Some of you may be vaguely familiar with U-Turn Theory by Rajiv Malhotra. Those who are familiar with his works over the years would also know how he exposed in great detail the “academic cartel” which controls the entire supply-chain, from research grants to publication and dissemination. Further, if you had read the paper on University of Hawaii’s Indian Philosophy programs, you would have come across these two interesting pieces of information. In these two cases, we see the pattern where there is a deliberate effort to not disclose Indian influence & contribution in cutting-edge science:
[…] a few years prior to writing his seminal book on quantum mechanics and the brain, Dr. Stapp, an eminent theoretical physicist at Berkeley, had studied Vaishnava philosophy under teachers at ISKCON and had written a book about the Vaishnava cosmology to show that it was consistent with quantum mechanics. Unfortunately, political pressures appeared to have compelled him to abandon this link publicly, and even in his own seminal work, he failed to feature this previous important work by him that had shaped his own intellectual breakthrough. Had this been a link between Bible and quantum physics, one doubts that he would have denied his own work going forward. Rajiv Malhotra engaged Dr. Stapp on this matter privately and confirmed his uncomfortable suspicions about Eurocentrism in the field of philosophy of science. (page 101, note #5)
[Amit] Goswami’s 1995 book, The Self-Aware Universe, caused a stir and invigorated the nascent field of Consciousness Studies. It gave a systematic and comprehensive argument that Vedanta is best able to interpret the counter-intuitive empirical results of quantum mechanics. This was a watershed event. Many Western scholars started to utilize his ideas and arguments, bringing the notion of the primacy of Consciousness into prominence within certain circles of the philosophy of science. Unfortunately, most Western scholars inspired by this thesis have neither credited Goswami’s work nor acknowledged Indian philosophy. (pages 48-49) Instead they relocate these ideas either into Biblical equivalents or onto frameworks attributed to non-theistic (secularized) but distinctly Western thinkers. This repackaging bothered Rajiv Malhotra in the mid-1990s, as he regularly participated in various academic conferences on Consciousness Studies, and his disillusionment led him to develop the U-Turn Theory on how and why the West appropriates and reformulates non-Western ideas as its own. (page 100, note #4)
Otherwise sympathetic and honest scholars who after years of painstaking research, end up capitulating to the cartel, when it comes to publishing and holding on to their careers. The latest case of U-Turn is by Dr. Guy L Beck in the field of music, history of music – specifically, influence of Indian music in the development of Western music. Dr. Beck, illustrates another U-Turn pattern, similar to note #4 above where instead of explicit attribution to Indian sources, it gets fully or partly relocated outside India, hyphenated and shared with others like Indo-Iranian, Indo-Arabic or Indo-Greek. In these constructs the Indo part is retained reluctantly, or it is quietly dropped off at some later time, as in the case of Arabic Numerals and possibly Higgs-Boson as well.
Now, Dr. Beck succumbs to the academic cartel’s demands:
From: Rajiv Malhotra
One of several patterns of Uturns is when the scholar takes Hindu contributions to the West, and reclassifies them as “Asian” or something broader, in order to dilute the Hindu origins. Example:
In the mid 1990s, Infinity Foundation gave a grant to a Western scholar of Hinduism who specializes in music. His proposal was to travel to European museums and see if the oldest musical instruments in Europe were of Indian origin or had been influenced from India. He was to use this physical evidence combined with text based evidence that early European music was influenced by the raga, and Indian instruments influenced European ones. We gave this grant with great enthusiasm. But then nothing came out of it since almost 2 decades.
Recently I got the following disappointing status:
After submitting the project several times for publication, it has been rejected by many good publishers on various grounds. I always try to get it into a “university press” if possible. I have since reworked the concept into a broader spectrum of “Indo-Iranian Contributions or Influences on the West” which has now some prospective takers. The new framework takes us back to Zoroastrianism’s influence on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as the very pronounced musical influences (and chant) upon all three, etc. The research from London and Oxford is still part of it; in fact I have given many lectures and presentations showcasing various aspects of this research, including vocal demonstrations, but no book as yet.
Most of our “dharma” activists dishing out grants would be awestruck to hear him play sitar, impressed that he gives lectures on Indian music at prestigious places. It depends upon how high you raise the standard. I find this shift from Indian to Indo-Iranian unacceptable. In other words, raga gets classified somehow as Zoroastrian and hence its spread to the West is easier to sell to publishers. I have written my disappointment quite candidly.
From: Gene Kieffer_____Off-topic response, but Rajivji’s comment brings it back into context
You could change the world if you were to present the Hindu Concept of Kundalini to America in strictly scientific terms. One strong supporter you could count on is my long-time friend Dr. Karan Singh, M.P. He would be 100% behind you in this cause.
Rajiv comment: No. Its already been highly digested precisely because of these so-called “scientific” terms. The tendency has been to use the pretext of science to de-contextualize the categories, and thus prepare them to get re-contextualized (i.e. digested). That’s what I am exposing in my work on digestion. Regarding Dr. Karan Singh: I have known him personally and admire many qualities in him. But political ambitions turns into political correctness and this can compromise a person’s ability to take a strong stand for dharma. To be specific: Disappointed at the way under his watch Auroville has been turned over to leaders who are rapidly facilitating it to get digested into the belly of Ken Wilber via various suction mechanisms at work there.
I have noticed this pattern several times too, from mathematics to yoga. If West wants to deny precise credit, all it has to do is claim in a very reasonable and enlightened manner that cultures x, y, z apart from India too had these ideas in one form or the other. The implication would be there is nothing special in India’s discovery and West can rightly claim it is “humanity’s” discovery.
We see this happening big time when it is claimed that native Americans had “spirituality”, Africans had “spirituality”, Chinese Taoists had “spirituality” etc. It goes without saying that the superior whites also had “spirituality” and Indian “spirituality” is up for grabs without due acknowledgement. The same is happening when Yogis are lumped with shamans/medicine men, “higher consciousness” is bandied about as if it is an obvious thing that every one, including the West, knew about. Huxley’s Perennial Philosophy is the classic example of this strategy to appropriate Indic thought/techniques. But when it comes to West’s discoveries the standards for drawing comparisons suddenly become very stringent.
This “everyone in every age had it” has the effect of taking Indians away from their authentic tradition to a low grade mishmash created by third rate academic charlatans. Ground fact is that there is simply no comparison between Indic traditions and any other culture. The “spirituality” label, while convenient in certain contexts, can hardly do justice to the reality.
This is truly very disappointing & unfortunate. Based on the description, I guess this is referring to Dr. Guy L Beck? I knew he had received funding, so when I came across his books on Amazon I assumed they were outcomes of research funded by Infinity Foundation. Kirtan groups who know about his research will be utterly shocked to learn this (as some of them are familiar with Rajivji’s U-Turn Theory), but it will certainly more than open their eyes to what is going on in the academy, and a great illustration of the U-Turn process.
If after almost his entire career of research, deep cultural & personal involvement with Indian classical music & artists, he can so easily abdicate his responsibility towards truth, fairness & integrity, it is a complete betrayal of trust, as he ought to know the noble goals of Infinity Foundation.
Message #4173 Emails from Rajiv Malhotra discussion forum on Yahoo! Groups (closed, members-only) reproduced here with permission.