Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Saussure, Savarkar & the invention of Hindutva

   Rajiv Malhotra has recently drawn our attention to the contribution of Ferdinand de Saussure to Savarkar's formulation of the concept of Hindutva.
  What happened was this. The year was 1906. Saussure, entering the Hotel Cecil, bumped into Savarkar and said 'Pardonnez moi'. '
   Pas du tout', Savarkar replied politely. 'Parsi chooth!' shouted Dadhabhai Naoroji, who was a bit deaf, 'How dare you call me a Parsi chooth you fucking Hindu twat!'
   ''Hindu twat! Hindu twat!' the impish Zulu barrister, Mohandas Gandhi, chanted in childish delight, 'That Parsi chooth just called you a Hindu twat!'
   Savarkar, dismayed by the attention being attracted by the mischievous Mahatma, hastened to put an end to the contretemps by appealing to Patriotism.
 'The Hindu twat, Sir,' he said solemnly, ' is verily that Vagina nationum most noble, that officina gentium most gentle, and so I say it with pride, I proclaim it far and wide- Yea! I'm a Hindu twat Sir! Jai Hindu-twat-va!'
   'Hindu-tattva,' Dadhabhai said, correcting young Savarkar's pronunciation, 'Barkhurdar, your accent becoming too damn British, innit? Aji, angrezi goli se zyada khatarnak hai angrezi boli- haaaan Ji haaan! Bach ke rahiyo, chashme buddoor!''

  I mention this episode here not because I want to publicize Rajiv Malhotra's unreadable new book but because there is a certain Universality to the charge he makes against Western Indology- vide
'The methods peculiar to Orientalist research, no matter how fond or indefatigable the researcher, tend to leave its subject-matter with a diminished scope for enlargement though, like Sir Richard Burton measuring the penises of black men, the reverse may initially appear to be the case.'


Nitin Gadkare said...

This is a travesty of what actually happened. When 'Dada' (the Bhai) Nauroji and V.D (the sexually transmitted) Savarkar came for a sit-down, Gandhiji refused to look at the Wine list and ordered Milkshakes all round.
Saussure, then employed as Sommelier at the Hotel Cecil, took offence and replaced the traditional bendy straws with large black dildos which, however, did not prevent the Mahatma from draining his glass with just the one strong pull.
Savarkar wasn't so lucky.
The moral of this story is when Life hands you a milkshake with huge black dildo in it, what you've got to do is make that dildo your bitch. You've got to suck a hole right through that sucker and you've got to look cool doing it. Otherwise, you're going down in History as just another Hindu twat. Anyway, that's what I told Sanjay Joshi.

windwheel said...

True words. 'Those who do not learn from History are condemned to repeat it.'

Anonymous said...

You are distorting what Rajiv Malhotra Sir has actually written-'
'Saussure's own PhD dissertation was on “Genitive case in Sanskrit,” a fact overlooked in today's historiography of European linguistics. It is unclear if Saussure himself suffered any embarrassment about learning from Sanskrit. He published a paper titled, “Concept of Kavi,” for instance. Unfortunately, he did not publish very much himself, and relied on students to do that after him. Saussure's works became the foundation for all linguistics studies throughout Europe.
What gets labeled as "difference" in French postmodern thought via Derrida is actually the Indian Buddhist theory of apohavada which Saussure had researched and taught in France in his Sanskrit seminars.(2)
It is important to note that Pictet mentored and influenced Saussure's understanding of linguistics and philology. Saussure was fifteen when he first began correspondence with Pictet whose work Saussure claimed “took the reader 'to the threshold' of the origin of language and 'of the human races themselves'” (Olender 99-102). It is more than likely that the presuppositions and biases in Pictet's work flowed through the mentor/student relationship down to Saussure's work.
One of the consequences of Saussure's work was that it reduced the need for Europeans to study Sanskrit sources, because Saussure's formulation into French, repackaged by his students without any reference to Sanskrit, meant that subsequent scholars of linguistics could divorce their work from the Sanskrit foundations and origins of the principles of Structuralism.
Structuralism, once formulated and codified by Saussure's students, became the watershed event and gateway through which many developments were precipitated in European thought. For example, Levi Strauss applied Structuralism in the 1930s/40s to the study of societies.

Anonymous said...

Reading above, we can see that Saussure wrote about Genitive Case in Sanskrit not about Genital Attache Case or Box or Trunk of respectable Gujerati or Marathi gentleman. Furthermore, Saussure was teaching in France, not working as a waiter in London.
Applying Saussure's concept of 'mot-theme' and bearing in mind the problematic of origin in Structural Linguistics it becomes clear that what actually happened was as follows-
Saussure (addressing Gandhi who was wearing turban)- 'Shocking bad 'at.'
'That's not a hat,'V.D Savarkar replied angrily
'It is a Holy Hindu turban not that a fucking French twat like you would be able to understand the spiritual significance of such head-gear.'
'Why not?'Saussure replied. 'I've studied Sanskrit which means I've got Sanskriti and am like totally awesome. This is because Sanskrit is the bestest language ever. Kindly stop ramming your friend's anus down over my head. Such action contradicts Ahimsa. Ahimsa. Is there an echo in here? is there an echo in here? Jeez, I mean Janardhan, Jeez I mean Janardhan, look just release me release me and oh tank God! Look, I promise I'll never mention Sanskrit again and like make up a story there's a subject called Structural Linguistics- not Sanskrit at all- which makes people real smart.'
'Do so and go in peace' Gandhi replied, 'I spare your life in the holy name of Ahimsa.'

Savarkar however was not pleased. He thought Gandhi too soft on the Mleccha. Many years later he finally got his revenge publishing books even sillier than those of the Mahatma.

windwheel said...

@ anon. Your point is scarcely original, having been covered in detail by Ramachandra Guha in his seminal 'Making of the Mahatma'.
Furthermore you are writing completely off topic. The question we are examining here is the link between Saussure and Savarkar's concept of Hindutva- an issue on which you have failed to shed any light.
I appreciate that not everybody can rise to the level of intellectual excellence and academic rigor set by this blog but I do feel, in your case, that more of an effort could have been made.
In future, kindly give full acknowledgments of all textbooks consulted or risk being banned for plagiarism. (Unless you are in fact Ramachandra Guha and are quoting your own work in which case I can only suggest you get a life.)

Capt. Ajit Vadakayil said...



We praise the wrong savarkar.

Capt ajit vadakayil