Rajiv Malhotra

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These are the consequences when Indians decide to imitate Harvard rather than re-building our own Nalanda.
Wikipedia biases in my entry (just as one example) which it prevents being corrected. It is re-colonizing Indians.

Rajiv Malhotra (born 15 September 1950) is an Indian-American author and Hindu activist who, after a career in the computer and telecom industries, took early retirement in 1995 to establish The Infinity Foundation. Through this organization Malhotra has promoted philanthropic and educational activities in the area of Hinduism studies.


  • India is the world largest territory, both geographically and by population, that is up for grabs by the expansionist, predatory ideological movements in the world.
    • “India Is The World’s Largest Territory Which Is Up For Grabs By Predatory Forces” by R Jagannathan - Mar 09, 2018, [1]
  • Unfortunately, Hindu nationalism today sometimes seems to be mimicking the worst things about the West, by becoming obsessively history-centric. But this is different than the past of Hinduism, and is atypical amongst Hindus even today.
    • Rajiv Malhotra (2003), Problematizing God's Interventions in History

Breaking India, 2011

Malhotra, R., Nīlakantan, A. (2011). Breaking India: Western interventions in Dravidian and Dalit faultlines
  • It matters little whether such ideas have any basis in fact. Once an idea becomes entrenched in the institutional machinery and eventually in the collective imagination of the public, it can be used for all sorts of exploitation.
  • There are institutions which study India academically for the purpose of evangelism and have formal links with Indian evangelical institutions. All these factors … create a strong population-base in India that will be financially, institutionally and emotionally dependent upon the West’s right-wing. … both state and non-state players—invest in building institutional infrastructural logistics in India, for effective control at social and political levels. A base for Western domination is being effectively constructed within India through evangelical organizations. The goal is to spread a fundamentalist kind of Christianity and create a population of believers with strong emotional bonding and dependence on the West. The Christian right in the United States is particularly active and ambitious in this regard.
  • But the catalyst who is credited with the construction of the 'Dravidian race' was a missionary-scholar from the Anglican Church. His name was Bishop Robert Caldwell (1814–91), an evangelist for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, who combined the linguistic theory of Ellis with a strong racial narrative. He proposed the existence of the Dravidian race in his Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian Race, which enjoys extreme popularity with Dravidianists to this day. Bishop Caldwell proposed that the Dravidians were in India before the Aryans, but got cheated by the Brahmins, who were the cunning agents of the Aryan. He argued that the simple-minded Dravidians were kept in shackles by Aryans through the exploitation of religion. Thus, the Dravidians needed to be liberated by Europeans like him. He proposed the complete removal of Sanskrit words from Tamil. Once the Dravidian mind would be free of the superstitions imposed by Aryans, Christian evangelization would reap the souls of Dravidians.
  • Because the assumption of Mosaic ethnology was well established, it was important to secure both families of languages within that framework. Ellis claimed that Tamil is connected with Hebrew and also with ancient Arabic. Their logic was that since William Jones considered Sanskrit to be the language of Ham, and other scholars claimed that Sanskrit descended from Noah's oldest son, Japheth, by the process of elimination the remaining son of Noah, Shem, must be the ancestor of the Dravidian people. This made Dravidians a branch of the Scythians or in the same family as Jews.
  • His work had far-reaching consequences. It established the theological foundation for Dravidian separatism from Hinduism, backed by the Church. It was accompanied by Christian usurpation of many of the classical art-forms of South India. The concept of dissociating Tamils from mainstream Hindu spirituality provided Caldwell an ethical rationale for Christian proselytization. Eighty years after his death, a statue of Caldwell was erected in Chennai's Marina Beach alongside the statue of another missionary scholar, G.U. Pope. It is a major landmark in that city today.
  • The story that places the Apostle St Thomas in India in 53 CE is a lingering medieval myth. 1 It implicitly includes colonial and racial narratives; for instance, that the peaceful apostle ministered to the dark-skinned Indians, who turned on him and killed him. This myth, however, has no historical basis at all. Nevertheless, it has been shaped by various Christian churches into a powerful tool for the appropriation of Hindu culture in Tamil Nadu, by giving credit to 'Thomas Christianity' for everything positive in the south Indian culture, while blaming Hinduism for whatever is to be denigrated. It further serves as a tool to carve out Tamils from the common body of Indian culture and spirituality.
  • While Deivanayagam was busy fabricating textual interpretations, the archbishop of Mylapore was manufacturing archeological evidence to prove the myth of St Thomas. In 1975, he hired a Christian convert from Hinduism to fabricate epigraphic evidence proving the visit of St Thomas to South India. When this hired gun failed, the archbishop sued him in court. The Illustrated Weekly of India raised questions alleging corruption in this case.
  • Meanwhile, in a very famous Hindu pilgrimage center in the forests of Kerala, a Catholic priest proclaimed that his parish had unearthed a stone cross established by Thomas in 57 CE. The location was close to the ancient Mahadeva temple at Nilakkal, in the sacred eighteen hills of the deity of Sabarimala. 18 Soon, a church with a five-foot granite cross was erected and consecrated by top Catholic clergy, and daily prayers were started. 1Meanwhile, in a very famous Hindu pilgrimage center in the forests of Kerala, a Catholic priest proclaimed that his parish had unearthed a stone cross established by Thomas in 57 CE. The location was close to the ancient Mahadeva temple at Nilakkal, in the sacred eighteen hills of the deity of Sabarimala. 18 Soon, a church with a five-foot granite cross was erected and consecrated by top Catholic clergy, and daily prayers were started.
  • From the seventeenth century onwards, Christian missionaries made scathing attacks on the Indian classical dance-forms, seeing them as a heathen practice. This was often expressed by attacking the devadasi system on the grounds of human rights. The devadasis were temple dancers, dedicated in childhood to a particular deity. The system was at its peak in the tenth and eleventh centuries, but a few hundred years later, the traditional system of temples protected by powerful kings had faded away under Mughal rule, especially since the Mughals turned it into popular entertainment, devoid of spirituality. The devadasi system degenerated in some cases into temple dancers used for prostitution, although the extent of this was exaggerated by the colonialists.
  • There have been numerous suicides by those subjected to aggressive evangelism, particularly among young girls in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. In one instance, the vice chancellor of a university was removed because he had allowed aggressive evangelism inside the university hostel, while in another case a girl left a suicide note accusing Christianity of ruining her life. A twelve year old girl who alleged religious harassment in a Christian school committed suicide after she was publicly insulted for being unable to read verses from the Bible. From 2007 to 2008, several Hindu temples have been vandalized in districts of Tamil Nadu where Christians are in considerable numbers. In villages where Hindus have become the minority, temples were smashed and Hindus were threatened to leave and make the villages ‘Hindu-free’. In 2009, the traditional Tamil harvest festival Pongal has been stopped in a village in Kanyakumari district because of Christian activism against it.
  • Such attacks and provocations on indigenous spiritual traditions never find their way into international media or the reports about freedom of religion.
  • In 2010, Western media revealed that a Catholic clergy absconding from US law had been working in a diocese in Tamil Nadu. Despite numerous entreaties, and efforts by a Minnesota prosecutor to have him extradited on charges of child rape, the accused priest remained in his position as a secretary of the Diocese of Ootacamund’s Education Commission. According to the lawyer representing one of the priest’s victims the only ones who knew about him being a rapist were the bishop and the Vatican, and this was kept a secret. When the news broke out internationally the bishop of the Indian diocese in which the priest was working reacted calmly, as though it were not a major charge. The Indian media gave a lukewarm reporting to this case and at least one mainstream media person claimed an anti-Indian/ anti-Catholic bias as the reason for such allegations.
  • But what the media—both Indian and International—did not report, is that charges of such child abuses have surfaced in the vernacular media in South India concerning Christian institutions. In March 2010, at a Catholic institution in Kerala a teenage girl died – declared as suicide due to rat poison. However, under pressure from her parents the police investigated the case and two priests were arrested, charged with sexual harassment of the deceased girl. In February 2010, a boy was abused by a Catholic priest and investigations revealed that the priest had been previously accused of misbehavior, but when reported his accusors were fined by the church and he was promoted to a position where he could abuse even more students. In 2008, a Catholic priest was found murdered in the hostel room of a famous Catholic pilgrim center in Tamil Nadu. Subsequent investigations by a news magazine revealed that he was part of a network which abused girls in Catholic orphanages. In 2007, a girl was found hanging to death inside a Catholic convent in Pondicherry. The public suspected sexual abuse and murder. In 2006, a Tamil Nadu Dalit girl was found dead under mysterious circumstances inside a Catholic educational institution. Condoms and liquor bottles were found inside the premises. Subsequent medical reports proved that the girl had been sexually abused.
Quotes about the book
  • But the book could not get a mainstream publisher and I had to work very hard. The big mainstream publishers did not want to touch it... And it became an instant best-seller. They refused to put the cover image of a broken India even though I explained that I found it in the office of an African-American professor in Princeton, who was part of the Afro-Dalit movement. They found it too provocative.
    • “India Is The World’s Largest Territory Which Is Up For Grabs By Predatory Forces” by R Jagannathan - Mar 09, 2018, [2]
  • Another very important feature revealed in Sangam literature is the conception of the unity of the land-mass stretching from the Himalayas in the north to Kanyakumari in the south. In at least two sources, Tamil kings were praised as having had supremacy amidst all the chieftains who reigned in the land between ‘the Himalayan abode of Gods’ in the north and Kumari in the south and the lands which have the sea as the frontier. 46 The northern limit of this cultural unity is often referred to as the Himalayas. Ganges in floods, as well as ships travelling on the Ganges, is among the scenes depicted in Sangam literature. Pilgrims from all over India coming to have holy baths at Kanyakumari as well as Rameswaram (Koti) have been mentioned in Sangam literature. Speaking of Himalayas and Kanyakumari in association, is another hallmark of many Sangam poems. Apart from such spiritual-cultural unity of India depicted in Sangam poems, there is at least one poem that refers to the political unity of India. This poem, from Puranannuru, speaks of a time when the whole of India ‘from Kanyakumari to Himalayas’ was ruled as one nation, unifying the diverse geographical zones of ‘plateaus, mountains, forests and human habitations’ by kings of the solar dynasty, and identifies Tamil kings as descendants of the solar dynasty.

Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism (2011)

Malhotra, R., & Infinity Foundation (Princeton, N.J.). (2018). Being different: An Indian challenge to western universalism.
  • India is more than a nation state. It is also a unique civilization with philosophies and cosmologies that are markedly distinct from the dominant culture of our times – the West. India’s spiritual traditions spring from dharma which has no exact equivalent in western frameworks. Unfortunately, in the rush to celebrate the growing popularity of India on the world stage, its civilizational matrix is being digested into western universalism, thereby diluting its distinctiveness and potential.
    • Rajiv Malhotra. Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism, 2011. Synopsis
  • India itself cannot be viewed only as a bundle of the old and the new, accidentally and uncomfortably pieced together, an artificial construct without a natural unity. Nor is she just a repository of quaint, fashionable accessories to Western lifestyles; nor a junior partner in a global capitalist world. India is its own distinct and unified civilization with a proven ability to manage profound differences, engage creatively with various cultures, religions and philosophies, and peacefully integrate many diverse streams of humanity. These values are based on ideas about divinity, the cosmos and humanity that stand in contrast to the fundamental assumptions of Western civilization.
  • When it was my turn to speak, I recommended that the term 'tolerance' in the resolution be replaced with the phrase 'mutual respect'. .... As I noted, we 'tolerate' those we consider not good enough, but we do not extend our respect to them. 'Tolerance' implies control over those who do not conform to our norms by allowing them some, though not all, of the rights and privileges we enjoy. A religion which involves the worship of 'false gods' and whose adherents are referred to as 'heathens' can be tolerated, but it cannot be respected. Tolerance is a patronizing posture, whereas respect implies that we consider the other to be equally legitimate – a position which some religions routinely deny to others, instead declaring these 'others' to be 'idol worshippers' or 'infidels' and the like.
  • I looked at the various examples of religious tension that were listed in the paper and wondered whether it was perhaps too simplistic to identify the 'victims' and the 'culprits' as they had done. I noticed that Islam was listed as a victim in one country but not as an aggressor in others. The same was true of Christianity: its representatives had lodged complaints against other religious groups in places such as East Timor, but there was silence concerning Christianity's own aggressive campaigns elsewhere. Later I realized that such asymmetrical representations are not uncommon in the academy, so I proposed to Prof. Law that we do some pre-conference preparation and research the deep-rooted causes of religious violence. My feeling was that all religious ideologies, without exception, should be open to serious investigation.
    My foundation offered to fund a one-year research project in which graduate students at Cornell representing every major religion would closely scan the major books of every religion. They would highlight every line or statement that expressed contempt, intolerance or hatred against non-believers as well as other excluded and marginalized groups such as slaves, women, foreigners, and so on. Since religious violence often gains steam from such hateful speech contained in the very texts believers revere, the conference would endeavour to enumerate these offensive and questionable teachings and call for a resolution against them. In Hindu scriptures, for instance, all statements that are disparaging of 'lower' castes were to be placed on the list. Throughout the process, each religious delegation would have sufficient opportunity to make comments and resolve disagreements on specifics. I felt it would be a watershed event in the cessation of violence if the various religions agreed to discontinue such offensive teachings.
    Prof. Law herself supported my proposal but was unsure about how the religious groups would feel; so she set about calling them to gauge their reactions. Some weeks later, she told me that merely raising my suggestion with certain religious heads (whom she did not name) had elicited considerable anger. They could not 'tolerate' the idea of outsiders meddling with their religious texts. These texts, after all, could never be altered nor declared invalid in any manner as they contained the words of God.
  • The next big occasion that offered an opportunity to test my position was the United Nation's Millennium Religion Summit in 2000. This was a major gathering in New York City of hundreds of leaders from all religions. It was promoted as a pivotal event which would be a harbinger of harmony among all faiths in the new millennium. This goal was to be partly accomplished by the release of a resolution on the matter. Everything seemed to be going well until the last minute, when the New York Times reported serious disagreements over the final language of the resolution that was to be passed. A few days later, the Summit faced the prospect of a collapse with no resolution passed, prompting top UN officials to intervene in an attempt to try to break the impasse.
    The Hindu delegation, led by Swami Dayananda Saraswati of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, had insisted that the term 'tolerance' in the draft be replaced with 'mutual respect'. However, the then representative of the Vatican, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict, had put his foot down in opposition to such a phrase. After all, if religions deemed 'heathen' were to start getting officially respected, there would be no justification for evangelizing and converting their adherents to Christianity. This would undermine the exclusive claims of Christianity which form the justification for the Church's large-scale proselytizing campaigns.....
    However, the matter did not end here. Within a month of the Millennium Summit's conclusion, presumably after an internal analysis of the consequence of this UN-affiliated resolution, the Vatican suddenly made an announcement which shocked liberal Catholic theologians.
    The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (an office which was previously known as the Inquisition ), responsible for formulating and enacting official Catholic doctrine, issued a new policy to address the issue of religious pluralism. The policy document, called Dominus Jesus , reaffirms the historic doctrine and mission of the exclusivity of the Church.
  • She wrote: 'In the course of our conversation about effective interfaith dialogue, he [Rajiv Malhotra] pointed out that we fall short in our efforts to promote true peace and understanding in this world when we settle for tolerance instead of making the paradigm shift to mutual respect. His remarks made me think a little more deeply about the distinctiveness between the words "tolerance" and "respect", and the values they represent.' Haag went on to explain that the Latin origin of 'tolerance' referred to enduring, which, though a laudable idea, did not connote mutual affirmation or support. '[The term] also implicitly suggests an imbalance of power in the relationship, with one of the parties in the position of giving or withholding permission for the other to be.' She then explained that the Latin word for respect meant holding someone in esteem and that the term 'presupposes we are equally worthy of honor. There is no room for arrogance and exclusivity in mutual respect.'
  • Postmodernism has made it fashionable to deconstruct what its adherents called the 'grand narratives' of history, seeing these as little more than the stories of the triumph of Western progress which was largely achieved by suppressing or violently overthrowing other groups. More problematically, postmodernists advocate that all identities be dismantled or blurred and view all positively distinctive cultures as being oppressive to weaker or less assertive ones.
    This idea might at first seem reasonable, especially when viewed through a postcolonial or subaltern lens, but it opens the door to a pervasive cynicism and narrowness of vision with no workable criteria of value in aesthetics, politics or philosophy. The postmodern insistence on denying such identities as Indian and Western leaves non-Western cultures vulnerable to even further exploitation because they are denied the security of possessing a difference which is real and defensible. Postmodernism, then, tends to undermine the particular reality of the non-Western culture that might be in need of being affirmed, protected and developed. The type of Indian distinctiveness I shall propose is not affected by the problems posed by postmodernists, because (i) it is not based on historical exclusiveness or superiority, be it religious or otherwise, (ii) it makes no claims of finality of knowledge, and (iii) it has no mandate to impose on others.
  • India's postmodernist scholars who brag about their Western training and connections are encouraged to deconstruct Indian civilization, showing it to be a scourge against the oppressed. The deconstruction of India by Indian thinkers has a destabilizing effect which invites a new kind of colonialism. The most fashionable kind of difference being championed by Indian postmodernists is of the subalterns 'from below', seen as the oppressed underclass. But many of these oppressed minorities have been taken over by global nexuses (churches, Chinese Maoists and Islamists, to name only the major ones) with the result that they are not truly autonomous and independent but satellites serving a new kind of remote-controlled colonialism. Thus, the postmodern posture on difference has had the overall effect of causing native cultural identities to become vulnerable to imperialism – which is exactly the opposite of what the postmodernists claim they want to achieve.
  • It is through Western categories, and hence the Western 'gaze', that the people who constitute the Judeo-Christian traditions see the world. This gives the Western perspective a de facto status as arbiter of what is considered universally true. When another civilization is the object of such a gaze, it becomes relative and no longer universal. Indeed, its depiction as the alien makes it interesting precisely because it is particular and not universal.
  • The corrective to this problem in my view is the ancient and powerful Indian practice of 'purva paksha'. This is the traditional dharmic approach to rival schools. It is a dialectical approach, taking a thesis by an opponent ('purva pakshin') and then providing its rebuttal ('khandana') so as to establish the protagonist's views ('siddhanta'). The purva paksha tradition required any debater first to argue from the perspective of his opponent in order to test the validity of his understanding of the opposing position, and from there to realize his own shortcomings. Only after perfecting his understanding of opposing views would he be qualified to refute them. Such debates encourage individuals to maintain flexibility of perspective and honesty rather than seek victory egotistically. In this way, the dialectical process ensures a genuine and far-reaching shift in the individual.
  • There have been sporadic attempts at using dharmic categories to contest the Western gaze and gaze back, as it were, even though these were not quite purva paksha as I am defining it. For instance, in the 1990s, anthropologist McKim Marriott, in his anthology of academic conference papers, refers to the importance of developing and deploying Indian categories of social thought and analysis, not only to understand the subcontinent better but to refine, develop and render less parochial the study of various cultures in general. 38 Marriott emphasizes how distorting and limiting Western universalism can be, and goes on to note that common distinctions in the West, such as Marx's opposition between material base and superstructure, and Durkheim's separation between sacred and profane, cannot capture the fluid and complex realities one finds in dharmic civilizations. He also points out that the West's constant search for an elusive stability is based on the presupposition that all societies are prepared to accept European and American notions of order rather than other, more fluid categories of social and political identity.
  • I began to see the beginnings of what was later to crystallize as my thesis that history-centrism is the key difference between Judeo-Christian and dharma traditions.
  • While the inner sciences have a long history in countries such as India, Tibet and China, they have never rejected the outer sciences, and there has never been a conflict between dharma and science as there has been between Western religion and science.
  • In Hinduism, classical dance is conceived as an internalized spiritual practice: using movement, sound and emotion to internalize the cosmology and epistemology within the dancer's body. It is the only major world religion to have been successfully transmitted through such embodiment for so long. This is exemplified by the iconographic depiction of Shiva-Nataraja, which is a stylized projection of Shiva manifested as the ascetic master of sacred dance. Similarly, the narratives and iconography of Krishna dancing with his devotees exemplifies, evokes and reinforces the 'rasa' (inner emotional states) of the devotees as they attempt to unite inwardly with their 'ishta-devata' (personal deity). Such expressions are not reserved for use by a spiritual elite; rather, they inform and engage the entire culture and are part of the folk narratives known to every Hindu.
  • Even the much-maligned Manusmriti (commonly known in the West as the Laws of Manu) was never enforced as the divine and all-encompassing law of Hindus – except by the British rulers who enforced it to show that the colonizers were ruling in accordance with 'Hindu Law' (a canon they had constructed themselves). Moreover, Manu's code is explicit in stating that it is not universal. It calls for updates, amendments and rewrites in order to suit different circumstances. Given this outlook, the notion of dharmic fundamentalism (or intolerance or exclusivism) is an oxymoron. Behaviour that is inspired and reinforced by personal commitment to a spiritual goal, as in the practice of ethics in the first two limbs of classical yoga (known as 'yama' and 'niyama'), is less likely to fall astray than when ethics are justified only for social cohesion or when morality is imposed by divine fiat.
  • For instance, in Hinduism and Buddhism, mantras, or sacred chants, which encapsulate many of the key insights of the tradition, are taught to children before they can even understand their meaning. Their chanting is considered effective even without this understanding. Through their vibrations, these mantras exert an impact directly on the body down to the cellular or even subtler levels, and become profoundly internalized and transformative.
  • The practice of memorizing and reciting ancient scriptures is, in many ways, more accurate than learning via the written word, for an error in recitation can be corrected immediately whereas a scribal error could go unnoticed for centuries. The West tends to think of the oral tradition as a primitive and inefficient means of knowledge transmission, one that was wisely replaced by the invention of writing. Although writing did indeed revolutionize communication, the Indian tradition retains a sense (long gone from the West) that the spoken word carries spiritual energy and is filled with presence. This understanding is reflected not only in the mantra but also in the bhajan, or sacred song.
  • A religion with an ever-growing line of enlightened masters, such as exists in the dharma traditions, is less likely to become fossilized into institutional dogma and therefore more difficult to control.
  • The point being that the influence of dharmic philosophy on Western culture runs deep and yet consistently goes unacknowledged.
  • The Abrahamic traditions tend to focus outward; the dharmic ones, inward. The difference between observing historical mandates and discovering the structures of consciousness is stark. I am aware of the centuries of intense intellectual debates among Indian philosophers that clearly demonstrate the vast diversity of views. I do not wish to over-generalize. My integral theory of dharma opposes homogeneity and yet identifies common principles, especially in contrast with Western assumptions. 4 The history-centric worldview results in synthetic unity, not integral unity.
  • The metaphor of Indra's Net also suggests a creative intelligence which is omnipresent, permeating all life. All appearances of separateness are maya (illusory). The capacity of one jewel to reflect the light of every other within this infinite net is difficult for the linear mind to comprehend, but it serves as an apt precursor to an understanding of multidimensional theories which have emerged in physics and metaphysics.
    Thus, long before modern science, Indra's Net provided an excellent metaphor for what is now recognized as the main quality of the hologram, which is that every area of the hologram contains information on the whole.
  • As I delved deeper, I realized that the schisms between Christianity and science have never been resolved, not even after centuries of conflict. Instead, there is merely a veneer that attempts to hide the underlying cracks. This is not the case with dharmic traditions where there is no inherent conflict in principle between science and dharma.
  • The modern West is chauvinistic in its account of why freedom did not evolve in non-Western societies. The dharmic notions of freedom such as moksha, mukti and nirvana are alternatives which the West has not recognized sufficiently. 68 From a dharmic perspective, the West has been driven not by freedom but by the mandates of its self-image which require infinite expansion in a finite world. This is neither sustainable, as we now know, nor scalable to include all humanity. History points to various schemes (including colonialism and genocide) aimed at containing or undermining the non-West.
  • So impressive was Ashoka's example that many other Asian monarchs adopted it. Japan's Prince Shotuku, for example, used it to unify the Japanese nation and improve international relations. For this policy, the renowned historians Arnold Toynbee and H.G. Wells have called Ashoka the greatest monarch who ever lived. Furthermore, when India commanded superiority in the eyes of the nations that wanted to receive its Buddhist civilization (such as China, Mongolia, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand), there was never any attempt to impose rulers or governance on others, or ask for taxation or tribute to any Indian nexus, or subvert the native cultures, languages and histories of those nations. The contrast between this and the manner in which Western civilization has spread is stark and warrants greater attention.
  • 'People from dharmic cultures tend to be more accepting of difference, unpredictability and uncertainty than westerners. The dharmic view is that so-called 'chaos' is natural and normal; it needs, of course, to be balanced by order, but there is no compelling need to control or eliminate it entirely nor to force cohesion from outside. The West, conversely, sees chaos as a profound threat that needs to be eradicated either by destruction or by complete assimilation. […] Indians tend to be more relaxed in unpredictable situations than westerners. Indians indeed find it natural to engage in non-linear thinking, juxtaposing opposites and tackling complexities that cannot be reduced to simple concepts or terms. They may be said even to thrive on ambiguity, doubt, uncertainty, multitasking, and in the absence of centralized authority and normative codes. Westerners, by contrast, tend by and large to be fearful of unpredictable or decentralized situations. They regard these situations as 'problems' to be 'fixed'. […] In the vast canon of classical writings in Sanskrit, we see many context-sensitive and flexible ways of dealing with chaos and difference. The search here is always for balance and equilibrium with the 'rights' of chaos acknowledged. On the other hand, in the creation stories in Genesis and in the Greek classics, there is a constant zero-sum battle between the two poles in which order must triumph.'
  • The reductionist prejudice that the West equals order and India equals chaos fails to explain how Indians are able to excel not only in various spiritual practices but also in the rational fields of science, business and engineering. Western scholars are caught off-guard when confronted with evidence of sophisticated cultural and scientific achievements in the pre-Western history of the subcontinent. Many of them deal with this confusion by arguing that the achievements of the Indian past and even the comprehensive philosophies of the present are somehow not really Indian ; hence, for instance, the view that the highly ordered and precise Indus–Sarasvati civilization is not Indian in its origins. If westerners do call something 'Indian', they try to show that it was somehow antithetical to Sanskrit-based civilization and accuse the latter of having destroyed it. Hence, too, the view that Hindu dharma did not exist prior to some conspiracy by Hindu nationalists to conjure it up during the past two hundred years. All these pronouncements are based on arguments that Hinduism lacks norms, order and central authority. As per this mindset, chaos cannot coexist with order.
  • In Hindu marriages, for instance, unlike the nuptials of Christianity, the priest does not perform the rituals, nor does he have the authority to declare the couple married; he acts only as the coach. The groom and bride themselves perform the ceremony. In other words, there is no external authority declaring them man and wife. The same do-it-yourself freedom is evident in other pursuits, such as yoga and meditation. Even in formal worship, the guidelines are meant for beginners, and these give way to increasing freedom as the individual becomes self-propelled in the spiritual journey without need for external authority.
  • The Vedic concept of bandhu binds the underlying integral unity of the universe. The Vedic yajna (incorrectly translated as 'sacrifice', as discussed in Chapter 5) is the workshop where such bandhus are forged and is a metaphor for the link between life's myriad manifestations and their transcendent archetypes. Yajna, in a sense, represents the integration of chaos into order. Again, the epistemology of Vedic thought is nicely summed up in the Rig Veda (10:130.3): 'What was the archetype (rupas), what was the manifestation (pratirupas), and what was the connection (bandhuta) between them?'
    The Vedic quest for links between archetypes and their manifestations holds a key to understanding the relationship between order and chaos. The rituals of the creation yajna are a metaphor for transforming the chaotic unknown by re-categorizing it and making it function as a prototype for all subsequent texts, practices and institutions. Bandhus are the bonds of interdependence.
  • Of course, the West has occasionally dabbled in countercultural revolts against normative conventions, and these have enriched its society with a new context-sensitivity. In general, however, its dominant ideal is the privileging of certainty and uniformity, which it touts as universalism.
  • Tantra often runs into trouble in the West, because it utilizes transgression as the vehicle to transcend dualism in certain cases. To even begin to understand tantra, however, we must bear in mind the cultural and philosophical context in which it exists. Tantra originated as a range of bodily technologies for perfecting the individual.
    Many of its practices, texts, beliefs and traditions are opposed to any normative order and serve as a form of counterculture in India. Its rejection of order takes the form even of sanctioning the deliberate violation of norms, particularly those centred on ritual purity. Over time, there occurred a healthy cross-fertilizing back and forth with Vedic and other traditions. Elements may have been borrowed from Vedic and other rituals, symbols and philosophies, and reformulated, systematized and integrated into the coherent corpus of what became known as the tantra tradition. These two poles of values and rituals coexist and mutually penetrate each other in complex ways.
  • Mantra energizes prana, or life-spirit energy. Some healers transfer prana to a patient. Even self-healing can be accomplished by concentrating prana on certain organs, which can have the effect of clearing away an illness. Mantra can be a part of this process. If one repeats a mantra while visualizing an ailing internal organ bathed in light, the power of the mantra can become concentrated there with beneficial effect. This is why a child is often carefully given an appropriate name so that it will internalize its name as vibration, and over time the effect of repeating the name will bring inner transformation in subtle ways.
  • Yogic experiences are difficult to represent accurately in any language other than Sanskrit, for, as Sri Aurobindo has noted, it is only in Sanskrit that they have been systematized. Thus, Sanskrit is the 'language of yoga'. Sanskrit philosophy states that monosyllabic sounds comprising the Sanskrit alphabet are at the origin of creation. In fact, the Sanskrit phonemes themselves reveal the nature of reality. The root sound of the phoneme references its corresponding manifestation.
  • Since every root sound has a distinct meaning, its signature is found in all the words derived from it. It is theoretically possible to explain the meaning of the words according to the algebraic combination of letters, syllables and roots. This transparency of rootsounds and semantics follows a natural process and gives Sanskrit the ability to discover its own history. Consequently, Sanskrit is an ever-creative language in which each word is the parent and creator of ideas. A letter is called 'akshara', which literally means imperishable or eternal. Akshara is the eternal sound, and it does not perish but reveals the whole secret of speech. Another term for letter is 'varna', which means hue or colour. Thus, every letter is heard as a sound and has a visual hue as it manifests. The rishis are said to have seen , and not just heard , the Vedas. The term for alphabet, 'varnamala', literally means 'garland of colours' or qualities or hues which the artist uses to paint reality.
  • The American poet T.S. Eliot (1888–1965) was one of the few westerners who understood both the potency of Sanskrit and its relationship to dharma. He studied the language at Harvard, where it was an integral part of the philosophical curriculum. Ultimately, he refrained from embracing either Hinduism or Buddhism as a result of his own cultural upbringing and conditioning. Nonetheless, Eliot demonstrated his insight into Sanskrit in his major poem 'The Waste Land' not only by exploring the multiple meanings of the phoneme 'DA' (mentioned above) but by ending his poem with the mantra ' shantih shantih shantih'. He had enough understanding of the claims made for Sanskrit not to attempt to translate this mantra. In her book, T.S. Eliot and Indic Traditions , Cleo Kearns explains that it was the poet's study of the Upanishads and Vedic texts that showed him that breath, sound and silence were at the heart of language. Eliot understood that a mantra's efficacy depends not on its meaning, per se, but on the effect that its correct utterance and accompanying breathing techniques have. While he did not use the term, he could have been speaking of mantra-shakti, or 'mantra-power', when he wrote that language works through 'syllable and rhythm, penetrating far below the conscious level of thought and feeling, invigorating every word; sinking to the most primitive and forgotten, returning to the origin and bringing something back, seeking the beginning and the end. It works through meanings, certainly, or not without meanings in the ordinary sense …'
  • From at least the beginning of the Common Era until about the thirteenth century, Sanskrit was the primary linguistic and cultural medium for the ruling and administrative circles from Purushapura (Peshawar) in Gandhara (Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan) to as far east as Pandurang in Annam (South Vietnam) and Prambanam in Central Java. It influenced much of Asia for more than a thousand years. Sanskriti was neither imposed by an imperial power nor sustained by any centrally organized Church ecclesiology. Thus, it has been both the result and cause of a cultural consciousness shared by most South and South-east Asians regardless of religion, class or gender.
    Centuries prior to the Europeanization of the globe, the entire arc – from Central Asia through Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and all the way to Indonesia – was a crucible of a sophisticated Pan-Asian civilization.
  • Sanskriti has had an obvious influence on Thailand dating from 1500 ce. Sanskrit was used for public social, cultural, and administrative purposes in that country and other parts of South-east Asia. Today, Sanskrit is highly respected as the medium for validating, legitimating and transmitting royal succession and instituting formal rituals. Khmer society (in Cambodia) was highly Indianized, and the later Thai kings embraced the Indian religions and based their principles of government on Hindu practices.
  • I am aware that important initiatives are under way, often funded by generous Western donors, to preserve and translate ancient Sanskrit texts. These efforts are laudable. They cannot substitute, however, for an understanding of the importance of Sanskrit terms and texts in the original language as resources for spiritual practice and even for social organization. Nor do these efforts even begin to rectify one of the great scandals of the modern university: the absence of Sanskrit from the curriculum – even in philosophy where it was a pillar of learning in the West not long ago.
  • Unfortunately, Baba Ramdev missed the chance to explain that Aum practice is designed to dissolve nama-rupa (name and form, and the context of name and form) from the mind. That is the whole idea, and the scientific principle, behind mantra. Its universality lies in its ability to transcend all particular contexts. The names 'Jesus' and 'Allah' are proper nouns laden with historical context, i.e., nama-rupa. For Baba Ramdev to make any scientific equation of Aum with all these other names would require that he first study empirically the effects of chanting historically contextualized words such as 'Jesus' and 'Allah'; only then would he be in a position to determine if they are identical to the mantric effect of Aum.
  • . In the case of India, the Joshua Project points its finger at Hindus who comprise the dominant faith and are clearly targeted as competitors to overcome. This is particularly ironic given that Hinduism has a reputation for embracing and receiving other faiths, including Christianity. Yet when incidents of violence have occurred, it is often the Christian missionaries who cast the first stone in the form of hate speech such as 'pagan', 'idol-worshipper', 'heathen', etc. – systematically belittling Indian deities, symbols and traditions and offering whole villages financial incentives to convert. But rarely is any of this provocation ever mentioned. What is carefully documented and publicized instead are the half-truths, for example, that a Christian was attacked for merely being so.
  • As the evangelists leave my home, I always hope our conversation has challenged their assumptions about the people they are preaching to, and that perhaps they will re-examine the idea that all people outside of their church are in a state of spiritual deficiency. But until they do, I will continue to welcome them into my living room, offer them chai, and share with them the good news that there is no such thing as original sin.
  • Such a universalism fails to address human needs; the most it can achieve is a kind of synthetic unity of civilizations under the rubric of the West. Part of the problem is that the Western approach has been reductionist, and its binary categories result in violence when applied universally. For example, the binary categories of sacred/secular, monotheism/polytheism, creation/evolution, and political left/right are inappropriate starting points when trying to understand dharmic civilization. The East/West or Orient/Occident divide is also arbitrary and has come about as a result of historical events particular to what is now called 'the West'.
  • Western academics not only produce critical editions of dharma texts but determine the very categories of the discourse, the manner in which complex words and situations are contextualized, what is included as interesting and relevant (and what is left out), which social theories and textual hermeneutics are to be used, and who the authorities are in matters of interpretation. Engaging in sweeping generalizations, the Western academy routinely passes judgement on whether Hinduism is a legitimate religion, how and when it should be discussed (if at all), and who its authorized spokespersons are. All of this causes many in the dharmic traditions to doubt the legitimacy of their culture, especially in relation to the established, prevailing taxonomy.
  • But it was Hegel, among all German thinkers, who had the deepest and most enduring impact on Western thought and identity. It is often forgotten that his work was a reaction against the Romantics' passion for India's past. He borrowed Indian ideas (such as monism) while debating Indologists to argue against the value of Indian civilization. He posited that the West, and only the West, was the agent of history and teleology. India was the 'frozen other', which he used as a foil to define the West.
  • In fact, though Hegel did not see it this way, there are many aspects of Christianity that do not accord with individual freedom, including the insistence on obedience to established and communal forms of religion. Furthermore, the role of the Church in salvation at the End Times is an obstacle to individual spiritual freedom. Contrast this with the emphasis on Indian inner science and the freedom of the individual. Two signature features of dharma traditions are unbounded freedom in choosing a path and lack of any imposed theological dogma or ecclesiastical or political authority. Such traditions cannot be dismissed as less free and individualistic than those of the West. Do not figures such as Buddha, Ashoka, and Gandhi exemplify autonomous individuals bringing revolutionary historical and intellectual change?
  • The notion of individualism that has emerged in the West is a relatively recent development even though it is often claimed to be derived from classical antiquity and Abrahamic theological tenets. This revisionist claim of being the exclusive and defining feature of the West – in contradistinction to the putative Oriental lack of individuality – is the result of myth-making.
  • The contradiction between Christian exclusivism and true liberalism is seldom discussed openly (and perhaps even privately).
  • This book offers an introduction to the kind of work required for this preparation. Perhaps the best public framework for such an encounter is sapeksha-dharma. Sapekshata (the quality of sapeksha-dharma) itself, we remember, literally means engagement 'with reciprocity and mutual respect'. Such a framework is consistent with the principle of bandhuta in the sense of inter-subjectivity, solidarity and fraternity across paths and identities. It means unity in diversity to the extent of mutual cooperation, and even mutual dependency. This framework is the ethos of what might be called 'positive pluralism' rather than mere tolerance or indifference emanating from a position of assumed superiority.
    Sapekshata stems from a belief in integral unity, which is to say that in this view difference and underlying unity are not mutually contradictory. Its opposite, nirapekshata, is closer to what the West defines as secularism, which is only a palliative developed to prevent conflicts arising from a tentative and tenuous stalemate. Secularism does not foster pan-humanness across all boundaries beyond offering the promise of material equality, and not even that promise has ever been realized. Sometimes, secularism is even used to promulgate divisiveness. And yet it has attained a lofty place among intellectuals.
    Sapekshata is not simply a negative principle, such as the US Constitution's statement that the state should not interfere with religious practice. Rather, it is a principle of active support for spiritual practice in diverse forms . The pluralist character of the ancient Indian state has been attributed to dharma-sapekshata. For instance, the protection of minorities depends on the goodwill of the majority, and sapekshadharma is why India has an unparalleled track record of welcoming numerous kinds of communities from various parts of the world and offering them the support to prosper without any loss of identity or religious tradition.
    The recent import of secularism from the West is based on substituting 'religion' for 'dharma' and adopting Western social and legal structures. This has led to divisive vote-bank politics in the name of secularism and to a counter-reaction by a segment of Hindu politicians wanting to create a Hindu 'religion' that is equally political. The chain reaction set in motion has been disastrous both for Hindus and minorities. This book, therefore, is also a contribution to the heated debate on the implications of secularism in India. In particular, it must be stressed that sapeksha-dharma does not demand adherence to Hinduism.
  • In the Mahabharata, the ceremony for the oath of a new king includes the admonition: 'Be like a garland-maker, O king, and not like a charcoal burner.' This is essentially a call for dharma-sapekshata. The garland is a metaphor for dharmic diversity in which flowers of many colours and forms are strung harmoniously for the most pleasing effect, and it symbolizes social coherence. By contrast, charcoal is a metaphor for reducing the diversity into homogeneity, burning it into lifeless ashes. The king, in taking the oath, is being asked to exemplify supporting a coherent diversity in which highly contextual and varied culture is a unity (garland) of distinct particulars (flowers). It avoids the two extremes: incoherence of a chaotic scattering of flowers, and reductionist, homogenized universals.
    I offer sapeksha-dharma as an alternative to Western secularism. Secularism is perhaps better expressed as pantha-nirapeksha, which means not favouring one pantha (i.e., sect or denomination) over another. A society based on sapeksha-dharma would be expected to uphold the highest dharma rather than exercising mere tolerance or indifference. By its very nature, dharma would be sensitive to diversity among communities. Civic identity, daily life, politics and the art of government would all be maintained through multiple levels of reciprocal relationships informed and guided by this notion. It would also provide a safe framework for purva paksha since the ethic of mutual respect would trump the differences before they could turn toxic.
    Also, there can be no finality or closure to dharma. It is more like an open architecture, forever unfolding and assimilating. Purva paksha, on these terms, is not a way of settling debate or of asserting unity but of allowing unity to emerge, dissolve, fall apart and be reborn from moment to moment in the unfolding of civilizational encounters.
  • The precise outcome of purva paksha on both sides of the East/ West divide cannot be presupposed, and the participants must remain open to all possibilities. What is needed immediately is a recognition of difference, and of the importance of respecting this difference. I hope this book contributes to the establishing of an open field of engagement, a Kurukshetra, on which East and West may meet on more equitable terms than in the past.
  • For example: (a) The notion of the stream of consciousness in James's psychology is derived from the Buddhist characterization of consciousness metaphorically styled as a stream ('sota'). James's notion of a psychodynamic constellation of mind and mental states is patently the Buddhist conception of a central mental event ('mano, citta') accompanied by satellite mental states in ever-changing configurations. The Buddhist conception of mind and mental events posits (based on introspection, not speculation) a solar-system model of mind. (b) Furthermore, James's signature idea of pragmatism, especially as applicable to metaphysics, is borrowed from the very anti-speculative methodology which is a cardinal and signature Buddhism. James's pragmatic axiom is closest to the Buddhist notion of 'artha-kriya', elaborated on by the Buddhist logic school of Dignaga and Dharmakirti. This is the central deconstructionist tenet of the Madhyamika school. James was under the tutelage of the Sri Lankan Buddhist scholar Anagarika Dharmapala (see note on Anagarika Dharmapala) and acknowledges his debt to him openly, though accounts of this are rarely acknowledged by present-generation biographers of James or historians of philosophy.


  • The book is one of the few attempts by an Indian intellectual to challenge seriously the assumptions and presuppositions of the field of India and/or South Asian studies tout ensemble , including not only the work of European and American scholarship but as well the neocolonialist, postmodernist and subaltern ressentiment so typical of contemporary Indian intellectuals... The book will be controversial on many different levels and will undoubtedly elicit rigorous critical response'.
    • G Larson, quoted in section Praise fro the book in the book
  • Malhotra writes with passion from within an avowedly dharmic stance, undermining the attempts to domesticate and expropriate Indian traditions in a process of inter-religious dialogue that is ultimately based on a Western cosmological framework. This book is essential reading for Western scholars.
    • D. Wiebe, quoted in section Praise fro the book in the book
  • Rajiv Malhotra has been a leading spokesperson defending the Indian philosophical and religious traditions as he views them.... I strongly affirm Malhotra’s preference for a Dharma humanism as opposed to the Abrahamic traditions based on divine revelation in history. He is correct to claim that there is no special providence in the Indian traditions, and no religious group—except for recent Christian missionar- ies and their converts—have had a vision of being a chosen people on the basis of their own revelation. 1 I believe that the absence of a doctrine of special revelation is the primary reason why there have been so few religiously motivated acts of violence (until recently) in South Asia.
    • N. Grier, Overreaching to be Different: A Critique of Rajiv Malhotra’s Being Different, International Journal of Hindu Studies 16, 3: 259–285
Malhotra, R. (2016). Indra's Net. HarperCollins Publishers.
  • A classical concept in Hinduism has been that a true proposition has to be consistent with sruti, yukti (reason/logic) and anubhava.
  • [Indra's Net is a metaphor for] the profound cosmology and outlook that permeates Hinduism. Indra's Net symbolizes the universe as a web of connections and interdependences [...] I seek to revive it as the foundation for Vedic cosmology and show how it went on to become the central principle of Buddhism, and from there spread into mainstream Western discourse across several disciplines.
  • For example, Cambridge University established a prize named for an essay competition on the topic: 'The best means of civilizing the subjects of the British Empire in India, and of diffusing the light of the Christian religion throughout the eastern world.'
  • ...acting on Hacker's wishes, the editor of his collected works excluded the author's polemical Christian writings from the compilation. ... Many such polemical writings also appeared in fringe religious pamphlets and propaganda literature which are unknown to most scholars.... Hacker's suppression of this material compromised his integrity as an objective scholar, as it misled readers into thinking his writings on Hinduism were objective evaluations when in fact they were, in Andrew Nicholson's words, the work of a 'Christian polemicist'. In his posthumously published wrigings, Hacker is as explicit in his support for Christianity as he is in his attack on contemporary Hinduism.
  • The modern academics find it politically incorrect to criticize the devastation under Islamic rule, even though post-colonial scholars have amply exposed the ruin created by the British.
  • In the Mahabharata, the ceremony for the oath of a new king includes the admonition: 'Be like a garland-maker, O king, and not like a charcoal burner.' The garland symbolizes social coherence; it is a metaphor for dharmic diversity in which flowers of many colors and forms are strung harmoniously for the most pleasing effect. In contrast, the charcoal burner is a metaphor for the brute-force reduction of diversity into homogeneity, where diverse living substances are transformed into uniformly lifeless ashes.
  • The Gita ... explains the basis for the Hindu principle of charity as Narayana-seva, i.e., serving God by serving one's fellow human... This is also the basis for Gandhi's concept of ahimsa. Krishna asserts that generosity (dana) and compassion (daya) are qualities that arise 'from me alone'.
  • Before Vivekananda, the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer had proposed such a system of ethics in which he cited Hindu texts for support. He used the Upanishadic notion 'tat tvam asi' to assert that a good person recognizes that his self is the same as that which is manifested in every other person, and this notion grounded his ethics.
Malhotra, R. (2019). Battle for Sanskrit: Is Sanskrit Political or Sacred? Oppressive or Liberating? Dead or Alive?. HarperCollins Publishers.
  • There is a new awakening in India that is challenging the ongoing westernization of the discourse about India and the intellectual machinery that produces it.
  • One of his [Pollock's] goals is to critique and expunge what he sees as deeply entrenched static social hierarchies, barbarisms and poisons. I do not see anything inherently wrong with this intention by itself; most Hindus welcome improvements and the evolution of their culture. The issue worth debating is that Pollock sees these ills as deeply rooted in the Vedas themselves and as requiring the abandonment of core metaphysical and sacred perspectives.
  • I am not alone in making this point. At least one European Indologist accuses Pollock of relocating Orientalism 'to the "New Raj" across the deep blue sea'.[1]
  • He [Grünendahl] says Pollock's narrative 'is not an evidence-based study of Orientalism or Indology in Germany, but a sophisticated charge of anti-Semitism based largely on trumped-up "evidence".... Pollock's post-Orientalist messianism would have us believe that only late twentieth-century (and now twenty-first century) America is intellectually equipped to reject and finally overcome [‘Eurocentrism’...] The path from the 'Deep Orientalism' of old to a new 'Indology beyond the Raj and Auschwitz' leads to the 'New Raj' across the deep blue sea.
  • Wilhelm Halbfass, the late Indologist at the University of Pennsylvania, took such ridiculous statements into strange, speculative areas and wrote: Would it not be equally permissible to identify this underlying structure as 'deep Nazism' or 'deep Mimamsa'? And what will prevent us from calling Kumarila and William Jones 'deep Nazis' and Adolf Hitler a 'deep Mimamsaka'?
  • Thus, Grünendahl has noted Pollock's tendency to develop broad narratives without any supporting evidence. Moreover, he draws attention to Pollock's messianism in promoting American scholarship.... , casting doubt on Pollock's attempt to analyse Sanskrit objectively. He raises the pertinent question as to whether Pollock is providing the intellectual foundations for America's 'New Raj', to replace the dead British Raj - i.e., whether American imperialism is replacing the dead British imperialism.
  • It is important for Pollock that Muslims not be blamed for the decline of Sanskrit. He writes that any theory 'can be dismissed at once' if it 'traces the decline of Sanskrit culture to the coming of Muslim power'... Trying to prove the timing of Sanskrit's decline prior to the Turkish invasions enables him to absolve these invasions of any blame... I get the impression that Pollock does not want to dwell on whether Muslim invasions had debilitated the Hindu political and intellectual institutions in the first place... Throughout Pollock's analysis, hardly any Muslim ruler gets blamed for the destruction of Indian culture. He simply avoids discussing the issue of Muslim invasions and their destructive influence on Hindu institutions... The impact of various invasions in Kashmir was so enormous that it cannot be ignored in any historical analysis... The contradiction between his two accounts, published separately, is serious: Muslim invasions created a traumatic enough shockwave to cause Hindu kings to mobilize the 'cult of Rama' and therefore the Hindus funded the production of extensive Ramayana texts for this agenda. And yet, the death of Sanskrit taking place at the same time had little relation to the arrival of Muslims. When Hindus are to be blamed for their alleged hatred towards Muslims, the Muslims are shown to have an important presence; but when Muslims are to be protected from being assigned any responsibility for destruction, they are mysteriously made to disappear from the scene.
  • He sidesteps the rise in the funding of Persian and Arabic by the secular Indian government and by foreign sponsors, and the concurrent dramatic decline in Sanskrit funding. He does not expose the downsizing and dismantling of the institutions , both formal and informal, on which Sanskrit and sanskriti have traditionally thrived. Pollock is careful not to implicate the non-Hindu forces that have wreaked havoc against Sanskrit.
  • For Pollock, the fact that [...] have written about Ayodhya, Mount Meru, Ganga, etc., in multiple locations is dumbfounding and irrational..... I propose a different interpretation of the same data. As per our tradition, the conceptual space of Hindus can be replicated and localized easily. The Hindu metaphysics of immanence leads to the decentralization of sacred geography.... This is why people in south India substitute their local rivers for Ganga for ritualist purposes; there is a town called Ayodhya in Thailand; the cognitive landscape of people in Java started to include Mount Meru as a local place, and so on.
  • It seems obvious that Pollock is committed to the Marxist theory linking literary works and political power. He wants to deploy it as his lens for analysing how the aesthetic use of languages in India became interwoven into the fabric of politics. At a deeper level, beyond the aesthetic and political usage of Sanskrit, he finds that old Marxist demon: theology. For him, as for most Marxist-oriented scholars, all forms of spirituality/transcendence are, in effect, irrational, deformed and mystified ways of thinking....
  • Many similar views were also expressed in the Sanskrit Commission Report written under the Nehru government in the 1950s. That report declares: "The State in ancient India, it must be specially pointed out, freely patronised education establishments, but left them to develop on their own lines, without any interference or control. It says that until the British disruption, the salient features of our traditional education included: 'oral instruction, insistence on moral discipline and character-building, freedom in the matter of the courses of study, absence of extraneous control...' ... We can never insist too strongly on this signal fact that Sanskrit has been the Great Unifying Force of India, and that India with its nearly 400 millions of people is One Country, and not half a dozen or more countries, only because of Sanskrit.'
  • He then goes a step further and briefly imposes a Freudian reading on the text, a reading outdated and crude even in the current Western context of cultural criticism. He says the depiction of 'the other' in Ramayana can be understood as a projection of the unfulfilled sexual desires of traditional Indians. .... The motive of applying a totally alien framework, viz., the Freudian one, to a traditional Hindu text is something that is questionable.
  • If a scholar were to refute the very existence of Allah..... it would be called Islamophobia. .... An analogous situation exists in the way an attiutde gets classified as anti-Semitic. Hindus should be alarmed by the existence of a double standard in Western academics, because the same sensitivity and adhikara to speak for our tradition is not granted to Hindus. ..... We need to define a level playing field for characterizing a work as Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Hinduphobia, etc.
  • Although he sees this process as politically driven, Pollock does acknowledge there were no conquering Sanskrit legions that caused Sanskritization, unlike the coercive Romanization which followed Roman military legions. Nor was there a central church-like religious institution and hence no evangelism that could have Sanskritized through religious conversion. He admits that the notion of the Sanskrit cosmopolis does not fit the Western notion of an empire.
  • I wish to also point out that Dr Ambedkar, the pioneering Dalit leader, had worked zealously to promote Sanskrit. A dispatch of the Press Trust of India dated 10 September 1949 states that he was among those who sponsored an amendment making Sanskrit, instead of Hindi, the official language of the Indian Union.
  • I do not contest that this top-down instrumental use for pure politics was being made to some degree; but to reduce the entire process of cultural evolution to a matter of politics betrays a profound misunderstanding. This view disregards the intrinsic appeal of the Sanskrit tradition, including for non-elites, and the various roles it played in the cultures it touched. In particular, to dismiss the entire symbolic discourse of Sanskrit as 'mystifying' is to apply a reductive Marxism that cannot account for sacredness in the lives of people.
  • [Arvind] Sharma speculates that a reason for India's downfall was the eclipse of the category of Chakravarti as mentioned in the Arthashastra. A Chakravarti's domain was from ocean to ocean; he was above all the other kings who were local. He feels that the Arthashastra at some point ceased to be taught for learning realpolitik. There appears to haven been an attack on it by liberal passivism. It is ironic, he says , that during British rule the Arthashastra text had disappeared until a copy suddenly surfaced with a farmer in Kerala in the early twentieth century. .. Sharma recommends introducing the study of Arthashastra in all schools in all languages. ....Some others suggest that Panchatantra ought to be taught at very young ages as a popular version of strategic thinking. It is interesting that the Arabs took the Panchantantra and translated/adapted it into their children's stories, which reached Europe as Aesop's Fables.
  • The suggestion that the story of the Ramayana could be traced to Buddhist sources was put forward by Weber who saw it as growing, under the influence of the Greek epics, to its present form.....The theory was cogently refuted shortly after it was promulgated... There can be no doubt, however, that.... the Dasaratha Jataka is substantially later than the Valmiki Ramayana and that it is both inspired by an derived from it.
  • One such critic is J. Hanneder, who finds him reaching conclusions by using evidence that is 'often arbitrary'. ... Hanneder cites several examples to demonstrate that Pollock has interpreted the evidence to fit his thesis 'without considering other options' and often with the use of exaggerated, misleading or outright false data. He says, 'Pollock has over interpreted the evidence to support his theory.' ... He dismisses Pollock's assertion as a 'surprising statement produced by the necessities of argumentation, rather than through evidence'.
  • it “would hand over the authority of Sanskrit studies to westernized scholars using [Pollock’s] political philology and not Sanskrit’s own literary theories or Indian socio-political resources. Persons who are outsiders to the Indian traditions would call the shots, and even become the proxies to represent the downtrodden.” (p.178)
  • “The effect of Pollock’s project on some Hindus is alienation from their roots and the development of an inferiority complex (…) This alienation spreads quickly. Bright young Indians (…) rush to enter the university factories of this nexus and end up spreading the indoctrination to the public.” (p.327)


  • TBFS is a book about Sanskrit written in English by an author who is not a Sanskrit scholar. For such a book, to receive endorsements from some of the finest contemporary Sanskrit scholars from India is quite an achievement, even more so when some of them co-opt the terminology of the author in their endorsements. Any Indian Sanskrit author would love to get endorsements from scholars like Dayananda Bhargava, 45 Ramesh Kumar Pandey, 46 K. S. Kannan, 47 Sampadananda Mishra, 48 K. Ramasubramanian, 49 and Kapil Kapoor. 50 Co- opting Malhotra’s terminology, Bhargava, who has been interpreting Sanskrit works for the last sixty years, writes that the book ‘promotes a debate between the “insiders” and “outsiders” of our heritage’ and states, ‘... most insiders are either blissfully unaware ... or are living in isolation’. Kannan, who translated Malhotra’s Being Different into Kannada as Vibhinnate, says ‘the responsibility now lies squarely on traditional Indian scholars to take on the issues between insiders and outsiders which this book has framed’ and that Malhotra’s contribution is ‘this valuable role as the prime initiator of this dialogue’.
  • After its publication, TBFS was released in multiple cities around the end of January and the beginning of February by some of India’s most well-known personalities: Subhash Chandra (Chairman of Zee Media) in Mumbai, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (eminent spiritual leader and humanitarian) in Bengaluru, and Dr. Najma Akbarali Heptulla (Minority Affairs Minister, Government of India) in New Delhi. Prominent educational, spiritual, and social institutes in India hosted Malhotra during this period: Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi); Ramakrishna Mission and IIT Madras (Chennai); Vedic Gurukulam (Bidadi); The Art of Living Ashram and Karnataka Sanskrit University (Bangalore); and Chinmaya Mission, IIT Bombay, and TISS (Mumbai). Malhotra also participated in a panel discussion at the Jaipur Literature Festival along with Amish Tripathi (bestselling fiction writer). This kind of reception is rarely seen in India for non-fiction books.
    • Enter Dhṛṣṭadyumna, * Pāṇḍava‐s awaited Boldly strong, The Battle for Sanskrit is an effective war cry by Nityānanda Miśra, May 6, 2016
  • It reveals and studies knowledge production and intellectual control mechanisms in the globalized postmodern world. In particular, it documents the American attempt to wrest control over the Sanskrit tradition from the indigenous Pandits, disempowering the backbone of Hindu tradition.
  • Here then is a meritorious role that Malhotra has increasingly played since he started his series of books: getting Hindus up from their cosy unconcern and into reality. In particular, he has taught them to scan the forces in the field and take an objective look at the hostile agents approaching Hindu society with flattering smiles and on idealistic-sounding pretexts.
  • The Sringeri Math was on the point of entrusting its traditions to the care of American Sanskritists, but Malhotra warned them, hopefully in time.
  • So, on one side of the battlefield is a sleep-walking Hindu society that doesn’t realize what is happening, clueless to the wiles of the enemy. On the other is an ever-growing army of foreign scholars and India-watchers, allied with every divisive force inside India.
  • In reality, translation comes with a interpretative framework that insinuates a number of anti-Hindu assumptions. Pollock’s earlier work, even more than his record of signing anti-Hindu petitions, gives a clue.
  • So Pollock, like Hernán Cortés subduing the Aztecs with the help of the Mexican subalterns, champions the Muslims along with the low-castes and Dravidians against Rama’s wicked aggression, thus to dislodge whatever remains of the oppressive Sanskrit tradition’s power and prestige.
    • Elst, K. The Battle for Sanskrit, a review (Hinduism Today, Hawaii, May-July 2016)

Sanskrit non-translatables : the importance of Sanskritizing English

MALHOTRA, R. (2020).Sanskrit non-translatables: The importance of Sanskritizing English. (2020).

Academic Hinduphobia (2016)

Malhotra, R., Voice of India,, & Infinity Foundation (Princeton, N.J.),. (2020). Academic Hinduphobia: A critique of Wendy Doniger's erotic school of Indology.
  • “Western human rights activists and non-Westerners trained and funded by them, go around the world creating new categories of ‘victims’ that can be used in divide-and-conquer strategies against other cultures. In India’s case, the largest funding of this type goes to middlemen who can deliver narratives about ‘abused’ Dalits and native (especially Hindu) women.” (p.219)
  • “American Hinduism is a minority religion in America (…) that deserves the same treatment that is already being given to other American minority religions – such as Native American, Buddhist or Islamic – by the Academy. The subaltern studies depiction of Hinduism as being the dominant religion of India must, therefore, be questioned in the American context.” (p.213)
  • “For the first time in RISA’s history, to the best of my knowledge, the diaspora voices are not being branded as saffronists, Hindutva fanatics, fascists, chauvinists, dowry extortionists, Muslim killers, nun rapists, Dalit abusers, etc. One has to wait and see whether this is temporary or permanent.” (p.215)

Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Power (2021)

Malhotra, R. (2021). Artificial intelligence and the future of power: 5 battlegrounds.
  • The LGBTQ movement also has legitimate gripes in the West. The same framework for activism, however, cannot be blindly applied to India where the tradition has had a far more complex posture on homosexuality that is vastly different from the closedmindedness in the Abrahamic religions. I
  • Even the common perception that Wikipedia provides a level playing field on which humanity can freely share all its knowledge is a pretense. The reality is that while all such digital structures behave like free and unrestricted systems, they are in fact controlled by gamification algorithms at the hands of those who own and operate them. Very few people grasp the profound deception of the system.

Snakes in the Ganga : Breaking India 2.0. (2022)

Malhotra, R. & Viswanathan V. (2022). Snakes in the Ganga : Breaking India 2.0.
  • This book is even more important than Breaking India because today’s ‘Breaking India forces 2.0’, as this book refers to them, are operating behind the scenes. They can only be understood upon careful and incisive investigation into their activities.
    • Foreword
  • When I first saw the PhD dissertation of Scott Levi being done at University of Wisconsin-Madison, I did not notice any mention about slavery in India before the Muslims. The dissertation was about slavery during Islam in India, and it was based on archives of that period available in the former USSR. But then a warning was issued by academic scholars that his work would play into the hands of “Hindu activists” like me. The published version was adapted with a preamble saying that slavery pre-dates Islam in India because it is mentioned in the Vedic literature. However, that claim is incorrect because it is based on mistranslating the Vedic Sanskrit term “dasu” as “slave”, which is an incorrect translation.
  • This support for the Church continued during the British era when the East India Company and the British government gave away large grants of prime land to the Church. This is the reason that innumerable graveyards, Young Men’s Christian Associations, churches, and Christian missionary schools occupy the most prestigious locations in cities across India.
  • The reason for her deafening silence is to hide a double standard. When Hindus demand back their sacred sites and the old Islamic colonial structures to be dismantled, they are accused of committing crimes simply for wanting what is legitimately theirs. When Blacks, on the other hand, take over monuments and dismantle the structures of the Whites that symbolize their oppression, it is not considered to be a crime, but rather, an appropriate response. The reason for this asymmetrical approach is that in India, the present-day minorities (Muslims and Christians) have inherited the structural privileges enjoyed by their ancestors who ruled over the Hindu majority. Yet, nobody dare suggest they are the privileged community.
  • Things changed dramatically with the Muslim invasions. The Muslim period is characterized by the decline of towns, trade, and agriculture. The progress of the Indian masses was stifled, and they became helpless, immobile, and poor. This environment of despair was not conducive to either economic enterprise, trade, or industrial growth. At times, agriculture too could barely sustain itself. The best hope for many people was to just survive. The jatis were less enterprising and resorted to ossifying their hereditary occupations and to endogamy.
  • One of the activities funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the reduction of vaccine hesitancy in India and promotion of the Gates’ position on vaccines. By calling it ‘fatalism’, the Gates/Ashoka project is justifying changing the cultural attitudes of millions of unsuspecting Indians that believe in karma. This preying on innocent masses is unethical and could also undermine the civilizational ethos. And when people don’t know what to believe, they become vulnerable to influence from Naxals, Marxists, and missionaries. We are not taking any position on the subject but simply drawing attention to the fact that this is the way people like Bill Gates could use Ashoka to change the behavior of the masses.
  • Through Ashoka, the Gates Foundation gains access to the World Bank aided Bihar Rural Livelihoods Project, locally known as Jeevika Trust. The goal of this intervention is to increase vaccinations in Bihar by providing behavior changing solutions. Both the CSBC and the Gates Foundation also work closely with the Uttar Pradesh government.
  • What many Indians are unaware of is that public trust in the Gates Foundation and its intentions are being questioned in the US.
  • Ashoka could have been India’s answer to Western liberal arts. It could have been the go-to place for putting Indian civilization on the global stage. But both the elite businessmen that funded the institution, and the government that sought its advice, didn’t care to do basic due diligence.
  • These are the consequences when Indians decide to imitate Harvard rather than re-building our own Nalanda.
  • This chapter shows how Harvard professors behave like a cartel promoting a certain narrative about India while shutting out all dissenting voices. In effect, Harvard is stepping into the shoes of Oxford University of the British era, producing the same kind of effect that Oxford had on India. Harvard scholars studying Indian literature and translating it have the agenda of introducing Marxist interpretations to engineer Indians’ perceptions of themselves and promote identity politics.
  • The dangers of allowing foreign ownership of India’s critical infrastructure and foreign control over information flow on that infrastructure cannot be overstated. Especially when the foreign hand has a history of facilitating civil wars and regime changes.
  • The Abrahamic faiths no longer need to impose their beliefs using missionaries or the sword to convert. The WEF’s constellation of devatas of Davos can use industrialists and politicians as their puppets. Its commandments are based on Western Universalism with a Marxist toolkit to dismantle existing structures. Harvard University, the vishwa guru, has spent decades working on such scholarship.
  • Over a decade ago, Harvard’s Prof. Michael Witzel had informed us that the Leftist crowd was determined to change the Indology department to South Asian Studies. ...As the years went by, Witzel’s warnings came true. Harvard’s new South Asia programs became increasingly distanced from what used to be Indology for the past several decades.
  • Contrary to Indians’ self-congratulatory notion that India is vishwa guru (guru to the world), in reality it is Harvard that is the vishwa guru. And India is vishwa shishya (student), with many of its people serving as vishwa coolie (laborer), and vishwa sepoy (soldier) in this ecosystem.

Quotes about Rajiv Malhotra

  • Rajiv Malhotra is the belated Hindu answer to decades of the systematic blackening of Hinduism in academe and the media. This is to be distinguished from the negative attitude to Hinduism among ignorant Westerners settling for the “caste, cows and curry” stereotype, and from the anti-Hindu bias among secularists in India. Against the latter phenomenon, Hindu polemicists have long been up in arms, eventhough they have also been put at a disadvantage by the monopoly of their enemies in the opinion-making sphere. But for challenging the American India-watching establishment, a combination of skills was necessary which Malhotra has only gradually developed and which few others can equal.
  • This is another drawback of hero-worship: it makes you hyperconscious of the challenges faced by Vivekananda, and blind to the rather different challenges Hinduism faces in other situations, including today – and to which Rajiv Malhotra is exploring the answers. The best way to honour the past’s Vivekananda is to support today’s Vivekananda.


  1. Reference is to Gruenendahl 2012
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