Hindus should stick with tried and tested methods – Vijaya Rajiva

“Dr. Elst’s trajectory is different from ours. We should not be stampeded into abandoning what we see are the best strategies, some of which are rooted in our conviction that this Punya Bhumi will endure forever, despite the best efforts of the asuric forces. And meanwhile, yes we should continue to attack the injustices of the asuric forces, their barbaric customs, their past history of war and violence and their present attempts to control the world’s resources and economies, their white racism (under which the infamies of the brown sahibs and brown clergy are subsumed). That is not only our moral imperative, but it is also our defence against the asuric forces.” – Dr. Vijaya Rajiva 

In the recent controversy sparked by Dr. Koenraad Elst’s 2007 article and his subsequent rejoinder (in Bharata Bharati) to his critics only a few days ago, it has become clear that certain issues have come to the fore. Dr. Elst, as the present writer has remarked (see the articles in Bharata Bharati) is an intellectual and a non-Hindu at the same time. Why are these facts significant?

Dr. Koenraad ElstHis interest in the Hindu problem is motivated by his intellectualism (he used to be an academic), i.e. such intellectuals are rootless and tackle problems at random, and sometimes out of intellectual curiosity. There is also in him a high ethical sense, and so he is also genuinely concerned with the Dalit question (as he sees it) even when he tries to defend the Hindu caste system amongst non Hindus (white, brown, black, whichever colour!). Both his articles now printed in Bharata Bharathi reflect this situation. In his earnest discussions with the foreign asuric forces he does not seem to realise that they are actually laughing at him behind his back; they are pleased with his discomfiture, the subtext of their statements to him would be that he simply does not understand these pagan Hindus and why is he defending them? It is the caste system, stupid. Not because unequal societies have not existed since time immemorial but because that is the stick with which they can carry on beating Hindus and their ‘sympathisers’. That process has gone on and will go on, rest assured.

And the more he argues, the more he makes them feel good. If he were to inform himself of the many articles, books and blogs that are appearing today he would realise that Hindus are carrying on a certain battle couched in the terms that the asuric forces themselves have set. No matter. Hindus have to continue to play that game at one level. They cannot abandon that task. Nor can Elst. he is committed to it for ever and aye.

Secondly, while works such as Dr. Rakesh Bahadur’s  Equality and Inclusion : Progress and Development of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes In Indpendent India (2010) are contexualised in the secular framework of the Indian Constitution, and while the HAF Report on Caste is a straightforward attempt to refute the notion that Hinduism condones Untouchability, there are others who finger point white racism (as well they should) and the valid point made by Srimathi Radha Rajan that the Western world carries on its dominance by using race to construct politics and vice versa, there are others who argue that the caste system was the basis of India’s economic prosperity etc. Recently,  George Augustine has given a comprehensive account of the caste system and it has been reprinted in Bharata Bharati.

Still others focus on the inherent strength of the Vedic Agamic tradition and the inability of the asuric forces to defeat that tradition in the past and its inability in the future to do so.

All these are tried and tested methods, and they will continue to work. It is a package deal, a multi-pronged approach. It is not smugness or anachronistic world views or anything of the sort,the wild charges that Dr. Elst in his frustration with the foreign asuric forces that he interacts with, has claimed. The present writer is serious in saying that this is also because he is a non-Hindu. We Hindus have forged various methods, some quite obvious, some subterranean, some a mix of both, to resist the encroachments of the asuric forces.

One of the Radhakrishnans, either Dr. Radhakrishnan himself or the son, once said (unfairly) that Dr. Elst is trying to carry on his Christian crusader’s battle against Islam on Indian soil. This is patently unjust and inaccurate. However, the present writer would urge him to continue his work, and not be unduly concerned with the Hindu dilemmas and their handling of the asuric forces. We can handle them, not to worry. And so can we handle the domestic social injustices.

Of course, in his task (such as it is) he is handicapped by not being a Hindu. As the present writer has pointed out earlier he cannot with a straight face claim that the Vedas are apaurusheya (not of human origin). Nor can he extol the many complicated rituals both of Veda and Agama as his heritage. This strength belongs to the Hindus and they and they alone can carry the battle for the defence of what they consider is the land of the Veda. Dr. Elst and other well-intentioned sympathisers can only provide auxiliary forces. Some of their efforts are successful, some only partially so. He can only say that the caste system has been a force for stability, as he does in his article printed in Bharata Bharati on the subject. He cannot say : it has been the practice in the land of the Veda, and so on and so forth.

It is therefore important for Hindus to realise once and for all that Dr. Elst’s trajectory is different from ours. We should not be stampeded into abandoning what we see are the best strategies, some of which are rooted in our conviction (not smugness, as he alleges) that this Punya Bhumi will endure forever, despite the best efforts of the asuric forces. And meanwhile, yes we should continue to attack the injustices of the asuric forces, their barbaric customs, their past history of war and violence and their present attempts to control the world’s resources and economies, their white racism (under which the infamies of the brown sahibs and brown clergy are subsumed). That is not only our moral imperative, but it is also our defence against the asuric forces.

And the generic Church can stand on its head but will not succeed in defeating the Veda and Agama. Above all, we should avoid being distracted from our own methods of struggle against the asuric forces.

» Dr. Vijaya Rajiva is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university.

See also

22 Responses

  1. I believe you right about Dr. Elst’s post. I remember it too. He took the opposite position to Dr. Rajaram (in his comment yesterday) and endorsed our ceremonies and temple festivals. He pointed out that Hinduism was still very much alive a kicking and that this was proved by our temple festivals. In fact he is endorsing of the Veda / Agama argument that Dr. Rajiva is making. That is why it is so unjust to attack him on the grounds that he is a non-Hindu white European.


  2. Thanks Vijayaji for your detailed response. Sure, we Hindus have fought the Aaasuric forces with whatever means were/are available to each one. The Hindu traditions and rituals, though sometimes may seem illogical, play a very important role in nurturing a sense of belonging and pride. If I remember correctly Dr Elst also has endorsed this view about our rituals in a blog-post some months back ( I think it is titled ‘Hinduism, what is to be done’ ).
    My point is that you all are doing a great job fighting for a common cause, why nit-pick and magnify our differences of opinions ?


  3. Quote: “People need to get this through their heads: heathens will NOT give up their Gods or their religion (which is what the demand to relinquish rituals means). Because rituals are what tie the Gods to their heathens. This is well-known to be true in Hindu religion, but also in other legitimate religions (like Daoism). Anyone who insists that Hindus give up their traditional rituals (or temples or Gods or any aspect of traditional Hindu religion)–regardless that they call themselves Hindus too–should be seen *no different* from islam and christianism which both make the same demands on traditional Hindus.”

    You are exactly right, Sir, and have understood the motive behind the demand to give up rituals — though to give Dr. Rajaram the benefit of the doubt, his demand may stem from fear and ignorance — he is an agnostic western academic — rather than a calculated ploy to separate Hindus from their Gods.

    I gave his point about Kshatriyas and the need for political power priority over Dr. Rajiva’s argument that the Veda and Agama will save us because they will not help us if we do not have a place to practice them in.

    I do not know if Dr. Rajaram has a more sinister agenda when he demands we give up our rituals. He is connected to the John Templeton Foundation, a extraordinarily wealthy fundamentalist Christian funding agency which was originally set up to finance Protestant missionaries in India and Africa. It has now taken to financing secular scientists in order to give a credible face to its religious superstitions. The Vatican has done the same by setting up a congregation for the study of evolution, science etc. Both the Templeton Foundation and the Church are trying to subsume science to religion in order to save face and give themselves greater credibility in this age where they have lost ground in the West. I do not know what Dr. Rajaram’s real motive is or why he is connected to the Templeton Foundation. It may be just for the huge money they throw at scientists who give them useful papers on this and that subject — like Science and Vedanta which is Dr. Rajaram’s special interest.

    Anyway, interacting with the Templeton Foundation is just more interfaith dialogue with Christians which has never done the Hindu Samaj any good.

    Sita Ram Goel used to say that image making was the hallmark of Hindu civilization. Hindu image making was superior to that of the Greeks and Egyptians because of the hard stone Hindus used, fire stone as it is called in Kanyakumari where the best quality stone comes from. Where there are images, there are rituals for the images. The image gives the deity a safe, consecrated place to manifest in, and the safe, consecrated space is created by ritual and the intention of the ritualist. Images and rituals are inseparable. There those who attack rituals, attack images — there is no two ways about it.

    In her discourse, Dr. Rajiva talks about the Gods being the natural elements or representing natural elements etc. etc. She too is a western academic and seemingly unwilling to recognise the Gods for themselves, as divine beings who live in their lokas and interact with human beings for the benefit of human beings. This business of natural elements has been put back to front: the natural elements may have some characteristics of the Gods, but the Gods are real divine persons and not confined to natural elements which are their creations.

    The Kanchi Mahaswami insisted that at the very least, water should be offered to the Gods daily by everybody. He also said that in this unbelieving age, we must continue our worship by whatever means possible without standing on orthodox formalities.

    The Kanchi Mahaswami was himself a God. He was Rajarajeshwari manifest here on earth. More than one devotee of the Kanchi Math has seen Her sitting in his lap as he interacted with the public. May he — and She — bless in our search for freedom and truth.


  4. I stand corrected IS. Glad to know you are an aficianado of music. Welcome! Regardless, my point was that these young musicians give their entire lives to the Carnatic music tradition and hence things are not as bad as they could be. I often think: since Carnatic music lives, the Veda and Agama cannot be defeated! Have you studied Carnatic music? I have. This is to correct your impression that I live in an ivory tower as far as that aspect is concerned.

    For the rest, yes we need political space. But how much political space was there during the long period of barbarian rule and then colonial rule and yet the Veda Agama continues.

    I do not want to sound polyannish, but a great deal of work is now being undertaken by the Sangh organisations to extend that political space. Elst has been derisive about that previously. Not sure if he has changed his mind recently. Possibly, he has. That is a good sign.

    My ivory tower, such as it is, has an advantage over his! I am a Hindu descended from generations of Hindus where the sacred scriptures were read and where Sanskrit was in the air which we breathed. . . . I can go on and on, but that is what I also meant by the disadvantage of being a non-Hindu. Everything has to be learned at second hand and unless the individual has made a substantial effort by becoming a Hindu, then the odds are that he / she will always remain an outsider, even with the best of intentions. And I do not need any one to set their seal of approval about my ancestry. It is objectively there. I do not plan to go into details . . . .

    And I have consistently maintained in all my articles that Elst is not a con artist. He is genuine, but the limitations are there and political correctness should not inhibit us from criticizing him where it becomes necessary.


  5. In fact I am an aficionado of Carnatic music, so that points to how little you know about me sitting in your ivory tower in Montreal.

    In fact it is from Radha Rajan that I have understood the importance of obtaining political space prior to the making of sacred space to perform rituals in.

    You can’t perform yagnas in Saudi Arabia because you don’t control the political space. And our dire political circumstance here in India is such that we will not be able to perform yagnas in Hindustan either very soon.

    You do not live here, Madam Professor, and you do not know the circumstances on the ground. Neither does Dr. Elst. Both of you sit in your ivory towers and analyze and theorize. Those of us who live in the bazaar study your works and try to extract something useful from them, to save ourselves and our Gods from the enemy all around us.


  6. IS, this is were the Bhagvad Gita comes into the fore. We require Kshatriyas with words and deeds to protect. I think ( I may be wrong ), there is a commentary by Madhavacharyya on Mahabharat ( a very good one ) where He interprets as to why Arjuna was chosen as the warrior. To this He gives an excellent explanation . He invokes the Vishnu Sahasranamam where Yudhistra Vachha is very Bhakti Oriented ” Kim Japan Muchyate Jantur Janma Samasara Bandhatanath” The Japa Yudhistra says is repeating Vishnus name. All vachha by all Pandavas to Bhishma is very differeent to Yudhistra. What it reveals is that Yudhistra is perfectly Sattvic and others are less Sattvic than Yudhistra. This aptly signifies why Arjuna was chosen for the battle ( This quasi Rajas is required for warrior like class).

    I will write later.


  7. Who is this Doktor Elsk? And this other fellow IS?

    They don’t mean diddly squat.


  8. IS I disagree, for every Brahmin who sends his sons and daughter to do chartered accountancy etc. there are 10 others who continue the old ways. And since you are not an aficionado of Carnatic music you will not understand the enormous hold that this Hindu tradition has on the Hindu mind. You have to only hear the no holds barred singing of several of the young artists who sing their hearts out in the old bhagavatar tradition. And look at the thousands who attend the annual Thyagaraja festival.
    And then again as Radhaji has pointed out the defence of varna and jati by scholars rooted in Hindu Dharma are many. I often see these articles on the internet. So, I don’t believe the space is shrinking for Hindu activity, this despite the inroads of modernisation.

    This does not mean that internet Hindus and people like Elst should not keep up a steady drum beat. If nothing, it will keep the asuric forces at bay. But, as my new article will point out, it is important not to treat anyone as sacrosanct.

    En passant, Dr. R. is not au courrant with Hindu activities.


  9. Concerning Rajaram’s post:

    1. Elst in his article just before this one (something about “making enemies”) had brought up the criticism of Rajiv Malhotra by various Hindus. I have no idea why other Hindus criticise him. But I know why I would: he doesn’t like traditional Hinduism and wants to replace it with his (reformist) notion of Hinduism, as seen in his writings against traditional Hinduism addressed to a Hindu audience, which are of the same kind as anti- traditional-Hinduism comments that Rajaram has stated above.

    Rajaram and Malhotra call themselves Hindus, but they are not ‘pagans/heathens’: Heathens are what traditional Hindus (i.e the Vedic-Agamic kind) and traditional Daoists are, it’s what ancient Hellenes were. As all *heathens* know– but new agers and reformists don’t — traditional rituals are of prime importance in the religions of the Gods. As far as I’m aware, all Hindu agamas and tantras are considered Apaurusheya too, just as the Vedas are, and are directly related to the Vedas and the Hindu Gods.

    Those who speak against the Agamas (and hence traditional Hindu rituals) and call for Hindus to relinquish these things, as NS Rajaram did when he referred to them as a “weakness. [Hindus] better get rid of it”–whether such people call themselves Hindu or not–they are speaking against the Hindu Gods and the Vedas.

    Elsewhere Rajaram wanted to speak on Vedanta (and said in an earlier comment on this forum that he even lectures christian audiences in the west about Vedanta). In contrast, even Vedantic Acharyas like the previous Kanchi Shankaracharya (who I’m certain knows *far* more about Vedanta, including especially the Advaitic kind, than Rajaram does) explained that the modern trend of Indians fashionably going into Vedanta is pointless. It will not lead to realisation of the Upanishadic/Vedantic teachings. From memory, that Shankaracharya explained that the pursuit of Vedanta requires living a life of rigorous Vedic rituals first.

    Anyone who disagrees with the Kanchi Swami’s point can contact the legitimate established Advaitins of the Shankaracharya mathas to change their opinion (however, this was also the opinion of Adi Shankara it seems: the Kanchi Swami started the text by quoting Adi Shankaracharya on the imperative of the life of Vedic rituals). But the Shankaracharyas may be fortunate as to not be contacted by Rajaram, since I note Rajaram–like Malhotra and many other new-age Hindus who insist Hindus give up traditional Hinduism–has a great disdain for established Acharyas. Probably *because* such Acharyas do factually have more legitimacy and consequently authority to speak on the subject.

    It’s strange how islam and christianity also regularly threaten that Hindus should give up Hindu rituals for worshipping the Hindu Gods (that’s what Agamic rituals are) and Hindus defiantly refuse them. Yet when modern Hindus insist (or intimidate with insinuations of “weakness”) that traditional Hindus should give up rituals (“for their own good or their religion’s good”), why should Hindus not defiantly refuse them also?

    Since Rajaram has attacked traditional Hindu religion and thus traditional Hindus, one feels no compunction of describing him or Malhotra as new-age Hindus (the shoe fits). Nor any reticence to state the following:

    People need to get this through their heads: heathens will NOT give up their Gods or their religion (which is what the demand to relinquish rituals means). Because rituals are what tie the Gods to their heathens. This is well-known to be true in Hindu religion, but also in other legitimate religions (like Daoism). Anyone who insists that Hindus give up their traditional rituals (or temples or Gods or any aspect of traditional Hindu religion)–regardless that they call themselves Hindus too–should be seen *no different* from islam and christianism which both make the same demands on traditional Hindus.

    Traditional Hindus are clearly not of the same religion that Malhotra and Rajaram are. Malhotra in various writings lecturing a Hindu audience, and Rajaram now, have both tried to hijack traditional Hindus into their own (distinct) modern new-age Hindu religion (or rather, their view of what Hinduism ought to be in future). They are annoyed with what traditional Hindus *are*, especially that Hindus should continue with traditional Hinduism. Yet as the two groups (Rajaram/Malhotra vs traditional Hindus) are obviously not of the same religion, and as Malhotra and Rajaram clearly don’t like traditional Hindus’ religion, they should leave off lecturing traditional Hindus.


  10. Still concerning Rajaram’s post:

    2. Rajaram accused Hindu acharyas and swamis of having jetsetted into the west: “acharyas and panditas retreated from the scene (now in foreign lands)”.
    Yet, as I recall, Malhotra’s various gurus/swamis–like the Beatles Maharshi of Transcendental Meditatation–did that. Including Malhotra’s other anti-Hindu teacher of new age, Deepak Chopra, wasn’t it? So if Rajaram is going to criticise anyone–especially for poor choice of ‘spiritual teachers’–critise Malhotra first.

    However, legitimate acharyas and swamis continue to reside in Akhanda Bharatam. Some traditional Hindu Vedic ritualists and temple priests at times do go overseas, but only to perform rites for *other* subcontinental Hindus, or at overseas temples. They don’t go overseas as “swamis”/cult-leaders, and are therefore not trying to sell religion to other populations.

    “acharyas and panditas retreated from the scene composing abtruse commentaries on the virtues of Agamas and other shastras.”
    Actually several are on record of defending their temples and immunising people against even christianism. But it’s good that they went on to right commentaries on the Agamas and Tantras and Shastras. It’s what *living heathen religion* means (as opposed to dead new-agey pretend-heathenism). New-ageists and anti-traditionalists are such a threat to Hindus. Hindus really need to wake up to them. Because they operate internally and always seek and audience (to try to subvert Hindus) and because they call themselves Hindus too, they will get an ear.


  11. ‘“For the ritualists, action comes first, and action, which includes recitation and chant, is all that counts.”
    Stahl understood Karmakhand very well.’

    The comment about ‘understanding’ is incorrect: Stahl is obviously merely *repeating* what the Hindu namboodiris told him.

    It is what all Vedabrahmanas know and explain: Vedas/Vedic rites are all about the chanting and the actions (of the rituals) that accompany it. Even the meaning is secondary (far down below type of ‘secondary’).

    I think it a grave error on the part of Namboodiris to let non-Hindu people have access to their performance of the rituals and to give these people any details.

    While Stahl is possibly innocent, his detailed records of these matters has a lot of foreign ‘Aryanists’ (several of whom are indologiests, and who also often call themselves ‘vedicists’ and ‘brahmanas’, and who have ‘studied Sanskrit’ in their western universities) imitating Vedic rituals. Yet all these things were specifically meant to be kept out of the hands of the mlechchas. Hindus are unwittingly enabling a lot of dangerous people by not continuing to be guarded about the very private aspects of their religion, particularly the Vedas.


  12. But where are our “tried and tested ways” today? There are no Kshatriyas any longer to make up the equation and Brahmins themselves are having their sons trained as chartered accountants or hotel managers so that they don’t starve to death in free, independent, secular, socialist India.


  13. IS it was not my intention to demean what Dr. Elst was saying. I was trying to point out that it is important for Hindus not to abandon their tried and tested ways, which is a combination of Brahmanic and Kshatriya approaches. This unique blend is what kept us going and will keep us going.


  14. Dr. Rajiva, as you say the approach is many pronged, so we should allow Dr. Elst his ‘prong’ too without always trying to demean it and drag it down. Dr. Elst has done more to protect Hindu Dharma than you or I have.

    Anybody who has sat for a day in a yaga-shala knows the spiritual / psychological value of ritual, not to say its cultural and social value too. But in order to build the yaga-shala, we must have the political space to do it. We have lost–or are very near losing–the real ground space to build yaga-shalas and perform rituals. Therefore Dr. Rajaram is right, too, and his point takes precedence of your point, Dr. Rajiva.

    Without political control of our motherland, our culture and religion cannot be protected and our Agamic rituals cannot be performed.

    The Brahmin who is the custodian of Hindu religion and culture is to be protected by the Kshatriya in this world.

    But there are no Kshatriyas anymore and the Brahmin–the upholder of Hindu civilization and culture–has been under vicious attack for the last 60 plus years.

    Therefore Dr. Rajaram’s point, that we need Kshatriyas more than we need ritual at this time in our history, is correct.

    Without the Kshatriya making the (political) space for us to continue the Vedic culture of Agama, it cannot be continued.

    The Moguls started the destruction the Kshatriya community and the British and Brown Sahibs of independent India finished them off. There is no Kshatriya community left today to protect the Veda and Agama.

    In the human world, politics comes before religion and culture.

    We need a political leader today, not a religious leader.

    Dr. Rajaram may not appreciate the value of ritual and I dare say he may even be afraid of its incomprehensible (to him) gobbledegook. But he is absolutely right that today we need a fighter warrior, not a priest, to save us.


  15. Anonymous has made a significant comment on the importance of Karma Kanda. At the end of my article ‘A Critical Examination of Shri Aurobindo’s Secret of the Veda’ (Vijayvaani) I point out that despite his great brilliance this great philosopher missed the importance of Karma Kanda. The rituals are not merely symbolic, as he tries to argue, but real. The Devatas are real, not symbolic.

    In an earlier article on Veda and Agama (and the Village Agama) a respondent irritatedly said: STOP this religious Hinduism!

    I wondered aloud if he was a non Hindu. I cannot imagine a Hindu taking umbrage at a discussion of religious Hinduism!

    Frits Stahl is right in his admiration of the Nambudiris of Kerala. Through thick and thin, they maintained the Vedic rites, especially the Agnistoma, which had been abandoned in other parts of India.

    I would also like say that the preservation of our Vedic heritage should be among the topmost priorities of Hindus. It is not time wasted. It can and should go along with the more mundane tasks of defending ourselves in public fora and in international circles, as many Hindus are currently doing.

    As I say, in my article, it is a many pronged approach.


  16. I don’t know why Rajiva has to persistently ‘downgrade’ Elst, and after ritualistically praising his undeniable intellectual contributions to the Hindu cause. Even if one is wedded to Vedic and Agamic rituals, why should that necessarily mean that one should take leave of one’s powers of discrimination and understanding of another’s viewpoint on its merits? Going to the other extreme, Rajaram is condemning the ‘Agamas and Shastras’ (sic) for failing to analyze the monopolistic creeds. Besides the minor point that Agamas and Shastras are not human beings (or forts) to be criticized for failing to stop the Islamic invasions, he fails to acknowledge that ritualism need not necessarily stop one’s rational faculties from working – the armies of sophisticated apologists employed by the Catholic Church to deal with evolutionary theory are proof of that. And, of course, if all ritualists were to be like Rajiva, we must acknowledge with Rajaram that are in deep trouble indeed.

    But then, let us remember that a mimaamsaka (dyed-in-the-wool ritualist by even the traditional Hindu yardstick) named Mandana Misra could debate Adi Shankaracharya (a ritual-endorsing Vedantin) for days on end. Perhaps the ritualists (like Rajiva) could take inspiration from the ‘coloured’ Hindu Manadana Misra, if not the white secularist Elst, and get on with the job of evolving newer and more creative approaches to current threats, and treat facts with greater respect than exhibited lately? And perhaps, people like Rajaram could just bring themselves to occasionally recognize the creative contributions of the ritualists to the corporate life of Hinduism as a religion among large groups of very diverse people?


  17. Correction: I meant “Dr. Elst’s recommendations concerning the new. . . .”


  18. Rituals are part of Karmakhand and Gnana the highest form of Yoga, Please do not translate Gnana into English as John Dobson very rightly points out is wrong. Many orientalists have translated Gnana into knowledge, which is totally wrong. Coming to the point. Gnana Yoga (as explained in Vivekachudamani is for pure celibates, for true Sanyasis) and Karmakhand are the most difficult aspects of Sanatan Dharma. Karmakhand is like doing experiments repeatedly with proper chanting. In modern times many priests take short cut which is like doing chemistry experiments on a floor and not on the work bench. Since both these aspects have great degree of difficulty, it always seems that both of them has no place in Neo Sanatan Dharma, esp Karmakhand.

    I feel rituals are unique and as explained by Fritz Stahl below.

    “Over the decades, while I penetrated the riches of their Vedic heritage, I made many Namboodiri friends and came to know them better. I have found them sincere, straightforward and disciplined. After initial reluctance, they are eager to explain the intricacies of their recitations, chants and ceremonies. They never claim knowledge that they do not possess. They will not preach or become pompous. They will express no interest in going to the U.S. Though no longer averse to modernisation, they remain attached to their simple habits,” Staal observed.

    Staal recalled the willingness of Namboodiri scholars to share their knowledge. The details that he garnered from his interaction with the scholars went into a two-volume book on Athirathram, ‘Agni – The Vedic Ritual of the Fire Altar’.

    He also studied the application of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and astronomy in this complex ritual”….

    Shrauta Sutras are concerned with continuity and survival of the Vedic tradition. Substances and people change. But mantras and their syntax do not,” he said on a visit to Panjal, near here, last year to witness Athirathram.

    He observed that rituals could not be fully understood by mere access to texts. “Whatever texts may say, language does not explain activity. For the ritualists, action comes first, and action, which includes recitation and chant, is all that counts.”

    Staal noted that the survival of Vedic traditions signified the triumph of the human spirit over limitations of matter and the body. His own work on the immortal values of the East marks such a triumph over the mortal”

    This line below is an apt conclusion by Stahl.

    “For the ritualists, action comes first, and action, which includes recitation and chant, is all that counts.”

    Stahl understood Karmakhand very well.


    Now if you compare Elst and the late Stahl, Elst comes out as a quasi Kshatriya (He only uses words for his warrior or wordier activities) while Stahls quest is Brahminical. IS has been praised and vitupeartively commented. IS, don’t worry the late Stahl and the living Elst fit into Lord Krishna’s description in Gita about Varna system. Their Gunas are showing their Varnas.


  19. Interesting responses. Kishanji I agree. My point: we should take whatever is valuable in the other person’s advice. In this case Dr. Elst’s ‘advice’ is already being followed by many Hindus. In my previous articles I have pointed out the number of articles, books and blogs that are written by Hindus in the context of the disputes and that the reason the asuric forces are continuing to attack is because they have done it in the past and will continue no matter what our best efforts. And yet so must we continue and so must Dr. Elst. But we should not be stampeded into thinking that we have to abandon either these methods (which we are already doing) and as well those which have stood the test of time. Dr. Elst is not the only one doing the fighting, as his article SEEMS to suggest.

    I want to select out one point that Dr. Rajaram made: the traditional acharyas retreated into their maths. He and I have exchanged notes on this before. My point: yes they did the right thing because their job is to preserve our Vedic heritage and transmit it faithfully and not go out into the battled field and lose that heritage. Thank heavens they did. I recall that Ishwarji himself agreed with my point.

    And yes, Hindus have traditionally put up heroic fights and have won many times but also lost. When asked why despite their bravery and effort they lost, Dr. Subramania Swamy rightly answered: because we were civilised and followed the rules of war. He was referring to Privthi Raj.

    The Vijaynagar empire put up strong fights. So did the Kerala rulers and so on and so forth. This impression that Hindus were a no good cowardly bunch is a myth. Sometime ago in Hindu Voice (I believe) there was a detailed blow by blow account of all the resistances put up by Hindus.

    Likewise, the idea being floated that Hindus are not doing anything today and are sitting on their hands, is a myth and it must not be used to demoralise us and confuse us. That is not (I repeat) not Dr. Elst’s aim, but his lecturing/hectoring to us must now stop. He is doing his own most excellent work. Let him continue. Our job as Hindus is two fold. Not only to use the Elst style methods, but also our traditional methods, one of which (and only ONE, although an important one) is to conserve our heritage. We have done it for several millenia and will do so in future.

    It is not clear why Dr. Rajaram is so dismissive of our Veda and Agama. Today, we still have the Namboodiris of Kerala who have preserved the ancient Vedic rites. They still perform the Agnistoma etc. You will recall that the American scholar Frits Stahl came and recorded (with their permission) the entire ceremony. Thankfully that is now on record in the library of the University of California.

    To look down on such events is the height of folly.

    And so my concluding point: I am reiterating that both the new methods and the old must be used. Dr. Elst’s recommendations concerning the old are useful in the way my article has outlined. But since he is not a Hindu (he has said this somewhere publicly, I cannot recall offhand now) his attention towards our old methods is nil. I am only stating the obvious, but its significance must be understood.

    And while it is refreshing to see some Hindus come to his defence they are missing my point.


  20. Good article Vijayaji. But while self confidence is good, smugness is not so good. And we cannot ignore history in our smugness. History of partition, and the current demographic invasion in the east cannot be ignored; the attack of the two major ‘desert bloc religions’, as someone has called Islam and Christianity, on Hindu culture and religion is intense and relentless, and backed by billions of petro-dollars and an immensely rich Church. Even foreign based NGO’s are ready to fish in troubled waters by financing innocently named Indian NGO’s. Therefore if Dr Elst’s and other well wishers’ warnings can help us remain alert and fight what you call the ‘aasuric force’, I don’t see any harm.

    And most important of all we have to fight the ‘aasuric forces’ among ourselves: The practitioners of vote bank politics that inflames passions.


  21. I would like to second Dr Rajaram’s comments. Let us look at the points made on their merit, rather than who is saying it.

    The Hindus are often complaining that their point of view is not being heard because our opponents dismiss the author as being a Hindutvavadi or some such label.


  22. I am disappointed with this confused and barely disguised tirade against Elst because of his birth (and race). As a Hindu I am ashamed of this spirit of intolerance that is foreign to our tradition which says AA NO BHARDAA KRTAVO YANTU VISHWATAH.

    As I see it (and I am a Hindu) Dr. Vijaya Rajiva’s post exemplifies the intellectual weakness and the insularity of Hindus going back at least to the time of the first Islamic invasions, which the Agamasa, Shastras and the like failed to analyze much less defeat. They will no more defeat the Islamic warriors today. This was noted by Al Baruni a thousand years ago and denounced by Sita Ram Goel and Ram Swarup in our own time.

    Soldiers and common people laid down their lives defending their ‘punya bhumi’, but acharyas and panditas retreated from the scene (now in foreign lands) in smug insularity composing abtruse commentaries on the virtues of Agamas and other shastras.

    Rajiva also writes: “Of course, in his task (such as it is) he is handicapped by not being a Hindu. As the present writer has pointed out earlier he cannot with a straight face claim that the Vedas are apaurusheya (not of human origin). Nor can he extol the many complicated rituals both of Veda and Agama as his heritage. This strength [Sic: Or weakness? They better get rid of it. – NSR] belongs to the Hindus and they and they alone can carry the battle for the defence of what they consider is the land of the Veda.” [Sic: History shows they have failed repeatedly, for a thousand years. This cannot be wished away. – NSR]

    This is smug and insular. I as a Hindu can say with a ‘straight face’ that I find nothing to ‘extol’ in the “many complicated rituals of the Vedas and the Agamas.” They are obscurantist relics that should have been consigned to the dustbin of history– along with Gandhian ahimsa and Nehruvian pancha sheela.

    What we need today are fresh attitudes, critical spirit and fighting qualities initiated by intellectual kshatriyas like Goel and Ram Swarup, carried forward by their disciples like Koenraad Elst. (I have differences with him and he with me, but that is part of this modern spirit.)

    We need warriors today, not more ritualists and commentators. We have too many of them already. As it did a thousand years ago, India today is facing an existential war– a religious war for survival. Complicated rituals and Agamas will no more protect us today than they protected Hinduism from the Turks and Moghuls or Buddhism in Bengal and Bihar.

    Kashmir, Bengal and Bihar (Mithila) that were once the strongholds of “complicated rituals, Agamas (and Buddhism)” are now become the springboards in this new war against Hinduism. I find this history more compelling than anything in any Agama or ritual, which I find meaningless and impotent against hostile forces.

    My solution: place some of these scholars in some protected museum, and let kshatriyas and modern thinkers with an open mind carry on the business of protecting the punya bhumi. The old order has had its chance and has failed repeatedly. If it fails again, this punya bhumi will become mleccha bhumi and forever.

    Speaking personally, I regard Elst as a Hindu and a Kshatriya while I see those who denounce him on the basis of his birth and race, without actually using the word Mleccha (like Vibhishana) as tamasic souls trapped in the past — a past that probably never existed.

    (The past that did exist, the Islamic past — none of us wants it to return. But return it will if we keep engaged in “complicated Vedic rituals and Agamas” dear to people living in the past.)

    I welcome more warriors today like Elst, whatever be their race, birth or origin. The past and its aberrations like meaningless rituals and commentaries are not what we need today in this existential struggle for survival. They never helped anyone but its perpetrators.


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