This is a rebuttal to Devdutt Pattanaik’s recent article published in DNA on 03/11/2016 : Hiss of the PIO Bharat Tyagi.
At the outset, it seems that Devdutt Pattanaik desperately wants to bring the term ‘Bharatiya Tyagi’ into fashion, in a sort of response to Rajiv Malhotra’s terms ‘Wendy‘s Children’ & ‘Sepoy’: terms that he uses to denote people like Devdutt himself. Rajiv’s words have caught on, both in the intellectual Indologist circle and in public imagination. I’m skeptical if ‘Bharatiya Tyagi’ would have similar effect, for a lot of people are well aware and informed of the game that Devdutt is playing, which I will touch upon in this article.
The reason why I have mentioned Rajiv Malhotra, is because, though unnamed, he is the primary antagonist in Devdutt’s article. The proof for this will be explained later in this article. Rajiv has long been critical of Devdutt’s works, as any sane Hindu with a love for his/her culture should be. He has constantly exposed Devdutt’s insidious meanderings into Hindu culture, terming Hindu scriptures as myths, endorsing people like Wendy Doniger etc. But first let us try to understand why this article was written, before going into the specifics of its content. This is not the first time Devdutt has attacked people like Rajiv Malhotra. He has written several articles before, but unlike this time, he had some guts left in him then to name him/ them, i.e those he calls as ‘Bharatiya Tyagis’.
The main reason for me to point out his numerous attacks on Rajiv is that, not even once has he actually written on the content of Rajiv’s works. He hasn’t written any rebuttal or specific criticism of the issues that Rajiv raises in his books like ‘Breaking India’ or ‘Indra’s Net’ or the ‘Battle of Sanskrit’. Instead the constant theme in all of his articles, that attacks NRI/PIO Hindus, goes something like this: ‘Who is this Hindu/Indian from the U.S who is lecturing us?’, ‘How can a U.S passport holder advice us?’. This is all he writes about. If he was indeed offended by what Rajiv was saying then, he should’ve written a critique of some form to those issues, which incidentally, a lot of people have done. But instead, Devdutt’s attack is personal. And that is a sign of his insecurity. I would go a step further and call it Jealousy.
Rajiv in the last few years has gained a lot of followers in Bharat and abroad. By bringing into light a lot of Hinduphobic material that is being published and propagated by Hinduphobic academics/scholars/intellectuals both in Bharat and in the U.S. he has exposed a lot of Hindus/Bhartiyas to the unfair game that is being played. His books are in the best sellers category often. This makes him a direct competitor to Devdutt. But then, wouldn’t it be wiser for Devdutt to attack someone who writes in his own genre i.e. fiction, mythology etc., rather than Rajiv, who is primarily a non-fiction writer? Say, someone like Amish Tripathi would be a good target, isn’t it? That’s where one has to look into the damage that Rajiv’s criticism has done to Devdutt.
Here I will have to ask the readers to go through the comments section of Devdutt’s article in DNA to know what I’m talking about. Almost all the comments, while this rebuttal was being written, call him out for denigrating our Itihaasas as Myths, supporting people like Wendy Doniger etc. People have realized his intentions, and probably his compulsions too. They see his disregard for their scriptures. Recently he had written another article on how Lord Krishna was a bad father. And when a rebuttal was written, his reply was that people couldn’t take the humor that he was expressing in his article! But again, why now? He has written so many articles before attacking the Tyagis, so why to write about them now, again.
For that we will have to travel to the U.S where Mr. Devdutt was touring a month or so ago. He had a nice tour lined up, with dinner parties, lit festivals, exhibitions etc. He also had several fundraisers lined up for his works, to get funds from the PIOs who live there. Apparently for Devdutt, it seems that while the PIO’s works and advice is not kosher enough, their dollars are. During these dinner parties and fundraisers, there were a few occasions in which, after he had given his spiel, he was confronted with uncomfortable questions regarding his closeness with Hinduphobic Intellectuals/academicians, his approval of them, his absence of questioning them and his terming of Hindu scriptures as Myths. Eyewitness testimony is that he was left flabbergasted. And the primary culprit behinds this embarrassment happens to be Rajiv, whose works and criticism of Devdutt and his idols Wendy, Pollock and so on, had opened the eyes of some of the wealthy Indians/Hindus there. And not only has Rajiv exposed them to the deception that has been going on under the pretext of scholarship, but his constant prodding of them to be vocal about their displeasure had made them to be proactive in expressing their feelings.
This is a great sin, in the ‘Liberal’ handbook, who are supposed to be the ‘know it all’ and the saviors of our society. So this, my friends is the Why. Now let us take a look at the What, the content itself which DNA has so courageously published, in spite of there being only ghosts in it with not a single name. On a side note, I guess DNA is slowly becoming the site of Swarajya’s rejects. It has already published another Hinduphobic Wendy’s kid, Audrey Truschke. First of all, a question arises: why is Devdutt so skeptical, if not angry and jealous, of PIOs, i.e. Persons of Indian Origin in the U.S, when he is so accepting of PAOs, Persons of American Origin. He finds no problem when white Americans try to act as saviors of our culture but is at once alarmed if a brown desi tries to do the same. Has it got something to do with those who aid him in getting fame and money? Is he being constantly prodded by them to attack scholars/activists like Rajiv, as it would be a little difficult for them to do, given the atmosphere of political correctness prevailing in the U.S over Race, Colonialism etc?
It is very peculiar that Devdutt is so occupied with the PIO’s attempts to ‘save India from Indians’, but he actually doesn’t provide even a single, actual, specific act of any ‘saving’ by anyone particular in his article. There are only generalizations. Since it is so difficult to quote and rebut line by line an entire paragraph of remarkable and astounding absurdities, the reader would have to forgive me for quoting the entire farce here :
“They look back to the land they abandoned, and have decided its time they save India from Indians. These are the Bharat Tyagis, who claim to be more Bhartiya than resident Indians, despite abandoning Bharat Mata. Bharat Tyagis find India messy and dirty, mismanaged by its democratic process, and feel technology will save the land, and of course, chest-thumping jingoism. They blame reservation policies for this, and Left liberalism, and Nehru. This is why they migrated out, they say defensively when asked about their passport. With little or no memory of the land they left behind, they imagine India as a Hindu land, where cows are worshipped, where there is no discrimination based on caste or gender, where Muslims are invaders who destroyed pure Hindu culture a thousand years ago. They spend every waking hour cursing American academicians who they see as conspiring to divide India. Anyone who disagrees with them is an anti-national, especially those with Indian passport.”
Having lived in the U.S for some years and still having some family relations and Indian friends living there, I can only open my mouth in aghast when he alleges such ridiculous things. People who really want to make a difference in Bharat come back to Bharat, like several others and I did. People, who want to nurture their culture back home, send charity money to temples and religious organizations. People who really love Bharat and the culture, but live there for various reasons like family, jobs etc, come visit Bharat (like Rajiv and several others), in which case they are under no illusion of a ‘Pure Hindu land’ like Devdutt alleges. People who don’t come here often really don’t care about Bharat, which again debunks his allegation of them being in a delusion of Pure Hindu land, because it doesn’t matter to them anyways.
Does he think that Bhartiyas and Hindus there are fools who have no common sense or intelligence of recalling their past and are only capable of imagining things that are centuries old? Is he trying to say that people have not been victims of unfair reservation policies? And that if they do complain about it, they are fake? I know of no Bhartiya who migrated because of Nehru or the left-liberals. Sure many migrated because of policies like Socialism. But so does every one from Latin America and other socialist societies who come to the U.S. And since Mr. Devdutt is so naïve (or is he?), ignorant to the core, of how Hinduism is represented in the U.S, let me explain to him a thing or two.
In the U.S, the one sure thing that a Bhartiya is always reminded of by the Americans, be it in the workplace or in the school or in the media, is the Caste system. There, Hindu Dharma = Caste. Now can Devdutt explain how he expects us to believe that these Tyagis have somehow forgotten the caste discrimination when they are constantly reminded of it everywhere? Here he contradicts himself. He says that the Tyagis blame reservation for their migration but then complains that they live under a delusion that there is no caste discrimination. How is this possible, when the current reservation policy is exactly a caste discrimination policy?
Furthermore, he expects us to believe that Muslims were not invaders! I’m sure that even some of his strongest Hinduphobic friends will have reservations on that. If one looks closely, they can see a thread that runs behind all these allegations, lies. What Devdutt is attempting to do, with his handlers’ support, is to convert events like our Itihaasas, (which are real events, at least to a certain extent if not completely), Muslim Invasions, and Reservations, into Myths. Instead of decoding, what he calls as myths, from our History and scriptures, he manufactures new ones, to give some purpose and justify his role and his livelihood. To that effect, he can certainly be called as a Mythologist.
His mention about the passport surely does seem to be from his own personal experience! Here is another of his gems: “On inquiry, you realize most of them studied engineering in India before migrating. So they generally have a poor understanding of the humanities, especially history and geography, a subject that they igNored in school in the pursuit of science and mathematics, and encountered later only when they made millions of dollars to retire.”
This is another paragraph of hypocritical ramblings, because Devdutt himself is a Medicine major and not a humanities major. He has a Medicine degree and only later did he get a Diploma course (1 year) in Comparative mythology. So what authority does he have to question the Tyagis’ lack of degrees in Humanities or their knowledge of Bhartiya History and Geography when he is no better? Furthermore, does he really believe that only people with degrees in humanities have the ability to understand and research history/culture?
This exposes his arrogance, that only he possesses the ability to understand the Bhartiya history or culture whereas those PIOs in other lands with similar education can’t. Furthermore, it is very well documented and established that the travesty that goes in the name of ‘Humanities’ in Bhartiya academia (and in most Western countries) is copied from the West, and is hence full of Leftists and their one sided biased narrative. So what is the rationale behind Mr. Devdutt’s assumption that those who do study History in Bharat have a fair & balanced view of Bhartiya history and its culture? This paragraph also gives an exact idea of whom he is talking about.
Of course it would be wrong to assume that only Rajiv fits all the description enlisted by Devdutt. But it would be safe to say that he definitely finds a place to be at least one of those in the Tyagis line up after fulfilling all of the criteria. And given Devdutt’s acrimonious articles in the past about Rajiv, we will be in the clear, if we are to put two and two together and arrive at the identity of the primary intended target. Now the question also arises on why Devdutt goes to the U.S, asking these very deplorable Tyagis to give him money? Why does he attend their dinners to sell his books? Have some self-respect Mr. Devdutt!
Continuing with the self-respect theme, he does mention the existence of American Exceptionalism. Comparing it with the English colonial scholarship, he says “Likewise, American academicians understand India such that it ensures their tenureship, which means they have to indulge America’s saviour complex by showing the rest of the world as full of victims and villains.”
Does that mean that as Hindus in the U.S and in Bharat, we have to accept the American scholarly viewpoint? Is it not our responsibility to counter their arguments and present our view from our experience from our way of life? China does it. The Islamic world does it. Russia does it. Why not us? Are we to sit and watch quietly as American Hinduphobic scholars lie about our culture and religion?, and then finally stuff that nonsense right in our face through our corrupt educational system and pop culture, on the flimsy pretext that ‘that’s their view, why should we bother’ arguments? I’m not sure about Devdutt, but any Hindu, in Bharat or abroad, with an iota of self-respect and pride would do something about it.
He is also very much obsessed about the Sensuousness of our Dharmic culture. He writes “Today when American academicians refer to this tantrik heritage, and analyse it the way that makes sense to them, it horrifies the Bharat Tyagi, who is essentially Victoria’s child frozen in time.” Yes, the very same Tyagi, who watches bikini clad women in American beaches, skimpily dressed girls out on summer days, is going to be horrified by the sensuality of Tantrik texts and figures indeed! I might be wrong, but it seems to me that Mr. Pattnaik is under the impression that Tantra is some sort of Sexual orgy/practice. His arguments gives us the impression that he thinks Tantra = Sensuality, which it could be, if one looks upon it superficially without the right understanding but nothing could be further from the truth.
He then drags in Tagore into this, who was a Devi Upasaka. He would be appalled by what Devdutt has been writing if he was alive. Between all this, one can sense the conspicuous absence of any criticism of the misreading and misinterpretations of the so-called American scholar. Mr.Devdutt finds no fault when Wendy Doniger considers Ramakrishna Paramahamsa as a homosexual and that he had gay relationship with Swami Vivekananda. He finds no fault when she writes that Lord Ganesh’s tusk represents a phallus. He in fact defends them by linking these preposterous propositions with their ‘American’ understanding of Tantrik heritage! Now that makes one wonder about his benefactors, his sponsors for his tours in the U.S.
As I closely follow the works of at least one of the ‘Bharatiya Tyagis’, Rajiv Malhotra, I can say a few things about him. Rajiv has always maintained that he would rather be doing his own personal Tapasya rather than to be doing what Devdutt calls as ‘saving India from Indians’. Even during his recent tour promoting his latest work, ‘Battle of Sanskrit’, he was very frank to the Sanskrit scholars, saying that it is their job to have written rebuttals/purva paksha against Sheldon Pollock. But since none had attempted to do so, he had to jump in. And that he would only be too happy to relinquish his responsibility if someone else takes it up further. He has exactly done the opposite of what Mr.Devdutt alleges of PIOs, “Exposure to the ground reality of India has naturally horrified them. Rather than facing it, they have gone into denial, and assault.”
His book ‘Breaking India’ was a huge eye opener for Bhartiyas on the ground reality of NGOs and evangelicals role in creating troubles in Bharat. His every other book has only exposed those who’ve played a role in harming Hindu culture by setting up false narratives of it. He has challenged these scholars to discussions and debates. Most of them are either too arrogant or frightened of him to take up the offer. Finally I have some advice for Mr.Devdutt. Please don’t ever assume that you represent Hindus or our culture. Be happy that there are a few urban, ill educated, self loathing, cosmopolitan, ignorant Bhartiya youth in the country’s metros who buy your books, read them and approve of your pile of garbage. But don’t ever think that the rest of Hindu Bharat cares for what you write.
He should perhaps be prudent enough to take heed to his own advice, “Indians who live in India in the 21st century have the maturity and the intelligence…”. Yes, we do have the maturity of knowing and judging which is which and who is who. We don’t need lessons from someone who pledges his allegiance to a neo colonial cabal that disguises itself in the name of scholarship and intellectualism but really wants to instill and prolong self-loathing of our own culture and that seeks to implode us from within. We really don’t need him to (mis)interpret our Gods, our rituals, our practices and our traditions, nor of his Godmother Wendy’s Psychoanalysis claptrap. We are well off in understanding our traditions and experience as they are, on our own, without him or any other American’s help.
But we will always welcome any help from any part of the world that will expose the Jaichands that threaten to maim our culture. We will also welcome and pay heed to advice from anyone who follows Hindu Dharma regardless of the passport he/she carries. And we will treat with utmost disdain every one of those who deceive us by pretending to be a Hindu, and helping Hindus, but instead is actually in the influence of Hinduphobic scholars/academicians, regardless of him being a best selling Mythologist!
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