This is What UCLA Teaches About India

Preface

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has consistently earned high rankings in the world as the 12th best public university and inside the US, as the 2nd best, and boasts of being affiliated with several Nobel lauretes. Its noble motto, “let there be light” has echoes from the Vedic Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya. A University that boasts of such credentials usually means that it adheres to the highest academic standards in both teaching, course material, textbook prescriptions, recommended and additional reading, faculty-selection…well, at the least, it implies that when you enroll for a course there, you can reasonably guarantee that you will be taught accurate stuff. Especially history and subjects dealing with other cultures and religions.

I was initially amused when the desi blogworld’s excellent historian, JK pointed me to this. Under the course entitled Introduction to Asian Civilizations: History of India, the official textbook recommendations include works of such luminaries as Romila Thapar, Jawaharlal Nehru (Discovery of India), AK Ramanujan,  and a host of Western scholars who’ve written on and about the Ramayana and Mahabharata. But what really prompted this post was this lecture (downloadable MP3, about 22 MB) by one, Professor Vinay Lal.

Note: The words in quotes are quoted verbatim from Vinay Lal’s lecture.

It’s best to clear some ground regarding the prescribed books for the course material.

  • Discovery of India is not a work of history. At best, it is one man’s flowery ruminations on an India that existed only in his imagination. And neither was that man a historian–by qualification, education, or erudition.
  • Romila Thapar’s credentials as a “historian” are too well known to be repeated again.
  • AK Ramanujan’s work–its scholarship notwithstanding–is at odds with the primary sources on which he has written.
  • As for the works of other Western scholars of Indology, I haven’t read them all but given my general mistrust in this area, your guess is as good as mine.

The Lecture

After some instructions about the course and assignment submissions, Vinay Lal begins his lecture on the Ramayana with what he calls the “politicization of Ramayana.” And you have a clue where this statement leads to: all the way from UCLA to Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India. And it doesn’t end there. Here’s a summary of sorts on the “politicization (sic) of the Ramayana” :

  • Ram didn’t exist, and/or there’s no historical evidence that he existed. Whatever evidence is presented is not very credible. The politicization occurs here: based on Ram’s existence, some vocal groups of the majority, the Hindus, began an aggressive movement in the ’90s to build a temple on the supposedly-historical figure Ram, who was supposedly born in Ayodhya. But there was already a mosque, which was built by Babar on the spot after tearing down a preexisting Ram temple. There’s also no evidence that there existed a Rama temple, which Babar supposedly demolished to make way for the mosque. Whatever evidence to prove the earlier temple’s existence is again, suspect.
  • The people who did this are part of the Sangh Parivar, whose political outfit is the BJP. The VHP & RSS are its wings and/or sister organizations. RSS is defined as an organization that does the “muscle work of Hindu nationalism.” As a description of muscle work, Vinay Lal says, “let’s say you want to organize riots in a city. That’s when you bring in the RSS.” As an example, he gives the Gujarat riots that occurred in 2002.
  • The entire Sangh Parivar follows an ideology called Hindutva whose aim is to create a theocratic Hindu state where Muslims and other minorities have second class status.

This entire summation makes for about 20 minutes of torrid listening in a lecture that spans a total of about 50 minutes. What is curious is that Vinay Lal thought it appropriate to include information on something completely unrelated to Ramayana, the epic. Something so thoroughly unrelated that we wonder if this was a class on Indian Politics. Does UCLA teach about the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in contemporary Europe in a class on the life of the Prophet Mohammad?

After the lapse of the said 20 minutes, Vinay Lal talks about the Ramayana and spouts the same, time-honoured nonsense. He also briefly mentions about a “different” Aryan people and “different” Indus Valley people. He says there’s a difference between the Ramayana and the Ram Katha. The difference: “Ram Katha is the story of Ram and Ramayana is its telling.” We wonder where the difference is.


Telling, (Noun)=An act of narration, Informing by words; Disclosing information or giving evidence about another

Story, (Noun)=A message that tells the particulars of an act or occurrence or course of events; presented in writing or drama or cinema or as a radio or television program; A piece of fiction that narrates a chain of related events;A record or narrative description of past events


Professor Ignoramus Incompetentus

At the very basics, the noble professor reveals two things here: his utter ignorance of Sanskrit and an ability to comprehend the meaning of words. Ramayana literally means the way or path or journey of Rama. He then stitches himself into inextricable knots by mentioning Ram Katha, which is basically a derivative of the Dasharatha Jataka where Rama and Sita are brother and sister who finally marry. The Dasharatha Jataka is a Buddhist corruption of Valmiki’s original. Professor K.Krishnamurthy has shown with ample evidence that this is a perversion of the Ramayana. But you mention this to the likes of Vinay Lal, they have a stock answer: there’s no ONE single “authorized version” of Ramayana. And who authorizes this non-existence of an authorized version of the epic? Again, the likes of A K Ramanujan. This variation of the spit-and-run technique is called spit and teach. The template: try to deny the existence of something people revere. If that doesn’t work, simply say that there are multiple versions and that there’s no such thing as one original version. This opens up an unlimited field to pour your perversions in.

And then the good professor meanders for some time on how Jainism and Buddhism incorporated the Ramayana into their own tradition. Which is interesting because a “school of thought” related to Vinay Lal paints Buddhism as the faith that “saved” people from the evils of Hinduism. While I have the highest regard to Buddhism, I have a question for modern-day champions of Buddhism: if it arose to “save” people from Hinduism, why did it incorporate the Ramayana in its fold? An overwhelming portion of the Buddhist Jataka tales borrow from the Hindu lore including the Ramayana and the Puranas.

Which brings us to Vinay Lal who actually asks his students to “[you can] read the Ramayana as a sectarian text, like the Puranas.” A couple of points here. Lal terms the Puranas as sectarian texts meaning the 18 Puranas belong to and/or were written by certain sects. This is blatantly untrue and shows two things: Prof Lal is completely ignorant about the origin, role, purpose, content, and meaning of the Puranas, which means he’s incompetent to teach this subject. If he’s not ignorant, he’s deliberately mischaracterizing them, which is a direct blot on his sense of ethics. As to why he calls the Ramayana a sectarian text: Ravana, the villain of the Ramayana is a great devotee of Shiva while Rama is an avatar of Vishnu. Lo! The learned Professor characterizes the Ramayana as a “clash of Vishnu & Shiva,” and by logical extension, a clash between Shaivites and Vaishnavites. And by further logical extension, Hinduism is a religion full of warring sects.

Let’s break for applause at this dizzying display of academic genius.

Upon our return, we notice that the kind professor never mentions the fact that the Puranas were composed and grew over a few thousand years, authored by several people at different points in time. The erudite professor also doesn’t say that Rama worshipped Shiva several times in the Ramayana. More significantly, Rama worships Shiva at Rameshwaram (Tamil Nadu) for the explicit purpose of being absolved from the sin of killing Ravana, another preeminent Shiva devotee. Rama fully knew how zealously Shiva protected his devotees. Now we need the merciful professor to tell us exactly where the Shiva-Vishnu clash occurs. And we also notice the recurrence of the ignorance, competence, and sense of ethics phenomenon that Vinay Lal exhibits–or doesn’t exhibit.

Misleading Questions

Towards, the end of his lecture, the nutty esteemed professor tries to fire his students’ analytical faculties by urging them to read the Ramayana and contemplate along the following lines:

  • “In what way is Rama a model character and in what way is he not?”
  • Rama killed Vali unjustly and didn’t listen to both sides. What does this tell about Rama?
  • Think about the feminist views on Rama’s abandonment of Sita. Rama “decided” that his duties as a king were more important than the duties of him as a husband. (Note: “Decided” is an interesting word to use considering that there’s an entire corpus of Dharma that shows us that Rama acted in accordance with that Dharma when he abandoned Sita. Very briefly, it simply means that a King had no personal life and no sacrifice was too great to ensure the wellbeing of his subjects.)
  • Professor Lal calls the entire bit about Rama’s incarnation of Vishnu as “humourous.” (Note: We wonder why or where the humour lies.)
  • When reading passages, it is important to “read between the lines to figure out what is really going on.”

With that, Professor Vinay Lal ends his lecture.

Conclusion

And this 50-minute stream of nonsense passes off as graduate level academic teaching at a prestigious university in the United States. Vinay Lal’s ignorance of the very basics shines through with singular brilliance in every line his mouth spurts. And it’s not limited to ignorance: he says the most obviously inaccurate things. This wouldn’t have been a huge concern but for the fact that he is teaching scores of students false Ramayana. It’s quite obvious that Vinay Lal hasn’t read the Ramayana in the original much less a faithful translation. His pronounciation is awful: Ramayan=”Rmayan” Bharath=”Bhaarath” are two examples. And things like pronounciation are important especially when you’re teaching something that requires you to have advanced knowledge of Sanskrit. Altering a single phonetic sound is sufficient to cause a great shift in meaning in Sanskrit.

However, Vinay Lal’s greatest disservice is his distortionist approach of teaching the Ramayana. There is nothing in his lecture that makes students want to appreciate the epic. Till date, Ramayana is a living tradition in India and Rama here is as real to millions of Indians as their neighbours. Vinay Lal’s arrogant pronouncements, fraudulent “interpretations,” and his technique of asking (mis)leading questions ensure that students carry a negative impression of a hoary epic. His opening lines on politicization are completely uncalled for, and he says as if the said politics is a settled fact–if anything, it borders on hate speech. Upon graduation, Lal’s students armed with Lal’s lies will inadvertently propagate them in the academia and media adding hundreds of more gallons of poison in an already toxic environment. We’ve seen where that leads to even within a purely Indian context. It’s horrifying to think what Vinay Lal’s lectures on other, similar subjects will sound. Probably the same or more venomous. To think that he’s been doing this in various forms for at least two decades only magnifies the extent of his academic malice.

Professor Vinay Lal is incompetent to teach the Ramayana or any Indian epic/literature of antiquity. Teaching these requires a different kind of training, which Lal neither possesses nor looks likely to ever possess. I’m not sure if Lal’s lectures are audited and/or pass through critical scrutiny. He fails at the most fundamental levels. If the UCLA is serious about maintaining its reputation, it needs to do some serious rethink on Professor Lal.


Tailpiece: A bit of digging on this academic eminence yielded several results but I present three, which I think best represents where he comes from.

His views on American foreign policy and the pax Americana have earned him a place in David Horowitz’s book on the 101 ‘most dangerous’ professors in America today, while his critiques of extreme Hindu nationalism have made him a target of Hindutva venom in the US. These are reliable indicators, to his mind, that he is performing some useful public service, and that academics and scholars must remain vitally engaged in the wider public domain.

  • This brilliant piece, which shows the other side of the “mild-mannered professor.”

During the day he is a mild-mannered Southeast Asian history professor, but in his office, safely behind his keyboard, Lal assumes his double identity as a radical ideological warrior of the broadest stripe. His personal webpage provides only the most indirect clue to this schizophrenic existence…

  • David Horowitz’s book, The Professors: the 101 most dangerous academics in America, where Vinay Lal figures. Check the relevant excerpt.

Not that we didn’t know but more evidence the better. Another useful idiot serving his masters in the ranks of that other House Nigger par excellence, Pankaj Mishra.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

39 comments for “This is What UCLA Teaches About India

  1. S S
    September 25, 2011 at 7:47 PM

    Once someone asked a CNN correspondent in Delhi: why he selects only lefty intellectuals of India to comment on any given affair being reported, whereas about US affairs the channel never give any American lefty a chance to air his fumblings? The answer was: because you yourself, the Indians, give them more importance, in media as well as in policy making.

    UCLA seems to follow the trend. If here in India we place hollow men and rabid propagandists to be the Chairmen, Directors, Vice-Chancellors of the top academic institutions; if we entrust textbook writing for young students to cheap politicians doubling up as Professors – then why should UCLA care about what a loony there lectures about India and Indians?

  2. January 5, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    Vinay Lal is a comrade of Vijay Prasad, who I believe Sandeep has taken to task in a different post. They are all members of this radical far-left organization called FOIL (Forum of Inquilabi Leftists). Enough said!

  3. Matt
    February 24, 2010 at 4:26 AM

    Hello all.

    I am not sure exactly how I found this blog, but this post seemed pertinent for me to provide some other information about colleges and universities here in America.

    I am a UCLA alumnus, and although I have never taken a class with Professor Lal, I have experienced many of the extreme and inaccurate representations of many religions that many UCLA professors put forth. You must understand that this same misrepresentation takes place about Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and almost every religion about which the school teaches. The bias of the school is not simply anti-Hindu, although that may be true, but it is actually anti-religion as a whole. The school is overcome by secular humanists who believe that they are the authorities on all issues, and denigrate the faithful and intelligent adherents in many of the world’s religions. Ironically, Christianity takes perhaps an even harder hit, being that it is a more prevalent religion here in America.

    The elitist American educational system is almost completely anti-religion, and this lecture does not surprise me in this regard.

    I hope this is a balanced and helpful perspective. I hope to learn much from reading this blog.

  4. Amit
    February 19, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    larissa, I agree with you to quite an extent. Judaism and Hindusim as religions have nothing, I mean absolutely nothing in common. However this is not about religion, but politics and gaining new allies.
    In any war, inorder to suceed, you need allies who support you and you return the favour. This is a simple give and take. We don’t need to honour the Sabbat or give the burnt offering of a bulls on a altar to satisfy yahweh. The Arabs hate Isarel as do Muslims all around the world along with their allies, the Neo Nazis, the so called new left and some Maxists. These very people also hate hindus, for different reasons.
    Therefore the need of the hour is to join forces with others so that we may overcome these facistsic forces which threaten our very existance.

  5. February 8, 2010 at 5:23 AM

    Poor students must have failed this course because nothing he says makes sense and therefore if someone answered straight he would fail. A severe distortion of reality, and the course should be called “Why I hate Rama and Ramayana”.

  6. Wendy's Kids
    January 27, 2010 at 10:00 PM

    I noticed Vinay Lal received his PhD from the University of Chicago. Presumably he received his doctorate under the tutelage of Wendy Doniger, a woman with a long history of denigrating Hinduism. That makes his agenda completely unsurprising.

    I’m very happy to find such an impassioned defense of Sanatana Dharma. Keep fighting the good fight.

  7. kaangeya
    January 20, 2010 at 7:35 PM

    Sandeep,

    I am just reading Ananda Coomaraswamy’s Hinduism and Buddhism in which he questions all pet notions of latter day revisionists – the historicity of Buddha, that Buddhism is a creed at all, and that it is anything different from the Upanisads. Will post more one of these days.

  8. larissa
    January 17, 2010 at 2:04 AM

    Who cares about UCLA on India, people like Wendy Doniger with their limited, petty understanding reflected in their petty books.
    Lets focus on those who have given something positive to India. Take a look at this amazing artist!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Roerich

  9. anony
    January 15, 2010 at 7:31 PM

    UCLA’s prejudice against India is unbelievable

  10. Bhamathi
    January 15, 2010 at 7:49 AM

    Sid,

    “I am interested to know where in my post I have accused RSS of fundamentalism?”
    Ok good

    “Then may I see where and how did RSS try to get themselves out of blame? Yes, I am quiet well aware of a a piece of news in a news site (if memory serves me right then it was pioneer) I saw that they tried to say that they would not mind SRS being banned. When? When the debate went old and cold after 2/3 weeks. Why? Could not they just ask the government to ban it? But this is the sort of response that makes one feel like that they are just trying to wash their hand of it.”
    No comments from my side here about when RSS made the statement and why not early, and I definitely do not percive this as “washing their hands out of it”. I will not stop donating my money to Rashtrothana or Seva Bharathi based on the above episode without collecting details myself.

    “I am well aware of the history RSS has. Therefore I know the abuse RSS has suffered at the hands of the leftist media and our scandalous first premier. But then media has always remained RSS’s Achilles hill. Please note that, it is not my goal to malign RSS. Having a clean organization is not enough, one has to ensure the image remains clean too. No, not because of politics. Because then only you can attract the next generation which would essentially supply great leaders. If what you are claiming is true, then there are millions like me who has been led to believe otherwise and when the clarification arrived it did not look very convincing.”
    I think we are discussing here about Vinay Lal’s verbatim on RSS and need to take a stand whether we are with him or not. Since we know our media and their biased opinions, and also we are aware that RSS does not try to clean its image on media misrepresentations, we can atleast do background check ourselves and till we are convinced about the truth atleast we can avoid our part of (appears to be) undue abuse to the organization.

    “It is necessary to tell you that not every Hindu social organization gets maligned like RSS. The state I hail from saw the rise of Ram Krishna Mission. Mission is way more close to Hindu customs than RSS claims to be. Yet, in a state full of leftist stupidity, they are not maligned and they are respected for whatever they are doing with their limited capacity and funds.One of my cousins recently declared to be a Sanyasi of the mission. The entire family was sad and trying hard to get him change his decision, but nobody criticized the idea that he wanted to join the mission. I wish I could say that same about RSS.”
    I admire Ramakrishna Mission too and will not compare their working with RSS, also I believe the purpose of these to organizations are not the same. Let us not forget the efforts of Ramakrishna Mission leadership to represent the mission as a non-hindu organization which was criticized and later got altered appropriately. I believe such stand was to survice amidst leftist stupidity. My point here is as long as I know what Ramakrishna Mission is and as long as they are upholding Hindu values I though was worried that such an effort was made will not look at it very critically to form an opinion.

  11. Sid
    January 15, 2010 at 6:30 AM

    Subodh,
    “..I have not heard a single RSS wing-man trying to disassociate themselves from the act.” – MY apologies. After I posted, I remembered one news item and I have explained in response to Bhamathi.

  12. Sid
    January 15, 2010 at 6:28 AM

    @Bhamathi,
    I am interested to know where in my post I have accused RSS of fundamentalism? I have accused RSS of Talibanism because I believed Sri Ram Sena to be a wing of RSS. If I need to accept that RSS had nothing to do with SRS, then may I see where and how did RSS try to get themselves out of blame? Yes, I am quiet well aware of a a piece of news in a news site (if memory serves me right then it was pioneer) I saw that they tried to say that they would not mind SRS being banned. When? When the debate went old and cold after 2/3 weeks. Why? Could not they just ask the government to ban it? But this is the sort of response that makes one feel like that they are just trying to wash their hand of it.

    I am well aware of the history RSS has. Therefore I know the abuse RSS has suffered at the hands of the leftist media and our scandalous first premier. But then media has always remained RSS’s Achilles hill. Please note that, it is not my goal to malign RSS. Having a clean organization is not enough, one has to ensure the image remains clean too. No, not because of politics. Because then only you can attract the next generation which would essentially supply great leaders. If what you are claiming is true, then there are millions like me who has been led to believe otherwise and when the clarification arrived it did not look very convincing.
    It is necessary to tell you that not every Hindu social organization gets maligned like RSS. The state I hail from saw the rise of Ram Krishna Mission. Mission is way more close to Hindu customs than RSS claims to be. Yet, in a state full of leftist stupidity, they are not maligned and they are respected for whatever they are doing with their limited capacity and funds.One of my cousins recently declared to be a Sanyasi of the mission. The entire family was sad and trying hard to get him change his decision, but nobody criticized the idea that he wanted to join the mission. I wish I could say that same about RSS.

  13. Sid
    January 15, 2010 at 5:41 AM

    Subodh,
    I really do not know much about Sri Ram Sene. I was aware of their existence after the pub incident. I was given the impression that they are a VHP wing. Granted that there is a media out there trying to paint Hindus as a group of hot-headed thugs and every custom as a superstition, I have not heard a single RSS wing-man trying to disassociate themselves from the act. In fact initially my RSS affiliated friends tried to justify this by stating about Indian cultures etc, but I just could not find the aspect of our ancient culture that justifies the act.

  14. Bhamathi
    January 14, 2010 at 8:36 AM

    Siva and Sid,

    First of all let me make my self clear that I am against moral policing in the name of Hindutva and dead against thugs who have indulged in beating up youngsters in Pub.

    About opinions you people have made on RSS, I would like to share my views and request clarification from you on your stand.

    I am not a swayam sevak now and do not go to shakha (I have always felt that age old RSS shakha format is the same from several years and changes are necessary to make it more attractive for a modern mind).

    I have observed activities of RSS, Rasthrothana Parishath & Seva Bharathi and found that their discipline is of the highest degree. I also remember my shakha days (15 years ago), I have never ever heard about any hatered towards other communities or narrow minded thinking about youngester’s accepting modernization. Its very hard to imagine such people indulging in activities which you are trying to attribute to them. I have also met people in RSS who left their successful and highly paid corporate MNC careers and joined RSS fultime to help social cause (as RSS puts build the Nation). Few years back, I also got a chance to interact with children from RSS run school chennenahalli on several occassions and found that their views are sensible and absolutely no venom of fundamentalism. Also RSS frequently conducts ‘IT Milan’ in Bangalore and undertake discussions on various social topics, I got a chance to attend a few and found nothing objectionable in the way discussions are held.

    Do you have justification for the statements you are making against RSS? Please provide some data where RSS spokes person is caught speaking anything closer to Hindu talibanism (I request you to understand talibanism well before you search for data against RSS while penning your response) or have you ever come across any public/private meetings undertaken in RSS circle favouring fundamentalism. If your opinion is not first hand and derived based on other sources, then please visit any RSS run institutes yourself. If you are in Bangalore I can give you some addresses which will help.

    Why are you making RSS responsible for nuisense created by Pramod Mutalik of “Sri Rama Sene”. Do you have “AUTHENTIC” evidence that Rama Sene has RSS support (please do not show leftist’s remarks such as RSS helped ‘Sri Rama Sene’ grow or ‘Bajarang Dal’ grow, I will not buy it).

  15. Subodh
    January 14, 2010 at 7:54 AM

    @sid,

    Also, the Sangh has a women’s wing – the Rashtriya Sevika Samiti, as well. They do a lot of work in preventing, and rehabilitating women victims of various types of violence. The latest being “Love Jihad.” So it is totally incorrect to accuse Sangh of any kind of mal-action against women. Indeed, in our shakhas, we stress that Hindu tradition originally gave incredibly high respect to women, and that we should all strive to achieve that.

    I find it very unfair that someone should blame SRS acts on Sangh. Anyways, be that as it may, I will stop defending Sangh on here since it seems the readers don’t even take the basic trouble to find facts before they cast accusations. It is better to spend time in helping the weak of our society.

  16. Subodh
    January 14, 2010 at 7:48 AM

    @Sid,

    The incident you are referring to was done by the Shri Ram Sene, not by the Sangh (RSS).

    There are many Hindu groups. The Sangh is the largest, and the ideological fountainhead of most Sangh Parivar groups (BJP, ABVP, etc.). It has a highly evolved ideology, and has been around since 1925. The Sangh is also the world’s largest volunteer organization, with about 5 million people coming to our shakhas,

    OTOH the Shri Ram Sene is a small group (I think it has about 50 members), that was formed recently (about 2 years back). The Sangh bears no responsibility for their doings, nor is it responsible for policing the Shri Ram Sene (that job goes to the local police) when we don’t agree with their actions. The Sangh has never claimed that it is the sole speaker on behalf of the Hindus, and most other Hindu groups do things we do not always agree with.

    We would only hope that intelligent social observers such as readers of Sandeepweb would see the difference between the Sangh, and groups like SRS. It is the leftists constant ploy to blame all violence by any fringe Hindu group on the Sangh, and one would hope that people would not fall for that ploy.

  17. larissa
    January 14, 2010 at 6:37 AM

    HI Sandeep,
    I am not commenting on your opinion but Horowitz’s article. I see support of Isreal couched in his arguments. And there is absolutely no need for Hindus to be for or against Israel–that is a problem created by Europeans after World War II. India should not fall into the trap of blind support of Israel. Thats all I’m saying.

  18. RAMA
    January 14, 2010 at 6:18 AM

    Sid
    The people who beat up the pub patrons in Mangalore were not from RSS.

  19. Sid
    January 14, 2010 at 2:56 AM

    Subodh,
    I appreciate you appearing here and trying to eliminate what you perceive as anti-RSS rant. I am a Hindu and I would be glad to assist a pro-Hindu association, but look at the people you have got it associated with.
    Public support is the last thing you would get when you try to beat up kids just because they went to pub to celebrate a Corporate-promoted festival. Moreover, it also endangers our position when we try to defend Hindus and Hinduism from leftist abuse. Others try to bring those incidents and then claims that thugs are the faces of a religion and culture which by any estimate at least 6000 years old. And, that my friend, is NOT ACCEPTABLE. I can understand Taliban represent face of Islam and those who claim such are pretty much right on point. But Hinduism is not Islam and we never needed Taliban to survive. We survived despite them.

    There are other ways to present your viewpoints and violence without any reason does not figure in the list of such ways by any measurable limits of decency. Till I see that RSS would condemn such thuggish behavior, I would rather stay aloof of what leftists write about them. By beating people you are not helping anybody and if I am donating money tomorrow, I am not convinced that such money would not be used to appoint more thugs. Sorry!!

  20. Sandeep
    January 14, 2010 at 2:25 AM

    Larissa,

    I don’t know enough about David Horowitz to make an informed opinion. However, I don’t think I’ve said anywhere that because he’s anti-left, he’s a friend of Hindus.

  21. Subodh
    January 13, 2010 at 10:02 PM

    @siva,

    I am a swayamsevak (ie, a “member” of the RSS). What do you know about the RSS to make the kinds of statements you have? Have you ever attended a shakha? These are open to one and all, irrespective of caste, creed, religion. Why don’t you take the hour or so it takes to attend one shakha before you make up your mind.

    The RSS is a social work organization. It is the first to reach any site of natural disaster, or accident. It DOES NOT conduct rioting. It is amazing that people actually believe that sort of thing.

    The RSS does not believe in putting out defences for all the calumnies the left-congress combine routinely heap upon it. We believe that our work will show people who we really are. Get in touch with some swayamsevaks – you will see for yourself what these people are and what they do. They selflessly give hours of each day working for society. Only so that people like you can say what they like. And yet – God forbid your area is hit by a natural disaster, chances are the RSS will reach there before the army or other help. Look at their work in the Andhra floods. All those affected (many muslims) were helped out, without looking into anyone’s religion.

    My appeal to everyone on this board: PLEASE do not believe all that the leftists write about us, taking advantage of the RSS position of not defending itself in the press (I am perhaps one of the few swayamsevaks who would even take the time to pen this response – the others are busy with their social work). Attend a shakha and see what we inculcate – a spirit of selfless service to Bharat Mata.

  22. larissa
    January 13, 2010 at 7:04 PM

    First of all as regards Horowitz, just because he is against the left does not mean he supports Hindus. The religion of Israel is the polar opposite of Hinduism so I don’t understand any Hindu support of them. Moreover, I found him disagreeable in that he seems to be against all those who are against Israel. Now many ultra-conservatives also believe that America should mind its own business and not get dragged down by Israel–that country was created after World War 11 and hence was a European problem until America got too involved– I generally don’t like the scholars of the stripe Horowitz describes but I also see his pro-Israe agenda. He seems like Hitchens to me–another Israel supporter but on the left–Moreover considering this man was a leftist once and now supports the right–raises a red flag already….
    Even more depressing than what stupid academics have to say about India is how China constantly grabs the headlines these days–its surpassed Germany in exports, it buys the larges amount of cars and has surpassed America in this respect, its masses seem less abject than in India and educated and better fed in general and they are mostly all nationalists –despite the regime it has made great strides and is now on a level to compete with America, not India. What about India–government run by many virtual illiterates–no discipline or sense of command in government–peoople pooing and peeing everywhere, fake multi-culturalism and Muslims and others producing babies without limits and generally doing whatever they wish…large sections of India is still very barbaric–and its not disrespectful to say this in any way. More than some stupid academics the rise of China next door is really what should put India to shame–

  23. larissa
    January 13, 2010 at 6:55 PM

    First of all as regards Horowitz, just because he is against the left does not mean he supports Hindus. The religion of Israel is the polar opposite of Hinduism so I don’t understand any Hindu support of them. Moreover, I found him disagreeable in that he seems to be against all those who are against Israel. Now many ultra-conservatives also believe that America should mind its own business and not get dragged down by Israel–that country was created after World War 11 and hence was a European problem until America got too involved– I generally don’t like the scholars of the stripe Horowitz describes but I also see his pro-Israe agenda. He seems like Hitchens to me–another Israel supporter but on the left–Moreover considering this man was a leftist once and now supports the right–raises a red flag already….
    Even more depressing than what stupid academics have to say about India is how China constantly grabs the headlines these days–its surpassed Germany in exports, it buys the larges amount of cars, its masses seem less abject than in India and educated and better fed and they are mostly all nationalists–despite the regime it has made great strides and is now on a level to compete with America? What about India–government run by virtual illiterated–no discipline–poeople pooing and peeing everywhere and Muslims and others producing babies without limits…large sections of India is still barbaric–and its not disrespectful to say this in any way. More than some stupid academics the rise of China next door should put India to shame–

  24. Rajiv Chandran
    January 13, 2010 at 7:28 AM

    Dilip

    The Puranas which contain the historical memory of ancient India show remarkable internal consistency. To a large extent the information here is also corroborated by the other available ancient literature like the Vedas, Aranyakas, Brahmanas and many others, as also some epigraphical material. One of the most significant historical information that can be extracted from these texts is the detailed chronology of dynasties of pre and post kali era – which was historically the sheet-anchor for history of ancient Indians (and not the current sheet anchor ie Alexanders invasion of India).

    Skeptical historians are of the view that Puranas are considerably late texts and hence unreliable. However this has not stopped them from constructing the history of early India ( Mauryas, Guptas etc ) – however mutilated – from these texts. Again it is beyond doubt that these texts contain a kernel of very early events. The afore-mentioned dynasty list accounts for Rama as one of the kings of the Ikshavaku clan. Amongs the illustrious ancestors are kings like Sagara, Mandhatr, Sudasa and Trasadasyu – who are considered extremely remote figures – who are considered historic figures, as they occur in the Vedas as well. Again many of Rama’s descendants find place in some of the Vedantic texts such as upanishads and brahmanas. Also one of Rama’s descendents – Brihadbala as mentioned in the Mahabharata war – fought and died on the side of the Kauravas. Late literature such as Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsa also recounts the ancestors of Rama. You can find a fine discussion on the historicity of Rama here
    http://hinduvoice.net/cgi-bin/dada/mail.cgi/archive/hnl/20080613033255/

    Therefore there is evidence to support that Rama was a historical personage. He has been placed variously at 2000 bc, 5000 bc, 7000 bc by historians of different persuasions. Of course this Rama is not Ramananda Sagar’s Rama with magical powers etc and may not have travelled all the way to Lanka – but we have reasons view the idea that Rama is a pure mythological figure with a degree of skepticism. In fact before the arrival of the British and thier questionable historiography – Rama and Krishna were considered historical figures. So viewing them as purely mythological is a relatively late phenomena and needs to be deconstructed.

    Over tha past decade a huge number of liberties with the truth, ommisions and commissions of historians of the orientalist school have come to light. Propounding and sutaining racist ideas like Aryan Invasion, deliberate and misleading labelling of the Indus-Sarasvati civilization as non-vedic (aka dravidian), the total disregard for historical geography, the deliberate misreading of texts, inadequate credentials of early indologists (civil service administrators, Anglican priests, orientalists etc) with no grounding in historical methods, preference for linguistics as against primary source material and archeological (and other scientific) evidence etc, deliberate mutilation and inconsistent treatment of texts and source literature etc, the list of distortions is practically endless.

    It is now time to revisit assumptions fostered by years of indoctrination by the eurocentric school. The purpose of Sandeep’ post was not to discuss Rama’s historicity but the question you raised gives us an opportunity to examine what is happening. Professor Vinay Lal was caught preaching a political sermon in the name of Ramayana – Ramayana was purely incidental to what he wanted to say. In the sense his discussion was not about the Ramayana at all. Just this example goes on to show how eurocentricists (yes communism, leftism etc are eurocentric ideas ) persist with colonial themes. When such people hold academic positions they promote ideological and doctrinal rigidity, intemperate moralizing, posturing and commentary – exactly the opposite of what a scholar is supposed to do ,ie, generate knowledge.

  25. January 12, 2010 at 9:52 PM

    Correct me if im wrong. Are you arguing that lord rama is indeed a historical figure and he existed for real?

  26. Sid
    January 12, 2010 at 9:47 PM

    Sandeep,
    What is the link for JK’s history blog?

  27. Sid
    January 12, 2010 at 9:43 PM

    OK, so this is another man of “proudly left” variety. UCLA campus is well known for it’s leftist bias anyway. The problem is that these people grew up when believing in communism or related leftist crap like anti-Hinduism was fashionable. Today, communism itself has gone out of fashion, every other idea that was rejected by communists was being re-evaluated. The problem with people like Lal is that they can not accept something that they had a life-long distaste for. So UCLA campus is the best conservatory people like Lal can afford.
    There are people who went through colleges in the heydays of communism and yet refused to be indoctrinated. So Lal’s students, at least honest ones, would know truth about Ramayana when they go back to original source. But still the man is doing a lot of damage.

  28. Siva
    January 12, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    He may have mixed ramayan with politics but what he said about RSS is 200% correct…….in the name of religion the RSS people are creating havoc in the society by getting in to moral policing

  29. SCC
    January 12, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    Professors like Vinay Lal should take up appointment in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or better still come bac and teach in JNU or AMU where he is likely to feel more at home. What a crackpot this man is. I read the link provided by sameer and this man seems to be die hard communist masquerading as a liberal.

  30. sameer
    January 12, 2010 at 11:17 AM

    http://www.uclaprofs.com/profs/lal.html

    look in the above for a critical viewpoint of lal.

  31. SB
    January 12, 2010 at 9:00 AM

    Sad. Don’t people like him go unchallenged ?
    I’m sure there are many well respected experts on Hinduism and India who take strong exceptions to his views, but they are afraid to speak out for fear of being ostracized.

  32. ramkumaran
    January 12, 2010 at 8:29 AM

    Excellent Eye opener Sandeep, u can awake a sleeping person but u cannot awake a person who is acting to be asleep, these idiots will keep on carrying their propaganda as such. is there anyway to object to this lecture to UCLA Authorities? Can you please give the history blog location of JK

  33. larissa
    January 12, 2010 at 6:48 AM

    I find the last sentence extremely distasteful although I don’t like Mishra’s books. Its written in poor taste.
    I wonder why Hindus have to get all supportive of Israel? Let the Arabs and Jews sort it out–they are after the same race and same blood, except Jews after living in Europe became Europeanized and their Arab brothers stayed in the Mid-East. Both of their religions hail from the same Abrahamic well spring–A lot of Muslim customs like covering a women in a veil is originally a Jewish custom….But Jewish people living in Europe shed such habits.
    I have no interest in that part of the world–neither in the affairs of Jews or Arabs-
    I believe that Hindus although they face problems with Islamic extremism are making a grave mistake by blindly supporting Israel. I read Horowitz’ articles, as much as I don’t also do not like the views of those he mentions, I find him no less obnoxious.
    Hindus ought to realize the Judiasm is poles apart from the dharmic religions as much as is Islam.
    Let the Jews and Arabs sort out their own problems–Hindus should realize that Israel’s problem is not theirs and they should just keep apart. This is the wise course.

Leave a Comment