Dr Koenraad Elst’s fitting Response to Scroll.in promoting Aryan Invasion Theory

And there it is again – an article on scroll.in with an animated map of nonsense complete with ominous music in the background! Not to forget the customary hinduphobic section predictably titled “The Hindutva out-of-India myth”. It was first published on Jun 10, 2015 and updated on Jan 03, 2017. The author has solid hinduphobic credentials as evident from his regular contributions on scroll.in.

As for the present article Dr Koenraad Elst‘s response below sums it up perfectly –

Dear Mrs./Mr. Editor,

“While I don’t much mind an ignorant pen-pusher pontificating about the Aryan invasion debate, some concomitant modesty would at least be in order. Ridiculing any scepticism about the 19th-century Aryan invasion theory (AIT) merely shows that he is quite unaware of the state of the art.

“So he equates the rivalling Out-of-India Theory (OIT) with Flat Earth and Creationism. But it is very easy to find material evidence against both the latter, such as the fossil record. By contrast, your contributor is quite unable to muster any evidence against the OIT. Even Harvard professor and AIT champion Michael Witzel admits that no material evidence of Aryans moving into India has been found “yet”, i.e. after two centuries of being the official hypothesis sucking up all the sponsoring. So your correspondent thinks himself superior, successful where the greatest specialists have failed?

“A year ago I was participating in a Delhi conference on the Sindhu-Saraswati Civilization. While there, I received an e-mail from one of the world’s foremost specialists on the linguistic aspect of Indo-European origins, HH Hock, all the way from the US. Predictably, he upheld the now-dominant invasion scenario and added that no one takes the Out-of-India Theory seriously today (though it was the dominant assumption from 1786 till ca. 1820). Among linguists, this is approximately true: Nicolas Kazanas, Shrikant Talageri and myself have been in splendid isolation in those circles. But then, linguists who can competently argue in favour of the AIT are hardly more numerous. As I have verified at several specialist conferences, most concerned linguists don’t work on the problem of the origins, which has an aura of obsoleteness, and blindly follow the dominant theory because it happens to be what their textbooks contained. Which is what non-linguists like the cited team from Auckland also do.

“However, while I read this e-mail, I was surrounded by the creamy layer of Indian archaeology. Each professor read his paper presenting the findings at a particular Harappan site where he was digging, and each of them reported a complete cultural continuity, no trace of an invasion. Sitting next to me was the dean of Indian archaeology, the nonagenarian professor BB Lal. When he was young, he made his name by “proving” that the archaeologically attested Painted Grey Ware indicated the Aryans on their way into India. That “proof” is still cited till today in favour of t”he AIT, at least in India. But in reality, Lal himself has renounced that hypothesis decades ago, realizing that his posited link with Aryan invaders was itself based on a tacit acceptance of the omnipresent AIT. Today he emphasizes that there is no trace at all of any Aryan invasion.

“You choose to poison the debate by insinuating a Hitler reference into it. Suit yourself, but again it proves your ignorance, for Hitler was a zealous follower of the AIT. If the OIT has been associated with Hindutva (wrongly, for VD Savarkar, who launched this political concept, was an AIT believer), its alleged political use is at any rate only a trifle compared to the AIT. The OIT has been upheld mostly in one country for a few decades by a few scholars without any political power. By contrast, the AIT has been used politically for some 160 years by major state actors such as the British empire and Nazi Germany, and in India by Jawaharlal Nehru, the Ambedkarites (though BR Ambedkar himself emphatically rejected it), the Dravidianists, the missionaries and of course the secularists. If you don’t like the mixing of scholarship with politics, you should first of all lambast the AIT, not the OIT.

“May Allah (or Whoever serves as God to you secularists) give you the wisdom to keep your mouth shut on topics you don’t know enough about.

“Yours sincerely,

“Dr. Koenraad Elst”

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Jallikattu – Animal Rights or a Breaking India issue?

I saw this post from ShankNaad on FaceBook today:

jallikattu

Along with this text (emphasis mine):

It is only extreme cases of cruelty that need their lordships to ride in favour of hapless creatures. Jallikattu does not fall in that category. Off late we’ve seen frequent attacks on our traditional practices. These attacks are hidden behind the garb of animal rights, women rights, child rights, minority rights and so on.

Our cultural ethos, our scriptures, the roots of our belief system have ample provisions for every aforementioned groups and much more than that. Therefore, any traditional practice, if it strictly follows our scriptures, is guaranteed to be harmless against any group deemed to be one without a voice.

One doesn’t need to be a scholar of our belief system to confirm the same. Our upbringing and memory of our festivities is enough to see how that’s taken care of.
But then, how will the nexus of Indian deep state and conversion freaks of all kinds demonize your native culture and nation? Propaganda must be carried out to show us that we’ve, all this while, been a pukeworthy regressive society.

The court orders, the fatwas by NGT, the campaigns by the feminist groups, the biased outcries by animal rights groups.. they are not the end result, they are very much part of the propaganda and the actual end result is a complete disaster for us and our nation as people without their identity and core values run around in panic like headless chickens in decades to come.

I completely agree. But let me elaborate further on the topic at hand – Jallikattu.

Some might say that pointing out the cruelty of slaughter does not reduce the cruelty in Jallikattu. I agree that pointing out a greater evil does not make a lesser evil any less problematic. But selectively pointing out only the lesser evil does indicate hypocrisy. Also, it must be pointed out that the extent of animal abuse in slaughter houses that work on an industrial scale, all year round and all over the country (and world) is orders of magnitude greater than that in a once-a-year degree regional event of Jallikattu.

The degree of abuse is still not an excuse for abuse in Jallikattu, if any. For every news article or anecdote that expresses horror at the cruelty against animals in Jallikatu, I have found another report which says that either the news is fake or overblown.

My view is that any tradition, or for that matter, any institution, which has been around for hundreds of years runs a risk of accumulating distortions which may not be true to the intended spirit of the tradition. Do you think the founding fathers of US would consider the election of Trump a success of democracy as they had envisioned it? I doubt it. And would the solution be to do away with democracy or fix it? The later, I think.

Likewise, if there are distortions in Jallikattu, then it should be investigated and fixed. But it should be done by people who have respect for Indian heritage and tradition and are genuinely interested in reform, such as Sadhguru (this is what he has to say on this matter). Respect for animals and nature is a core value in Hinduism. You don’t need to learn it from these modern animal rights activists.

The Big Picture

PETA and other activists who are calling for a ban on Jallikattu, regardless of their rhetoric, are not really interested in mitigating animal abuse. In some cases, their hypocrisy is out in the open, for example in these tweets by Shoba De –

sobhade

But often it is not so obvious. To really understand the motivations of these activists, you need to look at who are funding them and why? What philosophies – Islamic, Christian, Marxist or some other – guide them? Are these activists evenly critical of all societies, cultures and countries (for example, do they have anything to say about bull fighting in Spain)?

Attacks on Jallikattu is not an isolated incident. Attacks on the Kumbh Mela, where human rights violation and caste discrimination is the cover up, are similar. These attacks are manifestations of the Breaking India forces aimed at undermining India by attacking her underlying Hindu culture. Remember that India is a relatively young and weak nation-state, but an ancient, highly developed and resilient culture-state. The Hindu culture is what defines the Indian civilization and has helped India resist colonization for nearly 1000 years. All this is explained in painstaking detail in Rajiv Malhotra’s book Breaking India.

(update) This detailed article on Indiafacts by Sankrant Sanu explains how these attacks on Hindu festivals fit into the larger strategy of Christian evangelical organizations.


Updates

  • Swamy speaking on 16-Jan-2017 in Bay Area US (watch for ~5min)
  • A first hand account of what happens in Jallikattu by Francois Gautier, an insider  journalist. It starts off like this:

I covered Jalikattu a few times and found that it was pretty harmless. Don’t let the intellectuals and the Marxists deny your Hindu inheritance, boys and girls …

The Deception of William Dalrymple

William Dalrymple is another character whom I admired in my confused days. I considered him to be a true admirer of India. I had browsed some of his books and seen them in many book shelves of friends and family.

I got suspicious when I learned that he is one of the main organizers of the Jaipur literary festival and has hosted and showered praises on Sheldon Pollock. While at the same time blocked Rajiv Malhotra from being invited to the festival.

That is guilt by association, and not a clinching evidence. I agree. Now read these articles:

  1. Does Willy get it Wilfully wrong? by Farrukh Dhondy (Outlook 2004)
  2. William Dalrymple’s incurable colonial hangover by Arvind Kumar (Indiafacts 2014)

Still not convinced. Ok, just consider this a red flag and BEWARE!

This is how Hinduism and India is taught in the West

Here’s an analogy to describe how Hinduism and India is taught to students in Western schools and colleges. Mind you, in most cases, this is the first time the students are encountering Hinduism in any serious manner.

The analogy is of teenagers in a driving school.

In the first lecture at a driving school, while the students still have the option of opt-ing out (with full refund!), the school will likely show videos of some one driving a car through scenic landscapes, or of a race car zooming past the background, and other enticing videos. And they will talk about the freedom which comes from driving. If not romantically positive, at the very least, it will be utilitarian – you will have greater job opportunities if you know how to drive. Then, once the student is in, they will get to the technical aspects of steering control, gears, etc and hands-on training. This will go on for a few months till the student is a confident driver. Then in the last lecture, they will talk about the potential risks. They may show videos of crashing or burning cars. But they will also tell you that all the hazards can be avoided if certain precautions are followed. They will be very clear that driving per se is not the problem, the real problem is not following proper traffic rules and safety precautions.

At the end of the course, the student will be confident and eager to drive and encourage his friends to do the same.

Now contrast that with how Hinduism and India is taught –

The course typically begins with multiple lectures full of gruesome videos of crashing  and burning cars, statistics of the number of people injured or killed, and so on [read – caste oppression, primitive, archaic, regressive, rigid, ..]. Then in the middle technical part of the course, it will be all about how the machine and the humans can go wrong [read – mechanics of how the evils manifest in the form of weird Gods, esoteric mantras, Brahmin supremacy, ..]. How one cannot count on other drivers on the road following traffic rules. They will point out that the there are continuous explosions in the internal combustion engine and how easy it is for the explosions to go out of control! [read – the whole system is fundamentally broken] Of course, there is no room for the romantically positive or even the utilitarian aspects.

At the end of the course, forget driving himself, the student will be scared just by watching a car on the TV!

Which one do you think is the right way of teaching a civilization?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But why would the outsiders distort our history?

Whenever I suggest that our history and philosophy was first distorted by the Europeans and is now being distorted by the Americans, this question of motivation comes up. Essentially the other person is giving the outsiders the benefit of the doubt in that they might be motivated by genuine love and appreciation of India. Or I might just be a conspiracy theorist!

This short 5min talk by Rajiv Malhotra should clear up any such doubts

 

To put it more bluntly, using an analogy from RM, a biologist may dedicate his whole life to study bacteria, but not because of affection for the bacteria but because he wants to find new ways of killing it!

This is a wonderful analogy because it also explains why the outsiders may intially praise the Indian civilization. Biologists are very impressed by how a bacteria finds creative new ways to escape (that is, develop resistance) to antibiotic drugs. And when they figure how the bacteria does it, they write about it with great pride about how they discovered the escape mechanism and how they can now design new drugs to overcome it.

Likewise missionionaries may initially be puzzled and impressed by the resistance of Hindus towards conversion. This resistance may motivate them to deeply study Hinduism. In the process they may discover some new and intriguing ideas, but that may not lead to a change of heart. The end goal may still remain unchanged. A good example of this is the neo hinduism thesis explained here:

 

 

 

Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1951

From this blog post

Did you know, out of all the varied faiths existing in the country, ONLY Hindu religious establishments have to share their earnings with the state? This because of the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowment Act 1951 under which a State govt. gets the right to audit temple funds, appoint archaks (priests), set up a committee to monitor temple affairs as well as appoint an Endowment Commissioner to look after the donations given to the temples.

This is an example of another damaging legacy of the British Raj which we have failed to correct in the 65+ years of our independence. This would be another thing to fix before we worry about the Ram mandir, as I said in another post.

There is a also a petition to correct the situation.

Here is a great series of articles on the history of Indian temples by MD Srinivas.

Comments on The Battle for Sanskrit

This is an excellent review of Rajiv Malhotra’s book posted on writingcave.com. Some insightful remarks from the author (emphasis mine):

Why is it so important to counter this cabal of intellectuals and scholars? What’s the big deal if the scholars like Pollock go on twisting the Indian classics unquestioned? First of all, when our traditional ideas are translated in the West, in most of the cases they are taken out of the context, totally disconnected from the source. There can be many reasons, but one of the reasons is that the scholars who are trying to study the Indian tradition, the Indian sanskriti, they use a totally different model. They use the same scholarly models they have used to study Greek and Latin cultures.

This is a small problem actually. The bigger problem is the way the entire Hindu community is being portrayed as a highly biased, repressive entity that thrives on exclusion and casteism.

:

We shouldn’t rescue Sanskrit from the clutches of American Orientalists simply because of its exotic value or because of a hollow sense of pride; it actually contains a wealth of knowledge, and this knowledge is already being mined by Western scholars to make it their own.

I will just add one comment. RM had cautioned against academics like Pollock long back in 2003 in this Rediff article titled Does South Asian Studies Undermine India? He wrote

Many eminent Indian-American donors are being led down the garden path by Indian professors who, ironically, assemble a team of scholars to undermine Indian culture. Rather than an Indian perspective on itself and the world, these scholars promote a perspective on India using worldviews which are hostile to India’s interests.

:

An academic chair is a knowledge production center of very high leverage, and has the potential to do a lot of good or a lot of harm … There is a strong case for independent external audits by the funding sources to monitor standards of rigor, objectivity and quality.

Of course, no one paid any attention in 2003 or since. But now, in 2016, this book is making waves. I think the difference is that now RM is not talking in general terms, but is illustrating the problem concretely by targeting Sheldon Pollock. One can get a very good idea of the whole kurukshetra by just studying Pollock. Kudos to RM on this tactical master stroke!  But make no mistake that there are many more Pollocks out there (some listed in my other post on red flag personalities). I suspect that quite a few of them would provide enough material for many more volumes of The Battle for Sanskrit!

  • One of the endorsement of the book that carries special significance for me is that by Bibek Debroy in this video –

  • This is a review by another scholar – Koenraad Elst – who I greatly respect.  At the JNU event of TBFS Koenraad Elst’s gave a powerful rebuttal [video] to Pollock’s claim of a divide between Hinduism and Buddhism.