ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Blindness about India

The attack on history and Indian historians by votaries of Hindu historiography has only sharpened in recent times. There is an attempt to use S N Balagangadhara's critique of history writing as an expression of the "colonial consciousness" to delegitimise the study of the past. This article explores Balagangadhara's own theories to show how this sentimental valorisation of a Hindu past is itself an uncritical acceptance of western categories and is based on a profound ignorance of India's own past.

The World Hindu Foundation’s three-day Congress was held at New Delhi during 21-23 November 2014 with the avowed objective of forging Hindu solidarity at the global level for rebuilding the spiritual and material heritage of India. This occasioned the convergence of several scientists, technologists, social scientists and philosophers of communal pride.

One of the participants, S N Balagangadhara, a professor of philosophy at Ghent University, Belgium, has argued over the last two decades, as part of the project of “decolonisation”, that social sciences and history written in Europe as well as elsewhere in the world misrepresent the cultural context of human affairs in south Asia, especially India. At this Congress he took an explicitly communal repositioning of his positions. He had put on the internet, some time earlier, an essay suggesting that the past as recorded in the Rāmayana and Mahābhārata is what Indians need rather than the history that historians and social scientists do.1 His decolonising project, though hackneyed, is now being restated with a communal overtone in the World Hindu Congress and, given the contemporary political context, it necessitates a critical reappraisal of his entire views published in the two books: Heathen in His Blindness (1994) and Reconceptualising India Studies (2012).

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