Infinity Foundation helmed by Rajiv Malhotra has been a pioneer in taking positions regarding India’s civilisational heritage and has been a stout defender of the dharmic and the Hindu way of life.
Rajiv Malhotra has been the trailblazer in studying the misrepresentations of Indian philosophy, thought and culture by western academia and has been instrumental in awakening a whole generation of Indians to the dangers of these misrepresentations.
Toxic discourse started in academia slowly filter their way down into everyday life and India is facing great threats to its civilisational ethos due to the faulty and dangerous caricatures of her that have gotten entrenched into the Indian psyche, the origins of which can be traced to academic discourse of India by the West.
Infinity Foundation set up in 1994 has come a long way in nurturing a certain way of thinking in its followers and cadre and this has now fructified in the form of a book, The Ten Heads of Ravana, which is a compilation of critiques of prominent scholars both from India and abroad who write about India.
The ten heads are symbolic and ten academic personalities and their work have been chosen as subjects of critique by the young scholars at Infinity.
Infinity’s young scholars whose essays and critiques make up this book, have analysed and subjected their work to rigorous scrutiny and rebutted gross misrepresentations regarding India with ample proof and rejoinders.
The ten personalities selected for critique are Romila Thapar, Sheldon Pollock, Michael Witzel, Devdutt Pattanaik, Irfan Habib, Shashi Tharoor, Audrey Truschke, Ramachandra Guha, Kancha Ilaiah and Wendy Doniger.
Anurag Sharma is the author who has taken on Romila Thapar’s work to critique. He has prepared a robust critique of her work using traditional sources to rebut her various misrepresentations.
This approach is quite novel because it is an attempt to critique the work of a Marxist scholar using traditional examples.
For instance, Thapar tries to posit that Islamic rulers were great patrons of the arts and poetry and that it was during their reign that bhakti poetry, for example, flowered and flourished. However, using material from traditional sources, Anurag establishes that any flowering of bhakti poetry and the rise of bhakti saints was linked only to Hindu patronage.
Prof K S Kannan is the author who has chosen Sheldon Pollock’s work to critique. He has forcefully admonished Pollock for his unsubstantiated attacks on Sanskrit.
His critique draws on and adds to the refutations of Pollock’s positions, put out by various other scholars during the Swadeshi Indology Conference Series held in 2016-17.
Manogna Sastry’s chosen scholar is Michael Witzel, who sitting in Harvard has been one of the staunch proponents of the Aryan Invasion/Migration theory which has become entrenched in Indian discourse and is the seed for the whole Dravidian movement in the south of India.
She has deftly debunked his various theories using archaeological and other evidence. Her critique is so logical and precise, one wonders how so called scholars like Witzel were able to run their propaganda for so long without scrutiny.
Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay has chosen to take on Devdutt Pattanaik who has become the poster boy for interpreting Hinduism for contemporary times in India, disguising himself as a leadership coach using “Indian lens” to understand the discipline of Management.
He turns itihas (thus it happened) into myth (fiction) and distorts concepts and meanings of Sanskrit words to make a hotch-potch.
Further, he superimposes the LGBTQ interpretation to our traditional texts thereby making all our traditional texts open to any sort of contorted and distorted interpretation.
Subhodeep does a masterful takedown of this popular figure’s positions with logic and analysis and builds on the critique of Pattanaik already done by Rajiv Malhotra and Nityanand Misra.
It's high time the counters to his narrative also got popular. It must be mentioned here that Pattanaik has been continuously evading debating his detractors.
Once again, Manogna Sastry takes on the powerful and towering personality of Irfan Habib to do a purvapaksha of his work. Irfan Habib has arguably been the single most influential person in shaping the India discourse post independence.
And what should have been an honest attempt by him to write the true history of this country and the evolution of its collective identity, became an exercise in “concealment and inversion of historical facts, creation of new narratives and false historical accounts and using obfuscation to counter any challenge posed to his work”.
His blatant use of the Marxist lens to interpret Indian history and his role in falsifying the historicity of the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi issue have been tackled head on with aplomb by Manogna.
Divya Reddy has chosen to critique the work of Shashi Tharoor, famous parliamentarian and someone who claims that he is one who knows the true definition of being Hindu.
She exposes the weak position of Tharoor that Hinduism is a morally relativist religion where anything goes. She also criticises him for espousing the concept of tolerance as opposed to mutual respect and making it the exclusive duty of Hindus to shoulder.
Tharoor buys into all the tropes of Aryan Invasion/Migration Theory, India as a nation shaped primarily through its waves of invasion, freedom of Abrahamic faiths to proselytise freely and yet decides he represents true Hinduism. Divya has skillfully dissected Tharoor’s positions.
Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay and Manogna Sastry take on the newest kid on the block of Hinduphobic scholars from the West, namely Audrey Truschke.
Audrey Truschke, apart from being broadly Hinduphobic, is also intensely Aurangzeb-philic and the authors have exposed her lies on Aurangzeb conclusively.
Her interpretation of Hinduism and her negation of the right of the works like the Bhagawad Gita, the Upanishads to be called Hindu, have been thoroughly examined by the present authors and refuted very elegantly.
Her mistranslations of verses from the Ramayana which were called out even by her western academic peers like Prof Robert Goldman have been analysed and minutely deconstructed by the authors of this paper.
T N Sudarshan and Divya Reddy do a very detailed critique on Ramachandra Guha’s writings covering topics as diverse as cricket, Gandhi and environment.
Guha’s crediting Nehru for the software boom is termed by the authors very interestingly as “a brilliant illustration of retroactive credit-taking”.
The authors have also very creatively critiqued Guha’s positions on fundamentally western theories like subalternism, colonialism, nationalism, Marxism and concluded that Guha is intrinsically anti-Hindu and an (un)builder of nation.
Sharda Narayanan and Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay dissect the works of Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, who is a noted writer, academician and someone who calls himself a “Shudra intellectual” who champions Dalit causes.
The authors of this paper have pointed out the deep problems in Ilaiah’s articulations when he says that civil wars are a “necessary evil” and calls for civil war to terminate Brahmins globally.
That he has not been given rejoinders and has had the privilege of deposing in front of the USCIRF is a shame and this counter to his hatred has come not a day too soon.
H R Meera takes on the American Indologist Wendy Doniger’s scholarship and has systematically exposed the very agenda driven mis-translations of various Indian texts, that have given rise to distortions in the meanings.
The author highlights how these distortions have become the accepted version of the text even in India and how this is causing immense harm to our own understanding of our texts.
To conclude, this book has covered some excellent ground in reclaiming the narrative for India and is a must read for everyone so that they are well informed of the perils of interpreting Indian ways and traditions using a lens that is alien to us.
This book not only informs but arms one with the tools to do a robust purvapaksha of interpretations of us and defend the Bharatiya way of life.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!