Message from Yvette Rosser about book by Elst

Voice of India voi at
Mon Dec 4 14:21:18 UTC 1995

Dear Indology-netters,

I (a volunteer who tries to spread information about the Voice of India 
publishers) am given to  understand that there has been much talk about the 
books on contemporary Indian history by Koenraad Elst (all published by the 
Voice of India). While some have spoken strongly against them, some have 
defended them, and some have been abiguous about them, certain basic 
facts seems to have been lost.
	For instance, Yvette Rosser wrote in a recent message (much of 
which I have deleted, without, I hope plucking the rest out of context)

X-Comment: Indology mailing list
Dec. 2
>From Yvette Rosser
In response to  >J.B. Sharma >Gainesville College:

Some of the literature mentioned by Mr. Sharma warrants consideration but
the books of Koenraad Elst are written in a hate mongering style and are
not very professional. I read several of his books and though I was
interested to know what he was saying, I detested the WAY that he said it.
He is fostering and encouraging a nonforgiving communalism.  His books are
unfootnoted and read like propaganda.  He would do the world a favor to
cool down the rhetoric.

(end of quote)

	I wish to point out that Koenraad Elst has written 5 books so 
far, and all have been published by VOI. While Miss Rosser claims she has 
read "several" of K.Elst's books, and that his "books" are unfootnoted, I 
know it for a fact that all the four books (except "Negationism in India" 
are very well-referenced and annotated. Even the book "Negationism" has a 
few footnotes, as Miss Rosser will doubtless discover if she would only open
the book to pages 18, 25 and 29, to name just a few. However, I do agree 
that the references are inadequate, and refer only to other VOI books, 
which make even such a well-written book very incomplete and 
	Since Miss Rosser has read "several" of Elst's books, I assume 
that she has at least one more of his 5 books at hand, or within easy 
access. May I request her to look up this book(s), open it a few (more 
than one) pages, and see if they are not adequately referenced? She may 
then want to apprise the learned members of the Indology net of her 

	In the light of Miss Rosser's research, Koenraad Elst's work also 
reads like propaganda. However, she does not care to explain why or how, 
nor to lay a finger on any piece of misinformation Elst may have 
supplied. This is all the more surprising, as  Miss Rosser clearly 
understands that one person's propaganda 
is another person's history, for she goes on to say :
(quoting Miss Rosser)
The divergences between Hindu and Muslim imperative memories as to their
civilizations' responses and responsibilities are diametrically opposed.
Could not almost any reading of India's "Glorious Past" be construed as
communalism depending on who was reading it?  The history of Islam's
arrival in India and the "Triumph of the Mogul Empire" is a proud and noble
story to a Muslim but to many Hindus it is a story of rape and pillage.
Conversely, the story of Hindu philosophic traditions and their powerful
contribution to human thought and the "Triumph of Indic Civilization"
could be an affront to a Muslim who sees Hinduism as an idolatrous and
pagan challenge to the one true God and the Islamic invasions as wars of
liberation.  How does one teach "national civic culture" or even  a basic
history class in a country such as India, divided as she is by such sharp
distinctions in perceptions of the past?
(end of quote)

	A comment by J. Sharma, to the effect that no scholarly critique 
or refutation of the thesis by Elst has as yet appeared on this net, 
comes to mind. 
	(There was a also a reference (in the same thread of messages)
to a book by  Sita Ram Goel "Hindu Temples: What happened to them". The 
message claimed that the books calls for the destruction of the mosques 
allegedly built over them. This sort of message tells me that the VOI has 
been confused for the BJP, VHP and the RSS. I emphasize that the VOI 
consists of independent scholars, whose ideas may be useful to people 
from the Sangh Parivar. That does not mean that they are unscholarly. The 
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, for instance, profited politically from the work 
done by Western scholars in indology , without consulting the DMK.)

	Miss Rosser then goes on to discuss the Sangh Parivar. To an 
extent, the linking of the Sangh parivar with Elst's work (and all of 
VOI) seems inevitable, since Elst makes the provocative claim that history 
as taught in India has been doctored for political reasons. And one of the 
parties to the debate now raging in India is certainly the Sangh Parivar. 

	So, just to give you an idea of the kind of books VOI has dealt 
with, I refer to some other books published by the VOI, which represent a 
fairly diverse spectrum of opinions (something that can hardly be called 
propaganda). These books challenge the Aryan Invasion 
Theory (including , the newer Intrusion theory). The book by Frawley 
looks at the Aryan problem from the standpoint that the Vedic literature 
are "spiritual". Any references to history or geography are secondary. 
Frawley has been influenced by the writings of Sri Aurobindo, who claimed 
that the Vedas had a "psychological" interpretation and that attempting 
to explain the Vedas in terms of historical events is foredoomed to failure.
	Another VOI author, Shrikant Talageri, is opposed to 
this theory. He claims that the Vedas are certainly not as lofty as 
orthodox Hindus would like to believe. He claims that it is the liturgy of 
one single cult (the Puru cult, from the Punjab)  which came to dominate 
all of India. His book would certainly offend Hindu orthodoxy, if the latter 
seriously examined it. 
	In his book "Agastya to Ambedkar" (this one IS footnoted) , Elst 
(draws upon and) quotes the work of 
Talageri and Frawley approvingly (he calls them "interesting books") and 
also lists the work of a Marxist scholar Bhagwan Singh, whose books 
"Harappa Sabhyata Aur Vaidik Sahitya" he says are a worthwhile 
contribution to scholarship. This can hardly be called propaganda for the 
Sangh Parivar, which is opposed to Marxism in general, and is critical of 
Marxist scholarship in India, in particular. 

	I will close my message by introducing the netters to a book by 
Dharampal (published by Biblia Impex, (later to become the Voice of India))
which deals with the destruction of the indigenous system of education in 
India by the British. The book is a good example of the message of the 
VOI -- that Indian scholarship, in India, rooted in Indian tradition, 
with a sound knowledge of Indian culture, should not only learn the work 
of Western (Christian, Marxist, and non-denominational) scholarship about 
India, but also should question the imposition of Western categories to 
the Indian context. The West has for long studied the East. The East must 
now study and comment upon the West in its own language. (One example is 
the Yoga-based commentary of monotheistic creeds, "Hindu View of 
Christianity and Islam" by Ram Swarup, VOI)

(In what follows, "The beautiful tree" refers to the Indian education 
system, as the British 
found it on their arrival in India. All the material in brackets are my 
own. There is a message for all the people who have been trading 
"compliments" on the net. Hopefully Miss Rosser will not miss it. 

Thank You,

Shreenivas Sharma,
volunteering his mite for
 the Voice of India 

	The Beautiful Tree
		(by Dharampal)
		(published by Biblia Impex)

.... It is in this background that during his visit in 1931 to attend
the British-sponsored conference on India (known as the Round Table
Conference) Mahatma Gandhi was invited to address the Royal Institute
of International Affairs, London. In this address Gandhiji also
briefly dwelt on the causes of illiteracy in India and what he said
seems to have made the sparks fly.  .... (Page 55)

... (quoting Gandhiji) .. I say without fear of my figures being
challenged successfully, that today India is more illiterate than it
was a fifty or hundred years ago, and so is Burma, because the British
administrators, when they came to India, instead of taking hold of
things as they were, began to root them out. They scratched the soil
and began to look at the root, and left the root like that and the
beautiful tree perished .....

	Collected Works, Vol 48, pp 199-200, 201-2

The challenge came immediately however from Sir Philip Hartog, a
founder of the School of Oriental Studies, London, a former
vice-chancellor of the University of dacca and member and chairman of
several educational committees on India and set up by the British
between 1918 and 1930. After questioning Gandhiji at the meeting
itself, a long correspondence ensued between them during the next 5-6
weeks, ending in an hour long interview which Philip Hartog had with
the Mahatma. 

(Some excerpts from their correspondence) (pp 357-358)

..... If you should find ultimately that the inference from your
remarks that backwardness in literacy and education has been due to
British administration in India was unjustified, I feel certain that
you would wish to correct your statement.
				I am,
				Yours sincerely,
				Philip Hartog

.... You are quite right in feeling certain that if there were any
error in my reasoning or the facts that I stated, I should immediately
correct them, and whilst I should try to verify more fully the
statements that I made, you will also oblige me by giving me such
information as may be in your possession and as may help me to
understand the truth.
				Yours sincerely,



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