Response to Aatish Taseer ad hominem on Rajiv Malhotra

In an earlier post, Megh had compellingly rebutted the biases and opinions of journalists of Outlook magazine.

In this post, he offers a rejoinder to Aatish Taseer on his ad hominem attack on Rajiv Malhotra. The Open Magazine article written by Taseer is dated 2014. However, that is no excuse for the vicious personal attack mounted by him.

Here is Megh's response which is reproduced from his comment below the Open Magazine article by Taseer:

Extract 1 from Aatish Taseer’s statements:
“…They’re not scholars; few of them have even a passable knowledge of Sanskrit;”
One (Oxford) meaning of the word ‘Scholar’ is "a specialist in a particular branch of study, especially the humanities; a distinguished academic”.

By the above definition, would Mahatma Gandhi, with no formal qualification in humanities, with no formal career as a ‘distinguished academic’ and with no formal certified specialization or original publications in Sanskrit, be considered ineligible by Aatish Taseer and his distinguished bretheren, to comment/observe on Bharat, about Bharat, about Sanskriti, about Sanskrit?

By the above definition:
> would widely regarded historian Will Durant (neither an NRI nor an Indian and with certainly little/no published original scholarship/expertise in the language Sanskrit or scholarship in Sanskrit) be feared, dismissed or considered ineligible by Aatish Taseer, to observe, as he (Durant) did in his book ‘The case of India’ “India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe's languages...”
> and did Will Durant’s expertise in Sanskrit (or the lack of it) come in the way of the wide acceptance of his works by many across the world, including a subset of the world – the western academia?

If many in the world have few problems considering Mahatma Gandhi and Will Durant eligible to study and write about Bharat (i.e. India), Sanskriti, and/or Sanskrit with (or without) their apparent qualifications as a Sanskrit scholar or just a scholar, should not Shri Rajiv Malhotra, who with over 20 years of specialist experience and original scholarship [including the 2016-Amazon-best–seller book “The Battle for Sanskrit” ((in ‘Languages and Linguistics category)] be allowed to present his point-of-view? His views include observations of Sanskrit as ‘Sacred, Liberating, Living’ vis-à-vis observations of Sanskrit as Political, Oppressive and Dead (separately in various works) by Sheldon Pollock, who is:
➢ Author of “The death of Sanskrit”
➢ Speaker of the statement “The Mahabharata is the most dangerous political story, I think, in the world because it is this deep meditation on the fratricide of Civil war”
➢ General Editor of Murthy Classical Library of India (MCLI)
➢ And a self-declared secularist funded by an Indian, to interpret and propagate literature that is sacred to millions.

Objective observers of the world, India, History and Sanskrit are urged to:
a) consider these two varying positions ‘Sacred, Liberating, Living’ vis-à-vis Political, Oppressive and Dead’ reflect on it and take informed positions/views (if at all) 

b) and verify for oneself, the "eligibility criteria", before forming an opinion about the same.
Vande Mataram! (from the 'peanut gallery', and I hope that does not sound different or mean something else because it is from the 'peanut gallery').

Extract 2 & 3 from Aatish Taseer’s statements:

“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.”

“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…”

Some observations/responses to the above 2 extracts:

I did not know what to laugh at – Aatish Taseer’s ‘scholarly’ usage of the word ‘Monkey’, or his ‘expert conclusion’ of what ‘they’ want, i.e. per him “white man to tell ‘them’ that India…was once the greatest country of all”

I believe I find his expert conclusion more worthy of the first response because why would someone want something that has already been done?

Sample this (as-white-as-it-perhaps-gets with other shades too) list of observations from a Spanish-muslim-judge, American historian, French writer, German scientist, Japanese scholar, French-born-turned-Indian citizen, Chinese scholar:

SAID AL-ANDALUSI (1029-1070) - Judge for the king of Muslim Spain and author of Kitab-Tabaqat-al-Uman or "Book of the categories of Nation"


"The Indians among all nations, through many centuries and since antiquity, have been the source of wisdom, fairness and moderation. ...They have acquired immense information and reached the zenith in their knowledge of the movements of the stars (astronomy) and the secrets of the sky (astrology) as well as other mathematical studies."

WILL DURANT - American historian, writer, philosopher

" India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe's languages: she was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics; mother, through the Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through the village community, of self-government and democracy.

Perhaps in return for conquest, arrogance and spoliation, India will teach us the tolerance and gentleness of the mature mind, the quiet content of the unacquisitive soul, the calm of the understanding spirit, and a unifying, a pacifying love for all living things."

ROMAINE ROLLAND - French writer

"If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India."

ALBERT EINSTEIN, German scientist

1) "We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made."

2) "When I read the Bhagavad-Gita and reflect about how God created this universe everything else seems so superfluous."

MARK TWAIN - American author

1) "So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked."

2) "India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition. Our most valuable and most astrictive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only!"

HAJIME NAKAMURA - Japanese scholar

"The Indians are highly rationalistic, insofar as their ideal is to recognize eternal laws concerning past, present and future. ...The Indians are, at the same time, logical since they generally have a tendency to sublimate their thinking to the universal... Without Indian influence Japanese culture would not be what it is today."

MICHEL DANINO - French-born turned Indian citizen

"Western civilization, not even three centuries after the Industrial Revolution, is running out of breadth. It has no direction, no healthy foundations, no values left except selfishness and greed, nothing to fill one's heart with. India alone has preserved something of the deeper values that can make a man human, and the world will surely be turning to them in search of a remedy to its advanced malady."

LIN YUTANG - Chinese scholar

1) "India was China's teacher in religion and imaginative literature, and the world's teacher in trigonometry, quadratic equations, grammar, phonetics, Arabian nights, animal fables, chess, as well as in Philosophy, and that she inspired Boccaccio, Goethe, Herder, Schopenhauer, Emerson and probably also old Aesop."

2) "My love and true respect for India was born when I first read the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata...the literature of the world has not produced a higher ideal of womanly love, womanly truth and womanly devotion."

That Mahabharata:

➢ Which has been credited by Chinese scholar Lin Yu Tang as one of the sources that gave birth to his “love and true respect for India”

➢ Which houses the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, considered by hundreds of millions of Indians and non-Indians as a source of Sacredness, Liberation and certainly a very living treatise

➢ Is referred to by Philology scholar, General Editor of MCLI and author of “The Death of Sanskrit” – Sheldon Pollock – as “...the most dangerous political story, I think, in the world because it is this deep meditation on the fratricide side of Civil war”

➢ Is originally in the language Sanskrit, a language pronounced ‘political, dead, oppressive’ by Pollock (in separate works, interviews) and considered ‘sacred, living, liberating’ by author of 2016 Amazon-best-selling-book “The Battle for Sanskrit” Shri Rajiv Malhotra

It is this Shri Rajiv Malhotra, who:
> was born in India,
> raised in India,
> is author of path breaking, well regarded and best-seller books like “Breaking India” and “Indra’s Net”,
> funded widely respected efforts in Indology
is being referred to Aatish as “…Malhotra couldn’t bring himself to live in” India.

Aatish might perhaps do well to reflect on:

➢ what prompted our beloved past President ABDUL KALAM to lament "Tell me, why is the media here so negative?…We are such a great nation. We have so many amazing success stories but we refuse to acknowledge them. Why?" in order to attempt answering his own question “…when you start to refashion the past to fit the needs of the present, you must ask yourself why?”. He could, of course take inspiration from Harvard Law School that seems to have started “to refashion the past to fit the needs of the present” by changing their logo recently!

➢ And what historian Romila Thapar herself said “that the Aryan theory while prevalent at one point holds no ground because the scientific evidences have shown that no such thing had happened in the past”.

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