On Indic Academy

November 24, 2021

I would like to speak to an issue that concerns me deeply. I am proud to be associated with Indic Academy, an organization devoted to the celebration of the ancient legacy and modern relevance of Hinduism, a world religion which stands as the largest and most powerful of the ancient polytheist traditions to have survived into the modern age, despite confronting the same forces which resulted in the elimination of other, similar traditions or their subordination and marginalization. We cannot ignore the fact that those same forces still wish to see Hinduism either eliminated altogether, or rendered incapable of that simple self-affirmation which is routinely accorded to every other tradition in the world. Any celebration of Hinduism, and every affirmation of its value and articulation of its values, is subject to attack under the elastic term ‘Hindutva’. I wish to state categorically that I find no legitimacy in attaching this term in any disparaging sense to Indic Academy. I believe in democracy, in equal treatment before the law, in equal opportunity, in the emancipation of women, in justice for marginalized and minority groups in every nation, in pluralistic societies and a multipolar, polycentric world. I find these values reflected in the work of Indic Academy, which is a non-political, educational organization, and which is no more required to answer for every wrongful tendency in contemporary Indian life, the cycle of violence, than any similar Christian or Muslim educational organization is made to answer for the worst actions or ideologies of any of their co-religionists. The only thing that Indic Academy has in common with any Hindu doing something wrong is Hinduism. But the pluralistic and tolerant history of Hinduism toward other religions on the aggregate speaks for itself, in sharp contrast to the intolerance which has been directed at it from the world’s two largest religions. I hold no hatred for Christians or Muslims, and as an ethnic Jew myself, I of course don’t hate my own people, nor do I wish to eradicate any of these traditions. Like Hindus I seek only to find a path forward in which no religion seeks the extinction of any other, either through violence or through the application of unfair social pressure or distorted representations. Indic Academy stays above politics, but constantly articulates the principles and values which would inform the most responsible and ethical participation in the public sphere. They have nothing to apologize for, and I have no apologies for my collaboration with them. In less than a year, my Center for Global Polytheist and Indigenous Traditions at Indic Academy has awarded $4,800 in grant money to worthy projects of which I am extremely proud, held an online conference participation in which was free, open and diverse, and has offered an affordable, innovative survey course on global polytheistic traditions. Our new platform, IndicaPolytheist.com, intends to be a showcase for the best in polytheist thought, and I can guarantee that everything there will reflect my own values of plurality, equality and justice, in which I know that I will have Indic Academy’s full support. I look forward to the further work that we will do together.

A coalition between revivalist polytheists and the world’s largest descriptively polytheist tradition, and which seeks alliance among all the world’s surviving Indigenous traditions, has the potential to be a sea change in the history of religious coexistence. It constitutes in itself no threat whatsoever to the world’s monotheist traditions. We who explicitly affirm the reality of everyone’s Gods should surely not be held to a more exacting standard than those who make no such concession, and who wield soft and hard power alike in advancing their faiths. It would be a foolish and costly mistake to reject this alliance on account of nothing more than slander and broad, baseless characterizations. How much easier it would have been for Indic Academy not to embrace the controversial term ‘polytheism’, so subject to misunderstanding among Hindus and everywhere else, and to disregard revivalist polytheists, a small and marginalized group. Instead they have welcomed us. This is an opportunity to shift ideas and discourses that have been as though set in stone, the kind that does not present itself every day, and it presents itself within the terms of the world as it is. The world is a complex place, especially for polytheists. Existing political polarizations don’t always fit, they were not drawn to allow space for us, and the majority traditions have no interest in allowing space for us to emerge. Let us support one another, and work together for a world in which we celebrate all of our Gods and the uniqueness and universality of all our traditions.


3 Responses to “On Indic Academy”

  1. Honestly, Doctor? I’m surprised people are trying to throw you under the bus. You are the least controversial person in the Polytheist sphere. You did a conference with Aliakai for Gods’ sake! The cancel culture crowd is already in too deep. Either they leave you alone or they have to admit that one of their biggest idols worked with a “nazi”. If anyone has anything to worry about it’s them. Stay strong, King!

  2. suzmuse said

    I’m sad to hear that this is happening. What can we do to support you and the Indic Academy?

  3. ganglerisgrove said

    Never apologize to trash. Edward. They’re spreading this garbage purposely just like they have been with me and countless others. NEVER apologize for someone else’s malice and ignorance. Have courage.

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