Textbook Writing Part 4: Is learning Sanatana Dharma without a Guru like trying to get a PhD without an Advisor?
My angry interlocutor in Birmingham, having suffered quite some laughter from the audience, stomped out angrily from the temple. On his way out he saw Padma and my two PhD students who had come along with us, and were watching the proceedings with deep interest.
“HE HAS ONLY BOOKISH KNOWLEDGE! YOU HAVE TO LEARN FROM AN ACHARYA!”
He ranted to my PhD students who were there: NOT LEARNING FROM AN ACHARYA IS LIKE TRYING TO GET A PHD WITHOUT AN ADVISOR!
Padma remarked to me, grinning from ear to ear: “Wow! You made him REALLY MAD!” My student, deeply steeped in formal Sanatana Dharma training in his childhood to the point where he claims to be tired of the “preaching’, chuckled: “if you are trained by an Acharya, the first thing you must learn is not to get angry when you lose a debate. Our whole tradition is one of debate!”
Very interesting questions. Let me take the PhD one first. A big difference is that in a PhD program, we may have a guide, but there is a reason why people sign up in a good university to get a PhD, not at the advisor’s hut. It is to benefit from the Universe of knowledge avenues that are available in a University. One learns far more “through the eyes of one’s classmates” (as one my ex-Dept. Chairs taught me as he demolished my argument on why small classes were better than big classes) than from the Advisor. So it is quite wrong to ascribe all learning in the PhD program to one advisor. My students would laugh out loud if one suggested that they learn more from me than I from them.
There is of course a second difference. At least where I have been privileged to guide PhDs, I get to select them with extreme care. The selection is through a process that demands excellence. Those whom I select are, and I can say this with pride, demonstrated through quantitative, objective metrics, to be the best in our Institution, and the Institution these days, particularly our School, shows up at the very top of the US News and World Report rankings. So what makes these students different? Sure, they are all “talented” and “academically excellent”. But the best of them are selected because they think independently. The most important metric for a PhD to graduate, as my own thesis advisor used to say, is that they can disagree with their advisor and prove their point, proving that they can stand up on their own in intellectual reasoning and (in our case) problem-solving. Clearly, someone who just parrots what they memorized from some “Guru” as Divine Truth, and aims just to get that diploma to hide under, do not meet this criterion. They would not survive a month in our research group.
Now for the first question. Back when I was in 4th grade, I was in an Islamic School. There were 16 girls and 8 boys in our class, which made for a horrifying environment. The Majority was always terrorizing the Minority, trying to get us in trouble with Teacher at every single opportunity, bless their dear vindictive souls. Competitiveness seemed uppermost in their minds.
As the only non-Muslim in the class (pretty-much the whole school!) I was given the clear freedom to do whatever I wanted during their Islam classes. However, as any red-blooded elementary school denizen would know, sitting around alone is absolutely no fun at all, so I used to go and stand around listening to what they were saying.
One day the class was outdoors in the beautiful mountain weather of central Sri Lanka, the deep blue sky overlooking green paddy fields and the (inviting, muddy, but deserted and out of bounds) soccer field. We stood in a circle around the Maulavi as he lectured. After a while, perhaps sensing that his audience had mentally drifted off, he stopped and asked a question. The class just blinked at him. When no one spoke up, I raised my hand, and answered the question, and the Maulavi smiled and commended me for getting it right, and gently wondered what the rest of the class was doing.
IMMEDIATELY one of my dear Majority Gender friends protested, in a rare departure from the usual genteel Rules of Combat: “Narayanan cannot answer that! He is not a Muslim!”
Shocked, embarrassed silence. Then the Maulavi gathered his wits and spent the rest of the lecture hour lecturing my angry classmate, with her reddening cheeks and gathering tears, and the whole class, about how wrong that was.
All real Gurus have always taught SIMPLICITY and welcomed all learners too. And I am proud to have learned a little from a wide spectrum of such Gurus. My parents who insisted on daily evening prayer before a lighted lamp every day, in a land where we were surrounded by those not of our faith. My siblings. My friends and colleagues. My teachers in school and college. My dear little classmates, who eventually presented me with an Autograph book asking me never to forget them – and how could I? Their Maulavi. Their Indonesian Headmaster who insisted on respecting my beliefs and protected my freedom while welcoming me. Once I got into a (fair) fight with his son, where I was terrified to get into any fight with him, until he goaded me with insults that no 4-th grader can tolerate, and which ended with said son going home bawling and in tears. I lived in terror for the next few days, until the HM came by, called me aside, patted me on the head and quietly thanked me for teaching his son a much-needed lesson. Back in India, my upbringing in a deeply traditional ancestral home, surrounded by the most deeply religious Brahman community, not 100 yards from the Thekke Mathom, most hoary school of Vedic education in southwest India. Swami Ranganathanandaji’s 1-hour lecture that gave me a lifetime of assurance. The numerous Conversionists who asked me if I wasn’t on a path to disappointment at the doors of Heaven which were open only to those who were Born Again. Their preachers who screamed: “And WHY do the Heathen Rage?” causing all the Congregation to turn around and look at me in curiosity. My unknown interlocutors on various Internet fora who sharpened my understanding under the merciless anvil of no-holds-barred debate. And then my professors in colleges both in India and the USA who taught me objective evaluation of concepts, and most of all, yes, my professor, steeped in the Vedas himself, who gave me the “Upa Nishad” of explaining the central core structure of the Vedas, with the encouraging declaration:
“This is all there is to it.”
To make it easier for the reader to see what our book is about, I will link the presentation that I recently gave at a temple.
I ran into someone who strongly believed in the above proposition, at the temple in Birmingham, Alabama, where they were kind enough to host an evening presentation on a working day, while on a business trip. He looked skeptical to begin with, and was, as is usual with such people, totally unaware of all recent controversies such as the California Textbook atrocities and Rajeev Malhotra’s struggles against the Conversionist establishment. Something like what we called an O.J. Simpson Jury back in the 1990s when I still used to subscribe to The Atlanta FishWrap. IOW, “404”. I must note here that I was one of a tiny minority who accurately saw that based on the evidence presented, and the priority of the lead prosecutors on their own hairdo and sleeping habits, an objective jury must find him innocent. As they did. So I had the deepest respect for this gentleman’s objectivity to start with.
When we got to the slide where I stated our decision to survey the different schools of SD without depending on any one Guru, he could not contain himself. “SO YOU DIDN”T LEARN FROM A GURU?” I said, no. You could sense him lifting off at full thrust through the ceiling, though he did have a triumphal air about him.
We state clearly the reasoning for this. There are thousands, perhaps millions, of different sets of followers, each devoted to a single Guru. Just in one U.S. city I believe there are two different sets of BAPS devotees who are not exactly on the same wavelength, and followers of two different Sai Babas. Unlike other faiths, we do not believe in having descended as followers of one single Prophet who got the goods directly from The One And Only, and recognize none as Supreme except for the Supreme ParamAtman who is, well, within each of us and everything and everywhere else. Beyond that, all are welcome and given equal opportunity to move towards Moksha, consistent with their Dharma. We do **NOT** believe in individuals getting any special Message From On High – except for their own enlightenment as Arjuna did. We do not do poojas or worship any human being as being, well, Divine, as close as Sachin Tendulkar, Madhuri Dixit, Rajnikant, and others long gone, may have approached this level of adulation. That said, humans appear to have a natural tendency to flock towards someone who will spare them the great difficulty of making choices for themselves.
The consequence of the Guru-choice theme in writing a textbook should be obvious: it is extremely divisive. Since the Adi Sankara, and perhaps Swami Vivekananda, it is difficult to think of a single major Guru who has advocated unity of all approaches and schools of thought (er… and not under himself/herself either). This is not to criticize any single School, other than for not asking disciples specifically to learn what other Gurus and schools were teaching, and to learn from them. The Gurus appear to shelter their shishyas and save them from the strain of using their brains, becoming increasingly dependent on the Guru rather than learning to “fly” on their own. Adi Sankara’s own teachings got misused by the Mathoms that he set up. They became increasingly narrow and rigorous in interpreting his broad wisdom, and thus narrowed their own perspective into intolerance! This led to the whole Bhakti movement. We discuss this clearly in the book.
An example from my teenage days comes to mind. One day I was cruising downhill on my bicycle when I saw a Prabhashanam being given on the grassy grounds of the Shiva temple. Let’s not go into what motivated me to stop and lean against the wall, but I could not help hearing his calm, clear tone. I stopped for a moment, but I stayed for over an hour, hanging on my bike, leaning over the wall! It was Swami Ranganathananda of the Ramakrishna Mission. He spoke in simple, fluent English. I was utterly fascinated to hear the lucid wisdom, aligning the deep concepts of the Vedas with simple common sense for contemporary living. Like all true experts, a Tendulkar at the crease or a Dhoni executing a run-out, he made it sound so easy and natural. At the end, a local Swami, the head of the (won’t say which one) local Mathom, in appropriately Holy attire, came on to “explain” to the assemblage in our native Malalayam what Ranganathanandaji had just finished saying. I was horrified. The local one proceeded to demonstrate that he had either not listened, or had not understood a word, that the learned guru had so beautifully explained! He could have been a NASA Reviewer! In 15 minutes the local “undid” all the good that the learned one had so painstakingly explained in an hour.
This scene is repeated far too many times. Books published by modern Hindu Mathoms are now printed on fine paper and come with beautiful color covers. Their content at first sight looks perfectly fine. One has to read with brain turned “On” to recognize the prejudices, superstitions and self-advertisement that contaminates the message. I shudder when I visit temples run by specific Mathoms, and after their Puja offered to the ParamAtman, they immediately bring the same lamps and flowers to offer Puja to a statue of The Guru seated at the opposite end of the hall. I doubt very much if the Guru himself ever intended for this to happen – these were lives lived in utter simplicity and self-denial and sacrifice to help others. But the “followers” have obviously not paid attention to the most important core concept of all. What good did “learning from a single Guru” do for these good people?
Throughout out Hindu history runs the tragic thread of the results of following single Gurus. It leads usually to violence, bigotry, hatred, and division. So while we certainly recognize that each Guru has much to offer and teach us, we refuse to endorse any single one.
For those who mistake this for ignorance I have this to say. Your arrogance is that our Vedas are all too complex, and their lessons are far too deep for any human to understand simply by reading them or about them. You are absolutely right, there is far more there than anyone can truly understand in one lifetime. Where your arrogance blinds you is your complacency that simply spending some years repeating words from one Guru, makes you superior. Since time immemorial, Sanatana Dharmis have recognized the need to learn from everyone, since the ParamAtman is everywhere. A good Guru should first teach the humility to recognize the potential for learning everywhere – and a good learner should learn this first. The second lesson is that we come from a Culture of Debate, as we title a whole chapter in our book. If one gets angry at losing in debate, one is no Sanatani. One should be happy at learning something new, not become viciously enraged like a Rakshasa.
The not-so-hidden corollary to “this is all too complicated, you have to learn from a Guru or else you are not a Hindu!” is “You are no good because you are not ALLOWED by birth to learn the Vedas!”.
This is to do a massive favor to the Conversionists. It’s like buying them a few aircraft carriers, to quote a saying from my profession. Been there, seen that, enough is enough. This is a lesson that good teachers in every religion have recognized. And there is no room for negotiation on this point. The arrogance must be destroyed, crushed, humiliated if necessary.
Which brings me to the topic of this blog. My past “dharma” has occasionally involved being asked to help combat attacks by certain powerful and pompous entities with grand academic titles. It was not that I was knowledgeable: my role was that of an Active Scare-Crow, to shoo away the Rakshasas who came to desecrate the prayers and offerings of decent people. My ignorance bothered me, nearly as much as the looming shadows of Karma from what I had done to said Entities, as much as they deserved it. Note that the Rakshasas in our Puranas have always been quite learned and knowledgeable, they just lacked ethics, fairness etc and were instead consumed with greed, hate, anger, lust and all those other things we mentioned in the prior post, that contribute to Vipareeta Buddhi.
I decided that when I got a chance, I would learn what I could about my own religious background and write it down, so I could be more effective. I am the type who must write down and make sense of what I am learning, or nothing sticks in my brain. So I sought a way to make my beliefs make sense, connect them, find solid references that discussed these things, and tie everything together. I got help from various quarters, but as Valmiki learned at the end of his robber days, they should not be blamed for my actions. When I realized that I was getting a reasonably filled puzzle, I decided to publish it. This became an introductory textbook on Sanatana Dharma. I mean every word there. “Introductory”, not “Authoritative, Definitive”. “Textbook”, because it does offer a structure, explanations, facts and in-depth references for those who wish to learn. Not a work of fiction, which Padma has long been declaring as being most suited to my dreamy temperament. And certainly not an Authoritative Prescription distilled from vast knowledge. Just a documentation of what we had learned, why it made sense to us, and where others could find what we found, and more. Sanatana Dharma, the topic. Hinduism, the mindless Colonial usage that assumes that our beliefs came from a (now) Pakistani riverbank.
Here I have a not-so-secret to reveal. I have spent most of my “free” time over the past 19 years associating and debating with strongly religious/political people, often studying their psychology in self-defense. Started with the most rabid of Pakistanis, on whose psychology and even linguistics I am now considered an expert in the Quarters where they know…. But eventually, as Pakistanis slid from their high-rolling prestige of the 1990s into their present state of worldwide welcome, my attention was turned to the wars that Hindus were having to fight for their children, in both India and The West.
The book, I knew, would attract stone-throwing from the self-appointed Holies of my own belief system. So I first sent drafts discreetly to several people who, I knew, were well-steeped and formally trained in the Vedas and our traditions, but **ALSO** keenly aware of the challenges that we have faced in recent times, fighting off the Rakshasas. You can see what we say of them in our Acknowledgement – some were kindest by being silent. These are all people of true substance. Rarely did they agree with me in the past, but they knew that I would be honest, and they could be very blunt with me as well. Their reviews, after many rounds of corrections and refinements, gave me assurance that we had got the book mostly right. But I still knew that I had not encountered the real issues which motivated me to research and write the book instead of just quoting out of a Handbook Handed Down From a Guru.
So I started venturing into the places frequented by people who consider themselves very religious and religiously-educated. The temples. Religious conferences. Recently I have hit the “mother lode” – petulance and rage. And this motivates me to develop a detailed list of comments and responses. I will phrase these as answers to questions.
The concept of peer review should be straightforward, but its practice rarely is. The idea is that one submits one’s work to the outside world discreetly, and invites honest, thoughtful and “fair” comments. From people who are at least as knowledgeable as one is (peers, not Soo-peeriors). Recently our team of 5 co-authors submitted a paper to a US professional society conference. We proposed to float ultralight reflectors at 100,000 feet in the atmosphere using aerodynamics, to reflect back sunlight. We presented initial analyses of different approaches to implement this. This seems amazingly viable compared to previous proposals to counter Global Warming, so that we felt that we had no choice but to present it, fears of widespread ridicule and vicious political attacks notwithstanding. Reflectors in Space are too difficult and costly. Consider this. Ours move at 5 m/s with aerodynamic lift, whereas orbiting objects must reach at least 7500m/s to counter gravity. So the kinetic energy needed for the Space version is at least (7500/5)^2 = 2,250,000 times as much as ours! We were very excited, but wanted to see the problems that thoughtful reviewers would find with the idea. Three months went by (2 more than the conference allowed reviewers). I complained that the absence of reviews was unfair and unprofessional – I was also an organizer for the same conference and knew the timeline and responsibilities well.
Then I got an email from the “organizer”, a fellow with a NASA email address. He said: “Doing this in Space poses many issues so I suggest not publishing the paper”.
In one sentence this fellow had exposed several things. First, in 3 months he had clearly not read the paper. Not even the title which mentioned “aerodynamic”, certainly not the abstract. I asked how someone with a NASA email address in 2017 could not know that “aerodynamic” should be a clue that the location was not in Space, and that 100,000 feet is not in Space. Silence. I asked him to read the paper and give me any definite problems that he saw. Result: He deleted the Space part from his comment to prevent others from seeing his hollowness, but the rest of his vague claim about “issues” (with no references or facts) remains!!
At the same time, I had another paper in the same track, but this had two co-authors who are both NASA researchers. The paper draft had been submitted while they were still running their code, so the Conclusions were very much left hanging and did not match the abstract. We were very worried. The same Organizer gave ratings of essentially 10/10 on every aspect to that paper!! That leaves no doubt about how much he had read that one, and how he decides his ratings.
This is a problem. It is a case of no ethics. The first rule of peer review is that ONE MUST READ THE ARTICLE before submitting a review. To do otherwise is dishonest, malicious, cowardly and lazy.
So it was with some amusement that I saw the recent review by someone whom we will only call “Moti” at Amazon, on our book “Sanatana Dharma: An Introduction to Hinduism”. From the sales record, I knew that Moti had bought and downloaded the paper (thanks!) well after 2PM on a Saturday when someone had sent a tweet talking about our book (no one buys anything at 2PM on a Saturday, it was probably 9pm.) Yet, long before 10PM the same day, Moti had posted a review!! The “Review” said something about “not needing to eat the rice to know that it is not cooked”, and then rambled on to end in a pompous misused metaphor about “letting kittens out of the bag”. I naturally provided the helpful suggestion that if he was referring to some supermarket recipe from a frozen package, well, the rice had to be cooked well before adding the boiled kittens out of a plastic bag to make Cat Biriyani.
So if dear Moti is reading this, or someone would kindly read it out slowly to him, it is quite unethical to post a review without actually reading a book or paper. When he grows up, I hope he works in a research institution where they have some decent standards.
Unfortunately, my helpful response to Moti, or perhaps my exposing his unethical action and thus offending his Honor and Dignity as they say in Pakistan, only made Moti madder. He started sending a stream of nasty emails going page by page in our book, tossing out angry insults. I read through them all – after all I really appreciate someone taking time to go page by page in the book – but saw nothing there that would suggest any change needed. Now I see that he has posted a new review, telling me that he has “reduced his rating”.
This brings up another aspect of peer review, again related to ethics. It is an utter abuse of power, not to mention silly and stupid, to “retaliate” with the claim of “OK, I’ll reduce my rating!” Our Puranas say: “Vinasa Kale Vipareeta Buddhi”. As the time of destruction approaches, the brain begins to act opposite to what reason should dictate. To his credit, Moti does not hide his identity, and that I admire (which is why I respectfully refrain from mentioning it here). The worst cowards are those who hide behind anonymity and abuse their power.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna lays out several traits that hold humans back from advancing up the Moksha trail. You can read these in any decently-translated version of the Gita, or, hey, read it in our book where we try to explain it as best we can, from an ancient (1930s) text written by someone who says that they got it from the Adi Sankara’s own version. These traits are recognized by modern psychology and all human common sense. Petulant pettiness as a response to being exposed while doing something wrong, is not mature human behavior. Of course, dictators, corrupt officials and other Rakshasas are exceptions to that. Perhaps dishonest researchers as well. As Moti grows in mental age (he must already be at least 11 in physical age to be legally on the Internet!) he will learn these simple things and hopefully grow up to be a strong and decent person.
We will continue this in the next Blog post. Attention-span these days is limited, even though you have read enough for 1000 Tweets, thanks!
A few observations.
- What is wrong with the picture of a professor at XYZ university, apparently well-read and even literate in Sanskrit albeit clueless in Samskrtam, Samskaram and Sanskriti, and his South Asia gang of Euro-Indologists, all using their pompously-titled positions to inter(fer/ven)e in Indian politics and society to Improve The Lot Of Women and Dalits, and Protect Them From the Domineering Hindu Right?
It is silly, for starters. The whole stereotype of Phineas Fogg (the Bilayati playboy of “Around the World in 80 Days” fame) rushing in with his walking stick to chase away dem savages and rescue the lovely Princess from the Hindoo evil of Sati, said Princess then becoming his Loyal Slave, no doubt appeals to Americans, Englanders, Pakistanis and Indians brought up on a diet of Mother India, Arundhati Roy, Jungle Book, Masterpiece Theater, Pankaj Mishra and ‘Gungi Dan’ complementing the weekly thunder of White-Shoes Preacher sermons on “AND HWHAI DOOO THE HEEEEAATHAIN RAGE ?”
It is also utterly uncalled-for. India is a free nation, with an elected government, and a free (but often bought-and-paid-for, incompetent and irresponsible these days) press that basically apes Western news outlets. India has a 50% Reservation (Affirmative Action) system for public-sector education and jobs, special privileges for minority educational institutions that are unimaginable anywhere else in the world, and tough laws with practically a presumption of guilt where the accuser is a woman or minority member and the accused is not. Indians do not need Sanskrit Professor PhineasFogg-ul-Manhattani & Co. to save them from India.
Thirdly, the picture provides strong grounds to suspect malicious intent. Let us subject this to the simple Solomon Test as well as the Hippocratic Oath Test. For the benefit of South Asia Furniture, the latter would be “Primum non nocere”. For mere mortals, “First of all, Do No Harm”. These tests are particularly necessary since the first reaction of these Authorities when exposed/critiqued is that of Colonel Rostov in War and Peace:
“What! They are shooting at ME! ME! Whom everyone loves!”
The second reaction, paraphrasing RM’s book, is along the lines of
“How can I, who have made a career in Sanskrit, be accused of doing something to harm a language that I LOVE?
Someone with the knowledge and power of such faculty, could easily choose to use their positions for good instead of evil. Were they honestly endowed with hallowed American Liberalism and true Christian Compassion, or even with real Marxist caring for the “Adhvanikkunna Thozilali” and wanted to Liberate the Huddled Masses From Oppression like the Statue of Liberty, they could easily quote from our Scriptures, and point out that the real intent there, deep down, has always been to treat everyone alike, ensure social justice and compassion. There is absolutely no shortage of verses in the Bhagavad Gita for instance, that demand all those from anyone who has any plans to ascend to Moksha. Argue that the abuses rationalized by reference to Scriptures were utter misinterpretations, as they are in all streams of Faith. Yeso Christo did not tell anyone to go murder 300,000 Muslims in one French City, nor did He command the Inquisition tortures in South America and Portuguese India, nor the slave trade from Africa. Yet all these were done In the Name of Our Lawd Gawd, and the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, hain?
Pointing to the strong message for compassion and social justice, with the authority of literacy and scholarship, is the obvious way to bring about real reform, driving away the charlatans, not by driving wedges and spreading hate. Surely these professors have enough intelligence to figure that out for themselves. That they choose the opposite approach, in my humble layman’s opinion, proves their true intent.
Sad, but Q.E.D.
2. Shouldn’t esteemed Professors steeped in literacy on Sanskrit, be allowed to come out with observations connecting to, say, events in Europe, and point to Indian influence? For instance, in ascribing Nazi genocidal tendencies to their sudden acquisition of Sanskrit grammar? Perhaps Sanskrit has a strange nonlinear effect on Bavarians, Manhattanians etc: whereas it makes us see the Sacred and the Infinite, it makes them want to go out and mug people in Central Park, or, in Germany, Poland and Ukraine, line their neighbors naked and freezing into poison gas chambers and machine-gun them into pits?
Flashback to 1096. The First Crusades, led by none other than His Holiness the Pope. Quoting from Wikipedia, the Great Wiki-Puranas of modern America:
“According to David Nirenberg, the events of 1096 in the Rhineland “occupy a significant place in modern Jewish historiography and are often presented as the first instance of an antisemitism that would henceforth never be forgotten and whose climax was the Holocaust.”
Do you see above why I say that these Sanskrit== Violence theories are mischievous if not malicious? Q.E.D. again.
3. Isn’t it awesome that these South Asia Furniture have learned enough to converse in Samskrtam, and read so much of our ancient scriptures?
Smart people have been learning about Santana Dharma and indeed Samskrtam scriptures long before there were South Asia Chairs in the United States. Oppenheimer, the nuclear scientist, Jewish by birth and tradition, is said to have recited a verse from the Bhagavad Gita in awe when he saw the fireball rising from the first nuclear explosion at Alamogordo, New Mexico.Seventy years later, most Americans would not be able to tell Samskrtam from Arabic, and were Dr. Oppenheimer to mutter anything of the sort on an American airline flight, the friendly fair woman sitting in the next seat would whisper in the ear of the flight attendant, and Oppenheimer would find himself under three 300-lb Air Marshals before being dragged off the airplane in short order, for “muttering in one of dem terrorist languages” (as happened to a Malayalee film star). The South Asia Chairs have brought very little real understanding of South Asia to the American public or the world; they have succeeded in amplifying the ignorance and bigotry by several decibels, and since that appears to be their main occupation, one must commend them on their success.
4. But.. they have taken the trouble to become Panditas in Sanskrit! Surely that denotes love and dedication to Sanskrit?
Shri Malhotra quotes a very important sloka: to the effect that the true Pandita is seen through his/her actions.
If practical linguistic expertise is what Indians want to admire, the right place to admire is the CIA. Central Intelligence Agency, not these college furniture. They have people with outstanding credentials specializing in every imaginable language, and I am sure Samskrtam is way up on their list to decode. They have to grasp not only grammar and syntax, but some context as well – otherwise how does one figure out from all the intercepted messages that the National Reconnaissance Office provides, what someone is transmitting? So perhaps a lot of the funding and impetus for the translation work comes from the US taxpayer through such agencies 🙂 A comforting thought no doubt, for Marxist ‘Liberals’. If they are not funded by the CIA, well, the CIA is the prime beneficiary of their work, and probably one of the prime employers of their graduates. Of course, for ordinary (i.e., non-Marxist, non-SouthAsia Faculty) Americans, the CIA is a source of justifiable pride and an object of respect if not awe.
5. Won’t Hinduism / Sanatana Dharma survive a few obscure writings by hostile faculty, having survived for 1,732,000 years of natural and anthropogenic cataclysms and more gradual erosions? Hinduism today is stronger than ever before: well over a billion people spread out all over the world profess the faith, and it is being accepted. What yaar, even White House celebrates Diwali, no?
This is an utterly lazy and incompetent position. So did the Yazidis survive for thousands of years in Iraq before the ISIS came a-calling, like the “Gatlin Boys” in the inspirational American song: “Coward of the County”.
Perhaps Hinduism will survive, but a great many innocents may be tortured, humiliated, enslaved and die violent deaths, millions will be reduced to misery and tears, all because we did not act when it was our time and our Dharma to act. Those anthropogenic cataclysms were each stoppable/preventable with timely preparation. Our ancestors failed, and it set our people back thousands of years. Must we keep being (never mind)?
Have we ever faced so technologically advanced, sophisticated, utterly antipathic, well-funded and determined an assault? Watch the movie “Independence Day” to get an idea. Especially watch the segment where the President of the US asks the Alien Scholar”
“What do you want us to do?”
Please take a moment to google the story of the California Textbook Atrocity, later called the California Donkey Trials after the State of California’s Board of Education ended up forking over millions in settlements and fees to their overpaid ambulance-chasers as a result of the violations of due process and civil rights caused by allowing a gang of ‘100 Leading Indologists’ led by Harvard Wales Professor of Sanskrit and Leading Linguist Michael Witzel and his able assistant Steve ‘I’ve started to learn Sanskrit a month ago’ Farmer. Or just see my initial summary of the issues there: The Scholarship of Equine Posteriors. This is what these people do – send out grand letters listing their even more grandiose titles such as ‘Masked Man-Eating Mauler’ of Georgia World Championship fame, under their blood-colored Harvard Crusader Shield letterhead – or the blue one with the Crown of England sporting the crosses. Direct lineage from Sir Richard The LionHeart, Lord of All Christendom, Slayer of Seven At One Blow. (Oops! 7@ 1 blo actually swatted mosquitos, as I recall) Wouldn’t you be scared if you got one of those?
The victims are little children in elementary school, made to feel like worms. Sixth graders asked why they don’t have tails. College students forced to watch Communal Riots for grades. Maybe yours, if you are located in the US, or if you plan to send them to the US. College students who go berserk from the continuous stress of such hate-propaganda (yes, I am speaking of an example). Others who may commit suicide. People attacked in the streets because their appearance reminds some nutcase of the propaganda booklet put out by the friendly neighborhood church. Scholars whose publications and grant applications are rejected because they don’t parrot the Leading Furniture in hating their own culture. Assistant Professors denied promotion and tenure for the same reason. Full professors who are reduced to penury because their clear logical arguments go against the Conclusions ordained by the Leading Furniture. Adults who read the Atlanta Journal, Constitution & Fishwrap by accident. So spare me the line that the South Asia Faculty’s hate propaganda is without adverse consequence. What these entities are doing is blatantly against the Constitution of the United States too.
6. Aren’t the South Asia Faculty ranks filled with dedicated Indian-named people who have been desperately seeking some external support to project the cause of their own Matrubhoomi? Isn’t this Furniture donation the result of long and arduous campaigning by them? Wouldn’t any Indian have reason to be happy that a Hindu organization endorses such fundraising?
Good question. To answer this, look at what happened recently when the Dharma Foundation sought to fund a Chair at the University of California (Irvine, if I recall correctly, but it does not matter). That is a public institution, subject to far more controls and Constitutional obligations than a private institution such as Emory, Harvard or Columbia. The same deal: the university would set up a committee, and they would select candidates. The donors would give the money and shut up. But there, the Committee could not be stacked against Hindus, for whatever reason (I haven’t read up on that). All I know is that a shrill campaign was launched by the SAME South Asia Scholar Gang, PROTESTING the donation and demanding that the university not accept it.
I happen to know a little bit about the recent history of this Dharma Foundation. When I was a second-year graduate student, I was searching the library in the usual panic induced by a fabulous Thesis Advisor (no Chair, just a fantastic Regents Professor, who taught me most of what is good and decent about America that I did not learn from my equally fabulous old landlady) who kindly suggested that I take on a problem for which there has still (decades later) been no other solution than what I developed in that panic. One of the best resources I found early on was a NASA Technical Report authored by a researcher called P. Uberoi. The name intrigued me, I thought it was some scion of the famous hotel chain, and wondered why someone like that would take on so arduous a line of work.
A few years ago, Professor Uberoi passed away. He had spent his career as a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado. He left a nice bequest to be administered by his loving nieces in India, his only living relatives, who kindly implemented his wishes: they linked up with people in America whom they entrusted to fund endeavors that would promote nonviolence, inter-faith understanding and amity. He did believe strongly that what he had learned of Sanatana Dharma was ultimately congruent with scientific thought and the advancement of civilization. A superb thinker, a brilliant researcher, a top-notch scientist and a quiet, affectionate teacher.If I can find it, I will post what I wrote at the time about him, but you can Google his whole life without my help. I at least could not find any trace of any political leanings on his part, either in the USA where he spent his life, or in India.
This was at least the seed funding, perhaps more than that, behind what rose in profile as the Dharma Foundation. Of course the Foundation is administered by competent people who also share Professor Uberoi’s respect for Sanatana Dharma.
Unfortunately, the above credentials are EXACTLY what the South Asia Faculty gangs fear, hate and despise. The man could read and write. Count. Solve differential equations. Use (indeed he built!) sophisticated probes and measuring instruments. Read Hinze’s book on Turbulence, horror of horrors, and mastered Schlichting’s Boundary Layer Theory. Real books, I mean. Use his brain too. Shocking!
They screamed out loud that this Chair was being funded by the people who (paraphrasing for brevity here) disembowel pregnant women, condemn Dalits to a life as scavengers, and toss gas cylinders into businesses and homes owned by Muslims. IOW, not insanely opposed to the present Prime Minister of India, whom they are used to tarring and feathering likewise with not a shred of evidence and despite complete failure through a decade and a half of specific putdowns by the Supreme Courts of India, let alone the voters.
They had very powerful backers. What is not recognized by most desis is the real reason why the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom got the State Department to deny a visa to the elected Chief Minister of Gujarat, had **NOTHING** to do with Muslims. It had everything to do with the fact that Gujarat led Indian states in bravery to enforce the law of the land against predatory Conversionist scams, the main business of the sponsors behind much of that now-widely-exposed Commission. Apparently the word has been slowly seeping even into the Indian Consulates around the US – no more are the blatant websites run by the Jubilee Baptist Missions instructing their recruits on how to lie on the visa form, and which Consulate to get a tourist visa for their conversionist business campaigns in the tribal areas of India, guarantees of success. Oppressive! Dare to enforce INDIAN laws in India? Read the U. Chicago Furniture’s latest whines at the Chronicles of Higher Education about Indian Courts daring to order her ‘scholarly’ works pulped as being nothing but low-class hate trash.
Being a public university (more on that below), the University of California’s leadership is subject to political pressures. The Letters and Petitions from the South Asia gang came with the usual long list of Furniture Titles to fill in for their total lack of evidence, logic or humanity.
I did suggest meekly to the Dharma Foundation that they should withdraw the endowment offer, hold the endowment in trust, and give out the proceeds each year to carefully selected people, none of this trusting to university committees etc, given how ungrateful they were even at the outset. See Part 1 where I advance this again in the present case. Of course they ignored my advice though one of their netas sent me a nice emailed “thx 4 ur input, v wl get bk 2 u” type form reply. IOW, ‘go away!’ Well, I did, but the noisemakers did not. The whole university system was bullied into REJECTING any donations from the Dharma Foundation!!! So much for the tolerance, much less acceptance or empathy, let alone sympathy, for Sanatana Dharma in the contemporary (I wouldn’t use the word ‘modern’) American South Asian Academy.
7. The South Asian furniture generally write books and publish their voluminous papers in esteemed Top Journals such as those of the American Institute of Religion. Books in the Oxford (England) Press. Penguin Publishers. Why don’t these unwashed Hindoo extremists get THEIR papers published in these Top Journals if they want?
Aha! Good question. I do have some small experience in that line of endeavor, as well as in the more modern option of the Internet, so let me comment. Look carefully at the two publications that I linked under Part 3. One was from a JNU Professor of English. But it was an Opinion Piece in the Business Standard, a newspaper, not a Peer-Reviewed Journal. It did have to get past an Editor, that’s it. The other was from a German professor, and it had a whole list of references, etc etc. Where was it published? It was an Open Access Journal, administered by Springer Inc, a reputed worldwide publisher, one of the very few still located outside the People’s Republic of China. Nothing bad or low-class about it, it is the modern option that is opening up worldwide.
How likely is it that lines of argument favorably inclined to Sanatana Dharma would be published in the Journal of the American Institute of Religion? I hear that it does snow in Kolkatta, with much greater likelihood. You see, this is all about Controlling the Narratives. Suppressing Free Speech, and indeed all Free Thinking.
Other cultures would not allow their most treasured traditions to be so tarred. Try this against, ah, Judaism and you will be out of a job in short order. Try it against Islam and you will be minus a head, or perhaps experience the Peace that comes after an encounter with detonation or an AK-47. Try it against Protestantism and you will have a cross burned on your lawn and be further warmed by a firebomb through your children’s bedroom window.
Do it against Sanatana Dharma and a hundred thousand Hindu avatars of Einstein will come to hear your sermons next time you visit India. Arre, Amrika mein Endavad Kursi hain! Wah Wah! How he is talking in Sanskrit onlee yaaar! Wall street billionaires will rush to fund you with their cash.
Reminds me of Padma’s story about all the village matrons rushing out to the Girija Theatre to see “Lanka Dahanam”, in their best temple-going attire. Seeing this episode from the Ramayana would give them beaucoup points towards Moksha. She says what they were saying on their return trip was as loud a Movie Review as it was unprintable – the South Asian director had used this catchy title for a piece of utter garbage on some contemporary Kerala romance-gone-bad / domestic squabble theme with the usual show of hi-cholesterol flesh far beyond the tolerance of the respectable village matrons.
8. Why devote a whole book to critique the guy who is merely the head of the Search Committee for a faculty position at some university? People are generally appointed Head of the Search Committee to make sure they don’t try to grab the post for themselves, after all. The eventual appointee who warms this furniture may be a nice gal/guy, hain? A True Scholar? Why not be optimistic? Don’t worry, be happy!!
See above re: Snowstorms in Kolkatta. You already saw what happened with the Dharma Foundation – apparently a non-partisan Selection Committee in a public university would be entirely unacceptable to the South Asian Academy. Why would you think a Committee headed by one of them in a private university would be objective or fair?
9. What do people of other cultures/ethnicities do?
If you followed the recent tamasha at U. Ilinois you might get a better feel for this, away from South Asia. The Head of the Search Committee is usually a front/flunky for much more extreme agendas in the background. If allowed to do so, (and at Illinois there WERE powerful entities in the background – see e.g. POTUS) – they are going to make ABSOLUTELY sure that the committee is stacked with enough entities who will do whatever they are told (or already know what they are not told). There will be usual token this or that to provide entertainment and be ignored.
In Illinois, the Search Committee dug far and wide and deep like the Search For a Real Princess – and came up with someone whom ‘they’ wanted. He is a famous Palestinian-American. His theme was to relate the history and plight of Palestinians to that of Native Americans. You can think through the rest of that – who the targets were, etc etc.
Well, in that case the targets did not sit around muttering:
“Bhavitavyam Bhaved Eva! All is Maya! It is after all Kali Yuga, the Khadgi will come by and make things all right!”
They ran what might gently be called a loud, persistent, vicious, rabid and rapidly expanding campaign. Major donors who weren’t stupid enough to have given ALL their money away yet, started pulling out. The university was forced into the untenable position of having to withdraw the offer made to the candidate, AFTER he had resigned his prior position. Predictably, this led to a lawsuit, with the American Association of University Professors weighing in on the side of the dissed candidate. University royalty were forced to resign. I saw all this in the course of other entertainment at the AAUP site provided by the South Asia Faculty in yet another ill-advised Wile E. Coyote /Roadrunner Show episode, but that is for another time. I don’t know what came out of that case.
So why did those people raise such a ruckus? Because they have learned from their history, not to sit around in la-la land and rationalize and procrastinate as those who are out to destroy them, organize and prepare. And if you read Rajiv Malhotra’s book, the evidence is crystal clear, and you will be left in no doubt that the South Asia Faculty in US Academia are out to destroy Hinduism and Hindus. Maybe not destroy. After all, we work hard and deliver much better value per kilogram of oxygen consumed than most others. Enslave us again?
In Part 1, we considered the overall problem: Is the usage of a language far from the shores of its origin, ‘stealing’? ‘Hijacking’? Is there something wrong in, say, Indians, the largest and most devoted population of English-speakers in the world today, virtually the only people on the planet who can spell English any more, celebrating the death of William Shakespeare? (sorry, that didn’t come out the way it was intended, but u know what I mean). So why are Rajiv Malhotra, and a host of others who are slowly waking up, so panicked at the prospect of someone with money to burn, funding an Adi Sankara Chair in Sanskrit Studies at New York’s Columbia University, in the name of the Sringeri Sharada Ashram? With a Selection Committee headed by the (note the name of his endowment) Arvind Raghunathan Professor of South Asian Studies. For those who may be unaware, Sringeri was the southern point of the 4 (always 4 when it is something in Sanatana Dharma!) centers of study established by Adi Sankara. Each is headed by a Sankaracharya, and each Sankaracharya is as close to being a recognized Authority on Sanatana Dharma as we SDs recognize. Should we not celebrate the virtual establishment of another Sankara Ashrama, this time far, far west of Dwaraka and well north of Badri? Shouldn’t we perhaps be clamoring instead to establish one in the Falkland Islands as a Southern outpost, one in Fiji and perhaps one on Bear Island? Perhaps endow one on the International Space Station? Mars? The Moon? Pluto? We work in 4s, remember?
From an Outsider’s point of view, this whole ‘debate’ appears rather trivial: Some desis got together to donate enough cash to endow a Chair at Columbia. They got approval from some of the big Ayatollahs of their cult to use the name of some dead wandering swami. Then these other desis all started jumping up and down to STOP this endeavor. Petty jealosy? Usual Desi Lobster Mentality? YAWN!!!! Back to munching my fat-burger!
I was curious about this. Well, for a second or two until the usual connotation of the term “South Asia Studies” resonated in the space between my ears, and the TubeLight came on.
For starters, one would be well served in these things by remembering the old saying, modified from its original by Joseph Heller, the creator of “Catch-22”, to the more fashionable quote from an American General:
JUST ‘COZ YORE PARANOID DON’T MEAN THEY AIN’T ALL OUT 2 GET YA!
Remember, while I have not done a hundredth of the deep research that RM has done on these folks, I HAVE spent a couple of thousand hours poring through the hilarious ‘scholarly discussions’ of the RISA (Religion in South Asia), FOIL (Forum of “Inquilabi” since they abhor the term “Indian” Leftists), the Harvard Witzel-Farmer Indo Eura(cist/sian) Research Yahoo! group, the Marxist-ISIS IndiaUnity Yahoo! group set up to do something TO, not FOR, Indian Unity, etc etc. And I have actually READ (Yes! Holding my nose, smelling a lemon, but READ) Professor Paul Courtright’s masterpiece, “Ganesa, Lord of Obstacles” and his “Limp Phaullus” psycho-analysis (last pulped by Motilal BanarasaiDas and Sons, in horror after realizing what their JNU/South Asia -graduated illiterate Editors had accepted). Most of their ‘scholarship’ brings to mind the old Malayalam proverb that starts out with
If you can’t translate that and don’t know the rest of it, well, take heart, you could be an Endowed Chair in South Asian Studies, a Linguist specializing in Malloostani. Basically, their thinking, if one can call it that, is entirely predictable in theme, though their particular tactics and strategies would put The Coyote in the Roadrunner Show to shame. So let’s get back to what Rajiv Malhotra writes, and related thoughts.
The entire book delicately balances an incisive debunking reminescent of the Russian Air Force’s precision bombing of the ISIS, with a super debater’s skill of expressing deep the personal respect, bordering on awe, for an adversary (and I use the term deliberately). The adversary, however, has shown no sign of any such civilization beyond a couple of emails inviting RM to chai-biscoot at the Columbia cafeteria or, honor of honors, the Faculty Lounge (see my prior post on Nikolai’s Roof). Likewise, he sets out with the deepest expressions of awe, of the Vedic Scholarship at the present-day Sringeri Sharada Ashram. No comment from me on that, thank you – though there have been quite a few informal ones regarding their discipline as exhibited by the “due diligence” before getting all set to sign contracts. My bridge-selling enterprise cited below perked up at this thought – could I not sell a couple to them, I wonder? But I come from one rail station away from where Adi Sankara was born, and I have prayed often before his emblem of the Shank and Chakra – ultimate symbol of Unity, Advaita. Sringeri was Adi Sankara’s ultimate worship of Sharada, the Avatara of Sarasvati. Knowledge, learning. No way would I do anything to disrespect his name, other than the obvious imperative of spending my evenings and weekends trying to undo the damage already done, and the imminent catastrophe of selling off His name, the deeply unifying philosophy of Advaita, and the worship of Sarasvati Devi to the Atheists and Marxists, acting as agents of the Temple Destroyers.
In Chapters 3 and 4, Shri Malhotra has pulled out all the stops. He delves deep into his understanding of Sanatana Dharma, and the historical record of evolution in philosophy. He goes into the origin of Bhakti, and the branching out into the arts – and the sciences – as expressions of Bhakti. He points out how a certain professor ignores the contributions of the entire literature base on these aspects, and focuses on (predictable RISA/FOIL) Marxist philosophy of seeing all organized faith (except in the Politburo) as being Tools of Oppression Of The Masses.
Repeat: Schools of Divinity vs. Schools of South Asia/Religion Studies
The one aspect of the ‘scholarship’ of this entity that RM does not touch, perhaps intentionally, is whether said entity has any clue about Bhakti. For this you must perhaps read my blog (available on this site, titled “Protestant Pedagogues Peeved..” where I try to explain the difference between Schools of Divinity versus Schools of Religion Studies. The former are set up to teach about Western Religion, i.e., Christianity, typically Protestantism with some nod to Catholicism. Plus an obligatory sprinkling of courses on Judaism to keep the donations from Jewish businesses coming in, and ward off the lawsuits. These courses are generally respectful, and taught by deep Believers in those religions. Well worth a chunk of your $69K fees, I am sure.
The Others are covered with courses in the School of Religion Studies, usually tied in with Middle Eastern Studies and – drumroll! South Asia Studies. These courses have a very definite objective, that one must look carefully to discern in the case of courses on Islam and Buddhism, but is blatant in the case of Hinduism. Example: Professor Paul Courtright’s multimedia course at Emory University, Atlanta on Hinduism Viewed Through Cinema Scenes of Communal Riots. No kidding – that may not have been in the course title, but it sure was a big part of the content, per alumni. They are set up to to show the obvious (to Them) inferiority, violent nature (as opposed to the utter peacefulness of Abrahamic religious history) and general lack of civilization. Dehumanize. Demonize. Rationalize the genocides and tortures of the Inquisition. And point to Christianity as the only Salvation. Convert all the Sheep. Bring them into the Fold. Save their Souls! Mind you, these days, as opposed to not so long ago, this is done with great polish and refinement. Those doing these are experts at Objective Research. They even call it Scientific, though Scientologic is a better word. Being Marxist is an excellent alibi against the shallow charges of bigotry that might come from shocked adherents of these Faiths. What! We Bigots? We Are Objective Scholars! The most vicious attacks against Indian and Dharmic traditions come not from explicit bigots, (that’s for entities such as the ISIS or Professor Hafeez Saeed of the Lashkar-e-Toiba), but from dyed-in-the-wool Scholars. Rationalists. Linguists. Psycho-Analysts. Agnostics. Atheists. Marxists. Look at U. Chicago, or Harvard, for instance. So now you may begin to see what RM is up against.
There is another saying in my zones of awareness: “If u find urself using $200K missiles carried by $60M fighter planes 200 miles out from $6B aircraft carriers, all to hit a $2 hut, u r losing da war”.
I wonder how much of RM’s numerous pages of intricate debate based on his readings of the spewings of certain South Asia faculty, would even be read by said entities whom he respectfully tries to ‘debate’.
So this is my objection to this whole business. Generally speaking, and with no particular individuals in mind, this is what I see happening all too frequently. Some bigoted jerk or arrogant atheist makes a career out of writing communist/terrorist hate literature, trying to incite hate against law-abiding, decent folks going about minding their own business. Powerful organizations that have a business plan to make hundreds of billions of dollars, hire such people and put them in positions where they can do a lot of damage in their chosen profession of hate-inciting.
Losers everywhere, use this sewage to fill their own intra-cranial spaces and rationalize hate-crimes against innocents. The ultimate victims of this are the leprosy-afflicted patients at the Kushta Nivaran Sangh, the orphans and battered women at the Vatsalya Trust Orphanage, the 6th-grade kids in California where the textbook asks the teacher to recite: Turn around and look at your classmates. Does one sport a tail? That must be a Hindu. In the first two cases we stepped in and prevented the damage, in the 3rd, what we did is recently being undone by the next wave of organized attacks.
Other drunken losers go around beating up women who wear a red dot on the forehead, declaring themselves to be “Dotbusters”. Others lynch a Sikh commuter. One pushes a Hindu commuter onto the rails as a New York train approaches and says she did it because the Lawd Gawd commanded her to do that.
A German professor woman in Leipzig, Germany, home to some of the worst gangs of Neo-Nazis, and not far from the train stations where they recently had all those attacks on women, rejects an internship application from an Indian undergraduate kid, claiming that all Indian men must be rapists (her university, paragons of German honesty, of course ended up blaming the kid, yawn!)
And someone claims originality with volumes and volumes of sewage declaring that the Sanskrit (illiterate description of Samskrtam) language with its beautifully structured organization refined over millennia, was all set up to dominate, exclude, exploit and terrorize people, first all over south-east Asia where Sanatana Dharma spread with no sign of military conquest, and then, of all places, IN RACIST NAZI GERMANY!! Oh! The Germans from the time of the Huns’ ancestors swinging by their tails from one tree to another in the Black Forest, have been so inclusive, peaceful, gentle people! Until evil ‘Sans krit’ turned them into monsters that suddenly lined up and machine-gunned 30,000 people at Babi Yar, and herded 6 million of their own Jewish compatriots, Russian prisoners of war, Gypsies (i.e., Indian descendants in Europe), and pretty much everyone else into gas chambers to Purify Europe. Yup! All because of Indian (oh, they mean Indo-European) Sanskrit!
Really? DID anyone peddle such garbage? Don’t look at me, I watch the comics on TV when I need a laugh. But there are people who do read these things. Professor Makarand R. Paranjpe, Professor of English at the Jawaharlal Nehru University apparently does make it his job to read. He cites the original quotes, and goes on to cite the debunking of those by the German professor Reinhold Grünendahl.
In any serious field of endeavor, such nutcase theories would be laughed off. In South Asia Studies in America, it is considered to be the height of Scholarship. It is because of those examples of crimes against those least able to defend themselves, that people like Rajiv Malhotra drive themselves beyond human abilities to fight what was at the start a lone battle. And why they are not fooled by the next antics from the South Asia cartel and their powerful sponsors.
Completely unrelated to my rant above, let us take a moment to look at the logo of Columbia University. I learned that it is not located in Colombia, which managed to spell the name of geographically-sign-challenged Cristoforo Colombo a bit better. What’s that gizmo? It looks like the CROWN OF ENGLAND! A symbol that should be greatly admired all over India, and particularly in the Sringeri Ashrama.
Apparently Columbia University was originally KING’s College, established by Royal Charter of King George II, (using loot from India of course – you can almost see the Kohinoor Diamond in the hatband!) in 1754. In 1776, being the King’s anything became a bit unfashionable in the United States of America, so they renamed it to Columbia. To be precise in my deep knowledge of Latin, “Universitas Columbiae Neo Eboracensis” (per WikiPedia, of course). Their motto is: In lumine Tuo videbimus lumen, meaning, again per WP, “In Thy light shall we see light (Psalms 36:9)”. When they write about OUR religion, we should accept that they are being completely objective, not at all related to any faith or belief. And I have these 7 bridges over the Chattahoochee river to sell you, One Owner, Cheap-Cheap, Won’t Last At These Prices. The name Columbia is the female personification of America, per the same source. Sort of like Bharat Mata in connotation. Oops! I mean Mohterma South Asia, of course. To be fair, Columbia University’s religious connections are quite universal: they are affiliated with the Union Theological Seminary, with joint undergraduate programs available through the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. There u go! They treat all REAL RELIGIONS AND FAITHS equally. Why do the Heathen rage, what-what?
This is something that has bothered me a lot. Why do institutions such as Methodist Emory University, Theologically established Harvard and Princeton, etc. hire and foster Marxist types whose primary skill is hate-mongering? Its a plain “Duh!” once one delves a bit deeper. In one stroke it gives them an aura of Tolerance, and allows these types to do their attacks from the sheltered ivory towers behind the moats and power of a $9B endowment. Like the ISIS raping people, protected under sheets strung across the roads of Al Raqqa to hide from the Russian cameras flying overhead, and Stinger Surface To Air missiles supplied from our tax dollars courtesy of Al Obama to shoot at the Russians. Academic Freedom, as the Dean of the Emory College rather arrogantly informed us petty peasants, protecting his university’s peddling of child-p*rnography in the guise of “Psycho Analysis Scholarship” until, ahem, “we” sort-of educated them right back on the subject.
So back to the issue here: These guys get paid $300,000 a year salaries plus a $100K/yr Endowment proceeds, to chew the cud and put out these hate writings, and host conferences and (South Asian) Visiting Researchers whom they can buy with their pocket change. People like Rajiv Malhotra scramble to spend 24, 36, 48 hours a day trying to educate people on what is wrong with the hate propaganda that they put out. And for every one step he climbs, other desis, who supposedly grew up eating rice and hence should have some brains, pull him down 10 steps by rushing to give another $3M to add to that $9.368943 B endowment so they can get invited to football games and pretend to be important.
Spending so much time fighting this is simply not sustainable. Until more desis learn to read and THINK. No danger of their reading this far of course, it wouldn’t show up on their AMOLED Smart Phones with the diamond-studded pouches.
Makarand R. Paranjpe, “The Deepest Orientalist”. The Business Standard, April 29, 2016. http://wap.business-standard.com/article/opinion/makarand-r-paranjape-the-deepest-orientalist-116042901513_1.html
Reinhold Grünendahl, History in the Making: On Sheldon Pollock’s “NS Indology” and Vishwa Adluri’s “Pride and Prejudice”DOI 10.1007/s11407-012-9115-1, International Journal of Hindu Studies, 16, 2: 189–257, 2012.
Note: My serious views, and the very limited scope of my understanding on Religion are explained in my role as co-author of “Sanatana Dharma: Introduction to Hinduism”. Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Sanatana-Dharma-Introduction-Narayanan-Komerath-ebook/dp/B00XDN83V4
Musings on Rajiv Malhotra’s “THE BATTLE FOR SANSKRIT”, Part 2: Did WhatsApp precede Twitter or vice versa?
In this second part, I muse on Rajiv Malhotra’s warnings about ceding control and authority on ancient traditions, to ‘outsiders’. He defines outsiders very carefully, not based on race, color, gender or national origin, but somewhat on inimical belief, inimical faith or atheistic arrogance, lack of immersion in tradition and very much on political antipathy towards the ancient traditions of India and their practitioners. There are certainly examples in my view and I am sure RM recognizes these too, of thousands of people born with no connection to India, who have become devout practitioners and believers in our traditions!!
One of the themes running through the book is his hard-earned certainty from decades of reading, watching and debating (with which I agree 100%) that far too many of the “outsiders” purporting to be deeply interested in studying ancient Indian traditions do so not out of love and devotion, but for the express purposes of enriching themselves at the expense of Indian tradition, while simultaneously destroying the traditions. They study the traditions of Sanatana Dharma as the ISIS studied the Yazidis of Iraq or the Christians of Syria. If you have any doubts on this account, or consider the above to be an extreme analogy, please take the time to read about, if not through (which is beyond the nausea-immunity of most decent people), the works of Professor Paul Courtright of Emory University of “Limp Phaullus” fame, or Professor Wendy Doniger of U. Chicago (latest work ordered pulped by the Courts in India for violating hate-crime law), or their ilk. The writings of Harvard University Sanskrit Professor and Linguist Michael Witzel and his sidekick Steve Farmer at their “Indo-Eura(cist/sian) Research Forum on, say, Indian dance traditions and on young Indian women practising classical dance. Yes, there is a reason they hurl the hate-moniker of “Hindu Right” at any of us who dare stand up and protest these atrocities. That reason is that we are indeed Right, and they are Wrong. Hilariously if not hatefully wrong.
Now this is not to agree that particular faculty researching Indian traditions should be subjected to sweeping generalizations based on guilt by association – although that is, to make a sweeping generalization, exactly what they do to us – sweeping generalizations. I know enough to sense why Rajiv Malhotra set out to write this book. I have not read the book enough to see if there is enough damning evidence inside this particular book to prove the case about the specific entities about which he set out to report.
To give an example of a similar situation, we are sure that it is a crime against Humanity to deliver weapons and dollars to terrorist groups operating inside Syria and Iraq. But that is not to say that we have specific knowledge of the specific actions or the specific mental makeup of every terrorist who might be receiving such misguided largesse. Not, of course, to imply that there is any connection between American university furniture and terrorist groups operating in Syria or Iraq.
In other words, I am only up to page 32. 🙂
Samskrtam, not ‘Sans krit’!
The values of my tradition connect straight back to the Vamana and Parasurama Avataras. Our idolized and ideal King of the Malayalees was not born Kshatriya or Brahmana, He was just one heck of a ruler. He ruled by self-sacrifice (on his part, not the type that corporate and university bosses exhort these days), not by sacrificing his subjects. He ruled by fairness and kindness, not the sword and the chain and the whip. Our other hero Parasurama nearly annihilated the entire Kshatriya line through his military prowess, before he invented the term “buried the hatchet” in the ocean, creating my native land. These in no way detract from our devotion to Sanatana Dharma. So much for the Pollock/PRC Fallacies.
So I will state my small peeve with Shri Malhotra’s nomenclature in all due humility, though I completely understand the pressures that forced him to adopt it. The word is Samskrtam. The truncated ending preferred by newbies such as Hindiwallahs, is not the original. As Shri Rajiv points out accurately, the language known as Hindi derived from Samskrtam, corrupted (some would say ‘enriched’ which is often the same thing) by Persian influence. Why was Hindi called Hindi? Because it was associated with “Hind” the illiterate foreigners’ version of Sindhu, from Sapta Sindhu. The fashionable but uncivilized “Sans-Krit” means nothing. From here on I will call it Samskrtam, as it has been called in our society since long before the South Asian Faculty’s Martial Aryans came clanking down the Khyber Pass in their horse-drawn Portoilets and supposedly drove my ancestors down to our mountain-walled perch in the deep South. But I digress.
The Importance of the Non-Translatables
Reading on, a big concern is that ‘western’ or ‘outsider’ dabblers refuse to recognize the oral traditions of Sanatana Dharma and hence of Samskrtam. Malhotra refers repeatedly to the knowledge that only exists as “vibrations”, a non-translatable series of knowledge communication protocols that are nevertheless an utterly vital part of Samskrtam and our entire line of knowledge. There are non-translatable words denoting cultural concepts that have no equivalent in English, and there are non-translatables that are simply not translatable into any language.
Just this morning I was studying a paper written by someone from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army on how to use millimeter waves focused on someone’s throat to detect and decode what they were saying. Speech decoding by vibration analysis. Come to think of it, that was 94 GigaHertz, a frequency that gets absorbed in the skin and causes extreme pain. So the subjects of that research, whose speech – probably screaming or 400% Voluntary Confessions – was recorded, may have been Tibetan Splittists or other Bourgeoise Revisionist Camp Followers of the Paper Tigers of Capitalist Imperialism, whom the PLA fights with its might to protect good People’s Politburo Members and their small trillion-dollar sweatshops in the Gobi Desert Re-Education and Rock-Breaking Resorts. Then again, I remember some of my friends who ventured out to see if the Vaimanika Sastra indeed contained detailed instructions on how to cut titanium and build hypersonic, VTOL amphibious transatmospheric vehicles light and pretty enough to be called a Pushpaka Vimana, starting with dog-eared Xerox copies of Samskrtam verses.
All futile endeavors. The learning, what little we can achieve is in the studying and practice. Great minds regardless of geography, race, religion or epoch, have understood this.
“More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of”
as Alfred Tennyson imagined the dying King Arthur telling his grieving ale-sodden Crusader buddies.
This is the Faith part. The knowledge that each ancient sloka and rk and oth convey is not necessarily in the words, nor indeed in acoustic signatures for translation. It is probably in the nonlinear system-level interactions that these have with the minds and bodies and the genes and the whole inner being of those transmitting and receiving them. Do you understand the psuedo-techno-gibberish I just wrote? It sounds good but I don’t. 🙂 And unfortunately, in my field, editors don’t publish papers unless reviewers can understand them 😦
I have tried to discuss what I can, from the 10 percent of my limited brain that I am supposedly able to use, to explain this concept, in the introductory book mentioned at the end of this post, so I will not belabor the point here.
While the great minds have understood this, inflated egos and university furniture are not necessarily in that category, their gifted minds are too clouded by pomp and power and pelf.
This sacred knowledge, as much as I can understand, is the crux of the ‘sruti’, entrusted from long before there were humans, through myriad generations and mutations and evolutions, to be transferred and preserved for posterity. As science advances, and human brains perhaps improve, perhaps those who follow us might make sense of more and more of this. Remember that the succinct Vedas, and particularly the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, were the devices to spread at least parts of the knowledge as far and wide as possible among humans, rendering it difficult for the Rakshasas to steal, hide and monopolize it. This is an exceptionally important point, very little appreciated by most of us because we take it so much for granted. But if you look at the first 2 or 3 Avataras, they were all about incessant struggles, wars, fought over thousands of years to recover and protect the knowledge base from the Rakshasas. A point that, with all veneration and humility, I would commend and emphasize to Their Holinesses at Sringeri and all other centers of study on Sanatana Dharma.
Malhotra points out accurately that entrusting translation and decoding of such traditions to outsiders is as smart as (my analogy, not RM’s: giving your AMOLED-screened Smartphone to very highly trained ourangutans to translate). Dear, energetic and intelligent creatures that they are cannot be expected to see much beyond the colors on the screen, send a few text messages, and that not for long before they smash it and move on to something new to mess up.
In particular, it is easy to understand the fundamental incompetence of the Marxist-influenced PRC and their fundamentalist counterparts in places such as Emory or U. Chicago or Princeton Seminary, in grasping or respecting our oral traditions. The Fundamentalists, the Marxists and the ISIS all go by The Book: either The Book (aka Bible or Holy Quran) or Das Kapital. All reduce everything to WRITTEN commandments. Let me paint a picture, with deep apologies for any sentiments I may offend unintentionally, but with a need to state a succinct point:
Moses came down from Mt. Sinai carrying a set of heavy stone tablets, not pieces of palm leaves with papyrus reed scrawls on them. Understandable. Had those instructions been oral, or scrawled, the Commandments might have got a bit confused. Imagine!
Moses, ol’ buddy, r u sure He didn’t say “Thou shalt Love Thy Neighbor/ Covet His Wife as Thine Own?” Did He say “Thou Shalt, or Shan’t Commit Adultery?” “Do or Don’t Take in Vain the Name of Thy Lord”?
No wonder those had to be written in stone. Fixed. Non-negotiable. Slam-dunk. Standard Operating Procedure. No thinking or debate tolerated. Duh! Soon after, the Christians started writing down their Testament, branching out from the Chronicles then available in the Middle East. The later belief system of Islam, likewise, got things written down in their Book, the Holy Quran. One is not allowed to post quotes from that gentle Religion of Peace, so I won’t.
So did Karl Marx, much admired at the PRC, come to think of it, write down precise procedures. To paraphrase and avoid morbid phrases:
“The Idol-Worshipping Capitalists Will Send Us the Donations With Which To Destroy Their Own Traditions”.
Did this solve their problems and get them to actually observe these Written SOP? Search Google with terms such as “Crusades”. “Inquisition”. “South American Genocide”. “Native American Genocide”. “African Slavery”. “Sir Francis Drake, Pirate”. “Bolshevik Revolution”. “Gulag”. “Shia-Sunni”. “Armenian Genocide”. “Tartar Invasions”. “Vijayanagaram”. “Mohammed of Ghazni”. “Islamic Invasions”. Oops! Now corrected in California’s textbooks, by the kind intervention of the South Asia Faculty, staunch supporters of the PRC and co-Petition-Signors of Dr. Sheldon Pollock to “Gentle expansions of influence into India”.
HD 4K or bust!
If you think a bit, you see that this was the natural progression of technology. My esteemed niece’s generation, for instance, abhors paper books, and believes nothing unless it is on Facebook, or sent as SMS, now via WhatsUp. A few years from now, with most ‘hardcopy’ libraries demolished or turned into video game arcades, their Great Historical Debates will be on whether WhatsApp came first, or Twitter. They will accept nothing that is not rendered in HD 4K, 3D. Paper books? Bah-Humbug!
So those brought up in Book-dictated, latter-day belief systems such as the Furniture at the PRC, cannot be expected to have any aptitude for accepting oral traditions. Q.E.D.
Stay tuned… I’m beginning to get the gist of this book…
Note: My serious views, and the very limited scope of my understanding on Religion are explained in my role as co-author of “Sanatana Dharma: Introduction to Hinduism”. Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Sanatana-Dharma-Introduction-Narayanan-Komerath-ebook/dp/B00XDN83V4
On the other hand, I HAVE learned Catholicism from a Catholic Convent, St. Joseph’s of Gampola, Sri Lanka, nationalized in bloody riots the day I ended kindergarten and was passed harmlessly over the locked gates by the rival mobs who took a ceasefire to do that. I learned Islam for 5 years in an Islamic College, the #1 Ranked College in Gampola. And I have attended enough sermons in the Protestant Churches in America to know the difference in standards of religious understanding and acceptance: y’all in yore hi-falutin’ collegiate furniture and yore Vasco Da Gama costumes with dem frilled sleeves and powdered wigs, cyaint hold a candle to the gentle, civilized people of Gampola or Trissur of decades ago.