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Indian/Hindu Identity
<!--QuoteBegin-Shambhu+Jan 27 2007, 06:18 PM-->QUOTE(Shambhu @ Jan 27 2007, 06:18 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->And while I am at it, killing off Missionary Xtianity needs clarity of thought: Missionary Apologists, or those who feel that something somehow is wrong with Hindus trying to defend themselves against Baptists etc. need to be told to FO, and this needs to be done without any regrets.
[right][snapback]63622[/snapback][/right]<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->There's a theoretically easy solution to staying christianity's march in India permanently: children in India (and elsewhere) have to be taught the true history of christianity and how its violence is practically still the same. As well as about the insurmountable doubts on the religion's very foundations as given by biblical scholars and even theologians. Extract and translate books or articles of western countries to this effect and present them to children. It will immunise them against ever being misled and such educated kids will cease to be seen as viable targets by missionaries (from personal experience, door-knocking missionaries run off when you start questioning them about Nazareth, for instance). It will also prevent them from being taken in and then be angry about having been lied to and having foolishly accepted the lies for so long (raises hand). It would also stop the kids from growing up into Hindus ignorantly apologetic about christianity and thus sustaining or furthering the damage.

Christian apologetics by Hindus should end. Hindus, even those that see islam for what it is, don't recognise that christianity is no different. They are excusing one even when they no longer excuse the other. This is a major problem. Much of it has to do with how the west has long been doing what is essentially a PR campaign for christianity. The campaign works well apparently, because all over the formerly-colonised world, everyone is only too happy to forgive and forget its own first-hand experiences of christianity for what the advertisements tell them. There is also significant stifling or twisting of any factual presentations of history: Sassianians persecuted christians (without listing the tell-tale why), it is communalist to mention the christoterrorism in Goa or Syrian christo treachery and demolition, the crusades are now reduced to purely 'political', 'economical' reasons or at worst Papal greed.

Christianity and Islam are the same religion, but christianity is the version of islam that is a few centuries older: its conversion methods have in some cases advanced more.
- Outright conversion-or-genocide is still practised in secluded (out of international media's eye) regions like South America, Papua New Guinea, certain more remote parts of Africa, the hill tribes in Thailand and nearby, other remote tribes in Asia like in Vietnam and Indonesia, our own Nagas in Nagaland and people of Tripura, Meghalaya and the like.
- Otherwise, in places that are more in view of the world and the rest of the country, christianity uses underhand means: monopolising media and education (both skewing fair and accurate presentation of native religions in favour of demonising them while playing up christianity's 'morality'), inculturation, buying people to convert, schemes to convert a certain part of a country's demographic population ('dalits, tribes and lower castes' in India and in Lanka it's the Hindu Tamils. They have an eye on doing the same with Japan's Burakumin (sp?).
Different countries pose different scenarios that christo missionaries and their puppets seek to exploit.
<img src='http://mangalorean.com/images/news/temp7/20070128samaj3.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

<b>Hindu Samajotsav held in Mangalore</b>

<b>More Pic</b> -
Same S, different day
by Rajesh Varma on Jan 31, 2007 01:08 AM | Hide replies
<b>India never existed as a single sovereign country until the British took over. Before the British, India was a conglomerate of small kingdoms fighting with each other all the time. So the concept that a united India ever existed in the history is a sham. And the name Hinduism is coined by the British about 300 years ago. The words Hindu or Hinduism are not of Indian origin and they are not mentioned anywhere in any ancient Indian literature (Ramayana, Gita). A Hindu (as per Arabs and Persians) is a person living along the Indus valley, and the Moguls called the non-Muslims in India Hindus. The British followed the same tradition and finally Hindu and Hinduism become a religion.</b>

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RE:Same S, different day
by Southie on Jan 31, 2007 01:16 AM
Rajesh, your comment makes total sense. There was no Hindu, India long long time ago. There was a world known to the people of the region and they called it Bharat but that included Sri Lanka, etc, etc.

I don't think the Sinhalese or Tamils who left that region said, i am leaving India for Sri Lanka. They were leaving their respective kingdoms to go to an island. In fact, the Tamils probably left one part of their Chola country to go to another part (internal migration).

Rajeev - please reply to what Rajesh says. We need to thank the British for uniting us cause they made us Indians, not Indians made us Indians.

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RE:Same S, different day
by Prashant on Jan 31, 2007 02:08 AM

You are correct. There was not "hindu" religion before muslims invaded the subcontinent. The religion itself is a term used by westerners.

I would call it "way of life". There were major groups who followed certain ways of life. There were people who believed in vedic rituals and sacrifices. There were some people who believed in "buddist" way of life. and some believed in "Jainist" way of life. and there were many others who had different life styles.

Even though brahmins were mainly following the vedic way fo life there were some who followed others too.

After seeing the success of buddhism some of its tradisions and practices were absorbed by other religions. The vedic people also started folliwing ahinsa etc. They also liked the way buddist people's idea of shunya or tathata. The three ways to achieve shunyata were mahayana, hinyana and vajrayana(tantric version)they Started worshiping "pradnya" and to achieve shunata started following tantrikism as this was the easiest route. In doing that either some of them lost their actual rituals described in vedas and started worshiping "Shiva" and "Vishnu". When patanjali a brahmin ruler started ruling india he wanted brahmins to rule the continent and re-wrote manusmrity and thus came to existance the caste system. Now in doing that brahmins kept their status as supreme and to happen that they wrote so many hipocritic scripts that people still believe are written by gods.

Just my observation from what I have read so far and analysed so far.

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RE:Same S, different day
by Mani Ratnam on Jan 31, 2007 08:19 AM

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RE:Same S, different day
by Vishnu Garimella on Jan 31, 2007 10:14 AM
This is a really illogical statement! Lots of other things could have been possible if we were not slaves for 200 Years. They made richest country in the world into a poor country! How about RICH 'Indian Union' just like European Uninon which includes pakistan and srilanka,burma,bagladesh ETC....Nobody would have cared about English then, because hindi might have took the place of English....And nobody needs to recognize hindu religion....we were not waiting for their approval of their religion...we have been following it for thousands of years!

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RE:Same S, different day
by Madhwa Mysore on Jan 31, 2007 11:31 AM
I am amazed by the naivatte displayed by some "educated" indians about their own history! What they are regurgitating here is what they have googled on Indian history through the eyes of westerners! The fact is the scientific revolution and the consequent industrialization of Britain was funded by the trillions of dollars of loot of the once rich India! Other than a few buildings what infrastructure did the Brits build in India for Indians? The scheming Brits wanted to destroy the Indian culture by manufacturing the Aryan/Dravidian theory through Max Mueller, a self confessed xtian missionary. I pity those forever inferiority complex ridden "Dravidians", the Tamils, who believe in this imaginary theory of the whites! The British played the Muslims against the Hindus and thus divided the mother land. They wanted a foot hold in Asia through Pakistan and they achieved it as Pakistan is strategically important to the west to control East Asia! As for learning English, we would have learnt it anyway! We Indians are the inventors of the most scientific language, the Sanskrit, the basis of modern computer languages(read any compiler book to know how Backus-naur stole Panini's grammar to devise a computer language!). With so many well formed languages, would English have been a big deal? When do we learn from Japanese, Germans and Russians to be proud of our own culture? That alone would have made us advanced. Alas, the Brits made sure that most of us would still not be so, after all these years!

Interesting survey which illustrates how Indians view India.

71% say they are proud to be Indians - BBC survey

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->LONDON: Nearly two-thirds of all Indians are fiercely proud of 'Mera Bharat Mahaan' but more than half of India believes the caste system is a "barrier to social harmony" and is holding the country back, according to a BBC poll to be published on Monday.

India-watchers expressed surprise at the poll's finding, the first for a nationwide 'attitudes' survey conducted by an international agency, that Indians still seem to have caste firmly on their minds in one way or the other, even though leading sociologists have long argued that urbanisation and industrialisation has helped break down caste-barriers.

The survey aims to itemise exactly how Indians view their own country, at a time when much of the world appears to have a view alternately on "emerging India" or "overheating India". The survey was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan.

<b>The survey found that 71% are proud to be an Indian; nearly as many (65%) think it is important that India is an economic superpower; 60% think it's important India should be a political power and the same number believe it should be a military superpower</b>. Just under half of all Indians said India's economic growth over the last 10 years had not benefited them and their families. The survey comes as part of BBC's ongoing 'India Rising' week of special programming that charts changes in different sectors of the Indian economy.

In a special message to the BBC's estimated 163 million listeners in 33 languages, President Kalam called for worldwide engagement with his vision of citizenship, notably a "three-dimensional approach involving education with value system; religion transformed to spirituality and economic development for societal transformation of all the nations." Kalam, who called upon BBC's global audiences to flood his website with suggestions and debate, was speaking on a special edition of the BBC's 'Discovery' programme, to be broadcast on Wednesday.

Monday's BBC survey concentrated on asking more than 1,500 Indians a series of questions focusing on social and political issues. It found that Indians overall, seven in 10 exhibited a positive sense of identity by agreeing to the statement, "I am proud to be an Indian." The survey found the view was uniform across all age, income groups, even though it differed among religious groups with Christians (73%) the proudest; Hindus (71%) close behind and Muslim pride in being Indian languishing at 60%.

The poll found that Indians' positive perceptions about their present also extended to the Indian marketplace. <b>A 55% majority said the justice system "treats poor people as fairly as rich people"; 52% said "being a woman is no barrier to success" and just under half of all Indians (48%) declared they would rather "work for a private company than for the government." Interestingly, six in 10, or 58% said they believed India's security is "more in danger from other Indians than from foreigners" and 55% said the "caste system is a barrier to social harmony." 47% said "corruption is a fact of life which we should accept as the price of doing business." But a cheering 45% of 18- to 24-year-old Indians said they were less tolerant of corruption than the older generation.</b>

On religious belief, 50% said "people don't take their religion seriously"; 40% lamented that "young Indians have lost touch with their heritage."<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Pankaj mishra's/DIE's mentor perhaps. But, undermining Identity......

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Idea of Hinduism an imperial-missionary imagination: book</b>

Book: 'Imagined Hinduism - British Protestant Missionary Constructions of Hinduism, 1793-1900'; Author: Geoffrey A. Oddie; Publisher: Sage Publications; Price: Rs.450.

The idea of 'Hinduism' the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claims as its own may after all be a creation of Christian priests and travellers from the West in the 16th and 17th century, argues historian Geoffrey A. Oddie in his new book.

The Australian scholar and theologist quotes Wilfred Cantwell Smith (1962) to reiterate that the<b> idea of religion itself is a European construct and that the concept that 'India is essentially a Hindu country' is a missionary-implanted idea.</b>

Oddie, a visiting professor at the <b>United Theological College, Bangalore, </b>has taught history of religion at the University of Sidney since 1964.

Speaking to IANS here, Oddie said Hindu rightwing parties like the BJP have gone back to 'early missionary views of Hinduism'.

Placing his thesis in context, he says the Romans thought of religion as ceremony while early Christians stressed the importance of belief.

'During the Enlightenment (renaissance), religion came to be thought of even more strongly as an objective reality, rather like natural objects that could be explored through scientific enquiry.

'The usual assumption of 17th and 18th century commentators was that there was just four religions in the world: Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Paganism or Heathenism,' says Oddie in his book.

So, anything beyond the pale of Europe's known world was Paganism, including all far-eastern faiths and the new continent's beliefs, for example, those in countries like China, India, Peru and Mexico.

'Paganism or heathenism as words used (in writings of the period) are very broad and loosely defined terms meant to include all non-Christian religions apart from Judaism and Islam.'

Oddie here refers to the extensive correspondence of the priest and printer, founder of the Tranquebar Protestant Mission, Ziegenbalg, who studied Tamil practices of the region and William Carey's well-known 'Enquiry', published in 1792 from Bengal.

The protestant missionary societies in Britain had an important role to play in the perception of 'religion' of India, especially after 1793, he says.

As Europeans travelled to the Americas and Fareast, the question arose whether 'paganism' was the same everywhere. The interpretation was what suited evangelic societies and the empire.

Oddie here draws from Andrew Porter's monumental study of religion and empire in India to emphasise that people like Bishop Heber and Claudius Buchanan contributed to the portrait of Hinduism as it is perceived today.

'The Company (East India Company) was the Christian administration,' says the book and argues, 'The focus was on the company's alliance with the Hindu system'.

Earlier, travellers like the protestant Dutch adventurer John Huyghen van Linschoten and Pietro Della Valle provided their 'genteel' accounts of Indian religious beliefs in the 1580s.

Writings of travellers like Varthema, who adopted Islam, Della Valle, a Catholic, Francois Bernier (1670s), who was what French intellectual circles called a Skeptic, and Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1677-1688) contributed a great deal to British perception of India's religion.

Varthema, for example, described the religion of the Vijayanagaram kingdom as pagan.

Geroge Pettitt, a missionary in Tirunelveli, described the worship of 'lower classes' and accounts of the times are filled with what was called 'gentoo mythology' (from the word gentiles). These writings all showed India had different faiths in different geographical locations even in the early 18th Century.

'Whatever conviction there was among travellers that India's faith and worship was a unified pan-Indian system was probably reinforced by a feeling that it was Brahmans who were ultimately in control,' says Oddie. A long tradition in Europe concerning the wisdom of Brahmans prevailed from the time of the Greek interaction with North India, he adds.

By the time Edward Sargent and the likes described the worship of Pei (Pay) and used words like 'us' and 'them', the imperial idea of Hinduism had taken root.

<b>The first modern Indian to perhaps speak of Hinduism as such was Bengal reformist Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Oddie says. 'He spoke in terms of 'real' Hinduism and 'fake' Hinduism in the context of rituals like Sati. </b>

<b>'The thinker Vivekananda, like all nationalists, was under great pressure to show India was unified and had an unified religion' in the face of adamant British reasoning that India was faction-ridden and needed the 'higher' authority of British rule,' Oddie says.</b>

<!--QuoteBegin-k.ram+Mar 6 2007, 05:20 PM-->QUOTE(k.ram @ Mar 6 2007, 05:20 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Pankaj mishra's/DIE's mentor perhaps. But, undermining Identity......

<!--QuoteBegin--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Idea of Hinduism an imperial-missionary imagination: book</b>

Book: 'Imagined Hinduism - British Protestant Missionary Constructions of Hinduism, 1793-1900'; Author: Geoffrey A. Oddie; Publisher: Sage Publications; Price: Rs.450.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->[right][snapback]65286[/snapback][/right]<!--QuoteEnd--></div><!--QuoteEEnd-->Thank the non-existent gawd that there are still colonial-minded dudes left. I mean, here I was thinking they'd become an extinct species and no one now took the effort to realise the 'White Man's Burden' anymore.

But what spurred it on? Did Geoffrey Oddie get offended by various theologians disproving the existence of jeebus of the gospels, and in his frustration that he couldn't make a blow in favour of jeebus' existence, he chose to take it out on some distant religion.
He considered Buddhism at first, but that's obviously been seen as a historically well-formed movement <i>and</i> it is observed in so many countries. Protests from many Asian Buddhist quarters would silence christo-Oddie (no need to make fun of his name: it's perfect as it is).
Then he passed over African religion which isn't even recognised by his colonial establishment anyway; he dismissed Native American traditions - since his christo buds have nearly killed the practisers off anyway, then he came to Shintoism and decided that that has too small a following. No, he needs something significant. Saying something of Islam could get him killed - and jeebus wouldn't want that, now would he. (Silence. Oddie took it as acquiescence, of course, as do all the faithful)

Moving on. Aha, Hinduism seems to be a large enough religion. 'What's that' - said Oddie? From reading lying colonial writers' books, he absorbed their 'idea' of what 'Hinduism' supposedly was. From there he decided that such a religion as the one which the biased colonials described (which had colourful horror tales of dark men burning dark women - supposedly 'Sati' - left and right and doing all kinds of evil magic) didn't really exist in contemporary India - besides, there was no jeebus in Hinduism and that's obviously wrong! So he decided that this religion never existed. Even the name 'Hinduism' was not historically known among the followers, and that's obviously proof of his argument.
'Do you see lawd jeebus, how I've struck a blow for you?' asks jeebus' faithful believer. (Do not underestimate the level of his faithfulness, it takes a lot to believe in something that has been shown not to exist: it's the Power of christianity. Be awed.)

And here's Oddball's conclusion in summary:
The colonials' willfully biased ideas of Hinduism in their time and their express (mis)understanding of pre-colonial Hinduism doesn't match up with present-day Hinduism. Therefore, there was never any Hinduism! Q.E.D.

Give Oddie his honorary degree. Go on, give it to him. He did write an entire book after all. At least he can write. I know it's not much by Ancients' standards, but writing's not been common among christos until recent times, so we must show some support and encouragement. It's not for what he wrote (obviously drivel) but for being able to form words and even sentences with the Roman Alphabet, that we should all commend him. Bravo Oddie.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Is it nation or decimation of nation?


Islam-embracing, Christianity-coveting and Hindu-hating parliamentarian of convoluted fame, Sitaram Yechury, in a learned article has recently declared: 'Accordingly Golwalkar proceeds to assert that we means 'Hindus' and, hence, 'Swaraj' means 'Hindu Raj' or 'Hindu Rashtra.' Taking recourse to mythology instead of history, theology instead of philosophy, Golwalkar 'established' that the Hindus were always, and continue to remain, a nation. He proceeds to assert the intolerant, theocratic content of such a Hindu nation. The conclusion is unquestionably forced upon us that in Hindustan exists and must need exist the ancient Hindu nation and naught else but the Hindu nation. All those not belonging to the national Hindu race, religion, culture and language naturally fall out of the pale of our real 'National' life'. In the 60th year of our independence, the effort to consolidate the modern Indian republic based on the foundations of secular democracy, federalism, social justice and economic self reliance requires a democratic ostracisation of such pernicious political projects.'
...more ...
Any idea about
Cristophe Jaffrelot


He seems to have been writing a lot about Hindu nationalism, BJP etc.,

Is he a typical commie type guy ?
<b>The Spoils of Indian Democracy</b>

[from the March 26, 2007 issue]

There is a fundamental dissonance between lived experience and analysis that
becomes pronounced at certain times, across particular cultures and in
relation to certain subjects. Today this is especially true of books that
look at people living on the margins of globalization, at groups whose
assimilation into the model of neoliberal capitalism is still unfinished,
still unpredictable. All too often, a writer crossing the border into other
realms of existence chooses to ignore the dissonance, offering an analysis
that hardly takes into account the difference between the way things look
from the Western centers of neoliberal capitalism and the way life feels in
the new capitalist outposts in Asia.

Such, at least, seem to be the overwhelming response of the journalists and
scholars who have turned their gaze on China and India in the past few
years, hoping, apparently, to discover in these two fastest-growing
economies in the world some shape of the future. The interest is, on the one
hand, perfectly justified. China and India together account for more than 2
billion people; <b>both possess civilizational identities that predate anything
in the Western world; and in each case these identities are inflected by the
tremendous damage visited upon them by colonial powers</b>. But an inquiry into
China and India also serves other, less benign, intentions. As evident from
the international business class strolling through the airports of India and
China, these countries represent a success story for Western capitalism, a
phenomenon that comes as a relief from the crisis in the imperial center,
the quagmire in the Middle East and the dominoes toppling quietly but
effectively in Latin America.

Even more than China, India seems to have emerged as a case study in
effective Western indoctrination, leaving behind the reputation for chaos
that once prompted John Kenneth Galbraith to describe it as "a functioning
anarchy." As unabashedly capitalist as China, its cities similarly filled
with new elites flaunting their wealth, India also possesses two attributes
guaranteed to disarm the itinerant Western observer: democracy among the
masses and fluent English among the elite. <b>More than any other factors,
these characteristics seem to explain the recent rhapsodies about India,
from Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat to the cover stories last year in
Newsweek, Foreign Affairs, Time and The Economist.</b>

For Western observers like Friedman democracy in India is like
air-conditioning in a building. Once they know it's there, they don't have
to think further about it. It is possible for them to settle down and enjoy
the fact that most people in the building, including the service staff,
speak English. This is what Friedman did in his whirlwind tour through the
office parks of Bangalore, and what he discovered was that India is more or
less like Kansas. The world is flat.

Yet experience suggests otherwise. Although the Indian metropolises and new
suburbs display a runaway consumerism boosted by rising incomes and easy
credit, this is an incomplete and superficial picture. The upper and middle
classes benefiting from the new flows of capital, when examined closely,
appear both self-centered and riven by paradoxes, seeking validation for
their lives from Hindu evangelist gurus even as they acquire the latest
consumer gadgets. The call-center and technology workers Friedman calls
"zippies" no doubt manifest a Darwinian drive to earn more money, but they
are equally likely to question the nature of their work; they are
contradictory people capable of expressing chauvinist ideas about their
foreign clients and empathy for the Western workers they are replacing. And
these are only the upper layers of Indian society, their numbers remarkably
small compared with the 350 million people who still live on less than a
dollar a day.

In a provincial city like Bhopal, which is relatively untouched by
globalization, Indians can appear far more complex than is suggested by
reports in the foreign and national press. When one talks to the displaced
peasants, slum dwellers and small entrepreneurs there, they express both
frustration at their marginalization by the new economy and a healthy
skepticism about the benefits it promises. Unlike most members of the
English-speaking elite, who dismiss references to the colonial past as a
hang-up of the left, for unprivileged and often uneducated Indians the point
of comparison for multinational corporations remains the East India Company.

Some of this complexity of the Indian experience was captured well in an
article written two years ago by Financial Times journalist Edward Luce.
<b>Oxford-educated and a former speechwriter to Lawrence Summers during the
latter's term as Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary--as the jacket informs
us--Luce nevertheless demonstrated a remarkably firm grasp of the
contradictions of India's rise as a superpower</b>. Reporting from Gurgaon, the
Delhi suburb that has gone from farmland to elite enclave in a decade, Luce
described an encounter with a former army colonel who manages the suburb's
first shopping mall:

I ask him *why everything in Gurgaon has a Californian name*. The apartment
high-rises are called Beverly Hills, Belvedere Towers, Silver Oaks, Windsor
Court and West End Heights. The office blocks are called Royalton Towers,
Icon Pinnacle, Plaza Tower and Gateway Tower. And the malls are prefixed by
Metropolis, or Mega or Super or City. Which way is it to India? I joke.

 "We offer a total experience for the full family entertainment," says
Bhutani, as we sip our cafe lattes. "It is a total all-round experience. You
don't have to haggle in the retail outlets, the prices are fixed. You don't
have to watch rats scurry across the floor in the cinema or worry the power
supply will go. And afterwards you can eat in a restaurant with a clean
kitchen and guaranteed quality."

The colonel's automaton speech is a <b>revealing example of the Newspeak that
passes for public discourse among India's elite,</b> far more representative
than the gnomic pronouncements of Friedman's zippies. And unlike Friedman,
whose faith in liberal capitalism is shared by Luce, the latter is a good
enough reporter to note that Gurgaon is a fantasy, a Sim City in concrete
and glass that appears bewildering to most Indians.

Luce has since moved to Washington, and his book on India arrives as a
summation of his reporting experience on the subcontinent. Unfortunately,
the insightful, funny article he wrote for the Financial Times can be found
only in a bowdlerized version in the book, crammed hurriedly and
apologetically into the last chapter. It is as if Luce has suddenly
remembered the Washington Consensus and the Summers memo, and the account in his book is strangely disembodied despite its claims to move away from "the detached and impersonal style that journalists follow."

As far as its neoliberal dogma goes, In Spite of the Gods doesn't offer much
that is new. Luce visits a few places, talks to some people, fitting each
experience and observation into its ritual slot. Modernization is good,
traditionalism bad. Bureaucrats are corrupt, businessmen honest and
efficient. When Luce meets social activists and villagers who speak of
alternative ways of development that don't involve large-scale resettlement
in urban slums, he finds them charming and moves on. "A hundred years ago,
France was predominantly rural," he writes. "Now it is predominantly urban.

But French culture lives on and so do its villages." When he interviews
young Indian entrepreneurs who speak in marketing acronyms, he finds them
funny but representative of the country's potential. When he has tea with
technology barons who talk about the need to urbanize more rapidly, he nods
approvingly as one of them says, "We have to embrace the future." There is
nothing very objectionable or illuminating about any of this. It is a form
of pilgrimage, where one casts some ritual stones at demons (the state,
bureaucrats, unions), prostrates oneself a few times before the gods (IT
executives, businessmen speaking in acronyms) and moves on, faith restored.

Luce's book is a competent summary of those aspects of India likely to be of
interest to Western capital--the role of the state, the new business class,
Hindu fundamentalism and the Muslim minority, India's relation to China and
the United States. Should you invest your money in India? The answer is a
guarded yes. Luce is clear-eyed in his analysis of the relations between
India, China and the United States, seeing an emerging entente between the
two Asian powers despite American efforts to promote India at the expense of
China. But when he descends from the heady superstructure of geopolitics to
consider India at the level of everyday existence, his details are
necessarily selective in nature.

When Luce writes about the bloated Indian state and the widespread
corruption in its ranks, he is quite right, even if such corruption doesn't
seem qualitatively different from the enlightened market practices of Enron
and Halliburton. When he notes that inefficient and costly state programs
justified in the name of the poor end up disempowering the poor and
subsidizing the rich, he makes a worthwhile point. But when he says that
things have improved vastly in India since the opening up of its economy and
the scaling back of the state in the early 1990s, and that "further
liberalization would lead to higher growth and bring greater benefits," he
is wrong.

There's no doubt things are much better for business executives and former
army officers. It's easier to get a good cup of coffee in the cities and a
mobile phone connection pretty much anywhere. Even in the small towns on the
northeastern frontier, it's possible to buy a plasma TV (although next to
impossible to buy a book other than Harry Potter or one by Paulo Coelho). In
terms of economic growth, India's average of 8 percent is higher than it was
before the globalization of its economy, although even then India's growth
wasn't bad for a country devastated by two centuries of colonialism (about
which Luce has relatively little to say except that it has become
"fashionable since India's independence" to criticize Britain's presence in
the subcontinent). But when it comes to the question of whether the new
economy has benefited the majority of Indians, Luce refers us to the very
state bureaucracy he derides elsewhere, noting without comment:

According to the government of India, the proportion of Indians living in
absolute poverty dropped from 35 percent to just over 25 percent between
1991 and 2001. The ratio is likely to have dropped further since then.

In fact, the figures provided by the Indian government depend on a survey
methodology that has been changed since the economy opened up, rendering
simple comparisons with earlier measures of poverty quite meaningless. Other
assessments show either a slight decline in poverty or none at all. Like the
World Bank estimates that show there are fewer poor people in the world than
before, estimates that have been challenged persuasively by Sanjay Reddy and
Thomas Pogge in their paper "How Not to Count the Poor" (
www.socialanalysis.org), the Indian government's figures on poverty serve
less as an indicator of the way things are and more as an illustration of
how to spin the facts to fit your needs.

It is not hard to understand this need to show that things are better than
they really are. The sudden explosion of wealth among India's upper classes,
looked upon approvingly by the West, has created fresh anxieties. The divide
between rich and poor in India is not a creation of the last decade, but the
utter separation between winners and losers is, a condition in which it
becomes both easy and necessary to point out all that shines brightly under
the tropical sun. Yet the software parks and glass-and-steel office towers
working round the clock are easily portrayed; what is less obvious is their
relation to the parched soil of the farmlands, where 25,000 farmers have
killed themselves in a decade. The feverish business speculation and
late-night parties of what the Indian media call "Page Three people" are no
doubt colorful, exciting affairs; yet they go on at the same time as entire
villages are submerged by dammed rivers and new slums arise on the outskirts
of Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

Where Luce's book attempts to engage this other reality, it does so
unevenly. Traveling to Patna, capital of India's poorest state, Bihar, Luce
seems so baffled by the conjunction of shabby infrastructure and mass
politics that he falls back on clichés:

In Hyderabad there are as many five-star hotels as you would find in any
Western city. Most of them offer a seamless "wifi" service so you can
connect to the Internet by laptop from anywhere in the building. At Patna's
best hotel the crackle on the internal phone system was so noisy you could
not communicate with the receptionist.... Naturally, Internet access was
unthinkable. Likewise, although often clogged with traffic, Hyderabad's
roads are paved and smooth. Meanwhile in Patna, a city of three million
people, there is not a single functioning traffic light. Such is the
reigning inertia, the city has not even changed the colonial names of its
streets. I got a kick out of driving up and down Boring Road. It was named
after a British official.

This account is perfectly believable, but the failure of the state in
Bihar runs deeper than the absence of wifi access in
Patna hotels. It is a subject that has been explored with insight and
empathy by, among others, the Patna-born writer Amitava Kumar in his books
Bombay London New York and Husband of a Fanatic. The rise of the oppressed
castes as a political force in Bihar, a phenomenon Luce notes as having
contributed significantly to the decaying infrastructure and the breakdown
of law, is in itself a response to the long, brutal domination of the upper
castes. The abysmal social and economic conditions in the state are not
simply products of lower-caste assertion or state socialism but of the
inequality enforced through decades by dominant groups of civil servants,
businessmen, politicians and landlords. Because of this, Bihar remains a
state where Dalits (at the very bottom of the caste order) are murdered with
impunity. And until recently, Dalits retaliating against upper-caste
landlords were charged under a terrorism law while upper-caste men accused
of killing Dalits were booked under the usual criminal code.

Some of the weakness in Luce's account seems to come from his belief that
the efficient entrepreneurs of the new economy are very different people
from the corrupt functionaries of the Indian state. <b>Yet evidence suggests
otherwise, indicating that it is the same social layer--upper-caste, Hindu,
middle- and upper-class--that reaps most of the benefits, whether these are
filtered through the state or through capital. </b>This is true of most of the
engineers and business executives competing in the global marketplace today,
people reared largely on government salaries and nurtured in
state-subsidized institutions, and who today furiously protest affirmative
action or subsidies for the lower castes, aboriginal people and other
marginalized groups. The new elites may speak better English, but their
sense of hierarchy remains undisturbed.

If Luce's book is shaped by the rigid certainties of neoliberalism, Mira
Kamdar's account of <b>how India is changing the world is fueled by a
breathless enthusiasm that seems to have less to do with economics and more
to do with identity.</b>

An Indian-American scholar at the Asia Society, Kamdar is an enthusiast of
most things Indian and has clearly done extensive research for this book. As
a result, Planet India contains nuggets of information on everything from
the animation industry in India to a party at Tavern on the Green for Mira
Nair's new film:

At the cocktail party preceding the screening, the Who's Who list of the
Indian diaspora cultural elite went on endlessly. I did catch celebrated
actress and author Madhur Jaffrey, just out with her memoir Climbing the
Mango Trees, and her husband, accomplished violinist Sanford Allen.
Filmmaker Jagmohan Mundhra... and his wife, Chandra, and their film producer
daughter, Smriti Mundhra, were there. I saw Sarita Choudhury, who starred in
Mira Nair's film Mississippi Masala.

I'm sure Kamdar enjoyed herself, even if there were people she missed in the
huge crowd.

In India, she covers a wide terrain and a great breadth of subjects,
including the obvious divide between the upper classes and the majority, the
distress in rural areas and the overwhelming environmental crisis. Kamdar is
clearly liberal in her worldview, critical of Wal-Mart, American inequality
and the elite Indians who worship at the shrines of Wal-Mart and
American-style inequality. But too much of her book is taken up by
smooth-toned capitalists who assure her that they will "create purchasing
power and turn India's poor into consumers," which sounds more like a threat
than a promise, and who say, "Our biggest challenge is the challenge nobody
has solved in the world: how to grow equity," which sounds like hokum.

Both books reveal, if in different ways, how significant India's business
class has become in shaping perceptions of the country. Ostensibly suffering
under the weight of the state, they have nevertheless managed to accumulate
great wealth and are in the process of discovering solutions to inequality,
social injustice and environmental degradation. In that sense, Indian
businessmen--especially those in technology--spout the rhetoric of
"frictionless capitalism" that enriches the individual while saving the
world. Slavoj Zizek, writing in The London Review of Books about the
originators of this idea--Bill Gates and his "court-philosophers" like
Friedman--noted how they offer a geeky smartness as the solution to all the
world's problems:

Being smart means being dynamic and nomadic, and against centralised
bureaucracy; believing in dialogue and co-operation as against central
authority; in flexibility as against routine; culture and knowledge as
against industrial production; in spontaneous interaction and autopoeisis as
against fixed hierarchy.

Zizek observes that this kind of corporate philanthropy simply involves
giving with one hand what has been grabbed with the other. In India,
however, there seems to be more grabbing than giving going on, reminding us
of what <b>Marx said of the British in India: They had to first get India in
order to subject it afterward to their sharp philanthropy.</b>

In any case, the frictionless capitalism in India reveals its sharp edges if
you rub it long enough. *When Luce visits the Art of Living Foundation near
**Bangalore** to visit Sri Sri **Ravi** Shankar, a guru equally popular in *
*Bangalore**'s boardrooms and in **Manhattan** penthouses, he finds: *

* *

*On the pillars that supported the dome around the central stage were the
symbols of the world's main religions: the Islamic Crescent, the Star of
David, and the Cross of Jesus. In the center, much larger than the other
representations, was a depiction of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth. *

* *

*Despite the ecumenical distribution of religious symbols, the guru turns
out to have "a close attachment to the RSS," the right-wing Hindu
organization that drew inspiration from Hitler and Mussolini and whose
history of violence ranges from the assassination of Gandhi to more recent
massacres of Muslim and Christian minorities. Luce's book is especially good
on Hindu fundamentalism, reporting superbly on the strange convergence of
science, business, paranoia and fascism that characterizes the right in **
India**.** *It is not an accident that the "biofuturologist" Luce meets
should be spouting nonsense about the "software" of human development
intrinsic to India (naturally) and the "hardware" of the West, nor that he
was encountered at the residence of a "prosperous industrialist."

There is, of course, much more to India than the corrupt state, right-wing
Hinduism and unctuous businessmen. In fact, what is surprising is the number
of Indians skeptical of the direction the country has been taken by its
comprador elites, although their voices tend to go unrecorded by media
obsessed with telling the most obvious story. The experience of these other
Indians who dwell outside boardrooms can be depicted, but this can be done
only by books that address what it means to be human in a time and place of
great change. It requires writing that takes its own possibilities
seriously, eschewing the language of the press release and the annual
corporate report, choosing a form true to experience, whether this be the
novel or the work of social reportage.

There are already books that show how it can be done, from the sharp,
pungent essay collections put out by *Arundhati Roy to Temptations of the
West by Pankaj Mishra and **Maximum** **City** by Suketu Mehta.* And if the
subterranean murmurs are anything to go by, it seems that there are still
other writers willing to examine the experience of India critically and with
empathy, who take their inspiration not from Friedman but from Barbara
Ehrenreich in how to bring a hidden world to light. Because otherwise, there
is only the glib promise of capitalism, no different from what the Red Queen
says to Alice: "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to
keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at
least twice as fast as that!"
According to Media report a disturbing trend regarding Return of English at the expense of propagation of our national language has been observed in almost all of the States. It is also likely to affect the future development of regional languages.
The reports indicate that in virtually every state in the country, English is being introduced at an earlier stage in regional language schools-a sign that English has many takers than before, cutting across linguistic and geographical barriers.
In Andhra Pradesh, English used to be introduced from Class II. Now it is to be introduced from Class I. In Himachal Pradesh, Goa and Rajasthan, English has been introduced in Class I from 2006-7 again by popular demand. In Bihar, English was introduced from Class III, four years ago: Now there is a move to introduce it from Class –I. Neighboring UP has also lowered the bar from Class VI to III.
In some States, introduction of English has been fiercely opposed by political groups, but the language is still taught on the insistence of the parents in an unofficial manner. In Gujarat, for instance, English is introduced in regional language schools only from Class – V. However, of late they have introduced the subject as value addition from Class I, -during a zero period after school hours.
Statistics show that English is still not the number one medium of instruction; in fact, some of the States do not have a count of the number of students enrolled in English medium schools. However, data from District Information System for Education of the HRD Ministry suggests that the gap may be narrowing. Many States have seen a dramatic growth in student enrollment in English medium schools as compared to regional language schools, which have forced many States like Maharashtra to start purely English medium schools.
The above development, whatever may be the cause , will have profound social and cultural consequences in the years to come.
It is sad to see that today many Indians are not Indian. That is they do not practice Indian culture; they practice Western culture. When I went to India just a few years ago, I met so many Indians who said to me "I was born in the wrong country; I should have been born in the West"

The Indian media is the main culprit in the propogation of Western culture, particularly Bollywood. Why do we have to have slots for what is happening in Hollywood on <b>Indian</b> television? Why do our Bollywood celebs attend Hollywood film premieres and elevate Hollywood celebs? Why copy Western subjects, when we have such a rich repostiry of subjects in India?

What really disturbed me, was watching "Men Mangey More" on how personalities like Pamela Anderson were being glorified.

We seem to be fast losing the Indian identity. The next generation of Indians are being born in an MTV, Mcdonaldized culture, and seem to be ignorant of India's glorious past and its culture. It 's Maculays vision coming true.

How can we recontruct a national Indian identity? How do we restore India to it's Vedic tradition, and yet still retain the modernity?

<b>THE COMMON BASES OF HINDUISM - Swami Vivekananda</b>

On his arrival at Lahore the Swamiji was accorded a grand reception by the leaders, both of the Arya Samaj and of the Sanatana Dharma Sabha. During his brief stay in Lahore, Swamiji delivered three lectures. The first of these was on "The Common Bases of Hinduism", the second on "Bhakti", and the third one was the famous lecture on "The Vedanta". On the first occasion he spoke as follows:

This is the land which is held to be the holiest even in holy Aryavarta; this is the Brahmavarta of which our great Manu speaks. This is the land from whence arose that mighty aspiration after the Spirit, ay, which in times to come, as history shows, is to deluge the world. This is the land where, like its mighty rivers, spiritual aspirations have arisen and joined their strength, till they travelled over the length and breadth of the world and declared themselves with a voice of thunder. This is the land which had first to bear the brunt of all inroads and invasions into India; this heroic land had first to bare its bosom to every onslaught of the outer barbarians into Aryavarta. This is the land which, after all its sufferings, has not yet entirely lost its glory and its strength. Here it was that in later times the gentle Nanak preached his marvellous love for the world. Here it was that his broad heart was opened and his arms outstretched to embrace the whole world, not only of Hindus, but of Mohammedans too. Here it was that one of the last and one of the most glorious heroes of our race, Guru Govinda Singh, after shedding his blood and that of his dearest and nearest for the cause of religion, even when deserted by those for whom this blood was shed, retired into the South to die like a wounded lion struck to the heart, without a word against his country, without a single word of murmur.

Here, in this ancient land of ours, children of the land of five rivers, I stand before you, not as a teacher, for I know very little to teach, but as one who has come from the east to exchange words of greeting with the brothers of the west, to compare notes. Here am I, not to find out differences that exist among us, but to find where we agree. Here am I trying to understand on what ground we may always remain brothers, upon what foundations the voice that has spoken from eternity may become stronger and stronger as it grows. Here am I trying to propose to you something of constructive work and not destructive. For criticism the days are past, and we are waiting for constructive work. The world needs, at times, criticisms even fierce ones; but that is only for a time, and the work for eternity is progress and construction, and not criticism and destruction. For the last hundred years or so, there has been a flood of criticism all over this land of ours, where the full play of Western science has been let loose upon all the dark spots, and as a result the corners and the holes have become much more prominent than anything else. Naturally enough there arose mighty intellects all over the land, great and glorious, with the love of truth and justice in their hearts, with the love of their country, and above all, an intense love for their religion and their God; and because these mighty souls felt so deeply, because they loved so deeply, they criticised everything they thought was wrong. Glory unto these mighty spirits of the past! They have done so much good; but the voice of the present day is coming to us, telling, "Enough!" There has been enough of criticism, there has been enough of fault-finding, the time has come for the rebuilding, the reconstructing; the time has come for us to gather all our scattered forces, to concentrate them into one focus, and through that, to lead the nation on its onward march, which for centuries almost has been stopped. The house has been cleansed; let it be inhabited anew. The road has been cleared. March ahead, children of the Aryans!

Gentlemen, this is the motive that brings me before you, and at the start I may declare to you that I belong to no party and no sect. They are all great and glorious to me, I love them all, and all my life I have been attempting to find what is good and true in them. Therefore, it is my proposal tonight to bring before you points where we are agreed, to find out, if we can, a ground of agreement; and if through the grace of the Lord such a state of things be possible, let us take it up, and from theory carry it out into practice. <span style='color:blue'>We are Hindus. I do not use the word Hindu in any bad sense at all, nor do I agree with those that think there is any bad meaning in it. In old times, it simply meant people who lived on the other side of the Indus; today a good many among those who hate us may have put a bad interpretation upon it, but names are nothing. Upon us depends whether the name Hindu will stand for everything that is glorious, everything that is spiritual, or whether it will remain a name of opprobrium, one designating the downtrodden, the worthless, the heathen. If at present the word Hindu means anything bad, never mind; by our action let us be ready to show that this is the highest word that any language can invent. It has been one of the principles of my life not to be ashamed of my own ancestors. I am one of the proudest men ever born, but let me tell you frankly, it is not for myself, but on account of my ancestry. </span>The more I have studied the past, the more I have looked back, more and more has this pride come to me, and it has give me the strength and courage of conviction, raised me up from the dust of the earth, and set me working out that great plan laid out by those great ancestors of ours. Children of those ancient Aryans, through the grace of the Lord may you have the same pride, may that faith in your ancestors come into your blood, may it become a part and parcel of your lives, may it work towards the salvation of the world!

Before trying to find out the precise point where we are all agreed, the common ground of our national life, one thing we must remember. Just as there is an individuality in every man, so there is a national individuality. As one man differs from another in certain particulars, in certain characteristics of his own, so one race differs from another in certain peculiar characteristics; and just as it is the mission of every man to fulfil a certain purpose in the economy of nature, just as there is a particular line set out for him by his own past Karma, so it is with nations--each nation has a destiny to fulfil, each nation has a message to deliver, each nation has a mission to accomplish. Therefore, from the very start, we must have to understand the mission of our own race, the destiny it has to fulfil, the place it has to occupy in the march of nations, and note which it has to contribute to the harmony of races. In our country, when children, we hear stories how some serpents have jewels in their heads, and whatever one may do with the serpent, so long as the jewel is there, the serpent cannot be killed. We hear stories of giants and ogres who had souls living in certain little birds, and so long as the bird was safe, there was no power on earth to kill these giants; you might hack them to pieces, or do what you liked to them, the giants could not die. So with nations, there is a certain point where the life of a nation centres, where lies the nationality of the nation, and until that is touched, the nation cannot die. In the light of this we can understand the most marvellous phenomenon that the history of the world has ever known. Wave after wave of barbarian conquest has rolled over this devoted land of ours. "Allah Ho Akbar!" has rent the skies for hundreds of years, and no Hindu knew what moment would be his last. This is the most suffering and the most subjugated of all the historic lands of the world. Yet we still stand practically the same race, ready to face difficulties again and again if necessary; and not only so, of late there have been signs that we are not only strong, but ready to go out, for the sign of life is expansion.

We find today that our ideas and thoughts are no more cooped up within the bounds of India, but whether we will it or not, they are marching outside, filtering into the literature of nations, taking their place among nations, and in some, even getting a commanding dictatorial position. Behind this we find the explanation that the great contribution to the sum total of the world's progress from India is the greatest, the noblest, the sublimest theme that can occupy the mind of man--it is philosophy and spirituality. Our ancestors tried many other things; they, like other nations, first went to bring out the secrets of external nature as we all know, and with their gigantic brains that marvellous race could have done miracles in that line of which the world could have been proud for ever. But they gave it up for something higher; something better rings out from the pages of the Vedas: "That science is the greatest which makes us know Him who never changes!" The science of nature, changeful, evanescent, the world of death, of woe, of misery, may be great, great indeed; but the science of Him who changes not, the Blissful One, where alone is peace, where alone is life eternal, where alone is perfection, where alone all misery ceases--that, according to our ancestors, was the sublimest science of all. After all, sciences that can give us only bread and clothes and power over our fellowmen, sciences that can teach us only how to conquer our fellow-beings, to rule over them, which teach the strong to domineer over the weak--those they could have discovered if they willed. But praise be unto the Lord, they caught at once the other side, which was grander, infinitely higher, infinitely more blissful, till it has become the national characteristic, till it has come down to us, inherited from father to son for thousands of years, till it has become a part and parcel of us, till it tingles in every drop of blood that runs through our veins, till it has become our second nature, till the name of religion and Hindu have become one. This is the national characteristic, and this cannot be touched. Barbarians with sword and fire, barbarians bringing barbarous religions, not one of them could touch the core, not one could touch the "jewel", not one had the power to kill the "bird" which the soul of the race inhabited. This, therefore, is the vitality of the race, and so long as that remains, there is no power under the sun that can kill the race. All the tortures and miseries of the world will pass over without hurting us, and we shall come out of the flames like Prahlada, so long as we hold on to this grandest of all our inheritances, spirituality. If a Hindu is not spiritual I do not call him a Hindu. In other countries a man may be political first, and then he may have a little religion, but here in India the first and the foremost duty of our lives is to be spiritual first, and then,if there is time, let other things come. Bearing this in mind we shall be in a better position to understand why, for our national welfare, we must first seek out at the present day all the spiritual forces of the race, as was done in days of yore and will be done in all times to come. National union in India must be a gathering up of its scattered spiritual forces. A nation in India must be a union of those whose hearts beat to the same spiritual tune.

There have been sects enough in this country. There are sects enough, and there will be enough in the future, because this has been the peculiarity of our religion that in abstract principles so much latitude has been given that, although afterwards so much detail has been worked out, all these details are the working out of principles, broad as the skies above our heads, eternal as nature herself. Sects, therefore, as a matter of course, must exist here, but what need not exist is sectarian quarrel. Sects must be, but sectarianism need not. The world would not be the better for sectarianism, but the world cannot move on without having sects. One set of men cannot do everything. The almost infinite mass of energy in the world cannot be managed by a small number of people. Here, at once we see the necessity that forced this division of labour upon us--the division into sects. For the use of spiritual forces let there be sects; but is there any need that we should quarrel when our most ancient books declare that this differentiation is only apparent, that in spite of all these differences there is a thread of harmony, that beautiful unity, running through them all? Our most ancient books have declared: "That which exists is One; sages call Him by various names." Therefore, if there are these sectarian struggles, if there are these fights among the different sects, if there is jealousy and hatred between the different sects in India, the land where all sects have always been honoured, it is a shame on us who dare to call ourselves the descendants of those fathers.

<b>There are certain great principles in which, I think, we--whether Vaishnavas, Shaivas, Shaktas, or Ganapatyas, whether belonging to the ancient Vedantists or the modern ones, whether belonging to the old rigid sects or the modern reformed ones--are all one, and whoever calls himself a Hindu, believes in these principles. </b>Of course there is a difference in the interpretation, in the explanation of these principles, and that difference should be there, and it should be allowed, for our standard is not to bind every man down to our position. It would be a sin to force every man to work out our own interpretation of things, and to live by our own methods. <b>Perhaps all who are here will agree on the first point that we believe the Vedas to be the eternal teachings of the secrets of religion. We all believe that this holy literature is without beginning and without end, coeval with nature, which is without beginning and without end; and that all our religious differences, all our religious struggles must end when we stand in the presence of that holy book; we are all agreed that this is the last court of appeal in all our spiritual differences. We may take different points of view as to what the Vedas are. There may be one sect which regards one portion as more sacred than another, but that matters little so long as we say that we are all brothers in the Vedas, that out of these venerable, eternal, marvellous books has come everything that we possess today, good, holy, and pure. Well, therefore, if we believe in all this, let this principle first of all be preached broadcast throughout the length and breadth of the land.</b> If this be true, let the Vedas have that prominence which they always deserve, and which we all believe in. First, then, the Vedas. <b>The second point we all believe in is God, the creating, the preserving power of the whole universe, and unto whom it periodically returns to come out at other periods and manifest this wonderful phenomenon, called the universe. We may differ as to our conception of God. One may believe in a God who is entirely personal, another may believe in a God who is personal and yet not human, and yet another may believe in a God who is entirely impersonal, and all may get their support from the Vedas. Still we are all believers in God; that is to say, that man who does not believe in a most marvellous infinite Power from which everything has come, in which everything lives, and to which everything must in the end return, cannot be called a Hindu.</b> If that be so, let us try to preach that idea all over the land. Preach whatever conception you have to give, there is no difference, we are not going to fight over it, but preach God; that is all we want. One idea may be better than another, but, mind you, not one of them is bad. One is good, another is better, and again another may be the best, but the word bad does not enter the category of our religion. Therefore, may the Lord bless them all who preach the name of God in whatever form they like! The more He is preached, the better for this race. Let our children be brought up in this idea, let this idea enter the homes of the poorest and the lowest, as well as of the richest and the highest--the idea of the name of God.

<b>The third idea that I will present before you is that, unlike all other races of the world, we do not believe that this world was created only so many thousand years ago, and is going to be destroyed eternally on a certain day. Nor do we believe that the human soul has been created along with this universe just out of nothing. Here is another point I think we are all able to agree upon. We believe in nature being without beginning and without end; only at psychological periods this gross material of the outer universe goes back to its finer state, thus to remain for a certain period, again to be projected outside to manifest all this infinite panorama we call nature. This wavelike motion was going on even before time began, through eternity, and will remain for an infinite period of time.

Next, all Hindus believe that man is not only a gross material body; not only that within this there is the finer body, the mind, but there is something yet greater--for the body changes and so does the mind--something beyond, the Atman--I cannot translate the word to you for any translation will be wrong--that there is something beyond even this fine body, which is the Atman of man, which has neither beginning nor end, which knows not what death is. And then this peculiar idea, different from that of all other races of men, that this Atman inhabits body after body until there is no more interest for it to continue to do so, and it becomes free, not to be born again, I refer to the theory of Samsara and the theory of eternal souls taught by our Shastras. This is another point where we all agree, whatever sect we may belong to. There may be differences as to the relation between the soul and God. According to one sect the soul may be eternally different from God, according to another it may be a spark of that infinite fire, yet again according to others it may be one with that Infinite. It does not matter what our interpretation is, so long as we hold on to the one basic belief that the soul is infinite, that this soul was never created, and therefore will never die, that it had to pass and evolve into various bodies, till it attained perfection in the human one--in that we are all agreed.</b> And then comes the most differentiating, the grandest, and the most wonderful discovery in the realms of spirituality that has ever been made. Some of you, perhaps, who have been studying Western thought, may have observed already that <b>there is another radical difference severing at one stroke all that is Western from all that is Eastern. It is this that we hold, whether we are Shaktas, Sauras, or Vaishnavas, even whether we are Bauddhas or Jainas, we all hold in India that the soul is by its nature pure and perfect, infinite in power and blessed. Only, according to the dualist, this natural blissfulness of the soul has become contracted by past bad work, and through the grace of God it is going to open out and show its perfection; while according to the monist, even this idea of contraction is a partial mistake, it is the veil of Maya that causes us to think the soul has lost its powers, but the powers are there fully manifest. Whatever the difference may be, we come to the central core, and there is at once an irreconcilable difference between all that is Western and Eastern. The Eastern is looking inward for all that is great and good. When we worship, we close our eyes and try to find God within. The Western is looking up outside for his God. To the Western their religious books have been inspired, while with us our books have been expired; breath-like they came, the breath of God, out of the hearts of sages they sprang, the Mantra-drashtas.</b>

This is one great point to understand, and, my friends, my brethren, let me tell you, this is the one point we shall have to insist upon in the future. For I am firmly convinced, and I beg you to understand this one fact--no good comes out of the man who day and night thinks he is nobody. If a man, day and night, thinks he is miserable, low, and nothing, nothing he becomes. If you say, yea, yea, "I am, I am", so shall you be; and if you say "I am not", think that you are not, and day and night meditate upon the fact that you are nothing, ay, nothing shall you be. That is the great fact which you ought to remember. We are the children of the Almighty, we are sparks of the infinite, divine fire. How can we be nothings? We are everything, ready to do everything, we can do everything, and man must do everything. This faith in themselves was in the hearts of our ancestors, this faith in themselves was the motive power that pushed them forward and forward in the march of civilisation; and if there has been degeneration, if there has been defect, mark my words, you will find that degradation to have started on the day our people lost this faith in themselves. Losing faith in one's self means losing faith in God. Do you believe in that infinite, good Providence working in and through you? If you believe that this Omnipresent One, the Antaryamin, is present in every atom, is through and through, Ota-prota, as the Sanskrit word goes, penetrating your body, mind and soul, how can you lose heart? I may be a little bubble of water, and you may be a mountain-high wave. Never mind! The infinite ocean is the background of me as well as of you. Mine also is that infinite ocean of life, of power, of spirituality, as well as yours. I am already joined--from my very birth, from the very fact of my life--I am in Yoga with that infinite life and infinite goodness and infinite power, as you are, mountain-high though you may be. Therefore, my brethren, teach this life-saving, great, ennobling, grand doctrine to your children, even from their very birth. You need not teach them Advaitism; teach them Dvaitism, or any "ism" you please, but we have seen that this is the common "ism" all through India; this marvellous doctrine of the soul, the perfection of the soul, is commonly believed in by all sects. As says our great philosopher Kapila, if purity has not been the nature of the soul, it can never attain purity afterwards, for anything that was not perfect by nature, even if it attained to perfection, that perfection would go away again. If impurity is the nature of man, then man will have to remain impure, even though he may be pure for five minutes. The time will come when this purity will wash out, pass away, and the old natural impurity will have its sway once more. Therefore, say all our philosophers, good is our nature, perfection is our nature, not imperfection, not impurity--and we should remember that. Remember the beautiful example of the great sage who, when he was dying, asked his mind to remember all his mighty deeds and all his mighty thoughts. There you do not find that he was teaching his mind to remember all his weaknesses and all his follies. Follies there are, weakness there must be, but remember your real nature always--that is the only way to cure the weakness, that is the only way to cure the follies.

<b>It seems that these few points are common among all the various religious sects in India, and perhaps in future upon this common platform, conservative and liberal religionists, old type and new type, may shake hands.</b> Above all, there is another thing to remember, which I am sorry we forget from time to time, that religion, in India, means realisation and nothing short of that. "Believe in the doctrine, and you are safe", can never be taught to us, for we do not believe in that. You are what you make yourselves. You are, by the grace of God and your own exertions, what you are. Mere believing in certain theories and doctrines will not help you much. The mighty word that came out from the sky of spirituality in India was Anubhuti, realisation, and ours are the only books which declare again and again: "The Lord is to be seen ". Bold, brave words indeed, but true to their very core; every sound, every vibration is true. Religion is to be realised, not only heard; it is not in learning some doctrine like a parrot. Neither is it mere intellectual assent--that is nothing; but it must come into us. Ay, and therefore the greatest proof that we have of the existence of a God is not because our reason says so, but because God has been seen by the ancients as well as by the moderns. We believe in the soul not only because there are good reasons to prove its existence, but, above all, because there have been in the past thousands in India, there are still many who have realised, and there will be thousands in the future who will realise and see their own souls. And there is no salvation for man until he sees God, realises his own soul. Therefore, above all, let us understand this, and the more we understand it the less we shall have of sectarianism in India, for it is only that man who has realised God and seen Him, who is religious. In him the knots have been cut asunder, in him alone the doubts have subsided; he alone has become free from the fruits of action who has seen Him who is nearest of the near and farthest of the far. Ay, we often mistake mere prattle for religious truth, mere intellectual perorations for great spiritual realisation, and then comes sectarianism, then comes fight. If we once understand that this realisation is the only religion, we shall look into our own hearts and find how far we are towards realising the truths of religion. Then we shall understand that we ourselves are groping in darkness, and are leading others to grope in the same darkness, then we shall cease from sectarianism, quarrel, and fight. Ask a man who wants to start a sectarian fight, "Have you seen God? Have you seen the Atman? If you have not, what right have you to preach His name--you walking in darkness trying to lead me into the same darkness--the blind leading the blind, and both falling into the ditch?"

Therefore, take more thought before you go and find fault with others. Let them follow their own path to realisation so long as they struggle to see truth in their own hearts; and when the broad, naked truth will be seen, then they will find that wonderful blissfulness which marvellously enough has been testified to by every seer in India, by every one who has realised the truth. Then words of love alone will come out of that heart, for it has already been touched by Him who is the essence of Love Himself. Then and then alone, all sectarian quarrels will cease, and we shall be in a position to understand, to bring to our hearts, to embrace, to intensely love the very word Hindu and every one who bears that name. Mark me, then and then alone you are a Hindu when the very name sends through you a galvanic shock of strength. Then and then alone you are a Hindu when every man who bears the name, from any country, speaking our language or any other language, becomes at once the nearest and the dearest to you. Then and then alone you are a Hindu when the distress of anyone bearing that name comes to your heart and makes you feel as if your own son were in distress. Then and then alone you are a Hindu when you will be ready to bear everything for them, like the great example I have quoted at the beginning of this lecture, of your great Guru Govind Singh. Driven out from this country, fighting against its oppressors, after having shed his own blood for the defence of the Hindu religion, after having seen his children killed on the battlefield--ay, this example of the great Guru, left even by those for whose sake he was shedding his blood and the blood of his own nearest and dearest--he, the wounded lion, retired from the field calmly to die in the South, but not a word of curse escaped his lips against those who had ungratefully forsaken him! Mark me, every one of you will have to be a Govind Singh, if you want to do good to your country. You may see thousands of defects in your countrymen, but mark their Hindu blood. They are the first Gods you will have to worship even if they do everything to hurt you, even if everyone of them send out a curse to you, you send out to them words of love. If they drive you out, retire to die in silence like that mighty lion, Govind Singh. Such a man is worthy of the name of Hindu; such an ideal ought to be before us always. All our hatchets let us bury; send out this grand current of love all round.

Let them talk of India's regeneration as they like. Let me tell you as one who has been working--at least trying to work--all his life, that there is no regeneration for India until you be spiritual. Not only so, but upon it depends the welfare of the whole world. For I must tell you frankly that the very foundations of Western civilisation have been shaken to their base. The mightiest buildings, if built upon the loose sand foundations of materialism, must come to grief one day, must totter to their destruction some day. The history of the world is our witness. Nation after nation has arisen and based its greatness upon materialism, declaring man was all matter. Ay, in Western language, a man gives up the ghost, but in our language a man gives up his body. The Western man is a body first, and then he has a soul; with us a man is a soul and spirit, and he has a body. Therein lies a world of difference. All such civilisations, therefore, as have been based upon such sand foundations as material comfort and all that, have disappeared one after another, after short lives, from the face of the world; but the civilisation of India and the other nations that have stood at India's feet to listen and learn, namely Japan and China, live even to the present day, and there are signs even of revival among them. Their lives are like that of the Phoenix, a thousand times destroyed, but ready to spring up again more glorious. But a materialistic civilisation once dashed down, never can come up again; that building once thrown down is broken into pieces once for all. Therefore have patience and wait, the future is in store for us.

Do not be in a hurry, do not go out to imitate anybody else. This is another great lesson we have to remember; imitation is not civilisation. I may deck myself out in a Raja's dress, but will that make me a Raja? An ass in a lion's skin never makes a lion. Imitation, cowardly imitation, never makes for progress. It is verily the sign of awful degradation in a man. Ay, when a man has begun to hate himself, then the last blow has come. When a man has begun to be ashamed of his ancestors, the end has come. Here am I, one of the least of the Hindu race, yet proud of my race, proud of my ancestors. I am proud to call myself a Hindu, I am proud that I am one of your unworthy servants. I am proud that I am a countryman of yours, you the descendants of the sages, you the descendants of the most glorious Rishis the world ever saw. Therefore have faith in yourselves, be proud of your ancestors, instead of being ashamed of them. And do not imitate, do not imitate! Whenever you are under the thumb of others, you lose your own independence. If you are working, even in spiritual things, at the dictation of others, slowly you lose all faculty, even of thought. Bring out through your own exertions what you have, but do not imitate, yet take what is good from others. We have to learn from others. You put the seed in the ground, and give it plenty of earth, and air, and water to feed upon; when the seed grows into the plant and into a gigantic tree, does it become the earth, does it become the air, or does it become the water? It becomes the mighty plant, the mighty tree, after its own nature, having absorbed everything that was given to it. Let that be your position. We have indeed many things to learn from others, yea, that man who refuses to learn is already dead. Declares our Manu: "Take the jewel of a woman for your wife, though she be of inferior descent. Learn supreme knowledge with service even from the man of low birth; and even from the Chandala, learn by serving him the way to salvation." Learn everything that is good from others, but bring it in, and in your own way absorb it; do not become others. Do not be dragged away out of this Indian life; do not for a moment think that it would be better for India if all the Indians dressed, ate, and behaved like another race. You know the difficulty of giving up a habit of a few years. The Lord knows how many thousands of years are in your blood; this national specialised life has been flowing in one way, the Lord knows for how many thousands of years; and do you mean to say that that mighty stream, which has nearly reached its ocean, can go back to the snows of its Himalayas again? That is impossible! The struggle to do so would only break it. Therefore, make way for the life-current of the nation. Take away the blocks that bar the way to the progress of this mighty river, cleanse its path, clear the channel, and out it will rush by its own natural impulse, and the nation will go on careering and progressing.

These are the lines which I beg to suggest to you for spiritual work in India. There are many other great problems which, for want of time, I cannot bring before you this night. For instance, there is the wonderful question of caste. I have been studying this question, its pros and cons, all my life; I have studied it in nearly every province in India. I have mixed with people of all castes in nearly every part of the country, and I am too bewildered in my own mind to grasp even the very significance of it. The more I try to study it, the more I get bewildered. Still at last I find that a little glimmer of light is before me, I begin to feel its significance just now. Then there is the other great problem about eating and drinking. That is a great problem indeed. It is not so useless a thing as we generally think. I have come to the conclusion that the insistence which we make now about eating and drinking is most curious and is just going against what the Shastras required, that is to say, we come to grief by neglecting the proper purity of the food we eat and drink; we have lost the true spirit of it.

There are several other questions which I want to bring before you and show how these problems can be solved, how to work out the ideas; but unfortunately the meeting could not come to order until very late, and I do not wish to detain you any longer now. I will, therefore, keep my ideas about caste and other things for a future occasion.

Now, one word more and I will finish about these spiritual ideas. Religion for a long time has come to be static in India. What we want is to make it dynamic. I want it to be brought into the life of everybody. Religion, as it always has been in the past, must enter the palaces of kings as well as the homes of the poorest peasants in the land. Religion, the common inheritance, the universal birthright of the race, must be brought free to the door of everybody. Religion in India must be made as free and as easy of access as is God's air. And this is the kind of work we have to bring about in India, but not by getting up little sects and fighting on points of difference. Let us preach where we all agree and leave the differences to remedy themselves. As I have said to the Indian people again and again, if there is the darkness of centuries in a room and we go into the room and begin to cry, "Oh, it is dark, it is dark!", will the darkness go? Bring in the light and the darkness will vanish at once. This is the secret of reforming men. Suggest to them higher things; believe in man first. Why start with the belief that man is degraded and degenerated? I have never failed in my faith in man in any case, even taking him at his worst. Wherever I had faith in man, though at first the prospect was not always bright, yet it triumphed in the long run. Have faith in man, whether he appears to you to be a very learned one or a most ignorant one. Have faith in man, whether he appears to be an angel or the very devil himself. Have faith in man first, and then having faith in him, believe that if there are defects in him, if he makes mistakes, if he embraces the crudest and the vilest doctrines, believe that it is not from his real nature that they come, but from the want of higher ideals. If a man goes towards what is false, it is because he cannot get what is true. Therefore the only method of correcting what is false is by supplying him with what is true. Do this, and let him compare. You give him the truth, and there your work is done. Let him compare it in his own mind with what he has already in him; and, mark my words, if you have really given him the truth, the false must vanish, light must dispel darkness, and truth will bring the good out. This is the way if you want to reform the country spiritually; this is the way, and not fighting, not even telling people that what they are doing is bad. Put the good before them, see how eagerly they take it, see how the divine that never dies, that is always living in the human, comes up awakened and stretches out its hand for all that is good, and all that is glorious.

May He who is the Creator, the Preserver, and the Protector of our race, the God of our forefathers, whether called by the name of Vishnu, or Shiva, or Shakti, or Ganapati, whether He is worshipped as Saguna or Nirguna, whether He is worshipped as personal or as impersonal may He whom our forefathers knew and addressed by the words, -"That which exists is One; sages call Him by various names"--may He enter into us with His mighty love, may He shower His blessings on us, may He make us understand each other, may He make us work for each other with real love, with intense love for truth, and may not the least desire for our own personal fame, our own personal prestige, our own personal advantage, enter into this great work of the spiritual regeneration of India!


From Pioneer, 9 April, 2007
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Colonial delusion of Indian ignorance

<b>BB Kumar </b>

<b>Education and Social Change in South Asia, Krishna Kumar and Joachim Oesterheld (ed), Orient Longman, Rs 795</b>

The volume, Education and Social Change In South Asia, edited by Krishna Kumar and Jaochim Oesterheld, is the compilation of 16 essays written by as many scholars from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, France, Great Britain, Germany and the US, evenly grouped under four headings. <b>The idea originated from a project conducted at the Centre for Modern Oriental Studies (CMO) in Berlin. In 2002, there was a conference organised in Berlin in which scholars deliberated on various aspects of Indian education, and the idea to publish a book on educational issues in modern South Asia emerged.</b> The panels were convened by CMO fellows at the 16th and 17th European Conferences on Modern South Asian Studies and the second International Conference of Asian Studies held during 2000-02. Their contributions make this book.

<b>The first four papers under the section, 'Education under Colonial Rule', </b>deal with various theoretical and practical aspects of education, with focus on diverse educational efforts of the British colonial Government and the missionaries. <b>It was widely believed by the British that Western education imparted since the mid-19th century would undermine Hinduism, resulting in greater converts to Christianity. This, however, did not happen despite an influential section of the Hindu community drifting away from its tradition. The colonial Government, henceforth, took neutral stand on the issue and allowed instruction in Indian religions outside school hours, Sanjay Sheth asserts in the chapter, 'Secular enlightenment and Christian conversion'. </b>

Haike Liebau mainly focuses on Protestant Christian colleges and a report of the 1930s on the role of Christian educational institutions. The papers of Margret Frenz and George Oommen are written from Christian angle covering parts of Kerala. Oommen discusses the activities of the Church Missionary Society in educating and converting the Pulaya community of Kerala.

Linkenbach Fuchs, in her paper under section 'Education and Cultural Change', discusses education and nation-building in colonial India in overall theoretical frameworks of the developments in Europe. <b>She discusses identity crisis due to discrepancy between school and home, new (modern, rational, Christian) and traditional, and the emancipatory potential of colonial education.</b>

Jaochim Oesterheld elaborates Muslim/Muslim League opposition of the Wardha Scheme of colonial education. <b>Krishna Kumar examines the role of education in strengthening secular creed and its inability in preventing the spread of communal ideas.</b> Basing on the articles published in the popular press, Sonia Nishat Amin discusses the conservative, centrist and liberal Muslim views, including the views of the women writers, on education for Muslim girls of Bengal between 1890 and 1930.

Two of the papers under section 'Education and Nation Building' by Martha Caddell and Rubina Saigol deal with education in Nepal and Pakistan respectively in historical perspective. Saigol massively relies on Ayub Khan's speeches and the report of the Sharif Commission. She limits her analysis of the policy covering the brief period of the Ayub era (1958-64).

<b>Technical and professional education was highly neglected during the colonial era in India, as Padmini Swaminathan brings to focus.</b> Perhaps the British did not need it. Anne Vaugier-Chatterji, while distinguishing between European and Indian idea of language, suggests that in a multi-lingual country like India, there is a need to promote different languages for different purposes.

The last section of the book on 'Education and Development' begins with ST Hettige's paper on education in Sri Lanka. <b>It discusses spread of education and public sector, unemployment, frustration and youth uprising, conflict between modern and traditional, and swabasa education policy leading to monolingualism, ethno-centrism and ultimately Simhala Tamil conflict.</b>

Sadhna Saxena discusses various aspects of mass literacy programmes and their inadequacies. Roger Jeffery et el see 'a crumbling welfare state' syndrome in their paper on privatisation of secondary schooling in Bijnor district of Uttar Pradesh. To them, it was a sign of disillusionment with Government schools by parents. There have been recent developments in administration and functioning of primary schools in Madhya Pradesh, as discussed by Francois Leclercq, in the last paper of the book.

<b>The book, as its name suggests, was supposed to provide macro-perception of education in South Asia. Contrary to that, it is full of micro-case studies with narrow focus, colonial and Christian obsolete views and perspective, obsession with caste and anti-Hindu rhetoric. It does not mention the indigenous education system thriving across the sub-continent, which was later thoroughly destroyed by the British colonial Government. Anti-Hindu, anti-culture and anti-tradition bias during the colonial days needed to be exposed in the book.</b>

<b>Throughout the pages of the book, one encounters several colonial myths </b>prevailing today as the popular notions - <b>the segregation and denial of education to so-called lower castes, Brahmin monopoly of education, the British and missionaries as promoters of literacy and education, etc.</b>

<b>It is pertinent to mention that massive data is available to disprove the same. </b>The scholars have not made use of the evidences made available by Adam (One Teacher, One School: The Adam Reports on Indigenous Education in 19th Century India), GW Leitner (History of the Indigenous Education in the Punjab Since Annexation and in 1882) and Dharampal (The Beautiful Tree: Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteenth Century). W Adam's A Report on the State of Education in Bengal (1835, 1836, 1838), the report by Sir Thomas Munro, Governor of Madras Presidency, Survey of Indigenous Education in the Province of Bombay <b>and many other reports show that education was quite widespread in the pre-British India than during the colonial era. Also, the avenue of education was open to all, including the untouchables. </b>

<b>Even in Malabar (in Kerala), out of 1,588 scholars of higher learning, there were 639 Brahmins, 23 Vaishyas, 254 Shudras and 672 "other castes". In Bengal, Presidency, the students and teachers came from every caste.</b>

<b>In spite of their hollow claims, the missionary did no better for the 'low caste' students.</b> Thirteen missionary schools of Burdwan, as Adam writes, had one Chandal, three Doms and no Mochi students, whereas indigenous schools had 60, 58 and 16 respectively. In Bengal and Bihar, Brahmin teachers and students constituted only 11 per cent and 25 per cent respectively. <b>The studies mentioned above show that there was massive indigenous education among all the castes across the country before the British destroyed the same to a large extent.</b>

<b>The selection of the panel of scholars and the subjects covered in the book clearly show the inadequacy of the European understanding of India.</b>

-- The reviewer, an academician, is editor, Dialogue Quarterly


It also represents the inadequacy of Modern Indian minds understanding of India for the very same charges are made ad hominem by DIE or WMI( Well-off Modern Indians).
Must listen and watch - This is needed.
<b>Chanakya Speech</b> @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7V0w9u1CsI
<b>Speech on Woman role -</b>

<b>Chankaya Speech for national Integration</b> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6etyW6TSCk...related&search=

Chanakya @ http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=Chanakya

1) http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=48...4403&q=Chanakya
2) http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=16...4296&q=Chanakya
3) http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3...7972&q=Chanakya

Chanakya Speech @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7V0w9u1CsI

5) http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=52...9169&q=Chanakya
6) http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4...9773&q=Chanakya
7) http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=16...6421&q=Chanakya
8) http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=23...8933&q=Chanakya
<b>Rashtra Aradhan</b>: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=54...1580&q=Chanakya
Mudy, Thanks a lot! Now is there a way to download these to ipod or PSP to play as needed?
From Pioneer, 11 April 2007
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->UK Hindus push for cremation law review
Nandini Jawli | London
High Court allows judicial review application

A Hindu charity organisation has won a first step in its fight to legalise Hindu funeral ceremonies in the UK. The High Court has now approved seeking a judicial review of the present ban on open air funeral pyres, raising hopes of the Hindus here to get the permission for performing the last rites in the traditional way.

High Court Judge, Justice Andrew Collins, has now declared that the burning of bodies in the open 'is not necessarily unlawful' and said the subject was 'an issue of considerable importance'. He said he is allowing the application for a judicial review in the public interest. The judge ruled that a full hearing should be held to establish the legality of the ceremony as a matter of interest.

The judge added, "The point it raises is of some considerable importance to the Hindu community and will not go away. Therefore, the court should decide on its potential lawfulness."

Davender Ghai, president of the Anglo-Asian Friendship Society, has been given permission to file a judicial review by the High Court, in order to test the present cremation law. <b>The appeal came after he organised the first open air funeral pyre in the UK for Rajpal Mehat in a Northumberland field in July, last year.</b> Britain has 559,000 Hindus and many are expected to opt for an open air cremation if it is legalised.

The Department of Constitutional Affairs and Newcastle City Council said the group had acted illegally under the Cremation Act 1902. Northumbria Police, who had originally given the charity permission to go ahead with the ceremony, also launched an investigation.

Ghai insisted he had not breached any regulations. Following this, Davender Ghai of Newcastle, had lodged a judicial review in the High Court with the help of a human rights barrister.

Britain has 559,000 Hindus and many are expected to opt for an open air cremation if it is legalised.

No date has been fixed for the judicial review application, which will be led by human rights barrister Tony Kumar Muman and Ramby de Mello. If the High Court disagrees with the application, then the case will be pursued on a human rights basis.

The Hindu charity feels that Hindus, being the third largest faith group in Britain, should be allowed to undertake their funeral rites like the other faith groups.


This is an important case in UK. I remember the shock waves the first open air cremation sent thorw Conservative circles in US. The US based radio news broadcaster Paul Harvey commented on it and wondered what the world was coming to as it goes against the concept of burial and Resurrection etc.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The US based radio news broadcaster Paul Harvey commented on it and wondered what the world was coming to as it goes against the concept of burial and Resurrection etc.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Did he miss Indira Gandhi live cremations? I know lots of people were shocked to see cremations

<i>Disposing of a corpse by burning. In the ancient world cremation took place on an open pyre. It was practiced by the Greeks (who considered it suitable for heroes and war dead) and the Romans (among whom it became a status symbol). The pagan Scandinavians also cremated their dead. In India the custom is very ancient. In some Asian countries only certain people may be cremated (e.g., high lamas in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China). Christianity opposed cremation, and it became rare in Europe after AD 1000 except under extreme circumstances, such as that brought on by the Black Death. The practice reemerged in the late 19th century and was eventually accepted by both Protestants and Roman Catholics.</i>
Whiteness Studies and Implications for Indian-American Identity
A new 175-page bibliography is launched on American Whiteness Studies, along with a brief discussion on how this topic relates to my research on identity in America, including implications for Indian-Americans.
Apr 26 2007 1:33AM comments rss:

Tags: American identity and character American Whiteness Studies
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Many readers have asked why I have been inactive as a writer for so long. I have been pursuing other deeper areas of research concerning the dynamics of cross-cultural relations. My forthcoming book manuscript requires another six months of work. It is based on a 400-year analysis of American history, specifically with respect to the way in which American identity and character have evolved. One of several underpinnings of this project is the discipline known as Whiteness Studies.

Infinity Foundation is pleased to announce that its collaboration with the Center for the Study of White American Culture in New Jersey has resulted in the first comprehensive bibliography on the academic discipline of Whiteness Studies. This 175-page bibliography is available at:

PDF: http://www.infinityfoundation.com/mandala/...Biliography.pdf

HTML: http://www.infinityfoundation.com/mandala/...iliography.html

My earlier article on Whiteness Studies (a dialog with the Director of the Center referenced above) is posted at: http://rajivmalhotra.sulekha.com/blog/post...ess-studies.htm. The new bibliography lists some of the major influences on my present work, but there are also other related fields involved. As with the earlier bibliography on Eurocentrism that I compiled, this represents an offering made by the Foundation to help researchers tackle and explore these important topics that are especially neglected from an Indian perspective.

The evolution of whiteness as America’s identity

The term whiteness denotes not necessarily race but a power structure based on a politically concocted ethnic and cultural identity. (For example, Japanese businessmen were given “honorary white” status by South Africa’s apartheid regime.) The central role of whiteness in American identity goes back to the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants who pioneered the Europeans’ conquest of America from the Native Americans. They initially referred to themselves as “English” and the natives were called “Indians”. Later, the “us” included many kinds of Europeans besides the English, so they called themselves “Christians” and the natives of America were “Heathens”. But then various non-Europeans such as Black slaves and many Native Americans became Christians; so the term “Christian” was no longer exclusive and could not be a marker to distinguish the “superior” people. That is when the term “White” became popular to differentiate from the others.
Laws were enacted that gave Whites special rights with regard to property, marriage, immigration, etc. Popular literature, political discourse by the Founding Fathers, discussions in the US Congress and by Presidents, writings by academic scholars, and media – each of these explicitly utilized this classification of America’s population for most of the past 400 years. Only relatively recently did the term “White” go out of intellectual style to mean “real American,” but it remains implicit and its effect is still felt in subtle and insidious ways.

The sense of White identity has had both positive and negative impacts on the formation of America as a nation. Not just 18th and 19th century thinkers, but also respected academics today like Samuel Huntington, have argued that American democracy’s vitality and innovativeness derive from its Anglo-Protestant ideology and identity. The definition of who is White and civilized, and who is not, has changed over time. The book, “How the Irish Became White”, shows how the Anglo-Saxon Protestant monopoly on whiteness was first challenged by Irish immigrants who were not Anglo-Saxon and not Protestant (but Catholic), hence officially classified as non-White. The Irish were prevented from entering White labor unions and commonly mocked by Whites as “savages.” It was only in the late 1800s, after years of violence and tension that the Irish finally reached a treaty with Anglo-Saxon Protestants to be admitted as Whites. Henceforth, the Irish became White. A similar struggle took place in many other cases of non Anglo-Saxon Protestant immigrants – including Greeks, Italians, Poles and other Slavic peoples, etc. This inclusion of other Europeans as Whites implied that America’s civic religion expanded from Protestantism to Christianity. But the core character remained the Protestant Ethic, as explained by Max Weber’s popular thesis.

Another important book, “How the Jews Became White Folks”, documents the same trajectory followed by Jews in the 20th century, prior to which they were classified as colored people in America. Henceforth the civic religion became Judeo-Christian, a new kind of religious ethos that is unique to America and not common in Europe. Today this Judeo-Christian civic religion remains a strong rallying cry for politicians in both the Democratic and Republican camps, but is an imperfect surrogate for whiteness as the case of African-Americans demonstrates. While predominantly Christian, Blacks are still not equals in the American power structure.

Whiteness for nation building and mapping others:

Whiteness was a key ingredient in the westward growth of America. The related notion of “Manifest Destiny” officially formulated and codified into law the right of White people to take over lands from non-White people. This was applied first against Native Americans, then to justify the conquest of California, Texas, Arizona, etc. from Mexico. Later, this right was projected overseas to justify the US invasion of Philippines, Latin America, and so forth. These notions of being a privileged club with special standing in the world were originally premised on the Bible. But later, the Enlightenment thinkers, including luminaries like Thomas Jefferson, made the same arguments without reference to God or Bible, about the inherent superiority of European civilization. The White Man’s Burden was spun as the moral duty of civilizing the non-Whites for their own good.

A key ingredient in formulating whiteness as the basis for America’s exceptional status was to set up a powerful mechanism to produce “authoritative” knowledge about various kinds of non-Whites. This ranged from popular narratives about non-Whites to sophisticated accounts by academics. To stir up wide support for campaigns of conquest based on Manifest Destiny, sensational accounts were written about the atrocities committed by, and weird/grotesque practices of, those non-Whites who happened to be the target group at a given time.

Thus, Mexicans were widely portrayed as lazy, immoral, “mongrels” and abusive of their women - the women were shown to be in need of rescuing by White men. Native Americans were depicted as dangerous savages who threatened not only White women but also each other. Blacks were “children” who needed to be tutored and controlled by Whites. A long lineup of great Enlightenment thinkers, ranging from Buffon to Hume to Kant (and Jefferson), each produced learned academic tomes that lent tremendous prestige to these sensational stories that had currency among lay Whites and popular media of the day.

Today, similar atrocities literature about the “third world” is generated in sections of anthropology, film, fiction, international studies. Nowadays such atrocities literature is called “human rights violations” reports, and is used to argue for interventions, such as those against Iraq. The Civilizing Mission is now called “bringing democracy and human rights” to the others for their own best interests.

While new groups such as the Irish, Italians and Jews were gaining acceptance by virtue of their claims to whiteness, the same did not happen for what was then America’s largest minority, i.e. African-Americans. Even though they were mostly devout Christians, having been converted en masse during their enslavement, they were carefully kept out of the White or “civilized” camp. For a brief period after the Civil War, known as the Reconstruction, Blacks did achieve political freedom and even a semblance of social mobility. But these were swiftly taken away by a combination of political and economic shifts, and also because the intellectual climate was increasingly hostile to seeing Blacks as being on par with Whites. Leading academics, such as ColumbiaUniversity’s very influential professor Dunning, produced volumes of research showing how Blacks were incapable of handling power and responsibility. They cited all sorts of anecdotes and analyses that Blacks committed many kinds of atrocities. This intellectual climate, along with Jim Crow legislation, was powerful enough to keep Blacks out of mainstream power until the 1960s. Even today, Blacks and Whites worship in segregated Christian churches throughout America. The Black church helped cement a positive Black identity and provided a forum for political and social action, without which there would not have been the civil rights movement or the present self-confident leadership.

It has been said that America’s history is the story of new waves of immigrants fighting to become White (i.e. full-fledged insiders). Today, the Hispanics are divided between those who lobby to become White (i.e. assimilate and dissolve their separate identity), and those who want to claim a third cultural pole that is neither White nor Black, but distinct and called Hispanic. The latter group champions the Spanish language and its embedded culture as the vehicle to preserve its identity. Highly regarded scholars like Samuel Huntingdon have raised the alarm very openly from prestigious Ivy Leagues forums that the Hispanics will threaten the American nation because they are not Anglo-Saxons and not Protestants. Such xenophobia relies upon an army of scholars and activists - including some from Hispanic backgrounds – to stereotype the Mexicans, produce reports about social oppression within Hispanic communities, and thereby show that America is endangered by Hispanic influence.

To understand Americanness/Whiteness deeper, the three-volume American Frontier by Richard Slotkin is an excellent work. It traces deeply embedded notions of identity, privilege and destiny in the American mythos, and how this mythos has built a grand nation but at the expense of a whole series of non-White peoples. It should be required reading for all those who dismiss the civilizational superiority complex that is built into America.

Obscuring whiteness:

In order to examine the extent to which the sense of whiteness persists today, one should reference the new bibliography mentioned at the beginning of this article. Those who want to specifically understand what is called “implicit Whiteness” (i.e. superior identity that is denied by the individual but exists subconsciously) should look at recent cognitive science research, such as, Devos, T., & Banaji, M.R. (2005), “American = White?” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 447-466. ( See: http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~tdevos/thd/devo...05_abstract.pdf ) Also see the paper at: http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~tdevos/thd/Qu...pa2005.pdf
There are divergent views regarding whiteness as the implicit reference point relative to which American identities are being shaped even today. Some of these prevailing views are summarized below.

Perhaps the most important intellectual movement that has unwittingly created confusion about the nature of American society today is postmodernism. Many postmodernists imagine that social power based on identity differences is being eroded rapidly. To them, Whiteness is irrelevant now as the nexus of power. But they cite only the pop culture to give examples of this new idealized America, whereas America’s power structure is not based in its pop culture. They ignore the deeper structure of society where whiteness rules. Ziauddin Sardar has criticized such postmodernist intellectuals for complicity because he alleges that it lets western imperialism off the hook while focusing on deconstructing other cultures. Indirectly, it facilitates the re-colonization of other cultures by the West.

Another view is held by Diana Eck and her Pluralism Project, which promotes multiple religious identities, and projects America as a role model for success in this. But often, and even before 9/11, pluralism in America has been mostly interpreted as incorporating Islam into America’s civic religion, moving America from Judeo-Christianity to Abrahamism. This largely leaves out the non-Abrahamic religions. Buddhism is an exception to this and does get a fair representation, thanks to its powerful support base in the American academy and among important intellectuals. Also, being non-theistic it does not threaten Abrahamism and many of its practices can be assimilated easily.

However, when Hinduism is represented, the academic establishment tends to picks a “noble savage” as spokesperson, one who typically says lofty things like, “All religions are the same,” etc. Prof. Joshi’s new book, discussed below, and many other writings in the Whiteness Studies bibliography prove that identity oppression is real in America. It is not something that a group of scholars in the liberal academic cocoon can whitewash away.

Whiteness Studies: A key to understanding America

Whiteness is to America what the “Pentium inside” (now “Centrino inside”) is to a computer. (It is not something found in Europe in the same sense, because there the dominant cultural substrata varied: Frenchness in France, Germanness in Germany, Englishness in England, etc., but no melted down pan-European Whiteness, even though the European Union might move in that direction. There is a growing voice arguing that Christianity is the very core of Europeanness, giving the EU its own kind of Manifest Destiny.)

I see three dimensions to whiteness in America today: (1) as a secular blend of race, ethnicity and culture; (2) as a civic religion based on Judeo-Christianity/Bible; and (3) as a socioeconomic status. How White you are is measured in this 3-dimensional model. All other identities are based on difference from whiteness.

Relevance of whiteness to Indian-Americans

This historical background and framework is used in my research to address the following question: Will Indian-Americans “become White” like various European immigrants did? Or will they claim a separate identity similar to the Hispanic one, which is not White or Black, yet fully American in status? This question is one of the reasons for exploring the history of Whiteness – i.e. learning from the experiments and experiences of other immigrant groups.

Indian-Americans are already climbing socioeconomically to “become White” in the #3 dimension. This success reduces their “difference” from the “real” Whites. Historically, this was the mercantile path to the American mainstream. But it does not make them fully White because of the other two factors. Many Indian-Americans (like Bobby Jindal) convert to Christianity to reduce #2 (i.e. religion) as a factor of difference. In order to reduce the alienating impact of #1, one may adopt Enlightenment or Postmodern ideologies, and American pop culture also facilitates this blurring.

An important new book has come out based on surveys of Indian-Americans. It identifies the role of religion as a factor in making Indian-Americans feel less Americans than Whites. This book is by Khyati Joshi, “New Roots in America’s Sacred Ground”. It proves with empirical data that there is religious bias facing Indian-Americans especially on account of being Hindu (i.e. #2 factor), even after they have achieved parity with Whites on socioeconomic criteria (i.e. #3); and this applies even to the second-generation who are born and raised in USA (and hence have lesser #1 difference). This is an important new book, and more scholars need to examine this issue courageously.

What should Indians do about this identity issue, as a new minority group in America? This is a nation where identities are projected publicly in the mainstream, often quite assertively and chauvinistically.

Several Indian academicians in the humanities regard the Indian identity to be a source of conflicts in India. Amartya Sen is one prominent example. Their political position on India gets projected onto Indian-Americans, who are therefore scolded for hanging on to Indianness which is seen as something arcane and shameful. Given the all-pervading nature of whiteness as the American substratum, such a position puts pressure on Indian-Americans to de-Indianize and dissolve into whiteness. Harvard’s Homi Bhabha has come up with postmodernist theories of “mimicry” and “hybridity” that make this hip. But such scholars do not seem to have examined the American history of “us/other” (as explained, for example, in Slotkin’s three volumes), or the present depth of whiteness in America. The burden to dissolve difference is thus being placed entirely on the non-Whites. Their positions are unrealistic and oppressive.

There is a double standard here. Because identity difference is projected by scholars as a cause of conflict and violence in India, the dominant culture in India is rightly asked to shoulder the burden of removing difference with the underclasses. The same rules should also be applied to America. These scholars should similarly pressure the dominant White American culture to change itself, in order to become less White and thus shoulder the burden of reducing difference with others. But while in the case of India they champion the underclass, and attack the dominant culture’s hegemony, they are unable to do the same in the case of America. Are they too invested in the American power structure? Would such an approach undermine their “honorary White” status through the adoption of “White epistemology” and their positions in institutions of intellectual power?
This brings me to the trajectory followed by many Indian-Americans in the humanities to “become White” by proving their competence in White ways of “gazing”. This means seeing things through European epistemological categories, which nowadays means “theories” of culture, textual analysis, etc. that have been accepted by the Anglo-American academy as a part of the “canon of theories” one is supposed to use. The Indian equivalent of such theories would be the very large and sophisticated range of “siddhantas”. But these are simply ignored in modern/postmodern studies, or are trivially dismissed, or are mapped/co-opted into trendy new theories owned by White experts or their whitened followers. This is a new kind of civilizational power that has been called “theory power I call it epistemic arrogance. Bhabha is a role model being projected by the American establishment for young Indian-Americans in English Departments to emulate. He has proven himself as having the “White gaze”. This is the liberal path to becoming White, just as Christianizing was Bobby Jindal’s Biblical path to Whiteness. One may think of them as left-wing and right-wing whiteness, respectively.

<span style='color:red'>
One finds many Indian anthropologists (serving western funding sources, mentors, institutions, journals, etc.) referring to other Indians as “native informants” in their research – a racial slur from the colonial era that positions the “other” as someone below the glass ceiling who is not to be treated as an equal in cultural inquiry. On the other hand, the Indian who confidently gazes back at Whites (such as through Whiteness Studies), who talks as an equal, and who theorizes about them as the exotic other, is often seen as a threat especially if he is outside the control mechanisms of the academic establishment. (Such persons must be branded the “dangerous savage” who is threatening civilization).”</span>

Sudhir Kakar and Amartya Sen disagree on whether or not there is a positive Indian identity and what its implications would be. Kakar’s new book on the psychological profile of Indians shows that there is a definite Indianness that pervades across the ethnicities, castes, and economic strata of India. He also considers this Indianness as something positive, implying that it is something worth protecting. Indeed, there are major problems to be solved in India; but the same could be said of any cultural identity in the world, and Indianness has repeatedly proven its internal reform ability without foreign interventions.

Amartya Sen, on the other hand, asserts that a distinct Indian identity breeds violence. He wants to show that there is no clash of civilizations - I use the term “clash” not as physical violence but as competition among world-views. His stance implies that non-Western epistemologies (ways of seeing things) are invalid when they differ from Western epistemologies – i.e. Chinese Civilization, Islamic Civilization, etc. are valid only to the extent they agree with the premises of Western thought. Is he not adopting the White Gaze that sees itself as universal, and hence denies the very existence of any other legitimate gaze? It is the truth, its proponents claim in all sorts of “universal” declarations.

Harvard’s Sugata Bose takes this to the next step, and debunks India as a nation-state on the grounds that it has always been oppressive and is inherently bad for its minorities. (The Mughal structure was good, though, these scholars say, because it partially cured the Indian oppressiveness.) Other Indian-American scholars use the postmodernist line without adequate examination, and directly attack the legitimacy of the Indian nation-state. But these scholars do not give the same argument against America as a nation-state, nor call for its break-up along ethnic or religious lines, despite the fact that its 400-year history shows how it has been based on the oppression, or at least the marginalization, of non-Whites! Nor are they willing to critique living scholars in the academy who study India from a standpoint that is implicitly Eurocentric. Postcolonial Studies focuses largely on the dead empire and dead scholars, and when criticizing America they are typically limited to reproducing self-criticisms by Liberal Whites. The invisible, unconscious gold-standard of whiteness as the reference point persists because of the reluctance to gaze at it.

One consequence of undermining a distinct Indianness in America is being played out in the growing field of South Asian Diaspora Studies. To cite but one example, Professor Prema Kurien is one of the upcoming young Indian-Americans being groomed by White Protestant institutions to do surveillance on Hindu-Americans. The goal is to show them as “savages” invading America who needed to be civilized. She unquestioningly accepts certain premises deriving from whiteness. Indians who are benign and unquestioning of Whiteness or of Judeo-Christian norms, can serve as role models for others: these are “noble savages.” But those who challenge the cultural power structure are branded as “dangerous savages”, and the syndicated research desires to impute that they must have links with violence in India. My research is examining the possibility that this is a continuation of the way the American Frontier managed the non-Whites, especially those non-Whites who were self-assured and articulate intellectuals. The academic discipline of Diaspora Studies is being used by some to keep tabs on non-Whites who do not assimilate, and especially those who want to reverse the gaze and study Whiteness.

There is also the position adopted by many that a given culture does not belong to anyone, and hence there is no “owner” with the legitimate right to “defend” it. Other postcolonial scholars disagree, such as Rajani Kannepalli Kanth. They feel that this free-for-all posture is too lofty. It clears the way for “EuroModernism” to colonize others, because it is in charge of the parameters of the inter-cultural debate, and it sets up straw-men/women of non-Western cultures to knock down. Culture is a form of capital, and the West controls most of the means of global distribution. The prerequisites of free trade are simply not in place, given the concentration of capital. There is no reason to treat this kind of capitalism any differently than material capitalism, especially since cultural capital and material capital are mutually supportive.

Regardless of one’s position on these matters, whiteness is the underlying canvas on which this identity drama plays out today, just as it did in America’s past.

The cultural dynamics within America is not the only theater where whiteness is important. There are two other spheres where whiteness is a key player. In the geopolitics of today, the America/Islam ideological conflict may be modeled in large part as one between whiteness and Arabness (with the Persianness/Arabness tension manifesting as the Shiite/Sunni sub-conflict). Likewise, the America/China competition (moving towards all-out conflict) is deeper than a mere competition for economic goods. Just as America is based ideologically on the White Protestant Ethic, so also modern China is a renaissance of what its own intellectuals refer to as the Confucian Ethic.

Yet another arena where whiteness is playing a role is inside India. India’s modernization is commonly being seen as synonymous with westernization. This is in contrast to the way Chinese intellectuals (such as Prof. Tu Weming, Director of the Harvard-Yenching Institute of China Studies) resist calling China’s modernity as western. They use the ideological foundation of a Confucian continuity over thousands of years to frame the miracle of China’s distinct kind of Modernity. The West was a catalyst, they say, but the character and future of modernization in China is rooted in its own civilization. Yet in India the intellectual trajectory is different, as it sees the native civilization to be the problem to eradicate. India’s westernization of lifestyles, economy and government policymaking are often at the expense of Indic traditions. Add to this the fair-skin complex that has entered Indian aesthetics over the past thousand years, and theories of Aryans bringing civilization into India from Europe. One has an interesting study of India’s own peculiar kind of whiteness at work. Perhaps, similar to the American books, “How the Irish became White,” and “How the Jews became White Folks,” there is need to write about “How the Desis are becoming White”!

As a final remark, I do not consider the orthodox categories of left-wing and right-wing to be very useful, especially in the understanding of Indian society and politics. These mutually exclusive left/right binary options simply do not work, and fail to represent the far more complex dynamics on the ground. Yet Indian social thinkers have internalized these epistemic categories – as a sort of pseudo-intellectual whitening. For a leftist, any opponent is easily branded “right-wing.” Likewise, for the so-called right-wingers, those who criticize their ways are instantly demonized as “leftists.” A richer model is based on the notion of identity and culture as forms of capital, complete with capitalists, competition over control of means of production and distribution, and so forth. The sociopolitical dynamics of nations and the globe may then be seen in a very different light.

This is just a brief report on some of my ongoing work. I hope that the new bibliography will provoke free-spirited inquiry among scholars.


Hindu News Headlines for April 26, 2006
The meaning of Indian identity
2006-04-26 Published by asianage.com Gathered by Special Correspondent

Of late there has been a mounting discourse about the meaning and content of Indian identity provoked by the various communal crises afflicting the Republic. Whereas developing industrialisation, communications, urbanisation, and the popularity of cricket and Bollywood films, not to mention televising of regional cultures, have led to a deeper sense of mutual familiarity within this multi-cultural nation, an elegy awaits composing on the "communal problem." Despite the brighter atmosphere surrounding people-to-people contacts between Pakistan and India (which is inevitably linked to Hindu-Muslim relations) no one can as yet claim that the past is totally behind us.

Amalendu Misra in his Identity & Religion: Foundations of anti-Islamism in India (Sage Publications) traces the roots of contemporary Hindu-Muslim tensions to some representative personalities of the last century, Vivekananda, Gandhi, Nehru and Savarkar. By locating the toxin as much in the national mainstream as in the more extremist groups of either community, he finds it endemic to the whole national endeavour, both in definition and in management.

Misra avers that an aggrieved Hindu oral tradition plus British anti-Muslim historiography provided the orientation for all four Hindu ideologues (his term) towards both Islam and the past period of Muslim rule. He does not mention any alternative available viewpoint, such as a possible accommodation that might have been bypassed. He has several breathtaking statements unsupported by citations: for example, where Vivekananda is described as favouring religio-political institutions, the misleading footnote gives references to the religio-political character of past Hindu kingdoms by other historians, and not to Vivekananda’s alleged visualisation of India’s political future — a task with which he is not usually credited.

Again, despite suggesting that a spurious British intellectual legacy combined with aggrieved oral traditions have spawned heavily Hinduised formulations of a future India, and denigration of pre-British periods of Muslim rule, Misra contradicts himself throughout the text by apparently using similar sources for his own criticisms of his subjects’ views.

Space allows for only one example from his assessment of Nehru’s attempts at re-interpreting history against popular Hindu stereotypes of Islam. He selects five points on which Nehru relied to provide a less damaging picture of the Islamic period. Muslim dynasties became Indian, they looked on India as their home, they intermarried with Hindus, they refrained from interfering in Hindu affairs, and their patronage of art and architecture led to a happy syncretism of Hindu and Muslim styles. In contradistinction, Misra avers, the invading rulers had no territorial bases elsewhere: they came to India in search of fiefdoms and remained Islamic. Despite a few politically motivated inter-marriages, as conquerors they largely took local women as slaves. They tried to suppress Hindu culture by destroying temples and other monuments, but could not do a complete job as they were contained by the sheer size and expanse of Hindu India. On Indo-Islamic art Misra quotes Richard Lannoy as saying that it bears the impression of "a grim tyrant and foreboding conqueror." He does not quote independent sources for these counter-arguments.

Moreover, he bypasses the common view that British rule helped to firm up separate Hindu and Muslim identities (also Sikh, Christian and Jewish) through various aspects of their governance, sometimes accidental, sometimes deliberate. His aetiology is thus too narrow. There was also the census, the first land settlements, the legal system, army recruitment, the Anglophone educational system, improved all-India and later faster communications both within and outside the country. Many factors contributed to an increasing awareness of national-communal solidarities, not only for Hindus but for other communities, at times sowing the seeds of future discord. Thus the Maharashtrian Shanivari Telis were discovered to be Jews, Sikhs became increasingly differentiated from Hindus, Muslims learnt to see themselves as part of a single Indian community, and Hindus also, in the chequered course of their interactions with their white rulers, became aware of a common religious identity and past.

However, Misra’s overall object is to indicate the need for a new conceptual basis for common citizenship, since past formulations, including Nehruvian secularism, have proven unsuccessful. He criticises Hindu inclusivism, whether in Nehru, Gandhi or Vivekananda, as failing to give Islam equal respect. However, as he himself inadvertently indicates, Abrahamic exclusivism has not shown itself to be more respectful to non-Abrahamic faiths. Conceptually the problem, as Basanta Kumar Mallik pointed out, is to do with the incompatibility of absolutes of all traditions. Their mutual intolerance may be expressed in different ways, through social habits, political measures or outright violence, but it is logically impossible for two absolutes to be equal. This applies to the absolute of modernity as well, which is gnawing away at the foundations of the religious outlook.

The enlightenment enterprise, of which secularism and democracy are an integral part, itself faces challenges in the region of its birth from those who do not accept its implicit absolutes of universal human rights. Majoritarian-minoritarian problems are the logical outcome of democratic (rule by the majority) practices in multicultural nations. All Indian political parties use the "communal card" to win elections: indeed, as it has been used up till now, the democratic process can sharpen religious and caste identities.

Ernest Renan is quoted to say "nations are partly built on the knowledge of history and partly on the ignorance of it." Every nation needs some mythological or quasi-historical symbolism for its raison d’etre. But in a heterogeneous society historical interpretation can become a contentious tool of political competition. Misra would like yet another interpretation, but provides no clear guidelines. Recommending a "multiculturalist accommodationist approach" to give equal space to all communities again needs to be spelt out. Acknowledging that current historical tradition has roots too deep to be easily countered, he envisages incremental changes through the media, political parties and educational institutions. However, these very institutions have been and are the main purveyors of past traditions.

Today there are three main competing traditions in India — the Hindu, Muslim and the secularist. The last can be threatening to the former two, with its views say, on female emancipation or property rights, sometimes aligning with one or other for political advantage, thereby creating an unstable triangle. While endorsing Misra’s call for inter-faith dialogue, one would have to extend it to include the non-religious, who are also parties to the identity problematic. Immediately, in the social field, equitableness is a more workable notion than strict equality; ideationally, and this requires a certain scepticism as no ideology or tradition can claim completeness, mutual respect has to rest on a recognition of plural absolutes, which logically implies several non-absolutes, or the relinquishment of total claims to truth. Not only Hindus, but to be effective, all groups need to address the issue together.

Misra could have taken a more comparative approach to communal tensions within India at different periods of its history or with communal tensions in other countries, as for example Ireland and India, for he has taught at Belfast. Moreover, with globalisation, the problematic of community identities is developing dimensions which are a challenge to the entire international community.

Topic: Hindus

Expert: John of AllFaith
Date: 4/10/2007
Subject: Three Question on Hinduism

1. Considering that Hinduism lacks a uniting belief system, what makes up the Hindu religion.
2. What are the cultural and societal influences that have made Hinduism vital to the region in which it originated?
3. Explain the desire for liberation for earthly existence.
I have to answer these in a 700 word paper. Hopeful you can help me better understand these question.

Hi Holda,

This question in this text book is based on an inaccurate premise.

Hinduism, which is actually known as the Sanatana Dharma or Eternal Truth, has many uniting belief systems. These include the conviction that Truth is knowable and can be directly experienced.

Hinduism is an umbrella term for many different traditions. Each of these traditions employ different means for enlightenment and views things a bit differently. What practically all Hindu sects accept however, is the famous statement of the Rg Veda: Truth is One, the sages call it by different names.

There is therefore an underlying unity to the Hindu belief system. I don't now why this text is inaccurate on this point.

It also has a deeply shared sense of morality and ethics. The teaching of ahimsa or non-violence is one such conviction. The belief in transmigration is another as is the belief in karma (actions and reaction), dharma (Truth) and marga (destiny). These teachings show how all life is interconnected and are "part and parcel" of the Whole.

Hinduism is the oldest religion on the planet. Its culture and traditions date back far into antiquity. Those who grow up in Hindu families are steeped in ancient traditions and beliefs from infancy on and they are much more alike than dissimilar. It therefore has a profound influence on cultural Hindus as well as on those who convert into it.

Those Hindus who enter into serious discussions with other religionists, as well as those of us from other cultures who are drawn to the Hindu Dharma, soon discover that Hinduism is an extremely logical and inspirational religious system that offers experiential results to those who practice its various forms. In all ways the Hindu Dharma is at least comparable to any other religion on earth.

So then, what "makes up" the Hindu religion is the fact that it works and that it is able to exist within such internal and external diversity.

People of every religion seek liberation from earthly existence. The reasons are as many as the people.

* Escape from sufferings of every kind
* Continuation of life/existence
* Spiritual blessings...

Ask yourself these questions and your answers will apply to Hindus. All people of faith regardless of the religion are seeking this. Why do you want to survive death and enter a better afterlife?

There are lots of possible answers to the cultural and societal influences that have made Hinduism vital to the region in which it originated question.

The people of the Indian Subcontinent were racially, religiously, ethnically, and culturally diverse. The acceptance of the umbrella faith called Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma) created a unifying influence and philosophy that established peace and cooperation. this by the way is why I dislike the first question. Hinduism, as a unifying belief system, is vital to the people of India.

The adoption of vegetarianism, especially cow protection, assured that the people would be well fed instead of utilizing their limited resources on meat production.

Although it became discredited later, in ancient India the Caste System (varnashram dharma) established social order, defined authority. This was vital in ancient India. The holiness of the various waterways (Ganges, Yamuna etc) kept access to fresh water available.

The teaching of ahimsa or non-violence minimized warfare and greed and assured the existence of dairy cows, plowing bulls, cow dung for fires and medicines, etc. etc.

These are but a few.

Here's what I'd probably do...

Tell about the desire for liberation from earthly existence... I'd do a web search on facts about India and work with them. For instance,

"India has always had a problem supplying food for its people. Today ---- percentage of the population are considered malnourished by the UN. Many Hindus hope to achieve a life where there is plenty of food and their children are well fed. This historic poverty has fostered the Hindu dream of a better future."

You'll need to do a bit more research in stats, how many people are malnourished on the Indian sub-continent (remember Pakistan was part of India until relatively recently), how many people live in India? How many die annually, weekly, daily (and hence how many Hindus are we talking about here?), and so on. This should get you a better grade and you'll also learn more as well. I think you'll find that 700 words are not nearly enough.

You can also explain HOW most Hindus believe they will find this desired liberation. For instance:

Hinduism has two basic views about this liberation (which is known as moksa, pronounced moksha). Some Hindus believe that when they achieve liberation, after that death, they will merge with what we might call the collective unconsciousness, i.e. that they as individuals will merge into the totality of existence in a state sometime called Neti-neti or Not this-not that (the same basic belief as Buddhism with nirvana, which of course arose from Hinduism). In this sense, some say Hindus believe they "become God," but this isn't accurate... they believe they transcend such concepts as gods and goddesses. Other Hindus believe they will enter into heavenly realms of bliss, sometimes known as Goloka Vrndavana (pronounced Brindaban) where they will live as eternal beings in a state of bliss and joy, enjoying the Presence of God in various ways (in the form of their family deity or ista devata). This state is similar to the Christian Heaven, but has no material likeness (streets of gold etc).

In either state, the sufferings, wars, trials and tribulations and so on will be over and the Hindu and her/his family will live on in "eternity, knowledge and bliss" (or sat chit ananda). In Hinduism the family is extremely important. As one of the holy books, the Srimad Bhagavatam says:

"In that transcendental state of labdhopaśānti, there is no supremacy of devastating time, which controls even the celestial demigods who are empowered to rule over mundane creatures. (And what to speak of the demigods themselves?) Nor is there the mode of material goodness, nor passion, nor ignorance, nor even the false ego, nor the material Causal Ocean, nor the material nature" (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.2.17).

Om Santi (Praise peace and pursue it),


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