My Response to Prof Sheldon Pollock’s Theory

By Shriram Bhandari

    There have recently been debates on the petition opened against Prof Sheldon Pollock, who is currently the editor of the Murthy classics library. It is surprising that the main stream media which didn’t seem to give any focus on this issue has suddenly decided to allow various articles against the petition. Although people in general who support Sheldon Pollock claim that the petitioners do not have a valid objection, they haven’t really explained why it is so, except that the petitioners have made mistakes. But why hasn’t Prof Sheldon Pollock’s theory not been discussed by people speaking for him ? So let us discuss the Professor’s theory, in general he believes that the grammatical structures within Sanskrit actually encourage a kind of oppression against the Shudras and women. The German indologists were influenced by Sanskrit and that Sanskrit is the main culprit for the race theory held by the Nazis. These are quite debatable topics to begin with, he further seems to state that Sanskrit is the best language that can be used for the Aesthetization of power. The theory in short states that the Vedas and it’s rituals were used as a conspiracy against the other castes by the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas. This was done in such a way that people in general were not made aware of their problems and were left in a kind of a intoxication. In this state the king was made supreme and people did not know the despotism of the king. Thus Sanskrit due to it’s own beautiful capability of enticing people through drama , art and rituals could spread across south asia without violence. Prof Sheldon Pollock also states that the source of this power in Sanskrit are the Vedas themselves and that all rituals, Kavya, arts and Shastras are stuck in the Vedic metaphysics. Hence the Vedas in general according to him are not be questioned and challenged and that none of the Shastras actually challenge the Vedas. I believe this is the crux of his theory, my response is as follows, has the Professor bothered to actually read the Upanishads, they actually challenge the Vedas as follows, let us take the Mundaka Upanishad it says the following “Dve vidye veditavye paracha apara cha”, the 4 Vedas come under Apara Vidya or lower Vidya . We also have other verses which actually condemn the rituals within the Vedas. We also have Bhagavat Gita that says “Traigunya Vishaya Vedaha”, the Vedas talk about the trigunas. So we see that the Vedas are themselves challenged in the Sanskrit texts themselves state that Vedas are not the final. I would ask the Prof if any Christian or Muslim has ever stated that the Bible or Quran are not the final word of God. This does seem to give a serious blow to his theory since the Vedas are themselves challenged in the texts. I could also go further and state that the rituals are not the final word of the Vedas by applying the Shatlingas of Adi Shankara. I would argue that the Vedas are always speaking of integral unity and not necessarily rituals or mere kingship. I believe Prof Sheldon Pollock really needs to look at his theory as Rajiv Malhotra also puts many holes into the Professor’s theory. It is time for the Murthys to rethink on the appointment of Prof Sheldon Pollock they could actually read Rajiv Malhotra’s “Battle For Sanskrit” and then make the appropriate decision. If they are unwilling to do so, they are nothing more than close minded.

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