Koenraad Elst

Koenraad Elst obtained his MA degrees in Sinology, Indology and Philosophy. He has published on the interface of religion and politics, correlative cosmologies, the dark side of Buddhism, the reinvention of Hinduism, technical points of Indian and Chinese philosophies, various language policy issues, Maoism, the renewed relevance of Confucius in conservatism, the increasing Asian stamp on integrating world civilization, direct democracy, the defence of threatened freedoms, and the Belgian question.

Mahatma Gandhi Demystified

On 30 January 1948, after Mahatma Gandhi’s murder, India’s political landscape changed dramatically. In the preceding year, the Hindu Nationalist movement had received a strong boost due to Congress’s confused stand on Partition. But then, Nathuram Godse’s bullets squandered its newly-gained political capital in one go. It would need decades to recover. Prelude to Partition […]Read More

The Modi Government as an exponent of BJP Secularism

Abstract plus explanation I sent in for the Annual Conference of the American Academy of Religion. It was written in February 2015 and draws attention to an important phenomenon with a strong and hitherto unrefuted predictive power, viz. the BJP variety of secularism. AB Vajpayee’s NDA Government (1998-2004) heavily disappointed the experts who had predicted […]Read More

The shoulders he stood on: The Buddha’s teachers and their

Abstract The Buddha was not the inventor of a new method in the service of a new philosophical goal. He trod into existing footsteps: seeking the goal of Liberation through the method of Meditation. This ideal was already available before he was born and that was what beckoned him into a spiritual career. Even more […]Read More

True Hindu Greatness

Hindus make bold to be the inheritors of a great and exceptional civilization. And they are. Indeed, a wider recognition of this ancestral greatness would solve a number of contemporary problems Hinduism faces. Separatism, the phenomenon that Hindu sects declare that they are non-Hindu and back-project that they never have been Hindus, is largely due […]Read More

The Buddha and Caste

  Indians and Westerners who know Buddhism through Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar and other modern pamphlet literature,  sometimes believe that the Buddha started a movement of social reform, mobilizing against caste and recruiting among low-caste people. As against this, Chinese and Japanese Buddhists who have studied their religion only through its source texts, think that Buddhism was an […]Read More

The Origin of Japanese

Was Japanese “made in Japan”? Since Japan was not the cradle of mankind, the first speakers of proto-Japanese must have come from elsewhere at any rate. Do they still have recognizable relatives there, at least linguistically? There are reasons to think so. Recently I attended a lecture at my Alma Mater by Dr. Martine Robbeets […]Read More

The British were not guilty of Partition; somebody else was

The easiest way before an Indian audience to get hands clapping, is to accuse the British of the Partition of India. Try it for yourself and say out loud: “Partition was engineered by the wily Britishers  in their nefarious design of ‘divide and rule’”, success assured. And the applause is sure to follow no matter whether […]Read More

Vijayanagar Negationism

In several articles and speeches since at least 2004 (“Trapped in the ruins”, The Guardian, 20 March 2004), and especially in the commotion provoked by Girish Karnad’s speech in Mumbai (autumn 2012), William Dalrymple has condemned Nobel prize winner V.S. Naipaul for writing that the Vijayanagar empire was a Hindu bastion besieged by Muslim states. The […]Read More

Decoding Hinduism (Book Review)

Most Hindus have no clear idea where their own religion fits in the global religious landscape. Even the most illiterate Christian or Muslim ‘knows’ that his religion was brought into the world in order to supersede all other religions, which are false. The Hindus’ grasp of their relation to other religions, even (and perhaps especially) […]Read More

Questioning the Mahatma (Book Review)

Mahatma Gandhi was a heartless and manipulative tyrant without the redeeming feature of political merit. On the contrary, his vision for India was confused, he twisted the meaning of straightforward terms like Swarajya (independence) to suit his own eccentric fancies, he never overcame his basic loyalty to the British Empire, and he didn’t have the courage of […]Read More