RMF Summary of a Single Discussion - March 15, 2011

This post is focused on summarizing the interesting and useful discussions generated within a single thread on the topics relating to inculturation, English colonial hand in creating the SC/ST list", Caliber of Hindu scholarship, Darwinism, etc. that included injputs from a host of well-known scholars including Rajiv Malhotra, BI co-author A. Neelakandan, K. Elst, and M. Danino, among others. We present excerpts from the original thread:

This thread was initiated by Dr. B. R. Patil who noted:
"Dear Rajiv:
I met you at IIC in Delhi and subsequently offered to organize a seminar there through CSD if a copy of your book is made available for key speakers. Let me know whether we can do what we planned to do then here.
I'm closely following your debate on SC/ST on which I did some research in 1971 at the University of Illinois. To my surprise I discovered then that SC/ST were listed meticulously by British Administrators for Vatican Church as soft targets
of conversion to Christianity as a part of their long standing plan of converting whole of India into Christianity in definite stages and phases prescribed to all missionaries working at all levels in writing..."

In response, Koenraad Elst commented:
"Please make these documents available to us. Without this, you enjoy little credibility, esp. after telling us that the greatest empire on earth acted as running-dog for the Vatican, with which the national Church of England was on hostile terms... "

Rajiv Malhotra followed up:
"Agreeing with Dr. Elst, I, too, would like to see credible evidence that the Vatican was behind the British, given that Vatican and Anglical Church had mutual tensions... "

However Venkat commented:
"Both Dr. Elst and Rajiv have made reasonable demands, and I think the best approach is for Dr. Patil to present the facts. I will make an observation and a suggetsion:

1. The tension between the Anglican church and the Vatican
notwithstanding the British government and the Vatican always collaborated just as the US did despite the tensions between the Protestant denominantions  and the Catholics... " [sic]

Kosla responded to Dr. Elst's remarks thus:
"Apropos Dr. Elst's admonition to Dr. patil:
Of course Dr. Patil should produce the documents. But all classes of professionals make numerous mistakes in there life but by and large their credibility is judged by how they conduct themselves throughout their life and not by one incident. His comment that the damage to the entire Hindu cause would be enormous, is even more egregious, because he is threatening to tar the entire Hindu community for the acts of a few... "

At this point, this thread branched off into two topics. The original one on SC/ST that was put on hold for a while as K. Elst foused on the"Caliber of Hindu Scholarship". Later, A. Neelakandan returned to the original topic here. We first go thru the new thread before returning to the original topic at the end of this post.

K. Elst commented on the Caliber of Hindu Scholarship and has some stinging criticism on the prevaling quality of discussions within Hindu ranks:
"Response to Kosla Vepa:

Hindus and Indian nationalists are already at a great disadvantage when it comes to credibility because of the sorry record of other Hindus and Indian nationalists before them. Along with anyone who associates with them. Even in circles where sympathy could be expected, my raising the issue of the Ayodhya evidence is often greeted with: "Ah, the PN Oak school?" Or my case against the AIT: "Ah, another Dr. Kalyanaraman?"

Because you only talk to captive and little-informed audiences, you simply have no idea how the outside world looks at the argumentation style of Hindu activists..."

Rajiv Malhotra partially agreed with K. Elst:
"I fully agree with KE on the poor caliber of much Hindu scholarship, its inbred nature, its lack of purva-paksha on the "others" in a rigorous manner. Many are too lazy and poorly read outside their formal professions and outside the classical spiritual literature. Not only are they lazy about doing original research, but also lazy about reading what someone else painstakingly wrote ...

But I disagree with KE that western mockery of Hindu scholarship is entirely justified...."

Sriram noted: "This is a more extreme form of the  "liberal" bias within American academia against "conservative" thought; replace liberal with West and conservative with Hindu.  Tribalism within scholar communities is fairly common and the ingroup does not often realize that they are making ad hominem attacks!    Jonathan Haidt made these observations recently  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/08/science/08tier.html"

A USHA Headquarters representative followed up:
"Unfortunately, within the Hindu leadership in the diaspora and in India, there is a lack of respect for truth, logic and facts. I attended one event in India where a prominent and well-respected Hindu leader said that Bill Clinton is a Catholic. Of course the naive audience bought it. When I told him later that President Clinton had never been a Catholic and that he is a practising Baptist, the leader said, "does it make any difference?.. "

The remaining comments in this sub-thread largely agree with K.Elst's point of view about the sub-standard quality of Hindu scholarship. We end the summary of this sub-thread here. The thread can be read in its entirety within the yahoogroups site, and now return to the original question of "SC/ST" and the English colonial influence on the creation of the list.

A. Neelakandan opined on a particular sentence of K.Elst:
"//Also, the census masterminds had their own post-Christian
Darwinian reasons for categorizing the Indians into racial groups.//

The book examines the extent to which Darwinian theories and Biblical conceptualizations played a role in categorizing Indian communities, and the extent to which there was independent thinking. It is usual in Creationist
circles to blame Darwin's evolution for all post-Darwinian racial theories and exercises including the holocaust. Our research showed that as evolution theory started ascendancy in the scientific arena, an influential section of European
elite started using this theory in social realms. They misinterpreted Darwin's usage of the word 'races'...

.... contrary to what Dr. Elst states about the social Darwinian mindset of the census makers, it was not post-Christian or secular, but it simply reinforced the colonial and evangelical ideas of civilizing (= Christianizing) the heathen/inferior race.

The authors have not simply taken in the academically fashionable Western arguments like Darwinism shaping racism, but have gone the extra step to further investigate and show the complicated nature of ideas, intentions and forces
shaping the evolution of racial frameworks ...

K.Elst responded to A. Neelakandan thus:
"Response to Aravindan:
Of course Darwinism is a post-Christian development. It broke with fundamental Christian assumptions. It is a different matter that once post-Christian developments become accomplished facts, Christians adapt and try to make use of
them. Thus, the French revolution's notion of human rights was anathema to the Church till after WW2, yet today the missionaries use human-rights talk in their
campaign ... "

Srinivasan noted that "
--Abbe Dubois' book, Hindu Manners and Customs continues to remain in the must read in the Syllabus for Christian seminary Students."

Michel Danino responded to A. Neelakandan:
"Dear Aravindan,
Points well taken, though I feel that apart from the calculation you explain, the East India Co. did see intrinsic merit in Dubois's book (which seems obvious when you read it). It wouldn't have been reprinted so many times otherwise (and
Indian publishers continue to reprint it as though it was a fine work of scholarship!)
As regards De Nobili, do you have firm evidence that he composed the fake Ezourvedam? I thought it had been settled long ago that it wasn't he but French Jesuits of Pondicherry who did it... "

A. Neelakandan in turn responded to M. Danino on De Nobili as follows, while quoting the work of Sitaram Goel:
"'Breaking India' states: "Robert de Nobili the notorious Jesuit ...committed a fraud by claiming to have discovered what he termed as Fifth Veda, which would show entire Indian tradition to be corrupted subset of Christianity. It was
presented as the Jesus Veda and made popular by European Indologists." (p.108)

Whether Robert de Nobili personally fabricated the Christian Fifth Veda or whether he got a lesser French Jesuit to do it does not change the real issue here. The fact is that he propagated this fabrication with missionary zeal both
in India and in Europe. Historian Sita Ram Goel states:

"De Nobili composed several books and tracts. They were written in Sanskrit or Tamil but packed with Christian lore... "

Carpentier added:
"It is almost a tradition for Christian missionaries in many lands to use and appropriate native symbols, texts and stories to facilitate conversion by arguing that the native religions were anticipating the coming of the Saviour and were hence approximations of Christianity. " 

R. V further notes:
"But with the strategy of "acculturation" things seem to have come back again to (mis) appropriation and deceit by the Missionary conversion apparatus in India. A very large number of converted Indian men and women carry Hindu names .. "

This ends the thread. Aravindan Neelakandan corrects an original statement as follows:
"//The fact is that he propagated this fabrication with missionary zeal...//
This should read: The fact is that he propagated this fraudulent idea of the discovery of a Christian Fifth Veda with missionary zeal..."

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