First ever video on the BATTLE FOR SANSKRIT that is under way

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Are Sanskrit Studies in the West becoming a new Orientalism?

(in Hindi with some English)

By Rajiv Malhotra

Delivered at Sanskrit Department, Delhi University, January, 2015

I felt honored to be invited by Delhi University's Sanskrit Department to deliver their annual memorial lecture this year.

My topic pertains to my latest book scheduled to come out this year.

Many Indians feel proud whenever their heritage is the subject of study by the West, without bothering to first examine in detail the nature of that study. They fail to ask critical questions like:
  • Is the study fair or is it biased?
  • Are there Western assumptions being superimposed, intentionally or otherwise?
  • Are the conclusions undermining our own traditional understanding?
  • What are the implications and consequences of such conclusions - both in shaping the image of India outside, as well as within India where such Western conclusions often become adopted blindly?
  • Are Indians losing control over the discourse of their own tradition - becoming followers rather than leaders, consumers rather than producers, of the discourse about themselves?

There are many advantages to being studied by outsiders. In the past there were debates between opposing views, and both sides benefited.

But today, Indians tend to be in such awe of Westerners who study them (the inferiority complex craving "we have arrived on the world stage"), that there has been virtually no independent Indian response to some major works by Westerners.

I was recently shocked at the blindness with which wealthy Indians, traditional Hindu organizations and media, all lined up in support of what I felt was an interpretation of Sanskrit in serious conflict with tradition.

For instance, I found the following views pervading the works that are being celebrated by Indians, none of whom could acknowledge having read these Western works adequately. The conclusions I contest include the following:
  • That Sanskrit is inherently an abusive language
  • That Ramayana is a myth designed to oppress, and has anti-Muslim resources built into it.
  • That Sanskrit is a dead language, killed by Hindu kings long ago.
  • That Sanskrit was never a language of common usage, and never in use as a spoken language.
  • That Sanskrit's role as the lingua franca of India must now be replaced by English.
  • Hence Indian vernaculars must get Anglicized and de-Sanskritized.
  • Etc.

This lecture served to bring the issues to the attention of several hundreds of Sanskrit scholars present. None of them have engaged this scholarship, even though they acknowledged its huge influence in India today.

One problem is that such scholarship is written in very dense and high flown English (by mostly Americans and the Indian students trained by them), that hardly any Sanskrit scholar in India is able to figure out what is being said. Hence, there has been no response from the traditional side.

My forthcoming book hopes to change this. I want it to provoke a debate with both sides represented.

If you have interest in the discourse on Indian sanskriti and Sanskrit, and how these are increasingly controlled by Western scholars and institutions, please watch this video.


Two Letters by a Native American on her dharma

What happened to the Native Americans
(first letter: July 2014)
A person of Native American ancestry has written a couple of important and moving letters to Rajiv ji that were shared on the forum. Excerpts are posted here. It is worth reading the letters in its entirety on the forum via the links provided.

I'm reading through the archives from end to end, a little bit every day while I read the basic books like the Bhagavad Geetaa, Upanishads in my search for answers.

I would like to say that I have Native American ancestry. I think it's important to get EVERYONE (all Sanaatanis) on board about this, or the fate of the Native Americans will be yours. Today, we are thoroughly scattered, with but a very small population with reservations here and there, supposedly sovereign, but still subject to government definitions of what makes one a real Native American..., and how this is used to further divide up the surviving Native American communities and ultimately destroy all linguistic, religious, and cultural traces of Native Americans, save for the appearances of our bodies.


(second letter: February 2015)
I have finished reading all of your articles at  I have already read several books and papers, like “Invading the Sacred,” “Arise Arjuna!” “Forum of Intentional Liars,” “Radical Universalism,” “Kali’s Child Revisited,” “Mythology Wars,” “All religions are not the same.”

I am currently reading the "Mandala of Indic Traditions” web site and "The Ten Principal Unpanishads" .. and soon, I’m getting ready to read Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata, Ramayana for now. I want to read your books such as “Being Different,” etc...

I read your article about Sanskrit phobia. I want to learn Sanskrit ... I realize now that there is so much knowledge in Sanskrit works and Indic civilization that stand to be lost to the world at large if they are not translated to a non-Indian language, or worse, if the people don’t bother to learn Sanskrit in order to know exactly what is written instead some western scholar’s biased “interpretation/translation” of a given text.

It has also become clear to me, just HOW CRUCIAL it is that Indic civilization not go by the way side and become a footnote of history. Our survival depends on it... We need this, where we have a balance between living within nature and carrying on a form of harmonious civilization, and no poor people. I feel that the reason we have poverty within the Western world is because of money, control, the structure of the industries and educational systems, not to mention the “wood burning” mentality as opposed to the garland making mentality of the Indic civilizations. This makes people who are of strong enough constitution refuse to participate in the former civilization and live under a bridge instead...

Rajiv, I had come to the understanding two weeks that I’m a Sanaatani. I’m very early in the stage of developing an understanding of Sanaatana Dharma (SD), and it’s entirely possible that I may only be able to progress to a early stage of Dharmic development and stay there because of my upbringing during the Deaf Years (first seven and a half years of my life), in which I did not have functional use of language and social norms, nor did I know anything about religion. I’m referring to a time when the Vedas were just beginning to be revealed as inner science to the people...

Also, Rajiv, I had come to an understanding that it appears my goal in life is to protect the Dharmic way of life, or consequential view of life. The consequential view of life that I have as an Ancient (having lived without the three lenses of civilization - language, social or cultural norms, and religion) says that there are consequences to everything you do in this world, whether it be those that benefits those around you and yourself, or those that hurt, destroy, tear down people and ultimately yourself in the process). You can either tear yourself down, or you can work to build up the world around you, preserve it, help others, and be helped when needed.

...It will not be okay if Sanaatanis go the way of the Native Americans. Native American knowledge is largely lost to me because of the Anglicising of my Cherokee ancestors. This is my fight to prevent what happened to my ancestors from happening to Sanaatanis.

But first, something tells me that I have much, much reading to do and learning. At the least I have learned to look at myself as a white person and how that has affected me as a deaf minority person, other white people, and how that affects anyone else who is of color.

Ignorant Hindu leaders invite Rambachan to represent Hinduism

Have they read Indra's Net?
March 2015

The attached invite:

for a May debate between Hinduism and Catholicism features Anantanand Rambachan representing the Hindus.

But he is the same person featured in my book Indra's Net as espousing the thesis of Neo-Hinduism, according to which modern Hinduism is:
  • An artificial construction done by Vivekananda
  • Is incompatible with vedanta. 
  • Was done by Vivekananda because of his inferiority complex from the West. 
  • This modern Hinduism is based on appropriating critical elements from Christianity. 
  • Hence it is more properly called Neo-Hinduism. 

He is positioned as a leader in the academy spreading this Neo-Hinduism thesis. He is also the official (honorary) Hindu appointed by the Vatican. Can he speak for both sides?

For the record: He is probably a good human being on a personal level, and this is not any ad hominem against him personally. But his life work (from his PhD onwards) has been on this thesis that creates internal conflicts within Hinduism, especially between Shankara and Vivekananda.

I have said that such internal debates have always been there, but there is not in our best interest to go to vatican and educate them and other anti-Hindu academics on how to defeat Hinduism. Rambachan has supplied the arguments being used to undermine the legitimacy of modern hinduism.

The Washington DC Hindu leaders doing this are known to me and support my work. They ought to have organized a debate in which Hinduism is represented by someone else. Encouraging a scholar who speaks from both sides is a bad idea.

Rambachan also has said many great things about Hinduism. He criticizes evangelism, for instance. But many Jesuits also criticize proselytizing. The Good Cop face does not offset the damage done by the Bad Cop side of the same person.

These Hindu leaders are unaware of the strategy of the College of Catholic Bishops in having such "interfaith" events. The poster talkes of promoting "common interests" - but do you know what these are? It is the digestion of Hinduism.

I just want to put this on the record for people to ponder. I come across such half baked Hindu leadership all over India, USA, etc. Am I wasting my life?

Rajiv ji followed up after his India trip with this additional comment:

For an honest debate, there cannot be a conflict of interest between the debaters. Rambachan has worked for the Vatican's interfaith organization as their official Hindu face. How can he be "our" representative? Its like allowing the opposing cricket team to appoint our captain. He has been extremely cozy with Francis Clooney for decades, and now these two men will pretend they are really debating "against" each other?

Why cant the Vatican debate with me, for instance? What did Sant ji learn by watching my recent debate in Houston with a prominent Christian theologian? Was Rambachan selected based on any such prior experience in public?

Secondly, the debate Rambachan must be invited ought to be on his Neo-Hinduism thesis. Instead, this setup proposed in DC will hide that side of his work, and let his Neo-Hinduism go on. That would be a way to detract away from my Indra's Net book.

My sense is that this move is Vatican's way to protect their "Hindu asset". They want to restore his credibility among Hindus.