evidences have been discovered in the last few decades. These Left-leaning scholars like Romila Thapar, Satish Chandra, AK Ramanujan, etc. whose narrative had aped Colonial Indology before, now imitate the narratives created by American Orientalism.

The Western narrative about Indian history, culture, and religion has become mainstream in Western and Indian Academia. Even those, who are otherwise neutral in their political outlook, tend to adhere to Western narratives regarding Hinduism, or at least use the western ‘rational’ lens to analyze Hindu culture and society. Hinduism is often abused as anti-women, and anti-Dalit, and Hindu practices are often branded as superstitions, without caring to examine the Dharmic traditions on the basis of Dharma. The narrative of Aryan vs. Dravidian, Brahmin vs. Dalit, Sanskrit as a dead language, there was no Hinduism before the British, etc. are continuously propagated in the Indian Academia.

Need for Swadeshi Indology

In one of his lectures, Rajiv Malhotra speaks about the need for creating, what he terms ‘Swadeshi Indology’ i.e. the study of India, its religions, culture, and philosophies, in short the whole Sanatana Dharma on its own terms, using its own worldviews.

It is not that there has never been any counter to the misrepresentations presented by the orientalists. Many people like Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, etc. had effectively countered the Colonial narratives on Hinduism. In recent times, many people like Ram Swarup, Sita Ram Goel, Subhask Kak, Rajiv Malhotra, David Frawley, Nicholas Kazanas, etc. have countered the mainstream misrepresentations of India and Hinduism. Some people have used the western narratives and logic itself to refute the assertions the American Orientalists, and some others have tried to bring forward the Indian worldviews.

But, many of these attempts at creating a Swadeshi Indology have been scattered, and from people who are mostly outside the Academia, with an exception of few like Professor S. N. Balagangadhara. More importantly, the Hindu tradition itself has failed to create a critique of the Orientalism, both European and American. This was partly because, the British dismantled the Hindu traditional centers of education and partly because Indological narratives are produced in English language, using academic jargons developed in the West. The traditional scholars, who have extensive knowledge in Indian knowledge systems- be it Tarka, Visheshika, Mimamsa, Vedanta, Dharmashastra, Yoga, or Tantra, they are all trained in Sanskrit language and Dharmic technical jargons. Therefore, owing to their lack of knowledge of English, and their lack of training in Western Academic methodologies, the traditional scholars are unable to express the Indic worldview in the language of Western academia and critique the Western narratives of Hinduism.

Therefore, it is the need of the hour to rejuvenate the Indian traditional centers of learning (i.e. pathashalas), and then mainstream them by including them in the Indian Academia. Also, a mechanism to train few interested traditional scholars in the methodologies of the Western academics must be created. More importantly, traditional scholars and scholars trained in Western methodologies must be brought together to collaborate and create Swadeshi Narratives of India and Hinduism, so that the Emic/Insider view on Hindu traditions and practices can stand on an equal footing as Etic/Outsider narrative in the global stage.

  • Megh

    Thank you Nithin Sridhar, for this articulate piece; very helpful as a quick primer.

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Rajiv Malhotra shares foreword of his book ‘Academic Hinduphobic’

Doniger struck a new alliance to help her make a dramatic comeback: She positioned herself with the Indian Left as their “expert on criticizing Hinduism”

Cover of 'Academic Hinduphobic'
Cover of 'Academic Hinduphobic' , source: Facebook

By Akanksha Sharma

Rajiv Malhotra.
Rajiv Malhotra, Wikimedia commons

Rajeev Malhotra’s upcoming book ‘Academic Hinduphobia’ will be available in July, 2016. It is available for pre-order at his official website

Rajiv Malhotra, an Indian-American writer, well known for his books like ‘Breaking India’ has shared the cover of his forthcoming book ‘Academic Hinduphobic’ and ‘foreword’ on social media. The book is a critique of book ‘Erotic school of ideology’ authored by Wendy Doniger.
In the ‘Foreward ’, he wrote: “In the late 1990s, a major controversy broke when I started to critique Wendy Donigerís depictions of Hinduism which most Hindus found vulgar and outright insulting. Some were too embarrassed to face them while many others found it too controversial to go public with their feelings. What started out as my debate with her students quickly turned into public outrage. There were numerous demands for better representation by practicing Hindus in the scholarship about their tradition. Soon after my initial articles, Wendy Donigerís who owned the University of Chicago® Magazine interviewed me and did a large and balanced coverage. It was their leading story. Things flared up between the Indian diaspora and the American academy for several years, with numerous mobilizations and accusations from both sides. The academic study of Hinduism has not been the same since.
He further revealed that “Martha Nussbaum, the prominent feminist, and University of Chicago colleague of Doniger, wrote a scathing book against Hindus and Hinduism with a whole chapter dedicated to me without bothering to interview me even though that was suggested to her. She and Doniger have consistently ignored my requests for a live debate in public.The theater widened across the academic and literary circles of Europe, North America, and India as more players joined in on both sides. In response to what I felt was a one-sided portrayal of the events, three supporters compiled a new book, titled, Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America, and it was published in 2007. The fallout of all this was very significant:Wendy Doniger lost her clout in the American academy and found herself on the defensive. She lost most of the students who earlier thronged at her doorstep for PhDs in Hinduism.”

Related Article: Secularism Western, Dharma Indian solution: Rajiv Malhotra
Wendy Doniger who made plagiarism charges against Rajiv Malhotra in July 2015 was criticized as he wrote “Some years back, Doniger struck a new alliance to help her make a dramatic comeback: She positioned herself with the Indian Left as their “expert on criticizing Hinduism”. Since Indian secularists are uneducated in Sanskrit and are only superficially informed about religious studies, Doniger was a useful ally to supply them “masala” which they could use in their simplistic works.In turn, the well-connected Indian secularist/leftist media and writers helped to reposition Doniger within India as a great authority on Hinduism. Soon she was winning awards in India, even though back home in the U.S. her own academic colleagues had distanced themselves because she was seen as a tainted scholar with a bad reputation.
On the changed perspective of Americans towards Hinduism, Rajiv Malhotra wrote:  “The most significant change was that there emerged a new appreciation among Hindus and a new mobilization of their leaders. It became widely accepted that it was a bad idea to outsource the study of our tradition to scholars whose lenses were programmed with Judeo-Christian and/or Marxist doctrines. In fact, no other major world faith is studied by outsiders with the same authority, power and negative perspective as Hinduism is.”

Akanksha is a student of journalism in New Delhi, currently interning with NewsGram. Twitter: @Akanksha4117


2 responses to “Rajiv Malhotra shares foreword of his book ‘Academic Hinduphobic’”

  1. Great! I look forward to this new book.
    It is truly heinous how these people like Doniger and her students have mis-portrayed divine figures of Hinduism including Swami Ramakrishna.
    Kudos to Rajivji Malhotra for his fine work.
    I request liberal students to please read Rajiv Malhotra (esp. his article – Wendy’s children) and Arun Shourie’s Eminent Historians, before deciding if they want to prostitute their brains.

    • More shameful is we Indian’s have not bothered to “resist” like Rajiv is now doing. I hope this supposedly “Hindu” govt can get its act together.

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132 Indian academicians call for removal of Sheldon Pollock as general editor of Murthy Classical Library


New Delhi: A group of 132 eminent Indian academicians, including many well-known Sanskrit scholars, have expressed strong reservations regarding Columbian University Professor Sheldon Pollock, a scholar of philology presiding over the historical project of Murthy Classical library as the general editor.

The Murty Classical Library of India was established by Rohan Murthy, the son of Infosys co-founder N. R. Narayana Murthy, with an aim to publish modern English translations of classical Indian works present in various Indian languages, including Sanskrit, Bangla, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Pali, Panjabi, Persian, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu.

The Library started publishing translations in 2015 and since its inception, Professor Pollock has been serving as its ‘general editor’. Professor Pollock is known for his controversial views on Sanskrit language and Indian philosophy.

The petition contends that “While Pollock has been a well-known scholar of philology, it is also well-known that he has deep antipathy towards many of the ideals and values cherished and practiced in our civilization. He echoes the views of Macaulay and Max Weber that the shastras generated in India serve no contemporary purpose except for the study of how Indians express themselves.”

The signatories further state in their petition that Professor Pollock is not politically neutral and has been a “prominent signatory of several statements which are of a purely political nature and devoid of any academic merit; those statements have condemned various policies and actions of the Government of India,” including two “recent statements released by US academicians condemning the actions of the JNU authorities and the Government of India against separatist groups who are calling for the independence of Kashmir, and for India’s breakup.”

Calling the Murthy Classical Library as a “historical project”, the petitioners have stated that such a project must be “guided and carried out by a team of scholars who not only have proven mastery in the relevant Indian languages, but are also deeply rooted and steeped in the intellectual traditions of India. They also need to be imbued with a sense of respect and empathy for the greatness of Indian civilization.”

They have further appealed the Murthy duo to “invite critics of Sheldon Pollock and the approaches being followed in his project, for open and frank discussions.”

Here is the full text of the petition:

Removal of Sheldon Pollock as mentor and Chief Editor of Murty Classical Library

Dear Shri Narayana Murthy and Shri Rohan Murthy,

We the undersigned would like to convey our deep appreciation for your good intentions and financial commitment to establish the Murty Classical Library of India, a landmark project to translate 500 volumes of traditional Indian literature into English. We appreciate the motives of making our civilization’s great literature available to the modern youth who are educated in English, and who are unfortunately not trained in Indian languages.

However, such a historical project would have to be guided and carried out by a team of scholars who not only have proven mastery in the relevant Indian languages, but are also deeply rooted and steeped in the intellectual traditions of India. They also need to be imbued with a sense of respect and empathy for the greatness of Indian civilization.

We would like to bring to your notice the views of the mentor and Chief Editor of this program, Professor Sheldon Pollock. While Pollock has been a well-known scholar of philology, it is also well-known that he has deep antipathy towards many of the ideals and values cherished and practiced in our civilization. He echoes the views of Macaulay and Max Weber that the shastras generated in India serve no contemporary purpose except for the study of how Indians express themselves. He has forcefully articulated this view in his career, starting with his 1985 paper, “The Theory of Practice and the Practice of Theory in Intellectual Tradition” (Journal of the American Oriental Society). He sees all shastras as flawed because he finds them frozen in Vedic metaphysics, which he considers irrational and a source of social oppression. Even as recently as 2012, he echoed this view at a talk at Heidelberg titled, “What is South Asian Knowledge Good For?”). He said:

“Are there any decision makers, as they refer to themselves, at universities and foundations who would not agree that, in the cognitive sweepstakes of human history, Western knowledge has won and South Asian knowledge has lost?  …That, accordingly, the South Asian knowledge South Asians themselves have produced can no longer be held to have any significant consequences for the future of the human species?”

Therefore, we are dismayed that Pollock has been appointed the Chief Editor and mentor of the entire program.

In his recent book, “The Battle for Sanskrit”, Shri Rajiv Malhotra has articulated that many of the writings of Pollock are deeply flawed and misrepresent our cultural heritage.

Furthermore, Pollock does not claim to be politically neutral. In recent years, Pollock has been a prominent signatory of several statements which are of a purely political nature and devoid of any academic merit; those statements have condemned various policies and actions of the Government of India. He has shown utter indifference and disrespect for democratic values and even the international norms of non-interference in the internal functioning of constitutional representative institutions in other countries.

In addition, we now find that Pollock is a prominent signatory of two recent statements released by US academicians condemning the actions of the JNU authorities and the Government of India against separatist groups who are calling for the independence of Kashmir, and for India’s breakup.

“काश्मीर की आजादी तक जंग रहेगी, भारत की बरबादी तक जंग रहेगी, भारत तेरे टुकडे होङ्गे,

इनशा अल्लाह इनशा अल्लाह”.

“The fight will continue till Kashmir is freed; The fight will continue till India is destroyed; O India, you are going to get shattered by the will of Allah.”

Beside these slogans, the disgruntled youth also went on to condemn the highest court of India by way of hoarding posters and banners describing the action of court as “judicial killing” of a terrorist.

To add fuel to the fire, Pollock by way of signing petitions has demanded that the Government of India should end its “authoritative menace”. However, we do not find him petitioning against his own USA government’s authoritative policies within its borders and around the world.

Thus, it is crystal clear that Pollock has shown disrespect for the unity and integrity of India. We submit that such an individual cannot be considered objective and neutral enough to be in charge of your historic translation project. 

We petition you to reconstitute the editorial group of your project with the following ideals in mind:

  • There must be a fair representation of the lineages and traditional groups that teach and practice the traditions described in the texts being translated. This would ensure that the sentiments and understanding of the millions of Indians who practice these traditions are not violated.
  • The project must be part of the “Make in India” ethos and not outsourced wholesale to American Ivy Leagues. Just as your visionary role in Infosys showed the world that Indians can be the top producers of IT, so also we urge you to champion the development of Swadeshi Indology. This would entail developing an entire ecosystem of India-based research, translations, journals and conferences. These would be run by leading Indian academicians as well as traditional practitioners.
  • There must be a written set of standards and policies for the entire project, pertaining to the translation methodologies, historical assumptions and philosophical interpretations that would be used consistently in all volumes.

For example:

  • How will certain Sanskrit words that are non-translatable be treated?
  • What will be the posture adopted towards the “Foreign Aryan Theory” and other such controversial theories including chronologies?
  • What will be assumed concerning the links between ancient texts and present-day social and political problems?
  • Will the theoretical methods developed in Europe in the context of the history of ancient Europe, be used to interpret Indian texts, or will there first be open discussions with Indians on the use of Indian systems of interpretations?

We urge you to invite critics of Sheldon Pollock and the approaches being followed in his project, for open and frank discussions. We are convinced that this would lead to a dramatic improvement in your project and also avoid any adverse outcome.

Scholars and Intellectuals

  1. Prof. K. Ramasubramanian, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay.
  2. Prof. Ramesh C. Bhardwaj , Professor and Head, Department of Sanskrit, Delhi University
  3. Dr. Kapil Kapoor , Former Pro Vice Chancellor, JNU, New Delhi.
  4. Dr. Girish Nath Jha, Professor of Computational Linguistics and Chairperson, Special Center for Sanskrit Studies, JNU, New Delhi. Professor & Concurrent Faculty, Center for Linguistics, School of Language Literature & Culture Studies, JNU, New Delhi.
  5. Prof. V. Kutumba Sastry, President, International Association of Sanskrit Studies, Former Vice Chancellor, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi
  6. Dr. C. Upender Rao, Professor and Chairperson, Special centre for Sanskrit Studies, JNU, New Delhi.
  7. Prof. Madhu Kishwar, Senior Fellow, CSDS, New Delhi
  8. Prof. R. Vaidyanathan, IIM Bangalore, Finance & Control UTI Chair Professor
  9. Shri N. Gopalaswami, Former Chief Election Commisioner of India, Head of the HRD ministry’s committee on Sanskrit Promotion, Chairman, Kalakshetra, Chennai
  10. Prof. Ramesh Kumar Pandey, Vice Chancellor, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi.
  11. Swami Madhavpriyadas, Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul Vishwavidya Pratishthanan, Ahmedabad
  12. Dr. K. S. Kannan, Professor, Jain University, Bangalore.
  13. Sri Ramanuja Devanathan , Former Vice Chancellor, Sri Jagadguru Ramananda  Rajasthan Sanskrit University, Jaipur
  14. Prof. Shrinivasa Varakhedi, Professor and Dean, Karnataka Sanskrit Univerity
  15. Prof. K. E. Devanathan, Vice Chancellor, S. V. Vedic University, Tirupati
  16. Dr. Pappu Venugopala Rao, Secretary, Madras Music Academy, Chennai.
  17. Dr. Sampadananda Mishra, Director, Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry.
  18. Smt. Meera H. R., Research Scholar, NIAS, Bangalore.
  19. Prof. Shashi Tiwari, General Secretary, Wider Assiciation for Vedic Studies (WAVES).
  20. Prof. Amba Kulkarni, Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced study.
  21. Dr. Bal Ram Singh, Professor and President, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA., Ex-Professor, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
  22. Prof. Malhar Kulkarni, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay.
  23. Shri Mitesh Katira, Sanskrit Bharati, Mumbai
  24. Dr. Baldevanand Sagar, Ex. Sanskrit-news-broadcaster,AIR-DD. New Delhi, General Secretary, Bharatiya Sanskrit Journalists Association.
  25. Prof. K. S. Sateesha, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi.
  26. Dr. Sudarshan, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi.
  27. Dr. P Ramanujam, CDAC, Bangalore
  28. Dr. K. Mahesh, Post Doctoral Fellow, IIT Bombay
  29. Dr. K. Venkatesha Moorthy, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi
  30. Dr. Ratnamohan Jha, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi
  31. Prof. T.P.R Nambudiri, Principal, Madras Sanskrit College
  32. Prof. Viroopaksha Jaddipal, Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupathi
  33. Prof. Rajaram Shukla, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
  34. Prof. Deviprasad Tripathi, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi.
  35. Prof. Hareram Tripathi, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi.
  36. Prof. K.P. Paroha, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi.
  37. Prof. MA Lakshmithathachar, Chairman, Centre for literary Research, Indian Institute  of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine (IIAIM), Dean, Ramanuja Vishwa Vidyapeetam, Melkote, Karnataka
  38. Prof. MA Alwar, Karnatak Samskrit University, Mysore
  39. Dr. Vinaya Chandra, Research Fellow, Development Foundation, Bangalore
  40. Dr. Anuradha Chaudhury, Research Fellow, Development Foundation, Bangalore
  41. Dr. Arathi V, Director, Vibhu Academy, Bangalore
  42. Dr. Ramachandra G Bhat, Vice Chancellor, SVYASA University
  43. Dr. Tilak M Rao, Assistant Director, Veda Vijnana Shodha Samsthanam
  44. Dr. Mahabaleshwara S Bhat, Principal, Veda Vigyana Gurukulam, Bangalore
  45. Prof. Pramod, Amrita University, Coimbatore
  46. Dr Kameshwari, Director, Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai
  47. Dr KS Balasubramanian, Deputy Director, Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai
  48. Dr TV Vasudeva, Deputy Director, Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai
  49. Dr Sita Sundar Ram, Research Fellow, Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai
  50. Prof Parthasarathy, Hon Professor, Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai
  51. Dr. Sudarshan Chiplunkar, Lecturer, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Mumbai
  52. Dr. Gayatri Muralikrishna, Asst. Professor, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Delhi
  53. Dr. Seetharama, Asst. Professor, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Mumbai
  54. Dr. Sridhara Bhat, Professor, HoD, SDM College Ujire, (Mangaluru University), Karnataka.
  55. Dr. V.Yamuna Devi, Research Assistant, K.S.R.Institute
  56. Dr. V.Premalatha, Research scholar, K.S.R.Institute
  57. Dr. Binod Singh Ajatshatru, Associate Professor of Indian Studies, Peking University (Ex), Director, The BRICS Institute, New Delhi
  58. Dr. J.S.R. Prasad, Professor&Head, Dept. of Sanskrit Studies, University of Hyderabad
  59. Dr. Ram Nath Jha, Associate Professor, Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies,  JNU, New Delhi
  60. Shri Mahamahopadhyaya Krishnamurthi Sastri, Retd. Principal, Madras Sanskrit College
  61. Shri GSR Krishnamurthy, Registrar, S V Vedic University, Tirupati
  62. Dr. Rajnish Mishra, Associate Professor, Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies, JNU, New Delhi
  63. Prof. V. N. Jha, Former Director, Center for Advanced Study in Sanskrit, Universit of Pune
  64. Shri Arjunkumar K. Samal, Principal, Darshanam Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya, Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul Vishwavidya Pratishthanan, Ahmedabad
  65. Shri Basu Ghosh Das, President, ISKCON, Vadodara, Vice chairman, ISKCON India Governing Bureau
  66. Shri Lila Purushottam Das, Principal, Bhaktivedanta Gurukula, Vrindavan, Professor, Department of Electrical Enginneering, IIT Kanpur
  67. Prof. Bharat Gupt, Former Associate Professor, College of Vocational Studies, Delhi University.
  68. Prof. Rudrapatna Shyamasundar, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay.
  69. Prof. Kannan Moudgalya, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Bombay.
  70. Prof. Sivakumar, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay.
  71. Prof. Shripad Garge, Department of Mathematics, IIT Bombay
  72. Prof. Arunkumar Sridharan, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Bombay
  73. Prof. Varadraj Bapat, School of Management, IIT Bombay
  74. Prof. Shireesh Kedare, Department of Energy Sciences, IIT Bombay
  75. Prof. Saketh Nath, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay.
  76. Dr. Kuntimaddi Sadananda, Material Scientist, Former Head of Deformation and Fraction section of the US Naval Research Lab, Acharya of Chinmaya Mission, Washington Regional Center.
  77. Prof. Rakesh Mathpal, Department of Aerospace Engineering, IIT Kanpur.
  78. Prof. Ganesh Ramakrishnan, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay.
  79. Prof Karthik Raman, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras
  80. Prof. Neeraj Kumbhakarna, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Bombay
  81. Prof. Ashish Pandey, School of Management, IIT Bombay.
  82. Dr. T. S. Mohan, Director, Pragyan Datalabs, Bangalore
  83. Prof. Devendra Jalihal, Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Madras
  84. Prof. Karmalkar, Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Madras
  85. Prof. Ashwin Gumaste, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay
  86. Dr. Deepika Kothari, Founder Vishuddhi Films
  87. Dr. Ranjan Ghosh, Lecturer, Department of Economics, SLU Uppsala, Sweden
  88. Prof. Balaji Jayaraman, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Oklahoma State University
  89. Prof. M. S. Sriram, Dept of Theoretical Physics, Univ. of Madras
  90. Prof. Anil Kumar Gaurishetty, Dept of Physics, IIT Roorkee
  91. Prof. Kavi Arya, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay
  92. Prof. Sanjay Chitnis, CMR Institute of Technology, Bangalore
  93. Prof. K Gopinath, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
  94. Prof. Muralikrishna, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
  95. Prof. Arun Agrahara, Rajeev Institute of Technology, Hassan
  96. Prof. B Mahadevan, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore
  97. Prof. TV Prabhakar, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur
  98. Dr. Samir Kagalkar, Director, eMBArkers, Fellow of IIM Bangalore
  99. Prof. S. Krishnan, Dept. of Mathematics, IIT Bombay
  100. Prof. N. Narayanan, Dept. of Mathematics, IIT Madras
  101. Prof. Murali Krishna, Dept. of Computer Science & Automation, IISc, Bangalore
  102. Prof. Amartya Kumar Dutta, Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta
  103. Prof. M.D. Srinivas, Chairman, Centre for Policy Studies, Chennai
  104. Dr. Paresh Joshi, Academic Program coordinator, Junior Science Olympiad, Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education and also Vice-President (ASIA) of International Junior Science Olympiad.
  105. Dr. Anand Bulusu, Dept. of Electronics and Communication Engineering, IIT Roorkee
  106. Dr. Ram Manohar Singh, Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Roorkee
  107. Prof. Makarand Paranjpe, Dept of English, JNU, New Delhi
  108. Prof. S. M. Deshpande, Senior Research Fellow, JNCASR, Bangalore, Former Professor, Department Aerospace Engineering, IISc Bangalore
  109. Prof. Srikanth Vedantam, Department of Engineering Design, IIT Madras
  110. Prof. Sunil Kumar, Director, Multimedia & Wireless Networks Research Group, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, San Diego State University, CA, USA
  111. Prof. Krishna Shankaranarayanan, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay
  112. Prof. Sachin Shinde, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Kanpur
  113. Prof. Umesh Sharma, Faculty of Education, Monash University, Australia
  114. Prof. Mohan Yellishetty, Faculty of Education, Monash University, Australia
  115. Prof. Kunal Mukherjee, Department of Methamatics, IIT Madras
  116. Prof. Himanshu Pota, School of Engineering and Information Technology, University of New South Wales, Australia
  117. Dr. Raghbendra Jha, Professor and Head, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University
  118. Prof. Krithivasan Ramamritham, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and Head CUSE, IIT Bombay
  119. Prof. Prasanna Gandhi, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Bombay
  120. Dr. Nagesh Bhandari, President, Indus University, Ahmedabad
  121. Dr. Rakesh Bhandari, Director, Indus Institute of Special Studies, Indus University, Ahmedabad
  122. Shri. Shankar Sharan, Associate Professor, NCERT
  123. Prof. Shekhar Babu, Amrita School of Business, Amrita University, Bangalore
  124. Prof. Sudharshan, Amrita University, Bangalore
  125. Dr. Bharati Karnik, Professor, Dept. of English, M.L.B. Govt. College of Excellence, Gwalior
  126. Dr. Amresh Shrivastava, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Western University, Canada
  127. Dr. S. B. Sharma, Executive President, Indus University, Ahmedabad, Former Deputy Director, Antenna Systems Area, ISRO
  128. Shri G. Anil Kumar, Writer, Journalist, Editor-in-Chief of Karmaveera
  129. Prof. Ritendra Sharma, Centre for Indic Studies, Indus University, Ahmedabad
  130. Prof. Harshit Jain, Centre for Indic Studies, Indus University, Ahmedabad
  131. Prof. SG Rakesh, Amrita University, Bangalore
  132. Shri CSR Prabhu, Former Director General of NIC,Govt of India


3 responses to “132 Indian academicians call for removal of Sheldon Pollock as general editor of Murthy Classical Library”

  1. ’eminent Indian academicians’?! What is ’eminent’ about this lot? Let it be clearly understood that Sheldon Pollock’s reputation is far greater than that of all these ’eminences’ all put together.

    • Would you allow someone else to control your finances? Do you get someone else to manage and maintain your wife/sister? do you give away your kids to be managed by someone else? I am sure then answer is a big NO! Then why would you allow someone else to maintain Indian knowledge and allow to be modified and twisted? If you do not care then go away because you do not care about Indian culture or knowledge anyway.

      The outsider will twist and cloud Indian knowledge, and views from their own lens. Its not their fault but that is how they view the world, they need to be corrected. If indians start reading their views and have no view of our own then we lose our identify


  2. The brahmin is my idea of your ‘outsider’. And yes, the brahmin has twisted and corrupted ‘Indian’ thought, look at how Buddhism has been besmirched by brahminism.

Next Story

Battle for Sanskrit and Sanskriti finally begins

Battle for Sanskrit

By Nithin Sridhar

For long, Hindus have allowed the outsiders to interpret our religion and traditions for us. For long, these scholars who are not practitioners of Hindu religion, but who study Hindu religion and practices through western frameworks–scholars like Sheldon Pollock and Wendy Doniger– have been considered as authorities on Hindu issues. For long, Hindu practices have been allowed to be secularized, dismantled, and uprooted from their roots.

This was partly a result of European colonialism that dismantled Sanskrit language as well as the traditional institutes of education; partly a result of left-liberal narrative of Independent India that imitated their previous colonial masters; and partly due to the failure of Hindu traditional centers to develop a critique of the modern methodologies (poorva-paksha) and reclaim the adhikara (authority) of our tradition to analyze and interpret itself.

This lacuna in the Hindu response to the western appropriation of the adhikara to interpret our traditions has been finally filled by the Indian American author and Indologist, Rajiv Malhotra, who addresses precisely these issues in his new book: ‘The Battle for Sanskrit’ The sub-heading of this bold book summarizes the whole battlefield of Sanskrit and Sanskriti (culture) thus: ‘Is Sanskrit political or sacred, oppressive or liberating, dead or alive?

Some influential western academicians like Sheldon Pollock have been arguing for long that Sanskrit has been a dead language for over a thousand years. Thus, they tend to equate Sanskrit with classical European languages like Latin or Greek and hence consider Sanskrit as being a museum artefact of the past. As a corollary Indian culture and traditions, which have their roots as well as their most creative expressions in Sanskrit, must also be considered primitive and superstitious practices of the past, which must be discarded to progress into future.

This notion is clearly contradictory to even the everyday experience of a practicing Hindu. Hindu culture or Sanatana Dharma is a perennial flow of sacredness, values, and philosophy and there has been no break in the tradition for last many thousand years. Sanatana Dharma has remained as always static at the core essence, but dynamic and ever changing in outer forms. Sanskrit, which is repository of Vidyas (knowledge) continues to be alive in Hindu culture, religion, and practices.

Malhotra strongly endorses the traditional view that Sanskrit is alive and argues that Hindu Sanskriti did not evolve as a rejection of the past, but instead as a continuation of the past. Malhotra also challenges attempts by some academicians to secularize Sanskrit knowledge repository by discarding everything connected to sacred- yajnas, pujas, etc. – as being superstitious and exploitative. This secularization of Sanskrit and Sanskriti will result in the uprooting of Hindu culture from its roots and reduction of Hinduism into materialism. Malhotra strongly counters this secularization and shows how it would compromise the integrity of the tradition.

Another area of contention is the portrayal of Sanskrit and Sanskrit as being inherently abusive and oppressive towards certain sections of society like women, Dalits, etc. Some western academics allege that Vedic philosophy is by design discriminatory and curtails intellectual freedom. The Kavyas, for example, is given as example for literatures which ancient Hindu kings used as propaganda literature to spread political hegemony over people. Similarly, Ramayana is portrayed as a political tool as well. Malhotra strongly condemns this reduction of Kavya (poetry) from being a creative mode of expression, which included various sacred and secular elements, to being a tool for establishing political hegemony. Similarly, the tradition holds Ramayana as a text that teaches Swadharma (righteous live through practice of duties) and considers Rama as a personification of Dharma and as ideal Man, which is completely antithetical to the view held by some western academicians.

Malhotra also takes up many other related issues like chronology of Hindu texts, the importance of oral traditions of Sanskrit, presence of Hinduphobia in western academia, etc.

The central issue of the whole debate lies in the question- Who owns the Adhikara (authority/competency) to analyze, interpret, and present correct essence of Hindu scriptures, culture, and practices? Is it the practitioners of the Hindu religion, who are the inheritors and rightful owners of the traditions and its symbols, who have invested their life in understanding and realizing the truth spoken in their scriptures, and who have traditionally evolved various worldviews, frameworks, and methodologies to analyze their own tradition? Or is it the Western non-practitioner scholars who study Hinduism and practices as a specimen that needs to be dissected and uses western social and cultural models to make various conclusions about Hindu religion, while completely ignoring how Hindus themselves perceive their culture and religion?

For the last many decades, western academicians have considered themselves as the rightful authority to dictate and decide what Hinduism is and what it is not, what is central tenet of Hindu philosophy and what is not, what practice of Hinduism is authentic and what is not. This book is the first serious attempt that challenges this hegemony of certain section of Western academicians. The book maps various methodologies and frameworks employed by Western Academia in Indology and Sanskrit studies and provides a thorough critique of the same from a traditional Hindu standpoint.

The battle for reclaiming the adhikara for understanding and interpreting Sanskrit and Sanskriti has finally begun.

The Battle for Sanskrit: Is Sanskrit Political or Sacred? Oppressive or Liberating? Dead or Alive? By Rajiv Malhotra, Harper Collins Publishers India 2016, Hardback, Rs 699.

Battle for Sanskrit

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