Received over email from Rajiv Malhotra, the celebrated commentator on religious and civilization affairs.
My forthcoming keynote address at Univ. of Masachusetts, Dartmouth
The Continuity and Unity of Hinduism: Challenging the Thesis That Vivekananda “Manufactured” A”Bourgeois Hinduism”
Date: July 11, 2013
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My new book on an important (controversial) topic is almost ready for publication. I still have some gaps to fill and issues to resolve. The topic is very important because I am responding to a problem that most non-academics seem unaware of. Yet it is a critical problem than must be addressed. I have decided to present it publicly for the first time at the Vedanta Congress to be held next week.
There are two diametrically opposing views of Hinduism that are each widely held today. Most Hindu practitioners see it as a unified and coherent system of ideas and practices, with continuity from ancient times to today. The opposing view has emerged from the western academy and this has spread widely among Indian intellectuals and even many gurus; according to it, Hinduism as most Hindus practice it today is a product of Vivekananda’s fertile imagination and it did not exist before. It is an artificial unity that was constructed for political purposes, and it was built by appropriating Western religious and secular ideas. Underneath the mask, it is incoherent and contradictory. Naturally, anyone who espouses coherence and unity must be suspected of political mischief.
The thesis that Hinduism is a recent “invention” by Vivekananda and followers is called the Neo-Hinduism thesis. It is not a trivial thesis; nor is it on the margins of the intellectual discourse. Most academics trained in recent years have learned this view and its influence has become widespread.
My new book refutes this thesis point by point. The first half is an explanation of the thesis based on the scholars who advocate it. It discusses the main scholars who espouse it, and their arguments. The second part of the book is my response to this thesis.
As a result of this exercise, I have clarified many ideas and expressed them in new ways. So it is not just a defense; it is also a modern interpretation of Hindu dharma in the process.
It is open to the public. To get details on time/location, please download the Vedanta Congress program – click here
Contact me by email: RajivMalhotra2007@gmail.com