Category Archives: indian express

Christ and the Northeast

Author: Francois Gautier

Publication: The Indian Express
Date: November 20, 2000

Jesus Christ was a great avatar of Love and his message of compassion, charity, of caring for one and other, is even more relevant today, in these fast and merciless times of ours, than it was 20 centuries ago. Indeed, there are Christians today who try quietly and unobtrusively to put into practice Christ’s precepts — and you can find missionaries in India, such as Father Ceyrac, a Jesuit who has lived for more than 60 years in Chennai, tending to the poorest sections of society, while respecting their culture.

Unfortunately, there has crept into the purity of early Christianity an exclusiveness, a feeling of sole ownership of the Copyright of God. This exclusiveness, this feeling amongst Christians that “we are the only true religion, all other gods are false gods”, has had the most catastrophic and bloody consequences: millions have been killed in the name of Christ, entire civilisations, such as the Atzecs and Incas, have been wiped out, in order “to bring them the word of Jesus” and Christians have even savagely murdered each other, whether in France or England.

One would hope this intolerance, this fanatical drive to convert, forcibly or otherwise, pagans to the “true” God could cease in this new millennium of “enlightenment”. Unfortunately it is not so. For nearly three centuries, India has been the target of a massive conversion drive. It is even more so today, as Christianity is dwindling in the West — there are less and less people going to church and very few youth willing to become priests and nuns. The church is thus looking for new converts in the Third World, particularly India, where people have an innate aspiration to spirituality.

Indeed, the Pope has earmarked the new millennium for “the evangelisation of Asia”. And it is in the Northeast that this evangelisation is meeting with the most success, as it is peopled with simple, poor and uneducated tribals, who make easy targets. In Tripura, for instance, there were no Christians at Independence, the maharaja was a Hindu and there were innumerable temples all over the state. But from 1950, Christian missionaries (with Nehru’s blessings) went into the deep forests of Tripura and started converting the Kukis. Today, according to official figures, there are 120,000 Christians in Tripura, a 90 per cent increase since 1991. The figures are even more striking in Arunachal Pradesh, where there were only 1,710 Christians in 1961, but 115,000 today, as well as 700 churches! What to say of Mizoram and Nagaland, where the entire local population is Christian!

The amount of money being poured by Christians into the Northeast is staggering: Saint Paul’s school of Tripura, for instance, gets a Rs 80 lakh endowment per semester. Which Hindu school can match this? No country in the world would allow this. France, for instance, has a full-blown minister who is in charge of hunting down “sects”. And by sects, it is meant anything which does not belong to the great Christian family.

Isn’t it also strange that many of the Northeast’s separatist movements are not only Christian dominated but also sometimes have the covert backing of missionaries? The Don Bosco schools, for example, which are everywhere in the Northeast, are known by the Tripura Intelligence Bureau to sometimes harbour extremists at night. But the Tripura Marxist government chooses to close its eyes, because in India Communists often walk — for their own selfish purpose – hand in hand with Christians. Does the common man in India know that the nexus between the separatists and the Church is so strong in Tripura and Assam that temples are being demolished, that people are scared to hold pujas except in strongholds like Agartala, that Hindu social workers do not dare go in the interior? On the other hand, every other day a new church springs up in the Northeast, every week a new Christian school is opened without facing the threat of any extremist attack. Is this the way to treat a country, which from early times, gavehospitality to Christians — indeed, the first Christian community in the world, that of the Syrian Christians, was established in Kerala in the first century AD?

It’s not only that conversion is an unethical custom, but also that it threatens a whole way of life, erasing centuries of tradition, customs, wisdom, teaching people to despise their own religion and look westwards to a culture which is alien to them, with disastrous results. Look how the biggest drug problems in India are found in the Northeast, or how Third World countries which have been totally Christianised have lost all moorings and bearing and are drifting away without nationalism and self-pride.

It is time that Indians awoke to the threat of Christian conversions here. The argument (mostly put forward by “secular” thinkers) that Christians are only 3 per cent of the population in India, and therefore cannot be a threat, is totally fallacious: the influence Christians exercise in this country through their schools, hospitals and the enormous amount of money being poured in by western countries for the purpose of converting Hindus, is totally disproportionate. The message of Christ is one of Love, of respecting other’s cultures and creed — not of utilising devious and unethical means for converting people.

The wonder that was India

Author: Francois Gautier

Publication: The Indian Express
Date: June 19, 2000

Is it not time for India to adapt another Constitution to break away from the colonial legacy left by the British and evolve its own system based on its particular genius?

Indians have always had to confront the stigma that the country was always politically disunited, except under Ashoka and some of the Mughal emperors. That their rulers were just a bunch of barbarians, constantly fighting among themselves and that it was thanks to the Mughals and the British that India was finally politically united. This is doing grave injustice to India. The Vedic sages had devised a monarchical system, whereby the king was at the top, but could be constitutionally challenged.

In fact, it even allowed for the general human inclination to war, but made sure that it never went beyond a certain stage. In ancient India there were never the great fratricidal wars, like those between the British and the French. Moreover, the system allowed for a great federalism the real power lay in the village panchayats. Sri Aurobindo refutes the charge levelled by most western historians that India has always shown an incompetence for any free and sound political organisation.

There always was a strong democratic element in pre-Muslim India, which showed a certain similarity with Western parliamentary forms, but these institutions were Indian. The earliest systems was that of the clan, or tribal system, fou-nded upon the equality of all members within it. In the sa-me way, the village community had its own assembly, the visah, with only the king above this democratic body. The priests, who acted as the sacrifice makers and were poets, occultists and yogis, had no other occupation in life and their positions were thus not hereditary but depended on their inner abilities. It was the same with warriors, merchants, or lower class people.

As Sri Aurobindo observes, from the king down to the Shudra, the predominance, say of the Brahmins, did not result in a theocracy, because the Brahmins in spite of their ever-increasing and finally predominant authority, did not and could not usurp political power.

Later, a republican form of government manifested itself over many parts of India. In some cases these “republics” appear to have been governed by a democratic assembly and some came out of a revolution; in other cases, they seem to have had an oligarchic senate. But they enjoyed thr-oughout India a reputation for the excellence of their civil administration and the redo-ubtable efficiency of their armies. It is to be noted that these Indian republics existed lo-ng before the Gr-eek ones, although the world credits the Greeks with having created de-mocracy. But here, as usual, history is recorded through the prism of the Western world and is very selective indeed.

One should also note that none of these Indian republics developed an aggressive colonising spirit and that they were content to defend themselves and forge alliances amongst themselves. But after the invasion of Alexander’s armies, India felt, for the first time, the need to unify its forces leading to the rise of monarchies yet again. But there was no despotism here as happened in Europe until the French revolution. The Indian king did enjoy supreme power, but he was first the representative and guardian of dharma, the sacred law. Furthermore, although the king was a Hindu, Hinduism was never the state religion and each cult enjoyed its liberties. Which religion in the world can boast of such tolerance ?

In truth, Indians always regarded life as a manifestation of Self. The master idea that governed life, culture and social ideals has been the seeking of man for his inner self. Thus, Indian politics, although very complex, always allowed a communal freedom for self-determination. In the last stages of the pre-Muslim period, the summit of the political structure was occupied by three governing bodies: the king in his Ministerial Council, the Metropolitan Assembly and the General Assembly of the kingdom. The members of the Ministerial Council were drawn from all castes. Indeed the whole Indian system was founded upon a close participation of all the classes. Thus the Council had a fixed number of Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra representatives, with the Vaishya having a greater preponderance. And, in turn, each town, each village, had its own Metropolitan Civic Assembly allowing a great deal of autonomy. Even the great Ashoka was defeated in his power tussle with his Council and had to practicallyabdicate.

It is this system which allowed India to flower in an unprecedented way, to excel perhaps as no other nation had done before her in all fields. Has not the time come for a political renaissance of that Indian spirit?

Relink science to spirit

Author: Francois Gautier

Publication: The Indian Express
Date: January 1, 2001

Will science and spirituality ever meet? This was the topic of a recent seminar at the prestigious Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. Indian scientists, one after the other, expounded, on how reason, rigour, logic and the spirit of inquiry are the most important parameters of scientific discovery. None of them, except for Abdul Kalam, made references to ancient Indian science. All of them spoke of science from a western point of view.

Truly western science, because of its immense material resources, has come to dominate the world. Billions of dollars is required these days for research which India can not afford. Since it is unable to remunerate honorably its scientists and engineers many of them have migrated to the West.

Western science is like a blind man, because it dissociated itself from the spirit in the 17th century. Reasons are several: First, because the powerful Christian church interfered in government matters. Thus it was very rigid and backward in scientific topics, believing until very late that the earth was flat or that the world started in 4003 BC. And whoever disagreed with these views was burnt at the stake!

Many thinkers of the 17th century, particularly French philosophers such as Descartes or Pascal, had unilaterally decreed that the only valid scientific and philosophical tools of inquiry were reason and logic. A third factor came in the 20th century with the advent of Marxism and Communism, which decreed that spirituality poisoned people minds and hence had to be eradicated.

Was this divorce of science from the spirit beneficial to the West? Well, western scientists have been able to devise the most sophisticated weapons to kill man; but man is still not capable of killing his own ego. The West, in spite of its huge prosperity based on its tremendous technological and scientific achievements, is becoming a sick society, where children go on rampage killings; where every other person in the US is under psychiatric treatment for depression or insomnia. Where out of five marriages, three end up in divorce.

Nobody in the conference, except Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who was a guest of honour, also bothered to ask this question: has Indian science kept in touch with the spirit? Well, major discoveries in Indian science, such as the position of the stars, the calculation of solar eclipses, or the concept of the zero, were made at the time when there were no instruments. How were they made? Because of a profound and everlasting quest for the spirit in India. It is in this manner that Buddha, was able to say, long before western science, that everything in our Universe is constituted of atoms, constantly changing, dying and being reborn at each moment. And this is the first theorem that any scientist should apply: Know Thyself, Know Thy mind. Because If you know your own mind, then you can fathom all other minds; if you know one particle of the world you know all the particles of the world. This is the truth that India has been practicing for millenniums.

Finally, nobody in the symposium cared to mention that western science owesa lot to India. Pythagoras, pioneer of modern geometry, was inspired byIndian mathematics; Egyptians built their pyramids by means of Indianarithmetic; 18th century French astronomers were using Hindu calculationsof the positions of the stars and the solar eclipses.

But unfortunately, Indian science today is very westernized, because the scientific knowledge taught in the universities lacks a connection with the spiritual, and never mentions India’s ancient tradition of scientific inquiry.

The British colonials imparted through education a certain western bent of mind. Additionally, many of India’s top scientists today have a strong connection with the West. The ultimate achievement for them is to have a chair in a foreign university, where some of them brand India as a backward, fundamentalist country. Isn’ it so Mr Amartya Sen? But the real issue is: how can Indian science re-link itself again with the spiritual? There is no question that the Spirit is very much present in India: everywhere you go, you find ashrams, yogis, sadhus, ordinary people practicing meditation or pranayama.

The natural tendency here is to understand the levels of consciousness beyond the surface materiality. Other than Indian Nobel laureates there have been geniuses like Ramanujan, who, with no sophisticated means, were able to devise stupendous mathematical theorems. But Indian science has to look within and delve in its scientific past. The secrets of the Vedas, for instance, both spiritual and scientific, have never been fully deciphered; Sanskrit too has never been analyzed in a modern manner. Indian science mustshow the West how to reestablish the spiritual link and at last unite matter and spirit.

It was all in our stars

Author: Francois Gautier
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: October 23, 2000

Today, because of the vulgarisation of astrology, people tend to think that it Ls not a science and that the planets are so far away that they cannot have a definite influence on human life. But it is not so, contends Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Bangalore-based Art of Living, an International Foundation which cuts across all barriers of nationality and religion and brings enlightenment to millions of people all over the world.

He points out, for instance, the strong influence which the moon has on the huge oceans, whose tides rise and fall according to the lunar cycles. “In the same way,” he continues, “the moon has a sway on the human body, which is made-up of 60 per cent of fluids.” The moon has also a power on the mind: This is why on full moon days mental hospitals receive the maximum number of patients. People, in the past, knew this but it has been dismissed today as just another superstition.

What about the sun? It definitely also has an impact on people’s minds. Look at those who live in the Arctic Circle, where in winter the sun is so scarce that people tend to get depressed. The maximum number of suicides, in this region, takes place during the months of February and March.

The theory of relativity has proved that everything affects everything: A small atom exploding somewhere, has an impact for thousands of miles around and the effects of radiation continue for yeah. So the smaller the particle, the snore powerful the effect “In the same manner,” interjects the seer from Bangalore, “planetary positions affect us very closely, because of the cosmic rays coming out of certain planets and the particular position of the earth at a given moment, just as a small does of a homeopathic drug can have a repercussion on a body weighting 80 kg. or a drop of poison kill a huge animal.” Jupiter, for instance, affects the intellect, Saturn the hear, and so on. Each part of the human anatomy is connected to the cosmos: the nose is linked to Jupiter eyes to Saturn, Mars to the lower body…. The science, known as Samudrika Shastra, is almost lost today.

“The ancient sages,” declares Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, “knew these facts. This is why they devised the mala (necklace) with 108 beads, which stand for the 12 constellations and the nine planets and the 108 different permutations which affect one’s life.” Everything is interconnected in this universe, like a radio transistor, which can catch certain stations or relay messages, or a computer chip, which is the pathway for the movement of electrical and magnetic energy. And it is the same electric and magnetic energy which is linked to different planetary positions.

But how can the malefic influence that the planets sometimes have on us, be countered? Replies Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: “If the mind-body complex is affected by the planets, the Self, or Atman, remains untouched. And if you practice meditation, by going to the crore of your existence, you can escape the damaging influence of planets.” He continues, “When you are on a spiritual path, all the good luck that you gather through yogic practices will counterbalance your bad karma.”

What is the difference between Chinese/Western astrology and Indian astrology? According to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, “Indian astrology is more moon-oriented, because in a tropical country the impact of the sun doesn’t vary greatly throughout the year. However, in the West and China, the role of the sun is much more important.” This is why, he says, a horoscope devised in India becomes invalid once you cross an ocean. Indian astrology stresses that for every effect there is a cause and that blaming the cause can trigger more stress and bring in negative emotions like anger and greed. He believes that one way to make them disappear, is to realise that these negative emotions may arise because of certain planetary positions. And, as you cannot get angry with planets, you stop blaming the person or situation.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar explains that Hindu astrology has a very ancient lineage. Ten thousand years ago the Rig-Veda saw the earth as round. Until recently, the West had believed that all the planets gravitate around the earth but the ancient rishis, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar reminds us, knew that the sun was at the centre and that all the planets revolved around it.

The West is thus committing an injustice by not giving Indian astronomy and astrology due credit. “Indian astronomers had calculated that life started 1 billion, 955 million, 818 thousand and 501 years ago and that 28 cycles of yugas have already happened,” smiles Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The present kaliyug, which is said to have begun the day Krishna left his body, has a length of 25,000 years and we are in the 5101st years. Hence we need to consider the science which gave the concept of zero to the world and which, without telescopes, had calculated long before Copernicus, the occurrence of solar eclipses and the number of moons around Jupiter- facts that were discovered only 256 years ago in the West!

Taliban, Hindu Kush and Hindu Genocide

Taliban, Hindu Kush and Hindu Genocide
Author: Mr Francois Gautier
Date: April 16, 2001

The West seems to have suddenly woken-up to Muslim fundamentalism in South Asia when the Taliban broke down the Bamyan statues, in spite of frantic appeals from all over the world. But there is a bit of hypocrisy in the outrage triggered by this destruction.

Firstly, Islam is very clear about statues: didn’t the Prophet Mohamed break down himself the first stone Gods ? Thereafter, it became a holy duty for all good Muslims. Firuz Shah Tughlak (1351-1388) who has an avenue named after him in New Delhi, wrote: “on the day of a Hindu festival, I went there myself, ordered the executions of all the leaders and practitioners of this abomination; I destroyed their idols and temples to build mosques in their places”.

As Belgium historian Konraad Elst points out, “Muslim fanatics are merely faithful executors of Quranic injunctions. It is not the Muslims who are guilty, but Islam”. Thus, the Taliban, who want to restore the early purity of Islam, really thought they were performing a righteous act by destroying the “heathen” Buddhist statues.

Secondly, does the West ever protest when Hindu temples are destroyed periodically in Bangladesh and Pakistan? The HRCBM, a Santa Clara-based organisation that investigates and exposes human rights violations in Bangladesh, has recorded a few of the outrages against Hindus in Bangladesh during the year 2000: On March 29, 2000, Malarani Roy of Karagola village was abducted by Muslims. She was brutally beaten up and gang-raped. The local police found her, but refused to register a case.

On June 26, a group of Muslims directed Smriti Rani Saha of Sirajganj town to migrate to India. When she refused, she was abducted, gang-raped and brutally murdered. On May 28, Debasish Saha of Poradaha was fatally shot by a Muslim gang. On June 4, Mayaram Tripura of Balipara was shot dead by local Muslims. On October 6, 2000, Muslim devotees, after offering namaaz at the Gajipur Jama Masjid, strolled across to the Hindu Kali temple, destroyed the puja pandal, smashed the idols, and looted nearby Hindu-owned shops.

Take a look at the figures of the Hindu population of India’s Muslims neighbours: in 1941, there were approximately 25% Hindus in Pakistan and 30% in Bangladesh; in 1948, only 17% in Pakistan and 25% in Bangladesh; in 1991, a bare 1.5% remained in Pakistan and less than 10% in Bangladesh.

==============added by LSK begin==================
| year  ||  % of hindus in Pakistan  ||      % of hindus in Bangladesh    ||
|_____||____________________ ||___________________________||
| 1941 ||             25                     ||                 30                             ||
| 1948 ||            17                      ||                 25                             ||
| 1991 ||            1.5                     ||                 <10                           ||     |________________________________________________________ ||

=============added by LSK end  ===================

Thirdly, the West has not yet realized that for the Muslims of South Asia , Hindus are the Kafirs by excellence: the Buddhists adore only Buddha, the Christians only Jesus, but Hindus worship a million Gods and Goddesses; and that makes them – even today – the number one enemy of Islam. This is why Kashmir is so important: it is not about territory, it is about a Holy war against Hindu India that has been going on for fifteen centuries and it is only the first step of the encirclement of India by hostile Muslim neighbours: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, with soft nations, like Nepal, often lending them a helping hand.

Nothing symbolizes more the absoluteness of Muslim belligerence towards Hindus than the Hindu Kush. Historically, the passes across the Hindu Kush have been of great military significance, providing access to the northern plains of India to foreign invaders, starting from Alexander the Great in 327 BC, to Timur Lane in 1398 AD, and from Mahmud of Ghazni, in 1001 AD, to Nader Shah in 1739 AD. As noted by Srinandan Vyas in the website: ” In Persian, the word ‘Kush’ is derived from the verb Kushtar – to slaughter or carnage, because all Hindus living there were slaughtered.

Encyclopaedia Americana says of Hindu Kush: The name means literally ‘Kills the Hindu’, a reminder of the days when Hindu slaves from Indian subcontinent died in harsh Afghan mountains while being transported to Moslem courts of Central Asia. While Encyclopaedia Britannica mentions “that the name Hindu Kush first appears in 1333 AD in the writings of Ibn Battutah, the medireview Berber traveller, who said the name meant ‘Hindu Killer’, a meaning still given by Afghan mountain dwellers who are traditional enemies of Hindus”.

“Unlike the Jewish holocaust, writes again Vyas, the exact toll of the Hindu genocide suggested by the name Hindu Kush is not available. However the number is easily likely to be in millions”. A few known historical figures can be used to justify this estimate. Encyclopaedia Britannica recalls that in December 1398 AD, Timur Lane ordered the execution of at least 50,000 captives before the battle for Delhi; likewise, the number of captives butchered by Timur Lane’s army was about 100,000 .

Encyclopaedia Britannica again mentions that Mughal emperor Akbar ‘ordered the massacre of about 30,000 captured Rajput Hindus on February 24, 1568 AD, after the battle for Chitod, a number confirmed by Abul Fazl, Akbar’s court historian. Afghan historian Khondamir records that during one of the many repeated invasions on the city of Herat in western Afghanistan, which used to be part of the Hindu Shahiya kingdoms “1,500,000 residents perished”.

Why does not the Government of India tell Indian children about the Hindu Kush genocide? The horrors of the Jewish holocaust are taught not only in schools in Israel and USA, but also in Germany. Because both Germany and Israel consider the Jewish holocaust a ‘dark chapter’ in the history. Yet, in 1982, the National Council of Educational Research and Training issued a directive for the rewriting of school texts.

Among other things it stipulated that: ‘Characterization of the medireview period as a time of conflict between Hindus and Moslems is forbidden’. Thus denial of history, or Negationism, has become India’s official ‘educational’ policy.

It is high time that the West realizes that India is fighting a lonely battle against Muslim fundamentalism in Asia. The French for one, who have a definite problem with Muslim terrorism, should support India more openly.

NOTE: The Indian Express refused to carry this column by Gautier, clearly indicating a policy of censorship being applied by the publication.