Unlike what some historians wrote, what Nanak put forth was actually continuity
and an adaptation to the challenges of expansionist monotheism
A Sikh painting of Nanak with Vaishnav tilak, mala and rudraksh. Painting(c.1850
CE) shows Shri Guru Nanak DevJi in conversation with yogis at Achal Batala.
historians of India have always had a problem with Sikhism. Sikhism stands out
as an egalitarian movement, rooted in Indic spirituality and chronicles and
meticulously portrays the religious persecution suffered by Indian people.
with their Marxist-M.N.Roy axiom say that monotheism is superior to Indic
spirituality and have always tried to minimize as much as possible the
importance of Sikhism in the Indian national movement. So, they categorize Guru
Nanak as a monotheist under Islamic influence and the Sikh movement as a
subaltern movement that can be explained best through leftist-Marxist equation.
Romila Thapar in her A history of India, makes
Guru Nanak almost a Sufi apostate:
Nanak came of a
rural background, being the son of a village accountant. He was educated through
the generosity of a Muslim friend, and later was employed as a store keeper in
the Afghan administration. In spite of having a wife and children, he left them
and joined the Sufis. But after a while he left the Sufis and travelled
throughout the sub-continent; he is also believed to have visited Mecca.
Finally, he rejoined his family and settled in a village in Punjab, where he
preached, gathered his disciples, and eventually died.
makes Guru Nanak a person totally influenced by almost nothing else but Islam.
She states further that Nanak ‘described God without references to either
Hindu or Muslim conceptions.’
her, Nanak derived his concept of God ‘from the two existing religious forces.’
Far from being
a simple synthesis of or equidistant from, both Islam and Hinduism as alleged by
establishment historians, Guru Nanak represented a spiritual and civilizational
engagement of Hindustan with the consequences of an expansionist religion. This
simultaneously involved, stopping proselytization, having a dialogue with those
converted and building social institutions to meet the challenging times. A
divine-intoxicated poet-visionary, Nanak viewed the Existence and history from
that state of consciousness and expressed it through the traditional imagery of
Indic religion and mythological framework.
An encounter with the Invader
Guru Nanak lived in a province that was a battle field of the invaders.
He had been the contemporary of five Islamist monarchs in India - Bahlul Lodi
(1469-89), Sikandar Lodi (1489-1517), Ibrahim Lodi (1517-1526), Babur
(1526-1530) and Humayun (1530-1539), the last two being Mughals. Though he named
and criticized Babur, he found the rulers, Lodis or Mughals, as unrighteous and
tyrannical. In the Lodi Sultanate, Hindus had to pay pilgrimage tax and Nanak
refers to this customary tax on deities and temples:
And the Gods and temples have been taxed: such is the current way!
The ablution pot, the prayer, the prayer-mat, the call to prayer, have all
assumed the Muslim garb.
He saw the cruelties of the alien rulers first hand and lamented the imposition
of their way of life on the natives of India. He lamented the fall of India. For
that he used in his poetry, the concept of ‘Kali Yug’ or times of
degeneration and depravity:
The Kali age is the knife; the kings are butchers,
And justice has taken wings
The darkness of falsehood is abroad,
And one knows not where arises the moon of Truth.
The subjects are blind and submissive.
The encounter which Guru Nanak had with Babur, the invading Mughal, has been
recorded in crisp verses now known as Babur Vani. Guru Nanak was
returning to Punjab from Baghdad and had observed the recruitment undertaken by
Babur for his invasion of India. At Sayyidour, a place (now in Pakistan)
north-west of Lahore, he witnessed the massacre of the local population, mostly
Hindus, by the invader. He called the army of Babur, 'a bridal procession of
sin': 'Modesty and Religion have vanished; falsehood marcheth, O Lalo'
he cried. While Guru Nanak never hesitated to point out the specific religious
persecution Hindus underwent, he also sang the plight of both Hindu and Muslim
women, who did not escape the fury of Babur’s forces.
As against such atrocities of the Turks and Mughal rules, Sikh religion put as
the ideal the rule of King Janak. The Adi Granth upholds Janak as the ideal
ruler - one who is immersed in the true knowledge - a Vedantic king. Sikh Gurus
were compared to Janak. There are Sikh traditions (like the Miharvan) where Guru
Nanak is considered as Janak who had come to earth to establish righteousness.
Guru Nanak’s Concept of God: Indic engagement with expansionist monotheism
When asked about the origin of the universe, Guru Nanak replied:
In the beginning there was utter darkness and chaos upon chaos
The readers can see in it the echo of the famous so-called creation hymn of Rig
There was neither earth nor heavens
Nay nothing but the indescribable Divine Will
Neither was there day nor night; neither sun, nor moon
Only the Divine reflecting Himself in the Void;
There was neither wind; nor water; nor speech; nor the resources of creation;
Neither creation; nor destruction; neither coming nor going;
No seas; no rivers; no continents; no hells; no paradises;
Neither Brahma; Nor Shiva nor Vishnu; but only my Divine
No rituals; No penances; nor the sacred scriptures; nor incantations; nor the
No caste, nor pride; neither life nor death;
He shaped the universe - out of the un-manifested, immovable ground of His
He made Himself manifest to us and within us,
He created the Existence we see and believe
The cardinal point to Nanak’s world vision is his rejection of the existence of
evil. Nanak reveals in his 'dawn hymns' that it is the Divine Himself who mixed
desire, duality and delusion.
Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh,
in her study of Khalsa, points out that the Islamic concept of 'oneness' which
penetrated India was in conflict with the 'oneness' experience of Guru Nanak:
But the Western idea of oneness could not accept the polyphonic imagination of
Hindus, Buddhists or Jains.
Guru Nanak vehemently denounced the exclusivity of the Muslim conquerors.
When Allah was projected as the only way to read the Divine, or the Qu’ran as
the only sacred text, or the mosque the only sacred space, he reacted strongly.
In a feminist voice Guru Nanak harshly rejects those who force their way on
others, those who reduce the richness and variety of routes by imposing their
own narrow path. His protest became a manifesto, a call.
There is an astonishing continuity of geo-cultural space and Vedic times in the
religious imagery and terms of Guru Nanak.
in his 'Hymns
of Guru Nanak'
The Sanskrit Brahman became Nanak’s Brahma and he invested Brahma with a dual
role. Before Brahma created the cosmos, He was parabrahma (supreme Brahma) in a
state of deep trance and was above all qualities: nirguna. Brahma came out of
His trance and created the world. Although He still remained nirankar (without
form), He now became saguna - repository of all qualities. ...God is like one
large lake in which blossom many varieties of water lilies. Nanak’s God pervades
His cosmos. ... Despite his incomprehensibility, Nanak’s God is a good, warm and
friendly God. ... Call him as you like; Allah, Rab, Rahim, Malik like the
Muslims; or Rama, Govinda, Murari, Hari as does the Hindus; Nanak however called
Him Aumkar. Taken from the Upanishads, the mystic syllable Aum is said to
contain all the consonants in the range of human voice and hence, ‘all speech’
and thus becomes the perfect word to represent God. ‘As all parts of a leaf are
held together by a central rod’, says the Chandogya Upanishad, ‘so all speech is
held together by Aum.’ Nanak describes Aumkar as the ‘Creator of Brahma,
Consciousness, time and speech and the Vedas; the emancipator and the essence of
the three worlds.’
As one can see, despite the deficient term ‘monotheism’ used to define the
concept of God in Nanak’s vision, (that Kushwant Singh also uses) what Nanak put
forth has continuity with the Upanishadic vision, adapting itself to the
challenge of the expansionist monotheism of Islam. The relation between
creator-deity and Aum in Guru Nanak in a subtle way reflects the popular south
Indian mythological tale of Skanda-Muruga where Murugan imprisons Brahma the
creator, when the creator God forgets that it is Aum - the sound symbol of
consciousness that is the basis of all existence. Interestingly, during the
freedom struggle, Tamil poet Bharathi sang on Guru Gobind Singh to rouse Tamil
people against the British rule.
The subsequent struggles between Mughals and the Sikhs are grounded in this
basic clash of Indic spirituality and organized expansionist religions.
It is exactly this conflict that some historians try to negate through devious
means. So when the class XI history textbook prepared by historian Satish
Chandra discusses the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur, it makes a point to
include 'the official Mughal version' of the execution which blamed the Guru for
extortion of money. Then the Marxist historian faithfully added what he called
the 'Sikh tradition'. And guess what the 'Sikh tradition' had to say about the
martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur: "According to Sikh tradition, the execution
was due to the intrigues of some members of the family who disputed his
succession and by others who had joined them."
The intentional belittling and distortion of Sikh tradition by
some historians is the result of an inherent inability in the establishment
historiography to understand the social dynamics of Indic spirituality.
The Nanak Our ‘Establishment’ Historians Don’t Want You To Know About -
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A Mahishasuramardini from Iran
rhyton has been discovered at Deylaman, Northern Iran.The inscription as well as
leading art historians identify the artefact as representing “Durga
it gives new insights into high quality production of silver icons. Its
provenance is taken to be in Eastern Afghanistan. It was looted during the Arab
Muslim raids on shahi and Zunbil kingdoms of Southern eastern Afghanistan in the
latter half of seventh century.
Its provenance beyond the Hindu Kush is not surprising as archaeology attests
to the presence of Durga Icons and worship in pre Islamic Afghanistan. Arabs
referred to the land beyond river Helmand in western Afghanistan as “Al-hind”.
Arab Chronicles refer to the ruler of Helmand as “the king of Al-Hind, who bore
the title Zunbil”.
Many other DurgaMahishamardini figurines(of
primarily marble) dating from c.400CE to c.800CE have been discovered from
South-Eastern Afghanistan. Kabul
valley was strongly Hindu in religion during the Pre Islamic age. In the city of
Kapisa alone, Xuanzang(c.630) talks about 10 Brahmanical temples and around a
Xuanzang(c.630) relates that Kabul Shahis made donations of 18 foot silver
images of buddha.
The source of Shahi silver was the mines of panjshir.
Our silver rhyton bears an imprint of “Hadda classicism” collated with a “Gupta
The crescent motive (chandrabindu/aad chand) on forehead is reminiscent of
shaivite signs found elsewhere. Our silver rhyton could be compared to a
figurine discovered under Khona Masjid in Surkh kotal. The
figurine is dated to early Post-Kushana period and provides an iconographical
A Mahishasuramardini from Iran
remarkable that in the Surkh Kotal inscription, Kushan emperor Kanishka
explicitly identified Durga(Uma) with their native goddess Nana.
Kanishka’s worship and identification of Durga with Nana is apparent in these
lines of the inscription.
and fusion lasted well into our times. The Goddess referred to as “Hingla
devi” by Indic speakers is referred to as “bibi
Nani(Nana)” by Iranic speakers of Balochistan and Afghanistan.
Thus, it seems that kushans played a prominent role in sprouting up the trade
routes, facilitating cultural as well as material contacts and dispersing the
worship of Indic gods into the heartlands of Afghanistan.
It is striking
that these minor kingdoms of Shahis and zunbils were able to provide stiff
resistance to invading Islamic armies of saffarids and Arabs. It took the
Islamic armies just 20 years to conquer all of Iran. By contrast, these kingdoms
of Afghanistan resisted Islamic onslaught until Ghazni’s father Subutegin
wrested Laghman(Afghanistan) from Shahi ruler Jayapala during c.990 CE. Not only
that the Hindu Kabul Shahis withstood onslaughts by mighty Arab empire(which
extended from Spain to Talas in china) for over three centuries , the zunbils
managed to raid westwards deep into Arab territory of Nimruz
It has been argued by historians that the Hindu kingdoms of Kabul valley offered
the best resistance to Islamic kingdom because these mountain tribes and
militant chieftains were harder to be conquered in comparison to the dehqani
farmers of Iran
Whatever the reason, it is certain that Kabul Shahis by withstanding mighty Arab
and Turkish onslaughts at the gateways of Al-Hind delayed an Islamic conquest of
mainland India for a few centuries.
A Mahishasuramardini from Iran -
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Connection: Deep parallels between Hindu and Australian aboriginal spirituality
More Than Just Genes: The Strikingly Deep Australian-Indic
Connection – by
The Indian connection of the Aborigines of Australia is a way more profound than
you ever thought.
Aravindan Neelakandan lays it bare.
back a discovery was made by geneticists that there was substantial gene flow
from India to Australia just 4000 years ago and it made a change in the
Aborigine life that was reflected in the archeological records. The 'substantial
gene flow between the Indian populations and Australia' happened 4230 years
ago and this resulted in changes in 'tool technology, food processing and
appearance of dingo' according to the authors of the paper. The second wave
migration from India happened 141 generations ago says the paper. Unlike the
earlier migration from Africa which most probably happened along Indian coast
but in what is called the deep time, this happened during the historical times,
which was around 2220 BCE from India.
So this has
interesting possibilities in charting a new history of India and Australia and
it also has ramifications with respect to the way Hindus in Australia, as well
as Indian government, relate themselves to the aborigines. Australian aborigines
are today a lost tribe of India. In a way what has been discovered is a
reaffirmation of a strong intuition felt by many Hindus.
colonial anthropologists and early explorers might have posited some superficial
relations between the Australian aborigines and ancient Indians.
mainly looked for linguistic and ethnic similarities. By 1901, the Australian
government had brought to end even such studies as it wanted to restrict any
narrative that may allow a large scale Asian migration into Australia.
The first one
to suggest forcibly the connection in the spiritual realm was Sri
Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi, the Sankaracharya of Kanchi. He had asked his
devotee, dancer-scholar Dr. Padma Subramaniam to search for the deep connections
between Indians and Australian aborigines in the realms of culture and
spirituality. In 1979, Dr. Padma Subramaniam had to go to Australia for
attending the Indian Ocean Arts Festivals in Perth. When she went to seek the
blessing of her Guru, Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi, he asked her to visit
‘the Siva tribe’ who adorn themselves with white bands similar to Saivaites.
Subrahmanyam writes that though she ‘never anticipated it’, she ‘did come across
this tribe called Gagudja from the Balgo hills.’ They not only fitted the
description given by her Guru, but she discovered that ‘they also had a language
not far removed from Tamil.’ She was able to note
‘about 40 Tamil words in the language of this tribe.’
Gundora, Elder leader of the northern traditional Aborigines and his companions
began to hum a ritual song cycle, 'an animated Padma and her Carnatic musicians
joined Gundora on the floor'. Later she noted that their singing seemed to
resemble a South Indian classical raga (Hamsanandi).
she spoke about this in public and it made a sensational news in Australia she
was rebuked by an Australian anthropologist Prof. Berhnt which she observed was
‘perhaps due to their white Australian policy’. But the connection would not
anthology on Hindu view of nature and ecology published by
Prof. Lance Nelson, (‘Purifying the Earthly Body of God: Religion
and Ecology in Hindu India’, 1998), the late Indologist Dr. David Kinsley wrote
extensively about the deeper parallels between Hindu traditions and Australian
aboriginal spirituality. He proposed 'a model for understanding aspects of
pilgrimage in Hindu India based on the phenomenon of the 'walkabout' in
Austalian Aboriginal religion.' He explained:
Australian traditions, Hinduism knows a Dreamtime - earlier yugas, periods when
divine or heroic figures roamed the land and marked it in special ways, lending
the geography its characteristic features.
Like the Austalian traditions,
most Hindu pilgrimage sites (tirthas, pithas) have stories connected with them (sthala-puranans),
which pilgrims learn and sometimes recite while on pilgrimage. As in the
Australian traditions, becoming spiritually awakened or mature in Hinduism may
require learning the story of the land. Like Australian Aboriginal spirituality,
Hindu spirituality is strongly geographical and involved learning how to read
Physicist Fred Alan Wolf studied the
spiritual cosmology of what the Australian aborigines call the ‘dreamtime’ in
his work on dreams. He was also saw the ‘Hindu concept of Maya’ related to
developing a cosmology based on dream.
Authors Joyce Westrip, an India-born-Australian and
Peggy Holroyde who studied Hindu-Buddhist philosophy under
Dr.S.Radhakrishnan, studied what they called
‘surprising history of connections between India and Australia’. They too
discovered affinities not just linguistic and ethnical but spiritual and
One such imagery that struck them forcefully was 'the similar use in allegory
and myth of the serpent, one of the prime protective images of Hindu belief.'
(p.14, Colonial Cousins, 2010). They also found a spiritual kinship between the
‘rainbow serpent’ that figures so prominently in the Aboriginal spiritual art
and the protective hood of Anantha – the thousand headed serpent raised above
"Many Indians would be very sympathetic to the way Aborigines treasure
their own knowledge of truths as they see them through oral traditions," they
write pointing out that the ‘Das Avatar’ concept of Vishnu and some of the
spiritual drawings that the Australian Aborigine’s draw even to this day are
‘virtually interchangeable’ (p.17).
that the Australian aborigines have 'spiritual lives as legitimate as India's
tribal people and as sophisticated in cosmic concepts as the Hindu views- but
without a written literature to study and dissect'. (p.96)
In 1979 Dr.
Padma Subrahmanyam proposed that she travelled to all the aboriginal communities
in Australia and interact with them, not like a Western anthropologist studying
the subjects, but as a fellow artist and spiritual seeker, seeking their own
culture and spiritual traditions.
Such a study was not comprehended by the ‘tunnel vision’ of Western scholarship.
Perhaps now time has come to take up the real vision of Sri Chandrasekarendra
Saraswathi – studying with mutual respect the various human cultures to
understand and celebrate the underlying spiritual oneness of all humanity.
More Than Just Genes: The Strikingly Deep Australian-Indic Connection – by
Top of Page
scholars inability to understand Goddesses
Witnessing The Goddesses In Yankee Land
When Christianity tried to appropriate the Goddess through
the Marian cult, they made the theological downgrading of the Goddess from Her
being the Creatrix and Matrix of all existence to an interceding saint to the
Goddess reduced to Mary standing on the crescent is a pre-Christian Pagan
imagery they could not destroy. Even as the patriarchal religion tries to pit
the obedience of Mary as a model for women against the rebellious questioning
nature of Eve, deep down somewhere Mary should be making the institutional
authorities nervous, and more so Mary Magdalene.
A week later, I am at New York. People flock to see the Statue of Liberty. She
is only a ‘statue’, not a Goddess. She cannot be called Goddess. She can never
be a She with the capital ‘S’. I walk away into another building which attracts
not much visitors – the Native American Museum. Inside I see Goddess figurines
obsessively named ‘Female cult objects’ or ‘Female figurines’. Except where it
becomes absolutely necessary, everywhere else they avoid using the term Goddess.
I stand before an exhibit classified 'Female figurines'. They are dated as 3,500
BCE, come from the native cultures of Ecuador and are the 'oldest known pottery
in the Western hemisphere' and 'the oldest figurative objects in Americas as
well'. Carefully avoiding the word Goddess or even ‘sacred’, the adjoining
explanation says that the ‘figurines’ “suggest an association with agricultural
rituals and calling for rain”. The description continues, “Many are female,
perhaps representing fertility, production or agricultural development.” But no
Valvidia female figurines, Ecuador, 3,500 BCE, National Museum of the American
Indian, New York
I recall the passage from Rebirth
of the Goddess by
Dr Carol P Christ, Yale University scholar and an authority on the Goddess
traditions in the West. She points to such biases against the Goddess tradition,
which is very much part of the supposedly secular Western academia.
...it is hard for scholars to shake the mindset that has
encouraged all of us to think of Goddesses in relation to terms such as
idolatry, fertility fetish, nature religion, orgiastic cult, blood thirsty and
ritual prostitution. These terms and others like them are used to depict Goddess
religion in scholarly volumes. All of these prejudices can be countered.
Scholars’ inability to understand the Goddesses is reinforced by
a deep and unquestioned assumption that divinity represents rationality, order
and transcendence, as opposed to the alleged irrationality and chaos of the
finite changeable world of nature and body. ... Scholars have been unable to see
naked female images as Goddesses because they have been taught to view the body
and sexuality, especially female sexuality, as being lower than the rationality
that is associated with divinity and “man’s” “higher” nature. Naked female
images must therefore be
“fertility fetishes” or “sexual objects”
or if they are called Goddesses, they must be understood to
reflect a “lower” and more physical stage in the “evolution” of religious
Here is a proof for what Dr Christ has written. No
wonder Hindus have such a tough time making the California textbook society
understand their point of view. I move along to the next panel. It simply says
‘Pachamama “mother earth and light of the sun”’. I make a mental note of the
small case in ‘mother earth’. It can never be ‘Mother Earth’. And the words
‘light of the sun’. Is it not the light of the sun that makes the Earth the
Six years ago,
reported for the magazine Geo (March, 2010)
the problems the Native American community Guranis faced. For centuries they had
been made bonded labourers in their own land by European colonisers who also
alienated them from their spiritual traditions. Ferry observes:
Pachamama, Mother Earth, is the deity whose help the Guranis most
need as they begin their new lives. But hardly any of them are familiar with
traditional rituals any longer.
I cannot but remember our own Pachai Amman. She is one of the most popular
village Goddesses of South India. If South American Pachamama is associated with
‘light of the sun’, Pachai Amman came to the earth to lift it from darkness and
create harmony. The great non-dualist seer Sri Ramana Maharishi used to stay in
Her temple in Thiruvannamalai.
Pachai Amman is associated with seven Goddesses and seven seers. Interestingly,
the exhibit I see near me is
– also called seven snakes. The
accompanying description reads ‘maize goddess: female spirit of corn and
sustenance, the most revered deity among the farmers of Central Mexico’. As they
have to call Her a Goddess, they call her a ‘maize goddess’. There is
another Goddess dubbed as a ‘fertility goddess’,
and by Her side is a shell used
as a trumpet, which is also pigmented.
Then, I look at a richly carved receptacle-like base. The description knocks the
breath out of me.
This sculpture is carved in the shape of Quetzalcoatl, animal
aspect of the creation god. The bas-relief on the bottom depicts a female
zoomorphic Tlaltecuhtli (lord/lady of the earth).
The divine female as the base and above it stands the male principle? Almost a
Siva Linga? I read on.
In colonial times, the head of the Quetzalcoatl was cut off and
its body drilled to create a base for a Christian cross. The disfigurement
represents – from a Colonial Spanish point of view – the destruction of idolatry
and the dawning of a new Christian age.
Only in colonial times? You do it even now, I mutter to myself. The
disfigurement of our Gods and Goddesses happens to this day. The place of
Spanish Conquistadors has been taken up by academics like Wendy Doniger, Sheldon
Pollock and Michael Witzel of universities in the United States, and the
with a feminine base, National Museum of the American Indian, New York
Then I see it. What is it doing here? Surely that should have come from a temple
in Calcutta. The characteristic curved scimitar with an eye that Kali holds
adorns a panel. Only it is not from India; it is a ceremonial sword used in
rituals by Chiloe islanders in Chile. The curved scimitar, shaped like a bird’s
head with an elevated eye, symbolises a hawk, the description says. I wonder,
what would the Shaman from Chiloe island say if he or she sees the same type of
scimitar in the hands of Kali.
At Harvard University’s anthropological museum, there is a section on Kuna
people. My knowledge of them comes from comic books, where they were the
villainous savages trying to stop the works of brave American explorers and
surveyors who wanted to build the Panama Canal. The good ones in them
collaborated with the whites and got civilised as well as Christianised so that
they all lived happily ever after. The real history is entirely different. They
suffered hardships and were exploited. The panels speak of how the miners
feigned friendship but lied and tricked the natives, who lost their land and
resources and whose culture and spiritual traditions became endangered, and with
it their entire body of knowledge. Even here the panels mostly avoid the term
‘spiritual’. As if these people never had any religious or spiritual tradition
of their own.
The way indigenous culture has evolved and adapted, as in the case of mola,
shows that the Kuna people were neither closed nor xenophobic as my comic book
misinformed me back home. Had the Euro-American interacted with them without
their vested commercial interests and supremacist perceptions, the interaction
could have benefitted the humanity far more.
What strikes one is the pervasive presence of the divine feminine
throughout the native communities of United States and South America. There are
also communities where She is relegated to secondary status. Yet, She is very
much there. She has many names and many traditions and many powers, but the
divine feminine is one of the strong common strands. There is no need to
romanticise Her. She can be practically and positively invoked – for creating
sustainable agricultural communities among the Native American communities or to
fight for their land rights. She can become a powerful emotive icon. Already,
Pachamama is becoming such a divinity around which many South American native
communities rally around.
Now I am in India. I realise the value of things we have taken
for granted, theNavaratri festivities,
the diversity of the Goddesses and village festivals of the Goddess. Once they
existed all across the planet, and today they flourish only in India. Those
communities that have lost their Goddesses, they suffer, and today they are
fighting a bitter battle to recover Her. I think it is time for the Indian
diaspora to network with these communities to serve Her, She who is Mother India
Witnessing The Goddesses In Yankee Land
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American Elections and India
Why I hope Hillary loses - By Rajeev Srinivasan
demonstrably the case that Hillary Clinton would be simply awful for India,
based on her prior actions.
are a few examples of the Clinton family's and friends' attitudes towards India
(the research courtesy Arvind Kumar):
1992, Trade Representative Carla Hills, a Clinton friend, imposed Super 301
sanctions against India.
1992, the US blocked the sales of Russian cryogenic engines to India. This, and
the fake Maldivian spy case and the ruining of Nambi Narayanan, chief engineer,
set India's heavy satellite launch capability back by 19 years.
1993, Bill Clinton as POTUS blocked the sale of a Cray supercomputer to India,
but permitted the same to China.
1993-1994, Bill Clinton refused to appoint a US ambassador to India.
1994, Robin Raphel announced that Kashmir is not a part of India.
1994, Robin Raphel announced the sale of F-16s to Pakistan, in Delhi.
1998, Bill Clinton imposed sanctions against India after the nuclear tests.
Madeleine Albright, never pleasant, excelled herself by calling this 'a felony
against the future.' But the duo extended MFN to China.
2001, the USCIRF was created to harass Hindus and India.
2005, India was advised to give up nukes and join the NPT as a non-weapons
2009, Hillary Clinton proudly released the USCIRF report which unfairly slammed
2009-2012, Hillary Clinton and her cronies, including the American ambassador to
India, ran a crusade against Narendra Modi.
2014, Robin Raphel was accused by the FBI of spying for Pakistan.
2015, Tim Kaine praised Pakistan.
Why I hope Hillary loses - By Rajeev Srinivasan - rediff.com).
Why Is Europe Finding It Difficult To Solve The Refugee Problem?
Ideas have consequences. The wrong but fashionable idea that all
nations desire Western-style democracy was one motivation for the American
invasion of Iraq that, in turn, created ISIS with its untold attendant horrors.
It is also a
correct but wrong idea that all cultures see the world the same way and
that is preventing Europe from finding a solution to the problem of refugees
streaming into it. To interact creatively with another culture requires
understanding of the other. But the West insists on using its categories and
refuses to engage with the migrants on their own terms.
Europe -the West-has pretensions that its culture is in some ways universal
since modern science emerged there and American pop culture holds the entire
world in thrall. In fact it is just one particular window on reality that is
primarily based on a materialistic and consumerist approach to life.
Specifically, the embrace of the post-industrial West is
contingent on the rejection of traditional practices and beliefs and acceptance
of individual freedom that is unfettered by social custom. Those who wish to
destroy the West hate this freedom as well as the West’s values, art, and mores,
although they may love its comforts.
Interaction between cultures without mutual understanding can lead to disaster.
The Aztecs and the Inca
did not have an understanding of the categories of the Spaniards whereas the
Spaniards had a good sense of their enemy.
This asymmetry of knowledge made it possible for
with just a few hundred soldiers to defeat the Aztec Empire in 1521, and twelve
years later Francisco Pizarro with a similarly small group conquered the Inca
Empire. There is no absolute reality that is wholly a product of nature.
A culture is like a lens through which people construct their
understanding. This happens both with the vocabulary of the language of the
culture as well its myths, rituals, manners, and history. If a specific concept
has no word in a particular language then that concept is unlikely to play an
important role in the politics and social customs of that culture.
The arts are a good place to see the deeper influence of the
collective mind of a people. The arts of the Chinese and the Japanese deal with
nature both in painting and poetry and there are important traditions of
landscape painting in both cultures.The Japanese haiku uses the simplest
happenings in nature to communicate deep felt experience and insight as in these
famous haiku (17-syllable poem) by Basho (1644-1694):
an ancient pond / a frog jumps in / the splash of water
now then, let’s go out / to enjoy the snow... until / I slip and fall!
The Indian arts are based on Puranic themes and abstractions
removed from ordinary lived life, and much of Indian poetry is mystical and
religious. When the Turks ruled India, the disenfranchised elite retreated into
Tantra, esoteric philosophy, and epic poetry. On the other hand, the educated
Chinese, who were barred from high government jobs during the Mongol Yuan
dynasty, had literary gatherings in their estates that were commemorated in
natural paintings with the code that the prosperous house will be represented by
a thatched hut.
Language and culture affects how we perceive and create our
world. The simplest example of this is the experience of color. There are
languages in which there are no separate words for green and blue, and the same
word refers to either of the two, based on the context. When shown a set of
several cards that are green with one exception that is blue, viewers are not
able to pick out the one that stands apart.
William Gladstone, who was the prime minister of Great Britain four separate times
in the 19th Century, was also a classicist who wrote a book on Homeric language.
He noted that
poetry hardly ever used the word for blue, using porphyreos, “purple”
or “dark red,” to describe blood, a dark cloud, a wave, and a rainbow, and
oinops (“wine-looking”) when speaking of the sea. Gladstone suggested that the
ancient Greeks used colors mainly in terms of light/dark contrasts, rather than
in terms of hue.
Sanskrit has a similar ambiguity, but between green and yellow-golden.
The principal words used for green are harit, palāśa, śyāmavarṇa
, whereas those for yellow-golden are hari, hiraṇya,
pīta, gauraḥ, haridrābhāḥ. The same word hari represents both green and yellow (golden),
and hari for golden in Sanskrit is like zari in Persian. All this doesn’t mean
that the ancients were either deficient in their usage of words or colorblind.
The convention for the use of adjectives was different. Plants (and other
objects) were associated with one color-name, which meant green initially but
changed to yellow when ripe. The same object could be used to denote a variety
of colors. The transition from the complexity of meaning in the ancient world to
a more definite one is one hallmark of our modern times. This transition
parallels an emphasis away from contextual definition to one that is
stand-alone. If in the ancient one derived comfort and happiness in family and
community, in the modern one must find these in oneself.
The idea of sensate pleasure has to a large degree replaced
happiness. But these pleasures often come with loneliness, which is made worse
in the age of the Internet where personal social interactions have lessened. The
migrant, who has left traditional society and entered the West, is soon dismayed
by the isolation of the life. While he sees that the individual has freedom and
possessions indicate success, he is frustrated by the complex web of rules that
must be negotiated to move ahead in life. It is not that only the migrant is
disoriented. The unprecedented changes in society have also created dislocation
in old communities which explains the current meth, heroin, and painkiller
medicine epidemic sweeping the West.
Some argue that the demeaning of the West’s own spiritual
tradition by the elites has much exacerbated the problem. Others argue that what
is needed to deal with the uncertainty of modern life is a relationship with
one’s own true self, and the cry for this explains the ever-growing popularity
of yoga.Not knowing the way to relate to a world that looks so orderly and
beautiful on the surface but is frightening deeper down, it is easy for many to
be swept off their feet by heroic stories of conquest and martyrdom.The
wrong but fashionable idea that all nations desire Western-style democracy was
one motivation for the American invasion of Iraq that, in turn, created ISIS
with its untold attendant horrors.
The West insists on using its categories and refuses to engage with the migrants
on their own terms. Interaction between cultures without mutual understanding
can lead to disaster.
Why Is Europe Finding It Difficult To Solve The Refugee Problem? - By
Top of Page
Grandmother of the jungle: This Kerala tribal woman can prepare 500
medicines from memory
Hundreds trek to the forests in Thiruvananthapuram district to get treated by
She lives in a small hut with a palm leaves roof in a tribal settlement, deep in
the forest of Kallar in Thiruvananthapuram district. Lakshmikutty, a 75-year-old
tribal woman is a poet, poison healer and teacher at Kerala Folklore Academy.
With medicinal herbs and plants surrounding her small hut, hundreds trek to the
forests to visit Lakshmikutty, who offers herbal treatment for poisoning. But
it’s not only medicine that she has to offer but she also helps calm those
affected with her gentle words, which can last for hours.
All her knowledge on herbal treatment, she says, was passed on from her mother,
who worked as a midwife. And with neither Lakshmikutty nor her mother making a
written record of the medicinal plants and their uses, the Kerala Forest
Department has decided to compile a book based on her expertise.
Grandmother of the jungle: This Kerala tribal woman can prepare 500 medicines
“I can prepare about 500 medicinal treatments from memory. Till now I have not
forgotten them. But people come here for poison treatment mainly snake or insect
bites,” she says.
Her dream, she says, is to convert her hut into a small hospital, where patients
requiring long-term treatment can continue to stay. Many fondly refer to her as
‘Vanamuthassi’ (Grandmother of the jungle in Malayalam) but she is more than
just that. Lakshmikutty also gives lectures on natural medicine at various
institutions across the southern states. “I have visited many places outside the
forest. Met many people, but I belong here. My heredity exists here,” she
It was in 1995 that Lakshmikutti got noticed by those outside her forest when
she received the ‘Naattu Vaidya Rathna’ award (award for naturopathy) from the
Kerala government. “Till then people used to come here after hearing me from
those I have already cured. Before 1995 people visited me from far off places
but the number increased after I won the award,” she recalls. She has won
numerous awards since then, with the latest coming from the Indian Biodiversity
Congress in 2016.
Her persistence made her the only tribal girl from her area to attend school in
the 1950s. “I still wonder how I went to school. I was persistent that I go to
school and my father finally had to agree,” she laughs. Together with two other
boys from her settlement, Lakshmikutty walked 10 kilometres every day to get to
school. She, however, studied only until class 8 as her school did not have
higher education. One of the boys she walked to school with, was her cousin
Mathan Kaani, who she developed a deep friendship with, that eventually
progressed to marriage. “He was with me in all my decisions and achievements. He
used to tell me that I can achieve my goals even without him because I was a
strong woman. He was the perfect partner from the day I got married at the age
of 16 until he died last year,” she recounts.
Grandmother of the jungle: This Kerala tribal woman can prepare 500 medicines
from memory - thenewminute.com).
Top of Page
Passwords to power have changed - By Balbir Punj
Between the BJP’s smashing victory and the decimation of Sharmila and the Left,
hangs a tale, a milestone in the chequered saga of India’s decline and her
continuing struggle to reinvent and resurrect herself. To solve this riddle, one
has to go back in history. India, accounted for 33 per cent of global GDP till
the 12th century. Doubting Thomases can refer to the path-breaking works of
Angus Maddison and Paul Bairoch, two internationally acclaimed economists.
Bakhtiyar Khilji sacking Nalanda and other reputed Universities in 1193, the
structured system of education in India came to an end. Repeated Islamic
invasions played havoc with the cultural life of the country, destroyed bulk of
the existing knowledge, ended organised pursuit of scholarship and put a stop to
any further research in philosophy, science and technology. After Aurangzeb’s
demise in 1707, Muslim power started disintegrating. By the time Lord Clive won
the battle of Plassey in 1757, India’s share in global GDP dropped to about 25
per cent. Busy fighting successive battles for their sheer survival, Hindus, the
flag bearers of the original culture of this ancient land, were left with only
memories of history and heritage.
The 1857 uprising motivated the British to cobble together an intellectual
paradigm that established them as a superior race, divide their subjects into
mutually hostile groups on the basis of caste, religion, race and regions, to
help them perpetuate their empire. The anglicised Indians (with few exceptions)
assumed the identity and a past which the British had crafted for them. While
the imported Communist movement, swallowed the British version of India, a host
of leaders, including Veer Savarkar, Mahatma Gandhi, Tilak, RSS founder Dr K B
Hedgewar and a bulk of the masses did not fall in the imperialist trap.
Echoing the British view, Communists held India was not a nation, rather a
conglomerate of several nations. No wonder that communists actively conspired
with the departing British and Muslim League for the creation of a theocratic
Pakistan. They still continue to pursue their divisive agenda, seek to divide
Hindus in the name of caste and unite the Muslims on the basis of their shared
Gandhiji, saw through the British policy of divide and
rule, opposed fraudulent conversion of Hindus to other faiths, worked for
integration of Dalits with the rest of Hindu society and rejected the concept of
class war. He did not see different castes among Hindus as conflicting
identities either. Following his tragic assassination in 1948, Congress dropped
Gandhian ethos and leaned towards the Left.
the Congress split in 1969, Indira Gandhi needed Communist support in the
Parliament. As a part of the deal, Nurul Hasan, a card holder, became the
education minister in her Cabinet and is largely responsible for what JNU has
become today. Congress, since then, has outsourced its intellectual paradigm to
the Left. Four unrelated developments, did not allow the script on predictable
lines. After Mao Tse Tung’s demise in 1976, China gradually turned into a
capitalist economy under a Communist dictatorship. In 1991, Soviet Union, yet
another role model for bulk of the Indian Left, too disintegrated. Taking cue
from the global collapse of Communism, India opted for economic reforms leading
to the emergence of news channels. The Left’s stranglehold on views and news
started loosening. And now, social media has made public discourse even more
inclusive. Congress today is a family enterprise, a covert operation to convert
cash into political power and vice versa, without any ideological baggage. The
likes of irrepressible Digvijaya Singh only parrot Leftist cliches in search of
elusive Muslim votes when they extend support to people resorting to Islamic
terror, or to Maoist violence. Congress has turned poverty into an enterprise,
and homes of the poor, tourist destinations. Modi doesn’t have to play this
charade to pretend to know poverty. He was born into poverty. His pro-poor
schemes have naturally more credibility with the target groups.The divisive
template built by the Left and aped by Congress is cracking. Hopefully, election
results will no longer be hostage to caste and religious divide. National
security, pride, coupled with inclusive development are the new pass words to
Passwords to power have changed - By Balbir Punj).
Top of Page
Why India's voters are
rejecting the 'old Leftist rhetoric' – by David Frawley
old Leftist rhetoric that has dominated India's politics for decades is now
falling on deaf ears and becoming rejected by voters. Both recent UP and Delhi
elections indicate this trend. Though the old Indian media continues to raise a
shrill campaign of Leftist outrage against the dangers of Narendra Modi and the
BJP, voters have gone over to them in a landslide.
the fact is that the BJP national and state governments are the most competent
in recent India, doing more for the poor and to improve administration and
infrastructure. This is a welcome change from the corruption of the old Congress
dynasty and its regional warlords, with their divide-and-rule policies that
prevented development and perpetuated social unrest.
Narendra Modi and his new dynamic India.
Apart from manufacturing perpetual outrage, the Left has no positive agenda for
national growth or futuristic development of the country.
truth is that the Left historically has promoted militancy and genocide,
extending to the murdering of Hindu workers in communist Kerala and Maoist
violence in India today. Similarly, a charge of intolerance is raised against
Hindus, as if they were the main group inhibiting harmony in India. This
includes exaggerating or inventing Hindu attacks on Muslims and Christians. The
fact is that Hindus are more tolerant than any other religious group because
they don't follow any theology of salvation and damnation. Far from suppressing
other religions, Hindus continue to be targeted by missionary aggression inside
India and outside.
addition, Christians and Muslims in India have more freedom than in any other
country in Asia. Hindus in Pakistan comparatively have a marginal existence and
are being systematically eliminated. The charge of majoritarianism is another
key part of the anti-Modi agenda with the claim is that there is now an
oppressive Hindu majority in power. Actually democracy is majority-ruled, so the
majority does have a right to rule within the bounds of the law. In this regard,
the majority in India, which is largely Hindu, is much more accommodating than
the majority in any Islamic country.
Apart from manufacturing perpetual outrage, the Left has no positive agenda for
national growth or futuristic development of the country.
charge of Hindu or saffron terrorism is perhaps the most extreme Leftist claim.
This is one of the biggest falsifications brought about by affording repeated
media attention to a few isolated cases eventually dismissed as false. All Hindu
terrorist charges could highlight is a Hindu woman swami, Sadhvi Pragya, kept in
jail without bail for nine years until the case against her was dismissed for
lack of evidence. Compare this to ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Taliban, with their
organised armies, massacres and terrorist attacks that the media hesitates to
call Islamic terror.
Congress and the left are leaderless and self-destructing, with a number of
their prominent representatives becoming figures of public derision. Meanwhile
the BJP has come to represent aspirational India at both economic and cultural
levels. There is nothing wrong with such national pride and enthusiasm.
It is a long overdue change from the old socialist era
in which individual initiative was blocked and India's culture denigrated. Such
unity is needed for India to progress in the world of nations, which the
Nehruvian- Marxist alliance could never deliver.
India has a great dharmic civilisation with much to offer the world.
world should be happy that India is willing to move forward according to its own
civilisational ethos and no longer function as another failed socialist state
looking for global sympathy. Yet, it seems the Leftist media was happier with a
Lalu Prasad and his backward Bihar than Narendra Modi and his new dynamic India.
Fortunately, voters can no longer be deceived.
Why India's voters are rejecting the 'old Leftist rhetoric' – by David
was probably the most famous Yogi of the last more than 1,000 years throughout
The Nath Yogis,
of which he was the main teacher along with his guru Matsyendranath, were the
main proponents of
and many other esoteric Yoga teachings.
They were the most important of the Yoga Siddhas, honoured among the Tibetans as
well. Many Yoga groups today honour Gorakhnath and place him in their lineages.
Explications of asana, pranayama, mantra, kundalini and chakras are prominent in
Nath Yoga teachings. Many classical Yoga texts like the Hatha Yoga Pradipika
derive from the Nath Yogis. The name as Gorakhnath, which does mean the
“protector of cows”, was not given because he was a mere gau rakshak, but is
simply a general name. Gorakhpur is his main city, yet he is associated with
sacred sites all over India from Kailas and Manasarover in the north.
Guru Gorakhnath and Yogi Adityanath
He was well known in the west of India with shrines in what is now Pakistan and
Afghanistan. Some Sufis later studied his teachings as well. Yet, what many
people do not know is that the Nath Yogis he inspired were extensively involved
in the defense of temples and holy sites andformed an active resistance to
were warrior yogis.
The Naga Babas largely derive from them, and the Sikhs and Marathas reflected
their influence. Many Nath Yogis died in their battles to protect Hindu shrines
from destruction. Yet they also maintained their deep Yoga practices and
concerns continue those of the Nath Yogis. In fact, Yoga in India since the time
of the Bhagavad Gita has always had social and political concerns. The Gita
emphasises the Kshatriya tradition of Yoga and Lord Buddha was originally a
king. Monks not only in China and Japan but also in India had their martial
Yogi Adityanatha’s statements have caused some concern with India’s media and
certainly his views should be carefully studied. Yet many of his comments have
been distorted. So it is important to let him clarify his views, and not to go
back to old allegations.
Sadly, the same media that has targeted Adityanath has long played up to Islamic
preachers. It supported
for years, making him into a celebrity, before his terrorists associations,
which never difficult to see, could no longer be denied. The media still treats
Asaduddin Owaisi with respect and seldom finds his views, which can be quite
separatist and extreme, to be worthy of criticism. That Hindu leaders, extending
to Swamis, are denigrated is a sad fact of India’s recent media, which can
excuse Jihadis and separatists, particularly in Kashmir, but expects Hindus not
to press for their rights in their own country. It can make heroes of Laloos and
Mayawatis with their casteist politics, but a Swami seems unacceptable and a
divisive figure in principle. Those who win the election, particularly a
landslide victory like in Uttar Pradesh, do have the right to form the
government, bring in their leaders and have their concerns addressed. It is
their duty to those who voted for them. Had a Muslim or a Yadav group won, they
would provide benefits for their communities, as they have done in the past.
Communist rule in Kerala since coming to power recently has been quite
aggressive and anti-Hindu, which the media still does not find fault with. Sikh
rule in Punjab is now accepted by all, or Tamil identity politics in Tamil Nadu.
Yet, somehow, a Hindu voice or appearance in Hindu majority India is considered
to be wrong and offensive however it is formulated.
Let us see what Yogi Adityanath and the new BJP rule in UP actually does before
casting aspersions. The records of the defeated SP in terms of human rights and
law and order issues in UP were abysmal, with many communal clashes. UP under SP
was at the bottom of most development indexes as well. It is a new Modi era in
India and expect more surprises. Yet the logic of Modi’s choices is clear, which
is to create a new India without denying the country’s older dharmic heritage.
Modi’s vision is one of development but also of cultural integration and
spiritual regeneration. Such a reawakened dharmic India has the power to guide
the world in this age of uncertainty and declining values.
Top of Page
Why does Hindu leadership terrify South Delhi News rooms?
There are many reasons as
to why Hindu leadership terrifies South Delhi News rooms. Particularly,
conceptual ones. One, is that Hindu ideas don’t have a place of dignity in
So why should this rattle
South Delhi news rooms?
Because, they must change!
Or face oblivion!
The nervousness showed
this morning. Both in published articles as well as on Twitter.
The Times of India
published a poll on its online edition, asking people to vote on Yogi’s ability
to govern.The Hindustan Times published a list of 10 controversial
comments made by Yogi. Following the footsteps of South Delhi
journalists, eager not to be left out, The Hindu explains that Yogi represents a
“hard Hindutva face”
Whether an “indictment” or
not, “fringe” or no-fringe, the fact remains that Yogi, a 5-time MP, enjoys an
enormous degree of support from the people of that region. Now he has been given
a chance to govern. He needs to be allowed that chance to perform. But the
interesting point, that I wish to elaborate on, is the disdain, the anger and
the general concern of South Delhi journalists. The disappointment that the
public sentiment and political events are not shaping up according to the
expectations of these journalists, who clearly favored the opposition.
this rather positive view, what might explain the South Delhi journalists’
disconnect with the Indian population? How is that they generate and propagate
ideas that are so alien to Indian concepts? Where do these ideas come from?
The Rise and Fall of Religious Leadership in Europe
The Catholic Church rose as the single
largest religious and socio-political entity in Medieval Europe. Its humble
beginnings started during Antiquity (Roman era), with the conversion
of Roman slaves to Christianity. Deeply resisted by the polytheistic Roman
society, Christian slaves were often persecuted. However, the Catholic Church
sustained through those difficult times. It achieved a supreme status in Europe
with the conversion of the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great (306-337 CE), to
the fall of the Roman Empire (476 CE) Europe entered the Medieval Age. Local
religions across Europe were overpowered by the Catholic Church’s powerful
organizational structure and missionary activities. Eventually, the Catholic
Church became the single, if not the only, dominant entity that produced and
promoted knowledge, especially religious and social knowledge. It’s power over
religious, social and political life was absolute. Power was exercised in the
following ways: (1) the Church projected itself as the single authority that
could decide who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell (2) it imposed taxes
(called tithes, which
was 10% of earnings) on its followers; those who failed to pay could not go to
Heaven (3) it accumulated vast amounts of land, often donated by wealthy
followers in the hopes of having an assured place in Heaven (4) the Bible was
copied by hand, by monks, never shared with the general public, so spiritual
knowledge and education was kept a secret closely guarded.
the Catholic Church, with its huge resources of land, grain and wealth became an
arbiter of political disputes in Europe. Before long, monarchs began to look to
it to settle disputes between them. This is how religion got mixed into politics
in Medieval Europe.
power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The Catholic Church was
no exception. It brooked no dissent. Detractors and dissenters were mercilessly
punished. Under the name of “Inquisition” it sanctioned heinous punishments that
involved all sorts of torture, including the burning of people at the stake.
Protestantism, as a dissenting view among Christians developed through these
difficult times. The Catholic Church, with its great intolerance for rival
factions, went to war with Protestants. Although it was waged for religious
reasons it gradually came to encompass political reasons as well. Known as the
Thirty Years’ War, this religious clash led to peoples’ disillusionment with the
Catholic Church and religion in general.
the same time, new discoveries and inventions began to spring up. The Gutenberg
Bible, or printing of the Bible on a mass scale, began in the 15th century. This
was an important factor that weakened the stronghold of the Catholic Church by
making the Bible available to the masses. This also began the era of printing
press that enabled ideas to be shared widely. A whole slew of scientists emerged
soon after. Nicolaus Copernicus (1543; Heliocentric theory), Tyco Brahe (1570s;
observations that constituted astronomy), Johannes Kepler (1609-19; Laws of
Planetary Motion), to name a few. Their contributions were important on many
levels for science; however, their greatest significance was that they were able
to successfully establish that knowledge, particularly material knowledge, is
not God-ordained and that the Catholic Church was quite wrong on many counts!
These events combined with the consistent mistreatment at the hands of the
ruling class and the Catholic Church eventually led people to break away from
the grip of both elitist and religious leadership. The people were more
accepting of ideas from discoverers and inventors; thus, was born the Age of
Enlightenment or the Age of Reason.
Relevance of the Age of Enlightenment to South Delhi Journalism Today
success of scientists was more than just advancement of science. It was an act
of resistance against the Catholic Church. So, resistance to religious authority
is revered even today, as a powerful tool of social progress. Little wonder that
the Western public sphere remains skeptical of religious authority. Therefore,
American intellectuals have a reason to be empathetic toward those who seem to
want to break away from the shackles of religion in their respective countries.
our journalists resist. They resist, knowing well that Hinduism does
parallels with the Catholic Church. There is no organized structure, no one seat
of power, no one book and no single way to the Divine. Assuming a lack of covert
motivations, they don’t seem to have original ideas about how to apply Western
wisdom to the Indian context.
second reason, that Indian ideas of resistance find favor among American media
(could be other countries in Europe as well, I don’t have data), is that the
American sense of superiority is enhanced when they encounter stories about
terrible events in other countries, both real and otherwise. As far as India is
concerned, they have a good appetite for stories of oppression by the caste
system, oppression of women, the issue of untouchability and all the other
negative stereotypes a modern Indian mind is far away from. Recognizing talent
or merit in other countries, particularly non-European countries, is typically
uncomfortable for American media.
So, our journalists, of colonized minds, gladly feed
their psyche for a proverbial pat on the back.
India is changing. New India is being envisioned without the constraints of
colonial ties, thanks to home grown intellectuals with original ideas. A culture
of aspiration is actively promoted, integrity in public life is starting to look
believable and suddenly it feels completely OK to not play by the rules of the
Hindu leadership terrify South Delhi News rooms? - by
Top of Page
Trump, Modi have to purge the system of class and cultural oligarchies
They are separated by history, geography and their lifestyle. Donald
Trump is a businessman and TV anchor who zooms around the world in a
private jet and lives in a tony tower. Narendra Modi doesn’t have a
house or a car to his name and used to live out of a one-bedroom house
provided by the BJP. But it was these two men who dominated prime time
debates and front page headlines across the globe last week. In the
West, an aggressive and outspoken Trump trounced the politically-correct
Hillary Clinton in the filthiest-ever battle for the 45th Presidency of
the United States of America. He demolished credibility, acceptability
and the dependability of the liberal American establishment.
In the East, Prime Minister Narendra Modi burst the Indian movers and
shakers’ bubble about their imagined control of the nation’s
decision-making machinery with a 28-minute address to the nation. By
withdrawing Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, which account for over 85 per
cent of the currency in circulation, Modi made one-third of India’s $2.5
trillion economy irrelevant.
But it’s not just their ability to surprise the public time and time
again that unites Trump and Modi. It’s also their outsider status.
Trump, in spite of his opulence, has never managed to get his foot into
the PLU (People Like Us) Club that’s peopled by old money with multiple
degrees from elite institutions. Modi too has been deprived of that
privilege in India. Which is probably why both have become darlings of
the commoners’ club, the PLTs (People Like Them).
Trump’s election got much more global attention than Modi’s move to curb
black money. But both have been the target of the most vocal and
influential sections of the media and the ruling elite. There was hardly
a media house in the US that didn’t try to demonise Trump so that he
could lose the elections. Hardly any opinion poll gave him even a slim
chance of entering the White House. The scene was similar in 2014, when
only at the fag end of the campaign did Indian pollsters wake up to the
reality of Modi winning the majority for his party.
Trump, Modi have to purge the system of class and cultural oligarchies
to survive - newindianexpress.com).
Negative Portrayal of Hinduism on CNN in America
The absurdity of
antidote for Reza Aslan’s offensive attack
a time, when Varanasi became cynosure of Indian media for the high-decibel
political activity, right across the globe a tendentious attempt was made to
create “Hinduphobia” under the ruse of unravelling the spiritually vibrant
Banaras city. The obnoxious portrayal of Varanasi, the “City of Light” as the
“City of Death” by Islamist Scholar, Reza Aslan, in a six-episode Spiritual
Adventure series, Believer elicited
sharp responses from the Hindu community. Broadcast on CNN, the articulate
anchor who wouldn’t take an iota of criticism on Islam had tarnished the
reverberating Spiritual iconoclastic civilizational values of India. The episode
which aired grotesque images of corpses depicted the Aghori cult of Hindu
believers in a poor light. The attempt to portray random brown bearded men as
people practicing cannibalism at the height of racial crimes in US is
abominable. The brutal misinterpretation of the sanctity of the river Ganges and
a reckless assault on the faith of millions of people is indeed callous.
last few weeks, Indians in US have become victims of racial discrimination. This
insidious misrepresentation of the third largest religion in the World will not
augur well for Indian Americans who are already facing the heat of the
anti-immigration. For decades, India Americans are known for their invaluable
contributions to American society and are widely reckoned for their peaceful
While Reza Aslan and CNN had the temerity to grossly
distort the sanctity of the scared city of Varanasi could they ever dare say a
word against Mecca or Jerusalem?
9/11 to defuse Islamophobia, Aslan passionately argued that Islamism and
Jihadism were different.
Further he tried to impress that Al-Qaeda was waging a cosmic war with the West.
He expounded that Cosmic war “is a ritual drama in which participants act out on
earth a battle they believe is actually taking place in heavens”. He even
prescribes that “Cosmic war is not to fight, but rather to engage moderate
Islamic political forces in the democratic process”. Hence, he tones down the
necessity of waging a war on terrorism. [With this he had necessarily evaded
from condemned the brutal beheadings and inhuman atrocities committed by IS
against minorities and specifically Yazidi women]. In fact, Washington Post,
commends his thought process saying that it “offers a very persuasive argument
for the best way to counter jihadism”. The New Yorker too applauded his
interpretation. Reza thus had a phenomenal success in allaying fears of Islamism
at least in intellectual circles. By why on earth should CNN and Reza stoke
fears among Americans with dehumanized portrayal of a fringe mystic Hindu
Americans have earned a distinct repute for making outstanding achievements and
are among the top tier of the American society still why do channels like CNN
relentlessly endeavor to portray India as land of snake charmers? Why this
cynical obsession of offensive portrayal of India? This disdainful
representation can’t be simply ignored since the Western media has an extensive
outreach and penetration through which it can make or break narratives. At this
juncture, it might perhaps be important to draw lessons as how the western media
functions and how Hindus must learn to handle the gross misinterpretations of
Hinduism. In the controversial California text books case, an attempt was made
to replace “Hindu” and “India” with “South Asia” amounting to erasing and
diminishing the significance of India. It could have been a brazen obliteration
of India from the historical precincts. Due to the stellar efforts of the
Hindu-American organizations, a literary battle was waged. The honors were
equally divided with some of the corrections recommended by Hindu groups
reinstated and some historical aberrations corrected. But still there were some
discrepancies in the interpretation of Hinduism and India. Indeed, this was one
of literary battles waged by the Indologists in Contemporary times who managed
to win it partially. The battle of narratives between the Left-Liberals versus
the “Hindutva forces” or “Conservatives”, has brought to fore the absence of
authoritarians on Hindu intellectuals. Despite being one of the oldest
religions, India grievously lacks the intellectual firepower or a battalion of
scholars who can defend santana
dharma on any platform.
Religion in modern times is judged by the Abrahamic axioms that basically deals
with faith in God and mandates the followers to religiously abide by the
principles outlined in a holy scripture. But Hinduism unlike the modern
religions is more about seeking and urges the seeker to look within to realize
the “Brahman”. Interestingly, the all-encompassing Hinduism is so flexible and
amenable that it exhorts believers of the faith to pursue different ways to seek
salvation. While the beginners are initiated into the religion through simple
rituals, ardent seekers inclined to ascend higher realms of spirituality are
persuaded to enter the next level. Religious leaders or Gurus emphasize on
Sadhana or meditation for the enthusiasts.
Resplendent Hinduism is thus an ocean of knowledge which can’t be judged by
preset boundaries or narrow definitions. To defend this iconic religion a person
must take a plunge into the treasure troves. Unfortunately, despite inheriting
this enviable treasure troves, successive Indian leadership failed to promote
the Indic narratives. Interestingly, there are distinguished chairs and study
centers for various religions in India in top-tier universities, but no
dedicated center for Hinduism. Ancient scriptures, invaluable literature
receives scant attention. While there will be a spurt in outrage when Hinduism
is mocked at, India critically falls short of the intellectual arsenal to give a
befitting reply. Even now Sanskrit, mother of all languages and the only medium
to unravel ancient scriptures is derided. Though the offensive attacks on the
religion can be combatted with intellectual might, the rabid misinterpretation
can stop altogether if India aspires to become a developed country-economically
and militarily strong.
antidote for Reza Aslan’s offensive attack on Hinduism - by Ramaharitha
Before Reza Aslan, There Was This
The deep rooted the hatred towards Hindus was in the colonial mind.
Along with the
murderous attacks on NRIs (Hindus and Sikhs) in the United States, came the CNN documentary
that has created a lot of heartburn for the Hindus.
the documentary in question features Reza Aslan. Aslan loves to flaunt himself
as ‘a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New
Testament, and a fluency in biblical Greek who has been studying the origins of
Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim’. Yet, he
comes across as more a crypto-fundamentalist Muslim; more sophisticated than
Zakir Naik of course, but nevertheless in the same spectrum. Aslan finds
philosopher Daniel Dennett — leave alone Richard Dawkins — an
‘atheist-fundamentalist’. His sympathy for creationism comes out when he finds
fault with Dawkins for comparing creationists with Holocaust deniers.
And what should
be interesting for the Hindus is why this man, who has no scholarship of
Hinduism, has been allowed to distort Hindu culture, similar to the way the
colonialists distorted Hinduism and Hindu culture in a supposedly secular medium
in the West.
The reason can
be discovered in a small article published in the December 2016 issue of History
Today. Titled bluntly as ‘A Hatred for Hindus’, it was written by Mihir
Bose, an NRI journalist who has been the first sports editor of BBC. The
article makes one cringe. He says it straight:
the recent rise in Islamophobia, distrust of Hinduism was rife among Britain’s
ruling class.” Winston Churchill’s secretary John Colville records in his diary
a conversation the PM had with Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthus Harris: “The PM said
that the Hindus were a foul race ... and he wished Bert Harris could send some
of his surplus bombers to destroy them.”
preferred the Muslims over the Hindus. He lied to Franklin
Roosevelt that the majority of the Allied army’s Indian soldiers were Muslims
while they were actually Hindus. His views were not just abstract hatred for an
exotic people. It had terrifying real term effects as we know from the history
of the Bengal Famine as documented by Madhushree Mukherjee in Churchill’s
Secret War. What is interesting is that Mihir Bose rightly points out that
the ‘Hindu phobia’ of Churchill had deeper roots. Soon after the
Bagh massacre, General Dyer
was forced to leave the army by Edwin Montagu, Secretary of State
for India. Even this minor punishment triggered a ‘get Montagu’ witch-hunt. Bose
observes that there were ‘ugly overtones of anti-Indian sentiments fused with
anti-Semitic ones’. Austen Chamberlain wrote that the feeling of Montagu-Dyer
event was of ‘a Jew rounding on an English man and throwing him to the wolves’.
“Eventually, the Moslems will become master, because they are
warriors, while the Hindus are windbags.” That was Churchill to Soviet
Ambassador Ivan Maisky. “In truth the Hindu like eunuch excels in the qualities
of a slave. …But if less soft, the Mahomedan is more manly, more vigorous. He
more nearly resembles our own half-civilized ancestors... more susceptible of
increased civilization than a people in the state of the Hindus.”
Charles Dickens who wrote that he wished to the Commander in
Chief in India that he would ‘exterminate the Race (Indians) … proceeding
with all convenient dispatch and merciful swiftness of execution , to blot it
out of mankind and raze it off the face of the earth’.
Hitler could well have borrowed words from Dickens. The
inherent anti-Hindu pro-Islamist nature of Western media was evident even then.
The West constantly produced anti-Hindu literature in the decades
to come. Combined with vast missionary literature that showed Hinduism and India
in a bad light, academic attacks also continued. William Archer, a British art
critic, wrote in detail how Hindus could not call themselves cultured. Not only
did Bernard Shaw republish his essays, he also agreed with him. It was then that
the American writer Katherine Mayo came with her ‘Mother India’. Mihir Bose
places these attacks on India in the context of ‘British fighting to preserve
the Empire’ who felt ‘the need to open a new front against Hinduism’.
It was then that Nichols came with his Verdict on India.
He too considered Muslims superior to Hindus. Comparing Jinnah to the ‘typical
Hindu politician’ (Gandhi), he declared the difference to be of that a ‘surgeon
and a witch doctor’.
Even after independence, hatred against Hindus and Hinduism has
been steadily cultivated in Western media. Two years after 1947, Walter
Lippmann, one of the most famous journalists of the US, came to India and felt
‘the Hindu world more alien’. Studying Indian art he emerged ‘with increasing
loathing and terror, positive terror that such trains of thought and such
feelings should exist’. But in comparison, he felt Islam to be ‘familiar and
Hindu hatred in the United States has a long history though. Swami Vivekananda
in an insightful observation pointed out how missionary literature included
false stories of Hindu mothers throwing their children to crocodiles, with the
child was shown as white and mother as black to invoke maximum contempt for
Percival Spear, was the co-author with
Thapar of the prestigious A History of India and he defended
Aurangazeb's iconoclasm saying that he was 'maligned by Hindu fundamentalists'.
Going through the academic and media representation of Hinduism
in the United States, from Steven Spielberg’s Temple of Doom to the
recent CNN documentary, animosity against Hinduism is very much there.
Sometimes American Hindus think that the left liberal establishment in the West
may understand them better. However, the left liberal establishment in the
United States sees Hindus through the colonial eyes and stereotype them. So some
Hindus in pure desperation turn to the Right which they consider as pro-Hindu
because of the Islamophobic noises and gestures. They cannot be more wrong.
The right wing in the United States also has at its core a more
pro-Islamist dispensation and would find Hindus culturally, religiously and
racially inferior. David Duke for example considers Hindus as degraded because
of mixing of Aryan and aboriginals. At the same time he also shares podium with
Islamist leaders who gathered in 2006 for ‘scientific denial of Holocaust’. So,
for many of the rightwing in the United States, Hindus, if not already, would
soon become objects of hatred more than the Muslims. After all, with Islam,
their fundamentalism shares a worldview.
Now consider this: The left dominates the media. It has inherited
from the colonial legacy the hatred for Hinduism, which it continuously portrays
as an amalgamation of an oppressive caste system, evil priest-craft and barbaric
savagery. Meanwhile, the Christian right has Islamophobia but only as an equal
competitor. There can even be handshakes, as it happens, between honourable
enemies. The dirty job of eliminating Hindu interests from the discourse can be
handled by rightwing zealots of the West; like they did away with the Indian
descendants of Roma who too perished in the gas ovens under the Iron Cross of
Nazis. Unsung, and to this day never a dominant part of Holocaust memories.
The CNN documentary distorting Hinduism and the sporadic
killings are independent, yet connected events. They may be pointing to the
shape of worse things to come in the future. So Hindus have to transcend the
binary of the left wing and right wing. They have to network with the indigenous
cultures and spiritual traditions world over and learn from the Jews how to keep
their memories intact, and in a sustained way, study all forms of hatred against
them. Ultimately they need to fight centuries of the narrative of hatred with
the light of knowledge.
Before Reza Aslan, There Was This – by
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Outsourcing of our Shastric traditions to Western scholars
sceptical of our sacred texts?
By appointing the American Sanskritist, editor of
Classical Library of India,
has contributed to the outsourcing of our Shastric traditions to Western
scholars sceptical of our sacred texts.
is a scholar and a globally well-connected one. For many students and
academicians of Shastric tradition and ancient cultural texts in India, the
American philologist’s interpretation carries the stamp of authority. For
decades in this country since Independence, when the Left-view prevailed from
areas as diverse as politics to history to archaeology to even cinema, he held
sway over the minds of many Indians who were brought up to understand their
culture from the prism of its ancient scriptures such as the Vedas and the
Upanishads and magnum opuses such as the Ramayan. Such is his influence that he
has managed to brainwash entire generations here and abroad, into buying his
theories that present Hindu texts as casteist, oppressive and
Over the years though, and despite his stature and connectivity, many scholars
have begun to seriously question Pollock’s premises. They are no longer willing
to let go uncontested, his claims that are based on Western models of social
studies which simply do not fit in the Indian context, and are far removed from
the lived experiences of the people connected with the ethos of their ancient
texts, offering them not just a spiritual path but also a better way to mundane
living. Given this background, it is unfortunate that Pollock has been chosen as
editor of the Murty Classical Library of India. Worse, organisation head
has contemptuously dismissed an online petition by 132 academicians and public
figures (the petition has garnered more than 13,000 supporters worldwide),
protesting against the appointment. He said, “It is quite rich to sit in the
peanut gallery, pass comments and throw empty shells at those who are actually
rolling their sleeves up and working on the ground.”
Rohan Murty’s response smacks of arrogance, and of the kind that Pollock and his
sort have nurtured against those who dare to question them. The people that
Murty says are sitting in the ‘peanut gallery’ are noted academicians and
intellectuals from various walks of life — and their common concern is to do
with Pollock’s prejudices and the fear that he will exploit the Murty Classical
Library of India assignment to further promote his biases and ram down the
throats of Indians the belief that there is little for them to be socially proud
of in their classical past. As for ‘actually rolling their sleeves up and
working on the ground’, the library founder may be surprised to know that there
are quite a few scholars who have been doing just that except that they either
do not catch his attention or that they do not have the benefit of global
connect. Moreover, these scholars are not saying things that can be spinned-off
to a world audience by way of a condemnatory appraisal of Indian culture and
Pollock’s credibility as an impartial interpreter of ancient Sanskrit texts and
Sanskrit India is further dented by the overt political position he has been
taking. It can be argued that his political beliefs should not be used to judge
his scholarship, but such a thought would have been credible had Pollock not
mixed up his political persuasion with his academics. It comes as little
surprise that the Left-leaning lot in this country is the most vocal in its
support for the American and for Murty having ticked off Pollock’s detractors.
Commentators who have sided with Murty and Pollock are either the Left-liberals
or the Centrists who are Leftists in disguise. While Murty has steamrolled the
critical appointment to his venture, he cannot easily wish away the argument of
dissent. The online petitioners noted that the historical project ought to be
helmed by people who are “deeply rooted and steeped in the intellectual
traditions of India”. The petitioners further said that such people “also need
to be imbued with a sense of respect and empathy for the greatness of Indian
civilisation”. They believe (and they are not the only ones) that Pollock’s
record does not inspire confidence. The petitioners forcefully maintained that
the American Sanskritist had
“deep antipathy towards many of the ideals and values
cherished and practised in our civilisation”.
all this is water off a duck’s back for Murty and his supporters, it is because
the pro-Pollock elements in and outside the country are not just well-entrenched
but have also got institutionalised over the years. Like the Left had in its
over three-decade rule in West Bengal infiltrated into all walks of life and
established their dominance, including over political violence, Pollock’s
insidious theories on the use of Sanskrit to marginalise people, of Vedas as
tools to oppress masses, of Ramayan as a response to the rise of Buddhism etc,
have become inherent thought-processes in thousands of minds some innocent and
impressionable, and others pre-conditioned to absorb the lopsided.
One of the few scholars to have effectively taken on Pollock in recent times is
an Indian-American author, one-time entrepreneur, and founder of Infinity
Foundation, which, Wikipedia says, focuses on “Indic studies”. His new book,
The Battle for Sanskrit: Is Sanskrit Political or Sacred, Oppressive or
Liberating, Dead or Alive?,
meets Pollock head-on, systematically refuting the latter’s pet theories by his
own intellectual might as well as comments and dissertations of experts who have
long worked on Sanskrit studies. The question as to why there haven’t been more
voices of the Rajiv Malhotra kind to globally challenge Pollock and his flock,
is easy to answer.
The first reason is that many genuine scholars in Indic studies within the
country simply do not have the resources to take on the darling Indologist of
the West. The second is that quite a few of them, although deeply knowledgeable
in their area of expertise, are not comfortable with English and thus cannot
reach out to a wider audience. The third reason is that some of them are in awe
of Pollock’s reputation and cannot even mildly question him even whey are
convinced of his misrepresentations. And the fourth is that these
‘traditionalists’ find no traction even within India, where the Pollock net has
been cast far and wide.
Having bagged the prestigious Murty Classical Library of India assignment,
Pollock must be hoping to seal the deal to head the
Chair of Hinduism Studies at Columbia University
in the US. It is this prospect that propelled an alarmed Rajiv Malhotra to write
his latest book and launch a fervent campaign within India and outside to
pre-empt the appointment. Will it work or will we see a further outsourcing of
our Shastric traditions to the West?
The Sheldon Pollock Hold on Indian Minds
- by Rajesh Singh).
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Where are the Pandavas who can provide Hindu
battlefield of Intellectual Kurukshetra, Hindu leaders who can be like the
Pandavas are badly needed
The Hindu re-awakening movement must improve its game in the intellectual
Kurukshetra. Unfortunately, we suffer from a deficiency of competent scholars
and institutional mechanisms. Hindus are often being represented by substandard
voices. Emotional bombast and political patronage are depleting prana and
overshadowing vigour and originality. The paucity of internationally competitive
fresh Hindu research has many causes. The chief one is the belief that
“everything has already been written”. Such persons hide their laziness behind
one-liner wisdom and cronyism, instead of pursuing merit and professionalism.
The critics failed
to notice that ‘Breaking India’ focuses on exposing many present-day individuals
and organisations that did not even exist fifty years ago.
typical example of this syndrome happened just a few days back. Two of my books
(‘Breaking India’ and ‘Being Different’) were attacked by some middle-ranking
Hindu leaders on a bizarre allegation: that fifty years ago some prominent
Hindus had already written books that were “exactly same” as mine, thereby
making all my work redundant and counterproductive. The critics failed to notice
that ‘Breaking India’ focuses on exposing many present-day individuals and
organisations that did not even exist fifty years ago. And the insights
explained in ‘Being Different’ are fresh compared to the supposedly “same” books
written in a bygone era. The critics were satisfied with superficial
similarities without any interest (or ability) to look deeper. Such turf
protection is a form of tribalism driven by personal insecurity and ambition.
The best way to respect our past great thinkers is not by worshipping their old
books, but by continuing their parampara with fresh research outputs in response
to today’s Kurukshetra. The clash of civilisations is becoming ever more
complex, and the playing field has certainly not been frozen for the past fifty
years. Our tradition was built on very high standards of intellectual
excellence. But today there is a cacophony of voices of individuals who barely
read serious material – forget about original writing. I have also heard some
senior Hindu leaders flippantly dismiss the need for fresh research and
intellectualism. It amazes me that retrograde voices can climb up in some Hindu
organisations. Hindus must invest in serious
investigative work. This includes the revival of the tradition of purva-paksha
methods for debating opponents in a respectful manner. We must re-educate the
so-called “educated class”, with the use of game-changing discourse. We must
encourage self-critiques rather than wasting time at the “feel good” gatherings
of “like-minded people”.
Resource allocations and appointments should be merit based and not driven by
loyalty to leaders.
Resource allocations and appointments should be merit based and not driven by
loyalty to leaders. Anyone appointed to lead a “think tank” should have already
excelled in thinking, which means having a track record of high impact
publications. The new government is conspicuous by its absence in the theatre of
civilisation discourse. The is no strategic coherence across its Byzantine maze
of departments. Fortunately, the Indian Left is also in disarray. The new
technology subverts their monopoly over Hinduphobic knowledge production and
distribution. There is a growing display of Hindu emotional activity in social
and mass media, as well as the emergence of many conclaves featuring some Hindu
voices. This powerful emotion needs to be harnessed and redirected to create an
intellectual ecosystem that is globally competitive.
Where are the Pandavas who can provide Hindu leadership? - by Rajiv Malhotra).
“Hindu Belief Is Fascinating and Inspired By It” Says
James Cameron “Avatar”
the magical land of Pandora in James Cameron’s sci-fi blockbuster may have had a
subconscious reference to Hindu mythology, the director said over the weekend.
made Hollywood history with $2.6 billion in worldwide ticket sales and showcased
Cameron’s bold moviemaking skills. It also revealed the director’s fascination
with the imagery of India. “I just have loved everything, the mythology, the entire Hindu
pantheon, seems so rich and vivid,”
Cameron told an audience of filmmakers and actors at a conference
in New Delhi on Saturday. In Avatar,
Cameron creates a lush world of dense forests and floating mountains in a
computer-generated spectacular that transforms much of the cast into giant,
One of Hinduism’s most revered gods, Krishna, is often depicted with blue skin.
“I didn’t want to reference the Hindu religion so closely but the
subconscious association was interesting and I hope I haven’t offended any one
in doing so,” the filmmaker said. Cameron said the title of the film was a
subconscious reference to India. Avatar in
Sanskrit means reincarnation.
“Hindu Belief Is Fascinating and Inspired By It” Says James Cameron “Avatar”
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