Sunday, July 3, 2022

Hinduphobia in academia: An agenda which shows no stopping

(HInduphobia in academia is the work of a few Indian and Western scholars which has spawned an industry. Here we reproduce an insight from an independent scholar, Vishal Agarwal, which he shared with IndiaFacts. This is the first of the two-part series)

When Britishers invaded India, they not only enslaved the country but dented the entire cultural and historical reading of India. 

From the colonial times, India was portrayed as the country which is savage, uncivilized, in a desperate need of civilizing. Western scholarship often depicted India– its religious and cultural traditions– as primitive and inferior. Historians drew a picture of India and portrayed it through the P/C lens, where P stands for Pollution, Population, and Poverty and C denotes Curry, Caste and Cow. 

Unfortunately the attack on literary, spiritual and artistic heritage of India still continues- the only change is, they are not using their people alone but rather engaging their educational system also to spread misinformation about the Hindu heritage and religion. 

The entire historical reading of India by the dominant school of Western historians and their Indian disciples is a series of successful foreign invasions to which Hindu India invariably succumbed. Under the blanket of academic enterprise and free-speech, the so-called academicians are often found presenting their Hinduphobic commentaries.

A Hinduphobic discourse, according to Jeffrey Long, “is a narrative which typically portrays Hinduism exclusively as an oppressive and regressive tradition inextricably bound up with social institutions like caste and patriarchy.” 

The descriptions by these academicians of Hinduism is outright insulting and they have turned the classrooms into the battleground for geo-politically charged fights where the anti-Hindu biases of the academicians are ruling the roost. Vishal Agarwal is one such person who has written  extensive critiques about western scholars. Agarwal is a biomedical engineer by day and Hinduism teacher on weekends who devotes much of his free time to studying literature on the Hindu tradition. 

In his recent conversation with IndiaFacts he talks about how, in the name of scholarship, which is really hatred and racism in disguise, Hindus are routinely characterized as misogynists, oppressive, minority killing, irrational, violent and debauched.

The center of his critique during the conversation was Wendy Doniger, who claims herself to be an expert of Hinduism and had authored the controversial book on history of Hindus. 

Aggarwal begins his presentation by pointing out how the fault theories are used as weapons by the scholars against the Indians.  

Adding to it he mentioned how colonial scholars use the “caste” and “Hinduism” synonymously. He said, “ Vedas, which have almost 20,400 mantras, have the word caste present in hardly 500 mantras. We’ve probably read the Bhagvad Gita, which has 700 shlokas, just about 20 of the shlokas refer to caste but if you read in the logical discourse by these scholars on Hinduism, It is as if Hinduism is nothing but caste”

Now if we question that what about the scholarships of those scholars? People can argue that they have spent decades studying about the core. What about the research made by them? It would be shocking to know that many schools including the German School of Indology have opted for a criticism methodology and they have applied it uncritically to Hindu scriptures.

Agarwal revealed how students who take up Indology or South Asian studies in these schools selectively take the data and then add their own personal opinion to that and then deliver it as conclusion.

Colonial scholars proposed a highly flawed theory that states that Sanskrit language is a foreign language. They even went on to claim that Vedas do not belong to India and have a foreign origin. 

It is important to highlight that the mainstream academia in the United States of America still clings to this racist invasion theory. 

Another issue that he talks about is how these scholars are demeaning Hinduism as a religion of sex and perversion. 

Paul Courtright, one of the “prodigy” of Wendy Doniger, in his book, Ganesa: Lord of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings’ describes the trunk of Ganesa as a limp phallus, his broken tusk as castration, and even the staff of a brahmachari during the sacred thread ceremony as a ‘detachable penis.’

Jeffrey Kripal, another student of Doniger, alleged a homosexual relationship between Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. 

Wendy herself in one book suggested that Shankaracharya indulged in sexual activities with King Amrok and his wives. 

Now, these are the stuff that these scholars teach their students about India’s saints and culture. 

Agarwal then took on the school textbooks which are used to influence the naive minds of children. He takes a dig at Marxist historians in India who refuse to consider Hinduism a religion and calls them “a class of mentally colonized historians”.

“If you read their NCERT textbooks and other works they say that hinduism is not a religion… Why do these people privilege themselves in applicable categories to describe who we are?” he said during his presentation.

He pointed out how Romila Thapar, the “eminent” historian, in her class 6th NCERT social studies book titled ‘Ancient India’ cannot even spare more than two lines and a short paragraph on the Mahabharata and Ramayana but devoted an entire chapter to Islam.

(To be continued)


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