A Word of Advice to Prospective Indology Students

The very first Swadeshi Indology conference was held at IIT Madras from 6-8th July 2016. The conference was by organized Prof KS Kannan from Jain University, Bangalore and was inspired by Rajiv Malhotra’s book The Battle for Sanskrit which was a purva-paksha of the entire body of work of Prof Sheldon Pollock at Columbia University, NYC. The conference was essentially a uttar-paksha or a rebuttal of specific papers of Pollock which was chosen by the organizers. This youtube playlist contains six talks in the section titled “Pollock’s Position on Shastras”.

Around 20 papers were presented and recordings of some have already been posted on youtube. Check out the welcome address by Prof KS Kannan which sets the stage of the conference. The historic nature of this conference should be evident from Prof Kannan’s remark that we have gathered here to do something that has not been attempted for at least 800 years.

That something is a critique of the western indology from an Indian perspective. Given Rajiv Malhotra’s book was released earlier this year and the conference was announced just three months ago, it was a big success. The best testimony for this is Rajiv Malhotra’s remark in his closing address that he is no longer feeling alone and that there is now a home team to respond to western indology ideas. These comments by RM are huge! Because the real battle is in India. Nothing that people like Pollock or Wendy Doniger write or say would have any impact if people in India could immediately see through their prejudices and ulterior motives.

So here is my advice to new research scholars of indology who are looking for an advisor –  As part of your literature survey, read every thing that Rajiv Malhotra has written and what comes out of the Swadeshi Indology conferences. The work of Pollock, Doniger and the like is getting discredited rapidly, and no longer just by Rajiv Malhotra. If you still decide to work with these folks, then all I can say to you is to study hard .. very hard! Because in 5-7 years from now, when you will be out of school and looking for a position, you might well have to defend your thesis before the Swadeshi scholars. By then Swadeshi Indology may become main stream or may be well on course to becoming mainstream and you may find yourself to be part of the fringe. Whenever you write a paper, just consider the possibility that one day it might be in the list of papers to be critiqued in the call for a future Swadeshi Indology conference.

May be I am wrong. But what if I am not?!


  • 09-Dec-2016: In an hour long talk at the Indira Gandhi National Council of Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi, Rajiv Malhotra gave a sweeping history of videshi indology over the last 200 years and then made a powerful case for Swadeshi Indology. I am sure that a lot of old school people in the audience must have gotten very uncomfortable!
  • 22-Aug-2016: update by Rajiv Malhotra on his mailing list –

Thanks to the great effort of the IFI team, they now have commitments from a major GOI organization to support the second conference inckuding funding, as well as another large funding from a corporate group.

This means:

  • a much bigger event than SI-1. Travel, etc paid within India.
  • Besides stipends for each paper, there will also be a prize of INR 70,000 for the best 10 papers.
  • Publishing of papers in a prestigious manner.
  • Continuity for multiple years of this series has been promised by the sponsors.
  • Many more topics than Pollock will be added, in subsequent conferences after SI-2 is over.

Please see the web site for SI: http://swadeshiindology.com/#

  • The SI-1 menu at top gives videos, powerpoints, etc of all talks, etc for 1st the conference that just finished in Chennai. This structure/presentation will get further improved over time.
  • The SI-2 menu choice gives you the call for papers, plus it has 4 summary papers on Pollock on 4 key topics from the list of 10 topics highlighted about his work. This is intended to help potential scholars interested in participating get a head start. We have a small team available to guide serious scholars on Pollock’s work to make it easier for them to respond to him.

Please read the call for papers and respond as required therein, if you are interested or someone you know is a good scholar.

Additional reading:


Author: thisisnotrightwing

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