Rajiv Malhotra rajiv.malhotra at WORLDNET.ATT.NET
Fri May 12 13:32:29 CDT 2000

Mr Vyas wrote:

I agree.  However I think you are putting to much faith in statistics.
For example, If I am 4 feet tall and I'm apply to the NBA to be a
basketball player, arguing "the average height of my ethnic group is 6
feet 6 inches." won't get me anywhere.  Statistics tells you the average
trend.  It doesn't tell you anything about any particular point on the

In order to discuss socio-political trends, its not a single point on the
graph that matters but the overall message, trends, norms.

Now  back to our subject, you're saying you have detected evidence of bias
against Hinduism.  Ok I believe you but what does that mean to me in my
life?  Apparently nothing.  So as not to appear selfish, let me also ask
what does this mean for my community?  Is anyone being prevented from
practicing Hinduism?  Are they losing their jobs, or being attacked?  Are
mandirs being burned down or anything?  In New Jersey we have a very large
Gujarati community, I'd say I know what's going on in it, My mother is
very active in organizations.  If there was some systematic repression of
Hinduism going on, I think i'd know about it.

The question is, 'how does implicit and unconscious bias affect a
community'. Since it is not explicit or even conscious, why should it matter
how people feel internally? This I have examined in some detail. I agree
with you that Hindus are to blame for inadequate education and priority
about their faith. But that is related to the 'primitive' image they are
given of their own religion in the environment in so many subtle ways. It is
easier to hide their Hindu identity, some even apologize for being Hindus in
front of others. It is not enough to express one's faith inside the fortress
of a temple or home, we need an environment in which we feel safe, respected
and very comfortable being Hindus. I mean not you as one man but the
community at large.
Please remember that there is a difference between being tolerated and being
respected. Western ethics (and in some cases, law) train people to be
outwardly ethical, which is only one of the 8 stages of yoga. More important
is to educate people to understand Hinduism with genuine respect.

 If there are incidents
going on they should be dealt with but far bigger problems that exist are,
1.  Many Hindus are ignorant of their religion.
2.  Those that know do not always have the wherewithal to practice it.

I agree with this.

A big part of the appeal of the New Age movement is the way it wraps up
irrational ideas in big
smart-sounding words.  I don't think Hinduism wants to go there.

So I am confused about your views. If you don't believe in new age and you
also don't believe in the value of academic teaching of religion, then
please tell me what is the methodology for changing the attitudes towards

Yes.  Bias towards Hinduism is what I want to encourage.

So to be consistent with that intent, you cannot denounce as propaganda use
of the methods of influence that are the norm in America. I am still unable
to get a clear logical position from you. You don't like 'propaganda' to
promote an enhancement of Hinduism's image. First it is academics that are
useless. Then it is also the popular new age channels that are bad. But now
you say that you do want propaganda towards Hinduism. Maybe, you should just
come out and say that you want your own voice as the only propaganda, and
all others are useless for various reasons, even if they strive towards the
same goal. If that's not politics then what is?

By the way, I do not work on campus. I have never had an academic job.
But since I decided to analyze the portrayal of Hinduism in America (so I
have some objective facts and not just opinions), I went wherever the
inquiry took me - including academics at all levels, theological seminaries,
new age events, etc.

Which Indians?  We're from Rajkot which was a princely state.  There was
no British presence in the administration there.  In fact most of my
ancestors were government officers of one type or another.

So again, you are being full of yourself. The discussion was not about one
man, his princely lineage, his high caste, his dhoti, his temple, etc. I
thought we were trying to discuss whether there is bias against Hindus and
not you in particular. If there is, does it have any relevance, again not to
you but to the community. And if that be so, what are the channels to
upgrade the portrayal. You keep backing into a corner with outlandish
statements, and then trying to get out by making it personal about whether
or not it applies to you. Either you take the position that your arguments
only pertain to your condition, in which case I have nothing to argue. Or if
you wish to discuss the socio-political situation in America at large, then
you cannot resort to your personal one-point sample as being statistically

Furthermore, if all that matters is yourself, then why bother to explain the
texts to others?

Yes there should be a Hindu presence.  A true Hindu presence not some
diluted, mixed up "Indic" presence.  Actually I look forward to the day
when "Hindu" is out of use and we have Smarta, Shaiva, Vaishnava etc.
presences.  But it might take a while to get there and we have to start by
getting our priorities straight.  The rest can wait for another day.

Again you contradict yourself. If you agree that there is plurality within
Hinduism, such as Smarta, Shaiva, Vaishnava, etc, then that's what has been
called as Indic. It refers to all the wisdom and traditions from the
Indus-Saraswati-Ganges civilizations without labeling them into religious
boundaries. You dislike such a collection as 'dilution' on the one hand and
yet want to see this diversity.

> I want you to know that I greatly admire your leadership to mobilize
> at all levels towards advaita, which is my practice as well. But these are
> socio-political issues you have wandered into, and text analysis will not
> suffice.

This is a very Greco-Semitic attitude isn't it?  Our shastras are not just
theoretical, they tell us how to live.  I have full faith in our shastras
and Gurus and believe they should be followed in all aspects of life.

The socio-political issues about American life today and its attitude
towards Hinduism, is what I thought the discussion was referring to. How do
you find such analysis in the shastras, please give us references about
modern American socio-political beliefs mentioned in the shastras. (America
did not even exist at that time in its current form.)  If you cannot, then
you are forced to go outside these shastras to learn American
socio-political aspects, or else not deal with them. This is uncomfortable
because it is an activity beyond arm-chair theorizing. Brahmins were great
at impractical theorizing in the name of being high-class scholars. That's
the attitude that finds it useless to listen to what the public is saying,
for instance.
There is nothing wrong with your taking the position that you wish to
specialize only in authentic text analysis, because it is very useful to
everyone including myself. Why pretend to be an expert on modern American
society and then get defensive when your lack of pramana is questioned?
Might it better to focus your forum on what you know, which I must say I am
quite impressed by.?



bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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