Reputed Hindu ideologue is all set to deliver his first lecture at JNU as a visiting professor at the Centre for Media Studies on the 2nd of November. Malhotra’s appointment as a visiting professor at JNU reflects that winds of change are blowing across the university which has long been a leftist bastion. Apart from Malhotra, Swapan Dasgupta and Indian-American computer scientist Subhash Kak have also been provided positions at the university.
The author of books such “Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism” and “The Battle for Sanskrit”, the writer is widely respected for his intellectual defence of Hinduism. In one of his notable books, “Breaking India”, Malhotra has highlighted a nexus of intellectuals, activists, people in the academia and other powers who are involved in a collision to delegitimize the spiritual and territorial integrity of India.
Malhotra writes in Breaking India, “Scholars in South Asian Studies departments and liberal think-tanks see India through a secular lens based on Western ideas of human rights. They deploy subaltern studies and postmodern theories to deconstruct the Indian state as a catastrophe constructed artificially by colonialism and to show its very nature as oppressive, undemocratic, inherently anti-minority, anti-women and anti-Dalit.
They export these models to their Indian counterparts, forming a self-sustaining system. They also feed these visions into media and government hearings. Thus, these two supposedly opposing intellectual streams converge to provide an image of India as a frontier necessitating Western intervention.”
In an interview with Swarajya, Malhotra makes the argument that although universalist ideas may be at war with each other in other parts of the world, they work as allies in our country. He states further, “India is the world largest territory, both geographically and by population, that is up for grabs by the expansionist, predatory ideological movements in the world. By that, I mean pan-Islam, right-wing expansionist Christianity, and left-wing forces which include post-modernism, Marxism and “liberalism”. These predators are expansionist and they want a global footprint. India is where the “clash of civilisations” is going to play out.”
From his books, it is quite clear that Malhotra, like quite a few other reputed intellectuals, views India as a civilizational state rather than a nation-state. In ‘Being Different’, Malhotra highlights the essential difference between the West, the foundation of which is monotheism and India, the soul of which is still defined by pagan Hinduism.
His grouse is with the intellectual elite who are trying to bulldoze their way trying to fit India’s diverse traditions and culture into the western framework. He writes, “India is more than a nation state. It is also a unique civilization with philosophies and cosmologies that are markedly distinct from the dominant culture of our times – the West. India’s spiritual traditions spring from dharma which has no exact equivalent in western frameworks. Unfortunately, in the rush to celebrate the growing popularity of India on the world stage, its civilizational matrix is being digested into western universalism, thereby diluting its distinctiveness and potential.”
‘Digestion’ of Hindu practices and rituals and knowledge into the western fold is a special concern for Malhotra. He believes the ‘digestion’ of Indic traditions could to prove to be the final nail in the coffin for Hinduism. This ‘digestion’ that is spoken of refers to efforts such as “Christian Yoga” and other attempts at secularizing Hindu knowledge without acknowledging their true origins and roots to rob Hinduism of its exclusive claim to the said practice or knowledge.
Malhotra has been a vociferous critic of western Indologists like Wendy Doniger. The problem, according to him, is that they are using a “Marxist lens, a Leftist lens, a Freudian lens” to interpret Hindu texts and scriptures, theories which are “completely inapplicable to the Indian way of life.” He is immensely sceptical of the impact such westerners are having on the country. “I feel that the Western mischief of intervening and creating disruption inside India is a sad thing because Indians have had a long history of being able to get along in a very pluralistic society,” he says, “When these Westerners get in and start making fun of gods and goddesses — all these vulgar writings about gods and goddess, all the vulgar writings about many of the symbols, the festivals, making fun of the gurus — obviously, they are instigating trouble. I see it in that way.”
In an article for OpIndia.com, Malhotra has warned against making liberal Muslims the face of Hindu resistance. “We must shoulder our own responsibilities and not try to escape the risk and burden of having our own adhikara,” he says. His contention is the conflict between liberals Muslims and the Muslim orthodoxy is battle between two internal camps of Islam and believes it is unwise to “hoist them as some sort of leaders of Hindus as far as ideas, policies, and strategies are concerned” as there is no assurance that they will sympathetic to Hindu concerns or even capable of understanding them.
The author is also involved with the Infinity Foundation as its founder-director at New Jersey, USA. The foundation’s mission primary area of focus includes “creating, disseminating, and expanding a body of knowledge which clarifies or integrates philosophy, religion, science, psychology and non-traditional mystical disciplines; and bridging Eastern philosophies with Western thought.” In India, the foundation seeks to establish a grand narrative of our civilization and trains scholars for the purpose. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Center for Indic Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, and is an adviser to various organizations.
Opinions on Malhotra differ widely. While his critics often denounce him claiming he indulges in wild conspiracy theories, his ideas have gained much prominence among those working towards a Hindu renaissance. He is often regarded as a strategic thinker whose work is monumental towards mounting a credible defence of our pagan civilizations dominated by monotheism. Malhotra is a true Hindu intellectual in the long line of thinkers in independent India along the lines of Sita Ram Goel and Ram Swarup who has identified and brought to the public consciousness the forces that gravely threaten our civilization.
Although certain people have been disappointed with Prime Minister Modi’s work on the civilizational front, Malhotra’s appointment as a visiting professor at JNU and the subtle changes brought about in the Left bastion is certain to bring a smile in the faces of many people.