I have often heard people say Sanskrit is the vessel for our Sanskriti. I have heard experts from very different fields – classical artists, ayurveda, scientists and, of course, linguists – hint at it. But the below talk really hit it home for me.
For example, the arrangement of alphabets (varnamala) in Sanskrit is directly related to physiology of how sounds are generated. The bit in the video on using this insight to design speech therapy for kids was brilliant.
The video also talks about the connection with Yoga and Pranayaam. The bits explaining cHandah was amazing. Had never heard of that before.
By the way, Dr Sampadananda Mishra is one of the foremost Sanskrit scholars today. Links to some of his other talks which I have watched are below. He has also written a series of books titled Devbhasha for teaching Sanskrit to kids (will post link later). Have heard a lot about his The Wonder that is Sanskrit. It is on my reading list!
Rajiv Malhotra recently delivered two ground breaking lectures in the UK. The first lecture addressed a small group of British MPs in the British parliament on India-Britian relations in the post-brexit era. When the talk was announced, I thought to myself: RM’s mission is to highlight the mess is in India and to point out that it is really the doing of Indians. What has that got to do with Brexit and why would British MPs care about it?
He answered this question brilliantly just in the first five minutes of the talk! And it just kept getting better as the lecture the progressed. I had heard or read most of the main ideas presented in the lecture but they come together beautifully in this talk. Brits do bring out the best in an Indian! I was pleasantly surprised how well the British MPs received the talk. They could not stop showering praise on RM. Even if they were just putting on a show, their graciousness is worth applauding. I don’t think most Indian MPs would behave similarly.
By the way, Shashi Tharoor also spoke on this topic at Oxford a few years back. His talk had gone so viral that he came out with a book named Inglorious Empire to elaborate on the talk! I would recommend both the talk and the book for an undergraduate level treatment of the topic compared to that of Rajiv Malhotra which, I would say, is at a graduate level.
Watch the talk till the end. There is lot in the Q&A.
Swarajya has published an article on this talk.
The second talk was (almost!) at Oxford university on RM’s forte of “Decolonizing Academia”. The almost is explained in my post A case study in Freedom of Speech. But first you must watch the talk:
[19 Mar, 2018] I am assuming that you have watched the two videos mentioned in my other post. Did you find anything that Rajiv Malhotra said that might be inappropriate for a public talk on Oxford campus? Did RM make personal attacks on any student or faculty of Oxford? Did he ask for burning or banning any books? Did he call for violence of any sort?
I don’t think so.
Now watch this till the end (there is an update at end as this is still a developing story):
This is not new for RM. He has faced similar attacks at Columbia University, New York and Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, both premier centers of education and research which allegedly subscribe to the principle of freedom of speech.
Now, a plea to Indian students (and their parents) at western Ivy leagues — get to the bottom of this incident and don’t let go till the investigations are completed. Several questions remain answered — why exactly was the talk forced out of Oxford campus at the eleventh hour? Who exactly is threatened by issues raised by Rajiv Malhotra? What precisely are their objections? Rajiv Malhotra has consistently been inviting all his critics for a public debate. Instead of disrupting talks why don’t they engage with RM in a debate?
On this incident, Rajiv Malhotra posted this on his facebook page on 19 Mar, 2018:
Dear Udit Bhatia, this is to request an open & amicable dialogue with you to clear your misunderstandings and slander against me at Oxford India Society. Lets walk the talk about free speech in the open, and let the public decide. Namaste.
By the way, it is worth reflecting on the arrogance and hubris of Oxford. Rajiv Malhotra is not an amateur scholar whom Oxford can dismiss just because he is not in the academic system. Rajiv Malhotra’s books contain original research which has remained unchallenged for over two decades. He has hundreds of lectures on youtube and a huge following on social media. Did Oxford really think that they can get away with such disruption without giving an explanation?
In fact, it would have been lot more smarter for Oxford to just let the event continue uninterrupted because then they would have earned some free-speech brownie points and it was possible that the talk would have gotten lost among RM’s other talks. But now I am writing a whole post on it! Oxford should have learned a lesson from RM’s Columbia university talk (clip, full talk) which has now become exhibit A of academic hinduphobia. Now, Oxford will be exhibit B!
This conversation was pure music to my ears, not because of what Sadhguru was saying, as I had heard him say most of it before, but because he was saying it on NDTV!
NDTV is India’s equivalent of Fox news of US, but one who has successfully been pretending to be CNN. Most people, regardless of whether they like or hate Fox, are aware of the biases of Fox. It is amusing that “Fair and Balanced” used to be Fox’s motto until not too long ago! But many people are not able to see through the biases of the smooth-talking (pseudo) intellectuals on NDTV. And one has to admit that the decibel levels on NDTV are lower than other news channels of India.
Enough NDTV bashing. Now coming to this conversation. It is a must watch for the people who like to use cliches like all religions are the same, I am spiritual but not religious, all religions are irrational and require blind faith, all gurus are crooked, etc. The ones I like to call confused.
The host Arundhathi Subramaniam in the first few minutes says that she first approached Sadhguru 12 years back with a
.. certain measure of caution because the very word Guru seemed to be such a loaded one. It seemed so hierarchical, so authoritarian, so medieval in my understanding of it.
In other words – she was confused too! But not anymore. I should also commend her on how she conducted this interview. She asked all the questions that a typical confused person might have but in a sincere and respectful manner. She is skeptical, but not cynical.
While watching this video, note how the audience is reacting. Sadhguru is witty as usual and narrates some of his favorite anecdotes and metaphors to which most audiences, including in the west, applaud, but not this NDTV crowd. For example, there was an uncomfortable silence when Sadhguru said “in my mind secular means you are not screwed up in your head” around 17min!
And “state” doesn’t just refer to higher states of consciousness but also the mundane stuff of the multi-billion dollar business of Yoga and the appropriation of Yoga by those from the Judeo-Christian camp as well as those from the “secular science” camp.
For a change, Rajiv Malhotra is not the interviewer, but the interviewed. He has said most of this in his interviews with other yoga Gurus (real and fake!), but it all comes together very well in this video. I don’t think anyone other than Rajiv Malhotra can provide such a 360 view of the current state of yoga world wide.
The video refers to many interviews done by Rajiv Malhotra. Following are some of them, along with some of my recommendations.
- Dr. HR Nagendra, President VYASA, Bangalore (link)
- Yogi Amrit Desai, Amrit Yoga (link)
- Brooke Boon, founder of Holy Yoga (link)
- Dr. Ravi Ravindra on Is Templeton Foundation Digesting Vedanta into Christianity? (link)
- with Stephen Siegel, a Neo-Jewish Pseudo-Hindu on Hinduized Judaism, Tantric Kabbala, & More (link)
Very interesting interview with Dr Mashelkar, “aka the moniker of The Warrior of Haldighati who fought a 14 month long legal battle against US patent office.” US patent office accepted Sanskrit texts on Ayurveda as evidence of prior knowledge. Just one more reason why preserving those texts are important. This patent battle led to a creation of a database of Traditional Knowledge Digital Library by Government of India. From TKDL’s website:
Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) is a pioneer initiative of India to prevent misappropriation of country’s traditional medicinal knowledge at International Patent Offices on which healthcare needs of more than 70% population and livelihood of millions of people in India is dependent. Its genesis dates back to the Indian effort on revocation of patent on wound healing properties of turmeric at the USPTO. Besides, in 2005, the TKDL expert group estimated that about 2000 wrong patents concerning Indian systems of medicine were being granted every year at international level, mainly due to the fact that India’s traditional medicinal knowledge which exists in local languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Arabic, Urdu, Tamil etc. is neither accessible nor comprehensible for patent examiners at the international patent offices.
On a related note, watch this 2017 video of RM interviewing Professor Kameshwari heads KSRI (Kuppuswami Shastri Research Institute) in Chennai.
This is one of the most highly acclaimed centers for research on Sanskrit shastras as well as Tamil literature. This interview explains the vital importance of KSRI, its financial vulnerability today, and the strategic projects it can perform if properly funded. It is important for our community to support such precious institutions rather than let Western Indologists hijack them as they have been doing. Infinity Foundation & KSRI have agreed in principle to collaborate and specific ways are being formulated. Please watch and help us raise funds.
Sounds familiar? I have heard this from many a gurus and (confused) Hindus. Below is Rajiv Malhotra’s response in 7 min. For a rigorous response, read the Gita in Sanskrit. Or if you don’t know Sanskrit, follow an authentic interpretation, for example, from Arsha Vidya Gurukulam :