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The Tragi‐Comedy of the New Indian Enlightenment: An Essay on the Jingoism of Science and the Pathology of Rationality

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Though the resurgence of Hindu nationalism as a political phenomenon is well‐understood, Meera Nanda is correct in suggesting that the ascendancy of Hindutva has other dimensions, such as the avent placed by cultural nationalist on ‘Vedic science'. However, apart from this rudimentary insight, Nanda's contribution, far from being a resounding demonstration of potmodernism's complicity in the projects of Hindu nationalism, is a striking testament to her own commitment to a rigidly positivist, ferociously intolerant, and intellectually sterile conception of modern science and the Enlightenment rationality which she views as the pinnacle of human achievement. Nanda displays an impoverished understanding of the scholarly contributions of the last three decades and is unable to countenance the idea of a plurality of sciences; at the same time, in veiw of her deliberate conflation of Hindutva with Hinduism, and her attempts to equate Hinduism as such with Nazism, it is clear that Hinduism itself stands condemned, and not merely resurgent Hindu nationalism. Nanda's book is an indiscriminate and uninteresting assault upon the innumerable enemies of reason, and it is, ironically, likely to have the result of further eroding confidence in self‐proclaimed champions of rationality such as herself and the modern science of which she claims herself to be a true and peerless inheritor.
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Keywords: Enlightenment; Hindu nationalism; Hinduism; Hindutva; Science; Vedic Science; modernity; postmodernism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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