Most systematic study of India by Indians was lost in library fires and university demolitions. What we have is the systematic study of India by its European conquerors. Thus, ab initio, European-origin concepts, categories, axioms, intentions, and methods are tainted by conquest.
Unlike Abrahamic religions, the Hindu “religion” is not prescriptive; it is descriptive and advisory. Hindu books are in verse that requires a guru to decode them. Western writers have not spent the time required to study with such gurus. The very, very few who have done so, such as David Frawley and Michel Danino, have ended up falling in love with Hindu Dharma.
The Western scholarly tradition is gated by peers who review new work, and they rely on reputation. So if later Europeans — or Indians — came up with more valid and deeper versions of Hinduism, they would be rejected. Indeed, many have been rejected and denied publication. Therefore, the European study of India is doomed to stay in the same old self-validating-and-reinforcing ecosystem.
Taking these factors together, viz. (a) conqueror’s mindset, (b) difficulty of access and expert guidance, (c)self-sufficient validation, the best one can do is to call the Western work on India a corpus designed, built, and used for Western purposes, with limited relevance outside the West, and only incidental correlation with the ground reality.
The student who is serious about deciphering India must listen to all versions and all voices, carefully and critically examine them, and apply personal judgment to learn the truth. If you turn into Gandhi’s three monkeys as soon as someone yells “Hindutva!”, you are doomed.
An example of (4): the US Commission on International Religious Freedom says that Muslims are threatened in India with the genocidal (in its opinion) “Hindutva” creed, lumping India with Iran and North Korea. However, the 2021 Pew Research survey on religion and caste found that Muslims were very happy to live in India and felt free to practice their religion as they wanted to. There are similar revelations on caste. Yet the standard Western academics and so forth have taken zero interest in Pew’s objective data.