I became interested in Indian history and Hindu philosophy 7-8 years back in grad school. I could readily find examples of distortions and misrepresentation in not just popular media, but also scholarly literature. Perhaps the most glaring example of distortion of history is the Aryan Invasion Theory – a completely bogus theory which is still taught and widely accepted. Then the whole caricature of Hindu Gods based on a Freudian analysis of Hindu texts and mythologies. And the overly simplistic and demeaning portrayal of Indian culture as “caste, curry and cows” (another phrase from Rajiv Malhotra).
Along side all this negativity, I also started reading on the Vedantic philosophies. And was blown away by the depth and complexity of the ideas. Easily at par with the greatest ideas of modern science and western philosophy.
So I had a sense that the current popular understanding of Hinduism was out of whack. But I was not sure why this was the case? Who exactly was propagating it and what was their motivations (hint – it is not simply a case of vote bank politics)? Why was no one calling out the distortions? And in any case, what could an aam aadmi like me do about it?!
Then I came across Rajiv Malhotra’s books and lectures, particularly Breaking India. And got the answers to a lot of the questions above. I understood that these problems were in the making over a long multi-century period and were much more widespread than I had imagined. So the question of what I could contribute beyond educating myself became all the more vexing.
But what jolted me out of the intellectual musings into action was RM’s recent book The Battle for Sanskrit. By focusing on Sheldon Pollock, he converted the previously abstract and diffused kurukshetra into a real and immediate battle. More on the book in a separate post.