Belonging and Being Different

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


By Indrani Rampersad, PhD
Senior Research Fellow (Hidden Cultures Project)
The University of Trinidad & Tobago, Trinidad, W.I.

As someone born into the Dharmic Traditions in the Caribbean where my ancestors have lived hundreds of years and where my internal and external space were bombarded by the oppressive presence of persons and institutions that were forcibly, selfishly, and exclusively promoting their Judeo-Christian ideology, I have spent all of my years in a constant struggle to BE myself  and to SEE myself in the world around me. I have struggled with the issues that Being Different so brilliantly articulates for people like us who are born into and live most of our lives almost in a Twilight Zone of sorts.


This text bridges the gap between the academy and the masses. It brings the distillation of ideas from a hardcore scholarly level down to one that most ordinary folks can understand.


The text should be prescribed reading for people trying to understand why they find it difficult to “belong” in hegemonic societies, and for those who exercise the hegemony so they can appreciate the violence that they are perpetuating and perhaps do something about it.


People like me are better able to find our bearings in a Judeo-Christian and western world, when we read Being Different. This text, in a way, sets up important navigation directions for the interface between Dharmic and Abrahmic traditions. It is a jewel in the Samudra Manthan.

Many Thanks to the author and to you for choosing this text for discussion.

  • Karthi

    Dharmic way of life has been in vogue for millenniums. Civilization has suffered enough over inculcated brain wash that the earth was flat till recently, that the world was created a few thousand years and in seven days and so on. We are at a time when holistic thought and sustainable systems are emergent. To the West this is new age, to the followers of Dharma this is just a revival, yet another cycle in its endless loop. It is about time the tradition in understood in its own terms.

    Rajiv Malhotra’s “Being Different” is perhaps the first of its kind in dissecting the Western hegemony over mind and spirit. It is welcome in the sense he is one of the very few writers, if any, to have a sound knowledge of Sanskrit, Dharma, Culture and is able to articulate his views in English, an achievement not accomplished in the past two millenniums. The book appeals to all Westernised Indians who are more at ease with English than their native language, yet retaining their cultural and religious essences.

    Well researched with over a hundred pages of notes, index and bibliography this book is an armament against shallow doctrines and well-funded by centralised institutions.

    The books relevance is not limited to India and Hindus alone but applies equally to other regions and culture such as South East Asia, China, Japan, Mongolia, Native Americans, Aboriginal Australians, Pacific Islanders, Africans and all whose way of life have been taken over by Western universalism.