Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The BJP and the Ayodhya demolition

On 6 December 1992, in the presence of BJP leader L.K. Advani, Hindu activists demolished the Babri Masjid, a mosque structure imposed on the site in forcible replacement of a Hindu temple during the era of Muslim occupation. Only days after the event, an investigative commission led by Justice M.S. Liberhan was mandated to inquire into the facts and causes of the demolition. Seventeen years and an astronomical budget later, the Liberhan report was first leaked to the press and then finally presented in the Lok Sabha. It is hopelessly shoddy and biased, but its malicious conclusion that the BJP leadership engineered the demolition, though false, is paradoxically quite fair and fitting.



The Liberhan Commission's reported finding that the Bharaitya Janata Party (BJP, Indian People's Party, usually described as Hindu Nationalist) leadership is guilty of the “criminal” demolition of the Babri Masjid, has provoked some protests and denials in BJP and pro-BJP circles. These implicitly assume that the demolition was indeed a crime, that Advani c.s. have to be absolved from it, and that the guilt must be shifted to Congressite Pirme Ministers Rajiv Gandhi (r.1984-89) and Narasimha Rao (r.1991-96). Meanwhile, Kalyan Singh and Uma Bharati, then second-rank BJP leaders, have owned up their responsibility, but they happen to be the leaders who ended up clashing with the BJP. Hindu activists loyal to the Rama temple cause will commend their steadfastness. They will also praise Rajiv Gandhi for starting the process of replacing the usurper Babri structure with a proper Rama temple; and Narasimha Rao for passively helping the demolition by his refusal to intervene. By contrast, the BJP leadership’s denial of responsibility will only earn it their contempt.

To be sure, a more orderly procedure to replace the mosque structure with proper temple architecture would have been preferable. Advani had a point in lamenting the breakdown of RSS discipline that made way for the demolition fervour. But even what actually took place was a lesser evil compared with the continuation of the Babri structure, at least in the real world. For one thing, it saved many lives. Just compare the riot toll in the years preceding the demolition with those in the subsequent years. After the Muslim revenge had run its course with the Mumbai bomb attacks of 12 March 1993 (which set the pattern for later terrorist actions in London, Madrid, Bali, Delhi etc., one of the international offshoots of the Ayodhya affair), all was relatively quiet on the Hindu-Muslim front until 2002. The demolition and its aftermath, shocking though they were, triggered a catharsis that sobered up the marching crowds, both Hindu and Muslim. Imagine what riots would have taken place had the Babri eyesore remained standing, a scandal to Hindus and a prop to Muslim hopes of taking it back. Indeed, the prospect of endless Ayodhya-related riots is probably the unstated reason (apart from putting the BJP on the defensive) why Narasimha Rao allowed the demolition to be completed.

As for the pre-planned nature of the demolition, it has always been obvious. This too the BJP should concede unequivocally. Members of the demolition vanguard have told me about their training and the equipment they had brought. They also mentioned the name of the mastermind of the whole operation; it was not Advani nor A.B. Vajpayee. Which brings us to the most startling fact of the demolition’s aftermath: the total refusal of the Indian media to investigate the details. Collectively, they spurned the scoop of the decade, viz. a cover picture with the caption: “Meet the mastermind of the Ayodhya demolition.” The reason is that they found it more expedient to blame Advani and barred themselves from publishing or indeed finding anything that might disturb this story-line.

Once the vanguard had started its operation on 6 December 1992, the rest of the crowd followed. For them at least, the demolition had indeed not been pre-planned. And this unprepared crowd included the unwilling Advani. He and most BJP leaders (if not all -- I cannot claim completeness for my data) clearly were not in on it, and the Liberhan report offers no proof for their involvement either, only some suppositions about what they “must” have known. Even so, they did bear a political responsibility. Today the BJP says that if Home Minister P. Chidambaram did not personally leak the Liberhan report, he remains politically responsible. That makes sense, but the same principle naturally applies to the BJP leaders’ responsibility for the demolition. They should have owned it up right then, and they can still do so now.

Justice M.S. Liberhan is unconvincing in his unfounded allotment of blame for the demolition's technical preparation to them. But it is petty-minded to make a fuss about this, because their political responsibility is so undeniable. Focusing on the technical whodunnit is politically incorrect in that it misrepresents the whole issue as conceived by the pro-temple movement. The crime is not that a usurper structure was demolished, but that the government (egged on by the English media, the CPM, the JNU historians and similar usual suspects) had been thwarting the restoration of a Hindu sacred site to its pilgrim constituency, the Hindus. The right policy would have been to acknowledge and act upon the self-evident principle that a Hindu sacred site should be in Hindu custody and adorned with Hindu architecture. Will the secularists insist on the imposition of a Rama temple on the Kaaba site in Mecca, or on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem? Of course not, and for the same reason there should not be a mosque on a hill that for centuries has been the main site dedicated to Rama.

Some people were ready to act upon this simple and logical insight. When Rajiv Gandhi had the locks on the Babri Masjid opened, he clearly embarked on a policy of accommodating the Hindus in compensation for (and in proportion with) the plentiful Muslim “appeasement” by his own and previous governments. It was a typical instance of the Congress culture with its compromises and horse-trading. Nothing very noble, but with the virtue of pragmatism. That approach would normally have led to a deal, with the Ayodhya site for the Hindu lobby and some sweeteners for the Muslim lobby, of which package the ban on Salman Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses was an opener. Indeed not quite noble, but it would have saved a lot of lives and political energy. Today the Rama Janmabhumi temple would have become just one among many uneventful Hindu places of pilgrimage. Come to think of it, that option could still be tried by the present Congress government.

But in 1989-92, that option was thwarted by the offensive of Babri ultras, and by this I don’t mean the warriors for Islam but the conformistic intellectuals shrieking and howling that the contentious building was the last bastion of “secularism”, a matter of high principle, of life and death. Under their fierce calls for “hard secularism”, no administrator dared to reduce the controversy to its true and manageable proportions anymore. Not the Congress, not the various left-populist parties, and not the BJP either. They were all paralysed and consequently bought time all while taking sides against the weaker party, the pro-temple movement with its vacillating and politically incompetent leadership.

And this shows us another sense in which the BJP is politically responsible for the demolition and for its erratic implementation by an unguided crowd. They too took the side of the status-quo against the Hindu demands. The Hindutva rank and file defied its leaders because it felt cheated by them. After the 1991 elections, when the BJP rose to the rank of largest opposition party, the Ayodhya demand was ditched, first mentally, then gradually also in practice. The activists felt that the leaders didn't mean business, that they didn't dare to push for the logical next step, viz. physically replacing the mosque structure (already in use for Hindu worship) with temple architecture. It was clear that the leaders had no clue on how to go about it. As it later turned out, in 1998-2004, even with the mosque gone and the BJP in power, Advani c.s. didn't move a finger towards the construction of the temple. So the ordinary activists had rightly sensed the unwillingness of the leaders to take the movement forward. That is why they took the law into their own hands.

The leaders could have avoided this outcome by charting a political roadmap towards a negotiated temple construction and then staying the course. Instead they tried to give the issue a quiet burial all while still making some increasingly faint pro-temple noises in order to retain their vote-bank. For that hypocrisy, they ought to pay a price. The Liberhan findings are shoddy and biased, but the disgrace now suffered by the BJP leaders and worsened by their denials is well-deserved.

49 comments:

Right Angle said...

good one.. as you said, destroying ram temple is not a crime per se.. the BJP's leadership is incapable both intellectually and morally.

Ghost Writer said...

Dr. Elst,
Another interesting possibility that the BJP lost out on by not trying for a negotiated settlement is potential for splitting sentiment (if not votes) in the Indian Muslim community. Contrary to public opinion - the Muslim community is not a monolith when it comes to their view of the Ram temple. Some Muslims journalists (Saeed Naqvi comes to mind) were supportive of the temple project until the demolition happened. It is possible that the schism between the native vs. the convert is too strong to be overcome. On the other hand, what would have happened if a peaceful settlement was obtained? There was possibility of integrating the communities in a Hindu - as opposed to a secular - framework for pluralism. Indeed more of this 'secularism' will only lead to ever more destructions.

Shankara said...
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Shankara said...

Dear Koenraad Ji,

A very precise assessment of the current condition of BJP, a splintered party lacking focus and single minded purpose.

BJP tried to become Congress 'lite' but it only bolstered Congress fortunes by doing so. It may be too late for BJP unless it finds a true platform to stand on which will help it be identified with a true agenda. BJP should stick to its primary agenda of being a Hindu Nationalist party and should not deny this position because it confuses voters and hard working cadres.

First they should select a charismatic leader. A leader who will be respected by the people and someone who means business. For me Shri Narendra Modi is the right candidate.

http://sowingseedsofthought.blogspot.com/

Shriniwas K said...

Dr K. Elst,

BJP has long been haunted by political correctness the same way Europe is in denial of the threat of Muslim Extremism from un-assimilated Muslim Europeans or the way the United States is in homegrown Jihad. On one hand it has no true agenda for existence apart from Hindu assertion, a uniform civil code that counters the sharia (i.e. it should not be a Saffron Sharia that replaces a green one) and full statehood of at least Hindu Jammu if not Full Jammu & Kashmir. Good governance is a misnomer, as money driven elections cannot be won by a layman, it has largely made Indian polity only accessible to the politically or economically elite classes.

The problem is that Hindu assertion should not look like Muslim Assertion with changed color. The only way the BJP can survive politically - is by doing what the Republicans are doing in the US - assert the values the opposite team tends to destroy in your supporters. -

BJP should Stand for womens rights and uniform civil code, stand up for Muslim Conversion to Christianity, stand up for banning religious conversions of children and the uneducated, stand for prevention of terrorism, stand for religious freedom of Tibet and political freedom of Myanmar, support Dr Singh in economic reforms and oppose appeasement of any social stratum, against nepotism and political nexus with crime, stand for constitutional amendments, weather policy - even have a shadow cabinet as the tories.

They can be active by endorsing right wingers in the West and also point at dangers posed by Autocratic Left states and military rulers in Asia.

There is a ton of stuff that BJP needs to do as an assertive right centrist Party. That is how it came to power and that is the only way it will ever come to power again.

The sad part is that the leadership of both BJP and RSS are distinctly involved in oneupmanship and unnecessary debate on non issues and lack of pure objective vision that plagues most subcontinental native men.

Fantasy said...

What about the British atrocities committed against the Hindu people? How they plundered India of its resources and stole much knowledge from the Hindu motherland. I can assure you India was much more advanced than Britain ever was in ancient times. Yet everyone out there rambles on and on about Muslims demolishing Hindu temples.

Turks, Muslims, Arabs, Brits, Portuguese...they were all aliens to India who had no business there. To focus exclusively on Muslims fails to take into account what India coud have been had not been for the meddlesome alien Englishmen. Let's also not forget the Portuguese aliens to brought Catholicism to India.

Fantasy said...

I've seen more appalling behavior amongst westerners who are supposed to be Christians and Catholics than I've ever seen amongst the Muslims (at least in the west). Christianity and especially Catholicism are as alien, and in some aspects perhaps more, than Islam ever was and still is. Although Islam has no place in heathen India, neither do the Christian faiths which promote immoral behavior seen amongst westerners. Ever been to a Christian wedding in the west where drunkenness and half dressed women are seen? Enough said. Let's also not forget that beef consumption and alcohol use are highest amongst western Christian countries.

Sam Date said...

A key argument in this RJB debate that isn't made often enough is the following: the religious significance of Lord Ram's birthplace to Hindus is exactly eqauivalent to that of Mecca to Muslims.

And, no, there is absolutely no need for Hindus to "prove" that:
a. Ram ever existed
b. he was born at the precise geographical location of Ram Janmabhoomi (RJB)
just as Muslims are not required to provide a "proof" that Allah exists.

Religion isn't formal mathematics. It's a set of belief systems and peoples' right to hold certain faith beliefs of their choosing, while respecting others' right to holding their own beliefs.

Just as Hindus should respect Muslims' faith belief that Allah exists, Muslims must also respect the Hindu belief that Ram was born in Ayodhya at the precise location of RJB.

I would like to thank Dr. Elst for his enormous amount of quality work on issues pertaining to India and Hinduism, and end this comment with a comment I had recently made in a post by Rhys Blakely (who seems determined as hell to viciously denigrate, and thus decimate, the Hindu religion with regular smears in news outlets around the world) at Times Online, UK's website:
_______________
Hindu leaders are blamed for mosque plot that led to carnage

My response (now on page 2 of the comments segment), with slight rewording:
_______________

The Babri Mosque was built in 1528 by Mir Baqi, a commander of Babur’s army, after destroying a temple that stood over the land (i.e. Ram Janmabhoomi, abbrev. RJB) that Hindus consider to be the scared birthplace of Lord/King Ram, an avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu from the holy Hindu trinity of {Brahma|Vishnu|Shiva}.

Hence, Ram Janmabhoomi is as sacred to Hindus as Mecca and Medina are to Muslims. Multiple archaeological explorations, (including two by independent non-Indian archaeologists) have confirmed that a temple like structure exists underneath Ram Janmabhoomi, and local municipal (Faizabad) records used to refer to the Mosque as Masjid-e- Janamsthan, implying that the mosque existed on Janmabhoomi ("stan"= place/land = "bhoomi").

After over a 1000 years of destruction of thousands of Hindu temples and other important structures of India's heritage during the Islamic invasions of India, Hindus have a right to, especially given that India is the birthplace of Hinduism(along with other Dharmic religions of Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism), having some important parts of that heritage, including the Ayodhya Ram Temple, restored to their original states.

A systematic and communally amicable approach to achieve that legitimate objective is easily possible provided that Muslims of India, most of whom actually have Hindu ancestry, stop playing a hardline Islamist hand, and start giving due respect to Hindus, Hinduism and the rich 5000+ heritage (which is a part of their own heritage) of the great Indian civilization. There are apparently already over 25 Mosques catering to a small Muslim population of about 5000 living in the Ayodhya area today, and so it isn't like they desperately need a place of worship.

That's why not only should a full-fledged Ram Temple be rebuilt in Ayodhya on Ram Janmabhoomi immediately, but 50 to 100 other most sacred Hindu structures that were lost during the long foreign occupation of India should also be restored. Only that would be fair-minded religious justice to Hindus, and Hindus are owed religious rights too.

gnu said...

Dr. Elst and readers, have you come across this excellent article on Indian Mathematics and its influence on Persian/Arabic/Spanish/European (in addition to the eastern part of the world) spheres?

Indian Mathematics: Redressing the balance, by Ian G Pearce

URLS: http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/history/Projects/Pearce/index.html , http://tinyurl.com/ganith , http://tinyurl.com/indmath

Thanks.

Fantasy said...

Sam, I'd have to agree with you on Elst's work. Dr. Elst, in my opinion, is one of the greatest Indologists I have ever came across. Keep up the first rate information! Everything he says is exactly right unlike these other people who write about Indian history.

Shriniwas K said...

While native Indian subcontinental culture should have its place, I still dont understand whether building a temple in Ayodhya is going to achieve anything. Its akin to the Jews rebuilding the Temple of Solomon on the Al Aqsa site in Jerusalem. Neither does it reaffirm or re-juvenate the Jewish faith, nor does it politically achieve anything - now that the area around the Mosque is controlled by Israel.

The real assertion has to be re-building the Sun temple in Multan or resurrecting the destroyed temples in Pakistan. That alone makes some political and cultural mark. A temple right next to the Mosque site which is 10 times grander than the mosque, in a Hindu majority scenario is more than enough instead of rebuilding on same site. Even if Lord Rama was born at that place, his palace would have been larger than the disputed structure.
Muslims all over the world are conveniently becoming the main enemy of the 4th world (post cold war). Their unreformed way of life is doomed to clash with both the west and east. It is better that the Hindu, Jewish, European and American communities, brace for this upcoming clash of civilization, than wrangle about a disputed site.

Sushant Gupta said...

Sir,

I really love to read what you have to say on Hindutva-BJP-Indian Politics as it is really quality reading and no-nonsense views that I miss in Indian English/ Hindi media. Though you are generally keen on writing articles and books on the above mentioned subjects(apart from AIT etc etc.), I and a more wider audience would be thrilled to see your views broadcasted on mass media like TV or in a easier accessible form for a lot more people. If you could be heard on Indian TV, it would be a big eye opener for so many common Hindu people about their religion and its politics.

The views of English media are so offending to the Hindu mind and this really needs to change. Please I request you to give this a thought for the sake of dissipating honest journalism to the masses. I am sure a lot of journalists would like to have you in India. I dont know any but I would have I would seriously have come pleading to you!

I am a Indian student (23) living in Vlaanderen and from the moment I saw you at your son's school, I have been following your Work and I am so proud of your views and writings. What you write is just music to my ears as this is what a lot of people in India want to hear.

My best wishes to you,Kristel ji and your family.

Sushant Gupta,
Brecht
(guptasushant@gmail.com)

luciowbrink said...

thanks for share..................................................

Ghost Writer said...

so who was it?
Dr. Elst you mention that the advanced guard told you who was their ringleader. So who was it? at least give us some broad hints!

halaku said...

Dear Dr Elst, so you know whodunnit? Who was it? And what were the prior agreements made with Narasimha Rao? Spill the beans, dear Sir, we are dying to know.

estheppan said...

>>>"Members of the demolition vanguard have told me about their training and the equipment they had brought. They also mentioned the name of the mastermind of the whole operation..."


Tehelka may be already at work, arranging for such self-claimed 'members of demolition vanguard' to tell them on hidden camera how Kalyan Singh himself arranged everything, just like Modi is supposed to have 'arranged everything' post Godhra!

Or maybe now that Kalyan Singh, Rajnath Singh etc., are not big players anymore, Tehelka maybe waiting for the new BJP chief's name to be announced, to give him the credit for masterminding the whole operation and thus start a new charade.

Btw, such claims may be bogus attempts at getting cheap publicity.

LV said...

"What about the British atrocities committed against the Hindu people? How they plundered India of its resources and stole much knowledge from the Hindu motherland. I can assure you India was much more advanced than Britain ever was in ancient times."

Actually, you could make a case that the British Raj was the best thing that ever happened to Hinduism. Lets face it, Hindu and Indian studies were in a moribund state before the British and Germans revived them. Most Indians didn't know anything about the Upanishads(and most still don't; educated Indians still worship an elephant for crying out loud).

Shankara said...

LV, your lack of knowledge is reflected in you comment. In the Indian religious philosophy the Gods shown in images and idols are symbolic and not to be taken literally they represent various attributes of God the supreme being and since he is all powerful and omni present he has been shown in many forms. So thinking that Indians pray to a elephant is showcasing western thinking. Anyways it does not matter.

British happened to India but all was not for the best except in some cases, there was evil in it too. No one can blanket the event.

Bhuvan said...

As usual, Koenraad Elst's incisive analysis separates the wheat from the chaff and highlights the key issues that lie at the heart of the matter.

siva said...

@LV – Yeah right, the white man who worships a corpse on a stick revived Hinduism. May be you would believe Santa is real.

I may worship a Mickey Mouse, how does that matter to you? Your comment is the perfect example of Christian and Islam’s self-serving sanctimonious bigotry.

LV said...

Shankara,

I never said that British colonialism was a positive thing. My point was that it at least set the stage so Indological studies could be carried out. For instance, we probably wouldn't have known anything about Asoka if it weren't for European scholars. Say what you will about European colonialism, but at least it brought Indian thought into global culture (however imperfectly). Mishra notes this:

"Repelled by such pagan blasphemies, the first British scholars of India went so far as to invent what we now call “Hinduism,” complete with a mainstream classical tradition consisting entirely of Sanskrit philosophical texts like the Bhagavad-Gita and the Upanishads. In fact, most Indians in the 18th century knew no Sanskrit, the language exclusive to Brahmins. For centuries, they remained unaware of the hymns of the four Vedas or the idealist monism of the Upanishads that the German Romantics, American Transcendentalists and other early Indophiles solemnly supposed to be the very essence of Indian civilization. (Smoking chillums and chanting “Om,” the Beats were closer to the mark.)"

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/books/review/Mishra-t.html

"LV, your lack of knowledge is reflected in you comment. In the Indian religious philosophy the Gods shown in images and idols are symbolic and not to be taken literally they represent various attributes of God the supreme being and since he is all powerful and omni present he has been shown in many forms. So thinking that Indians pray to a elephant is showcasing western thinking. Anyways it does not matter."

Bullsh*t. I'm an Indian and from what I've seen, Hindus don't interpret these mythological figures metaphorically. I grew up in America and I've seen Ivy educated professionals indulge in the same magical thinking that one can find in some backward village in India or among Sai Baba's followers.

LV said...

I think it is simply delusion not to acknowledge that European scholars helped bring philosophical "Hinduism" into the mainstream. Without that aid, most Indians wouldn't be aware of anything but the most backward-as*sed folk "Hinduism."

Shriniwas K said...

I agree with LV here, European Colonialism not only united India/Bharat/South Asian Subcontinent geographically but it amalgamated a vast ocean of philosophy, literature, art from the region. Sultanate/Mughal rulers had no concept of private citizenry or land ownership, no universities (not even Islamic ones), no voluntary art or culture as there was no reward only punishment. Its only post Maratha/Sikh suzerainty and subsequent X East India Company conquests that made the nation(s) we see today not only on the maps but also culturally.

Indian subcontinental scholarship was highly depleted during the Islamic rule from 900 AD through 1707 AD in North India and from 1450 through 1800s in the South. Such prolonged period of terror and darkness lost generations of work for the Hindu philosophy (which is even worse than the European dark ages, that saw intermittent enlightenment via the Arabs/Persians/Moors/Egyptians and migrant Greeks).

Since India was never safe and contiguous in any sense till mid 1800s (which is only 4 generations away from independence). I find it hard that people glorify the past beyond the necessary recognition it deserves. Mainstream Hindu philosophy still doesnt exist as one entity.
No one group will agree to any other philosophical school of thought.
A large majority of the country simply follows babas and sadhus with no self thoughts or opinions. People are also extremely naive to assume superhuman Gods in the past and have no knowledge of the history of the subcontinent. Even intelligentsia who throng the West, believe in miracles, siddhis, unnecessary rituals and superhuman Gods. I feel exactly the same today looking at them as I felt them my Grandparents would protstate in front of the TV every Sunday thinking Arun Govil was Lord Rama. People give illogical reasons like Kauravas were test tube babies and think that a dried fruit from an tree or a black thread tied around their waists will cure their ills. Its about time people drew the line between spiritual or philosophical pursuit of Hinduism vs the literal and physical manifestations of faith. Both the Far east and the West have their bungled interpretations of faith based rituals but Indians have unprecedented flexibility in the ability to reinterpret our heritage and traditional values in a scientific, non intrusive, peaceful and modern manner - where in lies the true strength of the Subcontinent's spiritual superiority

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Shankara said...

This goes out to both LV and Sriniwas. First I want to correct the thought process you have that Indians did not recognise their own religion (Sanatana Dharma) or philosophy (Upnishad, Gita, Vedas etc) before the arrival of westerners. Let me give you a analogy. Its like some stranger/ un-invited guest coming into my home and re-arranging things to suite his purpose of finding things when he wants them and then has the audacity to tell me that he has made my life simpler and better than before. I would say no thank you I exactly knew where my things are and this is my house, dont tell me where to find my things. Now this is what the westerners did. Its their inherent tendency to organise and structure. They just cant function in a free flowing natural way which they tend to call chaos. Hinduism and all its inherent philosophies were always there and known to people as was Sanskrit. Sriniwas correctly says that during the muslim rule the vedic life was completely disrupted which we have not been able to restart. So please dont give too much credit to the west and its scholars. They never had any benign motives except a few. They brought it to mainstream western media/ press/ publishing for various reasons ranging from ridicule to appreciation and everything in between and since English and media is a western creation they hold control on how things are projected. What drives this behavior? Simple human nature, a christian would not like to accept/ acknowledge that a more ancient culture and philosophy teaching the same things that his books says but is far ancient, greater, richer, diverse than whats in his book exists and flourishes but not on his land. LV if you can read some Mishra guy who is not even an expert on the subject on the NYT then put some effort in reading works of Vishnugupta (Chanakya), Sitaram Goel, Georg Feuerstein, Swami Vivekananda, Shri Aurobindo, PN Oak, David Frawley, Koenraad Elst, Subhash Kak, Navratan Rajaram and others and then make up your mind. I am surprised by your approach to Hinduism and yet you call yourself Indian unless you are a christian or muslim Indian brought up on a diet of Hindu hate. You were born in America and thus the confusion I believe (ABCD). Shriniwas, you are correct in some respects but let me tell you that India as a geographical, social and political entity existed even before the advent of muslims, british and modern cartography. Many historical treaties, texts and books have explained the limits of Bharat. From Gandhara in the west to Kamrupa/ Pragjyotishpura (Assam) in the west. Cultural boundaries of course extended into central Asia in the west and SE Asia. India was divided into 'Mahajanpadas' Gandhara and Kaykai and Taxshila were called border city states who were defender of the Mahajanpadas or Bharat as a whole. Many a times the Mahajanpadas formed confederations and military alliances to defeat external enemies who were non-Sanatanis or Mlecchas. Even during early Arab invasion for nearly 250 years they were driven out and kept out by these confederations. Raja Daheer was one great general for this confederation. Later Rana Sanga, Samrat Hem Chandra (Hemu) Prihviraj Chauhan, Sikhs under Raja Ranjit Singh, Maratha etc formed such alliances to defend not only their lands but also beat back the scourge of islam. They could have very well just defended their patch and not go and fight in every corner of India if the idea of Hinduism and Bharat did not exist. "If something is not known to you does not mean that it did not exist or does not exist at any point in time". The analogy I gave to LV applies to your comments as well when you think Indians were not aware of their own history and glory, its just made out to be like that and false history lessons imparted in schools. We are blocked from reviving true history under the current pseudo secular dispensation. But it will happen soon. We all know history is written by victors and in India by marxists as well, but we still go and fall for it hook-line and sinker.

Rajniti Live! said...

Well... to the less informed and data junkies, I would recommend Sanjiv Sanyal's book Indian Renaissance. He has a taken an economics perspective on Pre-Islamic Indian History. You will be surprised and shocked on how prosperous, developed and advanced India was before it was plundered by Tyrants for almost 1000 years.

For me the issue is much more profound than Ayodhya or BJP. There has been a consistent and multilateral effort to marginalize Indian spiritual and cultural heritage/advantage for years. Our textbooks, media and Intelligentsia all have been vectors to you-were-good-for-nothing-native virus. LV, you for one seem to have been seriously infected :-).

Imagine this, take our culture and spirituality out... where do we stand? around 20 different countries with different languages a weak Commonwealth of Indian States? or worse. Forget about competing with China, we will be down to dogs, fighting floods, famine, terrorism and ourselves like any war torn, failed African State.

Need of the hour is a spiritual reawakening, tied to the economic development if we really want to see India leading the world order again (with or without BJP).

Fantasy said...
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Fantasy said...
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Rajniti Live! said...

Fantasy, Can we have some decency please. This is no way of addressing an imminent scholar like Dr. Elst. You wouldn't have uttered this nonsense if you would have even 5% of his knowledge. I am sure most of the Hindus reading this blog or otherwise do not subscribe to your views.

Shankara said...

Fantasy you may be getting a bit carried away here. Dr. Elst is one of the most distinguished academicians and scholar relating to Hinduism and India. While most Indians only vaguely knew before 1990 of the Ram Janm Bhoomi, he is the one who did detailed research on the subject and made the world aware of the issue.

He is God sent and a great soul. Please read his book Decolonizing the Hindu mind among others and visit his website. Also read up books by Sitaram Goel a great Hindu revivalist and intellectual Kshatriya. He was a good friend of Dr. Elst. We have very few of such people left. We need to respect them they are our Gurus.

Shrini said...

@Shankara - Saying that Dr Elst is "God sent" is absurd. In fact its exactly what Dr Elst stands against. Dr Elst has spent his blood, sweat and tears in his lifetime of works and studies - how does that involve God in any way. The real stupidity of us Hindus lies in that we do not understand what is physical and real and what is spiritual or mystical. No wonder we see people (Hindus) worshiping godmen who do more mischievous things that would shame the most perverted Catholic priest.

It is beyond doubt that India was fruitful and prosperous before the Islamic conquest, but it is wrong to assume that the prosperity had only to do with the Hindu traditions or religion. India is fertile and abundant for prosperity. Agreed that the ancient Indian people laid foundation of civilization etc but its also equally evident that Indians did not prevail in their intellectual superiority over the ages and I think that was due to the exact same stupidity and haughtiness that your statements show. The Greeks on the other hand were able to propagate their philosophy via the Romans and later post Renaissance Europe.

I sometimes wonder that if Alexander had survived his mysterious poisoning in Babylon, he would probably have returned with even more strength and Hellenized the entire east. My name would probably be Theodomitas instead of Shriniwas :P

Shankara said...

Shrini is that all you could say about my prior two responses. Attack me on a metaphor??!!

Apart from that I can see that you are of rational mind. Thanks for your post.

Shrini said...

@Shankara sorry I didnt mean to phrase this so personally but I wish to convey that we Hindus have been given the greatest gift of adapting our religion via rationally and by reason than blind faith. Sadly I dont see that happening.

The more Hindus try becoming assertive the more they seem to behave like Muslim mullahs. There is absolutely no reason why Hindu assertion should ban women from wearing skimpy clothes, or allow female foeticide or push women into the kitchen, or enforce moral policing. Instead of confronting the danger of rich evangelical Christians and rabid extremist Islam, Hindu assertion is becoming more and more anti women, anti freedom of press, and full of hatred. Religion by nature comes with a political agenda. Its the will of human beings to behave rationally that counts more than that which is based on emotions, hatred, prejudice, brainwash, etc.

As you said the day every one accepts that God is a metaphor, will be true day awakening.

Fantasy said...

I fully agree with your opinions. However, lets not kid ourselves. I am opposed to Muslim extremism, but Hindus should NOT become like westerners. Alcohol, drugs, girls dressing half naked to social gatherings... this is all more rampant among the western Christians than us Hindus.

You and I both know the vast majority of Hindus are nowhere near as liberal as white westerners. And for damn good reason.

Allowing our daughter to leave te house in skimpy clothes or approving the use of drugs or excess alcohol or being open to homosexuality is not what I call rationalism. It's what I call plain old stupidity. And this is all far more common amongst westerners.

Fantasy said...

Also, you can't be supportive of Hindu Nationalism and Patriotism and make PRO-BRITISH comments, which Elst has done a few times in his writings. Aside from a few things I do not recall off the top of my head, colonial British rule sapped India of her strength, health, pride, and WEALTH. The British couldn't have been any more alien to us. Yet Elst rambles on and on about Muslims but never once says anything negative about the white man invading our country.

Right Angle said...

The term "God Sent" is actually a christian (or in general semitic term), where god sends a messenger to speak with people.

In Hinduism, the god himself comes as the saviour, and do not send any mercenaries.

COming to the point, that in hinduism, every community has its own morality, and we cannot attribute a universal one to all hindus.. so if a girl wears a bikine, and if it is her tradition let her do it.. But if its done as a fashion, and influences peer, it should not be allowed..

Actually there is no Hindu thought on those days.. The kind establishes a rajyam, and invites all types of people to come and live in his empire.. which includes people from greek also..

So, we cannot say, that its just because of Greek we prospered, or because of any other people we prospered.

LV said...

"Shriniwas, you are correct in some respects but let me tell you that India as a geographical, social and political entity existed even before the advent of muslims, british and modern cartography."

Yeah................like 2000 years ago.

"First I want to correct the thought process you have that Indians did not recognise their own religion (Sanatana Dharma) or philosophy (Upnishad, Gita, Vedas etc) before the arrival of westerners."

What is this monolithic religion that Indians supposedly recognize? Is it some sausage of atheistic Samkhya, Buddhism, Jainism, Carvaka, Ajivika, kapalika Tantra, Vedanta, Sikhism, etc.

"They just cant function in a free flowing natural way which they tend to call chaos."

Yeah, you're right, it is one of their weaknesses. If they could just accept chaos, then they could enjoy all of the advantages of contemporary India (widespread poverty, sh*tty infrastructure, many people dying of curable diseases, lack of clean drinking water, etc.). Those stupid East Asian countries like Japan, Singapore, Korea, etc. would've been better off if they hadn't followed the European example.

LV said...

I will say that I agree that the British did destroy the Indian economy (same thing happened with China). However, there comes a time when one should stop complaining about the past and move on.

LV said...

" LV if you can read some Mishra guy who is not even an expert on the subject on the NYT then put some effort in reading works of Vishnugupta (Chanakya), Sitaram Goel, Georg Feuerstein, Swami Vivekananda, Shri Aurobindo, PN Oak, David Frawley, Koenraad Elst, Subhash Kak, Navratan Rajaram and others and then make up your mind."

Eek...Sorry, not much of a fan of any those scholars except Elst and Feuerstein(at least some of the time). Aurobindo was obviously a third-rate thinker(not to say that he wasn't well-intentioned) as that charlatan Rajneesh never ceased to effectively point out. As for the others...

Bhuvan said...

"Aurobindo was obviously a third-rate thinker". LV - You are obviously a third-rate moron for saying this.

The problem with the net is that any damned fool is able to spew invectives at titans of history. I hope jokers like this LV leave this forum alone so that genuine Indophiles can have meaningful discussions.

LV said...

Bhuvan,

I grew up in a genuinely secular country so I'm not really inclined to worshipping famous Indian figures (i.e. Gandhi, Aurobindo, etc.) as Gods. I think Rajneesh was a charlatan, but I think he hit the nail on the head more often than not when describing the Indian mindset.

Shrini said...

@Bhuvan, Fantasy, LV, I grew up in India and I still don't agree with Aurobindo, Gandhi or Rajneesh. All are unnecessarily deified and apotheosized.

No one is being an Indophile or Indophobe, the truth is that those so called "great" people were also humans and had the same flaws and traits you and me had. Any free human should be allowed to criticize anyone.

@All I am again re-iterating what Dr Elst, Francois Gautier, etc have been telling that unlike Abrahamic religions which are outright against human spirit, Hindu traditions have the flexibility to adapt to modern scientific and social norms and become a progressive thinking process instead of a gestation of Ramanand Sagars TV Series or some baba's miracle of bringing a coconut out of his sleeve. The biggest roadblock again for Indians is to realize the realm of reality and mythology. The moment you believe that superhuman Godmen
(Rama Krishna Jesus etc) existed in History long ago, you are no better than the creationists (Xtian, Jew Muslims), Mormons or Scientologists. Progressive Hindus can surely excel in all forms of Human endeavor like science, art, industry, sport, etc as our flexible religious values do not tie us to any single set of illogical beliefs. This advantage has to be exploited in the right way and not

Getting this debate back to the point of the Ayodhya RJB Issue - the key is that Hindus need to assert their unity against the evil of Muslim extremism and money powered evangelicals. However the method should not be by become like the very people you are trying to defeat.

LV said...

Shrini,

Nice post, but I think it will ultimately prove to be futile and destructive to polarize this issue between "Hindu India" and Muslims/Evangelicals/foreigners/etc. Given the fact that India is such a culturally and ethnically disparate country (at this point in history), I fully understand the need to create a strong nationalism in order to get the country on its feet. I just don't think that the Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, etc. can do the job (not to say that they can't make a contribution). The only way to do that is to create a strong, genuine secular movement (I'm not talking about the bullsh*t Marxist variety) similar to that of the US founding fathers (Thomas Jefferson comes to mind).

Shrini said...

@LV A secular system can only apply to Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Jews and Atheists.

But alas, secular doctrines are impossible when Muslims get involved. They will never accept any constitution outside of the Quran. That is the very reason the only 4 progressive Muslim countries - Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey and Uzbekistan are going back to their Murdering Islamist ways even though they have 100% literacy and modern education and good economy.

Evangelical Christians are not a big threat, but their ulterior motive is very similar to cultural colonialism which looks are decimating local cultures (food art literature).

The founding fathers of United States were visionaries during a period of enlightenment. Post renaissance and post reformation Europe had much intelligence to offer and ponder and that let them set up the US Constitution which despite of the few flaws is the single most important achievement of human-kind. India had its chances in 1920, 1933 and 1946 but Muslims did not let any progressive vision apply to British India. Orthodox Hindus have more or less given up and are teeming in the Indian mainstream. The same cannot be said about Muslims. Time and again their religion (or as we say its harsh interpretation) has led to not only death and destruction, but also social, cultural and moral (not to mention OPEC and economic) decay/derivation for mankind. When I look into effigy burning, rioting, moral policing, agitated Indians (any party Cong, MNS, BJP, SP, CPM) I see their actions being more influenced by theocratic anarchy of Muslim states than social reasons.

Honestly the only way Muslims can reform is by reinterpreting the Quran. They need a Martin Luther without which there is little hope for any one in the world

LV said...

Shrini,

You're right. There is a severe problem with Islam and its antipathy towards progressive values. It would help if those leftist idiots would get their heads out of their as*ses and simply call a spade a spade with Islam. It should be noted that this is also a severe problem in Europe and U.S. as the left preaches the misguided philosophy of "multiculturalism" and doesn't acknowledge that there is a genuine problem with this religion. Witness the treatment of Ayaan Hirsi Ali by the left and idiot Islamic apologists like Karen Armstrong. I'm not sure how to find a solution here.