The Stupendous Bhagavad Gita

At 5:30 on the morning of July 16, 1945, in a desert area known as the Jornada del Muerto in the Alamogordo air base, a stupendous white flash tore apart the sky, dazzling and blinding a small group of scientists ten thousand yards away. At this very moment, an apparently incongruous incident took place: Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory and prime coordinator of the atomic experiment, began to hum some stanzas he had read years before when he was studying Sanskrit: 

Divi surya-sahasrasya bhaved yugapad utthita
yadi bhah sadrsi sa syad bhasas tasya mah’atmanah 

If the radiance of a thousand suns
Were to burst into the sky
That would perhaps be like
The splendor of the Mighty One. 

An imaginative description of a possible nuclear explosion? Far from it; in fact, it was a poetic rendering of the explosive nature of mystical ecstasy written thousands of years ago on the banks of the Ganges: the Mighty One, emanation of the Godhead, grants an awe-struck Arjuna his first staggering insight into the mysteries of the inner Self. 

As the gigantic nuclear cloud mushroomed up to the stratosphere followed by a doomsday roar, Oppenheimer continued with the verses in which the Mighty One reveals Himself: 

I am become death
The shatterer of worlds. 

Then and there, Oppenheimer symbolized a most extraordinary conjuction – the juxtaposition of Western civilization’s most terrifying scientific achievement with the most dazzling description of the mystical experience given us by the Bhagavad Gita, India’s greatest literary monument. 

Ironically, this scientific accomplishment destroyed one of the basic premises that had started Western scientific thinking on its course some twenty-five centuries ago in Greece: the integrity and indivisibility of the atom. In splitting it and releasing its inner energy, Western science did more than devise man’s most awesome weapon; it also symbolized the destruction of the psychological assumptions on which the Greek philosopher Democritus and, much later, Isaac Newton based their view of the universe – the existence of a material, indestructible and eternal atomos as fundamental building blocks of the material universe. 

 

The juxtaposition of Western civilization’s most terrifying scientific achievement with the most dazzling description of the mystical experience given us by the Bhagavad Gita, India’s greatest literary monument. 

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Oppenheimer’s spontaneous conjunction of a Hindu mystical poem with a nuclear explosion was of great symbolic significance. Nowhere in Western literature could he have found an almost clinical description of mystical rapture that also fits the description of a nuclear explosion in the outer world. 

The Bhagavad Gita gives us a perfect example of this predominance of the subjective outlook. This stupendous “Song of the Blessed” depicts the battlefield of Kuruksetra where two armies stand face to face on the eve of the battle. Arjuna, one of the commanders, drives his war chariot between the lines and, horrified at the thought of the forthcoming slaughter, wants to call off the battle. Lord Krsna, the “Mighty One, “ who assumes temporarily the role of charioteer and incarnates Transcendental Wisdom, urges him to fight regardless of the “objective” consequences, and his speech is the essence of the Gita’s message: Arjuna must fight with serenity and total detachment because it is his duty as a professional warrior, because he is bound by the karma of his past and has to go inexorably through the mysterious labyrinth of his appointed duties, however evil the consequences may seem to others. The Mighty One emphasizes the point by saying to Arjuna: “You sorrow for men who do not need your sorrow….Long since have these men in truth been slain by Me; yours is to be the mere occasion….Slay them then – why falter? Lord Krsna then adds: “Consider pleasure and pain, wealth and poverty, victory and defeat, as of equal worth. Prepare for the combat. Acting in this way thou wilt not become stained by guilt.” 

The immediate message: there is no such a thing as objective reality. And the ultimate message: “Give thought to nothing but the act, renounce its fruits (phalatrsnavairagya)….For him who achieves inward detachment (tyagin), neither good nor evil exists any longer here below (vigatakalmasah).

(source: The Eye of Shiva: Eastern Mysticism and Science - By Amaury de Riencourt  p. 13 – 14 and 72 - 73). For more refer to chapter on Hindu Scriptures and Quotes21_40).For more by Amaury de Riencourt refer to chapter on Quotes301_320). For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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Hindu leaders see "alarming" growth of religious minorities

New Delhi, Sep. 07 2004 - Hindu groups in India are expressing alarm that the country's Muslim and Christian populations are growing, while the Hindu population declines. Venkaiah Naidu, president of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said the "imbalance" in the growth rate of different religious communities is "not good for the country." Naidu's reaction follows the release of statistics showing a breakdown of India's population by religious affiliation. The figures showed a decline in the rate of population growth among the country's Hindus, who now account for 80.5 percent of the population-- as opposed to 82 percent at the last national census in 1991. Muslim population has grown at an increasing rate in India, so that Muslims now make up 13.4 percent of the overall population-- against 12.1 percent in the last census.

The ratio of other smaller religious minorities like Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains has remained static in the 2001 census. Vishwa Hindu Parishad, described the increasing growth rate of religious minorities, and particularly Muslims, as "alarming." The Hindu group said this was a "conspiracy to convert the Hindu-majority India into Muslim-majority."

(source: yahoo.com and seattlepi.com  and deccan.com).

It took the Registrar General of India four years to prepare the Census 2001 report. But the UPA government took only 48 hours to “set right” the figures and projections of the report. In just two days, the Census Commissioner, under Congress pressure altered the figures of the Muslim rate of growth by juggling statistics from one table to another. Magically, the Muslims, who were reported to be growing at the rate of 36 per cent, actually had a growth rate that was slower than before. It is another matter that even then, their rate of growth is far ahead of the Hindus.

World over, Muslims multiply at supersonic rates in countries where they are in a minority. However, the minorities in Islamic countries shrink by the day, till the non-Muslim population becomes almost non-extinct. The classic examples are our two neighbours—Pakistan and Bangladesh. Hindus have been driven away, converted or killed, bringing their number to a miniscule.

While the “abnormal” growth of the Muslim population in India has grabbed a lot of attention, some important demographic changes occurring in some north-eastern states are receiving little notice. Nagaland now has 90 per cent Christian population, followed by Mizoram with 87 per cent and Meghalaya, 70 per cent. It is to be noted that the birth rate in these states has not risen drastically, pointing to a high rate of religious conversions.

(source:
Census politics with Muslim numbers - By Vaidehi Nathan - organiser.org).

New census data in India show an increase in the proportion of Christians in that country-- and a much more marked increase in the number of Christian women. India's 24 million Christians now account for 2.34 percent of the country's population-- up from 2.32 percent at the last previous census in 1991. The rate of population growth among the country's Christians also rose slightly, from 21.5 percent to 22.6 percent.

(source: India's Christian population creeps up-- especially among women). Refer to Joshua Project: Bringing Definition to the Unfinished Task- Country India - http://www.joshuaproject.net/countries.php?rog3=IN and to chapter on Conversion.  Refer to VINDICATED BY TIME: The Niyogi Committee Report  On Christian Missionary Activities - Christianity Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee 1956 and The Sunshine of Secularism.

Hindus have long had a latent fear that the Muslim community will exterminate it from its homeland through demographic aggression in the form of over-breeding and illegal immigration. There is a secret dread, articulated by former Director General of Police, Mr RK Ohri (Long March of Islam, 2004), that Hindus in India will meet the fate of the Christians in Lebanon and parts of the Balkans, where sharp demographic changes over a span of a few decades reduced the majority community to minority status. The warning is not without merit. The population of indigenous religious groups in the country has steadily fallen in percentage terms over the past 110 years, from 1881 to 1991, and this trend has accelerated after Partition. The present controversy over Islamic injunctions against family planning has only added to Hindu discomfort.

(source: The demographics of politics - By Sandhya Jain - dailypioneer.com - September 20 2004).

That the Muslim population in India is moving ahead of the rest is undeniable. Whether it is rising by 36 per cent in a decade or 29 per cent, that is the question. That all others - Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists put together - have risen only two-thirds as fast, too, is undisputed. The result: Continuous decline of those adhering to Indian religions. Plain arithmetic tells us that the numbers of those adhering to Indian religions are going down decade after decade. From 87.24 per cent in 1951, the followers of Indic religions came down to 86.87 per cent in 1961; 86.60 per cent in 1971; 85.86 per cent in 1981; further down to 85.09 per cent in 1991, and now even less at 84.21 per cent.

Just five decades back, the Hindus lost a third of their territory because of changes in the religious demography of undivided India. Yet the idea of religious demography still remains alien to the Hindu DNA. Religious demography is the theological manifest of Christianity and Islam and is so natural to them. They invented the critical idea of head count in religion, something which the Hindus never knew and have never understood. Yes, given their experience, Hindus have a reason to feel greatly concerned by this trend. For Hindus, India is the only geography left on earth. Muslims populate 16 countries totally and in as many and more, they dominate. A non-Muslim cannot practice his faith with honour in these Islamic states.

For, secularism cannot survive without a dominant Hindu majority. A nominal Hindu majority will not be able to protect secularism. Only a secure Hindu majority will trust secularism, an insecure Hindu majority will abandon it.

(source: Census and Hindu sensibilities - By S Gurumurthy - dailypioneer.com - September 22 2004).

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Satyagraha against academic defamation of Hinduism - By Rajiv Malhotra  
Flying the flag of Colonial politics on Hinduism

Mahatma Gandhi explained the importance of studying the world’s religions as a way to better understand our fellow humans.

Gandhi specifically wanted us to use the insiders’ perspective to study each faith: 

'If you read the Quran, you must read it with the eye of the Muslim; if you read the Bible, you must read it with the eye of the Christian; if you read the Gita, you must read it with the eye of a Hindu. Where is the use of scanning details and holding up a religion to ridicule?'

Religious Studies in USA:

Unfortunately, the approach in the western academy has been very different than Gandhi’s vision. Yet, most Indians do not understand either the rules of the Religious Studies game, or the strategies deployed by various players who dominate it. There are over 12,000 members of the powerful American Academy of Religion (AAR), making it one of the largest and fastest growing academic disciplines in the west. Contrary to Gandhi’s views, the academic discipline does not concern itself with a sympathetic understanding of a religion. Rather, it gives the scholars virtually unlimited power to determine the theories that they may use - i.e. the lenses with which to interpret a religion - and thereby privileges the scholars over the practitioners, spiritual teachers and exemplars of a tradition.

Who controls Hinduism Studies?

The academy’s authority over religious interpretation and discourse has worked especially against Hinduism. Western and Islamic societies have had an unbroken history of institutionalized academic study of their respective religions, giving them a defensive shield against hostile interpretations. But indigenous Indian centers of learning were destroyed or dismantled over several centuries. Even after independence, India’s policies have disregarded Gandhi’s advice, and secularism has been misinterpreted to abolish the study of religion in the education system.

Therefore, other major religions supply practitioners who populate the academic discipline, so as to ensure that the insiders’ view is adequately represented. But Hinduism is the only major world religion whose academic study is mostly done by those who are not practitioners of the religion, even though they may claim sympathy towards it to varying degrees. While most Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism academic scholars are members of those respective religions, less than 20% of the academic scholars specializing in Hinduism Studies publicly claim a Hindu identity. This lack of self-representation, combined with the massive power given to academicians to overrule the practitioner’s interpretations, has had a devastating effect on the image of Hinduism. When a nasty book gets written about Judaism, Christianity or Islam, there are plenty of insider-scholars and who quickly refute it to restore balance. But when major Hindu symbols and practices are denigrated, no refutation may take place for years, or any such the refutation gets marginalized.

Unlike in the case of other major religions, American Hindus are not in control over the leading academic journals, conferences, university chairs, programs, and school textbooks pertaining to their religion. In other words, Hindus have lost control over the portrayal of their own religion in the US media and education systems, and their kids are mere consumers of whatever is dished out by outsiders. For example, while Greek Classics are studied with great reverence, Indian Classics are often ignored or used to denigrate Indian culture as being primitive, exotic, irrational and lacking in ethics and morality. Positive contributions of Indian civilization are not taught, while problems are blamed on indigenous culture and are over-emphasized. The colonial mindset continues in the subtle use of language and theories.

Over the past two years, the Hindu Diaspora has started to contest the western academic biases. Wendy Doniger, arguably the most powerful professor of Hinduism Studies, was taken to task for calling the Gita ‘a dishonest book.’ Other academics who are her followers were challenged for depicting Sri Ramakrishna as a homosexual child molester of the young Swami Vivekananda, and for interpreting the Hindu Goddess as a sex-starved wicked creature.

(source: Satyagraha against academic defamation of Hinduism - By Rajiv Malhotra  - India Abroad. December 12, 2003. Page A30. Rajiv Malhotra is with The Infinity Foundation, a non-profit organization in Princeton, New Jersey). Refer to Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America - By Krishnan Ramaswamy, Antonio de Nicolas and Aditi Banerjee.

Taking Back Hindu Studies - By Dr. Srinivas Tilak

Under colonialism, Indians had to reconcile with the western inspired studies and history of India. While a few struggled against the received version of India and Hinduism, most Indians complied with the dominant western view of Hinduism and its history. Hindus allowed the history of their religion to be told to them and, in the process, became alienated from it. They became outsiders as they heard and read a contrived version of their religion and its history. The system of education that the British introduced into India was directly implicated in this process of alienation from Hinduism.

Hindu concepts of yoga and spirituality, which Christianity and western scholars of Hinduism first attempted to destroy, then to appropriate and then to claim, are therefore critical sites of resistance for Hindu scholars. The values, attitudes, concepts and language embedded in beliefs about spirituality represent, in many ways, the clearest contrast and mark of difference and Otherness between the Hindu and western worlds. To date, Hindu spirituality is one of the crucial aspects which the West could not decipher, understand and therefore could not control.

When Hindus become the researchers and not remain mere research subjects or the researched, the activity and direction of research on Hinduism will be transformed.

(source: Taking Back Hindu Studies - By Srinivas Tilak - sulekha.com. For more refer to Call For An Intellectual Kshatriya - by Rajesh Tembarai Krishnamachari and Washington Post and Hinduphobia - By Rajiv Malhotra - sulekha.com and Alerting Naked Emperors in an Age of Academic Arrogance - By Narayanan Komerath - Swaveda.com and Protestant Pedagogues Peeved at Protest Against Porn-Peddling - By Narayanan Komerath - indiacause.com). For more on Gandhi refer to chapter on Quotes1_20). For more on this debate refer to chapters on European Imperialism, FirstIndologists and GlimpsesIX). Also refer to The Post and Manufacturing Consent - By Sankrant Sanu - sulekha.com).

When Indian academicians want an authority on Hinduism, they usually have to go to a western scholar. (Arindam C, once narrated at a meeting how he was sitting in some discussion on Hinduism in India. To resolve a deadlock on definitions of Indic categories, it was suggested that they should call Chicago to get the answer! 

Hinduism Studies is filled with not only former missionaries but actively practicing missionaries. Go to RISA (Religion In South Asia) events and you will find out. A prominent example is John Carman, who recently retired from Harvard where he headed Hinduism Studies, and who is regarded amongst the most important authorities in academic Hinduism Studies. After retirement, he has returned to his family’s mission – his family is third-generation Christian missionaries in India. 

(source: Is Hindutva The Indian Left's 'Other'? – By Rajiv Malhotra - outlookindia.com). Also Refer to Indic Challenges to the Discipline of Science and Religion - By Rajiv Malhotra).

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What is the 'political' agenda behind American studies of South Asian Tantra? - By Rajiv Malhotra
(
David White’s book undermines claims of Indian Spirituality) - strange and slanted scholarship

Scholars’ intellectual products appear harmless at first, but eventually work their way through the distribution systems of knowledge and opinion into the hands of evangelists and other Hinduphobics. The Aryan theory was once just an academic theory but later got deployed politically to cause divisiveness in India . Caste started as a colonial census system of classifying the subjects of the Empire to be able to administer rule over them, but was often biased by forced mappings and imagined linkages. Over time, the earlier flexible Indian jâtis got rigidified into a permanent hierarchy, by force of law. Once labels and classifications get institutionalized (which the West has the power and experience to do), the category-grid becomes a tool over others.

A common trope for scholars is to claim to be “saving” Hinduism from past distortions, when, in fact, they are merely applying a new coat of their own brand of distortion on top of the previous layers. To make this strategy work, the scholar first starts off by severely criticizing colonialists and others for their biases, and this serves to gain credibility among the gullible desis [‘native’ Indians of the ‘brown’ variety… the ‘red’ being long since saved from themselves by ‘Whites’!

(source: What is the 'political' agenda behind American studies of South Asian Tantra? - By Rajiv Malhotra). Refer to Hindus and Scholars - By Arvind Sharma).

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Why the East is superior to the West

Within the religious fanaticism you will find a basic lack of understanding of other religions. A comprehensive study of various religions would support the broader view that one supreme and caring Intelligence has expressed itself to different people at different time and in different ways.

Fanaticism comes to people who feel insecure. This broader view gives a sense of belongingness while still allowing people to be well-founded in their own tradition.

There are ten major religions in the world, six from the far east and four from the Middle East. In the Far East,
Hinduism is the oldest. Then came Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism, Shintoism and Sikhism. From the Middle East, Zoroastrianism is the oldest, and then came Judaism, Christianity and Islam.Three of the Middle Eastern religions are rooted in the Old Testament: Islam, Christianity and Judaism. In the Far East Shintoism and Taoism have completely separate sources. Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism have roots in Hinduism.

The six religions of the Far East have peacefully coexisted and intermingled over the centuries. Buddhism and Taoism have so completely accepted each other that you can find statues of Buddha in Taoist temples. Hinduism accepts Jainist and Buddhist thought.

Contrarily, the religions of the Middle East with a common root have warred with each other. The brothers of the same house fight while friends live with each other in a coherent manner.

And we can find a model in India also. Within one family you will find Jains and Hindus and Sikhs. Individuals are free to choose whatever representation of Divinity they wish. They are not expected to adhere to the choice of the father or mother. This coexistence can happen when we put values first and symbols and practices second.

(source: Why the East is superior to the West - chinadaily.com). For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

God Wars: The triumph of the jealous Gods
The Battle for Humanity's Soul

Today, there is an unfair bias in the contest of conversions because the two largest, best-financed and most widespread faiths—the "Jealous-God" religions of Christianity and Islam—got that way by conquest and persecution. The monopoly that Christianity has on the Americas, Australia, and much of sub-Saharan Africa and Europe is a strength for that faith—they can keep these areas free of competition with little effort while pouring their propaganda and "charity" into targeted regions where other religions struggle to emerge and recover from the impact of European colonialism and forced conversions. Islam’s dominance of the Middle East, Indonesia, and North Africa is a similar fortress.

(source: God Wars: The triumph of the jealous Gods). For more refer to chapter on Conversion.  Refer to VINDICATED BY TIME: The Niyogi Committee Report  On Christian Missionary Activities - Christianity Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee 1956 and The Sunshine of Secularism.

Polytheism embraces pluralism
Monotheism blamed for history's bloodshed

Jonathan Kirsch blames the leading monotheistic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — for much of history's bloodshed. The reason, he maintains, is monotheism's traditional claim to exclusive possession of absolute truth.Too bad Julian the Apostate, the Roman Empire's last pagan emperor, died young in battle, says Kirsch, author of God Against The Gods: The History Of The War Between Monotheism And Polytheism. Had Julian lived longer, he might have succeeded in reinstating classical Greco-Roman polytheism, which was marginalized when Emperor Constantine the Great institutionalized Christianity's ascendancy — and world history might have turned out more benign.

Polytheism, the belief that there can be more than one god, was the ancient world's dominant religious system. Today it survives chiefly in Hinduism, in tribal traditions, in Afro-Caribbean faiths, and in Wicca and other neo-pagan movements that are growing in North America and Western Europe. Polytheism's core value, is theological pluralism, a stark contrast to traditional monotheism's penchant for insisting that the "One God" demands theological conformity.

(source: Monotheism blamed for history's bloodshed - thestar.com). 

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The city of Ayuthaya in Thailand

The city of Ayuthaya is located about 70 km north of Bangkok. King Ramathibodi who named it after the birthplace of Lord Rama founded it in 1350. He envisaged "Ramarajya" for his Kingdom, as the King was "Devaraja" or "God King", particularly Vishnu incarnate. Ayuthaya was a glorious, wealthy and flourishing island-city located at the confluence of three rivers, the Chao Phraya, the Pasak, and the Lopburi. It was the envy of not only its neighbors but also visiting and trading Europeans. It housed a population of 1 million comprising not just Thais but people belonging to some 40 nationalities. The French visitor Jean de Lacombe has recorded in awe that the palace of the King, Lord Rama Incarnate according to the Thais, "Is a dwelling worthy of an Emperor of the whole world". In its heydays it has been recorded by outside observers that Ayuthaya city was so magnificent that London at the time seemed a mere village in comparison.

Even though Ayuthaya was razed to the ground, neither did the religious fervor of the Thais suffer nor was there any damage done to the legacy of Rama. On the contrary, the Thais believe the "Chakri" (or Vishnu Chakra -"Wheel") dynasty has given them an unbroken succession of Rama incarnates so that they may be ruled over by his divine blessings. 

 

King Rama IX’s residence is named Chitralada. The Thai national and royal emblem is the Vishnu vahana of Garuda.

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King Rama IX’s residence is named Chitralada. The Thai national and royal emblem is the Vishnu vahana of Garuda. It is interesting to note the pervasive influence of Hinduism in Thailand even today. The Hindu Trinity of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu are worshipped with unrelenting reverence. Vishnu and his avatar of Rama are obviously the most revered of all. The walls of the magnificent Temple next to the King’s Grand Palace have mural scenes from the entire story of Ramayana painted on them. This temple was modelled closely on the destroyed Ayuthaya temple. Rama’s Sita has not been forgotten either. In the "Royal Field", north of the temple, that is the traditional site for royal cremations and for the royal ‘Ploughing ceremony’, a statue of Mae Thorani ("Mother Earth") stands on a white pavilion. As the original manuscript containing the Ramayana was burnt in Ayuthaya’s carnage, King Rama I wrote the Thai version of Ramayana called Ramakien in a poetic format. His son, Rama II, penned a much shorter adaptation of it. It is this story that is the main feature in classical Thai dance-drama to this day.

(source: Ayuthaya - outlookindia.com). For more refer to chapters on Hindu Scriptures. For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

Jakarta - name is derived from Ayodhya Karta

Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. The city’s names is derived from Ayodhya karta. Central Java cherishes temples of Shiva and Vishnu reminiscent of Indian architecture in the city of Kancheepuram in South India. And what is breathtaking is the gallery of bas-relief sculptures depicting scenes from the Ramayana. The ancient city of Prambanan is also the venue that attracts artists in dance-drama style to present tales from the Ramayana.

(source: indoprofile.com). 

 

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India Plans to Restore Afghan Hindu Temples 

The years of war in Afghanistan has damaged or completely destroyed ancient temples in the country. For instance, the Shor Bizar area of old Kabul -- once the Indian heart of the city -- is now in ruins. And the area boasts of a 500-year-old Shiv Mandir. Jitender Sharma, the priest, succeeds his father and grandfather, who have been pujaris at the temple. "It is a Bhaironath temple. Religious threads used to be tied here and kirtans used to be sung, but for years all that has stopped," said Jitender Sharma, priest. The temple was destroyed by the forces of the northern warlord General Dostum in the mid 90s. But there is renewed hope for the temple, as it will soon be re-built by the government of India. "The government of Afghanistan has approached us for help in the reconstruction of places of worship of all faiths and we are responding positively to that," said Vivek Katju, Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan. But it's not just places of worship. Shor Bizar used to be the old Indian quarter of Kabul and as many as 60,000 Indians once lived in the area. Now, there are less than 20 families and they fondly remember the days when the area was known as the Hindu Guzar.

(source: India Plans to Restore Afghan Hindu Temples  - msn.co.in  - Kabul, Afghanistan.December 28,2003 - For more on Afghanistan refer to chapter GlimpsesII).

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India and Ling Yin Temple of China

Lin Yin Temple of China is home to the 19-metre-high Golden Buddha statue. Inscriptions found in the temple say the statue came flying from India.

Fei Lai Feng - Peak Flown From Afar (also named Ling Jiu Feng), stands next to Lin Yin Temple and is a must-see in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. There are many legends about the peak's name. A well-known legend states that an Indian monk named Huili arrived in the valley 1,600 years ago and was surprised to see a peak so dissimilar from any other one in the valley. He believed that the peak had flown over from India because the shape, although unique in China, was common in India. However, he did not know why the peak would have flown to this spot so far from his country.

 

     

Inscriptions found in the temple say the statue came flying from India.   Big Wild Goose Pagoda - Dayanta - Sanskrit scriptures he had brought back from India.

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Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Da Yan Ta - Dayanta) which was built in 652 AD in the Tang Dynasty. Xuanzang, a prominent Buddhist scholar of the time, planned to have a huge stone pagoda built to house the Sanskrit Buddhist scriptures he had brought back from India to China.  It contains a large volume of Buddhist scriptures which were obtained from India by the eminent monk Xuanzang. The pagoda was modeled after the one in India. It was given the same name in memory of Xuan Zang in praise of Buddhism.

(source: Ling Yin Temple and travelchinaguide.com and visitchina. For more refer to chapter on India and China).  For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

Chinese New Year and medicine

Dates from 2600 BC - A complete cycle takes 60 years, divided into 12 year elements. Each of these 12 years is named after an animal favored by the Buddha. Chinese medicine, was influenced by Ayurveda, and similarities include the extensive use of natural herbs.

(source: China welcomes the New Year - BBC and Balm from the East - By Jenny Hontz - LA Times). Chinese 60 year cycle has strong resemblance to Tamil Calendar and Indian Hindu Calendars. For more refer to The Tamil Calendar).

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'Mahabharatha part of Indonesia's culture, too' - says Salahudi M Salam

Mahabharatha and Ramayana are part of the culture of not only India but also that of Indonesia , says Salahudi M Salam, a Deputy Minister from the south-east Asian country.

'Mahabharatha and Ramayana are part of our culture and India is my home country and not a foreign country to me'.

Salam, Deputy Minister and Counsellor, Embassy of Republic of Indonesia, New Delhi, said, 'though our nation has a Muslim population of more than 80 per cent, the two great epics - Mahabharatha and Ramayana have become our philosophy and life'. Sanskrit was being taught as a second language in Indonesia, he said at the conference held as part of the Peetarohana Swarna Jayanthi celebrations of Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal, the Sankaracharya of Kanchi Sankara Mutt.

The Java language had most of the words with Sanskrit roots. The husband was called 'Swami' and the wife as 'Stree'. Further, the symbol of the big university in Indonesia was Lord Ganesha and the 100 Rupia currency had Ganesha's picture in it, he pointed out. 

(source:  Mahabharatha part of Indonesia's culture, too - newstodaynet.com).

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Does South Asian Studies Undermine India? - By Rajiv Malhotra

The last two centuries of Indological studies have focused on the themes of divisiveness among Indians. This is today accomplished by constructing identities of victimhood with other Indians depicted as culprits:

i. Western feminists are telling Indian women that they are victims of Indian culture. ii. Dalit activists are being sponsored to blame Brahmins.iii. The divisive Aryan theory is being used as 'fact' to construct a separate Dravidian identity and to 'Aryanize' North Indians as foreign culprits. And iv. India's English language media is sometimes subverting traditions by glorifying everything Western and denigrating or ignoring everything indigenous.

 

The ultimate game plan of such scholarship is to facilitate the conceptual breakup of India, by encouraging the paradigms that oppose its unity and integrity. Many humanities scholars blatantly promote smaller nation states instead of one India.

(source: India - By Adrian Mayer).

Refer to Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America - By Krishnan Ramaswamy, Antonio de Nicolas and Aditi Banerjee.

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The ultimate game plan of such scholarship is to facilitate the conceptual breakup of India, by encouraging the paradigms that oppose its unity and integrity. Many humanities scholars blatantly promote smaller nation states instead of one India.

(source: Does South Asian Studies Undermine India? - By Rajiv Malhotra - rediff.com). Refer to Taking Back Hindu Studies - By Srinivas Tilak and For more refer to Call For An Intellectual Kshatriya - by Rajesh Tembarai Krishnamachari. For more visit chapters on Women in Hinduism, Caste System, Aryan Invasion Theory and FirstIndologists). For more refer to The War against Hinduism - By Stephen Knapp).

For interesting articles refer to Prof. Courtright's Pseudo-psychoanalytic Depiction of Shri Ganesha: Authentic Scholarship or Bigotry? - By Shree S. Vinekar, MD and Concerned Community and Animal House: The South Asian Religious Studies Circus and Also Refer to Indic Challenges to the Discipline of Science and Religion - By Rajiv Malhotra).

Icons of American Literature, such as Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Eliot, the Beats, among others, were deeply involved in the study and practice of Indian philosophy and spiritual traditions. While they are widely read and admired, the Indian wellsprings of their inspiration is often downplayed, to the detriment of all students.

Everything good about India is assumed to have been imported: The British gave us a sense of nation. There was no worthy Indian culture prior to the Mughals. The Greek brought philosophy and mathematics to India. The "Aryans" brought Sanskrit. By implication, Indians are doomed to dependency, which contradicts the vision of India's future trajectory being based on knowledge-based industries. 

Many Indian scholars in the humanities, journalists, and 'intellectuals' in Non-Government Organizations depend on Western funding, Western sponsored foreign travel, acquiring legitimacy in the eyes of Western institutions, the ability to parrot canned Western 'theories,' and even identifying as a member of the Western Grand Narrative – not as options but as necessary conditions for success. Clearly, such loyalties, identities and ideologies must resonate with their sponsors.

(source: Repositioning India's brand - By Rajiv Malhotra - rediff.com).

"India is fair game for every outsider who wishes to assert his own 'influence' on its cultural and intellectual accomplishments. It is, however, curious that such influence extends only to areas that are today considered highly desirable. Has anyone ever claimed to have influenced the institution of caste? No sir, that is a wholly indigenous achievement!"

(source : comments on sulekha.com).  For more on this debate refer to chapter on GlimpsesIX).

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James Laine's Controversial Book, Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India - By Balchandrarao C Patwardhan and Amodini Bagwe

Some of the remarks made by James Laine, Professor and Chair of Religious Studies, Macalester College, in his book, Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India, seem more like willful, calculated sensationalism than honest scholarship.  

To suggest that Shahaji was not Shivaji's `biological father' is implausible, incredible and outrageous! Unlike lax norms of familial or marital propriety that characterize `civilized' Western societies, loose speculation about someone's ancestry is a very serious matter indeed even in contemporary Indian ethos, not to speak of conditions three centuries ago when societal sanctions must decidedly have been immensely more rigid and consequences of their transgression, all too tragic. A scandalous event like the one implied in the book could scarcely have escaped immediate detection, judgment and censure. Anybody indulging in such conduct would have courted severe social stigma, especially someone like Jijabai who both hailed from and was married into aristocracy. The progeny of an allegedly `unholy' relationship would never have been accepted as king by a tradition-bound people who looked upon the monarch as an incarnation of Divinity! On page 93 of the book, Laine states what could be described as out-and-out hearsay: "Maharashtrians tell jokes naughtily suggesting that his guardian Dadaji Konddev was his (Shivaji's) biological father"! The ordinary reader may well wonder whether seemingly casual inclusion of naughty gossip is a convention in serious cross-cultural scholarship! As a matter of fact, love and adoration of Shivaji is the bottomline truth, and we have never come across such a motivated rumour until Laine's book was published!

On page 91, Laine asks with an unnecessary soupçon of dramatization, "Can one imagine a narrative of Shivaji's life in which, for example: Shivaji had an unhappy family life? Shivaji had a harem? Shivaji was uninterested in the religion of bhakti saints? Shivaji's personal ambition was to build a kingdom, not liberate a nation? Shivaji lived in a cosmopolitan Islamicate world and did little to change that fact?" Had he really read and gleaned anything from the references listed at the end of the book, such considerations would not have emerged to perturb him. For instance, it was practically de rigeur for men of status in Shivaji's time to have more than one wife. To go much further back, let us recall that Lord Rama's father too had several queens. The custom had nothing whatsoever to do with practices prevailing in a "cosmopolitan Islamicate world". However, isn't having several legally wedded wives very different from keeping a harem?

Also, as Shivaji's biography reveals, he was surrendered to sages like Sant Ramdas and the pre-eminent bhakti poet, Sant Tukaram, of which well-known fact Laine feigns such complete ignorance! With adequate answers to each one of Laine's questions easily obtainable in his references, is his pretence indicative of a deeper, sinister motive to compromise, restrain and perhaps even destroy the extraordinary reverence in which Shivaji is held? The learned author, in spite of his protracted contact with the region since 1977, failed to realize that the "Shivaji story", as narrated in every Maharashtrian home, has far more significance and enjoys immensely greater credibility than all the `history' taught in academia. Shivaji was the first Indian leader in relatively recent history to contemplate political self-determination and successfully put it into practice at a time when all others were blissfully unaware of both the existence and possibility of such a thing! Such visionary quality alone elevates Shivaji to a pioneering `national' stature, head and shoulders above all his peers and contemporaries. 

Indeed, since it takes a foreigner to convince us of the greatness of things indigenous, it would be pertinent to quote Bamber Gascoigne: "He (Shivaji) taught the modern Hindus to rise to the full stature of their growth. So, when viewed with hindsight through twentieth century glasses, Aurangzeb on the one side and Shivaji on the other come to be seen as key figures in the development of India. What Shivaji began Gandhi could complete ……and what Aurangzeb stood for would lead to the establishment of the separate state of Pakistan." 

 

           

   Shivaji Maharaj                                 Sant Ramdas

"Shivaji) taught the modern Hindus to rise to the full stature of their growth. So, when viewed with hindsight through twentieth century glasses, Aurangzeb on the one side and Shivaji on the other come to be seen as key figures in the development of India. What Shivaji began Gandhi could complete ……and what Aurangzeb stood for would lead to the establishment of the separate state of Pakistan." - says Bamber Gascoigne

***

Most Indian historians and writers, including justice M.I. Ranade and B.G. Tikak, laud him as the father of Indian nationalism and a liberationist. Ranade portrays Shivaji as the architect of Maratha independence, who promoted religious tolerance and the egalitarian status of women. Leaders such as Lala Lajpat Rai, Tilak, Annie Besant, Aurobindo Ghosh, Jawaharlal Nehru, eminent historian Sir Jadhunath Sarkar, Indira Gandhi, and poet Tagore have paid eloquent tributes to Shivaji as a great national leader and the builder of the country.

***

Laine's dissertation the same intellectual chicanery attempted through the purchase by British colonizers (for a princely sum of £3000, paid in easy installments, may it be noted!) of Max Muller's erudition a century ago with the studied intention of demoralizing a whole nation by denigration of its antiquity, pre-eminence, culture, religion and history? Laine mentions in the Acknowledgments (p. viii) that his "scholarly home has been the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune" where he "profited from advice and assistance", and goes further to thank Marxist historian - Asghar Ali Engineer – whose interest in the Shivaji story is a new revelation to us…...  

Laine concludes that Shivaji used pan-Indian symbols and not regional ones - if that is so, the case that he was a nationalist is strengthened, not weakened. If he used Maratha symbols exclusively, then he would be a Maratha nationalist and not an Indian nationalist...Refer to Shivaji: Portrait of an Early Indian By Dosabhai Framji Karaka.  In the preface Karaka explains that in using the phrase early Indian" in the title his purpose was to show that three hundred years ago Shivaji was thinking in terms of India as a national unity. In the book Shivaji is portrayed as a national rather than a regional figure. It concludes with the following passage:

" ...by birth a Hindu, by caste a Maratha but by his own inclination [Shivaji was] an early Indian who fought to preserve the native heritage of the people of the land from the foreign invaders, at that time Moghul and Muslim, but to Shivaji's way of thinking, it could have been anyone else" (Karaka 1969: p. 167).

It is up to Laine to inform his readers as to how and where he dug up this disgusting rumour casting aspersions upon the character of Shivaji's mother, who is herself a figure of great veneration to all. She was a single mother of great character and substance: the fountainhead of inspiration of Shivaji's life's work. The body fabric of a resurgent India, and particularly that of a progressive state like Maharashtra, can well do without such vicious 'scholarship' inflicting upon it further damage.

(source: James Laine's Controversial Book, Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India- By Balchandrarao C Patwardhan and Amodini Bagwe - Hindu Vivek Kendra and  yahoogroups - Indic Civilization). For more on Shivaji refer to chapter on Glimpses VIII and Glimpses IX). A Book review Shivaji: ‘Research should be taken with the altruistic aim of benefiting humanity’ and  An image that might be disturbing - V.N. Datta - tribuneindia.com. Shivaji: Portrait of an Early Indian By Dosabhai Framji Karaka - (Bombay: The Times of India Press 1969). Grant Duff in his History of the Mahratta described Shivaji as a plunderer and a freebooter. For more on British Imperial Plunder refer to chapters on European Imperialism and Glimpses VIII). Also refer to The Post and Manufacturing Consent - By Sankrant Sanu - sulekha.com). (Note: Perhaps Prof. James Laine should consider writing a book on American cultural icon such as Thomas Jefferson and his relationship with black slave Sally Hemings).

Prime Minister Vajpayee made it clear to an audience in Mumbai that he was personally against the banning of books. In the best traditions of Hindu pluralism and Anglo-Saxon liberalism, he made the necessary distinction between contesting an idea and suppressing it by official diktat.

The ban imposed on Laine’s work by the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government in Maharashtra matches the earlier acts of cussedness and stupidity of earlier Congress governments in the Centre and the states. From Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses to Charles Bettelheim’s India Independent and Stanley Wolpert’s Nine Hours to Rama, India has a chequered history of liberal proscription.

At a time when the United States of America perceives India as a strategic partner, both economically and politically, does it behove the American academic establishment to patronize those who perceive Hindu to be a four-letter word?

(source: Reclaiming the Hindu Gods - By Swapan Dasgupta - telegraphindia.com January 30' 2004).

Don't play with Indian pride, PM warns author
Shivaji is my ideal, says Vajpayee

In view of the controversy on James Laine's book on Chhatrapati Shivaji, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today warned the foreign author not to play with "our national pride". On the alleged remark against Shivaji and his mother Jijamata in the book titled, 'Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India', Vajpayee said, "we not only condemn it, but also warn the foreign author not to play with our national pride."

(source: Don't play with Indian pride, PM warns author - sify.com and Shivaji is my ideal, says Vajpayee - mid-day.com  March 20 2004).

"What James Laine wrote in his book was false, absurd and unforgivable," said Mr Bhonsle. "I don't blame Mr Laine. There are hardly any family values in the west. What James Laine wrote only reflects on his upbringing."

(source: Fighting in the name of a legend - BBCnews.com).

(Note: Perhaps Prof. James Laine should consider writing a book on American cultural icon such as Thomas Jefferson and his relationship with black slave Sally Hemings).

India seeks to arrest US scholar 

Indian officials have decided to seek the arrest of an American scholar who has written a controversial biography of a historic national figure. James Laine, who teaches religious studies at a US university, has written a book on Shivaji, a 17th Century warrior venerated in western India. The Congress government of the western state of Maharashtra said it would seek the assistance of Interpol to arrest him. It says the book smears Shivaji's image, and is insulting to India. Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil said that a "criminal offence has been registered against" Professor Laine, who teaches religious studies at Macalester College in Minnesota.

(source: India seeks to arrest US scholar - BBC.com).

The Sambhaji Brigade which was accused in the attack is not a Hindutva group but a Maratha (ethnic) group opposed to BJP and Hindu Brahmins, and their vandalism of priceless Sanskrit manuscripts cannot be portrayed as a “Hindu” act. This was recently explained to me by Maharashtrians who classify themselves as leftists, and who saw the book as a distortion of Maratha's secular history. So the Post is blatantly wrong in insisting on a narrative of Hinduism causing vandalism, and also in claiming that Hindus consider Shivaji's parents to be divine.

(source: Washington Post and Hinduphobia - By Rajiv Malhotra - sulekha.com).For interesting article refer to Prof. Courtright's Pseudo-psychoanalytic Depiction of Shri Ganesha: Authentic Scholarship or Bigotry? - By Shree S. Vinekar, MD and Concerned Community and Animal House: The South Asian Religious Studies Circus and Protestant Pedagogues Peeved at Protest Against Porn-Peddling - By Narayanan Komerath - indiacause.com). (Note: Perhaps Prof. James Laine should consider writing a book on American cultural icon such as Thomas Jefferson and his relationship with black slave Sally Hemings).

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Tasteless diatribe against a hero – By Sandhya Jain
Demeaning Shivaji, denigrating dharma 

Having purchased and read James Laine's Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India only after it was officially withdrawn by the publishers, I cannot view the events at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) as totally unjustified. Certainly, attacks on centres of learning have no place in Hindu ethos and must not recur. Yet, having gone through 105 pages of shoddy polemics posing as historical research, I am constrained to state that Oxford University Press needs to re-examine its commissioning policy if it hopes to retain credibility as a publishing house.

Reading the book, I was struck by the fact that it did not once mention Shivaji's famed ambition to establish a Hindu Pad Padshahi. This is a strange omission in a work claiming to study how contemporary authors viewed Shivaji's historic role, and the assessment of his legacy by subsequent native and colonial writers. The most notable omission is of the poet
Bhushan, who wrote: "Kasihki Kala Gayee, Mathura Masid Bhaee; Gar Shivaji Na Hoto, To Sunati Hot Sabaki!" [Kashi has lost its splendour, Mathura has become a mosque; If Shivaji had not been, All would have been circumcised (converted)]. 


Bhushan's verse has immense historical value because the Kashi Vishwanath temple was razed in 1669 and thus lost its splendour, and the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple was destroyed and converted into a mosque in 1670. Bhushan came to Shivaji's kingdom from the Mughal capital in 1671, and within two years composed Shiv Bhooshan, a biography of Shivaji. It clearly states that Shivaji wanted to set up a Hindu Pad Padshahi. Shivaji strove consciously for political power as an instrument for the resurrection of dharma (righteousness), a quest he termed as "Hindavi Swarajya," a word having both geographical and spiritual-cultural connotations. When still in his teens in 1645 CE, Shivaji began administering his father's estate under a personalized seal of authority in Sanskrit, an indication that he envisaged independence and respected the Hindu tradition. A 1646 CE letter to Dadaji Naras Prabhu refers to an oath that Shivaji, Prabhu, and others took in the presence of the deity at Rayareshwar, to establish "Hindavi Swarajya."

 

Ramdas was one of the greatest saints of the world. He was the inspirer of Shivaji. Like the Sanskrit Gita and the Tamil Kurul, the Dasabodha is one of the greatest classics of world literature. Ramdas was a contemporary of Sant Tukaram. As makers of Maharastra and remakers of Hindustan, Ramdas and Shivaji will always go together as one ideological complex in the historical scholarship of future generations. 

(image source: Creative India - By Benoy Kumar Sarkar p. 399-400).

***

The insinuation about "bigot" is especially objectionable in view of Laine's insistence that Shivaji had no particular interest in Hindu civilization and no proven relationship with the revered Samarth Ramdas or Sant Tukaram. What the reader needs to understand is that Ramdas' historical significance lies in the fact that he openly exhorted the people to rise against oppression and hinted in Dasbodh that Shivaji was an avatar who had come to restore dharma. By denying that he was Shivaji's spiritual mentor, Laine seeks to disprove that the great Maratha wanted to establish a Hindu Pad Padshahi.

Then, there is Laine's tasteless allegation that Shivaji may possibly (whatever that means) be illegitimate, simply because Jijabai, who bore many children while living with her husband in the south, gave birth to Shivaji on her husband's estate near Pune and continued to live there. Maharashtrians point out that Shahaji had to send his pregnant wife to safety in Shivneri due to political instability. Shahaji was on the run with the boy king Murtaza Nizamshah, in whose name he controlled the Nizamshahi. After its fall in 1636, service in the Adilshahi took him to Bangalore (his remarriage produced the distinguished Thanjavur-Bhonsle dynasty); he administered his Pune lands through Dadaji Konddev.

(source: Tasteless diatribe against a hero – By Sandhya Jain - dailypioneer.com - January 27 2004).

***

"Intellectual engagement is the aspect of Hinduism. Banning books is not in the Dharmic tradition" - Yvette C. Rosser

It is wrong to ban books, says Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Referring to the Maharashtra government ban on a book on Chhatrapati Shivaji by American author James Laine, Vajpayee said it was wrong to ban books. The state government banned Laine's book: Shivaji: A Hindu King in Islamic India, after members of the Sambhaji Brigade (a Maratha organisation) recently damaged important documents and monuments at Pune's Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) while staging a protest against the book. The attackers said the book contains derogatory remarks about Shivaji and Laine wrote the book after conducting primary research at BORI. The police arrested 72 members of the Brigade for vandalising the BORI office).  

(source: It is wrong to ban books, says Vajpayee  - hindustantimes.com).

Pune police book American writer Laine -
The Deccan police on Friday booked American writer James William Laine, author of Shivaji — Hindu King in Islamic India, for allegedly writing contentious material against Chattrapati Shivaji with an intent to cause a riot. The publisher and printer of the Oxford University Press have also been booked. According to the police, Laine will be arrested and his passport seized if he returns to the country. Laine has written contentious material on page No 93 of the book against Shivaji and his mother, Jijabai. The complainant has claimed that since the matter printed in the book is provocative, the feelings of many followers of Shivaji have been hurt. The police have registered a case under Section 153 of the Indian Penal Code, which stands for: wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause a riot, and under 153(A), which is for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony. 

(source: Pune police book American writer Laine - timesofindia.com and Maharashtra Congress Govt bans US author's book on Shivaji - indianexpress.com). 

Union HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi has slammed the book and said: ‘‘Such references, based on no evidence nor facts, need to be strongly repudiated by our intellectuals. There ought to be a probe to find out motive behind the same,’’ Joshi told reporters. He described the attack on BORI as an onslaught on the country’s heritage of knowledge.  ‘‘The book may have been withdrawn from the market but 10-20 years ahead if it continues to exist, it will get the status of reference material. Laine’s references need to be strongly repudiated at intellectual and academic level.’’ 

(source: For Joshi, siege bad but Laine’s remarks worse - indianexpress.com).

Feedback to Editor of Indian Express

Who is Laine? what are his credentials? How many books has he written? There are people who have spend their entire life on studying Shivaji and still do not call themselves scholar. The Indian media and press are real hypocrites and whiners who only support anti Hindu tirades. Why don't they do the same when a Muslim or Christian book is banned? They just keep their oily mouths shut for fear of rousing the minority rabble. This is the main reason for rising Hindu anger against false secularists because in India secularism means HINDU BASHING and hurting the feelings of Hindus. Can you imagine if such a thing were done to Muslims or any other religion? The Hindu patience is finally running out and false secularists had better get out of India and do their stuff elsewhere. Tolerance does NOT mean Hindu bashing. If banning this book on Shivaji is wrong, where were the secularists when the Satanic Verses furor took place? The so called liberal communists recently banned a Bangladesh writers Tasleema's book because it hurts Muslim sentiment. No outrage from liberal writers, painters, Secularists and the so called National moral bearers National Press.

Anyone who has lived for long in US/WEST & the author of the book is from there, knows what is the meaning of marriage in US/WEST!! It amazes me that people from a land where MOST don't know who their mother or father is anymore write about our solid family traditions (that includes Shivaji) & it is the same people who dropped atomic bomb on Japan who have the audacity to question our Nuclear program & these same people who enslaved blacks for centuries & still treat all minorities including Hindus/Indians as lowly beings lecture us on so-called human rights & civil rights!! They do so as they know the slavishness of most Hindus for white skin...Shivaji Maharaj was the first ruler to propagate the Swaraj theme and one of the earliest kings to instill a democratic setup in daily governance. 

(source: Letters to the Editor - indianexpress.com).

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Banning books and Double Standards?
Hypocrisy that is Nehruvian Secularism

Marxist Historians (R. S. Sharma, R. C. Thakran, Suraj Bhan, Irfan Habib, D.N. Jha, Shireen Moosvi and K. M. Shrimali) today joined the chorus of protests within the academic community against the vandalism at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) in Pune earlier this month. In a statement issued here under the banner of the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT), they described the Maharashtra Government's ban on the American Indologist, James Laine's book as ``totally unwarranted''. They said:

"It is quite clear that our cultural heritage is not safe with the fundamentalist forces having a free run in the country. They are being actively encouraged by the ideology that preaches intolerance and has no respect for half-a-millennium-old monuments, contemporary art practices and scholarly pursuits.'' 

The West Bengal government's ban on Taslima Nasreen's book because it offended some Muslims is not the "appeasement of communal and fascist elements" but is well within the "centuries-old tradition in India of social and intellectual tolerance" and, therefore, needs no protest.

And the disrespect to and Freudian innuendo over divinities (refer to RISA Lila - 2 - Limp Scholarship and Demonology - By Rajiv Malhotra and chapter on Glimpses IX) sacred to the majority in our country is "scholarly pursuits" and, therefore, needs no protest.  These scholars - and artists - wouldn't dare apply the same manner of interpretation or depiction to, say, the Islamic god and his prophet. (Satanic Verses by Salman Rushie was banned by Congress PM Rajiv Gandhi in India). But that is their academic freedom, isn't it?

Eric Hoffer describes fanaticism as a "malady of the soul of the world" and identifies it as "a Judaic-Christian invention" ("The True Believer", NY: Harper Perennial, 1989:168). No, I do not condone the BORI vandalism. But I invite you to read Shylock's speech in The Merchant of Venice III.i - the one that has "...if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?.....The villainy you teach me, I will execute...".  

 

"Intellectual engagement an important aspect of Hinduism. Banning books is not in the Dharmic tradition" 

***

All through recorded history, which are the ideologies characterized by the fanatic destruction of the others' "national consciousness incarnated in books" (http://www.harvardmag.com/on-line/110388.html) - the firing of the Alexandria library, the burning of non-Muslim scriptures, the sack of Nalanda university, the incineration of the Aztec and Maya codices, the literary holocaust of 100 million books in Nazi-occupied Europe, the Serbian bombing of the Bosnian national library, and the ransacking of the Baghdad museum are only some examples of biblioclasm from hundreds, if not thousands, of examples of the destruction by these ideologies of the cultural resources of others.

It is to these very ideologies that these scholars and historians belong, or that they consider "secular". That these ideologies not only have openly declared their intention to wipe out the world's last major paganism but are actively and successfully engaged in doing so, therefore, needs no protest, because to these scholars and historians it is these ideologies that are "sane".

We pagans, by implication, are "insane". Whose history, therefore, is to sit in judgement?

(source: Historians protest ban on book - hindu.com and  History will judge - vigilonline.com).  

Lane's serious miscalculation  

Mr. Lane saw the Shivaji legend from his simpleton Western mind (George Bush: Good and Saddam Hussein: Evil) in terms of the Left-Hindutva divide. If only reality was as simple as his two dimensional imagination! For example see the confusion created by the Frontline story by Anupama Katakam. A well know leftist commentator Dilip Chitre laments about the "Talibanization" of Maharashtra while neglecting to mention the role of the NCP-Congress (not the Shiv Sena-BJP) government in it. "As he says in the article, "The owners of Shivaji's story had their own set of questions, delivered with a punch: who should be allowed to portray this history? Should an outsider working with Brahmin English-speaking elites have a greater say in Shivaji's story than Shivaji's own community?" Once again Mr. Laine has created a false dichotomy. Shivaji is a venerated figure in all sections of Hindus in and out of Maharashtra. I cannot believe he is unaware of Samartha Ramdas, Veer Savarkar, and Tilak's rich tributes to Shivaji Maharaj. Why does he think the "elite English speaking Brahmin community" has a dramatically different view of Shivaji? He is probably basing it on a poor joke from an unnamed source.

(source: Yahoo Groups - Indian Civilization).

***

Examples of book banning in the West

In 1930, U.S. Customs seized Harvard-bound copies of Candide, Voltaire's critically hailed satire, claiming obscenity. Two Harvard professors defended the work, and it was later admitted in a different edition. In 1944, the US Post Office demanded the omission of Candide from a mailed Concord Books catalog. Thomas Paine, best known for his writings supporting American independence, was indicted for treason in England in 1792 for his work The Rights of Man, defending the French Revolution. More than one English publisher was also prosecuted for printing The Age of Reason, where Paine argues for Deism and against Christianity and Atheism. Senator Joseph McCarthy had overseas libraries run by the United States Information Service pull an anthology of American literature from the shelves because it included Thoreau's Civil Disobedience). In Mark Twain's lifetime, his books Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn were excluded from the juvenile sections of the Brooklyn Public library (among other libraries), and banned from the library in Concord, MA, home of Henry Thoreau. Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice was banned from classrooms in Midland, Michigan in 1980, due to its portrayal of the Jewish character Shylock. The Bible and The Quran were both removed from numerous libraries and banned from import in the Soviet Union from 1926 to 1956. Harry Potter books were burned in a bonfire by Rev.George Bender, leader of the Harvest Assembly of God Church near Pittsburgh.

(source: Banned Books Online).

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US offers freedom but robs your soul, says NRI (Non-Resident Indian)

The U.S. offers many opportunities for freedom and wealth but robs people's souls, a top Indian American banker told hundreds of his community members here, urging them to invest in values rather than money.

"The U.S. offers unbounded opportunities in terms of freedom and money. In return it robs you of your soul," said Victor Menezes, senior vice chairman of Citigroup. Menezes was speaking at the annual banquet of the Indo American Centre, a non profit community service organisation that serves immigrants from the South Asian community in Chicago. Around 500 people attended the event.  

Gangotri is a small village located in the far northern area of Uttar Pradesh. This town is the inhabited center closest to the source of the Sacred River - the Ganga. 

(source: India - By Adrian Mayer).

***

"Invest in your family, in achievements, not money and live below your means," he urged the business leaders and community members at the banquet. Speaking on "Investment in the Community" Menezes highlighted the importance of a close knit, caring family, which first generation Indian Americans like him took for granted. "It is a great advantage to have the support of Indian education and values."

Menezes said he found that Indian immigrants to several other places like East Africa were able to maintain their heritage and culture after several generations. But this was much harder to do in the U.S., making it "a lot more challenging to be a success as a second generation Indian American". The three challenges for Indian Americans were to "maintain our roots, link to the community, and preserve our family structure," Menezes said.

(source: US offers freedom but robs your soul, says NRI - hindustantimes.com Indo Asian News Service Chicago, September 29 2003).

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Hinduism: Most suited religion for the spirit of Democracy

"The problem with the BJP is not that it is Hindu; but that it is NOT Hindu. I would happily cheer for a Hindu party because, apart from Buddhism, I have found no religion as appealing to the intellect, as satisfying to the soul and as accommodative of differences as Hinduism.

I can also think of no religion more suited to the spirit of democracy.
In the West, democracy developed in conflict with - and despite - the Church. In India, democracy took root in the fertile soil of Hinduism. Most of us think the British introduced democracy and Gandhi, Nehru and a handful of others made it stick, against impossible odds. Thus, you hear about the 'miracle" of Indian democracy. This is wrong thinking - Gandhi was a great man, but his greatness is only next to that of the hundreds of millions of Indians who took to him as their natural leader. It is Indian culture that nurtures Indian democracy; and Indian culture was shaped by Hindu thought. How could it be otherwise when Hindus form over 80% of the population?

In my book, therefore, a Hindu party would be one that would uphold
Rajdharma, not just pay lip service to it ("That king is greatest," said Bhishma to Yudhishtir, "in whose kingdom subjects wander as freely as children in their parental home"); it would celebrate diversity, not be wary of it; and it would be inclusive, not exclusive. Such a party would be a natural party of governance for India."

(source: Why BJP should be more Hindu - by Tony Joseph). For more on Democracy in ancient India, refer to article - Democracy and refer to chapter on Glimpses_VIII and Polytheism  - Spiritual Democracy, refer to chapter on Glimpses_VI).

***

Why democracy didn't take roots in Pakistan? - By Vinod Kumar

Democracy demands men make laws to govern themselves. It is the acceptance of this premise that democracy has succeeded in India and it is the rejection of this very premise that democracy failed to take roots in Pakistan.

No society can live outside the parameters of its basic ideology; and not only the ideology but the very raison d'être of the existence of Pakistan is Islam. Though India is not a religious Hindu state but Hinduism is still the soul of India and still guides the way India thinks and acts. It is the basic difference in these ideologies that has made democracy a failure in one and success in another even though in all other respects both countries are twins. It is when religion comes into play, the two part company. To the contrary, in Hinduism, the individual is the most important factor. Each individual is urged to search the truth for himself -- even the authority of the Vedas -- the highest regarded scriptures of the Hindus -- is not to be accepted if it does not pass individuals' search or interpretation of the truth. With the concept of multiple manifestation of Hindu gods, diversity is the norm rather than the rule. I will not be far off if I were to say, in Hinduism each individual creates his own god or at least worships the god of one's own choosing. Hindu scriptures are man made and evolve with time. 

The day Hinduism becomes a minority religion in India, it will be no different from Pakistan.

(source: Why democracy didn't take roots in Pakistan? - By Vinod Kumar - kashmirherald.com).

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Indians should not ape US, says Mark Tully

“India should retain its individuality, culture and tradition and at the same time should have power to overcome the sweeping changes blowing across the country", Tully added.

"It's upon the people to decide whether they want the country to remain `asli Bharat' or `nakli America'. `Asli Bharat' is better," he remarked. 

Mr. Tully was speaking after inaugurating a book exhibition on India at the British Library. Recalling his long association with India, he said the country and its people always treated him good and he never felt as an outsider. "I have been in India for 40 years and I never felt I was at a disadvantage and it's a tribute to the generosity of the people here," he said, referring to the circumstances like the British rule and the Independence movement. "Indian tradition has been that it welcomes everyone into its fold." 

(source: Indians should not ape US, says Mark Tully - hindu.com and hindu.com).

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Hindu Empire at Hampi Declared a World Heritage Centre 

Recently declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Centre, a visit to Hampi in the state of Karnataka will reveal a glorious ancient Hindu empire. Home to the Vijayanagar empire that was established by two disciples of saint Vidyaranya in 1336 and reigned until its destruction by Islamic invaders in 1565, the area exemplifies Indian culture, Hindu temples, art and architecture. 

 

Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagar empire and visiting the 30-square-kilometer area will transport visitors to a golden era of Hindu culture.

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At the height of the empire between 1509 and 1529, the kingdom covered the entire present day States of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagar empire and visiting the 30-square-kilometer area will transport visitors to a golden era of Hindu culture. Even though the Islamic invaders tried to destroy the city for six months, many of the structures remain today as architectural marvels. For example, the Virupaksha temple still rises majestically displaying a 120-foot tall tower at its eastern entrance. Inside shrines contain murthis of Lord Siva and Goddesses Pampa and Bhuvaneswari. Another magnificent monument, the Vithal temple complex, has 56 musical pillars and a stone chariot with wheels that still turn. The nearby Hazara Ramaswami temple was the private place of worship for the royal family. Scenes from the Ramayana are carved on two of the inside walls of this temple. Other ruins at Hampi include the Lotus Mahal which is shaped like a lotus flower on top, an elephant stable revealing Hindu-Muslim style architecture, and a recent discovery, the Pushkarini tank, with granite steps that connected the pond with a channel from the nearby river. No empire would be complete without Lord Ganesha and a 9-foot tall single stone statue adorns the site. The Ministry of Tourism along with the Central government are planning to have an interactive computer in place to guide tourists about the historical sites at Hampi. Presently Hampi can be reached by rail, car, taxi or bus and it is recommended that visits occur between October and March to avoid the extreme heat. Hampi also boasts several boarding and lodging facilities.

(source: Hindu Empire at Hampi Declared a World Heritage Centre  -  Hinduism Today). For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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Hindutva is growing in relevance - By Babul Roy Mishra

Both Swami Vivekananda and historian Arnold Toynbee found Hindu resilience against the onslaught of Islam and Christianity extraordinary in the annals of civilisations. It was Hindus' fortress of tolerance and a sense of equanimity that no outside conquerors could penetrate, and this distinguishes the Hindus from others. Both pointed out, though in different context, that the Hindu India stood out as the only country which, despite Islamic rule for six centuries, had not turned into Dar-ul Islam, and despite British rule for next two centuries had not turned into a predominantly Christian country. 

Some intellectuals distinguish the term Hindutva from Hinduism, holding that the former being an aggressive cult is clearly distinctive from traditionally non-aggressive Hinduism. Hence, to them Hindutva is a distortion of Hinduism, and is comparable with Islamic fundamentalism. Even though the Supreme Court has not found any distinction between the above two terms etymologically.

In the first place, it is wrong to think that the concept of Hindutva is a recent phenomenon. On the contrary, such aggressive face of the Hindus did surface whenever they faced an attack to their core identity, to preserve which they have taken to uncharacteristic regimentation and stringent rituals Under the Islamic rule and again during the British, we found resurgence of the same aggressive Hindutva, holding out a protective barrier to prevent penetration that could shake off their very identity. The Hindus have never felt the need to convert a person of another religion to their own. They have never castigated a non-believer as an outcaste or a sinner. On the other hand, they have recognised atheists like Charvaka as a saint.

What has led to the resurgence of Hindutva in secular, democratic India? In order to understand the essence of Hinduism, we should refer to the following slokas in the Upanishads: "Om purna madah, purna midam, purnat purna mudachyateh, purnasva purna madaya purna mebabosishyate." Meaning, "Whatever we see is purna, whatever is beyond is also purna; from purna emanates purna; if we subtract purna from purna what remains is purna." Thus the Hindu concept of God is purna or the "all-pervasive whole". As in mathematics, zero minus zero is zero, in Hindu philosophy, purna minus purna is purna. Some describe this purna as "sunya" or zero. All that exists is included in this purna or sunya or zero. Herein lies the difference between the Hindu concept of God and God in other religions. While other religions believe that God is one, the Hindus say God is all-pervasive. 

Hindu God exists in all beings, in every atom or sub-atomic particle. Thus the Hindus believe in identity of souls and develop equanimity or same-sightedness. None is superior or inferior to a spiritual Hindu. . It is possible, according to him, to realise God within self. He also sees God in others. This explains the multiplicity of gods in Hindu concept. Hindu philosophy teaches us to respect one and all as God dwells in all. 

As to the question, what has led to the resurgence of Hindutva in present time, we often indulge in naivete by attributing it to political motives. Such abject vote politics has increasingly alienated Hindu masses from those parties, as they were already provoked by Partition on communal consideration followed by Kashmir annexation. Cross-border terrorism, three Indo-Pak wars and the lingering Ayodhya dispute even after the ASI findings have proved incendiary for Hindu reaction. Resurgence of Hindutva is a reaction to above factors since Hindus have felt an identity crisis. Hindutva will play a greater role in the coming elections unless the ground situation changes altogether.

(source: Hindutva is growing in relevance - By Babul Roy Mishra - dailypioneer.com Jaunary 8 2003).

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India at its shining best - By M V Kamath

It may sound a little exaggerated but nevertheless true that there are no other people on earth who are more critical of their own country and more contemptuous of their own culture than Indians. It almost seems that their ruling passion is self-hatred. Indians, especially educated Hindus, take special delight in despising Hinduism and constantly running it down and, what is worse, taking immense pleasure in doing so. At a time when the rate of economic growth was hovering around at a measly 3 per cent, one benighted economist even thought it appropriate to dismiss it as the 'Hindu Rate of Growth'.

One could almost hear him smack his lips as he derided the enterprising spirit of his countrymen or the lack of it. But times are changing. As the NDA government is now coming to the end of its term peoples' spirit is lifting. A full-page advertisement in the local English papers said it all. 'Our country is prospering. Our lives are changing. Our tomorrow is promising. You've never had a better time to shine brighter' said the text. But the ad said something more that is significant. 'Across India, you can feel a new radiance. The economy is looking up. Industry is upbeat. We are on the threshold of further progress. Prices are stable. Roads are being added. Highways are being modernised...' And so it went. 'India Shining' was how progress was summed up. And no truer words were said. The truth is that we are at last coming out of the shadow of colonialism under which we have lived for over half-a century ever since Independence.

 

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As a people we had lost our self- confidence. For years we had been accustomed to look to the white man for guidance and sustenance. Now we are finally coming into our own.

But what is it that is so special about India? Consider some of these facts: We have 18 major languages. 1,600 'minor' languages, and dialects, society is divided into over 6,400 castes and sub-castes, there are 52 major tribes and ethnic groups in our 28 States and yet we are one united country. We are the largest functioning democracy in the world. In the last general elections, 619 million voters took part in choosing their representatives and they number about 2.5 times the entire population of the United States of America. We have over 5,000 dailies, 16,000 weeklies and more than 6,000 fortnightlies in various languages. Not many countries can boast of such total freedom of thought and action. Our railway system covers over one lakh km with 700 stations, with 11,000 freight and passenger trains plying the country every day carrying over one million passengers. More graduates come out of our colleges every year than in any other country barring the United States. India's turn-over now is 75,000 in Information Technology and two million English-speaking graduates in a year. With the financial support of barely $ 450 million, we have designed, developed, fabricated and tested our own launch missiles, and 23 of our satellites are now in orbit. One hundred major European, American and Japanese companies have set up their research, design and development laboratories in India during the last five years. We have become the sixth largest manufacturer of medium and heavy commercial vehicles in the world. Over 2.2 million of our buses and trucks travel the length and breadth of our country.

(source: India at its shining best - By M V Kamath - newstodaynet.com).

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The withering of the Christian faith in Europe

Christianity has boomed in the developing world, competing successfully with Islam, deepening its influence and possibly finding its future there. But Europe already seems more and more like a series of tourist-trod monuments to Christianity's past. Hardly a month goes by when the pope does not publicly bemoan that fact, beseeching Europeans to rediscover the faith. The secularization of Europe, according to some political analysts, is one of the forces pushing it apart from the United States, where religion plays a potent role in politics and society, shaping many Americans' views of the world.

Americans are widely regarded as more comfortable with notions of good and evil, right and wrong, than Europeans, who often see such views as reckless. In France, which is predominantly Catholic but emphatically secular, about one in 20 people attends a religious service every week, compared with about one in three in the United States.

"What's interesting isn't that there are fewer people in church," said the Rev. Jean François Bordarier of Lille, in northern France, "but that there are any at all."

  "In Western Europe, we are hanging on by our fingernails," wrote the Rev. David Cornick, the general secretary of the United Reformed Church in Britain, in the June-July edition of Inside Out, a religious journal. "
The fact is that Europe is no longer Christian. "Public schools throughout Western Europe have removed crosses from walls. There are many suggested reasons for Europe's drift, which happened gradually, over decades, as the continent grew wealthier and better educated. Many younger Europeans say they feel that religion is irrelevant.

"There's
Buddhism, Hinduism, New Age spiritualism, consumerism," Father Bianchi said. "With all these competitors, it's harder for the church to sell."


(source: Faith Fades Where It Once Burned Strong - New York Times - October 13 2003).

As church attendance has withered in Europe, senior Vatican officials and Roman Catholic leaders recognize and look to the developing world as fertile ground for conversions and growth, a place where the faith takes firmer root than it does in Europe or North America these days.

(source: Where Faith Grows, Fired by Pentecostalism - newyorktimes.com). For more refer to chapter on Conversion).

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Go watch India's finest war epic - 'LOC Kargil'

Once in a blue moon, maybe longer, there comes along a film that has the inner strength and conviction and the power to change our lives. "LOC" is one such rarity.


The story of what happened to our soldiers in Kargil, when they combated Pakistani invaders and pushed them back with superhuman force, could cover at least seven or eight major motion pictures. They never will. Hindi cinema shies away from history. J.P. Dutta can stare historical facts straight into the eye. Just like those Pakistani bullets, which hit Indian soldiers straight in their eyes, Dutta's film is a sharp-shooting piece of art.

With each soldier's death, we the audience die a thousand deaths. The film's pain-lashed and choleric recreation of history assumes a bludgeoning impact in the hands of the master creator. The guns are real. And so are the tears that the soldiers and their wives shed each time a colleague dies. We're apart from and yet a part of the processes of history that drive two countries into postures of mutual mutilation. "LOC" must be seen by every Indian, every fan of war epics and relevant cinema. It must be seen for its extraordinary war scenes and for its emphatic portrayal of the ravages of human aggression. Finally, it must be watched to see how our stars transform themselves given the right opportunity. 

(source: Go watch India's finest war epic - 'LOC Kargil' - yahoo.com). For more refer to Kargil War 1999 and lockargil.com).

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The Mother Principle - By Balbir Punj
An evangelist is Calcutta's mascot, even though more authentic figures abound.

Naqvi Bhaumik's is lavish in its adulation of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity for 'Indianisation of Christianity'. 

Not caring much for rationality and its precepts, it eulogises Pope John Paul II's 50th 'miraculous' canonisation ceremony and his concerted effort to repackage Christianity for Asia. All that she says is completely true but not the complete truth. She does not quote the chief pontiff's November 1999 call in New Delhi for the "evangelisation of Asia in the 3rd millennium AD, on the lines of Europe in the 1st and Americas in the 2nd". 

Bhaumik's contention that the spread of Christianity in India can't be linked to the British also doesn't hold water. Elizabeth Susan Alexander, in her The Attitude of British Protestant Missionaries Towards Nationalism in India, says: "The evangelical revival of Christianity that swept Britain from the last decades of 18th century changed the situation completely. The Company had to cede entry rights to British missionaries in its controversial Charter Act 1813, paving the way for intensive activities by British Protestant missionaries."

Historian R. C. Mazumdar, while dwelling on the pre-1857 period in his History and Culture of Indian People, Vol. IX, observes: "Some schools, mainly supported by the government, were actually run by clergymen on a strictly Christian basis. About the modus operandi of conversion through these schools, it's sufficient to note that the pupils were asked such questions as 'Who's your God?' and 'Who's your redeemer?'. The inevitable reply, as a result of regular coaching was, of course, Jesus Christ."

The Church uses "miracles" to impress and draw innocents to its fold. But why should the media, with claims to secularism and rationality, glorify them?

I can, in fact, give instances of three born Catholics—David Frawley from the US, Koenrad Elst from Belgium and Francois Gautier from France—who are truly immersed in this spirit of Indophilia. These lovers of India are working silently with no reward or hype, the kind which attends the Teresa myth. Is it because they are enamoured with the soul of India and thoroughly oppose evangelisation? Even in Calcutta, leave alone India, never was she the only philanthropist. One can, without reflection, name the Ramakrishna Mission, Bharat Seva Ashram Sangha, Chinmaya Mission, Satya Sai Baba Trust among the organisations engaged in doing hands-on social work. But thanks to figures like Malcolm Muggeridge and Dominique Lapierre, in the western consciousness Calcutta is synonymous with Mother Teresa. 

What a tragedy this, for a city that is regarded as the cultural capital of India! Calcutta has produced many luminaries who could claim its brand ambassadorship better than Mother Teresa—Raja Ram Mohun Roy, Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Sir J.C. Bose, Nirad C. Chaudhuri and Satyajit Ray—to name a few. 

Should Calcutta be associated with them or Mother Teresa, who portrayed the city as an overgrown slum?

Does the name Sister Nivedita, aka Margaret Noble, ring a bell in the historical memory of Indians fawning over Agnes Bojaxhiu, better known to them as Mother Teresa?  

Nobel, an Irish, belonged to a family of Catholic priests. Her father Samuel Nobel had returned from preaching in India and had told little Margaret: "India, my little one, is seeking her destiny. She called me once and will perhaps call you, too, some day. Always be ready for her call." The national destiny that the priest was referring to was perhaps no different from the one envisaged by Pope John Paul II. Margaret did adhere to her father's word, but very differently. Her meeting with Swami Vivekananda in 1895 in Dublin had a strong impact on her. She came to Calcutta the following year and the Swami consecrated her to the nation as Nivedita (the dedicated one). Unlike Teresa, who spent 50 years in this country, Nivedita mastered Bengali and Sanskrit. Braving the hostilities of an orthodox Hindu society, she started her first school for girls in 1898. When a plague epidemic broke out in Calcutta in 1899, Nivedita set an example by cleaning the roads and scavenging garbage around the clock. She had the physical characteristics of a Celt, but the soul of an Indian. She accompanied Vivekananda on his 1899 America tour, preaching about India's rich contribution to world civilization and human thought.

But the Church functions like a multinational company for souls and continues to repackage itself for target consumers. Adoption of Hindu symbols is a similar acculturation strategy on its part. We, on our part, have to decide on our role model: Mother Teresa or Sister Nivedita?

(source: The Mother Principle - By Balbir Punj - outlookindia.com - December 1, 2003. 

For more refer to Mother Teresa, The Final Verdict - By Aroup Chatterjee and Mother Teresa: Beyond the Image - By Anne Sebba and The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice - By Christopher Hitchens and  West Bengal Govt snubs Teresa celebrations - sify.com and  and  A saint vs a patriot - By Arvind Lavakare and The saint business  - By Rajeev Srinivasan and Indians Against Christian Aggression. For more refer to chapter on Conversion. Refer to VINDICATED BY TIME: The Niyogi Committee Report  On Christian Missionary Activities - Christianity Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee 1956 and The Sunshine of Secularism.

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Silence of the stones
Iconoclasm and Islamic invasion

A few days ago, I visited the Jama Masjid near the Qutub Minar. The Persian epigraph over the eastern gateway reads: "This fort was conquered and this Jami Masjid built in the months of the year 587 by the Amir, the great, the glorious commander of the Army, Qutb-ud-daula waddin, the Amir-ul-umara Aibeg, the slave of the Sultan, may God strengthen his helpers. The materials of 27 idol temples, on each of which 2,000,000 Deliwal had been spent were used in (the construction of) this mosque. God the Great and Glorious may have mercy on that slave, every one who is in favour of the good builder prays for this faith" (Epigraphia Indo-Moslemica, 1911-12, p 13). 

This is just the tip of the iceberg. From the Arabic texts of AL Biladhuri in the second half of the ninth century to Syed Mahmuldul Hasan's English works of the 1940s, there are 80 historical treatises covering a period of 1,200 years full of Islamic evidence of iconoclasm. In the vast territory extending from Khorasan in the west to Tripura in the east and Transoxania in the north to Tamil Nadu in the south, Hindu temples had been destroyed at 154 places by 61 kings, 63 military commanders and 14 Sufis. In most cases, the temple materials were used to construct mosques, madarsas and khanq-a-hs.

 

It is a sad story, but many Hindus are not even conscious of this assault on their civilisation. We suffer from compulsive amnesia conflated with a pernicious brand of historical negativism.

(image source:
Indian Art - By Vidya Dehejia p. 249).

Watch History of Ayodhya - videogoogle.com.

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It is a sad story, but many Hindus are not even conscious of this assault on their civilisation. We suffer from compulsive amnesia conflated with a pernicious brand of historical negativism. All nations that achieved greatness have a sense of history. We have none.

Indifference is the danger. We have suffered in silence for a millennium all the cruelties of alien invaders who crossed over the Hindu Kush to kill and ravage and despoil our sacred land in every possible way. They slaughtered and they plundered; they desecrated our revered shrines; and they trampled upon our sacred gods. Our people were sold in slave markets, and we were subjugated. Indignities were heaped on a proud people. Every shrine desecrated is a crime against humanity. Just count the legions of our temples and idols broken and defiled, whose debris lies scattered all over India.

These stones are not silent, even if they do not cry out. They softly communicate their anguish by narrating the tale of a savage desecration. Their whispers recall the shrines that once stood, the idols that were once worshipped, the kings who once knelt within them in prayer, the sages and seers who once preached and the heroes who once fell defending the honour of their religion. 

 

These stones bear a testimony that is stronger than any evidence that can ever be produced in any court of law in the world.

Watch History of Ayodhya - videogoogle.com.

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These stones bear a testimony that is stronger than any evidence that can ever be produced in any court of law in the world. They hold out to us the flame of our past heritage and glory, demanding that we carry it forward, bequeathing the light to the generations yet to come. Are we to be found wanting?

Every year, Muslims commemorate Hazrat Imam Hussain who perished in the battle of Kar-bala on Muharram, mourning his death with vows to avenge it. 

Do Hindus engage in similar commemorative mourning for their dead heroes, the holocaust their ancestors suffered and destruction of their holy places, pledging never to let it happen again? No, but it is time they did. A people who deny the past wrongs done to them and forget the humiliation they have suffered are not worth their salt. Our answer to the pseudo-secularists and all those in denial should be that Hindus will never be trampled upon again.

(source: Silence of the stones - B N Sharma - dailypioneer.com - December 7 2003).  For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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What the Islamic invaders really did - By Rizwan Salim

Savages at a very low level of civilization and no culture worth the name, from Arabia and west Asia, began entering India from the early century onwards. Islamic invaders demolished countless Hindu temples, shattered uncountable sculpture and idols, plundered innumerable palaces and forts of Hindu kings, killed vast numbers of Hindu men and carried off Hindu women. This story, the educated-and a lot of even the illiterate Indians-know very well. History books tell it in remarkable detail. But many Indians do not seem to recognize that the alien Muslim marauders destroyed the historical evolution of the earth's most mentally advanced civilization, the most richly imaginative culture, and the most vigorously creative society.

It is clear that India at the time when Muslim invaders turned towards it (8 to 11th century) was the earth's richest region for its wealth in precious and semi-precious stones, gold and silver, religion and culture, and its fine arts and letters. Tenth century Hindustan was also too far advanced than its contemporaries in the East and the West for its achievements in the realms of speculative philosophy and scientific theorizing, mathematics and knowledge of nature's workings. Hindus of the early medieval period were unquestionably superior in more things than the Chinese, the Persians (including the Sassanians), the Romans and the Byzantines of the immediate proceeding centuries. The followers of Siva and Vishnu on this subcontinent had created for themselves a society more mentally evolved-joyous and prosperous too-than had been realized by the Jews, Christians, and Muslim monotheists of the time. Medieval India, until the Islamic invaders destroyed it, was history's most richly imaginative culture and one of the five most advanced civilizations of all times.

Look at the Hindu art that Muslim iconoclasts severely damaged or destroyed. Ancient Hindu sculpture is vigorous and sensual in the highest degree-more fascinating than human figural art created anywhere else on earth. (Only statues created by classical Greek artists are in the same class as Hindu temple sculpture). Ancient Hindu temple architecture is the most awe-inspiring, ornate and spell-binding architectural style found anywhere in the world. (The Gothic art of cathedrals in France is the only other religious architecture that is comparable with the intricate architecture of Hindu temples). No artist of any historical civilization have ever revealed the same genius as ancient Hindustan's artists and artisans.

Their minds filled with venom against the idol-worshippers of Hindustan, the Muslims destroyed a large number of ancient Hindu temples. This is a historical fact, mentioned by Muslim chroniclers and others of the time. A number of temples were merely damaged and remained standing. But a large number - not hundreds but many thousands - of the ancient temples were broken into shreds of cracked stone. In the ancient cities of Varanasi and Mathura, Ujjain and Maheshwar, Jwalamukhi and Dwarka, not one temple survives whole and intact from the ancient times. 

 

In the ancient cities of Varanasi and Mathura, Ujjain and Maheshwar, Jwalamukhi and Dwarka, not one temple survives whole and intact from the ancient times. Stones and columns of Hindu temples were incorporated into the architecture of several mosques.

Watch History of Ayodhya - videogoogle.com.

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It is easy to conclude that virtually every Hindu temple built in the ancient times is a perfect work of art. The evidence of the ferocity with which the Muslim invaders must have struck at the sculptures of gods and goddesses, demons and apsaras, kings and queens, dancers and musicians is frightful. At so many ancient temples of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, for example, shattered portions of stone images still lie scattered in the temple courtyards. Considering the fury used on the idols and sculptures, the stone-breaking axe must have been applied to thousands upon thousands of images of hypnotic beauty.

Giving proof of the resentment that men belonging to an inferior civilization feel upon encountering a superior civilization of individuals with a more refined culture, Islamic invaders from Arabia and western Asia broke and burned everything beautiful they came across in Hindustan. So morally degenerate were the Muslim Sultans that, rather than attract Hindu "infidels" to Islam through force of personal example and exhortation, they just built a number of mosques at the sites of torn down temples-and foolishly pretended they had triumphed over the minds and culture of the Hindus.  

I have seen stones and columns of Hindu temples incorporated into the architecture of several mosques, including the Jama Masjid and Ahmed Shah Masjid in Ahmedabad; the mosque in the Uparkot fort of Junagadh (Gujarat) and in Vidisha (near Bhopal); the Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra right next to the famous dargah in Ajmer-and the currently controversial Bhojshala "mosque" in Dhar (near Indore). 

Hindu culture was at its imaginative best and vigorously creative when the severely-allergic-to-images Muslims entered Hindustan. Islamic invaders did not just destroy countless temples and constructions but also suppressed cultural and religious practices; damaged the pristine vigor of Hindu religion, prevented the intensification of Hindu culture, debilitating it permanently, stopped the development of Hindu arts ended the creative impulse in all realms of thought and action, damaged the people's cultural pride, disrupted the transmission of values and wisdom, cultural practices and tradition from one generation to the next; destroyed the proper historical evolution of Hindu kingdoms and society, affected severely the acquisition of knowledge, research and reflection and violated the moral basis of Hindu society. The Hindus suffered immense psychic damage. The Muslims also plundered the wealth of the Hindu kingdoms, impoverished the Hindu populace, and destroyed the prosperity of Hindustan.

Gaze in wonder at the Kailas Mandir in the Ellora caves and remember that it is carved out of a solid stone hill, an effort that (inscriptions say) took nearly 200 years. This is art as devotion. The temple built by the Rashtrakuta kings (who also built the colossal sculpture in the Elenhanta caves off Mumbai harbour) gives proof of the ancient Hindus' religious fervor.

The descendants of those who built the magnificent temples of Bhojpur and Thanjavur, Konark and Kailas, invented mathematics and brain surgery, created mindbody disciplines (yoga) of astonishing power, and built mighty empires would almost certainly have attained technological superiority over Europe.

It is not just for "political reasons" that Hindus want to build grand temples at the sites of the (wrecked) Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi, and the Mathura idgah. The efforts of religion-intoxicated and politically active Hindus to rebuild the Ram Mandir, the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir, and the Krishna Mandir are just three episodes m a one-thousand year long Hindu struggle to reclaim their culture and religion from alien invaders. 

The demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on 6 December 1992 was just one episode in the millennial struggle of the Hindus to repossess their religion-centered culture and nation. Meanwhile, hundreds of ancient Hindu temples forsaken all over Hindustan await the reawakening of Hindu cultural pride to be repaired or rebuilt and restored to their original, ancient glory.

(source:  What the invaders really did - By Rizwan Salim - hindustantimes.com - December 28, 1997). For more refer to chapter on Islamic Onslaught and Hindu Art). For more on Rizwan Salim refer to chapter on Quotes181_200 and Hindu Art). Refer to My People, Uprooted: "A Saga of the Hindus of Eastern Bengal"  - By Tathagata Roy. For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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Under the arc of desecration

The complex is, for the last 800 years, popularly called "Adhai din ka Jhopra" (the structure of two and a half days). So called because the triple or the three temples were converted originally into a masjid over two and a half days. After the second battle of Tarain (1192 AD) in which Shahabuddin Muhammad Ghori defeated and killed Prithviraj Chauhan, the victor passed through Ajmer. He was so awed by the temples that he wanted them destroyed and replaced instantly. He asked Qutubuddin Aibak, his slave general, to have the needful done in 60 hours' time so that he could offer prayers in the new masjid on his way back.

The Jhopra is the first in the series of temple desecrations perpetrated by the foreign rulers of India. The earlier atrocities were by Mahmud Ghazni, who raided but did not stay back to rule. The triple temples were so attractive that the desecraters chose to retain all, or most of the pillars. There are 70 of them under the three roofs, which meet and appear to be one integrated whole. And there are other pillars beyond the covered edifice, which looks like a pavilion in splendid stone. 

 

  

Interior profile of Triple temples at Ajmer  -  Vandalism: Defaced statues outside temples.

Watch History of Ayodhya - videogoogle.com.

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The pillars are some 25 feet high gorgeously carved either with the exquisite designs up to a height of about 20 feet thereafter with delicate figurines. Uncannily, there is not a single figure whose face has not been cut off. Nowhere in Europe does one see such acts of vandalism except what the vandals themselves perpetrated under their kind Gaiseric in the wake of conquering Rome in 455 AD. Hereafter the word vandal became a synonym for wilful desecration and destruction. The figurines on all the relics on display at Rajputana Museum as well as those salvaged by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) duly locked in the compound of the Jhopra have been systematically defaced. Amongst the thousands of stone heads, not a single nose or an eye can be found.

Mind you, the ASI has done nothing to excavate or salvage anything in the complex since Independence. With the passing of the Protection of National Monument Act, 1951 all archaeological activities have been frozen. The credit for the excavations goes to general Alexander Cunningham and Dr D R Bhandarkar in the first half of the 20th century. The details are available in the Rajasthan District Gazetteer, Ajmer, 1966. Muhammad Ghori presumably offered prayers within the stipulated two and a half days. Subsequently in about 1200 AD the Dhai din ka Jhopra was completed with a well-carved facade which is best described in the words of Furher in the Archaeological Survey Report for the year 1893: "The whole of the exterior is covered up with a network of tracery so finely and delicately wrought that it can only be compared to a fine lace." 

Cunningham described the exterior of the Jhopra even more eloquently: 

"For gorgeous prodigality of ornament, beautiful richness of tracery, delicate sharpness of finish, laborious accuracy of workmanship, endless variety of detail, all of which are due to the Hindu masons, this building may justly vie with the noblest buildings which the world has yet produced."

Such then was the vandalism with which the sultanate in Delhi began. As with the Ouwwatul Islam Masjid next to the Qutub Minar, which was also built by Sultan Aibdk, so with Dhai din ka Jhopra at Ajmer. Both are indelible specimen of humiliation perpetrated by the victor upon the vanquished.

(source:  Under the arc of desecration - By Prafull Goradia - hindu vivek kendra). For more refer to Hindu Masjids).

For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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The Indian Elite: the Western clones – By Francois Gautier 

When they took over India, the British set upon establishing an intermediary race of Indians, whom they could entrust with their work at the middle level echelons and who could one day be convenient instruments to rule by proxy, or semi-proxy. The tool to shape these “British clones” was education. In the words of Macaulay, the “pope” of British schooling in India: “We must at present do our best to form a class, who may be interpreters between us and the millions we govern, a class of persons, Indians in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.” Macaulay had very little regard for Hindu culture and education: “all the historical information which can be collected from all the books which have been written in the Sanskrit language, is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgment used at preparatory schools in England.” Or: “Hindus have a literature of small intrinsic value, hardly reconcilable with morality, full of monstrous superstitions..” 

It is the Brown Sahibs, who upon getting independence, have denied India its true identity and borrowed blindly from the British education system, without trying to adapt it to the unique Indian mentality and psychology; and it is they who are refusing to accept a change of India’s educational system, which is totally western-oriented.. 

And what India is getting from this education is a youth that apes the West: they go to Macdonald’s, thrive on MTV culture, wear the latest Klein jeans and Lacoste T-shirts, and in general are useless, rich parasites, in a country which has so many talented youngsters who live in poverty. They will grow up like millions of other western clones in the developing world, who wear a tie, read the New York Times and swear by liberalism and secularism to save their countries from doom. In time, they will reach elevated positions and write books and articles which make fun of India, they will preside over human-rights committees, be “secular” high bureaucrats who take the wrong decisions and generally do tremendous harm to India, because it has been programmed in the genes to always run down their own country. In a gist, they will be the ones who are always looking at the West for approval and forever perceive India through the western prism. 

(source: Arise Again, O'India – By Francois Gautier - p. 65 - 66 Har Anand publisher  ISBN: 81-241-0518-9). For refer to chapter on FirstIndologists, European Imperialism, Education in Ancient India and Quotes221_250.htm).

Shakespeare not Kalidasa ?
We must know our roots - The Blind imitation of the West

As the young girls - from class one to six - in their blue uniforms and pony tails stood and chanted the texts, I sat wondering about the osmosis of culture. Here was a British school in London, with English children reciting lines written thousands of years ago by Indian sages on the banks of the Indus and the Ganga, to an audience more familiar with the latest Harry Potter film than with the intricacies of Hindu metaphysics.  And yet, there was a palpable sense of achievement on the faces of the children, and both pride and interest in the demeanour of the parents and teachers. The recitation was competent and enthusiastic, even if occasionally the accent was inescapably - and understandably - foreign.  Sanskrit is a near forgotten language in India. Most children I know in upmarket schools consider learning it an imposition, if they learn it at all. The blind imitation of the cultural attributes of another people leads only to caricatureThat was—and is—the fate of the brown sahibs of India. You can only learn authentically of another culture when you have a standing in your own

The tragedy in India is that so many of those who have been educated in the English language know a great deal about Shakespeare and Dickens, but almost nothing about Kalidasa or Agyeya, or about the literary giants in their own mother tongue.

(source: We must know our roots - By Pavan K Varma - hindustantimes.com). For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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Nehru: The Last Englishman in India? 

Jawaharlal Nehru was the perfect replica of a certain kind of Englishman, courteous, elegant, with a hint of affectation. He often employed the expression “continental people,” in speaking of the French or the Italians, with benevolent and amused superiority. He despised non-anglicized Indians and had but a very superficial and restricted acquaintance with Indian culture, acquired solely through works in the English language. He spoke Hindi and Urdu badly, somewhat like a British non-commissioned officer. By taste and habit, Nehru was a Westerner, a layman who refused to consider himself a Hindu and who rejected all the values of traditional society. 

Nehru’s outlook was essentially that of a democratic socialist of the 1930’s, but he rejected Gandhi’s belief in village democracies loosely knit in a non-industrial society because he believed that the introduction of modern mechanized industry was the only way by which eliminating poverty could be done. 

(source: A Brief History of India - By Alain Danielou   p. 328).

Surviving Nehru?

Nehru had the name of a Hindu, the face of a socialist, the head of an Englishman and the heart of a Muslim. For each of his facets, India has had to pay a price.

The British in him made him select the Government of India Act, 1935, as the skeleton around which to build the body of the Constitution. This law had been enacted by the British to govern the Indian colony more effectively. It was certainly not conceived to make independent India blossom. The borrowed model was the unwritten British constitution-unitary, non-federal, monarchical, and Anglican rather than secular. On all these grounds, it was an unsuitable model.

Is it any wonder the number of times the Constitution has been amended in 53 years of its life? The Japanese document, introduced at about the same time, has undergone only one amendment. The US Constitution, inaugurated way back in 1787, has been amended only 27 times. Look how much progress America has made in the two centuries of its independence. Look at how Japan progressed. The socialist Nehru handed over Tibet on a platter to Mao's China on the morrow of the communist revolution. He not only forgot India's national interest but also overlooked the rights of the Tibetans. Soon after, he launched Panchsheel and Hindi-Chini bhai bhai. These mistakes, begun in 1949, still defy correction. The present Government is trying to induce Beijing to vacate at least part of the 28,000 square kms of occupied Indian territory. Nehru's weakness for socialism also resulted in a public sector bias. Little did he realise state ownership of industry would be tantamount to state capitalism, not socialism.

The consequences of Nehru's Muslim bias have been worse. By conceding the Muslim League's demand for partition, he accepted Jinnah's two-nation theory. He gave the League a Muslim Pakistan but imposed on Hindustan an India with special privileges for the Muslims.

(source: Surviving Nehru? - By Prafull Goradia - dailypioneerc.om - November 30 2003).

Nehru struggled to discover the soul of India as no other Indian public figure did; Gandhij’s struggle was of an altogether different kind, though it was far more valiant. Nehru did not know Sanskrit, or for that matter, any Indian language well enough. He did not have a direct access to Indian tradition even by way of folklore since Motilal Nehru had deliberately Westernized himself and brought up Jawaharlal in a manner appropriate to an English gentleman. He was educated in Eton and Harrow. Nehru was essentially not a deep thinker. To the extent he was interested in ideas, he was familiar only with ideas current with Britain in his impressionable years, Fabian socialism, for instance. He approached India’s past, historical as well as spiritual, through British scholars who inevitably saw India through their culturally colored prisms. 

His address to the convocation of the Aligarh Muslim University on January 24, 1948, he said: 

“I am proud of India, not only because of her ancient magnificent heritage, but also because of her remarkable capacity to add to it by keeping the doors and windows of her mind and spirit open to fresh and invigorating winds from distant lands…” 

He was more than a deeply moral human being. He yearned for spiritual light. He was particularly drawn to Swami Vivekananda and the Ramakrishna Ashram. It is known that he sought solace from Anandmai to whom Indira Gandhi also turned. Once he visited Sri Aurobindo ashram and met the Mother. Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, President of Indian Republic, disclosed that in the last years of his life, Nehru used to come to him frequently to listen to the Upanishads which, as A Discovery of India shows, always fascinated him.  

(source: The Hindu Phenomenon – By Girilal Jain  p. 91 - 101).

Legend of the fall

If one had to single out one man responsible for all our misfortunes, political, military and economic, the finger would point at Nehru. Adored by the fawning masses, he led an unsuspecting nation to its worst disasters. While national boundaries were being drawn after India's vivisection, he allowed Hindu majority areas to be gifted away to Pakistan: Thar Parkar in Sindh, with an 80 per cent Hindu population, Lahore in Punjab, Sylhet in Assam, Khulna in Bengal and the Chittagong hill tracts with 90 per cent Hindus and Buddhists.

During Partition riots, Nehru blinked at the massacre of millions of Hindus without any threat of retributive justice, thanks to a weak-kneed policy of non-violence and to sustain his brand of secularism. He buckled under Master Tara Singh's threat, transferring Sikhs and Hindus out of West Punjab to safety. But in Bengal, he was fooled by Liaqat Ali Khan's phony assurance and forced Hindus to stay back and face genocide. The Kashmir problem would not have arisen had Nehru, overcoming his personal hostility to Maharaja Hari Singh, accepted his offer of accession to the Indian Union. He later rushed to the United Nations and ordered a ceasefire before our troops could complete the task of liberating the whole of Kashmir. The Delhi agreement of 1950 (on Article 370) against Patel's insistence, came about due to Nehru's cussedness.  

Nehru also ceded Tibet to China by conceding its claim of sovereignty and, worse, stymied debate in the UN despite US backing for the Tibetan cause. This led to the disappearance of a friendly buffer state against an expansionist China. When Nehru was waffling in Parliament that the Indo-Tibetan boundary was not demarcated, Balraj Madhok had to remind him of the Treaty of Leh signed September 2, 1841, between Maharaja Gulab Singh and the Tibet Government. Nehru was flummoxed. During the Dalai Lama's flight from Leh, he genuflected to China, whetting its appetite for more territory. His blind belief in Panchsheel led to the 1962 disaster, leaving 130,000 sq. kms of the national territory of Ladakh and the NEFA in Chinese hands. Nehru's stubborn faith in socialism froze individual entrepreneurship and stunted economic growth. 

Nehru's stubborn faith in socialism froze individual entrepreneurship and stunted economic growth. His 'secularism' meant Hindu-baiting and pandering to Muslims, communists and the Arab world. He exiled men of substance like Acharya Kriplani, Jayaprakash Narayan, PD Tandon and SP Mookerjee, and his pro-Soviet agenda straitjacketed foreign policy-with disastrous results. Nehru was a no-where man: Hindu by birth, Muslim at heart and English in thought and deed, who neither understood Hinduism nor the Indian idiom. His three-pronged secularism-socialism-nonalignment agenda lies in a shambles. As the embalmed body of Stalin was removed from the Red Square, India, which suffered at Nehru's hands, should have the courage to remove his name from all its memorials. He is the false god we need to stop worshipping.

(source: Legend of the fall - By B N Sharma - dailypioneer.com - December 28 2003).

The Nehruvian Penalty: 50 wasted years

Nehru was here, and India had the 3% gap. Now Nehru is dead, and his acolytes are out, and India now has managed to get back to 7+ % growth, which is what Hindu India enjoyed before the Muslim and Christian colonization sprees. The 8.4% growth achieved in Q2FY2003 is an indication of the true Hindu rate of growth. Clearly the Nehruvian Albatross is now gone. And good riddance, too. Nehru, being himself a deracinated person with no understanding of Indian culture (read his autobiography where he confesses that he was brought up as an Uncle Tom, a little Briton in brownface), hoped to create good coolies for the use of his idols, the British and the Communists. Nehru was not burdened with a massive intellect (as he admits in his autobiography) or with great knowledge (as you can see from the absolute howlers in his Glimpses of World History, which should be titled more properly The Word According to Garp and shelved under 'fiction'). He wanted, in continuation of the Macaulayite project, to create de-Indianized and de-Hinduized robots, much like himself.

Chou en Lai, in one of his more lucid moments, called Jawaharlal Nehru a 'useful idiot.'

(source: The Nehruvian Penalty: 50 wasted years - By Rajeev Srinivasan and His Master's Voice: Pavlovian Comrades - By Rajeev Srinivasan - rediff.com).

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Restoration on at Konark Temple

Konark, India, November 30, 2003: Restoration work is on at the famous Sun Temple at Konark in India but conserving heritage and keeping the old look alive doesn't seem too easy. Broken pieces of carved stones that once formed part of the temple have been ignored since the conservation work on the 13th century temple began 100 years ago. They are finally in demand for the first phase of restoration work. The method used in the restoration work is one that will help preserve the ancient temple in all its glory, according to KJ Luka, a conservationist with the Archaeological Survey of India. In the last 10 years, the world heritage monument has got a facelift. The surface has been thoroughly cleaned and is no longer a Black Pagoda as 19th century mariners described it. But there is a lot that needs to be done. 

 

 

The seaside monument devoted to the Sun God is known for its magnificent design, exquisite carvings and erotic sculptures and draws millions of tourists every year.

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The seaside monument devoted to the Sun God is known for its magnificent design, exquisite carvings and erotic sculptures and draws millions of tourists every year. But the tragedy of the temple is that 100 years after the first steps were taken to preserve this glorious monument, it's still a crumbling ruin.

(source: Restoration on at Konark Temple - Hinduism Today). For more refer to chapter on Hindu Art). For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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The Fiction of Aryan Invasion Theory - By Swami Prakashanand Saraswati

The preplanned scheme of Jones to introduce the idea that Sanskrit was an outside language gave birth to the speculation of the imagined existence of some Central Asian (Aryan) race who spoke Sanskrit and who brought Sanskrit language to India when they forcefully entered the country. In this way, the fiction of the Aryan Invasion was created much later, sometime in the 1800’s by the same group of people and was extensively promoted by Max Muller.  

It is a well known fact that India is called Aryavart. Manu Smriti (2/21,22) describes the exact location of Aryavart which lies from the south of the Himalayas and all the way up to the Indian Ocean. Its inhabitants are called the Arya. But it is not a locally spoken name. But it is not a locally spoken name. Commonly, we write Bharatvarsh for India in general and scriptural writings. The territory of India (or Bharatvarsh for Aryavart) during the Mahabharat war (3139 BC) was up to Iran. So the ancient Iranian people also used to call themselves the Aryans.   

 

In the Bharatiya history there are descriptions of Shak and Hun invasions and also of the Muslim invasions but never an Aryan invasion.

(image source: The True History and the Religion of India: A Concise Encycloedia of Authentic Hinduism - By Swami Prakashanand Saraswati)

***
 

People of the British regime using this information, fabricated a story that some unknown race of Central Asia who came and settled in Iran were called the Aryans and they were Sanskrit speaking people. They invaded India, established themselves permanently, and wrote the Vedas. Those who introduced this ideology never cared to produce any evidence in support of their statement because it never existed, and furthermore, fiction stories don’t need evidences as they are self-created dogmas. 

If someone carefully looks into the ancient history of India, he will find that there was no such thing as an Aryan invasion. Since the very beginning of human civilization, Hindus (Aryans) are the inhabitants of Bharatvarsh (India) which is called Aryavart. In the Bharatiya history there are descriptions of Shak and Hun invasions and also of the Muslim invasions but never an Aryan invasion.  

Max Muller promoted this invasion story and formulated his dates of Vedic origin accordingly.  

(source: The True History and the Religion of India: A Concise Encycloedia of Authentic Hinduism - By Swami Prakashanand Saraswati  p.  266- 267). Visit Vedic Foundation.org.  For more refer to chapter on Aryan Invasion Theory).

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A Mexican Comes Home to India - By John Compos

When I’m asked why a non-Indian such as myself would choose Hinduism, my answer is founded on the practical experience of spiritual happiness. I found that the wisdom contained in the Hindu scriptures was a deep well from which I could replenish my spiritual needs. The discovery was so profound to me, because in searching for personal meaning in my life, I found great solace in Hinduism’s lucid philosophy and teachings of love to a personal form of God, Radha-Krishn.

My previous religious studies in years past were fruitless in that they had not inspired spiritual desire in me. And my reading of western philosophers’ writings impressed me as being dry, intellectual speculations. In contrast, the deep love and devotion to God that manifests in the lives of the great Saints of the Hindu tradition appeals to me. Their promise that through loving devotion – bhakti – one can merge, know, and see God in divine personal form encourages me to have faith in this universal and great religion. By one’s sincere effort and God’s grace, God’s love would fructify in the heart. It did not matter what my race, gender, or belief was. This is the central teaching of Hinduism. 

Many non-Indians have recognized the spiritual wealth of Hinduism and have liberally taken from its treasures: its teachings of bhakti meditation to a personal form of God; its Sanskrit scriptures and verses; its instruction on the philosophy of living are but a few of its priceless spiritual jewels. But what is a troubling and growing phenomenon, however, is that it seems that Indians who are Hindus by birth do not value the immense wealth of their birthright. And in the process, I believe they are becoming spiritually bankrupt.

Many Indians who immigrate to the United States have many things in common. They’re educated, they’re ambitious, and they’re lured by the promise of material success. But along the way to material achievement, it appears to me that many forget their birthright to the great spiritual ancestry that is Hinduism. Unfortunately for many Hindus, forgetting their spiritual ancestry for the sake of material gain brings to mind a Spanish dicho (saying): "Quien mucho abarca poco aprieta" (Whoever grasps much can hold on to little). Indeed, for the sake of enormous material acquisition, it is nearly impossible to hold on to that which is paramount for a soul’s contentment: God’s love.

(source: A Mexican Comes Home to India - By John Compos - Vedic Foundation.org).

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Majuli: Island in the Sun

Hindu priests from Assam have sought Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's intervention to save the ancient seat of Vaishnavite culture on Majuli island from erosion by the Brahmaputra river. Majuli, the world's largest riverine island, is currently home to 14 'satras', or Vaishnavite monasteries but their future has been threatened by the mighty Brahmaputra, which erodes almost 14 sq km of land every year. A group of 'satradhikars' or head priests, accompanied by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi called on Vajpayee here Friday to urge to take immediate steps to save Majuli and to get it enlisted as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

 

     

Majuli is a creation of none other than the master craftsman who moulded the universe-God himself.

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The total area of Majuli has been whittled down from 1,245 sq km to about 550 sq km after the Brahmaputra changed its course following an earthquake in 1950. The island, which became a seat of religion, art and culture after the Vaishnavite renaissance of the 14th and 15th century, was once home to 70 satras, where hundreds of satras renounced worldly desires and worked zealously to preserve Assam's spiritual and cultural heritage. "In view of the great cultural heritage of Majuli, it is imperative that protection of the island is taken up on an emergent basis,"

Majuli is a creation of none other than the master craftsman who moulded the universe-God himself. No wonder then that the sublime and the serene atmosphere of the island-the intimate companionship of the soul with the elements and the river- provided the backdrop for the historic "Moni Kanchan Sanjog" between Assam's pioneer Vaishnavite Saints Sankardeva and his disciple Madhabdeva in the 15th Century. Ever since that meeting of the great minds and the subsequent establishment of "Satras" that followed, Majuli emerged as the crowning glory of Vaishnavite culture in Assam.

 

Lord Krishna is supposed to have played with his consorts here. Sankardeva visited the island in the early 16 century and propagated a form of Vaishnavism.

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Lord Krishna is supposed to have played with his consorts here. Though thousands of miles distant from Vrindavan, one only has to visit Majuli during the Ras-purnima in the month of Kartik to experience this. Virtually every single person on the island is involved in the three-day long ras festival, depicting the life of Krishna. Although the origins of Majuli may be uncertain, it is known for a fact that the social reformer Sankardeva visited the island in the early sixteenth century. Sankardeva propagated a form of Vaishnavism that was simpler and more accessible than the ritualistic Hinduism of the time. His approach was rooted in faith and prayer, and stressed on the cultural aspects of life and living. Sankardeva had spent ten years as a mendicant itinerant traveller, visiting all the great pilgrimage sites in the country, to learn from them. Perhaps it is because of this that people from all over are able to relate to it.

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Majuli Monasteries wake up to conversion threat - By Pullock Dutta

A spate of religious conversions on the world’s largest river island of Majuli has set the stage for a major confrontation between the upholders of Vaishnavaite culture and the Church. 

 

With Christianity making inroads into the island, all major satras have been shaken out of their complacency. A campaign is underway to bring back Misings who have turned to Christianity back into the Vaishnavaite fold. 

(source: Save Majuli - Keralanext.com, beautifulassam.com and Majuli Monasteries wake up to conversion threat - By Pullock Dutta and Indians Against Christian Aggression. For more refer to chapter on Conversion). Refer to VINDICATED BY TIME: The Niyogi Committee Report  On Christian Missionary Activities - Christianity Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee 1956 and The Sunshine of Secularism.

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Harvest of history from a paddy field

The Kerala government is inviting international marine, archaeological and conservation experts to examine a sailing vessel excavated from a paddy field. The vessel is believed to be over 900 years old.

The Kerala government's archaeology department excavated the 22-meter-long and 5-meter-wide ship in June this year from a paddy field owned by a physician in Thaikal, a coastal village in Alappuzha. The ship lying some 50 meters deep was first noticed when its wooden planks protruded as the field was being tilled. The excavation began in April 2002 and by June this year a large part of the vessel was pulled out.



King Pratapamalla.

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Sensing the historical significance the vessel holds, the state government has now asked international experts to conduct research studies on it.Registrar of the Center for Heritage Studies P K Gopi said the Kerala government will soon send invitations to experts across the world for a study conference, scheduled tentatively for January next year. "We want international experts to come here and study the ship. We are sure it would throw up many mysteries of history, especially of India's maritime history," Gopi told rediff.com.

The Kochi-based CHR is a government-funded heritage research institute. Gopi said a large portion of the vessel, including its hull, is intact. "We believe the ship to be approximately 920 years old. We have arrived at its age after conducting carbon dating tests on its wood," he said.

The vessel has been made of sturdy local wood variety, anjili, he said. "But the technique used in making this vessel is not Indian. We believe the ship was made either in China, Japan, Egypt or some Arab country. In the 12th century, lots of people from these countries used to come to the Kerala coast for trading," Gopi said. For centuries, Romans, Chinese, Arabs, Portuguese, Frenchmen, Dutchmen, Britons and Jewish merchants came to Kerala in search of the state's fabled spices. Already, the ship's discovery has elicited considerable international attention.

In May, Professor Ralph Pederson, a marine archaeologist from the Nautical Archaeology Division of the Texas A&M University visited the excavation site. Prof Pederson and some other experts have agreed that the vessel is over 900 years old. Prof Pederson has, however, suggested that the remnants of the ship be put to 'thermo luminescent testing' for a more accurate estimate. 

A team of researchers from the Southampton University visited the excavation site early this year. The researchers working under Dr Lucy Blue, a specialist in maritime archaeology at the University's Center for Marine Archeology, spent several days at the site.

(source: Harvest of history from a paddy field - rediff.com).

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Christianity faces bleak future in UK: Survey

Traditional Christianity faces a bleak future in the United Kingdom where people are turning to, among other things, yoga and New Age spirituality, a opinion poll has revealed. Although many Britons still believe in God and find Jesus Christ inspirational, thousands of others are abandoning the church, replacing it with activities that focus on themselves. They found that belief in Christianity had begun making way for belief in Islam and New Age spirituality. 

"The outlook for traditional Christianity is bleak. But it's different elsewhere. Hindus, Sikhs, Jews and Buddhists remain sizeable groups and New Age beliefs are now mainstream. "For many, reflexology, reiki, spiritual healing, yoga and crystal healing are part of everyday life," he said.

Some 23 per cent  believe in reincarnation.

(source: Christianity faces bleak future in UK: Survey - rediff.com).  

The Christian churches have all but disappeared from the lives of the British people. The chapels of Wales are gaunt ruins, the great Roman Catholic churches of the industrial North West are often empty and derelict, the Anglicans scuttle about in their hallowed, lovely buildings like mice amid ancient ruins, rarely even beginning to fill spaces designed for multitudes. The choirs and the bells gradually fall silent, the hymns are no longer sung and one by one the doors are locked and places which in some cases have seen worship for centuries become bare museums of a dead faith. Few listen to what these churches say. They have become exclusive clubs, whose members celebrate bizarre rituals which are baffling to outsiders.

(source: Will Britain convert to Islam? - By Peter Hitchens - Mail on Sunday 11/2/03).

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Food in Ancient India

The Upanishads state: "Annam Brahma" - "Food is God." and therefore it must be given the highest veneration. Even today, in many Indian homes, be they meager or affluent, a symbolic offering of food is given to Brahma before every meal. In the Upanishads, a Hindu religious text, food is called "panacea" because all animate life depends on it. According to them, purity of food leads to purity of thought and action. 

"He thought himself:
Here now are worlds and world guardians,
Let me create food for them.

He brooded upon the waters.
From them when they have been brooded upon,
a material form was produced.
Verily, that material form which was produced,
Verily, that is food.  - Aitareya Upanishad.

A hereditary cook should be vigilant, well versed in science, clean, devoted and possessed of the auspicious bodily marks." - Ksema Kutahala.

Philosophy of Indian Food

 

Brahmins lunch with Nal, royal author of a 5th century cookbook.

(image source: Cooking of the Maharajas – By Shivaji Rao and Shalini Devi Holkar)

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One of the earliest cookbooks written in India is attributed to Nal, the hero, was given at the time of his wedding the gift of preparing food, not ordinary food, but such as should be fit for the gods who had granted him this gift. 

Three Basic Qualities

Tamas, Rajas, and Sattwas

The essence of the world and all that is in it is composed of these three qualities: Tamashika, Rajashika, and the saintly Sattvika. In every food, and in every man, one of these qualities predominates and determines the nature of the being. 

three basic qualities 

(image source: Cooking of the Maharajas – By Shivaji Rao and Shalini Devi Holkar)

Tamashika is the dark nature. A man of such nature is characterized by shortness and corpulence, despondency, stupidity, impiety. He is prone to stupefaction, perversity of the intellect, and lethargy in action. In short a highly disagreeable being.

Such a man takes food which is putrid and stale. Worse, it is cold and flat.. made up of the leavings of others. He eats pork, and beef, eels and turnips. Strong spirits and dark grains can tempt him. Things such as garlic and onion – being shaped like the head – were forbidden to some Hindus, but Tamashika eats them with impunity. 

Rajashika is the passionate nature. The Rajashika man has feelings of much pain and misery; he had a roving spirit as well as an overwhelming confidence in how own experience. Tall, muscular, passionate, he is full of physical energy. But thanks to his nature he is prone to the following: vanity, pride, lust – and on top of that anger, and hilarity. Rajashika food is bitter and sour; it is saline, pungent, and astringent as well. Included in his diet are mutton and fish, and also poultry and game. 

Sattvika is the well-balanced nature.

The Sattvika man is characterized by medium height, a fine and slender body, a judicious regimen of diet, longevity, and a strong belief in God, a good retentive memory and the performance of good deeds regardless of consequences. He is prone to forbearance, truthfulness, intellect, understanding, and courage….and so on.

His food is agreeable and bland, milk, yogurt, clarified butter, wheat, fruits and vegetables without heaviness, spinach, lentils, lotus and mangoes. 

“A person should eat in accordance with his natural fires, after decorating himself and entering the dinning pavilion.” – Ksema Kutuhala – a  Hindu cookery book of the 2nd century A.D.  

“One who sleeps once a day and eats twice lives for a hundred years. “ Ksema Kutuhala 

An old cookbook from the 5th century Pak Shashtra – by Nal, a famous legendary king. 

The kitchen should be set up in the southeast part of the house which will also be a place of eating activity. 

Hindus set aside the first morsel of each meal as symbolic tithe for the holy.

(source: Cooking of the Maharajas – By Shivaji Rao and Shalini Devi Holkar  p. 1-51)  

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Anapurna - Consort of Shiva

Shiva's consort has many aspects, and in one of them she is Annapurna, goddess of food and abundance.  Although Shiva is all powerful, his power derives from her generosity, as we see in a beautiful old Sanskrit saying:

He (Shiva) is five-faced himself.
Of his two sons, one has six faces (Skanda Kartikeya)
And the other is elephant-faced (Ganesh).

He himself is without apparel (an ascetic).
How could he live, and maintain himself.
If Annapurna were not in his house?

India is blessed with a profusion of vegetarian delicacies: pumpkin, eggplant, plantains, coconuts, watermelons, turmeric, ginger, limes, ground nuts, sugar cane, and dozens of others unknown to the West. The holy Ganga has provided Benares with a thick layers of magnificent soil that produces vegetables of legendary taste and quality. 

" After a fast a feasting; and after a feasting a fast." - Proverb of Northern India. 

(image source: Cooking of the Maharajas – By Shivaji Rao and Shalini Devi Holkar)

The fames of Indian spices is older than recorded history. Centuries before Greece and Rome had their birth, sailing ships carried Indian spices, perfumes, and silks to Mesopotamia, Arabia and Egypt. It was the lure of these exotic products that brought many seafarers to the shores of India. Long before the birth of Christ, Greek merchants thronged the markets of South India, buying spices among other precious things. Epicurean Rome spent fortunes on Indian spices, gems, silks, and brocades. The Parthian Wars are believed to have been fought by Rome largely to keep the open trade route to India. 

Almost all of the herbs and spices found in the world are used in the 3,000 year old Indian medical system of Ayurveda (science of life). Unlike conventional Western medicine, which tends to treat the disease rather than the patient, the system of Ayurveda medicine treats and heals, the whole person - physically, psychologically, and spiritually. Spices and herbs plays an important role in this holistic treatment method. 

"We shall tell you next of the great kingdoms of Malabar, which has a king and a language all of its own...In this kingdom there is great abundance of pepper and also of ginger, besides cinnamon in plenty and other spices, turbit and coconuts...When merchants come here from overseas they load their ships with brass, which they use as ballst, cloth of gold and silk, sandal, gold, silver, cloves, spikenard, and other such spices....You must know that ships come here from very many parts....and goods are exported to many parts."  - Travels of Marco Polo  

Malabar was rich. Her kings wore jewels beyond any trader's imagination and supervised commerce that was, literally, the incarnation of the West's wildest dreams. Travelers described what they saw in Malabar with wonder that bordered on awe: the people, their habits, their dress, their religion and, above all, their treasured spices.

(source: Cooking of the Maharajas – By Shivaji Rao and Shalini Devi Holkar p. 1-51 and 290)  

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Scenic India – By W J Grant 

Scenically India is rich. She has stupendous mountains and quiet, village-dotted plains. Her rivers sweep majestically on the plains and sing silver songs among the hills. The Himalayas form a great northern battlement with an average height of about 18,000 feet. Their glories are Mount Everest (29,002 feet); Kanchinjunga; (28,156 feet) Dhawalagiri (26,825 feet); Nanda-devi (25,700 feet) and Chumalhari (23, 929 feet).  

The grandeur of this region outwits description, its scale is so baffling. It is a dwelling place for gods. I remember my first impression of these terrifying heights. I had traveled all night from Calcutta and was sleepily shaving when the train came to a standstill. For a moment there seemed to be nothing but the baked plains which I had watched for hours the evening previous. Then I chanced to look up. There away in the zenith were what appeared to be aerial icebergs; white mists lay along their splendor in long level strata. 

 

The glistening robes of Kanchinjunga: If there is anything in the Hindu idea of being blended with a universality. I came very near it at that moment.

***

Never have I felt sublimity more powerfully in command of my feelings. I was an emotional consciousness, but that was all. If there is anything in the Hindu idea of being blended with a universality I came very near it at that moment. It was as if the heavens had opened and revealed God on His throne. A throne of stupendous whiteness, mystery, power, majesty. But above all, mystery – that mystery no science can banish, and no reason conquer.  

And that is what the Himalayas have remained for me. They are still the mysterious home of the gods. Useless to tell me that the peaks are gneissic and the valley metamorphic; that they are but considerable wrinkles caused by cosmic stresses. I shall continue to regard them as regions where the Supernatural walks with regal feet. The scenic vastness kills petty conceits. I watched the glistening robes of Kanchinjunga. To me it was as good as a daily prayer. That mighty mass of naked white rising up to the blue of heaven was like a miracle of holiness; it spoke to me in measureless proof. 

(source: The Spirit of India - By W J Grant London published by B. T. Batsford Ltd. 1933 p. 11- 13). For more on W J Grant refer to chapter on Quotes101_120).  For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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Dialectical vandalism - by Balbir Punj

Leftist 'secularism' dictates Taslima Nasreen's new novel be banned because it hurts Muslim sentiments. But Hindu sentiments aren't worth a farthing-hence, the Saraswati Vandana could be derided. 

Opposition to the Saraswati Vandana is nothing short of cultural vandalism.  

The world over, the communists have specialised in this art. In communist countries, artistic and cultural activities must conform to communist notions even at the cost of the nation's heritage. India has been steeped in spirituality since times immemorial. The communist agenda in the Indian context means more than suppression of religious or spiritual sentiments. It signifies a great loss to the country's heritage and culture.   

Saraswati is an ennobling icon of knowledge, art and music. According to Sister Nivedita, the goddess symbolises the highest tribute mankind ever paid to knowledge.

***

Saraswati is an ennobling icon of knowledge, art and music. According to Sister Nivedita, the goddess symbolises the highest tribute mankind ever paid to knowledge. To negate Saraswati is to symbolically disrespect the values associated with her: Sublimity, excellence and subtlety. No wonder, Bengal's academia has declined under the Marxist regime.

To the uninitiated this opposition to Saraswati Vandana may be somewhat a matter of disbelief also. The cult of Saraswati, the goddess of learning, is primarily prevalent amongst Bengalis. The two most popular Saraswati Vandanas or hymns to goddess Saraswati were composed by the Hindi poet, Surya Kant Tripathi 'Nirala' (1896-1961), who was born and brought up in Bengal and had greater mastery over Bengali than Hindi in his early years. Nirala, was anti-capitalist-or socialist-and all secular contemporary trends in Hindi literature could be attributed to him. But he never disowned Saraswati, Sri Ram, or Guru Govind Singh.

The communist argument, led to its logical conclusion, would fall as an axe on many of our national motifs. Should we scrap our national motto-Satyamev Jayate (truth shall triumph)-because it is comes from the Upanishads? Should we change LIC's slogan-"Yogekshem Vahamyam"-which is from the Bhagvad Gita? Must we not then scrap the wheel in our national flag since it is the Dharma-chakra, dharma being unsecular to communists? Even Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country that was ruled by a communist dictatorship for 30 years, introduced a new Rupiah (currency note) after the East Asian economic crisis in 1997. The currency notes had an imprint of Lord Ganesh, a symbol of auspiciousness.

Lord Navneet Dholakia, a Member of the British House of Lords, had Om and a Ganesh image embossed on his coat of arms. Naturally, Britain didn't find it communal but artistic. In the Irish Embassy in New Delhi, a statue of Ganesh has not only been installed by the Irish Ambassador, but it is regularly worshipped and prasad distributed. The Canadian Parliament hosted Laxmi puja during Diwali and called it an "end of spiritual darkness". Can one say these countries are not secular? Rather these countries are far better off than West Bengal, whose economy has been brought to an abysmal condition by Marxist rule. 

Remember the landmark judgment of the US Supreme Court which once said that, though the American state is secular, the American country is Christian. So the American President takes his oath by keeping his hand on the Bible and the dollar bill says 'In God we trust'.

(source: Dialectical vandalism - by Balbir Punj - dailypioneer.com - December 5' 2003).  

***

West Bengal Marxist Chief Minister, Mr.Budhdeb Bhattacharjee has expressed his displeasure over the practice of chanting of “Saraswati Bandana” at the beginning of govt. functions and has urged him to stop the practice immediately. He has categorically mentioned that, it is unethical and unhealthy for a secular country like India, to follow a particular religious belief. He has referred to the opening ceremony of “Bharatiyam Cultural Multicomplex” at Salt Lake City, where the Vice President, the Union Human Resource Minister and himself were present. He mentioned that the incident was embarrassing not only for him, but also for other secular minded people, present at the ceremony.

(source: Ganashakti Newsmagazine).

There was a time that Gopalkrishna Gokhale's statement: 'What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow,' was true for a variety of fields. In science, literature, culture, philosophy, and politics, many giants of the Indian renaissance of the past two centuries were Bengalis. But no more!  

Bengal's current leaders are prophets looking backwards.

Kolkata is perhaps the world's last bastion of orthodox Marxist ideology. An elitist attitude, springing from a colonial way of seeing India, makes the Left decry the use of the traditional arati as formal welcome, but finds nothing wrong with the ritual and garb at the university convocations that spring from Christian ceremony.

But Saraswati in India is like the Goddesses Fortuna and Liberty of the Roman religion. Marxists have no hesitation in invoking Fortune and Liberty, presumably because they are a part of European culture, from which Marx's ideology emerged. The Left's antipathy to Saraswati is nothing more than a slavish repetition of the colonial prejudices of the Europeans about Indian culture a hundred years ago. The Left needs to recognize that culture is an expression of a variety of aesthetic attitudes. Its proclaimed distaste for the traditional Saraswati Vandana can only be viewed as petty narrow-mindedness. Even if its aesthetic sense is different -- and superior -- to that of the desi BJP's, doesn't the democratic impulse require that it focus on the substantial issues of governance and put up with the poor taste of its political opponents with good humour?

(source:  Prophets Facing Backwards - By Subhash Kak - rediff.com). For more by Subhash Kak refer to chapter on Quotes221_250).

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Thailand, Nepal honor legendary Indian King - Janak of Ancient Mithila

A legendary Indian king is being feted by Nepal and Thailand this week.

The two countries are coming together to pay a tribute to King Janak of ancient Mithila on the occasion of the 76th birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand as well as the Thai National Day.

The Nepalese translation of a magnum opus by the Thai king himself, "The Mahajanaka: The Story of King Janak of Ancient Mithila", will be distributed free in Nepal to symbolise the ties between Nepal and Thailand. The genesis of the royal book goes back to 1977 when King Bhumibol was listening to a sermon about King Janak from "Tripitaka", the sacred texts of Theravada Buddhism.

The Thai royal was especially impressed by a tale about King Janak's visit to the royal park in Mithila, believed to have been located in modern day Bihar in India. At the entrance of the park, the story went, stood a fruit-bearing mango tree and a barren one. While coming out of the park, the king saw that the mango tree with delicious fruits had been uprooted by his entourage. The parable taught the lesson that good things are endangered by greed.

King Janak is said to have been revered for his just ways as well as being the father of Sita, the consort of god Ram.

"The underlying themes of self-reliance, moderation and compassion in the story of King Janak struck a chord with the king's Thai subjects who were increasingly disenchanted with materialism in an era of instant gratification," wrote Sudhindra Sharma, a visiting scholar at The Institute of Asian Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

The Thai king's daughter, Princess Maha Chakkri Sirindhorn, a student of linguistics and Sanskrit, is said to be researching King Janak and Mithila.


(source:
Thailand, Nepal honor legendary Indian King Newindpress.com - December 6 2003). Watch History of Ayodhya - videogoogle.com. For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor and Glimpses XVI

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Doubting Thomas is a Doubtful Thomas

An invite to our office, sent for the consecration of a local church, said that 'Christianity came to India 2000 years ago with the arrival of St Thomas. In fact, Christianity came to India before it reached the shores of Portugal or England'.

Obviously, the attempt to pass off myth as history and pre-date the antiquity of Christianity in India to suit evangelical conveniences has not stopped.

Thomas, incidentally from whom the usage Doubting Thomas emerged, is said to have arrived in India in AD 52 with Habban, a foreign trader. He was said to have landed at Maliankara (Cranganore) in Kerala, preached the gospel, wrought miracles, and got many converts. Then he was said to have come to Mailepuram (Mylapore), then went to China, after some time returned to Maliankara, and from there came again to Madras where he spent the rest of his life teaching, preaching and drawing a large number to the fold of his religion. His conversion activities got the ire of some of the locals and he had to hide himself in a cave at the Little Mount near the present St. Thomas Mount. Finally, he was murdered at St. Thomas Mount and his body was brought to Mylapore and buried in A.D. 73 at a spot which was forgotten for many centuries. Nearly fifteen hundred years after he was supposed to have died, there was a rediscovery of the tomb and the remains of Thomas including pieces of bones, a skull, a vessel containing mud supposedly from the place where his blood was shed, and a spearhead of the shape of an olive leaf fixed on a wooden shaft.'

This is the story on Thomas in currency now. Of course, nobody deemed it fit to ask how even after several centuries that the remains of Thomas remained. Anyway, in that place, in 1893 the present Santhome Church was built. The papal seal over this whole story was given in 1956 when Pope Pius XII gave it recognition as a Minor Basilica, all the four major ones being outside India. But serious historians, backed by intense research, have a totally different story to tell, especially about the St Thomas church on how it came about.

Historians vouch that there is a strong reason to believe that the St. Thomas Church stands on the ruins of a Jain Neminathaswami temple and a Shiva temple which had a Nataraja shrine attached. Epigraphical data for the existence of the Jain temple on this site is said to be recorded in Jain Inscriptions in the State by A Ekambaranath and C K Sivaprakasham (Research Foundation for Jainology, Madras, 1987). More importantly, evidences have emerged, especially in the book 'The Saint Thomas Myth' in India by Ved Prakash, for the existence of the Shiva temple, which might have been the original Kapaleeswara Temple.

In another book Papacy: Its Doctrine and History, historian Sita Ram Goel writes that Western historians themselves have seriously doubted the very existence of an apostle named Thomas. He writes: 'Distinguished scholars like Richard von Garbe, A Harnack and L de la Vallee-Poussin have denied credibility to the Acts of Thomas. Some others, who accept the fourth century Catholic tradition about the travels of St. Thomas, point to the lack of evidence that he ever went east beyond Ethiopia and Arabia Felix. The confusion, according to them, has arisen because the ancient geographers often mistook these two countries for India. The issue has been taken up by Stephen Neill (a Bishop who had worked in India) in his History of Christianity in India: The Beginnings to 1707 AD. He has said that 'Thomas romances reflect the vividness of imaginations rather than the prudence of rigid historical critics. He said 'millions of Christians in India are certain that the founder of their church was none other than apostle Thomas himself. The historian cannot prove it to them that they are mistaken in their belief. He may feel it right to warn them that historical research cannot pronounce on the matter with a confidence equal to that which they entertain by faith.'


Historians now say that the St Thomas story was a fabrication of Portuguese whose domination of Mylapore was from 1522 to 1697. The destruction of the temple of Kapaleeshwara is said to have taken place in 1561. It was later rebuilt elsewhere 250 years after it was demolished. Portuguese track record is such that they destroyed many Hindu temples during the course of their rule in Goa. Raking up the past is not nice, but when the present is mislead using spurious stories, the truth has to be told. 

(For more on history of Portuguese in India refer to chapter on European Imperialism).

And the time to call the Thomas bluff is now.

(source: Doubting Thomas is a Doubtful Thomas - newstodaynet.com - December 19' 2003). for more refer to The Myth of Saint Thomas and The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple - By Ishwar Sharan and chapter on Caste system.

In Catholic universities in Europe, the myth of the apostle Thomas going to India is no longer taught as history, but in India it is still considered useful.  Richard Von Garbe (1857-1927), German Indologist, who studied the Samkhya and Yoga schools of philosophy, who examined the mutual influence of Western and Indian ideas, doubted the historicity of the legend of St. Thomas. 

(source: Decolonising The Hindu Mind
- Ideological Development of Hindu Revivalism - By Koenraad Elst  Rupa Publisher ISBN: 81-7167-519-0 p. 276 and  German Indologists: Biographies of Scholars in Indian Studies writing in German - By Valentine Stache-Rosen. p.133-135). 

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'I proud to be an Indian'- the darker side of West
Bollywood film lays bare ugly face of racism in Britain

The London-born director Puneet Sira of the film "I…Proud to be an Indian" has departed radically from the usual use by Bollywood film producers of castles, London landmarks and Scottish landscapes as backdrops to romantic storylines. The film is a violent Bollywood melodrama about Asians fighting skinheads on the streets of London. Sira has based it on his own experiences of growing up in East London in the 70s when attacks on Asians were almost a daily routine.

But unlike now, in the 70s most immigrants kept quiet. They did not write back to warn relatives and friends in India about the racism. But Sira's film could explode the El Dorado image of Britain that induces would be immigrants to sell all to come here.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph Sira said: "Indian moviegoers are used to seeing Britain as a fantasy land where everyone goes to school in helicopter and lives in an ancient mansion.

"I'm showing them the raw reality of racist violence, and that's never been done before in Bollywood."  He added: "Nobody in India knows about skinheads. You tell people in Bombay about the BNP ( right-wing British National Party) and they just look puzzled.

"They have just never heard about the abuse and violence British Asians have suffered. This film is going to tell them what it is really like. We are aiming at a diverse audience --- everybody from trendy Londoners to Delhi rickshaw drivers."   "They have just never heard about the abuse and violence British Asians have suffered. This film is going to tell them what it is really like. We are aiming at a diverse audience --- everybody from trendy Londoners to Delhi rickshaw drivers."   Sira denied in his interview with the daily that the film was anti-British. He hopes that it will open the eyes of Indians to the problems of racist violence if they visit.

Sira says the film will make Indians understand that all is not good in the west. "There is a dark side to western society, too." "I hope to show the movie to the Prime Minister A B Vajpayee and the deputy Prime Minister, L K Advani," he adds.

(source: Bollywood film lays bare ugly face of racism in Britain - By Vijay Dutt - hindustantimes.com and I proud to be an Indian explores racial discrimination in UK).

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Indian Communism - By Amaury de Riencourt

Nothing is more illuminating in this respect than a study of the fate of Indian Communism. Compared with its powerful Chinese counterpart, the Indian communist movement floundered hopelessly. While it is certain that the British kept a tight grip on the situation from a purely political standpoint, it is becoming clear that the failure of Indian Communism had more fundamental reasons. The October Revolution struck some members of India’s intelligentsia as being the outstanding political phenomenon of their age. Jawaharlal Nehru himself claims that “ A study of Marx and Lenin produced a powerful effect on my mind and helped me see history and current affairs in a new light. The long chain of history and of social development appeared to have some meaning, some sequence, and the future lost some of its obscurity.” Nehru then goes on to express a mixture of admiration for the “practical achievements of the Soviet Union” and dislike for its ruthless methods. 

Like most of his compatriots who were aware of world politics, Nehru remained essentially nationalist whose intellectual justification was based on a perspective of past history but who remained tied to the practical, evolutionary concept of Western Socialism. 

The British had artificially created a new capitalist class of landowners (zamindars and taluqdars) and had contributed to the development of private capitalism in the big cities, which had then imposed what Nehru called “the bania civilization of the capitalist West”.

 

Marxism awakens no true echo in the soul of India.  

***

Until the end of World War II, Indian Communism as such had not really made a shred of progress. Marxism had failed to make a profound impact on the intelligentsia for basic reasons which are rooted in the psychology and philosophical dispositions of the Indians: dogmatism, to start with, has always repelled the Indians – whether Christian or Marxist-Leninist. 

Marxism awakens no true echo in the soul of India.

(source: The Soul of India – by Amaury de Riencourt   p. 330 0 333).

The Indian communists failed to produce even one world figure, whereas the Indian "bourgeois" threw up dozens of great personalities like Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, B G Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and many others. The Indian communists were too eager to take orders from Moscow or Beijing.  They could never produce an ideology that was relevant to Indian life, to Indian civilization, to Indian ethos, and to Indian experience.  

And there is one more significant reason: while the Chinese communists were, first of all, nationalists and were chauvinistic about the "greatness" of their country and its "great" civilisation, the Indian communists were willing to forget India's past.

(source: Marxist Road to Nowhere - Flawed ideology, misplaced zeal - By Hari Jaisingh- Tribuneindia.com Novemeber 30 2000 - Hindu Vivek Kendra). For more on Amaury de Riencourt refer to chapter on Quotes301_320). 

For interesting article refer to  His Master's Voice: Pavlovian Comrades - By Rajeev Srinivasan - rediff.com).

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Stalin’s Indian victims

KGB records show that 45 Indians were killed in Stalin’s purges. But the Indian government is showing little interest in its lost men.

For a number of Indians, including those born in Bangladesh and Pakistan, the lure of Russia proved fatal. They were drawn to Bolshevism by Lenin and his famous thesis on the National and Colonial Question at the Second Congress of the Comintern 1920. They met their end at the hands of Jossef Stalin.

KGB archival records show that as many as ‘45 Indian revolutionaries were sent to firing squads on trumped-up charges of espionage and conspiracies’. Records collected in the Memorial, an institute run by Russian Indologist Yan Rachinskii in Moscow, show that 12 of the 45 Indians have been identified. They all lived in Moscow. The Indian Communists in Russia, who held a special relation with several Indian revolutionaries including Savarkar and also the Communist Party of Great Britain, were sent to firing squads just before Stalin signed the Treaty of Non-Aggression with Germany in 1939. One of them was Birendra Nath Chatterjee, brother of Sarojini Naidu. Chatterjee joined hands with Savarkar to launch a nation-wide movement against the British Government. After travelling in Europe he went to the Soviet Union in 1918 and joined the Comintern. He survived the war of succession following Lenin’s death but was arrested in 1937 and put before the firing squad.

Another was Abani Mukherjee whose Russian name was Mukherjee Trilokovich. A professor of history at the Moscow State University, he was arrested and shot the same year as Chatterjee. 

(source:
Stalin’s Indian victims - indianexpress.com).  

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Lord Rama has Muslim devotees - By Alka Rastogi

While the seat of Lord Rama in Ayodhya may still be mired in controversies, that is no deterrent for some followers of Islam who have taken to enacting the Ram Lila.

   

Watch History of Ayodhya - videogoogle.com.

***

Bizarre as it may sound in a day and age of mounting communal tensions, there are several Muslims who make up the cast at the Bakshi-Ka-Talab Ram Lila that will conclude on Wednesday, long after Dusshera is past. Naseem Khan, the actor playing the demon king Ravana, is in fact more at ease answering questions about Vedic scriptures than most Hindu scholars. Khan has often put pundits to shame with his encyclopedic knowledge of the Ramayana that he studies with single-minded devotion despite stiff opposition from fundamentalist elements within his own community.

Sabir Khan and his men are keeping alive a remarkable tradition of communal harmony begun in 1972 and honoured with the Rashtriya Ekta Award in 2000 by known other than Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. The group regards Lord Rama as a symbol of good who should be respected and revered by people professing different faith. Fostering better relations between Hindus and Muslims is a responsibility they take very seriously and in fact wanted to stage their performance in Gujarat after the Godhra riots but financial constraints held them back.

(source: Lord Rama has Muslim devotees - By Alka Rastogi - hindustantimes.com).  

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When in India - Letter to Rashtrapatiji
"Indians and dogs" still remain unwelcome in Indian India?

Last weekend, you see, I caused considerable embarrassment to my host at the Indian Air Force mess where I had been invited, for wearing “Indian” clothes. I felt bad for him because it was his unpleasant task to ask me to leave because Indian clothes are not permitted according to service regulations. Of course, I am aware of the rule — how could I not be, since this is not the first time I have been shown the door, sometimes even rudely? The Air Force mess, for the record, was a first; mostly, it is the Indian Army that has done the honours.

But if I know the rules, why do I persist in showing up in my formal Indian wear? Let me take you into confidence, Rashtrapatiji. Because I am an optimist, I keep hoping that some babu or clerk will find the anomaly in the club rules that were probably drafted when we were an angrez colony, and amend them, so that I can wear my churidaars into an officer’s institute. You see, I find nothing offensive about a closed collar kurta. In fact, most times, it’s more elegant, and certainly more formal than T-shirts and jeans which, unexpectedly are permitted at these institutes.

Only, it seems the army and navy and air force are so busy guarding our frontiers — as indeed they should — they haven’t managed the time to look through antiquated rule books for things civilians like me find an irritant.

I mean, surely they must know that the British left in 1947, and that they are now the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force. (For more refer to chapter on European Imperialism).

I cannot think of an institution that is as much an outpost of the Raj as the Gymkhana Club where, till a few years ago, a similar dress code had existed. The Gymkhana too has had the privilege of showing me the door on occasion, but I am now perfectly at home there because some babu seemed to have discovered that the membership seems to consist entirely of Indians, so it made sense if they let them in wearing Indian clothes too. The club isn’t too keen on keds, which is fine by me, but it’s all right to keep your churidaars on.

The defence forces cannot be compared with a mere club, of course, and I would be the first to admit that. But I exert my moral right to assert that as an Indian and a civilian, it is insulting to be told that the clothes I wear — formal and elegant, I assure you, even if “Indian” (whatever that means) — are unwelcome on the R&R premises of the Indian services.

Wonder what Gandhiji would have made of such apartheid? Or maybe, contrary to the Constitution’s guarantee, “Indians and dogs” still remain unwelcome in Indian India.

(source: When in India - Letter to Rashtrapatiji - business-standard.com).

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Matter of mindset

Mahatma Gandhi lived and died for Muslims. In order to bring about Hindu-Muslim amity, he led the Khilafat Movement. It failed. The Hindus of Malabar were massacred by the Moplahs. In 1924, Gandhi's trusted friend, Maulana Mohammad Ali, made a thundering statement in Aligarh and Ajmer: "However pure Gandhi's character may be, he must appear to me, from the point of view of religion, inferior to any Mussalman, even though he be without character" (Indian Muslims, Ram Gopal, Asia Publishing House, New York, 1959). In 1946, Gandhi thought of offering the prime ministership of India to MA Jinnah in order to dissuade him from insisting on partition. This too failed-Nehru had a part to play, of course-and Pakistan was born. The reason Gandhi could not bring about Hindu-Muslim unity was that he did not understand the Muslim mindset.

Prof Murray T Titus, in his book, Indian Islam (OUP, London, 1930), rightly states: "The very essence of Islam is that it is both a religion and a system of government-a church-state ... politics is not merely politics and religion is not merely religion."   Indian Islam (OUP, London, 1930), rightly states: "The very essence of Islam is that it is both a religion and a system of government-a church-state ... politics is not merely politics and religion is not merely religion."  

Samuel Huntington of the Clash of Civilizations fame needs no introduction. In his book of the same name, he writes, 

"Only in Hindu civilization were religion and politics so distinctly separated. "

In Islam, God is Caesar; in China and Japan, Caesar is God; in orthodoxy, God is Caesar's junior partner."

Hector Bolitho's book, Jinnah: Creator of Pakistan (p 45, John Murray, London, 1954), quotes a British authority on Indian affairs, Sir Perceval Griffiths, on the Muslim League's foundation: "Philosophers might deplore the fact that Hindus and Muslims thought of themselves as separate peoples but the statesman had to accept it". The fault does not lie with the Muslim, bound by faith to act as he does. 

It lies with the Hindu leadership that blinks at reality.

(source: Matter of mindset - By K R Phanda - dailypioneer.com - November 4 2003).

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Pakistan asks Hindus to quit military area

The Peshawar Cantonment Board in Pakistan has served a notice on Hindus to vacate about 70 houses occupied by them for over 130 years in the cantonment areas there, media reports said.

The Daily Times quoted a local Hindu leader Ram Lal as saying that the entire land and property was in the name of one Mehar Chand Khanna who had bought it way back in the 19th century.

The newspaper said the notice was issued last week to the residents of Kali Bari to vacate around 70 houses and a Hindu temple built in 1861.

'The notice was a threat that force would be used if the inhabitants did not meet the deadline,' it quoted the Cantonment Board as saying. It also quoted a Muslim resident of the Hindu-dominated area, Aslam Siraj, as saying, 'We are worried and do not know where to go if the authorities use force.' The residents, it said, have also approached President Pervez Musharraf for relief.

(source: Pakistan asks Hindus to quit military area - rediff.com).

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Holy Hindu Bikinis - Hurting Hindu Sentiments again...
Hindu god Vishnu on a range of bikinis

The bikinis, with an image of what looks like Lord Ram as the main motif, have been designed by Italian designer Roberto Cavalli and this sort of offensive material really crosses the line, said an anguished Bimal Krisna Das of the UK's umbrella body for Hindu temples.  

The new protest, somewhat blasphemously dubbed by some commentators as the "holy bikinis row", includes angry letters to Cavalli's sprawling, sensuously-designed headquarters in Milan and the posh London stores stocking his wares. Cavalli is routinely described by swish stores throughout Western capitals as the "self-proclaimed king of Italian excess". He is just the latest of a long line of European and American commercial enterprises to fall foul of Hindu sentiment.  

Till now, toilet seat covers, boxes of tissues, shoes, sandals and finger puppets have all been tracked down as bearing "offensive" images, variously of Lord Krishna, Ram, Saraswati and so on.  Now, Cavalli may have pushed Hindu sentiment over the edge. In a new warning note of exasperation about the risk of repeated and blase re-offending, Das declared Western companies no longer had the right to offer a lame apology and the excuse that they don't know anything about Indian culture and Hinduism.  

"The world is quite small these days," he says.  

"Hindus are naturally tolerant, but there has to be a limit if the line is crossed," he says.  "These deities are deemed holy and worshipped by millions of Hindus all across the globe and these garments in question are not just any garments but underwear and bikinis to be worn by women flaunting their half disrobed bodies," fumes the official protest letter to Mohammed al-Fayed, chairman of upmarket Harrods.  

(source: UK Hindus embark on 'Holy Bikinis' war - timesofindia.com).

Comments on the outrage posted on sulekha.com

"I wonder if some Indian designer had tried to sell them underwear with images of the Virgin Mary or Christ or a saying from the Koran printed in "strategic" places, if Harrods would have accepted them in the first place? I think not. 

As the story says, Hinduism is rich in colour and iconography - as is Buddhism - so they naturally attract designers - but these designers need to show a little common sense and knowledge and respect. By all means print it on a T-shirt or shirt on skirt, but not on underwear and skimpy bikini bottoms or on toilet seats or on shoes. I don't wish for Hindus to become as uptight as Christians or Muslims when it comes to display of religious icons, but designers also need to know where to draw the line and what is tasteful and what is not. "

(source: sulekha.com).

"When we see any image of goddesses we bow our heads with respect and here they were displayed in such an insulting way"  –  Ambika Soni

(source: Harrods apology over Hindu bikinis - bbc.com).

Buddha bikini upsets believers

Bangkok, April 21: A multi-coloured Victoria's Secret swimsuit with an image of the Buddha on the bikini top is upsetting many deeply traditional Thais who want its US makers to take it off the shelves. We are offended and we will have to tell them we are offended," said Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-Ngam, who is also in charge of Buddhist affairs. The swimsuit was "too much" and "hurt the hearts of Buddhists".

(source: Buddha bikini upsets believers - indianexpress.com). For more refer to Victoria's Secret deny images are that of Buddha, concerted global protest continues - Asian Tribune).

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Yoga for Teachers Rouses Ire of Croatian Bishops

Croatian elementary school teacher Marijana Ivanovic has taken up yoga to help her relax. Nothing controversial about that, or so she thought.

"Yoga really helps recharge one's batteries and eases my lower-back pain," said Ivanovic, who has taught for more than 30 years, during the first session of a state-supported yoga program for teachers. But her ancient Indian exercise routine is at the center of a highly charged public debate because it has fallen foul of the powerful Roman Catholic church in this overwhelmingly Catholic country. The education ministry introduced the program this year as part of efforts to help teachers work better.

The ministry awarded 50,000 kuna ($7,624) in annual support to a local group known as 'Yoga in Daily Life', which draws on the teachings of Hindu spiritual leader Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, known as Swamiji.

In July they issued a statement protesting "an attempt to introduce yoga in the Croatian education system."

The Croatian Bishops' Conference said the program would "make an unacceptable favor to an organization and its founder who wants to introduce Hinduistic religious practice in Croatian schools." It said everything was being done under the guise of exercise.

A Croatian yoga activist, who asked not to be named, said the bishops were "irritated by anything related to disciplines of oriental origin." 

The bishops' statement appeared to have an immediate impact in a country where almost 90 percent of the people profess to be Catholic. Local media reported that interest in the yoga program had fallen sharply after the protest. Yoga ran into similar trouble in Slovakia in 2001 when a proposal to teach yoga in schools was eventually dropped in the face of fierce opposition from Slovakia's Catholic church and allies in the rightwing government. "My work for world peace and tolerance in different cultures is above (any) particular religion and any dogma. It is exactly the context within which one should look at the 'Yoga in Daily Life' program," Swamiji said.

(source:  Yoga for Teachers Rouses Ire of Croatian Bishops - reuters.com). 

For more on yoga, refer to chapter on Yoga and Hindu Philosophy).

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A traditional sport in decline -`Nada kusti', the traditional form of wrestling

`Nada kusti', the traditional form of wrestling, is in the throes of extinction, thanks largely to Government indifference and lack of interest among the public.

This ancient sport, which received royal patronage for centuries and was supported by philanthropists, is struggling, with many of the over 70 `garadis' (gymnasiums) in the city and 150 in the district being on the verge of closure. This is because from ancient days the `garadis' had depended on contributions for their existence and did not charge any admission fee. Donations are not forthcoming now.

Launched in organized form by Raja Wadiyar in the 16th century, `nada kusti' touched the zenith during the rule of Krishnaraj Wadiyar IV in the first half of the 20th century. Now it has been relegated to the status of a rural sport. The wrestlers get a meagre income. In an otherwise gloomy situation, the only silver lining is that many wrestlers have excelled in the State and national championships despite all the shortcomings. While there were over 800 wrestlers in the city, which was once considered a bastion of the sport, only three modern mats are available — at Mysore University, the Chamundi Vihar Stadium and the S. Chennaiah Akada.

The general secretary of the Mysore District Wrestling Association, Yajaman S. Mahadev, said that the Government had failed to promote this sport in the region even though it was essentially popular among the masses. He said that though Mysore wrestlers had the upper hand over their rivals they still had to reach the standards of wrestlers from Punjab, Maharashtra and Punjab. Scholarships could be provided for the wrestlers as most of them were from the economically weaker sections of society. 

(source: A traditional sport in decline - By Sharath S. Srivatsa - hindu.com).  

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Hindu Temples in Pakistan: Deep in prayer - By Ishtiaq Ali Mehkri

Although the number of temples in Karachi has dwindled significantly, those that exist offer a rich spiritual experience, writes Ishtiaq Ali Mehkri.

The Hindu community, the largest of Pakistan's minorities, is quite proud of its history and religion. They have made their presence felt in trade, education and the arts. Hindus in Karachi comprise a fragile number of around 300,000. Hindus in Karachi belong mostly to the Rajput and Gujarati communities.

Though the Hindu population is scattered in and around the old city areas of Karachi, its largest presence is felt around the Swami Narayan temple, where around 5,000 people reside. The temple is said to be 150 years old and probably one that was built with a proper residential plan.

Temples in Karachi have a history dating back to the pre-partition era. There are even some temples that boast of their existence from the 14th and 15th century. It is then tragic to note that history has been unkind to them as today they lie in shambles.

Many structures have periodically been targeted by fanatics; they have been ransacked, burnt and severely damaged. Another 1,000 year old temple, famous but seldom attended, stands on the shores of Manora Island. Tales abound that the temple of Kali Mata (the goddess of evil), is located somewhere on an island near Karachi, but the community seemed reluctant to discuss this.

Nonetheless, a visit to many of the temples depicts a charm of its own. Elaborately decorated idols, abundant flowers and the ever present incense, create an enchanting ambience. Artistic drawings on the walls and floors also add a special touch to the mood of piety. Furthermore, the pealing of bells creates a religious atmosphere, in which the fervour of hundreds of devotees can be felt, as they recite verses in praise of their Lords. On Mondays a large number of devoteesgo to pay their respects to Lord Shiva.

The most fascinating aspect of Hinduism is its the colourful festivals, full of entertainment and amusement, that are celebrated throughout the year. A few among them are: Diwali, Ganesh Ganphati (elephant festival), Holi (to mark the advent of spring), Pongal (harvesting season), Rakshbandhan or Rakhi (sisters day), Durga Pooja and the birthdays of Lord Shiva, Rama, and Krishna.

The Hindus in Karachi also have to their credit a number of educational projects - the prime one among them is the Dayaram Jethmal (DJ) Science College. With the restoration of the Hindu Gymkhana, a new leaf has been added to the Hindu community's archeological treasure in the city. The elders of the community are saddened to hear that the younger generation is losing touch with the historic Sanskrit script - the language of the holy books Gita and Mahabharat - and this has prevented them from promoting their language and culture.

(source: Deep in prayer - By Ishtiaq Ali Mehkri - dawn.com).

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Miracle healer heals himself at hospital

His has been the most notable face among the Christian gospelers. He has presided over several thousand 'miracle healing' meetings wherein countless 'sufferers' have had their illness or afflictions, ranging from common cold to blindness, 'cured' through prayers.

But when it came to healing his own troublesome knee, D G S Dinakaran, the well-known evangelist in question, seems to have reposed faith with a team of doctors at a local hospital rather than hobble around and wait for divine help. According to sources, Dinakaran, the most visible of gospelers with a slew of radio and TV shows to his credit, had been suffering from a chronic knee problem. The man, who exhorts the public to attend his healing and prayer meetings to get cured of their ailments, however has gone to a popular private hospital in Adayar to get his knee repaired.

Sources said Dinakaran underwent a knee replacement surgery, conducted by a team of top doctors, at the hospital yesterday afternoon. His faith in doctors seems to have done him good as he is said to be doing fine. Dinakaran, who presides over the Christian gospel group Jesus Calls, along with his family members including his son Paul Dinakaran, has conducted several hundred faith healing meetings across the State and elsewhere too.

In many of these meetings, whose footages are regularly shown in almost all popular satellite channels, people are shown to get 'cured' of their handicaps and illness. There are also special prayers conducted for serious ailments. It is also said that money was also collected for these special prayers. Obviously, tongues will start wagging over Dinakaran's choice for his own treatment. Perhaps there is a moral in the story: Thou shall not pray for thyself.

(source: Miracle healer heals himself at hospital - newstodaynet.com).

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Churches cock-a-snook at TN's law

Tamilnadu has an anti forcible conversion law in place. But that does not seem to have deterred zealous Christian missionaries and evangelists from carrying on with their 'aggressive expansion'.

Though missionaries are decidedly low-key in talking about conversions they carry out in the State now, they are not so when talking about their expansion in terms of new churches. Christianaid, a missionary organisation, in its website (christianaid.org), has talked about how churches continued to be 'planted in Tamilnadu despite 'recent restrictive law on religious conversions'

'New churches were dedicated in two villages near Coimbatore. One church in particular was composed of poor people, including many blind and maimed members. Outside help enabled the construction a beautiful meeting hall for these people.

 

Tamilnadu has an anti forcible conversion law in place. But that does not seem to have deterred zealous Christian missionaries and evangelists from carrying on with their 'aggressive expansion'.  

***

'One missionary who already cares for a congregation of 100 believers has planted three additional churches in surrounding villages. Another pioneer church planter held gospel meetings attended by 150 people,' the organisation's website proudly says.

'Tamil Nadu passed a religious law last October that instructs all persons wanting to convert to register their intention before the magistrate and before the priest of the religion he wants to leave. The person doing the converting [i.e. baptizing] also must report to authorities. Failure to do any of these could result in exorbitant fines of Rs. 100,000 each (over $2000 - an impossible fee for a day laborer earning only $1 a day),' the website's message reads and gives an address to send contributions.

The message inherent in this is that it has now become 'costly' to carry on conversions in Tamilnadu, and hence donors need to up their doles. 

Anyway, the Pope's much trumpeted 'rich harvest of souls' is well and truly underway.

(source: Churches cock-a-snook at TN's law - newstodaynet.com. For more refer to chapter on Conversion). Sign the petition - UN & Religious Proselytization - petitiononline.com).

Catholic church organises pongala - One more act of the church appropriating Hindu ceremonies?

A pongala ritual, marked by traditional Hindu custom, was organised by the St. Rita's Catholic Church at Nandrikkal, near Kundara, today. The ritual, being held for the first time at the church, was organised as part of the annual festival, which concluded today. Hundreds of devotees, including parishioners and those from other communities, took part in the ritual, which was held in the morning. 

***

The Aattukal Bhagavathi Temple dedicated to the Goddess Bhagavathi is situated in Thiruvananthapuram city. The temple is specially famous for Pongala, an exclusive festival for women that falls in February/ March. The name 'Pongala' means 'to boil over' and refers to the ritualistic offering of porridge made of rice, sweet brown molasses, coconut gratings, nuts and raisins. Only women devotees are allowed to participate in this ritual. Each devotee in a clay pot on an open fire cooks it and the long line of women making the ritual offering expands up to East Fort and behind.

(source: Catholic church organises pongala - hindu.com. For more refer to chapter on Conversion).

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Maoists bomb Hindu temple in southern Nepal, burn Buddhist bus

Maoist rebels blew up a popular Hindu temple in southern Nepal and separately attacked a bus carrying Buddhist pilgrims in the west of the troubled Himalayan kingdom, a security source said. The Ram-Janaki temple at Nijgadh town in Bara district south of Kathmandu was completed only a few months ago with financial contributions from locals, who have been enraged by Tuesday night's destruction. In the other attack, a bus reserved for Buddhist pilgrims was set on fire when it was returning Tuesday from Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, by Maoist rebels who first ordered devotees to get off, the source said.

The Maoist "people's war" has claimed more than 8,300 lives since 1996. Violence has surged since the rebels pulled out of a seven-month ceasefire in August. 

(source: Maoists bomb Hindu temple in southern Nepal, burn Buddhist bus - yahoo.com).

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Don't separate yoga from source - By Rajiv Malhotra

At a time when the West is so fussy about protecting its intellectual property rights around the world, might it be a good idea to have clean hands by making sure that it is not plagiarizing the discoveries and know-how of others? Given that the historical domination of scholarship on Hinduism was in the control of colonialists and Christian missionaries (often the same persons), there have been considerable distortions. This phenomenon has been popularly known as Orientalism.

It troubles me that some Christians stereotype Hinduism as "world negating," "caste abusive," "'women abusive," "poverty causing," and "fatalistic" and yet they appropriate from it without acknowledgment ("A bit of a stretch at Felician: Nun joins students in Christian yoga class," Page L-8, May 8). This often happens in a four-stage process.

The first is discipleship with loyalty. The second is distancing from the source -- respect for the Hindu source, but only if someone asks. The third is a repackaging of the original material as Judeo-Christianity. The fourth is a denigration and marginalization of the source by concentrating on the negative stereotypes of Hinduism.

Yoga seems to have entered this third stage.

It is bothersome that some media are unable to apply quality standards to ensure that yoga's proper basis in Hinduism is appreciated by the public.

(source: Don't separate yoga from source - By Rajiv Malhotra. For more on yoga, refer to chapter on Yoga and Hindu Philosophy).

Subhash Kak has written:  "For example, in the US, almost every YMCA teaches yoga, although it is a different story that some Churches are speaking of Christian yoga, without mentioning the origins of this tradition. This yearning for wisdom was expressed by Zimmer over fifty years ago when he said, 'We of the Occident are about to arrive at a crossroads that was reached by the thinkers of India some seven hundred years before Christ. This is the real reason, why we become both vexed and stimulated, uneasy and yet interested, when confronted with the concepts and images of Indian wisdom.'

(source: Globalization and the Knowledge Industry - By Subhash Kak - rediff.com). For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

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First Conference On Indo-Romuvan Culture Organized

NEW JERSEY, U.S.A., October 21, 2003: Scholars of the Indian and Romuva (ancient indigenous Lithuanian religion) civilizations took a step towards understanding each other. The first conference in a series planned to increase understanding of the ancient traditions of Indo-Romuvan civilizations was held in New Jersey last week. The conference brought together about forty-five eminent scholars belonging to Indian and Romuvan tradition from Lithuania, Latvia, Mexico, North America and India. The conference focused on four main broad topics: Indo-European history and common roots, similarities and peculiarities in the philosophy and theology of Indian and Romuvan traditions, the evolution of Indian and Romuvan traditions abroad and preservation of these traditions in the changing world. Jonas Trinkunas from Lithuania, who has been recently elevated to the highest priesthood position in Lithuanian Romuva traditions, gave the keynote address. He pointed out similarities between the ancient Indian and Romuvan traditions.
Commending the vision of ancient Indic seers he said, "The founding principles for uniting the pagan traditions in Europe have been inspired by the Hindu philosophy." The conference was made possible by the International Center for Cultural Studies (ICCS)-USA and World Congress of Ethnic Religions (WCER), Lithuania.

(source: First Conference On Indo-Romuvan Culture Organized).

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India forcing UK to spend more on education

Competition and the quality of education offered by countries like India and China is forcing the British government to reassess its education policy and to consider spending more on universities and research.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the 'The Times' that UK had to keep pace with India and China. "Britain needs increased spending on the universities and research to keep pace with countries such as India and China, which will soon be tremendous competition for us," said Blair.

He said it was important that the country's education system be made up of independent state schools of real quality, which would look after the needs of every child.

He also said that he was not in favour of raising taxes relating to the education sector, as this would damage the level of competitiveness against countries such as India. 

(source: India forcing UK to spend more on education - sifynews.com).  

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Manu and the Brits - By Madhu Kishwar

Introduction: Manu is regarded as the father of Hindu religious law, but did Manu intend his writ to be a rigid rule book? Madhu Kishwar declares, “He did not.”

Madhu Kishwar, editor of Manushi magazine and a champion of the oppressed in India, offers an astute commentary on the persistent objections and controversies centering on Manusmriti, or Manu Dharma Shastra, the historical Indian text which is widely regarded as Hinduism’s most authoritative law book. Kishwar claims that the uncontestable status given to Manusmriti was actually imposed by the British. She goes on to suggest that Manu himself had never intended such dogmatic and static interpretations of his wide-ranging work. 

On March 25 of year 2000, copies of Manusmriti were burnt by reformers protesting against the ill-conceived installation of the statue of Manu in the precincts of the Rajasthan High Court. The protesters believed that the ancient text is the defining document of Brahmanical Hinduism, and also the key source of gender and caste oppression in India. In the ensuing controversy, defenders of Manusmriti projected it as a pivotal canonical source of religious law for Hindus.

The confusion is not theirs alone; these common misrepresentations are an unfortunate by-product of our colonial education, which we slavishly cling to, even though it is more than five decades since we declared our independence.

We keep defending or attacking the same hackneyed quotations from the shastras and the epics which, incidentally, colonisers used for the purpose of creating a new discourse about these writings. Their inaccurate and biased interpretations have continued to inspire major misreadings of our religious tenets. 

 

          

Statue of Sir William Jones in St. Paul's Cathedral. A colossal statue of Jones, by John Bacon, was erected in his memory by the East India Company. Jones in toga, rests his hands on a book, which is his translation of Manu's Institutes, the name Manu is in Nagari script on the spine. One might have thought it surprising that a Dharmasastra text of the Hindu law should be on display in the basilica of the Anglican church. The spelling is actually "Menu," a pecularity of Jones's scheme of transliterating Sanskrit.

(image source: Aryans and British India - By Thomas R Trautmann).

***

The Englishmen who came as traders in the 17th century were ‘befuddled at the vast diversity and complexity of Indian society Having come from a culture where many aspects of family and community affairs came under the jurisdiction of canonical law, they looked for similar sources of authority in India. They assumed, for example, that just as the European marriage laws were based in part on systematic constructions derived from church interpretations of Biblical tenets, so must the personal laws of various Indian communities similarly draw their legitimacy from some priestly interpretations of fundamental religious texts. In the late 18th century, the British began to study the ancient shastras to develop a set of legal principles that would assist them in adjudicating disputes within Indian civil society. In fact, they found there was no single body of canonical law, no Hindu Pope to legitimize a uniform’ legal code for all the diverse communities of India, no Shankaracharya whose writ reigned all over the country Even religious interpretations of popular epics like the Ramayana failed to fit the bill because every community and every age exercised the freedom to recite and write its own version. We have inherited hundreds of recognized and respected versions of this text, and many are still being created. The flourishing of such variation and div6rsity, however, did not prevent the British from searching for a definitive canon of Hindu law.

The British began to mistrust the pandits and became impatient with having to deal with such a range of customs that had no apparent legal authority to back them, since that made it difficult for them to pose as genuine adjudicators of Hindu law. The British were even more nonplussed because they had a history of using the common law system, based on precedent. However, given the myriad opinions of the Indian pandits, they couldn’t depend on uniform precedents to make their judgments. Anglo-Brahaminism: In order to arrive at a definitive version of the Indian legal system that would mainly be useful for them, the East India Company began to recruit and train pandits for its own service, In 1772, Warren Hastings hired a group of eleven pandits to cooperate with the Company in the creation of a new digest of Hindu law that would govern civil disputes in the British courts. The Sanskrit pandits hired to translate and sanction this new interpretation of customary laws created a curious Anglo-Brahmanical hybrid. The resulting document, printed in London under the title A Code of Gentoo Laws, or, Ordinations of the Pandits was a made-to-order text, in which the pandits dutifully followed the demands made by their paymasters. Though it was the first serious attempt at codification of Hindu law, the text was far from accurate in its references to the original sources, or to their varied traditional interpretations.

Thus Manusmriti came to influence oriental studies in the West far more profoundly than it had ever influenced the practices of any actual -living communities in pre-British India. The British consistently promoted the myth that Hindus were governed by their codified versions of shastric injunctions. The modern educated elite in India, whose knowledge of India comes mainly from English language sources, were thenceforth systematically brainwashed into believing that the British were actually administering Hindu personal laws through the medium of the English courts. This was part of a larger myth-building exercise whereby the people of the subcontinent were taught that theirs was a stagnant civilization. The ignorant assumption of our colonial rulers, that social stability in India was due to the supposed proclivity of its people to follow the same old traditions, customs and laws that had allegedly remained moribund for centuries, slowly came to acquire the force of self-evident truth over a period of time, both for those supporting as well as those opposing British rule.

Discrimination against women or Dalits is neither inherently Hindu, nor is it scripturally mandated. This is not to suggest that such practices do not exist. Sadly enough, the disgraceful treatment of Dalits and downgrading of women are among the most shameful aspects of contemporary Indian society. But they will not disappear by burning ancient texts because none of the Hindu scriptures have projected themselves as commandment-giving authorities demanding unconditional obedience from all those claiming to be Hindus.

(source: Manu and the Brits - By Madhu Kishwar and Aryans and British India - By Thomas R Trautmann p. 76 - 77).

***

In defence of Hindu Law 

Scholars have have ignored Hindu laws evolving character, its capacity for diversity and flexibility, its welfare potential and the possibilities for freedom it contains. Aided by overzealous Indologists, all the bodies of scholarship mentioned above make the same mistake about Hindu law: they too quickly assimilate it to positivistic understandings of law. They all err in thinking that Hindu law is a set of formal rules with authoritative status rather than principles of a "self controlled order"...

The cumulative result is not just a serious scholarly misunderstanding of Hindu law, but a serious misunderstanding of Hindu society itself. And above all it rescues the study of Hindu law from the historically unfounded condescension of its critics and the unthinking zealotry of its friends...

(source: In defence of Hindu Law  -  Refer to Hindu Law: Beyond Tradition and Modernity - By Werner F. Menski, Oxford University Press, 2003).

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Captain Nemo a Hero in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

USA, November 20, 2003: Several readers wrote to inform us that Captain Nemo, a Hindu character in the film "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," is, in fact, a hero in the film. Sara Kobuszko writes, "I would like to set the story straight regarding Captain Nemo's role in the film. Having seen it for myself last week, I can firmly deny that Nemo plays any sort of evil role -- he is a hero in every sense of the word. Nemo is courteous, bold, a fast and lethal protector of his friends, and a good captain to his crewmen. Moreover, he is also a devoted Hindu and devotee of the Great Goddess Kali Ma. All in all, I came away from the film feeling that at last there has been a heroic depiction of an Asian man in Hollywood. He was not depicted as a victim, a coward or a terrorist, but as a complete hero, and I for one will be wanting to see him again on screen."

Often considered a pirate by those who have heard of his attacks on Imperialist British ships, Nemo is in fact a freedom fighter, dedicated to bringing down the British Empire and pushing them out of his native country, India. To this end, he has assembled not only his amazing array of weapons and inventions, but also a small army who serve as his renegade security force and ship's crew. Nemo is the technological heart of the Extraordinary Gentlemen. Nemo is driven by his quest for freedom - his interest in the League is practical. If his mission is successful, he hopes that he will be able to move Britain to loosen their oppressive shackles from his people. We wanted to introduce Hindu elements to establish a certain symbolism and spirituality to his enigmatic character. Nemo is a highly principled man, reflected in the vessel¡¦s orderly, harmonic appearance.

(source: Captain Nemo a Hero in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - HPI and rottentomatoes.com).

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What is Indian Secularism ?

"The Indian press, like most of its Third World counterparts, puts a premium on all that is modern and condemns as degenerate all that is traditional...In order to put the stamp of legitimacy on modernization, we have to believe that the traditional civilization was inhuman."  

"Instilling guilt about the "evils of Hindu society" is indeed a favorite weapon of the secularist elite."

 - Professor Ashish Nandy is a political psychologist, sociologist and director of Delhi's Center for the Study of Developing Societies.

***

1. There is no God but Mahatma Gandhi, and Pandit Nehru is his Prophet.

2. Secularism is the greatest good, to which all other goods are subordinate.

3. Marxists, mullahs, and missionaries are the clergy of Secularism.

4. Those who are not secular are communal. To question Secularism is to be a Hindu fundamentalist.

5. Hinduism is the opiate of the Indian masses.

6. Jihads and crusades against Hindus are secular. To convert Hindus is a secular right. Winning converts back into Hinduism is communalism.

7. Falsification of history and negationism are necessary for the sake of Secularism. Children should be indoctrinated in Secularism from an early age.

8. Hinduism is the construct and preserve of invading Aryan barbarians and their descendants. The autochthons are not Hindus. However, when any of the autochthons assault Christians or Muslims (who, by definition, are Secularists), they are to be termed Hindus.

9. Hindu beliefs are myths. Christian and Muslim beliefs are religion.

10. Only Hindus are communal; others fight for their human, secular and minority rights.

11. Hindus have no human rights; others have both human rights and special privileges.

12. Secularists cannot be Hindu. They can call themselves of "Hindu descent", or "good Muslims", or "good Christians", or "good humans", but never, never "good Hindus".

13. Christian and Muslim acts of assertion are Secularism. Hindu acts of assertion are fanaticism. Hindus who do not say all religions are equal, or are equally good, or who do not subscribe to sarvadharma samabhava are Hindu Nazis.

14. Hindu lives are cheap. According to the Sharia, they are worth 1/16 the life of a Muslim. According to Secularism, they are worth-less.

15. NGOs and other organizations that do not cater to Muslim or Christian relief needs are fascist. To cater to their needs preferentially is Secularism.

16. India will be a fully secular state only when all Hindus are converted to Secularism.
 

17. Being the majority community, Hindus do not qualify for victimhood even in case of unprovoked attacks.

18. By virtue of the Secular decree, Hindus are designated to be non-entities in their own land.

19. A community's clout and muscle power is inversely proportional to its number count. 

As Arun Shourie has rightly put it, "Secularism is nothing but branding other people as Communal"! He once told at Hyderabad at a meeting organised by Pragnya Bharathi, that in Europe Secularism is used by State as a protection from CHURCH , but in India it is used as umbrella . These secularists know how to rationalise almost everything right from terrorism to Anti-National Activities .

(source: What is Indian Secularism ? - South Asia Analysis Group).

India's "Succular" (sic) thinkers, writers, artistes and politicians
Abuse of the word Hindu

So, one of our new secular ministers tells us that the Sindhu Darshan festival, started by the last government to celebrate the river India gets her name from, will be made less communal. Excuse me? 

The word Hindu is being used as a term of abuse. Hindu fanatic, Hindu fundamentalism, Hindu nationalist, Hindutva. Mostly, that is how the word Hindu gets used and nearly always pejoratively.

It bothers me that I went to school and college in this country without any idea of the enormous contribution of Hindu civilisation to the history of the world. It bothers me that even today our children, whether they go to state schools or expensive private ones, come out without any knowledge of their own culture or civilisation. 

You cannot be proud of a heritage you know nothing about, and in the name of secularism, we have spent 50 years in total denial of the Hindu roots of this civilisation. We have done nothing to change a colonial system of mass education founded on the principle that Indian civilisation had nothing to offer. For me, evidence of our contempt for our culture and civilisation manifests itself in the fact that there is not a single Indian city where you will find a major bookshop that sells books in Indian languages. Is this not evidence of a country that continues to be colonised to the core? Our contempt for who we are gets picked up these days by the Western press, which routinely uses the word Hindu in a pejorative sense.

I believe that the Indic religions have made much less trouble for the world than the Semitic ones and that Hindu civilisation is something I am very proud of. If that is evidence of my being ‘‘communal’’, then, my inner voice tells me, so be it.

(source: This inner voice too needs hearing - By Tavleen Singh - indianexpress.com).

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Pandharpur – Homage to a Dutiful son

P
andharpur, a town in Maharashtra on the west coast of India, is a famous pilgrimage centre. Thousands of people from far and near visit Pandharpur round the year for a bath in the Chandrabhaga river and darshan of Vithal, the presiding deity. For several hundred years, the saint-poets of Maharashtra have sung in praise of Vithal. The compositions of Sant Gyaneshwar, Sant Eknath, Sant Namdev, Sant Tukaram and the poetess Mukta Bai, though written hundreds of years ago, are current even now. These compositions guide one to the path of piety, truthfulness, devotion and dedication.

 

Pandharpur is famous for the image of Vithal in the temple: Vithal has been standing ever since on the brick, with his arms akimbo, waiting for Pundlik to find time for Him!

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Pandharpur is famous for the image of Vithal in the temple. As the legend has it, Pundlik, an obedient and dutiful son, lived in Pandharpur ages ago. For him the sole purpose of life was attending to his aged parents. Nothing else mattered. It is said that Lord Vishnu was so impressed by his devotion to his parents that he decided to express his appreciation in person. He, therefore, came to Pandharpur and announced himself. But Pundlik had no time for Him because he was busy attending to his parents. He threw a brick and asked Lord Vishnu, who had appeared in a human form as Vithal, to stand on it and wait. So, Vithal has been standing ever since on the brick, with his arms akimbo, waiting for Pundlik to find time for Him!

Both the dutiful son and the God, who has been waiting patiently for several millennia for the day when the son will find time for Him have been the subjects of devotional poetry in Maharashtra for hundreds of years. The compositions, in the language of the common man, are sung by one and all - be it a farmer or a housewife. 

The emphasis of all the saint-poets has been the unity of mankind and the equality of all men and women. No wonder then that they are popular among all classes. 

The educated read Gyaneshwari, the treatise of the Bhagwad Gita by Sant Gyaneshwar, while the unlettered recite the compositions of Sant Tukaram and women sing the compositions of poetess Mukta Bai. For the people, Vithal is an object of veneration. They come to the place as often as they can, particularly during the monsoons when the gods are believed to descend here for rest. Though all means of transport are utilised for visiting the shrine, the most common way of making the pilgrimage is on foot. 

From the countryside the pilgrims or warkaris as they are called, form groups known as dindis and head for Pandharpur, carrying flags and festoons and singing devotional songs. The pilgrims come from all classes of society. The rich and the poor, the educated and the unlettered all go there in search of inner peace. Not only that, devotion to Vithal also transcends the barriers of faith as people belonging to other religions are also found among the dindis.

(source: Pandharpur – Homage to a Dutiful son - By K G Joglekar).

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30 BC, Egyptian Diwali? - By Arvind Joshi

Diwali is one of the most popular festivals in India and is celebrated with much eagerness. Yet, like most festivals the world over, even Diwali has its distant cousin --- a festival of lights celebrated in Egypt as long back as 30 BC! 

The Egyptian festival worshipped the goddess Isis. She was often shown having horns of a cow on her head, sometimes even as a woman with the head of a cow. The worship of Isis also similar to our own Laxmi Puja during Diwali. One of the main features of the festival was the nocturnal illumination. People lit rows of oil-lamps outside of their houses, and the lamps burnt all night long. Lighting lamps throughout the night is a ritual that gives our festival its name 'Diwali' from deep (lamp) and awali (rows).

The exact date of the Egyptian festival is described in the same book as 'the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th of November', again, almost the same time as our own celebrations.In India, the earthen lamps are lit to illumine the path of Goddess Laxmi and welcome her into one's house. In Egypt, too, lamps are lit to welcome the ghost of their ancestors. It is likely that people who lived so far from our own India, in a different age and time, moved by similar sentiments, sensing a subtle change in the smell of the air, the change of seasons, wove a story -albeit about different gods- but celebrated like our very own festival of lights! 

(source: 30 BC, Egyptian Diwali? - By Arvind Joshi  - For more refer to chapter India and Egypt).

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Naga rebels use conversion for control

It is not in jest that people in Arunachal Pradesh say that Naga insurgency is a bigger threat to them than China. 

But what he said in public was only the tip of the iceberg. State district and police officials reveal that these two districts are more or less under the control of Naga insurgents, especially the NSCN (Isaac-Muivah). ‘‘Whatever you may hear in Delhi about the positive trend of the Centre’s talks with the NSCN (I-M), their goal of a Greater Nagaland is on course. Tirap and Changlang — bordering both Nagaland and Myanmar — are almost under the control of insurgents,’’ said an official, a fact also confirmed by Home Ministry sources. 

One of the ways, by which the NSCN (I-M) is trying to control the administration of the two districts, is through conversion to Christianity. ‘‘The demographic profile of the state, especially of the two districts, has changed over the past decade. From 2,000 in 1991, the number of Christians in the state is almost 2,00,000 now,’’ said a state government official.

And according to the general secretary of Rangfraa Faith Promotion Society in Changlang, Latsam Khimhun, most of these conversions were forcible. Rangfraa is a Hindu tribal who alleges that NSCN (I-M) rebels raided Tirap and Changlang, razed Rangfraa temples, and forced the residents to adopt Christianity.

Quoting an instance, Khimhun said, some NSCN (I-M) members came to Thanyang and Kangkho villages in Changlang on May 13, and again on May 15, asking the people to convert. ‘‘When they refused, the insurgents burnt down the temples,’’ Khimhun said. IG P.N. Aggarwal said half-dozen missionaries were arrested about five months ago when some people reported that they were being pressurized to convert. ‘‘They (the missionaries) were in jail for a month before they got bail,’’ he said.

(source: Naga rebels use conversion for control - indianexpress.com). For more refer to chapter on Caste System and Conversion and Indians Against Christian Aggression. Sign the petition - UN & Religious Proselytization - petitiononline.com). Refer to VINDICATED BY TIME: The Niyogi Committee Report  On Christian Missionary Activities - Christianity Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee 1956 and The Sunshine of Secularism.

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Americans losing jobs to Indians, Chinese

Increased competition from India, China and Mexico are among reasons for job loss in the United States, according to an international development council survey.

"The shift of manufacturing and service jobs offshore and increased global competition from countries, especially China, India and Mexico, are two of the biggest factors having a negative impact on job growth in US cities and states," an advanced release of the survey stated in Washington.

The survey, scheduled to be released to the media on Wednesday, was conducted among 900 economic development officials in all 50 states. Another concern of these officials, directly responsible for bringing jobs to cities and states, is "the pace of the US national economic recovery." contradicting President Bush, a majority of the survey respondents said that the federal tax stimulus has had "little or no impact on creating new jobs in their communities”.

(source: Americans losing jobs to Indians, Chinese - indianexpress.com). For more refer to Wrong Portrayal of Indian-Americans/India By Lou Dobbs - CNN).

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Readers Digest apologizes for distorted Indian map

Jabalpur: Readers Digest (RD) has tendered unconditional apology to the Madhya Pradesh High Court for publishing a distorted map of India in its January 2002 issue.
The magazine, in its January 2002 issue, had published an Indian map showing Jammu and Kashmir outside the geographical borders of the country.

Justice A K Mishra yesterday (Dec 25, 2003) disposed off the petition filed by N S Thakur, who prayed for action against the respondents - magazine editor Ashok Mahadevan and Henry Hurt, the writer of the article - for publishing the distorted map.

The petitioner claimed that he along with thousands of Indians were hurt by the aforesaid publication having an "effect on the integrity of the nation and encouraging subversive activities in the country".

"The map be treated at par with Indian national flag, National Anthem and Constitution of India and be made part of the act of the Prevention of Insults to National Honours Act 1971," he said.

Mahadevan and Hurt submitted an unconditional apology before the court. Justice Mishra observed that the editor and the writer ought to know that publication of incorrect map is a punishable offence in India.

The magazine published the correct map in its November 2003 issue. 
"The apology and correct map of India ought to have been published by respondents during the pendency of the petition before November 2003, which would have saved them from criminal prosecution," the judge observed.

(source: Readers Digest apologises for distorted Indian map - indiainfo.com).

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Did You Know?

Saladin's sword
The original Damascus steel-the world's first high-carbon steel-was a product of India

Saladin the Saracen had a steely edge over Richard the Lion-hearted. Sir Walter Scott, in his romance The Talisman, describes a meeting of the two mediaeval monarchs who crossed swords in the Crusades.

After examining an iron bar that Richard cut in two with his sword, Saladin took a silk cushion from the floor and placed it upright on one end. "Can thy weapon, my brother, sever that cushion?" he said to King Richard. "No, surely," replied the King, "no sword on earth, were it the Excalibur of King Arthur, can cut that which poses no steady resistance to the blow."

"Mark, then," said Saladin and unsheathed his scimitar, a curved and narrow blade of a dull blue colour, marked with ten millions of meandering lines and drew it across the cushion, applying the edge so dexterously that the cushion seemed rather to fall asunder than to be divided by violence. Scott mentions that the sabres and poniards of the Ayyubid troops were of Damascene steel.

The original Damascus steel-the world's first high-carbon steel-was a product of India known as wootz. Wootz is the English for ukku in Kannada and Telugu, meaning steel. Indian steel was used for making swords and armour in Persia and Arabia in ancient times. Ktesias at the court of Persia (5th c BC) mentions two swords made of Indian steel which the Persian king presented him. The pre-Islamic Arab word for sword is 'muhannad' meaning from Hind.

Wootz was produced by carburising chips of wrought iron in a closed crucible process. "Wrought iron, wood and carbonaceous matter was placed in a crucible and heated in a current of hot air till the iron became red hot and plastic. It was then allowed to cool very slowly (about 24 hours) until it absorbed a fixed amount of carbon, generally 1.2 to 1.8 per cent," said eminent metallurgist Prof. T.R. Anantharaman, who taught at Banares Hindu University, Varanasi. "When forged into a blade, the carbides in the steel formed a visible pattern on the surface." To the sixth century Arab poet Aus b. Hajr the pattern appeared described 'as if it were the trail of small black ants that had trekked over the steel while it was still soft'.

In the early 1800s, Europeans tried their hand at reproducing wootz on an industrial scale. Michael Faraday, the great experimenter and son of a blacksmith, tried to duplicate the steel by alloying iron with a variety of metals but failed. Some scientists were successful in forging wootz but they still were not able to reproduce its characteristics, like the watery mark. "Scientists believe that some other micro-addition went into it," said Anantharaman. "That is why the separation of carbide takes place so beautifully and geometrically."

Francis Buchanan and other European travellers have observed the manufacture of steel by crucible process at several places in Mysore, Malabar and Golconda from the 17th century onwards. The furnace sketched by Buchanan shows that crucibles were packed in rows of 15 inside a pit filled with ash. A wall separated the bellows from the furnace, with only the snout of the bellows sticking out through the wall. Each crucible could contain up to 14 ounces of iron, along with stems and leaves.

The crucible process could have originated in south India and the finest steel was from the land of Cheras, said K. Rajan, associate professor of archaeology at Tamil University, Thanjavur, who explored a 1st century AD trade centre at Kodumanal near Coimbatore. Rajan's excavations revealed an industrial economy at Kodumanal.

Pillar of strength The rustless wonder called the Iron Pillar near the Qutb Minar at Mehrauli in Delhi did not attract the attention of scientists till the second quarter of the 19th century. The inscription refers to a ruler named Chandra, who had conquered the Vangas and Vahlikas, and the breeze of whose valour still perfumed the southern ocean. "The king who answers the description is none but Samudragupta, the real founder of the Gupta empire," said Prof. T.R. Anantharaman, who has authored The Rustless Wonder

Zinc metallurgy travelled from India to China and from there to Europe. As late as 1735, professional chemists in Europe believed that zinc could not be reduced to metal except in the presence of copper. The alchemical texts of the mediaeval period show that the tradition was live in India. In 1738, William Champion established the Bristol process to produce metallic zinc in commercial quantities and got a patent for it. Interestingly, the mediaeval alchemical text Rasaratnasamucchaya describes the same process, down to adding 1.5 per cent common salt to the ore.

(source:  Saladin's sword - By The Week - June 24, 2001). http://netinfo.hypermart.net/telingsteel.htm. For more refer to chapter Hindu Culture1).

Refer to Delhi Iron Pillar - By Prof. R. Balasubramaniam  - Professor Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engng Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur 208016.  Contributed to this site by Prof. R. Balasubramaniam. URL  : http://home.iitk.ac.in/~bala 

As early as the 17th century Europe knew of India's ability to make crucible steel from reports brought back by several travellers who had observed the process at several places in southern India. Several attempts were made to import the process, but failed because the exact technique remained a mystery. Studies of wootz were made in an attempt to understand its secrets, including a major effort by the famous scientist,Michael Faraday son of a blacksmith. (source: http://en2.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucible_steel).

 

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Updated - October 28, 2008