google-site-verification=mJzyi0LLw_FWwr1InYHKOiQyiKv2jqaHPMXbshTnDjk Indology Debate: Insider Vs. Outsider - Indian Diaspora


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Indology Debate: Insider Vs. Outsider

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  • Indology Debate: Insider Vs. Outsider

    This attempt by the ‘Outsiders’ to hijack the narrative about India and Hinduism from its indigenous practitioners and then project their own biasness and superimpositions as ‘Objective’ and ‘Authentic’ interpretation of Hinduism is at the heart of the debate raised by Rajiv Malhotra in his book. This insider vs. outsider, technically referred as ‘emic’ vs. ‘etic’, debate is not a new development. This could be traced back to at least the second half of the 18th century, when the British Orientalism started. This is not to say that there was no outsider’s account of Indian society before that period. We have extensive accounts left by the Greeks, Chinese, Muslim, and Portuguese travelers and chroniclers. But, it is only after the arrival of the British, do we encounter a serious and systematic examination of Indian traditions and practices by those who were outside the tradition.

    These attempts of the outsiders (mostly perspectives rooted in Abrahamic worldviews and/or Western philosophical worldviews) to hijack Hindu religion and practices, appropriate and digest elements perceived as useful, and demonize elements, which does not fit their worldviews, and finally regurgitate back the digested, secularized, and demonized version of Hinduism as the ‘authentic’ and ‘objective’ Hinduism, have pretty much become mainstream today. And academia and media, both in India and the West, more or less accept this regurgitated Hinduism as the mainstream narrative on Hinduism. As a result, the outsider’s view on Hinduism has gained legitimacy, whereas the insider’s view has been sidelined, and painted as being backward, superstitious, and irrelevant.

    To understand this global Kurukshetra in the academic field of Indology, it is imperative, that one recognizes the fact that ‘Outsider’ is not a homogenous entity or school of thought. One can easily classify ‘Outsiders’ into various categories based on their location, time-period, methodology adopted, etc. Secondly, the terms ‘Insiders’ and ‘Outsiders’ is not a geographical reference as such. It is a reference to the worldview a commentator on Hinduism adheres to. Anyone who is trying to present the Dharmic perspective is an insider, and anyone who is using Abrahamic or Secular worldviews is an outsider.

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