Conversion agents, dubious academics and farcical Indian secularism

The farce that is Indian secularism keeps getting even more farcical.

Imagine, the evangelist Pat Robertson going on CNN and being presented by his media host as an activist for secularism. Imagine, Ibn Battuta, the Muslim chronicler who espoused and propounded Islamic supremacy in no uncertain terms and heaped scorn on Hindus being presented as a great agent of secularism, syncretism and composite culture.

As absurd the above scenarios sound, they are actually true in the context of the farce that is Indian secularism. Marxist-secularist historians and their occidental Eurocentric cohorts, in a blatant subversion of history, have long sought to position religious supremacists from medieval period of Indian history as expounders of syncretism and composite culture. Agents of hegemony who found poetic expressions (in support of the hordes of their faith) when Hindus were murdered and enslaved, and Hindu women hounded into harems for lifelong sexual slavery, are today presented as great proponents of syncretism. Sundry Sufi bigots who acted as harbingers of the hordes of deen and post genocide played the role of politically, economically and militarily backed rabid conversion agents, have today been re-invented as a supposed benign facet of the desert dogma [1]. Agents who instituted massive pogroms through cross-continental religious sanctions are today celebrated as saints. All in the service of secularism.

So it comes as no surprise that Praveen Swami, an eminent journalist, invokes a fanatic conversion agent; falsely presented as just an “activist”; and some dubious academics to press his case for (more) secularism. All the while spitting venom on one of the most famous and revered of Hindu cultural symbols, the mahA kumbha melA. [Read Reality Check India’s post for more on the mahA kumbha melA angle.]

Praveen Swami’s article is undermined by his quoting the Christian agent John Dayal who is hand in glove with American evangelists and is at the forefront of spinning atrocity material for his foreign faith-friends. Since John himself is dedicated to advancing his own faith through (defense of) aggressive and often illegal evangelism his pontifications on secularism are sheer hypocrisy. Moreover, this same individual’s writings were top propaganda material for the hate site which called for balkanization of India and violence against Hindus. He has called on various Western (Christian) bodies to intervene in India’s internal affairs [2]. The All-India Christian Council, with which this “activist” is associated, not too long ago presented a list of candidates for elections in Maharashtra. Will Praveen Swami find issue with this Christian religious organization with foreign connections flexing political muscles? Perhaps not, since it is consonant with the farcical secularism Swami supports.

This “activist” has been reported to be tied to direct foreign efforts to alter Indian laws. [3]

When the Indian government felt that the foreign funds of NGOs needed more transparency, John Dayal, who presides over the All India Christian Council and the United Christian Forum for Human Rights, testified against the Indian government at PIFRAS-sponsored hearings and symposiums at Washington.

Not surprisingly, as Reality Check India points out, John Dayal’s essay that Swami refers to, “builds up to a case against FCRA (the act that enables you to find out Christian Aid money flows)”, which of course Praveen Swami conveniently ignores.

John Dayal ignited the global Christian lobby to call for preferences for Indian Christians as employees and in business trade and investment deals at the expense of non-Christians [4]. His “activism” with the US-based (Christian evangelical) “rights” groups however conveniently avoids any mention of Christian militants threatening Hindus and Buddhists, like for instance the western evangelists backed Chrianized Hmars conflicting with the Hindu Dimasas [5].

Swami also refers to Meera Nanda, whom some time back, India-Today rightly pointed out as a Hinduism hater. Nanda’s venomous words have sought to deny Indian scientific contributions. She outrageously says that any claim of Indian culture being scientific is Hindutva and resonates with “deeply Hindu and Aryan supremacist overtones”. Nanda spews mindless venom against Hinduism (and Buddhism) justifying her bile to as driven by rationalism, free-thought, etc., yet finds it fit to accept grants from the very protestant Templeton foundation which is dedicated to advancing Christian idioms like “intelligent design”. Wonder where her rationalism goes then. Interestingly, Nanda in a write-up at India-Seminar even while attacking westerners manages to blame Hinduism. For instance, Rupert Sheldrake who traces his theories to Christianity, is linked to the Indian scientist J.C. Bose, and then attacked by Nanda for his Hindu links. [6]

Praveen Swami fails to mention the “secular” Indian government taking over Hindu temples and channeling its earnings for non-Hindu causes. We can safely assume the likes of John Dayal or Meera Nanda don’t have a problem with this subversion of Hindu institutions so it probably wasn’t worth bringing up.

Even more disingenuous and dangerous is Swami’s reference to Paul Courtright’s explorations of Oedipal undertones in Hindu mythology. What Swami doesn’t mention is Courtright’s mis-translations, manipulations and even inventing of non-existent data from Hindu texts to support his concoctions. By seeking to portray Courtright as a victim, Swami actually legitimizes his dishonesty. I direct readers to go read Invading the Sacred which in a very scholarly manner exposes the academic fraud committed by Paul Courtright and his cabal. Recently, the prestigious Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research published a paper by Prof. Srinivasa Rao further exposing the dishonesty of Courtright and his bedfellows. This malice is deep-rooted in American religious studies academia where such outright hostility and academic dishonesty towards Hinduism by agenda driven “scholars” is often defended using meaningless political arguments. Courtright and his cabal have sought to deflect the erudite expose in Invading the Sacred using the bogey of Hindutva. What does a scholarly expose by Indian Americans of academic fraud in American academia have to do with Hindutva? Or secularism for that matter. This leads one to believe that it is really Hinduism itself that Courtright targets using the euphemism Hindutva. Indeed, this is also true for most votaries of Indian secularism who spare no time in spewing bile on Hindus even when the matter at hand has no direct relation to Hindus or Hinduism. Praveen Swami’s twisted piece is a fine example of this sorry situation.


  1. Read books by Sita Ram Goel and S.A.A. Rizvi for more on the fanaticism of Sufis. Goel describes them as “sappers and miners for Islamic imperialism”, “the most fanatic and fundamentalist activists of Islamic imperialists”.
  2. Malhotra, Rajiv, and Arvindan Neelakandan. 2011. Breaking India : Western interventions in Dravidian and Dalit faultlines. New Delhi: Amaryllis. (p. 230)
  3. Ibid. (p. 238); [PIFRAS is an overwhelmingly Christian evangelistic organization dressed up as a rights, democracy, etc, group.]
  4. Ibid. (p. 278)
  5. Ibid. (p. 280)
  6. Ibid. (p.262)

Meera Nanda’s hollow rhetoric on ‘Voice of India’

Instead of clumsily attempting to discredit the pioneering Voice of India publication house, through the proxy of Breivik, I would like to see Meera Nanda try to discredit the data presented by VOI publications through hard evidence and reasoning. But since characters more capable than Nanda have abysmally failed to do so, I can see why she chooses instead to throw muck at VOI without actually even attempting to debunk the veracity of data presented in VIO publications.

Nanda insinuates, the claim that Muslims enslaved Hindus and drove them to their death in the Hindu Kush mountain ranges is questionable. I would like to point to no other than Al Beruni, the Muslim chronicler who has himself written in support of the irrefutable veracity of that claim. This is history straight from the horse’s mouth. I would also like to direct the curious to Elliot’s “The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period” for further evidence of the unimaginable atrocities committed by Islamic invaders on India’s native population. Elliot’s work is merely an English translation of accounts by Muslim scribes in Persian. Again, history straight from the horse’s mouth.

What Breivik’s madness presents is an opportunity for an open dialog and honest debate to analyze the reasons behind religious conflict and terrorism in the Indian subcontinent starting from medieval to modern periods. Such a dialog needs to accept history without whitewashing and needs to be open to free speech from different spectrums. Unfortunately, an open dialog is unpalatable for the torch bearers of Indian secularism, since that will expose their duplicity and empty scholarship. No wonder they feel the need to resort to hollow rhetoric.

Meera Nanda Continues with her Ignorant Rants

In response to Meera Nanda’s polemics on OpenMag seeking to mendaciously decouple yoga from Hinduism[1], Swaminathan Venkataraman of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF)[2] gave a very fitting reply[3] decimating her ignorant assertions. In response to Venkataraman’s rebuttal, Nanda retorted with a characteristically arrogant and haughty piece[4] which yet again but not very surprisingly was bereft of any veracity to back her aforementioned attempts. In fact the sanctimonious and intemperate tone of Nanda’s piece coupled with a near complete lack of any pedantic references, provides a nice insight into what really drives her. In her latest diatribe, if we discount the quotes she provides from Koenraad Elst and David Gordon White[5], all that remains are ignorant rants, consummate red herrings, and of course an ample offering of uninhibited bile regurgitated upon HAF.

Venkataraman’s article[3] however provides very specific references from the haThayoga pradIpikA, shiva saMhitA, gheraNDa saMhita, maitrAyaNIya upaniShad, shrItattvanidhi to conclusively demolish Nanda’s assertions in her previous rant filled article[1], as well as their continuation in her latest piece[4]. He provides statements from both Singleton and Sjoman (Nanda’s own sources from her previous piece[1]) that actually go against her position.  Venkataraman mentions svAmI YogeshvarAnanda‘s book in 1970 titled “First Steps to Higher yoga” containing 264 Asanas. He also mentions other non-kR^iSNAmAchArya yoga traditions, dance poses of shiva, as well as the Indian government’s move to compile a digital database of yogAsanas[6] that has thus far resulted in documentation of 1,300 Asanas with the cooperation of nine traditional yoga institutions. All of which decisively demolish Nanda’s ignorant rants. Readers are directed to Venkataraman’s article[3] for more.

While Venkataraman’s article is very restrained and erudite, Nanda chooses to write in anger and throws dung at HAF even after her assertions have been decisively decimated. Many people have previously pointed Nanda to a well researched article[7] by Sarvesh Tiwari that provide historical evidence for yogAsana being a Hindu dhArmika tradition. Evidence that goes against what Koenraad Elst says in the quote Nanda has provided. Not to mention debunking Nanda’s pontifications. In fact Sarvesh himself has challenged Nanda for an open debate[8]. Which to my knowledge has gone unanswered.

Both Sarvesh’s and Venkataraman’s articles provide incontrovertible evidence that go against Elst’s assertion on this particular issue, which Nanda has gleefully quoted. Yet Nanda conveniently chooses to ignore any such evidence and  continues with her ignorant rants. Not to mention throwing hate-filled innuendos and verbal vomit at HAF in particular and Hinduism in general.

In a paper by Nanda some years back, she said,[9]

The more prominence Hinduism gets abroad, even for wrong reasons like the new age and paganism, the more prestige it gains in India.

This quote provides a very clear insight into the motivation behind the ignorant, hate-filled rants in her sorry attempts to mendaciously decouple yoga (or yogAsana to be more specific) from Hinduism. Which presumably she, back then, perhaps in an attempt at derision, referred to as “the new age and paganism”. Make no mistake, if instead of yoga another school from Hinduism say pUrva mImAMsA had been this popular, the same idiotic arguments and perfidious polemics would have been used by Meera Nanda and her bedfellows to try and decouple pUrva mImAMsA from Hinduism.

In response to the aforementioned quote by Nanda, this is what the very Koenraad Elst that she now quotes, had to say[10]. Emphasis added.

Here, she really lays her cards on the table.  It is very good that, unlike many other "secularists", she does not try to be clever and claim to speak for "true Hinduism" against a "distorted Hinduism" of the Hindu revivalists. Instead, she clearly targets Hinduism itself, deploring any development which might make Hinduism "gain prestige".  Let us see if I can translate that correctly: wanting something or someone to suffer rather than to prosper is what we call "hate". She hates Hinduism, and her academic work is written in the service of that hate.

Notwithstanding Meera Nanda’s apparent deep hatred for Hinduism and the resultant mendacious rants, she would do well to learn from this saMskR^ita gem, “alpa vidyA bhaya~NkarI”. Or, its English equivalent, to quote Alexander Pope, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. What is really amazing however, is that in spite of her articles having been dissected and deconstructed multiple times and her assertions conclusively disproved and decimated[3][10][11][12][13], she still has the audacity to keep regurgitating with her characteristically arrogant haughtiness. A result perhaps of her ideological moorings[12] or her ignorance. Or perhaps it is a combination of both.

Truly, the following text from the vAlmIki rAmAyaNa, ayodhyAkANDa, is befitting to Meera Nanda.

बालाः पण्डित मानिनः

bAlAH paNDita mAninaH

(ignorant considering himself/herself to be learned)


Swaminathan Venkataraman makes a second reply[14] to Meera Nanda, whom he rightly calls a “self-appointed pseudo-scholar” and aptly takes to task for her browbeating and ranting after her mendacious polemics being decisively decimated by the veracious references in his previous piece.

[1] ^a ^b ^c

[2] ^

[3] ^a ^b ^c ^d

[4] ^a ^b

[5] ^ White’s quote being a total non-sequitur to her mendacious thesis of yoga largely being un-Hindu

[6] ^

[7] ^

[8] ^

[9] ^ Dharmic ecology and the neo-Pagan international: the dangers of religious environmentalism in India", presented at panel no. 15 at the 18th European Conference on Modern South Asian Studies, 6-9 July 2004

[10] ^a ^b

[11] ^

[12] ^a ^b

[13] ^

[14] ^

[15] Given Sarvesh’s erudite, well researched article and the references that Venkataraman provides in his article, I won’t dwell on historical and scriptural evidence for yoga’s (and/or yogAsana’s) relationship with and undeniable inseparability from what is now known as Hinduism, in this post. Readers are directed to their articles.

On Meera Nanda, Aryabhata and Ramdev

Thanks to Rajeev Srinivasan [1] for providing in his blog a link [2] to an article “Spirited away” by Meera Nanda [3] in the New Humanist [4]. Simply put, the article by Nanda is a verbose tirade against (a) the Dharmic systems (particularly Hinduism) and (b) Sam Harris [5] [6] for his sympathetic views towards Hindu and Buddhist spirituality in his book “The End of Faith”.

For those unacquainted with Meera Nanda, this is what the indomitable Koenraad Elst had to say in reply to her hysterical polemics some years back. [7]

It is not contrived to describe Meera Nanda as a Marxist scholar.  She works within a Marxist conceptual framework, relies on Marxist sources, and speaks of leftist authors as belonging to a collective “us” as opposed to a hated right-wing “them”

Coming back to Nanda’s article on Sam Harris’s book, along expected lines true to her ideological moorings; as aptly pointed out by Dr. Elst; Nanda indulges in unabashed anti-Hindu polemics. Selected excerpts are reproduced here. Emphasis in bold has been added my me.

An idealistic, spirit-centered metaphysics continues to structure the worldview of ordinary people, while intuitive and certain knowledge of the ‘absolute truth’ of ‘pure consciousness’ is still the culturally hegemonic paradigm of knowledge and truth.

Moreover, the notion that such knowledge is rational and scientific is routinely used by Hindu nationalists to assert the superiority of Hinduism over Islam and Christianity, which they condemn as being superstitious in terms not dissimilar to those used by Harris. A rationalist endorsement of mysticism could have dire consequences for the development of a rational scepticism adequate to the challenge of fundamentalism.

The ever ubiquitous Hindu nationalists invariably pops up whenever those from the left seek to sell their fare. And what does Meera Nanda provide to back her purported views on Hindu nationalists? Nothing except her own ideological predilections. The much maligned Hindutva or Hindu nationalism not doubt seeks to imbibe in all Hindus and in fact in all Indians a strong sense of belonging, pride and patriotism towards the country. And why is this wrong? Sadly, the question of right or wrong is always construed by the Marxists and secularists from a myopic ideological viewpoint. And when ideology is used to construct parochial postulates, truth invariably suffers.

Now consider this other quote by Nanda from the same article.

My experience of the deep connections between Hindu metaphysics and Hindu nationalist politics underpins my scepticism and naturalistic world view.

Left unsaid, Sam Harris is now; what Nanda and her ideological bedfellows like to call; a Hindutvavaadi.

While perusing the New Humanist site, I came across another article by Nanda, “Rush hour of the gods” [8]. And yes not very surprisingly it is another voracious tirade on Hinduism. What really struck me however was Nanda’s stridently haughty and foolish dismissal of ancient Indian scientific contributions and particularly her crass belittling insinuation towards Aryabhata [9], the ancient Indian mathematician and astronomer who is credited with many momentous contributions. Excerpt below. Emphasis in bold has been added by me.

The theme of the superiority of ancient Hindu science was taken up a week later when the president of India, Abdus Kalam, came down to the temple-ashram complex to inaugurate its “science museum”, which highlights ancient Hindu discoveries in astronomy/astrology, medicine (ayurveda), architecture (vastu) and such. Without ever questioning what validity the Earth-at-the-centre astronomy/astrology of Aryabhatta has in the modern world, the nuclear physicist president went on to claim not only the greatness of antiquity but also the continued relevance of the ancients for “enriching” modern astronomy.

If there was any doubt about the extra-academic agenda and ideological predilections of Meera Nanda, her insidious insinuation on Aryabhata clears it. It is true that scholars have divergent views on interpretations of Aryabhata’s model of the solar system. David Pingree, Noel Swerdlow believe it is geocentric. While Otto Neugebauer, Hugh Thurston, Naturforschenden Gesellschaft, van der Waerden, Dennis Duke believe it to be heliocentric. His sighrocca (in Sanskrit) model is cited by most as evidence for being heliocentric. Notwithstanding this academic debate, Meera Nanda’s dismissive polemics and foolish sarcasm regarding ancient Indian scientific contribution and specially her belittling insinuation towards Aryabhata is particularly distasteful given his irrefutable contribution to science and mathematics. Be it in trigonometry, algebra, explaining eclipses, sidereal periods, earth’s axis, etc. Aryabhata did some really seminal work. Among his many accomplishments, Aryabhata is credited with postulating the movement of earth around its axis and approximation of the value of pi. So, clearly either Nanda has never read any of Aryabhata’s work, or worse is willfully allowing her perfidious predilections to propound a consummate travesty.

Many luminaries throughout history, unburdened by ideological baggage, have made famous quotes on the many contributions of ancient India to science and civilization. Of these many famous quotes, Einstein’s comes to mind.

We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.

A good collection is available at [10]. However, Meera Nanda with an arrogant haughtiness adamantly refuses to acknowledge any of ancient India’s contribution to humanity be it scientific, spiritual or otherwise. A result perhaps of viewing everything with parochial ideological lenses. While not at all surprising, it is a very sad reality that has however become staple offering from the Marxist-secularist stable.

In her book “The God Market” Nanda pompously avers to Swami Ramdev’s Yoga propagation as

a paradigm case of the seamless merging of state, business, and religious-cultural elites and the openly communalist, xenophobic Hindu right

Swami Ramdev [11] is singularly responsible for a revival of the ancient Hindu tradition of Yoga in modern India. In fact Ramdev has even tried to include hardline Islamists from the Deoband into his Yoga mission [12].

Ramdev was the first non-Muslim cleric to address the annual convention of Islamic seminaries under the auspices of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind at the seminary, known for its influence over bulk of the Sunni Muslims across the country.

Emphasising the need for promoting communal harmony, he contended that the unity between Hindus and Muslims was the strength of the nation. “It was high time people realized that ‘Ishwar’ and ‘Allah’ were two names of one and the only god,” he said.

Sadly this inclusiveness has almost always been a one way street with only Hindus walking the way. But for the likes of Nanda their ideological postulates dictate that they very perfidiously call this inclusiveness “openly communalist, xenophobic”.

Moreover, Yoga; and hence Swami Ramdev; being an inseparable part of Hinduism is undoubtedly anathema to the likes of Nanda. In fact any attempt at imbibing into Hindus a sense of pride and belonging towards its more than 5000 year old cultural heritage is construed by the secularists as communalist. If this is communalism, then every person on this planet with a sense of pride and belonging for his/her faith and/or country is a communalist. The pope is communal, the church going President of the United States is communal, as are the millions of Muslims going for Haj.

In the same book, “The God Market”, Nanda defensively says that her work is not “of polemics or ideological argumentation”. That’s right! And Pol Pot was a gentle caretaker of an orphanage for abandoned children.

Incidentally, Meera Nanda is closely associated with the Marxist den, Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. In 2009, she was made a fellow at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute for Advanced Study, in the Jawaharlal Nehru University for research in Science, Post-Modernism and Culture [13]. She also happens to have received a major fellowship from the John Templeton Foundation [14] to support her research on defining, debating and teaching science in India [15] [16] between 2005 and 2007.

The Templeton Foundation has been criticized by many for its alleged agenda of trying to reconcile religion and science. An American science journalist and author John Horgan [17], in 2006 wrote in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education [18] of his “misgivings about the foundation’s agenda of reconciling religion and science”. He claimed that a conference he attended favored scientists who “offered a perspective clearly skewed in favor of religion and Christianity

The article by Horgan can also be found in [19]. Horgan also says in the same article

A devout Presbyterian born and raised in Tennessee, John M. Templeton launched the extremely successful Templeton mutual funds in the 1950s and became a billionaire. He started spending serious money to promote his religious values in 1972, when he established the Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries About Spiritual Realities.

I will leave it to readers to judge the John Templeton Foundation’s; that provided a generous fellowship to Meera Nanda; religion of choice.

Koenraad Elst in the same paper referenced earlier in this post [7] made the following observation about Nanda. Emphasis in bold has been added by me.

There are more points in Ms. Nanda’s paper which are worthy of further discussion, but for now I will conclude with an observation on what seems to be her sincere declaration of interest.  Among the points that “worry” her, she mentions this as the final one: “The more prominence Hinduism gets abroad, even for wrong reasons like the new age and paganism, the more prestige it gains in India.”

Here, she really lays her cards on the table.  It is very good that, unlike many other “secularists”, she does not try to be clever and claim to speak for “true Hinduism” against a “distorted Hinduism” of the Hindu revivalists. Instead, she clearly targets Hinduism itself, deploring any development which might make Hinduism “gain prestige”.  Let us see if I can translate that correctly: wanting something or someone to suffer rather than to prosper is what we call “hate”. She hates Hinduism, and her academic work is written in the service of that hate.

As Dr. Elst has aptly noted, Meera Nanda’s scholarship is born out of a hatred for Hinduism. This hatred and its resultant mendacious polemics is shared by many of her ideological bedfellows. Thanks to a cartel being successfully formed by these ideological bedmates and their Eurocentic associates in the west, their drivel is being passed off as scholarship. Another blogger wrote an erudite post a while back on a different paper by Nanda where he rightly made a very pertinent observation. [20]

The tone and content of Nanda’s piece only stops short of giving a public call to destroy Hinduism.

I really couldn’t agree more.


[1] (twitter handle: @RajeevSrinivasa)