Rajiv Malhotra's preliminary response to the review is as below. A more detailed response is to follow soon.
I just read Shri R. Ganesh's critique of my book closely. I am going to develop a detailed point by point response. But meanwhile, I wanted to say a few things for now:
I wish to start by thanking him for showing so much interest in my work. It is a very useful criticism for various reasons. For one thing, all such responses, regardless of their substance or reliability, serve to wake up the traditional scholars and compel them to pay attention to the prevailing intellectual battlefield. Furthermore, such criticisms also give me a chance to take my book’s debates deeper. His criticism is well-intended, and he seems to want to “outsmart” my purva-paksha of Pollock. That is most helpful and welcome.
However, there are numerous serious errors, misunderstanding and contradictions, both in substance and in the logic used by him.
For one thing, he does not seem to have read much (if anything) of Pollock directly, and uses my work as secondary access to the subject matter. (Ironically, he criticizes me for relying upon secondary works on Sanskrit texts.) This deprives him of the full context of Pollock's writings that I am evaluating. He also lacks an adequate understanding of the broader Western idiom and theories in which Pollock's work is couched. It is misleading (though a common bad habit) to surgically pluck out a sentence here and there and comment on it. Pollock's work has to be understood holistically first, and it becomes clear that Ganesh has not taken the time to do that. My detailed response will show this shortcoming of Ganesh in specific cases.
Nor does he seem to have understood my book correctly. He also cites one of my prior books, but misunderstands it on important issues. For instance, he asserts that I am against the diversity of Indian traditions. Nobody who has followed my work would say such a thing. In fact, my earlier book, Being Different, which he cites, says the exact opposite: it contrasts Indian diversity with the Western normative quality and Abrahamic emphasis upon "one truth".
Actually, a central highlight of Being Different is that it goes beyond the common platitudes we read about our diversity, and proposes a comprehensive theory on why this is so. The contrast between what I call history-centrism and adhyatma-vidya are key building blocks I have introduced to explain not just the diversity in our traditions, but more importantly why this diversity exists. This insight as to the underlying causes of diversity in one civilization and monoculture in the other civilization is worked out in considerable detail in my work. I doubt that Ganesh has understood the depth of this theory.
Later on, in my subsequent book, Indra's Net, I develop this thesis further into what I call the open architecture of dharma systems. Not only is there immense diversity, but at the same time there is profound underlying unity - hence there is no fear of chaos as in the case of the Abrahamic systems. There is no control-obsession in our culture to the extent of the West. I explain why this is not, whereas most writers have been content merely stating that this is so, without adequately asking why.
Given that this theory of our diversity has been one of my important areas of work, I find it disappointing that Ganesh not only remains ignorant of it, but that he misrepresents me in exactly the opposite direction.
Besides his inadequate understanding of both Pollock’s and my writings, Ganesh is also making some illogical statements. Ironically, these are made with the stated purpose of exposing "Malhotra's pseudo-logic". I will explain this in my detailed article.
I will also argue against Ganesh's understanding of our tradition in specific instances, the area where he should be much more qualified than I am. No doubt he has immense memory and citation expertise. I admire him greatly for these accomplishments. But just as an ipod machine can recite millions of things without always understanding them, I will show where he lacks proper understanding of our traditional worldview on the very topics he discusses very explicitly in this article.
Finally, I will address the issue he starts out with: whether I am qualified to do such a project. Our tradition has encouraged and even valorized innovative thinkers who seemed to lack formal training, but who successfully challenged those with eminent “credentials”. This is an instance of his arrogance, and I shall dwell upon the merits of a given individual’s background. I will explain what exactly the project here is about (which he does not seem to grasp properly), and my relevant experience and expertise in doing it; I will let the reader decide for himself.
In fact, I will question whether Ganesh has the required intellectual training in specific areas of competence that are necessary for this kind of work that I have undertaken. I doubt he has much real-world experience in the global intellectual kurukshetra, which is not to be confused with meetings of “like-minded people” sitting in India. For the global battlefield, what would be the relevant experience equivalent to his 1,000 avadhanas? I submit it is the experience of going into the line of enemy fire, surrounded by a hundred opponents or even more, and being able to hold one’s ground, and come out wiser for the next encounter. I have had these (well over 1,000) live experiences in audiences where I have been the only Indian or Hindu, where there is blatant intimidation and mockery, where every attempt has been made to belittle such attempts, and where I had nothing personal to gain and all my reputation and social credibility to lose.
These are two entirely different types of yajnas Ganesh and I have done. In my case, it entailed a sacrifice of my thriving professional life in order to dedicate myself for 25 years to do this with full intensity. I will explain what I have learned that is critical for the present undertaking, and how the lack of this capability is a handicap Ganesh is blissfully oblivious of. While I am aware of my shortcomings and explain in my book the necessity for qualified insiders like Ganesh to join as team players, he seems to lack the self-reflection required to appreciate his own limitations in this battle. So the appreciation and respect is one-way, unfortunately: I appreciate his value as an intellectual warrior.
I am preparing a more detailed response to some of the glaring errors in Ganesh's article. I shall do this in the same spirit as the article by Ganesh – i.e. in keeping with the Indian tradition to debate opponents with mutual respect. We must set aside issues of personality, who is who in credentials or public image. Let us focus only on facts and arguments.
I will be back in a few days.