Browncast: Koenrad Elst, Indologist and Hindu Nationalist

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In this episode Srikant Kṛṣṇamācārya and I talk to Koenrad Elst, an Indologist who is also a supporter of what can be fairly described as “Right wing Hindutva politics”. We ask him about his understanding of Hinduism, Hindu identity and other topics (including the “Aryan Migration Theory”, which he vigorously opposes, though we did not have the time or inclination to discuss this much further; you can read more of his writings at this link and here to get a clearer idea of where he is coming from and you can read this and this to see the pro-AMT point of view)..

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Omar Ali

I am a physician interested in obesity and insulin resistance, and in particular in the genetics and epigenetics of obesity As a blogger, I am more interested in history, Islam, India, the ideology of Pakistan, and whatever catches my fancy. My opinions can change.

17 thoughts on “Browncast: Koenrad Elst, Indologist and Hindu Nationalist”

  1. He is perhaps the most articulate and intellectual pro- Hindu , not necessarily Hindu nationalist, which he sees nothing wrong per se. Without knee jerk reaction against Hindutva, he takes his subjects innovatively. He also proves caste system and even vedic reverence are only historical accidents of Hinduism. i.e. Hindus have lived and can live without caste or reverence for vedas.

  2. Good podcast though Mr.Elst sometimes takes his own time and gives long answers. He highlighted the inability and ineptness of so called “Hindutva” crowd in educating rest of the world on how Indian state since independence has discriminated against its majority Hindus. Hindus while enduring this state discrimination are subjected to vicious propaganda by secularists/communists/islamists/evangelists that its the minorities who are discriminated against. Unfortunately even with supposedly “hindutva” government at power, hindus still have long way to go to fight back against this discrimination.

    1. Indian state since independence has discriminated against its majority Hindus.

      As I think I’ve said before on these forums, the Hindutva crowd blows this vastly out of proportion IMHO. Can you list specific examples of discrimination that we have a pressing need to address? UCC? Haj subsidies? The fact that we have a “secular” Hindu code co-existent with Sharia? I would like all of these differences to be addressed, but at the ground level, none of this makes much of a difference to the average Hindu or Muslim, nor does it make the former an oppressed people (like we arguably were during much of historic Muslim rule). So why the (increasing) vehemence and angst over this?

      Much of this discrimination is on paper (and no arguments, that ought to go too). But obsessively focusing on the state and our statutes ignores the fact that we have a weak state that has very little influence over society, which does its own thing. Regardless of the fact that a Hindu man can marry only one woman while a Muslim man can marry 4 women, the average Hindu is hardly discriminated vis-a-vis the average Muslim. In fact, increasing anger against past atrocities by Muslims have made the average Muslim’s position rather precarious in the India of 2021.

      1. The average hindu faces very important discrimination in education sector thank s to RTE.
        A hindu owned school teaching “hindu religion” will get no government funding.
        There are court orders even disallowing Temples to teach Hinduism. But not so for church and mosque.
        As Mr Elst points out naive left indoctrinated Hindus neither understand how this situation is going to ruin them.
        And because Hindu are not a prostelysing people there survival depends on their demography. Otherwise they become extinct as in Afghanistan and Kashmir.
        But Christian and Muslim schools teaching there religious subject , and having 50% reservation for their community get government funding.
        But the tragedy of Hindus is as Mr Elst says , today hindu s do not read or learn about their religion system nd religion from first hand sources. They just learn how to criticize not appreciate Hindus/ism from leftist and media campaign s.
        How many Hindu’s are there who have ever read a hindu religious or philosophical text ?
        Probably if you do a survey 5 out of 100.

      2. @Numinous

        You are vastly underestimating the ill motivated actions of the Indian state against Hindus

        1. Why is the Indian state controlling temple wealth and functioning when it does no such thing with other faiths?

        2. Why does it favour specific religions in educational laws?

        3. After doing the above two things, it still seeks to call for secularism in public spaces. I am in fact ok with the above two points if they teach Hindu ethics in Govt schools and put Hindu gods in central view in public offices like courtrooms and police stations.

  3. a few years ago i wrote some AIT stuff and hindu nationalists were using SJW talking points and hit-pieces to attack me (e.g., sanjeev sanayal did this, totally dishonest person who i actually met for dinner once).

    elst wrote a blog post criticizing my views…but first, he said stop being assholes and citing SJWs.

    he has my respect for that. there’s honor there, right or wrong.

    1. Don’t agree with the attacks on you, as you have know agenda other than the truth. The Indian right (Hindu nats etc) need to be more discerning and sophisticated in how they counter their enemies. Much to learn there from Muslims.

      However, Hindu nats / Indian right do need to adopt some of the SJW tactics and talking points to undermine what is a very powerful anti-India/Hindu coalition of wokes+liberals+leftists+Islamists (often joined by the Christian right and evangelicals from the other side) in the West. Victimhood is much sought after and very useful in the current milieu – don’t see why Hindus not use it to their advantage like everyone else. Use the wokesters’ tools against them, turn the tables.

      1. Hindus are already disqualified from claiming victimhood. It is too late to get on to the bandwagon.

  4. A lot of the dalda-liberal crowd inside India does not fully comprehend the role or practice of state-sponsored interventions in day to day religious affairs of Hindus.

    One of the most astounding legacies of the Nanny-Nehru state was to codify and legalize state intervention into the administration of the Hindu religion on a vast scale. I do not think there is any precedent for this in the whole world.

    Every temple board in India had the traditional duty of propagation of Dharma as it saw fit – via temple building, charitable activities, lobbying, publishing and education. They were fully self funded with the offerings of their devotees. The smallest village temple would organize food donation, medicine distribution and finding educational avenues for the downtrodden in the past.

    Now think of the worst managed PSU in India. Temples have become like that – they now mostly exist to propagate the power centres of whichever political party is at the helm. Forget about Dharma, it’s all about Rajneeti today.

    Jagan Reddy, a Christian, picked the members of the Tirupati Board. Anybody who says that Hindus in India are not legally discriminated against, needs to start by having their head examined. It might be neck-deep in the sand.

  5. Why is the Indian state controlling temple wealth and functioning when it does no such thing with other faiths?

    The Indian state is run by caste Hindus. Perhaps you should ask them.

    1. @Roy – Your analysis extends no further than denial…Why did a caste Hindu like Nehru keep insisting that the Indian state should be secular? When he was doing exactly the thing that a theocratic state does.

  6. I agree with Ali somewhat. Hindu nats overblow the victim hood thing. But having been part of the circle i get where its coming from.

    They see Pakistan and BD who are muslim-first nations going along well, and they are like what;s the harm we bein a Hindu-first state. Now one can argue that’s not the right or moral way, but hey life isn;t fair, we all want what the other person has even if he has stolen that. Its a bit like China envy, where countries outside China dont see China suffer consequences of its actions and they feel if China can, they should be entitled to too.

    The other stream is the whole Govt regulating Hindu marriages, or control of temples. What Hindu nats dont get is its a deal with the state, where India’s soft secularism allows the majority religion’s culture to be the automatic marker of the state. You want progressive laws? well u have to let the state define it. Else you alienate ur own Hindu people to the extent where u might end up not being the majority anymore. A classic example is reservation which is essentially a deal b/w India’s UCs elite and its subaltern to keep the peace, for now.

    The only thing i agree the most with Hindu nats is the distortion of history caused by the secular/liberal elite. Even though their effects and influence are exaggerated, i feel the liberal elite have not much leg to stand on when they criticize Hindutva history because they themselves have indulged in it ( despite their best intentions) . Now just because the liberals had some proportion to their distortions need not mean u can set the boundaries to Hindutva distortion.

    As they say in Cricket, a free-hit is a free-hit, its upto u what u do with it.

  7. some comments:
    1. elst sounded very relaxed, he laughed a lot, which is not the case in all his you tube casts.
    2. one can see a bit of cynicism in his voice and a bit of frustration that the hindu side have not fully supported him and taken his arguments further.
    3. is talegeri really independent of elst?
    4. his impatience with rss’s lack of ‘intellectual’ rigiour is coming out more in the open.
    5. i feel his treatment of buddhism vis a vis vedic culture needs to be studied further.

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