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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 46 New Delhi November 7, 2015

Fascism and Indian Philosophy

Tuesday 10 November 2015


by MurzBan Jal

The Indian Brahman proves the holiness of the Vedas by reserving to himself alone the right to read them.
—Karl Marx, The Leading Article in No. 179 of the Kölinische Zeitung

Does the Hindu social order, recognize social equality? The answer must be in the negative.
—B.R. Ambedkar, The Hindu Social Order: Its Essential Principles

The revolutionary project is engaged in a struggle against oppressive and dehumanising structures. To the extent that it seeks the affirmation of concrete people as people freeing themselves, any thoughtless concession to the oppressor’s methods is always a danger and a threat to the revolutionary project itself.
—Paulo Freire, Cultural Action for Freedom

At base the desire of philosophy implies a dimension of revolt: there is no philosophy without the discontent of thinking in the confrontation with the world as it is.
—Alain Badiou, Infinite Thought

From the Fascist War of Manoeuvre to the War of Attrition

The central part of culture in the era of late imperialism in permanent crisis is the sublime turning into a terror-ridden form, where the “sublime feeling of enthusiasm” (to borrow a term from Slavoj Zizek) is transfigured into the hysterical and terrible sublime. This essay deals with the workings of this “terrible sublime” in contemporary mainstream academic philosophy in India where philosophy, as truly philosophical reasoning, is devalued as what one calls “ethno-philosophy”. It examines how the marriage between Brahmanical ritualistic orthodoxy and Orientalism created this strange discipline of “ethno-philosophy” and how ethno-philosophy is shaping the minds of the academic elite to accept and internalise the discourse of fascism.

Let us see this little journey of the sublime, from liberalism to fascism.

Whilst Gandhi imagined that Swaraj or political self-determination was possible under the rubric of what Perry Anderson calls the “Indian ideology”, little could he have imagined that this imagined “Indian ideology” riding on the horseback of neo-liberal capitalism would lead one day to the rise of fascism in India. While we take this analysis of “Indian ideology” from Anderson’s work, we are transcribing this into a philosophical Weltanschauung where, by “Indian ideology” one means in the last resort upper-caste elite ideology and the consequent fantasies produced thereon, which in turn is transcribed as “idealist-spiritual philosophy”.

Whilst this discourse of idealist-spiritual philosophy was the leitmotif of thinkers emerging from the defeat of the 1857 War of Independence—Vivekananda, Aurobindo and Gandhi could be described as the masters of this discourse—there are two distinct stages of this upper-caste elite fantasy transcribed as idealist-spiritual philosophy: the liberal demo-cratic phase of the Nehruvian era and the fascist stage that has been mastered by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). This essay is on the transition from liberalism to fascism and the role of spiritualistic-idealistic philosophy in this transition. The central part of this essay is the production of this hysterical sublime that is central to the ideology of fascism.

In this New Sublime the old meaning of the sublime as producing an overwhelming sense of awe is transcended for Fredric Jameson’s reading of the sublime as “the experience bordering on terror” that “crushes life altogether”.1 It is also the process where the process of critical thinking is rendered unnecessary, where there is a “limit of figuration and the incapacity of the human mind to give representation”.2 And with this loss of figuration and representation, is born a certain type of thinking that readily accepts the fascist ideology.

Four seemingly benign events need being mentioned when one is talking of the change from the innocent signifier “Hinduism” into the hysterical sublime of Hindutva and the simulta-neous rise of fascism in India. First, a prominent national daily said that the University of Pune would be starting Yoga classes.3 The very next day another national daily mentioned that for the RSS, Buddhism is nothing but Hinduism and the Buddha was a Hindu.4 A few days prior to these announcements, the same national daily carried an article by Arun Shourie on how the ancient centre of learning at Nalanda was destroyed by what he calls “Islamic invaders” and how Marxist historians are totally wrong in not blaming Islam and the Muslims for destroying Indian learning.5 Thirdly, another daily (this time a progressive one) talked of how the Upanishads ought to be taught to the youth.6 But last, and the worst amongst all this nonsense, is that an RSS ideologue—Yellapragada Sudershan Rao—is now the new chairperson of the Indian Council of Historical Research. After being a member of the RSS’ Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana, his pet project at the Indian Council of Historical Research will be fixing the exact date of the Mahabharata war.7 Besides this fetishized obsession with mythology and wars (and fixing dates for them), the same great philosopher and historian of war offers a critical study of the Vedas and Puranas. Those sponsoring these projects are great ‘dharmic’ organisations like the Sanathana Dharma Charitable Trust and Sivanandaguru Educational and Cultural Trust. And from henceforth one can expect the Indian Council of Historical Research to sponsor Right-wing propaganda. What will happen to the Indian Council of Social Science Research and the Indian Council of Philosophical Research is anyone’s guess.

And that is why we say: there is no innocent philosophy. There is no innocence in what Arun Shourie and Yellapragada Sudershan Rao claim, or in Yoga and Mahabharata being taught at universities. Yet, by and large, the philosophical mind in India has pretended that a patch of innocence is painted on its not-so-philosophical face. It pretends that Yoga teaching is innocent, that stories of how the Buddha was a Hindu and the nasty propaganda on the imagined ‘violent’ history of the Muslims are all innocent. And in this imagined history of innocence, we articulate what philosophy in Indian universities is presently doing, by firstly recalling Martin Niemoller’s anti-fascist poem that he wrote in Nazi Germany, First they Came....:

First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

One may however ask: “Why does one bring in this poem, when one is articulating the nature of philosophy in India?” The answer is that the dominant practice of philosophy in India is not revolutionary (unlike the two above quotes from Paulo Freire and Alain Badiou). And because of the repression of the rebellious character, philosophy teaching in Indian universities has been carrying on what the two above quotes from Marx and Ambedkar claim. First, that the enterprise of contemporary philosophy in India is narcissistic and monopolist (from the Marx quote: “The Indian Brahman proves the holiness of the Vedas by reserving to himself alone the right to read them”). Besides this monopolistic narcissism, one also has an utter hypocrisy in the teaching of philosophy in India. Just as Kancha Illiah very recently talked of the hypocrisy of the upper-caste elites of the Hindutva brigade of Indian nationalism—he talks of how V.D. Savarkar, Syama Prasad Mookerjee and Deen Dayal Upadhayaya created their imagined politics of Right-wing Hinduism whilst being students of Fergusson College and Gray’s Inn (Savarkar), Lincoln’s Inn (Mookerjee) and St. John’s College (Upadhyaya)8—whilst thrusting their Hindu supremacist theories based on xenophobia, Islamophobia and Marxophobia; so too the teachers of ‘Indian philosophy’ are by and large Anglicised elites.

And closely bound to the idea of this monopolist narcissism is the idea of caste supremacy that itself is tied to the idea of racial supremacy, the idea that is not only found in the law books of Manu, but is also represented in 19th century European literature which helped the framing of contemporary ‘Indian philosophy’.9 We saw in our two essays ‘Why we are not Hindus’, and ‘Why we can never be Hindus’10 that the race theory that was invented by the European colonists was central to the founding fathers of the RSS, especially M.S. Golwalkar. The manner in which the RSS is able to imbibe this European race question: Aryans vs the Semites that would create the factious divide—the Hindus vs the Muslims—is something to be noted.

That this idea of caste and race supremacy is subtly found in the practice of contemporary Indian philosophy, along with the doctrine of karma and rebirth, is something to be explored. To understand contemporary Indian philosophy (especially its silence on fascism) is to under-stand not so much philosophy as philosophy in India, but how silently it has borrowed from Right-wing ideas that emerged in Europe. One therefore has to understand J.A. Gobineau’s Essay on the Inequality of Human Races and G. Lanz-Liebenfels (the latter would inspire Hitler), and how European colonist theories of race and caste would legitimise this very spurious notion of ‘Indian philosophy’. For the RSS, both Gobineau and Lanz-Liebenfels would be important for deriving their fascist idea of the Indian nation. They would be important because they would create the imaginary pride of racial superiority. And this imaginary racial superiority would enter the philosophical academia to create the neo-conservative mind. Its main ideal would be to render unnecessary the process of critical thinking.

Besides this racial borrowing from the Euro-pean Right-wing, one also needs to point to the Orientalist borrowing that ‘Indian philosophy’ was involved in with special reference to the fictitious ‘Aryan question’ that this imagined Indian ideology (from the Orientalists to Nehru and the contemporary Indian elites) kept at the bottom of their ideological repertoire. This Orientalist borrowing was at the same time a borrowing from the European Romantic repertoire. The quote is from Max Muller who talked of:

Our nearest intellectual relatives, the Aryans of India, the framers of the most wonderful language of Sanskrit, the fellow workers in the construction of our most fundamental concepts, the fathers of the most natural of natural religions, the makers of the most transparent of mythologies, the inventors of the most subtle philosophy and the givers of the most elaborate laws.11

Whilst ‘Indian philosophy’ borrowed the ‘Aryan’ theory from Muller, it nationalised it such that it completely cut off its historical relation from the Persians, Greeks, Romans, etc. For Muller, the Indian life-world was, by and large, a world that went beyond its national borders. For the children of Muller, this world is totally closed down. Thus, what we come to know as ‘Indian philosophy’ is actually a form of alienated philosophy, which totally forgets both the extreme complexities of its history, as well as its interaction with Greco, West Asian, Persian and Islamic philosophies. When one is taught ‘Indian philosophy’, one is taught merely one strand of thought. One does not talk of the ancient materialists; one does not talk of Alburini, Megasthenes, Amir Khusrau, Kabir and Dara Shikoh. One does not talk of the relation between the various Vaisanavite sects with Islam.

Besides alienating India from the rest of the world, this hegemonic version of contemporary philosophy in India (based on the mythical ‘Aryan’ theory) has largely been anti-demo-cratic—it actively suppresses the ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity; to produce mere speculative phrases. This idea of anti-democracy inherent in the ideology of the dominant classes in India, we derive from Ambedkar. And because of these two faults—alienation and inequality—one does not talk of world philosophy. One does not talk of the interaction between cultures. One does not talk of dialogical discourses between different civilisations. One is thus blind to Marx applauding Islam for its ideals of “absolute equality”12 and how Engels saw Buddhism as the precursor to the dialectical method.13 Remember, that Engels put Buddhism at par with Greek philosophy,14 unlike the Orientalists who not only made the fictitious divide—West vs the East—but also claimed supremacy for the Western world.

 And it is this alienated philosophy, this completely destroying of the tradition of dialogical thinking and Indian rationality that has created disturbances and confusions that has made possible for the fascists to seize the initiative by manipulating the anxiety created in this diabolic confusion. 

If one notes in the above paragraphs we have kept the term Indian philosophy in a single quotation mark, thus it appears not as Indian philosophy, most certainly not as Indian philosophy, but as ‘Indian philosophy’, or to borrow from Edmund Husserl’s epistemic baggage ‘Indian philosophy’ in brackets. One therefore thinks ‘Indian philosophy’’ in brackets. One thus de-thinks ‘Indian philosophy’ a de-thinking that is constituted within the politics of suspicion. And in this politics of suspicion one is able to see the contemporary Brahman behind all these strange, phantasmagorical and psychotic forms of reasoning. This essay is on the infallible form of reasoning that unfortu-nately yet exists today, this psychotic reasoning that has put the fascists to power in New Delhi.

What fascism does is it not only suppresses dissent and critical thinking, but also suppresses the plural cultural traditions of India. Now what this teaching and practice of contemporary philosophy in India has been doing is forgetting the plural cultural and philosophical traditions and then involving the act of the mimesis of the fetishism of commodities. Just as Marx had said that in commodity production: “existence as a material thing is put out of sight”,15 so too one says that in constructing the contemporary interpretation of philosophy in India, all materiality (along with humanity) is irre-coverably lost. And just as Marx had said that commodity production creates ghosts (he means value-exchange-value and money are “unsubstantial realities”), one now says that contemporary philosophy in India is nothing but the production of ghosts.16 Humanity, somehow, stands outside the realm of ‘Indian philosophy’. We call this process after Sigmund Freud “hysterical blindness”.17 And it is because of this loss of materiality and humanity, along with the act of hysterical blindness that is so intrinsically woven into doing philosophy in India, one claims that that it has not only been blind to the emergence of the Indian fascists, but is almost sympathetic to the fascist enterprise.18

There are two reasons for this: the first reason is that Indian philosophy has wrongly been articulated as idealist-spiritualist; and the second reason is that Indian philosophy is said to be “Hindu philosophy”. We know that both these insertions whilst emerging with the Brahmanical counterrevolution against Buddhism (around 8th century CE) with the advent of Shankara and the invention of Advaita Vedanta philosophy, the institutionalising begins with William Jones and Max Müller and the Orientalisation, colonisation and re-Brahmanisation of Indian learning. What happened in modern times is that whilst academic philosophy in other countries claimed autonomy, in India with the deeply inscribed apartheid-like caste system, which involves both a monopoly of learning by the upper-caste elites and the insistence on being hysterically blind, the very idea of innocence that philosophy has hitherto been claiming has to be re-thought. And with the victory of the BJP in the current (2014) Lok Sabha elections, innocence will soon turn to attrition.

We shall begin with some reflections that have been deeply ingrained the Indian academic psyche. We were told, since long, that India is the land of spiritualism and Indian philosophy is essential spiritualistic. Now we know that thinkers like Radhakrishnan wrote volumes and volumes trying to prove the thesis of this alleged idealism of Indian philosophy. As against this spiritualistic and idealistic character of India that we were taught, stands the West which has been painted as rational, materialistic and humanistic. According to Radhakrishnan,

The Western mind lays great stress on science, logic and humanism. Hindu thinkers as a class hold with great conviction that we possess a power more interior than the intellectual by which we become aware of the real in its intimate individuality, and not merely in its superficial or discernible aspects. For the Hindus a system of philosophy is an insight, a darshana. To know God is to become divine, free from outside influence.19

That Radhakrishnan was writing this in the times of the rise of fascism in Europe and also that explicit Right-wing thinkers have also mimicked this same line of thought is to understand that this line of thinking is not only wrong, but that fascists also follow this same line of thinking which talks of having a “power more interior than the intellectual”.20 One only has to read the contemporary Iranian ideologue, Reza Davari-Ardakarni, the mentor of the previous President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in order to understand this privileging of idealism and spiritualising in national curriculum. What traditional philosophy under the auspices of re-Brahmanisation of India (like the re-Islamisation of the Iranian philosophy in Iran) did was to mythologise the Indian mind. What the fascists insist is this very same myth-making. The RSS will be taking India the Ayatollah Khomeini way.

Take this Radhakrishan (liberal) quote and relate it with the classical fascist one. This is what Ludwig Haase said in the National sozialistische Monatshefte edited by the ultra-racist Nazi ideologue, Alfred Rosenberg:

The ethnical racial state must one day still discover its deepest roots in religion. Not until our belief in God ceases to be related to a specific event in the past, but is again and again, through everlasting experience, intricately interwoven with the native activity and life of a people and of a state, as well as of the individual, will our world be firmly re-established.21

Thus one must ponder over this mythical line of thinking in a culture of the apartheid-driven elites that is so steeply grounded in inequality. To recall Paulo Freire, “any thoughtless concession to the oppressor’s methods is always a danger and a threat to the revolutionary project itself”.22 To understand this dominance of spiritualism and also the oppressor’s methods, one needs to go over to Louis Althusser who has also talked of this (almost) same sad state of affairs in France’s academic philosophy.

According to Althusser, academic philosophy in France, despite all its grandeur, followed the logic of what he calls after Lenin “graduated flunkeys” who “stultify the people by their tortuous ‘idealisms’”.23 Let us see what Althusser says and then see what Indian academic philosophy is, and how it responds to the coming of the Hindutva mythologists to power. According to Althusser:

After all, this French academic philosophy, profoundly religious, spiritualist and reactionary one hundred and fifty years ago, then in the best of cases conservative, finally belatedly liberal and ‘personalist’, this philosophy which magnificently ignored Hegel, Marx and Freud, this academic philosophy which only seriously began to read Kant, then Hegel and Husserl, and even to discover the existence of Frege and Russell a few decades ago, and sometimes less, why should it have concerned itself with this Bolshevik, revolutionary, and politician, Lenin?24

So what has academic philosophy in India done so far under the liberal-secular rule? Forget Hegel, Marx and Freud. And completely forget Amir Khusrau, Kabir, Lenin, Ambedkar, Althusser and Freire. Instead it has talked of British analytic philosophy, but has not forgotten the mythology of the gods and the discourses of souls in its reinvention of Indian philosophy. The “Swaraj in Ideas” that Indian academic philosophy claimed to have achieved was British analytic philosophy combined with the mythology of Indian souls. For the Indian liberals, Indian philosophy is necessarily spiritualistic and any discourse of world philosophy had to take the form of philosophical exchange of this imagined spiritual Indian philosophy with British analytic philosophy. What the proponents of this imagined spiritualism did not understand was that this theme of spiritualism was akin to the colonial policy of viewing India as being “scientifically backwards”. Remember that colonial policy had said that since India was scientifically backwards, it had to rely on the British educational system. One has to stress that the idea of a “spiritual India” is part of colonial discourse and the ideology of the captive mind based on the essential dichotomy of the Orient and the Occident. That this imagined divide also parallels American foreign policy and Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilisations has also to be stressed. What established philosophy in India does is that it is totally blind to imperialism. The fetish for Indian spiritualism and British analytic philosophy makes sure that one does not talk of imperialism and the rise of fascism in India. 

One only has to make a study of the philosophy departments in Indian universities to understand the nature of courses, not to forget the elites belonging to the monopolist castes who teach pretentious Indian mythology dressed up as British analytic philosophy. This is because of what Syed Farid Alatas calls the “intellectual dependency” of the colonial countries, a dependency that “can be gauged from the relative availability of First World funding for research, the prestige attached to publishing in American and British journals, the high premium placed on a Western university education, and a host of other indicators”.25 Besides American and West European funders (they are for the non-philosophy humanities and not much for philosophy), one has Indian business and religious groups who are all too ready to fund the phantasmic creature called “Indian spiritualism”.

The Department of Philosophy at the University of Mumbai claims in its website that it has “foundation and diploma courses in disciplines like Yoga, Jainology, Buddhist Studies, Indian Aesthetics, thus disseminating interest in the cultural and philosophical foundations of the epistemic, linguistic and metaphysical heritage of humanity”. This Department also has a Jain Academy: Education and Research Centre. Of course, it is funded by people whose democratic values are always questionable. It has a course on Yoga and thus one finds people more on their heads there. If for Hegel the world was standing on its head, for the lover of ‘Indian philosophy’ it is people doing philosophy in Mumbai who have suddenly become Yogic pseudo-Hegelians standing and dancing on their heads. These departments that teach Yoga claim that the Swaraj in ideas can only be realised through Yoga. And those who do not teach analytic philosophy and Yoga, do nothing at all.

One contemporary dabbler in Indian philosophy talked of K.J. Shah (who once was a student of Ludwig Wittgenstein). According to this dabbler in Indian philosophy and the seeker of Indian tradition,

The late Professor Shah was a very important contemporary philosopher in India. He taught at Dharwad for many years, but didn’t publish that much. Let’s just say that he was a part of a very rich, vibrant, and powerful oral tradition, and that he influenced many, many thinkers, critics, scholars all over India. He told me, “The day I started reading the Manusmriti I lost my anxiety about the latest book published from abroad.” That remark was extremely important, not because of the particular text that he chose—how easy and cheap it would be to draw that kind of interpretation! The point is that the day you begin to take your own tradition seriously, you begin to get a strength, a grounding, a sense of belonging, a purpose, and an identity. In fact, there is a great need even to read a text such as Manusmriti, to read and interpret it seriously. Today, this text is being abused without being read. Even if we wish to reject it in the end, we must read it, understand what it contains, come to terms with its worldview, and the tradition to which it belongs. If we were to substitute Manusmriti by Panini’s Asthadhyayi or Bharatrihari’s Vakyapadiya or Bharata’s Natyashastra or Anandavardhana’s Dhvanyaloka, or any other seminal texts of our tradition, the point still remains. What Professor Shah was saying was crucial. The day you start taking your own tradition seriously, you experience liberation, decolonisation.26

One must ask here two questions: “Whose tradition?” and “What then is to be done?” To understand both, one has to understand that philosophy itself is a political project. When under liberal-secular rule, philosophy departments either taught analytic philosophy or Yoga27 or did nothing at all, this implied that the political project of liberal democracy wanted it that way. And now with the victory of the BJP things would indeed change. The benign nothingness of Yoga will turn to not only the propagation of the Manusmriti and so-called “Indian tradition”, but now make the drastic turn to the concrete somethingness of Defence Studies. If philosophy in the earlier avtar was what one calls after Lenin the falsest of false paths (der Holzweg der Holzwege), then in the new form it will be the path of the total destruction of human reason.28 Let us have a look at it.

K.G. Suresh, a Right-wing ideologist of the RSS-inspired think-tank, the Vivekananda International Foundation, said something very recently that is akin to the old RSS ideology of the mythologising and falsification of history. According to him, “history has to be nationa-lised”.29 Likewise he says, “the Left has been politically sidelined. It is now going to happen in the intellectual sphere.... Till now we were the fringe. Now it is their turn.”30 What is alarming is that this same Vivekananda International Foundation with its delusions of Indian mythology has turned to Security Analysis and Strategic Studies with Ajit Doval being appointed the National Security Advisor to the Modi Government.

With the capture of power in New Delhi by the BJP, there is almost a form of what one may call after the corporate language of neo-liberalism, an attempted “takeover” of the national imagination. This capture of the national imagination however is different from its previous method of creating the Right-wing war of manoeuvre where it planted its intellectuals in various departments of the Indian state. This move is the war of attrition. To understand the movement from the war of manoeuvre to the war of attrition is to understand how the Right-wing will be able to systematically demolish democratic institutions in India, by keeping its esteemed Professors of Riots and Wars in charge. The fascist war of attrition has also totally made the liberals and a large section of the secular polity totally paralysed.

Resistance to this change in movement will be difficult, since the Established Left is totally confused as it is led by Stalinist bureaucrats, unlike earlier times when they had leaders (whatever their faults) like Chandra Rajeswara Rao and E.M.S. Namboodiripad who (despite their faults) were rooted in mass struggles. This confusion in the ranks of the Established Left is because they could not understand the difference between the idea of the “Revolution with a Revolution” (an idea being popularised by Slavoj Žižek) and the revisionist and parliamentary idea of “Revolution without a Revolution”.

But the question remains: why have the ideas of “Revolution without a Revolution” along with liberal paralysis overtaken the secular polity and let the fascists take over political power? It is because the bourgeois democratic process initiated by Nehru could only be started, never continued, and most certainly, not completed. The liberals would proclaim that they had read J.S. Mill’s On Liberty (sometimes even claim to have understood him), but they would refuse to encounter the caste system embedded in the semi-feudal structure of the Indian society. For them, the annihilation of semi-feudalism and caste was simply impossible.

However, if the liberals were happy living with their duplicate form of liberty which stunted the removal of semi-feudalism in India, the Marxists and the Dalit radicals were perplexed as to how true democracy could be realised in India. And this is also so, because the Indian revolutionaries could not understand the idea of the Phule-Ambedkar Cultural Revolution, as also because the radical Dalits could not bring in Marxism into their anti-feudal, anti-Brahman politics. The hegemony would earlier lie with the liberal section of the Brahmans. Now the Brahmans would shed their liberal skin. Let us see how this ideological metamorphosis from liberal to fascist Brahman takes place.

To understand the above, we also need to understand how the liberal intellectuals in India (especially in academics) not only tolerated the RSS fascists, but collaborated with them, if not also actively cultivating them. One only needs to see the various departments in Indian universities and see the domination of this Brahmanical lobby. The philosophy departments have best articulated this technique of Brahmanical domination. Let us have a look at this.

On “Ethno-philosophy” as Intellectual Imperialism

This essay, whilst keeping the idea of the movement from the war of manoeuvre to the war of attrition at the background, is on academic imperialism and the colonisation of the mind. It is also on how the RSS has perfected this technique of colonisation. This is because the Congress Government could not carry out its liberal national bourgeois role in confronting semi-feudalism and its ideology of caste and superstition. We are saying, however, that the type of academic imperialism that we are talking of is not merely the type of colonial Eurocentric imperialism that emerged in 1835 with the infamous Macaulay Minutes that privileged a Western bourgeois education over popular Indian culture. Instead, this essay is on the type of imperialism that Jyotiba Phule and B.R. Ambedkar had talked of, the imperialism that has within its cranium the narrative of essential inequality and the consequent reign of what Louis Dumont immortalised as “homo hierar-chicus”. It is also the imperialism and the colonisation of the mind that Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya had talked of, an imperialism of categories based on the doctrine of “secret wisdom” and the ideology of the “magico-mystical approach to reality”.31 Two sites thus confront the popular classes: capitalism of the centre of global capital accumulation and semi-feudalism and savage capitalism of the periphery. One calls it “colonialism within colonialism”,32 where the colonised are not only under the subjugation of Western imperialism and the rule of neo-liberal ideology, but are also subjugated by the magico-mystical approach to reality. It is to this double form of colonial subjugation that we turn to. The question thus emerges is: “Can one excavate an authentic philosophy of the subaltern classes of India and thus have an authentic alterative philosophy of India?” This question then can be reframed as: “Can one de-colonise and de-Brahmanise Indian philosophy?”

The sociology of caste from the historical materialist methodology will remain at the background of our critique of Brahmanical ethno-philosophy. Its leitmotiv is to understand how the idealist system of Indian philosophy has been erected on this caste system. By caste we mean a type of frozen and reified class system, but a class system that is unlike the modern class one. Instead this reified system with the totem of purity and the taboo of pollution as the ideological marker of caste re-looks at this frozen class system as an apartheid driven clan system. If caste is this strange class as clan system, then it is also a form of racism combined with the system of neurosis, psychosis and schizophrenia. By caste we mean to imply three things: (1) class-clan, (2) race, and (3) neurosis-psychosis-schizophrenia. To de-Brahmanise Indian philosophy then implies the annihilation of caste and the search for the cure of this Indian form of neurosis, psychosis and schizophrenia. It also implies the search for lost humanity, for humanity is almost totally absent from idealist Indian philosophy. If Hegel said that philosophy can really evolve only when one has transcended mythology and theology,33 so too we say that one has to transcend this status of Indian mythology-theology.

Thus the question of Indian academic imperialism that has been put forth many a time in intellectual discussions, from the Marxists to J.P. Naik and from Ashis Nandy to Syed Farid Alatas and Claude Alvares, needs further analysis. For despite these path-breaking philosophies, brutal forms of academic imperia-lism prevail today in mainstream academia. This is because for them (or at least for Nandy and Alvares), the Brahman and the fascists are absent from their discourse. And it is the Brahman who becomes the principal collaborator with Western imperia-lism. The programme of the de-colonisation of education devoid of the critique of the Brahmanisation of education is simply meaningless.

Whilst it is well known that what one may call “modern” scholarship and structured academia started with British colonialism, and the need for large scale schooling system and universities suitable for the emergence of colonial industrial capitalism, what is not known is that both the class-based colonial form of academic imperialism (in the usual celebration of positivism and neo-liberal ideology), along with pre-capitalist, semi-feudal Brahmanical over-lordship are so deep ingrained in the academic curriculum that these are felt to be “natural”. Whilst the natural sciences and other social science departments did develop with a logic immanent to the logic of the accumulation of capital, and thus did what one may call ‘progress’, the philosophies lagged behind so fundamentally that it seemed that they could be only commenting (and that too in a bad way) on what has already been said. Yet it must also be said that whilst this essay deals with academic imperialism in the philosophy departments in India, the sciences cannot be beyond the hermeneutic of suspicion.

We therefore almost inevitably begin with the verse from the 10th Mandala of the Rg Veda where the Brahman as the mouth of the primeval man-god appears as the Ideological State Apparatus, whilst the rest of society appear as other parts of this primeval man-god.34 That this verse reflects not only the Indian academia, but also by and large the dominant social and political order, should be emphasised. This understanding of the verse from the Rg Veda is not to be understood as a mere mantra that emerged a few millennia back. It is about power—absolute, totalitarian power that is opaque and very difficult to fathom. Marx had a term for this fathomless and elusive character of power. He called it “phantasmagorical” or simply magical.35 Note this verse: one form of society is the wielder of the Ideological State Apparatus. This caste-class only speaks whilst the rest labour in mundane activities. Philosophy in India then (through this form of caste domination) became a form of totalitarian domination with its obsession to contemplate on the metaphysics of formless form, of the ethereal “Brahman” (the alleged state of transcendent bliss: what is called in classical Sanskrit as: as “sat-cit-ananda”, or the Sanskrit mimesis of the Hegelian Geist) and the minor state of bliss of the individual soul also called “atman”. That this obsession also corresponds to the state of psychosis that Freud drew on which states the “complete withdrawal from reality” should be noted. Note how this form of psychosis works in high theory, where the ideal Indian (Hindu) philosopher

desires to suggest the Idea behind sensuous appearance, (and) not to give detail of the seeming reality, that was in truth (nothing) but maya, illusion..... Nature remains to the Hindu a veil, not a revelation...To mistake this maya for reality was error indeed.36

Strictly speaking, ‘Indian philosophy’, because of the domination of the upper-caste elites and also because of the hegemony of colonialism that privileged this upper-caste reading of Indian philosophy, has become what one may roughly call “ethno-philosophy” a type of ethno-reasoning that simultaneously and sadly is the death of reasoning itself. Or speaking in Marxist language, ‘Indian philosophy’ in the last resort, is determined by this very strange type of reasoning called “ethno-philosophy” or Brahmanical philosophy to be precise.

One must however insist that our critique of this form of colonisation and Brahmanisation of knowledge is not that of the thinker who is biased against Indian thought. It is not about a born-again Orientalist trained in Plato and Hegel who is trying to fathom what philosophical thinking in India means. Instead we argue from the historicist and humanist perspective, or what we may call drafting a completely new scientific problematic called “Marxist Ambedkarism”. And it is from this vantage point of Marxist Ambedkarism that we articulate our philosophical nuances of understanding ‘Indian philosophy’ as philosophy that has ceased to be philosophical, or philosophy that has lost its human essence. In a certain way, whilst one can say that whilst a certain form of Marxism has been articulated in deconstructing Indian philosophy (Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya is one example), Ambedkar’s intervention is almost totally neglected.

What we need to do is advocate the primacy of Marxist theory that Lenin advocated in his What is to be Done? in tandem with the questions of the annihilation of caste and semi-fedual culture in India. For authentic philosophy can truly be possible when it is able to articulate not only the questions posed by Immanuel Kant: “What can I know? What can I do? and What may I hope for”, added by another question: “What is humanity?”, but when one is able to articulate the main question: “How can free humanity be possible?” And the question: “How can free humanity be possible?” is a question that the Indian elites never speak of.

Phenomenology of Reification or How to Convert People into Fascist Monsters

To understand the colonisation and Brahmani-sation of knowledge that has led firstly to the paralysis of the Established Left followed by the recent victory of the parliamentary fascists, one begins with Erich Fromm’s idea of how bourgeois rationalisation has led to the de-humanisation of humanity. According to Fromm,

Control by the intellect over nature, and the production of more and more things, became the paramount aims of life. In this process humanity has transformed into a thing, life has been subordinated to property, “to be” is dominated by “to have.” Where the roots of Western culture, both Greek and Hebrew, considered the aim of life the perfection of humanity, modern humanity is concerned with the perfection of things, and the knowledge of how to make them. Western humanity is in a state of schizoid inability to experience affect, hence he is anxious, depressed, and desperate.37

With this understanding of de-humanisation and the production of anxious, depressed, and desperate people, we move to the question of the metamorphosis of liberal to fascist, where the liberal has “changed his features”38 and becomes a fascist monster. In order to understand this strange metamorphosis from liberal to fascist, we move to Marx’s reflections on Hegel’s rendering on the idea of the phenomenological method that he (Hegel) had articulated in his Phenomenology of Mind. According to Marx, phenomenology is the science (Wissenschaft) that articulates the development of consciousness within the perspective of the struggle within humanity—on the one hand, the struggle for understanding humanity as humanity, and on the other hand, as simply the estrangement of the human essence (Entfremdung des menschliche Wesens).39 To understand this idea of the human essence (das menschliche Wesen), it is necessary to articulate this philosophical and scientific idea, since it has not been sufficiently studied. How this idea of the alienation of the human essence becomes central to capitalism in general, and to fascism in particular, needs elaboration.

This idea of the human essence is central to Marx’s Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 where Marx kept this idea vital to his radical philosophical repertoire. What Marx did was that he kept this idea in order to completely differentiate the new socialist continent of knowledge that he discovers from all structures of domination. For him, the human essence is totally distinct from the human condition in capitalist society, which Marx calls the realm of “thinghood”. Now this thinghood implies that humanity has lost its humanity and been reified into monstrous things, things that have no sense of feeling, willing and thinking. What the fascists have done is converted this state of feelingless-thinghood into monstrous killing machines.

Now what one needs to do is to move from this reflection on the human essence by posing the question of how people can be transfigured as killing machines. Remember that Marx starts his Capital stating that the real world opened to humanity is that of the thing (Gegenstand,Ding,Sache) that stalks humanity.40 Not only do things stalk humanity, humans have been transfigured into these strange things. Now it is important that the idea of “thinghood” or “thingification (Verdinglichung,Versachlichung) is a category central to Marx’s entire repertoire, an idea that was popularised by Georg Lukács in his celebrated History and Class Consciousness as the problem of the reification and brutalisation of humanity. “Thinghood” as reification: as distortion, manipulation and transfiguration is essentially anti-humanistic. It is contrasted to humanity as such. It also takes the dominant form in world philosophy by repressing humanity—what Marx called letting reality appear in “object form”, or as its direct opposite as phantasmagoric humanity: humanity that is totally alienated from the real world.41

Let us move from this reflection on humanity’s philosophising in the realm of monstrous “thinghood”, to an attempt to critique Brahmanical ethno-philosophy that is able to articulate what humanity in the Indian context means. This Indian context refers to both the Indian academia and the Indian life-world at large. The question is: “How does this new discipline of the critique of ethno-philosophy create a radical subject that is both real and bent on praxis—the praxis of human liberation?”

To understand this praxis of liberation, we need to move to our next proposition. Our next proposition: philosophy as we know it, that is, world philosophy beginning around 6th century BCE, did not begin only with the Greeks (as if they were totally alienated from all other civilisations); neither did it start from the alienated Brahman’s cranium. What is taught in India that there is something called “Western philosophy” and something else called “Indian philosophy” defeats the very purpose of the discipline of philosophy itself. Instead world philosophy as philosophy began with the Greeks, Indians, Iranians, Chinese (to name just a few) in dialectical relation with one another. Thus world philosophy was born from the urge of the human mind that was trying to understand reality. Yet the philosophical mind was caught up in the world of class fissures and in the episteme of what one may call in the language of philosophy “subject/object, or to be precise philosopher/reality split”. In this sense however much philosophy attempts its search for wisdom, this wisdom remains evasive. What philosophy as traditional philosophy (or philosophy that has ceased to be rebellious) does is, it creates an imaginary and duplicated world. But it is not merely a duplicate philosophical world. It is the world of
what Wilhelm Reich called of “organised mysticism”.42

In this sense it recalls what Freud calls “the uncanny” (dasUnheimlich) where the mind (in Freud it is the mentally disturbed mind) creates a double pretending to be the real and authentic. In our context, philosophy as we know it appears as wisdom. This is our first proposition: philosophy right from its inception is caught up in a contradiction: whilst wisdom seems to be serving as its dominant part, human alienation and class domination seem to be the other part. Therefore Marx’s proposition: history of all hitherto existing class societies is the history of class struggles is also postulated as: history of humanity is also the history of human alienation and the struggle to overcome this estrangement.

Keeping this theme (of the wisdom/alienation couplet that was transfigured into organised mysticism initially by the Orientalists and the Indian liberals and now taken over by the fascists) in mind, we move into our attempt to construct a discipline of the critique of Brahmanical ethno-philosophy, this ethno-philosophy that is at the same time fascistic in nature. Our specific questions are: (1) “can humanity, that is, humanity as humanity ever be possible, as radical humanity, within the philosophical arena of both the Indian life-world and Indian academia?”, and (2) “what are the social and material roots of this strange discipline of ethno-philosophy?”

It is in this context that one says that to understand humanity in India would mean in the last resort to understand not so much the high philosophies of say Vaisesika atomism, also called “Alukya-darshana” or “the philosophy of the owl” where the owl of Greek philosophy was seen hooting in the morn of Indian philosophy, along with the hooting of the owl of mythology; but to understand the caste system that lies beneath this hooting owl. To understand humanity would not then imply understanding the owl, but the notorious caste-base, which academic philosophies in India just refuse to see. In this sense, to understand ‘Indian philosophy’ would mean waking up from the nightmares of both its idealist constructs as well as the mother of all Indian speculations: the Indian caste system. It thus means that one need not study Vedanta and dharma, and how Vedanta is the illusory mother of all great philosophies, and Indian dharma the mother of all moralities. It implies a radical critique of caste that emerged with Phule and Ambedkar. To philosophise on humanity from an ‘Indian’ perspective would then imply to develop a philosophical perspective borrowed from this Phule-Ambedkar heritage that is able to confront the “divided self” of Brahmanical philosophy and the general regression of thinking. Confronting these two ideas would lead to the confrontation with the ideology of fascism.

And because of this schizophrenic divided self that is so deeply rooted in Brahmanical philosophy (the 10th Mandala is the best representative of this schizophrenic divided self), the self that traditional (Indian) philosophy would refuse to apprehend, that Marx called philosophy the act of masturbation.43 And considering this case, one knows why the fascists have triumphed—because the intellec-tuals of the Indian academia were involved in this estranged act that Marx so vehemently chided, whilst the fascists were involved with their wars of manoeuvre and attrition.

On “Desireology” and the Search for New Subjectivities

Contrast this image of bourgeois philosophy that is so closely bound to acts of estrangement, masturbation and now masturbating as fascism (not to forget the sadomasochistic pleasure at the victory of the fascists); to another image of philosophy—the one that the young Marx draws: the image of philosophy that has both a head and a heart. This image is of radical philosophy which puts the “corporeal human being” with its real objective essential powers (wirklichen gegenständlichen Wesenkrafte)44 at the basis of its philosophical repertoire. This image is radically different. There is no dharma and no ritual behind it. Instead we have the “onto-logical essence of human passion” (Leidenschaft) coming into being that drives its philosophical desire.45 This New Image of philosophy has both the head and the heart because one is able to conceptualise a different practice of philosophy, a different practice that claims that the critique of all hitherto anti-humanism is in the main complete.46 In this radical critique one discovers a new continent of knowledge: of human history that poses the most radical question: “How is free humanity possible?” This question as we know follows two other great continents discovered: mathematics with the Greeks and physics with Galileo. Marx thus discovers a new physics, a new space that asks new questions. The central focus is on what Marx calls “appropriation of the human essence” (die Aneignungdas menschliche Wesen).47 Along with this concept one also has other spaces that articulate new subjectivities: of species being (Gattungwesen) and what is now being promoted by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt since their magnum opus Empire as the “commons”. The questions posed are: “Can Indian philosophy under the stewardship of Brahmanism ever be able to fathom this commons, thus able to understand humanity as humanity?” and “Can Indian subaltern Marxist-Ambedkarist philosophy discover a non-Brahmanical idea of the self, thus have a democratic and anti-fascist idea of the self?”

So we have two perspectives of humanity: the first of caste as the divided self that cannot think; and the other the humanist one that argues for a critical thinking. The first is grounded in what we call “primordial schizophrenia”. The second is of therapy. Not only will Marx, Freud, Adorno and Lang be the psychoanalysts dealing with this “primordial schizophrenia”, but Phule and Ambedkar would also become the radical psychoanalysts. The programme will have to deal with how one thinks, thus have to deal with how one can ever talk of an ‘Indian self’ and argue for a new perspective of subjectivity. But then the old foundations (as Phule and then Ambedkar argued) will have to be completely erased. One will need different foundations, different from not only the primordial schizophrenia from the foundational myth of the Rg Veda but also from the high idealism of the Upanishadic theories and the rehashed pop philosophies brewed in the pots of Indian spiritualism and neo-liberal capitalism.

A new self is thus discovered, a self that interrogates the old caste-based schizophrenic self. The question that emerges is that if in The Fragile Absolute Slovoj Zizek claims that one must rescue Christianity from the Christian fundamentalists,48 would it be possible to emancipate the general Indian life-world such that the old archaic type of the Indian self is erased for an emancipated idea of the humanised self? Or would one say with the Indian Fanonists (that is, the followers of Frantz Fanon) that this 19th century English-inspired genre called “Hindu philosophy” with all its vacuousness and confusions would have to create a new idea of the Indian subject, a subject that has indeed transcended not only the apartheid ideas of varna (colour) and jati (birth), but also the phantasmagorical and magical ideas of Brahman/Atman, the reality which the Indian fascists along with the Vedic and neo-Vedic gymnosophists have been trying to prove even before the creation of the world?

In this case if one relates the hymn of the Rg Veda with primordial schizophrenia, then one relates the fascists’ favourite theme of the Indian soul (Atman) seeking the ethereal-transcendent Brahman (that they borrowed from Advaita Vedanta) with Freud’s theory of psychosis as the “complete withdrawal from reality”. It is here that we remind the reader of how Marx understood philosophy (that is, traditional, idealist philosophy) as some sort of a neurotic return of theology, only fit to be totally destroyed.49 And that is why we call this problem of pre-Marxist philosophy, the problem of the “phantasmagoria”,50 where human imagination (here one means not simply imagination of the Indian gymnosophist, but this form of imagination governing Indian academia) “appears as independent beings (selbständige Gestaltenen) endowed with life and entering into relation with one another and the human race”.51 One is emphasising on recreating (and questioning) of this Indian philosophical self, since the last few decades have celebrated with grotesque consequences the construction of this ‘Hindu’ self. In contemporary times, that is, what we call the age of late imperialism in permanent crisis, the construction is no longer innocent as in Vivekananda, Aurobindo or Coomaraswamy. Now the construction of the Indian self as the ‘Hindu’ self by neo-Orientalists like David Lorenzen, David Frawley, Koenraad Elst and the Modi fans from the Vivekananda International Foundation (Ajit Doval, P.K. Mishra and Nripendra Mishra) has radically changed the perspective of how an Indian looks at herself/himself. This India-Hindu self becomes totally fascist.

And that is why our recalling of Phule and Ambedkar are all the more important. As we shall see, not only do we claim that this ‘Hindu’ self is vacuous and constructed by the colonised captive mind, but this fictitious self is directly related to the idea of fascist “thinghood’ and anti-humanism that we just pointed put. That is why we claim that one needs a new theory of subjectivity, a post-neurotic and post-psychotic theory that is at once humanist and revolutionary.

Let us historically ground this thesis on a new way of philosophising by shifting from this philosophical site to the historical materialist theorem of Marx: the economic base determines the political and ideological superstructure; and then re-draft it as the reified base of neo-liberal capitalism determines the estranged, psychotic and fascistic mind. Now those familiar with the writings of the young Marx know that he used the term the “estranged mind” (entfremdete Geist)52 to understand idealistic and speculative philosophies. The idealist mind was estranged, for Marx, because idealism was involved only in “abstract thinking” (abstrakte Denken).53 But what the RSS fascists have done is that they have converted this abstract-estranged mind into a totally deluded fascist mind.

But when one is critiquing this phantas-magorical-magico idealism of these neo-Hindu thinkers, one must state that any trance of classical philosophical articulation is totally lacking. And that is why one says that there is a great degree of difference between certain versions of European idealism (which include great thinkers like Kant, Hegel, Gentile, etc.) and this magico-idealism and spiritualism of the ethno-philosophers. Therefore, one raises the question: “So what is different with this European idealist subject (especially that of Classical German Philosophy) and the Hindu self propagated by the upper-caste elites (that is stuck up in the time warp of the Brahman/Atman Upashidanic thesis: “I am not I”, not to forget their very important dictum: “nay Sudra mati dadyat”—”do not impart education to the Sudra”)?” There is a great degree of difference. First, in Indian academia because of the monopoly of the upper-caste elites and contempt for the subaltern masses, the rigour is totally lost in articulating Indian civilisation whereby the real dynamics of India is unrepresented—what we know from Debiprasad Chattopa-dhyaya as the total suppression of the materialist tradition by the Brahmanical elites combined with what Wilhelm Halbfass calls “the exclusion of India from the history of philosophy”.54 Indian philosophy goes thus through two process of exclusion: from the materialist and people’s traditions of India and from the traditions of the whole world. Further, Europe successfully went through its anti-feudal revolution, it went through the process of Renaissance and Enlightenment, it advocated humanism and the politics of the “Rights of Man and the Citizen”, it talked of modern sciences and secularism, most notably it talks of the public space; whilst this deluded Indian self of the Indian fascists based on the primordial schizophrenia denies all the above, because of its own inherent anti-democratic order based on graded inequality.

To argue against this anti-democratic idea plaguing the dominant trend of the Indian self, one recalls the young Marx who had talked of “the reform of consciousness” in order that the question of humanity as humanity be posed. This reform of consciousness is also what Walter Benjamin called “the dissolution of the aura that surrounds the ritual”.55 According to Marx, one has to be a humanist and revolutionary in order to have a theory of authentic subjectivity. Humanity as humanity has to wake up from the nightmare of stratified societies in order that the production of anti-Plutocratic, anti-fascist society is possible:

The reform of consciousness consists only in making the world aware of its own consciousness, in awakening it out from its dream of itself, in explaining to it the meaning of its own actions. Our whole object can only be—as it is the case in Feuerbach’s criticism of religion—to give religious and philosophical questions the form corresponding to humanity who can become conscious of itself. Hence our motto must be: reform of consciousness not through dogmas, but by analysing the mystical consciousness that is unintelligible to itself, whether it manifests itself in religious or a political form. It will then be evident that the world has long dreamed of possessing some-thing of which it has only to be conscious in order to possess it in reality. It will then become plain that our task is not to draw a sharp mental line between past and future, but to complete the thought of the past. Lastly, it will become plain that mankind will not begin any new work, but will consciously bring about the completion of its old work. We are therefore in a position to sum up the credo of our journal in a single word: the self-clarification (critical philosophy) of the struggles and wishes of the age. This is a task for the world and for us. It can succeed only as the product of united efforts. What is needed above all is a confession, and nothing more than that. To obtain forgiveness for its sins, mankind needs only to declare them for what they are.56


Althusser, Louis (2006): Lenin and Philosophy, trans. Ben Brewster (Delhi: Aakar Books).

Anderson, Perry (2012): The Indian Ideology (Gurgaon: Three Essays Collective).

Benjamin, Walter (1979): “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction“ in Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn (Glasgow: Fontana/Collins).

Chattopadhyaya, Debiprasad (2008): Indian Atheism (New Delhi: People’s Publishing House).

(2010): What is Living and dead in Indian Philosophy (New Delhi: People’s Publishing House).

Coomaraswamy, A.K. (1981): Essays in Indian Nationalism (New Delhi: Munshiram).

Engels, Frederick (1976): Dialectics of Nature (Moscow: Progress Publishers).

Freire, Paulo (1977): Cultural Action for Freedom (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books).

Freud, Sigmund (1990): “The Psychoanalytic View of Psychogenic Disturbance of Vision“ in The Penguin Freud library, Vol. 10. On Psychopathology (London: Penguin).

Fromm, Erich (1960): “Psychoanalysis and Zen Buddhism“ in Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis, ed. Erich Fromm, D.T. Suzuki and Richard de Martino ((London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.).

Gavaskar, Mahesh (2007): “Colonialism within Colonialism“ in Dalits in Modern India. Visions and Values, ed. S.M. Michael (New Delhi: Sage).

Halbfass, Wilhelm (1990): India and Europe. An Essay in Philosophical Understanding (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass).

Illiah, Kancha (2014): “Hindutva Hypocrisy“ in The Asian Age, June 27.

Jafferlot, Christophe (2014): Dr Ambedkar and Untouchability (Delhi: Permanent Black).

Jal, Murzban (2013): “Why we are not Hindus: A Reply to the Indian Fascists“ in Mainstream, Vol. LII, No 1, December 28.

(2014): “Why we can never be Hindus or The Struggle against Fascism in India“ in Mainstream, Vol. LII, No 18, April 26.

Marx, Karl (1975 a): “To Arnold Ruge, September, 1843“, in Karl Marx. Frederick Engels. Collected Works, Vol. 3 (Moscow: Progress Publishers).

(1975b): “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Introduction“, in Marx. Engels. Collected Works. Vol. 3 (Moscow: Progress Publishers).

(1975c): “Theses on Feuerbach“, in Marx. Engels. Selected Works (Moscow: Progress Publishers).

(1982): Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 (Moscow: Progress Publishers).

(1984): Capital, Vol. I (Moscow: Progress Publishers).

(1993): Das Kapital, Erster B. and (Berlin: Dietz Verlag) (1992): “To Lara Lafargue, April 13 and 14, 1882” in Marx. Engels Collected Works. Vol. 46 (New York: International Publishers).

Paranjape, Makarand, ‘Decolonising English Studies: Attaining Swaraj. Valedictory Address’. See www.infinity 

Radhakrishnan, S. (1933): Indian Philosophy (London).

Reich, Wilhelm (1971): The Mass Psychology of Fascism, trans Vincent R. Carfagno (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux).

Shourie, Arun (2014): “How history was made at Nalanda“ in Indian Express, June 28.

Thapar, Romila (1975): Past and Prejudice (New Delhi: National Book Trust).


1. Fredric Jameson (1991): Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (London: Verso), p. 14.

2. Ibid.

3. (2014): “Pune University to start part-time course in yoga“in The Times of India, June 30.

4. (2014): “Buddha didn’t quit Hinduism, says top RSS functionary“ in Indian Express, July 1.

5. Arun Shourie (2014): “How history was made at Nalanda“ in Indian Express, June 28.

6. (2014 ): “Communicate message of the Upanishads to the youth: Lahoti“ in The Hindu, June 30.

7. See (2014): “RSS man to head historical research body“ in The Times of India, July 3.

8. Kancha Illiah (2014): “Hindutva Hypocrisy“ in The Asian Age, June 27.

9. See my (2013): “Why we are not Hindus: A Reply to the Indian Fascists“ in Mainstream, Vol. LII, No 1, December 28, and (2014): “Why we can never be Hindus or the Struggle against Fascism in India“ in Mainstream, Vol. LII, No 18, April 26.

10. Ibid.

11. Max Muller, India, What Can it Teach Us?, quoted in Romila Thapar (1975): Past and Prejudice (New Delhi: National Book Trust), p. 8.

12. Karl Marx (1992): “To Lara Lafargue, April 13 and 14, 1882“ in Marx. Engels Collected Works. Vol. 46 (New York: International Publishers), pp. 54, 57. Also see Peter Hudis, (2004): “Marx among the Muslims“ in Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, December, 15, 4.

13. Frederick Engels (1976): Dialectics of Nature (Moscow: Progress Publishers), p. 223.

14. Ibid.

15. Karl Marx (1984): Capital, Vol.I (Moscow: Progress Publishers), p. 45.

16. Karl Marx (1993): Das Kapital, Erster Band (Berlin: Dietz Verlag), p. 52

17. Sigmund Freud (1990): “The Psychoanalytic View of Psychogenic Disturbanceof Vision“ in The Penguin Freud library, Vol. 10. On Psychopathology (London: Penguin), p. 108

18. Indian philosophers are unlike Indian historians. So far there has not been a D.D. Kosambi, R.S. Sharma, Irfan Habib or Sumit Sarkar in contemporary Indian philosophy. The only one bold name that stands out is Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya.

19. S. Radhakrishnan (1933): Indian Philosophy (London), See also Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya (2008): Indian Atheism (New Delhi: People’s Publishing House), p. 12.

20. Ibid.

21. Wilhelm Reich (1971): The Mass Psychology of Fascism, trans. Vincent R. Carfagno (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux), pp. 119.

22. Paulo Freire (1977): Cultural Action for Freedom (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books).

23. Louis Althusser (2006): Lenin and Philosophy, trans. B en Brewster (Delhi: Aakar Books), p. 16

24. Ibid., p. 15.

25. Syed Farid Alatas (2006): Alternative Discourse in Asian Social Sciences. Response to Eurocentrism (New Delhi:Sage), p. 25

26. Makarand Paranjape, “Decolonising English Studies: Attaining Swaraj. Valedictory Address“. See

27. The Yoga that the philosophy departments suddenly discovered around two decades back in the era of the Babri Masjid demolition is not the Yoga of Patanjali. It is pop Yoga for the petty-bourgeois upper-caste Hindus and thus a re-packaged New Age Philosophy. Long before Baba Ramdev came on the scene, philosophy departments were practising this New Age Yoga inspired by upper-caste arrogance and communal hatred. Little do the Right-wing pretentious proponents of Sanskrit know that Old Sanskrit and Old Persian are sister languages and that Sanskrit is not exactly native as they so imagine it to be.

28. And this time, no amount of Yoga would serve as therapy for the destruction of reason.

29. See Deeptiman Tiwary (2014): “Post-Modi, Right-Wing Seeks Secure Intellectual Space“ in The Times of India, Thursday, June 19.

30. Ibid.

31. See Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya (2010): What is Living and dead in Indian Philosophy (New Delhi: People’s Publishing House), p. 10.

32. See Mahesh Gavaskar (2007): “Colonialism within Colonialism“ in Dalits in Modern India. Visions and Values, ed. S.M. Michael (New Delhi: Sage).

33. G.W.F. Hegel (1955): Introduction, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, trans. E.S. Haldane (London: Routledge), p. 83. 

34. The following verse is probably the first representation of caste division in Indian society:

The Brahman was his mouth, of both his

arms was the Rajanya made.

His thighs became the Vaisya, from his

feet the Sudra was produced.

(2002): Sacred Writings. Hinduism. The Rg Veda, trans. Ralph T.H. Griffith (New York: Quality Paperback Book Club), hymn XC, 12, p. 603.

The Laws of Manu codifies this form of division of humanity and the servitude emanating thereby: Note: “The Lord assigned only one activity to a servant: serving (other) classes without resentment.” See (2000): The Laws of Manu, trans. Wendy Doniger (London: Penguin Books), Ch 1, 91, p. 13.

35. Karl Marx (1983): Capital, Vol. I (Moscow: Progress Publishers), p. 77

36. A.K. Coomaraswamy (1981): Essays in Indian Nati onalism (New Delhi: Munshiram), p. 22

37. Erich Fromm (1960): “Psychoanalysis and Zen Buddhism” in Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis, ed. Erich Fromm, D.T. Suzuki and Richard de Martino ((London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.), p. 79.

38. Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. I, p. 58.

39. Karl Marx (1982): Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 (Moscow: Progress Publishers), pp. 127, 134, 143.

40. Karl Marx, Das Kapital, Erster Band, p. 49.

41. Karl Marx (1975c): “Theses on Feuerbach“ in Marx. Engels Selected Works (Moscow: Progress Publishers,), p. 28.

42. Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism, pp. 115-142.

43. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels (1976): The German Ideology (Moscow: Progress Publishers), pp. 243-4.

44. Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, pp. 135-6.

45. Ibid., p. 120.

46. Karl Marx (1975b): “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Introduction“ in Marx. Engels. Collected Works. Vol. 3 (Moscow:Progress Publishers), p. 175.

47. Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, pp. 90, 94, 109.

48. Slavoj Zizek (2000): The Fragile Absolute, or why is the Christian legacy is worth fighting for? (London: Verso), pp. 157-8.

49. Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, p. 127.

50. Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. I, p. 77.

51. Ibid.

52. Ibid., p. 129.

53. Ibid.

54. Wilhelm Halbfass (1990): India and Europe. An Essay in Philosophical Understanding (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass), pp. 145-159.

55. Walter Benjamin (1979): “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction“, in Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn (Glasgow: Fontana/Collins).

56. Karl Marx (1975): “To Arnold Ruge, Kreuzenach, September, 1843“ in Karl Marx. Frederick Engels. Collected Works, Vol. 3 (Moscow: Progress Publishers), p. 144.

The author belongs to the Indian Institute of Education, Pune. He can be contacted at e-mail:

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