Adi Shankara Chair at Columbia University and ignorant Indian Funders of such Chairs

Read carefully this excerpt from the book ” The Battle for Sanskrit” by Rajivji Malhotra. It says:

“To appreciate why such chairs would undermine our tradition, the reader needs to understand the proposed terms of the Adi Shankara Chair at Columbia. Two committees were being formed to manage this chair. One was the Academic Committee, consisting of scholars from Columbia, to be headed by Sheldon Pollock. The second was the Donor and Advisor Committee, which would represent the various financiers and administrators of Sringeri Peetham. All the funding would come from the Donor and Advisor Committee. The selection of the scholar to occupy the chair would be made by the Academic Committee, which would have sole control over the selection, academic content and activities of the chair. The donors would have no veto right or say in the matter; they would merely be informed of the selection after it had been made.”

Now some comments:

  1. (Comment by Shreepal Singh) Pollock Sheldon is the American Orientalist who is propagating a thesis called “Neo-Hinduism”. This thesis propounds that there is no “unified Hinduism” worth the name that is discernable in Indian ancient Scriptures or sacred books. This theory says that “modern Hinduism as we see it today” is the artificial creation of Vivekananda etc.
  2. This thesis further propounds that Sanskrit as a language has been a “political tool of oppression of the low – common people (you read it as modern Dalits) – by the high priestly class”.
  3. That Sanskrit as a language has been a tool of “political oppression” but also a tool of “oppressing other Indian vernacular languages”.
  4. This gentleman – Pollock Sheldon – is a highly learned person with a sufficient knowledge of Sanskrit but has an agenda, which a neutral scholar would not have.
  5. There is need for Indian traditional scholars of Sanskrit to rebut his theory point by point with accurate reference of sacred books.
  6. Indian funders who are pumping their money to fund Chairs like this one at Columbia do not know – and need to know – this aspect. They feel bliss in their ignorance.
  7. (Comments by Surya K.) It is unbelievable that smart people agree to such a setup.  It is unfathomable that wealthy Indians are dropping guard and willing to blindly outsource the essential core.  It is even more unfathomable that Sringeri Peetham accepts advice from ANYONE to cede adhikara.(1) If there is one unimportant unwritten rule of smart business practices, it is not to trust and handover control to ANY external party no matter how aligned and trustworthy they appear.
  8. If there is one thing that you never want to cede control of, it is adhikara.  Adi Shankara Chair at Columbia University on behalf of Sringeri Peetham is tantamount to ceding adhikara to Columbia University.
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