There are moments when the Spirit moves among men and the breath of the Lord is abroad upon the waters of our being; there are others when it retires and men are left to act in the strength or the weakness of their own egoism. The first are periods when even a little effort produces great results and changes destiny; the second are spaces of time when much labour goes to the making of a little result. It is true that the latter may prepare the former, may be the little smoke of sacrifice going up to heaven which calls down the rain of God’s bounty. Unhappy is the man or the nation which, when the divine moment arrives, is found sleeping or unprepared to use it, because the lamp has not been kept trimmed for the welcome and the ears are sealed to the call. But thrice woe to them who are strong and ready, yet waste the force or misuse the moment; for them is irreparable loss or a great destruction. In the hour of God cleanse thy soul of all self-deceit and hypocrisy and vain self-flattering that thou mayst look straight into thy spirit and hear that which summons it. All insincerity of nature, once thy defence against the eye of the Master and the light of the ideal, becomes now a gap in thy armour and invites the blow. Even if thou conquer for the moment, it is the worse for thee, for the blow shall come afterwards and cast thee down in the midst of thy triumph. But being pure cast aside all fear; for the hour is often terrible, a fire and a whirlwind and a tempest, a treading of the winepress of the wrath of God; but he who can stand up in it on the truth of his purpose is he who shall stand; even though he fall, he shall rise again, even though he seem to pass on the wings of the wind, he shall return. Nor let worldly prudence whisper too closely in thy ear; for it is the hour of the unexpected, the incalculable, the immeasurable. Mete not the power of the Breath by thy petty instruments, but trust and go forward. But most keep thy soul clear, even if for a while, of the clamour of the ego. Then shall a fire march before thee in the night and the storm be thy helper and thy flag shall wave on the highest height of the greatness that was to be conquered. These are words from The Hour of God written by Sri Aurobindo. This is Sri Aurobindo’s clarion call to another dharmayuddha, the one that must be fought and won within, as the dharmayuddha of old was fought and won within, long before adharma was conquered on the battlefield without. A dharmayuddha is a battle for the soul. This is what makes it infinitely more critical than the outer battles for wealth or territory. The future of civilization on earth will be determined by who conquers the spiritual space – the devas or the asuras. The devas are the forces of Light, the asuras are those who deny the Light. Dharma is the establishment of the Light of the highest Truth. In an earlier spiritual epoch, when the last dharmayuddha was fought, this Light was Sri Krishna’s, for Sri Krishna embodied that highest Truth and its Force. Today, in the twenty-first century, it is Sri Aurobindo who embodies this highest Truth and Force. It is Sri Aurobindo’s Truth and Light that must be brought down into the soul, and established in the battlefield which is civilization itself. These are not abstractions: these are hard realities that every one of us is confronting in our day to day lives, across the world. There are many who are calling this a civilizational battle, a battle of narratives, and it may very well be so. The details change with the spirit or dharma of the age. But the fundamentals remain the same. And they have remained the same since the first great devas fought the first great asuras, equal in strength and force and will, in that primeval mystical event we call the great churning. Such a churning, intense and profound, is happening today as well. If one is even a bit open to the play of forces in this universe, one will feel the vast swells of this churning, like an ocean right beneath one’s surface consciousness. And it is everywhere, raging in everyone, only the intensity of consciousness varies. If this dharmayuddha has to be won again, if we are to ascend to our next evolutionary plane, we must ask for a higher intervention, a higher and more potent Truth-Force. We need to invoke, as consciously as we can, the Light and Force of the highest Truth that we can access. This Truth was brought down for us, through a lifetime’s intense tapasya, by the Maharishi of this spiritual age, Sri Aurobindo. Many know him inwardly as the avatar of the new age; many know him intimately as the Jagat Guru; many know of him as the great Yogi and Sage of Pondicherry. It does not matter how one knows him, or of him: what matters is the fact that there is such a vast Presence of the Divine amongst us, guiding and aiding all those who are sincerely open to the truth of the future, and carrying forth those who give themselves willingly to the Truth that he represents and embodies, what he calls the Supramental Truth. This is the time to invoke the Supramental Truth for earth and humanity, for it is this Truth that will be our armor and our great astra in our battle for the eternal dharma. This is the Truth that we need to invoke. Sri Aurobindo’s Truth. In invoking Sri Aurobindo’s Truth, we will invoke the Force and Light at multiple levels simultaneously: the inner psychic, the higher spiritual, the all-comprehensive supramental, and the all-transcending, integral Sachchidananda where all consciousness, and all existences and universes merge into a single stream of eternal Light and Bliss. Let us remember that this invocation does not need mental knowledge. We do not need to know in order to invoke. Invocation itself brings the knowledge. No embodied consciousness, anyway, can know Sri Aurobindo’s Truth. But we can, using our deeper power and faculty of psychic intuition, invoke Sri Aurobindo’s Truth, without needing to mentally know or understand. Invocation is the deep secret of all mysticism and religion: nothing can exceed the power and effectivity of invocation. To invoke is to give oneself to what one invokes. The truly effective invocation is when the one who invokes becomes the invocation. Our Rishis of old knew that. Thus, they became flames of invocation themselves, beings of Agni, and plunged into the very forces of the dark and the obscure. The Vedic Rishis used the power of Yajna to invoke the great Gods, the Devas, the embodiments of Light and Truth. All invocations of the Divine needed the concentrated power of the Yajna. Indeed, the Yajna is the key to all higher realizations. In this day and age, Yajna has lost its truth and power and has become an external ritual without much inner significance. Therefore, the Yajna has to be restored to its original Vedic significance. To invoke the higher Truth and Shakti, we must resort to Yajna, for that remains the most effective and efficient tool. To undertake Yajna, we must first stand as the Yajman, the initiator of the Yajna, and the one who must preside over the Yajna. To stand as the Yajman, only one condition needs to be fulfilled: sacrifice of the personal. As the yajman, one has to take the stride from the personal to the terrestrial. The yajman cannot be an individual: she or he must be representative of the collective, the samuha, one who stands for earth and represents the race. The Yajna demands the absolute and utter sacrifice of the personal consciousness in the Vast of Brahman. This is the deep import of the mantra Om Svaha…To Thee I give and give utterly… not as myself, a small and limited personality, but as the vast, the terrestrial, the one who stands for human consciousness itself. All that is petty and limited in me, I offer to the Vast… Om Svaha… This Yajna for Sri Aurobindo’s Truth must be terrestrial, for Sri Aurobindo’s Truth is of the brihat, the divine Vast. Sri Aurobindo’s own Yoga was for the Divine and for the earth, not for himself. He paved the way for those who would follow as the forerunners of the Luminous Future. Thus, our own Yajna must be impersonal, terrestrial, cosmic. Any trace of self-interest or expectation of personal gain, material or spiritual, would be an asuddhi and would instantly corrupt the Yajna and turn the fires downward, into patala instead of svarga. Patala, as we would know, is the domain of the asura, where all darkness rests self-gathered. By sacrificing one’s personal self, the greatest and most difficult of all sacrifices, one recovers from the ancient sleep of the unconscious and awakes to the luminous, the true, the eternal. This is the essential condition for the invocation of Truth and Light. He who must invoke the Light must first be awake to the Light. Thus the yajman, as representative of the tribe or the race, presides over the Yajna and lights the sacrificial fire to the resounding sounds of the old Vedic hymn… May all this go to Thee, for all this we offer to Thee…nothing of all this, neither the Sacrifice, nor the oblations, nor even the fruits of the Sacrifice, belong to us… idam na mama… nothing of this is mine, nothing of this is mine… The Yajna is a self-giving and self-emptying. All must be offered and nothing kept back. With each offering, the yajman must affirm that he or she gives utterly of himself or herself — Om Svaha. Then, indeed, the yajman is no longer an external agent presiding over the Yajna but has himself become the sacrifice and the priest who offers the sacrifice; his own physical body has become the havan-kund, the sacrificial pit, the core of the Yajna, and his own inner movements have become the various oblations to Agni, the undying Shakti of the Divine. And each time one offers oneself to the Divine, one receives a portion of the Divine: this is the ancient law, and the beauty of the Yajna. Ishvara or the Self seated within, our inmost Narayan, receives the offering, sanctifies it by His touch, and returns it to our consciousness, made whole and holy. This loop of giving and receiving between the yajman without and Narayan within is the sacred process of the Yajna, and it is only by Narayan’s sanctification and blessings that the Yajna proceeds from one stage to the next. As one gives of one’s mind and will, one’s desires and actions, one receives into oneself a little of the Divine Light, for, by the occult laws of the Yajna, what one gives is returned sanctified, as Light and Substance of the devas. And thus, the devas descend, bit by bit, sacrifice by sacrifice, into our human terrestrial substance. Understanding something of all this, we understand a little bit of the profound mystery of Sri Aurobindo’s Truth and Light. At least, a first ray of understanding descends into the mind and heart. सत्यं श्री अरविन्दस्य आविर्भवतु पृथिव्याम् May Sri Aurobindo’s Truth manifest upon earth And may this understanding and knowledge spread in all directions, be scattered with the winds and waters, and reach all those who thirst for the divine Truth and Light… may such be our prayer and our aspiration.. Om Svaha. 12th February, 2021
In Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, there is an incident where Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Technologies, advised Apple to sell all its assets and pay out its shareholders. That, in his opinion, would be Apple’s biggest service to the owners of the company. Infuriated, Steve Jobs, had a large image of Dell projected on a screen in the Board Room with a big target sign on it. And when he would end a meeting, he would point at the picture of Dell, and say gleefully, “We are coming after you, Buddy!” This was Jobs’ way of motivating his teams. Identify the enemy. Focus relentlessly on him and with a laser-sharp intensity, go guns-blazing. This, more than anything, created what Apple is today. The ability of its founder, greatest leader and visionary, to zero in on one or two things and pursue them with singular passion. Such is the moment in front of India today. Again. It blew its chances when Tibet was annexed by China. In 1962. In 1971. After 2003. It must not do so again. A clear identification is needed. And then the articulation. It needs to be stated unequivocally, “China is the enemy.” Or rather, the Communist Party of China (CPC), that controls the country with undemocratic hegemony, is the enemy. We need to enunciate this in our ministries and secretariats and in boardrooms and in the town squares and the village chaupals. It is time that India stood up for its dharma. And stop giving in and giving up, mistaking weakness for harmony, spinelessness for a higher calling and cowardice for spreading world-peace. Quietly, firmly, as it did at Doklam, it needs to tell the bully, “We will not be cowed down. And we will reverse the salami slice on you.” The bluff needs to be called, systematically, methodically. Such a process has already begun. Almost a hundred apps have been banned in India. Huawei is out of the reckoning. Investments and imports from China are being held in great Indian tamasic strategy. Self-reliance is being pursued, in manufacturing as well as pharmaceutical industry, in defense as well as in technology. The process must continue. And India must do much more. It needs to take a stand. It must demand that China return all the land it has illegally annexed since 1947. Nothing less than that will do to restore normalcy in bilateral relations among the two countries. Until then, keep hitting where it hurts. Cut the head of the dragon. And the head of the dragon is its economic monopoly. India must unequivocally demand that China stop supporting Pakistan in international forums, whether at the Security Council or with Financial Action Task Force shielding it from repercussions against its exported terrorism. And India must insist that China return Tibet to its people and withdraw from its territory. This is the toughest ask it must make but this is where the men will be separated from the boys or nations from have-been civilizations. In the same breath, it must assert that China withdraw from South China Sea, abandon the artificial islands it has created and stop appropriating resources illegally. Finally, it must demand that China give up its claim on Taiwan and follow through on its promises to UK when it took back Hong Kong. This is bound to infuriate CPC but the whole country must learn to stand its ground, no matter what the consequence. India must dismantle completely the insidious structure that China has built in India through supply chains, Confucius Centers and political and socio-cultural influence. The tentacles need to be chopped off. All this does not need to happen at once. Slowly, by investing in the security quadrangle with US, Japan and Australia, by supporting the countries in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, by supporting the Dalai Lama, slice by slice. But this cannot happen unless India stays strong and keeps building its core. It should spend all the money in defense on indigenous production as it seems to be wisely doing. Unessential imports can be slowed, banned or held with immediate effect. Essential items can be sourced from other countries. New opportunities can be created. New challenges like the one that was recently made in app developments for the entrepreneurs among us. Covid and China have been shots in the arm for us. From the same source. We need to harvest this bounty for the next few decades.
On 6 July 2020, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, turned 85. I scanned the entire Net looking for mention of this extremely important event – but in vain! There was mention of the birthday of actor Ranveer Singh (who?) – but absolutely nothing about the Dalai Lama and Tibet. Does India and the BJP government of Narendra Modi understand the extreme importance of that event? The Dalai Lama may be the last chance for India to regain a friendly border between herself and the Chinese enemy – and time is running out. You do know, I hope, that out of the 40,000 or so kms of border with China, nearly 3300 belong to Tibet! Tibet was always a friendly and peaceful buffer between the two giants of Asia. When Nehru allowed China to take over this tiny nation, he committed one of his biggest blunders – and India is still paying the price for it. The Chinese, who are most ruthless and intelligent, are just waiting for the Dalai Lama to die, to nominate their own puppet Dalai Lama, the way they named a Panchen Lama. Then it will be not only the end of the possibility of free Tibet, but from a geostrategic point of view, India will have to face in the coming decades not only a hostile border with China, without the buffer of Tibet, but also the disadvantage of China swooping down from the heights of Tibet onto India’s valleys as it did in 1962. Did you also know that according to the CIA, China has placed many of its nuclear warheads in Tibetan caves, where they escape the scrutiny of satellites and that many of them are pointed towards Indian cities? We also know that most of South Asia’s great rivers are born in Tibet and that China is building many dams upon them, depriving India and many other countries of this precious water. Thus the importance of a free Tibet has never been so crucial to India – specially at the time of extreme tension with China on many fronts, whether Ladakh, Bhutan, Arunachal Pradesh, Kashmir, or even on sea, in the Indian Ocean. But do you think that the higher bureaucrats of the External affairs Ministry of India can understand that? No, not at all. Their minds are frozen in the Nehruvian thinking that one must compromise with China at all costs! It was so in the 50’s, it was in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and it is still true, unfortunately, today. They have not learnt that the Chinese always pretend to negotiate – while preparing for war. Who will then grasp that the 85 year old Dalai Lama, a winner of the Nobel Peace prize, is India’s most powerful weapon against China? Firstly, his very name makes the Chinese shake with anger and they lose – for once — all common sense; secondly, India should respond tit for tat: China says that Kashmir is a disputed territory; China claims Arunachal Pradesh; China has taken over swathes of Indian territory, whether the Aksai Chin, or bits here and there in Assam, Ladakh, Sikkim or Bhutan. Then why the hell can’t India say that Tibet is a disputed territory? Why cannot the BJP government of Narendra Modi allow, for instance, the Dalai-lama to do a teaching in Ladakh, where he has thousands and thousands of followers – right under the nose of the Chinese? Indeed, India, without knowing it, has in his Holiness, not only a friend, but also a Yogi, the spiritual and temporal head of Tibet, as an important ally – and it is high time that the Prime Minister uses that dharmic weapon against China. We may quote here Sri Aurobindo, India’s great revolutionary, poet, philosopher and avatar who was also a prophet and wrote in 1949: “The significance of Mao’s Tibetan adventure is to advance China’s frontier right down to India and stand poised there to strike at the right moment and with right strategy… We must burn it into our minds that the primary motive of Mao’s attack on Tibet is to threaten India as soon as possible.” Happy Birthday, your Holiness. May God grant you long life! Reprinted by arrangement with the Author François Gautier’s Blog
There is more to Galwan Valley clash than you reckon As India comes to terms with the highest number of Indian Army soldiers killed in action since the Kargil war, near the Galwan Valley patrolling point 14, the question comes up again, how do you deal with a bully. Even though we know that the enemy may have suffered even greater number of casualties, the question remains. The question is an old one, and the answer is as old as the question. The only way to tackle a bully is by confronting him, by standing up to him. The bully, by definition, is one who intimidates those whom he considers weaker than him, and those who do not stare back at him. This psychological edge is important to him. As soon as the bully is confronted, he is thrown into confusion. In such a situation, he either overreacts or retreats. What the bully would choose to do out of the above two choices would depend upon his mental make-up. It is, therefore, important to understand the bully, i.e., do a purva paksha. The mental make-up of China the Bully is conditioned by the following: Confucianism, leading to the Middle Kingdom complex; Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’, leading to a tactical matrix that puts greater emphasis on non-combat activities; Communism, which gives it the unique mental make-up that anyone that is not with China is necessarily against it; Commercial Doctrine, that continues to be mercantilist, with ruthless exploitation of every commercial opportunity, with no regard for a rules-based international order; Military Doctrine, which puts great emphasis on 4th and 5th generation warfare, involving Psycholgical warfare, Media warfare, and even Legal warfare. Chinese rise to great power was based on: US elites’ greed for more profits, basically a betrayal of the principles of free markets, labour rights, free speech, and free movement, to shift the entire manufacturing capacity and IPR risks to a communist regime with an imperialist, mercantilist, and expansionist doctrine, while being communist and authoritarian — cheap, bonded labour, in alliance with the China elites. Besides, the West also outsourced its universities to the Left. US establishment’s mulish foreign policy priorities. Their obsession with controlling the middle-east, and counting Russia as their enemy, while ignoring the elephant in the room. Unwillingness of the international order to call the China bluff when it continued to pursue its strategic objectives of achieving great power status, encompassing mercantilist, territorial, and imperialist policies. The Middle Kingdom Complex of China is a unique superiority complex that it has inherited from Confucian times. In this world view, China is at the centre of the world, as the Emperor is a regent of the divine, with all other nations in a graded hierarchy below it. The British have still not forgotten the elaborate custom of kow-tow that was required to be performed by every foreign dignitary visiting the Qing Emperor. The Middle Kingdom Complex has also generated the unique centralising character of the Chinese political and bureaucratic system, with Peking/Beijing becoming the permanent seat of celestial power, whether the Mongols, Manhurians, or the Communists ruled over it. The experience of near permanent war postures in the millennium before common era also resulted in the famous Sun Tzu doctrine that lays great emphasis on winning wars without going to battle. It seems to anticipate the 4th and 5th generation warfare of the 20th and 21st century. Every action of China, in every field, practises the deceit and deception implicit in the Sun Tzu doctrine. The best example of China almost winning the war without firing a bullet is how it fooled the West to shift nearly all its manufacturing capacity to China, even shutting its eyes to blatant intellectual property theft, violation of labour rights. It was a classic capitalism alliance with authoritarianism with total disregard to free society principles. To cap it, the Left movement, so discredited after the collapse of Soviet Union, fooled an entire generation into accepting globalisation, whose greatest beneficiary was not China, but the China elites. Add to it the imperialism, mercantilism, and academic hegemony that China was allowed to exercise in the name of globalisation, and the circle was complete. Having done a basic analysis of China and its opaque morbidities, it is easy to see how a virus was allowed to develop into a pandemic. The question that stares us in the face now is how to counter this bully, that threatens to completely derail the rules-based international order by exporting diseases, intimidating neighbours with territorial grab, amassing a military totally disproportionate to its defence requirements, and birthing a system of mercantilism symbolised by OBOR. Effective counter to this newly attempted Pax Sinica necessarily has to address the understanding that we have developed. A bully has to be looked into the eye: Mercantilism: Commercial targeting is important. Investments must be drawn out of China, and its exports must be curtailed. This would hit the Chinese elites as Chinese businesses are controlled by the oligarchs of the CPC. The internal dissensions would check the unbridled Pax Sinica being pursued by Xi Jinping. The setback would also keep any future leader honest too. OBOR is a reasonable failure. The anti-China grouping must ensure it becomes a spectacular failure. Strategic: The Indo-Pacific strategy of US should be whole-heartedly embraced by India. India’s hesitation should now vanish, after the Galwan Valley incident. India should be ready to take the plunge now the way Australia has done. Imperialism: India should leverage the Indian Ocean and Malacca Straits advantage. Even if the Ten Degree Channel in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands area has to be shut for the Chinese Oil Tankers, the option should be made live. Communism: an urgent programme for deradicalising the world universities, and purging them of Leftist influence must be made into an international programme. China cannot be allowed to use the tools of the free world to subvert the free world. Military: The world has to synchronise its military might and engage China in a few real skirmishes. Galwan is a good beginning because it would have dented the fiction of invincible China with its high Chinese casualties. If you are not aware, let me bring you up to speed. The long term plan of CCP is to link up Tibet/Aksai chin with Pakistan occupied Gilgit Baltistan in order to discount the Indian threat to Gilgit Baltistan forever. So the entire Trans-Ladakh range tract, or the Shyok Valley region, is the ultimate target of CCP, and thereby the PLA, which is an arm of the CCP. Once you understand that basic idea, you can figure out that the DSDBO road is the greatest strategic threat to this strategic objective. The threat can be countered most effectively only in the Galwan Valley, because that is the closest point to the DSDBO road that China has. Pangong Tso and Hotsprings are just diversionary moves. That is why the action at Galwan Valley. Now that we know that Galwan water flow was being blocked, we can safely surmise that the only reason would be to facilitate some kind of construction downstream. It would, therefore, be important for India to deny China that luxury. Let us be proud that for the second time since 1986 (first being Doklam), India pre-empted a major Chines strategic move. I leave the rest to your imagination. This is by no means a comprehensive catalogue of descriptions and prescriptions, but the classic advice to tackle the bully is exactly what Sri Krishṇa prescribed in the Mahabharata: attempt reconciliation but after being prepared for war.
This is a translation of my very first article which I wrote in 1981. I had sent it to a German magazine which I used to read during my psychology studies. They published it and later, two more magazines reprinted it. I was asked to keep sending articles. It helped me to stay in India… “Will you still be able to fit in with us in the West?” asked my sister in a letter (in 1981). I had shared with her some thoughts about life and death with which I had become familiar in India and which I felt made sense. Her question reminded me of what I had almost forgotten, after staying in India for about a year: how life is seen in the West. First, people there generally do not to think about life and definitely not about death. And in case uninvited questions intrude, for example “Is there a meaning to life?” it is advised to drive them away – with activity, a new outfit or in stubborn cases, with medication. “Depression” is this stubborn state called and, as it is rather common, declared a lifestyle disease. The term ‘disease’ is used, because “healthy” desires, like the desire for wealth, power, fame and sex, are not there any longer. A person is considered healthy, when she tries her best to fulfill those desires, if necessary at the expense of others. After all, everyone has to look after himself first, otherwise he risks being left behind in the race to happiness, the obvious goal of life. And happiness is expected to come when those desires are fulfilled. This is of course a very rough sketch of the world view in the West. But it encapsulates the essence, when I think of the hectic rat race there on one hand and of the widespread depression on the other, while I am writing down this in the afternoon heat at the Gulf of Bengal. Here in India I became familiar with a different view of life which is based on intuition and experience and not only on intellectual deduction. And in my view, it does not hamper in any way one’s ability to fit in, including in the West. ‘What is the truth? From where do we come? Where will we go? Why are we here?’ These questions are essential for all of us. In India these questions have been asked since time immemorial, and answers were found. Yet in the West we keep hearing that we can never find answers to those questions and therefore better do not ask them. The Indian Rishis would probably feel compassion for our pitiable state, because we miss out on the meaning of life. Our life is meant to search for the truth and realizing the truth is the crowning accomplishment, not comparable with any worldly achievement. But it is not easy to realize the truth. It cannot be taught or communicated from one person to another. Everybody has to search and to realize it for himself. Yet India’s wisdom has many hints on how one can experience the truth. The Rishis, who have patiently and intensely searched for it without and within their own being, discovered ‘That’ from where everything emanates, and their insights were handed down over innumerable generations. Vedanta – the highest philosophy, which is based on three major ancient texts, namely the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Brahmasutras, and which especially Adi Shankara commented upon and spread widely – puts this wisdom simply and clearly: There is only Oneness, the absolute Truth, which is best described as Sat-Chit-Ananda, blissful awareness. You are That, which cannot be put into words; “Tat Tvam Asi” in Sanskrit. This Oneness manifests as ‘many’ due to the divine power called Maya. But the great multiplicity does not exist independently. Here some explanation may be necessary. By “multiplicity” Vedanta means our huge universe with its infinite, staggering diversity where not even on our tiny earth two leaves, or two fingerprints are absolutely the same. This universe, Vedanta claims, has no absolute existence, but depends on our senses and our mind. Here even modern science agrees which, searching for the substance of matter in this seemingly so solid material world, didn’t find any substance, and now explains this apparent world as different states of one incredibly powerful energy – and thereby comes close to the ONE, called Brahman, and his creative energy, called Maya, of Vedanta. An analogy explains the relation between the real Truth and the apparent truth: suppose we take a rope for a snake in the dark, then the rope does not exist for us, only a snake. When we see by daylight that it is a rope, the snake does not exist any longer, only the rope. In truth of course, in the dark also, only the rope existed, even when our mind and eyes convinced us that it is a snake. Similarly, in truth only ONE (usually called Brahman) exists, but we are deceived by its great power, Maya, and take the diversity for real. ‘We’ – that refers to our body with its sense organs, and our mind with reason and intellect, but ignores our conscious essence. We think that each thing in this world is separate from other things, because we wrongly identify with our body and mind, saying “this here is me and that there is you”. It could be compared with waves on the ocean, where each wave insists on its separate identity and claims “I am this wave and you are that wave and we have nothing to do with the ocean.” The fact that we allow ourselves to get deceived through Maya and consider the diverse, phenomenal world as true is the source for our suffering, claims Vedanta. Our biggest error is that we identify with our body and mind and that we have forgotten our true self. This is the cause for egoism, for the competition with others, whose true Self– the ONE – is in reality of course also the same like our true Self. This is also the cause for feeling inadequate or lacking or not beautiful enough. This is also the cause for the (futile) attempt to secure happiness for our ego in the world. True, permanent happiness cannot be found in the world, the Rishis insist. YOU ARE the happiness which you search for. Realise your true Self, know your true identity, discover that Sat-Chit-Ananda is you yourself, and you will be free from suffering and you will also laugh if people speak about dying. Because it is complete nonsense to believe there is death and birth in regard to the Self. What you truly are was never born and will never die. You were here right from the start. You are the ONE, all-pervading, “Tat Tvam Asi” (You are that), “Aham Brahmasmi” (I am Brahman)… thus end the Upanishads. You are the ONE now already. You don’t have to become it. However, you need to see through the veil of Maya. Dare to state that you are free and you will be free the same moment. Dare to make yourself independent of worldly joy and suffering, and the reward will surpass all joys of the world, the sages claim. “Do you still not know how life in this world is? Do you still not know that each joy brings suffering?” Anandamayi Ma, a saintly woman from Bengal, once asked. In the world everything is always changing. How could it be possible to find permanent happiness there? Human relationships are like driftwood – they touch each other for a while and separate again. And yet, the whole of humankind with few exceptions searches for happiness in the world and still hopes that it can be found in a loving relationship, in wealth or in a powerful position. Maybe the relationship is not loving enough, the wealth not vast enough or the position not high enough… a feverish search for happiness in the wrong place. Great spiritual personalities and ancient texts have always maintained that happiness is in yourself, not outside. Do you still not know how life in this world is?… each joy ends in pain, each relationship has an end. And yet, each human being desires an eternal, conscious and happy existence. And this desire actually makes sense, claims Vedanta, because eternity, consciousness and bliss are our true nature. But we make a mistake: we want this conscious, blissful, eternal existence for our body and mind, because we take this to be what we are, as we don’t see the difference between the impermanent body and mind, and our true, eternal Self. Ask yourself frequently “Who am I?” Don’t verbalise an answer, but try to feel who you are. Dive to the source from where the (individual) I-feeling arises. This advice gave Ramana Maharshi, one of the great saints of India. “My whole body pains” – who owns the body? “My thoughts took me away” – who is “me”? Use your intellect (that’s the reason why you have it) to find out who you are. Do not be satisfied with nonsensical replies like “I am Maria” or “I am a businessman.” These are mere names for whom or what? You will realize that you are the ONE whom pain cannot trouble, whom water cannot wet and fire cannot burn – in the same way as we won’t get wet when we bathe or burn when we catch fire in a dream. Then you are free in this world and you can play the different personalities, like an actor on stage, who is aware that in reality, the happenings in the drama do not affect him. Then you can live without hope and without fear, and then only you are free. However, searching for truth with reason and intellect alone won’t lead to this realization. It is no doubt important, as truth does not contradict reason. Vedanta does not demand to believe something which has not been thoroughly checked by one’s own intellect, on the contrary. But to really know and realize the truth, something else is needed, and this is the complete surrender of the limited ego – which in truth anyway doesn’t ‘really’ exist – and devotion for the ONE, by whatever name one wants to call it. This is called Bhakti in Sanskrit. The path to enlightenment leads through Bhakti, wrote Ramanuja, another prominent proponent of Vedanta, who commented on the Brahmasutras in the 11th century. Bhakti develops from knowledge about this world: surrender the limiting ego due to the knowledge about its ‘nothingness’ and have devotion for a “beloved” who is That which alone is behind all happenings and actions. The true beloved is one’s own Self, and the ego is only a fiction or an imposter. The ONE is on one hand the Absolute, the unmanifest, original cause of this manifestation (Brahman) and on the other hand it is the manifest creator (Ishwara with its many divine powers or devas). This manifest aspect of the ONE can be experienced as a loving ‘You’, and can be imagined as a personal God. The creator did not act only once long ago, to bring forth this universe, but is still in action now and everywhere through his many divine powers, even if our egos consider themselves as the sole actors. Vedanta encourages questions: can I, this I with which we usually identify, make a baby grow? Can this I stop the body from decaying? Can this I change food into energy? Can this I add only one stone to this earth, not to mention sun, moon or stars? And we claim in all seriousness that there are no miracles, because we have discovered some laws of nature about “how” certain things work…. Ishwara is always and everywhere present. Always, including now and everywhere, including in us. Let’s stop for a moment and let this sink in. He can be contacted and experienced in us through total, loving surrender, as he is our true Self. His grace is not arbitrary. It is connected to whatever we think, speak and do – not only each action but even each thought has its effect, and this effect will come back and affect the thinker. An Indian analogy describes it in this way: As a calf finds her mother even among thousand cows, in the same way, the effect of a thought finds its thinker. The Bhagavad Gita says that a human being cannot be without action even for a moment. And the consequence of our thoughts, words and deeds – not only from this life, because we are part of the game or Lila since the beginning – becomes evident in what we are today. We are self-made, the Rishis claim. What we call destiny is the result of former freely made decisions. We had a choice, but we have to experience the effect of this choice, as long as we (wrongly) consider our ego as the doer, which we probably all do because the delusional power of Maya is strong. Now, too, we have a choice for good, for bad, for love, for hatred and the result of today’s thoughts and actions will come to us in future. This law of karma makes it clear how very important our thoughts and our behavior are. Every compassionate thought or action brings us closer to our true Self, full of love and bliss. Every angry thought or action moves us farther away. We are not on auto-pilot. We don’t have to be angry, as we can refuse thoughts. We have the choice to be good or bad, however, in all likelihood we don’t have this choice every moment, maybe we even have it rarely, because often we think and act unconsciously like on auto pilot and are helplessly dominated by our thoughts. Yet as soon as we become aware of our thoughts and know what happens in our mind, we have again a choice. We also know that being good is better than being bad, being loving is better than being hateful, helping others is better than having contempt for others. We don’t know it because someone told us so, but because we intuitively know the path back to our true Being. A pure life is an essential condition on the way to realize our Self. On this all sages agree. The ancient Upanishads advise to purify and refine body and mind, as they are the means to approach the Self. Speak the truth and do what is right (Satyam vada, dharmam chara), they advise. The Bhagavad Gita demands to give up anger, lust and greed, because these lead to destruction. And even more: renounce all desires. Be bold and really renounce them. Someone, who is a slave of a desire, cannot be free. Don’t be attached to the world which is perishable. Surrender your limited ego which has no substance in itself and stop worrying about your life. Love and trust your inner Being, by whatever name you want to call it. If your inner Being becomes the main focus in your life, then you are firmly set on the path to true happiness. Printed by arrangement with the author Visit Maria Wirth’s Blog
The Sanatani is an open system. That does not mean it is a one-way stream, with people leaving the Hindu fold … It means those who left can also return. Whenever they like. Is Hinduism locked in an existential struggle against Abrahamic faiths, especially Islam and Christianity? Not necessarily. As I have argued in my earlier writings, particularly Altered Destinations: Self, Society, and Nation in India (London, 2010) and Making India: Colonialism, National Culture, and the Afterlife of Indian English Authority (Dordrecht, 2013), the Sanatani and the non-Sanatani can coexist without conflict. That is because the Sanatani, with its inclusive and open-ended belief systems, has the capacity both to absorb and allow radical differences. Also, and this is something we tend to forget, non-Sanatani systems, religious or secular, also have Sanatani elements of pluralism, non-exclusion, and acceptance of difference. The real problem occurs when the non-Sanatani becomes anti-Sanatani. This can be true of theologically justified armed invasion and occupation as applicable to much of the Islamic conquest of India. Or, on a smaller scale, of the Portuguese assault and inquisition in Cochin and Goa, and the early French rule in Puducherry, where religious aggression accompanied imperialistic conquest. The British ruled differently, using a Macaulay-inspired educational, intellectual and cultural rebooting of India that, unfortunately, turned out to be anti-Sanatani in many of its features. Marxism and modernity, too, obviously non-Sanatani, can also be very viciously and virulently anti-Sanatani. Likewise, Dravidianist and Ambedkarite extremism, with their reverse racism, targeted hate campaigns and divisive politics, may also be included in the roster of anti-Sanatani movements. In more recent times, a combination of these forces have resulted in a rather powerful anti-India or, as some go to the extent of arguing, breaking-India narrative. What, then, would be the fitting response from the Sanatani side to such threats? The answer, rather obvious to those who have studied the Sanatana traditions, would be a principled and carefully executed combination of defence and offence. The defence, like a shield, protects us when we are most vulnerable; the sword thrusts, rather than slashes, where the adversary is at its weakest. But in the process, when the Sanatani dons the fierce mask that almost resembles its opposite, it must never lose its Sanatani essence, which remains plural, non-exclusive, open-ended. The Sanatani, after all, is exceptional precisely because it has no one point of origin, no one book or prophet, no one doctrine or ideology, no one church or belief system. Without origin or closure, the Sanatani permits a great variety of both precepts and practices with some fundamental underlying structures. In its fight against the anti-Sanatani, if the Sanatani becomes indistinguishable from its opponent, it would lose its self. Worse, the loss of the Sanatani, bad enough for itself, would also be catastrophic for the world. Whatever the symbol or deity of our battle against our adversaries, the more benign and sober form of it as well as ourselves must remain the normal and default mode. After all, a deity which is angry all the time, even the new and rather popular graphic of “angry Hanuman,” will eventually turn on its own followers, having run out of enemies. Anger directed outward at real or imagined foes will come back to consume us too if we do not know the art of stilling it. Hence, all our rituals and ceremonies end with Shanti Mantras. Energies invoked for specific purposes must also be stilled and quietened for cosmic balance and harmony to be restored. It is in this light that we must view the “ghar wapasi” of nearly 300 so-called Muslims of Haryana to Hinduism in two recent instances. The earlier one occurred on April 18, when six families with some 35 members returned to Hinduism in Danoda Kalan, a village in the district of Jind in Haryana. The more recent incidence was on May 8 in which 40 families consisting of some 250 people returned to Hinduism. In both instances, the trigger was the last rites of a deceased elder. By opting for cremation over burial, the reconverted returned to their Hindu identity. Earlier, I used “so-called Muslim” to describe these families because they lived like Hindus, for most part retaining Hindu customs and names, but were listed as Muslims. According to their own traditions and legends, they were converted to Islam during the times of Aurangzeb. One reason for their return, it was reported, is that they belong to the Dom community, recognised as a scheduled caste, and thus eligible for benefits if they identified as Hindus rather than Muslims. It is very important to underline that what these two cases illustrate is the basic and brutal fact that most Indian Muslims were once Hindus or people of indigenous faith practices. The road to their return to the Hindu fold should not only be wide open but underwritten with security, dignity, acceptance and love. Without the first two, all “ghar wapasi” efforts will be futile. Once it is established that the return to Hinduism is as per the law, that is without fear or inducement, then both government and non-government agencies should ensure that such returnees are not harassed or hounded by the former co-religionists. After all, in several non-Sanatani religions, the price for apostasy is very high, as high, in fact, as death itself. The Sanatani, as I said earlier, is an open system. That does not mean that it is a one-way stream, with people leaving the Hindu fold to become Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Marxist or even secularist. It means that those who left can also return. Whenever they like. It is up to us, as modern Hindus, to make their return both meaningful and sustainable. We must create the felicity conditions for their welcome and integration into Hindu society. In this regard, it is a gross misunderstanding to claim that Hinduism is non-proselytising, though of course the word has a totally different connotation for us. The fact is that most of Vaishnavism, right up to the worldwide success of ISKCON, is based on attracting converts. There is no reason that should change now. If at all, Hinduism today should be made even more appealing to both returning and new converts. Reprinted with permission of the author Original article
Halal is an Arabic word that indicates what is allowed or permitted. A practising Muslim’s life is regulated by what is Halal and what is Haram (forbidden or prohibited). Naturally, these permissions and prohibitions extend to food. That is why the slogan of a famous Indian food delivery start-up and restaurant aggregator that “food has no religion” does not make any sense. In fact, much of what we eat is theologically, ritually and culturally coded. No wonder, last year a furious controversy broke out on social media over the popular American fast food chain McDonald’s serving only Halal meat products in India. In response to a customer query, the restaurant chain confirmed, “All our restaurants have HALAL certificates. You can ask the respective restaurant Managers to show you the certificate for your satisfaction and confirmation.” This triggered a debate over whether all customers, regardless of their religious beliefs or persuasions, ought to be forced to eat Halal products. Left-Liberals were quick to react. Shabnam Hashmi of Sahmat told Al Jazeera, “It is an absolutely Islamophobic atmosphere which is existing in India now and each and every occasion is used by right-wing Hindus to attack Muslims.” Many Hindus agreed. They couldn’t care less what kind of meat they ate. Whether the animal they were consuming was slaughtered by Jhatka or Halal didn’t matter. But this attitude of indifference, stemming from a combination of ignorance and political correctness, can go against the very civil liberties and freedoms that we cherish and are committed to uphold. Let us, for a moment, consider what happens when a devout Sikh enters a Halal-certified McDonald’s restaurant and proceeds to order a McChicken Burger. If she follows the Rahit Maryada, she is forbidden to eat Halal meat. She must leave the restaurant or risk violating the tenets of her faith. A Hindu meat-eater, even if not expressly prohibited from partaking of Halal meat, does not have a choice in a restaurant serving only Halal meat. She cannot avail of “Jhatka” meat from an animal slaughtered by a single swift stroke, as per the normal Hindu practice. What is more, she may not know that only meat from animals slaughtered by Muslim butchers is considered Halal. The butcher, in addition, must recite verses from the Koran before the slaughter. The animal is allowed to bleed to death, which according to some animal rights activists is cruel and painful. Halal meat is consecrated by a prayer to Allah. According to a truly liberal, Sanatani outlook, meat sanctified in the name of Allah would not, per se, be offensive or problematic. However, that would only work if both Hindus and Muslims actually believed, after Mahatma Gandhi, that “Ishwar Allah tero naam”. But if that were indeed the case, what would be the need for Halal certification in the first place? Muslims would also not object to receiving sanctified food from Hindu temples. Alas, the world we live in is not yet informed by such lofty ideals. The truth is that Halal meat puts non-Muslim butchers out of work. It also results in a gradual monopoly of Muslims over the meat business. Currently in India, only the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) certification is required on edible products. The FSSAI was set up in 2011 as an autonomous body under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. As such, Halal certification is not compulsory. But in order not to offend a minority of paying customers in India, many restaurant chains, government establishments and even airlines serve only Halal meat. If they gave non-Muslim customers a choice, there would be no problem. But quite often, meat eaters are forced to eat only Halal products. That way, non-Muslims end up, without quite having an option, supporting the Islamisation of food and also contributing to a reduction of their own food choices. When I lived in Singapore, I found Halal ubiquitous even in a professedly secular, Muslim minority country. In college and university canteens, food courts and roadside eateries, even unwashed dishes were separated on the basis of Halal. As a vegetarian, I once put my used plates on a Halal dishwashing counter. A Singaporean Malay lady worker quickly admonished me, “Over there, la, you’re not Muslim, no?” I didn’t want to argue with her that all vegetarian food was automatically Halal. In the end, all restaurants are forced into the Halal or non-Halal category. The majority Chinese, evidently, belonged to the latter; they have the fewest food restrictions. The rest, Indian or Western, vegetarian or non-vegetarian, as a matter of course, opt for Halal certification. In India, there are several bodies that can certify a product or establishment Halal compliant, for a price, of course. Many have created attractive websites promising a window of business opportunities to prospective clients including access to the estimated 2.5 billion Muslims worldwide. The Indian Halal Certification Board proudly announces that it is affiliated to Sharia councils and Islamic organisations across 120 countries. One website brags that the profits via Halal will easily offset the certification fees. The cherry on the Halal icing is that such products can continue to cater to non-Muslims. This is where the Halal controversy takes a more serious turn. The success of Halal certification needs the support not only of Muslims for whom this is a religious obligation, but also of non-objecting non-Muslims. Gradually, even a small Halal-requiring percentage of consumers can compel more and more companies to pay up for Halal certification. This has been likened by the critics of Halalonomic coercion to jazia, the “infidel” tax that non-Muslims had to pay in an Islamic state just for not being Muslim. If Hindus don’t mind Halal while Muslims insist on it, what happens? Everyone ends up conforming to Halal coercion. This, to conscientious objectors of Halal, is the tyranny of the minority in which “the most intolerant wins” as explained in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Skin in the Game. If we don’t take countermeasures, it is only a matter of time before Halal cosmetics, couture, films, literature, even hospitals and housing complexes, as one near Kochi so proudly and openly advertises itself, will be thrust upon us. Reprinted with permission of the author Original article
Anchors at Indian TV channels are generally intelligent and capable. However, when the topic involves religion, they often lack common sense or courage. Last month Rishab Gulati said on NewsX that he wants to explore how to bring the Indian Muslims, who had been brainwashed into hard Wahhabi Islam, back to a softer Sufi version. Rishab surely would know that all versions of Islam are based on Quran and he would also know that the stark division between believers, who are considered good, and unbelievers, who are considered bad, is fixed in this foundational text itself. So why would he not rather explore how Muslims could be brought back to their ancient, benevolent Hindu Dharma? It would make far more sense. Why would he want a big part of Indians continue to believe blindly, albeit in a softer version, what the invaders violently enforced several centuries ago? Why is he so diffident about his own tradition which has contributed maximum knowledge to science and human civilisation in general? The reason may be that over the last thousand years it was very dangerous to stand up for Hindu Dharma. So people tried to be diplomatic, made compromises, and did not mention and certainly not praise their Dharma, even if they greatly valued it. This attitude seems to have got deeply ingrained and is even in today’s generation present. The English education system also did its bit to cement this attitude and even made it worse, as it portrayed the indigenous tradition contrary to facts as inferior. Not wanting to be “controversial” is uppermost in the mind of many Hindus, when they deal with converts. They rather indulge them than ask probing questions. This attitude is, however, in our times not helpful but dangerous. We have a window now, where we can be truthful and talk about the great advantage that Hindu Dharma has over Christianity and Islam. If we don’t use it, it may close again and then probably for a long time. Most Hindus know, and if some still don’t know, it is urgent that they come to know, that both Christianity and Islam consider it as their divine duty to make their religion dominate the whole globe. Only then their God/Allah will be happy and start the Judgement Day proceedings, when the good believers are allowed to enter heaven. It has however not yet been clarified whether the Christian or Muslim believers have this privilege, as naturally only one “true religion” can be true. For Hindus of course it will be hell, both agree on this. Can any sane person believe that the Creator of this unimaginably vast universe will punish the majority of human beings eternally in hellfire because they did not accept that the truth about how we should live was revealed only recently and only to one particular person on this earth, which is already some billion years old? There are other points which are not flattering for those two religions: Christianity and Islam are not based on reason, intuition or experience, but only on blind belief. One can never know if Jesus is really the son of God who was sent to earth to save us from the original sin and who declared that the way to the father goes only through him. Or we can never know if Allah really communicated via Gabriel with Prophet Mohamed and declared that he is the last prophet and all must follow what Mohammed said. These two religions make blind, unverifiable belief, which is not a healthy attitude, look like a virtue: ‘if you believe blindly what the padres or the mullahs tell you, you will be rewarded with eternal heaven after Judgment Day’, is promised. It is an effective method to keep people subdued on earth, waiting for heaven. And common people suspected this already in the dark ages. In Germany we have an old saying that the Pope makes people stupid (and the King makes them poor). Unfortunately, only members of Christianity and Islam go all out to spread their religion with full zest and especially in the case of Christianity, with lots of money and a detailed strategy. Pious members of both religions do not hesitate to claim that their religion alone is true and all others are wrong and will not be accepted by the ‘true God’. They have nothing to support their claim, except that the founder of their religion allegedly said so. This claim of eternal damnation is meant to frighten people to fall in line. On the other hand, it makes them arrogant, believing “We are the chosen ones. We believe the right thing. Earth and heaven belong to us. All others are damned for eternity.” Believing their clergy, they are on a mission to eradicate all other faiths. And how successful they have been! All ancient cultures were eradicated, except for the Indian culture. In India those two religions have encountered the greatest resistance. Indian culture still stands but greatly diminished. Yet neither Christianity nor Islam has conceded defeat, on the contrary. They push harder than ever now by demonizing Hindus to an unbelievable degree. Do they want the world to believe a false narrative that an “uprising of the oppressed Muslims against the demonic Hindus” is justified and must be supported? There is however one great power on the side of Hindus. It is Truth, both on the relative level (Truth is that Muslims are not oppressed in India, on the contrary) and on the absolute, spiritual level (Truth is one). Hindu Dharma is the best option for humanity. Nobody is forced to believe anything that does not make sense or cannot be experienced. Hindu Dharma is not a fixed, unverifiable ‘belief-system’. It is based on reason, intuition and experience. Its claims make sense and can be verified, like the most basic claim that the essence in all is one and the same – ‘sat-chit-ananda’ – blissful awareness behind the names and forms. But for people to know this, they need to be told, including those whose forefathers have converted and who have been brainwashed into blind belief. If they knew and reflected on those insights, they might see that indeed Hindu Dharma is the best option. Therefore it would be so much better if Hindus went all out and informed others of the value of Hindu Dharma. Compare the Indian reluctance to project its wisdom with China. China has only few sages, but makes full use of them. It established already 15 years ago hundreds of Confucius institutes all over the world which are affiliated to colleges and universities. They teach Chinese language and promote Chinese culture to the Western world. India is the cradle of civilization. It has so much knowledge, and millions of texts are not even translated into English. It has Sanskrit, the language which helps develop the brain, apart from being a perfect language; it has documentation of a number of great sages reaching back thousands of years, it has the deepest philosophy still expressed in a vibrant religion; a huge body of literature, amazing art, dance, music, sculpture, architecture, yoga, Ayurveda, delicious cuisine, incredible temples and yet Indians do little to propagate those treasures. “We are not like them”, many Hindus say, “we don’t advertise our religion and push them into accepting it, like the others”. The insights of the Vedic Rishis need not be pushed; they only need to be known. They result in a very beneficial mind-set, definitely far more beneficial than the divisive, narrow mind-set of the new-comer religions. Knowing that God is within gives inner strength, and knowing that God is also in others, including in animals and nature, makes people kind. This broad mindset needs to dominate in the world, and it is Hindus who can lead the way. Bad people would still exist; they are there in every age, but normal, good people would not be indoctrinated en masse by their clergy into despising and even killing ‘unbelievers’ because they worship the Supreme Intelligence by other names. Looking at Muslims and Christian countries, such attitude also does not seem to make for a happy society. Meanwhile, especially in the West, many Christians and Muslims have lost faith and say it openly. I am one of them and sometimes Hindus tell me: “It’s good that you write. You are an insider, you can do it. We can’t.” My reply is: “YOU need to speak up. Don’t wait for ex-Christians or ex-Muslims. Most of us, who have lost faith, don’t bother about religion any longer. But YOU have been suffering for centuries, with millions killed, and the danger is real that it happens again. If someone is fully authorized to talk about those doctrines, and the harmful mindset they produce, it is YOU, Indian Hindus. In fact you owe it to those millions who were massacred for being Hindus.” Fortunately, in recent years more Hindus do speak up. Maybe soon a mainstream channel will have the courage to debate frankly what Muslims and Christians are taught about Hindu Kafirs and Heathen, and maybe more Christians and Muslims in India, who have lost faith in their religion, will have the courage to say it openly. It surely would be a relief for them. Living a lie by pretending to be believers is painful. Hindus can help by being truthful, even if it means being “controversial”. Maria Wirth Blog
Hindutva represents an essential social, political, cultural and historical consciousness of Hinduism rooted in its Dharmic and spiritual core. It is never alienated from it. Shashi Tharoor is an erudite author and his English prose is eminently readable. He generally makes sense in his views and opinions on many issues, in spite of being a Congress politician. But his recent book “Why I am a Hindu” appears to be quite disappointing and superfluous, if one were to go by his speeches and interviews promoting it. The ideas in the book are solely aimed at discrediting Hindutva as something alien to Hinduism proper and hence illegitimate. This whole premise is baseless, dubious and deceptive. For decolonized and self-conscious Hindus, this whole ‘debate’ about Hinduism vs Hindutva is artificial, pointless and divisive. Even if one manages to define these two terms with certain characteristics peculiar to each of them, that would be more of ‘traits’ rather than two separate and watertight categories. For example, how would one classify Vijayanagara Empire and Shivaji’s Hindu Padshahi? Hinduism or Hindutva? Without these movements, the very survival of Hindu religion and culture in many parts of the country would not have been possible. Shashi Tharoor would have been born as Shahul Hameed, and Ramachandra Guha as Rahman Gafoor, had these developments not happened in history. And even today, Hindu religion and Hindu communities face such dangers and threats from the aggressors and enemies of Hindu Dharma, both within India as well as in other parts of the world. To ignore and downplay this sense of history as prescribed by these self-delusional ‘erudite’ writers and their cohorts is suicidal for Hindus. The same confusion would elude regarding say, Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo too. For that matter, even regarding Sankaracharya’s consolidation of Advaita Vedanta and his iconic Digvijaya, the all India tour, Ramanuja’s tireless Bhakti mission and institutionalization of Sri Vaishnavam, Basavanna’s Veera Shaiva teachings and Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas uniting all Hindus of North India cutting across castes, sects and language dialects. Are these Hinduism or Hindutva? In the case of Swami Vivekananda, we already see Jyotirmay Sharma, an anti BJP academic putting him under Hindutva, but Shashi Tharoor under his brand of ‘non-Hindutva Hinduism’, whatever that means. Debates around this theme are intentionally engineered in the media by Nehruvian secularists and Leftists of late, and the recent book by Tharoor also belongs in this category. These anti-Hindu ideological camps are desperately watching the crumbling of Nehruvian, Leftist, Secularist dominance in all spheres of India’s national life, not just in politics and economics, but also in social and cultural affairs. Their original narratives of ridiculing, dismissing and neglecting Hinduism as an old relic of the past or nothing more than a bundle of superstitions and caste evils, in their vintage style will no more work now. Such discourses will be frowned upon in today’s India and will spell disaster for their political ambitions. The fact of the matter is that Hinduism has proved to be far more enduring in the 21st century India compared to the silly 20th century fads like Nehruvian socialism, Marxism, Liberalism or various hues of Socialism. That is why the posturing as to we are ‘more Hindus than Modi and BJP’. There is a calculation that such posturing will find favor with many ‘common’ Hindus and ‘spiritual’ Hindus, who allegedly associate Hindutva negatively with violence and bloodshed, but Congress brand of ‘secular Hinduism’ (never mind the term being oxymoronic) with peace and harmony. This is because, a large majority of ‘common’ Hindus have already been swayed by the successful rosy propaganda of ‘No bloodshed Hinduism’ over decades. “Hinduism has been facing any number of onslaughts, but nothing could destabilize it. Because it is not a religion established by someone. It was neither propagated zealously, nor defended with bloodshed. It is a way of life… the current trend of Hindutva hooligans claiming to safeguard Hinduism, if left unchecked, will definitely besmirch the spiritual core of this age old tradition”. We often come across such a refrain from many such ‘common’ Hindus. But, is this fully correct? Hinduism being spiritual and non-propagating is true. But “not defended with bloodshed” is plain wrong. True that Hindus have not caused bloodshed due to their aggression on others. But let us not forget that we had to shed lot of blood to defend our religion from the onslaught of aggressive Abrahamic religions. How can one explain why Hinduism was saved in spite of a thousand years of Islamic aggression, when all other countries and civilizations that came under Islam’s sword were simply wiped out without any trace of their ancient culture? Was it by some magic or some strange spell? No. It was because generations of our ancestors shed their blood to defend and safeguard it. We remain Hindus today only because Vijayanagara Empire, Rajputs under Rana Pratap, Marathas under Shivaji, Ahoms under Lachit Borphukan, Nayaka warriors of the South, Gajapatis of Odisha, Sikhs under Guru Gobind Singh and countless other Hindu brave men and women continuously fought and died, over centuries. Our great Gurus and sages guided us in this long struggle. Let us not insult their sacrifices by denial. Yes, ultimately there is the supreme divine force of Dharma guiding such a course of history. But, there has to be a realistic human action, with the spilling of real blood and sweat to manifest that divine Dharmic force in the real world. This should be understood without any confusion or ambiguity by all the Hindus. The 19-20th century Hindu resurgence and the Hindutva politics are nothing new, but a continuation of this history. One can criticize specific threads and strains in it, but to deny it completely is detrimental for Hindus. Such denial is born out of a certain self-hypnotization coupled with a deeply colonized mindset. What this mindset lacks is sense of history and social consciousness, but it tries to disguise that with ambiguous notions of spirituality and harmony. The main aim of the ‘Hinduism vs Hindutva’ narrative is to confuse Hindus who, after a long slumber have woken up to respect their religion, to fight for their rights and honor, to have a sense of their own history, to proudly proclaim their religious affinity without shame and to gain political consciousness. The ascent of Narendra Modi in 2014 despite so much anti-campaign against him and the BJP is only the first step towards the next wave of Hindu renaissance in Indian politics. There is still a long journey. The reactionary shouts like the book by Shashi Tharoor are nothing more than feeble attempts to counter this march, and they are doomed to fail. The term Hindutva is a lofty one and is any day better than the Colonial term ‘Hinduism’, for that matter. The Sanskrit suffix ‘tva’ indicates essential nature, unlike the suffix ‘ism’ which is usually applied to ideologies, theories or philosophical and artistic fads, like Communism, Fascism, Impressionism or Existentialism. Just to give a comparison, what would a practicing Christian prefer to call his religion as – Christianity or Christism? Obviously the former and not the later. Technically, the same argument applies to Hindutva vs Hinduism too. But again, we don’t want to unnecessarily vilify the term Hinduism on this silly point, as it has already become popular all over the world to indicate our timeless religion. So we embrace it wholeheartedly without worrying about the schism regarding ‘ism’ in a similar way, why should Hindus belonging to non BJP parties be asked to vilify and hate the term Hindutva? Hindutva represents an essential social, political, cultural and historical consciousness of Hinduism rooted in its Dharmic and spiritual core. It is never alienated from it. The likes of Tharoor and Guha desperately try to give it a limited meaning associating with RSS/BJP politics alone. Such caricaturing is only aimed at weakening the above said consciousness for narrow and selfish political motives and to create yet another wedge among Hindus on ideological lines. This is not just plain wrong, but very dangerous for the wellbeing of Hinduism the religion, and Hindus, its adherents. Instead, Congress should adopt the word Hindutva and convince us why they represent better Hindutva compared to Modi and BJP. “The question is”, said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things”. “The question is”, said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be the master – that’s all”. Reprinted with permission from the author First printed in India Facts
A recent article in a national newspaper titled ‘Covid Fight: Govt system in front, private hospitals do the distancing’ has highlighted that the large-scale battle with Covid in India is being fought by Government hospitals and health institutions. Two-thirds of the hospitals beds and 90% of the ventilators in India are privately owned and yet they are handling less than 10% of Covid patients in the country. It is as if a firefighter were preparing to fight a conflagration and was only allowed to mobilize a highly restricted amount of poorly maintained equipment and material and poorly trained personnel. Calls have been made from various sections of media and leadership to nationalize all private health care enterprises in India immediately. And yet, this is not an optimal solution. The Covid epidemic has only brought to light the extremely neglected state of health care in the country and the slow deterioration of every medical institution. In my opinion, fixing this diseased health care system requires a comprehensive approach that would be consistent and systematic and not knee-jerk. A wider, non-partisan and disinterested discourse is needed involving the various sections of the system. Yet, bold reforms are needed. Some, though not all, interventions could be among these: Strengthen medical schools and graduate medical education (GME): Education has deteriorated even from the days I did medical school. We had great teachers who were dedicated and caring and drilled the knowledge in us, rigorously and sometimes painfully. Unfortunately, now the students are focused on preparing for multiple-choice questions for entrance exams and do not gain the clinical experience and expertise that is critical for any doctor. Teachers are busy with their own private practice and students are missing out on the most essential aspect of learning. This is not just in India. I recently taught a group of residents from various parts of the world; none of them knew how to hold an ophthalmoscope. I had to take a class on just how to hold the instrument properly and learn how to look in the eye of a patient. Better screening and aptitude tests before students are admitted to educational institutions might be considered.Strengthen primary care: Primary care is looked down upon; specialists are in high demand. The basics of engaging a patient are forgotten; how to listen, diagnose, ask, talk, examine are not emphasized. Primary care providers are paid less and have little influence in the care of their patients. Without a strong network of primary care, perhaps like in Cuba, we will not be able to provide quality, reduce costs and create a strong bulwark against such epidemics in the future. Better community and public health, education, nutrition, hygiene, sanitary services, clean water and air, and public safety are essential. The end-point is health; everything affects our inner and outer states of equilibrium or homeostasis. Enhance rural care: Rural health is in shambles. Doctors do not like to live in the villages. Basic services are not available. Ambulance and trauma services are minimal. The referral process to secondary or tertiary system is disconnected and uncoordinated. Perhaps a Rural Health Corp can be constituted to ensure health care to our villages. Or doctors can be incentivized to live and practice in the villages. Support Ayush: The indigenous systems of health care should not be shunned. They should be encouraged and integrated with the vast network of health care practitioners in the county. Ayurveda, yoga, unani, naturopathy, siddha and homeopathy can be effective if used appropriately and in the right hands. Medical tourism can be encouraged with the help of Ayurveda and yoga hubs across the country for wellness and chronic conditions. The goal eventually should be use to the concept of holistic health and ‘svasthya’ to reach an optimal state of individual development where each person’s true potential is allowed and facilitated to grow and reach its utmost fulfilment. Improve and expand government hospitals: Just like ‘Make in India’, we should have ‘Treat in India’. The politicians, senior bureaucrats and leaders need to get treatments in India. This is the only way they will take health care seriously and work towards improving it.Remove politics and commercial interests from health care: Big pharma and lobbyists need to be extricated from the health care system. The insidious problem of kickbacks, referral fee and cuts needs to be resolved if any meaningful reform is envisaged. This is the true virus; Covid is only a symptom. Enhance emergency and trauma service: A comprehensive approach to this is needed including education, traffic reforms, better roads and railways, ambulance services and trained transportation and evacuation personnel, and advanced trauma centers. Advanced facilities for research: Indians needs to become self-reliant in this field. Our research facilities are anemic and dilapidated. We need to bring the best scientists to the country and establish a culture of academic excellence and research. When we are talking about being ‘aatma nirbhar’ we need to do so in maintaining our state of wellness and ‘aarogya’.Use of technology: As information technology grows, medical education, rural health care, medical record keeping, primary care, urgent health care, research and diagnostics can be improved. Telehealth, extended reality, artificial intelligence, Internet of things, advanced data analytics, nanotechnology, cryo-technology, and genetic interventions and therapeutics can selectively increase the reach and improve the skills of our workforce while improving quality and utilization of services.Reform Insurance: Ayushman Bharat focused on an incidental approach to treatment; the next step should be towards prevention, improving population health while reducing waste, improving metrics and patient and provider education. The money spent on Ayushman Bharat which is mostly going to private entities might be better spent on public health care and rural health care systems. The entire nation has been mobilized on a warfront. It is the time when our neglect of education and health is addressed on an emergent basis. Without the backbone of a strong health care system no country can be truly advanced. And if India needs to reach a GDP of 5 billion by 2024-5, this might be the most efficient and effective way to do so. A great nation needs a very healthy population.
Much has been said about the Halal means of slaughter and its impact on the food supply chain in particular, and the economy of the nation in general. Let us also look at the issue from a health perspective and try to deduce some tangibles. Halal means anything that is allowed according to the Sharia law of Islamic jurisprudence. And thus Halal has spread to every aspect of the life of our nation like, soaps, cosmetics, drugs, books, groceries, and even hospitals and airports becoming Halal, though 80% people of this nation are Hindus. Halal has become a code of sale and purchase to and from a particular community, thus laying the grounds for an economic apartheid, while also being a parallel certification system with no legal sanctity or accountability to the government of the day. Coming back to health aspects of Halal, let’s divide it into two areas: the meat trade and the rest of it. Halal meat is a very specific form of slaughter and packaging which consists of following — The animal must be facing the Kaabaa, the holy place of Muslims.The slaughter must be done by a Muslim only.Kalma must be recited during the slaughter.Most importantly, only the carotid artery and the trachea of the animal must be slit and the animal must bleed to death. The media space has been flooded with literature that this form of slaughter is healthier since all blood is pumped out by the dying animal’s heart. It is also claimed that for the same reason Halal meat is tastier and has a longer shelf life. However, there is not a single scientific study to back these claims. Let us attempt to look at this from a purely medical perspective. Let us also compare the ‘Dharmic’ (I use the word “dharmic” to include Sikhs and Hindus) way of slaughter, known as Jhatka, with Halal to gain better understanding of the issue. Jhatka comprises of beheading the animal in a single stroke. This is in tune with the Hindu and Sikh scriptures and the commands of our gurus, especially Sri Guru Gobind Singh. There is another form of slaughter advocated by animal rights activists where the animal is stunned mechanically or electrically and then beheaded by a single stroke . It is called Single Slice Humane Slaughter ( SSHS) and is widely used in the Western world. There are three medical aspects of slaughtering technique we will consider to compare Halal with Jhatka. First , the claim that Halal leads to cleansing of blood from the body makes little sense because though blood is known to be a good culture medium of bacteria, there is no evidence that fresh blood is harmful to the body. What we eat as meat has blood enmeshed in it anyway. Besides, blood has a tendency to clot when exposed to air, so clotting around the carotids would anyway block them, hampering the exit of blood. This looks like a lame argument to support Halal unless it can be supported with incontrovertible scientific data. Secondly, when the animal is cut open but is still alive to feel the pain because its spinal cord is intact, the animal’s body releases stress hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline, both of which are known to be bad for the human heart. This does not happen with Jhatka slaughter because of the rapidity of death that ensues decapitation. Thirdly, Halal is an extremely cruel form of slaughter where the animal’s throat is slit and it is left to bleed to death. This cruelty triggers a complex chain of emotional and biochemical reactions in the animal’s body some of which are known to us and some unknown. Shifting away from the issue of meat, what are the other implications of Halal food in our day to day life? Halal proponents say that alcohol or anything derived from pigs is haram, or prohibited. A huge number of drugs like cough syrups need alcohol as a base and concentrated spirit is the best skin disinfectant known. Are we to understand that due to the beliefs of a particular community, time tested drug compositions and compounds that shield us from bacteria and viruses are to be re-researched and re-introduced into our health services? And then what is the certainty of finding alternatives to alcohol, besides the billions of dollars and man hours which will be lost in such an endeavour? The usage of products derived from pigs is prohibited according to the non-negotiable caveats of Halal. Consider this against the background that the pig is genetically the closest animal to humans and holds the key to revolutionize treatments to various human ailments like diabetes, parkinsonism, burns and contractures among other things. Until just a few years ago the pig pancreas was the only source of insulin capable of being produced at an industrial scale and it helped save millions of lives. Pig skin is also used as an alternative to human skin in surgery of burns and contractures. Can we even conceive the loss of human lives and ensuing morbidity that can stem from abandoning research on an area with a massive potential such as pig derivatives? American pharma companies were forced to remove pork gelatine as a covering for capsules and was replaced by beef gelatine, costing billions of dollars for a belief that does not seem to have any solid scientific backing. The economic demerit, and perhaps the most dangerous aspect of Halal, lies in how it works towards assuming full control over the global supply chain. Needless to say, this practice is religiously discriminatory towards all non- Muslims of the world and pushes millions out of jobs. This is also in complete violation of the Lassies-Faire economic model of the modern world and against creating a competitive market. Case in example, the entire meat supply of five star hotels and airlines in India is controlled by Halal certified vendors only. This kind of monopolization of food supply chain seriously affects the freedom of choice that should be the hallmark of any free and democratic society. Moreover, Halal certifications have no legal or scientific basis but they have completely overtaken our food supply chain. Most of the times, big corporates yield to this economic blackmail by Sharia proponents but a lot of times Halal certifications are enforced through fear of violence as well. Thus Halal certifications are an extortion of businesses and add huge costs to food. An estimate shows that global Halal certification economy runs into a trillion US dollars. When companies like Amul, Patanjali, Cadbury, Bikaji, KFC, McDonald’s, Air India, Indian Railways yield to this unfair practice, we must understand the seriousness of this economic besiegement of our nation and national economy. It is time that we get the right facts around Halal economy so that we can make a reasoned choice based on science and not superstition. To sum up: Based on sheer science, Halal meat is not superior to Jhatka meat. In fact, Jhatka is safer. Jhatka is the closest to humane slaughter. Jhatka is religiously sanctioned for Dharmics (Hindus, Sikhs etc.).Halal food is about capturing the food supply chain.Halal is religious discrimination and works against the free market.Halal has the potential to seriously jeopardize medical research. Halal is a parallel food certification and food supply system without legal basis or checks and balances. It is time that a fair playing field is offered to all players of global food supply chain and nations and companies do not yield to compulsions of sectarian belief systems. — The author of this article wishes to remain anonymous. The author, however, wishes it to be known that s/he is a medical professional and has researched the subject carefully before writing this article. S/he is also willing to answer questions that readers may wish to raise about the content of this article. (Ed)
We don’t realize this but most of the television that we see is based on Western pop-culture. A lot of the food we eat and the clothes we wear, is based on Western ideas. Technology and Science also come from West. So is the language this article is written in. Even life philosophies seem to be dominantly coming from Western influences today. We don’t realize this but the West is completely normalized in our minds. This is not a critique of West’s dominant prevalence, but a call to analyze it. It is sitting accessible in our mind, let’s use it as an opportunity. We are not force fitting things into the right or wrong blocks, but just observing things for what they are. We will explore West first (पूर्व पक्ष), and then look into how that fits (or doesn’t fit) India. Western Philosophy Pattern Most of Western ideas stem from Western philosophy. It is based mostly on right or wrong, moral or immoral, yes or no, ethical or unethical, on or off, heaven or hell, good or bad etc. This can be generalized as either-ors, or bifurcations, or the best way to describe as dichotomies (partition of a whole into two subsets). This is a convenient approach for decision making and to solve problems, “Here’s two things, now choose one of them”. Today’s science and technology also follows this philosophical pattern. Computers are based on binary switches (on or off) and all concepts are extrapolated from that. Science in general works on the cold hard division of whether it works or it doesn’t. There is no acceptance of a spectrum of functioning. If the science falls below a certain success rate cutoff, it is “not science”. West also has its nuances though the binaries & positivism have taken over the dominant space. It has been centuries and it seems West is still sticking to this convenient polar approach, instead of exploring if there is anything wrong with it. Convenient does not mean correct. Western Political Understanding The political landscape in West is divided into two as well: Left Wing and Right Wing. Let us focus on the US, given that it calls the shots today. They have the liberal Democrats (Left Wing) and the conservative Republicans (Right Wing). Well, they do have Independents too, but historically they have only been able to get an abysmal 5% win. And then there is this practice of bi-partisanship (in other words, centrism) which, of-late, has been thwarted thanks to the Western developed polarizing social media (especially Twitter). So, overall, it is safe to stress that America effectively has only two polar opposite political parties: Democrats and Republicans. West is as West can be: A dichotomous theme park. Let’s quickly glance at what these parties stand for. It is visible that the Left basically projects itself as a modern counter response to the Right which bases itself on traditional cultural values. I stress, we are not judging, we are just understanding the bifurcation. Republicans / Conservatives / Right-WingDemocrats / Liberals / Left-Wing Pro Western CultureMulticulturalism Soft White People PreferenceRacial Inclusiveness Exclusive Christian identity Irreligious* Family ValuesIndividualism Soft Male Preference, Pro-LifeGender Equality, Pro-choice* Asserting Two Biological SexesGender Fluidity* Freedom of SpeechSoft Censorship, Political Correctness Individual Justice, Due ProcessSocial Justice, Identity Politics Low Taxes, Small GovernmentHigh Taxes, Big Government Private Healthcare, Education, No WelfareFree Healthcare, Education, Welfare Free MarketRegulate Businesses Tight BordersOpen Borders Passionate Meat EatingAnimal Rights* Climate is just fine, No WorriesFix the Climate National SovereigntyGlobal Order Western Political Dichotomy (* include contradictions of Islam) How Americans Vote American people however, are just regular people. Some are democrats, and some are republicans, and then a big chunk sees a middle ground, and then some who think independently. (This follows a natural four section division explored in Hindu philosophy – चतुष्कोटि). The voting patterns show that there are red states (which vote republican mostly) and blue states (which vote democrats mostly), then swing states (who sometimes choose red and sometimes blue). These swing voters are either seeing a middle ground, or are independents forced to choose between these two parties. Because of this contrasting organic voting pattern, most of the elections are won marginally. Point is, the American people are intellectual enough to understand the complexity and deserve more than a dumbed down decision of choosing between just the two. But then I am digressing. This is the West’s headache to solve (or not, it is up to them). Application to Indian Politics Which brings us to India. Going by the West’s prescribed convenient route, the majority’s culture gets the de-facto “Right wing” tag, and everyone else, “Left wing”. And this is where we can start our judgement given this is our culture. Let’s call these indigenous cultures (Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Adivasis, Parsis, Swadesi Muslims etc.) the “Indics”, and let’s map the Right Wing standings to the ethos of the Indics. Right-Wing StandingsWhat Indics Think Pro Indic CultureYes Soft Preference to … Brahmins?No Exclusive Indic identityNo Family ValuesYes Soft Male Preference, Pro-LifeNo Asserting Two Biological SexesNo Freedom of SpeechYes Individual Justice, Due ProcessYes Low Taxes, Small GovernmentDepends Private Healthcare, Education, No WelfareDepends Free MarketDepends Tight BordersYes Passionate Meat EatingNo Climate is just fine, No WorriesNo National SovereigntyYes Mapping Western Right Wing to Indic Values This makes no sense whatsoever. Indics were supposed to be Right Wing but it is capturing most of the liberal Left Wing ideas. Some Right Wing standings got included too. Thankfully, the garbage is rejected (male preference, exclusivity of a religion, identity politics, political correctness, possible homophobia, climate change deniers etc.). And then there are things which don’t seem partisan but plain debatable. Let’s dissect this further. Left-Wing StandingsWhat Indics Think MulticulturalismYes Racial InclusivenessYes IrreligiousYes IndividualismYes Gender Equality, Pro-choiceYes Gender FluidityYes Soft Censorship, Political CorrectnessNo Social Justice, Identity PoliticsNo High Taxes, Big GovernmentDepends Free Healthcare, Education, WelfareDepends Regulate BusinessesDepends Open BordersNo Animal RightsYes Fix the ClimateYes Global OrderYes Mapping Western Left Wing to Indic Values What the Indian Ethos Stand For While Indics want National Sovereignty and Tight Borders (due to the problems is has faced of late), it supports the idea of a Global Order (वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्). Its fundamentals have gender equality, and cultural inclusiveness (ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः). It wants Indic religions, alongside other religions, but respects atheism as well. It wants family values while respecting individualism as well. Gender fluidity is fine. Nature is a goddess so protecting it is not just a future investment but a moral obligation. समोऽहं सर्वभूतेषु न मे द्वेष्योऽस्ति न प्रिय: I am equally disposed to all living beings; I am neither inimical nor partial to anyone (Bhagavad Gita – 9/29) And then there are temporally shifting points in which the Indics say that they will trust the Parliament. For example, the current government has introduced new socialist policies for the poor which have proved to be very good. So even if we become an Indic socialist country (like Canada), that’s fine. Another example, the current government is trying to privatize some sectors because of high corruption and operational inefficiency. So even if we become an Indic Capitalist country (like UAE), that’s fine too! Point is, these remain debatable and pro-rata. We seem to be going all over the place if we are seeing this from the simplistic Western dichotomous lens. In the East, complexity is understood since childhood, and whether we are taught the technicalities of चतुष्कोटि or not, the essence is built right into our minds. The Indic cultures are able to absorb all the seemingly reasonable asks of both sides and balance them, while keeping the temporally conditional things as debatable. The “Left” Wing? What about the “Left wing” from the Western lens? Sure, what is the Left side left with? Other than some make believe “Right-Wing Fascism” fear-mongering, what exactly will it stand for? It comprises of strict Abrahamics, Wokes, and some Communists. Let’s explore. Strict Abrahamics are exclusively conservative so Left Wing ideas are essentially blasphemous for them. Communists can sure stand in with the Left Wing, but then the Indics don’t mind some socialist policies themselves, so the Commies’ existence become diluted. What about the Wokes? It’s not clear what they stand for. Is it Westernizing India? Why though? Because it’s “cool”? “Netflix and Chill”? “Limp and Loose”? Not reasonable arguments. The Indics have all the necessary progressive points of modernity in place. Thanks, but no thanks. What about Majoritarianism West While that was policies, one can try to argue “Majoritarianism is bad” from a democratic stand point, hence majority should fall unconditionally into Right Wing. Alright, let’s look at why the West thinks this way. All Western countries are either born out of digesting some cultures e.g. Pagans of Europe, or by expanding while killing them off e.g. Natives of America and Aboriginals of Australia, or run operations by enslaving or colonizing them e.g. Africans, Asians and Indians. If that wasn’t enough they waged wars in Middle East on the basis of some speculations and floored a bunch of nations. While that’s outside home, the condition of minority African Americans in their own backyard is questionable at best and remains debatable in their politics. Remember we are not judging, just analyzing the thought process. They maintain the optics of “Human Rights” to compensate for their moral failures around the world. They have a general sense of guilt association with their majority holdings. (Their imaginations of the future is always dystopian and self loathing, such as Avatar, Westworld, Hunger Games, Omniscient, Altered Carbon, Serenity, Star Wars, Walking Dead, etc. and the success of these movies give a hint of their internalized guilt). In their world, “Majoritarianism is bad” makes sense. India In our world, in India however, it has been the other way around. The “majoritarian” Indics have actually been the victims of the aforementioned digestion/killing by the two dominant Abrahamic cultures. And surprisingly we are still happily living together. We just want to be vigilant (due to aggressive proselytism) but overall we see those past unfortunate events as circumstantial and want to move on. Adding further to this contrary, we are still suffering from colonial dividing policies. The farce aryaninvasiontheory to divide the North and South, and the European castasystem to reinterpret वर्ण जाति (Varṇa Jāti) as rigid, were imposed by colonials. We are till date picking up the pieces with Dalits, and are in the process of clearing these mistakes forced on our culture. Point is, the Indics have no guilt of invasions on other cultures and lands, or oppressing anyone in their own capacity. Thus the “Majoritarianism is bad” burden is for West to bear for their own past. Sorry but not sorry, we do not share your White Guilt. Our collective conscience is clean. Food for thought: Are the Abrahamic “minorities” of India really minorities? For all practical purposes, given the global unity of these Abrahamic religions, and their control of world politics, trade and universalism, the Indics actually are the minorities in our globalized world. If West is looking to compensate for their moral failures of the past, then in case of India they can fight for the Indics‘ right to their land. Or at best, notinterfere. The Argument Specialized bifurcations, in the context of culture, India can be inclusives vs exclusives. Or in terms of modernity, it can be Indics vs Westernizers. Even then, neither are we interested in the pro-inclusive talks of the exclusives (because that doesn’t sound trustworthy and regardless we are inclusive in the first place), nor are we interested in getting Westernized (modernity can very well be achieved without changing one’s culture. Japan and Indonesia are good examples of that). This was just some added demonstration that bifurcations in general don’t really work for the complex India. For example, it is quite legitimately possible to imagine a Jain politics as one would imagine Buddhist politics as a Naiyāyika or Mīmāṃsaka politics as also of a Vedantin politics. And of course not to leave out Cārvāka philosophy. And so on. Our current (Western based) descriptions of reality around us and the categories by which we understand and describe it are inadequate to capture the reality appropriately. This calls for efforts to better our own abilities as well as the capability of our language(s). This is the continuous effort that such great thinkers as Gaṅgeśa Upādhyāya or Raghunātha Śiromaṇi were doing. This effort stopped owing to the atrocities during the British rule and continued post-independence owing to the rejection of a vast territory of our past. As I mentioned, we are picking up those pieces till date. Conclusion India cannot be seen from the Western Left and Right political lens as it does not capture the reality of our polity. Force fitting the diverse Indic परम्परा to the mundane left right Western categories is disingenuous. The Pro-Indics should not be called Right Wing. Anyone doing so is being sloppy with their intellect. The political dichotomy of Left vs Right is lazy and underdeveloped even for the West, and we suggest them to revisit it. Reprinted with permission of the author (May 2020)
What was called in the ancient times Sanatan Dharma, which has come down to us today under the name of Hinduism, with its many branches, sects and gurus, is in great danger today, as it is attacked by many forces. The enemies of Hindus are united, even if it is in disunity, even if it is a temporary arrangement based on a common hatred. Christian conversions, the onslaught of Muslim fundamentalism, the abhorrence of communists for Hinduism, the infinite dangers of Globalisation and Americanisation, the disregard of India’s intellectual elite of India for their own culture and spirituality, are slowly but surely making a dent in India’s psyche … There are so many great gurus incarnated in India at the moment. Yet not only are they not united against the common enemy, or for the common good, but they often compete against each other for disciples or territory and even criticize each other. Disunity has always been the curse of Hinduism and India and whichever enemy conquered this country, did it not because of superior strength, but because they were helped by Hindu betrayers. Remember the last great Hindu empire, that of Vijaynagar. The Christians have a Pope, the Muslims the word of the Koran, communists have Der Kapital of Karl Marx, but Hindus are fragmented in a thousand sects, which often bicker with each other. Excerpted from François Gautier’s article posted on July 27, 2018 and reprinted here with permission
Anyone who knows even a little about the mindset of Hindus knows that genocide is simply not in their genes. It never happened and it can never happen. Killing someone because he worships God under another name is for Hindus unimaginable and ridiculous. Sometimes I check the German TV channel Deutsche Welle (dw) to know what they want us to think. Unlike in India, most German news channels are government friendly. Yet it always amazes me, although India and Germany are on friendly terms, how negatively dw reports on India. So when on 17. April 2020 dw ran a negative story on “Islamophobia at an all-time high in India” and claimed that the Modi government uses the Covid 19 crisis to stigmatise Muslims, I was not surprised. The report showed Muslim vegetable vendors complaining that Hindus boycott them. It is true. Even in my village people refuse to buy from Muslims now, but dw did not tell the reason why this happens. It did not tell that some clerics considered the Corona virus as sent by Allah to kill millions of Hindus and asked the faithful to spread it. A huge congregation of Tablighi Jamat, an Islamic missionary movement, took place in Delhi, after which many participants spread out all over India and spread the virus at a time when the whole of India had only some 800 cases and few deaths. The administration and police tried feverishly to trace all those thousands of Tablighis and their contacts, after many of them, including foreigners, had tested positive for the virus. It was a Herculean task. But given the huge population density in India, it was crucial to prevent community spread of the virus. Police razzias and doctors who came to test were often pelted with stones. Several were injured. Moreover, the Tablighis in quarantine facilities or hospitals behaved awfully. Doctors complained about spitting on them, excreting in the corridor, making obscene gestures, running around naked in front of female nurses, and demanding meat to eat. Why would good Muslims, (and missionaries are supposed to be good Muslims), behave like this? The answer is probably that good Muslims know their holy books and want to follow their command. They know that Allah sees Kafirs as the worst of creatures who will burn in hell for eternity (Quran 98.6), so naturally they have contempt for them. They also know that they need to fight till the whole world accepts only Allah (Q 8.39). And since it is not easy to wipe out millions of Kafirs, the virus is seen as a gift from Allah which will do the job if widely spread. So it is no surprise that especially good Muslims want to spread the virus. Videos show how they aggressively resist testing, violate curfew, spit on vegetables and currency notes. A video shows policemen picking up currency notes from the street with a stick and putting them into a plastic bag. It is very insidious to throw money on the road, as the temptation to pick it up is surely great for children and the poor. So it should not surprise that nowadays, during the Corona crisis, Hindus turn Muslim vendors away because they can’t be sure if those vendors are ‘good’ Muslims who believe that Hindus should die out. It is impossible to know, because they are allowed to deceive Kafirs, provided it fosters the spread of Islam. So “better safe than sorry” is naturally the motto. But all this was not mentioned by dw. At the end of the report, a woman commentator from India was interviewed. She said that there is a “360 degree discrimination against Muslims by the Modi government”. It was a lie. The government is not discriminating between different religious groups in regard to relief operations which are running in full swing, with money credited to accounts and massive support to migrant labour. I was annoyed about this type of reportage on India, especially, when dw does not show the real discrimination in Pakistan against Hindus and Christians who claim they don’t get rations during the Corona crisis and several were forced to convert to survive. But then, I was used to the bias against India by dw. A few hours later I checked once more on dw. The same report was broadcast, same footage, same vendors complaining, but now the woman commentator had been replaced with Arundhati Roy. This seemed strange. When she started to speak, slowly, amiably, with a smile in her for-Western-eyes pretty face, it was pure poison, vicious and dangerous. Roy is known to tell terrible lies about India since years but this time, something more sinister seemed brewing. Why did dw not simply run the same report again? Was that previous commentator not vicious enough? Here is what Arndhati Roy (who by the way is Christian) said on the clip that dw put out on Twitter: “Honestly the situation is approaching genocidal, because the government’s agenda has been this. Since this government came, Muslims have been lynched, Muslims have been hunted down but now the stigmatization with this illness has left government policies on the street now. You can hear it everywhere. It comes with the threat of extreme violence.” This clip went viral. Yet it was not the complete interview. Here are some more comments by her which I had jotted down: She said that the extreme violence comes in the background of the massacre (she used the word massacre) in Delhi – cleverly not mentioning who massacred whom, but implying of course that Muslims were massacred. She rued that Trump was there at the time, but didn’t say anything. She called RSS the mother ship of BJP who wants a Hindu state; said that the world welcomes Modi but it should know that he is very much part of the agenda (of making a Hindu state) and they were already building detention centres. She called most anchors in MSM channels “single member lynch mobs”. And as if this all was not enough, she compared the situation in India with what happened in Ruanda before the massive genocide and that genocide in patches happens already. She asked the world to keep its eyes on it. The anchor called it a very important message and asked how can we prevent the genocide, taking it for granted that Roy had spoken the truth and genocide is indeed planned by the Indian government. In the end, Roy is introduced among other flattering attributes as “most acclaimed intellectual”. I felt shaken after hearing her. She gave the false and dangerous impression to the world that Hindus are planning genocide of Muslims. This is not a small thing. It is extremely dangerous and on Twitter already support comes in for the ‘Muslims of India’. We stand by you, is promised and a lawyer dressed in Arabic outfit tweeted he will adopt the cause of Muslims in India at UNHRC in Geneva for free… it got 17,6k likes and over 5k retweets. Anyone who knows even a little about the mindset of Hindus knows that genocide is simply not in their genes. It never happened and it can never happen. Killing someone because he worships God under another name is for Hindus unimaginable and ridiculous. Yet for the past thousand years Hindus were at the receiving end of jihads and conversion campaigns and millions of Hindus were massacred in cold blood because they were Hindus – massacred by Muslims. So did Arundhati Roy demonise Hindus so badly to instigate Muslims to “rise up against the oppression” and prepare the world to believe that oppression by Hindus is for real? Is she trying to help Pakistan fulfil its “unfinished agenda” of taking Hindustan fighting and make it accept Islam? Arundhati Roy would know that Hindus are not aggressors by nature. She and her ilk may be desperate to paint Hindus black, as especially in Europe, people become more and more wary of the behaviour of Muslims in their countries but don’t have any problems with Hindus. The faith of Hindus is based on Dharma and Dharma means to do what is right and in tune with one’s conscience. ‘Good’ Hindus are those rare human beings who see others as brothers and sisters, and are kind to animals and nature, too. Hindus do not divide humanity into those who are chosen by God and those who are eternally damned. Hindu children are not taught to look down on non-Hindus, unlike children of the dogmatic religions who are taught that their God loves them but does not love those ‘others’ unless they join their ‘true’ religions. However, Hindus are often too naïve to realize what mind-set the dogmatic religions foster. They unwisely give privileges to Muslims and Christians, which even Hindus don’t have, in spite of Swami Vivekananda warning already over 100 years ago that every convert is not one Hindu less but one enemy more. Sri Aurobindo also felt that hope for India lies in those, who converted out of Hinduism, to lose faith in their new religion which most accepted anyway due to pressure or allurement at the time of conversion. Truth does not need pressure and allurement. It makes sense. Untruth needs to be enforced with brutal laws that forbid people to believe anything else than what is declared as “the only truth”. The Hindu view is undoubtedly closer to truth. Nobody is forced to believe it and yet Hindus held on to it under extremely painful circumstances, and Westerners, dissatisfied with the Church, accept Hindu Dharma on their own accord. It is also no coincidence that modern science discovered that all is One Energy after Indian philosophy became known in the west. Nobody needs to be worried about a nation where the Hindu roots are fostered. Where Sanskrit is taught, which is the most perfect, dignified, powerful language on earth. Where yoga is practised in schools, which is an ideal means for all-round development and which, on a deeper level, helps to find fulfilment in live. Where Vedic philosophy is studied, which inspired the new scientific discoveries in nuclear physics. Where the amazing wisdom of Mahabharata and Ramayana becomes common knowledge. Where children chant “Loka samastha sukhino bhavantu” (May all be happy). Why would those Indians who converted to Islam or Christianity not be also proud of the achievements of their ancestors? India was the cradle of civilization, a knowledge hub and the richest country on earth. It was known for its wisdom. Surely Christians and Muslims cannot have any objection that students are taught this fact or that they chant “May all be happy” in Sanskrit, the language of their forefathers. If someone calls such teaching communal it is malicious. Is not he the one who tries to divide society and not those who say “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam” (all is one family) due to their philosophical outlook? One day, when people have become tired of blindly believing irrational dogmas, and when nobody is threatened any longer with dire consequences or even death if he stops believing in those strange dogmas, the world will be grateful to Bharat Mata that she has conceived and preserved over millennia those eternal, precious insights for the benefit of humanity.
If you Google “Hindu murders in Karnataka”, you will get a plethora of reports citing varying numbers of RSS, VHP or Bajrang Dal activists lynched to death by those claiming to wage a jihad against the so-called infidels. There may be disputes over the number of Hindus murdered, but all articles reporting this agree on specific killing of Hindus by jihadi elements. The gross average of the numbers comes to 12 in the past two years. Twelve families destroyed, yet no reports on media! No outrage at Jantar Mantar. No storming of the streets by the bindi brigade. No discussion on prime time television. No letter of condemnation to the ‘intolerant’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi by former bureaucrats and self-proclaimed academicians. Contrast this with the murder of Akhlaq in Uttar Pradesh two years ago. The whole leftist jihadi cabal went berserk and tremors of the ghastly murder were felt even in the United States where The Washington Post and The New York Times published articles on “murderous” Hindu gangs. The government of the State gave a government job to the kin of the murdered, approximately Rs 1 crore worth of compensation and properties to the bereaved family. A similar sequence has been repeated in the Kathua rape case. It is as though this rape (still unproved) and murder was more newsworthy than incidents of similar crimes reported everyday by the media. On an average, three Hindu girls are raped everyday in neighboring Pakistan for the singular reason that they are Hindus. Three Hindu underage girls raped everyday! Let that sink into our consciousness. Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about it? Why are Hindus the most forsaken people on this globe? In any civilized society, a murder or rape is a heinous crime. Why do rapes and murders of Hindus evoke a yawn from the Indian media and so-called civil society while the same entities go ballistic on the mere reporting of a rape or murder of a Muslim? Of course, that one rape or murder is the retribution for another is not my case. There is a pattern to this madness. Four reasons can be inferred directly from this strange conduct of the global community and the media to this direct assault on Hindu life and ethos. First, money, the eternal motive. Because Hindu society is devoid of a central core of leadership, all attacks on Hindus are left to be defended by local resistance, which almost never happens. On the other hand, the Abrahamic faiths, plush with funds from zaqaat and tithe, fund the spread of lies against Hindus so as to malign the Hindu faith globally. It isn’t without reason that very aggressive spokespersons of the Church and jamaat councils find prime airtime to view their side of the narrative whereas Hindus are represented by tilak-wielding, dhoti-kurta clad, usually overfed mahantas from some godforsaken akhada, who not only are ill at ease speaking English but also whose Hindi is pathetically inarticulate, sounding more like a cacophony instead of an argument. Why isn’t ever a Rajiv Malhotra, a Satish Sharma or a Vamsee Juluri invited to TV channels to articulate the Hindu side of the story? Obviously, to make Hinduism look mediaeval and archaic to the global community as well as the urban Hindus themselves. RSS swayamsevak Rudresh was stabbed to death in broad daylight in Bengaluru Second, human beings are generally infected with the desire to appear good and just to the world around him. It is a psychological malaise that camouflages the sloth and cowardice of the self-proclaimed liberals in the garb of justice and equanimity. Hence, all atrocities against Hindus are downplayed or brushed under the carpet because the Hindu intelligentsia and media have internalized the strange hypothesis that crimes against the majority are not as bad as those against the minorities. So, when there is genocide of Hindus in Bangladesh and Pakistan, the world looks the other way, but a stray incident where the usual community of perpetrators is targeted — or the religion of the victim does not even occur to the criminal — and the whole cabal mounts horsebacks to defend the so-called minorities. This active trivialization of crime against Hindus is partly due to the lack of efficient and honest Hindu leadership and partly due to the proclivity of looking good to others, even at the cost of hushing up the truth and siding with lies. Man’s capacity to deceive himself is infinite. And nothing proves this more than the abject bigotry of the nation’s elite and intelligentsia towards atrocities on Hindus in Bharat. A case in point: Ever wondered why not a single movie has been made on the Kashmiri exodus of Hindus by the rudalis of Bollywood? Not a lucrative business? But Mumbai riots and demonization of Balasaheb Thackeray in Bollywood continues uninterrupted. In fact, there is a well oiled, well funded machinery of writers who keep churning out atrocity literature against the Hindu faith on a regular basis. Sometimes, in the name of an obsolete Manu Smriti and, sometimes, in the name of caste conflict. They never run out of ideas to malign the Hindu civilisation. The idea is to generate a sense of victimhood in the minds of people, especially from the minorities and the poorer sections of Hindu society. Once victimhood finds roots in the human psyche, man is capable of the worst kind of violence and mayhem. It is a very dangerous game that the media and self-styled liberals are playing. When the beast of victimhood manifests, it is mayhem unleashed on one’s own citizenry, which even the most well-meaning and well-equipped police cannot control. Third is the lack of poorva paksha (homework and research). The Indian intelligentsia first co-opted the lines of sarva dharma sama bhava from Hindu scriptures and then turned it on its head to attack Hindus from all sides. The so-called Hindu leadership of the RSS and VHP too are part of this circus since they too believe that all religions are the same. This is a white lie. And this lie comes out of a deficient, linear understanding of dharma instead of a holistic one. The Macaulay system of English education has produced a crop of apparently educated people in this nation with zero spiritual quotient. Sarva dharma samabhaava is a beautiful yogic realisation penned down by Hindu rishis after decades of meditation in their ashramas. It was a peak experience they recorded in the Upanishads and it came after real, solid hard work of tapasya. They did not believe in sarva dharma sama bhava; they saw it and hence they lived it, too. It was an experience of a perfect harmony with nature and fellow human beings. Now, in today’s world, when there is a direct conflict for supremacy of a religion over another, sarva dharma sama bhava is a perfect recipe for disaster because it is completely out of context, and in fact a white lie, especially when there are religions that come to the table with options of violence and rape for those who do not believe in their religion. The Hindu leadership and the fake intelligentsia of this besieged nation lies when it parrots an Upanishadic wisdom to unsuspecting Hindus. And lies have consequences. Horrible consequences that are borne by poor, unsuspecting Hindus living on the cusp of jihad in States like Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka and Jammu & Kashmir. The Hindus on this globe are confused and lost because they are being asked to be accommodative of all other faiths while the other faiths are carrying on with their predatory nature to kill or convert Hindus all over the world. This is an asymmetric conflict in which Hindus are at a huge disadvantage of narrative as well as resources. This warrants the study of yet another case in point: Demographics of the Indian subcontinent. About 15% was the population of Hindus in Pakistan in 1947. It is now 1.4%. 35 % of Bangladeshis were Hindus in 1947; the Hindus now comprise a mere 7% of the population. Even in India, Hindus have reduced from 88% in 1947 to just about 79%. Eight crore Hindus have been murdered in 1,400 years of Islamic invasion of this unfortunate nation of ours. (Will Durant) These are official census data on which there is no TV debate ever, although demography is destiny especially in a democracy. The state and the media are both ignoring the demographic inversion of Assam, West Bengal, Kerala and parts of Jammu to the peril of Hindus. If the situation is a figment of the imagination of the Hindutva brigade, even then, these issues need to be discussed — to call the bluff of Hindu activists. Fourth, offense is the best form of defense. Because the jihadi-leftist nexus is already indulging in a dance of death in Bharat and globally, the slightest aberration by Hindus is trumpeted as a ‘majoritarian’ backlash — although on the scale and ferocity of it, these acts of Hindu vandalism are no match to what is being unleashed by Islamist terrorists in Kashmir and communists in Kerala. The constant onslaught on Hindu lives and thoughts have resulted in a Hindu leadership that is constantly apologetic and a Hindu citizenry that is in complete disarray. In spite of being the most unaggressive and sublime thought mankind has ever achieved, Hinduism is on a constant guilt trip and consequently, the great ethos of Hindu civilisation is getting diluted, eventually disappearing. If the largest community of this nation feels orphaned, it is a matter of serious concern for the policymakers of this nation because a universal grudge of the majority community cannot be ignored for long. Eventually, it will explode with unmanageable consequences. God forbid, if some fanatic Hindu radicals exploit the entire Hindu anguish and come up with a physical response to attacks on Hinduism, we will be witnessing an unprecedented mayhem, the glimpses of which we got in the form of mobs unleashed on streets in the name of cow vigilantism and random lynching of people by madmen masquerading as Hindu warriors in the not so distant past. Father of Gudiya (name changed) addressing a press conference in Kolkata, complaining that the city police is scared to venture into the neighborhood where his daughter was kidnapped by a Muslim suspect The constant attacks on Hindu ethos, and sheer concern for survival, have already led to a reverse consolidation of Hindus against the ‘Breaking India’ forces, a term coined by Rajiv Malhotra who has meticulously identified the patterns of attack by other faiths along Hindu fault lines. It is finding resonance in many upper and middle class Hindu households. The advent of social media has given a very wide reach to the works of Hindu scholars. This too is leading to a reverse consolidation of Hindus against the incessant onslaught on their way of life. The social media has also ensured that Hindus are no longer helpless victims of this constant demonization of their faith. A counter narrative to Hinduphobia is being built up by some brilliant minds on raw data and meticulous poorva paksha by Hindu scholars. Every society must either be governed by a just law or impeccable morals. Law comes from the state and morals from religion. In a nation-state like Bharat, the grounds of legal apartheid were laid when different civil codes were applied to different sets of population. So there goes the law. If Hindus were to take to streets demanding a uniform civil code, would the Indian state be justified in cracking its whip on them? Does the Indian state have the moral fibre to look Hindus in the eye and question the Hindu angst on Article 370, Hindu genocide in Kashmir, Pakistan and Bangladesh, murders of Hindu leaders all over Bharat, and scores of such issues which genuinely contribute to accumulated Hindu anger? As far as morals are concerned, Hinduism is an egalitarian faith which has been evolving continuously for more than 8,000 years. Even the scriptures are not considered sacrosanct, what to say of holy men or gods of the past. Hindu faith even accepts nastikta (atheism or non-acceptance of the authority of the Vedas — Ed.) as a school of thought. Contrast this with the Abrahamic faiths that insist on one god, one book and one prophet. Without going into the merits of one religion over another, does anyone in his right mind actually think that such varied understandings of religions can eventually give rise to a moral code that can govern a society as complex as India? Even if it is done, how will we arrive at a consensus? By shastrartha (theological debates)? As of now, that does not seem to be happening. All we see are a spate of deceitful or forceful conversions and acts of random but unceasing violence against Hindus. How does a society function and progress where law and morals are so debilitating and partisan in nature? This is a question that must shake the consciousness of every politician and policy maker of this glorious but besieged nation. It is only a matter of time before Hindus consolidate and respond to the constant encroachment on the physical, spiritual, moral, educational, emotional and mental space of the Hindus. In the absence of a coherent and visionary leadership, what shape that resistance is going to take is anybody’s guess. Hindus are being pushed to the wall and the rest of the world led by leftists, evangelists and jihadi forces are trying to put the blame on Hindus themselves, albeit unsuccessfully. The absurdity of this is going to fall sooner than later. If we have been able to deduce with reasonable certainty that Hindu majoritarianism is a joke and a lie woven by the leftist opinion makers, we can also safely conclude that Hindus themselves are under attack. So what is the real remedy for Hindu anguish? First, stick to the idea and practice of secularism with absolute clarity and unflinching commitment. The state must be indifferent to religion. Period. No preference to this or that religion on artificial premises of numbers and economic conditions. The former prime minister Manmohan Singh had stated that Muslims had the first claim on the resources of India. This kind of thought should be seen as the worst kind of violation of the spirit of secularism. Real secularism is the key to the survival and productive functioning of a modern state; all discrimination based on religion should be firmly done away with. Second, talk to Hindus. They are helplessly witnessing their 8,000 year old civilisation crumble in front of their eyes. There are enough Hindus who will not let this crumbling happen without resisting it tooth and nail. If a Muslim or a Christian is proud of his faith, why not a Hindu? Do not make ‘Hindu’ a bad word. Let Hindus be. The anguish of Hindus on the Kashmiri genocide, the demographic inversion, the murders of Hindus of south India, the incessant attacks on Hindu life and property are all genuine. The state and all concerned parties must address these or be prepared for an overwhelming reaction, which could become uncontrollable. The writing on the wall is clear. Hindus are tired of being defensive about their faith and are patiently waiting for the Hindu leadership to respond. If the state continues to ignore the Hindu narrative, the Hindu beast might be unleashed. Hope things don’t come to that pass.
Pencil drawing of Sri Aurobindo by The Mother, 1935 A day will dawn when people of all classes in my country will band together as one living mass at the sacred altar of the World-Mother, represented here by our Motherland and face the rest of [the] world with heads held high. ( Sri Aurobindo ) Rarely in the history of nations has a single person’s spiritual influence shaped so profoundly a nation’s destiny as Sri Aurobindo’s has shaped India’s. Yet, this is not a widely known or understood fact as the modern Indian mind has lost its connection with the spiritual dimension of life. This is somewhat ironical because the Indian civilization has been influenced and shaped through millennia by some of the greatest spiritual seers ever to have walked the earth. Before Sri Aurobindo, and in recent history, the redoubtable Swami Vivekananda caused seismic shifts in Indian civilization by his enormous spiritual force. Indians are no strangers to spiritual and Yogic phenomena. Some of the greatest influencers and architects of Indian civilization and culture have been the Rishis and the Yogis, the great preceptors of the Sanatan Dharma. It is because of this that the Indian civilization has always been nurtured by the perennial streams of living Dharma. Dharma has thrived in India and grown in power because of these legendary seers and prophets. Most of these seers lived and worked in complete seclusion and anonymity, influencing a million lives and events from their mountain caves or forest ashrams. Sri Aurobindo was amongst the last great Maharishis of the Sanatan Dharma who occultly influenced and shaped India’s destiny from his seclusion in Pondicherry. His life and his Yoga were not for all to see or know. What he himself revealed to disciples of his Yoga was only the tip of a massive iceberg. What he did for humanity, and what he did for India, will take several centuries to unfold, for the results of a Yogic mission such as his become embedded in the very fabric of universal time and evolution. Yet, Sri Aurobindo remains a peripheral, somewhat mythical, figure of Indian history for most educated Indians. This has been the unutterable tragedy of modern India — the educated Indian has been alienated from his own dharma through several generations, first by our erstwhile British rulers and then by our own thought leaders, since 1947, hell-bent on transforming Indian polity and society to western secularism, liberalism and socialism. As a consequence, generations of Indians have grown up floundering, rootless and groundless, with little or no knowledge of their own heritage or destiny. Most young Indians do not learn much of Sri Aurobindo from their history books. The most that they are taught is that he was a political revolutionary who quit politics and retired to Pondicherry to do Yoga. But then, they are not given any further knowledge of India’s vast Yogic tradition or of the rich national politics of those times either. They have no idea of why Sri Aurobindo left politics and what he did after leaving politics. The history of Indian nationalism, within years of Sri Aurobindo’s retirement, became overshadowed by Gandhi, and most other luminaries of the freedom struggle were reduced to footnotes. Few amongst us would know that Sri Aurobindo was the first political leader to proclaim that India was not merely a landmass but a living consciousness, a Divine Shakti, that needs to be awakened. Sri Aurobindo was indeed the great purohit, the High Priest, who lit the sacrificial fires of the great Yajna for India’s freedom; he was the first to invoke India as Shakti, as the divine Bhawani Bharati — What is our mother-country? It is not a piece of earth, nor a figure of speech, nor a fiction of the mind. It is a mighty Shakti, composed of the Shaktis of all the millions of units that make up the nation, just as Bhawani Mahisha Mardini sprang into being from the Shakti of all the millions of gods assembled in one mass of force and welded into unity. The Shakti we call India, Bhawani Bharati, is the living unity of the Shaktis of three hundred million people…. Sri Aurobindo’s own deeper Yoga began with his quest for spiritual power that he could place at the service of his motherland. For Sri Aurobindo, the fight for India’s freedom was spiritual first and then political, for political freedom would mean little without spiritual freedom. Only as a spiritually free nation would India be able to fulfill her destined role as jagat-guru amongst the nations of the world. This was Sri Aurobindo’s dream for India, and this was the seed of future greatness that was planted in the very bosom of India, the truth that India had borne in her soul since the beginning of her ancient civilization. India’s freedom as a nation and a civilization was thus inevitable in the divine scheme of things, but what still had to be worked out was the way, the process, the details of the Mahayajna. Sri Aurobindo, as the great devas and maharishis of old, spoke of India’s future from the highest planes of truth-consciousness: India cannot perish, our race cannot become extinct, because among all the divisions of mankind it is to India that is reserved the highest and the most splendid destiny, the most essential to the future of the human race. It is she who must send forth from herself the future religion of the entire world, the Eternal Religion which is to harmonize all religion, science and philosophies and make mankind one soul. This future religion of the entire world that Sri Aurobindo reveals is the religion born of Man’s timeless spiritual quest for Truth, Unity and Perfection, the religion of the soul, that which will unify and harmonize all humanity, synthesize all civilizations and cultures and lead the human species to a higher consciousness. In other words, the eternal religion India has to bring to the world will be the religion of an integral Yoga, a religion that will finally bridge the chasm between life and spirituality, matter and spirit, body and soul. It is for this ultimate purpose of world transformation that India has birthed, and nurtured through millennia, the Sanatan Dharma; and it is for this that Sri Aurobindo himself embodied the Sanatan Dharma and brought it into the collective consciousness of Indians in those formative years of India’s nationhood and established the Sanatan Dharma as the true basis and framework for a pan-Indian spiritual nationalism. Or dharmic nationalism, if you will. Let us recall those profound and mighty words from his Uttarpara speech: I say that it is the Sanatan Dharma which for us is nationalism. This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatan Dharma, with it, it moves and with it, it grows. When the Sanatan Dharma declines, then the nation declines, and if the Sanatan Dharma were capable of perishing, with the Sanatan Dharma it would perish. The Sanatan Dharma, that is nationalism. Sri Aurobindo, thus, was the first prophet of spiritual or dharmic nationalism. He, by his work, his speeches and writings, and his own active leadership spiritualized Indian nationalism and politics; and in doing so, he also paved the way for dharmic politics and economics in India, the old concept of Ram Rajya, the kingdom of God on earth. The culmination of political governance will have to be in a Ram Rajya of the future, and the culmination of economics and business will have to be a dharmic or spiritual blend of capitalism and communism, purified of the distortions of the unregenerate human nature driven by egoistic fear and greed. This is yet another aspect of Sri Aurobindo’s creative vision for India and the world. It must be remembered that spiritual nationalism is not the same as the self-limiting, self-aggrandizing exclusivist nationalism the world is used to; being spiritual, this form of nationalism will be an expression of a nation’s soul, its spiritual and civilizational essence, and will necessarily be in harmony with all other nationalistic expressions and aspirations, even as various notes of music blend to create symphony. As Sri Aurobindo would say, harmony is the law of spiritual life. Sri Aurobindo saw clearly that India, of all nations in the world, with her enormous cultural heritage and spiritual and Yogic knowledge, would be the best equipped to lead this change to a new and more conscious world order. But spiritual nationalism must be founded on spiritual consciousness, for it cannot be an intellectual ideal or a mere philosophical system. The individual, therefore, must first find in himself or herself the spiritual consciousness and truth, and then make that the basis for a wider social and national life. In other words, the framework and basis for the individual, the society and the nation will have to become increasingly dharmic, spiritual. And therefore, Sri Aurobindo’s insistence on spiritual freedom and truth consciousness as the foundation for social and national existence. How many amongst us today realize the enormous significance of spirituality and dharma in our daily lives and action? Spirituality, once the vital life-force of Indian civilization, has now shrunk to facile new age practices and the psychobabble of self-proclaimed and self-marketed gurus, or worse, has been reduced to practices and mindless rituals of the pandit. In our social and national life, spirituality has all but disappeared. From the high ideals of dharmic politics and governance that Sri Aurobindo held in his vision for a future India, we have been reduced to intractable systemic corruption that has sapped the lifeblood of our nation. A return to some semblance of Dharma in the nation’s political life has just started, but there is still a long way to go. It is now, in these circumstances raging around us, that we need to return to Sri Aurobindo’s Truth and Light. Each of us needs to do this, for each of us individually will add to the gathering force of the Truth. Small waves make a tsunami. Again, in Sri Aurobindo’s words: India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human peoples… [T]hat which must seek now to awake is…still the ancient immemorable Shakti recovering her deepest self, lifting her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and a vaster form of her Dharma. In a very real sense, Sri Aurobindo is the custodian of India’s eternal Dharma; he, more than anyone else, saw how absolutely indispensable was India’s Dharma to India’s future and proclaimed the urgent necessity to recover and rejuvenate India’s Dharma. But, in an ironical twist of fate, even as Sri Aurobindo labored to awaken the nation’s Shakti, the then political leaders of our nation and the arbiters of her destiny were turning away from the Dharma and vigorously replacing it with newfangled notions of social justice, economic equality and political sophistication, overlooking the simple fact that without a Dharmic base and framework, no political, economic or social edifice would stand for too long. Unbeknownst to most Indians of that time, our national leaders were steering India away from her essential Indianness towards westernized universalism. Far from awakening the Shakti within, the common Indian, the aam aadmi, has slipped into an enervating materialism while the intelligentsia, the buddhijeevi, has turned to half-baked ideals of secular socialism. Instead of turning to Dharma, India has turned to dharma-nirapekhsata. Dharma-nirapekhsata is the Hindi word commonly used for secularism. The word ‘nirapeksha’ in its truest sense implies disregard, indifference, independence. It is a beautiful word when used in its Yogic or spiritual sense, but when used with Dharma (to denote the western concept of secularism), it turns on its head. Once again, as we enter the 74th year of our life as a free nation, there are visible the first definitive signs of a return to the true dharma of India and a definite rejection of the western idea of secularism. But here too, we have a long way to go and must turn more consciously and resolutely to Sri Aurobindo’s Truth, for in his Truth alone we will recover the key to balance and harmony. But turning to Sri Aurobindo’s Truth is not always easy or even possible. The old falsehoods will inevitably stand in the way. As it has happened before, in more critical times. In 1942, five years before Independence, the British government had sent the famous Cripps Proposal to the then Indian leadership under Gandhi. Had this proposal been accepted, it would have paved the way for Indian independence without partition. Sri Aurobindo, still very much in inner touch with all political developments in India and the world, had seen that possibility immediately and had publicly expressed his support for the Cripps proposal. He had sent his emissaries to Gandhi and other leaders to persuade them to accept the proposal. But Gandhi refused, purportedly with the comment that Yogis should have nothing to do with politics. This, from a leader who claimed to be a follower of the Sanatan Dharma; and this, in a country that traditionally honors and respects the counsel of its seers and prophets! However, India missed a historical chance when her leaders did not pay heed to the words of the Jagat Guru, and hurtled headlong towards disaster, a blunder for which each successive generation of Indians has paid an exacting price. It is worth recalling Sri Aurobindo’s words from the message he broadcast to the nation on 15th August 1947 — For if it [the partition] lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled: civil strife may remain always possible, possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest. India’s internal development and prosperity may be impeded, her position among the nations weakened, her destiny impaired or even frustrated. This must not be; the partition must go. Contemporary India continues to live through the malaise of economic reservations, minority appeasement, communalism and corruption, all of which could have been avoided had India’s leadership aligned itself to the true Dharma when it mattered most. However, all nations, like individuals, have a certain karma that even the Divine cannot alter. But we can learn and grow more conscious. As Sri Aurobindo says, by our stumbling the world is perfected. So we need to grow conscious not only of our strengths but also of our frailties, not only of our high destiny but also of all the forces ranged against us, determined to thwart that destiny. The resistance to a dharmic India is still strong and adamant. Much more needs to be done if India has to awaken to her truth. Indians, or at least those who carry India in their hearts and minds, must turn to the highest truth, the highest dharma, that they can access. And that which they can access, with only a little labor of love, is the Truth that Sri Aurobindo embodies and represents. Sri Aurobindo needs to be read, researched, discussed, debated, understood and applied widely, across the country. Sri Aurobindo’s vast vision and work has still not found place in Indian public or academic discourse, even decades after independence. Our schools and universities hardly touch Sri Aurobindo at any depth. Only a superficial and cursory mention is made of him as the freedom fighter who renounced political life. Hardly anything beyond that. Few students of Indian history today know of Sri Aurobindo as the prophet of Indian nationalism, as the first radical revolutionary in India’s struggle for freedom, as a poet and writer of rare eminence, as a Mahayogi and Maharishi of Indian spirituality. This is a historical anomaly that needs to be vigorously corrected. We need to learn and understand deeply how Sri Aurobindo, from the 1870s to 1950, right through the critical formative years of India, shaped India’s destiny by his Yogic force and will. This may be difficult to grasp for most, but we owe ourselves this knowledge and understanding. Sri Aurobindo is India’s inestimable heritage and he must be presented to the educated Indian and to the Indian youth objectively, rationally, cogently. Let us recall Sri Aurobindo’s message to the Indian youth — Our first necessity, if India is to survive and do her appointed work in the world, is that the youth of India should learn to think, – to think on all subjects, to think independently, fruitfully, going to the heart of things, not stopped by their surface, free of prejudgments, shearing sophism and prejudice asunder as with a sharp sword, smiting down obscurantism of all kinds as with the mace of Bhima… These are not mere words, this is an invocation of yuvashakti, the power of the young, and not just the young in age but the young in mind and spirit. To understand and live Sri Aurobindo’s Truth, we need to be clear as crystal in the mind and strong as lion in the heart, and ageless in spirit; we need to make of ourselves the true hero-warriors of the Divine Shakti. In the words of the Mother, Sri Aurobindo’s divine collaborator in his Work and Yoga — Sri Aurobindo always loved deeply his Motherland. But he wished her to be great, noble, pure and worthy of her big mission in the world. He refused to let her sink to the sordid and vulgar level of blind self-interests and ignorant prejudices. This is why, in full conformity to his will, we lift high the standard of truth, progress and transformation of mankind, without caring for those who, through ignorance, stupidity, envy or bad will, seek to soil it and drag it down into the mud. We carry it very high so that all who have a soul may see it and gather round it. It was obviously no coincidence that India’s independence day fell on Sri Aurobindo’s birthday, the 15th of August. In his message to the nation on 15th August, Sri Aurobindo had said: August 15th, 1947 is the birthday of free India. It marks for her the end of an old era, the beginning of a new age. But we can also make it by our life and acts as a free nation an important date in a new age opening for the whole world, for the political, social, cultural and spiritual future of humanity. August 15th is my own birthday and it is naturally gratifying to me that it should have assumed this vast significance. I take this coincidence, not as a fortuitous accident, but as the sanction and seal of the Divine Force that guides my steps on the work with which I began life, the beginning of its full fruition. Indeed, on this day I can watch almost all the world-movements which I hoped to see fulfilled in my lifetime, though then they looked like impracticable dreams, arriving at fruition or on their way to achievement. In all these movements free India may well play a large part and take a leading position. Let us remember that though Sri Aurobindo struggled all his life for India and India’s highest and widest freedom, he was not limited in his vision and will to India alone. For him India was the starting point of a human transformation, the hub of a universal evolution of consciousness. I have always held and said that India was rising, not to serve her own material interest only, to achieve expansion, greatness, power and prosperity,.. though these too she must not neglect.., and certainly not like others to acquire domination of other peoples, but to live also for God and the world as a helper and a leader of the whole human race, he had said in his message to the nation. To limit Sri Aurobindo to India alone would be a disservice to his work and his legacy. Sri Aurobindo labored for all humanity; all that he attempted and attained was for all humanity and for the Divine in humanity. If there is one who can be said to belong to the world, it is Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo’s Truth is the future of the human species, it is the path to the true Kingdom of God on earth, it is the Truth of the Divine still to be realized in the mind, life and body of earth. Sri Aurobindo opened for us life’s highest possibility and hope. Even the briefest glimpse of his Truth can uplift the spirit and mind in a trice to the highest. The world needs such a vision and an inspiration, and desperately so; and India, most of all. सत्यं श्री अरविन्दस्य आविर्भवतु पृथिव्याम् ॥May Sri Aurobindo’s Truth manifest upon earth 1 Sri Aurobindo’s full message
When do you know that a nation’s soul is dead? When it can look at falsehood with full awareness and call it truth. When do you know that a leader has sold his soul to the Devil himself? When he can look at the night staring him in the face and call it day. India is at such a crossroads. The moment when it can look at itself and call things as they are. Yatha bhootam darshanam. To see things as they are. To state a fact. Is the first step towards freedom. Perhaps the only one. There was a time when India could do it. That was the secret of its civilization and magnificent achievements in culture, arts, literature, science, medicine, music, architecture, commerce, communities, philosophy. The golden bird was not made of a metal. But something else that was an aspiration and a realization. Today the hour of reckoning is here again. To not state a fact. Because it is inconvenient to say so. Out of fear. Or favor. Due to considerations. Is falsehood. Greater than the one that has been perpetrated. And the last religion is Truth. India has always stated That. Testified to That. There is no other religion. At least for India. “They carried the virulence.” Across the length and breadth of the country. Across the globe. They defecated in wards. Ran naked in front of women who were their nurses, who were trying to heal. They filled bottles with urine. As infectant. They carried the virulence. With pride. With insouciance. With conviction. With faith. Fact. They prayed to God to infect the ‘other’. They invoked the Highest to hurt the ‘nonbeliever’. Fact. The soul-keepers of the nation are silent. The aiyars. Tharoors. Roys. Mehtas. Fact. We have found the real covid. And it is in us. Well, as a doctor, let me state it. If for nothing else, my own repentant soul. At the risk of annoying others. While my friends are endangering their lives in the trenches. Giving their all to fight on our behalf. Dying by the dozen. We throw stones at them. We call them names. And it is ok. Fact. We justify it. We call it a mistake. An honest one. We call India intolerant. Hundreds of writers and artists must have returned their awards due to this virus, I am certain. The virus that is in our hearts. When we have made our tolerance itself a perversion. A fetish. A means to hide from our own dishonesty. Fact. I have only one question now. What would China do? The paradox of paradoxes that I have to look up to someone else to find out who I am. Would they have blamed the administration for the lapse? The authorities for the snafu? Equated operational failure with spiritual hypocrisy? Would we like to be tolerant to falsehood? Would we like to state that every religion is flawed and we should spread harmony? Peace. Our discourse has been corona-ed. Our tolerance for the virus is itself covid. Is there any way to awaken the soul of India now? To adhere to Sat, the Truth? To state it for all to hear. And perhaps, even listen? Can we say this as an Indian? Free of division in our heart, yet with calm and clarity? Can we accept this as human beings with a basic sense of decency towards each other? Otherwise, do not expect the doctors and nurses to lay their lives for you. Do not expect them to use one mask for a week exposing all their loved ones to your virulence. What standards remain for them to aspire to? To fight for? All else is immaterial. In the battle for the soul of a nation, this is the real dharma-yuddha. If we can be together in seeing our falsehood, then our soul might still live. Then there is the thread, the ray of light which we can follow towards the End. If not, our soul is dead. And we must accept this too. State it the way it is. Without screens. Perhaps this might be our only chance. Our path to redemption. Fact.
Someone has to call it the way it is. Let me do it. As a doctor. As a lover of India. As one who has great Muslim friends to whom I am loyal and indebted. I risk annoying them. But if I do not, I will be doing them a great disservice. Every country has a TJ moment. Which defines its future for the next few centuries. America had the Civil War. Russia had the revolution. Germany had WWII. India has its covid moment. When she should realize who she really is. But, first things first. Let us stop sweeping things under the rug. Let us face things upfront no matter how painful they are. Let us agree to call a tablighi a tablighi. This is not about being secular. Or diplomatic. Or walking on left-liberal egg-shells. Or being an alt-right reactionary. This is about humans. And health care. And the law. And basic sense and concern for others. This is about protecting each other and being my neighbor’s keeper. Let us agree that this is unconscionable. And condemn it unequivocally. We do not need a Nasiruddin Shah or Owaisi or Ramchandra Guha to save our conscience. We do not even need a Dattatreya Brahmin doing Shiva Bhakti with a janeu on. Nor do we need an LK Advani to take us on a rath yatra to build a temple. Or a Bhagavat katha. The temple this time is here. It is our ground. It is our people. And we have allowed it to be desecrated. Where are the officials who allowed it? Why are they not suspended? Why is the leader of the Jamaatis not being tried for attempted murder and sedition? Why is TJ not proscribed and banned as an organization? This is one time I would advocate for the Old Testament proscriptions to be applied against them. The Sharia for Sharia! Where are the Muslim leaders? To stand up to this disgusting congregation of virulent carriers of God-knows what kind of denomination. I think we have created a group of entitled people who have been coddled, appeased, sucked-up-to for the sake of politics and special interests. They are rude, crude, arrogant, uncivilized, an abomination. It is time for India to reject them and their untruth. No matter what religion you belong to, we will not tolerate this desecration. Whether it be Nizamuddin Markaz or Shirdi temple assembling against the law and, more importantly, common sense and decency. Whether it be in the name of religion or some political hack with his cronies sloganeering Corona to go back. Who will enforce these standards? As always, it is something that moves silently among people, as a wave, as a will. When collectively we choose to reject what is false and distorted or disharmonious. It is time for India to awaken. And realize its soul. And discard what is munaafiqat and fitna. What is tamasik. What is asat. Tablighi or not tablighi – that is the question. Recommended for further reading:
We must recover India’s spiritual dharma and bring it back into mainstream thinking, into political, social and academic discourse, into education, into the media, art and literature, into cinema and theatre — we must open the floodgates of dharma to the masses, to whoever would want to drink of the perennial waters. We must invoke the vastness and nobleness of our ancient dharma which has been lost to us for ages. Those who invaded our land over the last few centuries, and equally those who led our nation since independence, have deeply damaged the fabric of our dharma, and have reduced us to intellectual and cultural mediocrity. But ours is dharma that cannot be destroyed or corrupted. It may be brutalized, marginalized but not permanently lost. History has brought us now to a tipping point. Forces that are hell-bent on destroying Indian civilization and breaking up the Indian nation are raging and howling around us; but just beyond and above those raging and howling forces is the eternal assurance of dharma – धर्मोरक्षति रक्षितः – dharma protected, protects. It’s simple and clear: dharma will protect if we stand for dharma, and are willing to live dharma in all that we are and all that we do. And to live dharma, we first need to reject from our consciousness all that is not dharma — all that is false and pretentious, petty and destructive, selfish and divisive in us. We need to do this as vigorously and urgently as we would reject a disease from our own body, as we would reject a rotting carcass from our homes. We need to do this as if there is no tomorrow. Now, and totally. We need to stand together for dharma. We need to speak up in one voice. We need to reclaim what is most deeply and truly ours without the least vibration of hesitation or weakness. We must remember that we fight ancient forces of darkness in contemporary forms of politics, businesses and religions. Do not be taken in by appearances: look deeply and look relentlessly, and you will see the hidden asuras. Make no mistake here – this is dharma-yuddha!
An Approach and a Paradigm A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the President of India, identified five important areas to transform India from a developing country into a developed country: education and health care, agriculture, information and communication, infrastructure and critical technology. He traveled around the world and presented his vision for the future of the country. I feel this is a very good start for a conversation on how India can be developed and transformed not only as a developed nation, but as a leader of the world. To my mind, a country can be approached as one would an organization or even as an individual. If that can be tentatively agreed upon, I find Maslow’s pyramid useful to talk about the holistic development of the organization or the nation. While I say this I am aware that a nation-state is a relatively modern phenomenon and that India is a relative new-born in terms of political independence. India as a civilization is perhaps the oldest surviving one on earth. As Iqbal poignantly noted, ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece could not sustain their original inspiration and unifying idea. Perhaps only China can be said to be sustaining somewhat its original civilization in some ways today. Be that as it may, let us proceed with our exercise. If we apply the five layers of Maslow’s pyramid we can see it thus, moving from bottom to top: 1) Physical (security): This would be the most primal need of the country, not only externally but internally. That also means a structure of protection for its citizens and ensuring basic justice equally to all. 2) Higher Physical (infrastructure, utilities and necessities): These would entail an infrastructure of roads, highways, ports, airports, waterways, storage facilities, housing, rural and urban development, water and food supply, waste management, internet and broadband, etc. 3) Social and Psychological Development: As gross or sthoola needs are met, one moves to the subtle body of the nation. Here one would place health and education, development of natural resources in a recyclable manner, development of a civil discourse, communication and information systems along with learning management systems, etc. 4) Cultural and Individual Development: Here the individual is optimized, advanced, facilitated and given the environment so that his or her highest potential can be fulfilled. Civil discourse evolves to transparency, society develops a character and integrity, a deep-rooted civic sense and togetherness, higher technical advancements made available and researched with world-class systems and education, advanced disaster recovery and a state of physical and psychological health is achieved. 5) Self-Actualization: Every nation has a soul, as Sri Aurobindo pointed out. This is when the highest possibility of the nation, its guiding principle, its fundamental ‘idea’ begins to manifest as a reality and truth, its ritam. Here the leaders are awake to the nation’s soul and responsive to its people selflessly and consciously. Such a society becomes creative in tackling its challenges and turns its failures into opportunity, looks towards a wholesome and comprehensive transformation of every element of its constitution, secular or spiritual. Innovation becomes the norm and enterprise is organic. Citizens are happy, anandmaya, and there is a quiet but egoless pride or gaurav in one’s existence. Here, one has perhaps moved to what is called the kaarana, the causal nature of one’s existence, one’s svabhaava and svadharma, or what I call the core. 6) Self-Transcendence: Maslow, in his later years, modified the apex of his pyramid, inspired by Indian spirituality. [Having met our basic needs at the bottom of the pyramid, having worked on our emotional needs in its middle and worked at achieving our potential, Maslow felt we needed to transcend thoughts of ourselves as islands. We had to see ourselves as part of the broader universe to develop the common priorities that can allow humankind to survive as a species. — Robby Berman] Every state or nation has an underlying theme. We see this when we study Greece or Rome or Japanese culture. Same applies for India. While India may be defined as not one nation but many nations that are joined by a deep oneness, a connection that defies the intellect, it is also clear that many Western institutions cannot be imposed on our civilization without being India-genized. The parliamentary democracy is one such institution where mobocracy or illiterocracy or corruptocracy has replaced meritocracy and sapio-cracy. Our present education is another that does not bring out our natural genius. Same for our health care and rural and urban development along with architecture and leadership development. While this model is not fool-proof or perfect, I find it Indian in the sense that it mirrors that Upanishadic concept of three layers of our being, the gross, the subtle and the causal. Or, if we drill down further, we have five bodies, the annamaya or physical, the pranamaya or vital, the manomaya or mental, the vigyanamaya or higher or super-mental and the anandamaya or blissful. Each body needs proper attention, care and expression. But it is by realizing the highest and deepest body that our superficial or gross layers reach fulfilment and completion, poornta. This then is my hypotheses, which should be openly critiqued and beat up. Perhaps in doing so we will realize that no single leader of the nation can single-handedly change us or elevate us. The potential lies in each one of us and until we are corrupt, selfish, petty and ignorant, we shall fail in being transformed. Then no Kalam or Modi can help us and we do not deserve them. It might be well to remember that if any layer is compromised at any time, the whole nation or society no matter how elevated shall revert to it immediately. For example, when Uttar Pradesh was taken over by goonda-raj recently, there could be no talk of self-actualization or even a proper psychological or social discourse. The whole state reverted to a very basic survival mechanism where girls could be molested in daylight and goons could threaten shopkeepers for belonging to the wrong religion. Or when the Manmohan Singh government was wracked by one corruption scandal after another, there could be no consideration of citizen being anandamaya or vigyanamaya. If physical security is attacked then all talk of evolution to higher layers collapses. For India to truly reach its self-realization, it will need to realize the spiritual in secular, the highest actualization in the external. No layer of development can be eschewed or ignored. India cannot retire in a post-Buddhistic phase of looking the world as dukkha-samsara or maya. It will need to undergo an integral transformation if it is to find its natural place in the world order. Pariksith Singh is a practicing doctor, entrepreneur, writer, poet and philosopher and is the patron and co-founder of Satyameva.
This is the ancient land where wisdom made its home before it went into any other country, the same India whose influx of spirituality is represented, as it were, on the material plane, by rolling rivers like oceans, where the eternal Himalayas, rising tier above tier with their snowcaps, look as it were into the very mysteries of heaven. Here is the same India whose soil has been trodden by the feet of the greatest sages that ever lived. Here first sprang up inquiries into the nature of man and into the internal world. Here first arose the doctrines of the immortality of the soul, the existence of a supervising God, an immanent God in nature and in man, and here the highest ideals of religion and philosophy have attained their culminating points. This is the land from whence, like the tidal waves, spirituality and philosophy have again and again rushed out and deluged the world, and this is the land from whence once more such tides must proceed in order to bring life and vigour into the decaying races of mankind. It is the same India which has withstood the shocks of centuries, of hundreds of foreign invasions of hundreds of upheavals of manners and customs. It is the same land which stands firmer than any rock in the world, with its undying vigour, indestructible life. Its life is of the same nature as the soul, without beginning and without end, immortal; and we are the children of such a country. Children of India, I am here to speak to you today about some practical things, and my object in reminding you about the glories of the past is simply this. Many times have I been told that looking into the past only degenerates and leads to nothing, and that we should look to the future. That is true. But out of the past is built the future. Look back, therefore, as far as you can, drink deep of the eternal fountains that are behind, and after that, look forward, march forward and make India brighter, greater, much higher than she ever was. Our ancestors were great. We must first recall that. We must learn the elements of our being, the blood that courses in our veins; we must have faith in that blood and what it did in the past; and out of that faith and consciousness of past greatness, we must build an India yet greater than what she has been. There have been periods of decay and degradation. I do not attach much importance to them; we all know that. Such periods have been necessary. A mighty tree produces a beautiful ripe fruit. That fruit falls on the ground, it decays and rots, and out of that decay springs the root and the future tree, perhaps mightier than the first one. This period of decay through which we have passed was all the more necessary. Out of this decay is coming the India of the future; it is sprouting, its first leaves are already out; and a mighty, gigantic tree, the Urdhvamula, is here, already beginning to appear… The problems in India are more complicated, more momentous, than the problems in any other country. Race, religion, language, government — all these together make a nation The elements which compose the nations of the world are indeed very few, taking race after race, compared to this country. Here have been the Aryan, the Dravidian, the Tartar, the Turk, the Mogul, the European — all the nations of the world, as it were, pouring their blood into this land. Of languages the most wonderful conglomeration is here; of manners and customs there is more difference between two Indian races than between the European and the Eastern races. The one common ground that we have is our sacred tradition, our religion. That is the only common ground, and upon that we shall have to build. In Europe, political ideas form the national unity. In Asia, religious ideals form the national unity. The unity in religion, therefore, is absolutely necessary as the first condition of the future of India. There must be the recognition of one religion throughout the length and breadth of this land. What do I mean by one religion? Not in the sense of one religion as held among the Christians, or the Mohammedans, of the Buddhists. We know that our religion has certain common grounds, common to all our sects, however varying their conclusions may be, however different their claims may be. So there are certain common grounds; and within their limitation this religion of ours admits of a marvellous variation, an infinite amount of liberty to think and live our own lives. We all know that, at least those of us who have thought; and what we want is to bring out these life-giving common principles of our religion, and let every man, woman, and child, throughout the length and breadth of this country, understand them, know them, and try to bring them out in their lives. This is the first step; and, therefore, it has to be taken. We see how in Asia, and especially in India, race difficulties, linguistic difficulties, social difficulties, national difficulties, all melt away before this unifying power of religion. We know that to the Indian mind there is nothing higher than religious ideals, that this is the keynote of Indian life, and we can only work in the line of least resistance. It is not only true that the ideal of religion is the highest ideal; in the case of India it is the only possible means of work; work in any other line, without first strengthening this, would be disastrous. Therefore the first plank in the making of a future India, the first step that is to be hewn out of that rock of ages, is this unification of religion. All of us have to be taught that we Hindus — dualists, qualified monists, or monists, Shaivas, Vaishnavas, or Pâshupatas — to whatever denomination we may belong, have certain common ideas behind us, and that the time has come when for the well-being of ourselves, for the well-being of our race, we must give up all our little quarrels and differences. Be sure, these quarrels are entirely wrong; they are condemned by our scriptures, forbidden by our forefathers; and those great men from whom we claim our descent, whose blood is in our veins, look down with contempt on their children quarrelling about minute differences. With the giving up of quarrels all other improvements will come. When the life-blood is strong and pure, no disease germ can live in that body. Our life-blood is spirituality. If it flows clear, if it flows strong and pure and vigorous, everything is right; political, social, any other material defects, even the poverty of the land, will all be cured if that blood is pure. For if the disease germ be thrown out, nothing will be able to enter into the blood. To take a simile from modern medicine, we know that there must be two causes to produce a disease, some poison germ outside, and the state of the body. Until the body is in a state to admit the germs, until the body is degraded to a lower vitality so that the germs may enter and thrive and multiply, there is no power in any germ in the world to produce a disease in the body. In fact, millions of germs are continually passing through everyone’s body; but so long as it is vigorous, it never is conscious of them. It is only when the body is weak that these germs take possession of it and produce disease. Just so with the national life. It is when the national body is weak that all sorts of disease germs, in the political state of the race or in its social state, in its educational or intellectual state, crowd into the system and produce disease. To remedy it, therefore, we must go to the root of this disease and cleanse the blood of all impurities. The one tendency will be to strengthen the man, to make the blood pure, the body vigorous, so that it will be able to resist and throw off all external poisons. We have seen that our vigour, our strength, nay, our national life is in our religion. I am not going to discuss now whether it is right or not, whether it is correct or not, whether it is beneficial or not in the long run, to have this vitality in religion, but for good or evil it is there; you cannot get out of it, you have it now and for ever, and you have to stand by it, even if you have not the same faith that I have in our religion. You are bound by it, and if you give it up, you are smashed to pieces. That is the life of our race and that must be strengthened. You have withstood the shocks of centuries simply because you took great care of it, you sacrificed everything else for it. Your forefathers underwent everything boldly, even death itself, but preserved their religion. Temple alter temple was broken down by the foreign conqueror, but no sooner had the wave passed than the spire of the temple rose up again. Some of these old temples of Southern India and those like Somnâth of Gujarat will teach you volumes of wisdom, will give you a keener insight into the history of the race than any amount of books. Mark how these temples bear the marks of a hundred attacks and a hundred regenerations, continually destroyed and continually springing up out of the ruins, rejuvenated and strong as ever! That is the national mind, that is the national life-current. Follow it and it leads to glory. Give it up and you die; death will be the only result, annihilation the only effect, the moment you step beyond that life-current. I do not mean to say that other things are not necessary. I do not mean to say that political or social improvements are not necessary, but what I mean is this, and I want you to bear it in mind, that they are secondary here and that religion is primary. The Indian mind is first religious, then anything else. So this is to be strengthened, and how to do it? I will lay before you my ideas. They have been in my mind for a long time, even years before I left the shores of Madras for America, and that I went to America and England was simply for propagating those ideas. I did not care at all for the Parliament of Religions or anything else; it was simply an opportunity; for it was really those ideas of mine that took me all over the world. My idea is first of all to bring out the gems of spirituality that are stored up in our books and in the possession of a few only, hidden, as it were, in monasteries and in forests — to bring them out; to bring the knowledge out of them, not only from the hands where it is hidden, but from the still more inaccessible chest, the language in which it is preserved, the incrustation of centuries of Sanskrit words. In one word, I want to make them popular. I want to bring out these ideas and let them be the common property of all, of every man in India, whether he knows the Sanskrit language or not. The great difficulty in the way is the Sanskrit language — the glorious language of ours; and this difficulty cannot be removed until — if it is possible — the whole of our nation are good Sanskrit scholars. You will understand the difficulty when I tell you that I have been studying this language all my life, and yet every new book is new to me. How much more difficult would it then be for people who never had time to study the language thoroughly! Therefore the ideas must be taught in the language of the people; at the same time, Sanskrit education must go on along with it, because the very sound of Sanskrit words gives a prestige and a power and a strength to the race. The attempts of the great Ramanuja and of Chaitanya and of Kabir to raise the lower classes of India show that marvellous results were attained during the lifetime of those great prophets; yet the later failures have to be explained, and cause shown why the effect of their teachings stopped almost within a century of the passing away of these great Masters. The secret is here. They raised the lower classes; they had all the wish that these should come up, but they did not apply their energies to the spreading of the Sanskrit language among the masses. Even the great Buddha made one false step when he stopped the Sanskrit language from being studied by the masses. He wanted rapid and immediate results, and translated and preached in the language of the day, Pâli. That was grand; he spoke in the language of the people, and the people understood him. That was great; it spread the ideas quickly and made them reach far and wide. But along with that, Sanskrit ought to have spread. Knowledge came, but the prestige was not there, culture was not there. It is culture that withstands shocks, not a simple mass of knowledge. You can put a mass of knowledge into the world, but that will not do it much good. There must come culture into the blood. We all know in modern times of nations which have masses of knowledge, but what of them? They are like tigers, they are like savages, because culture is not there. Knowledge is only skin-deep, as civilisation is, and a little scratch brings out the old savage. Such things happen; this is the danger. Teach the masses in the vernaculars, give them ideas; they will get information, but something more is necessary; give them culture. Until you give them that, there can be no permanence in the raised condition of the masses. There will be another caste created, having the advantage of the Sanskrit language, which will quickly get above the rest and rule them all the same. The only safety, I tell you men who belong to the lower castes, the only way to raise your condition is to study Sanskrit, and this fighting and writing and frothing against the higher castes is in vain, it does no good, and it creates fight and quarrel, and this race, unfortunately already divided, is going to be divided more and more. The only way to bring about the levelling of caste is to appropriate the culture, the education which is the strength of the higher castes. That done, you have what you want. Source: Complete-Works, Volume 3, Lectures from Colombo to Almora