Why are Indian Marxists anti Hindu?
by Vijaya Rajiva on 07 Apr 2013 11 Comments

There is something clownish about the manner in which Indian communists stand up and say with a stiff upper lip that they will not side with the communalists! Of course, they mean Hindus.


Nor are Marxist scholars appreciably better, since their lofty pronouncements on ancient India are not backed by knowledge of Sanskrit, without which any scholarly work cannot be undertaken on the topic of ancient India. Barring DD Kosambi and Suraj Bhan who had some familiarity with Sanskrit, the rest remain ignorant of Sanskrit and instead dismiss the classics of Hinduism in their reading of Indian history, and call it elitism on the part of Hindu scholars who use the Sanskrit classics.


What else can the Marxists say to cover up their ignorance of the tradition? Veda Agama is Hinduism, and although there are classics in the regional languages, the primary language is Sanskrit. Romila Thapar has been repeating ad nauseum that the Sanskrit classics cannot be the locus of theorising on ancient India. She studied at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, where, quite surprisingly, she was not expected to know her Sanskrit! Small wonder then that at each and every opportunity she talks darkly about how the elitism of Hindu scholars shows itself up in their study of Sanskrit classics. All this, of course, is in direct contradiction to Indian Marxist approval of Western scholars who study their classics in Greek and Roman!


Unlike their founder who famously said ignorance never helped anybody (Karl Marx), Indian Marxists wear their blinkers and steadfastly refuse to remove them. They are presently in retreat as far as their pet peeve is concerned - the Out of India Theory, which some Indic scholars over the last two decades presented as an alternative to the infamous Aryan Invasion Theory of India put forward by Western scholars from the 18th century.


Recently, historian/mathematician NS Rajaram put forward a further rejection of the Aryan Invasion Theory based on population genetics and natural history. In a previous article (‘Romila Thapar’s Historical Dogmas’, Vijayvaani, Feb.13, 2013), I pointed out that Romila Thapar, while no less dogmatic about her opposition to the Out of India Theory, is now diluted in her enthusiasm for the Aryan Invasion of India, which she and fellow Marxists had borrowed lock stock and barrel from Western scholars starting from William Jones onwards. She now talks of small immigrations of the so called Aryans into India circa 1500 BCE onwards.


Needless to say, the Aryan Invasion theory has been consigned to the dustbin of history. Indic scholars have contributed to this demise.

There are five major reasons for Marxists to be hostile to Hinduism:

1] The ideological inheritance from Marx.

2] The opportunistic attempts to make alliances with a motley crew of Indian politicians. Here Communists have not hesitated to form a front with the most corrupt party the country has known, the Congress Party. No doubt with the fast approaching demise of the Congress they will shift to another perch. Their spokesmen have uttered dark hints about keeping communalists (read Hindus) at bay.

3] The colonial legacy of placing non-Indian ‘experts’ on a pedestal. The fatal flaw of the international movement has been to mindlessly ape Russian and Chinese figures. Along with this is the homage paid to the baleful Christian influences ever present on the subcontinent, from colonial times and now from the international Church (all denominations). The ancient dream of the Christian West has been to convert the world to their dogmas, and here they share the turf with Islam. In India they set up a mythical enemy to be attacked, the mighty fortress of Brahmanism, as described (erroneously) by some Western scholars. The reality is: Veda Agama, a reality which continues to this day and is inaccessible to Indian Marxists because of their tunnel vision. Veda Agama is all around them but they refuse to see it.

4] Their appeasement policy towards minorities. Intertwined with this is the attempt to whitewash both Muslim and Christian persecution of Hindus and the elevation of Muslim rule in India. A classic example is Romila Thapar’s claim that Mohamed Ghazni was simply a conqueror and destroyed Somnath for that reason, though contemporaneous Muslim accounts state that Ghazni was working for Allah’s mission (‘Somnatha, the many voices of history’ 2005).

5] Perks, privileges and monetary rewards. Since independence Marxist scholars have cornered the educational scene in India and have been rewarded with key positions there and from those commanding heights have influenced the educational institutions. That wave is ebbing somewhat, but many continue to try to exert their influence even after retirement (see Harbans Mukhia, ‘The Diminishing Returns of Saffron’, The Hindu, April 1, 2013).


Marx, as I have written often, was not well informed about India. He relied on British sources primarily for his observations about India and was Euro-centric in addition to being hostile to religion. His humanism, borrowed from the Greek sophist Protagoras (Man is the measure of all things) led him to dismiss all religious experience as a hoax perpetrated by the ruling class on the masses. With regard to Indian society, his inspiration seems to have been James Mill’s Euro-centric/racist views of Hindu society. Hence, Marx’s negative evaluation of Hindu society.


Marx’s two prominent views cannot/should NEVER be forgotten by Hindus:


1] “That man, the sovereign of nature, fell down on his knees in adoration of Hanuman, the monkey, and Sabbala, the cow” (The British Rule of India, New York Daily Tribune, June 25, 1853). Marx believed that British rule despite its iniquities was a progressive force for India.

2] “England has to fulfill a double mission in India: one destructive, the other regenerating - the annihilation of the old Asiatic society, and the laying of the material foundation of Western society in Asia” (The Future Results of British Rule in India, New York Daily Tribune, August 8, 1853).


It is interesting to go back and see the Marxist opposition not only to the Out of India Theory (that Sanskrit and its culture went out of India to Europe), but also to the discovery of the Vedic river Sarasvati and the significance of this for the links between Vedic Hinduism and Harappan culture. Indic scholars have steadily increased the quantity and quality of their work in that domain (the latest being the contributions of Vedic mathematics to Harappan culture; see NS Rajaram’s ‘The Third Wave West, 1: The Fertile Crescent’, Folks Magazine, Feb. 10, 2013, based on his forthcoming book Gene Times and the Birth of History). Marxist scholars have not yet woken up to these developments.


Here again, their ideological blinkers prevent them from correctly evaluating the work done by Indic scholars on the discovery of the Sarasvati. From BB Lal through innumerable outstanding names associated with the work on the river, Indian Marxist scholars have dismissed it as Hindu chauvinism. The enormous work contributed by S Kalyanaraman (Director, Sarasvati Research Centre, Chennai) is another instance of the rapid strides achieved by Hindu scholars in all fields of research (see Vedic River Sarasvati and Hindu Civilisation (ed.) S. Kalyanaraman, 2008).


Suraj Bhan’s near hysterical response of to the implications of the discovery of the river bed of the Sarasvati, mentioned 78 times in the Rig Veda, which disappeared in the post-Vedic period, is comical. This discovery, mainly through satellite photography and with the collaboration of archaeology, geology and related sciences, has been followed by the location of more than 80% of the sites of the Harappan civilization along the banks of the Sarasvati. Hence, it is now called the Sarasvati Sindhu Civilisation.

Suraj Bhan, however, feels otherwise: “The efforts since independence at identification of the Indus Civilization with the Vedic Aryans seems to aim at the glorification of the Vedic culture for several reasons: first, the identity of the Indus Civilisation with the Rig Vedic culture not only to establish a much greater antiquity for the Vedic Dharma and culture than hitherto recognised but also to give them the credit for producing one of the oldest civilisations of the world, at least as old as the Mesopotamian civilisation” (The Making of History: Essays in Honour of Irfan Habib, 2002, p 52).


He goes on to ask: “Why after all do these scholars want to glorify the Vedic culture? Here lies the ideological underpinning of archaeology for two reasons: the Vedas are considered the ‘source of Hindu social, political and economic institutions and Hindu culture is in fact Indian culture. . . .’ (ibid)

One can toss the question back to Bhan: why does he want to deny the importance of the Veda in Indian culture? There is also the related question of why these Marxist scholars continue to use the word Aryan in connection with Vedic culture. As Rajaram has persuasively argued, the origins of Sanskrit are proto-African-Indian (Folks Magazine, December 2012).

Despite the pathological dislike of Veda Agama by Marxist scholars, the Veda Agama has been the central feature of the civilisational ethos of the subcontinent and will continue to be so.

The writer is a political philosopher who taught at a Canadian university

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