Infinity Foundation India conducted two conferences in the recent past (in July 2016 and February 2017) which examined the impact of some of the writings of Prof. Sheldon Pollock of Columbia University. While the first conference had four themes, the second had six more; and all these ten topics pertained to the interpretations proffered by Pollock.
While there is no intention of, or point in, targeting particular individuals, the focus on Pollock was due to the fact that he is the most formidable of the American Orientalists today, and his views and interpretations appear to Hindus to be most pernicious, nevertheless most pervasive in influence: a good many contemporary scholars, especially in the West build on his pet ideas.
Pollock is obsessed with the notions of power and politics. As Malhotra points out, the word “power” occurs 600 times in his 2006 book The Language of Gods…; and the words “political” and “politics” occur 900 times! There is no event or utterance, be it the most innocuous, where he cannot see some vicious play of power.
A conspectus of the various papers in this volume is quite in order here. This volume presents seven papers which respond to Pollock’s views on Sastra and Indian knowledge systems.
A survey of all the papers above may be said to reveal one important trait of Pollock. While not one paper here doubts or questions the profusion~of Pollock’s scholarship, every one without exception has expressed apprehensions about the integrity of Pollock reminding us thus of the subhāṣita – “vyartham pāṇḍityam guṇa-varjitam” (“What avails scholarship, after all, sans integrity?”) !
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