Humanities and Indic studies: Last footprints of Colonialism
We Indians have constructed thousands of temples all over the world. But these temples could become museums or archeological monuments within a few years because we are building the structures, publishing books but we are not educating our children about our culture and beliefs. Our tradition is very profound and meaningful; it is a pity that we are not explaining its beauty to our younger generations. As a community, we spend too many resources on parties, non-educational events, movies etc but we forget to invest in our true culture and traditions. Because of this, several western people are taking advantage of this and they are controlling our educational institutes, especially in the field of humanities and Indic studies.
Indian education or Indology is highly controlled by western academicians who control the education system to control the mindset of our nation. These academics preach tolerance to us and chide us in the name of free speech and they themselves control most of the publishing houses, internet discussion forums, educational institutions and media. They completely suppress any dissenting voices by maligning the image of their critics as being communal, emotional, and ignorant. If they truly believe in openness and in free speech, then they should be willing to debate in public forums but they never do that because they do not have enough material to convince the people. They, in fact supports various terrorist movements in India, they support terrorists in the name of human rights and the secession of Kashmir from India.
Wilhelm Halbfass, the Indologist at U-Penn wrote:
“In the modern planetary situation Eastern and Western ‘cultures’ can no longer meet one another as equal partners. They meet in a westernized world, under conditions shaped by western ways of thinking”[i]
American and British organizations are heavily sponsoring our English speaking elite scholars to research according to the western framework. Earlier also Britisher’s used the same tactics to destabilize our nation. The British Census of India was one such process to represent India in British categories while pretending to use Indian categories. This becomes the basis for re-engineering India’s society to fit into rigid castes, it has continued after independence and has become the center of India’s politics today.
Tzvetan Todorov analyses anthropology historically used the term “new trinity” to describe
“The old style soldier: it consists of an scholar, priest, and a merchant”: The scholar collects information about the country, second promotes its “spiritual annexation” and the merchant “makes the profits”.[ii]
This is what is actually happening in India, Western anthropologists use native people of India as informants, who are typically very poor and less educated villagers paid to produce the data. Scholars take such data and filter it through the western lens, then legitimize it with western peers who are part of their own academic system, and too often assert this false construction as ‘the truth’. The Irony is that there are hardly any independent surveys in the field to ascertain the truth about the data or knowledge produced by westerners. They not only distort our traditional knowledge but sometimes they plagiarized or steal it for their own benefit.
In that way, many ancient Indian inner science discoveries are being misappropriated or plagiarized. Some examples are: ‘Lucid Dreaming’ is a western name used for Nidra yoga, similarly Stanford’s LaBerge is nowadays the acknowledged discoverer. ‘Vipassna’ is now repackaged as Kabat-Zinn’s ‘Mindfulness meditation’. Herb Benson repackaged Transcendental meditation into ‘Relaxation response’ and earns a million dollar, claiming these as his discoveries. Thomas Berry, Father Keating, and others have constructed the new liberal Christianity, suing Indic appropriations. This is only a small part of a long list: the westerners are using a large amount of Indian knowledge of every field including physics, astrophysics, astrology, spiritualism, mathematics and biology etc, without acknowledging the actual Indian source.
Europeans did the same thing with Americans after persecuting their native population of “Red Indians”. They changed the syllabus of textbooks and they are teaching in their textbooks that “America was ‘discovered’ in 1492” if it is true then what about the millions of Native population of Americans who lived in America for thousands of years. It became an authentic discovery only when Europeans registered it as such. Just because land owned by the Native Americans had not been recorded in European registration systems (formal papers), their ownership was declared illegitimate. Much of what happened during the renaissance and enlightenment in Europe was based on the appropriation of Indian and Asian civilizations, and yet these civilizations were demonized to justify colonialism.[iii] The position of western mindset stated quite openly in many cases, is that discovery occurs only when the west legitimizing it. This is a completely racist theory of knowledge developed by the west that denies the rights of non-westerners.
Now, we again come to Indian scenario, Today Indians have occupied many high positions in the fields of science, technology, business and other traditions but we are lacking in our cultural studies and Indology. Westerners still have a stronghold on Indology. The Indian scholars that identifies with Indic traditions publically and who have actual knowledge of Indian philosophies and religion are often not the ones whom the western academe dialogs with as spokespersons for the Indian tradition. But instead of talking with Indian knowledgeable scholars, they made a layer of elites from within the colonized culture who are groomed to become proxies for the tradition. Such persons are commonly referred to as Macaulayites, after Mcauley, who developed the Indian intellectual breed of sepoys who served the British rule. These elite Indians, are usually remote controlled by a western incentive system- of jobs, visas, foreign travel, grants and various forms of career advancement. Many westernized Indians are convinced that our indigenous tradition is a backward one and that their main aim of life is to uproot it and replace it with superior western import. They often consider biases against Indian traditions as a great compliment to their own sense of modernity. When this mental slavery is pointed out to them, it often evokes severe anger and defensiveness in them.
Such Indian scholars are often unfamiliar with the masses and culture of India. They know mainly western thought and hermeneutics. Few have been educated in Sanskrit or the Indian classics, but they also take Sanskrit as a language of oppression. The problem with these western elitist scholars is that they know only western view of Indology, these elitists often brand anyone speaking assertively for Indic traditions as saffronist, pro-BJP, fundamentalist, fascist, fanatic, etc.
Earlier, the British did facilities management for India’s Nawabs and Rajas- they operated their cities, armies, operated the courts, collected taxes on their behalf, educated their citizens as they deemed fit etc. The local rulers were the clients and the British east India Company was the facilities manager. As a part of this facilities management ‘contract’, the British also became trustees of the education and scholarship. They researched about Indian traditions, translated and interpreted the texts. They constructed the famous interpretation of the “Manusmriti” so that they can say that they were in fact, enforcing Hindu law in ruling India. Hindus continue to accept this facilities management arrangement by letting westerners control Indian intellectual identity. Other than Hindus, there is no big world tradition so abandoned intellectually by its own people. The criticism of Hinduism in academics is done in such a way that it appears to be fair. The evidence is presented as authentic Hindu understanding, and the motive is claimed to be the well-being of the oppressed Hindus- to save them from themselves. There are western scholar giants now dominating Hindu studies, who have usurped the ultimate authority that traditionally belonged to the Vedas.
These western sepoys are the main reason behind the ignorance of our students. Today our students are being taught in their universities that every good theory had come from the west. For example in several philosophical subjects they learn the names of Aristotle and Plato, in English literature, they learn about Cicero, Shakspere, and Julius Caesar. Even ‘Bodhayan prameya’ of mathematics has been dubbed as ‘Pythogorus theorem’ etc. This is the condition of Indian textbooks in schools as well as in higher education. Everywhere, Indian children are studying about the west. This is the tragic state of Indian Classics in India’s education. India can revive it by teaching or making its own swadeshi curriculum. The equivalent to Greek Classics would be India’s Vedas, Puranas and other Sanskrit, Pali, Tamil texts. In an Indic education system, students would learn about Panini, Patanjali, Buddha, Nagarjuna, Bhartahari, Shankara, Aryabhatta, Kalidasa and dozens of other great classical thinkers produced by India. Unfortunately, in the name of modernity, progress and political correctness, The curriculum of Indian classics have been banished from Indian higher education. The reason behind this is that the nexus of Indology or Indic studies remains in Western hands, almost as though decolonization had never happened. The top level academic publishers, journals, universities, and conferences are either in the west or running largely by the western lobby, and funded by western private organizations, church, and governmental interests.
Furthermore, the marginalization of India’s heritage in its education system, particularly in the English medium system of education that produces most of the leaders of modern Indian society, has resulted in a culturally lost generation. The Product of this education is today’s self-alienated, cynical youth prevalent in many places, especially in elite positions.[iv] One more great disservice has been done to Indian classics is equating them with religion. The sheer magnitude of India’s classical texts is over one hundred times as large as that of the Greek Classics still, Indian classics has not being taught in world universities. This is because the knowledge representation system is under their control; hence they usually decide ‘what’ belongs ‘where’. Only when something falls under western control does it become legitimate.
Several left-wing scholars in India are also writing against Hinduism to prove their Chinese and Russian masters that they are true atheists. In order to prove that they are true atheists, many leftist Indians line up to prove how much they hate Hinduism. This agenda, built on a false definition of secularism, has been taken to such level that Sanskrit has been demonized because it is seen as a part of the evil Brahmin conspiracy used to oppress lower caste people of Indian society. The hub of left wing JNU has fought hard to resist the establishment of a Sanskrit department and Indian classics department ( later Sanskrit department had started) , whereas they are proudly teaching European languages and their classics. On several occasions, they have burnt Manusmriti and other Sanskrit books to prove that they are secular. This is the result of complete ignorance about the knowledge and value of Sanskrit literature. Researchers believe that there are about thirty million distinct manuscripts in Sanskrit which are not properly documented by modern scholars. The vast majority of Sanskrit text is not about religion but it covers a diverse territory of subjects like medicine, botany, astrophysics, metaphysics, aesthetics, fiction, jokes, political thought, logic, mathematics, philosophy and so forth. But, no one cares about it because praising Sanskrit does not provide them jobs or foreign trips.
The new education policy is going to be introduced after few months. MHRD is asking for suggestions from the citizens in MyGov portal. Every Indian citizen should ask for a pro-Indian swadeshi education system for the future of their children and for the future of the nation. If the government changes the syllabus according to Indian swadeshi mindset without thinking about the vote bank politics then only our education system can come out of the control of the west. It is the best time to revive the syllabus of humanities and social sciences in India if it happens than last footprints of colonialism will be extinguished and India will become more self-reliant and self-dependent.
[i] W. Halbfass, India and Europe, first edition, (Delhi: MLBD), 44.
[ii] Tzvetan Todorov, The conquest of America,175.
[iii] J.J. Clark’s book Oriental Enlightenment.
[iv] Rajiv Malhotra’s book Acedemic Hinduphobia
I am a Social Sciences Researcher, Social worker and writer from New Delhi.