Nicholson’ s “Unifying Hinduism “- thoroughly dishonest!

By: Surya K

Nicholson has written a book titled “Unifying Hinduism: Philosophy and Identity in Indian Intellectual History,”

Let us dig into his book.

What could be jaded about a book with a name like that?

Let us take a sample.”The Ramayana and Puranas depict Buddhists and Jains in demonic form.” However,  no reference is offered in defense of this statement.

It is true that “Buddhists” are referred to in Ramayana.  It is also true that they are depicted negatively.  So what is wrong if no references are provided?

Does Nicholson assume something but not state explicitly?

By not providing a reference, Nicholson is equivocating on an important and misleading assumption that he is making.  For the uninformed, Buddhism originated with Gautama Buddha. But Siddhartha Gautama Buddha was not the first but one in a long lineage of Buddhas.  This is what the Indian tradition tells us.

Buddhists lineage followed Buddhi tatva and Jains followed jiva tatva.  Some in the lineage of Buddhi tatva were not nice to Hindus and Ramayana refers to them negatively.   The Western scholar ignores this and assumes that Ramayana came after Gautama Buddha.

Therefore, he claims that Ramayana is demonizing Buddhists who were followers of Buddha.  Nicholson starts with this assumption and goes on to state that Ramayana demonizes Buddhists (followers of Gautama Buddha).  Then he goes onto theorize that Ramayana and Puranas demonize Buddha as a way to discriminate and demonize the other (non-Hindu).

Much of his book follows this theme to claim that Hinduism has a long history of demonizing the other.  Not providing a reference here allows Nicholson to equivocate and create a negative example that weaves into his claim that Hindus have a long history of demonizing the other.

On a comparative note, one should read the Bible.

Biblical God calls for the genocide of Amalekites.

“Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” Bible  New International Version, 1 Samuel 15:3I

If you want to research demonizing and destroying the other, Hindu works are boring in comparison even if you are sympathetic to Rakshasas in Puranas.  Bible would be a gold mine in comparison. Will Nicholson be a fair researcher to point out this fact.? Or,  is he out to demonize Hinduism under a tantalizing title “Unifying Hinduism”?

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