This note is authored by Dr. S. Kalyanaraman, head of the Sarasvati Research Center, Chennai.
At the outset, best wishes to Sheldon Pollock and Rohan Murty, Narayana Murthy and Sudha Murty for publishing the first five volumes of a Library named after Murty using the Murty’s $5.2 million grant for Harvard’s Indian classics series announced in 2010. May this initiative be a resounding success.
Having delivered the customary greetings and good wishes, we as the reading public have questions to ask which Murty, Murthy and their institutions should answer either directly or through Sheldon Pollock and Girish Karnad when they visit Jaipur before Obama’s visit on 26 January 2015. Who knows Obama may also show up at Jaipur.
- Why couldn’t Murty, Murthy and Sheldon Pollock find a publisher, editors, translators from India in India?
- Why was it necessary to have the Harvard University imprint for the publications on Indian themes by Indian writers, more so for texts, some which are of great antiquity?
- Even if Murty, Murthy look upon the grant as a business decision with social responsibility, (given the Hindu tradition and legacy of s’renidharma श्रेणिधर्मof a corporate) given their corporate presence as an IT corporation in the USA (also traded on Nasdaq), was it not their responsibility to nurture the literary talents in India, given their larger presence in India? Have they heard the recent, impassioned plea by Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling upon every Bharatiya to promote his Make in India vision?
And now, for two additional comments with implicit questions:
- I take strong exception to the insulting references made in the promotional material put out through the media articles etc. by Sheldon Pollock’s team insinuating the present Narendra Modi regime with name-calling, using loaded phrases with insulting political overtones such as: “…the project also comes as a timely if implicit rebuke to the Hindu nationalists of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, with its promotion of a unitary Indian identity based on selected Sanskrit religious classics.”
- It is unfortunate that Murty and Murthy have become unwitting partners in such political Hinduphobia. And equal blame should be apportioned to Harvard for nurturing such bigotry. Next time Harvard university folks happen to be in Bharata, I would strongly suggest that they should listen to a public lecture by Narendra Modi as he converses with his audience living in a hope that Bharatam will get back to the due share of the world GDP which the nation had in 1 CE (see: Angus Maddison). I would request prospective Indian corporate donors of grants to foreign institutions to pause and just glance at this bar-chart and use their corporate wisdom to help the nation’s cause. We have to get there again because Bharatiyas are over 1.25 billion people in over 625000 villages.
In the meantime, I sincerely wish good luck to Murty and Murthy and of course, Sheldon Pollock who is a product of the academe governed by the dictum: ‘Publish or perish’. Live on Sheldon, you have miles to go to understand the depths of Hindu tradition, far removed your imagined biases against select Samskritam classics in a myriad subjects including yoga and aadhyaatmika knowledge systems. I hope you have heard the phrase, ‘ज्ञानम्’ in Hindu tradition, Sheldon. It happens to be a Samskritam word, also with cognates in almost all languages in which your Murty Library is set to excel.
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