Last updateMon, 13 Nov 2017 4am

The Idea of Bharatiya Exceptionalism

The Idea of Bharatiya

Editor’s Note:This is Part 1 of the transcript of a lecture given by Rajiv Malhotra in a seminar organized by Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal

Namaste. On this auspicious Mahashivaratri Day, I am honored to be invited to share my thoughts in the presence of eminent thinkers. I want to discuss the idea of “Bharatiya Exceptionalism”. So I will explain what I mean by this term – “Bharatiya Exceptionalism”.

I lived in USA for 46 years and it’s very important to understand that Americans are so proud of something they call “American Exceptionalism”. So I studied this, then I started studying Chinese exceptionalism, Russian exceptionalism, Japanese exceptionalism and so on. And then I started asking what would be the equivalent for us and thus came the idea of “Bharatiya Exceptionalism”. Now American exceptionalism means – we the American people are exceptional, we are the best. We are the best in everything science, sports you name it, we are number one.

This aspect is taught to every American child from a young age in schools. Also this is not about an individual exceptionalism. These children are taught that the system is such that exceptional people are produced one after the other.

So the system is exceptional, not some individual here and there. American exceptionalism is saying that Americansanskritiitself is exceptional. Now this is a very great claim. So note that in US, both left wing as well as right wing, both of them agree that there is American exceptionalism. The Christian Right says it’s because of Bible, we are chosen people and America is a chosen land. In fact a famous statement by Jesus Christ was called “city upon a hill”. It means the ideal city is upon a hill, it shines for the whole world. So they have this idea from the Bible that there is a city on a hill. So for them, America is that city on a hill which has been narrated in the Bible. And then many Americans said that there is so much greenery, this is the Garden of Eden. In this way the idea of American exceptionalism is very deeply rooted in the Bible idea.


Fundamentals of the Sri Ram Temple at Ayodhya

Fundamentals of the

It is well-established by GPRS-directed excavations done under the Allahabad High Court monitoring and verification in 2002-03, that a large temple did exist below where Babri Masjid structure once stood. – Dr Subramanian Swamy

True and devout Hindus believe Lord Sri Rama was born in Ayodhya, the then capital of a flourishing kingdom of the Suryavamsa dynasty. Rama is venerated as Maryada Purushottam, and worshipped by Hindus of the north. As an avatar of Vishnu, he was first propagated by Tamil saints Nayanmars and Alwars; the north later came to accept Rama, especially thanks to the saint Tulsidas. In that sense, Sri Rama was the first truly national king of India, supra region, supra varna or jati.

The exact spot where Rama was born has been and remains firmly identified in the Hindu mind and is held as sacred. This is the very area where stood from 1528 till December 6, 1992, a structure that came to be known as Babri Masjid, put up in 1528 by Babar’s commander Mir Baqi.

Baqi was a Shia Muslim, and hence he intended it to be a place for Shias to perform namaz. Today, interestingly, the Shia clerics have made it clear to Hindu organisations that they would agree to have the site restored as a Ramjanmabhoomi. It is the Sunni Waqf Board, which entered the legal dispute as late as 1961, that has been claiming the title to the land on which the structure once stood. I call it a ‘structure’ since it cannot be strictly called a mosque by Sunni edicts — because it did not have the mandatory minarets and wazu (water pool).

In Skanda Purana (Chapter X, Vaishnav Khand) the site is vividly described. Valmiki Ramayana also describes it beautifully. Less than two decades before Mir Baqi carried out the horrible demolition of the Ram temple, Guru Nanak had visited the Ramjanmabhoomi and had darshan of Ramlala in the mandir at the spot. Guru Nanak himself records in 1521 the barbarity of Babar’s invasions (in Guru Granth Sahib at p.418). In Akbar’s time, Abul Fazal wrote the Ain-i-Akbari in which he describes Ayodhya as the place of “Ram Chandra’s residence who in Treta Yuga combined spiritual supremacy and kingship” (Translated by Colonel H S Jarrett and published in Kolkata in 1891).


The Root Of India-Pakistan Conflicts

The Root Of India-Pakistan Conflicts

It is commonly accepted as an article of faith that Kashmir is the root cause of all problems between India and Pakistan. I disagree with this premise, and wish to demonstrate that the ‘Kashmir issue’ is itself the result of a deeper root cause, which is a clash of two worldviews: pluralism versus exclusivism.

(It must be clarified that neither pluralism nor exclusivism is the same as secularism, because secularism denies the legitimacy of religion, seeing it at best as exotic culture, and at worst, as a scourge. On the other hand, pluralism and exclusivism both recognize and celebrate religion, but in entirely different ways.)


Author Rajiv Malhotra responds to a question that he has often been asked: should we support ‘liberal’ muslims

Author Rajiv Malhotra responds
I am responding to numerous requests to give my views on Tarek Fatah. I want to first examine Benazir Bhutto and Fareed Zakaria, both well-known liberal Muslims. This gives insights into other liberal Muslims.

Bhutto and Zakaria established themselves as well-known liberal face of Islam by opposing Islamic radicalism. But this does not mean a love for Hinduism.

They postured as anti-radicalists on forums like CNN, playing to the global liberal market looking for liberal Islam. They told gullible westerners what these westerners want to hear in order to feel good about the future of western liberalism. But Bhutto’s anti-radicalism was merely an internal fight between two Muslim camps.

Likewise, in the case of Zakaria, He explicitly and assertively identifies as an Indian Muslim, which means he must comply with and believe in the core requirements of: exclusiveness of Allah, Mohammad as the final prophet, various Qur’anic injunctions concerning infidels, jihad, women and slaves.

As a history-centric religion of the Book, there is a formal definition of being a Muslim without the wiggle room to improvise one’s one version. Likewise, Shah Rukh Khan, despite all the pop culture drama, is a practicing Muslim. (Salman Rushdie is closer to being a true liberal, and even he did not show kindness towards Hinduism.)


Rajiv Malhotra On Hindu Intellectuals

rajiv malhotra on

For nearly 20 years, after voluntarily retiring early from a successful business career, I’ve spent my time and energies exclusively to studying, documenting and critiquing Western and Christian scholarship on India’s religions and traditions. My work including books such as Invading the Sacred,Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism,Indra’s Net, and Breaking India have exposed in great detail the biases and conflicts of interest that colour and mar much of the scholarship that has emanated from America’s most prestigious universities and professors.

I have pointed out at the way Indians are in awe of the white man telling them what they presumably did not know about themselves. I have pointed out the inferiority complexes many Indian so-called intellectuals suffer from.

From the very beginning of my activism, not surprisingly, I’ve invited the wrath of certain American academics and their Indian followers. From character assassination and name calling to the obstruction of my ideas and the slamming shut of doors, the price for talking back to power has been high for me personally. Thankfully, there are many Indians and Indian Americans who read my works and follow me on social media and discussion forums and are familiar with some of these battles. I frequently share the challenges and obstacles that I face not only to chronicle the cultural and social history of Hindus in America but also to let our community know, without any sugar coating, what we’re up against. The battles that I fight publicly are after all the battles that many of us wage privately in encounters that denigrate and heap contempt on our heritage. As I’ve taken on the Western academy or scrutinized their pet theories, I along with the many Indians watching, have realized that some people are given more freedom to speak than others.


भारत विखंडन - द्रविड़ और दलित मामलों में पश्चिम का हस्तक्षेप

भरत वखडन  दरवड़ और दलत

यह किताब पिछले दशक के मेरे उन तमाम अनुभवों का नतीजा है जिन्होने मेरी शोध और बौद्धिकता को प्रभावित किया है। ९० के दशक  की बात है,  प्रिंसटन विश्वविद्यालय के एक अफ्रीकन-अमरीकन विद्वान ने बातों बातों में ज़िक्र किया कि वे भारत के दौरे से लौटे हैं जहाँ वे 'एफ्रो-दलित' प्रोजेक्ट पर काम करने गए थे। तब मुझे मालूम चला कि यह अमरीका द्वारा संचालित तथा वित्तीय सहायता-प्रदान  प्रोजेक्ट भारत में अंतर्जातीय-वर्ण सम्बन्धों तथा दलित आंदोलन को अमरीकन नज़रिए से देखने का प्रकल्प है । एफ्रो-दलित पोजेक्ट दलितों को  'काला' तथा ग़ैर -दलितों को 'गोरा' जताता है । अमरीका के जातिवाद, दासत्व परंपरा तथा काला-गोरा सम्बन्धों  के  इतिहास को यह प्रकल्प सीधे सीधे भारतीय समाज पर अक्स कर देने की योजना है । हालांकि भारत में नए जाति समीकरणों और उनके आपसी द्वन्दों ने मुद्दतों से दलितों के खिलाफ एक अलग मनोभाव पैदा कर दिया है लेकिन इसके बावज़ूद इसका अमरीका के 'दासत्व-इतिहास' के साथ दूर दूर तक मुक़ाबला नहीं किया जा सकता। अमरीकन इतिहास से प्रेरित इस एफ्रो-दलित प्रोजेक्ट की कोशिश दलितों को दूसरी जातियों द्वारा सताए गए- ऐसा जता कर उनको एक अलग पहचान और तथाकथित सक्षमता प्रदान करना है।

अपनी तौर पर मैं 'आर्य' लोगों के बारे में भी अध्ययन कर रहा था- ये जानने के लिए कि वे कौन थे और क्या संस्कृत भाषा और वेद को कोई बाहरी आक्रान्ता ले कर आए थे या ये सब हमारी ही ईजाद और धरोहर हैं ,इत्यादि। इस सन्दर्भ में मैंने कई पुरातात्विक ,भाषाई तथा इतिहास प्रेरित सम्मेलन और पुस्तक प्रोजेक्ट्स भी आयोजित किये ताकि इस मामले की पड़ताल में गहराई से जाया जा सके। इसके चलते मैं ने अंग्रेज़ों की उस 'खोज' की ओर  भी ध्यान दिया जिसके हिसाब से उन्होंने  द्रविड़-पहचान को ईजाद किया था- जो असल में १९ वीं शताब्दी के पहले कभी थी ही नहीं और केवल  'आर्यन थ्योरी को मज़बूत जताने के लिए किसी तरह रच दी गयी थी । इस 'द्रविड़-पहचान' के सिद्धांत को प्रासंगिक रहने के लिए “विदेशी आर्य” के सिद्धांत का होना और उन विदेशियों के कुकृत्यों को सही मानना आवश्यक था।  


Bharatiya Thought Is Not Understood In America

Bharatiya Thought Is Not

I was quite shocked when I discovered that Bharatiya philosophy is not being addressed properly in American universities. In fact, only two American universities offer a doctorate in Bharatiya philosophy. In general, Bharatiya thought is not considered philosophy but is being taught by the departments of religion, and badly at that, or by the departments of anthropology. This results in a complete misappreciation if not misunderstanding of Bharatiya thought and consequently, the values of Bharat.

One reason is that Western scholars have been shaped by Greco-Semitic concepts (concepts arising from the Grecian civilization and Semitic religions), and often cannot grasp the richer complexity of Bharatiya philosophical thought. Hindu Dharma, for instance, is usually perceived as being polytheistic; in reality it is both monotheistic and polytheistic — believing in one God taking different forms of manifestation.

It was another shock when I discovered that quite a number of Western scholars appropriate Bharatiya philosophical concepts without quoting the sources, as if they were the results of their own original thinking. And I learned that the situation at American high schools is no better: there is inadequate understanding of Bharat and Bharatiya thought, and the Hindu Dharma portrayed is dominated by negative stereotypes.

There is one exception to this, namely Buddhism. The Buddhists have good scholars, themselves practicing Buddhists, who teach the Buddhist religion. This also has to do with the fact that the Dalai Lama told his followers to go out and teach the traditions to keep it alive. So Tibetans went out and got their degrees in Western universities, and now they are teaching all over the world. But Hindu Dharma, Sikhism or Jainism are often being taught by Americans, who themselves believe in other religious systems!