2. Issues concerning methodology and Ganesh’s overall approach
3. Disagreements concerning the interpretation of our sanskriti
4. Who is being logical or illogical?
5. What should be the future course for our sanskriti?
- I regard the “rishi-state” of higher consciousness as a method our exemplars have used to constantly refresh knowledge, and not get frozen in time;
- I have read a vast corpus of literature by our opponents pertaining to a broad spectrum of topics in the humanities and social sciences;
- I engage opponents in debate as often as I can because this is an important form of knowledge acquisition;
- I promote and participate in the use of modern scientific empiricism to study old knowledge with open minds, in order to benefit both the science and our improved insights about the tradition; and
- I advocate the adaptation and writing of new smritis for our times.
- On what basis can he conclude that I lack first-hand experience of sanskriti? He fails to define the scope of sanskriti and then show that I am deficient in it. This would require him to do detailed pariksha of my background, my sadhana, my guru, and so forth - something he has not done. This goes to show that Ganesh has a somewhat reductionist view of what our sanskriti is, and he makes sweeping judgments of others whom he hardly knows.
- His argument about the distinction between rupa and svarupa is irrelevant. Yes, in metaphysical contexts, the aim is to transcend rupa into understanding of svarupa but that has nothing to do with the context of defending dharma socially and politically from hostile interpretations.
- His reference to my book’s pages 44-49 shows a lack of basic understanding of my book. In those pages I do not discuss the “enemies” at all, but rather our home team’s internal shortcomings. This is a standard SWOT analysis done to assess one’s competitiveness. It is based on numerous interviews I did over the years to assess the views and preparedness of various kinds of individuals who ought to be on our home team. Ganesh seems to be unfamiliar with such techniques, and dismisses it as “an elaborate but hazy diagnosis of the problem.” He wants to pass judgment on everything whether he has a clue or not.
- Pollock also resorts to this kind of hubris many times. It reminds me of a corporate slogan: “If you cannot dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with bullshit!”
- Wide sweeping critique of western Indology. Cover lots of old Indologists, from Christian to secular, clubbing all of them under a simplistic profile as “western”. Most postcolonial scholarship has focused on this and some of it has been pretty useful. Few traditional Indian scholars have done serious work here, and most of them regurgitate bombastic, emotional and politicized criticisms. In any case, this is not where my focus lies in TBFS. We already have lots of such material from numerous writers over many decades. But this genre of ideology is not what we encounter today, because western Indologists like Pollock have moved on and other more sophisticated theories have superseded.
- Present ecosystem of Western Indology and where the Pollock School fits in. This tier looks at prevailing infrastructure for knowledge production, such as: institutions, ideologies, agendas, distribution channels, etc. This research looks at not only western scholars but also their Indian collaborators and sepoys. What are their strategies at work? Who funds what? What is the purpose of all this work? To do this type of work, one must have expertise in industry analysis. I would say Breaking India is a book in this genre.
- Deconstruction of Pollock school's specific lens. Here one must look at this school’s meta-theories, narratives, key vocabulary, plans. What are the implications to dharma being studied in this way? How has this knowledge spread over the past 30+ years? Who is who in their army? This requires a multi-disciplinary approach, and knowledge of heavy English, Western thought and the ability to decode multilayered (including sly/deceptive) writing style that is typical of western scholars who want to look politically correct. I request the reader to please go through my article, The Challenges of Understanding Sheldon Pollock, available at: http://swarajyamag.com/culture/rajiv-malhotra-explains-the-challenges-of-understanding-sheldon-pollock
- Text specific micro-analysis. This entails analysis of specific Indian texts as per Pollock school and as per our tradition. This supports our uttara-paksha. It requires serious knowledge of Sanskrit and also of texts in detail.
Theme 2: Issues concerning
methodology and Ganesh’s overall approach
“Any organized body of knowledge is sastra; it serves two purposes – to govern and to reveal. A system of grammar is a sastra. It tells us what is the right usage (governs) and shows us new connections (reveals). A sastra may or may not be connected to the Vedas. Any creative work that evokes rasa (art experience; aesthetic delight) is kavya.”
- “[Malhotra’s] understanding of the nature of sanatana dharma as a transcendental system is flawed. He aims to show that Hinduism is exclusivist in its own way …”
- “Western scholars are familiar with dissent but they often lack a framework to reconcile with the differences and transcend them. While Malhotra respects this spirit, he is unable, unfortunately, to express it clearly in his book.
- “We must also realize that diversity is the way of the world and should learn to tolerate opposing views.”
- He claims there are “many instances of Malhotra’s monolithic view of Indian culture and tradition.”
- “He should realize that the same tradition that he is defending has these diverse views.”
- “Often clubbing all insider views as ‘the traditionalist view’ – his argument is rendered weaker.”
- “He begins to falter when he compares the ‘Sanskrit Traditionalists’ and ‘American Orientalists’.”
- “There is no single group that one can call ‘Sanskrit Traditionalists’.”
Ganesh cites my view that: “Meditation mantras…produce effects which ordinary sounds do not.” Ganesh gives a rejoinder by assuming that I must refer to “healing effects” of mantras, but that is a false assumption. He tries to show that mantras cannot heal in Ayurveda; but that is beside the point because their effects can be of various kinds, not necessarily for healing.
- In some instances, he adopts my position and yet says I am wrong. For instance, he quotes me: “Dhyana (meditation) is available without the need for analysis since it is entirely experiential. (p. 98)” Then he disagrees with this, saying: “If this is the case, how do we account for the fact that dhyana has been analyzed extensively on the basis of experience?”
- Ganesh’s failure to understand the context of my statement leads him to think it is incorrect. He quotes TBFS: “…Natya Shastra was a text developed to enable the theatrical performance of itihasas.” This statement is taken from the section on Integral Unity (pages 98-102) where I am arguing against Pollock’s claim to decouple paramarthika and vyavaharika. In order to refute Pollock’s claim, I cite numerous examples of their unity and one of them is that Vedas, itihasas and Natya Shastra are linked and cannot be decoupled into separate camps with mutual tension the way Pollock does. Ganesh states some irrelevant facts which have nothing to do with the context in which I state my position about the integral unity of our traditions to jump to his conclusion that this is “one of the many instances of Malhotra’s monolithic view of Indian culture and tradition.” He offers no logic as to how he reached this conclusion.
- Ganesh reaches an illogical conclusion in discussing my reference to the critical edition of the Ramayana that was compiled by MS University. TBFS mentions that the critical edition was later misused by Western Indologists to make incorrect interpretations. This critical edition gave them easier access which they previously lacked. Does this mean we should not do such critical editions? Certainly not. All I am pointing out is that just as China controls the way foreigners can access its intellectual resources, so also we could at least make some policies on when to allow Westerners unfettered access. For instance, we could consider having some scrutiny over their access. They must state the purpose for which they are requesting the access, and we must monitor their works to verify that they have not violated their obligations. Moreover, knowing their motive will help us do a thorough purva-paksha of their positions, and also help produce rejoinders (as uttara). This ensures a balance between freedom and control and firmly establishes the adhikara with our civilization.
- Another example of an illogical analysis concerns my statement about popular culture. In my discussions with Kanchi Shankaracharya, he explicitly agreed with my view written in TBFS that “Kavya is literature that can be merely entertaining, or can also be a means for experiencing transcendence.” In fact, the Shankaracharya emphasized numerous times that we must develop a strategy to popularize our knowledge through visual entertainment such as film, TV and theater. He explained to me the importance of doing this today.
“Also, his suggestion for the revival of Sanskrit is to produce new knowledge in Sanskrit. Is this even practical given that scholars from many mainstream non-English languages (like Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Spanish, etc.) are finding it hard to make a name for themselves in the academic community, which is under the firm grip of English?”
“How is this practical? If someone were to compose a new constitution of India in Sanskrit, would s/he be taken seriously? For example, refer to the sastras and smritis composed by great scholars like Vasishta Ganapati Muni and Pullela Sriramachandrudu – what is the value given to their works by the laity and by the scholars? One can compose a smriti but what executive authority does s/he have? What are the kind of new texts can traditional scholars develop in Sanskrit? And what to make of compositions in Sanskrit hailing a tyrant like Lenin…”