Sheldon Pollock – An analysis of  scholarship and activism

Part 1

Chandrapida

Ziauddin Barani was a medieval Islamic historian of 14th century India whose works like Tarikh I Firozshahi on history and Fatwa I Jahandari on Political Theory are  highly regarded alike in both traditional Islamic scholarly circles and modern day community of scholars who deal with medieval Persianate realm in India. In his book Tarikh I Firozshahi, he expresses his usual glee when Hindus were massacred by Islamist hordes but to know his mentality, it is incumbent that we look at this piece from his work Fatwa I Jahandari, regarded as one of most important works on Political Theory by Islamic scholarship of medieval India. He says

If Mahmud had gone to India once more, he would have brought under his sword all the Brahmans of Hind who, in that vast land, are the cause of the continuance of the laws of infidelity and of the strength of idolators; he would have cut off the heads of two or three hundred thousand Hindu chiefs. He would not have returned his Hindu-slaughtering sword to its scabbard until the whole of Hind had accepted Islam. For Mahmud was a Shafiite, and according to Imam Shafii the decree for Hindus is Islam or death, that is to say, they should either be put to death or accept Islam. It is not lawful to accept jiziya from Hindus who have neither a prophet nor a revealed book” [1]

Remarkable are

  1. One of best scholars openly calling for massacre of Hindus in general and Brahmins in particular.
  2. He does not express his personal opinion but bases this on authority of Shafii school of Islam .
  3. There is no evidence that this has ever been disputed by any premodern Muslim scholar of non Hanafi school.

Readers might find it tad puzzling as to why we compare a  a modern day American Indologist to a medieval Islamic scholar who appears quite bigoted. [2] The reason is simply generating a context in which anti Hindu activism of likes of Pollock can be understood properly. To begin with, Hindus of Indian subcontinent have been facing Islamist fundamentalism as existential threat to their vast civilization ever since first Islamic army attacked Hindus in East Afghanistan. Contrary to the likes of JNU scholar Thapar who call advent of Islamism as ‘import of culture’, every evidence suggests that barring few exceptions, Islamist arrival in India was a very bloody process which went hand in hand with destruction of Indian civilization as much as  possible. Eastern Afghanistan, today hotbed of fanatic Taliban was a land where Hinduism and Buddhism predominated and ninth century Islamic author Al Biladhuri remarked that people of this region  abstained from eating beef. Afghanistan, even today, retains a few place names which are unmistakably Indic (cf..kabul(=Sanskrit.Kubha), Nangarhar(skt. NagarahAra), Lamghan(skt.Lampaka) ,Kapisa(skt.Kapisa), Wardak(skt. Vartaka), Kamdesh(skt.kAmadesha) ,  Balkh(Skt.Bahlika, Av.Baxdi), Hadda(Skt.Hadda), Bamiyan(Skt. VarmayAna),Ghor(Skt.MandESa) and Badakhshan(dvyakshayaNa). Even today, we find idols of Mahisasurmardini in a land which now believes in killing idol worshippers. The rulers even kept Indic varNa appellations (cf. Aspavarma a chieftain of pre-Islamic eastern Afghanistan) Richard Nelson Frye, a leading Iranologist, is emphatic that this area was part of Indic universe.

A Mahishamardini from Pre Islamic Eastern Afghanistan

Durga2

 Sanskrit documents belonging to Mimamsa school discovered at Bamiyan(c.500 CE)

mimansa

Pre Islamic Shahi rulers of Afghanistan issued coins in Sanskrit using proto-Sharada script

 shahi coins

 

 

 

However, once the Ghaznavid  army destroyed local kingdoms, the Islamist mentality expressed by likes of Barani in Fatwa I Jahandari ensured that everything Hindu was destroyed forever. Sanskrit which was used as an official language (Turks and Indian Hindus both used it in their inscriptions) was simply wiped out and Persian imposed. Death of sculpture in Islamic kingdoms is well known and the entire artistic tradition as well as  literature was lost. People converted out of fear to Islam.

The forcible conversion of people of Ghor(Central Afghanistan) from Hinduism to Islam by Ghaznavids  is recorded in Tarikh I Guzida(composed c.1330 CE) [3]

Sultan Mahumud now went to fight with the Ghorians, who were infidels at that time. Suri, their chief, was killed in this war, and his son was taken prisoner; but he killed himself by sucking poison which he had kept under the stone of his ring. The country of Ghor was annexed to that of the Sultan, and the population thereof converted to Islam. He now attacked the fort of Bhim, where was a temple of the Hindus

The complete destruction of Lamghan(Afghanistan) by islamic Ghaznavid armies, which had during those days been Hindu, was a gleefully described by contemporary Ghaznavid court poet Utbi[4]

He proceeded to the country of the infidel traitors, and wheresoever he came he plundered and sacked the country until it was annihilated. He dug up and burnt down all its buildings, and killed those deceivers and infidels, carrying away their children and cattle as booty. He made the territory of Lamghan, which had been the most populous and flourishing of all that country, entirely stript and bare. He mastered several other territories, and, destroying their temples, their sacred buildings, and their churches, built mosques in their stead, making the light of Islám visible

The result was that Hindu civilization lost an area to Islamists simply because their armies succeeded in engaging in a bloodbath. Indeed, Utbi located Lamghan of Eastern Afghanistan in “Hindustan”. By the time of Akbar, the final frontier of “Hindustan” was Attock in Northern Punjab. It has now been pushed to Wagah. What happened in East Afghanistan was repeated almost everywhere in Indian subcontinent, the only difference being that Hindus in the other areas were able to give stiff resistance to Islamist hooliganism. Hence,  Punjabis still write in a script derived from Sharda, the script used by Hindu Sahis who had to face Ghaznavid bigotry. However, this does not mean that Indian civilization was not harmed and people not massacred. Islamists destroyed so much as power equations allowed them to . The Khiljis conquest of Gujrat was described by Wassaf who wrote his work in 1300, a year after Gujrat was conquered[5].

“The vein of the zeal of religion beat high for the subjection of infidelity and destruction of idols.  The Mohammadan forces began to kill and slaughter, on the right and the left unmercifully, throughout the impure land, for the sake of Islãm, and blood flowed in torrents. They plundered gold and silver to an extent greater than can be conceived, and an immense number of precious stones as well as a great variety of cloths? They took captive a great number of handsome and elegant maidens and children of both sexes, more than pen can enumerate. In short, the Mohammadan army brought the country to utter ruin and destroyed the lives of the inhabitants and plundered the cities, and captured their off-springs, so that many temples were deserted and the idols were broken and trodden under foot, the largest of which was Somnãt. The fragments were conveyed to Dehlî and the entrance of the Jãmi Masjid was paved with them so that people might remember and talk of this brilliant victory Praise be to Allah the lord of the worlds”

This is how things were in medieval India. Things changed when in 18th century Marathas and Sikhs broke backbone of Islamist hooliganism though it must be known that just before British brought most of South India under their sway, an Islamist Ghazi Tipu Sultan once again repeated exploits of Ghaznavi and Taimur.  It is notable that from 8th century Sindh where Qasim was killing Hindus, enslaving women, destroying temples to 18th century Malabar where Tipu Sultan was doing the same, we observe a consistency in Islamist attitude towards Hindus. Tolerate them when conditions are not as favorable to Islam but brutally torture them once the power equation tilts in Islamist favor

 

In British times, due to British disarming all sections of Indian society, things remained normal albeit for time being. As we have already seen, Islamist bigotry was not limited to just hating religions of India but extended to all aspects of culture from architecture to scripts etc..,. One such case was Hindi-Urdu controversy about which we will discuss below. However, this vast region got united and Hindus by 1930s started dominating it again. Islamist imperialism revived and this time wanted a separate nation. Hindus, whose even most powerful rulers like Shivaji were remarkably tolerant of other creeds including Islam, were shocked that their own people (mostly Punjabis and Bengalis) would demand separate nation just because they were of different faith. After much reluctance, they agreed to partition.

Now, partition was simply horrible. There was massive violence directed against Hindus wherever Islamists were in majority. This violence has permanently erased Hindus( sikhs included for brevity) from many regions like West Punjab where from more than 20 percent they are now less than 1 percent, Sindh where from 25 percent they are now less than 10 percent and East Bengal where from 34 percent in 1901 they are less than 10 percent. In India, Islamists has massive power, their percentage has increased, most political parties literally kiss their boots everyday and many Islamic practices like polygamy, triple talaq and such are allowed by state. Even after partition, Islamist imperialism did not cease and in 1971 inflicted massive miseries on Bengali Hindus. Leading scholar RJ Rummel said that Hindus were to Pakistani army what Jews were to Nazis. In most parts of India, Islamist terrorism is well alive and Mumbai the financial capital has seen tens of attacks of the sort Brussels faced recently. Pakistan as nation is nothing but Islamist imperialism’s creation and its avowed aim is destruction of India and in this it is ready to be bought by anybody ( USA and China use it as a pawn).

To summarize

  1. Islamists have done massive cultural holocaust in sub-continent . One could simply look at Sindhis and Gujratis to appreciate the effect. The Gujrarati script descended from Brahmi – a pure Indic script which was popular in lands as north as Turfan in Xinjiang of China. There are numerous Brahmi manuscripts from historical era thence. Gujratis have Indic names and sine westernisation are culturally still following organic evolution of Indic civilization. Not to forget that even an average Gujrati knows thousands of Sanskrit words. On the other hand, in nearby Sindh, the script used is derived from Arabic, culture is Arabic and likes of Pollock would find even that even Sindhi professors do not know 100 sanskritic words. This is what Islamists have done, a deed now zealously denied by likes of Pollock.

 

  1. This cultural holocaust was only due to Islamist armies ravaging Hindu world. Otherwise in places like Assam where they failed, there is no trace of Islamic culture before 20th century in any appreciable manner.
  1. This Islamist attack on Hindus still continues and infact 20th century was most successful  for Islamic imperialism as Hindus and Hindu temples from West Punjab and East Bengal have been erased for most part.

 

Having narrated the foreground, it is important to stress  this Islamist attack is multipronged and not just physical. This is where our Indologists enter. While it is undeniable that Indology was spawned by curious Europeans interested in non-Western cultures, it is also true that due to reasons like western imperialism, racism, Christian bigotry and to some extent Hindu negligence towards history, Indology from inception was marked by heavy bias against Hindus. Obsession with caste, attributing Indian failures to culture rather than geography and highlighting its shortcomings were elements which one could find in Indology from its inception until day. This bias  has now been aggravated by changes in Western academia where Islam is new holy cow and ‘deconstructionist’ attitude ubiquitous norm . Thus, while most Indologists were biased from beginning, Islamist apology ( which is horrible given aforementioned track record of Islamists in India) coupled with deconstruction of Hindu civilization by highly talented scholars from West has ensured that today’s Indology  is mostly nothing but a facet of multipronged attack on Hindus. Islamists with all their gains  failed in India proper and even lost out in Hindu-Urdu schism. Reason why Islamists(such as the one who writes for scroll.in)  call for replacement of Devanagari  by Roman script as they cannot stomach that even after ruling this land for centuries, they could not wipe out its local script which eventually replaced their own Nastaliq script. Fact is the Devanagari script with its proper classification of vowels, diphthongs, nasals, velars, palatals etc..,. .is one of the most orderly scripts of the world. The Semitic scripts, by contrast, are primitive, random and unorderly .This is why the Indologists adopted Devanagari phonetic classification in their reconstructed “Proto-Indo-European” language

 

James.P.Mallory, the greatest linguist of our times and the editor of modern etymology dictionaries of Indo-European languages has the following to say in his Magnum Opus “The etymology of Indo European (Oxford University Press 2011) [6]

Anyone with even the sketchiest notion of phonetics who considers the alphabet of the western languages cannot but be struck by its utter randomness. Vowels are scattered here and there in no sensible order, there is little similarity of sound in respect to placement, nor is there any sense that the more useful letters are gathered together in one place. The arrangement of a Qwerty keyboard makes more sense than the order of the alphabet. This haphazard arrangement, however, is not characteristic of the Sanskrit (or Devanagarı) alphabet which unlike the Phoenician and Greek alphabets (and their descendants, Latin and Cyrillic) would appear to have been systematically created and arranged on the basis of a thoroughgoing analysis of the phonetics of the language for which it was intended. The Sanskrit alphabet begins with the simple vowels in series between short and long, e.g. a, a¯, i, ¯ı, then the diphthongs (e.g. a¯i, a¯u), and then the. The consonants are arranged by place and method of articulation. First come the velars, i.e. gutturals; then the palatals , then the retroflexes, then the dentals, the sounds made by pressing the tongue against the teeth; and finally the labials. The consonants may be voiced or unvoiced. They may also be aspirated or unaspirated. Finally, they have nasal equivalents.

This same exemplary rigour was applied to the analysis of words and their constituent elements. Sanskrit grammarians described in detail the root, stems, and endings of verbs or nouns and both the internal and external changes that might alter their meaning or grammatical function. When western scholars began their study of Sanskrit, they not only acquired a new language but also learned a good deal about how to undertake grammatical analysis

 

Even as great western linguists themselves admit that western grammarians learnt a good deal from Sanskrit and Devanagari, Islamists and secularists relentlessly call for its cessation

However, this trend is no longer limited to Islamists/secularists as even Indologists in general have joined the bandwagon. Just pick up any book published by Western press on British India and linguistic tensions, you would find brazen Urdu apologia. ‘Hindu communalism created a new language’. ‘Hindi was Sanskritised’ and such are recurring tropes of these books. No word on how Persianised Hindi had no history before 17th century India, how it was fostered by British and how native assertion called for sanskritisation. Afterall, Indology has figures like Abraham Grierson who opposed Sanskrit words in Hindi on plea that Hindi being granddaughter of Sanskrit should not use Sanskrit as that would be akin to a girl wearing her grandma’s clothes. This Indologist forgot that in his own Europe, Germanic languages which had no genetic relationship with Latin (unlike in India where 75 percent of Indians speak languages descended from Sanskrit (Indic)) were still were Latinising themselves. That was like a girl wearing clothes of a neighbouring old lady.

 

Examination and criticism of Pollock’s activism

It has been explained how neo-Indology these days is just Islamist apologia cum bias of traditional Indology. This is where likes of Sheldon Pollock play their part. First of all, it should be known that works of Pollock cannot be regarded as any milestone since translations of Sanskrit texts into English have been done by numerous Indologists. Pollock’s works like ‘ The language of Gods in The World of Men’ are nothing but his own subjective interpretations of role of Sanskrit in Indosphere. These works in themselves have not much to benefit except they carry the stamp of an American Indologist. Errors, desire to bash Sanskritic traditions and such are features of Pollock’s writings about which we write below. Many people might question this attempt to cast doubts on a scholar and attributing motives contrary to scholarly disciplines. However, if there is naked expression of anti hindu activism, then it is incumbent upon us to show real face of such scholars. This is the reason why we inspect the  hypocritical activism of Sheldon Pollock 

 

To begin with, like most Indologists , Pollock has some friends in India who as usual are all hardcore leftists whose only contribution to India is acting as apologists of Islamist terrorism. One such man is Pratapbhanu Mehta ( Sheldon Pollock acknowledges him in his article ‘Crisis in Classics’) who just like crowd of Nehruvians is engaged in telling us why beef is so necessary in India. Again it should be known that it was a special feature of Islamic jehadis that after massacring Hindus, they forcibly fed beef to hapless priests in many places. The great Sufi saint Moinuddin Chisti himself slaughtered cows at Pushkar(Ajmer) and consumed beef kebab inside the precincts of temple as per his traditional biography. Next time when you read some Indian ‘Liberal’ advocating beef, do know that Islamic practice is now being continued by these liberals. However, where  Pollock is really continues acts of his 14th century hero is  his activism which is selective and full of hypocrisy. Let us examine it one by one.

The case of Gujrat

As has been narrated, Hindus have been facing massive persecution and massacres since 7th century at hands of Islamist armies and this has been a thing down to our own times. In 1971 alone, Pakistani army killed tens of thousands of Hindus( minimum figure, Rummel estimates anywhere between half to one and half million people killed, majority  Hindus) and raped more than hundred thousand women in just 8 months or so without Hindus having ever done any harm to them. Even within India, there have been many cases where bigots  killed hapless Hindus, Kashmir most pertinent. Indian state of Gujrat has seen massive riots in its history, One in 1969 in Ahmedabad was very bloody. Godhra too has a history of riots. Now in February 2002, many Hindus were returning from Ayodhya the Bethlehem for Ram worshippers and local  Islamists could not tolerate that some Hindus should go to Ayodhya where they once had their Babri mosque. It should be known that even in this case, western media, Indian secularists and Indologists have all  supported Islamists by hook or by crook. Pollock should see conduct of his allies like Thapar. Returning to the topic, we find that while Indologists were drawing a bad picture of this native assertion of Hindus, Islamists adopted a very hot headed approach in Godhra. After deliberate planning where large number of locals were involved, they set fire to a coach of Sabarmati express and so 57 innocent Hindus were burnt alive. So Brazen is western media that they described the train as carrying ‘Hindu extremists’. As was to be expected, riots broke out. All tho any violence should be considered horrible, there was nothing unusual about it. India has a history of riots and even British found themselves unable to do much in 1947 when situation got out of control. Riots had also taken place in non BJP governments.  In Gujrat itself, riots of Ahmedabad in 1969 were more severe than in 2002. We are of the opinion that riots conducted by anyone are absolutely condemnable and there is never any justification for indulging in violence. What is most shocking is the fact that statistics tell us a different picture. We are going with government stats because debates can not take place in vacuum where there is no data but just random figures. Some say that 2000 Muslims got killed even as  likes of Ajam Khan would tell us 2 million did.  Such random figures have zero credibility. As per records, some 250 Hindus and some 800 Muslims were killed. The alternate view is that despite constituting just 9 percent of state’s population, Muslims do not seem to have been, relatively speaking, as much victimised given their population. If Islamists who are a minority within a community which is just 9 pc of population manage to kill 250 people of another community who are 90 pc, then it shows that other community is the real victim in this civil war. Can we imagine Hindu Muslim riots in Bangladesh in which 750 Hindus and a whopping 250 Muslims killed? I bet not even 25 will be killed.

 

During this riot, the CM of that state was Narendra Modi. His opponents started making much noise and anti Hindu Indian class of secularists (like Pratapbhanu Mehta)  alluded to indictment of Modi as panacea to India for all problems spanning malnutrition to poverty. One such activist Teesta Shetalvad became darling of assorted groups of Christians, secularists, Muslims and Western Human Rights. She has already earned notoriety and we need not dwell at length her deeds. Suffice to say that SC took cognizance of it and legal norms created a situation where she was going to be under arrest. This rang alarm bells.  Just as Ziauddin Barani was not willing to concede even zimmi status to Hindus,  Pollock thought even this concession was too much. He immediately wrote to government that such people should not be persecuted. After all,this case was of fraud where government had very little to do.  When scholars like him were so sensitive about activists like Teesta Shetalvad being put under arrest, where were they in other cases?

 

  1. Lot of Sanghis have been killed in Kerala by CPIM goons, did Sheldon Pollock write to then UPA govt.( which awarded him Padma Bhushan) about securing lives of all political workers? Or is it Ziauddin Pollock’s point that all Sanghis should be killed? Or does he believe that only Muslims are chosen people whose murders are murders but those of others not? What is it, Mr. Pollock?

        2.Let us assume that Pollock has no problem with murder of Sanghis, what        about murder of Lakshamanada Saraswati, a Hindu saint who uplifted lives of thousands of Kandh tribals, by naxalite-evangelist alliance? Or does Pollock want death penalty for Hindu preachers just as Barani did? I am not aware of Pollock  writing to any govt. about that.

       Let us assume that Pollock has no problem with murder of Hindu preachers,      what about civilian Hindus killed in Tripura by Christian organizations of    Protestant denomination which as we all know get strength from USA? Where was   Pollock? Did he write to US Govt?

 

 

  1. The case of JNU

 

JNU named after Jawaharlal Nehru was established by Indira Gandhi in exchange for support given to her by Leftists in intra Congress fights. It became a hotbed of Stalinists in India, all kinds of anti Indian and anti Hindu elements made JNU their own fiefdom. It teems with Neo-Illayite radicals, Khalistanis, Islamists and Naxalites who would massacre each other if left alone. Knowing that in India their only chance to survive is by making an unholy alliance among themselves, they come together against Hindus. These JNU activists celebrated when in April,2010 76 CRPF Jawans were killed by Naxalites. Their Mahishasur hoax has already been exposed on our blog. In February, they celebrated Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri terrorist who was involved in attack on Indian Parliament. India is world’s largest democracy and Parliament is temple of democracy, attack on it was an attack on democracy. I understand Pollock’s indifference towards destruction of Hindu temples during Islamic rule but it seems he has no problem with even this. Video came out and the President of Student Union Kanhaiya Kumar was taken into custody along with others. So all ‘intolerant Indians’ did was take into custody a few Islamists openly calling for destruction of India. Contrast this with China which crushed students under tanks when they demanded democracy! It is notable that Indian govt. applied a British law and now all those Kanhaiya Kumars are out from jails. This again was too much for  Pollock to tolerate, he immediately cried right to expression and protested arrests of Kanhaiya Kumars. Here he could tell that his USA allows even burning of flags. However, India is no USA and there are many faultlines within. If freedom is allowed for open sedition then armed gangs would rise only to be put down with heavy hand. However,  Pollock has no such qualms, it seems he would support anything antihindu   blindly. Why  Pollock’s position is so full of hypocrisy can be seen from two points listed below

 

  1. a. Democracy is meant for allowing protests. The government which gave Padma Bhushan to Pollock was most corrupt govt. in Indian history in last 7 decades. Scams worth tens of billions of dollars were done in a nation where hundreds of millions of people are very poor. Swami Ramdeva a charismatic Yoga Guru ( likes of Pollock and Mehta should know that people like Ramdev have contributed far more to this world than them,. Ramdev made Yoga a domestic affair and millions have benefited from his yoga classes) and a very clean figure launched a protest against massive corruption and in June 2011, organized a rally of more than 50,000 protesters in Ramlila Maidan, a venue just a kilometres away from NEW Delhi Railway Station. The tallest Minister after PM, Pranab Mukherjee went to receive him and he started his fast against the then government. All went well but after Ramdev refused to back down, UPA govt. literally murdered democracy. In night when even PM was sleeping and no one could act swiftly, a brutal attack was made on 50,000 peaceful protestors using heavy lathi charge.  Ramdev survived but was detained while one innocent woman had fractures in her backbone and later succumbed to death. Many close aides of Ramdev too were brutally beaten. So, a crowd of 50,000 people, led by a man who has improved lives of millions, demanding action against corruption was dispersed by heavy force and that too at midnight. Where was Pollock? Unless one be Ziauddin barani, one would certainly stand for such protests against corruption than say for some charlatans having no support and shouting slogans in favour of terrorists. However, I used word ‘unless’, if one is of Ziauddin Barani’s mindset, one would certainly fight for Kanhaiya Kumar even when he was not even given a slap but at same time would look other way when innocent women like that unfortunate lady Bala are brutally killed by police force at behest of Govt. run by a pro Italian-Christian. Does it not matter if one is fighting for bringing bloodshed and other for ending corruption? If Pollock is such a humanist that he feels for some charlatans’ right to chant anti India slogans, where is his humanism for Ramdev and his aides who were only peacefully protesting against a corrupt govt.? 

 

  1. Kanhaiya Kumar should have right to expression but for expressing what , for dismantling India. This is Pollock’s position. However, If someone holds ultra liberal position that even  students asking for dismantling India at behest of Islamists be allowed, it indeed becomes a funny scenario. Even in premodern India where Pollock finds ‘social poison’, one finds tolerance for criticism of religions. Buddha throughout his life criticised Vedic traditions but  did not even lose a speck of  hair only because of tolerance of Hindus. Now, in modern times we see criticism of religions leading to growth of humanism in Western Europe. Even Marx said that criticism of religion is first step towards real discussions. In Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, there was a verbal duel between two leaders. One is Ajam Khan who is number 4 in SP govt. which is ruling this state of 200 million people and another one is Kamlesh Tiwari a local leader of Hindu Mahasabha. When Khan called RSS celibates as homosexuals, Kamlesh Tiwari retorted by saying that Prophet Muhammad was himself a homosexual. This claim of Kamlesh Tiwari was technically wrong  as homosexual means one who has physical attraction towards person of same gender. This was not the case with Muhammad (PBUH) as he had lots of wives and slave girls like Mariam. Claim of Tiwari was  wrong but one has the right to say whatever one likes. If break India slogans can be shouted, why is criticism of an Arab of 7th century not possible? Kamlesh Tiwari has been put in Jail. RASUKA a very tough law has been imposed on him which means that he would not get bail. Muslims all over North India from Bijnor to Maldah (the Maldah violence was basically due to Tiwari’s statement) have held grander rallies than one sees in US Prez elections demanding head of Tiwari. The man is rotting in jail for simply making a partially wrong remark on an Arab of 7th century. So this is where inverted standards, hypocrisy and naked anti hindu activism of Pollock and his ‘Indian companions’ come into clear light. Why is Pollock  not writing to UP govt. to release Tiwari? Claims like ‘peace will be disturbed’ are bogus statements, peace would be disturbed and even bloodbath would follow if likes of Kanhaiya Kumar were left free but that did not prevent Pollock from sermonizing Indians. Where is he? Mr. Pollock, you have friends like Teesta Seetalvad who fight for downtrodden people and Pratapbhanu Mehta who control Indian media.  Just make a clarion call to release Kamlesh Tiwari and ask your friends to contribute to this effort. Afterall, unlike sanghis killed by CPIM goons or woman killed at police action, Tiwari is still alive and knights like you and your friends in India can release him from jail. I ask Pratpbhanu Mehta who wants to continue brutal Islamic practise of beef in India ‘for upholding secular character’ to do something for Tiwari.

 

 

  1. Petition against Indian PM during his Silicon Valley visit

 

Last year Prime Minister of India who in words of David Cameroon got ‘largest number of votes in universe’ visited USA and particularly Silicon valley where he planned ways to increase Indo US ties in IT sector. This  was intolerable to lot of ‘South Asianists’ like  Pollock who again wrote a petition trying to stop Indian PM from having a meeting there. Now this is simply laughable as reasons like 2002 riots are baseless. We have already seen how 2002 riots were simply continuation of last 100 years of history of riots irrespective of govt.( British, Congress, BJP etc.) and so hardly anyone could be blamed except bigotry which killed 57 innocent Hindus. However, my point is different. One reason why these Indologists make so much noise about BJP RSS etc. is that they charge BJP of harboring intentions of making India a Hindu nation where minorities will be second class citizens. Now, this is just a charge but in both ‘South Asian’ nations of Bangladesh and Pakistan, minorities are already second class citizens. I have not seen any of them talking about this and boycotting Pakistanis and Bangladeshis completely.  Most importantPakistanis in 1971 committed a massive massacre of Hindus and more than hundred thousand women were raped. Unlike Germany, which not only accepted Nazi crimes but also made huge compensation to families of victims, Pakistan actively denies such genocide. Even more important, thousands of Army Officers and soldiers who killed and raped hapless men and women of that region are still receiving pensions and all such facilities of war veterans. Imagine Germany providing pension to high officials of SS units. This is the position of Pakistan. Sundry Islamists, Pakistanis, Indian friends of Pakistanis and Indologists who make so much noise about Modi in USA are shamelessly silent on this. Unlike Modi who is democratic leader of world’s largest democracy, Pakistan has numerous dictators. These dictators visit USA frequently. I do not remember Pollock having ever voiced his opinion against all Pakistani elements in USA or boycotting Pakistani politicians.

  1. He would hound a democratically elected leader for charge that in a state where Muslims were 9 percent, some 750 or so of them were killed after starting a riot during his reign.

      2  At sametime, he would lock his lips when it comes to such a massive genocide       like that of 1971 where not 700 or so but hundreds of thousands were killed.

However, this is hardly any surprise as Ziauddin Barani too was full of happiness when Turks slaughtered Hindus. 

The above were cases wherein context of multi pronged Islamic assault on Indic civilization which has taken lives of millions, ensured death of streams of art and literature and  continues till our own times, anti-Hindu activism of Pollock should be seen.

 Examination and criticism of Pollock’s works 

So far we have seen his naked anti-Hindu activism in fields which are not his own, he is after all just a veteran who could not do much in opposing Modi and things of that sort no matter how many petitions he wrote.Hitherto, we look at his own field. Like a true intellectual Ghazi, he uses all his skills in bashing Sanskritic traditions and undermining Hindu connection with Sanskrit. These are things which are subtle and most Hindus do not realise the importance of such discourse .Even As I have compared Pollock to Ziauddin Barani, I have created a context wherein his subtle distortion in history can be seen. Most people do it other way round, they would point out flaws in works of Indologists and remain silent. I think that a complete diagnosis of pysche and non scholarly acts of Indologists should be conducted, this then will throw immense light on their works and modus operandi. It is essential to first highlight why ISIL is doing such acts and then combat it. This has been done for Pollock and below we see how he attempts massive distortion of history of Sanskrit.

To begin with, our civilization was so very grand that even British scholars cum other  non Indians have accepted its grandiosity  without mincing  words. Many modern day Indologists are just obsessed with Mughals and British( Just examine the Cambridge History of India series. no work on IVC, Classical times, Medieval times. Simply Mughals and British) but fact is that India had a civilization which in terms of impact was greatest in Asia.

Sir Charles Eliot a great British scholar says in his book Hinduism and Buddhism Vol I

In Eastern Asia the influence of India has been notable in extent, strength, and duration.”

Scant justice is done to India’s position in the world by those European histories which recount the exploits of her invaders and leave the impression that her own people were a feeble dreamy folk, surrendered from the rest of mankind by their seas and mountain frontiers. Such a picture takes no account of the intellectual conquests of the Hindus.”

Even their political conquests were not contemptible, and are remarkable for the distance, if not the extent, of the territories occupied…But such military or commercial invasions are insignificant compared with the spread of Indian thought.” The south-eastern region of Asia both mainland and Archipelago – owed its civilization almost entirely to India. In Ceylon, Burma, Siam, Cambodia, Champa, and Java, religion, art, the alphabet, literature, as well as whatever science and political organization existed, were the direct gift of Hindus, whether Brahmin or Buddhists, and much the same may be said of Tibet, whence the wilder Mongols took as much Indian civilization as they could stomach.”[7]

Sylvain Levi, a French Jew Indologist whose  innocent theory would later be misconstrued by Pollock(as we see below) says,

“From Persia to the Chinese Sea, from the icy regions of Siberia to the islands of Java and Borneo, from Oceania to Socotra, India has propagated her beliefs, her tales and her civilization. She has left indelible imprints on one-fourth of the human race in the course of a long succession of centuries. She has the right to reclaim in universal history the rank that ignorance has refused her for a long time and to hold her place amongst the great nations summarizing and symbolizing the spirit of Humanity.”[8]

 Sir Marc Aurel Stein, who has contributed immensely to 20th century archaeology and is regarded as one of founding fathers of Central Asian studies, says

The vast extent of Indian cultural influences, from Central Asia in the North to tropical Indonesia in the South, and from the Borderlands of Persia to China and Japan, has shown that ancient India was a radiating center of a civilization, which by its religious thought, its art and literature, was destined to leave its deep mark on the races wholly diverse and scattered over the greater part of Asia.”[9]

 

 

What was place of Sanskrit in this civilization whose impact was felt from Indonesia to Iran and Siberia to Sri Lanka?

Monier Williams, a Sanskritist at Oxford in 19th century, says in his book “Hinduism”

India though it has more than five hundred spoken dialects, has only one sacred language and only one sacred literature, accepted and revered by all adherence of Hinduism alike, however diverse in race, dialect, rank and creed. That language is Sanskrit and Sanskrit literature, the only repository of the Veda or knowledge in its widest sense, the only vehicle of Hindu mythology, philosophy, law, and only mirror in which all the creeds, opinions, and customs and usages of the Hindus are faithfully reflected and the only quarry whence the requisite materials may be obtained for improving the vernaculars or for expressing important religious and scientific ideas.”[10]

Infact, impact of Sanskrit has been so pervasive that even Nehru was forced to admit

If I was asked what is the greatest treasure which India possesses and what is her greatest heritage, I would answer unhesitatingly that it is the Sanskrit language and literature and all that it contains. This is a magnificent inheritance, and so long as this endures and influences the life of our people, so long will the basic genius of India continue.” …India built up a magnificent language, Sanskrit, and through this language, and its art and architecture, it sent its vibrant message to far away countries.”[11]

Almost all modern day Indo Aryan languages are simply derived from Sanskrit and experts like Colin Masica have the following to say on Indic contributions to world civilization

“The speakers of these languages , in partnership with others brought into acommon orbit via the unique cultural achievement that constitutes Sanskrit, havemoreover been the creators of one of the great civilizations of the world , which merits the attention of all who would seek to follow and appreciate the human story. This Indic civilization once extended as far as Vietnam and Indonesia, and contributed important components to the civilizations of China, Korea, and Japan as well, mainly through the vehicle of Buddhism.

The dazzling achievements of Sanskrit literature and thought , providing more than enough to digest as the West continues to make their acquaintance”[12]

It should be noted that before the advent of Islamist ghazis, Sanskrit remained the lingua ParasmaNia.  Dialects touched by it became literary languages and this was true for all lands in India and SE Asia. Infact, there was no language in India and SE Asia that could conceive its own literature without Sanskrit. Even among Sino Tibetan languages, 3 out of four that is Burmese, Newari and Tibetan owe their career only to Sanskritic tradition.  The remaining one, Chinese,  was also influenced by it. Masica in his book ‘The Indo Aryan languages’ puts it so well

“The non-Aryan languages in the area that developed literatures did so (with the exception of the language of the Harappans – if indeed it had a literature and not just a system for recording commercial transactions) after the arrival of Indo-Aryan and under direct or indirect Aryan tutelage. This is true not only of the four Dravidian literary languages, but also of Tibetan , Burmese, Newari (in Nepal) , Meithei (Manipur) , and further east, of Mon ,Cambodian, Cham (a language once prevalent in central-coastal Vietnam) , Lao ,Shan, Thai, and even faraway Javanese in Indonesia.”[13]

And in vitality and continuity, Sanskrit knows no rival in entire history. From Rigveda in bronze age to modern times, it has maintained an unbroken chain of literature.

Likes of Pollock who are obsessed with how Sanskrit was replaced by regional languages do not tell us that even in its worst days in 19th century, it was still so prestigious  that virodhs of Western astronomical texts were written only in Sanskrit and not  Awadhi or Tamil. Infact, Max Mueller in his book ‘India What It Can Teach Us’ observes that in late 19th century India

“Whenever I receive a letter from a learned man in India, it is written in Sanskrit. Whenever there is a controversy on questions of law and religion, the pamphlets published in India are written in Sanskrit. There are journals written in Sanskrit which must entirely depend for their support on readers who prefer that classical language to the vulgar dialects There is The Pandit, published at Benares, containing not only editions of ancient texts, but treatises on modern subjects, reviews of books published in England, and controversial articles, all in Sanskrit.”[14]

So, despite several setbacks, Sanskrit was strong enough to reassert itself even as late as 1900 in such a comprehensive manner. Here enter Indologists of post 1970 world and as has  already been noted, along with being champions of every Islamist cause in India, they  are experts in ‘deconstruction’ of everything Hindu. Pollock’s services for Islamist or rather anti-Hindu causes have already been elaborated. Let us examine his attack on Sanskrit. Many of his points can  flatly be thrashed simply on logical basis  and we would be brief as regards those

  1. ‘Sanskrit has both civilization and barbarity’

Pollock wants to say that Hindu Dharmasastras espouse caste system and are ‘barbaric’. If modern moral norms be yardsticks by which we judge premodern societies,  every literature of every civilization would be barbaric. Quran has strong condemnation of mushriks or polytheists, let someone say this and Pollock would be the first to shout ‘Islamophobia’.

2.’Sanskrit cosmopolis’ was not dependent upon religion

This statement is laughably wrong. While Islamists, Christians, Communists and lot of Indologists hate Sanskrit from  bottom of their hearts because even to ill-informed  it is obvious that Sanskrit has as much association with Brahmanical religion( Hinduism) as Arabic  with Islam. They can not deny wide reach, influence and impact of Sanskrit not just in India but beyond. Arabic literature was as much enriched by Sanskritic contacts as was Japanese, this can only be denied by  scholars who  want erosion of their credibility. So the next logical step is to  disassociate Sanskrit from Hinduism. This is what Sheldon Pollock is doing. Even if we forget that earliest texts in Sanskrit are Vedas, pillars of Hinduism, (even in classical times, greatest texts of Sanskrit are all Hindu be it  Ramayana or Mahabharata), the most significant point is that any civilization in premodern times is a complex created by a religious commonwealth and vice versa. Sanskrit poetry, thus, is nothing but Hindu legends cast in ornate verses.  Sanskrit legal literature is nothing but Hindu laws in Sanskrit and Sanskrit scientific literature is just creation of Hindu Brahmanical scholars who thrived so long as Hindu culture and society remained intact. The most popular Sanskrit text written till date has been Ramayana. The tale has numerous versions due to its popularity but is it popular in Pakistan? Is it popular in Bangladesh? Why do only Hindus retain pre-Christian texts like Ramayana if Sanskrit had nothing to do with Hinduism?

  1. We find Sanskrit inscriptions from Afghanistan until tenth century. For instance, Gardez marble inscription in Sanskrit is from East Afghanistan. However, this sanskrit died permanently after Ghaznavids conquered Sahis. Why did  cosmopolis not remain intact?
  2. In Kashmir, Sanskrit was language of administration. Sheldon Pollock makes much of how Kannada replaced Sanskrit as language of inscriptions by Hoysala times in 13th century and this as per him is simply breaking down of order that sustained Sanskrit cosmopolis. However, in Kashmir, it remained language of administration just like elsewhere in non Dravidian-speaking India and guess how it lost this status? Yes, it was Islamists fatally attacking Hinduism  that did away with the said cosmopolis. Kashmir’s first Muslim ruler Shah Mir took throne in 1334 but Sanskrit lingered on as in words of Witzel “ Sanskrit remained the language of administration until the middle of the 15th century” and this was only because Brahmins retained their position, once they were expelled, Sanskrit lost its status.

Again, it was Hinduism which was intimately connected to Sanskrit. Inspite of  de-Hinduising attempts by Pollock, this fact simply can not be brushed aside. Such was also the case with Sanskrit elsewhere in India.

  1. In South East Asia, we see decline of Sanskrit in Kambujadesa when Hinduism lost the day after 13th century. Such  was also the case in entire Java and Sumatra where Sanskrit inscriptions hardly existed after Islamisation. So called ‘cosmopolis’ could not even withstand a few  Austronesian rulers repeating Kalima the standard Muslim prayer .Pollock’s statement appears to be totally bizarre and illogical
  1. Finally, it is a fact that while Sri Lankan Buddhist rulers did invite Brahmins from time to time and patronised Sanskrit, the quantity and quality was not as substantial as Pali in Sinhala country. Again, if it  not br religion, why do  Tamil Nadu and Kerala have a long association with Sanskrit but not neighbouring Sri Lanka? Pollock should accept that one can not just make any stupid assertion. Where is Sanskrit in Sindh, Punjab (west of Ravi)and valley of Kashmir today?

The thing that is so laughable about these assertions is that the persons making such statements appear to be clueless. All these Audrey Truschkes and Pollocks who write on Sanskrit depend upon manuscripts in Sanskrit and overwhelming majority of these MSS have been found from Kerala and Nepal- two places out of reach of  Jehadis. Nepal has been one of poorest regions of India even in pre-modern times.  Yet, it  enabled Sanskritists from west to conduct their research  far more than Pakistan and Bangladesh put together could do as it preserved vast number of sanskritic texts. Muslims hardly cared about them. Yet these scholars would  say that Sanskrit had nothing to do with Hinduism. Had this been  the case, today’s ‘Indo Aryan’ Pakistanis would not have been so dismal in understanding a few Sanskrit words unlike Keralites, who despite  Dravidian-speaking,  know thousands of Sanskrit words. Certainly, words like Swagatam are known in Kerala but not in Pakistan.

Infact, these Indologists show such an amazing level of dishonesty that they express their concern as to how ‘Hindutva’ is destroying the pristine Sanskrit et cetera.  The Tribune(Pakistan) carried a piece on 18 September 2012 which in short is below

“Scandal: Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf recently told the Supreme Court: “Mujh par vishvas karen”. By “vishvas” he meant ‘trust’; he wanted the Court to trust his sincerity.

TV channels  reacted immediately. An anchor spent time making fun of the prime minister who used  Hindi word. Others followed suit. An article titled “A silent invasion” appeared in The News (September 3) lamenting Indian culture’s invasion to destroy Pakistan’s ideology. The word ‘vishvas’ was the missile that would do the trick.”

The above, not Hindutva or RSS,  is the mindset that ruined Sanskritic culture in its entirety. In order to search for Sanskrit MSS, Pollock would have to spend time with much maligned Pandits and other Hindus. Not Mullahs and Islamists. This relation between Sanskrit and Hinduism had been accepted by most scholars before Leftist-Islamist alliance was forged in the west. Michael Witzel  a leading Sanskritist at Harvard, makes the below remarks in his article ‘Bowing Our Heads to Tradition?’

Obviously, in order to understand what we are and how we live today, we have to study the past in a critical and comprehensive fashion. This must be done, as in the Japanese Classics project, through a study of the ancient texts. In India, most of them have been composed in the classical language, Sanskrit, which is important for the traditions of more than 80% of the population”[15]

‘More than 80 percent of population’is an euphemism for “Hindus” Yes, it is their traditions which are contained in Sanskrit texts.  There exists undeniable and inseparable relationship between Sanskrit and Hinduism.

Sheldon Pollock’s ‘The Language Of The Gods In The World Of Men’

Pollock’s book Language of Gods is much acclaimed alike in Indologist circles and  Indian secularist class (Hindu newspaper editors etc..,.) who themselves intellectually sterile have no option  but to praise to skies anything coming from West that could be employed against Hindus. Richard Eaton’s thesis on Temple Destruction, Audrey Truschke’s work on Mughals and Sanskrit and Pollock’s book on Sanskrit are remarkable examples.

Pollock claims to find answers for questions like

  1. Why Sanskrit began to be used in inscriptions from about early centuries when it was a language confined to sacred writings?
  2. What was the process by which Sanskrit spread from Afghanistan to Java?
  3. How was it replaced by assertion of regionalism around 13th century?

Pollock’s answers for all such questions are inevitably ones that show minimum role of Hinduism and completely vindicate Islamist encounters. His very idea that Sanskrit became shorn of creativity by 13th century is not just his own subjective interpretation of Sanskrit literature but a subtle effort to explain away Islamist role in hampering what he calls ‘Sanskrit Cosmopolis’. If his thesis be adopted, Islamists whose attacks on Indian civilization are multidimensional would simply say ‘ We had no role in it, regional languages did it’. However, this issue has been dealt with. One should simply read about how Navya Nyaya school of logic,arguably one of greatest pre modern schools of logic, flourished in Mithila. Hindu dynasty of Mithila prevented Muslim rule over that region and this respite saw great Sanskrit literature on dharmasutras and Nyaya. Once Mithila was conquered, no wonder this great tradition died. Similarly, Pollock extensively talks about how Sanskrit literature in Vijaynagar , why does he not talk of  Sanskrit literature written under Bahmanis?

Pollock says-

The specific conditions for the death of Sanskrit … are certain to be multifarious and sometimes elusive. One causal account, however … can be dismissed at once: that which traces the decline of Sanskrit culture to the coming of Muslim power.[16]

Even as Pollock rules out any relationship at all between decline of Sanskrit and coming of Muslim power in India, the following primary sources suggest  otherwise

The Muslim scholar, Al-Biruni, who came to India with the invading armies(c.1000 CE) noted that

“The Hindu Sciences have retired far away from those parts of the country conquered by us, and have fled to places which our hand cannot yet reach, to Kashmir, Benares and other places”.[17]

Bakhtiyar Khilji was the first Islamic invader of eastern India. A contemporary Islamic source records his destruction of libraries

Muhammad-i-Bakhtyar, by the force of his intrepidity, threw himself into the postern of the gateway of the place, and they captured the fortress, and acquired great booty. The greater number of the inhabitants of that place were Brahmans, and the whole of those Brahmans had their heads shaven; and they were all slain. There were a great number of books there; and, when all these books came under the observation of the Musalmans, they summoned a number of Hindus that they might give them information respecting the import of those books; but the whole of the Hindus had been killed. On becoming acquainted [with the contents of those books], it was found that the whole of that fortress and city was a college, and in the Hindu tongue, they call a college(Bihar)[18]

Three decades after Bakhtiyar khilji’s raid, Tibetan monk Dharmaswamin visited Nalanda(c.1235). He found “Just one survivor. A 90 year old monk Rahula Sribhandra who had a book of sanskrit grammar “the only manuscript to have survived the great fire”. He “went into hiding to escape from Turk soldiers” and “handed over the manuscript to Dharmaswamin and asked him to return to Tibet“[19]

Dharmasvamin observed about eighty small viharas which were damaged
by the Turushkas, ‘and there was absolutely no one to look after
them, or to make offerings’[20]

Dharmaswamin further talks about the universities of Odantapuri and Vikramashila.Vihara of Uddandapura is mentioned twice as the ‘residence of a Turushka military commander’. [21] Of Vikramashila ‘there were then no traces left,
the Turushka soldiery having razed it to the ground, and thrown
the foundation stones into the Ganges’ .[22]

Taranatha’s testimony that these universities were burnt by Islamic invaders finds Archaeological corroboration. Of Vikramashila,  “The whole structure complex seems to have been destroyed by a fire, as indicated by a thick deposit of ash”[23]. Of Nalanda, “It is possible that atleast part of Nalanda was destroyed by fire, since heaps of ashes and charcoal were found at excavation”[24]

Similarly, the ruins of Odantapuri university were used in building the tomb of Malik Ibrahim Bayyu at Badi Pahari(Bihar Sharif) at that very site.[25] The destroyed remains of Telhara university were used to constructed Sangi Masjid

(a)Remains of Nalanda university (b). Aerial view

university halls

Rooms of Nalanda University(photo courtesy: Shunya.net)

Nalanda_teaching-platform

Teaching platform at Nalanda university

Vikramshila_stupa

The conflagration of Vikramashila university resulted in heaps of ash the traces of which could still be found

odana

Ruins of Odantapuri University

Bihar Sharif (1)

Tomb of Malik Ibrahim Bayyu at Badi Pahari constructed out of odantapuri ruins

Muslim tombs within odantapuri mosque

Islamic tombs within Odantapuri site

People fleeing these invasions took with them their precious books to Nepal

There is, however, an old Kåvyåyana Śråddhavidhi (Nat. Arch. I 1320 gha). This ritual handbook belongs to the rare Kåvya school of the Śukla Yajurveda, otherwise found scattered only here and there in India (Nagpur, Orissa, Tamilnadu). Again, during the last part of the period described here, there was a considerable influx from Mithila, mostly caused by the Muslim conquest of Tirhut in 1324 AD. The Brahmins fleeing to Nepal brought with them such mss. as the Pårvaaśråddha25 (Laksmaa Samvat 171 = ca. 1290 AD), or the Våjasaneyinåm Vivåhapaddhati26 (La. S. 414 = ca. 1533 AD), the very title of which shows that this text belongs to the Våjasaneyi Śåkhå of the Śukla Yajurveda.[26]

Feroz shah (c.1351)  also busied himself  in burning books of Hindus

Some Hindús had erected a new idol-temple in the village of Kohána,and the idolaters used to assemble there and perform their idolatrous rites. These people were seized and brought before me. I ordered that the perverse conduct of the leaders of this wickedness should be publicly proclaimed, and that they should be put to death before the gate of the palace. I also ordered that the infidel books, the idols, and the vessels used in their worship, which had been taken with them, should all be publicly burnt. The others were restrained by threats and punishments, as a warning to all men, that no zimmí could follow such wicked practices in a Musulmán country[27]

Sultan Alla-ud-din Khilji burnt the famous library at Anhalwara Patan.

Francois Bernier, the French doctor who attended the Mughal court in the second half of the seventeenth century, reported from Varanasi that Sanskrit books were burned by the Muslims:

They [the Veda] are so scarce that my Agah, notwithstanding all his diligence, has not succeeded in purchasing a copy. The Gentiles indeed conceal them with much care, lest they should fall into the hands of the Muhammadans, and be burnt, as frequently has happened[28]’

We are told the following about Aurangzeb

“Sultan Sikander (Aurangzeb) was the most zealous of the Sultans, and burnt the books of the Hindus whenever and wherever he got them.[29]”

Multiple such citations could be produced from the primary sources. Yet, our learned scholar Pollock bizarrely and hastily brushes aside the whole primary evidence.

Further, he remarks

  1. Sanskrit was once only confined to  Brahmin rituals

Here, Pollock  uses his first weapon against Sanskrit. Since not only amazing pervasiveness of Sanskrit but also its unrivalled continuity cannot be denied, Pollock tries to show that at one time it was just ritualistic language. The fact that Sanskrit was largely used in ritualistic contexts does not diminish its importance . It were elites who placed  emphasis on rituals and thus remained Sanskrit an elitist language during this time. Anything which is elitist need not be known to masses to have value. Far more people know about a pornstar from USA than Pollock, does it mean Pollock’s value is any less than that of a pornstar? It is intrinsic value of anything that matters, not its spread among masses. However, it was not that Sanskrit was a Latin of  India which non Brahmins did not have any clue of, used for only for some rituals by a few priests. The great Brahmin Sankskrit poet Rajasekhara(c.900) praises the Sanskrit poetry of a candAla(dalit) poet named divAkara and compares him to KalidAsa and baNa

It is obvious to us that in trying to push his theories Sheldon pollock has neglected all the evidence suggesting otherwise. Pollock wants to show that at its inception Sanskrit remained just a liturgical language confined to small Hindu priestly groups and it were the others who later broadened its horizons.  Pollock argues that Sanskrit was neither important nor widespread at this stage. However, there is wholesale evidence to the contrary. The canonical Culla Vagga(5.33) says two monks requested Buddha’s permission to recast his words in Chandas. Tellingly, the adjectives applied to them were “kalyana-Vaca”(auspicious speaker) and “Kalayana-Vak-karaNa”(Maker of Auspicious speech). This clearly shows that even among early Buddhists, Sanskrit was considered auspicious and regarded highly contrary to Pollock’s assertions.

We also recall that K R norman’s extensive study of Pali canon[30] reveals that it was increasingly sanskritized from its earliest days. The preference for sanskritic forms, absolutives mark that Sanskrit was considered an increasingly prestigious language even amongst Buddhists. At any rate, the local vernaculars were not as different from Sanskrit as non specialists would think

Most importantly, works written in Sanskrit during this time were not a few  dry religious ones having no significance. Panini’s Ashtadhyayi dated by all Indologists to pre Mauryan times is written in this age. AL Basham has the following  to say on Ashtadhyayi in his book “The Wonder That Was India”

Though its fame is much restricted by its specialized nature, there is no doubt that Panini’s grammar is one of the greatest intellectual achievements of any ancient civilization, and the most detailed and scientific grammar composed before the 19th century in any part of the world[31]

Leonard Bloomfield(1887-1949) one of pioneers of modern day linguistics says makes the following remark on Ashtadhayayi

“While in the classical world scholars were dealing with language in a somewhat metaphysical way, the Indians were telling us what their language actually was, how it worked, and how it was put together. The methods and techniques for describing the structure of Sanskrit which we find in Panini have not been substantially bettered to this day in modern linguistic theory and practice. We today employ many devices in describing languages that were already known to Panini’s first two commentators.It was in India, however, that there rose a body of knowledge which was destined to revolutionize European ideas about language. The Hindu grammar taught Europeans to analyze speech forms; when one compared the constituent parts, the resemblances, which hitherto had been vaguely recognized, could be set forth with certainty and precision.”

Such great texts like Ashtadhyayi were written when as per Pollock Sanskrit was confined to some rituals. Can Pollock tell us some non Sanskrit works from same period which in secular fields are as important as Ashtadhyayi or Arthashastra?

 

To be continued

Bibliography

1)Fatwa-I-Jahandari, Zia-ud-din Barani. Sources of Indian Tradition(1988) p.489

2)It is also interesting to note that ziauddin barani was a friend of Amir Khusru and disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya, the Sufi par excellence of Medieval India whose glorification continues to this day

3)Khazvini, Hamdallah, Tarikh-i-Guzida

4)Utbi, Tarikh-I Yamini

5) Jain, meenakshi The India They Saw P.142

6) Mallory, Adams The Oxford Introduction to Proto Indo European(2006)

7)Essays on Ancient India(203) Pp.177

8)Levi, Sylvian Eminent orientalists(2002) pp.283

9)Somal, Bharat. World intellectuals on India (2015)

10)Sailendranath Sen. Textbook on Indian history and culture(2007)pp.4

11)Goel, Aruna .Environment and ancient Sanskrit literature(2003)  pp.6

12)Masica, colin.P The Indo Aryan languages(1993)

13)IBID. 1993

14)Mueller, Max India:What it can teach us pp.79

15)Witzel, Michael. Bowing our heads to traditions

16)Pollock, Sheldon. The death of Sanskrit PP.416

17) Jain, Meenakshi. The India they saw. (Volume 3) PP.126

18) Minhaj-I-Siraj,Tabaqat-i-Nasiri. H.G Raverty PP.552

19)Charles Allen. Ashoka the search for India’s last emperor(2012). Note 1.4

20)G.Roerich. Biography of Dharmaswamin (Patna, 1959)

21)Ibid pp.70-90

22)Ibid PP 70-90

23) Recent Archaeological discoveries of India, BK Thapar(1985) pp.135

24) Hartmut Scharfe, handbook of oriental studies(2002)

25) Cunningham, Reports of Archaeological survey of India Vol .11 PP.186

26)Witzel, Michael. The Veda in Nepal

27) Firoz shah, Tariq-I-Firozshahi

28)Deming, David. Science and Technology in World History.Volume 2(2003)

29)Sair Mutakhreen (Vol. 1, p. l 40) Sayed Ghulam Husein

30) K R Norman. pali literature(1983)

31) A.L Basham. The wonder that was India P.30

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21 thoughts on “Sheldon Pollock – An analysis of  scholarship and activism

    • Arthur Llewellyn Basham, noted Indologist from Britain. He was teacher of Indian historian Romila Thapar( one of leftist brigade ). However, Basham or for that matter most Indologists from West before 1970s were serious scholars and studied India with much sympathy. His book, ‘Wonder that Was India’ is free online and one can read it to find much precious perspectives on ancient India.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Pollack is a spoiled child whose work has been unchallenged and unscrutinized until recently. Having been given free reign for so long, his bombast and hubris grew and grew, and he was able to write ridiculous tomes about sanskrit while ignoring mountains of evidence. This article is a well researched response to Pollack and I hope it gets distributed widely.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Not only is this thoroughly engaging, but very enlightening as well. Such in-depth & exhaustive research indeed. Works like this should be published in mainstream media all over the world, especially in Bharat. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent piece sir. You write so well. Only suggestion, please don’t use that light green color for highlighting text. It is difficult to read 🙂

    Like

  4. @shashank

    Thanks for feedback. I have myself realised that this light green color is making it bit difficult , will take care next time.

    Like

  5. I would like to know as to where did Sumskrut originate?Are there any treatises and epics such as available in ancient India ( at least Aryavarta) anywhere where Sumskrut is said to have permeated.A Muslim journalist had written elsewhere that SUMSKRUT is also discovered in Syria.How come there are no even manuscripts found there in the Middle East in this perfect language?Even Tilak in his Orian has mentioned the origin of Aryans to be near the Arctic.This bolsters the claims of these anti-Hindus.

    Like

    • We have our own theories on Sanskrit origin but it would be most perhaps outside India at one point of time that is some 4000 years ago.

      That Muslim ‘journalist’ is none other than Shoaib Daniyal who writes for scroll.in. I appeal our Hindus to not fall in such despicable traps set up by these antihindus. In this very blog piece, we have shown greatness of Indic civilization, supreme position of Sanskrit and how hateful Islamists have tried to wipe out it. Now, they have begun such cheap tactics of calling Sanskrit foreign. Rather than being defensive, we should ask these questions to such people

      1. English came to modern day England only in 500 CEs. In a hypothetical scenario,if Muslims overran England in 1800 and then after some heroic efforts English people get back to power, should their call to revive english be called reviving ‘foreign language’?

      2. We know for sure that Persians entered Iran just 3000 years ago, if Russians invade Iran and impose Russian, is Russian language as much native as Persian?

      What is shocking is that people having middle eastern names have audacity to call Sanskrit as foreign to India!

      So far as origin is concerned, again, origins and modern sciences do not matter. Rigveda is earliest Sanskrit text and it knows no other land than region from West UP to East Afghanistan. This is our memory of a times when hardly anyone in Persia spoke Persia. This is what matters.

      Indo Aryans in Syria were colonisers from other regions not natives anyway.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. It doesn’t matter where Sanskrit originated . It runs in the veins of Hindus . Islamists and Islam apologists are just out discrediting everything from out origins , culture ,faith to our languages. What irony ! Theirs is a “borrowed ” faith of plagiarized ideas and they are a people in denial of their own beginnings.

    Keep up the good work. It’s commendable and inspiring .

    One small suggestion , instead of one super long article can we have 2/3 ,each about a particular topic. I know it’s difficult to compartmentalize history, it’s all interlinked ,but I feel slightly shorter articles in series about a broader topic would be more gripping and easy to visualize.
    Thanks .
    Waiting for the next

    Like

  7. Reblogged this on AryavrataSweden and commented:
    Western Indologists need to be countered by well researched and scholarly rebuttals like this.
    I would also like to recommend, read ‘Battle of Sanskrit’ book authored by Shri Rajiv Malhotra Ji, on the point to point rebuttal to Sheldon pollack.

    Like

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