A critique of Dr.Ganesh’s Critical Review of Rajiv Malhotra’s ‘The Battle for Sanskrit’

This is my critique or rebuttal of Dr. Ganesh’s and his co author  Mr. Hari Ravi Kumar’s critique of Mr. Rajiv Malhotra’s new book ‘The Battle of Sanskrit’ which can be found here for those interested:

The Bhagavad Gita before the Battle

I have been following Rajiv’s works for the past 15 years and hence am quite familiar with them. I’m also a member of his yahoo group and hence stay updated with his thoughts, criticisms etc. I have all his books, a couple of them signed by himself. I have already written a rebuttal against an unfair article by Devdutt Patnaik where he had presented several allegations against Rajiv, attacking him personally and not related to any particular work of his. It can be found here:

https://vicharamandala.wordpress.com/2014/12/28/a-rebuttal-to-devdutt-pattnaiks-article-in-mid-day/

I respect Rajiv, his works and consider them crucial for the battles we are waging to save and salvage our culture and traditions and the ones that are about to start soon.They might not be physical, but they are Battles nonetheless and hence shouldn’t be handled carelessly.

I know of Dr.Ganesh’s works for the past 3-4 years or so. I consider him a remarkable man with extraordinary abilities. He knows several languages, knows several Indian art forms, he is a scholar in Sanskrit and many more. Hence, he can even be described as an Indian equivalent of the ‘Renaissance man’. I have watched his ‘ Foundations of Indian Culture’ series which was was an eye opener for me on several cultural matters. I have since introduced his works to several of my friends. I have only my deepest respect for him regardless of my criticisms of him here.

Disclaimer: I’m not a scholar, certainly not in the league of either Rajiv Malhotra or Dr. Ganesh. These are my own humble opinions and feelings regarding one of the important issues of our times, which I believe needs special attention and careful consideration.

Another disclaimer :  I do not know Sanskrit. I know how to read the alphabets and can read, write, and pronounce the words,  because of my knowledge of some shlokas and Hindi. But my knowledge of the language is limited to just that. I do not in way consider myself a scholar in that language.

Having said that, I was surprised by Dr. Ganesh’s latest critical review of Rajiv’s book with another co author, Hari Ravi Kumar. The review was great on a lot of things. A lot of Sanskrit terms, their meanings that Rajiv has used and quoted, have been shown to be incorrect or at least inaccurate. Whether they are fully correct or not, needs to examined by Sanskrit experts, because I do know that Rajiv took the help of several scholars who would have spotted these errors had they noticed. Nonetheless I do think that they are valid criticisms that need to be addressed. There is also another section in the Appendix of the essay  called , ‘Additional Approaches to Counter Pollock‘ where the authors give several other ways/tips to fight Pollock. These are indeed valuable tips that can be used by scholars. I’m sure Rajiv will find them useful and would welcome them as he has been very openly asking for more weapons to fight the battle.

But the problems I have  with this review, is that of the authors primary criticism, their tones. There are indeed several places of his essay where I was even shocked that a scholar, especially someone whom I admire, can write so irresponsibly. Its one thing if an ignorant person or even a leftist scholar says such things. But if a scholar, and that too a practicing Hindu, so close to our traditions and culture writes this, then we are indeed in trouble, very much contrary to what the authors want us to believe. I will be referencing these problem parts and then explain why I find them so.

The general tone of the essay is as follows: Rajiv’s intent is fine. There is a Battle for Sanskrit. But he is wrong. He is not a Sanskrit scholar and hence several (or most) or his positions are inaccurate at best and completely wrong at worst. This is not a new battle. Several people have written in this intellectual battle and we have won before. Pollock is of course wrong. But he is nothing new. Remember we have already won. Our Sanatana Dharma is universal, inclusive. We cannot be destroyed.  And in conclusion all these debates are inconsequential since we need to be peaceful and spiritual.

Now, I do have issues with such an outlook.

  1. Malhotra’s intent is noble (and something that we too share) but his understanding of the nature of sanatana dharma as a transcendental system is flawed. He aims to show that Hinduism is exclusivist in its own way and its exclusivism is somehow better than other exclusivist faiths like Christianity or Islam(see his previous book, Being Different)

Really not sure where the authors have got such an idea of Rajiv. He does show that Hindus have alternative views on things. He shows how the Abrahamic religions are too history centric etc. He talks about how having such a feature in their religions, turns out to be a problem not just to themselves but also in their ability to comprehend other religions, philosophies and outlooks. But he doesn’t say that they are inferior.  Also he has actually debated with several of these people (mostly Christians) on the other side which are available in public domain and one can see that he never claims of superiority. But more than anything, the first sentence is very interesting: Because its claims are quite opposite to what he believes and talks. If one were to watch his videos or read the posts in the forums, one would very much arrive at the conclusion that he doesn’t believe in fatalsim or Transcendental system. He rebukes anyone who says that every thing is Maya. He warns against the complacency of being ‘too spiritual’ and ignoring the Karmas, that one is supposed to do. There is actually a video of him debating this very point with one of the Brahma Kumaris. He also raises these very same issues against the Christian Scholars he debates, which can be seen in his videos. So the authors concern that Rajiv’s viewpoint of starting a debate something similar to ‘Communists Vs theologians’ is completely misplaced.

            1a.(and yet he accuses his enemies of being anti-transcendence; see pp. 97, 116).

Rajiv talks about this as only one of the issues and not THE issue that Pollock uses in his analysis of Sanskrit. He says that the argument put forward by Vico, which sees Transcendence as being primitive, cannot be used as a tool to throw away an entire culture with all of its works and achievements. The supposed contradiction of the authors cannot be justified as they seem to wrongly assume that Rajiv is advocating one thing over the other; while in fact he is saying that Transcendence is a part of Sanatana Dharma as much as practical karmas and rituals are. The authors seem to be wanting a simple Black Vs White debate, when clearly it is not. There are several points on both sides of this debate that need to be taken in their own context and then evaluated.

          1b. His approach goes against Gaudapada’s observation – “Dualists have firm beliefs in their own systems and are at loggerheads with one another but the non-dualists don’t have a quarrel with them. The dualists may have a problem with non-dualists but not the other way around.” (Mandukya Karika 3.17-18)

The authors seem to suggest that Advaita is the only representation of Sanatana Dhrama, and that Rajiv had earlier promised that he would use only this approach, by quoting Gaudapada. Later they themselves say that inside the system there are several philosophies that differ with each other. Also I’m really not sure of ( because of my lack of Sanskrit knowledge)  how much of this observation is actually used in practice. If non dualists have no problems with dualists then why so many debates? Why did Adi Shankara even bother to debate with others and bring people from the other side to his?

Furthermore the argument of this whole paragraph seems to rather trivialize the issue, to try and push the arguments that Rajiv puts forth into a non existent debate. It makes more sense to consider each of Rajiv’s arguments, on both sides, in their own context, and not as a generalization.

           2. For Malhotra, the starting point of this battle is European Orientalism. And since he tends to ignore the strong internal differences – often clubbing all insider views as ‘the traditionalist view’ (see p. 36, for example) – his argument is rendered weaker……

And then the authors show how there are several systems inside the Vedic traditions that claim to be authentic over the others, further asking ‘Who is the Insider then’?

I don’t think Rajiv has any issue over this. But the debate that he is talking about is not whether Advaita is better than Dvaita or if Visishtadvaita is the best. Neither is it a debate between any of these systems and the American Orientalism that Pollock represents.Even when these several systems inside the Vedic traditions claim to be different they agree to the supremacy to the Vedas, is it not?  So what is the problem in accepting the insider as anyone who believes in any of these systems or all of the system or even someone like Ramana Maharishi who said that the scriptures only tend to corroborate his own experience. The Outsider recognizes no such experience or scriptures. And that is who Pollock represents.

        3. Malhotra’s understanding of Sanskrit and Sanskriti seems second hand since he puts a premium on form (rupa) as against content (svarupa) and uses pseudo-logic instead of non-qualified universal experiential wisdom to counter the enemies (see pp. 44-49 for an elaborate but hazy diagnosis of the problem).

I’m not sure what the authors are referring to. In fact they run the risk of literariness, by using phrases like non-qualified universal experiential wisdom, which Rajiv argues is the feature of Pollock and his cohorts writings that makes it difficult for traditional Sanskrit scholars to understand.

From what I could understand Rajiv lists the problems clearly (not hazy) of why traditional Sanskrit scholars aren’t involved in writing critiques of the Western scholars, what are their attitudes and what is the damage cause by this attitude. He also talks about how Modern English educated Indians, who are completely ignorant about both Sanskrit and Sanskriti, support the Western academicians. The authors also say that he is not giving importance to content which is also false. In fact through out the book Rajiv goes deeply into arguing against the content of these Western academicians, especially Pollock,  which are very difficult to comprehend to anyone outside the academic circle and which were hitherto largely unknown to Indian populace and traditional scholars. From page 44 – 49, Rajiv’s diagnosis is not for the problem that concerns the debate in terms of form or content but only on the issue of why there has been no response to the works of Western academia yet, and that too on Pollock’s school of thought.

And then the authors go on to say that since Rajiv is fighting ‘in the arena of form’ his lack of Sanskrit knowledge will be a handicap. But then they had only a little earlier argued that he is pre-occupied with form and not content. They themselves say ” this is not a problem for a spiritualist who is unaffected by form” citing Rajiv as an example. So he either fights on content or form. If he is fighting on content, Sanskrit very much matters. But if he is fighting on just form then his lack of Sanskrit knowledge shouldn’t hurt. So why is there this contradiction? Furthermore as I have said, Rajiv in this book aims to primarily decode the literature of the American colonialists, primarily Pollock’s. He is not writing a dissertation on any Sanskrit topic but about the state of Sanskrit studies in the U.S and how it affects us and why we need to respond. Its that simple.

        4. In the Indian debating tradition, the first step is to establish the pramanas (the methods and means by which knowledge is obtained). Then we embark on purvapaksa (a study of what the opponent says) and finally move to siddhanta (a rebuttal to the opponents; also called uttarapaksa). The first imperative step of establishing pramanas is missing in The Battle for Sanskrit.

What sort of Pramanas do the  authors would like? The books, the articles, and quotes which present the arguments of the other side, in this case the Sheldon Pollock school of American Orientalism, have of course been included in the Bibliography and also quoted extensively in the main book material under various sections and topic. Perhaps since the authors ask for Pramanas before going into Purva Paksha, Rajiv can publish another set of books with the Bibilography and Notes section before the actual material!

   5. Also, his suggestion for the revival of Sanskrit is to produce new knowledge in Sanskrit. Is this even practical given that scholars from many mainstream non-English languages (like Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Spanish, etc.) are finding it hard to make a name for themselves in the academic community, which is under the firm grip of English?

Although this argument could be considered as a fair criticism in terms of practical goals, it also represents a very pessimistic attitude. It is a defeatist mentality, unwise to give up on any language, let alone Sanskrit. Instead we should find ways to free academicians and scholars of these languages from the control of English. Perhaps if we all try, it is possible.

      6. When Malhotra speaks about American Orientalism appropriating the Indian Left, some of his claims sound like conspiracy theories

It would have been better if the authors gave the exact reasons and also the references from Rajiv’s book on why they call them conspiracy theories. Otherwise it could equally be argued that they don’t want to face the facts and dismiss important issues that stare at their faces as conspiracy theories.

        7. Further, he seems to be ignorant of the voluminous writings of D D Kosambi, Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, R S Sharma, and Rahul Sankrityayan, who opposed Sanskrit and/or Sanskriti long before this supposed American collusion (and even when he mentions Kosambi and Sharma, it is in passing). And more importantly, he fails to mention (or seems to be ignorant of) the luminaries who have categorically rubbished such attempts – A C Bose, A C Das,……

I feel that the authors have totally missed the point of the book.Though there indeed were writings against Sanskrit before, by communist writers like Kosambi, they didn’t attempt to introduce political philology and American orientalism in their works. Rajiv attributes this due to them being ignorant about Sanskrit. The works they did publish could be easily be refuted by traditional scholars. So if Shourie or any other stalwarts that the authors alleges weren’t mentioned it is because they didn’t respond to this particular viewpoint of the Western academicians. If the authors do know of any such works then it would be appreciable if they shared it with others. Furthermore in pg 15 of the book, Rajiv says that Sheldon Pollock himself has admitted that he is completely unaware  of any critique of his works from traditional Sanskrit scholars and that he has never stopped someone from writing one. On a side note, Rajiv has had excellent relationships with several of the people that have been mentioned . I know for sure that Dr Koenraad Elst, Swami Dayanada Saraswathi, Bhyrappa  etc have had excellent relationships with him.

        8. He lacks empathy for the numerous scholars who are deeply involved in their own research – be it a specific aspect of Sanskrit grammar, or the accurate dating of an ancient scholar, or preparing a critical edition of a traditional text. And to top it all, Malhotra writes in several places that he is the first person to undertake such a task (see pp. 27, 44, or 379, for example), which as we know is false.

The latter part of this criticism can be safely dismissed as has been shown above. There has been no attempt by any traditional Sanskrit scholar to critique and provide a rebuttal to Sheldon Pollock’s school of American Orientalism. If the authors know of any such work, it would be much appreciated if they can share it with us all. But when we consider the former part, concerning the lack of empathy, one can easily argue by asking what is important – whether it is ones own culture, one’s tradition getting destroyed by an outsider or someone not showing any interest in the enemy because they are so occupied with their own work. Rajiv in fact calls this out as self isolation, that has given rise to this dangerous American school of thought.  And furthermore there seems to be a huge contradiction to the authors first & second sentence. In the first sentence they say that the traditional scholars are preoccupied in their own work and hence were unaware of western scholarship and in the second sentence they accuse Rajiv’s claim of  having done the first Purva paksha, to be false!

Before we proceed any further, I would also like to point out the reason why Rajiv wrote this book. It was mainly to stop the Shringeri Mutt from giving huge sums of money to let Pollock and his cohorts set up Adi Shankara chairs in the U.S universities. His concern was not just with the  Shringeri Mutt but also with the possibility that if this practice is allowed, then it will  set a wrong and dangerous precedent for more outsiders (who are against the Hindu traditions) to demand other Indian Mutts to part with their money and their representation. Now, until today, the Shringeri Mutt hasn’t started a chair in any U.S university nor has let  Pollock be its representative of any sort. It is only after Rajiv’s intervention that this has happened. What traditional and academic scholars were unaware and unable to achieve, Rajiv has been able to do it. If the Shringeri Seer can see the point that Rajiv is making, why can’t the authors of the review? Do they really think that the Shringeri Seer is so ignorant to simply believe in Rajiv without any Pramana?

         9. On the one hand, he is an activist for the tradition’s cause but on the other hand he ignores past masters and looks down upon traditionalist scholars. And it is strange he has not quoted any regional language scholar. He could have gone through the writings in a regional language that he is familiar with, say Hindi, and seen the amount of work for and against Sanskrit that is available.

Again, the authors seem to be stuck in their argument that this is a debate for and against Sanskrit, in its most general sense. It is not. Rajiv’s debate on which this book is based is about Sanskrit but in relationship with the Sheldon Pollock’s school of thought. It is not what the British thought of it, not what Max Mueller thought of it, not what Kosambi thought of it but what the present Western academia, particularly in the U.S, controlled by Dr.Sheldon Pollock with his own American orientalism and his followers/supporters are doing to Sanskrit AND Sanskriti.

       10. This is not a new battle. It has been fought before, and won before. We (Malhotra included) have to humbly submit to the fact that we are merely trying to continue the great scholarly tradition.

Going by what the authors have wrongly kept repeating, about the actual debate that Rajiv  presents in his book, it makes me wonder if they even know what the Battle is about and who the players are and with what it is being fought. Whoever the authors have mentioned as writers, did write and write well against the colonial perception of Hinduism and Sanskrit. Rajiv doesn’t disagree with any of them. But that whole colonial argument was finally dealt a death blow by Edward Said in his book ‘Orientalism’. Pollock comes after that. He agrees with what Edward Said said, but then goes on to establish Deep orientalism. Thats why Rajiv has called it as the ‘Return of the Charvaks 2.0”. They are not the same as before. They are powerful, well funded, well represented. This is indeed a important debate that the ‘outsiders’ don’t want to lose . That is why  there are so many  people taking the side of Pollock after the release of this book. There were many attempts to stop its publication. Already there have been articles in websites, magazines etc which seem to be very much on the side of Pollock, glorifying him and some even belittling Rajiv for his U.S passport. Rohan Murthy, who sponsors the Murthy classic library and who employs Sheldon Pollock as its chief editor, could have very well not been bothered by the release of this book if he thought that this debate was inconsequential. The last thing that Pollock’s side wants is to stoke an unnecessary fire. But instead Rohan did write about it, defending himself and Pollock.  And as soon as this project was initially announced by Rajiv in the World Sanskrit conference in Bangkok, there was indeed a huge outcry from the other side which even mounted to personal attacks on him. If this indeed was an insignificant issue (not just the topic by itself but in terms of the content and the arguments against their side)  then why such an exaggerated reaction to it?

      11. While it is the saving grace of the book, it is also an indicator of Malhotra’s obsession with Western academia, to the extent that the reader gets the impression that Hinduism will not survive unless Western academia views it in a better light

Again, the authors are so wrong here. The issue is not whether we will or not survive unless we are shown in a better light in Western Academia as much as it is an attempt to dispel the falsities that the Western academia is trying to propagate about us, on other academicians and scholars around the globe, which also involves them training our own people and sending them back to destroy our own Samskriti( Rajiv calls them Sepoys). Furthermore this sort of academic criticism by such eminent academicians becomes the basis for the atrocity literature that the West, particularly the U.S, gathers, which is then used by Evangelists and Mullahs to convert Hindus.I was really surprised to see the authors not seeing this situation and what is at stake here.

       12. When we enter into a debate with our opponents, we must ensure that the pramanas are mutually agreed upon. We should never forget that our tradition espouses universality and not exclusivity (see Appendix E).

The first part is loaded. Are the authors suggesting that all traditional acharyas should sit and write point by point what pramanas that they mutually agree on?  The point the authors keep missing is that in spite of its title, the book is as much a battle for Samskriti as much it is for Sanskrit. The argument that Rajiv makes, is that by discarding the sacredness out of Sanskrit, by making it political, by portraying it as a dead language good enough to be kept only in museums,  attempts are being made( which will continue in the future too) to break Hinduism, to make it rootless. Already one can see it with a lot of ‘adhivasis’ where they are told that they have got nothing to do with Hinduism. One can see this in Tamilnadu and with Tamils living in Singapore and other countries where they are being made to believe that they are not Hindus as their God is Murugan who is not an Aryan God. And what links Aryans to Hinduism? Its Sanskrit. So it doesn’t matter if all the different Hindu traditions disagree within themselves on certain things.Because  this is an onslaught on the entire culture and not just the language. So even if I don’t know Sanskrit it is my duty to defend my Samskriti irrespective of pramanas.

Interestingly, I saw a few tweets in my Twitter timeline a few days back, where some tweeples who know Sanskrit, were pinpointing Pollock’s Clay library works. They were showing the technical mistakes of him translating some of the Sanskrit verses into English, completely misunderstanding the essence behind them. But they did not just stop with that. They went on to say that this is how Pollock should be critiqued and not how Rajiv does. If I were Pollock I would be laughing at them. Though Pollock didn’t translate with the rasa that needs to be included, one cannot say that he is wrong, objectively speaking. He is merely using the English equivalents of the Sanskrit words. So what’s wrong with it?  But it does highlight an important things that Rajiv is arguing for in his book:

That one needs to be an ‘Insider’ to understand the rasa; to experience it, to live it and then to translate it appropriately. It reminds me of a speech that Narendra Modi gave before the 2014 elections, when he was describing how it is never possible to translate the Indian essence into English. He gave the example of the Hindi sentence “Radha thune Bansuri churayi’. The English translation of this phrase is ‘Radha stole the flute’. It is technically correct, but doesn’t explain the context, the essence and the connotations that comes with the phrase in its original language . Hence to let any outsider explain ‘objectively’ about the experiences of an ancient tradition such as ours is ludicrous and dangerous. This goes for any Indian language.

The second part of ‘Universality’, is much more confusing if not just plainly unbelievable especially coming from someone like Dr.Ganesh. He says that our tradition espouses universality and not exclusivity. I for a fact know that he admires the Late Guru, Swami Dayananda Saraswathi who has written 2 books among others called , ‘Why conversion is violence’ and ‘Do all religions have the same goal’. Furthermore it makes me question every talk that he has given about ‘Fundamentals of Indian culture’. If we have to espouse universality then the authors run the risk of  dismissing every person they had mentioned earlier who had helped us win the numerous battle for Sanskrit. Moreover this argument invalidates the existence of such a battle in the first place. What is the point in fighting if we are to accept their point of view? What is the point in fighting against conversions, in accepting Shariah law? After all if their philosophy and actions are equally valid then we should accept them, nay even embrace them gladly.

I’m terribly disappointed with the authors here.  While they have very aptly showed in their Appendix section about the Universality of our culture citing Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Shankara’s Brahma Sutra Bhashya, which Rajiv is not disagreeing with, they fail to mention that this Universality is in fact our identity, ‘Exclusive’ to us. Other religions have ‘unfaithfuls’, kafirs’. We don’t have that. That is what makes us Hindus. This is in fact the biggest difference between us and others. And that is exactly what Rajiv’s ‘Being Different’ book is all about.

Now, just for a second lets go back to the argument that the authors had mentioned earlier:

“He (Rajiv) aims to show that Hinduism is exclusivist in its own way and its exclusivism is somehow better than other exclusivist faiths like Christianity or Islam (see his previous book, Being Different).”

They seem to disagree with Rajiv and are of the view that Hinduism is not better than other faiths. But then in the ending of the essay (Section E, 3) they say this, proudly, if I may be allowed to add:

If there is one religion that can survive this rigorous examination, it is sanatana dharma.

So the question arises that whether the authors do consider Sanatana Dharma to be better than other faiths. Because while Rajiv shows the difference between Dharmic religions and Abrahamic faiths and then establishes that they are indeed different with their own separate identities in ‘Being Different’, the authors of this essay seem to say that no other religion can survive rigorous examination like Sanatana Dharma which can only point out to the one fact that Hinduism is stronger and better than other religions.

        13. That said, if we allow ourselves to be too troubled by such scholars and such debates, we will never be able to attain the peace of a contemplative mind. While we shall respect scholars like Malhotra and Pollock, we shall also remember Shankara’s insightful words: “The web of words, akin to a great forest, deludes the intellect. Seek thus to know the true Self, O seeker of Truth!” (Vivekachudamani 60).

And thus goes the great tradition of Rama, Krishna, Shivaji into drain. This last paragraph is irresponsible to the core at best. And I’m very happy that Rajiv is fighting this very complacency of Hindu scholars. To the authors these are just words and silly debates that are in the way, obstructing them and us from attaining a peaceful mind. They bear no outcome on the society and our religion. As Rajiv has replied so many times to such usually ignorant (but in this case irresponsible) comments before, I will present his very same argument: that it is such scholars, such debates, such words that started the Aryan Dravidian divide, the effect of which we are still bearing now, after almost 2 centuries. The authors forget (surprisingly since neither of them is an ordained Sannyasi) that according to our traditions we have four purusharthas and we are fully allowed to go after each one of them. While they might be speaking for themselves quoting what Adi Shankara says, people don’t need to be always on a spiritual quest. But a system that allows them that freedom, to help them when they seek it,  should be preserved and protected, which is what our Dharma, scriptures, promote. While a Sannyasi like Swami Dayandanda Saraswathi can see the danger and write against the outsider point of view, while the Shringeri Mutt Seer can understand the danger of Western objective scholarship, while the Kanchi Shankaracharyas  can understand the ploy of the  Western scholars and take these issues seriously and not just as some useless words and debates, it is sad to see a scholar such as Dr.Ganesh, dismiss these serious threats, not giving them them their due importance.

Furthermore the authors  finish with a quote from Bhagavadpada, that is brimming fully of Transcendence, something which they had alleged that Rajiv was playing with, in one of their earlier arguments!

Under Untenable Arguments:

           3) Traditional Indian scholars must study Western theories in order to be taken seriously by the West (pp. 44-45) And why should we use Western jargons and systems to study Indian works? We must work out our own way. Doesn’t Malhotra himself admit that the fundamental problem is the viewing of India through a Western lens? An ‘insider’ will use his/her experiential wisdom to silence the complex web of words.

So what is the use of Purva Paksha? If I can blabber something in Sanskrit without studying it or being a scholar on it will the Sanskrit scholars take me seriously? This actually contradicts the authors position when they seem to remark that since Rajiv isn’t a Sanskrit scholar he is wrong on a lot of his quotes, meanings etc. Similarly if traditional Indian scholars don’t know western theories then they too won’t be taken seriously there, as they will be wrong on several of the issues, isn’t it? So whats wrong with Rajiv insisting that Indian scholars must study their theories too?

In conclusion, I will have to say that there are several inconsistencies and contradictions with the authors arguments and conclusions. I have presented several of these inconsistencies above, to the best of my ability. They seem to have not many issues with the primary crux of the book, which is American colonialism under Sheldon Pollock, probably since they haven’t studied him as thoroughly as Rajiv,  but seem to wrongly repeat the topic of the real debate that Rajiv is speaking about and also about the nature of the opponents. I’m not sure if this is deliberate, which if it is, will make the whole critique personal in nature. But if it is not deliberate then perhaps the authors need to read more about Pollock and what he is saying. They seem to be unnecessarily nitpicking on small details, which by the way makes no sense, leaving aside the bigger question of Pollock’s scholarship and his role.

Dr. Ganesh could have very well have written a scholarly work against Pollock’s school of thought, but he hasn’t done so.  Question is why? This leads to my other important concern: I’m concerned about the authors lack of concern over the seriousness of the issues that Rajiv has presented in his book. While we needn’t panic right now, giving a suitable response and taking control of our own discourse is hardly a matter that could be set aside owing to the discomfort that they could cause to our otherwise peaceful mind. The response needs to be strong and swift, as we are being attacked not just by people in Western countries, but by our own people here.

I’m not sure if the readers have been following this issue or not, but very recently, the California text book committee was about to call the whole of India as South Asia in its school books. Even after several petitions, the resolution has been only slightly in our favor. We have lost grounds, just like we lost grounds, literally, in Indonesia, Thailand, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal etc. We can be complacent, saying that we are the oldest civilization, that we have seen so many attacks. But we must also realize how big our geographical and cultural influence was then and how big it is now. We must realize who our enemies are and what their strengths are and prepare ourselves against them. Just because we’ve won battles before doesn’t entitle us to win the next big war.

 

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3 responses to “A critique of Dr.Ganesh’s Critical Review of Rajiv Malhotra’s ‘The Battle for Sanskrit’

  1. Pingback: Response to Shatavadhani Ganesh’s review of The Battle for Sanskrit – thisisnotrightwing·

  2. You know Rajiv Malhotra more than 15 years. How long do you know Dr. Ganesh? Without knowing him, how can you criticise him? You people are blind followers of Rajiv Malhotra and does not accept anyone challenging him… This is sad…
    Please understand that rajiv Malhotra cannot be compared with Dr. Ganesh, who has mastered over 20 languages and his knowledge on these is unparalleled.
    It is due to supporters like you RM is taking advantage.

    • I don’t need to know him to criticize what he has written. As I had mentioned in my article, I know of Dr.Ganesh for over 4 years. I have only highest regards for him. But his article has been in the worst taste. I’m not comparing him to Rajiv and neither does Rajiv himself. Instead of writing any criticism on Pollock’s work traditional scholars like Ganesh have not done any favors to our cultures, by sitting in their own ‘feel good’ cocoons. Instead they feel slighted when someone who they don’t consider ‘traditional’ enough, comes in and does a purva paksha without their approval. That is the problem with Dr.Ganesh, slighted ego. There have been enough rebuttals to his review from several other people who do know Sanskrit. What Rajiv is fighting for is a cause that people like you and Dr. Ganesh weren’t even aware till Rajiv wrote about. Just because Dr.Ganesh has mastered 20 languages doesn’t make him a scholar enough to take on Pollock, since it is clear that he hasn’t studied his works like Rajiv has done. And I don’t consider Dr.Ganesh’s review as a challenge to Rajiv, because it is just a review and not another book about Sanskrit, from either traditional point of view nor of Pollock’s. AT least not until he writes one. His review is a personal attack on Rajiv, nothing to do with his scholarship. If you don’t like Rajiv , too bad, you are only pretending to be awake.

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