Browncast Episode 106: Neha Srivastava, traditionalist Hindu

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In this episode Razib talks to Neha Srivastava. One of the great things about the internet is you can meet people with different viewpoints, but too often the options are echo-chambers or screaming matches. This was different. Neha outlined her own views and experiences as a middle-class Indian with conventional Hindu religious views, who is unapologetically Dharmic.

We talked about her nonprofit, Shaktitva, as well as her observations of American and Indian politics. We also touched upon whether she was going to stay in the United States (no) and whether she preferred a Chinese or American world-hegemon. We also discussed what it means to be a Hindu in India.


29 thoughts on “Browncast Episode 106: Neha Srivastava, traditionalist Hindu”

  1. Both the staunch Hindus you have invited for your podcasts (Neha and Pinaka) seem to have picked up more of an American accent than an average Indian settled in the US.

  2. Please publish transcripts of your podcasts so that people who do not have enough bandwidth to watch your podcasts vin India can at least read and know .

  3. Brilliant Podcast. Very Refreshing.
    Why y’all so educated or Am i just dumb?

  4. Razib – do you have any commentary on the new mittani outliers published? I saw that they were r1a and had steppe, bmac, and ivc admixture. Would be interested to hear your take.

  5. Respectfully Pinaka did not demostrated any deep understanding of eastern philosophy.

    Neha has an understanding.

    Neha, can your respond to questions in this comment section?

    Can you discuss the dichotomy between Dara Shikoh Jahanara Begum Mian Mir Islam and Aurangzeb?


    Regarding the US . . . Multi-generational Black American males use to socio-economically do better 1900-1970 than now in 2020. Why do you think this is? What do you think can be done about this?

  6. The worst thing those English did in India was collaborate with a young Karl Marx and other intellectuals to colonize the minds of Indians with inferiority complex to damage self confidence; and to turn Indians against each other with made up concepts such as “oppression” “exploitation” to manipulate Indians into despising and hating their own elders, civilization, culture and technology. The English tried to manipulate Indians to despise competence, capacity, merit and excellence.

  7. Razib, here is an example of how the English savaged greater India and greater Indians.

    Many Indians in the 1940s through 1980s use to say . . . “at least my uncle or aunt is not in iron and steal”. The assumption being that any industrialist business or business person automatically must be a crook, swinder and evil by definition. The English manipulated Indians into thinking that anyone who embodied excellence represented a hierarchy of oppression and exploitation.

    This explains a lot of Indian (and African) resentment with respect to the English. Sadly the English live on in the brains and nervous systems of their former colonies. Sigh 🙁

  8. The English manipulated Indians into thinking that anyone who embodied excellence represented a hierarchy of oppression and exploitation.

    was the influence of the fabian socialists who were aligned with indian independence. this isn’t a great conspiracy.

  9. I honestly found the first half the episode ( various darshanas and all) Hindu traditionalist view and second half (on temple destruction stuff) Hindu nationalist.

    But then she’s from UP, u cant really escape some form of Hindu nationalism anyway 🙂

  10. Informative podcast.

    Btw @razib would be interested to hear from your brother who practices Shingon about his experiences.

  11. my family is personal so i’d never have him on. it’s not super interesting, he was looking for something after college since he wasn’t religious, and the shingon temple spoke to him. he has a regular job, but he’s now a junior temple priest and runs the liturgy. my wears ‘i love buddha’ t-shirts so it’s pretty obv 😉

  12. For someone coming into this discussion cold, not knowing who Neha is, would they think she is “right wing?”. Do you folks think there is a large overlap with liberal thought?

    1. If she was a liberal she would’ve told about her Muslim friends( if she have one) and her experiences ( good and bad ) with the UP Lucknow Muslim Community.
      By hearing her talk A person from the left can easily say that she is a Right Wing.

      1. @Harshvardhan
        Fair, in the Indian context anyway. It certainly would have been interesting to hear given she wasn’t asked this explicitly (I don’t like reading in between the lines too much if it can be avoided).
        Asking for a multiple viewpoint historical discussion to facilitate reconciliation seems like a reasonable demand. I found myself agreeing with this. The question is, is she willing to talk caste as openly? That is, willingness to go all the way.

  13. I think its fair. I still think that its an issue with interviewing anyone up North that u will find significant overlap b/w Hindu Trads and Hindu Nationalism /Right wing positions. Pure Hindu traditionalism does have much overlap with liberals as well as left positions. They are still found in East/South India more than North.And they are mostly from the older generation. Aatish Taseer’s book twice born documents them.

    1. Hindu trads are conservatives and nationalists are progressives but they both ultimately fall back on the same political party because of lack of options.

      It’s similar to how social conservatives and economic libertarians both vote Republican in the US.

      I think that over the next few decades, we’ll see a schism in the right along these lines. Would be interesting to see who challenges BJP/RSS’s monopoly on Hindu politics.

      Here’s a good article on the various factions of Hindu right by Abhinav Prakash Singh:

      1. There would be no schism since unlike the US where economic libertarians voice still matter, they are negligible in India. Overtime they will be subsumed within RSS (like Kushal, etc) . There is no one really to challenge BJP/RSS hold on “Hindu” politics. That process is complete.

        The only schism i see is more on the lines of North Hindu nats vs South Hindu trads (AKA Shashi Tharoor ilk) in future where the latter still have considerable numbers to effect a schism.

        1. “There is no one really to challenge BJP/RSS hold on “Hindu” politics.”

          I’d caution against hubris.
          The BJP might lose out mainly because of how successful it is. We’ve already seen overtures to Hindu sentiments by AAP.

          That kind of a secular rightward shift in a lot of parties could make BJP’s core plank irrelevant.

          Or people might get tired of cultural nationalism after a while. Only so much can you flog a horse before it dies.

          And there are other unknowns. A lot of BJP’s might is based on polarisation in UP. At some point UP might get split and new caste configurations could emerge.

          1. On ur first point yeah, u see a right ward shift overall in politics in India, but when it comes to centre, BJP will still be the top dog irrespective of how right other parties are. To give u an example SS (which is right of AAP) might rival them somewhat in MH in Hindu politics, but nowhere near the centre.

            Culture nationalism can always recede to the background. Its actually my estimation that irrespective of Modi Govt , its bound to recede in the near future. The reason of rise of culture nationalism post 2014, is lack of it from 2004-14 which Modi plugged in. As the economy deteriorates. no dose of culture nationalism can save it, and we will see rise of economic concerns play much more , eventually both sides finding an equilibrium. But yes, Culture nationalism will never go into irrelevance as it was 2004-14, Modi has made sure of that. The overtone window, the Reagan years, yada, yada.

            On UP, it wont get split because all 3 major parties of UP have a stake in keeping it united. But yes, just like my previous point caste will again emerge (in a modified form) to challenge Hindutva. But it wont vertically split Hindu-ism as it was able to in the 90s, post Mandal. Again both these forces will find their equilibrium.

  14. Saurav, I don’t understand a lot of what you write.

    Where would I place in your paradigms?

    Have you studied or practiced any Paramparas, Sampradaayas or Darshanas?

    1. I would categorize u as Hindu traditionalist. Its tough to neatly separate the two parts, but Hindu nationalist is more Savarkar, traditionalist more Gandhi .

      Also caste, neither side is comfortable with getting away it totally, but Hindu nat are more “radical” than trads on that front.

      1. “… Hindu nat are more ‘radical’.. . ”

        To be clear, by ‘radical,’ in this context, you mean progressive (you mentioned Savarkar) ? If so, what does that say about the definitions under which we typically operate?

        1. I associate “progressive” almost exclusively with the Left. But yeah u could say that in the context.

    2. I consider you (also myself) to be Hindu Spiritualist.

      A lot of foreign origin Hindus are basically spiritualists as well.

      Traditionalism and nationalism is secondary to something like “Sat Chit Ananda”, moksha, etc.

      This is why I think you are inclusive of Muslims and Christian spiritualists as well.

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