Being Different Without Rancor

By Jagdish Chandra Pant

[This post is part of a conversation on the new book Being Different by Rajiv Malhotra, now featured at the Patheos Book Club.]

The book Being Different authored by Rajiv Malhotra, provides a refreshing perspective of of the panorama of ideas relating to the inner most concerns of human kind, since times immemorial in the whole world. The vast number of readers of the English prose based in India have perhaps, never been exposed to such a comprehensive comparative study of knowledge systems of different civilizations, in one go. The novel idea of gazing at the West instead of aping it, which educated Indians have doing been since a few hundred years, seems to have shattered the world view of a large number of the young readers of the English language in India, who appeared to have been brainwashed into believing that the ancient Indian Culture was no longer relevant in the Globalized World, that had been ushered here since the decade of nineties of the last millennium.

For the older generation of Indians, which was just about gathering their wits when India became free from the British yoke in 1947, “BD” was like a breath of fresh air, which echoed their deeply felt perceptions & feelings about the importance of India as a land, which had still a great deal to give to the rest of the world. To a reader like me whose working life as a civil servant in India for over thirty five years, had exposed him to the machinations of external forces, working their devious ways to manipulate the prevailing fissiparous social tendencies, dedicated to “Breaking India”, confirming to me the validity of the thesis of a book of a similar title by the same author, “BD” was an astonishing feat of scholarship which had been invested in crafting it, to elaborately explain the importance of being different without rancor.

The enormity of the magnitude of insidious appropriation of Indian knowledge systems by the West for the last five hundred years, without even the decency to acknowledge their sources, was indeed a revelation to many Indians, which “BD” has since exposed, with such professionalism that would be difficult to emulate. It is earnestly hoped that the noble mission of “BD”, to generate free & honest debate between the East & the West, would be understood by the latter in its proper perspective & jointly, the two civilizations which otherwise compliment each other so beautifully, would now get down to charting a road-map, to work together as equal partners for the larger good of humanity in the years to come. The देवासुर संग्राम – the motif on the cover page of “BD” signifies just this joint enterprise between the forces of “Inner Sciences” & the “Physical Sciences”.

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