[Advaita-l] URGENT MESSAGE TO HH Shankaracharya of Sringeri Matha - CIRCULATE AS WIDELY AS POSSIBLE
Venkatesh Murthy via Advaita-l
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Wed Aug 27 06:30:04 CDT 2014
I got this e-mail from well wishers of Sanatana Dharma.
Note on Columbia University
wanting to host a chair on Adi Shankara
Hindus worldwide who follow the US universities and academies are saddened
note and shocked that Columbia University claims to be in the process of
a Professor Chair for Adi Shankara
with the full help of Sringeri mattha and funding
by wealthy Indians.
We sincerely request H.H. Shankaracharya to kindly delay his decision of
to this until the end of 2014, so that a more detailed report about all
aspects of this
initiative from all sources can be presented to His Holiness. The matter is
important. If done in haste, it can cause very serious damage to the study
Shankara, to Hinduism more broadly, and to the Sringeri mattha. Also, there
urgency to finalize this rightaway as the Columbia university people are
delighted about getting this large sum of money
and they are accustomed to
donors of other chairs negotiating for years before a deal is finalized.
The leading person at Columbia who will be supervising this chair is a
Sanskrit scholar of certain repute
named Sheldon Pollock. He is a staunch leftist, who claims that:
The Aryans were foreigners who invaded India and brought Sanskrit into
As Aryan invaders, they were allegedly very oppressive of the indigenous
people whereever they
Sanskrit is an abusive language because of Brahmin adhikara. It encompasses
and enables a
culture of abusing Dalits, women and others.
Sanskrit is already a dead language as a result.
It is not a good idea to revive spoken Sanskrit. It should be a language
meant for scholars like him
rather than to be thriving living tradition amongst the masses.
He is training leftist Dalit activists at Columbia in Sanskrit who later go
back to India and join
movements like those of Kancha Ilaiah, Mayawati, etc. This is his political
interference into our
In his famous essay titled "
The Death of Sanskrit
", he opens with the following paragraph. His political
motives and his attitude towards Sanskrit is not in doubt:
In the age of Hindu identity politics (Hindutva) inaugurated in the 1990s by
the ascendancy of the Indian People’s Party (Bharatiya Janata Party) and its
ideological auxiliary, the World Hindu Council (Vishwa Hindu Parishad),
cultural and religious nationalism has been promulgating ever more distorted
images of India’s past. Few things are as central to this revisionism as
Sanskrit, the dominant culture language of precolonial southern Asia outside
the Persianate order.
Hindutva propagandists have sought to show, for
example, that Sanskrit was indigenous to India,
and they purport to
decipher Indus Valley seals to prove its presence two millennia before it
actually came into existence. In a farcical repetition of Romantic myths of
primevality, Sanskrit is considered— according to the characteristic
of the VHP—the source and sole preserver of world culture. The state’s
anxiety both about Sanskrit’s role in shaping the historical identity of the
Hindu nation and about its contemporary vitality has manifested itself in
substantial new funding for Sanskrit education, and in the declaration of
1999–2000 as the “Year of Sanskrit,” with plans for conversation camps,
debate and essay competitions, drama festivals, and the like."
Vedic texts for European racism and Nazism. According to him,
to the "ideological formations of precolonial India"
and Nazism tried implementing this "at home" in Germany.
was the study of Sanskrit that led to the "legitimation of genocide". (More
genocide of Jews before World War II)
Pollock and his team fully lack shraddha and sadhana and do not encourage
their students or associated
scholars in this direction either. In fact, the majority of these scholars
in his team, more so those that
claim to study vedas, are pedestrian in their habits – including openly
advocating non-vegetarian diets,
drinking alcohol and other social vices. They do not live the dharmic
lifestyle that should be a
prerequisite for doing shraddha and sadhana driven research into matters of
Samskrit, Samskriti and Adi
By "secularizing Sanskrit" which they claim they are doing, they have
removed the development of the
antah-karana in the student. This is meant strictly for bookworms as in the
case of Abrahamic religions,
where "hermeneutics" is strictly a matter of text analysis through mental
gymnastics. When you throw
away the injunctions requiring inner practice, you encourage Sanskrit
becoming both distorted and
digested into western dominated narratives.
Pollock's game plan has gone through three phases:
First he established his credentials as a young Sanskrit scholar by doing
translations of Sanskrit
texts into English - using dictionaries as he is said to be unable to
converse in Sanskrit. These
were non-controversial works, this is just to get established. But he is
not a sadhak, hence this
work is purely is textual analysis only and results in many a
aadyatmic-distorted understanding of
samskrit idioms and practices.
Then he turned into a Leftist social scientist and started producing a
large quantity of anti-Sanskrit
works like the above quotes. His thesis is that Sanskrit has been abusive
against dalits, women,
minorities. That the Aryans brought Sanskrit and its texts to India. That
Hindu chauvinists are
trying to revise history and claim otherwise. The above para quoted from
his paper says it all.
Finally, he started to champion the revival of Sanskrit but in a specific
manner: He wants to
secularize it by removing ALL references that are positive and Hindu. He
considers mantras to
devatas as a big problem. He is leading many projects in USA to bring
Dalits to Columbia and
train them in Sanskrit with his own political spin and twist. What he wants
is a Westernized
approach to Sanskrit that is not just in line with our traditional approach
but actually in conflict
with it. He praises this as "modernizing Sanskrit". This is similar to
decoupling Yoga from Hindu
in the name of "modernizing Yoga". The implication is that our traditions
are flawed and must be
'upgraded' by de-contextualizing it of its dharma and thereby modernizing
or secularizing it.
His department in all the places he worked is a major center for Indian
leftists to get trained and get
inspired for actions against dharma in India.
This is a replay of how Oxford university became the world center for
Indology in the British era – more
so with scholars who had an explicitly missionary motive. That was under
British rule but now these
kinds of efforts are under Indian rule. Indians in the coming years and
decade will throng to Columbia to
get certified if they want to be taken seriously in India as Sanskrit
This means such Indians will get a heavy dose of Western hermeneutics which
is the theoretical 'lens'
used in Columbia and elsewhere. This 'lens' sidelines all Indian siddhanta
approaches, subtly discrediting
them as and when necessary. It replaces the siddhanta with things like:
So traditional Sringeri mattha interpretations of their own guru will fade
away, and be replaced by the
"modernized" fashions. Indian pandits and acharyas will find themselves at
a very big disadvantage and
feel like outsiders in such discussions, unless they submit themselves to
get trained in hermeneutics -- in
which case they will end up getting brainwashed.
Our well-intended samskriti leaders simply lack enough competence to be
able to make such strategic
choices without a lot of help and support. Even if the first occupant of
the chair is a good one for us, there
are serious issues in the long term:
Subsequent selections as per contract will be 100% controlled by Columbia
The power center for Sanskrit studies will shift from Sringeri to USA. This
means the adhikar to
run conferences and journals, control translations, and produce the next
generation of PhDs and
researchers for worldwide teaching including India will be dominated by
them and their
viewpoints or approaches.
This chair will be cited as a role model to approach all other matthas and
Taking Hindu money and using it to control (or discredit) their discourse
will become a fashion in
the name of "collaboration", "globalization", "modernizing", etc.
We must learn from what happened under the influence of the shrewd
missionary scholars of Samskrit
like Robert de Nobili in the 1600s, William Jones in the late 1700s, and
Max Mueller in the 1800s.
While Indian leftists already hated Sanskrit, they lacked the direct
knowledge of the
language or its texts. This is where Pollock has provided them ammunition by
small army of leftist Indians, and got them jobs in India, from where they
carry out the civilizational war far worse than the British ever could.
sepoy slaves are Sanskrit educated by PhD factories in USA and do not do
to further the cause of traditional gnana in furthering the cause of
Sringeri mattha is being asked to lend its good name and facilitate
funding of several million dollars
to help these PhD factories.
We have this absurd
Indians need to go to the USA or UK to earn PhDs in Sanskrit in order to be
seen as serious
scholars back home in India. Our very own Indian rich philanthropists ought
to set up world class
institutions in India. If India can set up such institutions in fields like
technology (IITs), management
(IIMs), and other “secular” fields, then why not set up serious and world
class centers of excellence on its
Sringeri has been the last remaining pure center of excellence in Samskrit
studies we had from the past
era that never allowed itself to get compromised or breakdown by violations
during the long period of
Mughal and then British rules.
We sincerely request everyone of the stakeholders involved to protect it
from getting subtly colonized.
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