Rajiv Malhotra: How do I see “issues” in my work and deal with them?

Be : Rajiv Malhotra

My academic critics concerning my methods and capabilities tend to be either (A) those whose works I target for my criticisms, or (B) weak Hindus who are complicit and aligned with ‘A’ at least in public.

I have already responded to the issue of whether I am qualified – in blogs such as Speaking Tree, etc. My capabilities are to be evaluated as per my goals, which I repeat are NOT the standard goals of a career academician.

In US politics it is fashionable to say “I am not a career politician mixed up in Washington, but an outsider to the political establishment.” Similarly, I might say: ”I am not a career academician mixed up in a corrupt Ivy League liberal arts system, but an outsider to that establishment.”

Then there is the charge that I am controversial and confrontational.

Yes I am. I want to be in order to bring the change that is badly needed.

Unfortunately, Sunthar and Makarand (both dear friends) got “domesticated” by the establishment, turning them into benign goody-goody types that can be mostly ignored and put aside. (In an unpublished book on this syndrome, I call such people “pets”.)

Neither has achieved anything close to his potential given the sharpness of intellect, hard work and genuine intentions each of them has. As counter examples, Koenraad Elst and Shrinivas Tilak (both very academically qualified) have produced a lot of provocative and confrontational works without bothering to appease anyone.

Whether I agree with them on every issue is unimportant, but I like their audacity.

Given my goals, it is vital to be non-ignorable. I know that this subversive strategy brings attacks against me. An intellectual kshatriya must face this to do his job.

This is why I decided long ago not to focus on institution building because that requires a certain amount of “conformity” and being “nice to people”. I did my institution building in business and did not enjoy that even though I made lots of money.

I would rather be the chief scientist (building provocative ideas) than the chief executive (building institutions).

My heart is in (A) the pursuit of adhyatmika experience (as inner scientist), (B) the intellectual analysis and modelling of very complex issues (asouter scientist), and (C) disruption of the public discourse based on my findings (as intellectual kshatriya).

Being consistent with my sva-bhava (innate nature) is what led me to this sva-dharma (purpose/calling). I did not copycat others’ goals, nor do I impose mine upon them.

Seeing through my drishti/lens as indicated above, I find such critics to be mediocre people who have wasted their lives producing little that matters. They are busy adding to their resumes and official credentials, operating below the radar so they dont threaten the establishment that has domesticated them.

I hope I will never take this kind of easy path to be in the good books of others. I would rather be dead than in such a state of coma.

Rajiv Malhotra: Further related matter

The fundamental error these academicians have in understanding/dealing with me is their assumption that they are my target readership, that I seek to influence them, etc. That was true when I started 20-25 years back.

But as I have explained many times, I gave up on the whole idea of changing the academic fortress from within – Gandhi concluded the same about British empire after first wanting to work within its framework and get Indians a fairer deal. He then started his Quit India movement to bring them down.

For the past 10-15 years, my constituency has been the mainstream Indians, wanting to wake them up, get them stirred into action.

My barometer of impact is not how some academicians feel about me. But rather how my fellow-Indians feel.

I find a dramatic awakening and uprising among them. This is evidenced through all sorts of feedback mechanisms. I look at the trends for my books, talks, blogs, Youtubes.

Believe me, I do not bother looking at what some professor sitting in a class with no more than 20 students is saying. Those are dinosaurs. Today the academicians feel left out.

This is called dis-intermediation, squeezing out the middleman or intermediary. Its the trend of our times and the new technology has enabled this.

I feel academicians (of the type 25 years back) are obsolete in religious studies. People learn more out of the classroom and they use mainly sources not produced by these academicians.

The academic presses are going broke in most places. Most brick and mortar universities are increasingly dependent on foreign students to stay afloat because students use new ways of learning – except in disciplines like medicine, etc.

So my trajectory is in tune with the trends. It is the academicians who are now wanting to “deal” with me since they cannot ignore me any longer.

I said “to hell with you” and have built my own constituency abandoning the academicians. I am so glad I did. I have paved the way for new scholars from within our tradition to follow along these lines, and not be so dependent on the good cops of academics.

Next I want to empower the traditional scholar-practitioner in India. I have been building key bridges for this.


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