Posting this to show the interconnections between History, Academic Institutions and Well Being of a Nation:
Recently in a history group there was a mail on the book written by well known Indian Marxist in a US university.
One Hindu Scholar has written a very good review on that book showing the amount of mistakes in that book and what kind of trash it is. Then a historian from India said we don’t have to take these kinds of anti-Hindu scholars seriously and rebut them. He felt that by reacting to this “nut case (XXX)”, we are providing legitimacy to them which we must resist at all cost.
Then three prominent scholars objected to this “ignoring” and said why Hindus must take put these issues:
1) TRAINING: we have too little rather too much competent criticism of the others. This competence takes many years to develop; it needs encouragement and not a flippant dismissal. the skills developed as a solid critic are highly portable and can be deployed later on other targets. If one observes how the Indian youth are being brainwashed on campuses by Marxists-Islamists-crypto Christians, one would learn the merit in such approaches that start with simpler, less prominent targets first. So my first reason to encourage this is that it is a training vehicle both for the scholar doing it as well as for the readers who tend to be rather naive and ignorant most of the time.
2) POWER STRUCTURE/HIERARCHY OF THEIR ARMY: To locate XXX in the big picture, one must understand the whole establishment of institutions that dominate knowledge production, distribution and retailing about civilizations, religions, nations, etc. XXX is a middle ranking officer along with other middle ranking officers like Angana Chatterji, Vijay Prashad and many more I could list. The senior officials like Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, etc. based in India and several whites and Indians based overseas have many decades of expertise in maturing their collaborations, and networks of influence. They skillfully tap into funding sources, media to promote their books and spread their ideas, school education textbook writers, government policymakers, human rights activists in NGOs, etc. But they rely upon the middle rank to continue the work of producing more brainwashed young scholars. After all, Thapar types are not always active as teachers and even if they are, they know they have limited time ahead. So they groom others like these middle ranks to take over the teaching burden to ensure that the next gen will follow in their ideologies.
XXX has to be studied as it is such folks who will occupy prestigious chairs one day. Already they occupy various committees that make selections: from hiring, to papers selected, to conference attendees invited. When a US University was selecting the replacement of the Chair of Indian History, it was XXX on the selection committee who was championing the hiring of the most radical Marxist Indian historians possible. (This is duty for their version of sangha.) This time around (but probably not in the future) the benefactor was able to intervene and convince the authorities to bend their academic "isolation" and get a person who would be less anti-India. They got such a person - who I am told is somewhat less virulent but still very much into the theory of "foreigners brought everything useful to India". There are more young students today per annum being influenced by these middle rank folks than by the top tier generals of their army. Some of these middle rankers are vying to advance their careers, and for this they need to be seen in a certain light, and they also need to constantly kiss the right asses. It is a career club of sorts. This is not different than the behavior of the diehard religious activists I have observed. The difference is that the club XXX belongs to has control over the institutional mechanisms that are critical to assert power in society - school education, higher education, media, policymaking think tanks, human rights NGOs, and funding mechanisms. Unfortunately, most Hindus I come across are living in some lofty space in the clouds, dismissive of the importance of these institutional mechanisms. They trivialize what they truly don’t even know about.
3) MULTIPLE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKS: Too many Indian scholars fail to understand the fine distinctions among various kinds of ideologies, and simplistically lump them as "west" or "Christian". The fact is that XXX is very anti-western and anti-white. He champions Ward Churchill, a part Native American, who led the angry anti-white rhetoric, which exaggerated some facts and got denounced. So when it comes to Indian vs. British, XXX will support Indians and hence Hindu. But when it comes to Hindu vs. Muslim issues, he is clearly on the Muslim side. This genre of postcolonialism consists of attacking colonialism, but not replacing it with an indigenous Indian civilization as their foundation, and instead valorizing the Mughal period. You will find this in the work of Sugata Bose even when he is not coauthoring with his Pakistani girlfriend, Ayesha Jalal. XXX is a mild Nehruvian and calls himself a Gandhian although his "Gandhianism" is naive - things like not owning a cell phone as a rejection of modernity but ok to use email. These mixed up folks use symbols, name dropping, who/what they show anger against, what events they attend - all this as a "profile portfolio" to project their intellectual identity within their system. The relationship with postmodernism is paradoxical and contradictory just like postmodernism itself. Western liberals invented postmodernism as a way to reject their past (both the Biblical era and the Enlightenment era that had replaced it). This was supposed to end all power structures of every kind in every discipline and domain. But recently the trend in western academics of theorizing is to reject postmodernism, seeing it as a sort of silly idealism and potentially a dangerous kind. It failed in its goal to deconstruct power (because it got co-opted by the very same power nexuses) and served as a cover for new kinds of power structures. But meanwhile, it is the fashion probe bandwagon of Indians who have downloaded the postmodern thought and turned it into their career ideology. XXX is one of these along with his mentor, Ashis Nandy. So while fighting western hegemony and whiteness (by equating it to modernity, hence the Gandhian symbolism in his portfolio), these Indians enter whiteness through a different and trendier door, namely postmodernism. I call it Postmodernism Whiteness.
So XXX's internal contradictions stem from wanting to believe that postmodernism is truly beyond civilizational grand narratives just because it says so and also because a few Indians have been admitted in as "theorists" such as Gaytri Spivak and Homi Bhabha (Harvard Humanities Dept and not the great Physicist). My point here is that folks who critique these kinds of books should be encouraged to go even deeper into their examination of people like XXX, because once you open the door to enter into their minds; there is no reason to stop after a simple analysis. Once you go deeper, their whole system of thinking and its history and relationships with power gets revealed. (People are also working on a book on this history of whiteness and its morphing into postmodern theories, which locates the "White Indians.")
4) BLINDNESS: A frequent topic of my arguments has been on assertions that "Indology is dead" and that "we won," which sends the implicit message that now "we can go home and relax". I have pointed out that the term Indology got replaced by South Asian studies; the empire that studied India most intensely has transferred from London to Washington; the CONCLUSIONS of what was once Indology have spread like a metastasized cancer into many other fields like religion, anthropology, history, political science, human rights, etc. This stealth Indology is far more dangerous because its mechanisms for spreading are hidden under various disciplines. See any textbook or even a modern western Sanskrit thesis and you see the signature of Aryan invasion/migration theories all over. The same ideological postures exist far more dangerously today. So it’s wrong to discourage whatever little energy we have in terms of mounting a counter discourse. Let them not finish us off so easily due to our own foolishness.
What goes unchallenged turns cancerous. If already cancerous it metastasizes and starts to spread. If its already metastasized it spreads faster unchallenged. So no matter what stage a given tumor might be in, it needs to be confronted and challenged. Even when the challenge seems feeble, it will give fodder to other challengers. In places like amazon.com such negative (but intelligent) remarks do dissuade usage of the books by the vast segment of undecided, the vacillators, the folks who want to be fair, etc. but who are simply uninformed. It’s like a parliament that consists of members who are 100% from one party, but suddenly a dissenting voice appears. This voice cannot overrule the power structure, but its ability to make the system self conscious does have an effect. There are bound to be those who start to be less blatant in their bias just because someone is watching.
Not just the book of XXX, even in Wendy Doniger's new book, one can see how the power structures discussed by Scholar 1 below play out. If you see the bibliography of her chapters, she has largely referred to people of 'her school'; Marxist historians; and other partners in 'the good fight' (to use her phrase). It is all about creating and leveraging alliances. She is no fool, or else she would not be today where she is right now.
A quick look at the Worldcat shows that already more than 300 libraries in the US and Europe have purchased her book. If that books goes unchallenged, you can be assured that it will be used as an 'introductory text on Hinduism' very soon. There is an Indian reprint for a mere Rs 500 available already. The urban Hindus who know nothing about our heritage will lap all that she drools. We all know what will happen then.
If nothing, our opposition to such books raises the stakes and discourages at least some potential Hindu baiters from writing such nonsense in future. And the controversy generated is a great way to enlighten our own people about the true foundations of our Dharma.
A very important point that is made below is that all these Hindu and India baiters train ARMIES of students every year. I personally met a lady whose son attended a class by Vinay Lal (a Marxist in UCLA). Initially, he was taken aback but soon, he started agreeing to what Lal said. Lals and Donigers lead their students through a tunneling of vision phenomenon and unless we break this spell, they will not see the truth. One only needs to go to ANY Indian gathering comprising of the normal crowd (not just the Sangh followers) and you will be shocked how much the average Indian has been brainwashed. So we cannot live in this fantasy world and say that people like XXX do not matter. Yes, they do. And unfortunately, they probably matter more than us right now. So we have a good task cut out for us for our lifetimes.
As the Shringeri Shankaracharya once said to me - If Lord Vishnu Himself leaves his state of eternal Kaivalya and incarnates to fight evil, is it not our duty too to fight what is wrong tooth and nail?
I understand and sympathize with your interpretation of XXX political motivations, but I do believe there is somewhat more to this story. It is important to recognize that he and his ilk have come to regard Islam as being in the forefront of anti-imperialism, particularly Israeli-American, in which they regard 'Hindu India' complicit. Of course the notion of Hindu India is an absurdity unless one is willing to accept the most visceral Pakistani-Bangladeshi commentary on the nature of India, itself rooted in 19th century sub continental Islamic sectarianism. Interestingly, XXX and his academic kin are unwilling to make direct criticism of 'Islamic regimes' (because they rarely criticize anything Islamic) that the Jihadis, with who they are in sympathy, oppose. But most glaringly, they absolutely refuse to recognize the brutal imperialist agenda of Islamic Jihadis themselves. And even more shockingly, XXX and most Leftist supporters of supposed Islamic resistance to Western imperialism ignore any atrocities Muslim Jihadis commit against innocent non Muslims or indeed Muslims (e.g. the callous killings of Shias in Pakistan by Saudi-inspired Sunnis). Thus Taslima's banishment from Kolkata/India elicited no protest (though one major Leftist writer, Mahasweta-devi, denounced the communists for it) nor the routine kidnapping, rape and the forced marriage of Hindu girls in Bangladesh and various parts of Pakistan.
It is pertinent to note that the Anglo-American war against militant Islamic groups is of very recent origin, indeed less than a decade old. Earlier these murderous Islamist Islamists were very much part of the Western arsenal against Arab nationalism, the USSR (until the early 1990s and later in Chechnya because of its near monopoly of oil pipelines to the West) and other assorted regimes, like India disliked by the West. Indian Leftists have always been part of this political dispensation though its implications were not rendered explicit and barely recognized by protagonists of Hindutva, who have never had the intellectual equipment to see beyond their noses. It is important to recall that this political dispensation was also pro-Chinese and therefore willing partners of their Western ally, the USA, which, incidentally, renewed the integrity of China's nuclear defenses in the mid-1970s (to avert a possible preemptive Soviet nuclear strike) and then helped Pakistan emerge as a nuclear power and exporter of weapons technology (all the evidence now public). These three parties, Indian Leftists, China and the US, also came together to support the genocide in Bangladesh in 1971.
Indian Leftist access to academic positions in US and British universities has been significantly predicated on the intercession of foreign policy and intelligence agencies (and their academic levies within universities) determined to undermine Indian political legitimacy (they cursed Nehru and Indira Gandhi much more venomously than any Hindutva target) through a non stop critique of all its 'devilish works', thereby validating Pakistani claims of victimhood. The likes of Sugata Bose (with and without Ayesha Jalal) his brother at the LSE (persistent critic of Indian policy in Kashmir) and cousin Sharmila at Oxford (denies the Pakistani army committed mass rape in East Pakistan in 1971) issue a constant patter of delegitimizing against India. I have just read a piece by Professor Dipesh Chakravarty, colleague of the two Chicago University harridans, Doniger and Nussbaum, cynically denouncing Indian nationalist historical writing by insinuating a Hindutva pedigree for it. Nowhere does he cite the implied specifics of distortion by them except to name Romila Thapar and Sumit Sarkar (a genuine low life himself) as some sort of irrefutable evidential iconography to supposedly clinch the argument; he only emerges as a low life as well as a result, which a Chicago chair in the heart of the imperialist monster cannot obviate!
The CPM and its Muslim vote bank are very important explanatory variables too because the communists understood that without Muslims votes they were nothing in West Bengal and Kerala, the only bases of their political power in India. They ensured through myriad party institutions that the Leftist intelligentsia understood this stark reality. As a result, the pro-communist 'intelligentsia' eschewed all questioning of Islam and provided the cultural and intellectual rationale for the victimhood of Muslims and the portrayal of an alleged converse fascism of Brahminnical Hinduism. From Romila Thapar and the two JNU Patnaiks to Amiya Bagchi and Joya Chatterji and countless other acolytes, never has a word of criticism been uttered against Islam. And the non CPM Leftist Indian intelligentsia was intellectually overawed and also depended on the party mandarins, holding crucial academic and bureaucratic offices, for their own careers. And a whole climate of anti-Hindu propaganda took root in which a Leftist identity by became the norm for a large number of university students. And evangelical Christians also supported this insidious campaign (just look at the newer Christian evangelical websites) because doing down Hindus was their first port of call.
But bear in mind that Hindus across the board (including of late Baba Ramdev and Sir Sri) confronted by an implacable Islam have sought to accommodate. Gandhi was only an extreme version of the phenomenon, which is shared even by the RSS, judging by its forlorn efforts to reach some sort of reconciliation with it. R.K. Ohri judges this cowardly Hindu impulse as a product of fear due to prolonged subjugation and constant brutal punishment, floggings, torture and painful deaths.