Ashish Dhar 

Ashish Dhar is the co-founder of Pragyata and Upword Foundation and the Director of Operations at The Indic Collective Trust. He writes on History, Kashmir, Culture and Religion.


Dharma, Ecology and Development

Essay | Posted On: 06 Sep 2019

The ecological threat to shrines like Kedarnath due to ever-increasing tourist rush is real. While sustainable development is a great buzzword, it is unclear to most people what it actually means in terms of policy and economics.

On Sabarimala

Commentary | Posted On: 29 Sep 2018

The recent verdict on the entry of women in the Sabarimala shrine serves as a grim reminder of the wide gap between the colonial moorings of the modern Indian State and the spiritual aspirations of the Indian people.

The textbook vision of Indian History

Commentary | Posted On: 28 Nov 2017

The vision of history propagated by the school and college textbooks in India is a caricature of the real past, explicitly serving the political goals of Marxism.

The inertia of symbols

Essay | Posted On: 02 Jun 2017

Interpreting the symbolism of the cow in the contemporary Hindu worldview with the help of the Samkhya philosophy leads to interesting insights about the recent political outcry around the government regulations concerning cattle trade.

This business of naming

Commentary | Posted On: 22 May 2016

Renaming roads and buildings is an important exercise in decolonization and the urge is just another expression of language and cognition.

Morality of Silence

Essay | Posted On: 14 Mar 2016

A look at the moral forces at play behind the silence of moderate Muslims.

Science, Secularism and Saturn

Commentary | Posted On: 05 Feb 2016

The interplay between rationality, politics and Hindu tradition is much more complex than westerners or elitist Indians imagine. The worship of reason at the expense of traditional wisdom of the diverse communities in India creates artific...

Age of Empires version 2.0

Essay | Posted On: 18 Nov 2015

British and Islamic conquests of India were achieved through fundamentally different strategies and both continue to influence contemporary politics in India in different ways.

Beef against beef

Commentary | Posted On: 16 Nov 2015

The discourse on the issue of beef ban in various states of India and the ensuing political war is strangely negligent of the ethos behind the enactment of these laws.

An open letter to Ma Durga

Commentary | Posted On: 12 Nov 2015

How the original 'idea of India' is no different from the reverence for Durga, the mother of the Universe.
Co-authored Articles

Caste and the discourse of Casteism

Caste in stone | Posted On: 06 Aug 2020

Shudras in pre-colonial India were totally different from how they are seen in the popular imagination of modern India leading to a perverted discourse that looks for solutions to the problems of the marginalised sections of society in the ...

Caste in stone - Part 4 (The prism of class)

Essay | Posted On: 15 Jul 2017

Class is a useful lens for understanding caste but it could lead to misleading conclusions that do not account for a plethora of contradictory evidence.

Caste in stone - Part 3 (The shadow of colonialism)

Essay | Posted On: 20 Jan 2017

The grounds (meta-narratives) that inform the modern notion of caste all stand debunked. Yet caste-based politics seems to be perpetually on the rise.

Caste in stone - Part 2 (Purusha and Varna)

Essay | Posted On: 22 Oct 2016

The dominant school of academic scholarship on the caste system makes very serious mistakes in understanding and conveying the meaning of the most fundamental Indic concepts of Purusha and Varna.

Caste in stone - Part 1 (Introduction)

Essay | Posted On: 10 Aug 2016

Caste politics derives sustenance from centuries of erroneous scholarship that began with the British colonial project in India. The theories so derived have since been challenged by many scholars but the associated myths persist as strongl...

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