The book is not a day too early.The Editors have just accomplished a
task that was overdue.I request them to accept my gratitude.
We were having a lively and a very concerned debate in progress about
the Indian History in general, and the way in which India and Hindu
religion is taught at the schools in USA and in India in particular.
We are also worried the way text books in India "get written"
Our anxiety is that the abuse of India does not merely start with the
books you mentioned .They are just symptoms. This issue has a deeper
root and a sinister history of its own. It has its roots in the
content of Indian History in our school books; patronage of a certain
brand of Historians by the Government; the anxiety of "Historians" to
please those that matter, neglect of research and higher studies in
Indian History in our Universities and Research Organizations and
disillusionment of our bright young minds who are scared (with
reason) to take up study of History as an academic career.
The question is, where do we go from here? How do we tackle the menace
that confuse and disillusion our younger generation about our History,
our Culture and our Religion? The question is not merely about books
written by some westerns without an iota of understanding; it concerns
the identity of our communities and valuing conservation
of our culture
You have a wider canvass and larger area of work and influence than
many of us have. Could you please let us have your views on the
issues we are grappling with? Where do we go from here?
Kindly post your comments
Thanks for your presence & adding to the discussion. Also, thank you
for keeping the discussion alive on outlets like Sulekha.
Thank you for the reply and the appreciation.
We were aware of the problem and were trying to spread the awareness
about that with our very limited resources and a restricted reach.
Your book has accomplished the task of awakening, on a larger scale,
in a more scholarly, professional manner acceptable to academia and in
a much more effective way. None of us had the capability to do what
you have just done. It has made a great difference. We all thank you
for the task you just finished.
The question we were wondering at: "Where do we go from here?" remains
largely un answered in all the discussions that followed. Most of the
comments posted are the reactions to the contents of book with hardly
any thought expressed on what we need to do now or in future.
We fear the malady goes much deeper and has its roots in India; in its
schools, text books, Research organizations, Universities and in the
"safe" set of historians patronized by the Govt.Please do read our
original message and the blogs , for details.(Where do we go from
We have just identified a problem and reacted to it. However, it takes
much greater effort and dedication to effectively deal with the issue
in a holistic fashion and to find credible answers to questions
gnawing at the root of our cultural identity," What do we tell and how
we tell our children, who we are?" .We feel that a long term and a
well thought out strategy involving various segments of the academia,
the govts and intellectuals is essential. There are no quick fixes
here. Have you envisioned a strategy or a road map in that direction?
Can you kindly share it with us now or later?
Thank you again for a difficult just accomplished.
Looking forward to your response.
Thanks for you perceptive comments, & your obvious concerns about the
big picture. What you have, in the form of this book, is a tool for
firstly absorbing a deeper understanding of the problem, and then
fashioning an intellectual & intlligent response to it.
At the bare minimum, the book calls for an awakening of the people
concerned to the problem, & and an acknowledgement that it exists.
After that, it is upto the person(s) to think how to go ahead in
contributing to a remedy. It could be as simple as alerting oneself &
friends & family about the issues faced when one's cultural heritage
is unfairly targeted, or bigger things like getting together to form
organizations that actively participate in academic forums to have the
"insider" voices of the traditions heard.
It all starts with healthy discussions like this one.
Thanks for the comments, & please continue sharing your thoughts. They
Send that link to friends and family, post it on your blogs, print it
out for people who can't/won't read it online. That article is
compelling, it sold me on the book.
Perhaps the ITS team could post announcements here (or through an
email list) about events around the book - articles, interviews, a
U.S. book launch, etc.
Thank you for your work in writing and editing the book, and thank you
Rajiv Malhotra for the vision and its fulfillment. This is so much
needed for so many reasons.
Thanks for the comment.
You mentioned key words reverence and pride for our heritage, and self
esteem Home and Family is the nucleus of ones growth. It is the most
important source of influence and therefore the best starting point
for building value systems and for valuing cultural preservation.
Sometimes, as you remarked, these values might not get adequate
attention or priority at home. The living atmosphere at all homes
cannot be the same or uniform. They vary, like everything else in the
world. I therefore confirm your view that the efforts at home should
be supplemented, supported and nurtured by organized exercises at
schools, Universities, Research organizations and social groups. It
would be a blessing if the best of our young minds take up and pursue
studies in our History and culture. Because it is here our perceptions
of History, culture and religion get defined, acquire a broader appeal
and get propagated. The important break through we are hoping for
should logically appear in the organized sector. The families can
protect and nurture the values. But they need a space to grow in the
outer world. Else , our young ones will live in a zone of confusing
and conflicting identities.
The ITS Team has just initiated the task of awakening. It is an
important step but it is only the first step. They have left it to the
enterprise of individuals, families and social groups to devise
appropriate methods to preserve and propagate true versions of our
history, culture and religion. We therefore have a long way to go. The
least we can do is to have wider public debate in all forms of media,
social groups and academia. I am not sure how far the ITS Team or the
blog sites could reach into the public domain. We are still at the
The basic question still is how to project our History in the best
light in a balanced manner. Addressing that question , sanely , is not
going to be an easy task. The debate that might follow is likely to
generate more heat than light. The approach of the Establishment, on
the other hand, will of course be cautious and timid. Can we strike a
I cannot help echoing Raghunathan Kadangode who said,
"We are between the devil and the deep sea. On one extreme we have the
so called "secular" experts who fail to the real things that
contributed for the development of Indian society. They simply
intrapolate [opposite of extrapolate!] the present day ideas to the
former historical contexts. It lacks simple common sense.....
The other extreme is to see everything connected with the past with a
kind exilarated feeling and their emotional and sensitive approach is
unreal.......A balanced perspective with no built in prejudice is
required for the experts."
Yet, I wish more people joined the debate. It would at least help
spreading the awareness of the issues involved.
Thank you for the comment.
Please keep talking.
This is a large work and needs the involvement and sustained
dedication of many many many like minded members working in
Many of the facts point to the gaping hole here in India: Dirth of
scholars to teach our culture while America churns them out whether
they know the subject or not.
Some points I want to make are:
1. Get our religious systems clarified.
By that I mean make it crystal clear to all that our Vedas and
Upanishads are what constitute our religion principally and eternally.
That the Puranas come next and that the Shastras are a set of laws
that guided people of the times.
2. Get the hierarchy of our gods straight.
Here, we have to be very clear that the gods (with the small 'g') are
powers that control the Universe and NOT the Almighty GOD. These
powers are greater than man and hence he reveres them. Nothing wrong
if there are 330 million of them - because there really are so many
gods! Plus the fact that these gods are not worshipped on an everyday
basis and only while we invoke their powers only when we have to
satisfy our particular shortcomings/needs which they are held
responsible for. For eg. when there is no rain we pray to Indra, etc.
First is the NirgunaParabrahman, then the trinity, then the Gods of
wisdom and the prime aspects of life on earth such as knowledge,
wealth, etc, then the gods of the elements and then the others...This
means that we are not a bunch of Polytheistic confused heathens, but
approach the highest by giving due regard to the powers that are
beyond our control and that which control us.
3. When we do not know the answer to a quesiton, we ought to be honest
and say, "I do not know' instead of attributing some imaginary or
miraculous reason. For eg. when somebody asks, 'What is Maya?' I am
always stuck...I explain through examples but cannot tell the
definition itself. Similarly, it is better to earn the reputation of
honesty instead of being 'false scholars'
4. Tell our stories to our children. Make them interesting and the key
human emotions hidden in the stories. Like when Shiva throws his
trident at Ganesha how anger blinds one's discrimination irrespective
of the fact that Shiva is none other than one of the great Trinity.
Project how gunas rule even at that level.
5. Get the things taught from the school level itself. Since some
schools might have an objection to this, add these activities to the
temples instead. Unless there is a demand for these studies in our
country, there will be no facility to teach or quality in these
subjects. To create the demand, the foundational knowledge and spirit
of inquiry has to be awakened. We have to do it at the younger age
only - this is when they are moulded. The firmer and stabler the
mould, the better.
6. While teaching shlokas to our children we have to tell them the
meaning too. No point in learning the Skr. hymns without an inkling to
what they mean.
7. Encourage our children to talk to children of other schools and
spread the ideas. This is imperative as children are the most
impressionable and peer knowledge is shared far easily. I take this
communicatio as a prime point.
8. I tell my children (I have over 250 of them in my school) the
stories, followed by the relevant shloka (which they write down in a
separate notebook) with a line-to-line meaning in English (this can be
in the regional lang. if applicable) and then the children enact the
story in 2 or 3 groups depending on the strength of the class. Since
this is going to continue till they complete class 8, they are going
to keep getting the stories and shlokas and enact the dramas until
9. Encourage the children to tell the stories and shlokas at home by
feeding in competition sessions. Preparing for the competitions would
ensure that parents and siblings and others in the family/
neighbourhood know through them.
10. I have been doing this for nearly a month and the enthusiasm of
the children is what keeps me so high on my motivation (despite the
fact that the pay is nowhere comparable to other 'professional' jobs).
Based on this, there is one more suggestion: Those educated women who
are interested in social work/community service can look at teaching
these things in neighbourhood schools/temples as an option.
In fact, if there is more intereset in this area, there could be an
interesting and more structured way of teaching/learning to teach
A beginning is needed. The earlier it happens, the better it is for
all of us.
> > for keeping the discussion alive on outlets like Sulekha.- Hide quoted text -
> - Show quoted text -
Thanks for that comment, & for continuing the discussions. Your
response, & R Kadangode's quotes have much thought in them.
Thanks for those excellent comments. Your 10 points seem quite solid,
in terms of a practical way of transmitting the children their
heritage in a sensible way.
Thanks for adding greatly to the discussion, & making a difference.
please do continue...