[INDOLOGY] Malhotra plagiarism case and the Sanskrit tradition

Jesse Knutson jknutson at hawaii.edu
Sun Jul 19 04:35:00 UTC 2015

I don’t see how any skepticism can be entertained that Rajiv Malhotra has
plagiarized Nicholson’s book. This is the lowest level of academic
dishonesty that would lead to a university student failing a class, and/or
facing other disciplinary measures. It is pathetic, and the arrogance of
Malhotra to identify himself with a tradition on purely racial grounds is
both racist and absurd.  He is a practitioner of the lowest level of
identity politics, an uncultivated, utter fool.

Malhotra has admitted that he was a little bit sloppy. To keep things
simple, let's just take one of the examples of alleged plagiarism detected
by Prof. Young, which he labels “Example 7, Pt. 3.” It involves endnote 4
on p. 346 of *Indra’s Net*.

The example, with Prof. Young’s annotations, can be found here:

Here there is verbatim copying of 77 words. Furthermore, Malhotra’s text is
confusing, as it does not use quotation marks to set off Nicholson’s
translation of Vijnanabhiksu. This makes it appear that all of the words
are Malhotra's. Nicholson is nowhere noted as the author of these 77 words.

Now let’s look at the rebuttal website (
https://traditionresponds.wordpress.com/). This is what it recommends:

“9. Allegation that on Endnote 4, p.346 Indra’s Net: criticism that RM has
not cited Nicholson (2010).
Analysis: There is sufficient paraphrasing not to justify quotations. But,
nevertheless, Nicholson could have been cited. Recommendation: The
following should be added at the closing of Endnote 4: Summarized from
Nicholson 2010, 37, 45-46”“

 How can the verbatim copying of 77 words be “paraphrasing”? At every
university in the world, such copying, without any attribution whatsoever,
is called plagiarism, and considered the ultimate in academic dishonesty
and lack of integrity. This would still be plagiarism, even if the
recommended “Summarized from Nicholson. .  .” were added, for it is NOT
SUMMARIZING AT ALL. It is a direct quote, and requires quotation marks and
proper attribution. Malhotra, if he were a scholar, would also note where
Nicholson's translation of Vijnanabhiksu begins.

Richard Fox Young has compiled about nine other similar examples,
aggregated here (some of them involve works from authors other than

The website containing Malhotra’s rebuttal is called "The Tradition
Responds." If this is the "tradition" responding, the tradition is in very
poor shape indeed.  Malhotra doesn’t even know what the tradition is. He
thinks he has an inherited racial competence to represent it, but the
fundamental reality of the Sanskrit tradition is that it was a community of
cultivated individuals. Malhotra would and can have no place in it.

Someone else on this list has astutely pointed out that Sanskrit does
indeed have ways of indicating direct quotes e.g. ‘iti’ etc. In the
practices of Sanskrit intellectuals quotations were always attributed and
made clear, at least by the context. These intellectuals had no need to
steal others words because they were fully competent to compose their own.

Jesse Ross Knutson PhD
Assistant Professor of Sanskrit and Bengali, Department of Indo-Pacific
Languages and Literatures
University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
452A Spalding

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://list.indology.info/pipermail/indology/attachments/20150719/1876914a/attachment.htm>

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list