Meera Nanda

Meera Nanda is a John Templeton Foundation Fellow in Religion and Science (2005–2007), with a Ph.D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an initial training in biology[1].  According to Malhotra and Neelakandan, “She was a visiting fellow at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi during 2009, and has written several articles and books denouncing Indian culture as inherently anti-scientific and accusing Indian nation builders of paving the way for pseudo-science and even having a Nazi mindset.”[2]

“Another of Nanda’s article – ‘Calling India’s Freethinkers’, accuses Swami Vivekananda and Bankim Chandra (forefathers of the Indian national resurgence) of the ‘cardinal sin’ of trying to appropriate modern scientific thought for Hinduism.  All attempts to investigate Hinduism in the light of science are declared to be linked to Hindutva, including works by the ‘apologists associated with the Ramakrishna Mission and Aurobindo Ashram’”.[3]  “Links between Indian culture and science resonate with ‘deeply Hindu and Aryan supremacist overtones’.”[4]  “Nanda has supported Protestantism as being scientific, while describing Hinduism as the exact opposite.”[5]  In an article in Open Magazine, Nanda comes down hard on Hinduism and Yoga and tries to destroy any link between the two.  She adds: “Far from being considered the crown jewel of Hinduism, yogic asanas were in fact looked down upon by Hindu intellectuals and reformers—including the great Swami Vivekananda—as fit only for sorcerers, fakirs and jogis”.[6] Has Nanda ever read the writing of Vivekananda and other great spiritual giants of India?  This is doubtful, because just a cursory look at Swami Vivekananda’s work on Raja Yoga shows ‘Yama, Niyama, Asana [Emphasis Added], Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi are the steps in Raja-Yoga…[7].  Why then, did Nanda choose to ignore this fact?

According to Nanda, “…the physical aspects of yoga were hybridised (sic) with drills, gymnastics and body-building techniques borrowed from Sweden, Denmark, England, the United States and other Western countries. These innovations were creatively grafted on the Yoga Sutras…”[8]  At another instance, Nanda has the following to say about Hindus’ claim on Yoga:

Indeed, if any Hindu tradition can at all claim a patent on postural yoga, it is these caste-defying, ganja-smoking, sexually permissive, Shiva- and Shakti-worshipping sorcerers, alchemists and tantriks, who were cowherds, potters and suchlike. They undertook great physical austerities not because they sought to achieve pure consciousness, unencumbered by the body and other gross matter, but because they wanted magical powers (siddhis) to become immortal and to control the rest of the natural world.[9]

In an inherent lack of context and an utter disregard for facts, Nanda cherry picks information and splice data together to conjure up a thesis.

“The India Today review of her latest book (The God Market: How Globalization is Making India More Hindu, Random House, 2009) summarized succinctly her attitude towards India and Hinduism thus: ‘Meera Nanda doesn’t like India.  And she hates popular Hinduism with even greater passion.’”[10]

When confronted by Hindus with sources that question her ‘research’, Nanda simply labels these individuals as ‘Hindu Nationalists’, a practice all too common within the Marxists/Communist circles.

Nanda’s writings are frequently featured on South Asian Citizens Web (SACW)[11], a site founded and run by one of FOIL’s old time members.


[1] See entry of Meera Nanda on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meera_Nanda.  Accessed June 21, 2011

[2] Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan, Breaking India. Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines, (India: Manipal Press Ltd, 2011), 261

[3] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 262

[4] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 262

[5] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 262

[6] Meera Nanda, “Not as Old as You Think… …nor very Hindu either. There is telling evidence to debunk this nationalistic myth”, Open The Magazine, Online Edition, February 12, 2011, http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/living/not-as-old-as-you-think, accessed June 21, 2011

[7] Dave Davies, “Raja Yoga in Brief, By Swami Vivekananda”, http://www.davedavies.com/splanet/raja.htm, accessed June 21, 2011

[8] Nanda, Ibid.

[9] Nanda, Ibid.[6]

[10] Malhotra and Neelakandan, 262

[11] See search results for “Meera Nanda” at http://www.mail-archive.com/search?l=act%40yahoogroups.com&q=meera+nanda as well as articles posted at SACW’s old website http://www.sacw.net/Index2.html.  Accessed June 23, 2011

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One response to “Meera Nanda

  1. For people like me, the aam admi, even if we don’t know complicated science and maths, we can understand from stories of Mahabharat and Ramayan that Aryavart was always more advanced in every way. One does not have to ‘prove’ everything all the time. For example, if I know how to make a robot does not mean I should make many to ‘prove’ it just in case future generations will doubt me. In fact, ancient Vedic people understood importance of being eco-friendly and did not make such harmful technology in bulk. Today people are already realising the folly of all this advanced science and how its ruining environment and health. Most medicines turn out to be ineffectual over time and so many even cause cancer. Ayurveda has no side effect. In order to figure out properties and proportions of these a vast body of information was obviously needed in botany, biology, zoology, maths, chemistry etc. To make, maintain and drive those huge vimanas and rathas too would have required high level maths, physics, etc. So what is the point of people like Meera arguing against it. They act like children who argue about who ‘came first’.

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