Sitaram Goel was one of India’s most important and original thinkers in the post-independence era. His writings are central to the Hindu awakening worldwide over recent decades that is now growing rapidly. While his guru and colleague, Ram Swarup, laid the spiritual and philosophical basis for the movement, the detailed analysis and in depth articulation for it was supplied by Sitaram.
The current generation of Hindu writers owes much to Goel for charting a clear course to follow. Yet few are aware of him today in 2016, more than a decade after his passing, or have examined in detail the great scope and legacy of his many profound books and articles. A new encounter with the teachings of Sitaram Goel would be of great benefit to many and should be encouraged by all.
An Intellectual Kshatriya
While I was traveling in England in 1996, giving a series of lectures on Hindu dharma throughout the country, the idea of the need for a new “intellectual kshatriya” or intellectual warrior class for Hindu society dawned upon me. Yet returning back to the USA, where I live, I almost forgot about the concept.
Somehow Sitaram Goel, with whom I had been working with for several years, heard of my idea and asked me to develop it further, which I then did in various books and articles.
The idea of an intellectual kshatriya is that of a person who defends Hindu dharma with a determined intellectual power and unwavering discrimination – which is the necessity of this information age and the clash of cultures occurring today.
It requires critical thinking and original insight, not a mere repetition or imitation of past systems of thought or the words of previous thinkers. It requires that one is incisive, even harsh if necessary in order to counter wrong views, like a surgeon working to remove a cancerous tumor – particularly relative to groups whose vested interests prevent them from looking at Hindu dharma with open minds.
In this regard an intellectual kshatriya reflects the diplomatic approach of Hindu thought of sama, dana, danda, and bheda. One offers dialogue and conciliation to friends who may be temporarily alienated by misunderstandings (sama). One controls by strength and clarity (dana) those who are wavering in support, but not necessarily inimical in their views. One uses strict rules and critical engagement (danda) for those who are hostile, but still can be brought in line. And one creates division and defeats in debate (bheda) those who are unwilling to accept the truth. This is the traditional Hindu kshatriya approach going back to the Vedas.
If we stop short at sama or a conciliatory approach in all circumstances, afraid that we might offend someone by speaking the truth, we will not be able to deal with the powerful and insidious forces that dominate this world and try to undermine Hindu dharma in any way that they can.
A Hindu voice is crucial today, as is a Hindu critique of civilization, trapped as the world is between a regressive religious exclusivism, on one side, and a destructive consumerism, on the other. The Hindu mind can show how to change the world in a direction that is in harmony with dharma, and which transcends the limitations of both current politics and organized religion.
The Crucial Role of Sitaram Goel
I can think of no other modern writer who better epitomizes this role of an intellectual kshatriya than Sitaram Goel, who pioneered this approach. He realized the necessity of challenging and countering the forces seeking to destroy Hindu culture, exposing their wrong ideologies and biased theologies, as well as the misguided actions that their thoughts and beliefs must eventually result in.
Some people may recoil at times from Sitaram’s frank language and bold critiques. Such people are usually those who do not understand the harshness of the intellectual battle that has been going on in India for decades.
While Hindu dharma is regularly denigrated and distorted by missionary, leftist and Marxist forces (which often have foreign funding and are well entrenched in the media and academia), Hindus are expected to be kind and tolerant in return and not criticize anyone in their defense, should they speak out at all. Such a defeatist attitude is what Sitaram reacted against and provided a clear alternative for.
Sitaram was writing from the frontlines of the battle, not from a convenient view on the sidelines. He had to speak loudly to awaken Hindus, who have been passively accepting the undermining of their culture even in their own homeland.
Sitaram himself was the subject of several organized campaigns of vilification and attempts to silence his voice. And he did not seek to placate anyone, including other Hindus. He could be strong if not strident in his criticism of Hindu groups who he felt were on the wrong tract or intellectually deficient. He was never an apologist and never made excuses, but always held to the truth regardless of those who might be uncomfortable with it.
Sitaram was a prolific writer with several dozen books to his credit covering a broad range of social, historical and religious issues. He emphasized an English idiom of expression in order to reach the current intellectual class dominating the country, but was also well informed about the traditional literature on the topics that he examined.
A communist in his youth, his own intellectual journey back to Hindu dharma is an important story in its own right that he documents in his book How I Became a Hindu, which should be carefully studied. He was one of the main Hindu writers who challenged communism in India, when it was fashionable for everyone to be a leftist, starting with Nehru himself. Sitaram inspired and helped many new Hindu writers, including the American publication Hinduism Today.
Goel took up difficult issues like the massive Islamic destruction of Hindu temples, which others preferred to ignore or gloss over. He warned of the danger of Islamic terrorism long before it erupted on the world scene after 9/11, which type of attacks he predicted.
He challenged the Christian missionary assault on India, exposing its agenda of conversion in the guise of social service, and its exclusivist dogma using Hindu tolerance to hide its aggression. Whatever subject he examined, he dealt with directly, thoroughly and rationally, letting the facts speak for themselves.
Sitaram Goel deserves heartfelt appreciation for the tremendous service that he has rendered Hindu society and the cause of truth. For any deep study of the social and historical aspects of Hindu dharma, one should first examine his many books. While the truth is not always pleasant to face, one must clearly do so in order to effectively move forward.
May we follow Goel’s example and create the type of Hindu intellectual class he showed was necessary, not only for the sake of India but for the entire world!