[Advaita-l] On the need to counter false narratives about Ramayana and Mahabharata by Sheldon Pollock et al

Raghav Kumar Dwivedula raghavkumar00 at gmail.com
Wed Mar 21 04:15:35 EDT 2018

Namaste Siva Senani ji
Thank you for your mail.
Yes I was aware of the Battle for Sanskrit work. And it makes for painful
reading to see the depths someone can go to, to denounce sanatana dharma.

I can guess you have gone into this debate much more thoroughly than me
Yet,  I am just taking the liberty of sharing a few nuggets which I found

Sheldon Pollock's approach to Vedic studies is 'to go through it and
outsmart it'  as he puts it , rather than go around it the way other
Marxists have gone about in the past. So the sacred spiritual dimension of
the Veda is completely dismissed and it becomes for Pollock merely  a tool
for domination and subjugation of large numbers of people . But he and his
protégés approach the panditas and learn all the advanced level nuances of
shAstra such as say the distinction between vyAvahara and paramArtha etc.,
with a view to digesting them within an existing western framework before
ultimately deconstructing I.e.,  dismissing the Vedas etc., using the post
structural intellectual methods , as a political philological tool for
subjugation of the women and the subaltern, rather than a sacred science
for the evolution of individual consciousness.


Maybe, a similar approach of going through to outsmart, was followed by Sri
Kumarila Bhatta to do khaNDana of shUnyavAda, but then he had the guts to
immolate himself in sawdust. Maybe the go-throughers need do similar

 And very lucid observation by you about endless deconstruction by the
'post modern post structural' types a la the vitaNDavAda of Nagarjuna.

A rare few of these Marxist writers do come around and introspect, and
'deconstruct' themselves. E.g.,Yoginder Sikand writes


"For many of us (including myself, too), the negativity that was blessed as
'progressivism' in 'activist' circles was a convenient and respectable ruse
to give vent to our own personal turmoils, inner insecurities and
complexes, which were often rooted in troubled childhoods or broken
marriages. I took to this negativity like a duck takes to water--in part to
compensate for my own psychological traumas. It provided me just the excuse
that I needed to express all the hidden hatred for my family that I
harboured deep inside me since a child, for what more potent way was there
for me to rebel against my decidedly 'upper' class and largely Hindu family
than to denounce them as part of the 'oppressive ruling class/caste
system'? What better way to get back at them for all that I had suffered at
their hands than by taking up the 'cause' of Muslims and Dalits and
ultra-leftists, folks who saw rich Hindus like my family as their real
'oppressors'? I had had an extremely troubled childhood, and so all I ever
wanted was to get as far away as possible from my folks as I possibly
could. They were rich and, for the most part, Hindu, and it was thus that I
desperately craved to identify myself with all that they were not and would
dread to be. I have to admit that it was this, more than any genuine
concern for the 'oppressed', that drove me on for over twenty years for the
sake of 'The Cause' that I so obsessively championed.

Negativism, then, was a defining feature of being 'progressive', and that's
what I began to revel in. But such negativism was almost entirely one-sided
in 'activist' circles, for to be counted as a 'real' 'social activist' it
was simply unthinkable that the 'oppressed' could be faulted for almost
anything at all. For a 'social activist' to even mention, leave alone
condemn, the foibles of the 'oppressed communities'--gender injustice or
caste rivalries among Dalits or the obscurantism and misogyny preached in
many Muslim madrasas or the terror attacks and killings of innocents by
Naxalites and radical Islamists--was tantamount to nothing less than
treason. Reports about such matters were generally dismissed as 'malicious
ruling-class propaganda' or 'malicious Brahminical brainwashing' or even as
an 'understandable reaction of vulnerable minority communities to ruling
caste/class/imperialist oppression'. Sometimes, if these were grudgingly
admitted to be true, they were sought to be passed over in silence in order
to 'respect the sensibilities of the oppressed' or as 'minor
contradictions' that ought not to be addressed on the grounds that it would
allegedly 'divide' the oppressed, 'sabotage' the struggle against
'oppression' and thereby 'play into the hands of the real opressors......

 The very same folks who egged you on to write about their problems and to
take the Hindutva beast by its horns (for they were either too scared to do
it themselves or didn't have the same writing skills or the same access to
the English media) would shrilly denounce you as an 'agent' of this or the
other 'power' if, in your quest to be honest and balanced, you pointed out
even some of the mildest of their faults....

Some folks I know made pretty neat fortunes this way, setting up NGOs and
'think-tanks' ostensibly to study and 'work with' 'oppressed communities',
and raked in vast amounts of money from gullible foreign donors. ....

(And in a refreshingly  honest way this ex-Marxist writes)

......I knew now that I didn't want to change the world any longer,
painfully aware that no matter how much I tried, the world's problems would
always remain and might even get worse.Why waste whatever remained of my
life chasing the mirage of a problem-free world? If one problem were solved
through human efforts, a hundred new ones would take its place, sooner or
later, I thought to myself as I reflected on the dismal fate of all the
many Revolutions the world has witnessed till date, most of them enormously
bloody, all being hungrily devoured by their own progeny. I no longer had
any illusions about myself as a 'social activist' and crusader for a
'Revolution' that would put an end to the need for all revolutions. If
there was indeed a God, I told myself, it was She/It/He who should take
care of the world and its ills, and for me to arrogate to myself this
responsibility was downright ridiculous. It was too much of an effort, and,
at 45, I no longer had the energy for it all. In any case, I knew, if my
motives in becoming a 'social activist' twenty-odd years ago were far from
altruistic, it was improbable that I could ever sincerely be one. Let those
better equipped and more genuinely motivated than me shoulder that task, I
said to myself.

I now saw clearly through the hollowness of the revolutionary rhetoric that
I was hooked on to for years. Leave alone the whole world or the 'system',
I couldn't even change my family and close friends, to bring them to think
and behave as I wanted them to. It was quite enough, I realised, like the
wise man whose story my friend Raja sent me the other day, if I dreamt of
changing just myself in order to become a better, happier, more gentle,
compassionate and loving person and to cleanse myself of all the enormous
negativity that I've bottled up deep inside. That was really the only, and
the best, that I could do. And if everyone else thought that way too, I
knew, there would be no need at all to dream of 'Revolution' or of changing
others in order to bring about a better world. " (End of quote)

Others thinkers like Ananya Vajpeyi and Sheldon Pollock continue to be in
the same rut and at some point expose their own hidden petty-minded
personal agendas and ulterior motives quite blatantly. If anyone says this
is an ad hominem argument, we can  argue that thats not so; it's a fair
approach at  deconstructing the underlying priorities and agendas of the
these post structural hindu phobic Indologists.
As in

One deconstructionist versus another?leading presumably to 'mutually
assured deconstruction. (MAD)'


Or when an eminent deconstructionist bitches against and sabotages the
career of some one he intellectually differs from. Understanding Vedanta
has the prerequisite of being free from matsara or jealousy. If that is not
fulfilled, it can lead to a wrong understanding of this subtle knowledge.
Quited from link in my earlier post -
'Sheldon Pollock, the vengeful -

Listen to the video below, where Dr. Koenraad Elst describes how Pollock
blocked his access to the academic system (professorship etc), due to
disagreements over the Ayodhya dispute. Elst stood by the scientific
evidence which proved that a Hindu temple had been destroyed to build the
Babri mosque at Ayodhya. Whereas Pollock started researching the Ramayana
after the Ayodhya dispute with an aim to show that the Ramayana is
‘inherently oppressive’.

We are living in interesting times ...



On Tue 20 Mar, 2018, 10:13 PM Siva Senani Nori, <sivasenani at yahoo.com>

> Sheldon Pollock teaches at Columbia University, where a century ago a
> famous Indian went and shaped his thoughts culminating in his call "to put
> dynamite to Vedas", i. e. completely eradicate Sanaatanadharma. That is the
> objective of this Colombia Clique and Pollock is its most effective
> practitioner. The amount of poison that he has spread is huge, with papers
> like The Hindu giving huge space to people like Ananya Vajapeyi (if a
> person with a family name like that can spew anti-Vedic poison, one can
> understand the potency of Pollock) who study Sanskrit only to denounce Veda
> and Dharma (this woman went to Pundits to learn about Dharma Shastras and
> then vehemently criticises those very same Pundits in English newspapers
> for their belief in Dharma). This group has spread so much misinformation
> and such misinterpretation of the classics, puranas, itihaasa and Sanskrit
> literature that ordinary people started thinking like that. Sometime back
> we had a member talking ill of Sanaatanadharma - it could be an example of
> the effect of this relentless campaign of spreading poison.
> Rajiv Malhotra has written a book "Battle for Sanskrit" making Pollock the
> central figure. One of the consequences is "Swadeshi Indology". They held
> two conferences till date, developing a counter "narrative" (typical
> language used by the post-modern school from which Pollock draws heavily).
> It would be interesting to note that the philosophy underlying this
> post-modernism (or, rather, post-structuralism) develops through Foucault
> (brilliant philosopher) to Jacques Derrida (again, brilliant - I do like
> his work even as I am aware of his fundamentally unviable and irresponsible
> position), who reminding one of Nagarjuna, arrives at the position of
> no-thesis. These guys only "deconstruct" what others propose and offer no
> thesis of their own. These deconstructions are very interesting to read,
> just like batching about others is a lot of fun. Both are equally wrong,
> but the former now has a respectable position in academia. They don't offer
> a thesis because their insidious methods, which are far removed from
> reasoning and rigour, can be applied to deconstruct anything - including
> their own thesis. To crudely present what respected academic work in this
> line amounts to: if you like Congress, you have a crush on Sonia Gandhi and
> if you vote BJP, you are a homosexual pining for Modi.
> While Foucault and Derrida let India and her Dharma be, their methods of
> Discourse Analysis are applied by this Pollock-group. Only,  the ones they
> bitch about are us.
> These are the new Buddhists with similar methods and positions.
> Regards
> N Siva Senani
> On Tue, 20 Mar 2018 at 9:18 PM, Raghav Kumar Dwivedula via Advaita-l
> <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:
>   1. Sheldon Pollock, a supposedly great scholar of sanskrit has this to
>   say - “The Mahabharata is a really dangerous mythic formation where the
>   political other is your brother. War becomes civil war. The Mahabharata
>   is the most dangerous political story in the world because its a deep
>   meditation on the fratricide of civil war.”
>   2.
>   *Implication:*: The Mahabharata legitimizes war and is the most
>   dangerous book ever written. Of course, the central lessons of
> Mahabharata
>   that one’s actions generate good or bad *karma* (and not just being born
>   in the same family), the umpteen attempts made by various actors to avoid
>   war, the complex sub-plots which show the angst of various characters as
>   they try to determine the right course of action…all this is irrelevant.
>   3. Sheldon Pollock claims that “The Ramayana is a story of othering. The
>   struggle for the political is displaced on the other – the strange
>   *rakshasa* people, who are inversions of us, who are outsiders. The
>   Ramayana was a language of othering, which somehow we need to (I wouldnt
>   say unmask) understand so that we can neutralize its power.”
>   *Implication:*: The Ramayana is just a political text which teaches us
>   to hate the ‘other’. We should ignore the fact that *rakshasa *does not
>   denote any physical attributes, but is a term used to describe normal
>   people with bad qualities – excess of arrogance, lust for power etc.
> The link is given below.
> https://www.hindupost.in/society-culture/sheldon-pollock-pereverted-remark-ma-sarswati/
> _______________________________________________
> Archives: http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/
> http://blog.gmane.org/gmane.culture.religion.advaita
> To unsubscribe or change your options:
> http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/cgi-bin/listinfo/advaita-l
> For assistance, contact:
> listmaster at advaita-vedanta.org

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list