Hindus react to the deception

"This highly original book leads its reader on an epic journey of self-discovery especially for those of us in the West. A fitting and major response to Samuel Huntington’s position on “who are we” as the West; one that can perhaps best be provided by someone reversing the gaze on the West through a non-Western lens. This deserves to be one of the defining books of the age" – JOHN M. HOBSON, author of The Eurocentric Conception of World Politics; Professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Sheffield

Shri. Rajiv Malhotra is a towering personality with vast understanding of the East and the West; apart from Breaking India his upcoming book Being Different is already recieving excellent reviews from all quarters. Imagine a work that is a response to Samuel Huntington! Why encourage a fatal foreign policy blunder that's actually detrimental to USA in the long run?

Back to the topic, his recent "Response to Indian dancer upset at my critique of Christian Bharatnaty​am" has generated healthy support from thinking individuals who understand the missionary menace. The mind needs to be decolonized before it can comprehend these replies. Please read below, if you still disagree the problem lies within your mind, time to read this book!


Rajiv is pulling into centre stage and rightly so two different worlds that have so far remained distinct islands of popular consciousness and dedicated following. On the one hand there is Indian dance and its diasporic effulgence (http://www.natya.com/). This effulgence is controlled and directed by a group of college-educated middle-class and upper middle-class dance aficionados and practitioners for whom the logic of the future lies in wresting the Indian classical aesthetic from its Hindu base and locating it in a "universal" neutral. More often than not the drivers of this centripetal movement come from traditional Hindu homes. Narthaki is one good example whose driver Anita Ratnam waxes lyrical :" When NARTHAKI was published in 1992, it received a rapturous response and came to be called the "Bible" of Indian dance" ( http://www.narthaki.com/aboutus.html ). On the other hand, there is the world of diasporic and Indian interrogation, of scholars, of academia, of questioners of identity and by-gone shibboleths. This world is best represented by Rajiv himself and those who are following him and people like Pavan Varma whose seminal book "Becoming Indian" outlines the contours of an unfinished project - the escape from mental colonisation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVfevgW608c&feature=player_embedded#)

Rajiv's call for both debate and interrogation on the lines of the agenda outlined by him is timely. The question, I suspect, is who will bell the cat.


Rajiv has highlighted the deeper aspects of such controversies or personalities. The crux is to try to engage in cordial but serious public discourse with the likes of Leela Samson and get her mind known explicitly. But this requires, besides her willingness to engage in serious discussion, well prepared and articulated stance on the Hindu side. The latter is the starting point. It requires deep thinking and good analytical skill; not in abundance as of now in India, in such discourse.




Namaskar Rajiv Ji: Your insightful note on the issue of 'inculturation' is thorough, accurate, and thoughtful. It should be read and reflected upon by all those persons who wish to retain our unique Hindu heritage and safeguard it against the ongoing onslaught of secularism and globalization and, of course, the most insidious destructive process of 'inculturation' so clearly defined by you hereunder.


Converts like Leela Sampson have only one agenda - usurp Hindu traditions, rituals and cultural symbols and try to enrich the bland desert religion. To avoid answering inconvenient questions about such naked pilferage they conveniently use phony terms like "inculturation" etc. Inculturation is nothing but shameless copying and lifting from Hinduism. They first copy, then claim that it does not belong to any other religion, and lastly a fake claim is circulated that it originated in christianity. Dance, music, temple rituals and customs are all being systematically copied, photocopied, and imitated. Even their Gods are sporting Hindu names shamelessly. Names like Nirmala, Amala, Vimala, Mahesh, Parameshwar are all being used to denote desert gods ! When the converts are confronted the standard response is there are no Hindu names or christian names. However it needs to be pointed out that it is the catholics who indulge in such shameless acts, the other christian denominations (castes) are vociferous in preventing such kind of adulteration.


There is a huge parallel here. When one talks about being a "Vegetarian" to a general mass and chooses to show a film about the abhorring 'cruelty to animals' done by a mindless society as a fact, viewers are repelled and choose to walk out of an auditorium, cursing the organizers and claiming mental injury only to themselves due to such a screening. They miss the deep message and its "feelings" altogether and are back in no time to their unthinking, unfeeling ways. The messenger is killed for the message!

The only time the same mass chooses to react, is when the message is packaged in a supposedly perverse (or if you like "attractive" ways); a way provided by their favorite movie star who ( in packaging ) chooses to 'disrobe' as a protest to, perhaps, the wearing of furs!

Somewhere there is a huge disconnect with a populace in any type of "understanding". There are colossal years of neglect here, due to having adopted "secular" teaching! touching only "surface" consciousness.


Would a proper response be to develop dancing stories of oppression in the west against women, minorities etc. How about a Bharata Natyam program on how Joan of Arc was burned at stake, or how the Incas were wiped out by the conquistadors? Or close to home, the Goan inquisition?


Couldn't agree more. While dharma allows one the freedom of interpretation within what the tradition grants, many Hindus have come to associate dharma with pusillanimity, inaction and escapism. In other words, we should make all compromises while others should be granted all exceptions at whatever cost. Then they justify this using all sorts of outrageous non-arguments as we just saw.


The bharatanatyam was originally practiced by devadasis, who performed this art in the temple, in devotion to the god. Since devadasis had a share of income of the temple, she is independent, and hence only her devotion to god, was the prime motivation for excelling in this art. Today, the bharatanatyam has been made audience centric, and the dancers have no permanent funding (i suppose). Which means, they are in an economic compulsion to attract audience, and this is diluting the art itself.

I would like to know the Rajiv's opinion on this.. Does he support commercialising of bharatanatya? Should we allow bharatanatyam dancers appeasing the audience, than devotion to the god?

We can see many instances, where people eulogise mixing bharatanatyam with western dance, and project that as a mark of liberalism..

While we should be aware of inculturation, we also should be aware of the fundamental root cause. the root cause, that bharat natya dancers have no survival funding, and left to fend for themselves..

Rajiv's response:

1) When the dance is not performed as spiritual sadhana, it is being secularized, which I find troubling. To understand why I am troubled: In my next book "Being Different", I explain secularism as seen from dharmic perspective, and I contrast it with dharma sapekshata - two different approaches to equal treatment.

In the same manner, the spiritual meaning invested in the Eucharist ritual should not be secularized.

2) Secularizing is not the same thing as commercializing. They can and often do go together. But one can exist without the other, in which case commercializing by itself is not necessarily bad - if its a means to fund the tradition but each performer feels the inner process as sadhana.


Goan inquistion should be dramatized


7) dancing stories of protest against the tradition's "oppression" against women, Dalits, etc.

Would a proper response be to develop dancing stories of oppression in the west against women, minorities etc. How about a Bharata Natyam program on how Joan of Arc was burned at stake, or how the Incas were wiped out by the conquistadors? Or close to home, the Goan inquisition?

KV: Western oppression of women did not end with Joan of Arc or Inquisition. It very much continues today. Americans first invaded Vietnam, Korea etc., commit genocide, and then unleashed their soldiers to "marry" defenseless women from those societies. It is very common to find aging white men marrying catalog brides (who are often poor or defenseless or have been sufficiently alienated form their respective cultures thanks to western propaganda) who are many years younger to them. If one opens one's eyes one can find oppression of women everywhere in the west. Walk into any bank and you will only see a 20- or 30-something teller in short skirts; rarely does one see a 58 year old teller. This is very different in Hindu society where a woman is not expected to be a sex chattel to men. A recent Cambridge study documents how western women indulge in exaggerated or fake moaning during lovemaking because that is how they manipulate the male partner to end the act soon. Why? The entire western model is male-centric and lacks any understanding of the female perspective of pleasure; as a result, the woman does not find intimacy in the act itself. Much of it is also the result of a poor self-image among western men. A recent study in neuroscience shows that American men think that on an average they need an additional 28 lbs of muscle to be attractive to the opposite sex (The Body has a Mind of its Own by Sandra & Matthew Blakeslee). This insecurity probably makes them view the woman as some kind of trophy to covet or a chattel to exploit and not as a patni deserving dignity.

All of these deserve to be composed into Bharatanyam stories.


Bharatnatyam dancer Anita Rathnam says "nothing is interesting in the Ramayana for me". Phd degree in Women's Studies from Mother Teresa University! That explains it all.


Mr. Senthil has brought up a point that somehow seems to evade the Hindu collective memory for good. In any discussion of Indian classical arts, whether dance or music, the role of the devadasis, the holy women who evolved and carried these traditions through centuries, are promptly and conveniently forgotten. According to the Agamas, the temple ritual was incomplete without the involvement of the devadasi, something most Hindus seems to have forgotten, or deems beyond merit.

The classical dance of the devadasi and the ganika went out of the temple and the royal palace for the first time for the privilege of the British, creating the English phrase "nautch girls", and simultaneously also bringing the devadasi institution into disrepute, especially among the English-educated, prudery-infected Indians. The role of the Christian missionaries in the campaign against devadasis is a subject that merits a separate research. With the devadasi system banned by the Madras Presidency and the temple privileges withdrawn (as Senthil has noted), the devadasis were literally on the street and forced into prostitution. The Indian classical arts, which until then, was the privilege of the dasis, were facing a real danger of extinction. If it were not for a few individuals who loved the arts, like E. Krishna Iyer of Madras, who supported the dance and music of the dasis, these arts would have disappeared. It was under these circumstances that Rukmini Devi started the Kalakshetra and redeemed a certain respectability for the arts and slowly girls from other communities began to trickle in. Even then, any dancer of repute took pains to trace or establish their lineage to one or the other of the famous devadasis.

What an irony that having failed to destroy the Hindu arts almost 100 years ago, the Christians are now taking over the very same institution that they campaigned against. There is nothing secular about this attempt by Christians - this is outright appropriation, another demo for Mr. Rajiv Malhotra's U-turn thesis of the scavenging Christians.

Indian classical dance without its traditional Hindu theme is outright fraud, a violation of propriety and a blatant usurpation of intellectual and religious property.

-George T


arumugam, you have lost sight of the real foul play being done by Leela Samson, instead you claim that we are targeting her for her Jewish-Christian affiliation. This is an incorrect assessment of the problem. Leela Samson is manipulating to erase the Hindu religious connotation of dances. These dance forms are integral to our temples and deeply entrenched in Hindu religion. A convert to christianity, who learns these dances, should not manipulate to erase the original link of these dances with Hindu religion. I was objecting to such desecration by this lady.


1) When someone funds the bharatanatyam, then doesnt it mean, they are in one or way, subjected to the individual fund givers?

2) And while we are discussing this issue, can we bring up its original purpose? ie, this dance is to be performed in temples rather than before audience, so that we can make it temple centric..

In future, if hindu temples are to be freed from government control, i would like to see such bharatanatyam and carnatic songs performed in every hindu temples.. and for that, certain level of intellectual clarity is needed, which hindu intellectuals can create a base for it.. This is the way we can save both the dance and the dancers from christian inculteration

Rajiv's response:

On 1: It depends on the donor's motive which could range from pure seva to the tradition all the way to selfish motive, and various stages in between.
On 2: Agreed. But easier said than done, for too many hindus today are a decadent lot.


Well historically it was those who were called Devadasis who became the pioneers of various dance forms, not just Bharatanatyam, but Kuchipodi, Kathakalli et al.

Sadly, thanks to Christian inculturation prostitutes are termed Devadasis for breaking up the harmony of a country. http://www.mahavidya.ca/hindu-art-and-architecture/hindu-ritual-arts/the-devadasi/

Here's a very hollow article written by a member, National Commission for Women.

Hari Om


And now we have a carnatic singer glorifying Christian carnatic music.

The lady (convent educated) needs to be educated on the devastating effects of inculturation.

Love Thy Neighbor

Plenty of fawning comments. Do add yours to bring some sanity in there.

The only comment made sense by a "Christian" (appended below).
Kamini responds but pathetically so.

Posted by: Dr Antony | October 09, 2010 at 10:24 PM

I understand you are an expert in Karnatic music and so I don't venture up on an argument with you. I am not an expert,and music is not my profession.But I seriously enjoy music, and I can never forgive self acclaimed singers,who cannot keep their pitch.It is very easy to recognize who has music in them.It wont take you more than few minutes.Do I have to tell you?

I think I have heard this priest in our local television channel,where he made a devastating attempt to do a kacheri. He cannot say ten swaroms at a row. The only evidence I could see that he was a student of Yesudas was his beard. That is often a good disguise for ignorance.

I am a Christian. In the history of the Church in Kerala,I don't find any Karnatic music experts. Yesudas never tried that mistake, because he knows the traditions of Karnatic music. The Keerthanas are all praises of Hindu Gods,and it needs tremendous devotion for it to come
out.It was not meant for Christian church recitals.Christians in India imitate many traditional styles,and incorporate them in to their practices. I have heard some of these poor attempts of praises to Mother Mary in Karnatic ragas,to my utter despair. I always wanted to tell this priest to stick on to his job,and not to try to dirty the only pure tradition we keep in India. By the way,did it really come from your heart?

Go here and ad your comments as well

Also read Rajiv Malhotra's brilliant post on the destructive effects of inculturation


There is a strange convergence between the impulses and motivation that prompt the attempt to "modernise" Bharatanatyam and those that energise the Christianisation of Bharatanatyam.

This is probably because the process in both cases is the same: the gradual decontextualisation of this art form by separating it from its wellspring, the Natyashastra: "Possibly 200 years before the birth of Christ, a gentleman called Bharata wrote a treatise of 6000 shlokas in Sanskrit called the Natyashastra. This seminal work is a meditation on every aspect of creative expression, including theatre, literary construction, music, dance and body movements, rhythmic patterns or tala, architecture, sculpture and painting. What is important, however, is that it does not purport to be only a technical manual. Bharata's encyclopaedic investigation is about what constitutes the aesthetic experience - rasanubhav.....In the course of these inquiries....he also enumerates the three categories of expression: nritta (dance based on pure rhythm), nritya (dance to a rhythm with mime) and natya (drama with music and dance)....at a time when most other parts of the world had not yet fully developed a language to communicate, Indian thinkers had come up with a vision of aesthetics that encompassed every aspect of artistic endeavour. If they had merely put together a compendium of art, it would have been for those times achievement enough. But for them to have absorbed with such depth and insight what constitutes the fulfilling artistic experience, is astonishing. The basic tenets they came up with, or debated, grew and evolved, but they always belonged to an overarching philosophical world view." I have quoted Pavan Varma at some length.

It is this "overarching philosophical world view" that is sought to be mauled both by the "modernists" as well as the inculturalists. The "modernist" thrust has been stated cogently by A Seshan ( http://www.narthaki.com/info/articles/art262.html ). The inculturation mission in the arts is exemplified and openly stated by the late Monsignor S M George of Tiruchirapalli ( http://www.kalaikaviri.org.uk/article2.htm ). This is also brought out clearly in the BI book.

The impulses that shape the "modernisation" thrust is a complex amalgam of urban imperatives, changing lifestyles, global dynamics, the economics of dance management and the emergence of a new breed of globe-trotting dancers. The impulse that energises the inculturation enterprise is simple and straightforward: conversion.

However, because both projects have a common strategy, that of decontextualisation, the two camps frequently make common cause. Both have powerful advocates grounded in scholarship, close intimacy with the grammar and idiom of Bharatanatyam, successful dance-entrepreneurship, capacity for polemic articulation and access to the levers of power. Leela Samson is seen by her constituency as a "moderniser" not as a promoter of Christian Bharatanatyam. It is not for nothing that she has wide support in the world of dance in India, in the diaspora and in the community of non-Indian exponents of this dance ( http://www.prakritifoundation.com/comments/20.html ).

What is my point ?

It is simply this. While the "modernist" view of Bharata Natyam has entered public awareness over the last two decades, the inculturation project has been hidden in low key advancement and, in fact, I became aware of its strong hum only recently by dint of Rajiv's activism. The questions that Rajiv has posed to Leela Samson in the context of inculturation are every bit as relevant to the "modernist" endeavour. The two worlds reinforce each other in space that is provided by a sympathetic media and its gee whiz journalists. Addressing one without paying attention to the other may not be fully productive.

The Rajiv questions, if you like, need to be interjected into the wider area of dance and music magazines (like Sruti -http://www.sruti.com/), the performing arts section of national newspapers. rasika fora ( sangeethas.wordpress.com ) and performing art conferences.

Whether a critical mass of scholars, art critics and informed activists are available to articulate the "overarching philosophical world view" in the face of the "modernist"-inculturalist nexus is another matter altogether.


George T says:
Long after Hindus and Bharatanatyam are gone and buried, with the earth and dharma destroyed and burnt, naive Hindus can find relief in the thought that there will be Christunatyam and Christians left to do the last tandava on the prophesied doomsday. I am not saying this because of any irrational hatred I nurse for Christians or Christianity - most of my relatives are still Christian, out of convenience or ignorance or arrogance. There is much evidence on my side if one cares to stick out his neck and look around.

Christmas and Easter were once pagan festivals in Europe around 1500 years ago, but none of the pagans remain to talk about them. How many people living on earth know that these were pagan festivals that had nothing to do with Christians or Jesus. The birthday of Jesus (Christmas) was celebrated by all early Christians on January 7th and is still celebrated by many Eastern Christians on that day. The date changed when the "faith" came to Europe. They changed the date to usurp the winter solstice celebration of the pagans and fixed it on December 24th, one of the dates in the traditional festival. Easter was the festival of the pagans at the spring equinox, associated with the moon goddess Aster. Now both festivals are patented and celebrated all over the earth by the Christians.

...Church liberalism is only a show for people living in the West, because otherwise they cannot wield the influence they still have, like having a seat at the UN and in all countries as diplomats. It was the fascist Mussolini who made Vatican a state. Inside the Indian churches, the Christians systematically tarnish the Hindu religion and on the outside, are taking over one Hindu institution after the other (like Kalakshetra). Many Christian orders have shed their white cassocks and wear saffron robes. Earlier they had shed their customary black for white cassocks when they found that Hindus ran away seeing the black outfit. The white cassock was adopted only for India.


Is it possible to deny that Carnatic Music, Bharatnatyam , Sindur on the forehead, or Kolam at the house front etc are a part of Hindu tradition for several centuries? Are they not symbols and manifestations of the culture of Bharatvarshis-Hindus.

Who objects to Christians or Muslims or Jews learning and practicing sincerely these cultural aspects of Hindus? But are these Christians, Muslims and Jews willing to explicitly declare their respect and reverence to the Hindu traditional ethos of which these cultural symbols are an inalienable part? Have they done so? Where?

Are they not using these practices as a vehicle for influencing innocent Hindus to leave Hinduism and their religious and cultural roots?

If any one answers 'No', I will ask them to tour TamilNadu and see first hand how many fake Christian sannyasis in saffron are sitting in their 'ashrams'. My understanding is this: After trying education and health facilities, Christians are now deeply engaged in the misappropriated cultural practices of Hindus as a means of deception and enticement of the gullible Hindus.


I was curious to test how some of the Carnatic music practitioners perceive this misappropriation, or as GeorgeThundaparambil correctly called, Christian scavenging of Carnatic music. So, I called three practioners (none a celebrity) who are also traditional Hindus who have brought up their children teaching them their mother tongue (Tamil). They all agreed with GT's observations, and even though they had not heard about Rajiv Malhotra, were glad that he had taken this initiative. One of them was very sharp and is very familiar with the typical west-aping Hindus who would be reverential towards whites but turn hostile towards the Hindus. He calls them gora dasas and gora dasis. He wanted Hindus to be prepared for the following counter:

"How is the Christian adaptation of Carnatic music different from Muthuswamy Dikshitar's adaptation of "English Notes" given that Western Classical music is Christian?"

He gave the response himself. There is nothing Christian about western classical music and by the time the historically verifiable religious scores were composed in the 15th century onwards, this system of music had been around for nearly a 1000 years. Its roots go back to the Klezmer (Jewish) and other diverse forms of European music, all pagan in nature. If any, there is no evidence that western classical music had any notations until the last six centuries or so. Dikshitar's father used to take him to concerts since India was colonized then. It was just a chance exposure, and all he did was adapt a few notes. He never attempted to appropriate a European tradition and claim it as ours.

In contrast, Indian classical music is very Hindu in nature as Pt. Ravishankar mentions in his work. One can go back 2000 years and find that it is not only codified but also the very same themes that are rendered now were rendered then too. A side note: he and I discussed an example - the great song Vatavaraiyai mattaakki which M S Subbulakshmi rendered in the 1940s but which had been written (with notations) by Ilango Adigal in the Silappadikaram in 170 CE. The theme centers around the Samudra manthan episode. So, our classical music has always been inseparable from the Hindu cultural and religious ethos. In contrast, Christian church posthumously canonized western classical music which itself is an act of Christian scavenging. He also mentioned that there is not even a question of Dikshitar absorbing any structural elements from western classical because Indian classical is far more advanced with microtones (ghamaka), whereas, as Menuhim remarked, western classical is far less nuanced as seen by the loss of the perfect fifth as a result of the faulty, and likely scavenged, staff notation that western classical uses.

Hope this input helps our speakers so that you are not caught off guard. I am not knowledgeable in music, and did not even fully understand everything this gentleman told, but others can surely put together better arguments based on these inputs. This person is a non-activist type but shares my apathy for western (un)civilization only when I bring it up.