satyameva jayate nānṛtaṁ, satyena panthā vitato devayānaḥ, yenākramantyṛṣayo hyāptakāmā, yatra tat satyasya paramaṁ nidhānam - Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.6

Truth alone triumphs; not falsehood. Through truth the divine path is spread out by which the sages whose desires have been completely fulfilled, reach where that supreme treasure of Truth resides.

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Hello Rajiv,

I have read Balagangdhara's writings as well as yours. Yes, B has not provided a theory of dharma; how does that handicap his 'comaparative science of cultures' research program? Yes, it is a handicap, if B is seen as a defender of Hindus or anti-West. His writings are different from postcolonial writers, even though he, unlike postcolonials, tries to read Edward Said charitably; the specific context about Said: Said accepts a Kantian thesis, but denies one of its consequence. B uses 'cultural difference' to make that reading interesting.

And the other thing about B's project is that he is not linking his ideas with some philosophical theses like anti-essentialism or power/nexus, poststructuralism, etc. He said, one has to provide alternative theories that accounts for failures of generations of western writers, by not making the latter as a bunch of fools/racists, etc.

I have also read your books. Your books are good to awake Hindu fools from their slumber. I am not expecting you to agree with me about B's project.

Can you shed more light on this: "Balagangadhara's students want to appropriate many of my ideas and yet hide this fact by their ongoing criticisms of my work." I am interested to see where B's students have done U-Turn. More specifics please.



1) We both seem to agree that SNB has not offered any theory of dharma. However, note that his Indian constituents do seem to believe that he has shown them the light on dharma. This is a disconnect I am pointing out. To be seen as a serious voice of a tradition one must have specific positions on it and engage its practitioners regularly to validate these views. Otherwise its more ivory tower pontification.

2) His 'comparative science of cultures' research program has not yet produced anything concrete that would qualify as a science. I have asked for this for a decade.

3) I agree with you that SNB is interesting, but I find him relevant only within the overall space of postcolonial studies. (Being charitable to Said does not disqualify one as postcolonialist, because Said arguably started that field or at least he was one of its founders. The field went into post-Said mode as part of the Post-everything fashion.)

4) I disagree that my main contribution has been to wake up Hindu fools. If you look under "Big Ideas" at my web site rajivmalhotra.com you will get a few paradigmatic contributions my followers (who put that site together) found valuable. It is simplistic in my opinion and I might rewrite that section differently some day, but it does give a good idea of the scope.

5) After some of his followers rejected my Westology, it seems at least one of them recently says he is being encouraged by SNB to get into Westology. Meanwhile I had moved on to other approaches. The problem with the Westology project is that USA is quite a different animal than Europe and both cannot easily be lumped into "the West". For some practical purposes we can refer to the West and I do that a lot. But to get deep into the study of a distinct identity, philosophy, historical trajectory one must take the USA by itself. This is something people who lived in Belgium all their lives might not understand except superficially. Read my article at: {http://www.medhajournal.com/images/pdf/RajivM/rm_chapter9.pdf} for a brief glimpse into the unique American experience (of the Frontier) that shaped it so differently than Europe. Its a diaspora from Europe that has a specific kind of experience on its own geography to "become Americans". Europeans did not have such experience on their own soil which they proudly call their narrative. Secondly, one must study USA from some specific vantage point, and not "a view from nowhere" (or some kind of "God's view"). This is where black scholars are very important having done a similar project as are Latin American scholars. With all due respects I dont think the Belgium group has any clue about America beyond the surface. Regarding Uturns by the Belgian scholars, that is an open question and we cannot predict the future. I dont have anything to say at this point. But the vantage point of a non-practicing scholar is limited compared to the practicing one scholar. The latter can have both embodied experience and 3rd person perspectives, while the former can only have the etic/outsider view.

6) I definitely wish their enterprise well. Merely wanted to differentiate from what i have been doing which does not mean there is anything wrong with them. I certainly dont mean to trivialize their efforts. All said, SNB is an important thinker who I respect as such.

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