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The Argumentative Hindu (Essays by a Non-Affiliated Orientalist)

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Item Code: NAM374
Author: Koenraad Elst
Language: English
Edition: 2020
ISBN: 9788177421248
Pages: 528
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch
Weight 670 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

The Argumentative Hindu is the person who rejects the imposed "secularist" consensus. The author, Dr. Koenraad Elst, is a non-affiliated Orientalist who sympathizes with this Hindu dissenter. But he also made himself some enemies, not only among the secularists but also among the very Hindus whose cause he champions. In this book, he defends himself against their criticism and, more importantly, the late mentors from whom he got his view of Hinduism and of the challenges to its survival: 'Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel. He also makes some new suggestions to his Hindu friends, on how to be more effective and how to remedy existing errors.

Today, illiteracy about Hinduism among Hindus, the limitation of their knowledge to a very small part of their heritage, is the most consequential weakness in the struggle for survival. Stunted ideological development and an anachronistic worldview are serious obstacles to be tackled if ever a genuine reaffirmation of Hindu civilization is to win through.

This book is a collection of papers written in the last few years, to wake up the Hindus to their mistakes as well as to their potential.

About the Author

Koenraad Elst (Leuven 1959) grew up in a Catholic Flemish family in Belgium. He gave his early interests in Asian traditions a stronger foundation by earning MA degrees at the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL) in Sinology, Indology and Philosophy. During a research stay at the Banaras Hindu University, he discovered how misunderstood India's religio-political problems are. Without the benefit of any institutional support, and while raising a family of four, he did original fieldwork for a dissertation on Hindu nationalism and earned his doctorate magna cum laude at the KUL in 1998. His work in political journalism and in fundamental research, laid down in over twenty books and numerous articles, earned him both applause and ostracism. Especially noteworthy are his non-conformistic findings on Islam, multiculturalism and the secular state, the origins of Indo-European, the temple/mosque controversy in Ayodhya, the affinity and hostility between religion and totalitarianism, the alleged dark side of Buddhism, the post-Maoist revival of Confucius, various language policy issues, the institutional future of Belgium, direct democracy and the defence of threatened freedoms.


It is a fact as well as a matter of wonder that sixty-five years after India gained her independence, it still makes perfect sense to discuss "decolonization". The omnipresence of the English language is the most visible factor of a permanently colonized condition, others are the total reliance on Western models in the institutions and in the human sciences. But unlike China, that has wholeheartedly suppressed its own cultural identity (except in language) to embrace Soviet and Anglo-Saxon standards and ideas, India has maintained more of its identity and shows a stronger resistance. That is why in India, the colonized condition can be an issue at all.

Recently, China has rediscovered its identity, witness the numerous Confucius Institutes. China has less complexes about its identity than India, which wouldn't dream of naming its cultural representation after one of its ancient sages. At the same time, it has a far more historical view of decolonization: somehow there are no Chinese intellectuals imagining that the colonial Opium Wars are still going on.

In India, meanwhile, an outsider may observe that matters are made worse by vocal Hindu activists whose discourse gives the impression that decolonization hasn't happened at all. They are as Eurocentric in the negative as the "secularists" are Eurocentric in the affirmative. Many problems in which the past or present role of the West is at best secondary are being misconstrued as neo-colonial conspiracies, e.g. it is often suggested in all seriousness that jihadi terrorism is actually a ploy by the US against India, the way the Afghan Mujahedin had been propped up against the Soviets in the 1980s. This denies agency to Islamic anti- Hinduism, a movement which predates Western colonialism by almost a millennium. This condition of stunted ideological development and an anachronistic worldview is a serious obstacle to be tackled if ever a genuine reaffirmation of Hindu civilization is to win through.

Today, illiteracy about Hinduism among Hindus, the limitation of their knowledge to a very small part of their heritage, is the most consequential weakness in the struggle for survival. Many Hindus, including the majority of those in elite positions, have no idea of why their civilization should survive, or what it is that should survive. To themselves and to the outside world, too many Hindus including Hindu activists misrepresent Hinduism. That fact has been noticed often enough, and the remedy is so obvious and simple that there seems no need for further diagnosis: the first and most urgent need is to make Hindus more aware of the depths and richness of their own heritage. Then again, identifying the factors of this strange problem might be helpful in that they are equally the causes of related problems, like the susceptibility of Hindu politicians to appeasement policies or the social infighting between sections of Hindu society.

In my modest way, I have contributed over the years to this Hindu consciousness-raising. This book is a collection of papers written in the last decade, and mostly in the last few years, to wake up the Hindus to their mistakes as well as to their potential.

I want to dedicate this book to a friend's neighbour, a Hindu palmist who in 2006 read my hand without my asking. I expected to have a year or so to live due to my heart condition, but without my informing him, he predicted many more years. When I told him the medics' prognosis, he wasn't impressed at all and insisted my hand said nothing about an impending death. Maybe he applied the astrologer's trick of always predicting a long life, no matter what the indications, but circumstances and his face pleaded for his genuineness. So far, he has been proven more right than the medics with their doomsday prognosis. However, I also thank the donors who supported me through my medical ordeal, and the gods and the surgeons for dear life. Above all, they gave me the chance to answer the critics of my mentors Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel; see the present book.


Introduction: the real Hindu, or ideological decolonization vii
1Reviews 1
2Humour in Hinduism 55
3A dubious quotation, a controversial reputation: the merits of Lord Macaulay 80
4Karma 108
5Internet discussions 130
6Hindus and history 195
7The decline of the Sangh Parivar 214
8Secularism 261
9Discrimination against Hindus in India's Constitution 290
10Ramachandra Guha 304
11Racism among Hindus? 317
12Censorship and the Academy 350
13Meera Nanda against Hinduism and its friends 386
14The case for Orientalism 442
15Ayodhya' s three history debates 456
16Hindu survival: what is to be done 496
Index 509

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