Rejecting "Hinduism = Rightwing"

(RM forum thread from October 2014 on a topic that is as relevant today as it was then. emphasis ours).

Posted by Rajiv Malhotra:Many Hindu leaders refer to themselves as Rightwing in order to differentiate from the Left. The Left/Right categories need to be understood as an instance of Western Universalism not applicable to us.

After the French Revolution, in the new parliament it was possible for peasants also to get elected as MPs. Earlier the MPs were only feudal/landlords. However, the peasants and landlords elected did not like to sit together. For one thing, French people did not have the habit of bathing and hence their bodies would stink. The rich (landlords) had perfumes to cover up the bad odor. Perfume was expensive and used only by the rich. It was a sign of being rich. So the rich with perfume sat on one side, while the poor without perfume sat on the other side of the aisle in the parliament room.

They did not know each other by name and the atmosphere was not always friendly. People started referring to an opponent as "the person on the Right (of the aisle)", and conversely, the man on the right would refer to "the person on the Left". The journalists started reporting to the debates as positions from the Left or Right respectively. This is how the poor seeking economic equality became known as the voices on the Left, while the elitists representing wealth were the Right.

A foolish JNU student once asked me, "Sir I am confused whether you are Leftwing or Rightwing. Please clarify who you are."

I replied: My tradition is to bather my body daily. Hence no stink and no need for perfume to cover that up. So I cannot be classified either as some using perfume to cover up the odor, or as someone stinking because of the lack of perfume.

Jokes aside, the Left/Right categories are superficial, silly. In the West, Left/Right refer to two separate packages of values. But this simplification does not allow mixing and matching across these packages.

Right commonly means a religious (i.e. Judeo-Christian) person who supports pro-rich economic policy, and elitist social programs. The Leftist is for the poor, against religion, bigger government, etc.

Question: Was Mohandas Gandhi a Leftist or Rightist? He was championing the poor, making him a Leftist. But he was articulate about supporting his dharma, making him a Rightwing. Many Hindu organizations do a lot for the poor, contradicting this neat pair of categories. There are many "secular" elitists, billionaires, etc. - again not easy to put into a box.

Hindu economic thought reflected in itihas, dharmashastra, arthashastra, etc. cannot be classified as elitist. It just does not fit this strange classification system. The lifestyle mandated for a brahmin is very simple, hardly resembling the typical Rightwing American.

Hindus should not classify themselves as Rightwing. Many so-called champions of "the Hindu Right" have become sucked into WU and operate in this colonial framework.

However, I do refer to some of my opponents as Leftists, because THEY brand themselves proudly in this manner. I am simply calling them by the name they give themselves.

A White Hindu who attended my workshop yesterday in Washington did not understand why I criticized this Left/Right categorizing. I proposed that we abandon this way to classify ourselves, and classify behavior as dharmic/adharmic. Those ideas are better defined for us.

She falsely assumed that I meant: Right = dharma, and Left = adharma. Hence she felt my classification system of dharma/adharma was insulting. She has no clue what dharma/adharma means and yet she blogs as "White Hindu". Need for more education.

I am not merely changing words from English to Sanskrit. I am demolishing the framework in which Left/Right are ways of classifying all persons, my intention being to rescue Hindus from self-branding themselves as Rightwing.

As a Hindu I espouse many qualities of the American Left and yet many other qualities of the American Right. I am not limited by either. I disagree with many things on both sides. This grid does not capture who I am.

Rajiv Malhotra adds another post in the thread:

See below example of how Amercians are dissatisfied with the Left/Right dichotomy and are trying to build a new "synthetic unity". Why do we want to import this artificial divide in the first place? And then a decade later we will be borrowing American "Future Left" to cure the disease we imported. Instead we should develop new smritis using our frameworks.


A Virtual Caucus on the “Future Left"
Saturday, October 25, 2014,10:00 AM Pacific
Click here to register for the free call

We'll be explaining what we mean by the “Future Left”—and how you can recognize it in yourself and others, and why it represents the future of progressive politics. Elizabeth Debold will also be a panelist and together with Steve and Carter, we'll examine how progressive politics is changing and how you can play a role in that transformation.

Both Steve and Carter are close personal friends of mine and I have followed the development of their Institute for Cultural Evolution from its beginnings in 2012. Last April, their white paper, Depolarizing the American Mind, was released to the public on the same day as our Beyond Awakening dialogue, where Carter and Steve articulated their strategies for overcoming the "wicked" problem of political polarization in America by helping to evolve both the Left and the Right. Their thesis is that the political polarity of Left and Right is relatively permanent and existential, continuing to reappear in new forms as society changes and evolves. Their approach accordingly seeks to anticipate the future state of these existential political positions by describing the form that the “Future Left” and “Future Right” will likely take in the decades ahead.

According to Carter and Steve:

An evolutionary principle for working with positive-positive existential polarities, such as “liberal and conservative”, is that each pole needs the other for its own further and fuller development. If one pole dominates or vanquishes the other, pathology is the inevitable result. Applied to politics, this principle indicates that the most sound and politically effective liberal and progressive positions will be those that integrate legitimate conservative values, while still remaining true to their original progressive values. Conservative values can serve to improve liberal positions by challenging and moderating such positions in a way that makes them stronger. The same can be said about the role of liberal values in strengthening conservative positions.

By helping progressive politics move from a position of antithesis, which rejects many of the values of the rest of American society, to a more synthetic position that can better value what America has achieved, we hope to contribute to the emergence of progressive political positions that are able to overcome polarization and accomplish many of their laudable political goals. As described in "Depolarizing the American Mind", we are working to evolve the overall consciousness of the American electorate by increasing the quality and quantity of what people are able to value.

I invite you to join us on Saturday and help to define and develop a more evolved form of left wing politics. In this free conference call you will:
Better understand the deeper cultural and historical forces that explain how our nation has become increasingly polarized.
Take part in a “participatory caucus” where you can voice your opinion and vote for your priorities.
Develop a newfound hope and sense of potential in relation to the political, social, and environmental crises we currently face as a nation.
Discover how to view current issues through a developmental lens―which changes how we think about creating change.
Hear what pioneers of the “Future Left” have to say about the most important political issues of our time.
Develop a new understanding of what political leadership entails from an evolutionary perspective.
A Virtual Caucus on the “Future Left
Saturday, October 25, 2014,10:00 AM Pacific

Rajiv: BD explains the absence of the "middle" in western thought, hence tendency towards two mutually exclusive options.

A Grand Narrative Needs Correct Chronology : Reviving the works of Pandit Kota Venkatachalam

link to RMF thread.
NOTE: This is a long post, and I sincerely apologize for that. The topic is so vast that it is difficult to summarize. I request your patience and indulgence in reading this completely. The purpose of this extemporaneous message is to introduce the works of Pandit Kota Venkatachalam (my grandfather) and his work in re-constructing Indian chronology from primary sources. Pandit Venkatachalam’s work could potentially become the basis for the development of a Grand Narrative.
The development of a Grand Narrative for any civilization depends on its true history. The true history, in turn, depends on a correct chronology of events. Knowing that Indian chronology has been tampered with and distortions introduced by European Indologists, the roadmap to developing a Grand Narrative for Bharat is:
1.       Construct and validate the true chronology of events. The requires the removal of distortions introduced, and the re-construction from primary sources
2.       Develop the history of the civilization from the chronology. This would be accomplished by adding the social, economic, cultural and political dimensions to the chronology
3.       Develop a Grand Narrative for the civilization, based on where we came from and who we are
Fortunately, step (1) above has largely been done for us by Pandit Kota Venkatachalam. We can use this as the basis for validation to begin work on step (2) and to ultimately develop our Grand Narrative.
Brief Bio of Pandit Kota Venkatachalam
A Sanskrit scholar and historian who combined the knowledge of Geography, Mathematics, Astronomy, Jyotisha Sastra and dedicated many years of his life to the re-construction of Indian chronology from primary sources. He has written over 23 books (described below), each dealing with a specific topic. He has been conferred the titles of “Bhaarata Charitra Bhaskara”, “Vimarsakgresara”, “Paakayaji” for his works. His is other contributions include:
·         “Xandrames, Sandrocottus and Sandrocyptus” – Paper and Speech delivered at the Indian History Conference, Jaipur, Rajputana, 1951
·         Interviewee and Responder to the First Sanskrit Commission, 1956
Pandit Venkatachalam took sanyas in 1957 and became the Peethadhipati of the Sri Abhinava Virupaksha Peetham, He was known then, as Jagadguru Sankaracharya Sri Advayananda Sankarabharati Swamy.
Swamy ji attained Siddhi on November 12, 1959 AD, or Kali Saka 5060, Vikari, Karthika Suddha Trayodasi.
Summary of Pandit Venkatachalam’s Work and Results
The history of a civilization may be reconstructed from ancient texts, geological evidence, archaeological evidence, coins and inscriptions. Of these, ancient texts are usually considered the primary evidence, whereas the others are considered corroborative evidence.
Pandit Chalam exposes the motives of the Indologists who, being staunch Christians, could not accept the Hindu belief that we are in the 28th Kaliyuga, which meant that the universe was 195 crore years old. They were convinced that, according to the Old Testament, the world was created in six days during October 4004 BC.  Due to this, the European Indologists rejected the Puranas and other ancient texts as fiction, and began to look for European evidence to develop the history of India. William Jones was almost a century before Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, and geology accepting that the earth was a couple of billion years old.
Indian history had to fit within the Biblical timeline. So, William Jones, in consultation with Warren Hastings, the then Governor General, began doctoring dates to fit within this timeframe. He rejected everything before the Kaliyuga as fictional. The only event that connected the West with the East was Alexander’s sojourn to the East. Jones had to connect Alexander to some event in India. Jones and others did the following:
·         Discarded Indian texts as fictional and unreliable
·         Relied on vague accounts of foreign travelers (Megasthenes, Fa Hien, Hiuen Tsang)
·         Decided that Xandrames, Sandrocottus and Sandrocyptus, from Megasthenes’ Indika, were referring to, Mahapadmananda, Chandragupta and Bindusara of the Maurya dynasty, even though they were clearly referring to Chandramas (Chandrasri), Chandragupta and Samudragupta of the Gupta dynasty.
·         Doctored coins to falsify history, and used these as confirmatory sources of dates
·         Tampered with some inscriptions (eg, Aihole), while ignoring others
·         Tampered with Kalhana’s Rajatarangini and other books
·         Declared Vikramaditya of Ujjain and Salivahana were fictional characters and removed the dynasty of Agni Vamsa from 101 BC to 1193 AD (~1300 years) to make the timeline fit within the constraints
The results of this were:
·         Buddha got pushed from 1887 BC to the 6th century BC
·         Chandragupta Maurya got pushed from 1534 BC to 327 BC
·         Adi Sankaracharya got pushed from 509 BC to 788 AD
·         The Gupta dynasty got pushed from 327 BC well into AD
·         Vikramaditya of Ujjain, Salivahana and the Agni Vamsa kings were removed from history
Pandit Chalam spent significant years re-constructing the true chronology from primary sources while cross-referencing and validating across multiple sources. He corroborated his findings with inscriptions (eg, Aihole, two of Janamejaya’s inscriptions), archaeological evidence.
He refuted the Aryan Invasion Theory, and came up with the “Out of India Theory”, suggesting that the Mlechchha kings, particularly the Yavana Kings (kings who had stopped observing Vedic rituals and were ex-communicated. They were driven to the north-western frontier of Bharatvarsha – to what is the present day Afghanistan)  migrated westward to occupy the eastern and southern parts of Greece. This place is now called Iona, a bastardized name for Yavana, This would then explain how knowledge traveled from East to West, as well as the similarities between the Greek and Hindu systems and beliefs. 

The sources consulted by Pandit Venkatachalam for his work are too many to exhaustively name here, but a few examples are the Rig Veda, Surya Siddhanta, the Puranas (Brahmanda, Vishnu, Bhavishya, Bhagavat), Kalhana’s Rajatarangini, Nepal Rajavamsavali and Buddhist writings among many, many others. His hard work now provides us a re-constructed chronology, from which we can develop the history and thereby, the Grand Narrative.
Please let me know if you have heard of him and his works, would like more information, or would like to collaborate on future work.

A small but significant contribution towards changing the discourse

This post is reproduced from this thread in Rajiv Malhotra's forum posted by Infinity Foundation India (IFI). Please visit the forum to follow the developments in this thread and thank these two independent Swadeshi Indology (SI) scholars for their contribution.

Dear Listfolk,

two scholars from the SI movement have managed to effect a small but significant change in the official narrative of Indian history as was found in a link on the National Portal of India. They used provisions of the RTI (Right to Information) and the Public Grievances mechanism, to engage with ICHR, PMO, MHRD and NIC for about 6 months to get the change effected.

Their achievement can be tracked through the below note. We hope that more scholars from the SI movement will be able to make meaningful interventions in the coming years on very many issues that pertain to the discourse on India.

Many thanks to Manogna and Megh for their efforts.

A note from them is appended below:

The "History" link in the section "Know India" on the National Portal of India, a link on India's Ministry of External Affairs website, which receives about 30,000 views* each month (*Statshow estimates as on 2017 May 20), until April this year contained the following information in its narrative about India's history: 
In the section “The Indus Valley Civilization”:
"Among various causes ascribed to the decay of Indus Valley Civilization are the invasion by the Aryans, the recurrent floods and other natural causes like earthquake, etc."
In the section “Vedic Civilization”:
"The Vedic civilization is the earliest civilization in the history of ancient India associated with the coming of Aryans. It is named after the Vedas, the early literature of the Hindu people. The Vedic Civilization flourished along the river Saraswati, in a region that now consists of the modern Indian states of Haryana and Punjab. Vedic is synonymous with Aryans and Hinduism, which is another name for religious and spiritual thought that has evolved from the Vedas. The largely accepted view is that a section of Aryans reached the frontiers of the Indian subcontinent around 2000 BC and first settled in Punjab and it is here, in this land, where the hymns of Rigveda were composed. The Aryans lived in tribes and spoke Sanskrit, which belonged to the Indo-European group of languages. Gradually, the Aryans intermingled with the local people and a historic synthesis was worked out between the Aryan tribes and the original inhabitants. This synthesis broadly came to be known as Hinduism. The Ramayana and Mahabharata were the two great epics of this period."
In the section “Indian Freedom Struggle (1857-1947)”: 
"In ancient times, people from all over the world were keen to come to India. The Aryans came from Central Europe and settled down in India."
One way to see more clearly, the implications of statements above, might be to read them again after re-ordering some of them, as follows:     

1. The Vedic civilization is the earliest civilization in the history of ancient India associated with the coming of Aryans.
2. The Aryans came from Central Europe and settled down in India.
3. The largely accepted view is that a section of Aryans reached the frontiers of the Indian subcontinent around 2000 BC and first settled in Punjab and it is here, in this land, where the hymns of Rigveda were composed.
4. Vedic is synonymous with Aryans and Hinduism, which is another name for religious and spiritual thought that has evolved from the Vedas.
5. The Aryans lived in tribes and spoke Sanskrit, which belonged to the Indo-European group of languages.
6. Gradually, the Aryans intermingled with the local people and a historic synthesis was worked out between the Aryan tribes and the original inhabitants. This synthesis broadly came to be known as Hinduism.
7. Among various causes ascribed to the decay of Indus Valley Civilization are the invasion by the Aryans, the recurrent floods and other natural causes like earthquake, etc.

One way to summarize the above could be:

Vedic Civilization is associated with the arrival of some Central Europeans (Aryans) who spoke an Indo-European language Sanskrit, invaded Indian subcontinent around 2000 BC, contributed in ending the so-called Indus Valley civilization and during their stay composed the Rig Veda and "worked out" Hinduism while they "intermingled" with "the original inhabitants".

What should be evident to any objective reader is how (unsubstantiated hypotheses such as) Aryan Invasion and (Proto-) Indo-European have been used to ascribe (atleast in part and covertly, at the very least) origins of Vedas, Sanskrit and Hinduism to Central Europe when, till date, no absolutely conclusive evidence proves either of these, what may be not unreasonably called "motivated", hypotheses. [For some recent treatments of "Aryan" and "Indo-European", see Chavda A.L. (2017), Aryan Invasion Myth: How 21st Century Science Debunks 19th Century IndologyKazanas, Nicholas (2017), Fallacies of Proto-Indo-EuropeanSastry, Manogna and Kalyanasundaram, Megh (2017), Purva Paksa of Sheldon Pollock's Use of ChronologyDanino, Michel (2016), A series of lectures on the Aryan issue - PART 01 and The Aryan Issue (2016); Malhotra, Rajiv (2011), Breaking India, p. 15-35 “Inventing the Aryan Race”]. 

Through an engagement that spanned about 6 months [see timeline below] with the Indian Council of Historical Research, the Indian Prime Minister's Office, India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development &  National Informatics Centre, using common public mechanisms - RTI (Right to Information) [No. 3-259/2016- ICHR/RTI] & Public Grievances [PMOPG/E/2017/0123386, MINIT/E/2017/01091] - the narrative of Indian History on the National Portal of India was corrected, in 2017 May, with removal of "Aryan", "Indo-European" and "Central Europe" (See column "What is the change effected" in Table below for a detailed log of all changes). Summary of the relevant questions in the original RTI petition mapped to changes implemented (with Before/After details) followed by a timeline of key events are included below:

Summary of Questions in RTI, Status of Change effected, Statement/s Before & After Change & Actual change effected

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 10.36.17
Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 10.36.33

Screenshots (Before/After)


Screenshot- Before-2


Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 09.00.45


Screenshot- Before-4

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 09.01.30

Screenshot- Before-3

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 09.02.12

2017 Jan 04: RTI: 3-259/2016-ICHR/RTI to ICHR, with questions pertaining to content on KnowIndia website, in line with the mission statement of ICHR 
2017 Feb 07: Response letter (snail-mail) from ICHR signed by Deputy Director/CPIO (Dated Feb 7)
2017 Feb 20: Face-to-Face meeting at ICHR, Delhi with CPIO, First Appellate Officer (Member Secretary) to get clarifications on response letter from CPIO 2017
2017 Mar 03: Grievance PMOPG/E/2017/0123386 registered
2017 Mar 15: Forwarded from PMO to Director ICR in Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) which was then forwarded to Member Secretary, ICHR 
2017 Mar 21: Second Letter from ICHR, this time signed by Member Secretary (Dated Mar 21) with copy to Director ICR
2017 Mar 28: Face-to-Face meeting with ICHR Chairman
2017 Mar 30: PMOPG/E/2017/0123386 disposed with reference to Mar 21 letter from Member Secretary
2017 Apr 03: Mail sent to ICHR Chairman escalating disposal and requesting clarifications. Grievance MINIT/E/2017/01091 registered     
2017 Apr 07: Telephonic conversation with NIC official to whom MINIT/E/2017/01091was forwarded
2017 Apr 09: Grievance MINIT/E/2017/01091 also disposed. Email to NIC in-charge seeking clarifications to actions requested in disposal     
2017 Apr 10: Reminder mail to ICHR Chairman along with additional evidence
2017 Apr 21: Interdepartmental engagement - NIC & ICHR - email sent from NIC to ICHR
2017 May 02: Status update mail from NIC Grievance Cell to Megh with Apr 21 inter-departmental communication included as attachment
2017 May 07: Changes w.r.t. to Questions 2, 4-8 noticed; mail sent requesting change w.r.t. Question 3
2017 May 11: Changes w.r.t. Question 3 noticed

Thank you.


Team IFI