For over 20 years I have spent my full-time effort defending Hindu dharma directly in the kurukshetra, right at front in the line of fire. I see it as my sva-dharma to be an intellectual Kshatriya, which means intensely researching the big issues we face as a civilisation and exposing the culprits fearlessly. There are no awards for doing this, nor is anyone asking me to do so. It is simply my yajna, for which I gave up my tana-mana-dhana (physical, mental and material resources) after my guru (mentor) had transformed me.
It is not surprising that I have been a persistent target of attack by the forces I expose. Initially, I had encounters with the Hinduphobics who denigrate Hinduism by using Freudian psychoanalysis. They are obsessed with looking for abusive sexuality in gurus, deities, symbols, family life, and everything Hindu. They made many false allegations against me for opposing their scholarship; they tried to claim that I was denying their free speech, when the exact opposite was true. Then I wrote Breaking India exposing the nexus of Evangelists and Leftists that is run from abroad using Indian sepoys to do the dirty work. This, too, generated a huge awakening in India, and at the same time raised the level of threats I started to face. Following this, my book Being Different explained how our civilisation differs in very fundamental ways. We should not dilute these distinct qualities, and in fact, they are a great gift to the world. Again, this activated the same Indian sepoys whose strings are pulled by their puppet-masters sitting in Western academia, church seminaries, human rights watch dog groups and funding agencies.
More recently, my book Indra’s Net exposed the entire school of academic studies that considers modern Hinduism to be a fabrication made up by Swami Vivekananda for the sake of Hindu nationalism. He is being accused by this group of scholars for appropriating elements of Christianity and other Western ideas and using Sanskrit terms like karma, yoga, bhakti to repackage Western practices in Indian vocabulary. I showed that many well-known Indian writers from Romila Thapar to Pankaj Mishra had picked up this thesis from the West and popularised it in India. This book, has also generated attacks trying to find pedantic, technical flaws in my work that are irrelevant to the main thesis, and then over-exaggerating them.
The latest attack that I am presently in the middle of fighting was triggered by some sudden dramatic events last year. That is when it was discovered that the legacy of Adi Shankara and the international representation of the famous Sringeri Peetham was about to be handed over to American scholars, who are atheists and leftists, and whose work I had criticised earlier. Under the leadership of Sheldon Pollock at Columbia University, some NRI businessmen wanting limelight in the university’s prestigious ‘networking circles’ had negotiated with Sringeri Peetham to set up chairs for Adi Shankara studies in US universities. The first chair was in the process of being set up in Columbia. Within 4 to 6 weeks from the time I learned about it, the official announcement was scheduled to be made publicly, after the formality of signatures. I was disturbed that our Hindu legacy would be outsourced to scholars who are not only non-practitioners of our faith, but whose work has explicitly been to ‘expose the abusiveness’ in the Vedic tradition.
The same Sheldon Pollock was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of Manmohan Singh, being projected as a great champion of Sanskrit. The Narayana Murthy family has showered him with awards and millions of dollars to manage the translation of 500 volumes of Indian texts into English. I have pointed out the potential for this becoming yet another wave of intellectual colonisation, in a manner similar to the Orientalism studies launched by Sir William Jones in the 1700s when he worked for the British East India Company as the Supreme Court judge in Calcutta. Jones had proclaimed that he was ‘giving the Hindus their laws’ based on his understanding of Sanskrit texts. Pollock, in a similar fashion, says he wants to give Indians their human rights based on reinterpreting key Sanskrit texts.
I immediately stopped all my other work to focus on this impending crisis. (I was till then in the midst of writing my next book explaining my understanding of various yajnas.) I started a flurry of activity including a personal meeting with the Shankara-charya of Sringeri. Many concerned Hindus wrote letters and articles to try and stop the project from happening so hastily and without proper scrutiny. This is what has caused the latest campaign against me.
Things got heated up to boiling point when I announced my next book, titled The Battle for Sanskrit. This book discusses this entire issue of American-driven Sanskrit studies. Sringeri Peetham was in the process of handing over its keys to this cabal of American-based Sanskrit scholars and legitimise them as the official voice of Adi Shankara in international academics. I delivered my plenary lecture at the World Sanskrit Congress in Bangkok in June, 2015, explaining the topics in my forthcoming book. The traditional Sanskrit scholars at the event loved it. I was invited to a private discussion with these scholars and Sushma Swaraj who was at the event as head of the Indian delegation. The royal family of Thailand, who have Sanskrit scholars among them, and who were present at my talk as the patrons of the event, sent me a private message of appreciation.
But the exact opposite reaction came from the Western scholars of Indian civilisation, Sanskrit, Hinduism and related topics. They were extremely angry at me and lodged complaints against the organisers for inviting me to speak. In fact, I was told that these scholars had tried very hard to exclude me from the event before my talk, because they do not want my work to become known.
Clearly, this event has become a game changer. I suddenly became non-ignorable to the arrogant scholars who have hijacked the discourse on our heritage. I had stepped into their turf. I had drilled deep into their secrets and hit a raw nerve. The chowkidars guarding the gates of the fortress of Western ideology had received a wakeup call. Something drastic had to be done fast to stop me.
The role of General Dyer (the British official who became infamous for commanding the Indian sepoys to fire at Jallianwala Bagh) was played by one professor at a very large Christian seminary in the town where I live. I have had some encounters with him in the past because he hates all my writings. He sees me as the biggest threat to his campaigns to make Dalits accept the hyphenated identities of ‘Dalit-Christian’ and ‘Afro-Dalit’. The former identity makes Dalits into Christians. The latter identity is meant to convince them that they are Dravidians of African origins, who are being oppressed by non-Dalits in India. The history being fabricated is that Africans and Dravidians are one race whereas all other Indians are equivalent to the white Americans who have been enslaving them for centuries. The entire history of American slavery is thus projected upon India to break it into enemy camps with Dalits and Dravidians on one side, fighting the other Indians as their oppressors. Since I have harshly undermined his thesis, he has been gunning against me for many years.
This man is named Richard Fox Young (RFY). He presents himself as though he is a professor at Princeton University. He knows this will impress the foolish Indian journalists who are too lazy to check the authenticity of his claims. But he is not employed at that university; he is employed at the large Christian seminary in the same town. As a result of his decades of experience teaching Christian missionaries in India, he knows how to manipulate Indians’ inferiority complexes with respect to white people. Imagine a teacher at a madrasa or church seminary in Delhi calling himself a professor at Delhi University and getting away with it!
RFY put out a petition falsely accusing me of ‘plagiarising’ a book that was not well-known until I cited it. Immediately, my supporters examined each of his allegations and wrote an independent rebuttal showing there was no plagiarism at all. My supporters started a counter petition. His petition against me got less than 250 signatures. The counter petition supporting me got over 10,500 signatures – a ratio of 40 to 1 in my favour. The public spoke loud and clear, rejecting my opponents’ demand that publishers must withdraw all my books.
RFY then got his Indian media mafia to attack me. I was branded with all sorts of names in various heightened sensationalised headlines. I was a ‘plagiarist’, ‘fanatic’, the ‘leader of the Internet Hindutva’, a ‘wealthy businessman’ meddling in scholarly affairs, ‘incompetent’ as a scholar to write on my own heritage, and so forth. It is very clear that none of these journalists did any honest investigation. They merely parroted each other and wrote along the lines they had been instructed.
I quickly posted evidence that my book had mentioned Nicholson (the author I was accused of plagiarising from) about 30 times and referred to his book very explicitly. So how could I be accused of plagiarism? Plagiarism is an act in which someone wants to hide that he is using the work of another writer. But I mentioned the source 30 times! The outrageous allegation was framed on the basis that my intentions to cite the source amounted to nothing, and what mattered was that in a few instances I had not put quotation marks, even though I had given the details of the book, author and page number in parenthesis at the end of the paragraph.
What RFY cited as his ‘gospel of rules’ on scholarship was a policy meant for students at Princeton University, where I am not a student by far. Nor is this policy some kind of universal standard. Its purpose is to teach rigour to the students at a particular university. A few days later, Parth Parihar of Princeton University wrote a major blog at Huffington Post exposing the fraudulent allegations by RFY. Many others have shown that top professors at these universities often indicate the source they use in a manner similar to how I cited my sources, and they do not always put quotation marks.
Unfortunately, the Indian journalists deployed in the hit-squad did not bother to read any of this counter evidence. They merely went on repeating the exact same allegations. Writers like Sagarika Ghosh, Sandip Roy, Mihir Sharma and TM Krishna disgraced themselves by defaming me using unsubstantiated allegations. Worse still, newspapers like The Hindu, Times of India and Business Standard which carried such materials without verification, did not bother to respond to my emails requesting a chance to write a rebuttal. So much for these so-called champions of intellectual freedom!
This episode culminates my 20+ years of experience of counter-attacking the sepoy army of pseudo-intellectuals, who lack the capacity to think for themselves rationally. This drama has galvanised the Hindus to see for themselves the kurukshetra where our civilisation is now under assault in more sophisticated ways than ever before. I have received hundreds of letters of support expressing dismay that this undermining of Bharat is being done with the deployment of many of our fellow Indians who have been hired as mercenaries.
Rajiv Malhotra (The writer is Indian-American thinker and author)