Rajaram's bull

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Aug 4 02:44:53 UTC 2000

Dear Indologists,

As a generally silent spectator in this debate, and as one who is
involved in both the fields of science/technology and Indology,
here are a few comments -

>has pointed out).  Books by Rajaram & Co. do have a wide audience even in
>the U.S., where there is a large South Asian community.  If I am not

Most expatriate South Asians are very technologically savvy.
Indologists in the West who want to address Rajaram and others
should factor this in, and in a positive way, in their strategy.
It hardly helps, for example, to keep snubbing people with
scientific backgrounds, as has often happened. This is a sure
recipe for driving someone away. In a world where image is
everything and substance counts for little, and increasingly so,
a more sophisticated attitude will help. The demands on your
patience may seem to be too trying, but some investment in it
may pay off, and something constructive can come out of it.

>Much of the current attack on "Western" Indology seems to be part of a
>strategy that aims at defending Brahminical traditions and institutions
>this foreign "threat" comes mainly from the discipline of Indology,
>inasmuch as it does not align itself with some current nationalist ideas
>about indigenous aryanism and the definition of what is or is >not "Hindu."

I beg to differ. The Hindutva-vAdi definition of what is "Hindu"
is neither very Brahminical nor traditional. Nor is the real goal
one of defending Brahminical traditions or institutions. What is
being attempted is a redefinition of tradition, but then, list
members should be the first to realize that the new gods can only
win by killing the old titans. And if you have been following what
has been happening in India, in the legislatures, in the courts,
in the media, in general public life, this has been getting
insitutionalized, even when the "Marxists" and the "secularists"
were in power. For example, there was a judge who ruled that the
Vedas are not the sole property of the Hindus, so that the sAvitrI
mantra could be printed on government issued greeting cards. What
would a professional Indologist do with a statement that the Vedas
are not just Hindu, but universal, scripture? What should the
average Indian think of such a statement, when it is entered into
judgements and case law? The root problem is not one of Hindutva
vs. secularism. It is the crisis of identity that has gripped India
for a long time that is the real issue.

>and complaints were voiced against the mixture of classes (varNasaMkAra)
>and overall moral decay.

Note that the dominant voice that expresses concerns about
varNasaMkara in the epic is that of a kshatriya - Arjuna. The
brAhmaNas in the epic are merrily going about, creating sons
by any means possible - from baskets, from heavenly nymphs and
from fisherwomen, quite unbothered by all the intermixing.

>some PurANas (such as the VAyu) attack the nAstikas.  According to the
>texts, the situation will only be resolved with the arrival of Kalkin (a
>Brahmin), ViSNu's avatAra, who will destroy mlecchas and nAstikas, and will
>perform a Vedic horse sacrifice and preside over the restoration of dharma.

So long as one is talking of varNAzrama-dharma, Kalki's role is
very much that of a kshatriya, not that of a brAhmaNa. He charges
on a white steed, with a sword in his hand. Not very traditional
for a brAhmaNa. Indeed, the kshatriya-dharma is predominant in the
avatAras of vishNu - rAma, kRshNa, balarAma. Even the "alien"
incorporation (buddha) was born a kshatriya, and even the brAhmaNa-
born rAma-with-the-axe was more a warrior than a priest. This may
seem like a quibble with respect to what is "Brahminical", but if
Indologists keep silent about the kshatriya side of the equation,
they risk both misunderstanding India and being misunderstood by Indians,
whether in India or elsewhere.

Best wishes,
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