[INDOLOGY] passion and dispassion

Howard Resnick hr at ivs.edu
Mon Jul 20 04:42:46 UTC 2015

	Mr. Malhotra has been roundly, though not uniformly, rebuked on this conference. We should recall that even history’s greatest villains have been the object of extensive, even dispassionate, historical study. To give one grotesque example, scholars widely link Hitler’s rise to power to economic and social conditions in Germany after WW I. This does not entail a theory of socio-historical determinism that would entirely exonerate Hitler’s supporters, but it was a crucial factor, and it did directly inspire the Marshall Plan after WW 2.

	Those Indologists not keenly interested in contemporary Hinduism, including the Hindu-science or Hindu-Indology interface, or indeed those Indologists not particularly drawn to meta-epistemology as an often unseen, but always active determinant of Indological views — those Indologists may be satisfied to excoriate Mr. Malhotra, at times deservedly.

	But just as the refutation of unreason is a virtue, so too is humble introspection. A thorough, dispassionate analysis of the Malhotra phenomenon would include a scholarly, disapassionate examination of the attitudes and assumptions of Indology toward objects, processes, and events held sacred by lots of people.

	Lest some misunderstand, I gratefully acknowledge the enormous and invaluable contribution of Indology to our understanding of South Asian religions and cultures. Yet the most impressive enterprises should remain open to self-critical introspection.


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