Prominent Academics and Dialogue on Being Different

The book “Being Different – An Indian challenge to Western Universalism” is blazing a trail of sparking interest & discussions across all levels of readers  interested in Hinduism and Dhharmic thought. This includes both ‘lay’ readers & scholars.

Here we feature the dialogues sparked at the highest levels of Academy, where the book was reviewed by globally prominent Academics active in Hinduism Studies. A special issue of International Hindu Studies was published in January 2013 to discuss Rajiv Malhotra’s book Being Different.

The link below gives the list of papers. There are a total of 7 papers in this special issue.  Some are critical and a useful window into how the western scholars of Hinduism are thinking and what bothers them; others are supportive. There is one article in support by Shrinivas Tilak who has written an excellent summary on Integral Unity.  The final one is a consolidated response by Rajiv to the major issues raised by the critics.

Linked here are the individual responses by author Rajiv Malhotra to these reviews. Readers should bear in mind that there is already a consolidated response present in the Journal along with the reviews [click here for the entire response article, freely downloadable]. But due to limitations of space etc, the Editors had to edit out many details which Rajiv had incisively laid out in the individual responses.

Thus the reader is sure to find it immensely rewarding to go through these individual responses. These clearly establish Rajiv’s Purvapaksha on each scholar’s individual position on the issues, along with a vigorous defence of the overall thesis of “Being Different”.

(I) Response to Gerald James Larson:

(II) Response to Nicholas Geier:

(III) Response to Yelle:


Broad Areas of Criticism (summarized by Surya K):

Rajiv has identified four broad areas where the critics have raised their concern.  To quote from his paper:

  1. Section One addresses the variety of methodological issues raised concerning the very nature of my project, which is to present a dharmic view of the West and highlight the contrasts between the two civilizations.
  2. Section Two defends one of the core theses of the book, namely, that there is such a thing as a unified dharmic gaze despite serious internal differences and diversity among the schools and sub-schools. This section includes a pivotal discussion on the non-translatable term mithya
  3. Section Three defends the charge that Western Civilization lacks the same kind of unity as Dharma and that its unity is of a different kind.
  4. Section Four comes to the heart of what I feel the authors of the essays in this issue, and my critics elsewhere, are deeply concerned about, even when they are not saying it explicitly: They disapprove of the very existence of a “dharmic” family, whereas my project depends upon the coherence of such a unity.


These discussions & debates are still ongoing, please check here for further updates.



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