Frawley is respected in Hindutva circles not because the movement has a paucity of intellectuals but because he is a scholar and friend of Hindutva.
This recent article by Ms Kaveree Bamzai on Pandit Vamadeva Sastri (David Frawley) is a classic example of how the establishment media denigrates Hindutva. Going through the article, one can observe how to camouflage bias and animosity as journalistic objectivity. A thorough study of this article shall be a delightful and useful exercise in understanding the art of media doublespeak.
The article is just a selective rehash of what is already available online for anyone with basic keyboard literacy. But what the author hides, reveals more about why Pandit Frawley is unsettling for the colonial-Marxist ecosystem than about his being an alleged poster boy of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Hindutva : Movement with intellectual paucity?
First, Bamzai tries to stereotype Hindutva as a movement bereft of intellectuals. In reality, Hindutva movement has produced some of the most original thinkers in the history of independent India. Let us just look into this myth of paucity of intellectuals in the Hindutva side.
If one traces those Indians who inspired David Frawley himself, one would find Ram Swarup (1920-1998) and Sita Ram Goel (1921-2003). Ram Swarup’s critique of Communist movement was recommended by none other than Bertrand Russell. If one goes through the works of Ram Swarup, one finds that he had anticipated decades ago some of the cutting edge discoveries neuroscientists are making on religious experiences in contemporary times. His paper on Gandhian economics almost predicts what Alvin Toffler would write a decade later.
The bias against Hindutva comes out in open when Ms Bamzai brushes aside the ‘Integral Humanism’ of Deendayal Upadhyaya as ‘indeterminate and undistinguished’ and Hindutva intellectuals in general as ‘a series of mofussil Maharashtrian Brahmins’. This is ignorance coupled with arrogance being peddled as journalism.
Today, Dharampal (1922-2006) is recognised as a historian of early colonial India who broke new ground in post-colonial studies of colonised societies and cultures. It was a Hindutvaite, Sita Ram Goel, who first published Dharampal when he challenged with empirical data the stereotypes about Indian past woven by colonial-Marxist historiography. Later, in 1993, speaking at Centre for Policy Studies in Madras, a Hindutva think-tank, in the aftermath of Karseva at Ayodhya on 6 December 1992, he made a rigorous intellectual attack on colonial-Marxist historiography which is euphemistically called today as Nehruvian secularism.
The kind of intellectual rigour and honesty that the Sangh intellectuals displayed cannot be matched by any of the colonial-Marxist or Nehruvian intellectuals today.
In March 1988, the Deendayal Research Institute (DRI) of the RSS decided to bring out a volume on seventy years of the so-called ‘October Revolution’. This was after a seminar which DRI held in which almost all of the who-is-who of Marxism participated. The CPI had sent two of its heavy weights, A B Bardhan and Subrata Banerjee. From JNU came Prof Sondhi and Prof Imitaz Ahmed. To this, E M S Namboodiripad who could not attend too had contributed a paper titled ‘The October Revolution and Indian Communists’. K R Malkani (1921-2003), who was the editor of DRI magazine Manthan too had a paper ‘The Russian Revolution: An Indian overview’.
When all the papers were circulated among the participants, EMS who actually could not attend, felt so disturbed reading the paper of Malkani that he wrote a supplementary paper - ‘Rebutting Malkani’. This was accepted by DRI. So when the Manthan volume was published, it contained two papers by EMS. Such is the way the Hindutva-RSS side has been recognising the freedom of expression of their ideological opponents in the Sangh’s own magazine. It is simply hard to see such an intellectual honesty with Nehruvians and Marxists. And this intellectual honesty in fact comes from a strong intellectual position.
K R Malkani, by the way, was a Sindhi and not a ‘mofussil Maharashtrian Brahmin’.
With no institutional support and without stranglehold over institutions at the expense of tax-payers money, not to mention the kind of support the colonial-Marxist intellectuals enjoyed first from Soviet Union and then from the ‘South Asian’ departments in the US, the intellectuals of Hindutva came from ground up. Some of the best minds had no luxury of sitting in the AC rooms and theorising when not censoring any academic papers that contradicted their worldview. Instead, they preferred to engage themselves in working for the downtrodden in the country and they constructed what one of India’s largest educational and medical networks, without foreign aid.
Wherever there were natural calamities or man-made accidents they rushed within the first few critical hours saving lives, showing no discrimination. They brought together the most orthodox of the Hindu traditional heads on one dais and made them proclaim that untouchability had no place in the Hindu society. Yes, they were so busy serving the people and transforming lives on ground that it took almost eight decades for them to realise that their uniforms have become outdated and ridiculous. Yet, the fact that they have also produced intellectuals Deendayal Upadhayaya, Dattopant Thengadi, Ramesh Patange, Nanaji Deshmukh, Devendra Swarup and K R Malkani to name a few, whose thoughts came not from alien ideologies or through armchair theorising, but from working with the people and valuing their culture, is something remarkable.
The very fact that such an intellectual movement can be dismissed so easily by a journalist in such a juvenile way is definitely a comment on the inability, but not on the side of the Hindutva movement.
Now let us come to David Frawley.
Is Pandit Vamadeva just a ‘rightwing’ hippie whom RSS has discovered in its quest for some Western approval as Ms Bamzai repeatedly implies in her article? The answer is definitely no. Actually, David Frawley belongs to a specific school of studies of Hindu sacred literature that is at once originally Hindu and which has been recognised by some of the greatest scholars of religion even in the Western academia. One example would suffice.
Dr Georg Feuerstein (1947-2012) an authority on Yoga texts in the Western academia, wrote the foreward to one of his early books Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses (1994:2003). The Indologist observed how David Frawley had provided a proper, traditional and correct alternative and understanding to the Western new age misuse of yoga. Here we have an instance of a serious academic who had spent his life in studying Hindu yogic systems endorsing and appreciating the work of Frawley. Regarding Frawley Dr Feuerstein wrote:
“A more important aspect of Pandit Vamadeva is that he rightly positions Hindutva in the global context of the so-called ‘clash of civilizations’. If this right approach to Hindutva does become popular (and Frawley Dr Feurestein rightly observed ‘is a popularizer in the best sense of the word’) then labeling Hindutva as rightwing and borrowing Western copycat left rhetoric to attack it becomes difficult. In his book ‘Hinduism and the Clash of Civilizations’ (2003) Frawley shows how the global war of civilizations is taking place.
He also exposes where the Indian left stands in this war, who ‘though often spouting an anti-Western or anti-American rhetoric, are vociferously working to undermine their own traditional cultures in favor of what is just another form of Western cultural domination.’
Moreover, the preface for this book was written by political scientist from the London School of Economics, Aidan Rankin, who is also now a Jainologist. Aidan considered Vamadeva Sastri as a ‘true seer’ who through his book 'offers a humane alternative to the failed socialist planning of Nehru - and the ascendant Coca Cola capitalism, the iniquities of which become more apparent every day.”
When Ms Bamzai has to mention scholars like Prof Subash Kak, she takes the minimalist approach. So, Subash Kak becomes ‘his computer scientist friend and sometime co-author’. Just rewrite the same as ‘Subash Kak his computer scientist friend known for the famous Kak-neural network as well as his papers on the history of science in India, who has also coauthored a book with David Frawley’. See how it sounds and that is exactly what our establishment journalist wants to avoid. The terms ‘computer scientist’ though technically correct conveys the imagery of being a mere techie. That is what Ms Bamzai wants. This actually fits into another colonial-Marxist narrative that the diaspora Indians in United States are social-science ignorant software techies who harp on to their old heritage because of some kind of alienation. So, the Hindus anchored to Hindu Dharma in the United States merely exhibit a pathological phenomenon.
For all the pretentious analysis Kaveree Bamzai made on Pandit Frawley, she missed one point. As early as 2003, in his book on the clash of world civilisations, Frawley had written a separate chapter on solar power and Gayatri Mantra. In his characteristic way, he wrote about the inner sun of consciousness and the Vedic hymns which praise the splendour and energy of the inner sun and its relation to individual sadhana. But, he also wrote about the outer sun in the context of energy crisis:
Our energy needs are increasing daily with the growth of population and the increasing affluence of the Third World that is now demanding the same convenience that the Western world has enjoyed for decades. ... Solar power is the ultimate answer for the energy crisis because it is a clean source of energy that is unlimited though the technology for it may take a few decades more to develop fully. We must make solar power priority in energy research. We must return to the Sun to save the Earth.Hinduism and the Clash of Civilizations’ , 2003) p.223
On 30 November 2015, 12 years after David Frawley wrote those words, Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of India created the International Solar Alliance much to the discomfort of the United States. Any wonder then that Pandit Frawley is respected and revered in Hindutva circles? It is not because Hindutva has paucity of intellectuals but because David Frawley is a visionary and a true friend of India.