Return of the Academic Mullahs

Let’s not pretend that the soul-crushing shrillery of the academic mullahs of Delhi—led mainly by the mini-mullahs of the history department—has anything to do with academic freedom or “curbing our freedom of thought” or “censorship of education” and such other arrant nonsense.  It’s anything but that. It’s simply the latest instance of their decades-long ritual of opportunist sniffing to find out just how much damage their rabble-rousing can inflict. It’s the most recent manifestation of their insane loathing for everything Hindu, which prompted some of their elites to pervert Indian history on such a scale that the brains of at least three generations of Indian people have successfully been filled with poison. Equally, it’s also the most current attempt to somehow resuscitate their once-flourishing but now-crumbling empire built on the fetid foundation of historical distortion and supported by the pillars of lies and fraud.

Neither does their heart genuinely bleed for the late AK Ramanujan, whose ill-advised essay entitled 300 Ramayanas (that link has the full text of his essay. Recommended only for bravehearts. Keep an Anacin handy.) was erased from the Delhi University’s textbook list—which is what made these academic mullahs unleash the despicable display of collective insanity in the ongoing public orgy.

If I want to gloat, I’ll say that exactly 14 days ago, I had foreseen that the usual suspects would most definitely manufacture a controversy around this non-issue.

That 300 Ramayanas was prescribed in the first place as required reading for a higher graduate course is an illustrative indicator of why our universities are full of X-rated professors who can’t write a coherent sentence let alone teach. Here’s an example of a certain pre-historic eminence who says that “Even if the essay was an unexceptional piece, we would still be here…as this decision is clearly rooted in paying respect to the politics of hurt religious sentiments.” In other words, he’s ok if a poem like “Roses are red violets are blue/higher the skirt better the view” is included in a higher education syllabus but if it’s dropped for obvious reasons, it would be tantamount to “paying respect to the politics of hurt sentiments.”

This “school” of thought basically says that a text should be included only because it “supports the cause of academic freedom” and not because it stands on the force of merit. The other “school” of thought—really, the other side of the same worthless coin—actually, seriously argues that “this essay by Ramanujan is an exceptional piece of reasoning, but our mathematical professor, the V-C decided to scrap this text.” Notice the sneering, the pathetic attempt at sarcasm in “our mathematical professor” directed at the DU Vice Chancellor. A classic, but outdated technique of whatever’s left of the Left. This exceptional eminence in all seriousness calls 300 Ramayanas an “exceptional piece of reasoning.” That’s like saying the Church was right and Galileo was wrong.

What none of these academic mullahs talk about is AK Ramanujan’s credentials to even author such a piece. It’s true that you mustn’t talk ill of the dead but look at the amount of filth that just one essay by this dead man has spawned. AK Ramanujan was not a historian or mythologist. His scholarship was primarily in English literature with a smattering of Kannada and Tamil folklore. He didn’t have the kind of knowledge of Sanskrit that an essay, which dismisses the authorship of Ramayana demands. And yet, like most “scholars” of his time, he wrote this monumental pile of academic shit, which I dissected three years ago. Neither did he have any knowledge of reading manuscripts, another key discipline required to produce any body of work on a topic of this nature. And yet he wrote this with supreme confidence in…in what? Well, with the same supreme confidence that U R Ananthamurthy wrote Samskara, a novel that seeks to shatter the evil edifice of Dharma written without a shred of understanding of the subject. Incidentally, AK Ramanujan translated Samskara into English. That then is part of AK Ramanujan’s credentials. Of course, this is precisely the kind of information the media and academia won’t tell you.

If I was a conspiracy theorist, I’d attribute casteism as a strong motivator behind Ramanujan’s essay: here’s a Brahmin who has attempted to take away the credit from Valmiki, the original and only author of the Holy Ramayana because Valmiki belonged to a lower caste. I mean, how dare a low-caste hunter write a timeless epic in Sanskrit, reserved for elite Brahmins like AK Ramanujan? And what better way to get back than claiming that Valmiki’s Ramayana was merely “one of the tellings (sic)?” How about whispering this conspiracy theory into the ears of the folks who belong to the beda, or the hunting caste? You know, tell them that some nasty college lecturers in Delhi are taking out demented processions in support of an essay that claims that Valmiki—whom they regard as God—is not the author of Ramayana. But that’ll mean practicing the Congress Brand of politics, so I’ll stick to decency.

The fact is that over 5000/6000 years, every single tradition, author, poet, or folktale takes Valmiki’s name with the utmost reverence as the original author of Ramayana. Not one other person is mentioned as the author. Yet, AK Ramanujan’s opium-filled pen includes Valmiki’s original as “one of the tellings” on the basis of…absolutely no evidence. He simply assumes. And this product of drug-addicted scholarship has been prescribed as a textbook for god knows how many years.

The claim that this puerile essay provides “alternative viewpoints” is absurd. Alternative viewpoints must be based on the original epic, on the original story and not on fantasy. You can’t alter the original dramatically—like making Ravana Sita’s father—and then claim that it’s an “alternative viewpoint.” That’s distortion, not an alternative viewpoint. And 300 Errors Ramayanas does precisely that—it legitimizes such distortions.

Let’s forget 300 Ramayanas forever for a moment. Does any history and/or comparative religious studies courses in Delhi University (or any university in India for that matter) include one, more or all of the following books?

  • Why I am not a Muslim by Ibn Warraq
  • Infidel by Ayaan Hrsi Ali
  • While Europe Slept by Bruce Bawer
  • Londonistan by Melanie Philips
  • Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide by Bat Ye’or

As far as I know, they aren’t and they aren’t because, well, secularism and all that good stuff. I’ve read all these books and while they all talk about Islam, there’s plenty of “alternative viewpoints” in them. Why doesn’t even one of these academic-freedom-loving and anti-censorship-advocates get on the streets and have these books included in the curriculum? They won’t because they’ve set the rules for what constitutes censorship. Only this time, the VC of the Delhi University has himself broken that rule.

The behaviour and character of academic mullahs is once again consistent with their sorry record of misdeeds. The way—the civilized way to go about protesting an issue like this is to call for an academic debate. Call experts on both sides, have a debate and then come to a conclusion. But then that’s how academics do it. Academic mullahs get right down to business—descend on the streets and follow the template set by the Grand Mufti’s hooligans and shout stuff like Inquilab Zindabad! and V-C Dinesh Singh hosh meh aao! The choice of Inquilab is pretty self-explanatory, and all the more because it’s being raised by History professors and their ilk. Wonder what toxins they subject their students to in class.

Although the Delhi University has done the right thing by chucking out AK Ramanujan’s spurious piece of scholarship, it has done so on the grounds of hurt sentiments.  However, the academically correct and the morally decent way would have been to not include it in the first place because it has no academic merit and is a work full of holes. In reality, Ramanujan’s essay is one among thousands of such essays that was “deemed fit” to prescribe and the “undesirable” ones like those by Jadunath Sarkar for example, got thrown out when the Marxists’ star was on the rise.

The Delhi University’s final decision of removing the essay was reached after it complied with the Supreme Court’s directive to examine if 300 Ramayanas caused hurt sentiments. A committee was formed, the essay was studied and a vote was taken. The vote unfortunately was for chucking out 300 Ramayanas. But for the court’s directive, the errant essay would’ve continued to stay and none would’ve been the wiser. Honestly, how many of us actually knew that:

  1. Such an essay even existed?
  2. It was a textbook in Delhi University’s B.A. (Hons)?

And so we see to the same phenomenon again. The toxic worms in the academia—densely populated in the history and humanities departments—silently work their way in and over the years distort facts, poison children’s minds, mooch off taxpayer money, and establish little islands of hegemony. The moment these odious little empires are challenged, all hell breaks loose. Think back to when the country was slapped awake and realized the importance of the history department only when Arun Shourie exposed the ilk of these selfsame charlatans. We had to wait for more than 40 years for Arun Shourie’s book. In other words, we were asleep for 40 years, unaware that damage was being inflicted slowly, systematically. And now, 300 Ramayanas has been scrapped and the worms are wriggling in fear holding placards and shouting slogans.

926 comments for “Return of the Academic Mullahs

  1. Jooske
    April 29, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    “A.K. Ramanujan’s essay Three Hundred Ramayanas has elicited a debate misstating the issues. The problem with the essay is not that it is blasphemous, but that it is flawed. It is just unscholarly.”

    “Where Ramanujan got it wrong, driven by his ideological agendas, is to to place all the diverse renderings of Ramayana at par with the Valmiki Ramayana.”

    “The behaviour and character of academic mullahs is once again consistent with their sorry record of misdeeds. The way — the civilized way to go about protesting an issue like this is to call for an academic debate. Call experts on both sides, have a debate and then come to a conclusion. But then that’s how academics do it…”

    http://koenraadelst.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/huffington-post-debate-on-ak-ramanujan.html

  2. ava
    December 17, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    @cricfan
    I found William James’ Variety of Religious experiences to be also good…He taught anatomy and sought to reconcile religion and philisophy, it is in the Western context but interesting to read….

    A great deal of academia these days strikes one as a business…I suppose professors need to survive as well, there are very few books which are written with a purpose other than to obtain tenure and a job…which is why few good books with original insight are written…

  3. Ranger
    December 17, 2011 at 7:43 AM

    Good man Hitchens. R.I.P.

  4. cricfan
    December 17, 2011 at 5:52 AM

    @Ava, seems to have posted my brief response/addition in another thread, pasted here.
    http://www.sandeepweb.com/2011/12/06/most-loathsome-people-of-india-2011/comment-page-3/#comment-430498

    It would also be worthwhile, when time permits to examine where these profs get their funding. Breaking India followed the money and conference trails of a few people to obtain useful information that can often tell us why certain people when doing “Indic research” first set up their conclusions, and then do the experiments and generate results to fit this conclusion. Paid research, like paid news is ultimately done to serve the purpose of the funder.

  5. ava
    December 16, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    CC
    (

    Here is the link I was talking about called Hindutva and the life and death of Sanskrit…You can count on Telekha to come up with titles like that, juxtaposing two unrelated things to attract attention…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXhInNUVZ6U

  6. ava
    December 16, 2011 at 6:53 PM

    CC
    :-((

    Here is the link I was talking about called Hindutva and the life and death of Sanskrit…You can count on the Telekha to come up with titles like that, juxtaposing two unrelated things to attract attention…

  7. CC
    December 16, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    Hitchens is gone :-(

  8. ava
    December 16, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    Cricfan
    While Pollock makes valid points about how the selfish Maharaja family did not want to share manuscript treasures and how Indians are losing memory of their classical languages, the rest of the stuff he says elsewhere is pedestrian. For example, he is intrigued that the vernaculars could exist side by side with Sanskrit and so on, DUH….Someone who is intrigued by the obvious in a Hindu society does not really understand it much and he offers no real insights that well brought up educated Hindus would not already know about their culture….Apart from pointing out that manuscripts not being preserved, he offers nothing of substance in his interview on Telekha called Hindutva and the death of Sanskrit…..Interesting title is it not, fail to see how the two are even related…..

  9. ava
    December 16, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    Actually this lecture by Sheldon Pollock was interesting. He predicts in thirty years the number of people in India who will be authorities on classical languages will be statistically 0, because nothing is being done by the government in terms of education in this respect. What do you think guys? He raises some compelling points. I also am pessimistic. The Congress government is a disaster, most of its leaders could not even pass college so we cannot expect them to value education or cultural heritage, I even doubt they would properly protect the moudly manuscripts in their care, as they have no knowledge of their national heritage or culture anyway. The so called BJP or the conservative party is just a bunch of clowns too in their own way and has done nothing substantial…

  10. ava
    December 16, 2011 at 8:51 AM

    Indians are good at computers and digitalizing things, why does a team from Columbia University have to initiate such things, what about people in India who care about preserving their heritage? What is being done to preserve mouldy manuscripts in private and government libraries for posterity?

  11. ava
    December 16, 2011 at 8:36 AM

    Cricfan
    I had no idea so who this Sheldon Pollock was, but I watched a you tube video on him…One thing that really disturbed me was he said that on his trip to India to study some manuscripts, a Maharaja family who owned 10,000 manuscripts in their private library was keeping them out of reach of both Indian and Western scholars and he called this a crime against scholarship! I agree on that, the Maharaja family must be really stupid to keep these books a secret and not publish them or digitalize them for the benefit of Indians as they were not even the authors of them but simply had obtained them via their positions of authority…Those manuscripts are national heritage….I can imagine if they do not want to share artwork made for their family and such things, but not sharing these manuscripts is not right….
    I wonder who in India is attempting to digitalize the millions of manuscripts in India many of which are in private hands? Is any attempt being made to collect them before they get lost? We have so many computer guys, has anyone thought of beginning such a thing and going out and collecting as many manuscripts as possible and digitalizing them? Even those in government archives should be all digitalized before they get mouldy and are no more. Sheldon Pollock says there are 6 million manuscripts in India…..I am also very suspicious of the government care of these manuscripts…..Indians should look into these things, this is something that ordinary concerned citizens can do something about…..

  12. ava
    December 16, 2011 at 2:53 AM

    @cricfan
    Well things things are bound to change depending on the type of government that leads India in the future and how India does economically. This is what ultimately matters, not some unknown academics giving opinions no one really cares about. I find it depressing thinking about culture wars over which one has no control and just like to be informed on my part. What I find interesting is how some academics are so interested in the politics of countries, instead of doing what they are paid to do: teach and do research in their fields….

    The good thing about being completely financially independent is that one can pursue one’s interests on one’s own such as you see in the case of Rajiv Malhotra….many good books I have read have come outside of academia….

    As for your remarks on the far East, I recall there was a good doctor in the US who tried to set up a program in the particular field of medicine in which she was good at in India with good intentions wanting to give something back to the place where she came from, but there was so much bureaucracy that she gave up, while her Japanese student set up a department in this very area in Japan and became well known in Japan for starting the first such program in that particular area of medicine at the University where that student now teaches, and her Japanese University conducts a lot of research in her field often in collaboration with American Universities. So nations like Japan do not progress without reason I suppose!

  13. cricfan
    December 16, 2011 at 1:53 AM

    @Ava: it is not easy to open good schools/univs in India where such research can be conducted, without the local of central gov meddling and pulling it down, whereas the fruitcake factory in Delhi appears to get practically unlimited funding from a variety of domestic and foreign sources.

    As Rajiv Malhotra mentions in one of his talks, when a member of royal family of Thailand approached the BJP gov (then in power) to help setup a Sanskrit univ there, they rejected it outright saying “India was secular”. Later a weasel from this Gov jumped in to claim credit at the last moment *after* Rajiv Malhotra, with his limited own funds and donations decided to help. SR Goel has similar notes on a more famous windbag, as most would already know. With friends like these, who needs the dynasty to make life difficult and why blame Nehru for everything?

    In fact, fruitcake factory types in collaboration with another loser (S Pollock) appear to be implementing this crazy plan of getting a whole bunch of crackpots in India to learn Sanskrit, so they can revise and appropriate stuff from the ground up. Seems like the eminent historians like loony Thapar who are Sanskrit-ignorant are not producing good quality counterfeit historical notes.

    In the west, we have psychos like Wendy and Witzel ruling the roost (the latter off late has kept quiet on his Aryan Horsemen fantasy the last few years). A Vivekananda Chair has opened in the univ of Chicago (where Wendy “teaches”). Who’s going to get that position? wouldnt be surprised in the least if it is some one from their old-boys network. Similarly there’s a Sanskrit position in South Africa. hope they find somebody with merit and without a hidden agenda.

    Perhaps the far-east offers a better chance of being allowed to work in peace – even if they are not exactly pro-Hindu? CK Raju fled to Malaysia after being chased out of India, where the only rule appears to be that he is free to explore his ideas as long as does not say anything negative about Islamic culture in his writings.

  14. ava
    December 15, 2011 at 11:05 PM

    Obviously…typo

  15. ava
    December 15, 2011 at 11:04 PM

    Again these things are connected to the prosperity of a nation and the vision of its people….the amount of cultural influence a civilization exerts is also proportional to its weight and importance….the more important India becomes in the world of nations, obvious the more interest generated in it and the reverse is also true….

  16. ava
    December 15, 2011 at 10:45 PM

    @amit
    You are preaching to the wrong person . I am aware of these people, in fact, I was introduced to Ram Swarup ‘s works by a Westerner who had regard for him and invited him to speak….While Hindus have written about their history, they have not written enough, I recall even Rajiv Malhotra lamenting this in a talk. Maybe that is to change when people are more prosperous and have time for these things….The people you mention are but a handful, though they make a difference….There is no funding for Indic studies by Indians on the scale of say funding for Islamic history by petro dollars…That might change if India is more prosperous….The more Indians engage in these things obviously the better….

  17. Amit
    December 15, 2011 at 10:33 PM

    Campaign update: Starting from Dec 13, 2011, 1 pm to Dec 15, 2011, 4:05pm, the number of hours, that regular commenters did not take the bait of the trolls, is 51 (more than two days) – which is quite admirable. So, I will donate $51 to Ekal VIdyalaya.

    And, the clock starts again with the time-stamp of this comment. The goal remains the same: 101 hours.

    Hopefully, we’ll continue to not respond to the trolls and thus, maintain a higher standard in the comments section which will allow a meaningful and quality exchange among us, instead of derailing of discussion that happened when people took the bait.

    Best.

  18. Amit
    December 15, 2011 at 10:25 PM

    And Rajiv Malhotra’s efforts are a continuation of what Shri Goel did. So, one will find many Indians if one looks for them.

  19. Amit
    December 15, 2011 at 10:22 PM

    “I also realize that until Indians interest themselves in their own history and civilization, it will continue to be written by others”

    @ava, there’s Sita Ram Goel and his books. Besides, as you yourself mentioned, Majumdar and Sarkar researched and wrote about Indian history. So, it’s not as if Indians haven’t been interested, or haven’t written about Indian history. Shri P.V. Kane – an Indologist and Sanskrit scholar – wrote “History of Dharmasastra” and was awarded Bharat Ratna. You will find similar historians writing history books about their regions/states. So, there’s no dearth of Indians interested in, researching and writing about Indian history. The issue is which historians and books are made “popular” in the mainstream, and the pernicious influence of the Marxist historians.

  20. Vinay
    December 15, 2011 at 8:57 PM

    @ava

    you admire dalrymple but dislike wendy. LOL

  21. ava
    December 15, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    @moomclan
    You mentioned Edward Said once. I found his book Orientalism mediocre. His biggest problem seems to be that Western scholars did not appreciate the Middle East while they placed Sanskrit and Indic civilization on a high footing…..While I understand that there are going to be distortions of our history and culture when an outsider writes about them, Said seems to be an angry man, whining that Westerners do not appreciate the Mid East….Now, is that not a job for Mid East historians to write their proper history? That is the case with Indians as well, who is preventing them from going to Delhi archives and reading the sources and writing on the mutiny, why wait for a Darlymple to examine those sources? So as much as I dislike the writings of people a la Wendy, I also realize that until Indians interest themselves in their own history and civilization, it will continue to be written by others….as much as they might not like it. No one can deny a genuine mathematical discovery, similarly no one can deny a good writer, look at Naipaul for instance….
    Also a lot of times people who try to fabricate histories when none existed also go too far in the name of ending biases in scholarship, try as they might, no one is going to convince me that Mayan mathematics is on par with Greek or Hindu mathematics….Get my point?

  22. Vinay
    December 15, 2011 at 8:01 PM

    @NASH

    And BTW check out some of the other “cure all” which eastern medicine has produced. The people who use these medicines swear by them and will assure you that there is a deep science behind these medicines.

    http://www.uglyfood.com/2008/03/18/baby-mice-wine/

    http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Asia/Laos/North/Louangphabang/photo1273692.htm

  23. Vinay
    December 15, 2011 at 7:56 PM

    @NASH

    the ban on ayurvedic products in europe is as recent as May 1, 2011. Only those ayurvedic products which have been in the market for over 15 yrs will be allowed and that too only from approvied atores. Internet sale of ayurvedic preparation as of now stands banned in european union countries.

  24. Vinay
    December 15, 2011 at 7:50 PM

    NASH says:

    You still didn’t answer my question. How would an ayurvedic physician diagnose asymptomatic diabtetes mellitus ??

  25. ava
    December 15, 2011 at 7:31 PM

    I have not read Raju but fail to see how mathematics is rooted in the theocratic needs of the Church. Rather, mathematics has worked quite in opposition to the Church historically and the Church has had to adjust its philosophy over time to the challenges posed by mathematics. Also mathematics is one area in which culture wars have no effect….the only times mathematics changes is when a mathematical genius challenges or reworks or discovers a new way of doing mathematics. No one can stop India from producing first rate mathematicians, regardless of,the way the history of mathematics is understood in the West, and India has produced mathematical geniuses, I can understand opposing the Marxist control of our history and so on, but find it futile to engage in discussions such as above…..Culture and history books on mathematics do not change mathematics and seem to me to have little bearing on it, but mathematicians doing mathematics changes it…

  26. ava
    December 15, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    Also I suggest people read very carefully the dialogues of Plato and the Greek texts in general….I am often shocked by the hubris of those who make tall claims about Greek civilization and philosophy without being able to read a word of Geek….people spend a lifetime trying to understand the civilization of the Greeks……
    Referring to Euclid as a concoction is hubris, what if someone were to use the same language and say the Vedas are a conction? Will it decrease their importance? I think not, similarly so with Euclid…..

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