Bangalore Lit Fest 2014

Rajiv Malhotra was one of the popular speakers and debators at the Bangalore Literature Festival, 2014. Two Videos from that event are provided below.

1. Debating Hinduism and the Indian Grand Narrative


2. A country Gagged & Bound?


New Jersey evangelists target Divali for digestion

This post is about the unceasing insidious attempts to digest every Hindu festival (this time its Deepavali) into Christianity/Jesus.

Rajiv writes in the forum.

Pls read the attached [embedded] 2-page flier being distributed to Hindus on the streets for the past many days. 

Oak Tree Road is a high traffic shopping center for the Indian community. People are going about in the Divali festivities. There is a well orchestrated distribution of this Biblical digestion of Divali. Maybe the same is also happening in other states.

Sadly, some Hindus find this a good thing because it means "Divali is being appreciated" by the Church.

Evangelists target Divali digestion

Are anthropological studies as carried out in the West a violation of Human Rights?

This post summarizes a thread on the Rajiv Malhotra yahoo discussion forum which asks some really valid and disturbing questions of the nature of anthropological studies on India carried out in the West, particularly in prestigious American universities.

Invading the Sacred is the first book by Rajiv Malhotra that deals with many distortions that are perpetuated by Indology studies carried out by Western scholars.

Here are two links to summaries of a couple of chapters/chapter sections available on this forum.

This link summarizes a victory that was achieved for Hinduism by challenging the distorted representation of the Hindu faith that was published in Microsoft Encarta. Microsoft eventually changed the section on Hinduism that they carried, as a result of this challenge. Read more about it here.

This link from the same book exposes the kind of scholarship Western scholars like Wendy Doniger indulge in to denigrate Hinduism on the one hand and project themselves as champions of the faith in public discourse. Read what she has to make of the spiritual practice of tantra here.

Back to the current thread.

Bhaskar wrote in with this:

I have heard Rajiv mention this a number of times but the following video really opened me up to the nonsense that gets studied under the subject of anthropological studies. In this video, the person talks about the Kamma caste in Andhra Pradesh. It is interesting to see how the discussion moves from Kamma pride to Kamma-Reddy rivalry to Hindutva to Narendra Modi to Dalit oppression. 

There is no subtlety in discussion of this topic - when does self-esteem change to pride to majoritarianism? Why does self-esteem be seen as a case for oppression of another? I am not informed suitably in academics as I am a routine professional but the nature of discussion and the quality of intellect is deeply disturbing even to an uninformed me. This is also an interference in the India affairs of the sort that is unfortunately not seen that way. This made me wonder whether the nature of anthropology studies by its very construct is actually a human rights violation since it thrives on increasing divides and create fissures where there may be none. How can one make a legal case against this very discipline of study? Are such studies only on India and its caste system? When such type of "informed" people write books which in turn influence text books which in turn get into the minds of people through media or education, the damage to our society in this way can never be repulsed.... 

Ananth replies:

Please see Message 6344 [of the discussion group] as to how Benbabaali obtained her material.

I wondered how a young woman in France had heard of a caste called the Kammas in far-off South India.  Her PhD thesis advisor is a colleague of Christophe Jaffrelot.  Jaffrelot has connections with Marxist professors and journalists.  So that must be how she landed up in Andhra Pradesh.  As soon as she had a thesis to publish, the Hindu had an article on her. (These Marxist intellectuals behave in the same hegemonic way as a dominant caste!)

IBenbabaali said that Kammas have small families in order to preserve their inherited wealth.  For that statement to qualify as an intellectual argument, she must consider alternatives such as:
  1. Kammas have small families because family planning is important in a heavily populated country
  2. Kammas have small families because all over the world, upwardly mobile people have small families.
She needs to say why she rejects Items 1 and 2, in favor of the statement that Kammas have small families in order to preserve inherited wealth.  But I doubt that at the age of 28-30 she would have the introspective self-honesty to ask herself such questions.  Even if she were to, her professors wouldn't let her publish anything.

To the above message Rajiv responded. He said:

Jaffrelot was discussed in his egroup earlier because he became adviser to Ashoka University in Gurgaon, in chrge of setting up their comparative religion program. Many of the trustees in this univ are proud Hindus and passionate about helping us. But they are utterly ignorant of such details and too proud of accepting my help.

Shashi chimed in:

The Kammas are about 5 % in combined Andhra. It is not by intelligent design. I belong to the kamma community and we have maintained healthy averages before family planning era. The average number of kids a couple used have were between 5-12. Now kamma couples have between 1 - 3 kids.
The second reason why kammas are less in number is that a sisterly caste called velamas branched out of the kamma root caste reason being There was a civil war in Andhra called Palnadu Yudham in 12th century. Now these two are 2 separate castes.

I wonder why she missed out this Significant Era of Andhra and Kammas and key personalities of that era. From 3rd Century she skips directly to Vijayanagar Empire.

The Purpose of the Study is to just throw mud at the "Kammas of Andhra". It is laced with a Marxist narrative. She Frequently uses the term 'Capitalist Caste' in the video.

Aurva brings in a very valid point highlighting why Westerners are able to exploit the faultlines in our system itself. He says:

Unfortunately, an average Kamma would feel pride that they are a topic of discussion in US ivy-league academia.

this is what I've seen among some Vaishnavites regarding Sheldon Pollock. the Hindu mind has been so thoroughly desensitized to the trauma of external intervention that we no longer even recognize it.

more importantly, we are taught a history that negates this intervention and teaches us to hate our own religion and Dharma. this merely hastens the departure of the Hindu mind from its senses.

The above observation from Aurva is clearly articulated in message 6344 and 6331 on the discussion forum where this issue was discussed previously too.

To follow this thread further please join up on the yahoo discussion forum. This thread can be found here on the group forum.

Why Hinduism is simply not equal to Right Wing

The following is a reproduction of a seminal thought that Rajiv Malhotra articulates in the yahoo discussion forum. In this post he defines, describes and gives a whole new insight into why people propagating Hindu ideas/ideologies should not be calling themselves as right wing.

Here is the text reproduced in its entirety:

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, hardky 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 follows up with this further elaboration of what is now beginning to happen in the West which in a few years will be imported to gullible Indians as a new ideology. 

Rajiv quotes an invite to a workshop on what is named as "Future Left":

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
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.

To follow further updates on this thread please sign up on the yahoo discussion group. The thread can be followed here.