Ms Nanda needs to brush up on her Indian history.

published on August 6, 2011

The Editor
Open Magazine

Dear Editor,

Re: ‘Spiritual Bedfellows’ (The Norway Massacre and the Indian Connection’ by Meera Nanda, Aug.6,2011

I assume Ms Nanda is an academic/writer/journalist. A year or two ago I came across an article by her in The Hindu and replied to it. She seemed to be advocating the old philosophy of science world view of the Vienna Circle of the 1920s, and whose surviving thinker  Sir Karl Popper(recently passed away) had changed his early views somewhat. At any rate, science itself has changed dramatically in all fields, especially in the hard core sciences, which were the models when Morris Schlick and the Vienna Circle first formulated their views.

I gather Ms. Nanda is also a Marxist, in which case she does not seem to be au courrant with Marx’s article ‘British Rule in India'(June 10,1853) Here, that world historical thinker whose critique of capitalism and his entire corpus of writings on the subject (including the 6 volumes of Das Kapital) have not been seriously answered to date(in my opinion) embarks on something that he is truly not competent to judge, namely Hinduism. In that article although he castigates Britain for exploiting India he goes on to say that Britain with all its iniquities was a progressive force in India where Man who should be the Master of Nature, falls on his knees before Hanuman the monkey and Sabala the cow !

This is Marx’s humanism which he acquired from the Greek sophist Protagoras (an older contemporary of Plato) who said : Man is the measure of all things. Needless to say,it is a limited humanism.Also, Marx’s knowledge of India was somewhat limited.

Ms. Nanda seems to be caught in this same strait jacket, with a lack of appreciation of the Vedic world and its celebration of Nature, the terrestrial, atmospheric and cosmic forces of Nature.Nature or God, said the Dutch philosopher Spinoza. Not understanding this Vedic world view Ms.Nanda launches out into an attack on the Hindu Right (as she calls it) and some of those authors associated with this philosophy. It is not my intention to defend these authors since they are all thinkers in their own right and capable of defending their positions, if they even choose to respond to her article, which seems to be written for the gallery, so to speak, or to camp followers.

However, she is a Hindu, I assume, or is an ex Hindu. Her espousal of Marxism as far as some of her articles go, appears to be rather superficial( a type of positivism) and judging from her article, her knowledge of her own native tradition is even less so. The Vedic tradition admits the equality of all religions in the sense that many paths lead to the discovery of spirituality and the place of humans in the universe. This is obviously a pluralistic tradition. However, the followers of monotheistic faiths(there is only one God) do not reciprocate this pluralism, and Indian history is replete with conquests and violence from these monotheistic faiths (Islam and Christianity). To that extent not all religions are equal. Ms Nanda needs to brush up on her Indian history.

In the absence of her knowledge of the above her comparison of Anders Breivik and the Hindu Right (as she calls it) ends up being hasty, frivolous and written for ideological reasons rather than for enlightening reasons.

I am a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university. My training has been in Philosophy, Political Science, Political Economy and History.


Dr. Vijaya Rajiva

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