Koenraad Elst is a Belgian orientalist and writer. He has authored fifteen books on topics related to Hinduism, Indian history, and Indian politics.

Biography Edit

He was born in Leuven, Belgium, on 7 August 1959, into a Flemish Catholic family. He graduated in Indology, Sinology and Philosophy at the Catholic University of Leuven. He obtained a Ph.D. at the Catholic University of Leuven. The main part of his Ph.D. dissertation on Hindu revivalism and Hindu reform movements eventually became his book Decolonizing the Hindu Mind, other parts of his Ph.D. thesis were published in Who is a Hindu and in The Saffron Swastika. He also studied abroad at the Banaras Hindu University in India.

During a stay in India and at the Banaras Hindu University between 1988 and 1992, he interviewed many Indian leaders and writers.[1] He wrote his first book about the Ayodhya conflict. While establishing himself as a columnist for a number of Belgian and Indian papers, he frequently returned to India to study various aspects of its ethno-religio-political configuration and interview Hindu and other leaders and thinkers.

In 1989, Elst met Sita Ram Goel after reading Goel's book "History of Hindu Christian Encounters". Elst later sent Goel a manuscript of his first book "Ram Janmabhoomi Vs. Babri Masjid: A Case Study in Hindu Muslim Conflict". Goel was impressed with Elst's script: "I could not stop after I started reading it. I took it to Ram Swarup the same evening. He read it during the night and rang me up next morning. Koenraad Elst's book, he said, should be published immediately."[2] In August 1990, L. K. Advani released Koenraad Elst's book about the Ayodhya conflict in a public function.[3]

His research on the ideological development of Hindu revivalism earned him his Ph.D. in Leuven in 1998. He has also written about multiculturalism, language policy issues, ancient Chinese history and philosophy, comparative religion, and the Aryan invasion debate. Dr. Elst became a well-known author on Indian politics in the 1990s.


Elst has written at length about fascism and totalitarianism in India and the West. His book The Saffron Swastika analyses the rhetoric of "Hindu fascism". He argues that "while one should always be vigilant for traces of totalitarianism in any ideology or movement, the obsession with fascism in the anti-Hindu rhetoric of the secularists is not the product of an analysis of the data, but of their own political compulsions."[4] In an article, he argued that the current tendency to accuse Hindu movements of “fascism” is nothing but a "replay of an old colonial tactic."[5]

He has described himself as "a secular humanist with an active interest in religions, particularly Taoism and Hinduism, and keeping a close watch on the variegated Pagan revival in Europe."[6]

He seems not to have changed his religion, for he said: "I am neither a Hindu nor a nationalist. And I don’t need to belong to those or to any specific ideological categories in order to use my eyes and ears." [7] And he wrote: "However, I do readily admit to being a “fellow-traveller” of Dharmic civilization in its struggle for survival against the ongoing aggression and subversion by well-organized hostile ideologies." [8]

Elst had for some years a leftist phase, and had also some interest in the New Age movement, though he writes that by 1985 he had had enough of the "superficiality and flakiness" of the New Age scene.[9] In the 1990s he became interested in the European Neopagan movement, and wrote for some Neopagan publications until 1998.[10]


Books Edit

(Sorted chronologically)

Book chapters Edit

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  • "Linguistic Aspects of the Aryan Non-Invasion Theory," In Template:Cite book
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  • Gujarat After Godhra: Real Violence, Selective Outrage/edited by Ramesh N. Rao and Koenraad Elst. New Delhi, Har-Anand Pub., 2003, 248 p., ISBN 81-241-0917-6.
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  • Template:Cite book (adapted from a paper of the International Ramayana Conference and the October 1995 Annual South Asia Conference in Madison, Wisconsin)
  • The Ayodhya debate: focus on the "no temple" evidence, World Archaeological Congress, 1998
  • “Ayodhya’s three history debates”, in Journal of Indian History and Culture (Chennai), September 2011.
  • “The gatherings of the elders: the beginnings of a Pagan international”, Pomegranate (Equinox, Sheffield UK) 2012/1.
  • India's Only Communalist: In Commemoration of Sita Ram Goel (edited by Koenraad Elst, 2005) ISBN 81-85990-78-6 (With contributions by Subhash Kak, David Frawley, Lokesh Chandra, Shrikant Talageri, Vishal Agarwal, N.S. Rajaram and others.)
  • An article on an attempt to ban a book by Ram Swarup, in Sita Ram Goel, ed.: Freedom of Expression (Voice of India 1998).
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  • An article in the second edition of Ishwar Sharan’s The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple (Voice of India 1997).
  • A paper in Angela Marcantonio & Girish Nath Jha, eds.: Perspectives on the Origin of Indian Civilization (DK Printworld, Delhi 2013).
  • A paper in Hans Geybels & Walter Van Herck, eds.: Humour and Religion, Challenges and Ambiguities (Continuum, London 2011).
  • A paper in P. Paramesvaran, ed.: Expressions of Christianity, with a focus on India (Vivekananda Kendra Prakashan, Chennai 2007).
  • A paper in Herman Siemens & Vasti Roodt, eds.: Nietzsche, Power and Politics (Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2008).
  • Foreword to: The Prolonged Partition and Its Pogroms: Testimonies on Violence against Hindus in East Bengal (1946–1964) by A. J. Kamra (2000).
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In DutchEdit

  • Het boek bij het Boek (“The companion book to the Book”, Waregem 2009)
  • The India chapter in Wim Van Rooy & Sam Van Rooy, eds.: De islam. Kritische essays over een politieke religie (“Islam: Critical Essays on a Political Religion”), ASP, Brussels 2010.
  • De donkere zijde van het boeddhisme (“The Dark Side of Buddhism”, Mens & Cultuur, Ghent 2010)
  • Heidendom in India: hindoeïsme en christendom, dialoog tussen vreemden (“Paganism in India: Hindus and Christians, Dialogue between Strangers”, Mens & Cultuur, Ghent 2014):

Notes Edit

  1. Elst, K. Negationism in India
  2. Goel:How I became a Hindu. ch.9
  3. Goel:How I became a Hindu. ch.9
  4. Ayodhya and After: Issues Before Hindu Society (1991)
  5. Was Veer Savarkar a Nazi? [1]
  6. op. cit.
  7. Elst interview
  8. Voice of Dharma review
  9. Hinduism, Environmentalism and the Nazi Bogey
  10. Hinduism, Environmentalism and the Nazi Bogey

External links Edit


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