Witzel, Harvard professor launches anti-Hindu Crusade

via Dr. Srinivasan Kalyanaraman published on July 5, 2009

Quiz # 1:


“Hindus in the USA are lost or abandoned people!”

“NRI stands for Non-Returning Indians!”

“Indians in the USA do not invest in the higher education of their children!”

Who in the USA do you think would have made derogatory statements to this effect?

A.  A Ku Klux Klansman

B.  A Bible thumping fundamentalist from Alabama

C.  A Xenophobe who is paranoid about immigrants settling in the USA

D.  A Harvard Sanskrit professor

Correct answer: D.

I am sure none of you scored right on this. So, read on and get informed.

Harvard professor disparages Hindus

Recently, in a Communist-leaning political list better known for its uncritical beliefs in myths like Aryan Invasion and its negation of historical facts, Harvard professor Michael Witzel made some startling claims about Hindu immigrants to the USA. One of his acolytes invented the acronym HINA for Hindus in North America. Witzel disingenuously and infamously transliterated it as “hiina”and translated it as “lost” or “abandoned.” This Sanskrit word has many other derogatory meanings such as “inferior,” “insecure,” “lowly” and “defective.”

It caught my attention that Witzel had described Hindus using the very same phrase €“ “lost people” €“ which a rabid Christian fundamentalist and anti-Semite had used to describe the Jews a few years ago.

Rev. Bailey Smith, then-president of the Southern Baptists, had infamously declared:

“God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew” and added, “without Jesus Christ, they [the Jews] are lost.” [1]
One does not know whether, or to what extant, Witzel shares Smith’s fanatical and bigoted beliefs. But Witzel was instrumental in urging activism against the Hindu initiative, as a result of which his cosignatory urged a Hindu-bashing Christian fundamentalist to mobilize a show of strength against the Hindus of California, as we will see later. Witzel also makes fun of the Hindu custom of cremating their dead:

“[Hindus immigrants to the USA] have begun —as an old, very conservative US Brahmin friend pointed out to me already in 1994€” building crematoria as well.” [2]
Witzel also makes fun of Hindu Gods, rituals and second generation American Hindus:

“Second generation [Hindu] people just understand [Hinduism] as “boaring rituals” (puja, etc.), temple visits and Indian (mythological) comic books … All such items add to the heady brew that we have seen emerging here…” [3]
Considering that our Harvard professor has specifically enclosed the words “boaring rituals” within quotes, one cannot but assume that it was intended to make fun of the Hindu God Vishnu, who incarnated as a boar.

Some of the proposed textbooks for grade six of the State of California portrayed Hinduism in the most derogatory manner. A textbook described Goddess Kali as “bloodthirsty” and, while talking about the Ramayana and Lord Hanuman, asked the students to look around and see if there was a monkey in the classroom. Another textbook claimed that Hinduism taught that women were inferior. Yet another textbook repeated the long discredited racist theory, which contrasted the supposedly tall, blond and blue-eyed invading Aryans with the supposedly curly-haired, snub-nosed native Dravidians.

Naturally, Hindus in California were offended by this offensive treatment of their religion and culture. So, they worked with the State Board of Education, understood the procedures and submitted a list of proposed changes with due explanation. Perhaps, Max Muller, the 19 th century German racist and Christian fundamentalist, who had stated very clearly that Hindus as a race are inferior to the Whites but superior to the Blacks, [4]would not have countenanced such audacious gestures from erstwhile colonial slaves seeking parity with other religionists according to rules. A section of Eurocentric academics that faithfully propagate Muller’s racist theory and chronology of Indian history too did not tolerate such a gesture from the Hindus.
‘Rev.’ Witzel launches anti-Hindu Crusade

Witzel and some of his cosignatories admitted that they knew nothing about the nature of the changes proposed . But, in the same breath, they concluded that this is an unacceptable Hindutva initiative, which must be opposed tooth and nail. On Sunday, November 06, 2005 9:46 AM Steve Farmer [a cosignatory and originator of Witzel et al’s protest petition] wrote:

“There is little time to research and respond to exactly what is happening in California, since we only learned about organized Hindutva challenges to California history textbooks yesterday. … The final School Board meeting on this will apparently occur in Sacramento (the state capital) in three days. Even given the short time, a collective response of some nature by internationally known S. Asianists is certainly in order. At a minimum, the Board should be made aware in some way of the religious and political nature of the attacks, be provided with a quick overview of similar attacks on textbooks in S. Asia in the last decade, and be given notice of the opposition of the vast majority of S. Asian researchers to such changes. Given the short time frame, the response may have to be largely symbolic, but a letter endorsed by a dozen or more internationally known S. Asianists from every continent might still have some effect.”[5]

Witzel, on behalf of another 46 signatories, petitioned the State Board of Education [SBE] against the proposed changes [the nature of which he and his cosignatories were unaware]. He launched an ad hominem and slanderous attack on the Hindus who had proposed the changes.

The petition, like Lallu Prasad’s election campaign, provided a “balanced” mix of ignorance, slander and comic relief. Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, whose parents were Christian missionaries in Asia, was one of the signatories on the petition. He is also the author of the proposed textbook from the Oxford University Press. California Hindus had reviewed the OUP textbook and suggested changes in a meeting with OUP officials. The OUP officials informed in writing that Kenoyer agreed with the suggestions. Should one then suspect the inclusion of Kenoyer’s name in the petition or was Kenoyer filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues [The New Testament, Acts 19:6]?

Sometime back, in a review of Edwin Bryant’s 2001 book, The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture €“ the Indo-Aryan Migration Debate, Witzel wrote:

“[Bryant’s book is] A balanced description and evaluation of the two century old debate dealing with the origins of the Indo-Aryan speaking peoples of South Asia. [Bryant] presents both sides of the issue, that is the traditional western, linguistic and philological consensus of immigration from Central Asia, and the more recent Indian position that denies any immigration and that asserts an indigenous South Asian origin.”

Now, the same Witzel calls it Hindu Nationalistic propaganda when California Hindus say the same! Perhaps, he is filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues!
The SBE of California capitulates

In 1850 CE, when the Harvard Medical School admitted three black men and a white woman, racists protested against the move. The school capitulated. [6] Just like those racists offered no substantive arguments for throwing out the blacks and the woman, this time too, the infamous petitioners offered no substantive reason for campaigning against the changes suggested by Hindus. Still, the SBE capitulated. One wonders if the SBE wanted to emulate the Harvard of 1850 CE.

The SBE went a step further. It appointed two of the signatories €“ Michael Witzel and Stanley Wolpert – and James Heitzman, who protested at the venue repeating Witzel’s ad hominem attack to review the suggested changes. Is not appointing a petitioner to review suggested changes tantamount to conflict of interest?

On the other hand, the SBE is not known to have acted on a letter signed by over 30 distinguished experts that included world’s foremost archeologists who have been working on the IVC and its script for decades. These signatories cited many references showing why Aryan Invasion is merely an unsubstantiated myth.

The above said letter was sent on November 21, 2005. The SBE, for reasons unknown, did not accord it the same respect it accorded Witzel’s defamatory petition.
Crusaders form an axis of protestors

Witzel made it clear that he was a political activist. On November 26, 2005 17:26, he wrote his fellow petitioners:

“There will be a meeting with California Dept. of Education […] Please note that on Dec. 1/2 a higher body than last time, the Curriculum Commission, is scheduled to take up this issue in the morning on December 2 (note all times are tentative€”if they move through the agenda faster than expected, things will happen earlier).

This is not a public hearing. But all that means is that there is no official published time for the public to speak before the commissioners take action . Nonetheless, each meeting has a time for “public comment” and people will be allowed to come up and speak. (Thus, we have to be present).

If they follow the order of the published agenda, public comment comes after the actual vote. They will only hear Tom Adam’s (CA Dept. of Education) report on the earlier (Hindutva-inspired) and our (Wolpert, Heitzman, Witzel) findings.

But if they see the huge Hindutva crowd expected and decide to let them speak first, it is possible votes will be swayed back the other way simply because no political person likes to say no, in public, to an unhappy minority group seeking redress of grievances.

It also appears that in the afternoon of December 1, the day before the vote, the History-Social Science subcommittee will hear reports about recent events in the adoption of the text books. This should not involve any discussion of the “Hindu” issue. But the Hindu groups might show up for that discussion too. Public comment is allowed and it will give them a chance to speak to some of the commissioners before the vote the next day.

SO PLEASE TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION: Alert your friends in California to attend! ” [7]

How appropriate is it for a reviewer on contract with the SBE who is expected to be neutral, to indulge in political activism, falsely label California Hindus as of a political persuasion and seek unethical mobilization of support? How appropriate is it for the SBE to hire such politicized academics to review school textbooks?

In any case, Lars Martin Fosse, a cosignatory on the petition and a collaborator of Witzel, wrote John Dayal and Amarjit Singh, citing Witzel’s letter:

“It would probably be an advantage if Dalits were present and could demonstrate that the Hindutvavadins do not speak for all Indians. I have been reluctant to announce this on the Dalit lists because we don’t know if they are infiltrated, we therefore turn to you for advice and help. Is there a way to (discretely) mobilize Dalits in California and elsewhere in this matter? Could you get some support from Afro-American organizations here?We don’t want to create the impression that only a few outsiders are against the Hindutva version of history.” [8]  

Please note that Fosse uses the word “WE,” clearly indicating that he is writing on behalf of a group while seeking mobilization of protestors. The only group one could think of in this situation is the list of cosignatories on the petition whom Witzel had addressed in his email. So, who are these people – John Dayal and Amarjit Singh – whom Fosse writes? P.N. Benjamin, a distinguished Christian scholar and the coordinator of Bangalore Initiative for Religious Dialogue [BIRD], says of John Dayal:

“[John Dayal] opens his mouth and wields his pen only to spew venom on the Hindu community.” [9]
Benjamin then goes on to expose the kind of lies that the likes of Dayal perpetrate when they invent stories of Hindu rape of Christian nuns and propagate those abroad with the sole intent of discrediting the Hindus. John Dayal is also infamous for ardently supporting Benny Hinn, who defrauds the poorest illiterates in the Third World by promising them “miracle healing.” [10]
According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal [SATP], Amarjit Singh is closely associated with the banned terror organization International Sikh Youth Federation [ISYF]. [11] Many countries such as the USA [12] and the UK [13] have designated ISYF as a terrorist organization. Singh also heads the Khalistan Affairs Centre [KAC]. I am not implying that KAC is connected with Khalistani terrorism as I have no means to judge that but it is a well-known fact that Khalistani terrorists have massacred 21,000 innocent civilian Hindus and Sikhs, and have committed untold crimes such as rape of countless Sikh women. [14] A US State department notification states:

“Sikh terrorism is sponsored by expatriate and Indian Sikh groups who want to carve out an independent Sikh state called Khalistan (Land of the Pure) from Indian territory.” [15]
Khalistani terrorists were also tried for the bombing of the Air India civilian aircraft”Kanishka” in 1985, killing hundreds of innocent passengers. [16] Amarjit Singh is an advocate of Khalistan ideology.

There is no indication that Witzel or any other signatory on the petition condemned Fosse [himself a signatory] for unethically mobilizing political support and that too, by instigating highly controversial persons. It is beyond my comprehension how an academic could join hands with a rabid Christian fundamentalist and a proponent of the lethal Khalistan ideology. What kind of academics would sign the petition but remain silent and not condemn unethically seeking support from such controversial individuals?

Quiz # 2:

“The miraculously undecayed body of Saint Francis Xavier is still on public view in a glass coffin at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa.”

Who in the USA do you think would have made a statement to this effect?

A.  A pre-school child visiting Goa for the first time

B. A Bible thumping Catholic Christian fundamentalist

C. A Creation scientist

D. A U C Davis history professor

Correct answer: D.

I am sure you got this too wrong. So, read on and get informed.

An SBE appointed reviewer advertises Christian miracles

James Heitzman, professor of history at U C Davis, is one of the three reviewers appointed by the SBE. It does not seem as if he accepts that mummified bodies do not decay. [17] He is wonderstruck that it is a miracle that the mummified body of the infamous St. Francis Xavier, who sought the terrible Inquisition of Goa, [18] which persecuted Hindus, Indian Orthodox Christians, Jews and Muslims in the most vicious manner, should be preserved for five centuries. Someone needs to direct our distinguished professor to any museum of natural history, where Egyptian mummies are preserved. Of course, one cannot guarantee that Heitzman will return scientifically informed. He may see the hand of miracle in their preservation too!

It seems as if Heitzman strongly believes that history should be supplanted with false propaganda if it suits the proselytizing efforts of the Christian Church. He writes:

“Christianity, represented by almost all denominations, traces its history in India back to the time of the apostles and counted 19.6 million members in India in 1991.” [19]
Numerous scholars have refuted this dangerous fiction, which falsely painted the Brahmin ethnic minority as Thomas-killers, and resulted in their demonization and persecution, just as the false myth of the Jews as Jesus-killers resulted in their hi
toric persecution. The Vatican itself has declared that this is an unverified claim. Numerous distinguished academics such as E.J. Rapson, Sylvain Levi, K.S. Latourette, Fr. H.Heras etc, to name a few, have refuted that St. Thomas ever came to India. [20] It seems as if Heitzman prefers dangerous Christian fiction to facts.

Heitzman believes in revelations

Heitzman unquestioningly accepts revelations. He writes:

“Muhammad received visions in which the Archangel Gabriel revealed the word of God to him . After 620 he publicly preached the message of these visions, stressing the oneness of God (Allah), denouncing the polytheism of his fellow Arabs, and calling for moral uplift of the population.” [21]

Since Heitzman is mesmerized by revelations, he is unimpressed by the inquiries into the truth, a common feature of Hindu philosophy, which he dismisses as speculations. He writes:

“Some of the later hymns of the Rig Veda contain speculations that form the basis for much of Indian religious and philosophical thought.” [22]
Heitzman, while discussing Hindu festivals, calls Hindus cross-dressers:

“Major Hindu events include Ramanavami, the birthday of Ram in the month of Chaitra (March-April), and Holi, celebrated at the end of the month of Phalguna (February-March), when people engage in cross-dressing, play tricks on each other, and squirt colored water or powder on each other.” [23]

How can the SBE nominate an academic, who believes in miracles and fits history to suit Christian propaganda, to review contents relating to Hinduism in school textbooks, especially when he is also a signatory on Witzel’s petition? Does the SBE agree with Heitzman’s uncharitable remarks on Hinduism and Hindus?

Quiz # 3:

“The most important invasion in all of India’s history, since the Aryans brought with their Caucasian genes [is Aryan invasion].”

Who in the USA do you think would have made a statement to this effect?

A.      A Ku Klux Klansman

B.      A eugenics advocate

C.      A White Supremacist

D.      A U C Los Angeles history professor

Correct answer: D.

I am sure you got this too wrong, unless you have by now learnt that only Western historians can make such statements. Anyway, read on.

Wolpert celebrates the Caucasian gene

While discussing Aryan invasion theory [AIT], Stanley Wolpert, a UCLA historian writes:

“This was the most important invasion in all of India’s history, since the Aryans brought with their Caucasian genes a new language €“ Sanskrit €“ and a new pantheon of gods€¦”[24]
It seems that to our UCLA professor the importance of an invasion depends on whether it involved the inflow of Caucasian genes! Hey, what is next? The most important invasion in all of Americas’ history is the 16 th century invasion of Europeans because it brought in Caucasian genes? Thank god, African Americans, who do not possess Caucasian genes, did not invade Americas!

I could not but think of the 18th century racist Benjamin Rush’s writings on “Lovely White”skin contrasted with the Black skin as I read Wolpert wax eloquent on the importance of coming in of the Caucasian genes. Benjamin Rush, a medical doctor, attributed Black skin to leprosy and advocated “curing” African-Americans by bleeding and purging. [25]

Not to be outdone by Heitzman, Wolpert also repeats the dangerous Christian propaganda of the imagined visit of St. Thomas to India. He writes:

“A small but influential group of Syrian Christians in Kerala persist in claiming that their sect was founded by St. Thomas, who may have sailed to Malabar in the first century and who was supposedly martyred at Mylapore , a suburb of modern Madras, in A.D. 68. The tiny Jewish community of Cochin also claims to have been founded in the first century, but no clear historical evidence of such early Jewish settlement in Malabar has as yet been discovered.” [26]

The reference of Mylapore is to the mythical killing of St. Thomas by a peaceful and scholarly ethnic minority of Tamil Brahmins. A rational person might be at a loss to understand how St. Thomas, who did not even visit India, could have been killed there. But, Wolpert has no compunctions in repeating this perniciously false propaganda, which, since the Portuguese colonial period, has resulted in the most terrible persecution of Brahmins. Is anything acceptable if it helps demonize Hindus and help perpetuate Christianity?

Why is the SBE nominating such a biased academic, who is also a signatory on Witzel’s petition, to review contents relating to Hinduism?


1.       I have shown that the SBE capitulated to political pressure by nominating a trio of academics who have indulged in the most despicable form of political activism, disparaged Hinduism or collaborated with controversial elements.

2.       The SBE did not accord any respect to the scholars who supported the Hindu initiative by presenting solid references.

3.       One of these academics has also expressed his admiration for Christian miracles, while another has propagated falsified [over 80 years ago!] Christian propaganda.

4.       Is it not a clear violation of guidelines, and law, to subject Hinduism and Hindus to such treatment? Does the SBE want Hindu children of California to be indoctrinated in false propaganda?

5.       It is heartening to note that the Commission constituted by the SBE dismissed virtually all demands made by this trio €“ Witzel, Wolpert and Heitzman €“ with the contempt they deserved. According to a report of December 4, 2005 by the HPI, Heitzman unsuccessfully pleaded to replace Aryan Invasion Theory [AIT] with Aryan Migration Theory [AMT]. But Commissioner Metzenberg, a biologist, objected on scientific grounds. He said:

“I’ve read the DNA research and there was no Aryan migration. I believe the hard evidence of DNA more than I believe historians.”

      It was finally agreed to say, “Some historians believe in the theory of an Aryan migration.”

This shows how false theories motivated by racist politics never stand scientific scrutiny. Of course, there is no justification even in retaining AMT, which is merely a belief, and not supported by facts. Hindus must meet the SBE to ensure that theories which are not scientifically substantiated be removed altogether.

6.       Heitzman, apparently frustrated that his advocacies failed the test of scientific evidence, said to the Commission:

“I advise you to err on the side of conservatism and be very careful about adopting any of these changes.”

Commissioner Metzenberg replied pointedly:

“On the contrary, to err on the side of conservatism, we should use the Hindu suggestions. After all, it’s their religion.”

7.       Metzenberg also felt a comment by Witzel’s panel on one edit was “insensitive.”The edit was to fix the incorrect statement that the Ramayana was written later than the Mahabharata. Witzel’s group wrote condescendingly:

“Who in Sixth Grade cares which epic was ‘written’ first?”

Metzenberg observed that “it obviously matters to Hindus.”

8.       Hindus must also make it very clear to the SBE that no academic that is known to be inimical to Hinduism or known to have distorted facts to fit pet beliefs be not allowed to have any say in the process of reviewing and amending textbooks. As such, the trio of reviewers was admitted into the process without justification. I have presented solid evidence that they indulged in political activism contrary to the spirit of their contract with the SBE. Hindus must demand that the SBE should terminate their contract right away.

9.       Hindus must demand that the SBE does not entertain any of the signatories of Witzel’s petition in the textbook review and adoption process as I have already demonstrated that they are biased and politically motivated.

10.   Witzel has ridiculed the most sacred of the Hindu mantras or sacred chants. He writes:

“Many short mantras (the later biija mantras) like oM have humble origins the Veda. Him (hiM) is used in the Veda to call your goat .. and your wife.” [27]
Steve Farmer’s [who initiated the petition] and also signed on Witzel’s petition declared, in pathetic attempt at humor, that he would try this mantra on his girlfriend. [28] Hindus must demand that academics with a history of disparaging Hinduism cannot influence what goes into textbooks meant for children.

11.   Finally, only academics and experts on religion with a non-controversial record should be nominated to influence the process of textbook adoption. Academics that are accused of having used unethical means of scholarship should not be used for this purpose.

Prof. B.B. Lal, the world’s foremost archeologist and expert on Indus Valley Civilization, in his most recent publication,The Homeland of the Aryans €“ Evidence of Rigvedic Flora and Fauna & Archaeology, pp. 85-89 (New Delhi, 2005) writes that Dr. Witzel unethically and willfully assigned two opposite meanings to two occurrences of the same Sanskrit word to artificially make the verse support Aryan migration into India, whereas the verse actually makes it very clear that Aryans migrated in two branches, one to the West and another to the East, from northwestern India.

It was a very sad day for Sanskrit scholarship in general, and Harvard in particular when one of its academics was accused of and disgraced for willfully and unethically mistranslating a verse. When the error was pointed to him in the past, Witzel conveniently blamed it on the editor of the relevant publication concerned, despite the fact that the same mistranslation has been printed by him in many other publications of his.

12.   Even in the petition he sent the SBE, Witzel claims that one of the signatories, S. Palaniappan as: “S. Palaniappan, PhD, Indology, Texas.” It must be pointed out that Palaniappan, who works for the Minute Maid Company in Texas, is not an Indologist by any stretch of that word. Certainly, he is not a Ph.D. in Indology as Witzel misleads in his petition. Palaniappan received his doctorate in engineering. Should one then infer that Palaniappan is a ‘made in a minute’ instant Indologist? Did Witzel use Heitzman’s miracle to transform engineer Palaniappan into an Indologist?

Dr. Srinivasan Kalyanaraman, a former Sr. Exec. of Asian Development Bank, is a Hindu. His two grandchildren, US citizens, study in US schools.


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“S. Kalyanaraman” <[email protected]>

Sat Jul 4, 2009 10:14 pm
Witzel, Harvard prof. launches anti-Hindu crusade
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Witzel, Harvard professor launches anti-Hindu


Dr. Srinivasan Kalyanaraman


Quiz # 1:


“Hindus in the USA are lost or abandoned

“NRI stands for Non-Returning Indians!”

“Indians in the USA do not invest in the higher
education of their children!”

Who in the USA do you
think would have made derogatory statements to this effect?

A.  A
Ku Klux Klansman

B.  A
Bible thum

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