Sunday, July 31, 2022

Sister Nivedita Versus Mother Teresa

Sister Nivedita

“Mother Teresa was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction. And she was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti (whose rule she praised in return) and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. 

“Where did that money, and all the other donations, go? The primitive hospice in Calcutta was as run down when she died as it always had been—she preferred California clinics when she got sick herself—and her order always refused to publish any audit. But we have her own claim that she opened 500 convents in more than a hundred countries, all bearing the name of her own order. Excuse me, but this is modesty and humility?” 

~ Christopher Hitchens in his October 2003 essay, “Mommie Dearest.” He wrote this essay to express his outrage at Pope John Paul II’s 2003 proclamation to beatify Mother Teresa. 

Hitchens could not have leveled similar charges against Sister Nivedita, another European lady who made India her home. Born in Ireland in 1867, Nivedita’s original name was Margaret Elizabeth Noble. After a fateful encounter with Swami Vivekananda in 1895 in London, she decided to come to India and live here permanently. She left England in 1897 and reached Calcutta on January 28, 1898. On March 25, Vivekananda gave her the name Nivedita, which means “dedicated to the Lord.” 

Intellectually and morally, Nivedita was the exact opposite of Mother Teresa. She did not enshrine poverty, as Mother Teresa did. She did not glorify suffering, as Mother Teresa did. She wanted India to be a prosperous and free country. She did not suspect modern education as Mother Teresa did; she wanted all Indians to develop the knowledge of their history, culture, and religious traditions. She never collected donations from dubious sources and she despised tyrants. She did not try to promote herself as a saint—quietly and with great efficiency, she did the work of providing education to girls of Bengal who were denied even basic education. 

She made a deep study of Indian literature and history, and after Vivekananda’s death in 1902, she emerged as an important thinker and leader of Indian nationalism. Through her writings and speeches she tried to encourage the Hindus to believe in a common nationhood and common destiny. She collaborated with the prominent Indian intellectuals and nationalists of her time: Romesh Chandra Dutt, Bipin Chandra Pal, Jagdish Chandra Bose, Sri Aurobindo, Rabindra Nath Tagore, and Jadunath Sarkar were among her personal friends and associates.  

Due to hard work and illness, she died in 1911, at the age of 44. She left behind extensive writing on Indian philosophy, religion, literature, art, history, and mythology. In 1967, her writings and speeches were compiled and published in five volumes (each of about 600 pages), by Ramakrishna Sarada Mission and Sister Nivedita Girls' School, under the title, The Complete Works of Sister Nivedita, Volume 1 to V.  Her uncritical and sentimental attachment to India and to the Hindu way of life is visible in most of her essays. 

Here’s an excerpt from her essay, “The Crown of Hinduism” (The Complete Works of Sister Nivedita, Volume 3, Page 396): 

"Perhaps the real crown of Hinduism lies in the fact that it, almost alone amongst formulated faiths, has a section devoted to absolute and universal truths, and has no fear whatever of discriminating between these and those accidental expressions which might be confounded bv the superficial with their belief itself… There is no shade of the search after truth that is not looked upon here as religious heroism. We are in no danger of persecuting a man for no better reason than that he can see farther and deeper than we! Giordano Burno would never have been burnt, Galileo would never have been put to the torture, if India had been their home and birthplace." 

Here’s an excerpt from her essay, “A Theory of Freedom” (The Complete Works of Sister Nivedita, Volume 4, Page 316): 

“There are two ways in which freedom of any kind can be manifested when it is present. These are renunciation and conquest. That which we would conquer, we must first understand. We have to enter into it, to wrestle with it on given terms, to offer our very lives to it and at last to win the victory. Every success has cost at least one human sacrifice. Mastery is a kind of freedom. We cannot defeat that which has us in its power…

“…The true criminal is steeped in Tamas and egotism. He miscalls license by the name of liberty. License is not liberty for the simple reason that true liberty presupposes mastery. The profligate is the victim of his own vices. He lies helpless at their feet. He does not even enjoy his appetites. His life is spent like that of wild animal between ungovernable desire and ungovernable fear. He who would be free must first learn to govern. One who is uncontrolled is anything but free.”

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Vande Mataram and the Imagery of Bharat Mata

A N Tagore’s 1906 

painting of Bharat Mata

In his song Vande Mataram, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee has described the motherland as Bharat Mata who is endowed with the characteristics of Goddess Durga:

O Mother, thou art love and faith,
it is thy image we raise in every temple.

For thou art Durga holding her ten weapons of war,
Kamala at play in the lotuses
And speech, the goddess, giver of all lore,
to thee I bow! 

~ (from Sri Aurobindo’s translation of Vande Mataram) 

In the early twentieth century, the Vande Mataram song inspired visual representations of Bharat Mata which depicted her carrying weapons of war and astride a lion with the Indian subcontinent serving as the backdrop. In 1906, Abanindra Nath Tagore (Rabindra Nath Tagore’s nephew) offered a different way of looking at Bharat Mata in his painting of a four-armed Goddess sans the weapons of war and the lion. This painting was published in the August 1906 issue of the Bengali magazine Prabasi

In her note to Tagore’s painting, Sister Nivedita wrote:

“Bharat Mata stands on the green earth. Behind her is the blue sky. Beneath the exquisite little feet is a curved line of four misty white lotuses. She has the four arms that always, to Indian thinking, indicate divine power. Her sari is severe, even to Puritanism, in its enfolding lines. And behind the noble sincerity of eyes and brow we are awed by the presence of the broad white halo. Shiksha-Diksha-Anna-Bastra, the four gifts of the motherland to her children, she offers in her four hands.” (The Complete Works of Sister Nivedita, Volume 3, Page: 61)

But Tagore’s painting of a serene goddess did not capture the nationalism, militancy, and revolutionary zeal of the Vande Mataram song:

“Terrible with the clamorous shouts of seventy million throats,
and the sharpness of swords raised in twice seventy million hands,
who sayeth to thee, Mother, that thou are weak?”

In his 1909 essay, “Mata Bharata,” Ananda K. Coomaraswamy dwelled on a rather stoic conception of the motherland’s feminine form. His essay was popular with the intellectuals but because of its de-weaponized view of the mother, it failed to connect with the masses. 

The mood of the country in the early years of the twentieth century was aggressive and chaotic; rebellion was in the air. People were eager to fight for their religion and homeland; they wanted to fight for their country’s independence. An aggressive conception of Bharat Mata was needed to satisfy the political and religious urges of the masses. The idea of Bharat Mata—wielding the weapons of war, astride a lion, and presiding over the destiny of the Indian subcontinent—remained the dominant feature of nationalist imagery. 

In his editorial in the 16th April 1907 issue of his journal Bande Mataram, Sri Aurobindo proclaimed that Bankim Chandra Chatterjee was the rishi who had given to India the Vande Mataram song which was the mantra of a new “religion of patriotism.” The first nationalist flag of India was inspired by Vande Mataram. On 22 August 1907, the nationalists led by Madam Bhikhaiji Cama unfurled a flag of India which had the words “Vande Mataram” inscribed in the centre.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Majumdar: On the Cult of Non-Violence

R. C. Majumdar

In his 1973 essay, “Indian Historiography: Some Recent Trends,” R. C. Majumdar has charged that the historians who were the followers of the cult of non-violence were distorting India’s history because they were politically motivated to make the case that non-violence was always a moral value in Indian society. Here’s an excerpt from Majumdar’s essay: 

“…the cult of non-violence is an ideal devoutly to be wished for, but when some historians of India seriously maintain that this ideal has been followed throughout the course of Indian history, one rubs his eyes with wonder, for not only are all the known facts of Indian rulers against the assumption that they were averse to war, but war has been recommended by political texts as a normal practice and sanctioned by religion through the Asvamedha sacrifice, eulogy of digvijaya, and of Kings who have won victory in hundred battles—samara-sata vijayi

“Such distortion of history can never be excused even in the name of Mahatma Gandhi.” 

In a scathing criticism, Majumdar accused the Indian government of misusing its powers to distort history for achieving the political agenda of promoting Mahatma Gandhi's utopianism, foisting on India a false conception of Hindu-Muslim unity, and indoctrinating the masses with the slogans of the freedom struggle. Here’s an excerpt: 

“This evil is enhanced by the fact that the Government, directly or indirectly, seeks to utilize history to buttress some definite ideas such as Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence, an imaginary conception of friendly relation subsisting between the two great communities, and several popular slogans evoked by the exigencies of the struggle for freedom…”

In another passage, Majumdar notes: “I know from personal experience how the Government of India has sought to utilize history for the spread of ideas which they have elevated to the rank of national policy to their own satisfaction. They are not willing to tolerate any history which mentions facts incompatible with their ideas of national integration and solidarity.”

Thursday, July 28, 2022

On Tagore’s Failure to Defend Vande Mataram

Tagore                Chatterjee

In the 1930s, when a fierce controversy erupted over Vande Mataram, with Muhammad Ali Jinnah declaring that Vande Mataram was unacceptable to the Muslims because it was an idolatrous war cry, Subhas Chandra Bose was up in arms in support of the song. In his October 1937, letter to Jawaharlal Nehru, Bose advised against discarding Vande Mataram. He argued that the Congress could not afford to discard a song for which there was massive support in the country.

In his October 20, 1937, letter to Bose, Nehru wrote: “I have managed to get an English translation of Anandamath and I am reading it at present to get the background of the song. It does seem that this background is likely to irritate the Muslims.” Apparently, the language of the song was too difficult for Nehru. He wrote in the letter: “I do not understand it without the help of a dictionary.” He told Bose that he would consult Rabindranath Tagore on the issue of Vande Mataram. (Page 32)

Tagore’s judgement of the song was mixed. In his letter to Nehru, Tagore acknowledged that the song had played a critical role in making the Indian masses aware of their history and culture. But there were portions in the song for which he could not muster any sympathy since he was brought up in the monotheistic ideals of his father. According to Tagore, the Muslim opposition to Vande Mataram was justified since this song was a hymn to Goddess Durga. Here’s an excerpt from his letter to Nehru: 

“I freely concede that the whole of Bankim’s Vande Mataram poem, read together with its context, is liable to be interpreted in ways that might wound Moslem susceptibilities, but a national song, though derived from it, which has spontaneously come to consist only of the first two stanzas of the original poem, need not remind us every time of the whole of it, much less of the story with which it was accidentally associated. It has acquired individuality and an inspiring significance of its own in which I see nothing to offend any sect or community.” (Page 34)

According to Tagore, the first two stanzas of Vande Mataram were acceptable but the rest of the song was a hymn to Goddess Durga. His view was accepted by the Congress Working Committee. The CWC resolution drafted by Nehru said: “The Committee recognize the validity of the objection raised by Muslim friends to certain parts of the song… Taking all things into consideration therefore the Committee recommended that wherever the Vande Mataram is sung at national gatherings only the first two stanzas should be sung…” (Page 35-36)

Tagore’s personal popularity suffered a major setback due to the position that he had taken on Vande Mataram. Prominent Hindu intellectuals criticized him for his failure to strongly defend Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s work. Feeling bitter at the criticism being heaped on him, in his letter to poet Buddhadeb Bose, Tagore lamented: “Since I have been born in Bengal the typhoon of name-calling is like the accustomed breeze of my homeland to me. I have lodged no complaint or protest. Those days are over when I was sensitive to all that….” (Page 38)

(All quotations used in this article are from Vande Mataram: The Biography of a Song, by Sabyasachi Bhattacharya)

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Sri Aurobindo: On Vande Mataram

Sri Aurobindo

A nation is not merely geography; it is also history and culture. Therefore, nationalism ought to be historical and cultural (religious), not merely geographical. The nationalism that Bankim Chandra Chatterjee has preached in his 1881 novel Anandamath was founded on the ideal of union between geography of the Indian subcontinent and the religious values of the Hindus. 

In his song Vande Mataram, which is the centerpiece of Anandamath, Chatterjee delivers his message of union between geography and religion by likening the motherland with Goddess Durga: “twam-hi Durga dasha-praharana dharini…”

Bipin Chandra Pal was inspired by the song Vande Mataram. In 1905, he founded the journal called Bande Mataram. Sri Aurobindo became its editor. The journal served as the mouthpiece for two revolutionary nationalist movements operating in Bengal for Indian independence: the Jugantar Party and the Anushilan Samiti. The journal was very popular and it was read by many who were not part of the two nationalist movements. 

In his editorial in the 16th April 1907 issue of the journal, Aurobindo talked about the role that the song Vande Mataram had played in awakening nationalist sentiments in India: 

“It was thirty-two years ago that Bankim wrote his great song and few listened; but in a sudden moment of awakening from long delusions the people of Bengal looked round for the truth and in a fated moment somebody sang Bande Mataram. The mantra had been given and in a single day a whole people had been converted to the religion of patriotism. The Mother had revealed herself. 

“Once that vision has come to a people, there can be no rest, no peace, no farther slumber till the temple has been made ready, the image installed and the sacrifice offered. A great nation which has had that vision can never again be placed under the feet of the conqueror.”

In another essay titled, “The Mother and the Nation,” Aurobindo wrote: 

“When Bankim discovered the mantra Bande Mataram and the song wrote itself out through his pen, he felt that he had been divinely inspired, but the people heard his song and felt nothing. "Wait" said the prophet, "wait for thirty years and all India will know the value of the song I have written." The thirty years have passed and Bengal has heard; her ears have suddenly been opened to a voice to which she had been deaf and her heart filled with a light to which she had been blind.” 

P.S. (These days most people write Vande Mataram; in Sri Aurobindo’s time, Bande Mataram was the convention.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

On Lalchand’s Book: Self-Abnegation in Politics

Rai Bahadur Lalchand’s book Self-Abnegation In Politics was published in the communally charged political environment of the 1930s, when India was hurtling towards independence, and the Muslim League, led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, had become vociferous in its demand for a separate homeland for the Muslims. Lal Chand laments in his book that instead of uniting and strengthening the Hindus, the Congress was weakening them and making them defenseless.  

The first six presidents of the Congress were not Hindus: the 1885 president was a Christian, Mr. W C Bonnerjee; the 1886 president was a Parsi, Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji; the 1887 president was a Muslim, Mr. Badruddin Tyabji; in 1888 and 1889, there were two European presidents, George Yule and Sir William Wedderburn; the 1890 president was a Parsi, Sir Pherozeshah Mehta. 

In Chapter 1, Lalchand writes: “If there is one thing which is strictly forbidden within the precincts of the Congress, it is the term ‘Hindu.’” He charges that the Hindus were a non-entity for the Congress leaders, and that the Hindus made a mistake by joining the Congress, because if they had worked to safeguard their political interests through their own efforts, they might have emerged stronger. In chapter 14, he writes: 

“They [the Congress movement] were given a political importance which they never possessed before, while Hindus were lowered in the scale from the position which they had already occupied. And with all these events passing before their eyes, the Congress through its mouthpiece the Indian Congress Committee moved not a little finger to render support or help to the Hindu cause. Nay, it did not even condescend, to give encouragement to the community in the struggle. On the other hand , its main exponent tried to gag the Hindu mouth, against even raising a lament…”

“…A movement is judged by its results, just as a tree by its fruit. A tree, however, bright and beautiful in form and figure, yet if it bears bitter or poisonous fruit will be shunned and avoided.” 

Lalchand was deeply affected by the violence that was raging in several parts of the country. He could see that the gulf between the religious groups was widening and he blamed the Congress rendering the Hindus defenseless. He felt that due to the ineffectiveness of the Congress, Hindu nationality was being gradually eroded. He has not mentioned Mahatma Gandhi in his book. But in Chapter 1, he rejects the Gandhian philosophy of non-violence:

“The moral ideal, that when slapped on one cheek you should offer the other for a slap, has no place in politics. Here the maxim is just the reverse. If you are slapped, give proper return, and you would at once find a desire by the other side to make friends. The method of offering the other cheek for being slapped has now been tried for over 20 years. There has been enough of coaxing and fawning, which by giving undue importance to the other community has begotten only insolence and impudence. May we not now try the counter method and see its result?”

Lalchand’s book became influential in the late 1930s and early 1940s and led to the formation of Hindu Sabha in Punjab. 

Monday, July 25, 2022

On Sanatana Dharma

The Hindus are Sanatana Dharmists not only in religion, but in political ideology also. The Western ideology of communism and the Middle Eastern ideology of Islamic theocracy are incompatible with the ideology of Sanatana Dharma.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Shamshera: A Spiteful Movie

Sanjay Dutt as Shuddhi Singh

The Brahmins have helped preserve India’s heritage under hellish circumstances. During the Middle Ages (from the seventh century to the middle of the nineteenth), India was ravaged by a series of invasions. The invaders sacked thousands of temples and universities—they plundered the treasure stored at these institutions, they destroyed the idols and paintings, and they burned the ancient manuscripts. In regions where the invaders gained power and established their kingdoms, restrictions were placed on the practice of Hinduism—new temples could not be built and the destroyed temples could not be rebuilt. 

The ancient knowledge of Hinduism would have vanished if the heroic Brahmins had not waged a long and traumatic struggle to preserve the practice of Hindu rituals. During the period of foreign domination, the Brahmins guided the masses on the practice of Hinduism, and they preserved the exact wordings of Hinduism's ancient manuscripts through their oral tradition. More than any other community, the much-maligned Brahmins were responsible for the preservation of the rituals and teachings of Hinduism. 

The leftists, who dominate India’s intellectual establishment and entertainment industry, despise the Brahmins because they were responsible for preserving Hinduism. The leftists don’t like Hinduism—they see Hinduism as the primary hurdle against the imposition of a Western or Middle Eastern style ideological (communism) or monotheistic (semitic religion) statism in India. In articles, history texts, and movies, the Brahmins are often vilified as the deluded obscurantists who oppressed other castes and hindered India from modernizing. Shamshera is the latest Bollywood movie to launch a spiteful attack on the Brahmins. 

I have not seen Shamshera. My view of this movie is based on one two-minute trailer and one review. The movie is of the time when the British ruled India; its villain is a Brahmin called Shuddhi Singh who flaunts the religious symbols associated with the Brahmins with such outrageous excess that he appears like a caricature from hell. Shuddhi Singh is a tilak-wearing, janeu-wearing, sikha-wearing Brahmin. He looks like a cartoon character. He is a sadistic tyrant who oppresses the tribals and the so-called lower castes. According to this movie, the British and the Islamists were good guys who wanted to help the poor, while the Brahmins were the villains.

As far as real history is concerned, Shamshera is bullshit. Shuddhi Singh is not inspired by any real figure in India’s past. He has no parallels in history. There is no record of any Brahmin, employed by the British, who committed the kind of atrocities that Shuddhi Singh is depicted committing in the movie. Shuddhi Singh is a myth. He is the product of the nihilistic imagination of the Hindu-hating leftists who dominate Bollywood. The makers of this film want Hindus to feel ashamed of their religion—that is why they bequeathed Shuddhi Singh with all the traditional symbols of the Brahmins. The movie has flopped. No one wants to watch bullshit movies.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

On Mukerji’s Book: A Dying Race

“The Muslims have a future and they believe in it—we Hindus have no conception of it. Time is with them—time is against us. At the end of the year they could count their gains, we calculate our losses. They are growing in numbers, growing in strength, growing in wealth, growing in solidarity; we are crumbling to pieces. They look forward to a united Muslim world; we are waiting for our extinction.” ~ U. N. Mukerji, in his 1909 book A Dying Race

Mukerji wrote his book in response to the 1901 census of India, which showed a steep decline in the population of Hindus in many regions of India, particularly in Bengal (the united Bengal of his time). The book begins with data from the first census, conducted in 1872, which showed that Hindus were in majority. In just thirty years, as per the 1901 census, Mukerji notes that the population of Hindu Bengalis had fallen to 25 lakhs less than the Muslim Bengali population. 

In the twentieth century, the population of Hindu Bengalis has continued to decline. Currently, the percentage of Hindus in Bangladesh is 8.2 percent. It is clear that Mukerji’s fear that the Hindus are a dying race has come true in the Bengal region. His fear has also come true in Pakistan, where Hindus were once in majority but today account for just 2.14 percent of the population, and in Indian states like Kashmir, where militancy has led to a steep decline in the Hindu population. 

In his book, Mukerji’s focus is on the analysis of the social and economic conditions which have fragmented Hindu society and created the problem of lack of cultural and religious awareness among the Hindu masses. He identifies several painful facets of Hindu society, and takes note of the reasons which motivate some Hindus to discard their religion and convert.

A Dying Race is written in an objective and introspective style—it does not create the impression of defeatism. Mukerji’s aim in writing the book was to raise cultural and religious consciousness in the Hindu masses—in this endeavor, he found some success. His thesis on decline of Hindu population became popular among the nationalist intellectuals of that period. It influenced the thinking of the Arya Samaj movement and, in 1915, it contributed to the founding of the Hindu Mahasabha.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Boris Johnson’s Final Words: “Hasta la vista, baby”

Boris Johnson

“Hasta la vista, baby!” ~ Boris Johnson’s final words as prime minister to the British parliament. 

Johnson was quoting Schwarzenegger’s catchphrase in the movie Terminator 2. It is noteworthy that Schwarzenegger, as the Terminator, could not stop the apocalypse from happening. In the next two sequels, Terminator 3 and Terminator 4, civilization is destroyed. 

Johnson thinks that he has said “Hasta la vista, baby,” as a joke to the British Parliament. But it seems as if he has said this to the Western civilization. The West has dominated the world for almost 300 years; now the age of Western supremacy has come to an end.  

Years from today, historians will write that Boris Johnson’s words—“Hasta la vista, baby”—proved prophetic. His words marked the end of the age of Western dominance of the world, and the dawn of a new age.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Mahatma Gandhi and V. D. Savarkar

V. D. Savarkar

The plaque carrying Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s name and quotation that was installed at the Cellular Jail in Port Blair by Ram Naik, petroleum minister in Vajpayee’s NDA government, was removed within months of the UPA taking power in 2004. Mani Shankar Aiyar, the UPA’s petroleum minister, played a central role in the plaque’s quick removal. 

The BJP vehemently protested against the removal of the plaque. They saw the act as a deliberate attempt to denigrate the memory of Savarkar, a revered Hindutva ideologue and freedom fighter, who was incarcerated at the Cellular Jail from 1911 to 1921. BJP leaders demanded an apology from Aiyar who refused to apologize. The UPA came out in Aiyar’s support—they declared that they were against Savarkar’s political vision. In 2014, the BJP was back in power, and in July 2015, eleven years after the plaque had been removed, it was reinstalled. 

The left (UPA, led by the Congress) and the right (NDA, led by the BJP) cannot come to an agreement on Savarkar. Savarkar is controversial because his philosophy of Hindutva is antithetical to the secular and pacifist idealism of Mahatma Gandhi. The clash between Savarkarism and Gandhism began in the first decade of the twentieth century and it continues till this day.

On 24 October 1909, there was an encounter between Mahatma Gandhi and Savarkar at a public meeting in London to celebrate the festival of Vijayadashami. This was their second meeting—they had first met in October 1906, at Shyamji Krishna Varma’s India House. In his address at the meeting, Gandhiji praised the “pacifist virtues” of Lord Rama. He talked about the extreme suffering that Rama, Sita and Lakshmana endured for twelve years. He preached that Indians will become free men when they learn to be pacifists like Rama and they develop the capacity to endure terrible sufferings for years. 

Then it was Savarkar’s turn to speak. In his speech, he tried to refute everything that Gandhiji had said during his speech. 

Savarkar said that the festival of Vijayadashami is preceded by Navaratri—which entails nine days of festivities and fasting for propitiating Goddess Durga, who symbolizes bravery, strength, and victory over evil. He agreed with Gandhiji that Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana represent the Indian ideal for perfect life, and that Rama Rajya is the ideal of a perfectly just political system. But he reminded his audience that before Lord Rama could establish Rama Rajya, he had to wage a war to kill the demon king Ravana, who symbolized tyranny and injustice. 

Savarkar added: “Hindus are the heart of Hindustan. Nevertheless, just as the beauty of the rainbow is enhanced by its varied hues, Hindustan will appear more beautiful across the sky of future if it assimilated all that was best in Muslim, Parsee, Jewish and other communities.” (This account of the speeches by Gandhiji and Savarkar is given in two books: Gandhi: An Illustrated Biography, by Pramod Kapoor, and Savarkar: Echoes from a Forgotten Past, by Vikram Sampath.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Bhagwat and Jinping: On National Culture

Chinese president Xi Jinping’s recent statement—“Islam in China must be Chinese in orientation”—has made me remember the words of Mohan Bhagwat, RSS chief from 2009. Bhagwat said: “Everything can be negotiated, except the Hindu Rashtra.” (Understanding RSS, by Rakesh Sinha, page 119).

Bhagwat and Jinping are making good political arguments. I believe that a nation’s culture and political interests are nonnegotiable. All religions in a nation have to be nationalistic in orientation. A nation cannot have peace, stability, and progress unless people of all religions identify with a common culture.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

A Note on Swami Shraddhanand

Swami Shraddhanand

"The great Aryan Nation is said, at the present moment, to be a dying race not because its numbers are dwindling but because it is completely disorganized. Individually, man to man, second to none on earth in intellect and physique, possessing a code of morality unapproachable by any other race of humanity, the Hindu Nation is still helpless on account of its manifold divisions and selfishness.” ~ Swami Shraddhanand, in his 1924 book Hindu Sangathan: Saviour of the Dying Race (Page 101-102)

Swami Shraddhanand (also known as Mahatma Munshi Ram Vij) was an Arya Samaj sannayasi. He fought for India’s independence and resurgence of Hindu culture and religion. He was a vehement campaigner against forced conversions. 

In his article, “Hindu-Muslim-Tensions: Causes and Resistance” (published in 1922), Mahatma Gandhi criticized Shraddhanand for his mission to reconvert to Hinduism all those who were forcibly converted to other religions. Gandhiji wrote: “Swami Shraddhanand has also become a character of disbelief. I know that his speeches are often provocative….” This was the period when Gandhiji was providing full support to the Khilafat Movement with the hope that this would lead to some kind of Hindu-Muslim unity. Gandhiji believed that by his religious mission, which was completely nonviolent, Shraddhanand was provoking the Muslim community. 

On 23 December 1926, Shraddhanand was assassinated by a fanatic who was angered by the work that he was doing for the Hindu cause.

Here’s another excerpt from Shraddhanand’s book: 

“The salvation of the community depends upon common action taken by the Hindu Samaj as a whole, but individual salvation is the lookout of individuals. Theoretical Dharma is connected with individual salvation and, therefore, there is room for theists, pantheists, henotheists and even atheists in the broad lap of the organized Hindu Samaj. But the code of practical Dharma has to do with the community as a whole and, therefore here the plea of individual Dharma should not be allowed to prevail…” (Page 110-111)

Monday, July 18, 2022

Mahatma Gandhi and the Khilafat Movement

R. C. Majumdar

In 1919, the Muslim community in British India started an agitation to put pressure on Britain to change its policy towards Turkey and restore the caliph of the Ottoman Caliphate as the political authority. This was known as the Khilafat Movement (Caliphate Movement), and it was led by the Ali brothers: Shaukat Ali and Mohammad Ali Jauhar. 

Mahatma Gandhi saw in the Khilafat Movement an opportunity to bring Hindus and Muslims together. He exhorted all Hindus to join the protests. He went to the extent of proclaiming that the Khilafat issue was as important as the issue of home rule in India. When the All-India Khilafat Conference met at Delhi on 24 November 1919, Gandhiji was elected its President. At least on the surface, it seemed that the Khilafat was a Gandhian movement backed by the power and prestige of the Congress Party.

In the Non-Cooperation agitation that the Congress organized between 1920 and 1922, the Khilafat issue was given as much importance as the issue of home rule. Most Indians in that time would not have known where Turkey was or what the Khilafat issue was about, but they answered Gandhiji’s call and millions participated in the protests.

Historian R. C. Majumdar has opined that Gandhiji made a political blunder by providing overwhelming support to the Khilafat Movement. 

In his book, History and Culture of the Indian People: Struggle for Freedom, Majumdar writes: “there seems to be no doubt whatsoever that when he [Gandhiji] launched the Non-cooperation movement on 1 August 1920, the Khilafat wrongs were the single issue which determined his action; the Punjab atrocities and winning of Swaraj were subordinate issues which were gradually tacked on to the main issue of the Khilafat, at a later date and as an after-thought.” (Page 332)

According to Majumdar, even Gandhiji’s close associates believed that he was going too far in supporting the Khilafat Movement. But Gandhiji continued to justify his position in the name of Hindu-Muslim unity. On page 318, Majumdar writes: “Gandhi looked upon the fate of Khilafat as a matter of life and death to the Muslims. But this was out-Heroding Herod himself, for in less than five years’ time the post of Caliphate was abolished by the Turks themselves without creating a stir in the Muslim world.” 

On page 319, Majumdar points out that the Khilafat issue was inimical to India’s interests: “Gandhi failed to realize that the pan-Islamic idea which inspired the Khilafat question cut at the very root of Indian nationality. If the real sympathy and “vital interests” of a large section of Indians were bound up with a State and society which lay far outside the boundaries of India and had no political connection with it, they could never form a unit of Indian nationality.”

Gandhiji failed to achieve his dream of achieving Hindu-Muslim unity through the Khilafat Movement. The Ali brothers had a distaste for the Hindus; they had contempt for the Gandhian ideal of Hindu-Muslim unity. They saw their connection with the Congress as a purely tactical step. In 1925, the unity between the Congress and the Khilafat Movement broke down, and the Ali brothers began to openly criticize Gandhiji. 

On page 336, Majumdar writes that in 1925, “Muhammad All said: ‘However pure Gandhi’s character may be, he must appear to me from the point of view of religion inferior to any Mussulman, even though he be without character.’ He repeated it later, saying, ‘Yes, according to my religion and creed, I hold an adulterous and a fallen Mussalman to be better than Mr. (no longer Mahatma) Gandhi.’” This was the end of bonhomie between Gandhiji and the Ali brothers.

Instead of bringing Hindus and Muslims together, as Gandhiji had hoped, the Khilafat Movement widened the gulf between the two communities.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Vande Mataram: The Nationalist Song

Bankim Chandra Chatterjee

Bankim Chandra Chatterjee wrote the nationalist song Vande Mataram (“Hail to Bharat Mata or the Motherland”) in 1875. He included this song in his 1881 novel Anandamath, which is the story of a group of sannyasis who start a militaristic society to expel foreign invaders from their country. These sannyasis sing Vande Mataram before going into battle against the invaders. 

In the 1890s, the Vande Mataram song became the war cry of the Indian nationalists who wanted to make India an independent country. At the 1896 session of the Indian National Congress, Vande Mataram was set to music and sung by Rabindranath Tagore. Popularized by nationalists like Sri Aurobindo, Bipin Chandra Pal, and others, Vande Mataram became India’s nationalist song. Sri Aurobindo hailed Bankim Chandra as the “rishi” of nationalism. 

In the 1930s, some Islamic groups started criticizing Vande Mataram on the ground that it was idolatrous. They asserted that since the song was full of Hindu symbolism, it was anti-Muslim. In his book, Vande Mataram: The Biography of a Song, Sabyasachi Bhattacharya notes that Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the supreme leader of the Muslim League, said that Vande Mataram “is not only idolatrous but in its origin and substance a hymn to spread hatred for the Musalmans.” Jinnah declared that Vande Mataram was unacceptable to the Muslims. 

Mahatma Gandhi was pained by the controversy over Vande Mataram. He had first heard this song in 1915, at a political gathering in Madras. He was enthralled by the song. In his speech at the Madras gathering, he said: “You have sung this beautiful national song, on hearing which all of us sprang to our feet.” (Vande Mataram: The Biography of a Song, by Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, Chapter 1, “Communal War Cry”). But in the 1930s, he was powerless to defend Vande Mataram against the attacks of Jinnah and the Muslim League. 

In his article, published in the 1 July 1939 issue of Harijan magazine, Gandhiji lamented: “It never occurred to me that it [Vande Mataram] was a Hindu song or meant only for Hindus. Unfortunately now we have fallen on evil days. All that was pure gold has become base metal today…”

There were long consultations in the Congress Party to find some way of appeasing Jinnah without having to reject Vande Mataram which was very popular with the masses. In 1937, a committee headed by Jawaharlal Nehru came up with a compromise formula—they decided to expunge the idolatrous passages from Vande Mataram, and adopt a part of its text as the national song. This decision failed to satisfy Jinnah. He continued to demand a separate homeland for the Muslims and, in 1947, he got his Pakistan.

The controversy over Vande Mataram that Jinnah had created in the 1930s continued to weigh heavily on the political thinking in newly independent India. Some political groups in India saw this song as the legitimate symbol of India’s historical and cultural aspirations, while some others (the leftist and Islamic groups) saw it as a communal war cry. Eventually, the government led by Nehru decided against adopting Vande Mataram as the country’s national anthem.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Naipaul on the Ram Temple in Ayodhya

The Planned Structure of the Ram Temple

V. S. Naipaul is among the few prominent intellectuals who have unequivocally supported the Ram Janmabhoomi movement for building a Ram temple in Ayodhya. On July 18, 1993, Dileep Padgaonkar interviewed Naipaul. Among the questions that Padgaonkar asked, two were related to the Ram temple. Here’s one exchange: 

Padgaonkar: “How did you react to the Ayodhya incident?"

Naipaul: “Not as badly as the others did, I am afraid. The people who say that there was no temple there are missing the point. Babar, you must understand, had contempt for the country he had conquered. And his building of that mosque was an act of contempt for the country. In Turkey, they turned the Church of Santa Sophia into a mosque. In Nicosia churches were converted into mosques too. The Spaniards spent many centuries re-conquering their land from Muslim invaders. So these things have happened before and elsewhere. In Ayodhya the construction of a mosque on a spot regarded as sacred by the conquered population was meant as an insult. It was meant as an insult to an ancient idea, the idea of Ram which was two or three thousand years old.”

In another interview (to The Hindu newspaper, July 5, 1998), Naipaul talked about the wounds that the destruction of temples had inflicted on the Hindu psyche. He said: 

“Islam is here in a big way. There is a reason for that and we cannot hide from what the reasons were. The great invasions spread very far South, spreading to, you know, even Mysore. I think when you see so many Hindu temples of the 10th century or earlier disfigured, defaced, you know that they were not just defaced for fun: that something terrible happened. I feel that the civilisation of that closed world was mortally wounded by those invasions. And I would like people, as it were, to be more reverential towards the past, to try to understand it; to preserve it; instead of living in its ruins. The old world is destroyed. That has to be understood. Ancient Hindu India was destroyed.”

Hinduism began to assert itself in Indian politics in the 1990s through the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. The leftist and pseudo-secular political groups started losing their power in the country and the BJP, which was spearheading the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation, became the largest party in less than a decade. In 1998, the BJP formed a government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The 1990s was also the period of some of the most critical economic reforms. The resurgence of Hinduism and economic reforms have marched hand in hand since the 1990s.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Nirad C. Chaudhuri: The Lost Temples of North India

Photograph of the ruins of Somnath Temple
taken in 1869
In ancient texts there are references to several glorious temples and universities which used to flourish in the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent—the heartland of Hinduism. Most of these temples and universities were destroyed by invaders during the Middle Ages. However, in South India, some ancient temples have survived.

In his 1979 book Hinduism: A Religion to Live By, Nirad C. Chaudhuri talks about the lost ancient Hindu temples of North India. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 2, “Religion and Social Diversity,” of Chaudhuri’s book (page 125-126): 

“in the south the temples have survived, and in the north they have not. Over seven centuries from the eleventh to the end of the seventeenth all the great cities of northern India dating from Hindu times were sacked by the Muslim invaders and conquerors of India. All the temples there and in all other centres of Hinduism were systematically destroyed. None were left standing at Ujjain, Ajmere, Delhi, Mathura, Brindaban, Kanauj, Prayag, or Benares—which were the centres of the political, cultural, and religious life of the Hindus. In most of these places mosques were built on the sites of the temples, and in some with pillars taken from them. This religious vandalism also worked its fury on the Buddhist centres. Moreover, it was not simply that the great temples in the cities were destroyed; so were the village temples. For most of the period of Muslim rule, there was a ban on building new temples and rebuilding the old in the regions the Muslims controlled. 

“The ban was lifted by Akbar, but this was a short respite. It was then that one of the most original and beautiful temples of northern India was built. It was that of Govindaji at Brindaban. It could not be finished, but like the Unfinished Symphony of Schubert it remains a great work of art. The ban on temples was re-imposed, and a period of iconoclastic fury was witnessed under Shah Jahan (himself the son of a Hindu princess) and Aurangzeb, when even the rebuilt temples were again razed. It was only with the rise of Maratha power in the latter half of the eighteenth century that the destruction ceased and rebuilding began. The Marathas rebuilt Benares. The new temple of Visvanath—the old having been converted into a mosque by Aurangzeb—was built by the Maratha princess Ahilya Bai of the Holkar family, and the famous waterfront of Benares was the creation of other Maratha princes and one Rajput prince.”

Chaudhuri laments that due to the vandalism of the invaders, it is “impossible to judge what Hindu temple architecture was like in its homeland in the greatest age of Hindu civilization. We can only guess from scattered references in secular Sanskrit literature.”

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Dr. Rajendra Prasad’s Speech at the Somnath Temple

Rajendra Prasad
In May 1951, when the task of rebuilding the Somnath Temple was completed, K. M. Munshi, the minister who was overseeing the construction project, requested Dr. Rajendra Prasad to inaugurate the temple and ceremoniously install the jyotirlingam. Dr. Prasad accepted the request. Jawaharlal Nehru and many leftist intellectuals were against the presence of India’s head of state at the inauguration of the Somnath Temple. To his credit, Dr. Prasad disregarded their objection. He kept his promise to inaugurate the temple. 

In his book, My Country My Life, L. K. Advani says that the speech Dr. Prasad “delivered on the occasions is one of the most important statements on secularism delivered by a President of India.” Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Prasad’s speech:  

“Even as the creator of the Universe, Brahma, resides in the navel of Lord Vishnu, similarly in the heart of man resides the creative urge and faith, and these surpass in power all the armaments, all the armies and all the emperors of the world. In the ancient era, India had been a treasure-house of gold and silver… Centuries ago, the major portion of the gold of the world was in the temples of India. It is my view that the reconstruction of the Somnath temple will be complete on the day when not only a magnificent edifice will arise on this foundation, but the mansion of India’s prosperity will be really that prosperity of which the ancient Temple of Somnath was a symbol.” (My Country My Life, page 350) 

Dr. Prasad characterized the rebuilding of the Somnath temple as a symbol of resurgent Hinduism and India’s progress:

“By rising from its ashes again, this temple of Somnath is proclaiming to the world that no man and no power in the world can destroy that for which people have boundless faith and love in their hearts… Today, our attempt is not to rectify history. Our only aim is to proclaim anew our attachment to the faith, convictions and to the values on which our religion has rested since immemorial ages.”

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

The Reconstruction of the Somnath Temple

Somnath Temple
On 9 November 1947, four days after the princely state of Junagadh joined India, Sardar Patel announced that the Indian government would reconstruct the Somnath temple at the same spot where it stood in ancient times. Jawaharlal Nehru and several leftist intellectuals advised that Somnath should be reconstructed as a secular historic monument, not a temple. 

In Chapter 6, “The Ayodhya Movement,” of his book My Country My Life, L K Advani has devoted 10 pages (page 342 to 351) to describing the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple. Advani notes that Patel rejected the idea that Somnath should be a secular historic monument; he was firm about reinstalling the jyotirlingam in Somnath and making it a place of worship. 

Patel argued: “The Hindu sentiment in regard to this temple is both strong and widespread… it is unlikely that this sentiment will be satisfied by mere restoration of the temple or by prolonging its life. The restoration of the idol would be the point of honor and sentiments with the Hindu public.” (Page 347, My Country My Life, by L. K. Advani).

Nehru was unhappy with Patel’s decision to reconstruct the Somnath Temple as a place of worship. He believed that the temple project was antithetical to India’s secularist ideal. But the Nehru cabinet had to approve the project because Patel had taken a firm stand. In his book L. K. Advani points out that the project was “fully supported and blessed by Mahatma Gandhi.” 

After Patel’s death in 1950, Nehru started voicing his disapproval of the Somnath project openly. K. M. Munshi, minister of food and agriculture in the Nehru government, was heading the official committee that was supervising the temple’s reconstruction. Due to Nehru’s opposition, Munshi was practically isolated in his mission. In a cabinet meeting, Nehru berated Munshi: “I do not like your trying to restore Somnath. It is Hindu revivalism.” (Page 348) 

Munshi refused to be cowed down. On 24 April 1951, in a letter to Nehru, he wrote: 

“Yesterday you referred to Hindu revivalism. You pointedly referred to me in the Cabinet as connected with Somnath. I am glad you did so; for I do not want to keep back any part of my views and activities… I can assure you that the ‘Collective Subconsciousness’ of India today is happier with the scheme of reconstruction of Somnath sponsored by the Government of India than with many other things that we have done and are doing.” (Page 348)

In his letter’s concluding paragraph, Munshi attacked Nehru’s conception of secularism and talked about the importance of the Somnath Temple: 

“It is my faith in our past which has given me the strength to work in the present and to look forward to our future. I cannot value India’s freedom if it deprives us of the Bhagavad Gita or uproots our millions from the faith with which they look upon our temples and thereby destroys the texture of our lives… this shrine once resorted to a place of importance in our life will give our people a purer conception of religion and a vivid consciousness of our strength, so vital in these days of freedom and its trials.” (Page 348-349)

The reconstruction of the Somnath temple was completed in May 1951. At Munshi's request, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, India’s first president, agreed to inaugurate the temple and ceremonially install the jyotirlingam. But Nehru and many leftist intellectuals were vehemently opposed to the presence of the head of state in a religious ceremony. Dr. Rajendra Prasad rejected their objection and kept his promise to inaugurate the temple.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

T. N. Madan on the Problem of Secularism

In his 1997 book Modern Myths, Locked Minds: Secularism & Fundamentalism in India, Triloki Nath Madan exposes the hollowness of the secularist premise. In a passage on page 276, he posits that secularism is a political strategy adopted by those minority groups which aim to subvert the culture and religion of the majority. Here’s an excerpt:

“Secularism is the dream of a minority which wants to shape the majority in its own image, which wants to impose its will upon history but lacks the power to do so under a democratically organized polity. In an open society the state will reflect the character of the society. Secularism therefore is a social myth which draws a cover over the failure of this minority to separate politics from religion in the society in which its members live… For the secularist minority to stigmatize the majority as primordiaily oriented and to preach secularism to the latter as the law of human existence is moral arrogance…”

In a secular order, the religious sensibilities of the majority gets suppressed but nothing is done to control the religious fundamentalism and militancy of the minority groups. This enables the minority groups to accumulate an inordinate amount of political power.

Monday, July 11, 2022

The Four Pillars of Nehru’s Political Order

The four pillars of the order that Jawaharlal Nehru imposed on India during his uninterrupted rule of fourteen years were: democracy, socialism, secularism, and non-alignment. 

In the final years of the 1970s, it became clear Nehru’s four pillars had failed: the Indian democracy had deteriorated into a feudal system controlled by a few political dynasties, the foremost of which was Nehru’s own dynasty; socialism had led to massive corruption and poverty in the country; secularism had deteriorated into pseudo-secularism, which was suppressing Hindu religion and culture; and the blind devotion to non-alignment had ensured that, instead of national interest, India’s foreign policy was being defined by the concerns of some the world’s most corrupt and worst performing nations. 

In his December 1990 article (published in Sunday Mail), Girilal Jain, the former editor of The Times of India, talked about the four pillars of the Nehru order. Here’s an excerpt: 

“The Nehru structure has stood mainly on four pillars in conceptual terms – democracy, socialism, secularism and non-alignment. That much is obvious enough to be beyond dispute. But what is not equally obvious is the fact that these concepts have been inter-linked. Nehru’s was an integrated worldview. As such, it is only logical that if one of them becomes dysfunctional, the other three must get into trouble. In my opinion, they have.”

In his article, Girilal Jain asserted that the Nehru order cannot be restored. He called for a regime change, a total overhaul of the Nehru order. “No, the present order cannot be restored to health. The era to which it belonged is itself over. The first and fullest embodiment, the Soviet Union, lies prostrate in a state of coma waiting to be rescued by those it had set out to bury. A new order has to arise if India is to survive and prosper.”

Sunday, July 10, 2022

2019 Election as the Third Battle of Panipat

In January 2019, Amit Shah launched the BJP’s election campaign by drawing an analogy with the third battle of Panipat (1761). Speaking to party cadres, he said: “2019 will be a decisive contest like the third battle of Panipat. Marathas had won over 131 battles but lost in Panipat against the forces of Ahamd Shah Abdali. Maratha defeat led to over 200 years of colonial slavery.” He urged Indians not to make a similar mistake again. He proclaimed that the BJP was not going to be on the defensive about its image as a "Hinduwadi" party. His words struck the right chord with Hindu nationalists who believe that India’s struggle for independence began in the seventeenth century when Chhatrapati Shivaji laid the foundation of the Maratha Empire. The 2019 election turned out to be a bigger victory for the BJP than the 2014 election.

The Aim of the Government

The aim of the government is to ensure that the desire of some minority groups to follow their own religious laws and customs does not come into conflict with national interests and precipitate social disorder. The government must ensure that all minority groups follow the same law. No group has the right to demand special treatment or special constitution.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Indian Politics and Hindu Nationalism

After independence in 1947, India’s political establishment, dominated by Westernized Fabian socialists and pseudo-secular nihilists, continued to regard the Hindus with contempt and suspicion. Their feelings for the Hindus is candidly captured in these lines spoken by Lily Chatterjee, a character in Paul Scott’s 1966 novel The Jewel in the Crown:

“And Hindu did not mean Congress. No, no. Please be aware of the distinction. In this case Hindu meant Hindu Mahasabha. Hindu nationalism. Hindu narrowness. It meant rich banias with little education, landowners who spoke worse English than the youngest English subdivisional officer his eager but halting Hindi. It meant sitting without shoes and with your feet curled up on the chair, eating only horrible vegetarian dishes and drinking disgusting fruit juices." 

Lily Chatterjee is right when she says, “And Hindu did not mean Congress.” India’s political establishment—led by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and a handful of other dynasties—took the Hindus for granted. They expected the Hindus to vote for them during elections but they were hostile to Hindu aspirations. They imposed false secularism on the country to appease the minorities while making the Hindus feel guilty about their religion, culture, and history.

Hindu nationalism became a factor in Indian politics in the 1990s—in the aftermath of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement spearheaded by L. K. Advani and other rightwing leaders. The demand of the nationalists did not stop at cultural issues—some rightwing groups railed against the failures of Nehruvian socialism and campaigned for economic reforms. Hindu nationalism and economic reforms have marched in tandem since the 1990s.

Sheikh Abdullah’s 1953 Meetings With Adlai Stevenson

In April 1953, Adlai Stevenson II, the American politician who was twice the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, arrived in Srinagar. He claimed that he was on a vacation and intended to sail on Dal Lake and see the snow. But he had two meetings, each of more than two hours, with Sheikh Abdullah. 

The content of these meetings was not revealed by either side, and that led to a lot of speculation in India. Most Indians saw the USA as an imperialist power—they suspected that the USA was trying to encourage Kashmir’s secession with the intention of making the region a part of its sphere of influence. In those days Abdullah was insisting on Kashmir’s independence. Stevenson later denied that he had encouraged Abdullah. 

In his book, Jawaharlal Nehru: A Biography (Volume 2, Page 131, footnote), Sarvepalli Gopal writes that when Abdullah casually suggested that “independent status might be an alternative,” Stevenson remained silent. Stevenson claimed that he did not give “even unconscious encouragement regarding independence, which did not seem to me realistic…” 

In August 1953, the Abdullah government in Kashmir was dismissed—soon after that Abdullah was arrested for anti-national activities. One of the charges against him was that he was colluding with an imperialist power—hinting to a conspiracy with the USA. In his footnote on page 131 of his book, Sarvepalli Gopal writes: “Nehru thought that Dulles and Adlai Stevenson might have privately put forward the idea of an independent Kashmir.” 

But it seems that Jawaharlal Nehru disbelieved the charge of conspiracy against Abdullah. In his October 3, 1953, letter to his sister Vijayalakshmi Pandit, (mentioned on the footnote on page 131), he absolved both Abdullah and Stevenson. 

Stevenson was close to Nehru. In 1949, when Nehru was on a “goodwill tour” of the USA, Stevenson welcomed him in Chicago with these words: “Only a tiny handful of men have influenced the implacable forces of our time. To this small company of the truly great, our guest… belongs… Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru belongs to the even smaller company of historic figures who wore a halo in their own lifetimes.”

In light of Stevenson’s closeness to Nehru, it is hard to guess whose agenda he was covering in his meetings with Abdullah—America’s or of the Nehru government? In the early years of India’s independence, Nehru failed to act decisively in Kashmir. He dithered for too long and then he took the Kashmir issue to the UN. The involvement of the UN and some foreign powers has caused further complications in Kashmir.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Ram Swarup on Christianity and Islam

“Like Marx who hated capitalism but regarded it as a higher form of economic and political organization and welcomed capitalists as sappers and miners of Communism, Christianity detested Islam but honored it for destroying idolatry.” 

“Though Christianity has a poor opinion of Islam, yet it regards it as a partner up to a point; it welcomes Islam's role as a cleanser of the "world from the gross pollution of idolatry,”—the name by which the two religions remember all other religions, past or present. This sympathy arises from the fact that the two religions in spite of the long history of conflicts share a common perspective and common ideological premises.”

~ these two quotations are from Ram Swarup’s book Hindu View of Christianity and Islam

Ram Swarup is right. Political battle between Christianity and Islam has been raging for almost 1200 years, but at a doctrinal level, there is affinity between the two religions. Both are anti-idolatry; both are anti-polytheism. Since Hinduism is the world’s oldest and most widespread movement of polytheism and idolatry, it is the supreme target for both Christianity and Islam. 

In my opinion (this is not Ram Swarup’s view), Christianity is a philosopher’s and trader’s religion, while Islam is a warrior’s and tyrant’s religion. In the last 500 years, the Christians have tried to convert the Hindus by coming up with theological arguments and by offering financial incentives. In the last 1300 years, Islam has adopted coercive and militaristic methods for converting the Hindus.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Sardar Patel and Churchill’s Princestan

More than a year after independence, India continued to have a British officer as the commander-in-chief of the Indian Army. In September 1948, when Sardar Patel ordered the Indian army to overthrow the regime of Hyderabad’s Nizam, who was conspiring to make Hyderabad an independent country with direct relationship with Britain and Pakistan, General Roy Bucher was the commander-in-chief.

At that time, several British politicians, including Winston Churchill (who was a friend of the Nizam), were supporting the Nizam’s effort to make Hyderabad an independent country—they were taking such a position despite the fact that the majority of the people in Hyderabad were Hindus who wanted to join India. Churchill did not care about the fate of the Indian subcontinent. He was a British supremacist—to save the British Empire, he would without a second thought sacrifice millions of lives in the Indian subcontinent. These details are given in Warren Dockter’s book Churchill and the Islamic World.

Hyderabad covered almost the entire Deccan plateau in the centre of India—it ran across an area of more than 80,000 square miles. If Hyderabad was granted the status of an independent nation, India would have become ungovernable—this is because an independent Hyderabad would have divided North India from South India. 

Convinced that a geographically-unified India would not accept British hegemony, Churchill’s strategy was to divide the Indian subcontinent into three parts: Pakistan, Hindustan and Princestan. By Princestan, he meant the princely states such as Hyderabad. Two of these three parts, Pakistan and Princestan, would be under Islamic rulers who would accept British hegemony. Churchill believed that an independent Hyderabad would be a British puppet.

India was fortunate that Clement Attlee won the election in 1945 and became the prime minister of Britain. If Churchill had been the prime minister in the crucial period of the late 1940s, he would have used the might of the British state to sabotage India’s interests, and divide the Indian subcontinent into several small states. The implementation of Churchill's insane strategy for partition would have led to violence of much greater magnitude than what happened under Attlee, and the Indian subcontinent would have become a war zone for decades.

General Roy Bucher initially objected to Patel’s order of military action against Hyderabad’s Nizam. He warned that if India moved against the Nizam, Pakistan would retaliate by attacking Amritsar. Patel told Bucher that as a commander of the Indian military, his job was to obey the government’s orders, and if he opposed the Hyderabad action, then he should resign. Bucher backed down and on September 13, 1948, the Indian army moved into Hyderabad. On September 17, the Nizam capitulated and Hyderabad became a part of India.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

On The Somnath Temple

Somnath Temple
Somnath is one of the oldest temples of Hinduism. It is mentioned in the Vana Parva section of the Mahabharata as Prabhas Patan (a place of pilgrimage). In 1026, the Somnath temple was sacked by Mahmud of Ghazni. Farrukhi Sistani, a major Persian poet of that period, has claimed that he had accompanied Mahmud to Somnath. According to him, Mahmud sacked the Somnath temple and shattered its idol, because this place was the final resting place of the pre-Islamic Arab goddess Manat. 

Historian Romila Thapar haș talked about Farrukhi Sistani’s claims in her 1999 essay, “Somnath and Mahmud.” Here’s an excerpt: 

“According to [Farrukhi Sistani], the idol was not of a Hindu deity but of a pre-Islamic Arabian goddess. He tells us that the name Somnat (as it was often written in Persian) is actually Su-manat, the place of Manat. We know from the Qur'an that Lat, Uzza and Manat were the three pre-Islamic goddesses widely worshipped, and the destruction of their shrines and images, it was said, had been ordered by the Prophet Mohammad. Two were destroyed, but Manat was believed to have been secreted away to Gujarat and installed in a place of worship. According to some descriptions, Manat was an aniconic block of black stone, so the form could be similar to a lingam.”

The Arab civilization was polytheistic before the rise of Islam in the seventh century, and they had close connections with the Indian subcontinent. There is no record of the Arabs attacking any nation while they were polytheistic—they were very peaceful in their long polytheistic age.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Remembering the Shah Bano Case

The final nail in the coffin of secularism was driven in May 1986, when the parliament, dominated by Rajiv Gandhi’s government, passed the Muslim Women’s bill. This bill effectively took away from Muslim women the financial security that they had gained from the judgement delivered by the Supreme Court a year earlier in what is known as the “Shah Bano Case." 

The passage of the Muslim Women’s bill was Rajiv Gandhi’s most definitive act—he will forever be remembered as the prime minister who got the parliament to pass a law which made Islamic law the sole determinant of the fate of divorced Muslim women.

Shah Bano was the daughter of a head constable. In 1932, at the age of 16, she married her cousin Muhammad Ahmad Khan. The couple settled in Indore where Khan established a legal practice. After 43 years of conjugal life, and five children, Khan threw Shah Bano out of his house and started living with his second wife. He paid her Rs. 200 per month as maintenance for two years, and then he stopped, even though he had a decent income. 

In 1978, Shah Bano filed a case in a local court under Section 125 (Prevention of Vagrancy and Destitution) of the Criminal Procedures Code and pleaded that her husband (they were not legally divorced) should be made to pay her Rs. 500 per month. Angered by her lawsuit, Khan unilaterally divorced her by a provision available to him under the Muslim Personal Law. He deposited with the court Rs. 3000 that he claimed he owed to Shah Bano as mehr

The court ruled that Khan must pay Rs. 25 to Shah Bano every month. Shah Bano appealed in the Madhya Pradesh High Court that she could not survive on a sum of Rs. 25. The High Court raised the amount to Rs. 179 per month. Khan appealed to the Supreme Court, where he argued that being a Muslim, he was bound to the Islamic Law, which stipulated that he was obliged to pay maintenance only during the period designated as iddah (3 months). He had, he informed the Supreme Court, already fulfilled this obligation. 

In consideration to the claims made by Khan in his appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that the Section 125 of the CrPC could not be influenced by the religion of the parties involved, and that it was mandatory for an ex-husband to provide maintenance to his divorced wife if she had no means of supporting herself. The ruling deplored the fact that the Article 44 of the constitution, mandating universal civil code, “has remained a dead letter.” 

The judgement shocked the Muslim groups—they saw the judgement as an attack on Islam. A storm broke loose as political parties, which eyed Muslim votes, came together to protest. At first, Rajiv Gandhi supported the Supreme Court’s judgement but when the protests gathered momentum and became violent, he did an about-face. He had his government pass the Muslim Women’s bill. By passing this bill, he effectively finished secularism in the country. 

If India's constitution does not apply to cases like the Shah Bano Case, then the country is not secular. L. K. Advani was right in characterizing the secularism imposed on India by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty as “pseudo-secularism,” which unfairly demonizes the Hindus while appeasing the fundamentalist groups in the minority communities.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

W. C. Smith’s View of Islam in India

Wilfred Cantwell Smith’s 1957 book Islam in Modern History is perhaps the most important work on Islam by a Western scholar. A major focus of the book is on Islam in the Indian subcontinent. 

On page 289 of his book, Smith writes: "The Muslims of India face what is a radically new and profound problem; namely how to live with others as equals. This is unprecedented; it has never arisen before in the whole history of Islam.” On page 287, he observes: "The question of political power and social organization, so central to Islam, has in the past always been considered in yes-or-no terms. Muslims have either had political power or they have not. Never before have they shared it with others.” On page 28, he observes: “[Islam's] purpose includes the structuring of a social community, the organization of the Muslim groups into a closed body obedient to the [Islamic] Law.” 

The condition of Islam being politically supreme is not being fulfilled in India, since India is a Hindu-majority democratic and secular country where power is shared by all communities. According to Smith, sharing of power is extremely problematic in Islam.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

A View of the Bangladesh War

On 16 December 1971, the India army marched into Decca. When the news reached Lahore that the Pakistani army was defeated, the newspapers there turned apocalyptic. In a series of editorials they tried to seek consolation from the long history of Islamic conquests. 

On 18 December 1971, the editorial in Musawat, an Urdu newspaper in Lahore, began: "Today the entire nation weeps tears of blood. Today the Indian army has entered Decca. Today for the first time in 1,000 years Hindus have won a victory over Muslims. Today we are prostrate with dejection.” The editorial in newspaper Zindagi (20 December 1971) was titled "The Entire Gang Should Resign. The Entire Gang Should be Tried." It began by calling the defeat "a breach in the fortress of Islam," and asserted that though Muhammad Ghori lost the first battle of Tarain he came back "with renewed determination to unfurl the banner of Islam over the Kafir land of India.”

Several such articles are quoted in the book by C. M. Naim, Ambiguities in Heritage: Fictions and Polemics, (Chapter 14, “Muslim Press in India and the Bangladesh Crisis”). 

India was forced to fight the war in 1971 because millions of refugees from East Pakistan were pouring into Indian territory to escape from the civil war raging there. But India made no geopolitical or financial gains from the war. The new nation of Bangladesh that came into being after the 1971 war views itself as first of all an Islamic nation and it identifies with Pakistan and other Islamic nations, and it views India as its rival and enemy.

Patel’s Warning About Chinese Communism

On 7 November 1950, in a letter to Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel noted that India’s ambassador to China (K. M. Panikkar) was unfit for the job. He wrote: “The Chinese Government have tried to delude us by professions of peaceful intentions. My own feeling is that at a crucial period they managed to instill into our Ambassador a false sense of confidence in their so-called desire to settle the Tibetan problem by peaceful means.”

In this letter, Patel warns Nehru that Chinese communism is ten times more dangerous than imperialism because "it has a cloak of ideology.” He wrote: "communism is no shield against imperialism and that Communists are as good or as bad imperialists as any other.” But Nehru was not used to listening to any criticism of his policies. He ignored Patel’s advice and India paid (and is still paying) the price for his foolish China policy.

Friday, July 1, 2022

Amartya Sen’s Latest Tirade Against India

Today’s edition of newspapers carry articles in which Amartya Sen is once again indulging in his favorite pastime of talking down to the Indians. He is quoted as saying that the biggest crisis facing India at this juncture is “collapse of the nation.” In context of Teesta Setalvad’s recent arrest, Sen lamented: “It is extraordinary that colonial laws are being used to put people behind bars.” 

Extraordinary? The colonial laws have been in place since 1947. Why has it taken so long for Sen to wake up to the existence of these laws? He rails against the colonial laws only when his cronies, people like Setalvad, whose dubious NGO is accused of involvement in all kinds of anti-social and illegal activities, become the target of these laws. 

Throughout his life Sen has been a vehement supporter of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, and their Congress Party, that has ruled this country for much of the time since 1947. If there are colonial laws in the Indian legal system, then this is a failure of the past Congress governments. Why didn’t they repeal these laws when they were in power? 

In the newspaper articles, Sen is making some of the usual hypocritical comments about both Hinduism and Islam being equal contributors to Indian culture. He talks about the Taj Mahal. He talks about Dara Shikoh, Shah Jahan’s son, getting 50 Upanishads translated from Sanskrit to Persian. He talks about the music of Ravi Shankar and Akbar Khan. 

He says that he feels scared. He notes: “India cannot be (a country) of Hindus only.” Really? When has he spoken a word about the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits who have been forced to flee from their ancestral homeland in the Kashmir valley? For people like Sen, the Kashmiri Pandits do not exist. 

Sen has the distinction of being not only the world’s worst economist—he is probably the only major economist who still supports the Soviet style planned economy—but also the worst social analyst. One of the reasons that the Congress Party was trounced in the 2013 election was that they were being advised by left-wingers like Sen. 

Sen is accused of involvement in several scams—the most well-known of these scams is the Nalanda University scam. In his March 20, 2022, tweet, Subramanian Swamy called Sen a rascal: “Nalanda Univ was wrecked by UPA appointed rascal Amartya Sen.” Swamy has also accused Sen of illegally occupying land belonging to the Visva Bharati University (VBU). 

The Swedish leftists who dish out these Nobel Prizes every year must really hate the Indians. Why else would they beatify a left-winger like Amartya Sen with a Nobel Prize and transform him into India’s intellectual pope? Since 1998, when the Swedish beatified him with their Nobel Prize, Sen has been talking down to the Indians.

Akhand Bharat in 2057

From the eighteenth century onwards, in the 57th year of every century, the Indian subcontinent has been rocked by momentous political events. 

In 1757, there was the Battle of Plassey which marked the beginning of the end of Islamic power in India, and the rise of the East India Company and a number of Hindu rulers and movements. 

In 1857, there was the Great Mutiny, which resulted in the takeover of the East India Company’s domains in India by the British monarch. The events of this year also contributed to the rise of Hindu movements which started struggling for the country's independence. 

In 1957, India had its second general election, which played a crucial role in establishing the democratic system in the country. The Indian currency was decimalized in 1957. This year also marks the beginning of border skirmishes between India and China. 

Will 2057 be as momentous for India as 1757, 1857, and 1957 were? Is “Akhand Bharat” possible in 2057? In 35 years, we will have the answer to these questions.

(Some will take this post as a joke; others will take it seriously.)