It is fashionable among intellectuals to assert that dharma traditions lacked any semblance of unity before the British, and that the contours of contemporary Hinduism were bequeathed to us by our colonial masters. Such arguments routinely target Swami Vivekananda, a key interlocutor who shattered many deeply rooted prejudices against Indian civilization. They accuse him of having camouflaged various alleged 'contradictions' within traditional Hinduism, and charge him with having appropriated the principles of Western religion to 'manufacture' a coherent and unified worldview and set of practices known today as Hinduism.
Indra's Net: Defending Hinduism's Philosophical Unity provides a foundation for refuting theories that slander contemporary Hinduism as illegitimate, ascribing sinister motives to its existence, and characterizing its fabric as oppressive. Rajiv Malhotra offers a detailed, systematic rejoinder to such views, and articulates the multi-dimensional, holographic understanding of reality that grounds Hindu dharma.
Each of my books tries to provoke a new kind of conversation, the for specific prejudice against Indian civilization Established biases covering a wide range of issues need to be exposed, especially when they are unsubstantiated. The objective of every book of mine is to pick a particular dominant narrative which is sustained by a nexus of scholars specializing in that theme, and then target it to effectively subvert it. The success of any such book may be measured in terms of how much challenge it generates against the incumbent positions. If my counter discourse can become established in the minds of a sufficient number of serious thinkers, then it will assume a life of its own and its effects will continue to snowball without my direct involvement. This is the end result I seek. To be effective, a book must resist straying from its strategic priorities and must avoid arguing too broadly.
For example, I developed the strategy, overall thesis, and much of the content of Invading the Sacred so as to take aim at the Freudian psychoanalytical critiques of Hinduism. This hegemonic discourse was being propagated by a powerful nexus in the heart of the Western academia, and had spread as a fad among Indian intellectuals. Invading the Sacred gave birth to, and incubated, a solid opposition which cannot be ignored today It spurred the Indian diaspora to recognize the syndrome and audaciously 'talk back to the establishment of scholars.
My subsequent book, Breaking India, focused on demonstrating how external forces are trying to destabilize India by deliberately undermining its civilization. Such efforts are targeted at confusing and ultimately aborting any collective positive identity based on Indian civilization. The book exposed the foreign interests and their Indian sepoys who see Hinduism as a random juxtaposition of incoherent and fragmented traditions. Many watchdog movements have sprung into action because of that book. It has triggered a domino effect with other researchers now exposing more instances of the same syndrome.
My most recent book, Being Different, presents a coherent and original view of dharma as a family of traditions that challenges the West's claim of universalism. Because Western universalism is unfortunately being used as the template for mapping and defining all cultures, it is important to become conscious of its distorted interpretation of Indian traditions. Being Different is prompting many Indians to question various simplistic views concerning their traditions. including some that are commonly espoused by their own gurus and political leaders. It is a handbook for serious intellectuals on how to 'take back' Hinduism by understanding it on its own terms.
The present book exposes the influential narrative that Hinduism was fabricated during British rule and became a dangerous new religion. The central thesis which I seek to topple asserts that Swami Vivekananda plagiarized Western secular and Christian ideas and then recast them in Sanskrit terminology to claim Indian origins for them.. Besides critiquing this nexus and defending Vivekananda's vision, this book also presents my own vision for the future of Hinduism and its place in the world.
book is about the ongoing battle over Hinduism's positioning on par with the world's major religions. It rebuts an increasingly powerful school of thought amongst the academia, which posits that Hinduism, as such, has never existed. What is popularly considered to be Hinduism today is dismissed as a potent myth concocted by Swami Vivekananda, who supposedly appropriated and repackaged Western concepts and practices as part of a nationalist project. Moreover, it is alleged that this project has produced many of the social ills found in India today.
This battle is not merely a philosophical debate. The ramifications of a discourse that pits contemporary Hinduism against its hoary past are profound and terrifying. The claim made by my opponents that there is no such thing as Hinduism-regardless of the name we might choose to assign it-simply denies the existence of an integrated unified spiritual substratum in ancient India. This battle, therefore, is also an intellectual one, with implications for the very survival of Hinduism as a tradition with a rich past, to be understood on its own terms.
The school of thought I debunk here represents an insidious, subtle. but nevertheless powerful, form of colonialism and conversion. Indeed, no explicit act of 'conversion' is even necessary, one is systemically re- programmed to believe that one was never a Hindu in the first place, and that the things one cherished about Hinduism all along were simply a repackaged collection of Christian and Westem secular beliefs and values. Thus, one is made to feel that one loses nothing by abandoning Hinduism other than the term itself.
This pernicious ploy is used to create fissures in Hindu society by pitting the spiritual giants of Hinduism against one other, and to distort their subtle and deeply intricate viewpoints. The book not only disproves this dangerous line of thought, it offers a new framework in which to understand and interpret Hindu identity that is broad and yet well-defined, authentic and yet accessible, embracing both the traditional and the contemporary.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
Brahma Sutras (77)
Yoga Vasistha (81)
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