The Shallowness of Pollock’s “Deep Orientalism”


By: Prof. Ganesh Ramakrishanan

(Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay)

Following shows the shallowness of Pollock’s analysis: http://indology-critique.blogspot.in/2016/03/the-shallowness-of-pollocks-deep_3.html?m=1

Pollock concludes in his essay “Deep Orientalism”:

“From its colonial origins in Justice Sir William to its consummation in SS Obersturmführer [a senior rank in the Nazi party] Wüst, Sanskrit and Indian studies have contributed directly to consolidating and sustaining programs of domination. In this (noteworthy orthogenesis) these studies have recapitulated the character of their subject, that indigenous discourse of power for which Sanskrit has been one major vehicle and which has shown a notable longevity and resilience.” (pg. 111 Deep Orientalism, italics mine)

About Wüst, Pollock (p. 89) says that he wrote “the programmatic article “German Antiquity and the History of Aryan Thought” … after the National Socialists took power … a model for what was to come.” Wüst interpreted that “the ancient aryas of India were those who felt themselves to be the “privileged, the legitimate” … because they established the superiority of their race, their culture, their religion, and their worldview in the course of struggle with host populations.” Pollock does nothing to debunk this interpretation. Rather, he affirms it in his essay by explaining that the aryas achieved it through monopolization of Sanskrit language and knowledge.

If these are not connections forged by Pollock between Sanskrit and Nazism, if this is not an attempt to blame Sanskrit for Nazism, I don’t know what can be. Yet people are not convinced and think that Pollock is engaged merely in a comparative analysis of the “morphology of domination.” Anyone who has read Pollock carefully would know that in his view all knowledge is political in nature and is ultimately about politics. Therefore, while he continues to engage in politics through knowledge, naive intellectuals assume that he is on some great intellectual quest.

In this blog, I will walk you through his essay “Deep Orientalism” to show how it provides a step-by-step guide to blame India in general & Sanskrit in particular for Nazism. The outline is as follows:

Step 1: Trans-historicize the idea of Orientalism
Step 2: Show that “Orientalist” German Indology contributed to Nazism
Step 3: Show existence of pre-colonial “Orientalism” in Sanskrit thought
Step 4: Show that British Indology was a continuity of pre-colonial “Orientalism”
Step 5: Show Nazism is continuity of Sanskrit thought

Before we dive into the details, there is a caveat … My burden is only to explain the process by which Pollock attempts to blame the Sanskrit hoi oligoi thought for Nazism. I am not at all suggesting that his arguments are valid and one who knows better would clearly see that the conclusion does not follow from them. That Pollock intends such a conclusion is evident from the passage of his essay quoted above. All I can explain further is the half-baked process that allegedly leads to it but which is flawed right from the get-go.

Some may hold in good faith that Sanskrit thought cannot be held responsible for Nazism and so assume that people of deep erudition such as Pollock cannot possibly commit such a travesty. But that is what we must find out by reflecting upon their writings and hence this post.

Step 1: Trans-historicize the idea of Orientalism

Orientalism suggests that “European scholarship of Asia” and “colonial domination of Asia” are “mutually constitutive” (76). But Pollock claims this understanding of Orientalism is “maybe too narrow” because it cannot accommodate either German Indology or precolonial forms of domination in South Asia. Therefore, he over-stretches the concept of Orientalism as a process of colonization and domination that might also be conceived as potentially directed inwards, and ‘disclosed as a species of a larger discourse of power that divides the world into “betters and lessers” and thus facilitates the domination (or “orientalization” or ”colonization”) of any group’ (77).

Now, it is plain to see that Pollock has all but destroyed the very concept of Orientalism and reduced it to the simplistic idea of domination itself. He is, of course, aware of the problem and he responds: “To a degree this criticism is valid, yet I think we may lose something still greater if not doing so constrains our understanding of the two other historical phenomena” (78). This sets the tone not only of the essay but Pollock’s work in general, in my view: “may be too narrow,” “might conceive as potentially directed inwards,” “we may lose something still greater” … in other words only rhetorical devices, no logical arguments.

What is the “still greater” thing that we may lose? It is the study of Sanskrit culture as an indigenous discourse of power. The standard concept of Orientalism, however, suggests that the valorization of Sanskrit culture was itself an outcome of Orientalism. Therefore, devalorization of Sanskrit culture becomes integral to an Orientalist critique. But this is something Pollock does not want. He wants to study Sanskrit culture as an indigenous discourse of power. It is for this “still greater” thing that he seeks to destroy the standard concept of Orientalism by reducing it to domination plain and simple.

And so Pollock insists that the Indology associated with the British colonization of India is only “a specific historical instance of a larger, transhistorical, albeit locally inflected, interaction of knowledge and power” (76). I really love this sentence. Next time someone charges you with being “ahistorical” throw this on their face. Tell them that their historical contextualization “may be too narrow” and “we may lose something still greater” if we do not seek the “larger, trans-historical interaction of knowledge and power” which gets “locally inflected” in “specific historical instances.” When you have this command over the English language, you can get away without making any rational argument.

Finally, let us note what Orientalism is really about. I will use Balagangadhara as an authority on Said and quote some insights from his Reconceptualizing India Studies (n.b. some of the following include quotes from Said’s Orientalism as well).

“As Said said repeatedly, ‘racist’, ‘sexist’, and ‘imperialist’ vocabulary does not transform something into an ‘Orientalist’ discourse, any more than the use of ‘dichotomizing essentialism’ does.” (39, italics mine)
“Orientalism is better grasped as a set of constraints upon and limitations of thought than it is simply as a positive doctrine.” (ibid)
“It is a particular way of thinking. What kind of constraints transforms human thinking into Orientalist thinking? … The Orient and the Oriental … become repetitious pseudo-incarnations of some great original (Christ, Europe, the West) they are supposed to have been imitating… To the Westerner, however, the Oriental was always like some aspect of the West” (40, italics original)
“In Western descriptions of other cultures, the ‘otherness’ of the latter has disappeared; the West is the great original; others are but the pale imitations.” (ibid)
“Orientalism describes non-Western cultures in a way that effaces differences; a limited vocabulary and imagery are the consequences of this constraint.” (ibid)
In Pollock’s view, on the other hand, Orientalism is a form of “othering” that can be extended to any situation involving dominance. Pollock’s understanding of Orientalism is limited to begin with and he has flattened it out for the sake of his project. If other scholars are rightly condemned for such errors, why is Pollock spared? Because he advocates a “morally sensitive scholarship” (79)? That makes it self-righteous but it does not make it any more intellectual.

In light of the foregoing, it should be evident that the Nazi oppression of the Jews or the Brahmanical oppression of the shudras cannot be considered Orientalist because they do not involve the aforementioned processes. Nonetheless, they are forms of domination and can be studied as such. So why the fuss about attempting to designate them as Orientalist? Because that way you can connect them to each other and show them as equivalents, which you cannot do if you were to study them independently. It also facilitates lazy, arm-chair intellectualism, for all the research that has already been done in Nazism can be simply transferred to the Indian situation. As Pollock has so eloquently put it, “we may lose something still greater …”

Step 2: Show that “Orientalist” German Indology contributed to Nazism

As an Indian, this step is not very important for me. I am sure it would be so for German Indologists such as Grunendahl who have criticized Pollock’s essay but I am not overly concerned. There are, however, facets in this section of Pollock’s essay to which we must pay attention. German Indology is, of course, vital for Pollock’s project because it is a serious lacuna in Said’s Orientalism which connects knowledge with colonial domination.

As we have noted earlier, Orientalism is primarily an epistemological problem. When Indian thought is viewed through a Eurocentric, Christocentric lens, it will appear as it does, with or without colonialism. Colonialism cannot produce such knowledge, it can only finance it, make it authoritative and abet its internalization by the host population. But Pollock has made it primarily a problem of power and wherever power can be implicated in an “othering” found in knowledge, that is Orientalism for him. While colonialism is not central to Said’s Orientalism, Pollock has first assumed it to be so and then used German Indology to show that it need not be so (since Germany was not a colonial power) and used that as an excuse to suggest that Orientalism can take a variety of directions, inwards in case of Nazi Germany, and a variety of forms, such as monopolization of knowledge, in case of Brahmanical India.

Even if we may not be interested on the debate between the influence of German Indology on Nazism, what is of interest to us here is how Pollock has cleverly connected the process with the Indian situation. One of the first important insights we glean from this section of the essay is the interesting reference to Indian shastras: “an internal colonization of Europe began to be, so to speak, shastrically codified, within two months of the National Socialists’ capturing power” (86, italics mine). Is this not already setting the stage, sending subliminal signals, that shastric codes in precolonial India should be seen as parallels to Nazi laws?

In the same way, we are also told: “For some [Nazis], linguistic activity should have been included [among the activities regulated for excluding Jews and other minorities]” (86-87). Call for such regulation of linguistic activity in Nazi Germany has been emphatically pointed out by Pollock, and he has included with it a racist manifesto by some Guntert, obviously not because it was of great significance in the scheme of things in Nazi Germany, but because he is going to show later that linguistic monopolization of Sanskrit was the primary form of pre-colonial Orientalism in India. This is all preparation for what is to follow.

Perhaps the most important takeaway from this section, not for this essay in particular, but Pollock’s scholarship in general, is his emphasis on the problem of Wissenschaft. He takes great pain to show how the German scholarship of the Nazi era, while deeply implicated in politics and contributing towards the Nazi cause, remained utterly oblivious of it and boastfully presented itself as scientific and objective. I am sure German scholars will vehemently disagree but these contesting narratives do not concern us. Rather, we must note what Pollock is trying to do here. He is basically suggesting that no scholarship is really scientific or objective, no matter how much it tries to pretend otherwise, and by implication, therefore, scholarship should be unabashedly political because it simply cannot be otherwise. It does not matter how valid are your arguments but whose side are you on – the Dalits, the poor, the oppressed? Then what you say is automatically valid because your cause is good. On the other hand, if you claim to be on a quest for genuine knowledge and without a political cause, then you are unwittingly on the side of the upper castes, the rich, the oppressors, as the German scholars were inadvertently supporting the Nazis. If scholarship in the humanities has descended into rottenness today, you can blame this kind of thinking for it. It is not just Pollock; this anti-intellectual principle that the righteousness of one’s cause permits one to play truant with the facts, has polluted the very intellectual climate in which we live.

Apart from this, this section of the essay rambles on and on about the construction of Aryan identity, the “othering” of the Jews, the complicity of German Indology with Nazi politics, and so on, where Pollock, as usual, puts on display his vast erudition, whether relevant or irrelevant to the subject at hand, whose only purpose can be the intimidation of the reader.

We conclude by noting again Pollock’s contention that “German Indology has to be accommodated in any adequate theorization of orientalism” (96). But why it “has to be” is never explained. Couldn’t we just say that Orientalism is a flawed theory as so many have done? On the other hand, because it “has to be” so “orientalism, thought of as knowledge serving to create and marginalize degraded communities – even members of one’s own community – and thus to sustain relations of domination over them, reveals itself as a subset of ideological discourse as such.” Thus “British use of forms of orientalist knowledge for domination within India … help us theorize the German use of comparable forms for domination within Germany … [which] help us theorize how Indian forms of knowledge serve in the exercise of domination in India.” And so the stage is set for the study of high Sanskrit culture as a “precolonial colonialism” and a “pre-orientalist orientalism.”

Step 3: Show existence of pre-colonial Orientalism in Sanskrit thought

Let us begin with a reminder, yet again, that Pollock has given us something that can best be called as neo-Orientalism. Remember Hacker’s claim that Neo-Hinduism was emptying out Sanskrit words of their original meaning and refilling them with Western meanings? Well, since Pollock has emptied the original concept of Orientalism as the study of a conquered people as “pale and erring variants” of the conqueror, and refilled it with the new meaning of any “dichotomized essentialism” we can read his interpretation as a neo-Orientalism, instead of “Deep Orientalism.” Alternatively, those charged with propagating neo-Hinduism can defend themselves by claiming to be engaged in “Deep Hinduism.”

The morphology of domination in ancient India lay, according to Pollock, in the denial of access to shudras to Vedic learning and the Sanskrit language in which the authoritative discourse of dharma was articulated. It is evident that Pollock’s main concern is that the Orientalist critique obscures the role played by Sanskrit texts in pre-colonial forms of domination. Even more so, the Orientalist critique suggests that textuality itself may not have played a role in pre-colonial forms of domination (more on this in the next step). I think it is precisely Pollock’s attempt to show that textuality matters which leads him to point out that the pre-colonial form of domination consisted in the main of denying access to texts and the language of the texts. But this is a circular argument. If the role of textuality in pre-colonial forms of domination is itself not clear, what does it matter whether people had access to those texts or not? Only after it is established that textuality played a central role in pre-colonial forms of domination, as it did in the colonial period, that the denial of access to the dharmashastras and so on, can be established as a form of domination.

As per his literary style, Pollock rambles on and on, but two insights in this section of the essay deserve our attention:

(1) Although the dharmashastras and their commentaries have been produced throughout Indian history, out of that vast corpus the essay focuses specially on the nibandhas (digests) composed from 12th century CE. Why so? Because, as Pollock claims, they were produced in response to the Muslim invasions. Why is that important? Because, these nibandhas can be understood as a way in which the Indians defined themselves as a “tradition” against the alien “other.” The implication is straightforward. There is nothing extra-ordinary if during the colonial period in the 19th century, an Orientalist “tradition” was produced. Indians, it would appear, have always done it. They did it in response to the Muslim invasion (oooh, I must be careful … Pollock says “Central Asian Turks” not “Muslim”) as they did it in response to the British invasion. This is excellent sophistry in my view and segues neatly to the fourth step which contends that British Indology was not an innovation at all but a continuity of an Orientalizing tradition that always existed in Sanskritic India.

(2) The term “arya” and its distinction from the “non-arya” occurs frequently in this discussion. This “binary overarches the world of traditional Indian inequality” (107) but what does the term mean? Pollock says that the term “merits intellectual-historical study … for premodern India” (ibid) which means we do not know yet but Pollock gives us the valuable hint that the term is deserving of the attention “at least of the sort Arier has received for modern Europe” (ibid). And so it is evident, especially in light of the role that Aryan identity played in Nazi Germany, discussed at length earlier in the essay, that arya means something similar. And if there is yet any doubt that arya may have meant something else in pre-colonial India, such as “noble” for example, instead of a racial stock, such doubt is foreclosed by the clarification that “from such factors as the semantic realm of the distinction arya/anarya … it may seem warranted to speak about a “pre-form of racism” in early India, especially in a discussion of indigenous “orientalism,” since in both its classic colonial and its National Socialist form orientalism is inseparable from racism” (ibid).

And so there we have it: Sanskrit culture, British colonialism and Nazism. All three are racisms. All three are orientalisms. And Sanskrit culture is the “pre-form”. Pollock does not explain what this term means but evidently it is some kind of a “proto” state awaiting maturity. This also suggests why it is difficult to pin it down unlike British colonialism and Nazism which manifested their evil so blatantly during their heyday. And it also suggests that the maturity could be realized in the future, say, once a certain “Hindutva” party seizes power in India. I should emphasize that Pollock has not said any of this explicitly. He has only said “pre-form” and laid down the parallels and continuities between Sanskrit culture, British colonialism and Nazism, but this is enough for the readers to do the math themselves.

Step 4: Show that British Indology was a continuity of pre-colonial “Orientalism”

The critique of Orientalism holds that “it was British colonialism that, in cooperation with orientalism, “traditionalized” society in such a way that it took on a form, a hegemonic Sanskritized form, that it may never really have had” (97). Pollock raises a two-fold objection to this critique. Firstly, British colonialism did not produce its form of domination tout court (which, I assume, should be interpreted as “without its precedent in the native culture”). Secondly, this critique does not take into account the history of pre-colonial domination (without which it cannot say with confidence that colonial forms of domination were innovative). These objections are explained with two examples.

As a first example, Pollock alludes to Stein’s view that “[Brahmanical] texts … received a new life lease and legitimacy at the hands of European orientalists who [based on them] constructed … a social theory allegedly pertinent … to pre-modern societies of South Asia, where it can have at best a partial validity (and that to be demonstrated). (98)” In objecting to this view, Pollock refers to the composition of the dharma nibandhas in the 12th century as “a kind of pre-modern “traditionalization” of” the social order. But Pollock does not explain how these two events – the production of the dharma-nibandhas and the production of Indological works – in different times and under radically different circumstances, and in fact authored by different people – the Indians in the first case and the Europeans in the latter – can be comparable. True, both involved scriptural study and validation, and both were sponsored by powers ruling in India, but that is only a superficial comparison. In the 19th century, we know that Eurocentric and Christocentric frameworks were used in the study of Indian scriptures for the purpose of colonization and proselytization. And that Indian laws were instituted on the basis of such study. But what was the point of the dharma-nibandha compositions? Pollock is right to say that “such vast intellectual output surely needs to be theorized in some way” (98) but European Orientalist Indology is hardly the model to achieve this theorization.

In the second example mentioned by Pollock, he contests the essay “Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India” by Lata Mani who contends that as an effect of the colonial discourse, Brahmanical scripture came to be privileged and constituted as the authentic cultural tradition of India. Pollock complains that in order to prove this point, the author does not “proceed to the logically prior question, “whether brahmanic texts [have] always been prioritized as the source of law” (a good, though conceptually and historically complex, question), but to “a careful reading of the Parliamentary Papers” … [and thus] we never leave the colonial arena in pursuit of these goals” (99 ff).

Before we proceed further, it is worth noting that Pollock himself has not asked the “good, though conceptual and historically complex, question” though it is required of his own project of depicting Sanskrit texts as the locus of pre-colonial form of domination. Rather, he appears to have gone down the different track of demanding that we take seriously the ideals of varna system found in the shastras and kavya (such as the varna-related verses in the Ramayana, of which he gives an example in his essay, see p. 102) as bearing upon social reality. He laments that reflections concerning the social effect of “the dream of power” as found in Sanskrit texts, in constituting the reality on the ground, have not been brought to bear on the Indological problem (102-103). This, of course, would take us in the realm of mere speculation but I don’t think that matters to Pollock – we have already noted his disdain for the “scientific and objective” scholarship of the German Indologists. All knowledge is political, so why not hoist speculation as a form of knowledge if it is for a good cause? Indeed, Pollock’s whole essay seeks nothing more than a return to Orientalism. Of course, he cannot say this openly and so the garden path in the form of this murky essay. Indological texts were complicit with the power which sponsored them, but then so were the Sanskrit texts which Indology studied. If the former are to be critiqued as Orientalist, why should the latter be spared the same treatment? This is the petulant refrain which runs throughout Pollock’s essay.

Returning to Pollock’s critique of Mani, we note that he does not consider the fact that the reason why Mani does not find it necessary to leave the “colonial arena” is that the evidence she is looking for is covered in the texts of the colonial period where she discerns a change in the depositions made by the pundits. “While officials treated vyawasthas (the written responses of pundits to questions put to them by colonial officials on various aspects of sati) as truthful exegeses of the scriptures in an absolute sense, it is clear from reading the vyawasthas that the pundits issuing them believed them to be interpretive” (Mani, 133).

As Mani explains, the Parliamentary Papers show that the vyawasthas were tentative which would imply that the pundits issuing them were being called upon to interpret scripture in altogether different ways and for unprecedented purposes: “in the beginning at least, the responses of pundits appointed to the court did not reflect the kind of authority that colonial officials had assumed, both for the texts and the pundits” (ibid, 149). “By contrast there is nothing tentative about the 1830 orthodox petition; there are no qualifiers prefacing textual excerpts … [and the petition was noted as being] ‘accompanied by legal documents’. Here the equation between law and scripture is complete” (150). What Mani’s research of the Parliamentary Papers reveals is how Indians adapted themselves as they began to understand what could and could not pass muster in the new regime as legally admissible and gradually started prioritizing scripture in their legal petitions as they realized it would prove most effective with their colonial masters. It is evident from Mani’s essay that apart from Brahmanical scripture, there were other sources of law such as caste councils and customary usages, which were ignored by the colonial administrators as corruptions of the pristine sources.

But for Pollock this colonial discourse of seeking scriptural validity in legal matters is connected with and possibly derived from similar attempts made by the dharma-nibandha scholars. He completely ignores the fact that pundits in the colonial period were responding to the demands of their new rulers whose sensibilities in this regard obviously emerged from the Protestant reformation which valorized scripture over the Catholic tradition. It would be absurd to imagine that dharma-nibandha scholars and their patrons, who were obviously indifferent to such sensibilities, were engaged in a similar pursuit. If it appears doubtful that a great scholar such as Pollock could have made such a crazy insinuation, here is the full quote: “In fact, much of the discourse as we find it in the nineteenth-century Raj could easily have derived, and may have actually derived, from a text like the twelfth-century digest …” (100). I have already shown how Pollock has attempted to portray these twelfth-century digests – the dharma-nibandhas – as manifestations of a pre-colonial “Orientalism” and here we have covered how he seeks to establish that British Indology was continuous with it.

Step 5: Show Nazism is continuity of Sanskrit Thought

Let us recap the path down which Pollock has led us. First, the concept of Orientalism was redefined to make it purely a political problem and its epistemological aspect was ignored. Second, the contribution of German Indology to Nazism was highlighted. Third, the Sanskrit culture was depicted as a pre-colonial colonialism or a pre-oriental Orientalism. Fourth, British Indology was presented as contiguous with it. Now the math is simple. If British Indology was contiguous with Sanskrit thought then why not German Indology which emerged and functioned together with it? In fact, as Pollock suggests, British Indology did the foundational work for German Indology:
“The discourse on Aryanism that this orientalist knowledge generated was, to a degree not often realized, available to the Germans already largely formulated for them at the hands of British scholarship by the middle of the nineteenth century” (83, italics mine).
And so if German Indology can also be regarded as contiguous with Sanskrit thought then surely Sanskrit thought must be held responsible for what German Indology contributed to, namely, Nazism.

We must note, however, that there is nothing to suggest in Pollock’s essay that its purpose is to trace the origins of Nazism to Sanskrit thought. But this aetiology is easily suggested by the essay and Pollock has made no effort to warn against making such an interpretation, if that was not his intent. While respectful of the erudition contained in the Sanskrit shastras, it is evident that he finds them just as toxic and oppressive as the Nazi texts.

He ensures that the reader does not miss the connection between the two by referring to the latter as shastric codifications and focusing on the arya/anarya dichotomy in the former, to be read as analogous to the Arier distinctiveness contained in the Nazi texts. Similarly, the reference to the connection between language and race in Nazi rhetoric is a strategic inclusion considering that in Pollock’s view linguistic restriction was the main form which pre-colonial domination took in India.

Of course, Pollock regards the shastras as important even today, and as displaying great erudition … but to what end? As mere discourses of power, evident from the following passage:
“Traditional domination as coded in Sanskrit is not “past history” in India … Partly by reason of the stored energy of an insufficiently critiqued and thus untranscended past, it survives in various harsh forms … When, for example, we are told by a contemporary Indian woman that she submits to the economic, social, and emotional violence of Indian widowhood because, in her words, “According to the shastras I had to do it”; when we read in a recent Dalit manifesto that “The first and foremost object of this [cultural revolution] should be to free every man and woman from the thraldom of the Shastras,” we catch a glimpse not only of the actualization in consciousness of Sanskrit discourses of power, but of their continued vigor” (116-7).
This, then, is the relevance of the study of Sanskrit shastras for today. If there is any other kind of learning to be derived from them, he does not say anything about it at all.

But what if one objects that Pollock is merely engaging in a “comparative morphology of domination” and does not seek to establish a link between Sanskrit texts and Nazism, or to insinuate that the ideas contained in the former led to the latter? In response to this objection, we note firstly the striking parallels between the two, which Pollock has taken pains to establish. But even more than that, it is the very process of seeking “a comparative morphology of domination” which establishes the connection between the two. Sanskrit culture, British colonialism and Nazism cannot be established simply as independent streams, separate forms of domination, because of the Orientalist critique that the dominance of a Sanskrit cultural tradition was itself established by British and German Indology.

If this is wrong, as Pollock suggests, then British and German Indology were simply reproducing the toxic and oppressive forms of domination which they discovered in Sanskrit texts, the only difference being that the vector of British Indology was directed outwards – to colonialism in India – and the vector of German Indology was directed inwards – to Europe and Germany itself. We have already noted that Orientalism, in Pollock’s view, should be regarded as multi-directional. The only way to break the connection between the toxicity and oppressiveness of Sanskrit culture, and that of British and German Indology, is to admit that the two Indologies had misinterpreted and misrepresented the ideas contained in the Sanskrit texts. But if that is admitted, then Sanskrit culture cannot be regarded as toxic and oppressive in an Orientalist sense at all. Hence, I say that it is the very process of producing “a comparative morphology of domination” between Sanskrit culture, British colonialism and Nazism which requires that Sanskrit culture was a factor in both British colonialism and Nazism.

And he has, in fact, admitted as such:
“From its colonial origins in Justice Sir William to its consummation in SS Obersturmführer Wüst, Sanskrit and Indian studies have contributed directly to consolidating and sustaining programs of domination. In this (noteworthy orthogenesis) these studies have recapitulated the character of their subject, that indigenous discourse of power for which Sanskrit has been one major vehicle and which has shown a notable longevity and resilience.” (111, italics mine).

Note that Pollock does not say that British and German Indology exploited Sanskrit texts to consolidate and sustain programs of domination, as orientalism is commonly understood, but that Sanskrit and Indian studies have themselves contributed directly towards this goal. It was an orthogenetic development, a recapitulation of an indigenous discourse of power for which Sanskrit has been one major vehicle. That is deep orientalism: blame Sanskrit, save Indology.

The future of Indology as Pollock envisages it also becomes evident here. Thus far Sanskrit has used the British and German Indologists to spread its evil in the world. The powers with which these Indologies colluded – the Raj and the Nazis – become, in Pollock’s reading, simply innocent carriers of this poison. But now it is time to turn the tables on Sanskrit – to expose and contain the evil that festers in its heart. That is the future of Indology.

Narayan Murthy appoints Pollock and Pollock calls Hindu-Sashtras a problem!


(By: Shreepal Singh, Navita Vashist and Surya K.)

                                       By: Shreepal Singh (1)

Sometimes very important events take place and, by and large, general public remains unaware of them, and when later on, as the consequence of those events, momentous changes occur around us – that are too apparent for us to remain oblivious of them – we feel amazed how that all happened in the first place.

One such event of momentous importance is the appointment of Sheldon Pollock – an American Indologist – by Narayan Murthy and Rohan Murthy (of Infosys fame) to be in charge of their ambitious project. Who is this gentleman Sheldon Pollock? And, what is that ambitious project of Murthys?

The project contemplated by Murthys is the setting up of a Foundation to undertake the work of translating “all ancient Sanskrit sacred works of Hindus into English” and Sheldon Pollock has been picked up by them to be the editor-in-chief or director of this project.

It is wonderful idea of Murthys and all Indians would welcome it. Why should on earth anyone have an objection  to such a wonderful idea?

The question is: What are the credentials and qualifications of Pollock to undertake such a job of far-reaching consequences?

We shall see this just now. But before that, first a few words about Murthys.

Firstly, it is Murthy’s money (millions of dollars), which they would be spending on the project; how can anybody have an objection or a say as to who is appointed by them and who is not? Secondly, it is laudable work and everybody should welcome it.

The question put to Murthys is this: Do Murthys  have a right to distort the sacred Hindu Sanskrit works or Shashtras, may be with their own money, with the assistance of a person who is known – as the readers of these lines on perusing what follows next would be able to find for themselves – for advancing a thesis that is logically untenable, pseudo-scientific and ill-motivated anti-Hindu subtle jargon.

Sheldon Pollock had propounded a thesis on the subject long back in 1985, which is available for everyone to see in his 1985 paper.

We shall refer here to a few lines taken from this paper to show how he is illogical and pseudo-scientific in his approach.

“‘Sastra is one of the fundamental ….. problems of Indian civilization ……. “. (We have intentionally omitted secondary clauses in this sentence; and the meaning of this sentence is clear even without those clauses.)

  1. “Sashtra is a fundamental problem of Hindu civilization” – is a priori statement. It is an assumption. Entire thesis proceeds from this assumption.
  2. The thesis, instead of examining how the Sashtras are problematic, is built by judging everything contained in these Sashtras on the anvil of this a priori.
  3. It says “Sashtras are problematic”. They are problematic to whom? To Pollock? But Shashtras are not problematic to Indian sacred-Sashtras-scholars. Who is to judge in such a situation? For Pollock, only the Western scholars like him – Pollock – could be the judge. But why not the others – these Indians?
  4. Are people like Pollock better and more qualified philosophers or social scientists than those Indians who are experts of these Sanskrit works to find out their intellectual worth or a problematic strain?
  5. What is the criterion to judge who is more authentic to conclude whether Sashtras are or are not problematic? If Pollock or his ilk flaunt “US University degrees” to buttress that they, for that reason, are more qualified than the other, is it scientific approach? There is an Indian proverb: “Are there no ass in Oxford?”
  6. In the modern scientific age of “Relativity”, it is possible that Sashtras are not problematic to Indian civilization – that has organically evolved them – and they are at the same time problematic to those who live in different civilization and have different values. Is it not more scientific approach than of Pollock, which can see things only with one “frame of reference” to judge them and put a value thereon?
  7. “The black cats are problematic to the white dogs” (or, you can put it vice versa also; it remains the same thing). But these black cats are not problematic to the remaining black cats; and, so too with the white dogs. Pollock is an intellectual and is supposed to know this simple fact that the Buddhist civilization, Hindu civilization, Christian civilization etc. are all built on their own peculiar “frame works”; that the Buddhist civilization is not problematic to Buddhists; and, ditto for others. The “frame-work” of Hindu civilization is its Shashtras. Hindu civilization has no problem with its Shashtric frame-work; but Pollock is not a Hindu and he is – scientifically speaking – supposed to have a problem with Shashtras. There is no problem – fundamental or otherwise – in Shashtras being the base of Hindu civilization; the problem is with the person who looks at them with his own – particular, so-called Western – frame of reference. More than this, there is no substance in the Pollock’s thesis that Shashtras are one of the fundamental problems of Hindu civilization.
  8. Adding more voices to this thesis – voices of all who are stationed like Pollock and voices of people who are enjoying motivated pecuniary benefits in Western countries (e.g. Ananya Bajpayi) – which Rajiv Malhotra logically terms Sepoy – does not add more weight in intellect or substance. We think, for now this much is enough.

Now to Murthys.

By now all, and certainly Murthys, know that this motivated distortion by Pollock has been minutely examined and discussed by Rajiv Malhotra in his latest book “The Battle for Sanskrit”. He may have read or not this book himself but the fair chances are that he must have heard of it. There is a reported statement of senior Murthy that in India there are not competent Sanskrit scholars available who may undertake such translation work; and that at least nobody has yet approached him for undertaking this work.

If he is not arrogant with his money, may we say that it was his work to make a search in India and find out competent persons for the job. Did he do that? No. Secondly, it seems more probable that in your present project, you invited Pollock to undertake your job and not that Pollock requested you the directorship. If it is wrong, you say so publicly! Again, how can you say that in India there are not competent Sanskrit scholars / translators. Sanskrit is taught in various universities in India; Shastras are daily read and understood in innumerable Matthas / Ashrams in India; and, of course, Indians know English.

Murthys before being instrumental in such distortion of sacred Sanskrit works, need to answer India his adamant proceedings.

In a democratic way to express Indian community’s resentment, more than 5000 people have signed a petition imploring Murthys to see the reason and rethink of the appointment. But in vain.

This article is one more effort in the same direction.

By: Navita Vashist (2)

A.      Pollock’s negative pre-disposition towards Sanskrit and Sanskriti. This is quite apparent in his 1985 paper that it beggars belief how some argue otherwise. Some examples :

1.       The very first sentence is a clue to the lens being used : ‘Sastra is one of the fundamental features and problems of Indian civilization in general and of Indian intellectual history in particular ‘  At the very outset Pollock categorically problematizes an entire civilisation before the reader has even had a chance to consider his thesis.

2.       ‘In light of the major role it appears to play in Indian civilization, it is surprising to discover that the idea and nature of sastra in its own right, as a discrete problem of intellectual history, seem never to have been the object of sustained scrutiny.’ Ironically Pollock himself is the first to construct that the Shastras are a ‘problem’ and then proceeds to be surprised that no one else has seen it that way! Since there have been plenty of competing ideologies over time, one could also reasonably expect that such dissenting views would have arisen organically out of the tradition itself had the Shastras really been a ‘problem’. That this did not happen suggests that the practitioners did not feel the ‘problem’ that he alludes to and that Pollock is first applying an entirely  Western lens and then proceeding to craft a ‘problem’.

3.       ‘It was this attitude that prompted me to further study in the area of shastric regulation, conceived accordingly as an analysis of the components of cultural hegemony or at least authoritarianism.’ The words ‘hegemony’ and ‘authoritarianism’ in this context are Western concepts that ought not to be applied with such abandon as it is clear that in that era one was free to disagree and set up alternative schools of thought (evidenced by the many competing philosophical systems that co-existed harmoniously, at least non-violently).

4.       ‘Besides the extraordinary taxonomical interests and procedures of the metrical texts, what struck me most forcefully was the nomological character of the handbooks….’ The use of the word ‘nomological’ appears to be a function of Pollock’s lens and understanding.

5.       ‘The question of domination remains in my view important for several areas of pre-modern India, the realms of social and political practices, for instance.’Another indication of the ‘lens’ being used and the hidden agenda.

6.       ‘What both Manusmriti and Amy Vanderbilt’s Everyday Etiquette articulate for us is practical cultural knowledge, mastery of which makes one a competent member of the culture in question. Such cultural grammars exist in every society;’So Manusmriti just did what all societies do and whilst Pollock then goes on to say the Classical Indian civilization was the most exquisite expression of this, he completely ignores the even more remarkable point that Western society only got round to codifying such practical cultural knowledge in the 1950’s (as per his quote) while Manusmriti did this millennia earlier ie. the Indians had reached that civilizational stage thousands of years earlier.

7.       The second concerns the implications of this relationship for the conceptual possibilities of cultural change and development. While I believe the degree of actual influence of shastric models on cultural practices and beliefs in pre-modern India to be a far-reaching issue of the utmost importance.There is a hint of setting up a framework for ‘indirect intervention politics’ ie. stirring up one side against the other whilst pulling unseen strings ….why else is the influence of shastric models on the culture such a far-reaching issue of utmost importance? One senses urgency here.

8.       ‘Sastra, the Sanskrit word for these grammars, thus presents itself as one of the fundamental features and problems of Indian civilization in general and of Indian intellectual history in particular.’Why a problem? The shastras only prescribed a way of doing things, perhaps an ideal way that would lead to the best functioning of society and highest transformation of the individual. One was still free to do things their own way given all the competing schools of thought and ideologies that existed at the time. There were no prescribed be-headings for not following, only that one would not get the full benefits of a particular action if not performed correctly. The fact that the public followed the shastric norms of their own volition could be interpreted as being due to their lived experience of the benefits.

9.       ‘Sastra is a significant phenomenon both intrinsically–taken as a whole it is a monumental, in some cases unparalleled, intellectual accomplishment in its own right–and extrinsically, with respect to the impact it has exercised, or sought to exercise, on the production and reproduction of culture in traditional India.’Key point here that Pollock remains silent on is that the Shastras were not physically imposed – It was not authoritarian ie. no capital punishment for failure to comply – it is entirely possible and more likely that people followed the shastras because they experienced the benefits

10.   We are informed further by Patanjali that “Sastra is that from which there derives regulation [definite constraints on usage]”Not sure if the ‘definite constraints’ comment is part of Patanjali’s quote or a Pollock translation. It could also mean that something becomes the norm not because it is strictly imposed but because it is recommended and then found to be the most efficient and pleasant way in practice.

11.   ‘Whatever the number and specific composition of such topics of knowledge, it seems clear that the very notion of a finite set of “topics of knowledge” implies an attempt at an exhaustive classification of human cultural practices.’Finite as per the available knowledge in that era, not finite till the end of time – would be a more generous interpretation, which of course would not suit Pollock’s agenda.

B.      Pollock’s deliberate or inadvertent misunderstandings to suit his argument:

1.       ‘Theory is held always and necessarily to precede and govern practice; there is no dialectical interaction between them.’This is questionable. While there may be no dialectical interaction between Shruti and practice, there can be a dialectical interaction between the understanding of Shruti and practice, the latter’s role being to refine the understanding and interpretation of the former.

2.       ‘Two important implications of this fundamental postulate are that all knowledge is pre-existent, and that progress can only be achieved by a regressive re-appropriation of the past.’The second point is not necessarily an implication of that postulate – but rather that progress is achieved by better and better discoveries / understandings / interpretations of this pre-existent knowledge. Ie. just because certain knowledge is not in our collective consciousness, this does not invalidate its existence. For example, the Earth did not start orbiting the sun only when the Western world discovered that it did so.

3.       Similar to point 2 ‘THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE PRIORITY OF THEORY’ – That the practice of any art or science, that all activity whatever succeeds to the degree it achieves conformity with shastric norms would imply that the improvement of any given practice lies, not in the future and the discovery of what has never been known before, but in the past and the more complete recovery of what was known in full in the past ‘   ‘The fundamental flaw in this seems to be the lack of understanding that it is not about ‘what was known in full in the past’ (because presumably not everything existed     in the collective human consciousness at that time), but what ‘was’ and ‘is’ ever extant, only waiting to be discovered….so although it has always existed, it is still ‘new     discovery’ to the human consciousness.

C.      Pollock lends support to the point that the Abrahamic religions need to be history-centric in order to maintain their power.     ‘The eternality of the vedas, the sastra par excellence, is one presupposition or justification for this assessment of sastra. Its principal ideological effects are to     naturalize and de-historicize cultural practices, two components in a larger discourse of power.’    So the eternality of the Vedas de-historicizes cultural practice and this is a component in a larger discourse of power. The most obvious interpretation of this is that ‘historicity’     enables power-play by giving control to a unique time-stamped and non-replicable event eg. the historicity of Jesus gave the Church its power for centuries. On the other hand, the     de-historicized Vedas enable a more egalitarian playing field where many new ideas can originate over time within the same overarching eternal framework.

By: Surya K. (3)

(Additions within brackets by way of comments/criticism of Pollock’s thesis is by: Shreepal Singh)

Appendix A of “The Battle For Sanskrit” lays out Pollock’s construction of the political history of Sanskrit
 
Claim 1: Oral traditions can compose either (a) non-rational thoughts, (b) simple rational thoughts.
(This thesis is wrong and sup[orted by evidence. Alexander, the Great, came to India in the year 326 BC on his expedition to conquer the world. His accompanying historians recorded the events they saw. Some of these accounts survived in later periods and were quoted by other historians. One such book is “Geography” by Strabo, who quoting in his fifteenth book of this Geography from “Indika” of of Megasthenes, says, “….. They (Indian philosophers) discoursed much upon death ….. They maintained that nothing that happens to a man is bad or good, opinions being merely dreams. On many points their notions coincided with those of Greeks. The said, for instance, that the world was created and liable to destruction, that it was a spheroid figure, and that it’s Creator goverened it and was diffused through all its parts…. (vide Q. Curtius Rufus, Ancient India as Described by Arrian, Q. Curtius, Diodoros, Plutarch and Justin – Translated from greek sources by McCrindle. Page 368). Now, Mr. Pollock, are the thoughts like “Nothing that happens to a man is good or bad”; “Opinions are merely dreams”; “The world was created and liable to destruction”; “The Creator of the world was diffused through all its parts” not not complex enough thoughts? We say, Pollock, these thoughts are more complex than your ill-fitting and chained thoughts expressed in these conclusions. Frankly, the thoughts like “Nothing that happens to a man is good or bad” and “Opinions are merely dreams” remind one of the scientific premise of “Relativity” of Einestein, where common opinion is denounced by saying that things are not things but events in space and time!)
Claim 2: Composing complex rational thoughts requires writing.
(Your logic is applied here. The above quoted thoughts are complex and they required writing, which were written in Sanskrit long back before the birth of Buddha. Your logic “that complex thoughts cannot be expressed in oral traditions; there were no complex thoughts before Buddha; complex thoughts were expressed in Sanskrit; and, therefore, writing in Sanskrit started post Buddha” is other way round. Because above thoughts are complex, which were expressed before Buddha and which needed writing, therefore, Sanskrit writing existed much before Buddha.)
Conclusion A1: Oral traditions cannot produce complex rational compositions.
Conclusion A2: All complex rational compositions were produced only after writing was invented.
Claim 3: Vedic hymns lack complex rationality.
(….. wait)
Conclusion B1: Invention of writing was not necessary for composing Vedic hymns.  Oral-traditions were sufficient to compose Vedic hymns.
Conclusion B2: As a result of their oral-only tradition, Vedic-Indians were stuck in a childlike world of Vedic imagination and superstitious rituals. 
 
Claim 4:  Oral tradition was secretive and restricted access to Brahmins only.
Claim 5:  Access to the sacred before Buddhism was restricted to Brahmins.
Conclusion B3: Secretive Vedic oral-traditions restricted access to the sacred based on social structure.
Claim 6: Buddhists invented writing in India in or around 260 BCE in the Maurya courts.
Conclusion C: Since writing in India was invented by Buddhists, therefore all complex rational texts of Indian origin were composed after Buddha.
Claim 7: Indian literature, including Kavya such as Ramayana, are complex rational compositions
Conclusion D: Ramayana could not have been composed orally.  Therefore, Ramayana had to be composed only after the invention of writing.
Conclusion E: All Hindu innovations needing complex rational thought came only after the Buddha.
Claim 8: Vedic compositions were composed and propagated only in oral Sanskrit.
Claim 9: For the first few centuries of its existence, Buddhists rejected Sanskrit.
Claim 10: Buddhists chose Pali as their language for writing.
Claim 11: Buddha’s position on whether or not to use Sanskrit was ideological and not one of pragmatics. Buddha avoided the use of Sanskrit because he rejected Vedas which were composed in Sanskrit.
Claim 12: A few centuries after the Buddha, Buddhists turned towards Sanskrit as their language of choice for expressing their teachings.   Buddhists assaulted the Vedic tradition.
Claim 13: Buddhism sought to turn the old vaidika world upside down by the very levers (such as Sanskrit) that world provided.
Conclusion F1: Buddhists brought writing to Sanskrit.
Conclusion F2: First Sanskrit writings were Buddhist texts.
Conclusion F3: Buddhist influence started Sanskrit literature and enhanced its grammar
Claim 14: With Buddhism turning to Sanskrit, Vedic thought was challenged by Buddhism.
Claim 15: In the early centuries of the Common Era, there was an explosion in Sanskrit literature.
Claim 16: Explosion in Sanskrit literature in early centuries of the Common Era was not due to a revival of Vedic teachings as Buddhism had sidelined the Vedic rituals during that era.
Conclusion G: In an effort to turn around waning public interest in Hinduism, Vedic brahmins needed to embark on the writing of Itihasa or Maha-Kavya such as Ramayana.
Claim 17:  To revive Vedic Hinduism, brahmins sought support of kings.
Claim 18: Kings sought the help of Brahmins to raise popularity of kings with public, to raise obedience of public to kings.
Claim 19: The symbiotic relationship of the needs of Brahmins and Kings led to political aesthetics in India.  Kings were divine and Brahmins held highly respected positions in their courts.
Claim 20:  Kavya such as Ramayana elevated Brahmins while teaching people to offer their unconditional obedience to Kings.
Conclusion H: Unlike Europe where wars and revolutions led to creation of empires, India managed building empires through Political Aesthetics.  Unconditional obedience of public helped build larger kingdoms and empires in India.  Neither wars nor revolts were required to build the “Sanskrit Cosmopolis”.  

Sheldon Pollock, Sanskrit, Hinduism, Christianity: and A Reply to Sheldon Pollock


By: Shreepal Singh

Sheldon Pollock is an American Orientalist and is the proponent of a newly invented theory that holds that Hinduism, as we know it today, is an artificial creation, which is not found in the ancient Sanskrit sacred books of India. He says there is no continuation of Hinduism from ancient times to our present times and Hinduism as we know it today is a newly and artificially created entity, which he terms as “Neo-Hinduism”.

He alleges that the foundation of this Neo-Hinduism was laid down by Swami Vivekananda and that the Swami was much influenced by the concepts of Christianity in creating this “Neo-Hinduism.

In order to give his theory a logical foundation, he proposes two things: Firstly, Sanskrit language, in which the Hindu sacred books are written, should be detached from – divested of its – divinity or sacredness; and, Secondly, after so divesting, Sanskrit should be read, understood and interpreted as a linguistic-political tool.

By applying these two theoretical premises in his studies of sacred Sanskrit books of Hinduism, Pollock comes up with his conclusions that Sanskrit was a literary tool of oppression not only of the political nature (by poetical eulogy of the king of the time) but was also oppressive to other vernacular languages of India.

These allegations of Sheldon Pollock have been examined threadbare and replied with great intellectual caliber by Rajiv Malhotra in his book “The Battle For Sanskrit”, which is a must-read for everyone who loves India and Indology.

The first issue is whether scientifically it is justified to divest a sacred book of its divinity or sacredness and to deconstruct the language (Sanskrit) in which that book is written in order to get its real meaning.

Here is an article written by Surya K. on this issue.

Surya K. applies the theory of Sheldon Pollock by simply replacing “Hinduism” with “Christianity” and the “Sacred books of Hinduism” with “ Sacred Bible”

 

By; Surya K.

In his deliberations on Christianity, Mahatma Gandhi wrote in his Autobiography:

I could accept Jesus as a martyr, an embodiment of sacrifice, and a divine teacher, but not as the most perfect man ever born. His death on the Cross was a great example to the world, but that there was anything like a mysterious or miraculous virtue in it my heart could not accept”.

Now, Gandhi can say this as a non-believer. He was not a Christian. But he did not push these views on Christians as “scholarship” the way Pollock is pushing.

Gandhi was not alone. Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of America, compared miracles in the bible, and hence divinity of Jesus, to dung hill.

In 1813, in a letter to John Adams, Jefferson wrote:

“… We must reduce our volume to the simple evangelists, select, even from them, the very words only of Jesus, paring off the amphibologisms into which they have been led, by forgetting often, or not understanding, what had fallen from him, by giving their own misconceptions as his dicta, and expressing unintelligibly for others what they had not understood themselves. There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man. I have performed this operation for my own use, by cutting verse by verse out of the printed book, and arranging the matter which is evidently his, and which is as easily distinguishable as diamonds in a dunghill.”

Jefferson created for himself a “clean” version of bible called the Jefferson bible from which he stripped all divinity. Again, Jefferson, like Gandhi, did not palm his views off on Christians as actual history.

Would Christians or Muslims accept interpretations of their books by excluding divinity?

After reading the story in the bible, one is invariably struck with the following question:

What did Jesus really accomplish? There are many good – very nice – people who were killed mindlessly in the last two thousand years. Look at Mahatma Gandhi. He fought for a well-defined cause, made great strides towards that cause using only peaceful means, and finally died during the process but leaving behind a success story. In contrast, Jesus achieved no improvement to the society and died in vain. Gandhi successfully used civil-disobedience to bring justice to millions of his people. Perhaps, Jesus could have had the same effectiveness if he had used it.

This is not a new thought. Speaking on Mahatma Gandhi’s death, Nobel prize nominee and legendary missionary E. Stanley Jones described Mahatma Gandhi as “the greatest tragedy since the Son of God died on the cross.”

Theodore Beza wrote in his work the Anti-Bellius in 1554:

There is one way that leads to God, namely, Christ; and one way that leads to Christ, namely, faith; and this faith includes all those dogmas … If Christ is not true God, coeternal and consubstantial with the Father, how is He our Savior? How is He our sanctifier? How is He victor over sin, death, and the devil? Unless He is true man, save for sin, how is He our mediator?”

If we take away divinity from Jesus, we are left with a Jesus who did not do any miracles (just a human so they must all be magic tricks). His speeches no longer qualify as moral teachings but political anti-establishment speeches. He was crucified then as one of many others who were crucified by Romans. Jesus then lived the life of a trouble-maker who died without achieving anything. Without divinity, all that Jesus has going for him is that he is a nice guy who accomplished nothing for his people and died in vain.

This basic argument was not lost on Christian thinkers.

C.S. Lewis, one of the most celebrated Christian apologists, says that if we do not accept Jesus as God, then we have to either consider him a fool, a madman, or a devil.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (New York: MacMillan, 1943), pages 55-56

I am trying to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacherHe would either be a lunatic–on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

We are faced, then, with a frightening alternative. This man we are talking about either was (and is) just what He said or else a lunatic, or something worse.. I have to accept the view that He was and is God.

Without Divinity, Christianity is Meaningless Drive

How does Jesus lead humanity to salvation?

In his letter to th Church of Corinth, Paul writes:

Now, brothers and sisters, I want you to remember the Good News I told you. You received that Good News message, and you continue to base your life on it. That Good News, the message you heard from me, is God’s way to save you. But you must continue believing it. If you don’t, you believed for nothing. I gave you the message that I received. I told you the most important truths: that Christ died for our sins, as the Scriptures say;  1 Corinthians 15:1-

This is a quote from the Bible.

Paul is saying in no uncertain terms that, for Jesus to bring salvation to Christians, Christians have to believe that Jesus died to atone for the Original Sin of humanity.  If Jesus were just another human being, with no divinity, such a belief would be meaningless drivel.  Jesus had to have had divine origin fo the belief to be meaningful.  If he not he is not the Lord, Jesus is either a liar (he outright lied about his miracles) or a lunatic (imagined self-aggrandizement).

Divinity is crucial for Christianity to find honorable meaning in the bible and in the life of Jesus.  In fact, belief in divine origin of Jesus is so critical that all major Christian denominations require divine origin of Jesus.  Every major Christian denomation has codified the core belief of divinity of Jesus as part of their version of “Nicene Creed”, a statement(the  of belief that all members of that Christian denominations have to hold.


Divinity of Jesus is a core belief, an essential axiom, for Christians.  It is foolish for a Christian to accept an argument based on the supposition that Jesus is merely human with no divinity.  It is up to Christians to say what the axioms or the statement of their beliefs are and insist on only engaging in arguments that presuppose beliefs of divinity of Jesus. (Why is it a presupposition and not history?  Divinity is beyond common human experience and cannot be recognized as history even though history-centric religions claim history as confirmation for their beliefs.  Even if we grant that Jesus was born of a virgin mother, performed miracles, died on the cross and resurrected, it still does not follow that he is son of God.  Worse, one cannot take those human-observable events to be true.)

Just as Christians insist in acceptance of divinity as a presupposition for any valid interpretation of the Bible, so should Hindus insist on acceptance of divinity as a presupposition for any valid interpretations of Sanskrit Hindu sacred works.

By: Unknown

Christianity ….One Christ, One Bible Religion…

But the Latin Catholic will not enter Syrian Catholic Church.

These two will not enter Marthoma Church .

These three will not enter Pentecost Church .

These four will not enter Salvation Army Church.

These five will no enter Seventh Day Adventist Church .

These six will not enter Orthodox Church.

These seven will not enter Jacobite church.

This way there are 146 castes alone for Christianity.

Each will never share their churches with fellow Christians!

One Christ, One Bible, One Jehova???

Now Muslims..! One Allah, One Quran, One Nabi….! Great unity?

Among Muslims, Shia and Sunni hate and kill each other in all Muslim countries.

The religious riots in most Muslim countries is always between these two sects.

The Shia will not go to Sunni Mosque.

These two will not go to Ahamadiya Mosque.

These three will not go to Sufi Mosque.

These four will not go to Mujahiddin mosque.

This way there are 13 castes in Muslims.

Killing/bombing/conquering/ massacaring/… each other!

American attack on Iraq was fully supported by all Muslim countries surrounding Iraq !

One Allah, One Quran, One Nabi….????

Hindus –

They have 1,280 Religious Books, 10,000 Commentaries, more than one lakh sub-commentaries for these foundation books, innumerable presentations of one God, variety of Aacharyas, thousands of Rishies, hundreds of languages.

Still they all go to All TEMPLES and they are peaceful and tolerant and seek unity with others by inviting them to worship with them whatever God they wish to pray for!

Hindus never fought one another for the last ten thousand years in the name of religion.

This only confirms Hinduism is not a religion. It is a way of life.

Once again ‘India as a Civilization’ under attack – This time by ‘American Orientalists’


By: Shreepal Singh and Ashutosh Agarwal
India is an ancient nation. India has an ancient culture. India has existed not much as a nation but as a civilization since time immemorial.
The essence of this civilization is comprised in its depth of understanding of the eternal questions that have bothered humanity since the beginning of their history, its universality, its endeavor towards a sublime – almost mystical to human mind – destination and its emphatic rejection of any and every narrow approach of a straitjacked-formula in dealing with these issues.
This Indian civilization has seen many assaults on its body and spirit in the past. In all such attacks, the vitality of this civilization has not only withstood the challenge successfully but has absorbed these foreign elements as its own by assigning them a proper place in its cosmos.
It is only for this reason alone that today in India Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Zoroastrians and many more are living peacefully and in harmony with each other. These diverse people and their diverse faiths are living here in India in more pristine manner than in some of those countries where these faiths form the national majority.
This India is a mini-world; this India is a crucible of mankind; this India is a miracle of humanity. And, for all this the credit goes to Indian civilization.
India as a civilization is under attack once again. And this time the attack comes from the ‘American Orientalism’.
What is the modus operandi – the methodology – adopted by the American Orientalists in assaulting Indian civilization? Let us understand the strategy of this attack. We can divide this modus operandi under two heads: 1. The Tactics (with our suggestions to counter this tactics); and 2. The Strategy (with our suggestions to counter this strategy):
The Tactics:
  1. American Orientalists are highly educated scholars. American Orientalists have done extensive Purva Paksha of the Indian- Thought, while Indians haven’t done Purva Paksha of the Western Thought.  
  2. American Orientalists employ Indian-Sepoys to do their biddings and carry forward this war on their behalf.  Examples of Indian-Sepoys recruited by these American Orientalists – or the Invaders of the Sacred – include people like Ananya Vajpayee. These Sepoys are trained by American Orientalists and work – and paid – in various Universities and academia – Social Science,  Anthropology departments etc.
  3. India is the biggest consumer of Western Siddhantas (i.e. social theories). China / Japan / Islamic world have their own Siddhanta, India doesn’t have. Instead, India relies on the Western thought.
  4. India supplies so many sepoys due to mental slavery. Britishers fought 111 wars in India using Indian sepoys while they couldn’t raise even a single regiment in China.
  5. There are plenty of Orthodox Hindus who are well versed in Indian thought but they lack Purva Paksha – they do not know anything about the Western Thought. Most of them are well-intentioned but some are bought over by American Orientalists. Many orthodox Hindus ask typical questions like “Why is Rajiv doing it”, “Who is he”, “Why we need to worry about Westerners.”
  6. There are many Peetham (i.e. Hindu organizations or institutions) like AOL, Acharya Dharma Sabha etc. and some of them are supporting the Rajiv’s work while some are not. Many a time, these Western Indologists use ‘Hindu’ leaders to attack Rajiv Malhotra and all those Indologists who try to carry forward the Indian civilization and try to expose the malicious attacks of these Westerners.
  7. In India there is a phenomenon, which may be called”Murthy Syndrome” (NRN Murthy is picked up only as an example and it is not a personal attack on him). Murty is a clean, honest businessman. But he is funding in domain (i.e. Sheldon Pollock for Sanskrit Studies) outside his expertise and he is avoiding getting into the details.  This is a very risky and foolish proposition because his funds end up supporting work that’s inimical to Dharma.
The Strategy:

1. ‘Secularization’ – The objective is the removal of Shraddha / Sacredness from the study of sacred books and the language in which they are written. This takes the life away from Sanskrit. It’s like converting a Murthi into merely an idol /stone or converting Temple into mere architectural building.

2. American Orientalists seeks to secularize Sanskrit. This is the first one out of many other ways to attack Sanskrit. The second one is: calling Sanskrit as the dead (or Classical) language. The third one is: calling Sanskrit as a socially oppressive literary tool that had/has ensured the glorification of the ‘High and Up’ classes as against the common people. This oppressiveness of Sanskrit language is explained away by American Orientalists like Sheldon Pollock etc. by applying a Western philosophical theory called ‘Estheticization’ propounded by Vico, a native of Italy. The fourth one is: positioning of Sanskrit against other Vernacular Indian languages etc.

3. Under this strategical assault, India suffers from ‘Wonder Solider Syndrome of Hindus’.  No army in the world leaves behind a wounded soldier in the war. If they do, they’ll never win as the morale of the remaining soldiers will be badly hit. But Hindus abandon their fellow Hindus under attack. When Rajiv Malhotra was attacked last year by the Western cabals, most of the prominent Hindu leaders/intellectuals/spiritual organizations heads refused to support him publicly, though many of them had benefited from Rajiv’s work. Fortunately, a handful of Hindu intellectuals supported him and this resulted in his victory. These American Orientalists launched a campaign against Rajiv Malhotra accusing him of plagiarism from these Western writers. They wrote to prominent American book publishers persuading/requesting them not to publish Rajiv’s forthcoming book; they flooded Twitter with troll slandering Rajiv. But Rajiv won and his book “The Battle for Sanskrit” is published. The purpose of this attack was to see that the book of Rajiv is not published. Rajiv specifically mentioned the name of Madhu Kishwar who had supported him.

4. Character Building by Team Sports – Americans teach values by American football. These values are leadership, strategy, Team spirit, coordination, dedication towards goal etc. Hindus totally fail in this respect and they need to learn such team work, strategy and leadership.

5. Ravan comes as Sadhu – Do not be fascinated by the white skin. It means ‘Do not go by nice gestures, nice words, superficial praise of Indian culture by American Orientalists’. Rather go behind their words, look at what they intend to achieve and understand their deeper intellectual positions on Indian civilization, its values and its sacredness. Don’t be in awe of their personality but focus on their work.

6. During Colonial times, Britishers setup 21 colleges in UK to train their officers before sending them to India to rule This is the level of Purva Paksha of Indian-Thought that they have been doing for the last 200 years.

7. Over 5,00,000 original manuscripts of Sanskrit or Indian text lies outside India. Some of it went out during colonial rule, some even after it i.e. during PL480. During PL 480 program, Indian government paid in INR (Indian Rupees) for food grain. The government said that foreigners can buy things that doesn’t devalue Indian Currency. A large portion of this money was used to buy these manuscripts.

And, now a few suggestions to meet the challenge:

1. While engaging with them ‘Do not attack them personally, do not become a rabble-rouser. Learn intellectual issues and counter them calmly, factually and logically’.
2. Do NOT be over-opinionated and under-informed.
3. Give Uttar Paksha ONLY after Purva Paksha.
4. No ego. Do not get offended.
5. No shortcuts but require long Tapasya i.e. years of hard work. No ‘express’ tapasya. No one liners. Complex ideas cannot be expressed in 140 characters.
6. Adhyatmic / meditation / have Shraddha – this allows one to be creative, calm and unperturbed at deeper level.
7. TAPASYA – serious scholarly study of all viewpoints. Examples, every time you read Bhagwat Gita, you get new insight and new learning.
8. Action Oriented – Get into the Kurukshetra – the intellectual war-theator.

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