Transcribe your podcast

The Brown Pandit's Brown, this is here, and this is the Brown Pundit's podcast, we have some very special guests tonight, fresh off a victory for Dharma. I'm sugarcoating that or I'm being really nice here, but I'm really happy with what happened recently. And this podcast is going to be about the Rutgers fiasco. If you guys follow me on Twitter. I've checked out the blog. There's been multiple conversations about this, multiple threads. And this is kind of getting to be a bigger deal than I thought it would ever be.


So with me right now, I'm going to the co-host and we have three students from Rutgers. So we're going to get some testimonies as to how they're feeling in this whole fiasco and also some general thoughts on M.G., quote unquote, South Asian studies and the study of Hinduism itself in academia. So I'll ask them to introduce yourselves so you could go first. High numbers.


They think you for having me. My name is Brisset, that I'm a junior at Rutgers. I study economics, computer science and critical intelligence studies. I'm also the external president of Rutgers HSC and I basically grew up like a third culture kid. I have Indian parents. I was born in the US and then I lived around the world growing up before coming back to the US for college. Hi, everyone, my name is Cheve and I'm a student at Rutgers, I am studying psychology and I hope to do more for me in the cause relating to the transgenerational trauma that we face as a community.


Hey, guys, namaste, everyone. My name is the Punjab and the Hindu chaplain on the Rutgers campus and I basically know spirituality since last twenty five years. After graduating in college from Stephensen ninety four, I had a chance to visit India and I fell in love and an awakening happened and my spiritual journey started. And since then I've been managing and running an ashram in USA and currently I'm a chaplain on campus. And my responsibilities to make sure that Hindu students can freely voice their faith and be proud of who they are and their faith should not be jeopardized by someone's comments and influence.


If I really like the peacocks in the background, when you first started talking of these peacocks, by the way, I am right now I'm traveling. Oh, OK, awesome. That's perfect. So let's let's kick it off. I want to hear your guys, his words like what happened? Like, what's up with Rucker's? Why is it why did this all blow up and know? Just tell us about the situation you guys are facing so I can get us started.


So before I go into what exactly happened at Rutgers, I'm going to give a little bit of background into my own personal journey into joining a Hindu student group. How I found out about Professor Chomsky and the steps that have happened over the last, I think, three or four weeks or so. So growing up, I was never extremely religious. And I feel like a lot of Hindus in the diaspora could relate to this. I always like celebrated Hindu festivals, I said, because in the morning.


But I still I think there was still something missing for years. But I would only say within the last two or three years, after seeing all the negative perceptions of Hinduism, especially in the media, I think growing up for me going to all these different schools, you would frequently hear the cast carry like stereotypes about Hindus in India in general. But I really saw, I guess, a spike ever since twenty, eighteen, twenty nineteen with very, very negative portrayal of Hinduism, even worse than it was before.


So I kind of thought that instead of being ingrained into a South Indian identity, I wanted to be more inclined towards Hindu identity and finding a community that supported me in terms of discovering my Hindu identity and on my spiritual journey in general. So to kick this off, I joined Hindu Students Council and I also joined the executive board on Hindu Student Council. And I remember one of my first conversations with people on the HSC board was, what do you think about all the perceptions of Hinduism in India, in the media, and what do you feel like we could do about it, to educate people, to show that we're not just about all this caste cow curry stuff and everything else that was also being shown?


And I remember one of the people on the board said to me, you know, we can't really do much. We don't really take these kind of political stances. And I thought, you know, obviously this isn't really a political stance. It's just educating people about who we are and our traditions and everything. But then at the time, this person also said to me, but we are sharing a petition about Professor Audrey Trotzky. And keep in mind, this happened maybe around October or November of twenty nineteen.


So then I said, OK, but who is Professor Outteridge Osugi? And then I was told that this professor had been seeing comments about how dumb is misogynistic pig on her Twitter and a whole of other hateful comments about Hinduism in general, various instances where Hindu sacred texts were kind of tainted to make it look like it was all sexist and misogynistic. And I felt very disturbed by the things that I read on her Twitter page. So there were numerous meetings with the administration, but unfortunately, I can't say anything more about that than the outcome came out with.


Basically nothing. No action was taken at all. And eventually most students kind of felt, I guess, afraid and just kind of thought, OK, there's nothing really that can be done about this entire issue. Until three or four weeks ago, I was on the Rutgers HRC Instagram page when I received these Dems with this Instagram graphic about everything that Professor Triscuit said kind of condensed into one graphic. And I opened it and I thought, oh, my gosh, someone has actually put everything together and basically saying everything that she has said about Hinduism and put an open letter together, I think, as well, along with the petition.


So I read it. And actually I didn't realize things were much worse than what we had initially thought about some of her comments on Hinduism. But I will get into this in more detail later. But yeah, so it had a petition and an open letter which many people signed. And I also circulated it on social media, and it was by a group called Hindu on Campus. And eventually this kind of circulated everywhere all over social media. And it went viral on Instagram and I believe on Twitter as well.


And I think it got a lot of people's attention, which is what prompted the first Rutgers response. But before I go on, I'll probably give it to Shiv just to say more about the issue and then we can talk about what the Rutgers response was. Yes.


So, you know, from my point of view, I remember I was just like I had heard of it before, you know, like I had seen graphics about what she had said about Hinduism so many times in the past. But really, the first time that I saw non Indians, non Hindus even talk about this was like a few weeks ago. And so I remember just like opening up my phone and I saw, oh, and a whole bunch of people are called.


About like helping him, the students and I was like, wait, they're not even Indian, they're even Hindu. What's this all about? And I looked into it and I saw some of the comments that she made. And I was absolutely horrified because essentially, you know, the thing is, like, I wasn't even raised in, like a very religious household. Well, you know, like, my parents are religious, but like I was raised very religiously.


I wasn't the type who was praying every day or any of that. And then as soon as I see someone trash talking like a professor, trash talking the public, people calling our deity such horrible names, that's when I realized this really isn't even about like Hinduism or India. This is straight up like just discrimination. Right. And so what I realized is like. Everyone who has been speaking up is speaking out from a point of anti-racism, standing up against discrimination, being involved on campus despite the whole pandemic, really doing everything from a virtual setting.


So it was like as a Hindu, I felt very happy that, like all these kids that have nothing to do with Hinduism are standing up for us. And I'm going to pass it on to people. Bambino.


Yes, hello. So my role as a as a Hindu chaplain on campus, I came to know of this issue more. I have heard of it last year and I have seen some of her messages or Twitter messages and teachings and tweets. But recently when. Few students came immediately seeking some counseling and they were very disturbed, I mean, this was like very disturbing effect on their psyche and that made me dig more into her background and her teachings and exactly where she's coming from.


And it's very it's completely misguided, you know. And so let's talk about the actual effect of her teaching. And obviously I can reveal more of counseling details. But it was very disturbing. These students that hold very dear to their heart, their faith, something that they had, they believe so strongly and passion. That's how they're grown up in Hinduism, in their family. And now you have a professor, someone who was such an authority. Someone who is to be looked up to completely coming from left field in and bashing your feet, no fate is something that we hold so dear to, even though we're some students or most of the students don't go to temples or or practice religious or religion very systematically, still at the core of their heart.


This is who they are. You know, this is their identity. And now someone with with so much authority and in in credibility, supposed credibility on campus, who's teaching South studies are coming and making such claims that are ludicrous. And it doesn't even have any logical basis to it that they're accustomed to understanding. So this trauma was so much evident that it took a while for me to make them understand scientifically, spiritually, logic, reasoning, and understood and reaffirmed their conviction in their faith.


So I think that needs to be examined, that someone in authority, a figure, you know, under the guise of scholarship, can just make claims that are far from the baseline. So I think that needs to be really revisited and discussed. So you guys make some excellent points, and I know in terms of discussing Turkey's behavior or just generally what's happening at Rutgers because of some institutional and academic stuff, I know a lot of your hands are tied or lips are sealed just to sort of just respect of the institution and just what's going on.


These negotiations, I would call it. But is there anything you could tell us about how students have reacted or how the admin or other professors or even I'm interested at how nonintrusive reacted? Because this is one of the first times I'm seeing non Hindu's stand up for us and it feels good. You know, the people that talk about solidarity, hashtag solidarity. But to be honest, I don't I never felt like I meant shit if I'm going to be straight up because I never saw people standing up for Hindus that were non Hindu.


And this is one of the first times you guys are telling me about it. So I love to hear about other students reactions, whether the Hindu or non Hindu, perhaps staff or people around. Just tell me. Tell me what's good. Yeah, so, um, well, you know, one of my friends, she's white, she doesn't have any background. She I remember I saw her story, her story, and it was like the post from this account.


I think the handle was like the on campus. And she wrote an entire paragraph saying, well, I thought we were working to dismantle white supremacy, but Rutgers is like upholding it or something like that. And it was very interesting to see her, like, stand up for Hindus because like, I also never saw that before. One of my friends who comes from like a completely different background don't want to reveal her ethnicity, but she was basically talking about how her people went through something similar.


And like her, people have been belittled by professors at other universities. And like this isn't really an isolated incident. It's like everything ties into, you know, institutional racism or just, um, I guess like ignorance to us as a whole. And then I've also seen, like Hindus that come from Hindu families where they're actually like agnostic or atheist. And even they felt offended. Right. Because, like, she's not really attacking a specific Hindu person.


She's attacking like a religious text or like a deity. And so I think it's the way that she's been attacking people that led everyone to start speaking up. Yeah, and also to kind of walk you through, like the things that I saw in the open letter that I personally found was like the most questionable. So, like the comment I mentioned at the beginning, that drama was a misogynistic pig. And then one of her articles and I think a magazine, she said that the bug with the rationalizes mass slaughter and that the world of Mahabharat is stacked against women and comparing property to the gang rape case.


But I think what really struck me was the deliberate lie that she had tweeted about during the capital riots. She basically said that she saw an Indian flag and immediately said, this is the Hindu right that did it. But turns out the man wasn't even a Hindu. So I just thought that this was like deliberate misinformation and like, why would you spread something like that unless you have biases? But speaking more so about the whole process with the administration, obviously, as much as I can reveal, she basically, like Professor Trischka, basically said that anyone who was Hindu and disagreed with her was a BJP.


It said troll, and it was actually Twitter trolls that were pretending to be her students, which was quite disturbing, actually, and actually exhibits a lot of xenophobia because it seems as if if you're Indian like her Indian background or if you're Hindu background and you kind of object to these hateful statements, you're suddenly like affiliated with the BJP. And as far as I know, everyone here is an American, like we don't have anything to do with Indian political parties.


So then initially Rutgers had released a statement saying that they support Professor Tretiak and, you know, they condemn all the hateful messages that she received. And see, I personally totally agree with that. Obviously, I do not want her to receive any kind of hateful messages or threats whatsoever. But on the other hand, it kind of seemed like there was no concern for the Hindu students who were equally receiving very, very hateful threats where Hindus were called dopeheads, which was used by the pastors during the 80s, 90s, when quite literally targeting Hindus in New Jersey, calling Hindu students as Nazis and numerous messages telling people to go back to India.


So eventually we did have a meeting. But the administration, we kind of explained everything that had happened. It was very emotional and very engaging discussion. And I personally raised the point and said, you know, obviously none of us want threats towards her. But at the same time, it's really important that we also condemn the hateful messages that Hindu students received. And then that statement came out from Rutgers. And then I think yesterday and the day before, there was also a statement by Rutgers HSC and Hindu UVA kind of like summarizing what happened at the meeting and talking about steps forward as to how the administration is going to help prevent the phobia on campus.


So I think you brought up a great point about those hateful messages that Czerski received and of course, the very unfortunate. But, you know, I'm going to be real again because I'm going to say Czerski and a lot of other people who do these baiting messages on Twitter know exactly what they're doing. Churchgate and other people like I know could get away with this abuse on Hinduism or whatever subject, to be honest. So they say whatever they want on Twitter, they start, quote, tweeting random people who were anonymous and up to followers and then assign the blame on the entirety of Hinduism or Indians or Indian Americans or, as you said, random, you know, quote unquote.


It's social workers. So it's just a methodical pattern. These people, and I'm sure Czerski knows exactly what she's doing. It's literally bait to make yourself look as a victim and then double down on exactly what happens. It's just a it's just a cycle. But I want to go to Mukund because he has a very strong academic background. He knows Sanskrit and he's very knowledgeable, I guess, in this arena versus Czerski as well as even compared to the rest of the state.


So what are your thoughts on this?


Yeah, I mean, obviously there is some issues here and I have a couple of thoughts. Right. So let me put on a couple of different hats.


The first one, I'll say, as an American and a lawyer also to think about it is so her comments generally are in articles and her mostly Twitter, to be honest.


So how and this was our first question to you guys is why is why would that be traumatic to individuals? Right. Because in some ways, I mean, while I can see it when I read something like that, I just think she just honestly, like, she's absurd and not understanding the text. So let's give an example. When she talks about, you know, drop dropping the situation, the Mahabharat, that. Right. So she says misogyny, misogyny, misogyny.


And let's be frank, the Mahabharata has some elements in which women are not treated very well.


But Mahabharata also is a text that is describing the world as it was at. Time she talks about property and she talks about even, for example, well, mostly property, but she doesn't go talk about the conversation that syllabub in has with this king Jannika where gender is overcome. The conversation is about how he comes to the table with presuppositions about what sort of a woman, Rishi, who Michika, who has taken the path of someone, decides that she wants to go learn from Jannika, who's known to be this great, amazing Brehmer.


She and she actually both has knowledge and is a king. But the moment she has a conversation with him, he starts thinking about her gender and about what she wants from him as a woman and supposed to thinking of her as someone that's coming for knowledge.


And she, in that entire dialog basically breaks down every preconceived, preconceived notion he has about womanhood, about caste, about the relationships between human beings, and focuses on the the the the knowledge element of knowing brotherman.


So, yes, there is the description within within within the text about like women being treated a certain way.


Right. But there are countervailing positions, the receptivity. There's some laba there's you know, the text itself is very, very it's a vast text describing a lot of different situations at the time. So my question to you guys is now. Why does her comment about misogyny cause trauma, and it's a general question, and I'm not being rhetorical like I know the answer. I just want to have a sense of where that comes from. Yes, so, you know, it's.


We, as you can even say, like Brown or South Asian people, there are a lot of prejudices and stereotypes about our cultures and religions that we have to face. She needs to recognize that there is a difference between the color of her skin tone versus the color of our skin tones. And so for someone of her stature basically to come at us and criticize our religions, I mean, it doesn't give us like colonialism throwbacks, like when the British were misinterpreting Hindu texts.


I mean, we've seen the worst of it. And I don't really want to say it and invoke trauma for other people. But we've seen the British misinterpret our text. We've seen, you know, like certain people on news channels just go at it and abuse our religions or our cultures. And it's like there is a lot of trauma associated with that. We've grown up facing racism. We haven't had it any other way. And quite frankly, we're sick of it.


So to echo Windass, point about Silva being a women seeking self-knowledge, going to this enlightens, you know, a master Janica, and then she you know, she basically begs to look beyond her gender. Now, in the Vedic times, I mean, since we're on the topic of them in in in Vedic times and inequality, in fact, one of the students recently asked me, hey, is this I mean, what is my view and what is what is our, you know, say on women not being allowed to read Vedas or not be privy to certain information or knowledge invaders?


In in my response to that was that whoever is or whoever is making those claims is completely ignorant of our Vedic culture and values for for most readers, teachers to go beyond the name and the body form.


So there is no there is absolute gender equality. In fact, there is you know, there is a vision to go beyond the gender, to look at ourselves as to pure light or the pure self, your consciousness without the body, you know, the whole underlying message or or or all outloud message of Indian spiritual Indian spirituality is that we're not the body that we're actually spiritual, being confined in this body, in this present time, in space. But we are something other than that.


And again, we can come back to that as as a bigger discussion and how current modern physicists are basically accepting this theory of wholeness.


And one, you know, so people just on that point, I just I do want to I do want to nuance this. Right. Like we have to a part of this is not just students, but people on the whole to recognize like Hinduism is has great things, has amazing things.


But it's also culturally dependent, town dependent, place dependent. So there can be and there has been quite a long history within the traditions itself of excluding women from some spaces and that we can't turn a blind eye to that.


And that's something that needs to be addressed, like the culture had the ability to allow women and for large part, until probably the end of the Moriya time period, women were much more liberal and free and able to engage. But that changed over time, too. So part of this is like we have to and when we when we talk about people like Trotzky or other scholars that have these responses, we have to address some of their their points and deal with it as if it's a legitimate criticism and address them like we can't just throw it away by saying Hinduism says X, Y, Z.


It does, but it says a lot of other things, too. So we have to be we have to be critical and we have to treat our scriptures. And Shasta's as if they are meant to be the way they were, which is they are insights into the deeper nature of reality set in a time, place and situation in which those things, some things might not be relevant to this day and age and so on. So I don't want to I don't want to detract the points.


But but that's just what I want to respond to on this new agreement and agreed. You know, but again, you mentioned a very good word, cultural. Right. So the cultural traditions have changed. Has that cannot be the lens that is used to evaluate the Vedic values that are defined in the US? OK, because during that certain time and in time in history, maybe maybe the view or the dependance on the religion text was not as much.


Do you know what I'm saying? Now, again, too, let's bring this to current times. Look, when scholars examine the world's religion, they usually attempt to distinguish between their universal, theological, philosophical, philosophical foundations. And the particular historical and culturally bound social structures of societies that practice this religion. So if we take Christianity as an example, right, biblical scholars using sophisticated semantics extract universal whole in theology from a social context of Paul's letters, that prison slavery.


In the subjugation of women. Sure, sure. Statement that seem to support the social order or reinterpreted their reinterpret now in current days in light of passages that are deemed to reflect more of universal values, but to see moulins is not the same scholarly lens is not true when it comes to Hinduism. Yeah, absolutely. So let's take that up, I think a little bit later in the conversation, I think a few other people want to respond to this.


So guys, go ahead. Yeah, look, that you kind of go with your previous point about like why exactly this is really like you, I guess, quote unquote causes trauma. I would say here's the deal. You wouldn't do this for any other faith, not like you as in you can, but just in general. Any administration wouldn't really tolerate this kind of bigotry peddled by towards any other faith, especially on social media. So here's my personal opinion.


I think it's completely fine to have this kind of scholarly debate. You can debate people who you disagree with, especially to come to some kind of consensus about your views and being able to argue them well and everything. But here's the deal. Twitter trolling is not academic scholarship, and I just don't think you can ever categorize it as that. Same with things like op ed. These are all kind of personal opinions that are coming out. And like I've mentioned before, with the personal biases, people who do listen to this kind of rhetoric, especially when it comes from a person of authority, it really does play into those biases that they carry with them throughout their life.


You know, I know when teachers teach you things, they're supposed to be objective. But, you know, we can't deny that we all carry some kind of biases that have been passed down, whether it's from a teacher or mentor or anything like that. So I just think it really feeds into those kind of biases that can be portrayed. And generally, it doesn't really hold the kind of same standards as it would for other religious groups that have faced this kind of racism on a college campus.


So, I mean, I agree with you here. I think you're I think that's the the the right general view. I mean, look at I've read her op ed pieces, and to be honest, I've not read her books. I after reading her op ed pieces and, you know, I just find there's much better scholars out there that discuss this stuff in many ways. I view her work as being a provocateur kind of stuff where she wants to really draw attention to herself.


I'm not sure about her scholarship or articles are so, so and whatever, but primarily when she goes on Twitter and, you know, I'm not that I follow her, but I've seen a few of her posts. It is very much I state my opinion on Hindu nationalism or whatever I want to state. But the reason I can state it is because I am a scholar of South Asia, as if as if that gives any one particular knowledge about a particular situation in this in this particular time period.


Like she can be a scholar.


I mean, I don't know any other field of academic world in history where someone can be a scholar of all of a civilization. Right.


Like someone can come and say, yeah, I'm an expert in like biblical scholars will come and say, I'm an expert in early medieval Christian thought. I'm an expert in early Christian history. But it's only within Indian studies that I see experts as in everything covering South Asia, South Asia, the the term I use that in the sense that people use it.


Now, converting their terrorist landmass of the Indian subcontinent is like so much more diverse than Europe was.


Right. Like continental Europe for for most of history in both in terms of religious practices, cultural practices, languages, language groups, it's a very dynamic place. But to claim to have that kind of expertize over the entire swath of this region and gives them the ability to say whatever they want. And just because they had the term of professor of South Asia, they can get the freedom to do so. So that's one point. The second point I have to say is is not the same.


And this is, I guess, a kind of a a thread that goes through about brown pundits. If you listen to us before the same kind of identity politics being played by, you know, other minority communities within the American world and college campuses, is that the same kind of play that we're doing now with the Hindu? The the Hindu response is, is and is. If it is, is that the way we should be addressing it or should we be addressing it by bringing in scholars not only from, you know, the Western academic world, but there's other great scholars that that right.


Are more expert experts on these texts like Arvind Sharma, you can say is one Vishwa the Loory. There's just a host of them, right, from a South Asian background or even people that are of Western background, but appreciate the texts and understand it from the perspective of the text itself, like Nicholas Sutin or Stephen Phillips or there's a bunch of people. Right. Those people are able to come and talk about this stuff in a much more objective way.


No one without an agenda and they'll lay out their biases. So I guess the two point question here is, is the identity politics kind of methodology of dealing with the situation important? And if it is. Why and then it's is there not a better way? I guess I'd ask. So I'm going to answer your second question and do I don't do identity politics matter in this? And I would say, you know, since this is happening on a college campus and like her students are the ones hearing all I'm sorry, the last part of the question, I think doesn't matter.




Like my like I know someone who is a Caribbean Hindu and like everything that she's saying in terms of calling anyone who speaks out against her, a Hindu nationalist and the guy like that makes no sense. And then. Yeah, go ahead, Jeff, sorry. Yes, I would say, like their identities do matter, but then I would also say that scholarship does matter as well. Right, right. And we do need more scholars to talk about Hinduism and the Hindu experience in America, especially because this is like an untapped field kind of right now.


And so I would say those things matter.


So I want to make a quick comment on this. Yeah, we have discussed this a lot. And I think it's being this whole identity politics. Or if we could say, well, we could say, well, I don't think this is into the realm of, OK, I think this is just more sort of standard liberal politics, which is we've seen for decades now. I think people use it or people do it this way because it's effective.


And I've had conversations about this scenario with a few of the people last week. And one of the best comments I heard was if all Jaeschke or whoever was speaking about, say, African-Americans or Islam or, you know, Latino people or just many other like oppressed groups, they would be removed within a day. And I honestly think that would be the case. I think if she made equivalent comments about those communities, she'd be gone within the day.


And I think that just shows in my mind there's Zuma out of order, even Rucker's this whole situation. I think there's a profound rot in itself for South Asian studies or just a study of Hinduism. I have a good friend or good friend actually, who have studied Hinduism and are doing their PhDs in Oxford at George Washington University. They've studied in India in terms of Sanskrit for I guess like a gap year or something like that, or to get their masters and then coming back to finish up.


They're practicing Hindus. And what they told me is it's very, very difficult for a Hindu in academia. First, you're faced with your your colleagues who are pretty much all lighter skinned than you. The whole department is white now. I don't think, you know, there's nothing inherently wrong with white people, OK? That's not the problem. It's that there's such a lack of diversity and there's such a lack of representation of actual practitioners or people from that background and those that are from that background.


They parrot the exact same things that have been said prior. And I think a lot of other departments say African studies or maybe East Asian studies or whatever, they've had their reformations in that they've had locals or people who are indigenous or people who are practitioners actually uphold the tradition or come in and kind of take it away from the old colonial vestiges in India. This is not been the case. In fact, it's almost like it's been doubled down and it's been done in a really strange way.


I know one thing I see is there's this really strange Freudian like psychosexual thing that goes on in terms of Hinduism and South Asian studies where they pick the random, spiritual or random small thing about our culture and just, you know, sexualize it like it's really like a 13 year old kid just having fun. But this is serious. You know, these are this is what's being taught to us. This is what's going to be taught to our children.


And this is the gold standard. Now, it's not some juvenile joke. This is what it is according to the institutions or academia. And I think that's to me, that's one of the biggest problems. And what we're seeing here and why, you know, I praise you guys at the beginning. We're seeing the first, you know, standing up to this bullshit, if I'm going to put it lightly. But I want to get your guys thoughts, like, how do you feel about academia and India or Hinduism or South Asia?


How do you feel that interfacing has been in your experience? See, for me personally, I grew up like moving around the world, like I said, and going to school and all these different places, especially when you go to the British international schools, you can kind of imagine how the portrayal of India and Hinduism were. It was always as if any kind of mention of India, they mentioned of the slums and poor people. And then everyone who was like white would like, look at you kind of like you were one of those kids.


I mean, honestly wasn't very pleasant growing up in that kind of atmosphere when you were always subject to these things. But what I will say, though, from my observation of Indian Americans and I can see this as someone kind of looking in from the outside, especially because I've only been in the US for maybe two or three years now. I want to say that most Indian Americans are not really political or they're not really religious either or ingrained into any of their identity.


So a lot of people I from what I've seen, face this kind of identity crisis. And you're probably wondering, like, what does this have to do in getting to the and get to that. But what I'm trying to say is a lot of people are kind of stuck in this identity crisis and they don't really come out beyond that. So they're not really proud to be American, but they're not proud to be Indian either. They don't really believe in any like there they'd be born Hindu, but they're not like believing in it, which is totally fine.


It's like their choice. But then it still ends up in this kind of realm of confusion. So when they come into colleges, especially when you hear rhetoric about, oh, all these gods are weird, or all this kind of like comments that portray Hinduism as strange, it's very, very, very easy to get sucked into that kind of narrative. And I think Hindus, because of this kind of being stuck in the middle, they've never really spoken up for themselves like ever.


A lot of people wonder why. Why is black culture never inclusive of Hinduism? And I just ask them, well, what have you done to educate people about your community? And if you haven't done anything that you really can't expect people to look into that and stand up for you as well unless your voice is also out there. And I think this is just kind of like seeped its way through into academia. And it just seems like there is certainly a vested narrative to always portray India as like weird and strange and honestly, in a way of destabilizing that kind of identity.


I would say completely rip away any ties to India and Hinduism in general. OK, yeah, so on those points, you know, here's the thing, right? So, you know, I have the other podcast I run, which is maybe media, which I talked to scholars and practitioners of of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, all different different traditions and a lot of what the scholars will tell me off camera.


And some of them are practitioners, some of them are not is they don't want certain things to be said on in public, primarily due to the response from academia.


And this includes even people that have retired because they have their personal views about a lot of what's going on.


But for them, they rather focus on the scholarship of of what they do instead of the political commentary of what's going on in academia. But this is a this is a big problem, right?


Again, this is there's a couple of things going on here. One is.


The issue within our own community of Hindus and Indians or whatever, I mean, this larger, broader community Indians, but smaller community Hindus within the group is our focus as as Americans or people of diaspora is, to be honest, really focused on career of prestige, wealth and so on.


Not many, not many of us get into. And, you know, I'm a product of this, too. Don't get into the scholarship aspect. Don't get into studying the traditions. Don't get into the academia of this work. Right. So you end up having a vast majority of Western academia totally overrun by, you know, people of the white persuasion. Now, that doesn't inherently give anyone right or wrong view. But what it does is if you're generally born into a cultural world in which these traditions are seen to be the other and not another, in the words of Arvind Sharma, then inherently you're going to view them in in that way.


And in fact, like people, I mean, not Trotsky's not just the only one, but quite a few scholars when they come to the table with their assessments of Hindu texts or these traditions come to it, even though the claim objectiveness, they come to it with hidden biases and hidden assumptions about what they're engaging with right wing. When she talks about misogyny, again, I'll use that example in the Mahabharata where she's reading into that lens is the current world of her understanding of misogyny.


And the same thing she says about Uranga said, because you can't look at Rungis from the modern light, she does the same thing, too. She does the opposite of what she says to the Indian text when she looks at Rama and calls him a misogynistic pig or her translation of in which someone like Robert Goldman, who's an expert, who's an expert in the Ramayana, who's done probably the foremost next to maybe Jon Brockington in in Western academia, an expert on that text comes back and rebuts her.




The problem with people, a lot of times it's like Trotsky is they don't want to engage in the public debate of these things. Right. There have been numerous Sanscrit scholars, scholars of these texts that have said, hey, we'll talk to you about this.


We'll debate you on this. She won't respond and other people won't respond because they they can barely read Sanskrit the way Indian scholars can read Sanskrit, like, you know, like, for example, I'll use because I have an idea who who I learned, you know, Somkiat, Tantra and other things from studying. Srijit You know, I'll mention his first language was Sanskrit, like he it's his blood, right? He knows he could read or write it just as well.


He can rewrite English to my larger point about Academia Anthology is that it is laden with a lot of the baggage of colonial tropes, even though they they claim to have broken free of them. They still cite the same scholars from way back in the day. Not to say that these scholars weren't correct on a few points, but there's inherent issues there. Now, the issue about up about sexuality. And so our texts are very, very, very much there's a lot of sex there was that wasn't hidden, that wasn't put in the back burner.


It was up in front in your face because we the indic understanding of sex is that it is the foundation of reality. Why is it the foundation is because that's how all beings come into into being right, like sex is important. So a lot of times analogies of sex used are to show the creative power of something. I mean, we have to go into it for me to explain it. But there's a lot here now. The identity side.


Yeah, I totally get it. And and actually shift to you know what you're what you guys are pointing up a pointing out about the nature of of being brown, having to explain your background, your your traditions. But a large part of that and again, this might come to me being a little bit harsh on our own community, is a lot of our parents did a terrible job of maintaining those ideas, just traditions, those concepts with us.


And when they did, they didn't understand it. And to be frank, a lot of people, when they speak about it, they just this stuff takes a lot of work. So you have to commend someone like TRUSTe for at least jumping into the text more than what a lot of our older generation did. Now it's up to us, you know, like I'm much older than you guys, but but still it's up to us, like the people that are dealing with the fallout of this to step up and engage with it.


So sorry for my rant. You know. Go ahead. Yes, so I am I would say that I don't really know many Hindus who haven't even like five Hindu texts, and that's not to say that I read either. But I would say that I've met so many people of other religions. I have read so many versions of their text like they are not just the Bible, but they've also read different interpretations of the Bible. And so I would say that as Hindus, we do need to do better in terms of understanding our scriptures.


I would also say that, you know, we we do need more sources in terms of the people who really can speak Sanskrit, like your friend who was born and raised speaking Sanskrit. I would say that these are the guys that really need to, you know, get them online and publish like easy to read translations of these texts or at least some concepts like you have to translate an entire book. What can we get? Some articles translating like certain concepts.


So I would say like as a community, we need to do better in terms of like our scholars need to do better, we need to do better, and we need to build our ecosystem. And I'm going to let people speak now. But you know, what I was saying is to go back to both of your points, you know that many of these scholars, the lack full knowledge of the cultural context in the language, both or either or fully, you know, to be legitimately explain and understand the beliefs of the living traditions, you know, and this is where the injustice is coming from.


Number one, no, too many of these critical terms are simply mistranslated or else taken out of context, like I was reading one or the other scholar, and he was giving a completely different depiction of Ramakrishna in the word that was used as a whole.


For example, in Bengali or even in Hindi is meant for very like a mother, like very loving gesture of a mother holding a child, you know, in her lap, very gentle touch. But he completely took it out of context and took it to what you mentioned from the Freudian lens of homosexuality. I mean, it's just completely ludicrous. And in fact, one of the other Indian scholar brought the point back, showing how to talk or use that same verb in the national anthem of Bangladesh.


So it's it's you know, there's a scholar named Wendy and all these scholars are basically getting their thesis dissertation approved by her and she basically has this little Freudian lens and women impression lens from probably from her own psychological trauma. And they're finding, you know, Hinduism and inequality as a way of releasing that frustration. And this is where we are at this point, you know?


Yeah, we can. I mean, I just want to respond to that, you know, like we shouldn't impute their own trauma on people. Right. Like, that's just their perspective wherever it comes from or comes from. And, you know, but like, ultimately, you know, here again, we have to be. Part of this is us being nuanced and being being able to respond in kind and know shit about this. You know, I brought it up and then shivved responded, is we as as Hindu's have to get really knowledgeable about our texts and our traditions from people within the texts and traditions.


Right. And that's not to say that all these texts and traditions are 100 percent right. But they all agree or there or whatever. There's very, very, very big differences. Right.


Tantra has a very different philosophy of philosophical and theological importance of the text than they put on us or at the Oscars or their mugshots.


But they're all I mean, we have to recognize what we're talking about. Hindu texts.


We are literally talking about something like 40 million manuscripts are existing out there.


And even if you say one percent of those is actually like new and different texts, that's four million different texts. We're talking about four million. Maybe people over thousands of years writing a lot and you can't talk about the society or the culture as if it's one coherent thing, it's multiple things are on multiple times. You know, I kind of you know, we've kind of jumped around and maybe this is my fault, but I want to bring it back to the ship.


And that is.


So what do you guys want to see happen?


Like how how do you think not only Hindus should deal with this and students in schools should deal with this, but what do you think, like parents or even scholars and administrations should be doing?


I think the fundamental thing the mostly college students and high school students should be doing is speaking out because honestly, like all of us are here today and we are obviously putting ourselves at the forefront and giving you a description of exactly what's happening. And all it does is it takes one person to speak out for many more people to speak out. So I really think the problem with most Hindus is I know that in the past, like people at Rutgers especially, really didn't want to speak out against Professor Trotzky because they were very, very fearful and rightfully so, because I don't know if you've seen all the hate messages that Hindu students have received.


They've kind of talked about it before already. But a lot of people are very, very fearful of speaking out due to harassment or know what's going to happen to my career and everything like that. But here's the deal. We're not saying anything wrong. We're just saying respect our faith. We always respect other people's faiths. And you have to do the same for us as well. And it's important for an academic institution especially to be respectful and give that respect to Hindu students as well.


So I think the number one thing is Hindus have to be more brave to actually speak out whenever the experience and the phobia are noticing the phobia, especially in academia or in their schools, whatever it is. But it really needs to be reported. So that's point number one. And point number two is I kind of feel like there is kind of a mix with Indian parents. A lot of them are kind of like what you said already, Mukunda.


They are just like, you know, get a good job, like get a good SAT score and then go to college and make a lot of money. But no one really educates children about history. No one really talks about religion or history. There are a set of people that purely focus on religion. So the kids end up being like very religious and they're very well read on Hindu philosophy and everything. But they are still, you know, I guess they don't know anything about their history of their people, the persecutions that they faced, British colonialism, the Mughals and everything, geopolitics from South Asia.


So I still see this kind of like ignorance towards it. So whenever there is some kind of like anti Hindu narrative that's out there, it's very easy to jump onto it if you don't know your own history. So I really think it's important for Hindu parents especially to educate their kids about what our people have been through historically, the kind of sacrifices that our ancestors made to have. But as we do today. So I think it's really important to educate about history and for college kids to speak up like that's the number one points and advice that I would give to people.


Yeah, I mean, I definitely agree with everything the president said, like no one, you have to know your history. You have to know where you come from and you've got to be proud of that because we have a very long, sad and painful history. And that's just how it is. Right. And then number two, you have to report him before you see him. This will be reported. Educate your friends and your family about what the will is and what it looks like.


It's crazy to say this, but like some people genuinely don't know the signs of him before today. And so it's important that we educate one another on it. Number three, I would say, is to get involved with him, because whether it's helping out the American foundations, learning by your faith or writing some articles, speaking up, it's like the little things that you do that make a difference. I'm not saying that everyone needs to be an activist, but I am saying that if you aren't speaking up, then that is the problem.


Yeah, sure, I'm sure, and I would just say a few things on that, one is we should always be vigilant about what some of these scholars are saying about our faith, our culture, our heritage. And like this just this comment that she made about WTT, for example, that this is our most revered text. This is our Lord, the God himself. Personally speaking, this is not a messenger singing or someone else translating God's messenger or the message of truth from Messiah.


This is to God himself. So this obviously most revered text for for billions of Hindus. Now for her to say that it rationalizes mass slaughter. I just want to, you know, take this platform and share like one commentary, one commentary. I mean, she cannot be a higher scholar than David Henry David Thoreau. Now, she said this in the morning, I believe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmological philosophy of Neeta, in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seems puny.


And each you and I can go on and on about what Emerson said and what Einstein said. I mean, Einstein even had something nice to say. He said, here, go on with that. But the point is the point is that the parents also need to educate. Think that was the underlying message in my job on the campus with everyone's help. I like to educate our students and faculty and the members about the Hindu culture, which is so much in the spiritual essence and the science behind it.


Once they understand it, once they practice it, meditation, reflection, you know, not just in not just in principle, but also in practical, not just in theory. Then you see an immediate benefit to that, to your own self development. And that's what brings pride behind the culture, behind the religion, knowing, experiencing and living that spiritual essence of our our tradition.


I wouldn't even say religion or tradition. So I think that's what's important for the future generation of Hindus. And I think that and I agree with what you said, that our parents did not do a good job for whatever reason, maybe was economic reason because they were just had no time. But I think that I really see a new light because the new generation, the current generation is is full of energy, full of acceptance. They want to hear.


They want to they want to challenge. And one thing I'll tell you guys, in our tradition, the Hindu tradition have accepted and not only accepted, but they acknowledge atheist. It's OK to be atheist. You know, there is, in fact, a complete Upanishads. I mean, this atheist, you know, and there's a rationale behind it. And in debates, you know, in the Vedic times when there are two conflicting views of pundits, what would happen?


That would be a debate debate to encourage from waiting times. So even in this time, if a theory doesn't make between two scholars and a healthy debate should be encouraged and welcomed. And I welcome that debate if that needs to happen, for the scholars to deeply understand that the spiritual essence in the overall, the global view of the text, not just one element in the whole that and then highlight that element. So I think and finally, I want to say that to these scholars that are Sanskrit scholars or scholars of the South Asian studies, if you have read the Vedas, which you claim to, there's a very, very beautiful message.


It says subtlety of Adam, Hito, Adam and premortem, meaning the truth. It's it's absolutely necessary to speak. The truth of this truth should be gentle, caring, uplifting the others, not to demoralize them, not to bring them down, not to, but to elevate them. So I think that's where I would like to summarize my statement, saying that I wish that the scholars can reach out or I would like to reach out and touch.


We have a letter out to the administration from my chaplaincy office encouraging a dialog and starting a discussion on how we can make sure this doesn't happen in future again. So I want to thank you guys. I don't think the pundits for having this platform for us to share. Absolutely.


Thanks for that. People. You know, like there's a lot of things in the way that, you know, including, you know, the preamble to the. Right, it just speak the truth. Speak of gently, do not speak the untruth gently but or harshly to I mean, there's quite a few of this. But let's I mean, just on the point of the Geetha and I just want to address this just because I think this shows the the lack of of context in when she talks about the mass slaughter of it.


And if you guys find this to be a little bit too much edited out.


But, you know, even if you accept the guy has been around for thousand years, two thousand four hundred years, whatever or whatever, whatever time you you accept all the commentaries on the Geetha, do not ever focus on the violence. Right. They focus on the message of the Geetha, of knowing the Ottmar even Christianize dialog with our Jinno. Violence is secondary. The purpose of the violence is more important than the violence itself, because the nature of the violence was because of unjustness being done.


One must combat and sometimes violence is the less cruel method to get justice done right. The complexity of Darma, I think she misses out completely because she doesn't even bring up the fact that even in this violent situation, what's the what's Krisna start saying? He doesn't go around saying saw himself since he's in the second chapter. He goes against us at the microdata. The he's there are there there are qualities that are so important to the fundamental nature of what it means to be on the path of knowledge on the path of Broman.


You know, her scholarship on the Barbato or even the budget is is shoddy at best, if you want to read some of that.


Fundamentally amazing little bill, I probably butchered his last name. He is an astounding scholar of Mahabharata. He's written this book called Educational Watermarking and Amazing Scholar. He is beyond like like someone like Trescott when she talks about the Mahabharata. It's in passing. She she does.


She's maybe read it and part in Sanskrit and part English and part maybe all good. But the way she approaches the text is not any way the text itself is written, it's the way she wants to approach it. Alaf writes a beautiful message about the text, the entire Mahabharata. And this is an important part of the entire Mahabharat that Geetha included is about the education of you, Destra, on how to be a good king, focusing on two traits Ahimsa and Onir, Shamsher, ahimsa, nonviolence, Onitsha, the quality of non cruelty and the difficulty of doing both of those things as both a ruler, a human being.


Right. You have to talk about the depth of the text itself. You can't just go to well, he said, fight this war, kill these enemies. Why? Why does he want you to kill these? I mean, why is that important? What is the methodology? What is the thought process of the Geetha? If you can't have those conversations and you just make absolute statements and say advocates mass slaughter, you can read Sanskrit, but in the words of Sanskrit or your muta, you're an idiot because you're not understanding what the text is about.


The hermeneutics is lost on you.


So that's just my point of Sanskrit. But I just want to say thank you guys so much. You know, this is it takes a lot of bravery. This is something that when I was a student in twenty, 20 years ago in college, you know, I didn't have to deal with the same way. And it was a different world, different culture twitters around. You know, back in that those days, I remember scholars were write their books and you you can address their books.


People responded in their books. Nowadays they write their books and come out on Twitter and say a bunch of nonsense and then hide behind the authority and protection of being a scholar and additionally call anyone that attempts to attack or attack their views in a negative way. Now, again, there is no justification for threats of violence, calling her dirty names, ridiculing her being being that's just not OK. But she does the same thing, but in a hotter, more uplifted language.


So that's just my point.


Sorry. Thank you, guys. Yeah, and I mean, I'm going to echo everyone else I talked to outside of this podcast and that people are really happy about, like what the students of Rutgers have done. This is literally the first time I could remember or I know of that we've seen in the students really stand up for, you know, the rights and more importantly, for Hinduism itself, you know, standing up for Dharma. And I just want to thank all of you for doing that, as well as anyone who to join the podcast, who everyone who signed the petition, everyone who made those materials, whether it was the Instagram forwards or Hindus on campus.


I thought that was really awesome. And I'm really happy to see that.


Yeah, but I love that this is you guys are actually, legitimately speaking, truth to power. And, you know, I appreciate it. Thank you guys so much. I'm sorry, go ahead, Priscilla. Oh, sorry. No, thank you so much for having us. And I really hope that this does encourage more Hindus in the diaspora especially to speak out against the phobia and make a difference on their own college campus, because to be honest, this is just the beginning for us and there is still a long, drawn process to go.


But regardless, I hope this can serve as some kind of like an inspiration for other people to speak out and know that you're not alone in speaking out and there are people who would support you.


All right, guys, thank you so much. And thank you to our listeners. I hope you guys enjoyed the podcast. It looks like you have something to say real quick.


No, thank you so much for hosting this discussion in this podcast that you guys have done a great job. And I think this discussion will bring more awareness and more solidarity behind our message. And one of the reason why we have non Hindus, non Indians supporting this cause is because it is so much out from the left field that it's appealing to everyone. It's a true, compassionate nature that this is injustice, you know. So I want to thank all the supporters, whoever they may be, for supporting and encouraging us.


Thank you.


Thank you so much for having us here. This is definitely very uplifting and I hope and this session helps someone else who really needs that is taking control of that experience.


Thank you. Precedences, the people, the dozens of dermo. Thank you again. And thank you to our listeners. Tune in next time for Brown Pundit's. Take it easy, everyone. Tune in next week for Brown Cast.