The Sanskrit wars have begun

Below, Rajiv Malhotra offers explanations and rebuttals to the personal attacks mounted by Aatish Taseer in the interview he gave to Open Magazine.

So the big war is on, even before my Pollock book comes out. It is not even in final draft yet, and a lot more work remains to be done. This latest salvo comes from a young novelist who is the son of Tavleen Singh and a Pakistani journalist. 

If you recall, I had taken Tavleen to task on Twitter for her support of Pollock without her doing any due diligence on the positions of Pollock. Now her half-Pakistani son gets his turn to go after me. Open Source Magazine lends itself as a forum for this, without offering me any space to give my side of it.

His latest novel is a typical "South Asian bhai bhai" one finds from many Indian "intellectuals" wanting to transcend modern India and Pakistan. They project back their ideologies on to some imagined history of the subcontinent.

Familiar stuff? Not so easy. You are familiar with those saying this from an anti-Sanskrit position. But thanks to Pollock, he has directly trained and indirectly nurtured an army of such persons who make their case while wanting to appear pro-Sanskrit (in his sense of what Sanskrit is like).

Please read the excerpt below from his recent interview, with my responses in brackets. Please feel free to post this at his interview, on twitter or anywhere else. Let there be open discussion on the merits of various positions.

I find refined classicism throughout the novel, sustained by Skanda’s Sanskritised sensibility. What will you say?

Yes, but Skanda’s interest in Sanskrit, though full of emotion, is at the end of the day a scholarly interest. It is not revivalist; it is not of the Rajiv Malhotra kind. [Rajiv: Aatish does not appear to know that Pollock calls himself arevivalist of Sanskrit. Hence, according to the Left, being a revivalist of Sanskrit is not contrary to being a scholar. The two are compatible. What is contentious between Pollock and me is not scholar versus revivalist, but two different kinds of revival. Aatish needs more "scholarly" reading and less novel writing...]  

Men like him—Malhotra and his cohorts—have poisoned the pool of classical studies. They’re not scholars; few of them have even a passable knowledge of Sanskrit; but they’re determined to shut down serious scholarship, determined to coerce Western academia into telling them the few banalities they want to hear: things that warm their little NRI hearts:the Aryans did not come from elsewhere but sprang up out of the soil of India; Sanskrit is not one of many Indo-European languages, but the mother of all languages… [Rajiv: 1) Aatish fails to cite even a single instance of my work that would support his personal allegation that I am "determined to shut down serious scholarship". Any scholar worth his salt ought to cite concrete evidence, and not engage in such ad hominem attacks. 2) The italics above are in the original interview - Aatish wants to emphasize that he supports the foreign Aryan theory and attacks me for saying that the "aryas" (there is no such thing as Aryans) have been indigenous to the Indian soil. He is also upset that I consider Sanskrit to be more than "one of many Indo-European languages". The "mother of all languages" motif troubles him greatly when applied to Sanskrit.

Now when you start to refashion the past to fit the needs of the present, you must ask yourself why? Why do I want the past to be one way and not another? Because if you set to work blindly remaking the past, you can do it a lot of harm. [Rajiv: When my book comes out, I hope that he and his mom, Tavleen, will take the time to go through it, and see that the evidence proves just the opposite: That it is Pollock distorting the hard data of history to fit his modern analysis of Indian society. These novelists/journalists, lacking scholarly competence, will find themselves sandwiched between their support for Pollock-ism and their claim to be pro-Indian civilization. Let thaat debate start after my book comes out.]

These monkeys, they want the white man to tell them that India—which Malhotra couldn’t bring himself to live in—was once the greatest country of all. Only then will they go away and let serious people get on with their work. [Rajiv: Calling me a "monkey" hardly helps the image his mom wants him to have - that of a young, serious thinker. So he thinks that what I am all about is getting the white man to tell us how great we are. But thats not my position at all. I am critical of Indians who are in awe of white men's approval of them. He has not read my works criticizing that tendency among Indians. Rather, it is he and his mom craving white peolpe legitimizing them. Their swooning over Pollock demonstrates this. So who here is the one being the monkey in awe of "the white man"?]

It’s sad to see this kind of sloganeer get traction in India—I read the other day in the paper that Delhi University had embarked upon a project to prove the Aryans were not foreigners. Such foolishness! It makes me fearful for India. And these are naturally fears that my novel is very alive to. [Rajiv: Dismissing me as sloganeer with no specific data point? And this is the state of journalism in India that editors of mainstream media do not bother calling it out as unsubstantiated and as ad hominem attacks? Why such desperation so suddenly? His reference to Delhi University gives the answer. Because places like DU are now starting projects that will evaluate evidence "to prove the Aryans were not foreigners", people like Aatish are deployed to attack those involved. He is worried that now I "get traction in India".]

[Rajiv: It is important to note that this kind of mischief as Aatish represents is now being clothed as the new voice of the true Indians. The latest trend is to even sound pro-Modi while rejecting Modi's deep notions of who we are, and replacing them with love for the "foreign Aryans who brought us Sanskrit". This is where the kurukshetra is most intense - Indians serving as a new breed of sepoys who are dressed up as great lovers ofIndia.]

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Aravindan Neelakandan clarifies his positive relationship with Rajiv Malhotra

Posted here is the exchange between Aravindan Neelakandan and Rajiv Malhotra which took place so that the air could be cleared on what Maria Wirth on twitter insinuated with the following tweet.

Maria Wirth: just wondering ,u say "My book Breaking India.." Wud it not be fair 2 say "Our book"with Neelakandan as Co-author?

Well, the background to the above tweet was this tweet from Rajiv Malhotra

My book 'Breaking India' now ranks No. 1 on Amazon under International Relations:

That led Aravindan Neelakandan to issue these two tweets earlier today to clarify

"does not want to work with u anymore" is WRONG. Working on BI has been a good learning experience.

'doesn't want to work' is WRONG. Coauthoring BI has been a good learning experience.

Here is Aravindan Neelakandan's complete response to the above tweets along with Rajiv Malhotra's comments.

[Rajiv: Maria Wirth (angry because of some unrelated issue I had with her work some time back) has tried to create tension between me and Aravindan Neelakandan on twitter. Aravindan not only rejected her presumption on twitter, but also sent this post as a clarification of his position. He re-joined this egroup after a gap, in order to post this. I encouraged him to do so. Though the main purpose is to clarify the issue of our mutual relationship, Aravindan also takes this opportunity to disagree with my positions of certain unrelated topics - theism/atheism, Subramanian Swamy, and plagiarism by Sanyal. I give my responses below in highlight. Welcome back Aravindan.]
Let me state categorically that when we started the BI project I was not intended to be coauthor and was a research assistant with Infinity. It was Sri. Rajiv Malhotra who voluntarily offered me to be the co-author. [Rajiv: I did this towards the very end when the book was nearing completion; Aravindan at first said he did not deserve it, but later accepted.] It was a graceful gesture and am thankful for that.

I value his original scholarship, its depth and new insight. I do have my differences of opinion with him. But that does not in anyway diminish my respect and administration for him.  

Being an atheist myself I find his criticism of Darwinism ill-founded and have openly expressed my criticism of his saying 'intelligent design' being influenced by Hinduism. As a person who has been working in the field of environment and organic agriculture for more than a decade, I can say that Darwin is profoundly right and only Dharmic religions have the capacity to integrate Darwin in their worldview. Intelligent Design is a camouflage for creationism and the involution Swami Vivekananda talks about including the intelligence being involuted to expand as existence has more in sync with David Bohm's implicate order than the 'intelligent design'.
  • Aravindan is certainly entitled to his position as an atheist. 
  • My views on Darwin mirror what Sri Aurobindo wrote, which is a much more detailed position than Vivekananda. This is explained in some of my writings - the importance of involution-evolution process, and not the one-way evolution by Darwin. So Darwin is incomplete, as there is no upward feedback loop, which is also important in systems theory. 
  • Many Judeo-Christian digesters are now borrowing this Hindu tenet to bridge the gap between "science and religion", a gap that never existed between dharma and science. Bohm himself was learning these ideas from his extensive dialogs with J. Krishnamurti and others from the dharma traditions. 
  • I feel Aravindan has seen both sides of the debate mainly through Western proxies (like Darwin, Bohm Intelligent Design), none of which properly capture the dharma position on the matter. This is a separate issue I am happy to debate in a suitable forum.]

In my personal opinion he is a bit over anxious about people plagiarizing his works. I also feel he sometimes goes overboard on this account as in the case of Sanjeev Sanyal. Perhaps because he has had a few bad experiences in the past, and hence this anxiety over his works being plagiarized. I am afraid this attitude may actually be an impediment in his vision of building an institution and intellectual movement that will live for generations to come.
[Rajiv: Since Aravindan was not a member of this egroup, he is probably unfamiliar with the details written in: message 8655 (thread), message 8679 (Chronology of my interactions with SS since 2013 over my work), message 8700 and message 8761. As a good scholar, Aravindan knows the importance of studying the background evidence before passing judgment. SS has since then accepted this account and issued an acknowledgment. Plagiarism is a problem of dharmic ethics; of nurturing team work to create robust schools of thought and not random sporadic one-off blogs here and there; of encouraging hard work and discouraging the fast-food mentality of quickly jumping ahead present in many of our fellow Indians.]

I also find his endorsement of/association with Subramanian Swamy problematic, as in my personal opinion SS is also engaged in playing up the Brahmin vs Non-Brahmin binary in Tamil Nadu, apart from being pro-Chinese and pro-Sri Lankan against the Tamil-Hindu interest. Subramanian Swami's accusation of RSS in Coimbatore bomb blast in 1998 is something that has hurt me deeply as a Swayamsevak. [Rajiv: We agree to disagree on Dr. Swamy. I may not agree with 100% of issues with him. or anyone else for that matter. But I base my overall support seeing the big picture dynamics of the kurukshetra, and not get distracted by every instance and every stand of someone. I respect his tapas, long term persistence, ability to stick neck out and take risks, continue even when not rewarded formally...]    

But these are issues that do not affect my respect for his ingenious presentation of Indic Dharma, his hard work and intellectual integrity in fighting for the Dharmic-Indic civilization. He could well have chosen a happy retirement with occasional sideline charity towards Dharma. But that he plunged right into the center of the fire is something for which we as Hindus are indebted to him whether one agrees with him or not in all his stands. I will always feel it a honor to be invited to coauthor the sequel of 'Breaking India'. As a Tamil Hindu I specially feel indebted to him because 'Breaking India' had really stopped a grand plan of Christian appropriation in Tamil Nadu. Had he not come into the picture at best a few articles would have been written on the net and would have been used merely to gain some brownie points in the internet debates but only a field-worker knows what kind of effect 'Breaking India' had achieved in Tamil Nadu and the kind of awareness it had created. For this too we need to be thankful to him.

[Rajiv: I want to thank Aravindan for being more than a scholar, but also a true friend. We developed mutual interest in each other's personal well-being. That is important to bear in mind. Disagreeing on scholarly matters is not the end of a relationship.]

RISA's Token Hindus

This thread encapsulates the continuous attempts made by a section of the Western Academia to interpret, appropriate in ways that are convenient to them, ideas and developments that happen in the Hindu fold. They typically employ a reductive Western lens to analyze and 'deconstruct' events happening in the Dharmic world. Furthermore, they also act as gatekeepers, by not letting in the voices of practicing Hindus, and more importantly, any dissenting Dharmic. For example, the so-called 'RISA list' is barred to any practicing Dharmic who disagrees with this fabricated consensus, as Rajiv Malhotra does. Hence a person practicing dharma and coming from it is deprived of a seat at their own table where ostensibly, the freedom of speech is championed. On the other hand, we observe that token Hindus who are 'useful' for furthering this cause of western universalism are indeed welcomed at the table, and is one of the key talking points of this post.

A RISA list mail from Fred Smith was shared by Indrani:

Several people have asked me off list to compile the sources reported and to summarize the very preliminary findings from my question last week regarding an apparent convergence between followers of Vivekananda, even Gandhi, and the RSS.  I regarded these three as strangely matched bedfellows and wondered how to interpret it, if indeed my observations are valid at all. What I discovered is that Vivekananda, and even Gandhi, have been gradually appropriated into the culture of the RSS, and that this has been building for many decades. Also, however, mediate forces have emerged to both facilitate and transform this image. I was not aware, for example, that the well-known monument to Vivekananda found at the southern tip of India, at Kanyakumari, was constructed by the RSS in the late 1960s. (I visited it many decades ago and was not at that time aware of the politics involved in its construction.) For this and the activities of the Vivekananda Kendra regarding yoga, see Gwilym Beckerlegge, “Eknath Ranade, Gurus, and Jivanvratis: The Vivekananda Kendra’s Promotion of the “Yoga Way of Life,”in Mark Singleton Ellen Goldberg, Gurus of Modern Yoga, pp. 317-350 (OUP 2013). In addition to the citation in my original posting of the piece by Pralay Kanungo, seee his “Fusing the Ideals of the Math with the Ideology of the Sangh? Vivekananda Kendra, Ecumenical Hinduism, and Hindu Nationalism,” in Public Hinduisms, ed.  John Zavos, et al. pp. 119-140 (Sage, 2012). This excellent volume is worth our attention.

I am also struck by the way new but mediate ideologies are influencing the body politic and sectarian affiliations. An example is the influence of Lingayat gurus in Karnataka who seem to draw from both sides, from their own space in the middle, as well as from local political arrangements. For this, see Aya Ikegame, “The governing guru: Hindu mathas in liberalizing India,” in Jacob copeman and Aya Ikegame, The Guru in South Asia: New Interdisciplinary Perspectives, pp. 46-63 (Routledge 2012). Her work is well worth following. I suspect that local configurations and affiliations are present in many states in India that most of us are unaware of.

John Cort reminded us of the posters and hoardings of a muscular macho Vivekananda in Gujarat as recently as this year, used as props by the BJP. Consistent with this, Adam Bowled noted, is a report in the Hindustan Times “that the BJP government in Haryana has appointed Dinanath Batra to guide a committee of educationists in Haryana. The accompanying photo shows Dinanath Batra in an (his?) office with a statue of Vivekananda in the foreground.”
Robert Zydenbos suggested we look at “an in-depth chapter on Vivekananda” in Hans-Joachim Klimkeit's _Der politische Hinduismus_ (Harrassowitz, 1981), which, Robert says, “is still the standard work in German on the subject.” Robert also suggests that Vivekananda’s appearance at the Chicago Parliament of Religions in 1893 has been overplayed by Hindu nationalists, at least from the European perspective. OK, go ahead, blame America :-)
I agree with Pankaj Jain and everyone else that it’s not a good idea for scholars to reduce Gandhi or Vivekananda to any political agenda. Jeff Long emphasizes this point: “We need to be careful to distinguish between these uses and the self-understandings of these figures in their respective contexts.” Nevertheless, such noble aspirations have not prevented these appropriations from becoming a regular feature of political practice in India. I agree that the search for a new indigenous hermeneutic and epistemology is a worthy endeavor, but the primary thrust of the efforts I have encountered are preoccupied with rejectionist discourse coupled with the use of highly selective evidence with which to build their theories, compounded with insufficient deep knowledge of both texts and the history of intellectual debate in India (for the latter, see the vigorous and readable work of Larry McCrea).
Several people on and off-list brought to my attention Jyotimaya Sharma’s recent book A Restatement of Religion: Swami Vivekananda and the Making of Hindu Nationalism (Yale University Press, 2013). but James Madaio does not believe that Sharma has adequately addressed how the right has “diachronically appropriated figures like Vivekananda into their rhetoric and 'mediascapes',” even as he demythologizes Vivekananda and neo-Vedantic inclusivism. Madaio notes, perceptively: “It does not seem a coincidence that the (often impassioned) issue of who Vivekananda was is anachronistically caught up in the right's (selective) appropriation of him and, in turn, the left's intellectual critique.”
Jon Keune mentioned the common ground between Gandhi and Hindutva. For this, see Arundhati Roy's introduction to the annotated edition of Ambedkar's annihilation of caste:
Amod Lele refers us to his master's thesis on the rise of state-sponsored Hindutva with Singapore's Confucian experiments:
and his article, "State Hindutva and Singapore Confucianism as responses to the decline of the welfare state,” in Asian Studies Review 28 (2004): 267-82.
Other sources that list members noted were:
Joe Alter’s Gandhi’s Body and his many works on yoga and Indian masculinity;
chapters 3 4 of Peter van der Veer’s Imperial Encounters, in which he discusses Vivekananda’s rejection of muscular Christianity even if muscular Hinduism developed later;
Arafaat Valiani’s work on Gandhi, masculinity, and performative politics in Gujarat, Militant Publics in India: Physical Culture and Violence in the Making of a Modern Polity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011);
Anup Kumar points out that in spite of the high profile of the hard edge of Hindu nationalism, most Hindus still identify with a softer, gentler Hinduism, and that “we are dealing with our own cognitive dissonance in face of the renewed focus on Gandhi by the BJP.” Similarly, Raymond Williams reminds us that in the early decades of Indian immigration to the U.S., Vivekananda was extolled as the Indian spiritual exemplar countering western materialism. How times have changed!!
Finally, and most recently, this from the NYTimes a few days ago:

Rajiv's reply to this was thus:

  • Fred Smith is well known in Hinduism studies, and I have had many dealings with him and his students/cabal over 2 decades. I will give some background so readers have a context for what he says above. (This perspective I can offer is an example of "getting out of my comfort zone" numerous times.)
  • His position above is what Indra's Net criticizes as the Neo-Hinduism theory of Hinduism - i.e. looking for evidence to depict modern Hinduism as a political fabrication by Vivekananda, Gandhi, etc. to unite Indians against Brits, which later fell into the hands of the Hindutva to use against Muslims minorities.
  • If he were a good scholar, he would refer to my book and its counter arguments, and address my issues directly. But he cannot face that, so he simply ignores IN. He mentions various experts who I have already dealt with and criticized. So he gives a one sided view.
  • Robert Zydenbos, Gwilym Beckerlegge, Mark Singleton, Ellen Goldberg, Amod Lele - these persons he cites are especially nasty anti-Hindu persons I have dealt with before.
  • Pankaj Jain (named by him) was my follower/supporter for years; told me he got inspired by my work to leave IT and enter a career in Hinduism studies; got my help to enter Columhia U's MA program; got much mentoring my to understand the issues. But once he went for his PhD to Univ. of Iowa, where Fred Smith rules, he flipped sides completely - I was to be avoided in order to suck up to Smith cohorts. Upon entering the job market as a junior prof, he realized he was a nobody; so he started lobbying with the Hindu diaspora for support to boost his career. Many knew him from the earlier days, and stayed away, seeing him  as untrustworthy. But several went around campaigning for him seeing him as a goody-goody face to help us. Eventually most of these supporters also left him, and now he is sitting in a corner of the kurukshetra with nothing important to say. Neither here nor there - inconsequential.
  • Pankaj and Jeff Long are cited by Smith to make it seem he has also mentioned the "Hindu side" and hence he is balanced. But neither is strong enough or creative enough, so they are "useful" to serve in this role.
  • On Jeff Long, I refer you to three urls where we had prior discussions on him, right here:
  • Another product of U of Iowa Fred Smith was Makarand Paranjape, a prof of English at JNU who likes to presents a pro-Hindu tilt. He has had to dance between working w me and appeasing his academic sponsor Fred Smith. He has agonized over this, at times telling me that his open association with me has cost his standing with them, and they stopped inviting him every summer to give lectures in USA like they used to. That's what this "intellectual freedom" amounts to. In any case, Makarand has been largely on the sidelines of important debates for the past decade, and writes relatively non-controversial stuff. This despite the fact that his mentor at JNU was Kapil Kapoor, a no-nonsense, fiery speaker solidly on our side.
  • Fred Smith has crisscrossed both sides of Hinduism, presenting himself as insider or outsider depending on what best suits his interest in a given situation. He is now translating the last 5 vols of Mahabharata for the Univ of Chicago - this is planned to become the international standard on Mahabharata. (Its initial volumes defined the lens: [kshatriya] was translated as "feudal lord" and shudra as "slave". The editor James L. Fitzgerald said the text should be seen as "God's genocide". You get the picture. )
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Now on the subject of Swami Vivekananda who is the subject of much study as shown above, here's a paper by Rajiv Malhotra which was published in the official RK Mission book commemorating his 150th anniversary and released by the President of India.

There are multiple posts in the Rajiv Malhotra yahoogroups forum where practicing Hindus share relevant  and useful points of view on Swami Vivekananda's message from a dharmic perspective.

Avoiding 5 common mistakes when defending Hinduism

The primary background to this thread can be found in this storify exchange between Rajiv Malhotra and Tavleen Singh and in this thread which captures the whole plagiarism issue which was raised with Sanjeev Sanyal and which has since been resolved amicably..

Rajiv summarizes five mistakes that need to be avoided when defending Hinduism. He says:

Mistake 1Dont criticize someone who is a "fellow Indian". 

This was cited by a supporter of Sanjeev Sanyal recently. However, Maoists are also fellow Indians, are they not? The kauravs/pandavs were fellow brothers, right? So how does defending dharma have anything to do with giving a free pass just because someone is a fellow Indian. Conversely, being a non-Indian does not make a person our enemy or a problem. Defending Hinduism is not about race. Hinduism is not racism.

Mistake 2As long as the person is anti-evangelists and pro-Hinduism we must accept whatever he says..

According to this logic, Moron Smriti and other leadership issues facing Hindus should not be discussed. After all, all morons and incompetent leaders do lash out against evangelists, and they do take pro-Hindu stands. I find many Hindu  forums only capable of discussing "positive" topics and want to stay away from genuine problem-solving.

Such a policy tolerates incompetence. It is precisely why we face such a leadership crisis - lack of quality controls on leadership. By far the largest part of my Kshatriyata workshops is on the epidemic of internal leadership rot, and not on external problems caused by others. Hindus have stopped challenging the incompetence of other Hindus, and tend to go long with whosoever leads them, as long as the person says a few standard "positive" things that make us "feel good". We run the risk of becoming a tradition of the morons, by the morons, for the morons.

Mistake 3Better to be ignorable, dont rock the boat; dont confront problems.

My entire writing career has focused precisely on issues where our own leaders are misinformed, or not informed at all. But there is resistance when one tries to educate Hindus about a serious problem they did not know. 

Example: Wendy Doniger was completely unknown to Hindu leaders when I started my criticisms of her cabal in the late 1990s. I heard all sorts of nonsense from Hindus who were disinterested in my work, or even asking me to stop it, like:
  • They are unimportant, so lets not waste time; truth will triumph anyway; we know the truth in our hearts; all path will ultimately lead the person to the same final goal;
  • Let us not stir things up, since we are doing so well in our personal careers; if we highlight such problems we will attract attention and spoil our image, maybe even get in trouble. (i.e. policy to remain ignorable.)
Same thing happened when I raised the Breaking India issues. In fact, the late B. Raman, who used to be head of counter-terrorism at RAW, had initially agreed to write the foreword to Breaking India. We knew each other and exchanged emails. He asked me to send him the draft when ready. But when he saw the draft he changed his mind. He also refused to attend the book launch. In fact, the publisher was informed at the last minute to remove his name from the program. Why? because BI was considered too sensational by him. Imagine such a top intelligence official being afraid to face the problems. I tried to convince him that he was free to be on the panel and disagree with my book. But he did not want to be linked to it at all. Almost as if Big Brother is watching us.

The slave APP downloaded in many Indians, triggers the desire to be non-confrontational, seeking the path of least resistance to deal with situations.

Mistake 4Distributing whatever limited knowledge we have is all important; serious R&D to discover and develop newknowledge is unimportant.

This means my type of work can suffer, but let the plagiarists not be discouraged because they are "spreading positive ideas". We need them no matter what. Such a posture shows lack of appreciation for the critical need to encourage fresh thinking. 

This mentality encourages leaders to be rewarded based on "hustling" and "networking" and "showing off". In my workshops, I give numerous examples of this syndrome. Most such leaders are ill informed of the major issues we face. Their subject matter expertise is abysmal, often to the point of causing us harm when they speak. They can at best copy-paste the latest statements that some serious thinker has made, and use it in their next speech or blog as their own idea. Fools leading bigger fools does not comprise a kshatriya army.

Mistake 5Support even those who might deeply undermine Hinduism by their intellectual positions, as long as on the surface they "say positive things about us", and make us "feel good".

People who facilitate digestion tend to say good things about what they are digesting. (You dont hate the food you want to eat.) Many of our leaders cannot recognize digestion and see it as a form of praise/support. The digesters have studied us well and learned to exploit these vulnerabilities.

Pollock represents a different sub-category. He is NOT wanting to digest. He is undermining Sanskrit in the deepest way that I have seen anyone do. Yet on the surface he is championing the revival of sanskrit studies, etc. My job is to first thoroughly understand his works, and then to simplify for my readers the arguments he makes, and my response to it. 

My biggest challenge here is to get people's attention span. All they care about is that he wears a dhoti with tilak on his forehead, quotes some sanskrit verses, says what a great language it is, and so forth. Applause! Awards! Funding!

Indians being starved for self respect, cannot hold back their love and enthusiasm when they hear this. Notice the huge success he has had in winning the hearts and pocketbooks of top tier Indian elites. Its their way to "feel proud" and remove the guilt they carry for betraying their dharma. He fills a unique void in their psychology.

Such Indians/Hindus see me as someone on the wrong side. They see me creating an embarrassment by criticizing their hero. Notice the reaction from Tavleen Singh, despite the fact that she and Ajit Gulabchand were extremely appreciative of Invading the Sacred. She wrote a great editorial on it after interviewing me. He was on stage when it was launched and gave a major speech.

My own policies:
  • Stick to the issues and ignore the personalities involved. If the substance of someone's work is wrong, it must be criticized regardless of what kind of person they are.
  • Look at the deeper layers and not the surface of a situation.
  • Do serious problem-solving, and do not see the work as a "feel good" psychotropic drug.
  • Be non-ignorable, audacious, willing to take the heat. (But only after doing a lot of homework to make sure I am on a solid foundation which I can defend.)
  • Reject offers of help that are likely to let me down somewhere along the way.
  • Most important, be rooted in sadhana, and let the prerna flow and be the driving force.
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