Vishal Agarwal responds to the Wire article

In response to The Wire article, Vishal sent in this response as a comment:

The writers get it wrong. The issue is not videshi versus swadeshi school of Indology, but between a Hinduphobic Eurocentric interpretation of the classics on one hand and an authentic and culturally informed interpretation on the other. Let me clarify with an example. In the Chhandogya Upanishad, there is a story of a cart driver Raikya approached by King Jaanashruti for obtaining Brahmavidya. Jaanashruti offers him increasing amounts of gold etc but Raikya turns the king away contemptuously. Finally, when the king returns with his daughter and offers to Raikya as a wife, the cart driver looks at her face and says, 'With this alone, you could have obtained the Vidya from me.' The likes of Wendy Doniger, who see sex in everything interprets this story to say that Raikya parted with his knowledge only when the king offered his own daughter for providing sex to Raikya! And to top it all, she finds nothing grand in Raikya's teachings. In both of her claims, she has totally missed the point because of her erotic lens and materialistic hermeneutics. The Upanishadic story starts with a statement that though the King was virtuous, he had this ego, 'It is due to me that subjects get to eat' etc. It is with this ego that he approached Raikya and offered to 'buy' his wisdom. But only when, he accepted Raikya's superiority and approached him in humility (because in the Hindu tradition, you offer your daughter's hand in marriage only to someone who is superior - a cultural element that Doniger totally misses), Raikya parts with his wisdom. And what is this wisdom? Raikya says that the same enabling Prana/Vayu that flows within him flows within the King and in all creatures. The import is that it is (to put it in the words of Gita), all the doing of Paramatman. Then why have the ego, "I did this great task, I am the doer?" While doing good karma, we must think of ourselves merely as an instrument of the Divine. The next story in the text, further elaborates on the Antaryamin Brahman (as Prana) and how, when we ill-treat others, we ill-treat the same Brahman who is present within everyone. Doniger completely misses the mark in every way, and converts this profound Vedantic episode into one of sex slavery. And the first miss (as to what is the significance of Jaanashruti offering his daughter to Raikya as his bride) is a clear case of her not getting the cultural nuances even after her 50 year engagement with Indic studies. This is a classic example of how an etic understanding can only result in crass interpretations, and an emic perspective is a must to understand spiritual scriptures. Even the Amar Chitra Katha gets this story right, whereas Doniger doesn't! Similar types of errors due to cultural insensitivity (or plain mediocrity) abound on Pollock's translations. The authors of this article might also want to read the recent book "The Nay Science" (Adluri et al) that demonstrates how hollow the claims of western (in particular German) Indology on its so called objectivity are. The fact that the authors of this article prefer to brand all the 132 professor and 15000+ other signatories of the petition as 'foolish and dangerous' reflects their own ignorance and hatred.

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