From Macaulay to Frawley, from Doniger to Elst: Why do many Indians need White saviours?
By Devdutt Pattanaik
Scroll.in Dec 24, 2016
Would non-White Indologists evoke such passions as the likes of Sheldon Pollock and Wendy Doniger or David Frawley and Koenraad Elst do?
There is a wound that festers in the Hindutva heart. And it is attributed to Thomas Babington Macaulay.
Macaulay was a British politician who in the 19th century played a big role in introducing English education to India at the cost of indigenous Sanskrit and Persian knowledge systems, because he saw India as primitive and chaotic, in need of civilising.
But if the British in general and Macaulay in particular get blamed for colonising the Indian mind with English, the current problem seems to be more with the Americans.
For some years now, the non resident Indian supporters of Hindutva have been especially angry with American Indologists such as Wendy Doniger, whom they accuse of a perverse reading of Hinduism in sexual terms, and Sheldon Pollock for describing Sanskrit, the holy language of Hindus, as a dead language.
But who does Hindutva turn to for establishing the greatness of Hinduism, and Sanskrit, and Vedas? A European, Koenraad Elst. And an American, David Frawley.
So much for “decolonising” the Hindu/Indian mind. So much for swadeshi.
In 2010, when Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power, Sheldon Pollock was honoured with a Padma Shri award. It so annoyed the Hindutva lobby that once the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014, David Frawley was awarded with a Padma Bhushan, a rung higher in the hierarchy of Indian civilian awards. The irony of Indians (resident and non-resident) fighting over two Americans was lost on all.
Does this reveal our deference to White scholarship? Does this reveal Indians are beyond racism? One wonders if African American Indologists or Chinese American Indologists would ever evoke similar passions.