I shared a post about a newlywed couple, a Hindu man and a Muslim woman, marrying for love only to be harassed and threatened with death by their local community and the Muslim woman’s family because the Hindu man didn’t convert to Islam upon marrying his wife. It was very popular on the subreddit and brought in much discussion on the problems of religious tolerance in regards to a large minority population of a Islamic community and how India is a test-case for what happens when societies respect religious tolerance above Free Speech. Unfortunately, an Admin decided to ban it with no explanation. I wonder how it is that a subreddit claiming to be about open dialogue and good faith discussion about politics and philosophy can just ban topics arbitrarily. I followed all the guidelines, giving a Submission Statement explaining how this was important to better understand the problems that Religious Tolerance can create in a society by using the example of a Democratic country that actively tries to ban criticism of religion instead of allowing Free Speech. In Islam, a Muslim woman can’t marry a non-Muslim man because Islam treats women as property and not as people. While a Muslim man can marry a woman who is a “person of the book” meaning the Abrahamic faith traditions of Judaism and Christianity, even this is not acceptable for Muslim women. This is imposed upon Muslims by Islamic rulings as per Islamic theology and claims that Quran’s Chapter 2 opposes this is moot because Islam’s Tafsir system abrogates older passages and chapters of the Quran with newer chapters. If anyone is confused or curious by how Islam’s theory of Abrogation works and wish to be more informed to better understand why an entire Muslim community is threatening to kill these newlyweds over a Muslim woman’s choice to marry a man she loves, please click here. The US government – supported by both Republicans and Democrats – even has a list of Islamic countries that impose this religiously sanctioned misogyny upon Muslim women. When the newlywed couple sought police protection, the police physically and verbally threatened the Hindu man to change his religion to Islam in defense of the Muslim community’s outrage towards a Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim man, who were growing in ire over the marriage. The couple then went to the Indian media to beg for help and only the BJP-favorable media like OpIndia has shared the story of their suffering at the hands of Islamic violence.
I feel this is an important issue to highlight, because Western Academia seems poised to just ignore painful truths of history, even if it means genocide denial for the sake of treating all religions as equal. After learning more about the issues within Islam, I had to re-evaluate what I thought was true from US Indology books and so I made this post to highlight a perturbing trend of genocide denial by US Indology departments that seem to be extending across Western Indology and it may be branching into other portions of Western academia as well. That is why I feel it was necessary to make this post because what I thought was fairly innocuous information in Unifying Hinduism is now incredibly alarming when I reflect back on it.
Claims by US Indologists from Chapter 10 of Andrew Nicholson’s Book “Unifying Hinduism“:
“HINDUISM: A MODERN INVENTION? “Hindu” was not originally a Sanskrit word but a Persian term used by Muslims to describe a regional or ethnic identity: the people living near the Indus, or Sindhu, river.44 Only at a relatively late date was the term adopted by Indians to refer to themselves, typically as distinguished from outsider groups known as turuskas (Turks) or mlecchas (barbarians). Cynthia Talbot has recorded the earliest usage of the word “Hindu” in an Indian language from inscriptions in mid-fourteenth-century Andhra, in which some Vijayanagara kings were described with the epithet “Sultan among Hindu kings” (Hindu-raya-suratrana).45 Talbot cautions, though, that in these inscriptions, “Hindu meant Indic as opposed to Turkish, not ‘of the Hindu religion’ as opposed to ‘of the Islamic religion.’”46 In Gaudīya Vaiṣṇava texts written in Bengali in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, “Hindu” was occasionally used to distinguish natives from yavanas or mlecchas.47 Although the context makes clear that these foreigners were Muslims, Gaudīya Vaiṣṇava writers did not state this explicitly until the eighteenth century, when the term musulmāna fnally became common usage in Bengali. In this case too, the word may have designated ethnicity generally and not a specific set of religious beliefs.
Further on in the chapter:
“Unlike later Hindu nationalist intellectuals, who sometimes recorded their fantasies of heroic and violent resistance to Muslim oppression, Sanskrit intellectuals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries responded with silence.28”
Source: Nicholson, Andrew J. Chapter 10: Hindu Unity And The Non-Hindu Other (4806-5293). Unifying Hinduism: Philosophy and Identity in Indian Intellectual History (South Asia Across the Disciplines). Columbia University Press, 2010.
Do you remember when intelligent interviews and discussions were the norm? When you got to learn something of incredible value from an interview and it wasn’t a pissing contest with an interviewee leaving the stage because they couldn’t take a few basic questions that journalists asked so they could clarify any confusion for audiences? Or when people could just be part of a panel and not have someone storm off for hashtags and tweets and then be rewarded by the worthless rabble for refusing to even be part of a discussion?
Free Speech seems to already be dead and it is dead because so-called advocates of it don’t even follow its core tenants. The people who behave like the recent so-called “public intellectuals” have killed it and continue to defecate on its corpse while claiming to be its paragons.
I recently happened upon this disinformation article by IndiaToday claiming to be factual. It is full of misdirection, omissions, and lies and I want to prove it to you all.
Sharia law courts must NEVER be allowed in India. Do not allow this horrible, disgusting system infect India because of “religious tolerance” — it is not worth it.
The Sharia is essentially Divine Command Theory put into practice; Sharia scholars can only act based on the Quran, the Quran interpreting other parts of the Quran, what the pedophilic Islamic Prophet Mohammad did in his life because he’s seen as the perfect human being in Islam, and then “verified” Hadiths are used to support following certain practices so long as the Quran allows it; after that, Sharia scholars can give an “independent opinion” so long as it follows the Quran, Mohammad’s behavior, the Hadiths, or the First Followers of the Quran. Making new and updated practices for the modern era is strictly forbidden under the rule called “bidah” (invention) in a religion. One thing should be make explicitly clear here: The Sharia Court System is Fundamentally Opposed To All Outside Logic and Reason. No non-Muslim opinion is considered valid. When a Sharia scholar gives a ruling, Muslims are divinely mandated to follow it as unquestioned fact of Islam that they aren’t allowed to dispute. Keep in mind all of the following below has to be accepted by Muslims as unquestioned fact under Divine Command Theory of Sharia.
Don’t believe me? A link to the Tafsir explanation by a noteworthy and respected Islamic Cleric. I’ve added full links next to the one-clicks, if you don’t believe me: https://islamqa.info/en/answers/205290/tafseer-on-the-basis-of-narrated-texts-and-tafseer-on-the-basis-of-individual-understanding
The Sharia means “Divine Law” and in Civil Sharia Proceedings, a woman has half the say of a man even in cases of rape. Meaning two women must be there to verify the statements of a single man in cases of rape.
The Quran supports killing Apostates so in Civil Proceedings, anyone who wants to leave Islam would be killed for apostasy. http://corpus.quran.com/translation.jsp?chapter=4&verse=89
Women and little girls being held captive to rape is considered morally justified in the Sharia: http://corpus.quran.com/translation.jsp?chapter=4&verse=24
Beating your wife is acceptable under Sharia as per Quranic instructions: http://corpus.quran.com/translation.jsp?chapter=4&verse=34
Violence against other religious groups, even different Islamic groups, is mandated thanks to Chapter 9 of the Quran; here’s just a small snippet: http://corpus.quran.com/translation.jsp?chapter=9&verse=29
Raping little girls is legal in Sharia Civil Courts because the Pedophile Prophet Mohammad had sex with his 9 year old bride Aisha when he was around 50; it is justified by Aisha’s own admittance in the Hadiths: https://islamqa.info/en/answers/124483/age-of-the-mother-of-the-believers-aaishah-may-allah-be-pleased-with-her-when-the-prophet-blessings-and-peace-of-allah-be-upon-him-married-her
This has real world consequences in Sharia Legal Systems across the Arab world because Sharia courts don’t consider raping women or little girls a crime: https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2017/05/mais-haddad-arab-world-laws-protect-the-rapist-not-the-victim/
I have no idea to what extent this view will be controversial or seem misinformed, but after looking into the political situation of India and its surrounding borders, I’ve come to the conclusion that this woman is either willfully ignorant, a charlatan, deeply hateful of her country and her fellow people, or some combination of each of those contentions.
First, I’d like to dissuade any readers that might jeer at me for being some BJP street thug as I’m often accused of online when making any opinion on Indian politics – particularly on websites like Quora. I’m a US-born and raised Indian and I’m only looking at this from a political science lens. I had initially been swept up by the anti-BJP rhetoric that seems to be permeating throughout the mainstream US media as of now, but after looking into matters further, I’ve concluded that the US government and media are too dumb to adequately understand the dangers of this anti-BJP narrative and the Christian missionaries who are pushing for forced conversions are only going to cause an utter bloodbath between Muslims and Christians thanks to the age-old Abrahamic cultural hate that’s existed since Islam emerged in world history.
I’ve since changed my mind after researching the political climate of India and its neighbors. But I’d like to add that the BJP and so-called Right-wing of India’s political culture is overly sensitive to criticism and incredibly stupid in its responses. Thankfully, Modi and his administration are quite competent in deftly handling situations otherwise the corruption and anti-nationalist politics would continue dominating India. Instead of defending rapists, his government has pushed for reforms to punish child rapists, he’s pushed for job growth through environmental initiatives, he’s pushed for policies for child safety measures from abusive households, he’s pushed for women’s rights and celebrated International Women’s Day , and pushed for anti-corruption. The problem seems to be this overly paternalistic and frankly idiotic narrative towards college kids who want to protest for the rights of a convicted terrorist, a terrorist who clearly wants to kill the civilian public, and the college kids protest for that guy’s rights… for whatever reason. Nevertheless, admonishing them for drinking habits and sex is completely stupid. In a democracy, they should have the freedom to do as they please with their life choices. The BJP should have put more effort into the convicted terrorist’s criminal activity instead of personally insulting college youth.
I’m of the opinion that Arundhati Roy genuinely doesn’t give a shit about her fellow Indians based on her actions. The level of loathing and vindictiveness that this woman seems to have for India as a whole leaves me speechless at times. I don’t think any other democracy would have made her look like some activist fighting for human rights or presuming she has credentials where she really doesn’t since all she has offer is having written a best-selling novel once. I only speak harshly because it seems increasingly obvious to me that this woman, through her actions, deliberately tries to increase tensions and spur loathing and contempt among India’s civilian population. Under veneers of reconciliation and human rights, all she really offers is writing content that exploits scheduled castes, Muslim minorities, and so forth into hating their government and the majority population. I would actually contrast her with Amartya Sen, who I find gets just as much backlash from the BJP supporters but for far less justifiable reasons. Amartya Sen is ridiculed and lumped with Marxists like Pankaj Mishra, but having read his book The Argumentative Indian, I have not found this to be true. He’s further been criticized for wanting to “break India” by many BJP bloggers and Twitter handlers, but this is again untrue. Amartya Sen took extensive pains to celebrate the unity of India by pointing out the Heterodox tradition that foreign travelers independently detailed during ancient times. India is a heterodox culture which he feels proud to be a part of; from what I recall, he explicitly says this and suggests reading about great intellectual icons of India. I had assumed the BJP supporters had similar misapprehensions about Roy, but after looking at the evidence, I can only conclude that their criticisms about her are justified.
The reason being is that only someone willfully ignorant would ignore the devastating realities happening in each Muslim majority country around India’s borders and the selective narrative of the Rohingya refugee crisis that genuinely horrified me when I read more into it. I’d first like to begin with Afghanistan and detail what happened there when Islamic fascists consisting of the Mujahideen took over:
From journalist and Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at UCLA, Nushin Arbabzadah, in what was an attempt by a lecturer from a Liberal College to warn the US public about the dangers of Islam in an article about the Mujahideen and Islam:
28 April marks the 19th anniversary of the mujahideen’s victory over the Red Army forces in Afghanistan. The original mujahideen of the 1980s and today’s Taliban may use the same language of holy war, but their understanding of jihad is worlds apart. The key difference between the original mujahideen and the Taliban is that the former waged a traditional type of jihad. In a traditional jihad, if waged locally, a contest over control of resources takes place between rival strongmen who each run their own private armies. In this scenario, the ultimate legitimacy to rule draws upon military strength, but the contest itself is called jihad simply because Islam is the sole language of political legitimacy.
Crucially, in a traditional jihad, the victorious party has an unspoken right to pillage, rape and loot the conquered population. This is because militia fighters are not paid soldiers in a regular army and hence looting is the material reward they receive for fighting. The original mujahideen followed this traditional pattern of jihad upon coming to power in 1992. Since competition over resources rather than ideology is key to traditional jihad, the mujahideen’s war focused on Kabul where the nation’s wealth and the foreign embassies, another potential source of funding, were to be found.
Judging by a historical account from the 1920s, back then the women and girls of the conquered populations also belonged to the pillage package offered to militia jihadis. Hence, in the diaries of court chronicler Katib Hazara on the siege of Kabul in 1929, we read that the victorious mujahideen of the time had demanded to see the list of girls registered at a Kabul school so as to allocate female students to militia fighters.
Katib’s account might be exaggerated, but the story still reveals that there was an unspoken rule that women and girls were part of the conquest package. As such, the mujahideen’s struggle over Kabul was a continuation of traditional jihad complete with internal rivalries, pillage and looting. The mujahideen were part of the realm of traditional politics in which a conquered region is a turf that can be exploited by strongmen, who call themselves mujahideen so as to appear respectable.
Now, a Hard-Leftist may credibly argue that US foreign policy helped shape that situation. However, it doesn’t explain the utter catastrophe that is Pakistan, which a Pakistani government official has bravely spoken up about and extensively detailed in a book under threat to her own life. Pakistani Farahnaz Ispahani’s book, Purifying the Land of the Pure, goes into the extensive history and effects of the Islamic Republic upon Pakistani minorities who have been ruthlessly slaughtered by the Muslim majority country. The situation of Asia Bibi is only the tip of the iceberg for how destructive, violent, and outright murderous Pakistan is for Sikhs, Christians, and Hindus living as minority groups under Muslim rule. The vast majority of these groups have all fled due to a variety of reasons. From having hands chopped off for blasphemy offenses, to women in these religious minority groups being raped and then being forced to marry their Muslim rapists, to being murdered over a cup of water, being randomly attacked, and now that they’re a fringe minority, the majority Sunni Muslims have turned their sights on Shia Muslims and began murdering them en masse to continue these historic genocidal abuses.
The interview with Farahnaz Ispahani:
From 23% in 1947, Pakistan’s minorities today constitute a mere 3-4% of the population, says Farahnaz Ispahani, media advisor to the president of Pakistan from 2008 to 2012 in her book Purifying the Land of the Pure: Pakistan’s Religious Minorities.
She blames the successive Pakistan presidents and prime ministers for launching a slow genocide against minorities in the country to shore up their political base. She specifically blames Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the Pak army general who was the country’s 6th president, for creating a militant group to target Shias, Ahmadis, Hindus and Christians. Edited excerpts from an interview:
Could you tell us something about the title of your book Purifying the Land of the Pure: Pakistan’s Religious Minorities?
Pakistan itself means pure land. The reason I chose it is because I have traced in my book, using historical archives, how Pakistan which set out to be a secular albeit Muslims majority state, ended up becoming what it is today. When Pakistan was being formed in 1947, Pakistan’s population of non-Muslims was 23%, today we are somewhere between 3%-4%. So there has been a purification of minorities.
So my big question was where have they gone? What I have uncovered is quite devastating because it has not been one government or one man who has been culpable. It’s not only (former president) General Zia ul Haq. It has been from the time of Mr (Mohammed Ali) Jinnah, the Qaid-e-Azam of Pakistan, as he lay dying, already the political and bureaucratic wheels were moving towards a more Muslim state.
I am saying that for all religious minorities—Muslim and non-Muslim—there has been a purification. This is what I call drip drip genocide. Normally when people talk about genocide, they talk about Nazi Germany or they talk about Yugoslavia. In the case of Pakistan, this is slow genocide, this drip, drip, drip over 76 years.
You refer to the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) founder and ideologue Maulana Abul Ala Maududi in your book. Was this purification the handiwork of politicians only or did religious leaders and scholars also have a role?
Maulana Maududi did not support the formation of Pakistan; he did not think it would be Muslim enough. Mr. Jinnah, as he was dying, talked at length about Pakistan’s minorities and said no matter what someone’s faith was would not matter in Pakistan. But after he died what happened was, most of the people who were in leadership positions in Pakistan, in the Muslim League like our first prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan, were not from Pakistan. So they did not have natural constituencies as politicians.
You have a man like Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan who himself was very secular in most ways. He becomes the man who brings about the resolution which went into every single constitution we ever had, which was very clear in that it said that Pakistan was a Muslim state. And that the Quran and Shariat and Sunnah (verbally transmitted teachings of the Prophet) are to be part and parcel of the state. It was the ugliest form of realpolitik.
What people like Liaquat and Chaudhury Mohammed Ali (fourth prime minister of Pakistan), etc., did was that they revived “Islam is in danger” as the glue to keep them in their positions. Mr. Maududi and his fellow clergymen therefore became of great value to the political leadership of Pakistan to justify their decisions, to keep them in power.
And as you go on, when you have the first proper martial law in Pakistan when General Ayub (Khan) takes over, you see the nexus of the military with the mullahs and politicians who were acceptable to the military.
You have talked of the links between politics, religion and the military. How did militancy come to be linked with this?
The first well-known and well-organised terrorist militia that we know about that dealt with religious minorities was created by Zia-ul-Haq. It was called the Sipah-e-Sahaba and its sole job was to harass Shias. So, that is the first group that we see that is armed and trained and reasonably openly by the (Pakistani) government of that time.
Some of these groups—not all—in some seasons cross borders and in some seasons there are at home purifying the land of the pure, whether it is blowing up Ahmadi places of worship or Christian worshippers at mass or Shia imambargahs.
So the state’s policy that goes back to the very beginning of mixing religion with politics and then religion, politics and the military together has resulted in a terrible situation not just from the point of view of Pakistan’s neighbours but for us Pakistanis as well. Over 60,000 Pakistanis have died due to attacks internally by terrorists.
Of all the politicians who have done their bit for the decimation of minorities, would you say that it was president Zia-ul-Haq who did the most damage?
Yes. Two things, he legalised Islamisation—whether it was bringing in the Hudood (ordinance in 1979 under which Sharia laws applied in cases of extramarital sex, theft and prohibition). From very little things like introducing prayer times in government buildings to very, very, very harsh laws of blasphemy. The other thing would be the birth of these jihadi groups in a very, very big way.
He attempted to alter our culture—Pakistani diplomats’s wives could no longer wear saris—they were considered Hindu and un-Islamic. You could no longer say Khuda Hafiz; you had to say Allah Hafiz.
These small things have now percolated down and they have shaped an entire culture. So that’s what he did, the small things changing the way people thought, the laws which were then impossible to get around and then the Jihadi groups.
How can this state of affairs be changed?
It has to be through political leadership, even though we saw in (Punjab governor) Salman (Taseer)’s case that in spite of everything when (his security guard) Mumtaz Qadri pumped his body full (in 2011) of bullets the other people stood there and watched. Later Qadri was garlanded and the judge who found him (Qadri) guilty, we had to send the judge and his entire family out of Pakistan. I was in government then. He’s never come back.
This book is like a death sentence for me. Civil society at that time had no leadership. And the reaction was don’t even talk about it. Don’t even mention Asiya Bibi (Pakistani Christian found guilty of blasphemy and sentenced to death. Taseer opposed her punishment). Look at Salman, he was so foolish. There was no one willing to bury him. I had to find somebody, beg someone to read his last rites. And then, I had to get that person and their family out of Lahore.
So is this the worst for Pakistan and therefore can one say that change can only make things better?
I could never say something like that because its impossible to be so categorical. Pakistan is a functional state still and there is a lot of room for change. I hope things turn around. But I think a big part of it is that jihadi groups have to be dealt with. They can no longer be good jihadi groups and bad jihadi groups. There should be no jihadi groups. Countries can have militaries and countries can have diplomacy. Unless we move past this kind of a situation, the world is losing patience.
Any point when this could be changed?
From the very start. Mr. Jinnah was still alive and they have the temerity to block his speech from the radio. That entire speech was about how important Pakistan’s religious minorities were and how absolutely vital it was for pluralism and to have a successful state for all citizens to have a place. Once you end up introducing a religious law it is almost impossible to amend it or to change it because they are seen as protecting Islam and feelings of Muslims.
In the book, I break this down into four stages – and I call stage one Muslimisation. This comes about between 1945 and 1951. There is a massive decline in Hindu and Sikh populations and therefore Pakistan became more Muslim demographically.
Stage two is Islamic identity. This is where you see from 1958 onwards state-sponsored text books reject pluralism, paint religious minorities very negative, highlight and glorify Islamic history with no South Asian basis. So an attempt was made to forge a Pakistani identity purely on the basis of Islam.
The third stage is Islamisation. This is where legislation in an attempt to make the country’s laws more Islamic resulted in creating a legal framework against the minorities. It started in 1974 and continues up to 1988. This was all done in General Zia’s time.
Stage four is militant hostility towards the minorities, which is the stage at which we are and we have terrorism and organised violence.
First Published: Tue, Jan 19 2016. 12 35 PM IST
Research and Book Update
Indology is a Worthless Academic Course: Why Hindutva Needn’t Fear Western Academia and How My Research Has Disappointed Me
After having finished writing my chapter on Islam, I proceeded to conduct further research into Buddhist and Hindu history that I had began before even finishing the chapters on Christianity and Islam. To this end, I decided to research more into Indology departments in Western Academia since I was under the assumption they could provide me with the most accurate and well-researched information. Indology is a branch of Religious Studies that focuses on the religions indigenous to India so I had no doubts when beginning to read into the studies. Indology has made bold claims about Hinduism being a modern invention and that Indians have largely deluded themselves into believing a unified Hinduism existed. I was apprehensive, but completely willing to accept historic facts and any theological contradictions brought up should they be present. I resigned myself to such possibilities and I knew of the Hindutva outcry that made me worry about an increasing anti-intellectual streak in India. I had wiki’d the Religious Studies course in order to gain a better basic understanding, but the terms seemed overly broad. Undeterred, since a wiki being unable to provide accurate or useful information was nothing new to me, I decided to look up research by Indologists and skimmed through some passages about one such book by a Indologist named Gerald J. Larson. Unfortunately, what I found was a broad generalization based on nothing more than a portion of the nationalistic song of modern India having portions of a Christian song in national unity with Christians in India. The man used one small call for national unity to paint a broad generalization, but never submitted any other evidence for the claim that Hinduism was a modern theological invention with an unfounded religious history. This was one anecdote of inter-religious unity with Christians and the man took it as proof that Hinduism was some sort of deluded copout of modernity. I checked his other book on a specific Hindu Atheist philosophy, and found that he listed a bunch of people making assertions without any archaeological or historical evidence about how the Hindu atheist system existed in India and then claiming they were wrong based on his own baseless assertions. These weren’t expert opinions with historic facts present in any arguments, although they seem to believe their own views as more credible than the random guesses that they were. All I saw was just a listing of random guesses on how the belief structure worked based on insufficient evidence. I looked up Andrew Nicholson’s sample beginning in Unifying Hinduism before purchasing it as this seemed to be the most interesting and recent book, and he outright admits that pre-modern India had overlap with branching beliefs and that Indologists evidently know this . . . so why aren’t these schools and their overlap seen as denominations by Indologists? Why aren’t the re-contextualized axioms seen as denominational differences within Hinduism similar to other religions? I investigated further . . . .
After reading more translated Hindu texts and comparing them with the opinion pieces, I was thoroughly confused by how these people could argue inclusiveness in Hinduism as proof that they were different religions and not a unified religion. In fact, they ignore the explicit texts of each Gita (Song) favoring unity with Brahman under a specific God or Goddess to argue that it’s not “unified” and even argue that such arguments are proof they’re different religions and not denominational differences. I thought perhaps I didn’t understand something crucial, but in my mind, I was already comparing Hinduism to the history of Christianity that I knew. I decided that I had to look into the veracity of these claims made by the Indologists and so I took the time to purchase the Oxford Handbook of Indian Philosophy. I eagerly began reading to try to ascertain why my personal views were so diametrically opposed to the texts that these Indologists have read and translated themselves. The first chapter explains that this entire enterprise of Religious Studies of Indian Philosophy has no true understanding of Indian philosophy at all and are simply making guesswork. This is not a strawman or an attempt at some character assassination; this is literally what their explanation is for their so-called theorizing. Evidently, all they do is make a bunch of empty guesses and nothing else. They don’t do archaeology or read into Indian history, despite noting changing trends in Hinduism . . . which they take as proof that Hinduism isn’t a unified religion. I sifted through other chapters relevant for my research and to try to satisfy this confusion I felt. A chapter explaining how they don’t know the history of India and don’t bother researching it. To my surprise, they repeatedly reference a paranoid conspiracy theory about an Aryan Invasion which has been debunked by other departments of Western Academia and is now recognized as a paranoid conspiracy theory celebrated by Nazis and formed from Western racism. I’m sorry to say this pervasive usage of a paranoid conspiracy theory tarnishes the content of their research; the Four Noble Truths are interpreted as racialized categories instead of the philosophical precepts since the term “4 Arya Truths” is repeatedly presumed to be a racialized concept — which they compare to an even more fictitious pre-Aryan civilization (since Aryan and Pre-Aryan are both fictions as there is no such thing as an Aryan race). The Aryan race paranoid conspiracy thereby causes massive failures in historical accuracy and reasoning throughout this book. This is supposed to be teaching eager young minds the basics of Indology and it completely fails. I’m genuinely surprised they were too lazy to check themselves and instead repeatedly reference a paranoid conspiracy theory as their cited evidence.
Even if I were to be generous about this massive failure, there’s even worse failures in historical accuracy. The Oxford Handbook implies that Indian civilization never had contact with the West and never once seems to have any reference to or knowledge of Alexander the Great’s failed conquest and the direct result of that failure: the cultural trade, Greek immigration, and eventual creation of a Greco-Buddhist empire in which the Greco-Romans and indigenous Indians joined together in what is historically seen as one of the most peaceful unifications of culture in all of world history. There’s no mention of this at all. It incorporated such an important component of Northern Indian history and there’s no indication that any of these so-called scholars have ever even researched this important cultural and transnational milestone. In fact, they celebrate keeping Indian and so-called “Western” culture separate and see them as opposed; they largely homogenize and generalize Hinduism as something that supposedly failed to be consistent . . . from 300 BCE to around 1700 AD. I don’t understand how or why anyone could or should believe any culture could remain in some static state for that long or why the changing times would be seen as proof that Hinduism is a modern invention, but it’s clear these Indologists don’t understand how math and history are interrelated. They don’t have any clear concept or theory, it’s just random guesswork. I’m sorry, but their reasoning simply lacks any critical faculties; they repeatedly harp on about Analytical philosophy of the West being so different from Hindu philosophy, but apart from one person using Hobbes as some go-to to understand the diverse literature of philosophy as a basic comparison (and even this is putting it mildly, as the person using Hobbes doesn’t actually appear to understand Hobbes, but rather generalizes his philosophy for a miniscule comparison), there seems to be no deep comparison of philosophy between Hinduism and the Western traditions. They don’t even seem to be aware of the progress in mathematics that India can rightly be proud of like the mathematical formulas of Brahmagupta and Aryabhhata.
To my genuine surprise, this entire so-called discipline seems to be largely incurious of doing any actual research into Indian history. The Oxford book complains about the lack of comparative religious and philosophical studies, but no Indologist seems to genuinely want to attempt such an enterprise. I asked two friends, one who has a degree in History and another in philosophy, and both informed me that Religious Studies really lacks in actual historical research and accuracy. They simply don’t bother doing it before making any assertions about other people’s religions. Out of all of Western academia, Religious Studies lacks in critical examination of actual history, archaeology, and understanding of cultural diversity. I can presume then, that all these people really know how to do is translate texts. If that’s the case, then they don’t have any unique knowledge or special privilege. Their research is bogus and based on bad evidence. From my own research, I can personally attest that they use paranoid conspiracy theories liberally. Even the arguments from some of these so-called scholars don’t make any sense and are teeming with arrogance. Andrew Nicholson, the translator of Siva Song and author of Unifying Hinduism, seems to lack the critical thinking faculties of the much-loved Analytical Philosophy that his colleagues repeatedly harp about and whom he adamantly defends. He made a response to Rajiv Malhotra, claiming on twitter that Malhotra had plagiarized him, yet he never took Malhotra to court. In his criticism of Rajiv Malhotra, he actually argues that Malhotra has no right to an opinion because he doesn’t understand Sanskrit; Nicholson proceeds to completely destroy his own argument against Malhotra’s assertions that Western academia is making spurious assertions against Hinduism by attributing his own personal guesses on ancient Hinduism to the influence of his thesis advisor Pollock. Why is this self-refuting? Because it means that both Nicholson and Pollock’s ideas have absolutely nothing to do with Hinduism and are their own personal opinions on the religion. If Pollock’s ideas are original, which I don’t dispute, then he isn’t actually doing research since that means he isn’t trying to uncover an ancient philosophy of a religion analogous to an archaeologist, but rather just making things up without sufficient evidence. Now, Nicholson does this in his own book, Unifying Hinduism. In one such argument in favor of a unified Hinduism, Nicholson argues in support of a Hindu identity and contends the assertions of his Indologist colleague Paul Hacker who tries to assert some bizarre generalization that a billion Hindus feel inferior and his even more bizarre re-contextualization of Modern Hinduism and pre-modern Hinduism into some neo-terms that have no basis. I held a favorable disposition for Nicholson and an unfavorable one for Hacker, I readily admit this and I found Nicholson provided a better argument . . . but by the end, Nicholson diverges into ad hominen and implies Hacker has no right to an opinion because he’s a Christian. I sort of just stared at that as it took me a moment to process that a Western scholar could be so blatantly bigoted and provide such a ridiculous error in reasoning. Nicholson attempts to argue a middle approach that rejects what he sees as Hacker’s presumable extremism. He doesn’t seem to understand that he’s using the logical fallacy of ad hominen against both Hacker and Malhotra. He’s also committing the middle-ground fallacy. He doesn’t seem to understand that he’s given ample cause to dismiss this entire branch of Western academia as worthless; if even his fellow Indologists are considered to have valueless opinions, based on a bigoted notion against their religious beliefs, then how on earth is one suppose to make any progress in this discipline? What does progress even look like? What viewpoints can even be called worthwhile? Evidently, Malhotra has no right to an opinion because he isn’t a translator and Hacker has no right to an opinion because he is a Christian. Also, Indology admits it makes random guesses and will never actually progress with anything meaningful. What even is this? How can an entire department of academia lack so much in its credibility? Why has this ridiculous department not been shut down yet?
In what could have been an interesting final analysis, Nicholson consistently asserts his confusion about why Islam wasn’t integrated into Hinduism and tries to use the Rama re-tellings of replacing Asuras with terms identifying Muslims as proof of Hindu bigotry. He poorly asserts that arguments about Islam being nihilistic is proof Hindus were ignorant since it was the same assertion against Buddhists. He seems entirely unaware of the genocide of 8 million people that Islam committed in Northwestern India, he seems to fail to understand that the re-tellings are parallels to the religion of Zoroastrianism which also forbids the usage of interest rates and believes in sinfulness, and it’s made abundantly clear that he has absolutely no understanding of Islamic theology at all when trying to figure out why Hinduism never tried to adapt it. He consistently asserts Hindu bigotry, but makes no attempt at actually comparing the religions. How hard would it have been to simply seek advice and information from a fellow colleague within his own Religious Studies department? Failing that, how hard would it have been to google search a local Mosque or Islamic center and go ask about Islam there? How hard would it have been to simply research Islamic theology through google or go on the multitude of Islam learning websites to gain a better understanding in order to compare and contrast the religions? Yet, he doesn’t even bother to put even that much effort into this chapter that supposedly tries to compare the religions. This is just laziness on his part and it really repudiates his credibility. Even a ten minute google search of the basic facets of Islam would have answered this question; Islamic jurisprudence is specifically designed to prevent such attempts since any outsider’s views on the theology is considered worthless unless they follow Sharia, Jihad against non-believers of the Abrahamic God is a religious doctrine among the five forms of Jihad that a Muslim must commit to, and any Hindu that did compare them would have been brutally murdered similar to the massacres that made the Hindu Kush (Hindu Murder/Hindu Slaughter) mountains that the Islamic invaders named in their triumphant massacre of 8 million people. Something these Indologists evidently refuse to even engage within any discussion. He harps about the Hindu extremism, yet seems to be utterly ignorant of the fact India took in Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan and Kashmir that were being persecuted with kidnappings, mass murder, and organized rape campaigns by Muslims in both areas. Evidently, Pakistan is happy to protest against extrajudicial killings by their police on Pashtun groups that support Al Qaeda and the Taliban, but don’t concern themselves with the sprees of murder, rape, and torture of Hindu and Sikh minorities that have all but left for India for their own safety. Nor does Nicholson seem to think over Intra-Abrahamic violence that could also pose a substantial problem to his own confusion of why Hinduism never adapted to anything of Islam’s theology, he seems blissfully unaware of the outright genocide of Christian Iraqis by ISIS. Both of these events are contemporary and happened only a couple of years ago as of this writing. This shouldn’t be perceived as an attempt to deflect Hindutva or Indian army human rights crimes. The deaths of journalists throughout India and the Indian army’s rapes and murders should absolutely be held accountable with punishable jail time, but these horrible crimes cannot be the only issues highlighted regarding controversial topics for the sake of intellectual honesty. I don’t support the anti-intellectual stupidity of Hindutva or would ever condone what unsavory people in the Indian army have done to civilians, but the refugee crises that Islamic militia groups caused cannot be ignored.
As a final note of contention, I have to say that I’ve never been so disappointed in researching an academic discipline to gain a greater understanding. I love academia, I’m a proud product of US academia, but I’m sorry to say that Religious Studies has no value to its claims within Indology and far too often relies of paranoid conspiracy theories and outright ignorance of history. It’s the only discipline I’ve seen that is so thoroughly incurious with researching its own baseless assumptions to see if there’s any veracity to them. I’m sorry, but if you’re an Indologist, then your views aren’t more credible than others and you clearly have nothing but guesswork to offer; you have no right to parade it as somehow more studious or truthful than any random person’s opinion on religions. At no point have I seen any attempt to even look at Hinduism on the basis of doctrinal beliefs or holy texts as signs of unity, and after looking more into the controversy of Pollock, who placed himself into political controversy by signing a demand to break-up India even further by recognizing Kashmir and Jammu as independent without any thought to the ramifications of his decision, I’m forced to conclude that too much narcissism and downright ignorance exists in this discipline for it to be recognized as equal to other academic departments. Based on interviews, Pollock simply comes off as narcissistic and fueled by animosity and revenge towards an entire racial group. Yes, I’m calling Pollock a racist. He tries to present himself as blameless after signing an incendiary petition over a controversial political topic and then makes deliberate threats about waiting until all the Sanskrit texts are destroyed in order to blame an entire nation-state for being too vindictive, racist, and narcissistic to translate them. This man doesn’t deserve a position in academia and Nicholson acting as his lapdog and providing excuses by asserting that Pollock’s opinion pieces are his unique copyright – and thereby refuting that Indology has any credibility whatsoever – leads me to believe there’s no point even trying to meaningfully discuss these issues. This so-called academic discipline doesn’t even correct itself with regards to paranoid conspiracy theories and actively refuses to engage in historic and archaeological research. I’m sorry, but after analyzing and researching, these are my conclusions on these sensitive matters.
Ahmed, Manan. “Why Hindutva Groups Have for Long Had Sheldon Pollock in Their Sights.” Scroll.in, Https://Scroll.in, 3 Jan. 2017, scroll.in/article/804517/why-hindutva-forces-have-for-long-had-sheldon-pollock-in-their-sights.
Sanujit. “Cultural Links between India & the Greco-Roman World.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 23 June 2018, www.ancient.eu/article/208/cultural-links-between-india–the-greco-roman-worl/.
Ganeri, Jonardon. The Oxford Handbook of Indian Philosophy. Oxford University Press, 2017.
Ghosh, Tanushree. “I’m a Target Because I’m an Outsider: Sanskrit Scholar Sheldon Pollock.” The Indian Express, Thursday, May 03, 2018, 4 June 2018, indianexpress.com/article/express-sunday-eye/im-a-target-because-im-an-outsider-sanskrit-scholar-sheldon-pollock-5191995/.
Larson, Gerald James. Indias Agony over Religion. State Univ. of New York Press, 1995.
Larson, Gerald James., and Īśvarakr̥ṣṇa . Classical sāṃkhya: an Interpretation of Its History and Meaning. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2014.
Nicholson, Andrew J. Unifying Hinduism Philosophy and Identity in Indian Intellectual History. Permanent Black, 2015.
Nicholson, Andrew J. Lord Śivas Song: the Īśvara Gītā. Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 2016.
Nicholson, Andrew J. “’Upset about Rajiv Malhotra’s Plagiarism, Even More Upset about Distortions of My Work’.” Scroll.in, Https://Scroll.in, 3 Jan. 2017, scroll.in/article/742022/upset-about-rajiv-malhotras-plagiarism-even-more-upset-about-distortions-of-my-work.
chandraiitk. “Rajiv Malhotra’s Hard-Hitting Response to False Charges of Plagiarism.” YouTube, YouTube, 23 July 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGpB0ITyNVQ.