S. N. Balagangadhara

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S. N. Balagangadhara (born 3 January 1952) is a Belgian Indologist.

Quotes[edit]

  • Here, India will be a global player of considerable political and economic impact. As a result, the need to explicate what it means to be an Indian (and what the ‘Indianness’ of the Indian culture consists of) will soon become the task of the entire intelligentsia in India. In this process, they will confront the challenge of responding to what the West has so far thought and written about India. A response is required because the theoretical and textual study of the Indian culture has been undertaken mostly by the West in the last three hundred years. What is more, it will also be a challenge because the study of India has largely occurred within the cultural framework of America and Europe. In fulfilling this task, the Indian intelligentsia of tomorrow willhave to solve a puzzle: what were the earlier generations of Indian thinkers busy with, in the course of the last two to three thousand years? The standard textbook story, which has schooled multiple generations including mine, goes as follows: caste system dominates India, strange and grotesque deities are worshipped in strange andgrotesque ways, women are discriminated against, the practice of widow-burning exists and corruption is rampant. If these properties characterize India of today and yesterday, the puzzle about what the earlier generation of Indian thinkers were doing turns into a very painful realization: while the intellectuals of Europeanculture were busy challenging and changing the world, most thinkersin Indian culture were apparently busy sustaining and defendingundesirable and immoral practices. Of course there is our Buddha andour Gandhi but that is apparently all we have: exactly one Buddha and exactly one Gandhi. If this portrayal is true, the Indians have butone task, to modernize India, and the Indian culture but one goal: to become like the West as quickly as possible.
    • Foreword by S. N. Balagangadhara in "Invading the Sacred" (2007) [1]
  • “Orientalism is reproduced in the name of a critique of Orientalism. It is completely irrelevant whether one uses a Marx, a Weber or a Max Müller to do so. (…) the result is the same: uninteresting trivia, as far as the growth of human knowledge is concerned; but pernicious in its effect as far as Indian intellectuals are concerned.”
    • quoted from Koenraad Elst, On Modi Time : Merits And Flaws of Hindu Activism In Its Day Of Incumbency – 2015. Ch. 3. The Lost Honour of India Studies
  • [About caste,] “Nehru used Orientalist descriptions of the Indian society of his day and made their facts his own.” [the Western India-watcher] “is not accounting for the Indian caste system by using the notion of fossilized coalitions in India; he is trying to establish the truth of Nehru’s observations (that is, the truth of the Orientalist descriptions of India)”, [because the social sciences] “where uncontested, (…) presuppose the truth of the Orientalist descriptions of non-Western cultures.”
    • quoted from Koenraad Elst, On Modi Time : Merits And Flaws of Hindu Activism In Its Day Of Incumbency – 2015. Ch. 3. The Lost Honour of India Studies
  • “When Indian intellectuals use existing theories about religion and its history – for example, to analyse ‘Hindu-Muslim’ strife – they reproduce, both directly and indirectly, what the West has been saying so far. (…) the ‘secularist’ discourse about this issue can hardly be distinguished – both in terms of the contents or the vocabulary – from Orientalist writings of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.” (p.47) [Secularism is the direct heir of the colonial dispensation.]
    • quoted from Koenraad Elst, On Modi Time : Merits And Flaws of Hindu Activism In Its Day Of Incumbency – 2015. Ch. 3. The Lost Honour of India Studies
  • “The secular state assumes that the Semitic religions and the Hindu traditions are instances of the same kind”
    • quoted from Koenraad Elst, On Modi Time : Merits And Flaws of Hindu Activism In Its Day Of Incumbency – 2015. Ch. 3. The Lost Honour of India Studies

About S.N. Balagangadhara[edit]

  • Balu is a Kannadiga Brahmin by birth, a former Marxist, and his discourse has a very in-your-face quality. In his latest book, Reconceptualizing India Studies, the attentive reader will see a critique of the Indological establishment in the West and the political and cultural establishment in India. Like Rajiv Malhotra’s recent works, it questions their legitimacy. The reigning Indologists and India-watchers would do well to read it.... Balu’s theses are uncomfortable and sure to provoke debate. So far, the attitude of the India-watching class and of the elites in India has been to ignore any criticism of their worldview. … On the whole, Balu’s thesis is optimistic. He offers solutions to the problems he analyzes, mostly solutions that he himself has already worked out or has been practising for years. It is not as if any fate condemns Indian policy and academic India-watching to their present prejudices. He also believes in the promise of the age of globalization, and thinks Indians and Europeans genuinely have something to offer each other.
    • Koenraad Elst, On Modi Time : Merits And Flaws of Hindu Activism In Its Day Of Incumbency – 2015. Ch. 3. The Lost Honour of India Studies

External links[edit]

Wikipedia
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  1. Balagangadhara, S.N. (2007), "Foreword." In Ramaswamy, de Nicolas & Banerjee (Eds.), Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America . Delhi: Rupa & Co., pp. vii–xi.