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Rajiv Malhotra’s well-documented tendency towards aggression (including by Martha Nussbaum)

Rajiv is clearly a very aggressive opponent of liberty and anything that he might not agree with. Well within the mould of the Hindutva fanatics to which he clearly belongs. 

"Alex" wrote on my blog:

Rajivji is a full-blown right-wing Hindutva apologist, racist and and proto-fascist. It is useless to engage with him at all. A quick review of his writings revealed a lot about his thinking and attitudes—which do not look good. He has long been an opponent of criticism of religion, and his attitude is nothing new. 

I was willing to engage with Rajiv after the comment he wrote on the blog. And I was even willing to apologise if I was wrong. But Rajiv balked at opposing the withdrawal of Doniger's book by Penguin. 

Regardless of whether he DIRECTLY lodged the case or not, he can be said to be a keen supporter. 

I'm not saying whether Rajiv's arguments are right or wrong. He may well be right in his critique of Doniger's work. My objection is to his subversion of free speech and liberty.

Prof. Martha NussbaumErnst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, wrote about him thus, in her 2007 book The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India’s Future​:

The chief antagonist behind these attacks is Rajiv Malhotra, a very wealthy man who lives in New Jersey and heads the Infinity Foundation, which has made grants in the area of Hinduism studies. Had Malhotra decided to focus his energies on giving scholarships to students and graduate students in this area, he would greatly have enhanced the profile of Hinduism studies nationally. But in recent years most of his energy has been focused on Internet attacks against Doniger and scholars associated with her, on his website Malhotra’s voluminous writings show a highly aggressive, threatening personality. His attacks are sarcastic and intemperate. He shows little concern about factual accuracy. Typically he makes no attempt to describe the book or books he attacks in a complete or balanced way; instead, his broadsides are lists of alleged mistakes or distortions, conveying little or no sense of what the book is about and what it argues. Malhotra also has associates, some both more able and more temperate than he (Vishal Agarwal is one of these). But all pursue a common enterprise: the discrediting of American scholars of Hinduism as sex-crazed defamers of sacred traditions. (248)

Wendy Doniger has pointed out the increasing tendency to stop discussion of alternative scholarly views about Hinduism:

Ms. Doniger wrote: "Right-wing Hindu groups, in India and the diaspora, have increasingly asserted their wish, indeed their right, to control scholarship about Hinduism." [Source]


"Doniger blames the Internet campaigns. "Malhotra's ignorant writings have stirred up more passionate emotions in Internet subscribers who know even less than Malhotra does, who do not read books at all," Doniger wrote in an e-mail. "And these people have reacted with violence. I therefore hold him indirectly responsible."  [Source]

Malhotra suffers from a view that Hinduism can ONLY be examined by Hindus. According to him:

…there is a lack of Indic perspective that would…provide equivalent counter balance to Western scholar’s theories, creating an asymmetric discourse. Further, he says, most of the Hinduism scholars are either whites or Indians under the control of whites. One does not find Arabs, Chinese, blacks, Hispanics, etc., engaged in this kind of Hindu phobia racket. [Source]

But as Asim Rafiqui says:

That being said, a whole host of eminent Indian historians and scholars have produced original research and collaborated, informed, influenced and enlightened the American academy the names of Irfan Habib, Romila Thapar, Ahmad Aziz, D.N. Jha come to mind. And they have done so not as a result of their ‘insider’ position, but as highly qualified, rigorously scientific and openly curious individuals. But they too have been attacked, though this time by the Hindutva and other Hindu nationalists. Professor Thapar, D.N. Jha and others have been abused, threatened and in some even have been assaulted Professor Laine, author of Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India, became the target of Maharashtran bigots and his Indian research collaborators and departments where he conducted research were physically attacked by goons. [Source]

Here are some findings of Selma:

I did a bit of checking on Malhotra and it turns out every article of his is about how the West and Abrahamic religions are harmful to the world and intolerant as opposed to Hinduism. Then I read what others have to say about this so-called inter-faith guru. And here is something very interesting. A frontline article called Non-resident nationalism speaks of Hindus based in America who support far right activities, the Hindutva ideology of supremacy and the insidous ways they operate to spread their message.

This information adds to my belief that Malhotra was involved in forcing Penguin to withdraw Doniger's book (he could have answered the questions I raised, particularly about the sources of his EARLY information about the case, and his gloating/ defending the book-destruction decision to Anuj – but he chose not to). 

But Malhotra's style is consistent with actions by VHP/BJP and Hindutva brigade to SHUT DOWN opposing views. [VHP’s destruction of paintings in Ahmedabad, Modi’s banning a book on Gandhi].

Not much to distinguish them from Islamic fanatics or Taliban.

We must create an India where there is ABSOLUTE freedom of expression

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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19 thoughts on “Rajiv Malhotra’s well-documented tendency towards aggression (including by Martha Nussbaum)
  1. Alex C.

    An erratum and a comment.

    In the quotation for The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India’s Future​, it is mentioned:

    But in recent years most of his energy has been focused on Internet attacks against Doniger and scholars associated with her, on his website (emphasis mine).

    This is incorrect in the source book itself. is an Indian web portal, e-commerce and blogging platform that is definitely not Shri Malhotra’s website. Please correct your blog post, even if the source book is wrong. At the most, Shri Malhotra may have had his blog on Sulekha (, which does not make that site “his.”

    This really shows up the poor editorial quality of Smt Nussbaum’s publisher, Harvard University Press. If this were a US-based website (say,, these would have been sufficient grounds for a defamation lawsuit.

    Also, I must say (again) that I agree with the presence of an anti-Indian bias in many India-studies curricula and publications, and would love to have scholars debate this at length. However, Shri Malhotra is a polemicist, and his presentation is offensive enough to mask the good points he makes sometimes.

  2. prenesh

    so why did penguin decide not to take the fight legally? does the publisher acknowledge that the books is disgusting?

  3. VeVePe

    What I see here is a bitter attack on Rajiv Malhotra, but no attempt to comprehensively rebut any of his writings. Generally, people who have lost the argument have can do nothing except vent their bitterness like this. It is better to debate issues rather than only indulge in ad-hominem attacks.

  4. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    I have only incidentally come across Rajiv’s work in the past, but he attracted my attention because he supported and defended the destruction of Doniger’s book, strongly confirming a preliminary comment from Sandeep that he was the architect of the legal case against Doniger and Penguin.

    I oppose Indians living in America (who have benefited from the liberty they enjoy in USA to become super-rich) trying to destroy liberty in India. He continues to be in my scanner as an active supporter of the destruction of Doniger’s book. His books are worth NOTHING to me unless he is willing to have civilised discourse, instead of destroying/ supporting the destruction of books he disagrees with. He has chosen the path of not debating but destroying books. Let him write a public letter supporting Doniger and also publicly condemn all those involved in this ghastly act.


  5. neha

    Such a stupid article. I have read all Rajiv malhotra’s blogs, articles and books, and I am highly impressed by his writing. Based my own personal observations I can say that he is more humble than all those pseudo scholars and journalists and has done solid research. It would be more prudent for you to directly read all his articles and books, which are available on net, instead of making wild guesses and listening to secondary sources. He is contributing immensely in exposing the anti Indian bias prevalent in academic discourse, both national and international.

  6. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    Rajiv has strong links with anti-liberty Hindutva forces. He is also anti free speech – that’s what has put me off from him.

    I hold no brief for any side to the ugly story of religious fanatics (on all sides). that I have strong objection to the use of foreign money for religious purposes. That is the right way to deal with any direct intervention in India’s affairs. The SKC agenda (and FTI’s policy) – clearly opposes interference in India’s affairs by foreigners.

    I skimmed through the book Breaking India some time ago (will read it when time permits) and it seemed to be a typical upper caste defence against any criticism of atrocities against Dalits. He also has firm views on matters (e.g. Aryan migration) on which the academic world is continuously making further inquiries. It is critically important that a scientific approach be adopted towards the facts, and people of all types allowed to speak their views.


  7. Here and Now

    GOD (pun intended), so much hate here against Mr. Malhotra, who very interestingly, has devoted his life only to the study of Sanatan Dharma. He has never ever shied away from and open debate, in fact he invites it. He openly denounces the banning of any book, he even critiques the history centrism that might lead to tit for tat, as in rebuilding a temple. So, I do not understand how he is responsible for something that only the text itself can be responsible for. He is not against people giving alternative notes Hinduism or non hindus studying it. However, he is RIGHT in questioning it when a non practitioner starts to bring freudian psychology which to understand something that is centuries old and is coded with several deep meanings. Pick up Joseph Campbell for that matter and see the difference in the way it is treated. Campbell’s readings helped me understand much and deepened my respect for Hinduism. Doniger fills you with disgust. Has no shraddha, no humility and no respect The fact of the matter is Mr. Malhotra is more well read, articulate, and expressive, and has a much larger intellectual following than the likes of Doniger, and when people cannot debate him on an intellectual level, they start pulling him down, just by calling him names.

  8. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Please show me where RM has CONDEMNED the pulping of Doniger’s book. Also, where he has CONDEMNED the RSS/Hindutva/BJP forces. Precise citations/URLs. 

    Btw, have you read Doniger’s book? I had never heard of her, but after the mess these fanatics like RM created, I have started reading her, and so far as I can see, she is actually speaking sense. I’ve not finished her book, but may do so, in the course of a few weeks/ months – if time permits.


  9. Here and Now

    Here, from his website: I will also attach the url.

    From Mr. Rajiv Malhotra’s Blog: Hindutva:

    Hindutva is a contemporary Hindu movement trying to make the historical identity a central element of its product:

    Hindutva espouses the literal interpretation of the Hindu epics such as Ramayana, and builds the modern Hindu identity on a lineage to the people represented in the epics.

    However, large parts of Hinduism are unrelated to any such historical identity. ‘White Hindus’ and ‘white neo-Hindus’, the twenty million Americans practicing yoga/meditation, would clearly be one of the segments in the ahistorical category.

    Too much focus on historicity has not only debarred newcomers into Hinduism, but has also made the legitimacy of Hinduism contingent upon the provability of ancient historical claims.

    Hinduism’s theologies do not depend upon any history for their validity, in the same sense as the Laws of Gravitation do not depend upon proving the historical details of Newton’s life. This is where Hindutva might run the risk of canonizing and historicizing Hinduism into a prophetic revealed religion.

    Whether such a Hindu historical identity is entirely a modern process is the subject of considerable debate.

    Since I have watched many of his videos It will take me some time to find the video where he says, ‘I am NOT for banning, but all for an open debate’ (not a direct quote but the gist of it) which Doniger refused.

    At a conference where after her book was published and got much flak she was invited to an open dialogue with other scholars and her response was ‘I have moved past Hindus’ mentioning her book. Now she is busy writing or talking about her new book again looking only at the negative aspects of India, it is an edited book., I have seen much of Mr. Malhotra’s videos and read only a few of his online articles, and now starting to read his books and blog posts. With Doniger, I have watched one of her video, where comments were not allowed and she ranted on about dominant and non dominant voices in ancient India,and her explanation was, ‘if you look for them they are there.’ I will be reading her books soon, have already read some of her interviews, and articles about her in the western newspapers (the western ones side with her) and find her ideas to be quite shallow coming from a perspective of ‘deliberately trying to create theories and ideas, where none exist’

    Very much like western scholarship. Somehow in this idea of ‘power and no power’ which the west is obsessed with, because that is what they dealt with, and as a result the rest of the world wherever they went–what is lost is that the so called higher classes had no weapons, no land and no money. They begged for their survival but were maintained ‘k knowledge’ for the well being of society. Kings went to these ascetics and sages to get the wisdom. And at some point Kings renounced the world, it was a tradition, so in the end even the most powerful gave it all up. These issues are missing in understanding the whole of Hindu (for the lack of a better word) way of life

  10. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    I’m not publishing your other comments as they are ENTIRELY IRRELEVANT to my blog/ perspective. I really don’t care about Doniger nor about the debates between various academics. I care about her book being pulped. (Having said that, it is because of the Hindutva fanatics that I’ve started reading her book, and might have something to say in a while).

    1) You have NOT disproved my point re: RM. You have not shown me any direct condemnation of the pulping of her book. 

    2) You have NOT disproved my point re: RM’s Hindutva leanings. What you have provided is the midlest of questioning of Hindutva. There is no mention of the murderous role of RSS in India’s history, there is no mention of RSS’s antipathy to the 1857 mutiny, its support for British rule, its refusal to participate in the independence movement, the role it played in dividing India, etc. etc. 

    First prove your two points before wasting my time further.

  11. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Here and now,

    Please stop bothering me with your messages each day. You are defending RM and attacking Doniger. I am NOT evaluating Doniger nor RM. When will you understand that?

    I’m evaluating free speech. I’m asking you to prove your assertions re: RM. Since you can’t you have nothing of value to add. Please go elsewhere.

  12. Here and Now

    Here is your evidence



    Martha Nussbaum, the prominent feminist and University of Chicago colleague of Doniger, wrote a scathing book against Hindus with a whole chapter dedicated to me – without bothering to interview me even though that was suggested to her. She and Doniger have CONSISTENTLY IGNORED MY REQUEST FOR A LIVE DEBATE IN PUBLIC.

    Several people from Princeton University and elsewhere in America, including devout Hindus, said they like the book.
    I personally AM NOT in a favor of banning any book. I HAVE NEVER CALLED FOR A BAN in my life. I WILL NEVER DO THAT. I’m MORE interested that my COUNTER-POSITION should get an equal voice.
    My complaint is that they have banned me from all academic forums. The same Western people when discussing religions of south Asia, they do not include me in their reviews, in their panels, in their conferences.


  13. Sanjeev Sabhlok


    I’ve read this a LONG TIME AGO. This is NOT a condemnation either of the actions of the RSS goons who lodged the case against Doniger, nor a condemnation of Penguin, nor a condemnation of the anti-free speech laws of India. The man is an imposter. He pretends to not want to ban books, but he actively gloats when Doniger’s book is pulped.

    And he uses the opportunity to pretend that he – a man of ZERO academic credentials – is “banned” from the academia. He is a pure bigot of no consequence.

    I repeat, show me only where RM has actively objected to the pulping of Doniger’s book. 

    And show me where RM has vigorously critiqued the monstrous RSS.

    Do not disturb me further. You have NO free speech rights on my blog. You can go anywhere else and write what you wish. On this blog you and I are having a debate and you are not answering me. You insist that RM is some kind of a hero. As far as I can see, he is a bigot with a Colonial hangup.

  14. Here and Now

    There is no evidence for those with jaundiced eyes and mind. RSS is not the contention here, we are discussing his books on Doniger. You have not provided the proof that he supports violence and banning. You keep diverting the topic and not acknowledging that you have a personal hang with certain groups and believe that for anyone to get a voice on your forum should agree with you. BAH…FREEDOM OF SPEECH? you suffer from the ‘consensus syndrom’e that you accuse RSS of….and whether he gloats or not, if not something you can have any proof for, yet you keep asking for proof, and turn a blind eye when I provide one. AND YET YOU HAVE NOT PROVIDED THE PROOF THAT HE SUPPORTS VIOLENCE OF ANY KIND. At least have a disclaimer, that you are not all ‘free’ and knowing’ so, what appears on the site if very much a subjective opinion. Not really truth or free.

  15. Here and Now

    Mr. Sablok, I am not going to write after this. But I think I have provided some proof of his stance in not banning any book. His gloating at book pulping is an opinion not a fact, but his words that he invites open dialogue are facts. I leave it to you to decide what you would want to do. Do not wish to engage in this, since I am not being heard. Placing random comments out of choice, and not providing proof for your accusation is NOT being heard. As for you saying that I am upholding Mr. RM as a kind of a hero, — I am upholding him as an intellectual, dharmic human being who has awakened the Hindus. As for degrees, he is a born intellectual. I work with researchers & know many to be merely parroting old theories. He has brought together years of knowledge from various fields to provide a ‘transparent lens’ to view our own history. Rather than a colonial one. Your choice Mr. Sablok although neither have you provided any proof for your accusations, nor are you willing to see what damage ‘made up aryan theory’ did to Indian mindset. As for Doniger–any scholar who shies away from an open dialogue should be questioned. If they cared about true dialogue they would invite RMji to academic discussions. But we believe in Dharma. It rises, may take long, but it rises, because without it, the earth would fall apart. You and I, merely blip. The truth remains. As is the fact that those organisations that you accuse of, did not come up in vacuum, they are a reaction to much that went on before. regards,

  16. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    I’m NOT discussing Doniger or RM’s views on Doniger. I’m discussing RM’s approach. 

    He is MEGA CRITICAL of Christian missionaries (I’ve no issues with that), and totally silent on the CRIMINIALITY of his favourite Hindutva fanatics. The man is a pure model of one-sidedness. 

    Re: violence – his approach is as aggressive and violent as it gets. His reactions to my communication with him were at a level that is beyond belief. The man is arrogance personified, and will NOT condemn the pulping of Doniger’s book. That he has similarly annoyed others is also well known. 

    He is a one sided bigot of no consequence. 

    Since you don’t get my point and insist on peppering me with your views (which are repetitive and do not add anything new), I’m blocking you henceforth from this blog.

    And then you go about some nonsense re: Aryan invasion theory. That’s something for GENUINE academics to think about. RM may have opinions which mean nothing. 

    And yes, there are ABUNDANT proofs that there was a migration of Indo-European languages into India. To deny that is to land up in the most absurd contradictions. Sure, these views were exaggerated and misrepresented by some people, but RM has no business to ignore the basic truth that it is INDIANS WHO BROKE UP INDIA (supported by lunatics like Savarkar who promoted a two-nation theory, and by RSS). And that if any damage is being caused to independent India, it is mainly being led by the RSS who are smashing India into religious communities.

    You are now blocked. Pl. don’t bother to write on my blog again.

  17. Humanist

    This page is purely defamatory. This blog claims Mr. Malhotra is part of the “Hindutva Brigade” and through the logic of guilty by association. Lets look at that. Firstly Rajiv Malhotra has made many videos where he criticizes the Hindutva movement while also occasionally giving praise were it is due. For instance he praises the charity work of the RSS but also denounced Ram Madhav and other Hindutva figures. So how exactly is he a “Hindutva Brigadier”? He has openly requested to debate the likes of Wendy Doniger, Sheldon Pullock and others, but it is they who’ve denied to debate him for unprofessional reasons. Martha Nussbaum is by her own admission the daughter of a White Supremacist, so why exactly is her opinion valid in your eyes but not that of Malhotra? Malhotra hasn’t denied the suffering of Dalits or others. He hasn’t even sanitized social issues of India, but what he has objected is the sensationalism and racism with which they are treated in the west. Why don’t you address his claims instead finding his opponants to defame him? I’ve read the work of Wendy Doniger and can agree with many scholars such as Koenraad Elst and Julurie in that she lacks integrity and professionalism. She makes rubbish claims, which I will not delve into them because I don’t have the space. Also I ask want to know why the author of this peace doesn’t find anything good of Malhotra? I mean for all his flaws he has done remarkable work and pioneering research which has been reduced by the likes of you and Nussbaum to name a few into nothing more than a “Hindutva conspiracy”.

  18. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    I’m sorry, the man is beyond redemption. And the way he acted during my interaction with him was proof enough.

    He should focus on how India can become a modern nation, instead of propagating pure nonsense, such as the fakery and cheap magic of Hindu “gurus”, e.g. see this:

    His “contributions” are not worth my while to discuss/ comment. I’m not defending anyone here, either (such as Doniger/etc.). I don’t care who is “right” or “wrong” about imaginary hallucinations (i.e. religion). I care for 1) freedom of speech and 2) science/ truth.

  19. Raj

    “Rubbish Claims” ought to be proved “Humanist”, not just spoken. Prove it. She’s got her facts to back her “rubbish claims”, you better have yours to refute it.

    This page is generally visited by people of very high rationality. I warn you will be slaughtered if you come by with half-baked facts or just shout “Rubbish claims”.

    Step 1, prove why they’re “rubbish”.


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