A Report on Swadeshi Indology Conference-2

An Infinity India Foundation (IFI) Report. A small IFI team (you know who you are) put in incredible hard work on the ground, working quietly behind the scenes. Their quick thinking and teamwork, along with help from volunteers ('the unknown soldiers'), overcame multiple and daunting real-time operational and logistical challenges to make this event a success. Thank you for your Seva.

The second edition of the Swadeshi Indology Conference Series was held at the IGNCA premises, New Delhi on 17th, 18th and 19th February in collaboration with IGNCA. It was titled "Global Perceptions of Indian Heritage"

The conference got off to a great start with an inaugural function graced by the presence of the Union Minister for Law and Justice and Information Technology, Sri. Ravi Shankar Prasad and Rajya Sabha MP and BJP stalwart Sri. Subramanian Swamy. 

This edition of the Conference series was much larger in scope than the first one and had three parallel tracks. Continuing on the theme of critiquing the Neo-Orientalist School of thought led by Prof. Sheldon Pollock, this edition saw 10 theses put forward by Pollock countered.

There were 35 paper presentations on topics ranging from Rasa, Mimamsa, Chronology, Desacralisation with the maximum number of presentations being made on the topic of Rasa.

Apart from these paper presentations, there was the robust refutation from the traditional scholars. The format is called Vakyartha Sadas and it is something that is conducted amongst traditional scholars in their own groupings but has gone out of the larger public discourse. We were able to bring back this ancient tradition centre stage and it was a huge success. 

We will be continuing to engage with these scholars and will strive to make their voice heard in the larger mainstream discourse. Vakyartha Sadas, the traditional form of Purvapaksha and Uttarapaksha debate will slowly be revived and restored to its rightful position as a scientific and rigorous form of debate that has been the cornerstone of our intellectual tradition.

The conference signed off with a valedictory function in which, awards for the best papers and two monographs (the outcome from SI-1).The two monograph writers have been supported by Vellayan Chettiar Foundation based in Chennai and the awards for the monographs were given away by FICS (Foundation for Indian Civilisation Studies) run by Sri. Mohandas Pai.

The papers which won prizes from FICS (Foundation for Indian Civilisation Studies instituted by Sri T V Mohandas Pai) were:

1. Prof. K Gopinath for his paper on Rasa titled "A computational Theory for Rasa"

2. Megh Kalyanasundaram and Manogna Sastry for their paper on Chronology titled "Purvapaksha of Sheldon Pollock's use of Chronology"

3. Nilesh Oak for his paper on Chronology titled "A cririque of Pollock's "self-evident claims" for the chronology of Mahabharata and Ramayana AND Assertion for the dating of Mahabharata and Ramayana events based on the internal astronomy evidence"

4. Dr. Shrinivas Tilak for his paper on Mimamsa titled "Professor Sheldon Pollock on History in India: A critique from the perspective of Mimamsa"

5. Sowmya Krishnapur for her paper in Sanskrit titled "Sheldon Pollock Pratipaditasya Vyakarana Sastra - Prabhutvayoha Sambandhasya Yuktiyuktatva Pariksha"

6. Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay for his paper on Sastra titled "Practice versus Theory: Ganita Sastra and Western Mathematics"

7. Sudarshan Therani for his paper on Philology titled "The Science of Meaning"

In addition to the above papers, awards were also given for the two papers from the first edition of the conference series that were turned into monographs. These monographs were released at the conference in their draft form. It is a moment of pride for the movement that we have created a significant body of work in such a short span of time. A draft version of the selected papers from SI-1 was also released at the conference. 

Hence, as of now, starting with TBFS, this movement has produced 4 books: TBFS, Proceedings of SI-1, and two monographs. Soon, we will also have the proceedings of SI-2 published. We will therefore have a solid body of work in just over a year's time.

The monograph details are as follows:

1. Manjushree Hegde is the author of the monograph titled "Politics of Sanskrit Studies: A Critical Appraisal of Sheldon Pollock's Ramayana"

2. T M Narendran is the author of the monograph titled "A Pariksa of Sheldon Pollock's Three Dimensional Philology"

Congratulations to all the prize winners!

An important marker of the conference was the presence and active and enthusiastic participation of Dr. Nagaswamy upon whom a Lifetime Achievement Award was conferred by FICS.

Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Nagaswamy

We will take a small breather but will soon announce plans for the next conference of the series. 

Lastly, we have had excellent video coverage and the videos will be up sooner rather than later on all platforms.

Do look out for the upcoming fantastic videos from Si-2.


Team IFI

Ramayana is both spiritual and socio-political


Rajiv Malhotra responds (marked in blue or red) to a forum member's comments quoting Hindus who attack TBFS and clearly appear to subscribe to Sheldon Pollock's Hinduphobic ideas. Emphasis and highlights are ours. Also, Rajiv ji shares some important updates on the impact of the Swadeshi Indology conference series.

I came across a group of people, who subscribe to manasataramgini (@blog_supplement) line of thinking, with comments like these in the context of chapter 5 of the book "Battle for Sanskrit":

1) "....that the ramayana played a great role in moulding the nascent political consciousness of medieval Hindus against the evil of islam. this is something iirc rajiv malhotra or someone else had a problem with. IMO we should be proud of ramayana's role and openly state it was the great itihasa which inspired hindus to fight islam"

[Rajiv: Ramayana is both (A) spiritual and (B) social-political. That is the role of the Avatara and it also applies to Mahabharata. It is spirituality in action, the divine manifesting to play a role in the laukika realm. So his assumption about me is false. All my career I have tried to argue against the otherworldly interpretations and have showed that our exemplars were very engaged socially and politically. The problem with Pollock is his REMOVAL OF (A). His is a non/anti spiritual interpretation. That is the issue I focus on. My interpretation is that politics is there, however not in the secular sense, but as rooted in dharma. To understand my purva-paksha these lazy Hindus need to read more fully both Pollock and my rebuttal. They are too tamasic and want to cut-paste here and there either to dismiss it, or to claim it as their own for quick blogs/lectures.]

"RM attempts to dissuade the reader from thinking Ramayana had anything to do with modern Hindutva movement because he attempts to shun BJP/RSS/VHP and condemn their ways. Also the use of "secular" for vyavgarik realm is rather offputting".

[Rajiv: Wrong again. Pollock's claim I refute is that: (A) modern Hinduism is DISCONTINUOUS from past Vedic tradition, (B) that it was fabricated by Swami Vivekananda, (C) that this fabrication borrowed heavily from Christianity and the West, and (D) that this was done to overcome Vivekananda's inferiority complex.
Furthermore, the idiot is one more example of jealous Hindus always trying to create a wedge between me and RSS and/or with Swami Vivekananda.]

"i just feel that there is nothing wrong in describing ramayana as a book which teaches us to totally exterminate evil.. of which mohammedanism is clearly an egregious example. pollock might whine about it as he is a frigging yahoodi saboteur and has duty in defending his fellow Abrahamic Muslims.. but for hindus if the ramayana did indeed inspire anti Muslim violence then its a holier than holy book than what could be normally ascribed to"

[Rajiv: This person did not read Pollock or my response. Probably saw some 2nd/3rd hand commentaries of my work. The core Pollock thesis I refute is that Ramayana was not popular prior to Muslim invasion and Hindu kings popularized it artificially specifically to fight against Muslims. Implication of this claim is that it lacks any spiritual legitimacy, and that it is solely a decide to fight against Muslims.

Is the Hindu critic in above quote agreeing with this Pollock view? I find such shallow Hindu critiques too stupid but they are common, unfortunately.

Basically, allegation is that Rajiv is promoting Gandhian line of "Non-Violence". Wonder What Rajiv has to say on it.



Rajiv: Several points I want to make:
...Why is it not possible for experienced IKs to respond to very simple allegations? Am I supposed to play father figure for every IK? When will they grow up, take responsibility?
The individuals he quotes have been hounding me for long time. These Hindus are the 3rd front we have to fight - jealous, incompetent, opportunistic, lazy but over-ambitious, no tapasya, but lots of opinions. Pls do NOT drag me to have to respond to them. I need to move on in my research and have 15 books to finish, much deeper to go in my journey. The 1st front is western Indologists. 2nd front is Indian Left/sepoys. 3rd front is Hindu pseudo-intellectuals popping up everywhere but with little competence. Mostly a hit and run style all over the space.
The Swadeshi Indology conf is their opportunity to contribute serious scholarship if they have something important to say.
The SI organizers have an independent team of senior scholars who do peer review of every paper submitted. Neither side knows the other identity, so these are blind reviews. The problem is they find very very few Hindu so-called intellectuals to be able to write proper papers. Mostly opinions, too lazy and lacking rigor. The reviewers end up rejecting most papers received. This pisses off the old school Hindu established scholars, who are not used to being rejected. They assume accolades due to senior status or network of contacts, or some prestigious affiliations. IFI rejecting them causes anger.
What should IFI do? If it lowers standard to become popular, then it might as well fold up, because too many organizations exist holding conferences, meetings, seminars, etc already. But these lack original research as pre-requisite for presenting. This is the gap IFI fills.
Luckily, SI1 and SI2 are being v successful in training new, young scholars. These are mostly unknown names because they are not in the social media making noises with opinions. Very hard work with few solid successes each time. So it will be a while before we get the 108 we need.
SI1 papers are ready as a 400-page book to be finalized for publishing. All papers focus on Pollock - so the man opining above ought to have sent his paper to SI for evaluation.
SI2 will likewise turn into a major research book on Pollock specifically.
In addition, SI2 will have 2 major single-author monographs each a detailed academic analysis of Pollock on some specific item. One is in fact on Pollock's Ramayana. (100+ pages each and these will turn into two major volumes.) So in Si 1 & 2 we will have at least 4 major books coming out.
Starting with TBFS, this means we will have FIVE VOLUMES OF RESPONSE TO POLLOCK, from a team of 25+ scholars.
Never before has a team of solid scholars taken up one specific Western Indology school and give such a thorough purva paksha and uttara paksha. This is what Arvind Sharma told me when he complimented me for starting this initiative.
There are more concrete outputs coming with heavy impact that are to be announced shortly.
Next we will move beyond Pollock and deal with other Indology opponents one by one. This is what I am up to. I only respect scholars who are serious and not casually hitting out here and there. Hence other IKs should deal with them and not waste my time.

Ram was not a Misogynist- Stop spreading lies, Patnaik.

Dr. Nellutla Naveena Chandra

Article by Devdutt Patnaik: https://scroll.in/article/801243/why-is-ram-misogynist-but-not-the-buddha

In this rebuttal Patnaik’s text is shown in underlined italics and my rebuttal in solid black.

Patnaik: It is interesting that in all writings of patriarchy and misogyny related to India, scholars quote the Ramayana and the Manu Smriti, yet historically these were composed after the Vinaya Pitaka.

Who are these scholars?

  1. Someone with a Ph. D. from an ivy league university.
  2. The same with a teaching job in one of these universities.
  3. The same who belongs to “the country club” of American Orientalists.
  4. The same one with the so-called bogus peer evaluation – publication - perpetuation of lies background.
  5. Someone belonging to a coterie of individuals who have not published a new idea since Maxmuller interpreted Hindu history based on the Bible. We must remember that Maxmuller was no historian.
  6. The same gang who write petitions against Prime Minister Modi?
  7. The same clique who under the name of “scholarship” propagate theories without any evidence and ignore the evidence that contradicts their opinions.
  8. The historian-mafia that has so far failed to prove their pet theory “Aryan Invasion Theory”.
  9. The band of bandits who refuse to accept Aryabhata’s date of Kali Yuga (February 18, 3012 BCE) so easily accepted by John Playfair, Jean Sylvain Bailly, Laplace, Cassini, Voltaire among other giants of significant achievements. Who among the herd of orientalists compares with Laplace who stood his ground facing Napoleon when he said he did not need God to calculate the positions of planets but only his knowledge of celestial mechanics most of which he formulated.
  10. The same rambunctious mob of tenure holders who waste tax payer’s money with neocolonialist penchant to denigrate Hindu achievements out of jealousy.
  11. No thank you Devduttji we cannot accept the opinions of this historian-brotherhood who refuse to furnish evidence for AIT and other pet theories.

I will give you the reasons why I will not accept their opinions:

  1. First and foremost, they may have learnt by rote Maxmuller’s unproven ideas on Hindus but they don’t have the adhikara to write anything about us.
  2. They are driven by a thoroughly discredited Marxist Theory. Why is it discredited? It has utterly failed in USSR (leading to its dismemberment), in China (which has since become capitalist arch enemy of Marxism) and in Cuba.
  3. They ignore the genocide in Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Churchill’s genocide of more than three million Indians in a famine created by him in 1943, the extermination of races by Spanish and Portuguese the world over.
  4. They blame the phenomenon of Hitler on Sanskrit and Brahmins without evidence.
  5. They ignore the undesirable Bible influence on the US society which rejects Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and cry foul on Hindu society in whatever little mistake they find there.
  6. They collaborate with evangelicals who are bent on converting all Hindus and in breaking up of India.
  7. They have no respect for Hindu sentiments on their Gods, Goddesses, Customs, Rituals and beliefs while respecting worse in Abrahamic religions.
  8. They revere Monotheism a thoroughly violent theory that lead to wars in 2000 years of the miserable existence of Christianity and fourteen hundred years of Islam.
  9. They are in league with theocratic regimes of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and hate India that shining beacon of democracy, diversity and plurality.
  10. They are pedantic and pompous, the prime example being Sheldon Pollock.
  11. They think they are scholars of Sanskrit but have been exposed at their limited skills of translation from that eminent language and they propagate the greatest myth of all the demise of Sanskrit and celebrate, spread, disseminate, broadcast, publicize, proclaim, preach and circulate this lie day in and day out without a shred of evidence.
  12. Did I give enough reasons why opinions of these pseudo scholars without adhikara cannot be accepted in cultured and civilized circles?
Now let us look at the issue of Ram’s misogyny.

Is the current POTUS one of the most notorious women haters? Are the statements attributed to him on famous women and the tweets he issues forth enough evidence?

Now where is the evidence that Ram was a misogynist? Did Ram say anything against women? Can anyone claiming Ram was a woman hater quote a single quotation coming out of his mouth that denigrates women? We must look at Valmiki Ramayana and not any other Ramayana. Anecdotal evidence is often accepted as truth in case of Hindu smritis and shritis and epics and kavyas. Or you form an opinion first and look for the evidence that supports that opinion and totally ignore the evidence that negates that opinion. Sheldon Pollock is an expert in this. He first formulated the theory that Sastras were regressive and no new knowledge was produced as the time went by. All six Darshanas have different ideas and are prime example of production of new knowledge. He ignores this evidence and only writes about ideas were repeated. Repetition of ideas is bound to happen considering the volume of work produced in Sanskrit. Vatsyayana gives a refreshing entirely new outlook on sex. Sheldon Pollock thinks that every Hindu carries a copy of Kamasutra to bedroom every day. He also misquotes to prove a point. In his paper on Sastras published in 1985, he misquotes V.S. Naipaul. Pollock wanted to prove that Hindu sastras were regressive. Naipaul in writing a NY Times review says this of mogul art, “limited by the civilization, by an idea of the world in which men were born only to obey rules.” The glitter of that art without any message to convey and so hollow was the hall mark of Mogul times. Enter Pollock attributing Naipaul’s observation on Muslims to all Hindu sastras. This was intellectual dishonesty raised to the power of infinity. Naipaul a 20th century commentator, Moghul art in the time range of around 1500 CE and sastras were much older at least 500 BCE - all put together only to prove Pollock’s contention that Sastras were regressive. Was Pollock deliberately trying to pass a lie in the prestigious Journal of American Oriental Society (Theory of Practice and Practice of Theory in Indian Intellectual History, Journal of the American Oriental Society 105.3 (1985),pp499-519.)? But how this paper passed “peer evaluation”? This shoddy work is not likely to happen in Physics or Mathematics, but it happens in historical research. It happens more often in Hindu history research.

First the lie is initiated in a journal (scholarly journal?). No body verifies it. Peer evaluation passes it. Then the lie is repeated by a Wendy, a Patnaik, a Mishra, a Vajpayee and it acquires the life of its own and attains the status of truth. That Ram was a woman hater belongs to this category. Ram and Sita live a normal life of love and dedication for more than 4 decades. One instance not borne out of hatred does not mean he was a woman hater. After the war, he wants a fire test to prove her “sheelam”. In his mind, he knew she was chaste. For the sake of onlookers, he asks a fire test. Applying twenty first century morality to Treta Yuga is odd. Joan of Arc was burnt alive by Anglo Saxon Protestants only in 1431. All of us know human bodies cannot survive fire. Valmiki says Agni, fire God Himself, carried Sita and brought her out of the pyre. Sita came out unharmed, not even a small mark was found on her body and at least Valmiki does not describe any injury. Since we are applying Feminist rules of today to that long-ago period, why we should shirk from applying our knowledge of fire we possess today to that event? To any sane mind, it looks like Sita was never put on fire but made to look like that – it was an illusion. Perhaps created by Ram himself, or Agni. Ram’s relations with Kausalya, Kaikaiyi and Sumitra were based on respect and love. His treatment of Mandodari was that of a perfect gentleman.

He was above all “eka patnee vratah”, that is he had only one wife, and he never committed adultery- how can he be a misogynist? Aren’t these two enough to say he was not a misogynist. Would a misogynist practice monogamy? Would misogynist be non- adulterous? A misogynist can never be a monogamist and chaste. A bigamist and a philanderer must be a misogynist. Rama was a monogamist and was a chaste person – therefore he was not a misogynist. Both the theory and its converse prove Ram was not a misogynist.

Rama was known to be a prime example of devotion to father. In the first instance, he defied his father was when he had only one wife and in the second instance he defied his father was he never committed adultery. For a person who was a role model for pitrubhakti throughout the ages to deviate from his father’s behaviour clearly says he was above all a dharmika person and that for him to respect woman was dharma. He was not a misogynist because he was the embodiment of dharma.

This lie was also initiated by Pollock group and repeated enough number of times to pass it as a truth. Patnaik starts his article with the assumption that Ram was a misogynist without a proof. But that is vintage Devdutt Patnaik. That is the status of research in history as conducted by Americans and Europeans and followed by sepoys like Patnaik.

There are four periods historically in Vedic lore. Krita Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapara Yuga and Kali Yuga. Each Yuga had its Dharma Shastra. Manu Smriti was dharmasastra for Krita Yuga. For Kali Yuga Parasara Smriti is dharmasastra. Parasara Smriti allows widow marriage and women having property. Denigrating Manu for the umpteenth time is not going to win any brownie points.

Patnaik: Buddha lived in pre-Mauryan times while the Ramayana, with its concern for kingship, was written in post-Mauryan times. Arguments of oral traditions and astrology-based dating that place Ram to pre-Buddhist times appeal only to nationalists, not historians.

First, what concern Ramayana had for kingship? Here Patnaik completely missed the point. The objective of Avatar of Rama was punishment of Rakshasas like Tataka, Subahu, Mareecha, Surphanaka, and finally Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Indrajit and install Vibheeshan Ravana’s brother, a dharmic Rakshasa on Lanka’s throne. The concern of Ramayana was killing of Ravana and not who will be heir for Ayodhya kingdom, that problem was resolved peacefully, a mark of Hinduism, not normal in Christian Europe and in Muslim world. Rama’s banishment to forest was designed to take him away closer to Lanka. Rama willingly abdicates the throne to keep his father’s promise to Kaikeyi, who wants her son Bharata to be the king because of his love of his father, a fact Marxists don’t mention but see it as weakness. By the time Bharata returns to Ayodhya, Rama had already left. Out of his love for the elder brother, and not wanting to be the king, Bharata chastises his mother and sets out to the forest to bring Rama back and put him on the throne. This mutual love and dedication between brothers is also not mentioned by Marxists, Christians and Muslims. Compare this with what Jahangir, Shah Jehan and Aurangzeb did to their brothers. The fratricidal, and hence barbarian, Moghuls are darlings of Pollock and the group, but not Rama and Bharata. Pollock says Rama was weak and Moghuls were strong. In the forest looking at Bharata from the top of the tree Lakshmana gets excited and says to Rama, “Here comes Bharata to kill all of us. Be prepared, O Rama.” To which the reply from the elder brother, “No, you are mistaken. He is coming here to ask me to go back to Ayodhya and perform coronation of me.” As it turned out Rama was right.

Bharata having requested and refused the return of Rama, then requests and gets Rama’s slippers to be put on the throne in his lieu. Bharata did not become the King. He was in-charge of kingdom. Neither in Europe nor in Arabia, will you find these laudable ethics and morals and hence Ramayana and the principles it stood are strange to them. In Ayodhya all citizens attended “The coronation of Slippers” known as “Paduka Pattabhishekham”, also not comprehended by Pollock. Thus, Ramayana was not concerned with kingship. Ignorance of Patnaik shows so pronouncedly he should stop writing on Ramayana.

A point must be made here. After the war, Ram refuses to occupy or annex Lanka to Ayodhya, saying the riches of lanka he does not like, he prefers home land because, “जननी जन्म भॊष्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसि”, mother and mother land are superior to Swargam. He was a great patriot of India, perhaps the first, and a great statesman like of which had not been seen in the long Dharmik History.

Patnaik draws a line between nationalists and historians- remember it is his line. On a Venn diagram these are two nonintersecting circles mutually exclusive as portrayed by Patnaik. I can quote any number of names who are nationalists but also historians. However, historians like Pollock are not nationalists as he wants to break up India by creating Aryan-Dravidian division, a Freudian slip by Patnaik. The age of events is determined by astronomical data such as eclipses and positions of celestial bodies as was known to rishis at the time. Let me remind you that in Chandogyopanishad, Nakshatra Vidya is mentioned as one of the occupations. The practitioners observe Nakshatras and orally record them and pass them on to next generation. It was not astrological data- again a Freudian slip or betrays the ignorance of the author. Long before Greeks knew, Hindus already mapped equinoxes and solstices. The famous death of Bhishma is linked to winter solstice in January when sun enters the northern hemisphere or earth moves south of sun. Now winter solstice occurs in December some 22 days before Makara Sankranti. The winter solstice moved because of precession of earth’s axis and is known as precession of equinoxes. That the day and night are equal on equinoxes and day is shortest on winter solstice and longest on summer solstice was known for a long time. In Telugu Mahabhagavatam these facts are mentioned by the great poet Potana. This book was written around 1500 CE. It is taken from Vyasa’s book written at least two thousand years before. Bhishma’s choice of dying on Uttarayana or winter solstice gives us a tool to determine the date of his death. Since we know the rate of precession, we can estimate the time taken by the earth to move so that winter solstice occurs 22 days earlier. The date is January 17, 3067, when Bhishma niryana occurred. See how close it is to Aryabhatta’s date. Why “historians” refuse to accept the astronomical method of calculating the age of events of the past? Is it the same reason that they refuse to accept the role played by Russians in defeating Hitler but give credit to England ignoring all historical data?

Patnaik: Manu Smriti and other dharmashastras were written in the Gupta era when Brahmins played a key role in legitimising kingship in much of peninsular India.

We need a proof and not the opinions of Maxmuller repeated over and over to say that dharmasastras were written in Gupta’s period. I give four exceptions – Apastamba’s Sulabha sutras were written circa 800 BCE (see Kim Plofker and David Mumford) who say Pythagoras Theorem should be renamed Boudhayana Theorem. Now David Mumford is a famous mathematician who won a Congress Medal and a Shields Medal for Mathematics. The second example is the work of Pingala who was preoccupied with the problem of how many three lettered ganas (words) could be formed using one hrasva and one deergha- a short letter and a long letter. His method was unique- first he found how many one letter words could be formed- obviously only 2. Then he found how many four letters could be formed, which is 4. Then he deduced and proved there were 8 three letter words that could be formed. This was power series of 2. Today this method goes by the name of Pascal’s triangle. Manjula Bhargava, another Fields Medal winner suggests Pascal Triangle should be renamed as Pingala’s Triangle. Then the famous Caraka Samhita and Susruta Samhita on medicine and surgery were written circa 500 BCE. Pingala’s work was about Sanskrit grammar which puts a date for Sanskrit- not 300 CE a favourite date of Pollock. Of course, Chanakya’s Arthasastra was written during Maurya Period. Vedas and Vedangas were written before Apastmbha Sutras that were based on them, therefore they are pre- 800 BCE.

Patnaik: The pre-Buddhist Vedic rituals speak of female sexuality in positive terms as they are concerned primarily with fertility and wealth-generation. The pre-Buddhist Upanishads do not bother much with gender relations and are more interested in metaphysics. Much of Buddhist literature was put down in writing long before Sanskrit texts (Ashokan edicts in Prakrit date back to 2300 years; the earliest Sanskrit royal inscriptions have been dated to only 1900 years ago). This makes Buddhist writings the watershed of Indian literature, after which womanhood came to be seen as polluting, obstacles to the path of wisdom.

One of the Ashoka’s edicts does mention the name of Rama, meaning Ramayana was written before 2300. This fact I mentioned in my rebuttal to Wendy Doniger’s inane article. Also, Sangam literature, the oldest Tamil literature parts of which are as old as 5000 years per some Tamil friends, mention is made of Raman and Sitai’s jewelry. So, Ramayana from two different sources can be traced to very old times, much to the chagrin of Pollock. I have asked a Buddhist friend to check the veracity of Patnaik’s statements on that religion.

Patnaik: We could, of course, argue that that most educated Buddhists were originally Brahmins and so transplanted Hindu patriarchy into Buddhism, that the Buddha had no such intention. We can insist that Vedas and only the Vedas, are the source of misogyny. This follows the pattern of “good” Buddhism and “bad” Hinduism structure we find in most colonial and post-colonial academic papers.

That Vedas are source of misogyny is the most bogus statement even by Patnaik’s standard. Two women Gargi and Mitreyi wrote passages of Rig Veda on the very tough subject of Atma and Brahmam and they wrote commentaries on Brahma Sutras. We hear of women like Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi wives of Dasharath, Satyavati (Shantanu’s wife) and Kunti (Panduraju’s wife) who never did sati after becoming widows, and of women who left their husbands as they did not agree with each other. Sita left Rama and Ganga left Shantanu, showing again Vedic period was egalitarian as far as gender relations go. Damayanti carries on a very intelligent and free conversation with her husband, Nala pointing out his mistakes. We see many discourses between spouses in many stories as late as Purana period. Draupadi carried on very engaging conversations with all her five husbands. Misogyny is a European and Arabian invention and never a part of Dharma chintana. Hindu heroines were intelligent, well educated, well informed, well respected, equal to their husbands, were fighters- contrary to that happened after Ghazni murdered, pillaged, raped, enslaved and committed unspeakable crimes against humanity- hero to Sheldon Pollock and the process was repeated under Timur, Ghori, Khilji, Moguls and last nut not least British. Hindus could not protect their women who were then confined to house for their safety- their freedom was lost to Muslims and Christians.