Category: Itihasa

Sanjay Dixit

Sanjay Dixit

About the Author

Sanjay Dixit, Additional Chief Secretary to the Government of Rajasthan, has many feathers in his cap. He graduated as a marine engineer, and sailed the high seas for a few years before changing course to civil services. He is also well-recognised as a cricket administrator who once defeated Lalit Modi in a famous election for the post of the president of the Rajasthan Cricket Association. He considers Rajasthan's first Ranji Trophy title triumph as his crowning achievement. He is also credited with bringing a revolutionary new technology for production of date palms on a large scale in western Rajasthan, transforming livelihoods.

Dixit is a prolific columnist on contemporary topics. He has a deep interest in Indian languages, culture, economics, history, philosophy and spirituality. His six-part series - 'All Religions Are Not the Same' - has won critical acclaim. He also heads The Jaipur Dialogues as its Chairman, creating an India-centric think tank in the process, and hosts the YouTube series 'Weekly Dialogues'.

Francois Gautier

Francois Gautier

About the Author

François Gautier was born in Paris, France. He was South Asia correspondent for Le Figaro, one of France’s leading newspapers. He also wrote columns for Indian newspapers: the ‘Ferengi’s column’ in the Indian Express, then the “French Connection” column in the Pioneer, as well as regular contributions for Rediff., New Indian Express, Times of India blogs, etc.

François has written several books – amongst the latest : A New History of India (Har Anand, 2008), The Art of Healing (Harper Collins, 2011), Quand l’Inde s’éveille, la France est endormie (Editions du Rocher, 2013), « Apprendre à Souffler (Hachette Marabout, 2016) & « Nouvelle Histoire de l’Inde » (Editions de l’Archipel, 2017), « Les Mots du Dernier Dalaï-lama » (Flammarion, 2018), « In Defense of a Billion Hindus » (Har Anand, 2018) & « Hindu Power in the 21st Century » (Har Anand, 2019)

Francois, who is married for 30 years to Namrita, shuttles between Pune and Delhi. He is building a Museum of (real) Indian History in Pune (factmuseum.com).

Makarand Pranjape

Makarand Pranjape

About the Author

Author, poet, and humanities professor. He has been the Director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla since August 2018. Prior to that he was a professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India for 19 years.

Maria Wirth

Maria Wirth

About the Author

Maria Wirth, a German, came to India on a stopover on her way to Australia after finishing her psychology studies at Hamburg University and an internship with Lufthansa. By chance she landed up in spiritual India, realised the great value of Vedic wisdom, and never went to Australia.

She shared her insights with German readers through numerous articles and two books, as she felt this wisdom is lacking in the West. Only some 15 years ago, she became aware that even many Indians don’t know about their amazing heritage and worse, they look down on it and often consider Christianity and Islam as preferable. This shocked her and she started to compare on her blog the three main religions and also wrote her first book in English, titled “Thank you India”. For her it is clear that Hindu Dharma is the best option for humanity and she keeps explaining why.

Dr. Omendra Ratnu

Dr. Omendra Ratnu

About the Author

Dr Omendra Ratnu from Jaipur is an ENT surgeon who runs a hospital.

He runs an NGO, Nimittekam, with the purpose of helping displaced Hindu refugees from Pakistan and integrating Dalit Sahodaras into Hindu mainstream.

Issues of Hindu survival and conflict with violent faiths are his core concerns for which he roams around the world to raise funds and awareness.

He is also a singer, composer, writer, Geeta communicator and a ground activist for Hindu causes.

He has released a bhajan Album and a Ghazal album composed and sung by him.

Gujarat Riots – The Facts and the Truth
Itihasa

Gujarat Riots – The Facts and the Truth

How is it that the same players, with the same strategy, the same tactics, the same ploys, the same stories, and the same accomplices keep fooling us again and again…. and again? Thankfully, they chose to do this against the same adversary. Narendra Modi. He was to be taught a lesson. A Lesson that he would never ever forget. They succeeded. He didn’t. Today, let us go into the details and facts of what happened in Gujarat in 2002 during these fateful days. Events that set things in motion that would uproot every scheming, collaborating, and treasonous force from India. A lesson to never ever forget for generations to come. 19 years back today It was a Friday today. March 1st. A bloody riot had started a day back. Today, the Army was brought in. The man who was handling the worsening situation was battling not just the emotions and the machinations of many unscrupulous people – within the country and outside; but also a media that loved the sight of blood. The honchos of that media were playing their own game. Provoking and directing people to violence. Despite his entreaties and warnings, they would not cease in their Machiavellian games. Try watching this video on www.youtube.com The first incidences of violence happened on the 28th around noon. First three victims – Hindus. By 2.00 PM a request was sent to the Central Government for bringing the Army in. 2 hours. 28th February – the troops land in Gujarat. Along with George Fernandes, the Indian Defence Minister. Despite the dark clouds hovering on the border. George Fernandes and Modi meet at night on the 28th. The times were tough and tricky. Indian Army could not spare much force. Whatever was available was sent forthwith. Next morning – March 1st. The army starts marching in. Here is the timeline. February 27th, 2002: The train was set on fire and 56 Hindus burned by Muslims in a pre-planned way while the mob stoned them to prevent them from jumping out of the burning train (source)February 28th, 2002: The Riots started. Modi government called the Army and sent requests to three Congress governments – Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan for the additional police force. Only Maharashtra sent 3 companies of CRPF. MP and Rajasthan did not send any. (source)March 1st, 2002: Army began flag marches and shoot at sight orders (Source)March 3rd, 2002: the Riots were brought under control (Source) On 28th February, not only did Modi call the Army, but he also fervently wrote to the Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra to send in their police force for help. All were Congress-ruled states. None sent a single constable. Here is the part of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted under the Supreme Court which probed into the riots and gave their report – where the requests sent by Modi to the MP, Maharashtra and Rajasthan state governments on February 28th 2002 have been discussed. (courtesy – Guruprasad.net) Left alone. Hounded. And, targeted. Modi fought against all odds to stop a riot that was turning nasty. The riots were contained state-wide within 2 days. Across one of the largest states in India. Just for context, Gujarat is larger than Pennsylvannia and South Carolina put together in the area and has a population larger than the populations of the two most populated states in the US – California and Texas put together (37.25 mn – CA, 25.145 – TX in 2010 and Gujarat – 62.7 mn in 2013)! But why did the riot even happen? For this, we will need to go back to February 27th. The Godhra train burning. The commission found that local Muslims at the Aman guest house in Godhra had hatched a conspiracy to burn the coaches of the Karsevaks who were traveling in coach S-6.   To operationalize this plan, these local Muslims purchased 140 liters of petrol from a nearby petrol pump on the night of 26 February 2002.  The petrol was transported in a green tempo by Imran Sheru, Hasan Charkha, Jabir Behra, and Mehmood Khalid, and some others and kept in the room of a guest house.   The train was late the next morning.  They changed their strategy and at around 8 am spread a false rumor that a Muslim girl (Sofiabanu Shaikh) had been abducted into the train by karsevaks. When a crowd of Muslims gathered to attack the train, the culprits used this opportunity to set the coach on fire.  Shaikh’s story, when probed by the Commission, was not consistent and was clearly fed to her after the fact. On February 27th, Hasan Lala entered the S-6 coach after forcibly opening the vestibule between S-6 and S-7 coaches and entered the coach from the rear.  He threw burning rags to set the coach on fire. The mob was meanwhile pelting stones to prevent the passengers from moving out of the burning train coach! So the main conspirators, along with thousands of Muslims from the Signal Falia area, committed a crime that is unimaginable in scale and ferocity.   This was the main finding from Noel Parmar, the Dy SP who contributed to the most extensive investigation by Supreme Court judges – KG Shah and GT Nanavati. The plan was hatched by Salim Panwala, Razak Kurku, and half a dozen others including Muslim cleric from Godhra Maulvi Husain Haji Ibrahim Umarji. As per the report “setting fire to the train was part of a “larger conspiracy” to “instill a sense of fear” in the administration and create “anarchy” in the state”. Godhra train burning was a conspiracy by the Muslims in Godhra. Done to spark riots in an area that was known for riots every few years for over a century. The commission that looked into the Godhra train burning incident of February 27, 2002, and the subsequent riots in Gujarat comprised two retired judges – KG Shah (retired Gujarat High Court judge)‌ and GT Nanavati (retired Supreme Court Judge).   The final report was submitted by the Commission to the Gujarat Government on November 18th, 2014.  It was tabled in Gujarat’s legislative assembly on December 11, 2019. The Nanavati-Mehta Commission report had completely exonerated Narendra Modi for the 2002 Gujarat riots. This report is significant in its scope and findings and lays to rest all speculative and ideological assertions made by Modi-haters – in India and globally – who peddled in bigotry and Hinduphobia. It is instructive to remember that the Commission has heavily depended on the investigation by the police, which was led by DIG Rakesh Asthana (who is now IG and Vadodara Police Commissioner) and conducted by Dy SP Noel Parmar, a Christian officer known for his efficiency.  Despite pressure from the Hindu organizations alleging bias from Parmar, he was not changed. Did Modi or his government orchestrate the killings of Muslims? This is another claim by the Modi-haters that has been repeated by them ad-nauseum. The Commission lays it to rest. It clearly says that there is no evidence for the assertion that either the riots were inspired, instigated or stage-managed by any minister of the state. “There is no evidence to show that these attacks were either inspired or instigated or abated by any minister of the state,” the commission said in its report, which runs into over 1,500 pages and is compiled in nine volumes. It said the police at some places were ineffective in controlling the mob because of their inadequate numbers or because they were not properly armed. (Source – India Today) There is no evidence that the attacks were either inspired or instigated or abated by any minister of the state. That was the truth based on facts as probed by the best investigative police officers collaborating with independent judges. But the falsehoods that the media kept sharing was to demonize Modi. At every juncture, he was targeted and humiliated. Within India and outside. The question is why was this Godhra attack planned? Why at that time? Why was this whole riot so very important? The BJP party, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and of course Modi – everyone was attacked by the media and India’s adversaries based on the Gujarat riots of 2002. The BJP government which had done tremendous work until then was pushed to the backfoot and weakened globally so it could not take measures that it needed to. And even at that time – the forces, if we carefully look, were EXACTLY the same as we see today. The script, the players, the stories, the outlets. Nothing has changed. Let me explain. Operation Parakaram – the backdrop to Gujarat 2002 When we look at the happenings in Godhra and the subsequent riots in 2002, we forget the scenario in which all those things happened. And, these circumstances are never talked about. Let us remind ourselves about that time. India had two terrorist attacks: October 1, 2001: Jammu and Kashmir Legislative AssemblyDecember 13, 2001: Indian Parliament in New Delhi – twelve people, including the five terrorists who attacked the building, were killed Atal Behari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister.  India initiated a massive build-up against Pakistan on the border and was ready to attack. It was called Operation Parakram. The Indian government and the armed forces came together and planned the attack against Pakistan. The plans were ready. Pakistan was to be attacked on January 14th. Considering that it would take three to four weeks for deployment on the western borders, the armed forces planned action for the second week of January 2002. After much debate, the service chiefs opted for a limited offensive against the terrorists’ training camps in PoK.  It would essentially entail air force strikes to pulverise zones with a high concentration of camps – that’s where the Tiger Squadron came in. A limited ground offensive by special forces of the army would further neutralise the camps and help occupy dominant positions on the LoC. D-day was tentatively fixed for January 14. (Source) The international community was trying to intervene. British Prime Minister Tony Blair flew to India in the first week of January, whereas LK Advani flew to the US on January 8. Meanwhile, Pervez Musharraf made a speech on January 12, where he “declared that terrorism in the name of Kashmir was unjustified.” He also banned six terrorist organizations. But this was all elaborate nonsense.  The Pakistani terrorist groups struck again later that year, managed by the Pak ISI, on May 14. The terrorists attacked the army residential quarters at Kaluchak cantonment in Jammu and killed 22 women and children. Remember Uri? Yes, something like that. Just worse. Far worse! Because they killed the wives and kids of the Army jawans as well! But what about Army units from Gujarat? They could have been brought. But the Indian Army was eye-ball to eye-ball with Pakistan ready for the war. On January 14th, the international forces were working hard to ‘avoid’. But where was the army? Unlike the earlier occasions when the army stationed in Ahmedabad could move in at an hour’s notice, this time it took more than two days. The troops earmarked for internal riot control duties were more than 600 km away, deployed on the border, and ready for war. To re-adjust the defenses took time. The troops flown into Ahmedabad did not have transport and were unfamiliar with the geography of the city. It took them nearly three days to bring the situation under control. (Source) Yes, the Army did come the next day. Not the full force. But whatever was available and could be sent at short notice. But the redeployment cost India all the options in Operation Parakram that Vajpayee had in his hands. Two divisions had to be diverted to Gujarat. One division covers close to 50 to 75 km of border. It was a huge loss to the Operation Parakram plans! If we look at these circumstances closely. Specifically how the Godhra was planned and then used to anger people, when the “Seculars” like Teesta started blaming the victims themselves, then it is clear that the complete planning for attacks on India was done in a multi-faceted manner! The ISI, Pakistan Army, the Lashkar-e-Taibba, the terrorists within India, the bought and pliable media, and so-called liberal celebs within India – were all orchestrated towards one goal – an all-round attack on India and the complete humiliation of the government and the country. Once things were taken care of in Gujarat – around early May 2002 – the troops rejoined their comrades on the border. It was too late by then. The Himalayan region becomes more susceptible to infiltrators and the element of surprise was gone. And, that is when the Kaluchak Cantonment was attacked on May 14th. Killing our jawans, their kids, and wives! All to further rub it into India’s wounds, while the Indian government could not respond back anymore. To teach India – more importantly – the BJP a lesson that it will never forget. And, Modi never did forget that lesson. What you see today – his resolve, his battles, his counters, his planning, his ways – are in many ways all a product of those events in 2002. Godhra -> Riots -> Operation Parakaram -> Kaluchak That is why perhaps when Uri happened and Pulwama happened, the response was fierce and strong. It was not just those jawans at Uri and Pulwama whose deaths had to be avenged. But also the deaths of those 22 women and kids of Kaluchak cantonment.   Published on Drishtikone on 1st March 2021
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The Hijacking Of Shivaji’s Legacy
Itihasa

The Hijacking Of Shivaji’s Legacy

Marathas should not only be proud that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was a Maratha, but they should also acknowledge that he has had a lasting influence on the Marathi psyche, which makes their people more nationalistic and self confident than those of many other Indian states. At the same time, Shivaji should be elevated to the status of a ‘national hero for modern India’, for he embodied all the qualities that are so badly needed in today’s Indian politicians: Shivaji was fearless and his courage was extraordinary. He was devoted to his own country, call it Bharat or Bhavani Bharati, or India. He was truly secular, never harming his enemies’ wives and children and though he was a devoted Hindu, he never destroyed a mosque. He was a great administrator; whatever he conquered, he saw to it that it was justly administered. He was absolutely free of corruption and cared little for his own comfort. He had great vision and wanted to unify India. Because of his sacrifice, India’s culture, spirituality and social fabric is better preserved from Mumbai to Kanyakumari. There are a few who have tried to hijack Shivaji and bind him for their own purposes. One such is Marathi writer and activist Sanjay Sonavani, who wrote a piece in Lokmat on November 19, attacking the Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism (FACT) for building a shrine and a museum in Pune. First, the article is full of glaring errors: the Foundation has erected a shrine dedicated to Bhavani Bharati, not Shivaji; second, FACT is trying to build a museum of Indian history named after Shivaji and which honours him, but Shivaji’s history will only be a part of the museum. Sonavani attacks FACT on three counts: he says FACT is trying to make a god out of Shivaji; he objects to the fact that Shivaji is associated to Bharat Mata; and he says FACT is trying to link Shivaji to the Vedas. But FACT never said Shivaji was god, we only quoted Aurobindo Ghosh who wrote that he was a Vibhuti. A Vibhuti is not god but an instrument of god. Sri Aurobindo had also written that Napoleon was a Vibhuti and that he was the first one who had a vision of a unified Europe. Nobody ever protested that. Then, as far as Shivaji’s connection, or non-connection with Mother India or Bharat Mata, there are two undisputed facts: that Shivaji was extremely devoted to his own mother, who played an important influence in his life; secondly that he was as devoted to his own country, and that he wanted to rid her of her enemies. If that is not love for Mother India, then what is? That Hindus have, since time immemorial, chosen to associate their country to the feminine element is highly laudable. The Romans had done the same: Patria. I am a Frenchman brought up in the ideals of liberty, equality, fraternity and to me it is absolutely irrelevant what caste Shivaji belonged to, who his father or guru was. He was an extraordinary being. It matters not either, whether he related himself to the Vedas or any Hindu scriptures. I doubt it: he was a warrior who wanted to preserve his culture and protect his people. What is for sure is that he was a Hindu, as are a billion Hindus today, whether they are Marathas or Tamil. The theory of the Aryan invasion has been proved false by numerous recent discoveries, it has been opposed by every saint, whether Sri Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar; yet it is still used today by Christian missionaries, Marxist historians and Muslim scholars to divide India between South and North, Hindi and Dravidian, Brahmins and Shudras. Sanjay Sonavani plays into their hands. Finally, the biggest enemies of Hindus are Hindus, not Muslims or Christians. India could never have been conquered if Hindus had not betrayed Hindus. The last great Hindu empire, Vijaynagar, which was so extraordinary that its history will have pride of place in FACT’s museum, could not have been razed by Muslims if the Lingayats had not betrayed their brothers and sisters. Shivaji’s most dangerous opponent was a Hindu, Jai Singh who served Aurangzeb. It is sad that even today Hindus are so divided, undermining each other and the few supporters of their great history and spirituality. It is also a great shame that in the town of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, one cannot find a single museum worth the name to honour his memory and the spiritual and martial inheritance he left behind him. FACT only wants to remedy to that.   Reprinted with permission of the author  The writer is editor-in-chief of the Paris-based La Revue de l’Inde and author of A New History of India. Original Article
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Maharana Hammir
Itihasa

Maharana Hammir

The Obstinate Regainer of Chittor  The story of this great Maharana again reinforces the observation that the saga of survival and ascendance of kings to the throne of Mewar in this Sisodia dynasty has been quite bizarre, and how fate intervened to snatch victory from near certain defeats of Mewar, or saved the Maharanas and their armies from the very brink of extinction by a single stroke of luck. All this makes for the most compelling read ever recorded in human history. Sometimes, one is forced to believe that there was a divine power audaciously determined to keep the Hindu resistance alive in the subcontinent: how else was it possible for one single house to continue ruling Mewar as an oasis of resistance to unceasing Islamic attacks for one thousand years! As friends turned foes, affluence to abject poverty, gaiety to sorrow, dances of celebrations to dances of death, as all the beauty of Mewar architecture, created over centuries, were plundered by Islamic marauders in a span of a few days and Hindu customs and traditions were crushed brutally, cities were destroyed and entire populations slaughtered to fulfill just one wish of the Islamic invaders, conversion to Islam, the resistance of the Mewar kings continued as determined as ever. It is indeed baffling how these amazing kings, outnumbered and often outwitted by the Islamic invaders, managed to stand firm in their opposition to the murderous assaults on Hinduism. What was that singular force that made not only the maharanas stand against the raging forces of jehad, but the entire population of Mewar, and sometimes the whole of Rajasthan, stand united behind their kings?   After Ratan Singh was killed in 1303 AD by Allauddin Khilji, Chittor was taken by the Islamic forces for the first time and every haveli, temple and structure of consequence desecrated or destroyed. Before going out for Saka, after the Jauhar by Maharani Padmini and thousands of other Hindu women, Ratan Singh had instructed his sons and brothers to escape from the rear gate of Chittor at night. He ordered them to fight the Muslims and retake the fort at an opportune time. Almost nine generations of Ratan Singh died trying to regain Chittor, but finally Bhuvan Singh took the fort. Many great warriors like Rahap, Mahap, and Karan Singh laid down their lives trying to regain their ancestral place. Bhuwan Singh was succeeded by Laxman Singh, and, in the meantime  in Delhi, the throne had gone from the Khiljis to the Tughlaqs. Muhammad Bin Tughlaq attacked Chittor and Laxman Singh, along with his son Ari Singh, died defending Chittor, but once again Chittor was lost. The younger son of Laxman, Ajay Singh, escaped with severe injuries and built his capital at Kailwada where Jain munis sheltered and healed him. Laxman Singh had two sons, the younger Ajay Singh and the elder Ari Singh.  Once, Ari Singh went out to hunt boars in the jungles of Kailwada and came across a local lass who confronted him when Ari Singh wanted to enter a corn field while chasing a wounded boar. The girl asked Ari Singh not to overrun the farm and wait for her to return with the game. To Ari Singh’s utter amazement, the girl came back with the carcass of the animal. Then the girl asked Ari Singh to cook the boar in the village and enjoy his meal. As they were walking back, Ari Singh, already impressed with her, saw how carrying a milk pitcher on her head, she was effortlessly dragging two buffaloes. Ari Singh contemplated, ‘If I were to have a son from her, he would be a very powerful man indeed.’ Ari Singh inquired about the family, who were Chandana Rajputs, and asked for her hand from her father. Ari Singh married the girl, but because she was no royalty, kept the marriage hidden. He kept visiting the girl off and on and a boy was born to the Chandani girl who was named Hammir Singh. Then Muhammed Bin Tughlaq attacked Chittor and won it after killing Laxman Singh and Ari Singh. The other son of Laxman Singh, Ajai Singh, who escaped from the war with Tughlaq, settled at Kailwada and had two sons of his own but both were weak and ineffective. Ajai Singh was constantly challenged by a local mountain chief, Moonja Balocha, but was too old to fight him. Then some Saamants loyal to Ari Singh told Ajai Singh about Hammir Singh, who was beckoned from his village Oondwa. Hammir Singh was all of 13 years of age. Hammir set up his men and learned that Moonja would be coming to Semari village to attend a function. Hammir attacked and beheaded him, and came back to Ajai Singh with Moonja’s head on his saddle bow. Ajai Singh kissed his nephew, and there and then did a teeka on the forehead of Hammir with Moonja’s blood. Thus, Hammir Singh became the king of Mewar overcoming his circumstances by displaying extreme valor and an aggressive personality.  Ajai Singh’s own sons, Sajjan Singh and Kshem Singh, were exiled by their father to prevent a civil war in the family. An act of extreme foresight and sacrifice for a father to skip the line of succession of his own sons for a worthier nephew. It is anyone’s guess what would have been the future of Mewar had Hammir not been chosen by Ajai Singh.  Sajjan Singh went to the Deccan where his progeny was destined to correct the wrongs done to Hindustan by the then Mughal ruler at Delhi, Aurangzeb. Sajjan Singh was the ancestor of the great Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of Satara throne of the great Marathas, and the lineage is also recorded in the chronicles of Mewar.  Thus, in one move, two lines of resistance to Islamic invasions were created by one just act of Ajai Singh’s.  Hammir made Kailwara his residence and the first act he did was to order the people of Mewar to vacate the plains and climb up the hills. This was done to render the plains of Mewar barren and useless for the enemy and create such hardships for the invading army that they would starve in absence of local farming and other commodities helping them. This evacuation of the plains and shifting the entire population to the hills was a movement that had been carried out by successive Maharanas of Mewar when countering Islamic invaders.  It was quite an amazing feat that Hammir achieved to even communicate such a message to the entire state in those difficult times. Even more baffling was the total trust the population had bestowed on their king and the joy and commitment with which they followed their Rana through a life of extreme hardship and adversity. One can only look back in awe at such trust and love showered by an entire population on their premiere and it is difficult to decide whose sacrifice among the two was greater — the Maharanas who chose to destroy the entire commerce of their state or the people who followed the Maharanas willingly into poverty and deprivation. We will see this in the lives of the other Ranas of Mewar too whenever this practice of evacuation of the plains was implemented, but the most remarkable example of this practice being carried out successfully happened with Maharana Hammir, and two centuries later, with Maharana Pratap. It was not an easy journey for Hammir, even after putting his people through all the hardships and destroying all local commerce, as Hammir did not get much military success, and a time came when he did not even have the money to pay wages to his army.  In the meantime, Tughlaq went back to Delhi giving Chittor to Maldeo Songara of Jalore. Though Kailwada provided the perfect retreat to the emigrants from the plains, with repeated failures at getting Chittor back, the Saamants and friends of the Royal House of Mewar began disintegrating. Hammir then went to Dwarka in Gujarat abandoning his home, dejected and defeated, where he camped in a village of Chaarans at night. There was a woman mystic by the name of Barwadi Bai whom Hammir met and shared his misfortunes with.  Barwadi looked at Hammir and proclaimed, “O brave brother! Go back to Kailwada! You will get Chittor. And when you get a matrimonial offer from the most unexpected place, don’t reject it, accept it. That offer will be instrumental in getting back your lost kingdom.” Hammir replied, “Bai, how will I get Chittor back? I don’t have a horse to ride, nor men to fight for me and no money even to to feed my dear ones.” Barnadi told Hammir that her son Biru will come to Kailwada with a caravan of 500 horses.  “Build an army with them and pay me back when you have enough”, she said. Hammir did not have anything to lose by following the Chaaran lady’s advice. He came to Kailwada and within weeks, Biru followed him with his 500 horses. Hammir saddled all of them and Biru was taken in as the Raj Kavi of Mewar and a lot of villages were given as grants to him. Biru’s descendants inhabit those villages even today. Then a strange turn of events happened and Maldeo of Jalore, who was entrusted with Chittor by Mohd Bin Tughlaq, was advised by his well wishers that without getting the entire Mewar under their rule, the Songaras were merely watchdogs of Chittor, and to truly expand their frontiers, it would be a wise move to give a daughter to Hammir.  The historian James Tod writes that this Songara princess was a child widow and hence the offer was made, but other historians vehemently contest this opinion of Tod. Whatever be the reason, without doubt, Maldeo merely wanted to use the matrimony to augment his own power. Little did he know what fate intended for him. From Hammir’s perspective, this offer was unacceptable because of very high chances of treachery, but Hammir was convinced about Barwadi’s prophecies and hence consulted his Saamants. The priests from Maldeo approached Hammir and told him about the traditional friendship between Jalore and Mewar. The priests also told him that the forefathers of Hammir were killed by Mohammedans, not Maldeo or his family. Whether Maldeo’s offer was meant to entrap Hammir, or as an insult, Hammir calculated all possibilities and scouted all dangers in his mind; but in the end, the words of the mystic and his obsession to retake Chittor made him accept the offer. He told his assistants that ‘the coconut might be retained!’ He is supposed to have uttered, “My feet shall at least tread in the rocky steps in which my ancestors have moved. A Rajput should always be prepared for adverses; one day to abandon his abode covered with wounds; and the next to reascend with the crown on his head.” Thus, Hammir undertook the most daring adventure of his life walking straight into the arms of the enemy with nothing except raw guts and faith in the mystic Chaarani’s words at his disposal.  The marriage happened at Chittor and the Songara princess won Hammir’s heart on the first night itself. The princess laid out the plans to him to win back Chittor. She advised Hammir to ask for Maldeo’s servant Mauji Ram for himself, to which Maldeo consented. Mauji Ram came to Kailwada with the newlyweds and immediately approached Hammir and said that now is the time to make your move, for which you had asked my loyalties from Maldeo. Hammir followed Mauji Ram who took Hammir and his small army to Chittor at midnight and since the gatekeepers recognized Mauji Ram, the gates of Chittor were opened and Hammir captured Chittor, slaughtering whatever little resistance he faced. Maldeo was furious when he learned of this and gathered his army to attack Chittor. Maldeo had five sons who fought for him. Hammir gathered all his former chieftains and repelled the attack of the Jalore army. Maldeo approached Tughlaq and the joint forces of Muhammed Bin Tughlaq and Jalore came to attack Chittor. In the meantime, as the people of Mewar learned about Hammir’s ascendance to the throne of Mewar, the pride of ‘Hindwa Sooraj’ reinstated, they poured in streams from the Western highlands and the valley of Kumbalgarh to cheer their king. The glory of Chittor being restored was the signal for the people to return to their ancient abodes in the plains from the hills and other hideouts. Every chief of Hindu blood who wished to uproot the barbarians occupying his motherland rejoiced at the possibility of once more throwing off the barbaric yoke of the Islamic marauders. Armed with such zeal and fervour of the people and Saamants of Mewar, Hammir collected a vast army and instead of waiting for Tughlaq to attack him, decided to march towards him and meet him at a place of his choice. There are three routes to approach Mewar, the Western through Marwar, Central through Dewair, and Eastern through the plateaus of Aravalis. Tughlaq was ill advised by his counselors to approach through the East where his superior numbers were rendered useless by the intricacies of the narrow passes of Mewar. Tughlaq assembled his army on the banks of Chambal at the village of Singoli. Hammir attacked him there, slaughtered his army, killed most of his generals, also killed Hari Singh, a son of Maldeo, in a single one on one combat and took Tughlaq prisoner. So much for the mighty Delhi Sultanate which finds such eulogistic references in our history text books, a sultanate that was a mere occupation of a few hundred square kilometers, while all reference to Maharana Hammir and his critical victory over Delhi has been erased from our textbooks and civic life. A note must be made that most of the Indian historians relied on Persian or Arabic record keepers for digging out the truth about Medieval India. One such writer has been Ferishta who has been quoted extensively by Indian historians. But Ferishta himself being loyal to his faith completely obliterates even the mention of this Battle of Singoli. Only a few inscriptions from Jain temples of the time and the return of Mewar to her lost splendor direct us to the truth recorded in the annals of Mewar. It is a matter of shame for academicians and historians of modern India that they participated in this deliberate distortion of Indian history, the motives of which only they know. If teachers and record keepers start concealing truth and peddle white lies in a society, the total destruction of that society is inevitable sooner or later. Hammir took Tughlaq to Chittor and kept him prisoner for six months. The ‘mighty’ Delhi Sultanate’s occupier was kept captive like a dog in the ordinary prison of Chittor but not one soul dared to lead an attack on Chittor to free him from the clutches of Hammir. Does it require rocket science to deduce that Mewar was the real power center of India in the fourteenth century? Tughlaq was forced to surrender Ajmer, Ranthambore, Nagamand and Shivpuri to Hammir, besides giving Rupees 50 lakhs as fine and one hundred elephants as a penalty. Thus, almost the whole of Rajasthan and parts of Sindh and Punjab came to Mewar.  Hammir was so confident by now that while releasing Tughlaq, he did not even extract any promise from him of no further attacks on Chittor. Hammir was reported to have said this to Tughlaq as he stood in chains in the royal courts of Mewar: “If you were ever to attack Chittor again, be prepared that I will defend Chittor, not from within but outside her walls”. Thus humiliated and defanged, Tughlaq was released by Hammir and this decisive victory over Islamic imperialists remains one of the most crucial yet unsung story of a great king who was the sole Hindu power center left in India. Banbeer, the other son of Maldeo, aligned with Hammir and went on to become one of the trusted lieutenants of Hammir. Hammir is quoted to have said this to Banbeer, when granting him the Jagirs of Neemach, Ratanpur and Kairar: “Eat, serve and be faithful. You were once the servant of a Turk, but now of a Hindu of your own faith. For I have taken back my own, the rock moistened by the blood of my ancestors, the gift of the deity I adore, and who will maintain me in it; nor shall I endanger it by the worship of a fair face, as did my predecessor.” Hammir is probably referring to Lord Shiva here who was the presiding deity of the house of Mewar. His reference of a “deity of fair face” might refer to Lord Vishnu or a fair form of a goddess, which can only be surmised.  Hammir’s adversary, Maldeo, died of old age in Jalore later. Banbeer was a Songara prince and this alliance of Sisodias with Songaras would prove critical to the survival of the Sisodiyas as we witness in the ascent of Maharana Pratap to the throne and his relentless fight against the Turk imperialist, Akbar. Hammir became the sole prince of power in India surrounded by three Muslim states of Delhi, Malwa and Gujarat but capable of expelling all three simultaneously.  The Hindu chiefs of Marwar, Amer, Boondi, Gwalior, Chanderi, Raesen, Sipri, Calpi, Aboo, etc brought their levies and paid homage to the prince of Chittor. Mewar saw unprecedented wealth and prosperity in the times of Hammir. The trade routes flourished and the people of Mewar became the richest in India. The architecture and the scale of the buildings, columns and temples of these times bear witness to this unprecedented prosperity. Hammir invited the Chaarani mystic, Mata Barwadi from Gujarat, and kept her in Chittor in affluence and with full honor. He even constructed a temple in her memory which was called the Annapoorna temple and stands till date at the fort of Chittor. Hammir’s story from birth to death is a surreal saga of what Sisodia princes endured in medieval India to keep themselves free from Islamic imperialists and maintain Hindu dharma at the core of their lives. That Mewar came back from the brink of extinction by the miraculous intervention of Mata Barwadi is a well documented incident of Mewar history. It not only demonstrates the deep influence of Chaarans on the Sisodia clan but also the fact that they were the well wishers, protectors and providers of this valorous clan of Rajputs when all had abandoned them. Why else would a mystic lady of Gujarat rebuild the Mewar kingdom from scratch, investing her goodwill and resources, risking enmity with Islamic imperialists and other houses of Rajasthan, if not for the unflinching trust that the great Sisodias of Mewar were the only hope for Hindu survival in the subcontinent. Hammir’s conquest of Delhi Sultanate and imprisonment of Mohd Bin Tughlaq was like a dagger driven into the heart of Islamists who were dreaming of Islamizing the nation after capturing Chittor and the near decimation of the Sisodia Rajput clan of Mewar.  Hammir ruled for almost sixty years, uninterrupted, rebuilt Hindu temples all over India up to Gaya and Benares, died at a ripe old age due to natural reasons, leaving behind a name venerated in Mewar, as one of the unbeatable Hindu kings who reestablished the supremacy of Mewar in India and created such wealth and nurtured such powerful alliances that Chittor remained the beacon of Hindu dharma for two centuries.    This article is extracted from Shri Omendra Ratnu’s forthcoming book on the true, hitherto largely unrevealed, Mewar history to be soon published by BluOne Ink in India. The article is copyrighted and no part of it may be reprinted without permission. 
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The Third Child of Maharana Raimall
Itihasa

Maharana Saanga

The King Who Rode His Misfortunes to Glory The third child of Maharana Raimall, Rana Saanga’s story of ascent to the throne of Mewar and the subsequent struggles and victories form the most intriguing saga ever to be found around a king anywhere in human history. Raimall had 13 sons, the elder two being Prithviraj and Jaimall followed by Saanga. The three brothers went to consult a fortune teller who predicted that it is Saanga who will adorn the throne of Mewar. Prithviraj lost his temper and hit Saanga’s right eye with the rear of his sword which ruptured Saanga’s eye and left him blind with one eye for life. Both elder brothers attacked Saanga to kill him but Saanga was saved by Surajmall, brother of king Raimall. After a few months, the question again bothered the elder brothers and they took Saanga along with their uncle to a chaaran girl who was supposed to be Shakti incarnate (Mother Goddess), Biri Bai. Biri had arranged a throne and a carpet in the temple of the goddess. Prithviraj and Jaimall sat on the throne and Saanga and his uncle sat on the ground on the carpet. When the elder brothers asked Biri Bai as to who will ascend the throne of Mewar, she replied, “The decision has been made. This carpet was meant to be for the king of Mewar. Since Saanga sits on it, he will rule Mewar after Raimall. The other two brothers will be killed in war with the enemies of Mewar.” The two brothers attacked Saanga, determined to kill him there and then. But Surajmall intervened and fought them as Saanga escaped with his life. Jaimall chased Saanga who ended up in a village called Sevantri . An old friend of Mewar family Rao Beeda was at the temple of Roop Narayan at Sevantri. Beeda took Saanga under his protection and gave first aid to his wounds. Jaimall arrived soon and Beeda fought with Jaimall and his forces and laid down his life, but gave enough time and rest to Saanga to escape further westwards to Marudhar (Marwar). Rana Raimall exiled both his sons on hearing of this internal feuds among brothers. Saanga gave up his horse and started living like a shepherd in Srinagar, near Ajmer at the place of Thakur Karamchand Panwar, who was a Rajput who sustained himself by dacoity. In subsequent years, Jaimall was killed by a fellow Rajput Ratan Singh. Prithviraj was a valorous prince and fought many battles to victory. He was poisoned by his brother in law and cremated at Kumbalgarh. Raimall was dejected with the loss of his elder sons when he heard of Saanga being alive. Saanga was beckoned and Raimall showered Thakur Karamchand with jageers for protecting his heir all these years. Raimall died in 1508 AD and thus Saanga became the king of Mewar. The purpose of narrating Saanga’s turbulent youth and ascent to the throne of Mewar is threefold:- First — The deep impact of astrology and divine incarnates on Hindu psyche and life is aptly demonstrated by predictions about Saanga’s life by the fortune teller and Biri Bai. The Hindu Samaj, through ages, has been guided by these metaphysical domains. It is not the author’s attempt to speak for or against the practices. The idea is to merely present an aspect of social life throughout ages which had such a profound influence on royal families. We can only imagine how the ordinary citizens of Mewar yielded to these occult practices. Second, the evils of polygamy affecting the history of Mewar so adversely too deserves a mention. It is not only a relic for barbarism and primeval necessity, but gave birth to so many trajectories of family feuds that it became impossible to contain them. While the Islamic marauders were at the door of Hindustan, every queen of the Maharana was engaged in conspiracies to make her son the crown of Mewar. The argument that matrimonial bonds were forced to augment the economic and military might of kingdoms does hold some merit but if we weigh the cost-benefit ratio, the cost of polygamy in royal families far outweighs the benefits of this practice. Third, the turbulent childhood and violent ascent of Saanga to the Mewar throne also tells us how adversity shapes the persona of a royal warrior. We will get more examples of similar nature in the life of Maharana Pratap and Maharana Amar Singh too. Prima facie, it appears that Prithviraj, the elder brother of Saanga was of a fit temperament and skills to become the next king of Mewar but his pettiness and his myopic pursuit of his ambition itself ends up with him being killed untimely by his own brother-in-law.  Saanga appears to be a timid and a reclusive person in his youth. Although fit and muscular, he did not fight his brothers aggressively and even endured the loss of an eye with a certain degree of indifference. His naivete in trusting his jealous siblings also shows in his conduct in youth when after losing an eye to Prithviraj, he yet again goes to Biri Bai for the same question. But for his uncle Surajmall, Saanga would have been killed at the temple itself. We can only imagine the consequences if such a disaster would have befallen the Hindus of the subcontinent. Saanga’s “agyaatvaas” (living incognito) at Thakur Karamchand in Ajmer underlines his aloof persona, calmly resigned to a life of anonymity. But we also witness the metamorphosis of the very same mundane and disinterested person into one of the most aggressive warrior kings ever to have ruled Mewar. Saanga’s expansion of the kingdom matched that of Rana Kumbha in area and reach, though he inherited a war-torn house of Mewar. It establishes Saanga as a deeply spiritual and fiercely loyal servant of Mewar, who though uninterested in the throne, rose to the occasion and responded wholeheartedly when his motherland beckoned. As we study further the life of this amazing Maharana who defeated the mighty Lodhis of Delhi, we will realize the steely resolve, military acumen and leadership skills of the highest quality seen anywhere. Maharana Saanga’s life is a tale of how a beaten up timid prince overcame his physical and psychological handicaps and rose from a very pathetic degradation of his being to the highest pedestal mortally achievable. The single biggest message of Saanga’s life reminds us that no defeat is final, no handicap crippling enough, no hardship severe enough if the inner resolve of a person remains unbent to the external movements. Man has the infinite capacity to recover from every setback in life.  Once on the throne, Saanga immediately got down to the business of governing and expanding the borders of Mewar. The Delhi throne after the Chouhans was filled successively by the dynasties of Ghazni, Ghori, Khilji and Lodhi; but was now only a relic of its past glory. Rana Saanga set out with 80,000 horses, seven Rajas of the highest ranks, nine Raos, and one hundred and four chieftains bearing titles of rawal and Rawat, along with 500 war elephants to conquer the vast territories of Northern, Central and Western India. The princes of Amer and Marwar paid homage to him; Raos of Ajmer, Gwalior, Sipri, Raesen, Kalpi, Chanderi, Boondi, Gagroun, Rampura and Abu served him as tributaries and acknowledged him as their chief. Saanga gave Karamchand Parwar, the Thakur who had sheltered him, the grant of Ajmer and title of Rao for his son Jugmal.  It is quite remarkable that a prince who had so meekly surrendered his right as the heir of Mewar and was resigned to live a life of anonymity rose to become one of the strongest premiers of Mewar under whom the expanse of Mewar resembled that of Rana Kumbha. Strange are the ways of life! A meek person who would otherwise have been relegated to the dustbin became the king of Mewar and took her glory to amazing heights. Saanga’s ambition was countered by the surrounding Muslim kingdoms of Delhi, Malwa and Gujarat. 18 pitched battles were fought between Mewar and the forces of Delhi and Malwa in which two battles were fought frontally between Saanga and Ibrahim  Lodhi at Bakrole and Khatauli. At Khatauli, the army of Lodhi was slaughtered and Lodhi’s son taken as a captive. Here also, Saanga lost one of his hands in combat and one leg too was hit by an arrow such that Saanga had a limp for the rest of his life. Saanga took the Lodhi prince to Chittor and released him after extracting a heavy cost.  Saanga attacked Mahmud Khilji at Gagraun and captured him alive, took him to Chittor and took care of him and released him honorably. One cannot fathom the motive of this act of Saanga because though Khilji could never damage Mewar, for the rest of his life, he kept aligning with the enemies of Mewar and never showed any gratitude to Saanga for not taking his life. It must also be remembered that Khilji’s ancestor Allauddin was responsible for the first Saka of Chittor when 30,000 Hindu women committed Jauhar due to Allauddin’s siege and one of Saanga’s forefathers, Raja Ratan Singh died fighting the Khiljis. It defies any strategic sense that Saanga should have let Mahmud live except for a mercurial streak of grandeur very much prevalent in Hindu kings of those times to forgive their enemies. On the other hand, Mahmud Khilji stayed loyal to the ‘Ummah’ or Muslim brotherhood and saw Saanga as the eternal Hindu rival. Khilji kept aligning with Saanga’s enemies and bothering him till his death. This disease of ‘benevolence’ got over only with Rana Pratap when he would mercilessly slaughter his enemies instead of yielding to a fake morality and individual glory at the cost of the safety of Mewar. Muzaffar Khan, the Nawab of Gujarat was the third enemy that Saanga overcame in the siege of Ahmednagar towards the south. One particular incident of the siege deserves mention: One of the chiefs of Saanga, Doongar Singh Chauhan, was fighting along with his sons and brother for Mewar and showed exemplary courage. One of Doongar’s sons, Kanha Singh did an unbelievable act of valor. The Muslim army of Muzaffar had locked itself inside Ahmednagar fort and the outer gates had spears on them to deter elephants from breaking them down. Kanha stood between the elephant and the gate and ordered the Mahout to charge the elephant to the gates. Kanha’s body was crushed but the gates of the fort were breached and Mewar won. Doongar Singh’s family survives even today in Doongarpur. Saanga restored the prestigious and impregnable Ranthambore from imperialist General Ali and killed him. Thus, during Saanga’s time, Mewar extended from Peela – Khal (yellow rivulet) near Bayana in North to Malwar and Gujarat in South; up to Sindhu river in the West, while the Aravallis formed the Eastern boundary. Saanga reached up to the Afghan city of Ghazni twice during his victory campaigns. He also killed Firoz Shah Pathan to annex Nagaur.  It is against this might and expanse of Mewar’s Rana Saanga that the Chugtai Turk Babur from Ferghana, Uzbekistan, invaded India’s Northern frontiers.  Babur defeated a weak and depleted Ibrahim Lodhi at the First Battle of Panipat in 1526 where Ibrahim Lodhi was slain and his army destroyed. Babur was a fanatic Islamist and always credited his victories to his God and thus inspired confidence of his troops. He is supposed to have remarked after the First Battle of Panipat, “Not to me, oh God, but to thee, be the victory!” On 21st Feb, 1527 Saanga met the Turk forces at the town of Bayana at the North-Eastern border of Rajasthan. Approximately 2,00,000 forces of Saanga crushed the Turks and Babur escaped with his life. Babur meditated upon his loss and made peace overtures to Saanga which Saanga negotiated but the talks broke down when Saanga insisted that Babur give yearly taxes to Mewar. Babur then appealed to the theological affinity of his troops and gave very passionate speeches to his men to fight and kill the infidels in the name of Islam.  Even when a Mughal astrologer predicted defeat, Babur did not back off and there is a folklore that he beheaded the fortune teller there and then and proclaimed, “Just like his forecast or his own age has been falsified, so will be his prediction of the defeat of Allah’s army.” Additionally, Babur vowed publicly never ever to touch wine and women and never shave his beard and never tax a Muslim again. Thus, stirring Islamic passion and zeal in his army of mostly Turkish, Uzbek, Tatar, Afghan and Mongol mercenaries, Babur prepared for the final showdown with the Hindu forces. In the meanwhile, a local Rajput who had converted to Islam, Hasan Khan Mewati, joined Rana with 10,000 horsemen and many subordinates of Ibrahim Lodhi joined the Rana, the main amongst them being Mohammed Khan Lodhi.  The following is a portion of the speech given by Babur as written in his own biography, Baburnama: “Noble men and soldiers, and every man that comes into the world, is subject to dissolution. Allah is only ever lasting. Whoever comes to the feast of life must, before it is over, drink from the cup of death. How much better it is to die with honor than to live with infamy! With fame, even if I die, I am contended; let fame be mine, since my body is death’s.  “If we win, we will be the Ghazis; If we lose, we will be Shaheed; either ways, riches await us. Let us then, with one accord, swear on Allah’s holy name that none of us will even think of turning his face from this warfare, nor desert from the battle and the slaughter that ensues, till his soul is separated from his body.” Having filled his army with this religious fervor, Babur hatched the evil conspiracy to bribe a Hindu pagan to defect to his side and turn the tables on Saanga’s formidable army. He found the traitor in Salhadi Tanwar of Raisen near Gwalior who had deep grudges against Saanga for subjugating him a few years ago. Babur bribed him and fuelled his anger against Saanga. Saanga had realised the vile nature of the Turk, Babur, whose religious zeal was unparalleled in attacking the very soul of Hinduism. Saanga kept indulging Babur in superficial talks making impossible demands of him and assessing Babur’s strength in the interim. Babur realised after two weeks of negotiations that Saanga will attack him. Saanga had indeed made up his mind to fight the Turk and capture Delhi once and for all and bring it under Hindu rule.  Below is the text of Rana Saanga’s speech to his troops, which is ample evidence that Saanga was fed up with Islamic invasions and had come to root out the Turks forever: “Everyone must act according to the warrior’s code remembering the brave  deeds of our forefathers. This is the final occasion of destroying the invaders who have tainted our holy land for centuries. Once we seize this opportunity, they will never be able to raise their heads again, and the flag of Hindu Pad Padshahi will fly over the entire country.” On 16th March, 1527, the forces of Mewar and Babur clashed at the Battle of Khanwa. A very lethal surprise awaited Saanga and his forces in the form of Mughal cannons equipped with their fire power. Rajputs were totally bewildered by the might and effects of gunpowder. Thousands of Saanga’s forces collapsed and the horses and elephants rampaged backwards on their own army. The Rajputs then came up with an amazing solution to the cannons. In an ultimate act of sacrifice, Rajputs sunk their heads into the blazing cannons thus rendering them useless by studding them with their meat and blood. Mughals were astounded to see this extreme act of valor by Saanga’s army and the tide started turning towards the Mewar army. Another deadly war tactic amongst Muslim invaders was to depute dozens of their best archers secured by guards to search for the enemy king or leader and bombard him with barrage of arrows to kill, or at least incapacitate him. The Islamic invaders themselves never exposed themselves to the Hindu armies and stayed behind their ranks and file.  Hindu kings on the other hand led from front as an act of valour and leadership — an act of naïveté which cost Hindus a lot of wars with Islamists.  Babur had deputed his best archers to identify Saanga and hit him singularly with the barrage of arrows, and one arrow hit him hard on his skull and Saanga lost consciousness. He was taken away from the battlefield by his lieutenants. Ajja Jhaala of Halwad, who matched Saanga in height and personality , wore the royal dress himself and feigned as Saanga to keep the morale of his troops high. The trick worked and the Mewar army kept fighting and pushing back the Turks. Then the death blow was struck to the Hindu army when Salhadi Tanwar along with his 35,000 horsemen defected to the army of Babur. Saanga’s chieftains regrouped and resumed attack even after this treachery but one by one they kept dying. By evening, the fate of the Mewar army was sealed. Every single chief of any consequence had laid down his life to save the Dharma. The entire Hindu army was slaughtered barring a few thousand who escaped without a leader to follow. The roads to Delhi, Agra, Bayana and Alwar were littered with limbs and bodies of soldiers from both sides. The victory of the Turks was not one sided though. Babur had lost almost all of his artillery and his cannons rendered useless. Most significantly, Babur had witnessed the ferocity and extreme valor of the Hindus in defending their king and land and hence he did not chase Saanga. With his depleted forces, Babur turned Eastwards and created massive destruction in Awadh and today’s UP. Saanga regained consciousness and was cross with his chiefs for removing him from the battlefield. The knowledge that almost all of the Mewar army was decimated did not deter that spiritual king and he told his chiefs that he will not go to Chittor without defeating Babur. Among those who carried Saanga away from the battlefield were the kings of Amer, Marwar and Sirohi who counselled him to go back to the safety of Mewar. Saanga retreated to Ranthambhore and started regrouping his army to challenge Babur again. On a sad day in April, 1527, a year after the Battle of Khanwa, at the young age of 45 years, Maharana Saanga was poisoned by his own Saamants who were tired of fighting wars under him and who thought that his plans to fight Babur will be suicidal. Thus the life of one of the most courageous and visionary Hindu kings that ever ruled Bhaaratbhoomi came to a tragic end at the hands of his own myopic people who bought a few years of a wretched life instead of standing with their king, a king who had fought all adversity with such nonchalant bravery, could have been killed only by such deceit since even death was scared to confront him frontally.  Saanga was one eyed, one armed and one footed with 84 wounds of metal on his body, but his Prana, his spirit, was untouched by physical trauma and he never let his physical handicap overpower his psyche. It is quite remarkable that a king possessing such a wreck of a body inspired such confidence in his troops that they followed him equally to victory or death .  Can we even imagine a king limping his way to mount a horse with some help and a damaged eye, leading his armies up to Afghanistan, Bengal, Maharashtra and Delhi and instead of evoking doubt, weakness and pity at his physical features, evoking such confidence in his generals and the army that he singlehandedly created the largest Hindu kingdom of medieval India !  Death is an inevitability in this fragile world, but before leaving his mortal body, Saanga, in his life and death, sowed the seeds of wisdom, valour and supreme sacrifice for the generations to come. A generation that saw a fighter king like Pratap who singlehandedly withstood the Turkish invasion when all hope has been lost . Saanga taught the fighters of Mewar that with Islam they were fighting an existential conflict in which there could be no relenting because, since Bappa Rawal, the Islamic invaders had continued attacking Hindustan and they were not going to stop with a war or two. It was going to be an unending conflict till one of the two would be completely annihilated.  Saanga not only continued the traditions of the amazing Ranas of Mewar but took valour and steely resolve to audacious standards, inspired by which, the royal line of Mewar could never be enslaved by the Turk invaders and remained the ‘Hindutwa Sooraj‘ as the apex guardian and protectors of Hindu Dharma for centuries to come.   This article is extracted from Shri Omendra Ratnu’s forthcoming book on the true, hitherto largely unrevealed, Mewar history to be soon published by BluOne Ink in India. The article is copyrighted and no part of it may be reprinted without permission.
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Pratap’s Ascendance to Throne: Fortification Of Mewar
Itihasa

Pratap’s Ascendance to Throne

The Fortification Of Mewar Rana Udai Singh died at the young age of forty-nine at Gogoonda, four years after the loss of Chittor. He left behind 25 sons, all from royal blood and thus laid a fertile ground for a civil war in the state of Mewar. Udai Singh’s last act could have actually triggered this civil war when he nominated Jagmal, the son of the Bhati Rani as the heir of Mewar. It must be said to the credit of the democratic traditions of Mewar and the foresight of the Saamants serving the royal house, who immediately gathered to discuss this grave injustice committed by Rana Udai Singh. Below is the account of how the events unfolded from Udai Singh’s death to Pratap’s ascendance: In Mewar, there is no interregnum; the last rites of the departed king and the Rajyabhishek of the new king is done simultaneously at the same priest’s house. So, while his brothers and nobles attended the funeral of the departed Rana, Jagmal took the throne in the new but yet unbuilt capital of Mewar, Udaipur. The Songara prince and the Jalore Rao, both asked Kistna, the ‘great ancient’ of Mewar and the leader of Chundawats, how this injustice of Jagmal sitting on the throne was sanctioned by him.  “When a sick man has reached the last extreme and asks for milk, why refuse it?” replied Kistna. Kistna also added, “Songara’s nephew is my choice and I stand by Pratap.” The Nobles gathered, and heated and concerned discussions ensued amongst them. Akshay Raj Songara is recorded to have said to Rawat Krishnadas of Deogarh and Rawat Sanga of Saloombara, “If Jagmal is to be the king, it has to happen with your consent.” ‘On one hand, we have a formidable enemy like Akbar, Chittor is gone, Mewar is becoming barren, if the royal house sinks into infighting, then Mewar is sure to be ruined and enslaved ‘ mused the Saamants.  Both the nobles consented with Songara adding that for what fault should the eldest son Pratap, worthy and brave, be rejected? Pratap never wanted a bloodbath in the family and, reconciled to his fate, was saddling his Chetak to ride away to his solitude when the Saamants approached him and informed him of their decision to name him the king of Mewar.  Pratap was reluctant to dishonor his father’s wish but he saw the doom of Mewar if Jagmal was to remain the king. Thus, Pratap’s Rajyabhishek was done at Gogoonda itself.  Pratap rode to Udaipur where Rawat Kistna and Akshay Raj along with Ram Shah Tanwar of Gwalior, took the arms of Jagmal and, with gentle violence, removed him from the throne. The hereditary Premier Kistna remarked, “You have made a mistake Maharaj, that place belongs to your brother.” Then, girding Pratap with a sword, thrice touching the ground, hailed him the next king of Mewar. Maharana Pratap Singh became the ruler of Mewar at the age of 32, in the midst of the gravest existential crisis faced by the Sisodia clan and people of Mewar. Pratap’s ascendance to the throne is a strange mix of human weakness and strength in the most trying times. Udai Singh’s traumatic childhood and insecure journey to becoming the king of Mewar turned him into a weak, insecure and indecisive person who dwelled perpetually in his victimhood and yielded to sycophants and ended up making poor judgements all his life. Pratap, on the other hand, turned the insults and trauma of his childhood into his strengths and overcame all insecurities to make a true leader and warrior out of himself. Pratap’s turbulent life began with his childhood itself, but because of his iron will and a deeper understanding premised on spiritual guidance by the likes of Muni Roopnath, Pratap did not deviate from his goal of serving his motherland to his fullest. To quote Col. Tod: ‘Pratap was often heard to exclaim, “Had Dajiraj Sa (as every Mewar King was referred to by his sons) never been, or none intervened between him and Rana Saanga, no Turk would have ever given laws to Rajasthan.” ‘Hindu society had assumed a new form in the century preceding. The wrecks of dominion from the Ganga and Jamuna had been silently growing into importance; Amer and Marwar had gained such power that the latter single handedly coped with the mighty imperialist Sher Shah; a prince of commanding genius alone was wanting, to snatch the sceptre of dominion from the Islamites.  ‘Such a leader they found in Saanga, who possessed every quality which inspires spontaneous obedience, and the superiority of whose birth, as well as dignity, were acknowledged without cavil from the Himalayas to Rameshwaram. These states had powerful motives to obey such a leader in the absence of whom their ancient Patrimony was lost; and such they would have found in Saanga’s grandson Pratap, had Udai Singh not existed, or had a less gifted sovereign than Akbar been his contemporary’. Fate had put Pratap in the most difficult predicament faced by any Hindu king of India at his time. After his humiliation, Jagmal left Mewar for Delhi and prostrated to the arch enemy of the house, Akbar, proving the decision of Mewar Saamants to be right. Jagmal was a petty prince, who aspired for power that wasn’t his in the first place. It is to the credit of the foresight of Mewar chieftains who saw this and defied the royal decree to replace him with Pratap. Jagmal was granted the Jagir of Jahajpur in Bhilwara by Akbar. Jagmal was married to the daughter of Sirohi king, Man Singh, who died without a heir in 1571. Jagmal approached Akbar to help him annex Sirohi from Surtaan, the royal nominee of Sirohi. Akbar sent his two Rajput generals and the royal army to assist Jagmal in annexing Sirohi.  On 17th October, 1583, Jagmal attacked Abu where Surtaan was fortified and one of the most glorious battles of Rajasthan was fought there in which the army of Akbar was crushingly defeated by a very small army. The two Rajput generals, Rai Singh and Koli Singh, along with Jagmal, were killed by Surtaan and Surtaan became the undisputed king of Sirohi. Thus ended a threat to Pratap and Mewar which could have complicated the resistance of Pratap to Islamic imperialists. Pratap became the King of Mewar and succeeded to the titles and renown of an illustrious house, but a kingdom without capital, without resources for his clan and Saamants dispirited by reverses, his subjects demoralised; and yet equipped with the noble spirit of his race, and a steely resolve to overcome the immense challenge in front of him, Pratap meditated on recovering Chittor and vindicating and recovering the pride and power of his clan.  Akbar, though unstable in Delhi, was gaining strength and allies rapidly. The houses of Amer, Bikaner and Marwar forged alliances with Akbar and thus Pratap had to reconcile with the fact that he was going to fight not only Turks but also his own brothers in faith and blood. A fact which would weigh very heavily on the mind of Pratap in subsequent wars he was to fight with Turks. One of his other brothers, Sagar also deserted him and allied with Turks.  The scars of the Third Saka of Chittor ravaged the consciousness of Mewar and the whole population of Mewar was dejected and demoralized. Pratap inherited a wounded Mewar but was also nobly supported by old friends like the sons of Jaimal Rathore and Patta Chundawat. The houses of Saloombara, Deogarh, Amet etc. announced full loyalty to Pratap. The erstwhile chief of Gwalior, Ram Shah Tanwar became his main army general and the chief of Dailwara became the king’s ‘Right Hand’.  Bhaama Shah, the Oswal Jain cashier of the royal house, was an even fiercer and greater warrior than a finance manager. He, along with his valorous brother, Tarachand, swore his loyalty to Pratap and was instrumental in both the funding and war strategy of the two major wars that Pratap was to fight against the Turk imperialist : Haldi Ghati and Dewair. A special mention must be made of Shakthi Singh, his estranged brother who played a critical role in Pratap’s life by spying for Mewar all his life in Akbar’s court , saving Pratap’s life at Haldi Ghati and eventually joining hands with Pratap at the decisive Battle of Dewair .  From 1572, his ascendance to the throne to 1597, his year of moksha, all 25 years of his life, Pratap single handedly withstood the might of an Empire and ultimately defeated it. His own people deserted him for greener pastures, but Pratap stood ground, alone in the wilderness. Fighting wars, killing his enemies ferociously, losing friends and allies to death and deceit, flying from one rock to another, causing much destruction in the planes to Guerilla warfare in the mountain passes, feeding his family and army from the fruits of the native hills and rearing the nursling hero Amar Singh amidst savage beasts and savage men, Pratap energised his people and army with his amazing leadership and resolve to continue fighting the Turk imperialist. The magnitude of the perils he faced only strengthened his fortitude. The mere idea that the ‘son of Bappa Rawal should bow to a mortal man’ was unthinkable.  It must be said to the immense credit of the Saamants and general population of Mewar, that they stood by their king through unimaginable suffering, death and poverty. Mewar had witnessed the destruction caused by Akbar at Chittor on 25th February 1568 at the third Saka and yet she rose to defend her freedom and honor from the ashes of Jauhar at Chittor. She rose to become the beacon of Hindu hope in the subcontinent just because of one man — Maharana Pratap Singh, the greatest Hindu warrior of all times.  One man, who changed the entire discourse of the attempted Islamic subjugation of the Indian subcontinent by his insurmountable grit and determination. One man who was not a reckless, self serving, indulgent monarch sucking the blood and money of his people but a Mahayogi, who donned the mantle of a warrior to free the motherland and fight the dark clouds of slavery that loomed over the Hindus of the subcontinent. One man who gave up all comfort and riches that a Maharana could have enjoyed, had he compromised with the Turk Imperialist, and chose a life of hardship because honour was dearer to him than a few years of a mundane life of ignominy. A true spartan who chose to sleep with his spear as his pillow than to rest his head on velvet at night. Following are the four vows that Pratap took on becoming the king of Mewar, and they became part of the folklore of Mewar and readied the most insignificant and remote subject of Mewar to take on the Mughal marauder: All articles of luxury and pomp will be abandoned until Chittor is reclaimed.The gold and silver dishes will be laid aside for “Pattals” or plates and utensils made out of leaves.The beds of cloth and soft velvet will be replaced by straw and leaves.The martial ‘nagadas’ which used to lead royal processions will be placed at the rear to mark and remember the fallen fortunes of Mewar and stimulate its recovery.   Pratap got down to the business of governing and generating revenues immediately. New grants were issued to the nobles, with regulations defining the services required. Kumbalgadh was declared the capital of the state and strengthened. Similarly, Gogoonda and other mountain fortresses were strengthened and fortified.  As fellow Rajput houses of Bikaner, Amer, Marwar and rest of Rajasthan barring Boondi, surrendered and aligned with the Turk, Pratap severed all alliances with them, and to carry forward the line of the heirs of Mewar, he sought out and incorporated with the first class of nobles of his own kin. Pratap married several princesses from in and around Mewar to ensure the loyalties of those houses, thus multiplying the might of his own house. Pratap started attacking and looting the Mughal caravans traveling through Mewar and even carried such campaigns as far as Gujarat in South and Malpura in North. This was done to incentivise and enrich the Mewar warriors.  Unable to keep the plains, Pratap reverted to the ancient system of his ancestors commanding his subjects to retreat to the mountains. Pratap prepared himself for the impending protracted war with Turk imperialist with meticulous implementation and unrelenting severity to enforce compliance of his edicts. The fertile area between Banas and Beris was to be evacuated and left ‘bey-chiragh’ i.e without a lamp. The idea was to burden the Mughals with carrying their own supplies whenever they were to attack Mewar. There would be no local supply of any kind and also no slaughter of ordinary citizens, which was the norm of the Turks at that time.  Pratap would personally enforce the strict rules on the people of Mewar. Once, accompanied by a few horsemen, Pratap set out to invigilate the implementation of his orders. The silence of deserts prevailed in the once green pastures of Mewar; jungle grass replaced the fields of corn; the highways were chocked with thorny babools; beasts of prey inhabited the deserted villages. In the midst of this wilderness, a lone shepherd took out his flock to the remnants of vegetation in the once luxurious meadows of Ontalla, on the banks of Banas river. After a short enquiry, the shepherd was killed and his corpse hung high on a tree to send a message to the violators of Pratap’s plan of fighting the Turks. To quote Tod: ‘By such patriotic severity, Pratap rendered ‘the garden of Rajasthan’ of no value to the conqueror, and the commerce established between the Mughal courts and Europe, conveyed through Mewar from Surat and other ports, was intercepted and plundered.’ We can only imagine the resolve and determination of the people of Mewar who rallied behind Pratap in following his plans to make life hell for the invading Turk forces. All farming community shifted out of Mewar between 1572, Pratap’s becoming the king, and 1583, the Battle of Dewair. Ordinary citizens relocated into the hills of Aravalis and thus thousands of new villages came into existence. This also resulted in close contact between the people of Mewar and the mountain dwelling ‘Bheels’ who welcomed them with open arms and fed an entire population on the fruits of the jungles, and kept them protected as well. Bheels were instrumental in this movement of population from plains to the hills and this community has had the distinction of adorning the royal insignia of Mewar for centuries now. Bheels were also the mainstay of the armed resistance by Mewar as will be detailed later.  Inspired by Pratap, the Saamants and the chieftains became liberal with tax collection from their impoverished subjects. The love and trust the people of Mewar showered on Pratap is unparalleled in the history of mankind. Armies fight wars and soldiers die and kill for honour and riches, but never had an entire population fortified itself against a foreign invader as happened in Mewar.  If any other king were to pass such edicts, Mewar would surely have been littered with traitors and revolts making it ungovernable. This only shows how extraordinary Pratap was as a leader, war strategist, compassionate king and a man of foresight who could anticipate the hardships that he and his people would have to endure and had prepared for them accordingly. Not only did he plan the campaign against the Turk imperialist but very effectively communicated it to the last of his subjects. The wars of Haldi Ghati in 1576, the seven years of interim rule, and the final victory at Dewair in 1583, were to prove the effectiveness of Pratap’s genius in pushing the Turk invader away for as long as he lived.  Pratap learned from his grandfather Saanga’s mistakes of exposing themselves to Mughal fire power and decided to fight Mughals from the safety of Aravallis. Pratap hired the services of Hakim Khan Sur, an Afghan descendant of Sher Shah Sur, who had a personal score to settle with Akbar. Pratap learned from the third Saka that the enemy was a ruthless marauder who will pitch Rajputs against Rajputs and will mercilessly slaughter Hindus without remorse. Pratap had seen how fellow Hindu kings like Bhagwandas of Amer had stood meek witness to the slaughter of Hindus and plunder of Hindu and Jain temples at Chittor and how he had to fight this battle on his own to retain his freedom and honour.  Pratap observed the vile and hideous nature of Islamic imperialists and was convinced that war was the only option with these barbarians and coexistence was not an option. Pratap devised a long term campaign to defeat Akbar and weed him out of Mewar permanently. He struck alliances, subjugated rebellion, purchased loyalties of the fence sitters, created a socially cohesive alliance of all communities in Mewar and implemented the campaign with clinical precision. We Hindus haven’t truly understood and recognised the military genius and supreme sacrifice of Maharana Pratap Singh, the one man who had shaped the contours of the Hindu Muslim conflict in the Indian subcontinent with unparalleled ferocity towards Islamic imperialists and had established the Dharma so effectively into the psyche of a dying Hindu Samaaj that dozens of kingdoms rose against the Mughals, and within three generations of Akbar, the Mughals were finished while Mewar, in all its glory, stands even today. Not as a relic of a turbulent past but a glorious reminder of power, sacrifice and fortitude.    This article is extracted from Shri Omendra Ratnu’s forthcoming book on the true, hitherto largely unrevealed, Mewar history to be soon published by BluOne Ink in India. The article is copyrighted and no part of it may be reprinted without permission. 
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Who is a Hindu?
Itihasa

Who is a Hindu?

The words Hindutva and Hinduism both of them being derived from the word Hindu, must necessarily be understood to refer to the whole of the Hindu people. Any definition of Hinduism that leaves out any important section of our people and forces them either to play false to their convictions or to go outside the pale of Hindutva stands self-condemned. Hinduism means the system of religious beliefs found common amongst the Hindu people. And the only way to find out what those religious beliefs of the Hindus are, i.e., what constitutes Hinduism, you must first define a Hindu. But forgetting this chief implication of the word Hinduism, which clearly presupposes an independent conception of a Hindu, many people go about to determine the essentials of Hinduism and finding none so satisfactory as to include, without overlapping all our Hindu communities, come to the desperate conclusion—which does not satisfy them either—that therefore those communities are not Hindus at all; not because the definition they had framed is open to the fault of exclusion but because those communities do not subject themselves to the required tenets which these gentlemen have thought it fit to label as ‘Hinduism’. This way of answering the question ‘who is a Hindu’ is really preposterous and has given rise to so much of bitterness amongst some of our brethren of Avaidik school of thought, the Sikh, the Jain, the Devsamaji and even our patriotic and progressive Aryasamajis. ‘Who is a Hindu?’ — he who is subject to the tenets of Hinduism. Very well. What is Hinduism?— those tenets to which the Hindus are subjected. This is very nearly arguing in a circle and can never lead to a satisfactory solution. Many of our friends who have been on this wrong track have come back to tell us ‘there are no such people as Hindus at all!’ If some Indian, as gifted as that Englishman who first coined the word Hinduism, coins a parallel word ‘Englishism’ and proceeds to find out the underlying unity of beliefs amongst the English people, gets disgusted with thousands of sects and societies from Jews to the Jacobins, from Trinity to Utility, and comes out to announce that ‘there are no such people as the English at all,’ he would not make himself more ridiculous than those who declare in cold print ‘there is nothing as a Hindu people.’ Any one who wants to see what a confusion of thought prevails on the point and how the failure to analyze separately the two terms Hindutva and Hinduism renders that confusion worst confounded may do well to go through the booklet, ‘Essentials of Hinduism’ published by the enterprising ‘Natesan and Co.’ Hinduism means the ‘ism’ of the Hindu; and as the word Hindu has been derived from the word Sindhu, the Indus, meaning primarily all the people who reside in the land that extends from Sindhu to Sindhu, Hinduism must necessarily mean the religion or the religions that are peculiar and native to this land and these people. If we are unable to reduce the different tenets and beliefs to a single system of religion then the only way would be to cease to maintain that Hinduism is a system and to say that it is a set of systems consistent with, or if you like, contradictory or even conflicting with, each other. But in no case can you advance this, your failure to determine the meaning of Hinduism, as a ground to doubt the existence of the Hindu nation itself, or worse still to commit a sacrilege in hurting the feelings of our Avaidik brethren and Vaidik Hindu brethren alike, by relegating any of them to the Non-Hindu pale. The limits of this essay do not permit us to determine the nature or the essentials of Hinduism or to try to discuss it at any great length. As we have shown above the enquiry into what is Hinduism can only begin after the question ‘who is a Hindu’? is rightly answered determining the essentials of Hindutva; and as it is only with these essentials of Hindutva, which enable us to know who is a Hindu, that this our present enquiry is concerned, the discussion of Hinduism falls necessarily outside of our scope. We have to take cognizance of it only so far as it trespasses on the field of our special charge. Hinduism is a word that properly speaking should be applied to all the religious beliefs that the different communities of the Hindu people hold. But it is generally applied to that system of religion which the majority of the Hindu people follow. It is natural that a religion or a country or community should derive its name from the characteristic feature which is common to an overwhelming majority that constitutes or contributes to it. It is also convenient for easy reference or parlance. But a convenient term that is not only delusive but harmful and positively misleading should not any longer be allowed to blind our judgement. The majority of the Hindus subscribes to that system of religion which could fitly be described by the attribute that constitutes its special feature, as told by Shruti, Smriti and Puranas or Sanatan Dharma. They would not object if it even be called Vaidik Dharma. But besides these there are other Hindus who reject either partly or wholly, the authority—some of the Puranas, some of the Smritis and some of the Shrutis themselves. But if you identify the religion of the Hindus with the religion of the majority only and call it orthodox Hinduism, then the different heterodox communities being Hindus themselves rightly resent this usurpation of Hindutva by the majority as well as their unjustifiable exclusion. The religion of the minorities also requires a name. But if you call the so-called orthodox religion alone as Hinduism then naturally it follows that the religion of the so-called heterodox is not Hinduism. The next most fatal step being that, therefore, those sections are not Hindus at all!! But this inference seems as staggering even to those who had unwillingly given whole-hearted support to the premises which have made it logically inevitable that while hating to own it, they hardly know to avoid arriving at it. And thus we find that while millions of our Sikhs, Jains, Lingayats, several Samajis and others would deeply resent to be told that they—whose fathers’ fathers up to the tenth generation had the blood of Hindus in their veins—had suddenly ceased to be Hindu!—yet a section amongst them takes it most emphatically for granted that they had been faced with a choice that either they should consent to be a party to those customs and beliefs which they had in their puritanic or progressive zeal rejected as superstitions, or they should cease to belong to that race to which their forefathers belonged.  All this bitterness is mostly due to the wrong use of the word, Hinduism, to denote the religion of the majority only. Either the word should be restored to its proper significance to denote the religions of all Hindus or if you fail to do that it should be dropped altogether. The religion of the majority of the Hindus could be best denoted by the ancient accepted appellation, the Sanatan Dharma or the Shruti-smriti-puranokta Dharma or the Vaidik Dharma; while the religion of the remaining Hindus would continue to be denoted by their respective and accepted names Sikha Dharma or Arya Dharma or Jain Dharma or Buddha Dharma. Whenever the necessity of denoting these Dharmas as a whole arises then alone we may be justified in denoting them by the generic term Hindu Dharma or Hinduism. Thus there would be no loss either in clearness, or in conciseness but on the other hand a gain both in precision and unambiguity which by removing the cause of suspicion in our minor communities and resentment in the major one would once more unite us all Hindus under our ancient banner representing a common race and a common civilization. The earliest records that we have got of the religious beliefs of any Indian community—not to speak of mankind itself—are the Vedas. The Vedic nation of the Saptasindhus was sub-divided into many a tribe and class. But although the majority then held a faith that we for simplicity call Vedic religion, yet it was not contributed to by an important minority of the Sindhus themselves. The Panees, the Dasas, the Vratyas and many others from time to time seem to have either seceded from or never belonged to the orthodox church and yet racially and nationally they were conscious of being a people by themselves. There was such a thing as Vedic religion, but it could not even be idenitfied with Sindhu Dharma; for the latter term, had it been coined, would have naturally meant the set of religions prevailing in Saptasindhu, othodox as well as heterodox.  By a process of elimination and assimilation the race of the Sindhus at last grew into the race of Hindus, and the land of the Sindhus i.e. Sindhustan, into the land of the Hindus i. e. Hindusthan. While their orthodox and the heterodox schools of religions have,—having tested much, dared much and known much,—having subjected to the most searching examination possible till then, all that lay between the grandest and the tiniest, from the atom to the Atman—from the Paramanu to the Parabrahma,—having sounded the deepest secrets of thoughts and having soared to the highest altitudes of ecstasy,— given birth to a synthesis that sympathizes with all aspirants towards truth from the monist to the atheist. Truth was its goal, realization its method. It is neither Vedic nor non-Vedic, it is both. It is the veritable science of religion applied. This is Hindu dharma—the conclusion of the conclusions arrived at by harmonizing the detailed experience of all the schools of religious thought—Vaidik, Sanatani, Jain, Bauddha, Sikha or Devasamaji. Each one and every one of those systems or sects which are the direct descendants and developments of the religious beliefs Vaidik and non-Vaidik that obtained in the land of the Saptasindhus or in the other unrecorded communities in other parts of India in the Vedic period, belongs to and is an integral part of Hindu Dharma. Therefore the Vaidik or the Sanatan Dharma itself is merely a sect of Hinduism or Hindu Dharma, however overwhelming be the majority that contributes to its tenets. It was a definition of this Sanatan Dharma which the late Lokamanya Tilak framed in the famous verse. Belief in the Vedas, many means, no strict rule for worship-these are the features of the Hindu religion. In a learned article that he had contributed to the Chitramayajagat which bears the mark of his deep erudition and insight, Lokmanya in an attempt to develop this more or less negative definition into a positive one, had clearly suggested that he had an eye not on Hindutva as such but only on what was popularly called Hindu dharma, and had also admitted that it could hardly include in its sweep the Aryasamajis and other sects which nevertheless are racially and nationally Hindus of Hindus. That definition, excellent so far as it goes, is in fact not a definition of Hindu dharma, much less of Hindutva but of Sanatan Dharma—the Shruti-Smriti-puranokta sect, which being the most popular of all sects of Hindu Dharma was naturally but loosely mistaken for Hindu Dharma itself. Thus Hindu Dharma being etymologically as well as actually and in its religious aspects only, (for Dharma is not merely religion) the religion of the Hindus, it necessarily partakes of all the essentials that characterize a Hindu. We have found that the first important essential qualification of a Hindu is that to him the land that extends from Sindhu to Sindhu is the Fatherland, (Pitribhu) the Motherland (Matribhu) the land of his patriarchs and forefathers. The system or set of religions which we call Hindu Dharma—Vaidik and Non-Vaidik—is as truly the offspring of this soil as the men whose thoughts they are or who ‘saw’ the Truth revealed in them. To Hindu Dharma with all its sects and systems this land, Sindhusthan, is the land of its revelation, the land of its birth on this human plane. As the Ganges, though flowing from the lotus feet of Vishnu himself, is even to the most orthodox devotee and mystic so far as human plane is concerned the daughter of the Himalayas, even so, this land is the birth-place—the Matribhu (motherland) and the Pitribhu (fatherland)—of that Tatvajnana (philosophy) which in its religious aspect is signified as Hindu Dharma.  The second most important essential of Hindutva is that a Hindu is a descendant of Hindu parents, claims to have the blood of the ancient Sindhu and the race that sprang from them in his veins. This also is true of the different schools of religion of the Hindus; for they too being either founded by or revealed to the Hindu sages, and seers are the moral and cultural and spiritual descendants and development of the Thought of Saptasindhus through the process of assimilation and elimination, as we are of their seed. Not only is Hindu Dharma the growth of the natural environments and of the thought of the Indus, but also of the Sanskriti or culture of the Hindus. The environmental frames in which its scenes, whether of the Vaidik period or of Buddha, Jain or any extremely modern ones of Chaitanya, Chakradhar, Basava, Nanak, Dayananda or Raja Rammohan, are set, the technical terms and the language that furnished expression to its highest revelation and ecstasies, its mythology and its philosophy, the conceptions it controverted and the conceptions it adopted, have the indelible stamp of Hindu culture, of Hindu Sanskriti, impressed upon them.  Hindu Dharma of all shades and schools, lives and grows and has its being in the atmosphere of Hindu culture, and the Dharma of a Hindu being so completely identified with the land of the Hindus, this land to him is not only a Pitribhu but a Punyabhu, not only a fatherland but a holyland. Yes, this Bharatbhumi, this Sindusthan, this land of ours that stretches from Sindhu to Sindhu is our Punyabhumi, for it was in this land that the Founders of our faith and the Seers to whom ‘Veda’ the Knowledge was revealed, from Vaidik seers to Dayananda, from Jina to Mahavir, from Buddha to Nagasen, from Nanak to Govind, from Banda to Basava, from Chakradhar to Chaitanya, from Ramdas to Rammohan, our Gurus and Godmen were born and bred. The very dust of its paths echoes the footfalls of our Prophets and Gurus. Sacred are its rivers, hallowed its groves, for it was either on their moonlit ghats or under their eventide long shadows, that the deepest problems of life, of man, soul and God, of Brahma and Maya, were debated and discussed by a Buddha or a Shankar. Ah! every hill and dell is instinct with memories of a Kapil or a Vyas, Shankar or Ramdas. Here Bhagirath rules, there Kurukshetra lies. Here Ramchandra made his first halt of an exile, there Janaki saw the golden deer and fondly pressed her lover to kill it. Here the divine Cowherd played on his flute that made every heart in Gokul dance in harmony as if in a hypnotized sleep. Here is Bodhi Vriksha, here the deer-park, here Mahaveer entered Nirvana. Here stood crowds of worshippers amongst whom Nanak sat and sang the Arati ‘the sun & the moon are the lights in the plate of the sky!’ Here Gopichand the king took on vows of Gopichand the Jogi, and with a bowl in his hand knocked at his sister’s door for a handful of alms! Here the son of Bandabahadur was hacked to pieces before the eyes of his father and the young bleeding heart of the son thrust in the father’s mouth for the fault of dying as a Hindu! Every stone here has a story of martyrdom to tell! Every inch of thy soil, O Mother! has been a sacrificial ground! Not only ‘where the Krishnasar is found’ but from Kasmir to Sinhar it is ‘ Land of sacrifice,’ sanctified with a Jnana Yajna or an Atmaajna (self-sacrifice). So to every Hindu, from the Santal to the Sadhu, this Bharatabhumi, this Sindhusthan, is at once a Pitribhu and a Punyabhu—fatherland and a holy land. That is why in the case of some of our Mohammedan or Christian countrymen who had originally been forcibly converted to a non-Hindu religion and who consequently have inherited along with Hindus, a common Fatherland and a greater part of the wealth of a common culture—language, law, customs, folklore and history—are not and cannot be recognized as Hindus. For though Hindusthan to them is Fatherland as to any other Hindu yet it is not to them a Holyland too. Their holyland is far off in Arabia or Palestine. Their mythology and Godmen, ideas and heroes are not the children of this soil. Consequently their names and their outlook smack of a foreign origin. Their love is divided. Nay, if some of them be really believing what they profess to do, then there can be no choice—they must, to a man, set their Holy-land above their Fatherland in their love and allegiance. That is but natural. We are not condemning nor are we lamenting. We are simply telling facts as they stand.  We have tried to determine the essentials of Hindutva and in doing so we have discovered that the Bohras and such other Mohammedan or Christian communities possess all the essential qualifications of Hindutva but one and that is that they do not look upon India as their Holyland. It is not a question of embracing any doctrine propounding any new theory of the interpretation of God, Soul and Man, for we honestly believe that the Hindu Thought—we are not speaking of any religion which is dogma—has exhausted the very possibilities of human speculation as to the nature of the Unknown—if not the Unknowable, or the nature of the relation between that and thou. Are you a monist—a monotheist—a pantheist —an atheist—an agnostic? Here is ample room, O soul! whatever thou art, to love and grow to thy fullest height and satisfaction in this Temple of temples, that stands on no personal foundation but on the broad and deep and strong foundation of Truth. Why goest then to fill thy little pitcher to wells far off, when thou standest on the banks of the crystal-streamed Ganges herself? Does not the blood in your veins, O brother, of our common forefathers cry aloud with the recollections of the dear old scenes and ties from which they were so cruelly snatched away at the point of the sword? Then come ye back to the fold of your brothers and sisters who with arms extended are standing at the open gate to welcome you—their long lost kith and kin. Where can you find more freedom of worship than in this land where a Charvak could preach atheism from the steps of the temple of Mahakal —more freedom of social organisation than in the Hindu society where from the Patnas of Orissa to the Pandits of Benares, from the Santalas to the Sadhus, each can develop a distinct social type of polity or organize a new one? Verily whatever, could be found in the world is found here too. And if anything is not found here it could be found nowhere. Ye, who by race, by blood, by culture, by nationality possess almost all the essentials of Hindutva and had been forcibly snatched out of our ancestral home by the hand of violence—ye, have only to render wholehearted love to our common Mother and recognize her not only as Fatherland (Pitribhu) but even as a Holyland (punyabhu); and ye would be most welcome to the Hindu fold. This is a choice which our countrymen and our old kith and kin, the Bohras, Khojas, Memons and other Mohammedan and Christian communities are free to make —a choice again which must be a choice of love. But as long as they are not minded thus, so long they cannot be recognized as Hindus. We are, it must be remembered, trying to analyze and determine the essentials of Hindutva as that word is actually understood to signify and would not be justified in straining it in its application to suit any pre-conceived notions or party convenience. A Hindu, therefore, to sum up the conclusions arrived at, is he who looks upon the land that extends from Sindu to Sindu—from the Indus to the Seas,—as the land of his forefathers—his Fatherland (Pitribhu), who inherits the blood of that race whose first discernible source could be traced to the Vedic Saptasindhus and which on its onward march, assimilating much that was incorporated and ennobling much that was assimilated, has come to be known as the Hindu people, who has inherited and claims as his own the culture of that race as expressed chiefly in their common classical language Sanskrit and represented by a common history, a common literature, art and architecture, law and jurisprudence, rites and rituals, ceremonies and sacraments, fairs and festivals; and who above all, addresses this land, this Sindhusthan as his Holyland (Punyabhu), as the land of his prophets and seers, of his godmen and gurus, the land of piety and pilgrimage. These are the essentials of Hindutva—a common nation (Rashtra) a common race (Jati) and a common civilization (Sanskriti). All these essentials could best be summed up by stating in brief that he is a Hindu to whom Sindhusthan is not only a Pitribhu but also a Punyabhu. For the first two essentials of Hindutva—nation and Jati—are clearly denoted and connoted by the word Pitrubhu while the third essential of Sanskriti is pre-eminently implied by the word Punyabhu, as it is precisely Sanskriti including sanskaras i.e. rites and rituals, ceremonies and sacraments, that makes a land a Holyland. To make the definition more handy, we may be allowed to compress it in a couplet —  A Sindu Sindhu paryanta, Yasya BharatbhumikaPitribhuh Punyabhushchaiva sa vai Hinduriti smritah.    Extracted from Essentials of Hindutva by VD Savarkar. The paragraph format has been slightly altered by the editors for convenience of reading. — Ed.
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Seventy Four and a Half
Itihasa

Seventy Four and a Half

Akbar’s slaughter of Hindus at Chittor When Rana Udai Singh of Mewar refused to surrender Mewar to Mughals, Akbar decided to Attack Chittor. Udai Singh got the information and after a meeting with the Saamants and chieftains of Mewar, Udai Singh retreated to the safety of Udaipur and left 8,000 warriors to defend Chittor along with 60,000 civilians living inside the fort.  On 23rd October, 1567, Akbar surrounded Chittor.  The two main warriors of the Rajputs were Jaimal Rathore and Patta Chundawat. The others inside holding fort were Saidas Rawat, Ballu Solanki, Thakur Saanda and Eesardas Chauhan.  Finding the walls of the Chittor fort impregnable, Akbar ordered two underground tunnels leading to the walls of the Fort which he planned to blow away with dynamite.  The labourers who dug the tunnels were killed by the Rajputs from inside the fort with arrows and gunshots. For one bucket full of sand one silver coin was paid to the local labourers. The Mughals were ready to pay that cost for Chittor.  After three months, the warriors inside the fort decided to raise the white flag and send a peace overture to Akbar. So Thakur Saanda Of Dodiya and Sahib Chauhan were deputed to descend from the fort and talk to Akbar.  Thankur Saanda spoke thus, “We are ready to give you gifts and acknowledge your greatness if you lift the siege and end this conflict.” Akbar replied, “I am a king and I will receive gifts only from a king. Udai Singh has to come and surrender, else there will be no end to the siege. You are a brave and loyal servant of your master, ask anything of me except lifting the siege.” Saanda replied, “If war is inevitable, my only demand is that the corpses of Hindu warriors be cremated in the Hindu tradition.”  Akbar accepted this glorious demand of the Rajput.  Akbar blasted the northern wall of the Fort with 4800 kilos of dynamite but the warriors inside repulsed the attack of Mughals and repaired the wall overnight. The southern wall was similarly blasted but it ended up killing some of the best Mughal soldiers. Akbar started a frontal attack on the fort with cannons damaging the walls of the fort here and there but the Mughals still couldn’t breach the walls of the impregnable fort of Chittor. The Mughals used to take the cover of the broken stones and fire with guns towards the parapets of the Fort.  One fateful day, Akbar aimed his gun (called Sangram) at a very active frame inside the fort and hit him. It was Jaimal Rathore whose leg got broken by the bullet. Jaimal called the chiefs and counselled that the resources of the Mughal army were unlimited and with rations running out, it was time to open the gates and slaughter as many Mughals as they could and ascend to their Devas. The women were of course advised to commit ‘Jauhar,’ where huge wooden pyres would be lit and women and children less than 10 years of age would give themselves to the fire. The reason for this painful choice of dissolving their bodies was the Islamic practise of Necrophilia, where the Mughal army would sexually abuse the dead bodies of Hindu women. After Jauhar, all that the barbarians would get would be ashes.  Seeing the smoke and ambers rise into the sky, the traitor king of Amber, Bhagwan Das, fighting from the side of Akbar warned the Mughal army that the final attack by Mewar’s warriors is imminent. Thus, all tender bonds of love and concern for the safety of the family put to fire, the Rajputs and other warriors ate the last ‘Beera’ (Betel leaf) and put on saffron robes to ride to Veergati.  The next morning, the gates of Chittor fort were opened.  Jaimal couldn’t walk, hence his brother Kalla, made him sit on his shoulder so that Jaimal could fulfil his last wish of slaughtering as many Mughals as he could. Both were martyred after killing dozens of Mughals between the Hanuman Gate and the Bhairav Gate of the Fort. Akbar personally beheaded Jaimal as documented by the Mughal historian Abul Fazal.  Dodiya Saanda descended with his horsemen and died fighting the Mughals on the banks of Gambhiri river.  Akbar pushed his elephants into attacking the Mewar army.  The Rajputs also took the elephants head on. Ishardas Chauhan climbed up an elephant named ‘Madkar’ and asked the name of the Mahout. Then Chauhan sliced the trunk of the elephant saying to the Mahout “Say my hello to Akbar”.  Akbar entered the fort surrounded by his elephant army.  Patta Chundawat was to give the final assault to Mughal forces once Chittor was breached. Patta was wounded by an elephant and was brought to Akbar carried by the elephant in its trunk. Akbar beheaded the wounded Patta at the Ram Gate of Chittor Fort.  Mughal historians themselves write about the valour and fearless assault of the Mewar warriors on Mughal army.  ‘When one Rajput was beckoned, ten would rush to help him. They attacked our elephants like bees. When one would fall the other would start stabbing the elephant. And they were fair warriors. Every single fighter of Mewar fought one on one with Mughals and kept dying.’  After the slaying of 8,000 warriors, Akbar had to face the resistance of 40,000 residents of the Fort. The artisans, labourers, mahouts, horse keepers, barbers, blacksmiths — all of them picked up swords and fought the Mughal army and were brutally killed by Akbar.  Col. James Tod, the British historian writes — “Akbar measured his success by the quantity of cordons (Janeu) taken from the necks of the slain Hindus. And 74 and a half “Muns” is the amount recorded. A “Mun” is 40 kilos. So 2,980 kilos was the weight of the threads of Janeus on the Hindus killed on that dark day.   To eternalise the memory of this disaster, to date these numerals, 74½ are accursed.  Marked on a banker’s letter in Rajasthan, it is the strongest of seals, for ‘the sin of the slaughter of Chittor’ is thereby invoked on all who violate a letter under the safeguard of this mysterious number. So long as ‘74½’ shall remain recorded, some good will result from the calamity, and may survive when the event which caused it is buried in oblivion.”  Even today, in Mewar, if a letter is marked with the digits 74½, no unauthorised person will open that letter lest that person suffers the sin of the slaughter at Chittor.  On the afternoon of 25th February, 1568, after a siege of four months, Akbar seized the Fort of Chittor and raised the Mughal flag over it. This day is one of the darkest days of Hindu resistance to Islamic invaders in our history when 40,000 civilians and 8,000 warriors, besides approximately 10,000 women and toddlers committing Jauhar, were killed mercilessly by Akbar.  But this day is also the glorious reminder that our forefathers chose death over surrender. The Hindu Dharma was dearer to them than conversion to an alien faith. The immense sense of loyalty to their ancestors even when faced by imminent brutal death.  What was the “tattva” that made the women and children of Chittor enter the funeral pyres willingly? What was the reason that, beginning from the Jauhar of Maharani Padmini, the Hindus continued it for centuries at regular intervals but never yielded their freedom and Dharma? What kind of steely resolve would a man possess to send his wife and little children to funeral pyres just because he couldn’t give up his Dharma? What would a man be possessed with, to throw himself in front of a mighty, enraged elephant!! What was that faith and hope of the hopelessly outnumbered Hindus to die fighting than to convert to Islam?  What was the spiritual quotient of these amazing people to face death with such grace only because they were sure that their Maharana was safe somewhere and will continue fighting the Turkish murderers?  If we can muster up even a fraction of that courage, that hope, that fortitude, maybe we can win this clash with alien faiths going on even today in our besieged nation.  If we can keep alive the memory of the ‘74½’ in our civic life, our families and spiritual discourse, that day of the greatest sacrifice of Hindus will go down in history as a glorious testimony of a people who looked death in the eyes and didn’t blink. A people who gave their families to the purity of fire and themselves to the purity of swords. A people because of whom we are Hindus today, as the heirs of the oldest Dharma thriving on this planet. 
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Itihasa

Battle of Dewair : An Ominous Omission in History

The author at the feet of Maharana Pratap at the memorial in Dewair , Mewar If we search Dewair on Google, what pops up is the second battle of Dewair between Rana Amar Singh of Mewar and Mughal oppressor Jehangir, in which Rana defeats the Mughals.  But the real battle that changed the course of history in the Indian subcontinent was the first battle of Dewair fought between Maharana Pratap of Mewar and forces of Mughal infiltrator Akbar in which Pratap conclusively defeated the Mughals. 36,000 Mughal troops were slaughtered in a day and the entire battlement of Mughals was decimated.  This piece isn’t about the facts of that great battle but an attempt to find reasons for the omission of a critical Battle like Dewair from education curricula, history courses and the public life of our nation. Why did the Leftist historians and the self-proclaimed intelligentsia of India remove this vital event from the collective consciousness of the nation?  Let us attempt to establish the historicity of Battle of Dewair by connecting few historical events and comments from eminent historians of Mewar.  Firstly, the British historian, Col. James Tod, writes in his phenomenal work ‘Annals and antiquities of Rajasthan’ that Dewair was the place where Rajputs conclusively defeated Akbar. Tod has written an immortal aphorism comparing the battles of Mewar with the Mughals with the Greeko Persian conflict. In the Battle of Thermopylae, the Spartans, hopelessly outnumbered by the Persians, fought valiantly and in the Battle of Marathon, the Greeks defeated the Persians convincingly and conclusively.  Tod writes thus: Huldighati is the Thermopylae of Mewar; the field of Dewair her Marathon.  Tod continues, “Pratap surprised Shahbaz Khan at Dewair, whose troops were cut into pieces. The fugitives were pursued to Amait, the garrison of which shared the same fate. Ere they would recover from their consternation, Komulmer was assaulted and taken; Abdoola and his garrison were put to the sword and thirty two fortified posts in like manner carried by surprise, the troops being put to death without mercy.  Pratap made a desert of Mewar.  All except Chittor and Mandalgarh were recovered by Pratap. Udaipur was regained without a fight as the Mughals ran away.”  Secondly, Dewair is the battle for which the great Bhama Shah gave his entire life’s earnings to Pratap and funded his army. Bhama Shah has been immortalised in the folklore of Mewar and the Leftists couldn’t erase him, but mysteriously, they managed to conceal the battle that was funded by him.  Thirdly, the very famous incident of Pratap slicing the Mughal general Bahlol Khan into two along with his horse happened on the fields of Dewair. This incident has been verified by different authors.  Fourthly, Dewair has been repeatedly mentioned in fair detail by various historians over a scattered frame of time. Besides Tod, the Telugu historian Ranchod Bhatt Telang has given exquisite details in two of his books: Raj Prashasti and Amar Kavya. In the late 19th century, Kaviraja Shyamlal Das wrote the ‘Veer Vinod’ detailing Dewair.  The date of the Battle of Dewair: Vijaydashmi, 16th September, 1583.  The result of the battle: Mewar won conclusively with 84 garrisons and 36 check posts of Mughals decimated. Kumbhalgarh was regained by Pratap and, barring Chittor and Mandalgarh, Mewar was in full control of Pratap — Raj Prashasti.  Several modern day historians have also written on and documented Dewair. Dr. Gopinath Sharma, professor of history at Rajasthan University writes: Dewair’s take over was the brightest spot in Pratap’s life. Where Haldi Ghati was a challenge of morality and fortitude of the Rajputs, Dewair was decisive.  Pratap establishes firm control of Mewar after winning Dewair and the Mughal army was totally demoralized. The blood of the Rajputs slain at Haldi Ghati was avenged at Dewair.  After examining these evidences, if we look at the whole issue with a linear logic, then the battle of Dewair indeed appears to be the turning point in the incessant Hindu Muslim conflict in the Indian subcontinent.  As has been taught to us in schools and colleges, if Haldi Ghati was the only battle that Pratap fought and lost, then how did Hinduism survive in India? If Pratap spent his life as a fugitive with occasional guerrilla attacks on the Mughals, how come there are coins bearing Pratap’s name in Mewar and papers with Pratap’s seal to land owners in Mewar? Dewair laid the grounds for the army of Mewar to be equipped with vigor and resources such that the coming generations of Amar Singh and Raj Singh defeated Jehangir and Aurangzeb respectively.  Then why has Dewair been concealed from our collective consciousness? Why is it that such an important event finds no mention in NCERT books?  Why has Pratap’s valor and love for independence been diluted and he is shown as a defeated warrior in Mewar? Instead of depicting Mewar, and her courageous people, as an independent sovereign state, why was it shown as a mere rebel to the Mughals? We will need to investigate these burning questions and arrive at our own conclusions, lest we forget and disown our own glorious past.  The first obvious possibility sprouts from the fact that post-independence, from 1947 to 1977, four Muslims, Maulana Abul Kalam, Nurul Hassan, Fakruddin Ali Ahmed and Humayun Kabeer were education ministers of the Indian union. Were these leaders serving their faith more than the nation in deliberately pushing the entire history of Mewar under the carpet? Unfortunately, the reins of independent India went into the hands of a self-proclaimed Leftist, Jawaharlal Nehru, who outsourced writing our history to hard core Leftists like Romila Thapar and Irfan Habib, writers with doubtful integrity and scholarship.  Was reducing the bravery of Mewar to a mere foot note in history and eulogizing foreign invaders only a ploy to fill the Hindus with an inferiority complex? Secondly, a civilizational lie created by the entire Left has been that Hindus have been slaves for one thousand years. To maintain this lie, it was crucial that the victory saga of Hindus and the defeats of Islamic invaders were deleted from our history.  Hence, not only battles like Dewair, but even the mention of warriors like Bappa Rawal, Prithviraj Chauhan, Raja Lachit of Assam, Durgadas Rathore, Chatrapati Shivaji, or the kingdoms like Vijaynagar and the Maratha empire have all been relegated or simply erased from the history of our nation.  Very surreptitiously, the historians of this nation only refer to Islamic historians like Abul Fazal or Al Badayuni who have a distinct bent for their masters while contemporary Hindu historians and authors are completely ignored although dozens of Indian historians have done exhaustive work on the Battle of Dewair and the Maharanas of Mewar.  The third reason for relegating the historic victories of Mewar could be an alliance of Islamic theologists with the Leftists and the Indian National Congress because what Islamic expansionism couldn’t achieve by the sword, it set out to achieve by deceit. What better way to deceive the masses of this nation than to lull them into submission to their faith by destroying crucial evidence of the pushback of our great ancestors against this very encroachment being attempted for centuries!  This makes it critical for Indian society to revive the memories of events like Dewair and to establish truth very objectively and dispassionately.  Only then can the Hindu Samaj be jolted out of the stupor it has been pushed into by decades of Leftist propaganda. Only then can the future generations of Indians understand that the Hindus were not enslaved for even a minute by the medieval intruders, leave alone a thousand years.  We must remember that Islam converted Mesopotamia to Iraq, Persia to Iran and overran Egypt and the entire Middle East in a span of few decades but Islam’s progress was halted in India and that fact doesn’t sit well with many fundamentalists and Leftists in this nation. They are baffled by the fact that starting from Mohd. Bin Qasim’s attack on Raja Dahir of Sindh, in the seventh century, and even after 1400 years of relentless attacks on India, there are still a hundred crore Hindus thriving in India and Sanatana Dharma pulsates in India with full vigor.  Dozens of libraries like Nalanda were burnt and eight crore Hindus  slaughtered (source: Will Durant) but still the Brahmins of this country kept the Hindu scriptures alive through verbal transmission called ‘Shruti’ over generations. Leaders of the mercantile class, like Bhama Shah, gave up their entire life’s earnings to fund armies across Bhaarat, the Kshatriyas turned the streets of this nation red with their blood to protect the honor of their women and Kuldevis, and the lowest in the social ladder, the Bheels, aligned with the ruling class and fought and defeated the invaders. Eminent historian, Prof. K.S. Gupta of Sukhadia University, Udaipur, says that Dewair is a milestone in the Hindu Muslim conflict in the subcontinent because after Bappa Rawal, Pratap was the first king to go on an offensive and attack the garrison at Dewair. Before this, almost all Hindu kings were on the defensive against the invaders.  In all civilised societies, a historian’s dharma is to find facts and preserve them for future generations and for those who were themselves not present. The readers of history trust the historians and accept what they tell him as the truth. But if the historians themselves are corrupt, dishonest and lack integrity, or their world view is skewed by their ideology, then they will convey lies to the reader, and the reader will treat those lies as truths and will act on them, will come to harm and grief, and in extreme cases, even to destruction. The Leftists actually believe that it is moral to lie in order to advance their philosophy. As a result, the unsuspecting reader gets fed with lies which act like poison that destroys, slowly or quickly. Honesty and integrity are the core values of life and anything that sanctions lies is anti-life, and will always destroy life. The erasure of Dewair and the valor of the Maharanas of Mewar is treachery of the worst kind with Hindus in general and the academic scholarship in particular, and these must be corrected. If India has to fight radical terrorism then we have to be free of this inferiority complex instilled into our psyches by the Leftist ecosystem because only the names and faces have changed, the same civilizational conflict is being played out brazenly in the subcontinent. We cannot fight the passion and fervor that radical religions generate but we have to find a matching narrative to evoke a similar zeal amongst those who live for Dharma. Only when we rise as a nation, equipped with the knowledge that our glorious forefathers fought the forces and agents of bigotry with bare hands and raw guts, will we be proud of Maharana Pratap and his victories and we will be eternally grateful to the Rajputs, the Baniyas, the Brahmins and the Bheels of Mewar who fought for and defended our Dharma.   We must reject those bigots masquerading as historians who concealed the truth from us by serving us half baked stories and made a mockery of our trust in them. The Tatars and the Turk invaders were made to bite the dust by Pratap and his lineage, and as a consequence of that, the Hindus are still standing up to Islamic expansionism even today.  Adharma has to be resisted at all costs. That is the central message of Yogeshwara Sri Krishna in the Geeta. Our valorous ancestors did exactly that. Are we ready to give our ahuti, our contribution, to that Mahayagya of Dharma?  Col. Tod, comparing British history with the warriors of Mewar, writes: How did the Britons at once sink under the Romans, and in vain strive to save their groves, their druids, or the altars of Bal from destruction! To the Saxons they alike succumbed; they, again, to the Danes; and this heterogeneous breed to the Normans. Empire was lost and gained by a single battle, and the laws and religion of the conquered merged in those of the conquerors. Contrast with these the Rajputs; not an iota of their religion or customs have they lost, though many a foot of land. Some of their States have been expunged from the map of dominion; and, as a punishment of national infidelity, the pride of the Rathor, and the glory of the Chalukya, the overgrown Kanauj and gorgeous Anhilwara, are forgotten names! Mewar alone, the sacred bulwark of religion, never compromised her honour for her safety, and still survives her ancient limits; and since the brave Samarsi gave up his life, the blood of her princes has flowed in copious streams for the maintenance of this honour, religion, and independence.” Today, when we have the financial resources, the numbers and a sensitive power structure in India, equipped with the internet and a modern communications network, what can prevent us from establishing a just and prosperous Hindu Rashtra for all citizens of this amazing nation!  When we will pause and look back at this 1400 year old struggle to establish Dharma and Satya , Dewair will be that pious memory which will remind us of the bravery and sacrifice of all of Mewar under the leadership of Pratap.  Read in Hindi
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Itihasa

Uttarpara Speech  (1909)

First published in “Karmayogin”, June 1909. Speech that Sri Aurobindo made after his release from prison.    When I was asked to speak to you at the annual meeting of your Sabha, it was my intention to say a few words about the subject chosen for today, the subject of the Hindu religion. I do not know now whether I shall fulfill that intention; for as I sat here, there came into my mind a word that I have to speak to you, a word that I have to speak to the whole of the Indian Nation. It was spoken first to myself in jail and I have come out of jail to speak it to my people. It was more than a year ago that I came here last. When I came I was not alone; one of the mightiest prophets of Nationalism sat by my side. It was he who then came out of the seclusion to which God had sent him, so that in the silence and solitude of his cell he might hear the word that He had to say. It was he that you came in your hundreds to welcome. Now he is far away, separated from us by thousands of miles. Others whom I was accustomed to find working beside me are absent. The storm that swept over the country has scattered them far and wide. It is I this time who have spent one year in seclusion, and now that I come out I find all changed. One who always sat by my side and was associated in my work is a prisoner in Burma; another is in the north rotting in detention. I looked round when I came out, I looked round for those to whom I had been accustomed to look for counsel and inspiration. I did not find them. There was more than that. When I went to jail the whole country was alive with the cry of Bande Mataram, alive with the hope of a nation, the hope of millions of men who had newly risen out of degradation. When I came out of jail I listened for that cry, but there was instead a silence. A hush had fallen on the country and men seemed bewildered; for instead of God’s bright heaven full of the vision of the future that had been before us, there seemed to be overhead a leaden sky from which human thunders and lightning rained. No man seemed to know which way to move, and from all sides came the question, “What shall we do next? What is there that we can do?” I too did not know which way to move, I too did not know what was next to be done. But one thing I knew, that as it was the Almighty Power of God which had raised that cry, that hope, so it was the same Power which had sent down that silence. He who was in the shouting and the movement was also in the pause and the hush. He has sent it upon us, so that the nation might draw back for a moment and look into itself and know His will. I have not been disheartened by that silence because I had been made familiar with silence in my prison and because I knew it was in the pause and the hush that I had myself learned this lesson through the long year of my detention. When Bipin Chandra Pal came out of jail, he came with a message, and it was an inspired message. I remember the speech he made here. It was a speech not so much political as religious in its bearing and intention. He spoke of his realisation in jail, of God within us all, of the Lord within the nation, and in his subsequent speeches also he spoke of a greater than ordinary force in the movement and a greater than ordinary purpose before it. Now I also meet you again, I also come out of jail, and again it is you of Uttarpara who are the first to welcome me, not at a political meeting but at a meeting of a society for the protection of our religion. That message which Bipin Chandra Pal received in Buxar jail, God gave to me in Alipore. That knowledge He gave to me day after day during my twelve months of imprisonment and it is that which He has commanded me to speak to you now that I have come out. I knew I would come out. The year of detention was meant only for a year of seclusion and of training. How could anyone hold me in jail longer than was necessary for God’s purpose? He had given me a word to speak and a work to do, and until that word was spoken I knew that no human power could hush me, until that work was done no human power could stop God’s instrument, however weak that instrument might be or however small. Now that I have come out, even in these few minutes, a word has been suggested to me which I had no wish to speak. The thing I had in my mind He has thrown from it and what I speak is under an impulse and a compulsion. When I was arrested and hurried to the Lal Bazar hajat I was shaken in faith for a while, for I could not look into the heart of His intention. Therefore I faltered for a moment and cried out in my heart to Him, “What is this that has happened to me? I believed that I had a mission to work for the people of my country and until that work was done, I should have Thy protection. Why then am I here and on such a charge?” A day passed and a second day and a third, when a voice came to me from within, “Wait and see.” Then I grew calm and waited, I was taken from Lal Bazar to Alipore and was placed for one month in a solitary cell apart from men. There I waited day and night for the voice of God within me, to know what He had to say to me, to learn what I had to do. In this seclusion the earliest realisation, the first lesson came to me. I remembered then that a month or more before my arrest, a call had come to me to put aside all activity, to go in seclusion and to look into myself, so that I might enter into closer communion with Him. I was weak and could not accept the call. My work was very dear to me and in the pride of my heart I thought that unless I was there, it would suffer or even fail and cease; therefore I would not leave it. It seemed to me that He spoke to me again and said, “The bonds you had not the strength to break, I have broken for you, because it is not my will nor was it ever my intention that that should continue. I have had another thing for you to do and it is for that I have brought you here, to teach you what you could not learn for yourself and to train you for my work.” Then He placed the Gita in my hands. His strength entered into me and I was able to do the sadhana of the Gita. I was not only to understand intellectually but to realise what Sri Krishna demanded of Arjuna and what He demands of those who aspire to do His work, to be free from repulsion and desire, to do work for Him without the demand for fruit, to renounce self-will and become a passive and faithful instrument in His hands, to have an equal heart for high and low, friend and opponent, success and failure, yet not to do His work negligently. I realised what the Hindu religion meant. We speak often of the Hindu religion, of the Sanatan Dharma, but few of us really know what that religion is. Other religions are preponderatingly religions of faith and profession, but the Sanatan Dharma is life itself; it is a thing that has not so much to be believed as lived. This is the Dharma that for the salvation of humanity was cherished in the seclusion of this peninsula from of old. It is to give this religion that India is rising. She does not rise as other countries do, for self or when she is strong, to trample on the weak. She is rising to shed the eternal light entrusted to her over the world. India has always existed for humanity and not for herself and it is for humanity and not for herself that she must be great. Therefore this was the next thing He pointed out to me. He made me realise the central truth of the Hindu religion. He turned the hearts of my jailors to me and they spoke to the Englishman in charge of the jail, “He is suffering in his confinement; let him at least walk outside his cell for half an hour in the morning and in the evening.” So it was arranged, and it was while I was walking that His strength again entered into me. I looked the jail that secluded me from men and it was no longer by its high walls that I was imprisoned; no, it was Vasudeva who surrounded me. I walked under the branches of the tree in front of my cell but it was not the tree, I knew it was Vasudeva, it was Sri Krishna whom I saw standing there and holding over me his shade. I looked at the bars of my cell, the very grating that did duty for a door and again I saw Vasudeva. It was Narayana who was guarding and standing sentry over me. Or I lay on the coarse blankets that were given me for a couch and felt the arms of Sri Krishna around me, the arms of my Friend and Lover. This was the first use of the deeper vision He gave me. I looked at the prisoners in the jail, the thieves, the murderers, the swindlers, and as I looked at them I saw Vasudeva, it was Narayana whom I found in these darkened souls and misused bodies. Amongst these thieves and dacoits there were many who put me to shame by their sympathy, their kindness, the humanity triumphant over such adverse circumstances. One I saw among them especially, who seemed to me a saint, a peasant of my nation who did not know how to read and write, an alleged dacoit sentenced to ten years’ rigorous imprisonment, one of those whom we look down upon in our Pharisaical pride of class as Chhotalok. Once more He spoke to me and said, “Behold the people among whom I have sent you to do a little of my work. This is the nature of the nation I am raising up and the reason why I raise them.” When the case opened in the lower court and we were brought before the Magistrate I was followed by the same insight. He said to me, “When you were cast into jail, did not your heart fail and did you not cry out to me, where is Thy protection? Look now at the Magistrate, look now at the Prosecuting Counsel.” I looked and it was not the Magistrate whom I saw, it was Vasudeva, it was Narayana who was sitting there on the bench. I looked at the Prosecuting Counsel and it was not the Counsel for the prosecution that I saw; it was Sri Krishna who sat there, it was my Lover and Friend who sat there and smiled. “Now do you fear?” He said, “I am in all men and I overrule their actions and their words. My protection is still with you and you shall not fear. This case which is brought against you, leave it in my hand. It is not for you. It was not for the trial that I brought you here but for something else. The case itself is only a means for my work and nothing more.” Afterwards when the trial opened in the Sessions Court, I began to write many instructions for my Counsel as to what was false in the evidence against me and on what points the witnesses might be cross-examined. Then something happened which I had not expected. The arrangements which had been made for my defence were suddenly changed and another Counsel stood there to defend me. He came unexpectedly, a friend of mine, but I did not know he was coming. You have all heard the name of the man who put away from him all other thoughts and abandoned all his practice, who sat up half the night day after day for months and broke his health to save me, Srijut Chittaranjan Das. When I saw him, I was satisfied, but I still thought it necessary to write instructions. Then all that was put away from me and I had the message from within, “This is the man who will save you from the snares put around your feet. Put aside those papers. It is not you who will instruct him. I will instruct him.” From that time I did not of myself speak a word to my Counsel about the case or give a single instruction, and if ever I was asked a question, I always found that my answer did not help the case. I had left it to him and he took it entirely into his hands, with what result you know. I knew all along what He meant for me, for I heard it again and again, always I listened to the voice within; “I am guiding, therefore fear not. Turn to your own work for which I have brought you to jail and when you come out, remember never to fear, never to hesitate. Remember that it is I who am doing this, not you nor any other. Therefore whatever clouds may come, whatever dangers and sufferings, whatever difficulties, whatever impossibilities, there is nothing impossible, nothing difficult. I am in the nation and its uprising and I am Vasudeva, I am Narayana, and what I will, shall be, not what others will. What I choose to bring about, no human power can stay.” Meanwhile He had brought me out of solitude and placed me among those who had been accused along with me. You have spoken much today of my self-sacrifice and devotion to my country. I have heard that kind of speech ever since I came out of jail, but I hear it with embarrassment, with something of pain. For I know my weakness, I am a prey to my own faults and backslidings. I was not blind to them before and when they all rose up against me in seclusion, I felt them utterly. I knew them that I the man was a man of weakness, a faulty and imperfect instrument, strong only when a higher strength entered into me. Then I found myself among these young men and in many of them I discovered a mighty courage, a power of self-effacement in comparison with which I was simply nothing. I saw one or two who were not only superior to me in force and character, – very many were that, – but in the promise of that intellectual ability on which I prided myself. He said to me, “This is the young generation, the new and mighty nation that is arising at my command. They are greater than yourself. What have you to fear? If you stood aside or slept, the work would still be done. If you were cast aside tomorrow, here are the young men who will take up your work and do it more mightily than you have ever done. You have only got some strength from me to speak a word to this nation which will help to raise it.” This was the next thing He told me. Then a thing happened suddenly and in a moment I was hurried away to the seclusion of a solitary cell. What happened to me during that period I am not impelled to say, but only that day after day, He showed me His wonders and made me realise the utter truth of the Hindu religion. I had many doubts before. I was brought up in England amongst foreign ideas and an atmosphere entirely foreign. About many things in Hinduism I had once been inclined to believe that they were imaginations, that there was much of dream in it, much that was delusion and Maya. But now day after day I realised in the mind, I realised in the heart, I realised in the body the truths of the Hindu religion. They became living experiences to me, and things were opened to me which no material science could explain. When I first approached Him, it was not entirely in the spirit of the Jnani. I came to Him long ago in Baroda some years before the Swadeshi began and I was drawn into the public field. When I approached God at that time, I hardly had a living faith in Him. The agnostic was in me, the atheist was in me, the sceptic was in me and I was not absolutely sure that there was a God at all. I did not feel His presence. Yet something drew me to the truth of the Vedas, the truth of the Gita, the truth of the Hindu religion. I felt there must be a mighty truth somewhere in this Yoga, a mighty truth in this religion based on the Vedanta. So when I turned to the Yoga and resolved to practise it and find out if my idea was right, I did it in this spirit and with this prayer to Him, “If Thou art, then Thou knowest my heart. Thou knowest that I do not ask for Mukti, I do not ask for anything which others ask for. I ask only for strength to uplift this nation, I ask only to be allowed to live and work for this people whom I love and to whom I pray that I may devote my life.” I strove long for the realisation of Yoga and at last to some extent I had it, but in what I most desired I was not satisfied. Then in the seclusion of the jail, of the solitary cell I asked for it again. I said, “Give me Thy Adesh. I do not know what work to do or how to do it. Give me a message.” In the communion of Yoga two messages came. The first message said, “I have given you a work and it is to help to uplift this nation. Before long the time will come when you will have to go out of jail; for it is not my will that this time either you should be convicted or that you should pass the time, as others have to do, in suffering for their country. I have called you to work, and that is the Adesh for which you have asked. I give you the Adesh to go forth and do my work.” The second message came and it said, “Something has been shown to you in this year of seclusion, something about which you had your doubts and it is the truth of the Hindu religion. It is this religion that I am raising up before the world, it is this that I have perfected and developed through the Rishis, saints and Avatars, and now it is going forth to do my work among the nations. I am raising up this nation to send forth my word. This is the Sanatan Dharma, this is the eternal religion which you did not really know before, but which I have now revealed to you. The agnostic and the sceptic in you have been answered, for I have given you proofs within and without you, physical and subjective, which have satisfied you. When you go forth, speak to your nation always this word, that it is for the Sanatan Dharma that they arise, it is for the world and not for themselves that they arise. I am giving them freedom for the service of the world. When therefore it is said that India shall rise, it is the Sanatan Dharma that shall be great. When it is said that India shall expand and extend herself, it is the Sanatan Dharma that shall expand and extend itself over the world. It is for the Dharma and by the Dharma that India exists. To magnify the religion means to magnify the country. I have shown you that I am everywhere and in all men and in all things, that I am in this movement and I am not only working in those who are striving for the country but I am working also in those who oppose them and stand in their path. I am working in everybody and whatever men may think or do, they can do nothing but help in my purpose. They also are doing my work, they are not my enemies but my instruments. In all your actions you are moving forward without knowing which way you move. You mean to do one thing and you do another. You aim at a result and your efforts subserve one that is different or contrary. It is Shakti that has gone forth and entered into the people. Since long ago I have been preparing this uprising and now the time has come and it is I who will lead it to its fulfilment.” This then is what I have to say to you. The name of your society is “Society for the Protection of Religion”. Well, the protection of the religion, the protection and upraising before the world of the Hindu religion, that is the work before us. But what is the Hindu religion? What is this religion which we call Sanatan, eternal? It is the Hindu religion only because the Hindu nation has kept it, because in this Peninsula it grew up in the seclusion of the sea and the Himalayas, because in this sacred and ancient land it was given as a charge to the Aryan race to preserve through the ages. But it is not circumscribed by the confines of a single country, it does not belong peculiarly and for ever to a bounded part of the world. That which we call the Hindu religion is really the eternal religion, because it is the universal religion which embraces all others. If a religion is not universal, it cannot be eternal. A narrow religion, a sectarian religion, an exclusive religion can live only for a limited time and a limited purpose. This is the one religion that can triumph over materialism by including and anticipating the discoveries of science and the speculations of philosophy. It is the one religion which impresses on mankind the closeness of God to us and embraces in its compass all the possible means by which man can approach God. It is the one religion which insists every moment on the truth which all religions acknowledge that He is in all men and all things and that in Him we move and have our being. It is the one religion which enables us not only to understand and believe this truth but to realise it with every part of our being. It is the one religion which shows the world what the world is, that it is the Lila of Vasudeva. It is the one religion which shows us how we can best play our part in that Lila, its subtlest laws and its noblest rules. It is the one religion which does not separate life in any smallest detail from religion, which knows what immortality is and has utterly removed from us the reality of death. This is the word that has been put into my mouth to speak to you today. What I intended to speak has been put away from me, and beyond what is given to me I have nothing to say. It is only the word that is put into me that I can speak to you. That word is now finished. I spoke once before with this force in me and I said then that this movement is not a political movement and that nationalism is not politics but a religion, a creed, a faith. I say it again today, but I put it in another way. I say no longer that nationalism is a creed, a religion, a faith; 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. This is the message that I have to speak to you.
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Itihasa

The Restoration of Sri Ram And Beyond

The establishment of the foundation for the Ram Janmabhumi Temple at Ayodhya yesterday was a profound symbolic victory for Dharma: it was the culmination of a 490-odd years struggle for restoring Sri Ram, the seventh avatar in the line of Vishnu in Sanatan Dharma, to his rightful birthplace in the fabled city of his birth. (He was, in fact, installed for years in a tent!). Whether or not he was actually born in this exact location matters little, for Sri Ram is not just a historical being for Hindus but a Divine incarnation, and Divine Incarnations transcend time and space, birth and death of mortal bodies. The struggle through several generations for rebuilding the temple at Ayodhya and restoring Sri Ram to his birthplace was never a religious or political issue for the Hindu — it was always a question of Dharma: for Sri Ram, for the common Hindu, is at once a complete embodiment and a shining representation of the Dharma itself: to displace Sri Ram and destroy his temple was a direct attack on the very fabric of Hindu Dharma. Sri Ram had to be restored and the temple had to be rebuilt — this was inevitable, a historical necessity. But it took a long time — 73 years even after India’s political independence. What totally bewilders the mind is the fact that it took so long, and that it would have taken much longer had Hindutva not become as assertive as it did. If the Congress, the Islamists and the Communists had their way, all traces of Dharma would have been wiped off by now and the deracination of India would have been complete and irreversible. And to imagine that there are people who still utter such inanities as Hindutva is not Hinduism and Hinduism is not Hindutva, or that Hindutva is an aberration and Hinduism is the real thing. Let’s be very clear about this one fact: had it not been for an assertive and robust Hindutva, Hinduism, as we know it, would have been wiped out. This fact needs to sink deep into our minds and hearts. The Prime Minister of India presiding over the bhumi-poojan of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya was the resounding bugle call of Hindutva’s call to action and its first decisive victory. The victory, symbolic of something much wider, is deeply significant; but even more significant is the call to action: for this is only the first step. This victory, however fulfilling in the moment, must not lull us into any kind of complacency. The battle is far from over. There are other battles to be taken up and won. Sri Ram has just been restored — but let us not forget that Sri Ram stands for Dharma, Satya and Ram Rajya. Satya is the heart of Dharma, and Dharma is the soul of Ram Rajya. Ram Rajya is neither a metaphor nor a utopian ideal: it is the natural culmination of dharmic politics and the dharmic way of life. When the life of the individual and the life of the collective become natural expressions of Dharma and Satya, when Dharma and Satya are used as the cohesive forces for nation-building, then Ram Rajya is established. Ram Rajya is not just a political theory but a growing spiritual need in the lives of men and nations. Ram Rajya is the kingdom of God on earth. To establish Ram Rajya (call it by whatever name) in India must be Hindutva’s high aim and objective. Anything short of this, and our dharma yuddha is not complete. Let us not underestimate the challenges: A large number of educated Hindu youth, over generations, has been culturally deracinated and spiritually alienated; they have been made to believe that western values and culture are superior to their own Dharma, and that their Dharma is regressive, superstitious, and in need of systemic reform. That a large number of English-educated youth believes all this unquestioningly is not their fault — it is the education system in India, the worst case of imperialist hangover in independent India, that is to be squarely blamed. The Indian psyche has been systematically infected with the worst western ills of exploitative capitalism, aggressive competition, greed and consumerism; half-baked values of intellectualism and liberalism have been made the staple diet of the Indian intellectual. The educated Indian mind, artificially deprived of the nourishing influences of Dharma, has, over the decades, fallen into mediocrity. The youth has been taught fanciful languages but has forgotten how to speak its own idiom.  So too with the adult. The so-called modern and progressive adult Hindu has equally lost touch with his Dharma and wanders lost and confused amongst alien values and constructs. And do bear in mind that ‘alien’ has nothing to do with nationality — alien is that which is void of Dharma. The average educated Indian, thanks to the skewed education s-he has received, is still spiritually colonized and passionately believes that aping an alien culture is superior to understanding and deepening one’s own.  Wherever you look, you find the same malaise of superficiality and mediocrity in Indian intellectual and public life. Anglicized education has made us a society of well read imitators and petty-minded cynics. We have lost the depths and widenesses of Sanatan Dharma; and if that is not bad enough, we have learnt to condemn our Dharma in the language of our colonial masters. 73 years of political independence, and we are still colonized in our minds and enslaved to crass materialism in our hearts. As Indians, by and large, we have forgotten the rich integrality of our Sanatan Dharma and have become hopelessly fractured and fragmented, as individuals and as a nation. We have lost the courage to stand for our Dharma and to fight for Satya — we have become weak and selfish over the generations, our very life force has been sapped by the forces of adharma. And adharma rages everywhere, in all directions: the monotheistic and shamelessly proselytizing Abrahamic religions are the most visible of these forces; but the hidden forces of selfishness, fear, dishonesty, falsehood and deception are the deeper and more dangerous forces of adharma. Let’s make no mistake about this: if we do not or cannot overcome the hidden forces of adharma, overcoming the visible forces will be of little value. But, on the other hand, if we vanquish the inner foes, we become towering forces of pure Dharma that no outer force or foe can shake or weaken. All our resources and minds must combine to fight adharma, within and outside. Education is our first front. We must re-educate, revise the old narratives, keep the truths, throw out the falsehoods. We must kindle discussion and debate in the highest intellectual traditions of our Dharma. We must rebuild the minds and hearts of young India. The new national education policy, released just a few days ago, is the first step in the right direction. But we need to go farther, much farther. We have to confront multiple falsehoods and deliberate attacks on our Dharma. We need to rebuild narratives, reconnect our heritage and our destiny, our past and our future, which have been ruptured, first by the Islamic invasions and then by the British Raj. We have to boldly reclaim the truths of our Dharma, without apology or hesitation. Dharma is our birthright and we must learn, once again, to demand our birthright. In one of the inspired modern day mahavakyas of the Indologist Koenraad Elst, What Hindus… will have to learn, is that the essence of Hindu Dharma is not ‘tolerance’ or ‘equal respect for all religions’ but Satya, Truth. It is to this Truth that the Hindu raises temples and installs deities; the outer names and forms are mere contexts.   For those interested in this subject: please read this and this
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Itihasa

Indian History And The Great Lies

Like all things mundane in the modern era, Indian History too has fallen prey to the singularly desiccating influence of the binary Western lens. Add to that the Communist lens and the inescapable conclusion is that what is being taught to us as History for the longest time since independence is nothing but bunkum. Just witness this from the Supreme Court of India, 18th of September, 2019: When the Muslim side advocate wanted the judges to read a piece of excrescence called ‘Historian’s Report to the Nation on Rama Temple’. ‘This is not evidence, this is at the highest an opinion’. This is nothing but a polite way of saying that the history you want to cite is bunkum. This is pretty much the story of all Indian history written by the British, the Western and the Marxist historians between 1830 till today. What is the common thread among these three? One, a firm belief in the binary nature of Logic, and two, an equally firm belief in the linearity of Time. Any history produced from these standpoints is likely to be dismissive of history written from the higher levels of consciousness. For a detailed understanding of this statement, go through my series ‘All Religions Are Not The Same’. My books in the ‘Krishna Trilogy’, ‘Krishna Gopeshvara’ and ‘Krishna Yogeshvara’ also highlight this fundamental difference. India’s ancient historians were more concerned about the processes behind the events, rather than just the event. That is why epics and Puranas, commonly known as ‘Itihasa’ in the Indian tradition are complex narration’s of characters and their interplay with rta or the Cosmic Order, and Dharma, or the Universal Order. That is why the history is written like story-writing. Western and Marxist historians have no deeper understanding of the human nature, and do not even recognise the higher human consciousness or chitta. So the elementary difference in the history writing of the West and that if India is that the former is written at the level of intellect, and the latter is at the higher level of consciousness. This is exactly like how the the Abrahamic God(s) is at the level of intellect, whereas the Indian Brahman is at the level of consciousness or even beyond consciousness. The purported ‘Unified Field Theory’ cannot work in an Abrahamic paradigm. In addition to this fundamental limitation of understanding, there is the deliberate mischief by the West and the Marxists under the influence of he Church and the Communists. Indian thought is the single greatest threat to the narratives woven by these two groups. Hence the Lies. Hence the single minded focus on destruction of the classical Indian chronology. Let us now document some of the Great Lies floated by these groups. These are just a few in a series of articles. Aryan Invasion Theory;Vedas are post-Harappan;Ashoka became a Buddhist due to Kalinga war;Ramayana and Mahabharata are post-Buddhist Texts; and Rama and Krishna are myths;That Sanskrit has only spirituality, having no science or fine arts, Śulbha Sutras, Surya Siddhānta, Vaiśeśika Sutra, Nyaya Sutra, Charak and Suśruta Samhitas, advanced metallurgy (rust free iron pillar), advanced town planning, advanced mathematics including trigonometry and infinite series, Bharata Muni and Kālidasa are all imaginations, not to speak of the highest consciousness studies like Yoga and Samkhya;Arab invasions wiped out Indian kings;Missing accounts of the longest (Chola), the largest (Karakota), and the most prosperous (Vijayanagara) Empires of Bharatavarsha;Muslim rulers were benign lovers of art, massacres of Hindus did not happen, or were sometimes due to a conqueror’s zeal, notwithstanding what was written by Muslim historians themselves (oh, they probably exaggerated – how many have bothered to read Elliot and Dawson);Aurangzeb was a mild mannered Sufi;Mughals faded away because of a problem of revenue, and not because they were terrible Islamic bigots;Sufis promote a syncretic and peaceful culture;Indian Society is all about caste, but there was no social stratification anywhere else in the world;Tipu Sultan was a freedom fighter;British united India;India was born in 1947;India won its freedom due to non-violence;Nobody broke India’s temples. Babar was a tourist in Ayodhya, and Aurangzeb was merely practising new forms of warfare by using cannons to bring them down;J&K’s Instrument of Accession was inviolable;All Religions Are The Same;As of 2017: Hindutva is different from Hinduism, like Islam is different from Islamism. The best part of this type of history writing is that no evidence is required at all. Romila Thapar can write all her conclusions about AIT, Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas without knowing Sanskrit; RS Sharma can give testimonies on behalf of Babri mosque petitioners without knowing a word of archaeology. Max Mueller can propound AIT without a shred of evidence, and Bishop Robert Caldwell and GU Pope can build a fantasy called Lemuria based on Max Mueller – all without having to adduce any evidence. Then Ph Ds can be written on this zero-evidence theory. Church can use its resources to build a toxic anti-Hindu Dravidianist movement. Finding that spiritually runs deep in the Tamil psyche, Church can build a fake St Thomas lore who brought Sanskrit with him and Thiruvallavur learnt at his feet. Can you counter this obvious to the naked eye nonsense using standard tools of scientific falsification? Do not be under any illusion! Scientific falsification will not be accepted by the Church or the Marxists. Names will be called, cases will be filed and dharnas and gheraos will be organised against patriarchal Brahmanistic reactionaries in Jadavpur and JNU. REMEMBER, George Orwell called the Ministry of Propaganda as the Ministry of Truth in his classic nineteen-eighty four. This kind of history is not history. It is just propaganda. Real history is obliterated, overwritten and swept under the carpet. Let us now start with the first listed instance. ARYAN INVASION THEORY: This theory has its origin in Church’s reaction to the Western romantics who were thrilled to discover an unbelievably advanced language in Sanskrit, and even more thrilled to find that Sanskrit was part of the same language family as most European languages. They felt honoured to find such distinguished roots and the ‘Out of India Theory’ or OIT was born. This was the leading discourse till the 1820s when Church began its push back. Max Mueller was employed by the East India Company, and AIT was born. AIT assumptions are rooted in the Biblical racist history. AIT was given an arbitrary date around 1500 BCE, first to protect the Biblical date of creation – 22/02/4004 BCE – and to destroy the Indian chronology as it had the effect of completely destroying the Biblical world view. This conspiracy called AIT has four legs, That there is a race called Aryan, a branch of the Biblical Japheth That this race invaded the Indian heartland That the invasion happened around 1500–1800 BCE That they brought Sanskrit with them Even if one leg is falsified, the whole theory crumbles to dust. Nobody ever proved this theory. Using archaeology, river morphology, literature, geology, astronomy and even linguistics and genetics, each of the four legs have been repeatedly falsified, but the Church and its adjuncts, including Islamists and Marxists refuse to accept it. I have announced an Award of ₹1 Cr to anyone who can prove AIT. I do not have a single claim yet. On the other side, there is a veritable flood of evidence to disprove a theory which was nothing but speculation at the best of times, yet the entrenched powers that be in the academia, the Church and the Islamists just ignore it and try and find pathways around it. It helps them to communalise the issue so that the government remains defensive and does not touch the curriculum built by them over decades of being in power. Reprinted with the permission of the author First published on Medium in September 2019
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Itihasa

Veer Durgadas

माई ऐड़ा पूत जन, जेड़ा दुर्गादास, बाँध मुंडासे राखियो, बिन थांबे आकाश! Mother, give birth to a son just like Durgadas, Who stopped the flooding dam of the Moghuls without any support. Veer Durgadas was one of the chieftains of Jaswant Singh, the King of Jodhpur, when Aurangzeb ruled Delhi. The king developed some disease and was to die of it. He was young at the time and his son, Ajeet Singh, was still a suckling infant. Jaswant Singh knew in his heart that the rest of the greedy chieftains would kill Ajeet Singh the moment he would die. Hence, he was very restless on his death bed! It is here that a young Durgadas approached the dying king and asked him the reason for his restlessness! Jaswant Singh told Durgadas of his fears and said that he is unable to die in peace because of it.  Veer Durgadas collected a few of the trusted chiefs loyal to the King and swore on Mother Jagadamaba to protect the family of the king as long as even one of them were alive. Trusting the custody of his toddler with Veer Durgadas, Jaswant Singh bid adieu to the mortal world! Those were very treacherous and tricky times. There were people who wanted to join hands with the Moghuls and take over the reins of the Kingdom of Marwar (Jodhpur). No one could be trusted! Then Aurangzeb himself wanted to merge Jodhpur into the Moghul empire under the pretext that Ajeet Singh was an infant. Durgadas created a network of espionage and counter espionage to keep himself informed about every move of the locals as well as the Mughals. It was this extremely tricky and intelligent foresight that kept Durgadas ahead of the enemies of the State of Marwar! Aurangzeb, with the support of other Rajput chiefs who were jealous of the erstwhile King and Durgadas, annexed Jodhpur and took the child Ajeet Singh into custody. Durgadas, with the Thakur of Balunda (a small principality in Marwar), planned the escape of young Ajeet Singh from the clutches of the Mughals. With Durgadas there was a poet warrior (known as a Chaaran), Jadaaw ji, who dressed up like a snake charmer and went into the palace where Ajeet Singh was being kept. Jadaaw ji hid little Ajeet in a basket and took him out of the palace.  The Mughal army immediately went out in their pursuit, and the escape happened quite in the Bollywood style! 10-15 valorous Rajputs would stay behind to engage the Moghuls and thus provide time for Durgadas and Ajeet Singh to gain some distance. All the warriors would be slain and then the pursuit would resume. In the end, Durgadas, Thakur Mokham Singh of Balunda, Jadaaw ji, and seven other horsemen were all that managed to reach the safety of Marwar, and kept Ajeet Singh in Balunda till his teenage.   Durgadas continued inflicting heavy damages on the Moghuls by engaging them in relentless guerrilla warfare! With Aurangzeb growing old, and his grip on power loosening, a war of succession broke out between his children. Durgadas supported one of his sons, Akbar, in the war of succession. Akbar died of some disease and Aurangzeb asked Durgadas that his daughter-in-law and grandchildren be returned to him. Durgadas, the man that he was, returned the lady and her children to Aurangzeb !  Aurangzeb is supposed to have asked his daughter-in-law: कैसा दिखता है वो चूहा? — How does the rat look? The daughter-in-law replied: कैसा दिखता है? जहाँपनाह, जोधपुर में उन्हें बाबोसा कहा जाता है. और किसी की हिम्मत कहाँ कि उनसे नज़र मिला के उनकी तरफ देख सके! हमने तो सिर्फ उनकी रोबदार आवाज़, या जूतियों की आहट ही सुनी है !  — How does he look? He is called “babosa” in all Jodhpur. None dares look him in the eyes. I have heard only his strong voice or the sound of his footfalls.  For a barbarian like Aurangzeb, it was inconceivable that his daughter-in-law would have remained untouched in custody, but Veer Durgadas was a man of such integrity and honor that he never even looked at the Moghul princess!  This was the unwritten code for the worshippers of Shakti — to respect and protect the honor of women, even if they belonged to the enemy camp! Such decency in times when it was a done thing to have the women of the opposite camp for yourself. आठ पहर चौबीस घडी, घुडले ऊपर वास। सैल अणि सूं सेकतो, बाटी दुर्गादास ॥ Riding on horseback, days and nights would pass! On the rough terrain of the Aravalis, Durgadas baked flour balls with the tip of his spear ! For a good 20-25 years, Durgadas kept on fighting from the hills of Sirohi and Pali. In 1707, Aurangzeb died. This was an opportune time for Durgadas and he attacked Jodhpur and took control of Jodhpur after a little resistance from the disarrayed Mughal Army.  Here is where we see the actual greatness of Durgadas and his real character. There have been many warriors in Rajasthan who fought for defending their land and women but we know of only one Durgadas who fought for concepts as abstract as loyalty and religion. On annexing Jodhpur, he did the coronation (rajyabhisheka) of Ajeet Singh and fulfilled the promise he had made to his father Jaswant Singh. He could have easily eliminated Ajeet Singh and become the King himself, but he chose to remain loyal to his word and gave the kingdom effortlessly to Ajeet Singh! Nowhere in history can we find such unflinching loyalty to his motherland and such absolute detachment from power as in the life and deeds of Veer Durgadas Rathore !  Alas, if we Hindus had learnt and drawn inspiration from this soul, the history of this subcontinent would have been entirely different! Instead of an unending saga of humiliating defeats at the hands of any and everyone who managed to cross the Indus, we would have been a proud race, unyielding in our honor and self respect! सिंघां देस विदेस सम, सिंघां किशा वतन्न । सिंह जिका वन संचरे, सो सिंघां रा बन्न ॥ Homeland or a foreign land is the same for lions! What nation can contain a lion? Whichever land he wanders into, that land belongs to the lion ! Final chapter of Durgadas’s life. Tragic, but also, one that raises Durgadas to sublime heights! Sometimes, I find it difficult to believe that we Hindus are the progeny of such noble souls ! Once Durgadas crowned Ajeet Singh the king of Jodhpur, he relegated himself to the background, largely spending his time and energy in rebuilding temples destroyed during the Moghul reg But he also helped Ajeet Singh tighten his grip on his regime. Then things happened, as has always been the misfortune of this great land of ours. Ajeet Singh, probably as a consequence of his insecure childhood or his below average mind, got jealous and suspicious of Veer Durgadas, the very man because of whom he was alive! Though largely metaphorical, there is a story that once Ajeet Singh is supposed to have said to Durgadas..”बाबोसा, आप म्हारे हामी मति बैठिया करो !” — Old man, you must not sit in front of me in the Durbaar .  When Durgadas gave him a questioning look, Ajeet said ..”आपने देखूं तो मने विखा रा दिन याद आवे !” — When I see you, I am reminded of the days of my deprivation! So much for the wisdom and grace of our erstwhile rulers! Durgadas endured such insults off and on, just for the sake of his loyalty to his motherland, till one day Ajeet Singh’s yes-men convinced him to do away with Durgadas altogether.  Durgadas got the whiff of the plans and the day he was to be murdered, he approached the King in the Durbaar and spoke aloud — I had procured a lot of gold in the battles of South India. I am an old man now, I want to gift you the gold and retire!  Ajeet Singh indicated to his point man to refrain from killing Durgadas, and then an appointment was fixed for Durgadas and Ajeet Singh to meet in the outskirts of Jodhpur …. Durgadas had asked 500 horsemen loyal to him to lay an ambush there. As soon as Ajeet Singh turned up, he was surrounded by the horsemen and  Durgadas said to him: ऊंदरा, थूं मने मारेला? हूँ तुर्कों रे हाथ नी आयो, थूं मने मारेला? अगर थारा बाप ने वचन नी दियो वेतो तो अबार थारो माथो वाड देतो! थाने सोनो चावे? औ जोधपुर रो राज दियो नी थाने …अबे आगो जा ! — You rat ! You will kill me? I could not be contained by the Turks and you will kill me? Had I not promised your father to protect you, I would have beheaded you right now! And what more gold do you expect from me? I have given you the kingdom of Jodhpur! Now, get lost before I forget my promise to your father .. Durgadas Rathore, well into his 70s, along with a few of his loyal friends, turned his back to his motherland and rode away into the sunset, never to return. Durgadas walked away from the land he had taken birth in, had nurtured with his blood and sweat for the sake of a vow he had made, his head held high, in honor and unflinching loyalty ! The lion of a man walked away after showing his prey his real worth! The eagle cast a final glance on the kingdom of Jodhpur, spread his wings, and took his flight into oblivion, leaving behind the dust to settle and the turkeys to flutter their noisy wings of mediocrity. The land of Marwar lost her only noble son to the back stabbings of lesser mortals! From Jodhpur, Veer Durgadas went to stay in Udaipur. Then one day, the Maharana of Udaipur gifted watermelons to the camp of Durgadas. Upon receiving the watermelons, Durgadas immediately asked his men to pack up. When asked the reason, Durgadas replied, “The Maharana has sent us a message. Watermelon is called ‘matiro’ in Mewari. This can be also be understood as ‘mati’ (do not) and ‘ro’ (stay)! Durgadas then went to Ujjain and lived an ascetic’s life with the locals there. On 22 November 1718, on the banks of the Kshipra river at Ujjain, aged 81 years, Veer Durgadas Rathore breathed his last, with only a handful of his loyal friends by his side to witness his departure. The samadhi of Veer Durgadas lay in ruins for almost three centuries, till my grandfather, the late Thakur Akshay Singh Ratnu, went to Ujjain in the 1950s and wrote at least 300 letters to different organizations of Rajputs to rebuild the samadhi. Sometime in the 1980s, the present day Maharaja of Jodhpur, Gaj Singh, a fine and compassionate soul, took the trouble to go to Ujjain and got the Jeernoddhar (renovation) done. Renamed the Chakrateertha, the samadhi of Durgadas was rebuilt in red sandstone. Author’s Personal Note
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The Genius of Hindu Indian Politics

Another of these great prejudices with which Indians had to battle for centuries, is that whatever the spiritual, cultural, artistic, even social greatness of India, it always was disunited, except under Ashoka and some of the Mughal emperors — just a bunch of barbarian rulers, constantly fighting themselves — and that it was thanks to the Mughals and the British, that India was finally politically united. This is doing again a grave injustice to India. The Vedic sages had devised a monarchical system, whereby the king was at the top, but could be constitutionally challenged. In fact, it even allowed for men’s inclination to war, but made sure that it never went beyond a certain stage, for only professional armies fought and the majority of the population remained untouched. Indeed, at no time in ancient India, were there great fratricidal wars, like those between the British and the French, or even the Protestants and the Catholics within France itself. Moreover, the system allowed for a great federalism: for instance, a long time after the Vedic fathers, the real power lay in the village panchayats. Sri Aurobindo refutes the charge (which Basham levels), that India has always shown an incompetence for any free and sound political organisation and has been constantly a divided nation. “There always was a strong democratic element in pre-Muslim India, which certainly showed a certain similarity with Western parliamentary forms, but these institutions were Indian”. The early Indian system was that of the clan, or tribal system, founded upon the equality of all members of the tribe. In the same way, the village community had its own assembly, the “visah”, with only the king above this democratic body. The priests, who acted as the sacrifice makers and were poets, occultists and yogis, had no other occupation in life and their positions were thus not hereditary but depended on their inner abilities. And it was the same thing with warriors, merchants, or lower class people. “Even when these classes became hereditary”, remarks Sri Aurobindo, “from the king downwards to the Shudra, the predominance, say of the Brahmins, did not result in a theocracy, because the Brahmins in spite of their ever-increasing and finally predominant authority, did not and could not usurp in India the political power”. (Foundations of Indian Culture p. 326). The Rishi had a peculiar place, he was the sage, born from any caste, who was often counsellor to the King, of whom he was also the religious preceptor. Later it seems that it was the Republican form of government which took over many parts of India. In some cases these “Republics” appear to have been governed by a democratic assembly and some came out of a revolution; in other cases, they seem to have had an oligarchic senate. But they enjoyed throughout India a solid reputation for the excellence of their civil administration and the redoubtable efficiency of their armies. It is to be noted that these Indian Republics existed long before the Greek ones, although the world credits the Greeks with having created democracy; but as usual History is recorded through the prism of the Western world and is very selective indeed. One should also add that none of these Indian republics developed an aggressive colonising spirit and that they were content to defend themselves and forge alliances amongst them. But after the invasion of Alexander’s armies, India felt for the first time the need to unify its forces. Thus the monarchical system was raised-up again; but once more, there was no despotism as happened in Europe until the French revolution: the Indian king did enjoy supreme power, but he was first the representative and guardian of Dharma, the sacred law; his power was not personal and there were safeguards against abuses so that he could be removed. Furthermore, although the king was a Hindu, Hinduism was never the state religion, and each cult enjoyed its liberties. Thus could the Jews and the Parsis and the Jains and the Buddhists, and even the early Christians (who abused that freedom), practise their faith in peace. Which religion in the world can boast of such tolerance? As in a human being, a nation has a soul, which is eternal; and if this soul, this idea-force, is strong enough, it will keep evolving new forms to reincarnate itself constantly. “And a people”, maintains Sri Aurobindo, “who learn consciously to think always in terms of Dharma, of the eternal truth behind man, and learn to look beyond transient appearances, such as the people of India, always survives.” (Foundations of Indian Culture, p.334). And in truth, Indians always regarded life as a manifestation of Self and the master idea that governed life, culture and social ideals of India has been the seeking of man for his inner self — everything was organized around this single goal. Thus, Indian politics, although very complex, always allowed a communal freedom for self-determination. In the last stages of the pre-Muslim period, the summit of the political structure was occupied by three governing bodies: the King in his Ministerial Council, the Metropolitan Assembly and the General Assembly of the kingdom. The members of the Ministerial Council were drawn from all castes. Indeed the whole Indian system was founded upon a close participation of all the classes; even the Shudra had his share in the civic life. Thus the Council had a fixed number of Brahmin, Kshatrya, Vaishya and Shudra representatives, with the Vaishya having a greater preponderance. And in turn, each town, each village, had its own Metropolitan Civic Assembly allowing a great amount of autonomy. Even the great Ashoka was defeated in his power tussle with his Council and he had practically to abdicate. It is this system which allowed India to flower in an unprecedented way, to excel perhaps as no other nation had done before her, in all fields, be it literature, architecture, sculpture, or painting and develop great civilizations, one upon the other, each one more sumptuous, more grandiose, more glittering than the previous one. Printed with permission of the author (April 2020)
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The Question of Varna

Indians always prided themselves on their reliance on Pratyaksha Pramāṇa in contradistinction from the Abrahamic religions, for which belief in the Word of God or Allah was the very fundamental of their existence. The nearest that the Indians got to this absolutist principle of total belief, excluding all reason and rationality, was shabda pramāṇa. The principle is summed up in this shloka from Mahābhārata [1] Pratyaksham hyetayormulam kritāntaitihyayorapi/pratyaksheṇāgamo bhinnah kritānto vā na kinchana|| Root of both inferential evidence and scriptural evidence lies in direct evidence (empirical/experiential). If the inferential evidence or scriptural evidence is against the direct evidence, their validity cannot be accepted. The interesting bit is that the conversation is taking place between Rishi Panchashikhā and King Janaka, and the Rishi is giving a poorvapaksha of the nāstikas, who are justifying their viewpoint by referring to what the āstikas always contend. So the value and primacy of pratyaksha pramāṇa was universal in our ancient traditions. In fact, it is as axiomatic in the Indian traditions as ‘belief’ or ‘shabda pramāṇa’ is in the Abrahamic traditions. Islam had an interesting battle between the rationalists and the conservatives during the first half of the Abbasid period (750–1258 CE). The two sides were the Mutazzalites and the Asharites. While the former battled for reforming the interpretation of the Islamic texts to include ‘immanence of divine’, the Asharites insisted on the complete separation of Creator from his creation. Mansoor Hallaj was tortured and beheaded for proclaiming An’a Haq, or I am the Truth, a concept analogous to Aham Brahmasmi of Advaita Vedānta. The early Sufis were very much of this temperament, and dabbled with concepts of Cyclical Time in the style of what early Christians did before the Councils pronounced a curse on Cyclical Time (5th Ecumenical Council, 553 CE). The issue was finally settled by Al Ghazali (died 1111 CE), the guru of all Sufis who decisively intervened on the side of the conservative Ulāmā, brought in the concept of ontologically broken Time, in which Allah creates and destroys the Universe moment to moment, and verily determines every action of a human being. This put paid to the spiritual doctrine that had been ushered in by the Mutazallites and taken up by the Tahqiqi (those with Haq, or Truth) school of Ibn Arabi, Ibn Rushd, and Ibn Sena (Avicenna), etc. and the movement of Ishtehad (reform) died an untimely death. This was the beginning of the ‘Dark Age of Islam’, that continues till date. The triumph of conservatives in association with devotionists also brought in the concept of Taqlid, from the root qallada (imitation) that prohibited use of aql or reason by anyone else except the authorised clerics. The prohibition of the use of reason came in handy for the Christians who began a turn around from the Christian Dark Ages under St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) by asserting Christian superiority in reason. I have given this context as I found, to my amazement, during a debate on birth-based concept on Varna in a WA group, where my position was based on the Vedas and the Bhagwad Gita (which is unambiguous on the point, stating boldly that ‘Chāturvarṇam mayā srishtam, guṇa karma vibhāgashah — I have created four varnas according to innate qualities and acquired functions), I found that many traditionalists among Hindus also hold views on pramāṇa similar to the Ulāmā. Even as great masters throughout history, including Ādi Shankara, preached oneness behind all material reality, the traditionalists are not even ready to let one discuss the scriptures unless you have been trained in the Vedas under a proper Āchārya.  One such person, RK, was not even ready to let anyone get a word in unless he vetted the name of your Āchārya. While others or I would have their gurus, the sheer emphasis on Adhikāra smacked so much of Taqlid, that I was forced to write a piece on it. Having prided myself on the scientific bases of the Sanātana tradition, as laid out in my 6-part series on ‘All Religions Are Not The Same’, it came as a rude shock that many well-meaning, erudite, and well qualified people continue to harbor the evidence of shabda pramāṇa as higher than pratyaksha. It is obviously not the Sanātana tradition as I gave out at some length in the above series. The Sanātana and all other Dharmic traditions permit questioning, and permit all the elements of scientific method to be applied, i.e. questioning, verification, universalization, repetition and falsification are fully permitted to establish the Truth. Verification is permitted to be external, or even internal — empirical or experiential. Yet, even people well schooled in the sciences thwart questioning by citing Adhikāra and Paramparā. The two have great application in preserving the base of Dharma, but if people like RK ossify it and deny any falsification attempt, when rebuttal or falsification is not permitted, the unchallengeable doctrine gets reduced to dogma — exactly like any Abrahamic creed. The varṇa concept is well accepted as a classification of tasks, and throughout history, jatis have moved up and down the varṇa ladder. Yādavas are the foremost example of this up and down movement. Even in recent history, important dynasties like Vijayanagara and Mysore were Yadavas. The Karṇa story in Mahabharata is also an educative one. While Duryodhana made him the king of Anga to take him up the ladder of varṇa to the status of a Kshatriya, there were many who asserted Adhikāra even in those times. Parashurāma would have no issue with him if he had requested him to make him a Brahmin, as many like Vishvāmitra, Valmiki and Veda Vyāsa had become in the past. It was his cheating that made him abort his education. The epics are full of these narratives, such as the Mahabharata discussions in the Yaksha episode and the Nahusha episode during the vanavāsa of the Pandavas. On the other hand, we have many Acharyas who assert birth-based varṇa. It would be fair to contend that birth-based varṇa is totally the handiwork of the Āchāryas in the medieval times. Almost all of them find their justification in Ādi Shankara, yet one of the most scathing indictments of not just birth-based varṇa, but discrimination based on varṇa is in Manishā Panchakam of Adi Shankara. However, the Āchāryas disregard even this pratyaksha pramāṇa by quibbling on the context. We know that in the Sanatana traditions, context is more important than literalism, and even the Vedas have layers and levels of meanings at different levels of vāk [2]. Yet, the traditionalists do not baulk at anything while supporting birth-based varṇa. It is time for all of us who wish to have a glimpse of the Divine within to face up to this Taqlid like irrationality and liberate the Sanātana from the Purātana. Printed with permission of the author (May 2020) 1 Mahābhārata: Shanti Parva: 211.26 (Critical Edition, Sukhthankar), 218:27 (Gita Press) 2 The psychic levels of vaikhari, madhyamā, pashyanti, and parā [Editor: For further reading on the 4 levels of Vak]
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India’s Svaraj Parampara

Nation and Modernity from Mahatma Gandhi to Narendra Modi (With Special Reference to a Lesser-known Speech by Sri Aurobindo) by Makarand R. Paranjape Still Seeking Svaraj From Mahatma Gandhi to Narendra Modi, Indian democracy, despite its various drawbacks and failures, is somewhat of a political marvel. Here is where the notion of svaraj may serve as a useful lens through which we can measure its achievements. We can start by asking whether Indian democracy really embodies the ideal of svaraj, so eloquently enunciated by several leaders of the freedom struggle including Lokmanya Tilak, Dadabhai Naoroji, Sri Aurobindo, and Mahatma Gandhi. In fact, svaraj is not a contemporary, but age-old Vedic idea, going back to ancient times. Though we have completed seventy-two years of independence, it is obvious that the struggle for svaraj is far from over. To me, the central purpose of understanding our svaraj parampara or tradition of autonomy is to bring us closer to understanding what freedom, independence, and democracy really mean. That is because svaraj is more than political independence it is the reassessment and reassertion of our civilizational genius. To achieve this, we must try to overhaul our entire intellectual infrastructure, for which we need nothing less than a new vocabulary of self-understanding. Such an overhauling would mean, at the least, the realignment of our intellectual enterprise with what we have truly sought and valued for millennia–the pursuit of self-knowledge, truth, virtue, beauty, and, of course, happiness–and the organisation of our material resources in such a way that our daily life conduces to these aims. In the previous sections we saw how this orientation was provided by our pursharthas, the cardinal aims of life—Dharma, Artha, Kama, and, ultimately, Moksha. But in our attempts to regain our parampara, merely substituting Western ideas by half-understood Indian ones will not do. These languages of Indian selfhood are almost as colonized as Indian English is. Therefore, sprinkling some Indian words into our thinking process will not suffice. Just as language chauvinism is not the answer to our language-problems, conceptual chauvinism will not serve to liberate us either. We need to change our minds. This fundamental transformation is far more crucial than the superficial changes that are usually advocated by language, religion, or cultural nationalists. Once we understand that svaraj is the issue, we see parampara not in dialectical opposition with its Other, adhunikata (modernity), nor is Bharatiyata (Indianness) a mere opposition to Pashyatikarana (Westernisation). Parampara, instead, is whole, integral, not just fragmentary or antithetical. Not a knee-jerk reaction to the domination of Western categories over Indian ones, but a deep understanding of the difference will take us forward. This can be done, as we have seen, by opening a 1. I deliberately spell the word as svaraj, not only because that is closer to its pronounciation in Sanskrit and other Indian languages, but because I think we must all reflect on its meaning and make it our own. Swaraj, the older spelling and form of the world in English is used while quoting the earlier writers on it. Portions of this essay have appeared in my earlier writings. dialogue between Bharatiya parampara and Western modernity so as to create new spaces of knowledge and svaraj. What is Svaraj? Svaraj is a very old Vedic word, but comes into the vocabulary of modern India in the nineteenth century. Some say Dayanand Saraswati’s Satyarth Prakash (1875) contains its first modern usage, but I have not been able to find it. Dayanand quotes the Vedic ‘यःस्वयं राजते स स्वराट्’, but does not apply it to political independence from Britain. The earliest modern use is probably in Sakharam Ganesh Deuskar’s pamphlet “Shivajir Mahattva” (1902), republished two years later as “Shivajir Diksha.” Deuskar was a friend of Sri Aurobindo, who also began to use the word. In a few years, with the struggle for freedom acquiring momentum especially because of Lord Curzon’s partition of Bengal in 1905, it became the most evocative and popular of indigenous words for political freedom, whether purna or total, or partial within the British Empire. Several important political leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Dadabhai Naoroji, and Aurobindo used the word, as did Gandhi, who also adopted the word, making it a household mantra in Hind Swaraj (1909). The latter is not only one of his most important books, but also a comprehensive statement of the aims and methods of non-violent revolution. In the discourse of the freedom movement, though svaraj mostly signifies political autonomy, Gandhi meant much more by it. Perhaps, he and others were intuitively aware with its etymology, though they did not explicitly explain it. Actually svaraj is an adaptation and shortening of the Sanskrit word svarajya, which is an abstract noun. The word is a compound of sva + raj sva means self and raj, means to shine (the etymology being raj deepnoti). Hence the word means both the shining of the self and the self that shines. The root raj gives us many words associated with power including Raja, Rex and Regina. The symbology of light is very important in the Vedas because it suggests the sun of higher consciousness – tat savitur verenyam, as in the Gayatri mantra. It is to that sun, savitur, that Aurobindo refers in his great poem, Savitri. So svarat is a self-luminous person, and svarajya is a state of being svarat or enlightened. We might actually say that svaraj is a very ancient word for enlightenment, the power and illumination that come from the mastery of the self. When applied to a single individual, its form is svarat, an adjective. It is a word that occurs many times in the Rg, Sama, and Yajur Vedas, as it does later in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. In the Upanishads, it can be found in the Chandogya, Taitteriya, and Maitri. It is in India that political independence came to be expressed even in modern times in so radically spiritual a manner in terms of enlightenment and self-illumination, not merely political power or independence. Opposing the colonizers and imperialists was thus the external aspect of svarajya the internal aspect was to have a good, just, and beautiful state, an enlightened social order. Svarajya is therefore the principle that aspires for better self-management, more effective inner governmentality, because illumination comes from internal order, not oppression. Originally, svrajya refered to the inner management of a person’s powers and capacities, of the senses, organs and of all the different constituents of the person. When these were well-governed, the person too would be all-powerful. For Gandhi, the homology between the individual body and the body politic was a useful metaphor if not a self-evident truth. 2. See C. Mackenzie Brown’s ‘Svaraj, the Indian Ideal of Freedom: A Political or Religious Concept?’ Synonymous with liberty, freedom and independence, svaraj thus suggests a host of possibilities for inner illumination and self-realization. The word svaraj is preferable to decolonization because svaraj is not anti- anyone else. One’s own svaraj can only help others and contribute to the svaraj of others. In svaraj the personal and the political merge, one leading to the other, the other leading back to the one. I cannot be free unless all my brothers and sisters are free and they cannot be free unless I am free. Svaraj allows us to resist oppression without hatred and violent opposition. To fight for svaraj, Gandhi developed the praxis of satyagraha or insistence on truth or truth-force for the rights of the disarmed and impoverished people of India. Svaraj thus means self-restraint, forbearance, refusal to rule over others. One of the clichés about India is that no matter how powerful the country was, it did not send expeditions of conquerors to countries outside the peninsula, huge armies to conquer, colonize, and bring back pelf from overseas expeditions. This is how the Arabs, Mongols, Turks, Persians, Afghans, Portuguese, British, Dutch, French and the others behaved, coming to India to conquer or plunder, but there is no record of Indian armies doing the same in other lands. The historical record of India does not show a desire to go and rule other people, to enforce its will on them, to trample them, to exploit them economically, to oppress them, to crush them – that is not, it would seem, the Indian way. But, by the same token, to be ruled by others is also unacceptable to the Indian spirit Indians, too, like other self-respecting peoples, have fought against it. Throughout Indian history, the struggle for svaraj has gone on, often unrecorded. We have innumerable instances of villagers protesting against emperors, blocking roads, refusing to pay taxes, fasting and so on. The Vijayanagara Empire fought for svaraj, as did Chattrapati Shivaji. In the 150 years of British rule, there was a revolt practically every single year in India. Some part or the other was always up in arms against British rule. So Pax Brittanica was a great illusion. How could there be lasting peace without svaraj? While svaraj has an inbuilt anti-imperialistic orientation, it also evokes a culturalist-nationalist position in which one’s civilizational heritage is owned up, even embraced, rather than discarded. It that sense, it suggests not a Western type of universalism, but a colourful cosmopolitanism, rooted in a radically different notion of ‘self’. But there is nothing ‘communal’ or fanatical about this project. That is why I believe that Gandhi took great pains to emphasize that svaraj is not a form of narrow nationalism or jingoism. Instead, it is a special, cooperative and pluralistic way of being in the world. If debates on globalization, sovereignty and culture, are ultimately, debates about which way we want India to go, it is clear that both modernity and post-modernity represent paths which we should not fully accept. At best, they provide convenient points of entry to the real questions that shape our lives. Because these paths have made inroads into our own life and consciousness, they must to be examined, understood, possibly appreciated from a distance, but ultimately negated or incorporated into the broader quest for svaraj. Sri Aurobindo’s Idea of Svaraj On 24 January 1908, almost two years before Gandhiji wrote his seminal treatise Hind Swaraj on his way back from England to South Africa aboard S.S. Kildonen Castle, Sri Aurobindo made a speech in Nashik, Maharashtra. It is not one of his famous or well-known orations because it is not available in its original English. It was translated into Marathi and published the following morning in a Marathi paper, Nasik Vritta. We know of it because the Bombay Presidency Police retranslated into English in their Intelligence Abstract. It was first published by Archives and Research, a biannual journal published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, in the first number of its first volume (April 1977) and subsequently included as Part 5 of Sri Aurobindo’s Political Speeches and Writing, 1890-1908, in his Collected Works. Sri Aurodindo elaborates on the meaning of svaraj in this speech. Interestingly, he spends the first minutes disclaiming any oratorical skills as well as having anything to say for himself or on his own: “whatever I do is not done by me of my own accord. My actions are dictated by God. … I have hitherto been a writer and not an orator, but circumstances forced me to try my hand at oratory.” He next defines the goal of the national struggle, which hitherto had been somewhat vague, but suddenly, “either by a stroke of fortune or by divine inspiration,” has acquired new clarity and urgency. The goal was defined by “the old patriot” in his Presidential Address at the Calcutta Congress in 1906: “We do not ask any favours. We want only justice. Instead of going into any further divisions or details of our rights as British citizens, the whole matter can be comprised in one word — ‘Self-government’ or Swaraj like that of the United Kingdom or the Colonies.” Sri Aurobindo quotes the same speech from memory in a slightly different way, “We must have Swaraj on the lines granted to Canada and Australia, which is our sole aim.” According to Sri Aurobindo, if India’s forget about svaraj, they will go extinct: “If we do not acquaint ourselves with the object in view, viz., Swaraj, I am afraid we, thirty crores of people, will become extinct.” He reminds his listeners that it is people of Maharashtra that kept the torch of svaraj burning even during the darkest night. It is after this that Sri Aurobindo’s speech rises to a new level, not onl of eloquence but of spiritual inspiration, “Swaraj is life, it is nectar and salvation. Swaraj in a nation is the breath of life. Without breath of life a man is dead. So also without Swaraj a nation is dead. Swaraj being the life of a nation it is essential for it.” Those nations, not matter how great and glorious they may have been in the past, come to grief when they forget svaraj. Sri Aurobindo refers to the ancient Roman empire, comparing it with the British empire: “In ancient times the Romans had extended their sovereignty over many countries as England has done at present…. Their lives and properties were all secure as ours are, but in spite of all this, it was said that the people under the sway of the Roman Empire came to grief with its downfall, and were harassed by savage people. The reason is, they had no Swaraj. After a lapse of centuries they stood on their own legs and established for themselves Swaraj and became happy.” But those who aspire for it, must realise that svaraj is to be “gained by our own exertions. If it is gained otherwise, which is impossible, it cannot last long for want of strength in us.” Imploring the sovereign won’t do because “he won’t give it.” Sri Aurobindo sarcastically refers to the moderates who think that prayer, petition, and protest will win us svaraj. “Unfortunately there still exists a party of men who still cling to the idea that we shall obtain Swaraj by asking for it, which is to be regretted. This party thinks that we are not capable of managing our own affairs, that we are being trained in that direction and that our benign English Government will extend Swaraj to us by degrees.” Sri Aurobindo argues to the contrary, “The English value the importance of India. Its possession gives them status. If they once allow India to slip from their grasp, they will become a nonentity. Under such circumstances it is silly to say that the English will train us and entrust us with Swaraj. By reposing confidence in the English people we are already reduced to a miserable condition and in the end will become extinct.” 3. Dadabhai Naoroji’s Speeches and Writings (Madras: Natesan, 1917), p. 76. Then he considers a second way to attain svaraj: “Another way of obtaining Swaraj is to seek aid from a neighbouring nation. But this means jumping from the frying-pan into the fire. No matter from whom we seek assistance their own interests will first be considered.” Later, when Subhas Chandra Bose wanted the help, first of Germany, then of Japan to win India’s independence, Sri Aurobindo opposed this method. The Sri Aurobindo Ashram, which in those days not only had many admirers of Bose, but also several others who sympathised with Germany because it was fighting Britian, were disappointed. Sri Aurobindo even asked them to leave the ashram if they didn’t agree with his view that Hitler had to be opposed at all costs, even if it meant temporary siding with the Allies. Now, Sri Aurobindo comes to the the third way, one which Gandhiji also advocated: “We should, therefore, acquire it by our own efforts.” No other way would work we had to fight for our own svaraj. But the question remained: “how we should do it. We do not possess Swaraj nor have we the power to retain it. The answer is, we cannot master the art of swimming unless we struggle in the water. We should, therefore, be prepared to undergo hardships in the struggle for Swaraj, as there is no other alternative.” Here, all ways seem to be open, whether non-violent, violent, or some combination of them. Sri Aurobindo does not spell this out in this speech, but this is what we can glean from his other writings. Here he speaks of faith in God “God created us independent” therefore “we should be full of inspirations. With full faith in God we should preach independence through the length and breadth of the country and a beginning should be made to impart national education.” The importance he places on “national education” is unmistakable. If in addition to education, Indians can “take into their own hands judicial and executive work … we shall have more than half of Swaraj in our hands.” Sri Aurobindo believes that the Bengalis who struggled for svaraj by defying British colonial authority, “do not fear fine, incarceration, deportation or the extreme penalty of the law…. If a Bengali lad is punished in connection with the Swadeshi movement, he smiles and says it does not matter much.” He urges Maharashtrians to follow suit: “O inhabitants of Maharashtra, since you and Bengalis are stirring to attain one end and as we are all sons of Aryabhumi, let us all jointly set ourselves to the task of bringing about a state of things in accordance with the commandment of God. We, Bengalis, depend upon you because the sons of Maharashtra were brave soldiers a short while ago. You enjoyed Swaraj when you were harassed by Mahomedans.” He reminds his audience of Tukaram, Ramdas, and of Shivaji, the warrior king who established svaraj in Mahatrashtra. Under Shivaji, “The poor were rescued from molestation by the wicked and the country prospered.” In the present state, he urges all to heed to the “divine inspiration,” to the “the commandment of God.” He wants Indians to unify “from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari.” He concludes by proclaiming, “If we, imbued with this idea, become united with a firm resolution to obey the commandment of God, I feel sure we shall gain our Swaraj in twenty years. It won’t take centuries….” In retrieving and reconsidering this little-known speech of Sri Aurobindo our attempt has been to place him in his rightful place at the heart of India’s svaraj parampara. Svaraj in Today’s Context Narendra Modi’s elevation to the post of India’s Prime Minister in 2014, I have argued in several of my writings, marks a watershed for India. His winning again, with an even more impressive count of 303 in the 2019 general elections definitely signifies the end of the Nehruvian socialist, secularist consensus that prevailed almost as a state religion in India for some six decades of independent India. It was this combination of developmental nationalism and inclusive Hindutva which proved to be the winning ideology that swept Modi and the BJP to power a second time. To my mind, Narendra Modi has understood the idea of svaraj better than his predecessors and is therefore the best instrument to confirm and fulfil the prophecy of rising India. Under Modi, India has progressed more, in the real sense of the word, in five years than possibly in the whole of its previous six decades. This great transformation cannot, of course, be measured merely in economic terms, although the figures indicate that our growth rates are among the highest and the inflation certainly the lowest since independence. In addition, access to government services and schemes, whether Jandhan, Ujjwala, Saubhagya, Swachh Bharat, etc., has been unprecedented. A clean government led by a charismatic and strong Prime Minister with ministers and officials who deliver have redressed the trust deficit between the citizenry and the ruling elites. The concomitant rise of India on the world stage, thanks to the Modi doctrine, has led to a quantum leap in the respect accorded to India. Furthermore, improvement of both national security on the borders and reduction in crime, lawlessness, and violence on the home front suggest an era of peace and stability. Last but not the least, a new pride in our identity, culture and heritage, especially for the Hindu majority, have ended the self-loathing and civilizational inferiority complex which have plagued us for centuries. Modi earned his mandate and popularity by delivering on good governance and development. Moreover, after the 2019 verdict, the signalling so far has not been belligerent or triumphalist Hindu nationalism, but inclusive Hindutva. The new government has also tried to reach out to all sections of the populace, not just Hindus, with special schemes for their education, upliftment and the safeguarding of their rights. To me therefore, the new nationalism that Modi 2.0 represents is svaraj in its manifold dimensions. Today svaraj means the augmentation of India’s hard power through military prowess, economic empowerment, and determined diplomacy on the one hand, combined with Soumya Shakti, the soft power of culture, spirituality, yoga, cuisine, couture, and so on, on the other hand. Together they add up to nothing less than India’s rejuvenation, renewal, and rise. This may sound hyperbolic or over enthusiastic. But the mood of the nation is certainly upbeat.
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The Greatest Hindu Literature?

Mr Basham, author of the “The Wonder that was India”,  feels that “much of Sanskrit literature is dry and monotonous, or can only be appreciated after a considerable effort of the imagination” (Wonder that Was India, page 401), which shows a total misunderstanding of the greatness of the genius of that Mother of all languages. Sri Aurobindo evidently disagrees with him: “The ancient and classical literature of the Sanskrit tongue shows both in quality and in body an abundance of excellence, in their potent originality and force and beauty, in their substance and art and structure, in grandeur and justice and charm of speech, and in the heightened width of the reach of their spirit which stands very evidently in the front rank among the world’s great literatures.” (Foundations of Indian Culture p. 255) Four masterpieces seem to embody India’s genius in literature: the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata. As seen earlier, the Vedas represent “a creation of an early and intuitive and symbolic mentality” (Foundations of Indian Culture, p.260). It was only because the Vedic rishis were careful to clothe their spiritual experiences in symbols, so that only the initiated would grasp them, that their meaning has escaped us, particularly after they got translated in the last two centuries. “The Veda is the WORD discovering truth and clothing in image and symbol, the mystic significance of life”, wrote again Sri Aurobindo. (India’s Rebirth, p.95) As to the Upanishads, asserts the Sage from Pondichery, “they are the supreme work of the Indian mind, that of the highest self-expression of genius, its sublimest poetry, its greatest creation of the thought and word.. a large flood of spiritual revelation…” (Foundations of Indian Culture p.269). The Upanishads are Philosophy, Religion and Poetry blended together. They record high spiritual experiences, are a treaty of intuitive philosophy and show an extraordinary poetic rhythm. It is also a book of ecstasy: an ecstasy of luminous knowledge, of fulfilled experience, “a book to express the wonder and beauty of the rarest spiritual self-vision and the profoundest illumined truth of Self and God and the Universe”, writes Sri Aurobindo (Foundations of Indian Culture, 269). The problem is that the translations do not render the beauty of the original text, because these masterpieces have been misunderstood by foreign translators, who only strive to bring out the intellectual meaning without grasping the soul contents of it and do not perceive the ecstasy of the seer “seeing” his experiences. But without doubt, it is the Mahabarata and the Ramayana, which are dearest to all Indians, even today. Both the Mahabarata and the Ramayana are epical, in the spirit as well as the purpose. The Mahabarata is on a vast scale, maybe unsurpassed even today, the epic of the soul and tells a story of the ethics of India of that time, its social, political and cultural life. It is, notes Sri Aurobindo, “the expression of the mind of a nation, it is the poem of itself written by a whole nation… A vast temple unfolding slowly its immense and complex idea from chamber to chamber” (Foundations of Indian Culture, p 287). More than that even, it is the HISTORY OF DHARMA, of deva against asura, the strife between divine and titanic forces. You find on one side, a civilisation founded on Dharma, and on the other, beings who are embodiments of asuric egoism and misuse of Dharma. It is cast in the mould of tales, legends, anecdotes, telling  stories of philosophical, religious, social, spiritual values: “as in Indian architecture, there is the same power to embrace great spaces in a total view and the same tendency to fill them with an abundance of minute, effective, vivid and significant detail”. (Foundations of Indian Culture, p 288). The Baghavad Gita must be the supreme work of spiritual revelation in the whole history of our human planet, for it is the most comprehensive, the most revealing, the highest in its intuitive reach. No religious book ever succeeded to say nearly everything that needs to be known on the mysteries of human life: why death, why life, why suffering? why fighting, why duty? Dharma, the supreme law, the duty to one’s soul, the adherence to truth, the faithfulness to the one and only divine reality which pertains to all things in matter and spirit. “Such then is the divine Teacher of the Gita, the eternal Avatar, the Divine who has descended into human consciousness, the Lord seated within the heart of all beings, He who guides from behind the veil all our thought and action”. (Sri Aurobindo; Essays on the Gita, page 17) The Ramayana’s inner genius does not differ from the Mahabharata’s, except by a greater simplicity of plan, a finer glow of poetry maybe. It seems to have been written by a single hand, as there is no deviation from story to story. But it is, remarks Sri Aurobindo, “like a vastness of vision, an even more winged-flight of epic in the conception and sustained richness of minute execution in the detail (289). For Indians, the Ramayana embodies the highest and most cherished ideals of manhood, beauty, courage, purity, gentleness. The subject is the same as in the Mahabharata: the struggle between the forces of light and darkness; but the setting is more imaginative, supernatural and there is an intensification of the characters in both their goodness and evil. As in the Mahabharata too, we are shown the ideal man with his virtues of courage, selflessness, virtue and spiritualized mind. The asuric forces have a near cosmic dimension of super-human egoism and near divine violence, as the chased angels of the Bible possessed after them. “The poet makes us conscious of the immense forces that are behind our life and sets his action in a magnificent epic scenery, the great imperial city, the mountains and the ocean, the forest and wilderness, described with such largesse as to make us feel that the whole world were the scene of his poem and its subject the whole divine and titanic possibility of man, imagined in a few great or monstrous figures”. (Foundations of Indian Culture page 290) Does India’s literary genius end with the Ramayana? Not at all. It would take too long here  to jot down all the great figures of Indian literature and this is not a literary treatise. But we may mention Kalidasa, whose poetry was imitated by all succeeding generations of poets, who tried to copy the perfect and harmoniously designed model of his poetry. The Puranas and the Tantras, “which contain in themselves”, writes Sri Aurobindo, “the highest spiritual and philosophical truths, while embodying them in forms that are able to carry something of them to the popular imagination and feeling by way of legend, tale, symbols, miracles and parables.” (Foundations of Indian Culture P.312).   The Vaishnava poetry, which sings the cry of the soul for God, as incarnated by the love stories of Radha and Krishna, which have struck forever Indian popular imagination, because they symbolize the nature in man seeking for the Divine soul through love. Valmiki, also moulded the Indian mind with his depiction of Rama and Sita, another classic of India’s love couples and one that has survived through the myth of enduring worship, in the folklore of this country, along with the popular figures of Hanuman and Laksman. “His diction”, remarks Sri Aurobindo, “is shaped in the manner of the direct intuitive mind as earlier expressed in the Upanishads”. But Indian literature is not limited to Sanskrit or Pali. In Tamil, Tiruvalluvar, wrote  the highest ever gnomic poetry, perfect in its geometry, plan and force of execution. In Hindi, Tulsidas, is a master of lyric intensity and the sublimity of epic imagination. In Marathi,  Ramdas, poet, thinker, yogi, deals with the birth and awakening of a whole nation, with all the charm and the strength of a true bhakti. In Bengal, there is Kashiram, who retold in simple manner the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, accompanied by Tulsidas who did the same thing in Hindi and who managed to combine lyrical intensity, romantic flight of imagination, while retaining the original sublimity of the story. One cannot end this short retrospective without mentioning Chaitanya, Nanak, Kabir, Mirabai…All these remarkable writers have often baffled the Western mind, which could never understand the greatness of Indian literature, forgetting that in India everything was centred around the spiritual. Printed with permission of the author (April 2020)
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