Sunday, April 24, 2022

Why India is a Nation. A Question that is never asked.

The complete answer to this question has been brilliantly and uniquely answered by Shree Sankrant Sanu in his web page and to a certain extent nicely(for a change) by the over eloquent Shashi Tharoor. Shashi Tharoor despite his 90% defects makes up in the 10% where he fights for our nation on various international forums which is heartwarming.  His book An Era of Darkness also has a chapter in which he talks of how India was always a nation even before British Rule and really speaking the British far from contributing much destroyed the national fabric and the 300 year economic looting of a scale which was never witness in history. India will take another 300 years to come on par with nations due to this economic looting that took away most of its wealth and put its progress back three hundred years.
This article tries to give a background to the topic address what I called an UQ. An Unquestioned Question so to speak.

It has to be understood in two ways :

1. As a positive Question that is never asked and important to be understood for the sake of unity and also really how important it is for this vast cultural civilization in the centuries ahead. To me this question why India is a nation is hardly clear to most deep thinking Indians or Hindus forget our Youth who are still at the crossroads.

2. This question forget being asked indirectly nowadays, but is answered in the format of deep underground warfare operating on small trench fault-lines dividing the nation on the basis of its diversity,  instead seeing the beauty in India's diversity, a narrative is run by very strong Breaking India forces. The book (Breaking India) by Rajiv Malhotra who is a investigative journalist and holds Indian interests first over religion gives complete evidence and facts in the book. The facts can be cross checked in the references provided in the book. He said previously Indians were cunningly and openly deceived, back stabbed and colonized. Now the same colonization is taking place by what he calls the new Indian sepoy network of paid biased media, leftist historians, authors, Hindu phobic International media networks, some blatantly anti-India. This book needs to be read by a self aware generation. Unfortunately people in India are too lazy in reading books and this could spell the death of Indian civilization in all senses. Most oldies still naively think that Sanatan Dharma will never die, it will never die as long as we protect it. Previously the battles of survival were fought in wars metaphorically the Mahabharata battle for example and real historical battles. But the modern warfare of civilizations and countries is being fought at an Intellectual level where the stakes are higher and the losses and casualties are much more. This is what Rajeev Malhotra endorses as the need for more Intellectual Kshatriyas from India not only to raid western academic fortresses which are producing literature and journals and publishing papers against Hinduism and these are the modern nuclear weapons. These weapons digest the entire population without destroying it, in the sense that India will be nation of foreigners so to speak and no one will even realised it has happened. Such are the sinister forces at work that people like Nararyana Murthy, Founder of Infosys, though a person with great intellectual acumen was fooled and cohorted by a very dangerous and intelligent person the evil Prof. Sheldon Pollock. He basically hood winked Narayana Murthy and made him believe that he would work for Hindu or Indian cause. Narayana Murthy without trying to understand or carry out a due diligence funded him for various Anti India projects. Such is the level of ignorance and scale of warfare on the Civilisation. We are all sittting seals who are prey to the clever polar bears. Rajiv Malhotra began to dedicate his entire life, money and time to expose these modern villians and breaking India forces. Every Hindu and Indian worth his salt should read his books, watch his youtube to understand what he is talking about. It will make your blood boil to know how India and HIndus are being played by their very own men. Rajiv Malhotra calls these people the Hindu Sepoys. 

Modern Youth and even many an old person naively buys books of Devdutt Patnaik. He has fooled everyone in the present generation. Very few know he is more or less employed by the world famous Wendy Doniger who says Bhagwad Gita is the most dangerous book, and Krishna was interested in a war of genocide. This is the least horrible thing she has said, there are more things which she has written which cannot be even printed or written.

(work in progress article)

Monday, July 04, 2005

Part 1, Abridged Resume : Aim

This collection of articles gives a broad outline of Hindu thought, beginning with the ideas of Swami Vivekananda who was the pioneer of modern Hindu consciousness, leading unto the best of modern scholarly writing of Dr.Koenraad Elst, Sir V.S.Naipaul and others.

The aim of this compilation is to give a self-conscious modern Hindu a wide perspective on Hindu issues and indicate how there is definite continuity of thought from Swami Vivekananda to the present day. This is to enable him to get a clearer perspective on the challenges facing Hindu society today, without being needlessly hypercritical of, and defensive about espousing Hindu interests.

To paraphrase Sita Ram Goel (whose article is included here), many Hindus today are either unaware or indifferent to the challenges facing their society. It is imperative that this be changed. There are many, who are legitimately proud of Hindu art, architecture, sculpture, music, painting, dance, literature, and so on and there are also many who cherish the great spiritual traditions of Hinduism and its scriptures like the Gita and the Upanishads in which that tradition is enshrined. But they do not cherish with an equal enthusiasm the protection and preservation of Hindu society, which has honored and preserved these traditions and scriptures down the ages, and weathered many a storm of destruction, cultural hostility and slander, in the form of Islamic invasions and Christian missionary forces, for example. There is also a tendency to take a very defensive and apologetic stand on many issues concerning Hindu interests, especially given the generally biased media portrayal of Hindu causes. This compilation also seeks to correct this tendency towards self-flagellation, and remove any indifference and complacency, if present, in the mind of a self-conscious Hindu.

Subject Matter
The basic thesis, which runs, as a common thread, through the writings of all these wonderful thinkers is as follows.

After a millennium of inertia and torpor brought about by the Islamic invasions and rule (c.1000 A.D onwards) and marginally better British Imperial Rule (c.1757-1947), an unprecedented Hindu awakening is slowly taking place in India today which has great positive potential and can confer immense benefit to not only the people of India but to the whole of humanity as well.

While this awakening has definite social, economic and political aspects, the universalistic ramifications of the Hindu renaissance arise from its spiritual aspect – of seeking to imbue all life and its activities with a sanctity and impart a vision, of this whole world as a manifestation of divinity, where nothing is secular; everything is sacred.

The Introduction by Swami Vivekananda is an excerpt from his speech in Madras, given on his return from America. Swamiji himself was an outstanding example of a man imbued with the humanistic-rational spirit of modernity together with the loftiest spiritual knowledge of Advaita Vedanta.

The second article gives some of Swami Vivekananda’s views on the Biblical creeds and India’s religious demography. The central premise of Swami Vivekananda’s entire life was that the essence of India lay in religion; that the religion of our people was the Hindu dharma; that this was just the lever by which India was to be reawakened, the truths the Hindu seers had uncovered were the goals to which that reawakened India had to be turned, and that these truths were that pearl of inestimable value which it was India’s mission to give to the world”, in the words of Arun Shourie.

It is his pioneering vision that is seen slowly unfolding in India today, albeit in fits and starts, but gathering momentum with time; his vision has been built upon and elaborated by later Hindu thinkers.

This awakening is still in its infancy and one of the recognizable characteristics of this initial phase is the development of an enhanced historical consciousness, which was absent in Hindus for much of the last millennium. One significant aspect of this Hindu self-awareness is a clear recognition of the unconscionable excesses of the Islamic depredations visited upon the people of India and upon Hindu culture. There is a need to end the widespread denial or obfuscation of this history - that nothing much happened with the arrival of Islam in India - when the truth of the matter is, in the words of Sir V.S.Naipaul, that, “India is a country that, in the north, outside Rajasthan, was ravaged, and intellectually destroyed to a large extent, by the invasions that began in about 1000 A.D. by forces and religions that India had no means of understanding. …What happened from 1000 A.D. on, really, is such a wound that it is almost impossible to face. Certain wounds are so bad that they can't be written about. You deal with that kind of pain by hiding from it. You retreat from reality…. The grinding down of the Hindu-Buddhist culture of the north … is such a big and bad event that people still have to find polite, destiny-defying ways of speaking about it. In art books and history books, people write of the Muslims 'arriving' in India, as though the Muslims came on a tourist bus and went away again. “

Sir V.S.Naipaul is the well-known Trinidad-born British writer of Indian origin, and winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Literature, and is regarded as one of the best writers of the English Language today. He was one of the first winners of the Booker Prize, now Britain's leading literary award, in 1971. Some of his earlier books are a rather harsh but pertinent critique on Hindu culture and mores. But his integrity and intellectual honesty compelled him to recognize that, in contrast to closed and oppressive Islamic societies, India’s more open and liberal society owes much to its Hindu ethos. His positive evaluation of the Hindu awakening and mobilization in the wake of the Ayodhya issue was a surprise to many, and it fetched him both bouquets and brickbats. Included are some articles related to him, which give his ideas on the importance of recognizing what has actually happened to Hindu India in the last millennium. He also says that as Hindus become more secure and self-confident, a lot of creative energy is being awakened giving rise to a fairly “messy” period of social and political turmoil, a necessary evil, it would seem, before the best ideas and people gradually take the intellectual reins and lead the country along enlightened lines.

Also included is an interview of him, in which he candidly and perspicuously gives his take on the need for wise men to understand and not condemn the “historical awakening” underway, and guiding it away from the hands of fanatics, and instead, use this awakening for India’s intellectual transformation.

Dr David Frawley is an American scholar of Vedic lore and in his article, India as a Sacred and Spiritual Land, says that “India, in many respects, is the mother of humanity and the mother of civilization, particularly for the spiritual and yogic life and ….has best preserved the type of spiritual civilization that once dominated the ancient world from Egypt to China, Indo-china, Peru and Mexico.” He says that India’s role in the further evolution of human consciousness is central and a beginning in that direction has just been made in recent times.

The article Hindu Society under Siege by Sita Ram Goel explores the challenges facing the modern Hindu awakening from the harmful residues of the past. The author is a prolific writer on Hindu nationalism and the founder of the “Voice of India” publishing house; he died in 2003 at the age of 82. In his earlier days, he was attracted to communism but later under the influence of his mentor Ram Swarup, who was a follower of Sri Aurobindo, he became an ardent Hindu revivalist. His unmatched scholarship and rigor is a dread to Marxist and secularist writers who seek to dominate the intellectual space in India today, and are opposed to the national vision of Swami Vivekananda.

In this article Sita Ram Goel talks of the three residues he terms Islamism, Christianism, and Macaulayism. The first is a continuation of the mindset that animated Islamic tyrants like Aurangazeb and is implacably opposed to Hinduism, as idolatrous, superstitious etc. The second is a desire to achieve the total destruction of Hinduism, through conversion, fair or foul and replicate what has been already accomplished in the North-east of India where great power is exercised by the Church over civil society fuelling secessionist tendencies of seeking to breakaway from the Indian Union. The eventual goal of this residue of Christianism is to have a Latin American-type of society where the living indigenous Native Indian culture has been almost totally destroyed leaving behind only a shattered people and some empty monuments. The third residue of Macaulayism is a much more amorphous attitude of contempt for or condescension towards all Hindu ideas and practices and a blanket acceptance of all ideas Western as superior. This is much in evidence in the Indian media, which generally shows all things Hindu in a poor light, highlights only the negative aspects of Hindu culture and ignores its merits... This is a consequence of the modern Indian education system succeeding beyond Macaulay’s wildest dreams in “producing a class of Indians brown in skin but English in taste and temperament”, which was his avowed intention when he fought for state funding for a radical Western-pattern of education rather than suitably modifying the existing traditional Hindu system of education by blending it with Science and other modern additions.

In his next article on Islamic Vandalism titled The tip of the iceberg, the author Sita Ram Goel gives a sample of some specific epigraphic and literary evidence of the massive destruction that was wrought over much of India, from Mathura in the north to Chidambaram in the south. The evidence has been obtained from Islamic sources themselves, which proudly attest to the vandalism, as a religiously ordained duty.

Dr.Koenraad Elst is a professor of history in the University of Leuven, Belgium and has done extensive scholarly study of Hindu revivalism and also the Ram-janmabhoomi issue issue. His work “Ram-janmabhoomi vs. Babri Masjid” has received wide acclaim as a classic, in which he draws upon from his deep knowledge of both Indian and European history to analyze the issue from a wide perspective. The following are excerpts from some of his works. In this article The historical question of Ayodhya, excerpted from his book “Ayodhya and after”, Dr.Elst has given an overview of the Ayodhya issue and musters considerable positive evidence to present the definitive scholarly statement on the prior existence of a temple held sacred in Hindu tradition and which was destroyed.

The next article from and The Times of India news sources, on Proof of Temple found at Ayodhya is the decisive evidence found by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), by extensive excavations done at the site where the temple was said to have stood. The 574-page ASI report summarized in this article, reveals startling evidence found of fifty pillar bases and some characteristic Hindu artifacts like a lotus motif, a pranjala (waterchute), and many other discoveries, “indicative of remains that are distinctive features found associated with the temples of north India.”

The article by Arun Shourie on Gandhiji’s views on conversions shows the Mahatma’s clear stand against conversions and how he felt that it was based on a wrong and patronizing attitude towards other religions. His pain at the conversion of one of his sons to Islam engineered by his opponents is also evident. The author Arun Shourie is a former editor of The Indian Express, and Magsaysay award winner.

The Conversation with Sir V.S. Naipaul deals with the Psychological impact of conversion. The writer lucidly observes that the naturalistic religions like Hinduism and Buddhism had sacred places, trees, and mountains and groves, while the revealed religions like Islam and Christianity strove to remove this sacredness and its signs by leveling and destroying all such symbols from the environment. He observes this in Goa where the Portugese by extensive destruction and violence had managed to produce a "New-World emptiness, like the Spanish in Mexico” had done; “But as one stepped out of Goa, one stepped (back) into the sacred land again” with all its temples and other sacred spots intact. He also observes that “converts learn to lose regard or reject their land of birth” and “their ancient land is of no religious or historical importance, its relics are of no account; Their (convert’s) concept of history has completely altered and that alteration has inevitably diminished the intellectual life of the country. All the history of the ancient land has ceased to matter”

The Open letter to Pope John Paul II by Swami Dayananda Saraswati, one of the foremost teachers of Vedanta, in India today, was published in The Indian Express on the eve of the Pope’s visit to India supposedly to “plant the cross in Asia in this third millennium after Christ”, as the Pope put it. The author makes an impassioned plea to recognize that conversion is rank one-sided violence on others’ religious traditions and enough damage has been already done to the world in the name of conversions. What the Pope meant by his call was that, just as the first millennium (0-1000 A.D.) led to the conversion of Europe with the consequent eclipse of the Roman and Greek cultures (leaving behind only some empty monuments), and the second millennium (1000 A.D to 2000 A.D) led to the violent destruction and domination by Christianity of the New World of the Americas and also Africa the victims being the Inca, Aztec and native African religious traditions, this third millennium (2000 A.D. onwards) was for the Church to oversee the destruction of Asian Hindu-Buddhist culture by widespread conversion to Christianity. And since the earlier violent means are no longer feasible today, a subtle cloak of humanitarian service is to be adopted and the right to convert others is to be projected as a human right (forgetting that religious freedom only means the freedom to practice any religion of one’s choice by an individual in his private space, and not the right to encroach and destroy other religious traditions.) The author appeals for “a freeze on conversion and (creating) a condition in which all religious cultures can live and let live”, the world itself becoming a harmonious mosaic of different religions.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Part 2 of Resume, Swami Vivekananda's Ideas

The Future of India
Excerpts from a lecture by Swami Vivekananda in Madras

The is the ancient land where wisdom made its home before it went into any other country, the same India whose influx of spirituality is represented, as it were, on the material plane, by rolling rivers like oceans, where the eternal Himalayas, rising tier above tier with their snow-caps look as it were into the very mysteries of heaven. Here is the same India whose soil has been trodden by the feet of the greatest sages that ever lived.

Here first sprang up inquiries into the nature of man, and into the internal world. Here first arose the doctrines of the immortality of the soul, the existence of a supervising God, an immanent God in nature and in man, and here the highest ideals of religion and philosophy have attained their culminating points. This is the land from whence, like the tidal waves, spirituality and philosophy have again and again rushed out and deluged the world, and this is the land from whence once more such tides must proceed in order to bring life and vigor into the decaying races of mankind.

It is the same India that has withstood the shocks of centuries, of hundreds of foreign invasions, of hundreds of upheavals of manners and customs. It is the same land that stands firmer than any rock in the world, with its undying vigor, indestructible life. Its life is of the same nature as the soul, without beginning and without end, immortal, and we are the children of such a country. Look back therefore as far as you can, drink deep of the eternal fountains that are behind, and after that, look forward, march forward and make India brighter, greater, much higher than she ever was.

Our ancestors were great. We must first recall that. We must learn the elements of our being, the blood that flows in our veins; we must have faith in that blood, and what it did in the past; and out of that faith, and out of the consciousness of our past greatness, we must build an India yet greater than what she has been. There have been periods of decay and degradation. I do not attach much importance to them; we all know that. Such periods have been necessary.

A mighty tree produces a beautiful ripe fruit. That fruit falls on the ground, it decays and rots, and out of that decay springs the root and the future tree, perhaps mightier than the first one. The period of decay through which we have passed was all the more necessary. Out of this decay is coming the India of the future; it is sprouting, its first leaves are already out, and the mighty, gigantic tree, the "Urdhvamulam," is here, already beginning to appear!!

We see how in Asia, and especially in India, race difficulties, linguistic difficulties, national difficulties, all melt away before this unifying power of religion. We know that to the Indian mind there is nothing higher than religious ideals, that this is the keynote of Indian life, and we can only work in the line of least resistance. It is not only true that the ideals of religion are the highest ideal. In the case of India it is the only possible means of work; work in any other line, without first strengthening this, would be disastrous.

Therefore, the first plank in the making of a future India, the first step that is to be hewn out of that rock of ages, is this unification of religion.

It is when the national body is weak that all sorts of disease germs, in the political state of the race or in the social sate, in its educational or intellectual state, crowd into the system and produce disease. To remedy it, therefore, we must go to the root cause of the disease and cleanse the blood of all impurities. The one tendency will be to strengthen the man, to make the blood pure, the body vigorous, so that it will be able to resist and throw off all external poisons.

We have seen that our vigor, our strength, nay, our national life is in our religion. I am not going to discuss now whether it is right or not, whether it is correct or not, whether it is beneficial or not in the long run to have this vitality in religion, but for good or evil it is there; you can not get out of it, you have it now and for ever, and you have to stand by it, even if you not have the same faith that I have in our religion. You are bound by it, and if you give it up you are smashed to pieces. This is the life of our race and that must be strengthened. You have withstood the shocks of centuries simply because you took great care of it, you sacrificed everything for it. Your forefathers underwent everything boldly, even death itself, but preserved their religion. Temple after temple was broken by the foreign conqueror, but no sooner had the wave passed than the spire of the temple rose up again.

Some of these old temples of southern India, and those like Somnath of Gujarat, will teach you volumes of wisdom, will give you a keener insight into the history of the race than amount of books Mark how these temples bear the marks of a hundred attacks and a hundred regenerations, continually destroyed and continually springing up out of the ruins, rejuvenated and strong as ever! That is the national mind. That is the national life-current. Follow it and it leads to glory.

Be you all rishis and sages; that is the secret. More or less we shall all be Rishis. What is meant by a Rishi? “The pure one”. Be pure first, and you will have power. Simply saying, ''I am a Rishi,'' will not do, but when you are a Rishi you will find that others obey you instinctively. Something mysterious emanates from you which makes them follow you, makes them follow you, makes them hear you, makes them unconsciously, even against their will carry out your plans. That is Rishihood.

. Let this be our determination, and may He, the Lord, who "comes again and again for the salvation of His own people,'' to quote from our scriptures-may the great Krishna bless us, and lead us all to the fulfillment of our aims!
"India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human peoples."
- Rishi Aurobindo

"I am a proud Sanatani Hindu”
- Mahatma Gandhi

Part 2 Continuation : Swami Vivekananda’s views on the Biblical creeds and India’s religious demography

(Excerpted from an article by Arun Shourie in The Indian Express and partly quoted from the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda.)
Of course, he said, Hindus who became Muslims must be taken back into the Hindu fold. Otherwise our numbers will keep dwindling- we used to be around 600 million by the reckoning of Ferishta, the oldest Muslim historian, now we are just 200 million (in c.1900). "And then", he continued, "every man going out of the Hindu pale is not only a man less, but an enemy the more."
The central premise of Swami Vivekananda’s entire life was that the essence of India lay in religion; that the religion of our people was the Hindu dharma; that this was just the lever by which India was to be reawakened, the truths the Hindu seers had uncovered were the goals to which that reawakened India had to be turned, and that these truths were that pearl of inestimable value which it was India’s mission to give to the world.
His general view of the Prophet seems to be that the Prophet was an inspired but untrained yogi, and the Swami uses him as a warning. This is how he puts the matter in his treatise on Raja Yoga:
" The yogi says there is a great danger in stumbling upon this state. In a good many cases, there is the danger of the brain being deranged, and, as a rule, you will find that all those men, however great they were, who had stumbled upon this superconscious state without understanding it, groped in the dark, and generally had, along with their knowledge, some quaint superstition. They opened themselves to hallucinations. Mohammad claimed that the Angel Gabriel came to him in a cave one day and took him on the heavenly horse, Harak, and he visited the heavens. But with all that Mohammad spoke some wonderful truths. If you read the Koran, you find the most wonderful truths mixed with superstitions. How will you explain it? That man was inspired, no doubt, but that inspiration was, as it were, stumbled upon. He was not a trained yogi, and did not know the reason of what he was doing. Think of what the good Mohammad did to the world, and think of the great evil that has been done through his fanaticism! Think of the millions massacred through his teachings, mothers bereft of their children, children made orphans, whole countries destroyed, millions upon millions of people killed!…So we see this danger by studying the lives of great teachers like Mohammad and others. Yet we find, at the same time, that they were all inspired. Whenever a prophet got into the superconscious state by heightening his emotional nature, he brought away from it not only some truths, but some fanaticism also, some superstition which injured the world as much as the greatness of the teaching helped." (I.184)

The central claim of Islam, as of Christianity, is that it has been given The Book, that it alone has been given The Book, that therefore it alone possesses The Truth. That there was The Book- the Talmud, the Bible, the Koran- the Swami said had one effect; it helped the adherents to hold together. But apart from that the effect of The Book – whichever this happened to be – was baneful.

All over the world you will find images in some form or other. With some, it is in the form of a man, which is the best form…One sect thinks a certain form is the right sort of image, and another, thinks it is bad. The Christian thinks that when God came in the form of a dove it was alright, but if he comes in the form of a fish, as the Hindus say, it is very wrong and superstitious. The Jews think if an idol be made in the form of a chest with two angels sitting on it, and a book on it, it is all right, but if it is in the form of a man or a woman, it is awful. The Mohammedans think that when they pray, if they try to form a mental image of temple with the Caaba, the black stone in it, and turn towards the west, it is alright, but if you form the image in the shape of church it is idolatry. This is the defect of image worship, yet all these seem to be necessary stages." (IV.44-5).
One thing I would tell you, and I do not mean any unkind criticism. You train and educate and clothe and pay men to do what? To come over to my country to curse and abuse all my forefathers, my religion and everything. They walk near a temple and say, ‘You idolaters, you will go to hell’. But they dare not do that to the Mohammedans of India; the sword would be out. But the Hindu is too mild; he smiles and passes on, and says, ‘Let the fools talk’. That is the attitude. And then you, who train men to abuse and criticise, if I touch you with the least bit of criticism, with the kindest of purpose, you shrink and cry, ‘Don’t touch us; we are Americans. We criticize all the people in the world, curse them and abuse them, say anything; but do not touch us; we are sensitive plants’. You may do whatever you please; but at the same time I am going to tell you that we are content to live as we are; and in one thing we are better off – we never teach our children to swallow such horrible stuff: ‘Where every prospect pleases and man alone is vile’. And whenever your ministers criticise us, let them remember this: if all India stands up and takes all the mud that is at the bottom of the Indian Ocean and throws it up against the Western countries, it will not be doing an infinitesimal part of that which you are doing to us. And what for? Did we ever send one missionary to convert anybody in the world? We say to you, ‘Welcome to your religion, but allow me to have mine. You call yours religion, but allow me to have mine’.
With all your brags and boastings, where has your Christianity succeeded without the sword? Show me one place in the whole world. One, I say, throughout the history of the Christian religion –one; I do not want two. I know how your forefathers were converted. They had to be converted or killed; that was all. What can you do better than Mohammedanism, with all your bragging? ‘We are the only one!’ And why? ‘Because we can kill others’. The Arabs said that; they bragged. And where is the Arab now? He is the Bedouin. The Romans used to say that, and where are they now? Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall enjoy the earth. Such things tumble down; it is built upon sands; it cannot remain long." (I.211-3).
"To the Mussulman, the Jews or the Christians are not objects of extreme detestation; they are, at the worst, men of little faith. But not so the Hindu. According to him, the Hindu is idolatrous, the hateful kafir; hence in this life he deserves to be butchered; and in the next, eternal hell is in store for him. The utmost the Mussulman kings could do as a favour to the priestly class – the spiritual guides of these kafirs- was to allow them somehow to pass their life silently and wait for the last moment. This was again, sometimes considered too much kindness! If the religious ardor of any king was a little more uncommon, there would immediately follow arrangements for a great yajna by way of kafir-slaughter." (IV.446).
History accordingly turned gory with the coming of Islam to India, the Swami says: "Why religions should claim that they are not bound to abide by the standpoint of reason," Swami Vivekananda writes, "no one knows. If one does not take the standard of reason, there cannot be any true judgment, even in the case of religions. One religion may ordain something very hideous. For instance, the Mohammedan religion allows Mohammedans to kill all who are not of their religion. It is clearly stated in the Koran, ‘Kill the infidels if they do not become Mohammedans.’ They must be put to fire and sword. Now if we tell a Mohammedan that this is wrong, he will naturally ask, "How do you know that? How do you know it is not good? My book says it is’." (II.335)
(Swami Vivekananda clearly felt that all religions should be subjected to the test of universal reason and cannot claim immunity from reason on the basis of “faith” or “revelation” from some book or prophet or whatever. And he felt that all the book-based religions including Islam and Christianity fare poorly when subjected to this test of reason. He never said that all “religions” were equal. Rather all “forms of worship” be it in a Church or a temple were all right – the sentiment is the same and is to be equally respected. But the respective theologies of the religions are not equally valid. The naturalistic religions like Buddhism and Hinduism which have evolved by over millennia through the reasoned spiritual consensus of thousands of sages and saints have a much stronger foundation in reason, than the book and belief-based religions like Islam and Christianity. Given below are his views on the so-called Aryan Invasion Theory now much disputed after recent evidence like the discovery of the Saraswati River Valley in the Thar desert etc. The Swami could foresee the divisive nature of this false theory foisted by European scholars on Indian history)
And what your European Pundits say about the Aryan’s swooping down from some foreign land, snatching away the lands of the aborigines and settling in India by exterminating them, is all pure nonsense, foolish talk! Strange, that our Indian scholars, too, say amen to them; and all these monstrous lies are being taught to our boys! This is very bad indeed. And this has proved to be our undoing, with so many divisions perpetrated long after the very raison d’etre for these have been obliterated by a vigilant and agile national leadership Whenever the Europeans find an opportunity, they exterminate the aborigines and settle down in ease and comfort on their lands; therefore they think the Aryans must have done the same!
In what Veda, in what Sukta, do you find that the Aryans came into India from a foreign country? Where do you get the idea that they slaughtered the wild aborigines? What do you gain by talking such nonsense? Vain has been your study of the Ramayana; why manufacture a big fine story out of it?
Well, what is the Ramayana? The conquest of the savage aborigines of Southern India by the Aryans! Indeed! Ramachandra is a civilised Aryan king and with whom, is he fighting? With King Ravana of Lanka. Just read the Ramayana., and you will find that Ravana was rather more and not less civilised than Ramachandra. The civilisation of Lanka was rather higher, and surely not lower, than that of Ayodhya. And then, when were these Vanaras (monkeys) and other Southern Indians conquered? They were all, on the other hand, Ramachandra’s friends and allies. Say which kingdoms of Vali and Guhaka were annexed by Ramachandra?

And may I ask you, Europeans, what country you have ever raised to better conditions? Wherever you have found weaker races, you have exterminated them by the roots, as it were. You have settled on their lands, and they are gone forever. What is the history of your America, your Australia, New Zealand, your Pacific Islands and South Africa? Where are those aboriginal races there today? They are all exterminated¾you have killed them outright, as if they were wild beasts. It is only where you have not the power to do so, and there only, that other nations are still alive.
But India has never done that. The Aryans were kind and generous; and in their hearts which were large and unbounded as the ocean, and in their brains, gifted with superhuman genius, all these ephemeral and apparently pleasant but virtually beastly processes never found a place. And I ask you, fools of my own country, would there have been this institution of Varnashrama if the Aryans had exterminated the aborigines in order to settle on their lands?
There is a theory that there was a race of mankind in Southern India called Dravidians, entirely differing from another race in Northern India, called the Aryans, and that the Southern India Brahmins are the only Aryans that came from the North, the other men of Southern India belong to an entirely different caste and race to those of Southern India Brahmins. Now I beg your pardon, Mr. Philologist, this is entirely unfounded. The only proof of it is that there is a difference of language between the North and the South. I do not see any other difference. We are so many Northern men here, and I ask my European friends to pick out the Northern and Southern men from this assembly. Where is the difference? A little difference of language. But the Brahmins are a race that came here speaking the Sanskrit language! Well then, they took up the Dravidian language and forgot their Sanskrit. Why should not the other castes have done the same? Why should not all the other castes have come one after the other from Northern India, taken up the Dravidian language, and so forgotten their own? That is an argument working both ways. Do not believe in such silly things.

The Americans, English, Dutch, and the Portuguese got hold of the poor Africans, and made them work hard while they lived, and their children of mixed birth were born in slavery and kept in that condition for a long period. From that wonderful example, the mind jumps back several thousand years and fancies that the same thing happened here, and our archaeologist dreams of India being full of dark?eyed aborigines, and the bright Aryan came from¾the Lord knows where. According to some, they came from Central Tibet, others will have it that they came from Central Asia. There are patriotic Englishmen who think that the Aryans were all red-haired. Others, according to their idea, think that they were black-haired. If the writer happens to be a black-haired man, the Aryans were all black-haired. Of late, there was an attempt made to prove that the Aryans lived on the Swiss lakes. I should not be sorry if they had been all drowned there, theory and all. Some say now that they lived at the North Pole. Lord bless the Aryans and their habitations! As of truth of these theories, there is not one word in our scriptures, not one, to prove that the Aryans ever came from anywhere outside of India, and in ancient India was included Afghanistan. There it ends. And the theory that the Shudra caste were all non-Aryans and they were a multitude, is equally illogical and equally irrational. It could not have been possible in those that a few Aryans settled and lived there with a hundred thousand slaves at their command. These slaves would have eaten them up, made “chutney” of them in five minutes. The only explanation is to be found in the Mahabharata, which says that in the beginning of the Satya Yuga there was one caste, the Brahmins, and then by difference of occupations got themselves into different castes, and that is the only true and rational explanation that has been given. And in the coming Satya all the other castes will have to go back to the same condition.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Part 3 Naipaul Abridged

A Million Mutinies
(Author: V.S. Naipaul, Publication: India Today ,Date: August 18, 1997 )
I think that it would be wrong to ask whether 50 years of India's Independence are an achievement or a failure. It would be better to see things as evolving. It's not an either-or question. My idea of the history of India is slightly contrary to the Indian idea. India is a country that, in the north, outside Rajasthan, was ravaged, and intellectually destroyed to a large extent, by the invasions that began in about 1000 A.D. by forces and religions that India had no means of understanding.

The invasions are in all the schoolbooks. But I don't think people understand that every invasion, every war, every campaign, was accompanied by slaughter, a slaughter always of the most talented people in the country. So these wars, apart from everything else, led to a tremendous intellectual depletion of the country. I think that in the British period, and in the 50 years after the British period, there has been a kind of recruitment or recovery, a very slow revival of energy and intellect. This isn't an idea that goes with the vision of the grandeur of old India and all that sort of rubbish. That idea is a great simplification, and it occurs because it is intellectually, philosophically and emotionally easier for Indians to manage.

What they cannot manage, and what they have not yet come to terms with, is that ravaging of all the north of India by various conquerors. That was ruin not by an act of nature, but by the hand of man. It is so painful that few Indians have begun to deal with it. It's much easier to deal with British imperialism. That is a familiar topic, in India and Britain. What is much less familiar is the ravaging of India before the British. What happened from 1000 A.D. on, really, is such a wound that it is almost impossible to face. Certain wounds are so bad that they can't be written about. You deal with that kind of pain by hiding from it. You retreat from reality. I wrote a book about that, and people thought I meant that India hasn't really a civilization, or India can't go ahead. What I was saying is that you cannot deal with a wound so big. I do not think, for example, that people like the Incas of Peru or the native people of Mexico have ever got over their defeat by the Spaniards. In both places, the head was cut off. I think the pre-British ravaging of India was as bad as that. Muslims shouldn't be too sensitive about this. Because in the Islamic world, a similar vandalization occurred with the Mongols. Muslims all over still grieve about that.

In the place of knowledge of history, you have various fantasies about the village republic and the old glory. There is one big fantasy that Indians have always found solace in: about India having the capacity for absorbing its conquerors. This is not so. India was laid low by its conquerors. There's an extraordinary work by the young Gandhi-his 1909 book, Hind Swaraj, about the need for Indian independence-where he says that what is really wrong with India is modern civilization: doctors, lawyers, railways (spreading famine and vice). His arguments are quite absurd. Rome has fallen, Greece has fallen, every other culture has fallen, but old India has survived. It is immovable and glorious. Now Gandhi is writing this at one of the blacker moments in India's history and one of the blacker moments in his personal life. He has seen South Africa and the abject, unprotected condition of Indians there. Out of that despair, and out of his own lack of education, all he can manage intellectually is that rejection of modern civilization, which is a rejection of the tools of self-defense. It is the deepest kind of despair. That's my starting point in understanding Indian history. And so, I feel the past 150 years have been years of every kind of growth. I see the British period and what has continued after that as one period. In that time, there has been a very slow intellectual recruitment.

I think every Indian should make the pilgrimage to the site of the capital of the Vijaynagar Empire, just to see what the invasion of India led to. They will see a totally destroyed town. Religious wars are like that. People who see that might understand what the centuries of plunder and slaughter meant. War isn't a game. When you lost that kind of war, your towns were destroyed, the people who built the towns were destroyed, you are left with a headless population. That's where modern India starts from. The Vijaynagar capital was destroyed in 1565. It is only now that the surrounding region has begun to revive. A great chance has been given to India to start up again, and I feel it has started up again.

The questions about whether 50 years of India since Independence have been a failure or an achievement are not the questions to ask. In fact, I think India is developing quite marvelously. People thought-even Mr Nehru thought-that development and new institutions in a place like Bihar, for instance, would immediately lead to beauty. But it doesn't happen like that. When a country as ravaged as India, with all its layers of cruelty, when that kind of country begins to extend justice to people lower down, it's a very messy business. It's not beautiful, it's extremely messy. And that's what you have now, all these small politicians with small reputations and small parties. But this is part of growth, this is part of development. You must remember that these people, and the people they represent. have never had rights before. So in India at the moment you have a million mutinies-every man is a mutiny on his own-and 1 find that entirely creative. It's difficult to manage, gets very messy, but it is the only way forward. You can't get people from Bihar suddenly behaving very beautifully. When the oppressed have the power to assert themselves, they will behave badly. it will need a couple of generations of security, and knowledge of institutions. and the knowledge that you can trust institutions-it will take at least a couple of generations before people in that situation begin to behave well.

From India's point of view, the Partition was extremely fortunate. The religious question would otherwise have paralyzed and consumed the state. By cruel irony, this is what it's done across the border in Pakistan. In India, there's the emphasis on human possibility. In Pakistan, there's only a constant regression to greater and greater fundamentalism - it's quite extraordinary and shameful that Pakistan, 50 years after independence, could have created something like the Taliban.

People ask me about the forces of Hindutva in India. I got into trouble a couple of years ago when I said that with this new kind of self-awareness in India, the Hindu idea is almost a necessary early, stage. It contains the beginnings of larger, new ideas: the idea of history, the idea of the human family, of India. I hope this self-awareness doesn't stay there, and I don't think it will, but it's necessary. We are dealing with a country that has started from a very low point, a very low intellectual point, a low economic point. When people start moving, the first loyalty, the first identity, is always a rather small one. They can't immediately become other things. I think that within every kind of disorder now in India there is a larger positive movement. But the future will be fairly chaotic. Politics will have to be at the level of the people now. People like Nehru were colonial-style politicians. They were to a large extent created and protected by the colonial order. They did not begin with the people.

Politicians now have to begin with the people. They cannot be too far above the level of the people. They are very much part of the people. The Nehrus of the world have to give way now to the men of the people. It is important, in this apparent mess, for two things not to be interfered with. One is economic growth. I would like to see that encouraged in every way. It is the most important news coming out of India, more important than the politics. I would like to see education extended and extended. If this were to happen, and I feel it might, gradually, the actual level of politics will reflect both the economic life and higher level of education.

In India the talent is prodigious, really, and it increases year by year. And in sheer numbers, in another 10 years, India will probably be one of the world's most intellectually gifted countries. The quality and the numbers are extraordinary, and I think this makes India extraordinary. But India shouldn't have fantasies about the past. The past is painful, but it should be faced. We should make ourselves see how far these old invasions and wars had beaten India down and how far we have come. I would say that India in the 18th century was pretty nearly a dead country. India has life now. India is living.

A Strong Hindu Response to Historical Humiliation
Sir V.S. Naipaul
Publication : Afternoon (Excerpts from The Los Angeles Times, June 29, 1996)

INDIA was trampled over, fought over. You had the invasions and you had the absence of a response to them. There was an absence even of the idea of a people, of a nation defending itself. Only now are people beginning to understand that there has been a great vandalizing of India.

In pre-industrial India, people moved about in small areas, unaware of the dimension of the country, without any notion of nation. People seemed to say: We are all right here. The rest of the world may be disastrous, but we are not affected. Now, however things seem to be changing. What is happening in India is a mighty, creative process. Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on.

But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: Deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging to their historical humiliation. The new Hindu attitude, the new sense of history being attained by Hindus, is not like Mohammedan fundamentalism. Which is essentially a negative, last-ditch effort to fight against a world it desperately wishes to join.

The movement (Hindu awakening) is now from below. It has to be dealt with. It is not enough to abuse these youths or use that fashionable word from Europe, 'fascism', There is a big, historical development going on in India. Wise men should understand it and ensure that it does not remain in the hands of fanatics.

"An area of awakening", interview of Sir V.S.Naipaul
by Dileep Padgaonkar, Editor, The Times of India, July 18, 1993

In one of his interviews (not included here), Sir Vidiadhar had said: "The (second) millennium began with the Muslim invasions and the grinding down of the Hindu-Buddhist culture of the north. This is such a big and bad event that people still have to find polite, destiny-defying ways of speaking about it. In art books and history books, people write of the Muslims 'arriving' in India, as though the Muslims came on a tourist bus and went away again. The Muslim view of their conquest of India is a truer one. They speak of the triumph of the faith, the destruction of idols and temples, the loot, the carting away of the local people as slaves, so cheap and numerous that they were being sold for a few rupees. The architectural evidence - the absence of Hindu monuments in the north - is convincing enough."

Padgaonkar: The collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent rise of Islamic nations in Central Asia, the Salman Rushdie affair, similar harassment by fundamentalists of liberal Muslim intellectuals in India: all these factors taken together persuaded some forces to argue that a divided Hindu society cannot counteract Islamic fundamentalism.

Naipaul: I don't see it quite in that way. The things you mentioned are quite superficial. What is happening in India is a new, historical awakening. Gandhi used religion in a way as to marshal people for the independence cause. People who entered the independence movement did it because they felt they would earn individual merit.

Today, it seems to me that Indians are becoming alive to their history. Romila Thapar's book on Indian history is a Marxist attitude to history which in substance says: there is a higher truth behind the invasions, feudalism and all that. The correct truth is the way the invaders looked at their actions. They were conquering, they were subjugating. And they were in a country where people never understood this.

Only now are the people beginning to understand that there has been a great vandalising of India. Because of the nature of the conquest and the nature of Hindu society such understanding had eluded Indians before.

What is happening in India is a mighty creative process. Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on, especially if these intellectuals happen to be in the United States. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

However, we are aware of one of the more cynical forms of liberalism: it admits that one fundamentalism is all right in the world. This is the fundamentalism they are really frightened of: Islamic fundamentalism. Its source is Arab money. It is not intellectually to be taken seriously etc. I don't see the Hindu reaction purely in terms of one fundamentalism pitted against another. The reaction is a much larger response... Mohamedan fundamentalism is essentially negative, a protection against a world it desperately wishes to join. It is a last ditch fight against the world.

But the sense of history that the Hindus are now developing is a new thing. Some Indians speak about a synthetic culture: this is what a defeated people always speak about. The synthesis may be culturally true. But to stress it could also be a form of response to intense persecution.

P: This new sense of history as you call it is being used in India in very many different ways. My worry is that somewhere down the line this search for a sense of history might yet again turn into hostility toward something precious which came to use from the West: the notion of the individual......

N: This is where the intellectuals have a duty to perform. The duty is the use of the mind. It is not enough for intellectuals to chant their liberal views or to abuse what is happening. To use the mind is to reject the grosser aspects of this vast emotional upsurge.

P: How did you react to the Ayodhya incident?

N: Not as badly, as the others did, I am afraid. The people who say that there was no temple there are missing the point. Babar, you must understand, had contempt for the country he had conquered. And his building of that mosque was an act of contempt for the country.

In Turkey, they turned the Church of Santa Sophia into a mosque. In Nicosia churches were converted into mosques too. The Spaniards spent many centuries re-conquering their land from Muslim invaders. So these things have happened before and elsewhere.

In Ayodhya the construction of a mosque on a spot regarded as sacred by the conquered population was meant as an insult. It was meant as an insult to an ancient idea, the idea of Ram which was two or three thousand years old.

P: The people who climbed on top of these domes and broke them were not bearded people wearing saffron robes and with ash on their foreheads. They were young people clad in jeans and tee-shirts.

N: One needs to understand the passion that took them on top of the domes. The jeans and the tee-shirts are superficial. The passion alone is real. You can't dismiss it. You have to try to harness it.

Hitherto in India the thinking has come from the top. I spoke earlier about the state of the country: destitute, trampled upon, crushed. You then had the Bengali renaissance, the thinkers of the 19th century. But all this came from the top. What is happening now is different. The movement is now from below.

P: My colleague, the cartoonist, Mr R K Laxman, and I recently traveled thousands of miles in Maharashtra. In many places we found that noses and breasts had been chopped off from the statues of female deities. Quite evidently this was a sign of conquest. The Hindutva forces point to this too to stir up emotions. The problem is: how do you prevent these stirred-up emotions from spilling over and creating fresh tensions?

N: I understand. But it is not enough to abuse them or to use that fashionable word from Europe: fascism. There is a big, historical development going on in India. Wise men should understand it and ensure that it does not remain in the hands of fanatics. Rather they should use it for the intellectual transformation of India.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Part 4 David Frawley : India as a sacred and Spiritual Land

India as a Sacred and Spiritual Land
Dr.David Frawley

Since ancient Vedic times, India has been regarded by its people as a sacred land, the very land of the Goddess or Divine Mother. The subcontinent geographically is shaped like a woman with Kashmir as her head and Sri Lanka at her feet. The region holds the mighty Himalayas, the world’s highest mountains, in the north, from which flow what is perhaps of the largest and most fertile group of great rivers in the world. India is the image of Mother Nature at her grandest from the mountains to the sea.

India has defined itself historically not in terms of conquests but in terms of spiritual teachings as a land of Yoga and meditation, which themes pervade its great national epics, the Mahabharata and Ramayana. It has produced the world’s greatest abundance of religious and spiritual paths; form and formless, personal and impersonal, theistic and non-theistic. India has developed its civilization not out of mere human invention or according to any special historical revelation, but from the concept of dharma, a recognition of cosmic law as the prime factor in life. India has remained a land of both nature and the spirit, a land of the Gods and the yogis, not simply a place of human habitation or a ground for worldly progress.

In the Rigveda, the oldest teaching of the region, India is already lauded the land of the great Goddess Sarasvati, who represents Divine knowledge, power and beauty. Sarasvati was the name of the great river in North India, which flowed from beyond the Ambala hills to the Rann of Kachchh in Gujarat, on which Vedic civilization first emerged after the end of the last Ice Age. Sarasvati, however, is not simply the outer river but represents the inner stream of wisdom and inspiration, what was later called the Sushumna or central channel of the subtle body. After the Sarasvati River dried up in a series of geological and climate changes during the third millennium BCE, the civilization of India shifted its center east to the more certain waters of the Ganga, but it never lost contact with its Vedic roots.

In classical India, the Goddess Durga, the martial from of Shiva’s consort, came to symbolize the country, perhaps owing to the need to defend the land from the many outside invaders. It was the Goddess Durga who, in a vision of his, gave the great Hindu King Shivaji his sword to resist the oppression of the Moguls under Aurangzeb and restore Hindu rule in the country in the seventeenth century. Durga is the protective form of the Mother Goddess. She saves her children from danger, slaying all the demons (negative forces) outwardly and inwardly that might assail the body and soul. Even today, Hindus worship Mother India in the form of the Goddess Durga.

Durga is dressed in red, rides a lion and has a majestic form. She is royal power of the Gods that should be the true ruling power in the world. She represents the defense of Dharma, not an aggressive force of worldly expansion. This, particularly during the current information age, is as much an intellectual and spiritual defense as a military one. For those who wish to understand India and its characteristic civilization, they should examine the image of the Goddess Durga. Why has Durga, the image of feminine and maternal power, come to symbolize India? Because India is the land of Shakti, the Divine evolutionary and transformative force, and embodies higher feminine qualities of patience, tolerance and synthesis. It is because India is ‘karma bhumi’, the land of spiritual work for the soul, which is also the land of the spiritual battle, Kurukshetra, where humanity’s spiritual aspiration is both developed and tested.

Yet Mother India, ‘Bharat Mata’ in Sanskrit, has many names. She is Bharata Bharati, the solar voice (Bharati) that carries the Divine fire. She is Bharata Bhavani, Mother India as the source of life, in which form the great modern rishi, Sri Aurobindo, lauded her. She is Sita, the Goddess of fertile rivers and fields, humble before the Divine solar light of Rama. She is Parvati, the daughter of the Himalayas, wedded to Shiva, the transcendent. She is Lakshmi, the beauty and fertility that is wedded to Vishnu, the Divine force that sustains life. To understand India, we must first recognize the Goddess that is her personification in different forms.

India as the World Mother

India is like Mother Earth, reflecting her in a tropical abundance and carrying her secret will for the evolution of consciousness. India is like the Divine Mother incarnate holding the world Shakti in order to uplift humanity. She is like the caring cow that the culture has always afforded the highest reverence, providing nourishment for all.

India, in many respects, is the mother of humanity and the mother of civilization, particularly for the spiritual and yogic life. The great dharmic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism arose through the power of this land, its sages, culture and peoples. These sages have left their imprint on the country by the power of their tapas, their yogic force which one can still feel in the many temples and tirthas of the region, giving the region a palpable spiritual presence.

India has best preserved the type of spiritual civilization that once dominated the ancient world from Egypt to China, Indo-china, Peru and Mexico. It continues the ancient traditions of temple worship and carries on the old solar religion of enlightenment and self-realization, linking us to the ancient spiritual humanity from which we digressed. It is not in the deserts of the Middle East, with their few or meager rivers that could not sustain significant populations, where civilization arose but in India, the world’s most fertile subcontinent.

The greater Himalayan mountains, which ring the plateau of Tibet, mark the crown chakra of the globe. Not surprisingly, the most lofty philosophies and meditation traditions have come from this region. While India has taken the greater portion of the Himalayan rivers, others flow to Indochina, China and Central Asia carrying the influence of these great mountains and their sages in different directions.

The Divine Mother is the source all evolutionary transformations, of all life and creation itself. It is not we human beings who determine or guide history, progress or evolution. It is not our scientists, politicians, economists or intellectuals who consciously create our destiny as a species or as a planet. We are mere pawns in the hands of forces we that we do not even see. India with its yogic culture holds the key to these transformations, if we would but recognize and honor her cultural potential for all humanity and all time.

The Present Crisis

There are not only forces that take the evolution of consciousness forward into the higher light of consciousness, but also those that take it backwards into the dark night of materialism and ignorance. Consciousness, moreover, does not develop in a linear but in a spiral fashion; sometimes it descends in order to ascend more surely at a later time.

India today is like the Divine Mother defiled and degraded, both by the inertia of her own people and by foreign enemies who cannot appreciate her spiritual beauty. The land of the country is ecologically devastated and both the common people and the intellectual elite are unaware of their great heritage and don’t know how to use it.

India over time became rigid in its customs, dominated by authority and ritual. Creative thinking and original inquiry gave way to an almost unconscious repetition of the old, a servile adulation of past achievements, instead of new thinking based upon the insights of earlier sages. This made the country prey to foreign attack and vulnerable to foreign rule. The deep devotion of the country became blind. This resulted in a condition in which the loyalty of the masses could as easily be given to a Queen Victoria or to a Babar, to any authoritarian ruler, as to a truly great Raja or king. A force of tamas or inertia settled over the land that prevents the people of the region from tapping the great reserve of spiritual power in which they live, removing them from the lionhearted sense of the Atman or higher Self that is the true force of Durga.

In this respect of spirituality, the civilization of India remains central to that of the rest of the world, in which our human spiritual potential is even yet more obscure. India is the land where the Gods can descend and where the great yogis can take birth. A resurgent India, therefore, is crucial for the regeneration of the planet. Yet India is also a land where the anti-Gods (Asuras) can rule and where hostile forces do not want a national awakening. The powers of the ignorance would just as well keep the country down for another thousand years if they can.

Fortunately, Durga, the Divine Shakti is coming forth again today. She is already stirring and beginning a new manifestation. She is preparing the decisive moment for her revelatory action. We must make ourselves into her vessels in order to aid in her transformations. While India may be the focus of her awakening, her action is beginning all over the world. She is the awakened planet that must soon arise to defend itself from the encroachment of an arrogant humanity that has fallen from grace. Meanwhile, a new humanity is also taking shape under her benefic glance. Let us be receptive to her guidance and take up her energy!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Gandhiji on Conversions by Arun Shourie

Premises and their Inevitable Consequences
(Gandhiji on how conversions are wrong and undesirable)
(The Observer, February 4, 1994)
Arun Shourie

On January 2nd, 1937 a Professor of Philosophy from Poland, Krzenski came to see Gandhiji. Krzanski told Gandhiji that Catholicism was the only true religion.

"Do you therefore say that other religions are untrue?" Gandhiji asked.

Krzenski: "If others are convinced that their religions are true they are saved."

Gandhiji: "Therefore, you will say that everyone would be saved even through untruth. For you say that if a man really and sincerely believes in what is as a matter of fact untruth, he is saved. Would you not also hold, therefore, that your own way may be untrue but that you are convinced that it is true and therefore you will be saved?"

Krzenski: "But I have studied all religions and have found that mine is the only true religion."

Gandhiji: "But so have others studied other religions. What about them? Well, I go further and tell you that religion is one and it has several branches which are all equal."

Krzenski: "I accept that no religion lacks divine inspiration but all have not the same truth, because all have not the same light."

Gandhiji: "It is an essentially untrue position to take, for a seeker after truth, that he alone is in absolute possession of truth. What is happening to the poor astronomers today? They are changing their position every day, and there are scientists who impeach even Einstein's latest theory."

Krzenski: "No. But I have examined the arguments in favor of other religions."

Gandhiji: "But it is an intellectual examination. You require different scales to weigh spiritual truth. Either we are all untrue -- quite a logical position to take -- but, since truth does not come out of untruth, it is better to say that we all have truth but not the complete truth. For God reveals His truth to instruments that are imperfect. Raindrops of purest distilled water become diluted or polluted as soon as they come in contact with mother earth. My submission is that your position is arrogant. But I suggest to you a better position. Accept all religions as equal, for all have the same root and the same laws of growth."

Krzenski: "It is necessary to examine every religion philosophically and find out which is more harmonious, more perfect."

Gandhiji: "That presupposes that all religions are in watertight compartments. That is wrong. They are always growing. Let us not limit God's function. He may reveal Himself in a thousand ways and a thousand times."

Now the Professor switched on to the next question viz., that of fighting materialism.

Gandhiji: "It is no use trying to fight these forces without giving up the idea of conversion, which I assure you is the deadliest poison that ever sapped the fountain of truth."

Krzenski: "But I have a great respect for your religion."

Gandhiji: "Not enough. I had that feeling myself one day, but I found that it was not enough. Unless I accept the position that all religions are equal, and I have as much regard for other religions as I have for my own, I would not be able to live in the boiling war around me. Any make-believe combination of spiritual forces is doomed to failure if this fundamental position is not accepted. I read and get all my inspiration from the Gita. But I also read the Bible and the Koran to enrich my own religion. I incorporate all that is good in other religions."

Krzenski: "That is your goodwill."

Gandhiji: "That is not enough."

Krzenski: "But I have great respect for you."

Gandhiji: "Not enough. If I were to join the Catholic church you would have greater respect for me."

Krzenski: "Oh yes, if you became a Catholic, you would be as great as St. Francis."

Gandhiji: "But not otherwise? A Hindu cannot be a St. Francis? Poor Hindu!"

Krzenski: "But may take your photograph?"

Gandhiji: "No, surely you don't care for materialism! And it is all materialism, isn't it?" (The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol 64, pp. 203-4)

Gandhiji's acuity and wit! On the other side, the trap the dogma of certainties lays for its adherents.

For the position that Krzenski was articulating is the standard position, it is the ineluctable position that every adherent of a revelatory, milleniar- ist religion must take.

The premises of such religions -- of Christianity, of Islam, of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism -- are that there is one Truth; that it has been revealed to One Man -- the Son of God Jesus, the Messenger of God Mohammed, the Culmination of Philosophers Marx; that it has been enshrined by him or on his behalf in One Book -- the Bible, the Quran, Das Kapital; that this text is very difficult to grasp and, therefore, one must submit to and be guided by One (external, overarching) agency -- the Church, the Maulvi, the Party.

Now, as the millennium shall come only when, but immediately when all accept the Revelation, it is the duty of the agency - of the Church, of the Islamic rulers and maulvis, of the Party - to see that everyone sees the Light. If even after The Light has been shown to a person, he refuses to subscribe to it, he must be put out of harm's way.

For, in that circumstance, the man is not merely harming himself, he is coming in the way of the mandate of God, of Allah's Will, or as in Marxism a Utopia.

The presumption Gandhiji was nailing in that representative conversation follow necessarily from these premises: there is no salvation outside the Church or the Faith or Party -- the poor Buddha, with all his compassion, just cannot be a St Francis.

What must be done also follows inevitably from those premises: the Church must convert, Lenin and Mao must export the revolution, Khomeni must export the revelation. These are inescapable responsibilities.

The Results

Conversions have, therefore, been going on for 2000 years. They have been proclaimed to be an essential of Christianity, a duty of every Christian. They have become one of the principal preoccupations -- in some cases, as with the evangelists, the principal business of the Church.

An incredibly vast organization has been built up, and incredibly huge resources are expended to save souls.

It costs "145 billion dollars to operate global Christianity," records a book on evangelization. The Church commands four million full-time Christian workers, it runs 13,000 major libraries, it publishes 22,000 periodicals, it publishes four billion tracts a year, it operates 1,800 Christian radio and TV stations. It runs 1,500 universities, and 930 research centers. It has a quarter of a million foreign missionaries; and over 400 institutions to train them. And those are figures from a book published in 1989 -- since then these has been the surge in Eastern Europe and Russia.

And the numbers are indeed impressive. Europe and North America are almost wholly Christian. 97% of the population of Latin America, 92% of Phillipines, 36% of Africa, 32% of South Korea is Christian.

Are they -- either the continents or the converts -- closer to the spiritual? Is their conduct better?

Such were the questions that Gandhiji asked the missionaries about the ones they had converted in India. The questions are as telling in regard to converts the world over...

Also, the sudden jumps in the number of adherents during famines and other privations testify to the use to which such times were put.

Swami Vivekananda admonished the missionaries in the harshest language for the means they adopted, for the use to which they put the people's despair: his Collected Works are full of his extreme fury on these counts...

A polish student brought a photograph to Gandhiji and asked him to autograph it. There is a school run by Catholic fathers, the student explained, "I shall help the school from the proceeds of the sale of this photographs."

Returning the photograph, Mahadev Desai records in his Diary, Gandhiji said, "Ah, that is a different story. You do not expect me to support the fathers in their mission of conversion? You know what they do?" "And with this he told him...", records Mahadev Desai, "the story of the so-called conversions in the vicinity of Tiruchengodu, the desecration and demolition of the Hindu temple, how he (Gandhiji) had been requested by the International Fellowship of Faiths to forbear writing anything about the episode as they were trying to intervene, how ultimately even the intervention of that body, composed mainly of Christians, had failed, and how he was permitted to write about it in Harijan."

"He, however, had deliberately refrained from writing, in order not to exacerbate feeling on the matter." If the Harijans had awakened to matters of the spirit and had acquired the ability to assess these things, he told the student, "I would bless them for voluntarily embracing Christianity."

But that is not what is happening. He went on to recall how the weakness of his own son had been used by persons to convert him to Islam. "The young man could see the deep pain with which Gandhiji was speaking", Mahadev Desai records. "He did not press him to give the autograph and took his leave." (Collected Works, Vol 63, pp 47-8)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Naipaul on Conversions

Psychological Impact of Conversion
Conversation with Sir V.S.Naipual

Thinking aloud, the author observes that the overthrow of the old religions ? religions linked to the earth and animals and the deities of a particular place or tribe ?by the revealed religions is one of the haunting themes of history. In the two narratives, he occupies himself with this subject, though he does not discuss it as such and directly, and limits himself to its Islamic expression in some important Muslim countries. He says that one main feature of these religions is that they take out sacredness from the land and environment of the converts. He remembers his own place of birth in Trinidad which knew no sacred places. Probably the aboriginal people knew them but they had been destroyed and instead of them there were in the plantation colony, "people like us whose sacred places were in other continents," to put it in the language of Naipaul. Enlarging on the observation, he adds that perhaps it is the absence of the sense of sacredness that is the curse of the New World. And perhaps it is this sense of sacredness that we of the New World travel to the old to rediscover.
Later on, he met the same phenomenon in Goa where the Portuguese, representatives of another revealed religion, Christianity, had time to do their work. Haters of idolatry, haters of all that was not of the true faith, levellers of Hindu temples and establishers of the Inquisition and the burning of the heretics, they created here "something of a New-World emptiness, like the Spanish in Mexico." But as one stepped out of Goa, one stepped into the sacred land again. It wasn't political history that made it so. Religious myths touched every part of the land outside colonial Goa. Story within story, fable within fable: that was what people saw and felt in their bones. Those were the myths, about gods and the heroes of the epics, that gave antiquity and wonder to the earth people lived on" (India: A Million Mutinies).
In destroying the sense of sacredness, Islamic fundamentalism is true to its type. But it does allow to one peoples, and only one peoples, the original peoples of the Prophet. their sacred places, pilgrimage and earth reverences; and these sacred Arab places have to be the sacred places of all the converted peoples.
Closely connected with this is another phenomenon. The converts have also to strip themselves of their past. Nothing is required of them but the purest faith, Islam, submission. Islam, Naipaul adds, "is the most uncompromising kind of imperialism. ',
Naipaul finds Islamic fundamentalism at work wherever he goes: in Iran, in Pakistan, in Indonesia, in Malaysia. It has its stages and intensities, but there is one minimum requirement: that the converts learn to lose regard or reject their land of birth, their pagan neighbours and regard them along with women of inferior breed; that they hold their pre?Islamic past and ancestors in contempt. The one unalterable principle is tabligh: that they give up their old identity in every thing, in their beliefs, customs, names, dress.
Naipaul visits Pakistan and finds the same forces at work there too. Unlike Iran, Pakistan still retains important fragments of the past in its dress, customs, ceremonies, festivals and social organization. But it means no relaxation, no relief for the people. It only means that there is much more to do for fundamentalists, much more to deny and repudiate and change.
Similarly, Naipaul finds that in Pakistan though most people are converts, to them their ancient "land is of no religious or historical importance, its relics are of no account; only the sands of Arabia are sacred." Their concept of history has completely altered and that alteration has inevitably diminished the intellectual life of the country. All the history of the ancient land has ceased to matter; in the school history books, the history of Pakistan has become only an aspect of the history of Islam. The Muslim invaders, and especially the Arabs, have become the heroes of the Pakistan story. Naipaul regards as " a dreadful mangling of history", a "convert's view" of history. He says that history in Pakistan "has become a kind of neurosis. Too much has to be ignored or angled, there is too much fantasy. "
Naipaul meets the same phenomenon in Indonesia, almost at the limit of the Islamic world. The country was until recently a cultural and religious part of Greater India and Islam came late on the scene. As a result, the country is rich in the monuments of the pagan past but nothing outside or before the faith was to be acknowledged, not even a great Hindu?Buddhist monument like Borobudur, one of the wonders of world.
While their objection to these relics is Islamic, some fundamentalists have learnt to clothe it in more acceptable, socialistic terms. One of them said that the money that was spent on Borobudur could be used to feed "hungry Muslims." One important criticism of the Government by the fundamentalists was that the Indonesian embassy in Canberra looked like a Hindu building.
The same wind blows in Malaysia. In the new climate to be a Malaysian is to be a Muslim. Others, the Chinese Taoists, Buddhists and Hindus suffer many disabilities
The "convert" is more than a descriptive name. In the hands of Naipaul, it has become an important concept. Though on one side it stands for aggression, on the side of victims, it stands for self?alienation, for estrangement from one's own people ? a more important component of the concept. The converts have a special psychology. They became converts under great pressure; but subsequently they solve the problem by pretending that the their conversion was voluntary'. Their forefathers were defeated and humiliated; but they overcome this feeling by identifying themselves with the victors and the aggressors. Even after conversion the pressure continues, they try to prove they are more loyal than the king himself; they become ardent champions and standard?bearers of Islam. In Iran, they think the Arabs are not sufficiently Muslim, and it is Iran's manifest destiny to keep Islam's flag aloft.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

An Open Letter to the Pope by Swami Dayananda Saraswati

An Open Letter to Pope John Paul II
Conversion is violence
Swami Dayananda Saraswati
(Published in The Indian Express, Mid-2000 on the eve of the Pope’s visit to India to “plant the cross in Asia”, as the Pope put it, and lay the foundation for large-scale conversion to Christianity)

Your Holiness,

On behalf of many Hindus whom I know personally, I welcome your visit to Bharat. This is a country with an ancient civilisation and unique religious culture which accommodates many religious traditions that have come to this country throughout the centuries.

Being the head of the Vatican State and also the Catholic Church with a great following all over the world, you enjoy a highly venerable position and can play a significant role in defusing religious conflicts and preserving the world's rich cultures. You have in your Apostolic Letter tertio millennio adveniente, 38 (November 10, 1994) voiced your intention to convoke a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Asia. After seeing the report of the Pre-Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops Special Assembly for Asia appointed by you, I want to bring to your kind notice the concerns of many Hindus in this country about religious conversion. In the Second Vatican Council, the status accorded to the world religions was that of a means of preparing them for Christ. We all understand that the Catholic religion does not accommodate other religions, except in this context. But I am appealing to you here to accept that every person has the freedom to pursue his or her own religion.

In the recent past, you mentioned that reason should be respected. On the basis of reason, no non-verifiable belief is going to fare any better than any other non-verifiable belief. Therefore, according to reason, there is no basis for conversion in matters of faith.

Apart from reason, there is another important issue which I request you to consider. Among the world's religious traditions, there are those that convert and those that do not. The non-converting religious traditions, like the Hindu, Jewish and Zoroastrian, give others the freedom to practice their religion whether they agree with the others' tenets or not. They do not wish to convert. I would characterize them as non-aggressive. Religions that are committed by their theologies to convert, on the other hand, are necessarily aggressive, since conversion implies a conscious intrusion into the religious life of a person, in fact, into the religious person.

This is a very deep intrusion, as the religious person is the deepest, the most basic in any individual. When that person is disturbed, a hurt is sustained which is very deep. The religious person is violated. The depth of this hurt is attested by the fact that when a religious sentiment is violated, it can produce a martyr. People connected to a converted person are deeply hurt. Even the converted person will suffer some hurt underneath.

He must necessarily wonder if he has done the right thing and, further, he has to face an inner alienation from his community, a community to which he has belonged for generations, and thus an alienation from his ancestors. I don't think that can ever be fully healed. Religious conversion destroys centuries-old communities and incites communal violence. It is violence and it breeds violence. Thus, for any humane person, every religious sentiment has to be respected, whether it is a Muslim sentiment or a Christian sentiment or a Hindu sentiment.

Further, in many religious traditions, including the Hindu tradition, religion is woven into the fabric of culture. So, destruction of a religion amounts to the destruction of a religious culture. Today, for instance, there is no living Greek culture; there are only empty monuments. The Mayan, Roman and many other rich cultures are all lost forever and humanity is impoverished for it. Let us at least allow humanity to enjoy the riches of its remaining mosaic of cultures. Each one has some beauty, something to contribute to the enrichment of humanity.

In any tradition, it is wrong to strike someone who is unarmed. In the Hindu tradition, this is considered a heinous act, for which the punishment is severe. A Buddhist, a Hindu, a Jew, are all unarmed, in that they do not convert. You cannot ask them to change the genius of their traditions and begin to convert in order to combat conversion. Because it is the tradition of these religions and cultures not to convert, attempts to convert them is one-sided aggression. It is striking the unarmed. I respect the freedom of a Christian or a Muslim to practice his or her faith. I do not accept many of their beliefs, but I want them to have the freedom to follow their religion.

You cannot ask me to respond to conversion by converting others to my religion because it is not part of my tradition. We don't believe in conversion, even though certain Hindu organizations have taken back some converted people. Thus, conversion is not merely violence against people; it is violence against people who are committed to non-violence.

I am hurt by religious conversion and many others like me are hurt. Millions are hurt. There are many issues to be discussed regarding conversion, but I want to draw your attention to only the central issue here which is this one-sided violence. Religious conversion is violence and it breeds violence. In converting, you are also converting the non-violent to violence.

Any protest against religious conversion is always branded as persecution, because it is maintained that people are not allowed to practice their religion, that their religious freedom is curbed. The truth is entirely different. The other person also has the freedom to practice his or her religion without interference. That is his/her birthright. Religious freedom does not extend to having a planned programme of conversion. Such a programme is to be construed as aggression against the religious freedom of others.

During the years of your papal office, you have brought about certain changes in the attitude and outlook of the church. On behalf of the non-aggressive religions of the world, the Hindu, the Parsi, the Jewish and other native religions in different countries, I request you to put a freeze on conversion and create a condition in which all religious cultures can live and let live.

(The writer is the head of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Rishikesh and Coimbatore)

Historical Question of Ayodhya: By Dr.Koenraad Elst

The Historical Question of Ayodhya
Dr. Koenraad Elst

The historical starting point of the Ram Janmabhoomi issue is the contention that the Babri Masjid structure in Ayodhya was built after the forcible demolition of a Hindu temple on the same spot by Muslim soldiers. In the first part of my book Ram Janmabhoomi vs. Babri Masjid, a Case Study in Hindu-Muslim conflict, I have dealt extensively with the arguments given pro and contra this contention. The case can be summarized as follows.

There is archaeological evidence that a temple, or at the very least a building with pillars, has stood on the Babri Masjid spot since the eleventh century. Of course, because of the structure standing there, the archaeological search has been far from exhaustive, but at least of the existence of this 11th century building we can be certain.

When the building was destroyed, we do not know precisely, there are no descriptions of the event extent anywhere. Mohammed Ghori's armies arrived there in 1194, and they may have destroyed it. It may have been rebuilt afterwards, or it may only have been destroyed by later Muslim rulers of the area. So it is possible that when Mir Baqi, Babar's lieutenant, arrived there in 1528, he found a heap of rubble, or an already aging mosque, rather than a magnificent Hindu temple.

However, it is very unlikely that the place was not functioning as a Hindu place of worship just before the Babri Masjid was built. As is well known, fourteen pillar-stones with Hindu temple ornamentation have been used in the construction of the Babri Masjid. Considering the quantity of bricks employed in the building, one cannot say that these fourteen pillar- stones were used merely to economize on bricks: quantitatively, they simply didn't make a difference. These remnants of Hindu architecture were more probably use in order to display the victory of the mosque over the temple, of Islam over Paganism. That was in keeping with a very common practice of Muslim conquerors, who often left pieces of the outer wall of the destroyed temple standing (as was done in the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi, replacing the Kashi Vishvanath temple), or worked pieces of idols into the threshold of the newly- built mosque, so that the faithful could tread them underfoot.

Since the actual practice in the case of the Babri Masjid conforms to this general pattern, we may infer that in all probability the Masjid was built in the same material circumstances in which the pattern normally applied, viz. just after the demolition of a Pagan place of worship. This is all the more probable considering that no alternative explanations for the presence of these Hindu pillar-stones have been offered, not even by those historians who would have an ideological and argumentative interest in doing so.

In methodological terms, our conclusion that the use of Hindu remnants in the mosque building indicates an immediately preceding temple demolition because such a sequence fulfills a common pattern, is based on the principle of coherence. This principle as a ground for historical inference does not given absolute certainty, but at least a good measure of probability. But conversely, a contention that violates the principle of coherence without being supported by hard evidence, thereby becomes very improbable. As we shall see, the advocates of the Babri Masjid cause, including a team of 25 JNU historians, have disregarded the coherence principle in central points of their argumentation.

In their well-known and oft-quoted statement on the Ayodhya controversy, the JNU historians have rejected the contention that there was a temple on the disputed spot before the Babri Masjid was built there. This is a wildly improbable contention. There is a general cultural pattern that would have made people build a temple there, a very important one.

If you go to Ayodhya and walk to the Masjid/Janmabhoomi, you will find yourself walking uphill, even after passing the Hanuman Garhi which itself is on a little hill. Relative to the flatness of the entire Ganga basin, the disputed split is quite an elevated place, and it overlooks Ayodhya. Now, either prince Rama was a historical character, born in the castle of the local ruler, which would logically (i.e. strategically) have been built on this elevation, and then his birthplace temple would also have to be there. Or we do not assume Ram's historicity (without necessarily excluding it) and we also do not assume that he was born there, which is the JNU historians' position, and then the question is reduced to whether people would have refrained from building a temple on this hilltop.

Ayodhya is a place of pilgrimage and temple city of long standing. The JNU historians themselves cite evidence that it housed important temples of the Buddhists, Shaivas and Jains. In such a temple city par excellence, it is virtually impossible that the geographical place of honour would have been left unused. The contention that there was no temple on the Babri Masjid site goes against all we know of ritual patterns in the lay-out of sacred places the world over: it violates the principle of coherence.

That the Babri Masjid replaced a pre-existent centre of worship, is also indicated by the fact that Hindus kept returning to the place, where more indulgent Muslim rulers allowed them to worship on a platform just outside the mosque. This is attested by a number of different pieces of testimony by Western travelers and by local Muslims, all of the pre-British period, as well as from shortly after the 1856 British take-over but explicitly referring to older local Muslim sources. A number of these documents have been presented by Harsh Narain and A.K. Chatterjee5. That they are authentic and have a real proof value, is indirectly corroborated by the attempts made to make two of them disappear, which Harsh Narain and Arun Shourie independently discovered6.

Most of these sources explicitly declare that the Babri Masjid had replaced an earlier Hindu temple, and even specify that it has been Ram's birthplace temple. But whatever their historical explanation for this unusual phenomenon of Hindus insisting on worshipping in a mosque's courtyard, they testify to the existing practice. And these Hindus were going into a mosque courtyard for specifically Hindu worship -- not for common Hindu-Muslim worship of some local Sufi, as you find in some places, but for separate Hindu worship of Lord Ram. The JNU historians completely fail to explain this well attested fact.

The attachment of the Hindus to the Babri Masjid spot cannot reasonably have originated in the period when the mosque was standing there. For the sake of argument, we might opine that perhaps a great miracle happened on the spot, sometime later than 1528: but in that case, there would be a tradition saying so. No, the Hindus' attachment to the spot clearly dates back to pre-Masjid days, and stems from a pre-existent tradition of worship on that very spot. Since this near inevitable assumption is corroborated by all relevant documents and by the local Hindu tradition, and is not contradicted by any authentic source giving a different explanation, we might as well accept it.

However, while the inference that there was a pre- existent tradition of worship on the spot is necessary for explaining the Hindus' centuries-long attachment to the place, it may not be sufficient. There are many destroyed temples to which Hindus have not kept returning. They simply built a new temple somewhere else, and even when Muslim power ended, they stayed with the new arrangement and forgot about the destroyed and abandoned temple. If they were so attached to the place, it is probably not because the erstwhile temple had made it important, but because the place had an importance of its own, and retained its special character even regardless of there being a temple in place or not. This assumption is coherent with the unanimous and uncontradicted testimony of Hindu and pre-colonial Muslim and Western sources, that the place was believed to be Ram's birthplace.

When in December 1990 the government asked both parties to collect evidence for their case, a small group of scholars, on being invited by the VHP, traced some more strong pieces of documentary evidence. At the same time, Dr. S.P. Gupta and Prof. B.B. Lal (Former Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India), came out with unambiguous archaeological and iconographical proof that a Vaishnava temple has stood at the site until it was replaced with the Babri Masjid. By contrast, the Babri Masjid Action Committee could only muster a pile of newspaper clippings, articles and book extracts by partisan writers who gave their anti-Mandir opinion, but no evidence whatsoever. The Hindu team of scholars had no difficulty in demonstrating, in a rejoinder, the utter lack of proof value of the AIBMAC evidence …(and these)... documents are the definitive scholarly statement on the Ayodhya dispute.

Islamic Vandalism: Evidence by Sita Ram Goel

The Tip of An Iceberg
Sita Ram Goel (Indian Express, February 19,1989)
The mention made by Maulana Abdul Hai (Indian Express, February 5) of Hindu temples turned into mosques, is only the tip of an iceberg, the iceberg itself lies submerged in the writings of medieval Muslim historians, accounts of foreign travelers and the reports of the Archaeological Survey of India. A hue and cry has been raised in the name of secularism and national integration whenever the iceberg has chanced to surface, inspire of hectic efforts to keep it suppressed. Marxist politicians masquerading as historians have been the major contributors to this conspiracy of silence.
Muslim politicians and scholars in present-day India resent any reference whatsoever to the destruction of Hindu temples in medieval times. They react as if it is a canard being spread by those they stigmatize as Hindu communalists. There was, however, a time, not so long ago, when their predecessors viewed the same performance as an act of piety and proclaimed it with considerable pride in inscriptions and literary compositions. Hindus of medieval India hardly wrote any history of what happened to their places of worship at the hands of Islamic iconoclasts. Whatever evidence the “Hindu communalists” cite in this context comes entirely from Islamic sources, epigraphic and literary.
Epigraphic Evidence
There are many mosques all over India which are known to local tradition and the Archaeological Survey of India as built on the site of and, quite frequently, from the materials of, demolished Hindu temples. Most of them carry inscriptions invoking Allah and the Prophet, quoting the Quran and giving details of when, how and by whom they were constructed. The inscriptions have been deciphered and connected to their historical context by learned Muslim epigraphists. They have been published by the, Archaeological Survey of India in its Epigraphica Indica-Arabic and Persian Supplement, an annual which appeared first in 1907-08 as Epigraphica Indo-Moslemica. The following few inscriptions have been selected in order to show that (1) destruction of Hindu temples continued throughout the period of Muslim domination; (2) it covered all parts of India-east, west, north and south; and (3) all Muslim dynasties, imperial and provincial, participated in the “pious performance.”
1. Quwwat al-Islam Masjid, Qutb Minar, Delhi: “This fort was conquered and the Jami Masjid built in the year 587 by the Amir… the slave of the Sultan, may Allalh strengthen his helpers. The materials of 27 idol temples, on each of which 2,000,000 Delhiwals had been spent were used in the (construction of) the mosque…” (1909-10, Pp 3-4). The Amir was Qutbud-Din Aibak, slave of Muizzud-Din Muhammad Ghori. The year 587 H. corresponds to 1192 A.D. “Delhiwal” was a high-denomination coin current at that time in Delhi.
2. Masjid at Manvi in the Raichur District of Karnataka: “Praise be to Allah that by the decree of the Parvardigar, a mosque has been converted out of a temple as a sign of religion in the reign of… the Sultan who is the asylum of Faith … Firuz Shah Bahmani who is the cause of exuberant spring in the garden of religion” (1962, Pp. 56-57). The inscription mentions the year 1406-07 A.D. as the time of construction.
3. Jami Masjid at Malan, Palanpur Taluka, Banaskantha District of Gujarat: “The Jami Masjid was built… by Khan-I-Azam Ulugh Khan... who suppressed the wretched infidels. He eradicated the idolatrous houses and mine of infidelity, along with the idols… with the edge of the sword, and made ready this edifice… He made its walls and doors out of the idols; the back of every stone became the place for prostration of the believer” (1963, Pp. 26-29). The date of construction is mentioned as 1462 A.D. in the reign of Mahmud Shah I (Begada) of Gujarat.
4. Hammam Darwaza Masjid at Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh: “Thanks that by the guidance of the Everlasting and the Living (Allah), this house of infidelity became the niche of prayer. As a reward for that, the Generous Lord constructed an abode for the builder in paradise” (1969, p. 375). Its chronogram yields the year 1567 A.D. in the reign of Akbar, the Great Mughal. A local historian, Fasihud-Din, tells us that the temple had been built earlier by Diwan Lachhman Das, an official of the Mughal government.
5. Jami Masjid at Ghoda in the Poona District of Maharashtra: “O Allah! 0 Muhammad! O Ali! When Mir Muhammad Zaman made up his mind, he opened the door of prosperity on himself by his own hand. He demolished thirty-three idol temples (and) by divine grace laid the foundation of a building in this abode of perdition” (1933-34, p.24). The inscription is dated 1586 A.D. when the Poona region was ruled by the Nizam Shahi sultans of Ahmadnagar.
6. Gachinala Masjid at Cumbum in the Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh: “He is Allah, may he be glorified… During the august rule of… Muhammad Shah, there was a well-established idol-house in Kuhmum… Muhammad Salih who prospers in the rectitude of the affairs of Faith… razed to the ground, the edifice of the idol-house and broke the idols in a manly fashion. He constructed on its site a suitable mosque, towering above the buildings of all” (1959-60, Pp. 64-66). The date of construction is mentioned as 1729-30 A.D. in the reign of the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah.
Though sites of demolished Hindu temples were mostly used for building mosques and idgahs, temple materials were often used in other Muslim monuments as well. Archaeologists have discovered such materials, architectural as well as sculptural, in quite a few forts, palaces, maqbaras, sufi khanqahs, madrasas, etc. In Srinagar, Kashmir, temple materials can be seen in long stretches of the stone embankments on both sides of the Jhelum. Two inscriptions on the walls of the Gopi Talav, a stepped well at Surat, tell us that the well was constructed by Haidar Quli, the Mughal governor of Gujarat, in 1718 A.D. in the reign of Farrukh Siyar. One of them says, “its bricks were taken from an idol temple.” The other informs us that “Haider Quli Khan, during whose period tyranny has become extinct, laid waste several idol temples in order to make this strong building firm…” (1933-34, Pp. 37-44).
Literary Evidence
Literary evidence of Islamic iconoclasm vis-a-vis Hindu places of worship is far more extensive. It covers a longer span of time, from the fifth decade of the 7th century to the closing years of the eighteenth. It also embraces a larger space, from Transoxiana in the north to Tamil Nadu in the south, and from Afghanistan in the west to Assam in the east. Marxist “historians” and Muslim apologists would have us believe that medieval Muslim annalists were indulging in poetic exaggerations in order to please their pious patrons. Archaeological explorations in modern times have, however, provided physical proofs of literary descriptions. The vast cradle of Hindu culture is literally littered with ruins of temples and monasteries belonging to all sects of Sanatana Dharma - Buddhist, Jain, Saiva, Shakta, Vaishnava and the rest.
Almost all medieval Muslim historians credit their heroes with desecration of Hindu idols and/or destruction of Hindu temples. The picture that emerges has the following components, depending upon whether the iconoclast was in a hurry on account of Hindu resistance or did his work at leisure after a decisive victory:
1. The idols were mutilated or smashed or burnt or melted down if they were made of precious metals.
2. Sculptures in relief on walls and pillars were disfigured or scraped away or torn down.
3. Idols of stone and inferior metals or their pieces were taken away, sometimes by cartloads, to be thrown down before the main mosque in (a) the metropolis of the ruling Muslim sultan and (b) the holy cities of Islam, particularly Mecca, Medina and Baghdad.
4. There were instances of idols being turned into lavatory seats or handed over to butchers to be used as weights while selling meat.
5. Brahmin priests and other holy men in and around the temple were molested or murdered.
6. Sacred vessels and scriptures used in worship were defiled and scattered or burnt.
7. Temples were damaged or despoiled or demolished or burnt down or converted into mosques with some structural alterations or entire mosques were raised on the same sites mostly with temple materials.
8. Cows were slaughtered on the temple sites so that Hindus could not use them again.
The literary sources, like epigraphic, provide evidence of the elation which Muslims felt while witnessing or narrating these “pious deeds.” A few citations from Amir Khusru will illustrate the point. The instances cited relate to the doings of Jalalud-Din Firuz Khalji, Alaud-Din Khalji and the letter’s military commanders. Khusru served as a court-poet of six successive sultans at Delhi and wrote a masnavi in praise of each.
1. Jhain: “Next morning he (Jalalud-Din) went again to the temples and ordered their destruction… While the soldiers sought every opportunity of plundering, the Shah was engaged in burning the temples and destroying the idols. There were two bronze idols of Brahma, each of which weighed more than a thousand mans. These were broken into pieces and the fragments were distributed among the officers, with orders to throw them down at the gates of the Masjid on their return (to Delhi)” (Miftah-ul-Futuh).
2. Devagiri: “He (Alaud-Din) destroyed the temples of the idolaters and erected pulpits and arches for mosques” (Ibid.).
3. Somanath: “They made the temple prostrate itself towards the Kaaba. You may say that the temple first offered its prayers and then had a bath (i.e. the temple was made to topple and fall into the sea)… He (Ulugh Khan) destroyed all the idols and temples, but sent one idol, the biggest of all idols, to the court of his Godlike Majesty and on that account in that ancient stronghold of idolatry, the summons to prayers was proclaimed so loudly that they heard it in Misr (Egypt) and Madain (Iraq)” (Tarikh-i-Alai).
4. Delhi: “He (Alaud-Din) ordered the circumference of the new minar to be made double of the old one (Qutb Minar)… The stones were dug out from the hills and the temples of the infidels were demolished to furnish a supply” (Ibid.).
5. Ranthambhor: “This strong fort was taken by the slaughter of the stinking Rai. Jhain was also captured, an iron fort, an ancient abode of idolatry, and a new city of the people of the faith arose. The temple of Bahir (Bhairava) Deo and temples of other gods, were all razed to the ground” (Ibid.).
6. Brahmastpuri (Chidambaram): “Here he (Malik Kafur) heard that in Bramastpuri there was a golden idol… He then determined on razing the temple to the ground… It was the holy place of the Hindus which the Malik dug up from its foundations with the greatest care, and the heads of brahmans and idolaters danced from their necks and fell to the ground at their feet, and blood flowed in torrents. The stone idols called Ling Mahadeo, which had been established a long time at the place and on which the women of the infidels rubbed their vaginas for (sexual) satisfaction, these, up to this time, the kick of the horse of Islam had not attempted to break. The Musulmans destroyed in the lings and Deo Narain fell down, and other gods who had fixed their seats there raised feet and jumped so high that at one leap they reached the fort of Lanka, and in that affright the lings themselves would have fled had they had any legs to stand on” (Ibid).
7. Mathura: “They found the city empty for the Rai had fled with the Ranis, but had left two or three hundred elephants in the temple of Jagnar (Jagannatha). The elephants were captured and the temple burnt” (Ibid.).
8. Fatan: (Pattan): “There was another rai in these parts …a Brahmin named Pandya Guru… his capital was Fatan, where there was a temple with an idol in it laden with jewels. The rai fled when the army of the Sultan arrived at Fatan… They then struck the idol with an iron hatchet, and opened its head. Although it was the very Qibla of the accursed infidels, it kissed the earth and filled the holy treasury” (Ashiqa).
The story of how Islamic invaders sought to destroy the very foundations of Hindu society and culture is long and extremely painful. It would certainly be better for everybody to forget the past, but for the prescriptions of Islamic theology, which remain intact and make it obligatory for believers to destroy idols and idol temples.