Removal of Sheldon Pollock as mentor and Chief Editor of Murty Classical Library

Removal of Sheldon Pollock as mentor and Chief Editor of Murty Classical Library

26 February 2016
Petition to
Mr. N. R. Narayana Murthy and Mr. Rohan Narayan Murty
Petition Closed
This petition had 18,350 supporters

Why this petition matters

Dear Shri Narayana Murthy and Shri Rohan Murthy,

We the undersigned would like to convey our deep appreciation for your good intentions and financial commitment to establish the Murty Classical Library of India, a landmark project to translate 500 volumes of traditional Indian literature into English. We appreciate the motives of making our civilization’s great literature available to the modern youth who are educated in English, and who are unfortunately not trained in Indian languages.

However, such a historical project would have to be guided and carried out by a team of scholars who not only have proven mastery in the relevant Indian languages, but are also deeply rooted and steeped in the intellectual traditions of India. They also need to be imbued with a sense of respect and empathy for the greatness of Indian civilization.

We would like to bring to your notice the views of the mentor and Chief Editor of this program, Professor Sheldon Pollock. While Pollock has been a well-known scholar of philology, it is also well-known that he has deep antipathy towards many of the ideals and values cherished and practiced in our civilization. He echoes the views of Macaulay and Max Weber that the shastras generated in India serve no contemporary purpose except for the study of how Indians express themselves. He has forcefully articulated this view in his career, starting with his 1985 paper, “The Theory of Practice and the Practice of Theory in Indian Intellectual History” (Journal of the American Oriental Society). He sees all shastras as flawed because he finds them frozen in Vedic metaphysics, which he considers irrational and a source of social oppression. His paper concluded:

‘The theoretical discourse of sastra becomes in essence a practical discourse of power.’*

Therefore, we are dismayed that Pollock has been appointed the Chief Editor and mentor of the entire program.

In his recent book, “The Battle for Sanskrit", Shri Rajiv Malhotra has articulated that many of the writings of Pollock are deeply flawed and misrepresent our cultural heritage.

Furthermore, Pollock does not claim to be politically neutral. In recent years, Pollock has been a prominent signatory of several statements which are of a purely political nature and devoid of any academic merit; those statements have condemned various policies and actions of the Government of India. He has shown utter indifference and disrespect for democratic values and even the international norms of non-interference in the internal functioning of constitutional representative institutions in other countries.  

In addition, we now find that Pollock is a prominent signatory of two recent statements released by US academicians condemning the actions of the JNU authorities and the Government of India against separatist groups who are calling for the independence of Kashmir, and for India’s breakup.

"काश्मीर की आजादी तक जंग रहेगी, भारत की बरबादी तक जंग रहेगी, भारत तेरे टुकडे होङ्गे, 

इनशा अल्लाह इनशा अल्लाह".

"The fight will continue till Kashmir is freed; The fight will continue till India is destroyed; O India, you are going to get shattered by the will of Allah."

Beside these slogans, the disgruntled youth also went on to condemn the highest court of India by way of hoarding posters and banners describing the action of court as “judicial killing” of a terrorist.  

To add fuel to the fire, Pollock by way of signing petitions has demanded that the Government of India should end its "authoritative menace". However, we do not find him petitioning against his own USA government’s authoritative policies within its borders and around the world.

Thus, it is crystal clear that Pollock has shown disrespect for the unity and integrity of India. We submit that such an individual cannot be considered objective and neutral enough to be in charge of your historic translation project.  

We petition you to reconstitute the editorial group of your project with the following ideals in mind: 

  • There must be a fair representation of the lineages and traditional groups that teach and practice the traditions described in the texts being translated. This would ensure that the sentiments and understanding of the millions of Indians who practice these traditions are not violated.
  • The project must be part of the “Make in India” ethos and not outsourced wholesale to American Ivy Leagues. Just as your visionary role in Infosys showed the world that Indians can be the top producers of IT, so also we urge you to champion the development of Swadeshi Indology. This would entail developing an entire ecosystem of India-based research, translations, journals and conferences. These would be run by leading Indian academicians as well as traditional practitioners.
  • There must be a written set of standards and policies for the entire project, pertaining to the translation methodologies, historical assumptions and philosophical interpretations that would be used consistently in all volumes.

For example: 

  • How will certain Sanskrit words that are non-translatable be treated?
  • What will be the posture adopted towards the “Foreign Aryan Theory” and other such controversial theories including chronologies?
  • What will be assumed concerning the links between ancient texts and present-day social and political problems?
  • Will the theoretical methods developed in Europe in the context of the history of ancient Europe, be used to interpret Indian texts, or will there first be open discussions with Indians on the use of Indian systems of interpretations?

We urge you to invite critics of Sheldon Pollock and the approaches being followed in his project, for open and frank discussions. We are convinced that this would lead to a dramatic improvement in your project and also avoid any adverse outcome.

* This replaces an earlier quote used because this is more appropriate.

Scholars and Intellectuals 

  1. Prof. K. Ramasubramanian, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay.
  2. Prof. Ramesh C. Bhardwaj , Professor and Head, Department of Sanskrit, Delhi University
  3. Dr. Kapil Kapoor , Former Pro Vice Chancellor, JNU, New Delhi.
  4. Dr. Girish Nath Jha, Professor of Computational Linguistics and Chairperson, Special Center for Sanskrit Studies, JNU, New Delhi. Professor & Concurrent Faculty, Center for Linguistics, School of Language Literature & Culture Studies, JNU, New Delhi.
  5. Prof. V. Kutumba Sastry.
  6. Dr. C. Upender Rao, Professor and Chairperson, Special centre for Sanskrit Studies, JNU, New Delhi.
  7. Prof. Madhu Kishwar, Senior Fellow, CSDS, New Delhi
  8. Prof. R. Vaidyanathan, IIM Bangalore, Finance & Control UTI Chair Professor
  9. Shri N. Gopalaswami, Former Chief Election Commisioner of India, Head of the HRD ministry’s committee on Sanskrit Promotion, Chairman, Kalakshetra, Chennai
  10. Prof. Ramesh Kumar Pandey, Vice Chancellor, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi.
  11. Swami Madhavpriyadas, Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul Vishwavidya Pratishthanan, Ahmedabad
  12. Dr. K. S. Kannan, Professor, Jain University, Bangalore.
  13. Sri Ramanuja Devanathan , Former Vice Chancellor, Sri Jagadguru Ramananda  Rajasthan Sanskrit University, Jaipur
  14. Prof. Shrinivasa Varakhedi, Professor and Dean, Karnataka Sanskrit University
  15. Prof. K. E. Devanathan, Vice Chancellor, S. V. Vedic University, Tirupati
  16. Dr. Pappu Venugopala Rao, Secretary, Madras Music Academy, Chennai.
  17. Dr. Sampadananda Mishra, Director, Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture, Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry.
  18. Smt. Meera H. R., Research Scholar, NIAS, Bangalore.
  19. Prof. Shashi Tiwari, General Secretary, Wider Assiciation for Vedic Studies (WAVES).
  20. Dr. Bal Ram Singh, Professor and President, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA., Ex-Professor, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
  21. Shri Mitesh Katira, Sanskrit Bharati, Mumbai
  22. Dr. Baldevanand Sagar, Ex. Sanskrit-news-broadcaster,AIR-DD. New Delhi, General Secretary, Bharatiya Sanskrit Journalists Association.
  23. Prof. K. S. Sateesha, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi.
  24. Dr. Sudarshan, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi.
  25. Dr. P Ramanujam, CDAC, Bangalore
  26. Dr. K. Mahesh, Post Doctoral Fellow, IIT Bombay
  27. Dr. K. Venkatesha Moorthy, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi
  28. Dr. Ratnamohan Jha, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi
  29. Prof. T.P.R Nambudiri, Principal, Madras Sanskrit College
  30. Prof. Viroopaksha Jaddipal, Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupathi
  31. Prof. Rajaram Shukla, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
  32. Prof. Deviprasad Tripathi, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi.
  33. Prof. Hareram Tripathi, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi.
  34. Prof. K.P. Paroha, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi.
  35. Prof. MA Lakshmithathachar, Chairman, Centre for literary Research, Indian Institute  of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine (IIAIM), Dean, Ramanuja Vishwa Vidyapeetam, Melkote, Karnataka
  36. Prof. MA Alwar, Karnatak Samskrit University, Mysore
  37. Dr. Vinaya Chandra, Research Fellow, Development Foundation, Bangalore
  38. Dr. Anuradha Chaudhury, Research Fellow, Development Foundation, Bangalore
  39. Dr. Arathi V, Director, Vibhu Academy, Bangalore
  40. Dr. Ramachandra G Bhat, Vice Chancellor, SVYASA University
  41. Dr. Tilak M Rao, Assistant Director, Veda Vijnana Shodha Samsthanam
  42. Dr. Mahabaleshwara S Bhat, Principal, Veda Vigyana Gurukulam, Bangalore
  43. Prof. Pramod, Amrita University, Coimbatore
  44. Dr Kameshwari, Director, Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai
  45. Dr KS Balasubramanian, Deputy Director, Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai
  46. Dr TV Vasudeva, Deputy Director, Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai
  47. Dr Sita Sundar Ram, Research Fellow, Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai
  48. Prof Parthasarathy, Hon Professor, Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai
  49. Dr. Sudarshan Chiplunkar, Lecturer, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Mumbai
  50. Dr. Gayatri Muralikrishna, Asst. Professor, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Delhi
  51. Dr. Seetharama, Asst. Professor, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Mumbai
  52. Dr. Sridhara Bhat, Professor, HoD, SDM College Ujire, (Mangaluru University), Karnataka.
  53. Dr. V.Yamuna Devi, Research Assistant, K.S.R.Institute
  54. Dr. V.Premalatha, Research scholar, K.S.R.Institute
  55. Dr. Binod Singh Ajatshatru, Associate Professor of Indian Studies, Peking University (Ex), Director, The BRICS Institute, New Delhi
  56. Dr. J.S.R. Prasad, Professor&Head, Dept. of Sanskrit Studies, University of Hyderabad
  57. Dr. Ram Nath Jha, Associate Professor, Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies,  JNU, New Delhi
  58. Shri Mahamahopadhyaya Krishnamurthi Sastri, Retd. Principal, Madras Sanskrit College
  59. Shri GSR Krishnamurthy, Registrar, S V Vedic University, Tirupati
  60. Dr. Rajnish Mishra, Associate Professor, Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies, JNU, New Delhi
  61. Prof. V. N. Jha, Former Director, Center for Advanced Study in Sanskrit, Universit of Pune
  62. Shri Arjunkumar K. Samal, Principal, Darshanam Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya, Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul Vishwavidya Pratishthanan, Ahmedabad
  63. Shri Basu Ghosh Das, President, ISKCON, Vadodara, Vice chairman, ISKCON India Governing Bureau
  64. Shri Lila Purushottam Das, Principal, Bhaktivedanta Gurukula, Vrindavan, Professor, Department of Electrical Enginneering, IIT Kanpur
  65. Prof. Bharat Gupt, Former Associate Professor, College of Vocational Studies, Delhi University.
  66. Prof. Rudrapatna Shyamasundar, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay.
  67. Prof. Kannan Moudgalya, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Bombay.
  68. Prof. Sivakumar, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay.
  69. Prof. Shripad Garge, Department of Mathematics, IIT Bombay
  70. Prof. Arunkumar Sridharan, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Bombay
  71. Prof. Varadraj Bapat, School of Management, IIT Bombay
  72. Prof. Shireesh Kedare, Department of Energy Sciences, IIT Bombay
  73. Prof. Saketh Nath, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay.
  74. Dr. Kuntimaddi Sadananda, Material Scientist, Former Head of Deformation and Fraction section of the US Naval Research Lab, Acharya of Chinmaya Mission, Washington Regional Center.
  75. Prof. Rakesh Mathpal, Department of Aerospace Engineering, IIT Kanpur.
  76. Prof. Ganesh Ramakrishnan, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay.
  77. Prof Karthik Raman, Department of Biotechnology, IIT Madras
  78. Prof. Neeraj Kumbhakarna, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Bombay
  79. Prof. Ashish Pandey, School of Management, IIT Bombay.
  80. Dr. T. S. Mohan, Director, Pragyan Datalabs, Bangalore
  81. Prof. Devendra Jalihal, Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Madras
  82. Prof. Karmalkar, Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Madras
  83. Prof. Ashwin Gumaste, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay
  84. Dr. Deepika Kothari, Founder Vishuddhi Films
  85. Dr. Ranjan Ghosh, Lecturer, Department of Economics, SLU Uppsala, Sweden
  86. Prof. Balaji Jayaraman, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Oklahoma State University
  87. Prof. M. S. Sriram, Dept of Theoretical Physics, Univ. of Madras
  88. Prof. Anil Kumar Gaurishetty, Dept of Physics, IIT Roorkee
  89. Prof. Sanjay Chitnis, CMR Institute of Technology, Bangalore
  90. Prof. K Gopinath, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
  91. Prof. Arun Agrahara, Rajeev Institute of Technology, Hassan
  92. Prof. B Mahadevan, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore
  93. Prof. TV Prabhakar, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur
  94. Dr. Samir Kagalkar, Director, eMBArkers, Fellow of IIM Bangalore
  95. Prof. S. Krishnan, Dept. of Mathematics, IIT Bombay
  96. Prof. N. Narayanan, Dept. of Mathematics, IIT Madras
  97. Prof. Murali Krishna, Dept. of Computer Science & Automation, IISc, Bangalore
  98. Prof. Amartya Kumar Dutta, Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta
  99. Prof. M.D. Srinivas, Chairman, Centre for Policy Studies, Chennai
  100. Dr. Paresh Joshi, Academic Program coordinator, Junior Science Olympiad, Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education and also Vice-President (ASIA) of International Junior Science Olympiad.
  101. Dr. Anand Bulusu, Dept. of Electronics and Communication Engineering, IIT Roorkee
  102. Dr. Ram Manohar Singh, Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Roorkee
  103. Prof. Makarand Paranjpe, Dept of English, JNU, New Delhi
  104. Prof. S. M. Deshpande, Senior Research Fellow, JNCASR, Bangalore, Former Professor, Department Aerospace Engineering, IISc Bangalore
  105. Prof. Srikanth Vedantam, Department of Engineering Design, IIT Madras
  106. Prof. Sunil Kumar, Director, Multimedia & Wireless Networks Research Group, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, San Diego State University, CA, USA
  107. Prof. Sachin Shinde, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Kanpur
  108. Shri Abhishek Jalan, Director, Memphis Commerce, New Delhi
  109. Shri Pankaj Saxena, Author, Journalist
  110. Prof. Kunal Mukherjee, Department of Methamatics, IIT Madras
  111. Prof. Himanshu Pota, School of Engineering and Information Technology, University of New South Wales, Australia
  112. Dr. Raghbendra Jha, Professor and Head, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University
  113. Prof. Krithivasan Ramamritham, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and Head CUSE, IIT Bombay
  114. Prof. Prasanna Gandhi, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Bombay
  115. Dr. Nagesh Bhandari, President, Indus University, Ahmedabad
  116. Dr. Rakesh Bhandari, Director, Indus Institute of Special Studies, Indus University, Ahmedabad
  117. Shri. Shankar Sharan, Associate Professor, NCERT
  118. Prof. Shekhar Babu, Amrita School of Business, Amrita University, Bangalore
  119. Prof. Sudharshan, Amrita University, Bangalore
  120. Dr. Bharati Karnik, Professor, Dept. of English, M.L.B. Govt. College of Excellence, Gwalior
  121. Dr. Amresh Shrivastava, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Western University, Canada
  122. Dr. S. B. Sharma, Executive President, Indus University, Ahmedabad, Former Deputy Director, Antenna Systems Area, ISRO
  123. Shri G. Anil Kumar, Writer, Journalist, Editor-in-Chief of Karmaveera
  124. Mohan Yellishetty, Senior Lecturer (Mining & Resource Engineering), Monash University
  125. Umesh Sharma, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, Monash University
  126. Harpreet Kandra, Faculty of Science and Technology, Federation University and School of Engineering and Information Technology, Monash University
  127. Jagbir Singh, Former Professor and Head, Department of Punjabi, University of Delhi. Life Fellow, Punjabi University, Patiala
  128. Prof. Amarjiva Lochan, Associate Professor, Department of History Shivaji College, University of Delhi
  129. Prof. Ritendra Sharma, Centre for Indic Studies, Indus University, Ahmedabad
  130. Prof. Harshit Jain, Centre for Indic Studies, Indus University, Ahmedabad
  131. Prof. SG Rakesh, Amrita University, Bangalore
  132. Shri CSR Prabhu, Former Director General of NIC,Govt of India


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