The strange case of the re-de-re-colonized Ananya Vajpeyi

The following blog post is the response from Rajiv Malhotra to a most mischievous write-up in the Hindu by Ananya Vajpeyi, and our followup study that tracks the ecosystem (the people, the nature of discourse, the institutions) that has nurtured and promoted Ananya Vajpeyi's anti-India and anti-Hindu activities.

A Brief overview of the ecosystem

Ananya Vajpeyi, now working with Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) in India has been groomed by Sheldon Pollock, Professor of South Asian Studies at Columbia University, and others who have been associated with the Breaking India forces in a very organized manner. As Rajiv Malhotra has extensively researched, she is part of a large group of Indian "intellectuals" who have been carefully groomed by the western nexus that controls the discourse on Hinduism and by extension the dominant narrative about India in Indian media. This nexus aims to undermine Hinduism which is the civilizational basis for India in a slow and deliberate manner by focusing on issues like human rights, caste, women empowerment and the like and linking it with Hinduism in an aggressive yet persuasive manner with the result that the average Hindu reading such articles feels extremely conscious and in fact ashamed of his so called civilizational heritage. This then feeds further scholars riddled with inferiority complex into the university factories of this nexus to further strengthen the brain-washing. Sheldon Pollock has been so suave that he has managed to rope in people like Narayana Murthy of Infosys for his/his nexus project of first undermining the social fabric and then breaking/Balkanizing India. The other interesting fall out is the soul harvest, that pet project of Christianity that is made possible by the narratives generated by discourses like the ones generated by this nexus.

Here's a very important update on the thread from Rajiv where he has posted an excerpt from Breaking India, his deeply researched book on the nexus working mainly from abroad to undermine
and fragment India.

"The following excerpt from "Breaking India" is a small sample of what is wrong with hoisting Sheldon Pollock as the award-winning "Friend of India". He is now on a roll, rapidly taking control of Sanskrit Studies with massive funding from Indians who think they are helping "promote" their dharma::

Blaming Indian Civilization

Despite the fact that it was European scholarship which had misappropriated, distorted and abused Indian traditions for European identity politics, there is still a tendency among certain western scholars to put the blame for European racism and Nazism at India’s door. Sheldon Pollock, professor of Sanskrit at Coloumbia University promotes this view. According to Pollock "high Brahminism" as represented by the Mimamsa School contributed to the "ideological formations of precolonial India" and Nazism tried implementing this "at home" in Germany.[1] Pollock argues that it was this that ultimately led to the "legitimation of genocide".[2] Wilhelm Halbfass takes such ridiculous statements to ironic speculations,
"Would it not be equally permissible to identify this underlying structure as "deep Nazism" or "deep Mimamsa"? And what will prevent us from calling Kumarila and William Jones "deep Nazis" and Adolf Hitler a "deep Mimamsaka"?
We can se the implications of Western Indologists continuing to use the idea of the Aryan in the Indian context, with references to “Aryan invasions” and so forth. As will be shown in subsequent chapters, European racial ideas conveniently made their way into India, where they were reframed in terms of light skinned “Aryans” and dark skinned “Dravidians.” These distinctions were first promoted in colonial times, but remain powerful to this day in the study of India.

[1] (Pollock 1993, 77-78)

[2] Pollock will be discussed again in Chapter 14.

[3] (Halbfass, Research and Reflection; Beyond Orientalism 2007, 17)"

Following are some links on this very blog which have been the subject of past threads on the mentors/friends of people like Ananya: Sheldon Pollock, Narayana Murthy, Basharat Peer. Basharat Peer, Ananya's husband is a journalist based in New York who writes for NYT, Guardian etc. But Peer is more well known for his sympathy to the Kashmiri separatist cause. Read his interview on WSJ here. He was also head honcho for the virulently anti-India NYT India Ink blog that was recently shut down.

This is a thread which turns the spotlight on Narayana Murthy.

Here is a link which has a video talk by Sheldon Pollock (one of Breaking India nexus) currently currying much favour in Indian intellectual circles. This link also has discussions on various Breaking India forces at work in the USA with names.

Here's another thread on the Rajiv Malhotra discussion forum which discusses Sheldon Pollock.

Lit fests are another way for the Western nexus to operate and William Dalyrmple's Jaipur Lit Fest is one such place that attracts many of these Breaking India sepoys: the class educated and nurtured in the West for the furtherance of the West's own propaganda. Ashis Nandy is one such sepoy who created a furore at the Japiur fest in 2013 which immediately propelled the likes of Ananya Vajpeyi to lunge to his defence in her article here. In her article she says "One of India’s greatest living thinkers, who has written about some of the most sensitive fault-lines in our society with insight and compassion for over four decades, and supported countless social movements with his ideas and words, finds himself accused of hurting the self-esteem of the weak and the disenfranchized. The peculiarity of this situation bears some reflection. On the one hand, it could be argued that it is common knowledge that crime, corruption and venality are not restricted to any class, caste, religion or gender — a quick look at the scams that have surfaced just within this administration of the United Progressive Alliance government, since 2009, would bear out a minimal claim of this order." 

Ananya in the above quote conveniently leaves out mentioning data to support her claim of the break up of people caste wise (or religion wise) of those involved in scams. This is standard procedure of this nexus. They are always short on hard data while extremely long on theories and continuously quote each other in a self serving circle of buddies and comrades slapping each other on their back for their excellent scholarship. The above is just one example from her article and there are many like this strewn throughout the article.

Rajiv Malhotra has also had a debate with William Dalyrmple on twitter where he corners Dalyrmple on his Lit Fest. One can assess the debate worthiness or the lack thereof of Mr. Dalyrmple here.

"private" email  allegedly written by Ananya trying to malign Arundhati Roy's essay on Ambedkar's landmark writing Annihilation of Caste has been around on the net for a while. The said email has also been referred to in another widely read blog Newslaundry. Incidentally, Arundhati Roy is also part of the very same Breaking India nexus and she has been discussed on the forum. One of the threads involving her can be found in this summary.

Discussion Thread

Rajiv writes:

The above article by Ananya Vajpeyi (now a prof at CSDS, Delhi) reminded me of the following memories from the past.The only time I met this young scholar in person was at an annual conference of the American Academy of Religion, where I was saddened by the heavily "caste, cows, sati, dowry" focus in her paper. The paper's title and abstract had fooled me into expecting something more balanced & sensible about Sanskrit. It was clear that this PhD student felt compelled to politicize Sanskrit - emphasizing mainly how it was abusive of caste and women.Later, I learned from her former JNU prof Kapil Kapoor that she had studied under him, and hence had become encouraged to go abroad for further Sanskrit studies. He mentioned this during my discussion on how Ferdinand Sassuere had used Pannini's Sanskrit grammar and other Sanskrit texts to formulate his theories on structuralism. He mentioned that Ananya had done her MA on this very  topic in UK - a topic inspired by him. But later she Uturned upon reaching USA for her PhD. In fact, she was reluctant to share her own MA dissertation once she went to USA, as its thesis [ran] counter to the anti-Sanskrit camp she had joined. Prof Kapoor promised me several times over the years to get her MA dissertation for my reference, but never managed to get this from his own former student. Now in this latest article she lashes [out] against him as someone in the Modi era -- she belongs in an anti-Modi camp. I also once met her father, a distinguished Hindi scholar, through a mutual friend in Delhi. I explained to him my work in exposing Hinduphobia and biases against our sanskriti. He confidently replied that his daughter was an example of young scholars who will counter such biases. He was so proud of her while she was still a student in USA. Little did he know. How naive parents can be regarding where their children are headed intellectually after leaving home.The story gets worse. Her network of contacts in Delhi lobbied with Sonia G's cabal to get a Padam Shree award for her PhD adviser, Sheldon Pollock. He is the author of the infamous book "The Death of Sanskrit". He more than any other individual has helped to reposition the study of Sanskrit into terms and filters of "caste abuse". While Indian leftists already hated Sanskrit, they lacked direct knowledge of the language or its texts. This is where Pollock has provided them ammunition by training a  small army of sepoys like Ananya, and got them jobs in India, from where they carry out the civilizational war far worse than the Brits ever could. With this background you can see through her article in The Hindu. She calls Sanskrit studies "biased" in India - parroting the predictable allegations about gender and caste. But here's the elphant in the room she misses: She has nothing to say about the massive biases against Sanskrit and sanskriti in the Western academy  of which she is a product. Why this silence? Why no honesty to critique her own peer group of western Indologists? What about this bias? Her article uses Dina Nath Batra merely as a straw man. But her real target is Sanskriti. Notice the nuanced praise for Sanskrit, while in fact ending up debunking its legitimacy -- seen as a scourge for human rights of the "downtrodden".Indians are exceedingly naive about praise for the likes of Pollock and their trained sepoy armies. What a slick move to title her article ""My Sanskrit". We are up against a large army of such "Made in USA" Indian scholars with expertise (but no shraddha) for Sanskrit/Vedas/Hindus.

Following the above response, the thread on the forum saw quite a lot of activity.

Narasimhan writes:

"Who can be more useful than some one who parades her Sanskrit? A great insider and mole - at least that's what she wants them to think. She is also a student of Ananthamurthy, D.R. Nagaraj and other "anti-brahminism" poseurs. I wonder if Meera Nanda is jealous."

Come says:

"I have known Ananya for many years and have in fact written on her FB page to emit similar reservations and objections about her thesis in this latest article. I think she has become radicalised since she married Basharat Peer. However I think that she felt personally humiliated in her feminist convictions by some of her old sansrkit mentors in India who evinced traditional Brahminical prejudice against westernised young women eager to modernise and westernise indian society. She was thus reinforced in her conviction, nurtured in the USA, that Indian orthodox society is narrow-minded, bigoted and closed to reform. She was very well treated in honoured in the USA academic community and she is hence deeply loyal to Pollock, Doniger and other pillars odf American indology so that she takes personally any attack on their work and ideas."

Sreedhar adds:

"[] It is clearly very inferior in terms of scholarship. All her
other writings are the same:

Look at her job title: 

Ananya Vajpeyi is an associate fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi. []
Just a sepoy. Who gets to name these places??! Centre to study Developing Societies."

Rajiv responded to Sreedhar with these words:

"I have known and followed CSDS. It was set up as a sepoy training academy. I feel sorry for Madhu Kishwar who is working there but is now surrounded by people ganged up against her."

Ananya's profile at CSDS reads like this.

Rajiv then follows up with a post further elaborating the nexus that creates sepoys like Ananya. The very IMPORTANT observations are reproduced here.

Ananya is the face of what these new sepoys are looking like:
  • Like the prior ones, they can be: very sharp, intelligent, articulate, courageous, outspoken. But unlike before, the strategy has new qualities given below:
  • Unlike sepoys of the past, these new sepoys are Sanskrit educated in USA by the likes of Hawley, Pollock, Doniger, Witzel and a dozen other PhD factories.
  • In return, they get their mentors like Pollock big awards by Indian govt -- Padam Shree for Pollock about 2  or 3 years back is one example. Also, Narayan Murthy selected Pollock to be editor in chief of his $20 million grant to translate classical Indian works into English. You can imagine which translators he selects and what filters/biases they are required to utilize in their interpretation. [There is a link on HHG which refers to the funding given to Pollock by Narayana Murthy]
  • Most Indians get fooled because these sepoys can play both sides skilfully. Ananya looks like a sweet Indian girl who gets sympathy from the moron "uncle jis' and auntie ji's" at Indian gatherings."She is like our beti", is the type of sympathetic response the nexus wants to elicit in deploying such sepoys.They know the psychology of Indian morons.
  • About 100 - 250 such sepoys have been trained at PhD level in the past 15 years in the West, mostly in USA.
  • The raw material is brought to USA from places like JNU and other similar leftist universities, to make sure the person is vulnerable and ready for advanced training and brainwashing.
  • These people are now spread widely in India - universities, media, think tanks (like CSDS), etc.
  • The new govt lacks adequate screening of such folks as they try to sneal into important organizations where they will serve their masters in the West.
  • The game has become far more dangerous. I started monitoring this strategy around year 2000 when I had a big fight with Jack Hawley's "Indian team" of students at Columbia -- all from JNU, all doing PhDs in Hinduism. The reaction from Hindu activists and leaders in USA was pathetic. They had no clue. They came across like a bunch of unsophisticated and uninformed persons not interested in learning what I had to say.
  • My sources inform me that Sringeri mattha is likely to fund several million dollars to help these PhD factories. This is how ignorant our folks are. But who am I in their eyes to listen to? The white scholars are so smooth in impressing the Indian fools, using their skills with Indian languages and culture.
  • Nothing has changed since British colonialism. In fact, the Americans have upgraded their game considerably. Macaulay must be smiling in his grave.
Radhakrishnan responded with this:

"unfortunately the Vadakalai ( a vaishnavite Brahmin sect of Tamil Nadu) Iyengar owned "The Hindu" gives a prominent space to these anti-Hindu sepoys. Other favourites of this daily are Shiv Viswanath as if he is competent to write anything about Shri.N.Modi and or BJP, Harsh Mander, Teesta Setalvad, Markandey Katju, Jyoti Punwani etc.,"

Rajiv expressed his frustration at being unable to make Hindus look at the big picture with respect to the global Kurukshetra that confronts the often naive Hindu. He expressed his frustration thus:

" I have put this post through just to illustrate how some fools like to reduce every issue to one or two names items which they know. 
  • Did you not read even one sentence about all the points in my posts on this thread? Are you content simply knowing about a few things and reducing all else to those?
  • Repeating again: This thread is about the nexus at places like Columbia U producing new young sepoys like Ananya, under the tutelage of senior scholars like Pollock.
Here is a partial list of issues I tried to raise very explicitly and directly in this thread, but this fool ignored every one of them. Please notice and discuss the following points I raised, and not what his above posts tries to do by sidelining all these:
  1. How Hindus in India get co-opted and taken for PhDs to centers where they get turned into sepoys.Did you get this, please?
  2. The parents in India might be well known Hindu/Hindi/Sanskrit scholars - that makes the young scholar even more valuable. Did you get this, please?
  3. Wealthy Indians like Murthy are doling out funds to help boost such western nexuses even further.Did you get this, please?
  4. GOI gives award to such scholars, making them even more famous. Did you get this, please?
  5. These young sepoys differ from the old guard leftists, because of their Sanskrit. Indian languages and Hinduism formal training. Also they are much more charming. Did you get this, please?
  6. A large number of such folks are now insiders within many influential places in India. Did you get this, please?
Did the person get any of this? 
Does someone know a better way to either get rid of such interference, or else boost their IQ? I tried for 20+ years to inject some tapas in them but failed. In every audience I address, the vast majority are over opinionated but uninformed, and quick to be reductive, and collapse whatever I say into some old, well known, simple form. I find this insulting to my hard work. Hence my frustration."

The same frustration with people not seeing the big picture is felt when one reads the article on the Ananya issue at CRI, a RW blog today. 

While Shibu said:

"What saddens me most about this is not the fact that she is showing sanskrit in poor light through a vulgarised lens ( leftiist sati caste dowry bias ) , but the fact that they took one of our own intelligent bright young daughter of a scholar and turned her into a sepoy.

This is violence of the most ugly form and amazing how parents cannot be aware of such violence."

Rajiv responded by saying that it was more saddening that parents have a false sense of pride regarding the scholarship of the progeny in the West without understanding that the situation is no different from the time when the British grew and nurtured zamindars and brown sahibs for their own interests.

He also added:

"And what about the fact that Narayan Murthy donated $20 million to this gang's headquarters (Pollock in Columbia) to control the translation of classical Indian texts into English?

And what about the rumors that some prominent Adi Shankara mattha followers are about to donate millions to empower the gang even further?

Why are the "Hindu leaders in north America" sleeping on such matters that require brains and hard work - the same folks who will line up on stage with Modi to get limelight in India? Why does the Hindu community fail to apply standards of leadership on such persons before showering them as netas?"

Ashok observed:

"What I would like to know is what I can do to change this absurd situation of Indians needing to go to the USA and UK to earn PhDs in Sanskrit of all things!
I have been bringing up these points (which I was ignorant of until I joined this group) with the few rich philanthropic friends that I know, in the hope of sowing the seeds of them providing monetary support towards such further education becoming available in India, and it being prestigious enough that our youngsters don't feel they have to go to The USA to learn Sanskrit. 
What I do not have access to is the real powers who can make things happen, i.e. the educational politicians. 
The political environment however could not be better for such lobbying, and I am sure most in our group would provide support for this in their own 'yatha-shakti'."

To which Rajiv replied thus:

I suggest that you focus where you DO have influence stop scattering where you do not.

Since wealthy philanthropists are your contact base, you should work on: 

  • why are such folks funding the wrong projects in USA costing millions of dollars per chair? 
  • Why are they not consulting me before doing this, in order to get due diligence before spending their hard earned money?
  • Why not instead fund our research which has a proven track record, and where we can produce a lot of concrete output with small budgets compared to the typical $3 million to $5 million being given for one chair in USA?
More on Ananya from Rajiv:

"Twitter folks theorize that Ananya uturned only after she married Bashrat Peer, a Kashmiri journalist notorious for his anti-Modi writings in places like New York Times. This is false.I met Ananya in 2005 when she was already very Hinduphobic under the influence of Sheldon Pollock. He is the Sanskritis who wrote "The death of Sanskrit" but has been very successful impressing Indian donors with his "love for Sanskrit".The issue is this: There must be shraddha and sadhana to ground the student. This was always a requirement. People like Pollock by "secularizing Sanskrit" have removed the development of the antah-karana in the student. So "anything goes" in a person's lifestyle in their approach to teaching Sanskrit. This is meant for bookworms as in the case of Abrahamic religions where "hermeneutics" is strictly a matter of text analysis through mental gymnastics.When you throw away the injunctions requiring inner practice, you encourage Sanskrit becoming both distorted and digested.Ananya is a product of this approach."

The team at HHG invite you to become a member of the Rajiv Malhotra discussion group to learn and understand the true nature of the Kurukshetra that confronts a Hindu in this day and age. You can access this particular discussion thread here after you have signed up on yahoo groups.


  1. Collection of followup responses to AV's gross distortion in the The Hindu newspaper.

    1. Sanskrit Scholar @RohiniBakshi: Ananya Vajpeyi, this is the story of my Sanskrit

    2. Saurav Basu: The enemies of Sanskrit learning

  2. I must thank you for this wonderful article, and this incredible resource. I have referenced it multiple times in just a month. Invaluable.