Kancha Ilaiah is professor and head of the department of political science at Osmania University , Hyderabad . He is perhaps best known for writing Why I am not a Hindu in 2007. Anyone approaching this work with the prior knowledge of Bertrand Russell (Why I am not a Christian) and Ibn Warraq (Why I am not a Muslim) would certainly have their expectations dashed.
In a truly appalling collection of half-truths, lack of methodical research and racial myths, Ilaiah’s book has the dubious distinction of making Hitler’s Mein Kampf look like a literary masterpiece in comparison. Ilaiah shares much else with Hitler, notably his obsession with race and inventing racial categories where they do not even exist.
To say in his defence that Ilaiah is inspired by the oppression of Dalits in India would be equivalent to justifying National Socialism and the Third Reich on the basis that the Versailles Treaty was after all rather unfair to Germany .
In page after page this appalling writer spews venom against anything Hindu. If one needs to find a prime example of a dysfunctional illiterate elite who replaced white colonial masters in a Third World kleptocracy, Kancha Ilaiah would certainly be hard to beat. For him Hinduism is basically spiritual fascism.
Yet Ilaiah is hardly averse in being ideologically associated with the “f” word himself. His attack on the “Baniya economy” bares unhealthy semblance to the Nazi obsession with Jewish banking houses such as Rothschild holding the German volk to ransom. In discussing Hindu deities Ilaiah echoes the music of Richard Wagner in his addiction to the idea of an Aryan race, even if it as the comic book strip bad guys in his rewriting of Indian history to fit into a racist mould.
All Hindu gods have suppression of Dalits as their purpose. Brahma is a light-brown Aryan, Vishnu is blue because apparently this was the colour of the mixed race Kshatriyas, while Shiva is dark because he resembles a “tribal” in order to delude the indigenous pre-Aryan inhabitants of India . The Ramayana is some primeval race war in which the Aryans suppressed the Dravidian south.
In a twist to classic anti-Semitic motifs Brahmins control all India ’s political parties, including the Communists. Replace “Brahmin” with “Jew” and Ilaiah could be rendering a speech written by Fascist Sir Oswald Mosley in the 1930s. Most incredibly, yet like so many of his remarks which lack any solid basis, cremation was a Brahminist plot to hide the mass genocide of India’s indigenous Shudras.
The contrast between Hinduism on the one hand and Christianity, Islam and Buddhism on the other is explained by the former having “an inborn spiritual fascist” character while the other three possess “basic character of spiritual democracy”.
By this stage we should be alleviated of any doubts that Ilaiah has not rewritten world history in manner befitting Nazi Himmler’s SS research institute known as Das Ahnenerbe which traversed the corners of the earth to find the origins of the Aryan race. In the end the Nazi ‘scholars’ came back with recordings of Finnish folk music and plaster casts of Tibetan faces which serious academia even then laughed off.
Ilaiah fails to provide even this much. Not only does he lack any adequate fieldwork but he omits even using footnotes and bibliography. If Himmler’s research was laughable Ilaiah’s work is not even worthy of being in the joke book section of a dingy run down back street store pungent with the odour of marijuana smoke and empty bottles of vodka – which is what Ilaiah would no doubt have to ply his victims in order for them to read his soul destroying racist monologue.
In summary Why I am Not a Hindu is a wasted opportunity at dissecting the world’s oldest surviving culture. In a free society we should not take offence at our beliefs being criticised. That is the hallmark of a healthy vibrant democracy. Censorship and banning is the character of totalitarianism.
Yet academic standards must not be allowed to drop in allowing hate ideologies to stifle the very liberal ideas which allow for democracy in the first place. By then monopolising the public space hatemongers such as Ilaiah effectively muzzle any alternative voices which is what anyone or any ideology with an “inborn fascist character” does naturally.
By any academic yardstick the research conducted by the Ahnenerbe was sloppy, lacked intellectual rigour and was ultimately laughable. Yet it prepared the foundations for the Holocaust which was of course anything but a laughing matter. Ilaiah’s book is central to those organisations which claim to be campaigning against caste discrimination.
He is the darling of such groups, elevated to the status that Goebbels once enjoyed. But it is only a matter of time before his poisonous racist ideas follow the precedent set by the Ahnenerbe in reaching their ultimate genocidal conclusion. And even then, just as Holocaust denier David Irving and Robert Faurrisson deny the Holocaust, there will be “Ilaiahites” who avert their gaze and claim it never happened.