Category Archives: Rediff

We need an India based on merit, not on caste

July 03, 2006

You knew about OBCs, Other Backward Classes. Now you have to learn about OUC — Other Upper Castes, a term coined by a bureaucrat from the Union home ministry.

The Congress has become adept at cornering the votes of Dalits and OBCs, that is enough to bring any government to power. But do they know that Brahmins and OUC, according to the National Sample Survey’s 1999 report, constitute 36 per cent of India, a huge vote bank which ignores its own power?

And are the Brahmins and OUC aware that together they may constitute more than the OBCs vote bank, if one excludes Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Trtibes, which constitute 13 per cent of the 52 per cent Mandal OBC list?

There are further post-1931 caste census adjustments to be made, due to the merger of Rajput-Dominated Princely States with the rest of India, which took off 4 per cent; and another 4 per cent due to migration at the time of Partition in 1947.

Thus we come to an OBC actual population, All Religions Taken, excluding Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, of 22.5 per cent.

People think that Brahmins and OUC are rich, arrogant and cut off from society. We have already shown that today Brahmins and OUC work as toilet cleaners, coolies, rickshaw pullers, that temple priests sometimes earn less than Rs 350 a month.

But what about the Thakurs, the farmers and landlords, who have such a bad reputation in Bihar and UP, as having huge lands and exploiting the lower castes?

A paper by D Narayana, Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthpuram (‘Perception, Poverty and Health: A Contribution’ CICRED Seminar on Poverty and Health, February 2005), shows that 69.8 per cent of Brahmins and OUC never went past the 12th standard, that 52.4 per cent of Brahmins and OUC farmers don’t own land bigger than 100 cents, quite insufficient to nourish a family, and that that 53.9 per cent of the upper caste population is below poverty line.

So much for the clich�s and prejudices in India about Brahmins and Thakurs.

Narayana thus concludes: ‘Just as the higher ritual status of Brahmins does not necessarily translate into economic or political supremacy, those lower in the ranks are able to move up in the local hierarchy through the capture of political power, the acquisition of land, and migration to other regions. A combination of these strategies and India’s policy of quotas or reservations have particularly benefited the so-called backward castes, or Shudras. Referred to as ‘other backward classes’ (OBCs) in administrative parlance, backward castes are defined as those whose ritual rank and occupational status are above ‘untouchables’ but who themselves remain socially and economically depressed. Contrary to the general presumption that the OBCs belong to the deprived sections of Hindu society, few groups in independent India have made progress on a scale comparable to the OBCs.’

We are often shown Tamil Nadu as an example of successful reservation policies. But the Dravidian movement’s success has its origins in the anti-Brahmin movement launched in the first part of the 20th century.

One century on, the DMK continues to stoke those feelings. Most of the Brahmins who once enlightened Tamil Nadu have now fled to other parts of India and abroad, probably one of the greatest migrations of intellectuals from any country in the world.

It is true that thanks to reservation, social justice has returned to Tamil Nadu. But at what price?

The only Brahmins left there are priests and the DMK, back in power, is on the verge of also stripping them of this last privilege. But it takes decades to master the art of Sanskrit and puja and priesthood today is not a very lucrative career, as many Pandits are wallowing in poverty.

So how many takers will there be for their post? This is another empty vote bank posturing, which will split India more on caste lines.

This is the third part of the article on Brahmins. rediff has received a considerable amount of messages. We get huge amount of mails from Brahmins and OUC, grateful that someone has at last taken note of their plight, but also a few mails (3 per cent) from people saying that we are anti-Dalit.

First, I would like to say that after so many years in India, particularly in the cities, I am still not able to see the difference between a Dalit and a Brahmin, except if I see a Brahmin wearing a sacred thread and a Dalit in a loincloth, which is never the case in cities.

Second, we live partly in the South near Pondicherry, where most of the local inhabitants are Vanniars, an OBC caste, just above the untouchables. I play basketball with them, our marriage witnesses were both Vanniars and our best friend there is a Tamil OBC.

Thirdly, as all Westerners (and French), I am revolted by social inequalities. When during the tsunami in Pondicherry, Vanniars stopped Dalits (whose access to their burial ground had been flooded), from crossing their village to bury their dead, I was appalled.

When in Banares during a recent survey, a few Brahmins tell us that they still will not let a Shudra enter their house, I am revolted and I think to myself that Brahmins deserve the treatment they are getting today.

Today the Hindus, the huge majority of this country, they whose culture is the backbone and the genius of India, with virtues of tolerance, spirituality, acceptance of all, are treated like a minority by the Congress and more and more ostracised.

It may be true that chunks of India are still ruled by some of the erstwhile upper classes; but the 36 per cent upper castes of India — the Brahmins, Thakurs, Vaishiyas, Jains, Marwaris, Baniyas — are more and more marginalised, their voices are not heard, and their children have to emigrate abroad, because merit is not any more sufficient to get admission in a university or a government job.

When will this great brain drain stop?

What a terrible loss for India. Not only Brahmins and OUC kept alive India’s old age spirituality carried down throughout the ages, India’s sacred texts, including the Bhgavad Gita, humanity’s Future Bible, but they are also some of the top most scientists, engineers, software people, writers, artists of this country…

Will this 36 per cent so-called upper castes forever remain disunited, silent, and see its role more and more diminished, India more and more Christianised, Islamised, de-Hinduised, Marxist-ised? This may be the dream of the Sonia Gandhi-led Congress, but that will spell the doom of the India we all love.

Today, although outwardly many of the OUC still control parts of India there are many areas, such as the bureaucracy, schools, universities, hospitals, where the backward classes, often without merit, exercise huge control.

We need an India based on merit, not on caste. Indians should feel Indians first and then belonging to that caste or that religion after. But what is happening at the moment, under the Congress reign, is that Indians are made to believe that they are first OBC and then Indians, first Muslims and then Indians, first Christians and then Indians. This is very wrong and has got to be fought.

O Brahmins and OUC, awake, not against the lower castes, who are your brothers and sisters and whom you did sometimes mistreat for centuries, but against this cynical government that is trying to divide India more and more along caste and religion lines.

Let go of your centuries’ old disunity and selfishness, and unite. The power is still with you.


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Doping, truth and the media

August 01, 2006
One of the greatest realities today is that what appears as truth, is often untrue, or at best half true; and what people think as untrue, or not politically correct, is often much nearer to the truth than we think.

In the 21st century, more than anybody else, the media has become the magician of modern times, often making untruth appear as truth and truth appear as untruth.

Take, for instance, the recent cases of US sprinter Justin Gatlin and cyclist Floyd Landis, who have become, at the hands of the media, the villains of the day — the same media, both international and Indian, that for long eulogised them, carried them to the pinnacle of glory, making then of them modern day heroes.

The untruth goes like this. Landis and Gatlin are the great cheaters, they have taken performance-enhancing substances. They have disgraced the world of sport, they have broken the ethics of good sportsmanship. They will be thus banned, stripped of their titles and generally disgraced.

But look at it like this: It is not the Landis or the Gatlins who are responsible for doping, or the performance-enhancing substances that are taking over world sport more and more in nearly all disciplines, but the organisers, the sponsors, and particularly the television channels.

If you take the Tour de France, for instance, you will notice that every year it has become more and more difficult, with longer and longer and longer stages, more and more demanding mountain climbs.

Why? Because television channels want more and more sensational footage, more and more dramatic finishes, where players collapse at the rear end and where one single ‘hero’ sizzles up everybody and rides a lonely death to the finishing line.

In turn, the sponsors put more and more and more pressure on the organisers for the spectacular, the sensational, the dramatic. And the Tour de France is like a drug: the longer you’re on it, the more drugs you take to get a kick.

In the same way, the television viewer wants more and more action, more blood every year. It is like the old time gladiators in the Roman games where someone had to die.

Thus, Landis or Gatlin are only victims of the greed of television: they have to perform in harsher and harsher conditions, their bodies are submitted to more and more demanding stress. And they are not supermen, however much they practice and however much they build their bodies.

How far more can the world record for the 100 metres go down to? Scientists already feel that the present 9.77 seconds is the fastest that a human body can run. But don’t worry it will still go down and be broken again and again: sponsorship, spectacle and viewer interest demand it.

And another Gatlin will find another performance enhancing drug, which has not yet been traced. And then he will get caught and disgraced.

But the ultimate irony is that the first to condemn Gatlin or Landis are the organisers, the sponsors, and the media, those who made millions out of them. Because make no mistake, the billion of dollars earned in the Olympic games or in Le Tour de France by the organisers and the televisions channels are made on the sweat and blood of not only the Landis’ and Gatlins, but also of the thousands of faceless athletes who struggle, come last and about whom nobody speaks.

Yet they are very much part of the spectacle, which could not happen without them, as there can be no winners without worthy losers.

Oh, what hypocrites, these sponsors, television and organisers are. It is they who should be condemned by the media, these armchair athletes, these vampires of others’ efforts, who have never trained for hundred of hours, sweating their guts day after day, known the pain of losing, the loneliness of hotel rooms after a difficult day, the struggle of being a small time athlete, struggling to make ends meet when one has not yet reached glory and fame.

And what is doping after all? It is the logical continuation of the ‘natural’ medication the team doctor starts giving to a runner, a cyclist or a footballer: vitamins, proteins, or tonics. Slowly under pressure to perform more and more, faster and faster, with more and more competition at hand, the athlete turns to aspirin when he has an ache here and there, and eventually to some amphetamine.

From there, there is no turning back. Don’t blame him, blame the demands made on his body by the rapacious sponsors and media barons.

It is all about money, brothers and sisters, not sport. Nevertheless, even in the midst of this untruth, of this race for sensationalism, blood and death, sport triumphs. There is always that magical moment when the tennis player forgets about the millions of dollars he or she is going to make — or lose — the performance enhancers he may or may not have taken and surpasses himself, or herself, a moment of pure sporting miracle. This is what we should remember.

Nobody can take away from Gatlin the fact that he ran the 100 metres in 9.77 seconds, or from Landis that he won the Tour de France with only one hip. Testosterone or no testosterone. If you are not talented, you can take any amounts of testosterone, it will not make you into a Gatlin, a Landis, or even a Ben Johnson.

The media is so unfair. It’s all about untruth taking the appearance of truth. And what is valid for sports is even more valid for the world of politics. But that is another story.

Francois Gautier, who usually contributes columns to our news pages, plays basketball and tennis and jogs.

Is India headed the right way?

February 05, 2007
Today, there is a sense of deep satisfaction, of gloating even, in India.

The economy is booming, there are more and more cars on the roads, shares are soaring, a plane is taking off every six seconds, hotels are full, shops do roaring business.

It looks as if India has moved from tamas to rajas, and has come out of its slough of depression and inertia of the last so many centuries, which was characterised by lack of self-esteem, confidence and dynamism.

Today, we see a much more dynamic and self-confident India, galvanised by the liberalisation taking place at this very moment.

But if one looks closer at what is happening here, one is bound to feel a little unsettled. For what we see today is an India veering blindly, without restraint, towards total globalisation and Westernisation.

Yes, there are great values in the Western world: Freedom, democracy, equality (not always though), respect for the environment, less corruption. And India must, and has already borrowed from these qualities.

But since the last two, three years, it seems the Indian political and intellectual mind is pushing these qualities to an illogical extreme, as if it wants to prove to the West that ‘we are as democratic, as liberal, as free as you are.’

Thus, democracy in India has been hijacked. It takes a fortune to be elected. Politicians, elected by and for the people, once they are locked in the ivory tower that is Delhi, forget all about the people.

Thus we see that freedom is such an obsessive mantra in India that an artist who paints one of the most revered ancient Hindu gods doing unmentionable things to a Hindu goddess is defended by India’s intellectuals.

Thus we see that someone who is part of a diabolical plot to kill Indian leaders and storm Parliament gets the benefit of the doubt from the same intelligentsia in the name of judicial correctness.

This process of copying the West to the point of aping it has, of course, already happened many times in the developing world. And it killed the soul of many countries, making them just another replica of the West — with a youth that wears the latest Calvin Klein jeans, knows the No 1 bestseller on the Time list, can quote a few lines from Dante, reads The Times of India, but knows nothing about pranayama, has never read a verse from Kalidasa and does not know who Sri Aurobindo is.

The Westernisation of India must not be at the cost of her culture and spirituality. Yet, there are signs that it is already happening here.

You may notice in the Indian media, that there is a witch hunt against gurus, a deriding and mocking of Indian spirituality, a marginalising of Hinduism and Hindus, who constitute the immense majority in India and are a billion worldwide, one of the most law-abiding, religious, educated, affluent communities in the world.

More and more, Indian television particularly, but also newspapers and magazines, are casting a look on India that is not only very critical (if you open any newspaper nowadays, you can only end up depressed), but which in its very nature is a Western look — which judges India according to Western standards.

But these Western standards do not necessarily apply to this country, which has a different psyche, different culture and different standards.

Why not judge India according to Indian wisdom, which is much more ancient than Western democracy and philosophy?

More importantly, some Indians are more and more divided. Instead of feeling first Indians, they feel they are first Muslims and then Indians, first Dalits and then Indians, first Christian and then Indians. This is a dangerous trend and it spells the death of the minimum unified nationalistic pride that can take a country forward.

Instead, Indians today take pride in melting abroad, or adopting a ‘secular’ creed, which basically makes them soul-less and identity-less, however brilliantly they ape the West.

What is it that which India is fast losing as you read this article?

Its culture, firstly.

Entire patches in the northeast are being converted to Christianity. Tribals are told by missionaries that it is sinful to enter a temple, women are asked not to wear bindis, children are taught to look down on their culture as animist or heathen.

Its communal harmony, secondly.

Whatever the shocks of invasions, there was always a certain syncretism in Jain, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian and Muslim communities. The ordinary Muslim in Kashmir or the Christian in Kerala, even if he thought that his or her god was the only true one, had a certain understanding and acceptance of the age-old Indian culture. Reverence for women, respecting others’ festivals and customs, harmony with one’s neighbours were hallmark traits.

Today, even the Sikh community feels it wants to separate from its Hindu brothers and Christian and Muslims are encouraged to look down upon Hindus.

As a foreigner who loves India, I feel that this blind copying of the West’s ignorant and doubting mind, the aping of whatever is has proved wrong in the West — wild consumerism, or savage capitalism — will be a tragedy for India.

And what is India’s soul? The knowledge that there is life beyond life, the understanding of the different planes above the mind, the ancient wisdom on reincarnation, karma, maya.

And above all, the acceptance that god manifests himself at different times under different names and that god is one in his infinite diversity.

This knowledge, which once roamed the shores of the world from Egypt to China, is today lost everywhere. Yet it is the knowledge that humanity needs for the 21st century if it does not want to go towards catastrophe as it is now, with the world’s two major so-called monotheistic religions still believing that only their god is the true one and that it is their duty to convert ‘pagans.’

India must thus achieve its liberalisation and industrialisation, by taking the best of the West, but preserving what is good, pure, wise in her own culture.

On a material level, for instance, there should be a revival of authentic Indian traditional forms, such as ancient medical systems like Ayurveda, or Siddha, instead of the total dependence on Western antibiotics.

And what about Indian yogic sciences? Pranayama, for instance, is the most exacting, precise, mathematical, powerful breathing discipline one can dream of. It is also true of hatha yoga, a 3,500-year-old technique, which has inspired all kind of aerobic, so-called yoga techniques and gymnastic drills around the world.

Meditation is also India’s gift to the world. The art of relaxing the mind and cooling the nervous system, using simple methods such as observing the breath, or repeating one’s god’s name.

If these three disciplines were taught in a secular, scientific manner to all Indian children in school, not only it would unify them in the same knowledge, but it would provide them wonderful tools of intuition, endurance and peace of mind, which they could use all throughout their life.

But what we see today instead in India are IIMs or IITs churning out scores of Western clones good for export — the greatest cause of the intellectual brain drain of India.

And this will be India’s gift to this planet during this century: to restore to the world its true sense, to recharge humanity with the real meaning and spirit of life.

India should become the spiritual leader of the world.

Francois Gautier is the editor-in-chief of La Revue de l’Inde (lesbelleslettres.com) and the author of the Guru of Joy (India Today book Club).

Francois Gautier

Heed the New Hindu Mood

Author: Francois Gautier
Publication: Rediff on Net
Date: March 11, 2003
URL: http://www.rediff.com/news/2003/mar/11franc.htm

It is not easy to be an Indian living abroad: Not only one has to retain one’s Indian-ness while coping with the West’s positive and less positive aspects which creep into one’s life, but one is also subjected to the humiliation of seeing one’s own countrymen spit on India in mainstream foreign newspapers and television. Recently, the Gujarat riots and the IDRF episode have been used by a few Indian academics/scholars/ writers, particularly in the United States, to demean India and Hindus.

Many of us are appalled by the comments people like Pankaj Mishra or Angana Chatterji, both Indians — and Hindus at that — make about their country in mainstream American newspapers such as The New York Times. Americans are generally very ignorant about India and ready to gobble up any rubbish they are fed. Hindus are portrayed as Nazis killing innocent Muslims in Gujarat. But this is historical nonsense.

My experience as a Westerner living in India for more than 30 years and married to an Indian is that not only does this country owe a lot to Hinduism, but Hinduism must be the most tolerant spirituality in the world, recognizing the fact that God is One, but that he manifests in many ways, under different forms, at different times. To take the Gujarat episode and make it an absolute theorem of Hindu fundamentalism is not only bad academism, but unfair and highly biased. Do they mean to say that the 30 millions Gujaratis who voted for Narendra Modi in the last election are all Nazis and Hindu fanatics?

It is true that during the Gujarat riots horrible things, which no human being should condone, happened. But Chatterji and Mishra forget to mention that that 25% of the people killed during the riots were Hindus or that, according to police records, the 157 subsequent riots which happened in Gujarat were started by Muslims.

They are unable to explain how 125,000 Hindus, many of them Dalits, tribals, or even upper middle class, came out on the streets of Ahmedabad with such anger after Godhra. While condemning their terrible acts one has to at least understand the cause of their deep-rooted rage, as Hindus throughout the ages have shown that they are patient and tolerant of others. There is also not a single mention of Hindus reaching out to Muslims after the riots such as the Hindu businessman who built 90 houses in Ahmedabad for Muslims whose homes had been destroyed.

America is fighting a war against terrorism today. India has suffered most from Muslim fundamentalism. In 1399, Taimur killed 100,000 Hindus in a single day. Professor K S Lal, in his Growth of Muslim Population in India, writes that according to his calculations, the Hindu population decreased by 80 million between the years 1000 and 1525, probably the biggest holocaust in world history. Today, Mishra and Chatterji are not without knowing that 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits are refugees in their own country, an ethnic cleansing without parallel. They must be also aware of what is happening to Hindus in Bangladesh today. I wonder why they do not mention all this in their articles.

Why is it that when for decades Saudi Arabia has funded madrassas in India some of which preach sedition, Mishra and Chatterji find nothing to say about it? Why is it that when foreign Christian organizations pour billions of dollars in India to convert innocent Harijans and tribals, teaching them to hate their culture and country, they also keep quiet? And why is it that when a few Hindu organizations, such as the IDRF, collect funds for harmless programmes like the Ekal Vidyalaya schools, which are doing a wonderful job for tribal children, they are attacked as fundamentalists?

The India Development and Relief Fund, a Maryland-based charity, has been targeted not only by Chatterji and Mishra, but also by the Federation of Indian American Christian Organisations of Northern America, Teesta and Javed Anand’s Sabrang Communications for ‘funding hate.’ The irony is Indians have demanded a probe by the US Congress into IDRF and asked the IRS to blacklist it and withdraw its tax exemption status.

Last August in Washington I met IRDF’s chief executives, Vinod and Sarala Prakash, two old, harmless, friendly people who would not hurt a fly. Their biggest achievement was to gather funds during the 1999 Orissa cyclone. It is true they are RSS affiliated and that they give first priority to Hindus afflicted by riots/cyclone/poverty. So what? We find nothing to say that Saudi Arabia only funds Muslims refugees in Bosnia, Palestine or Chechnya. Is it not time to call a spade a spade?

The specter of a ‘dangerous’ RSS, for example, is a creation of the British who understood, as the Muslims invaders did before them, that Hindus were the greatest hurdle to their grip on India. So their press started attacking anything Hindu or any group trying to protect Hindu culture or leaders such as the brilliant Hindu Mahasabha of Veer Savarkar who today is maligned by ‘secular’ Indians.

It is also time for Hindus of the world to face the truth: We are looking at the Gujarat riots only through the prism of what the Western press and the English-speaking Indian media have said — mad ‘fundamentalist’ Hindus going after peace-loving Muslims. But the reality might be totally different: Are not tolerant, God fearing, peace-loving Hindus fed up of being constantly maligned, attacked, killed, their women raped, their temples sprayed with bullets and grenades?

The Western press and governments should take notice of this new popular mood of Hindus, who after all represent 1 billion people in the world, one of the most peace-loving, law-abiding, tolerant and prosperous communities of this planet — one sixth of humanity — and try to understand their feelings, instead of accusing them of being ‘fanatics.’

Marxism and the Saffron wave

Marxism and the Saffron wave

The other day I visited a tribal village, which was only 20 kms away from Bhubaneswar. The poverty I witnessed there was appalling: no drinking water, no proper housing, the children to whom we distributed food packets were sickly looking, undernourished, dirty and badly clothed.

The whole village was in a kind of wasteland, where one could not see a single tree, or any newly planted sapling. Paresh Nayak of Odisha International told me that thousands of crores had been sanctioned by the government in this area, for housing, development, or afforestation, but every single paisa goes in the pockets of corrupt officials, from top to bottom.

In fact the only organisation which is trying to do something — and which was responsible for the food distribution as well as the sole tribal school in the whole area — is the much maligned Washington-based IDRF, which is supposed, according to the Western and Indian press, to only ‘fund Hindu fundamentalism.’

Nevertheless, when one witnesses such awful and unfair poverty just a few minutes away from the nouveau riche glitter of Indian arrogant cities, one cannot but think that all the Arundhati Roys, Praful Bidwais, N Rams, Shabana Azmis, Prannoy Roys and other die hard Marxists are right: only a revolution will bring fairness and justice to the poor and downtrodden of India.

In fact, one can even go further: when people like myself, who keep defending a certain spiritual idea of India, the greatness of Hindu culture and ethos, are suddenly confronted by that ‘other’ reality of this country, our lofty drawing-room idealism is blown away by what we see, whether in Bhubaneswar, in Uttar Pradesh, or Tamil Nadu. If I were born an untouchable or a downtrodden, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have become a Naxalite — given my militant propensities!

And if tomorrow missionaries descend upon the village I just visited in Orissa and open a dispensary, a school, then a church, why shouldn’t these poor tribals convert to Christianity, when their own more fortunate Hindu brothers and sisters not only never cared after them for centuries, but stole the money which was meant for them?

Yet, all my years in India have taught me that there is a third way, which is neither of capitalism nor of communism. One could call it ‘spiritualised socialism,’ as envisioned by Sri Aurobindo and today practiced by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living. A Hindu temple or a Hindu organisation has no meaning unless it also acts as a social centre, helps the poor, gives away money, houses, imparts education and hygiene.

Indeed the Art of Living foundation does just that with its volunteers going in thousands of villages all over India and selflessly bringing hygiene, housing, harmony and human values. It is true that there are countless NGOs all over India doing the same job, but unless they pass on along with their material help some spiritual values pertaining to India’s ancient culture, they are failing in their task.

Finally, I would like to tell my Marxist friends that instead of crying themselves hoarse over the BJP’s victory in Gujarat, of screaming about the ‘saffronisation of India,’ or the ‘fascist trend set by these results,’ they should look at it in a different manner. If this is a Nazi trend, then the millions of Gujarati Hindus: upper and middle class, low castes and tribals, who voted for Narendra Modi, are all Nazis.

Yet the Indian voter has always shown that he is smart and that he usually casts his ballot in a certain way because he wants to put across a message. What if Gujarat was the first sign that tolerant, peace-loving Hindus who for centuries have accepted other religions and ethnicities and allowed them to practice and prosper in peace (UNESCO recently released a report saying that out of 128 countries where the Jews lived up to 1948, in only one — India — were they not persecuted), are fed-up of being made fun off, sullied, harassed, killed, their temples sprayed with bullets and grenades, their train burnt, their Parliament attacked, their markets blown up, their women raped?

What if it was a warning to the Muslims of India that the majority community of this country will no more allow the burning of innocent children and women, for the only crime that they are Hindus? What, however reprehensible their acts was, if peace-loving Hindus have shown, for the first time, that they can retaliate in kind and that Islam doesn’t have a copyright on hatred, bloodshed and mad violence? At a time when India’s government is the laughing stock of the world — as shown by the contempt that much smaller countries such as Malaysia, Portugal or Saudi Arabia have shown to India by refusing to extradite criminals — the common Hindu is telling his government, his countrymen, whether they are Hindus, Christians or Muslims, and the world, that he has had it…

In defence of Hindu gurus

Author: Francois Gautier

Publication: Rediff.com
Date: January 9, 2006
URL: http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/jan/09franc.htm

When Marxist leader Brinda Karat attacks Swami Ramdev, she is not attacking Ramdev in particular, she is attacking Hinduism in general.

This guru or that guru makes no difference to her; she is against all gurus.

Other gurus might think they are safe, that Ramdev committed some sin for which he is paying. But one of them will be the next in the line of fire!

Hindu gurus are all vulnerable in today’s India: The Kanchi Shankaracharya has already been hit. So has Satya Sai Baba. Amritanandamayi has to live under the constant shadow of a hostile Kerala Communist-dominated government. Dhirendra Brahmachari is dead and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is periodically targeted as the ‘Guru of the rich’, the ‘Glib Godman’ etc.

May I be forgiven my arrogance, but what Indian gurus have to understand is that for Indian Communists, Hinduism is the Number 1 enemy. Mao called religion ‘the opium of the people’. But for Indian Communists, what stands between their ambition for absolute power in India (and eventually the triumphant return of Communism in the world — as Indian Communists believe) is the hold Hinduism has in the hearts of the rural people of India, who constitute 80 per cent of this country.

Yet, the humble farmer from Uttar Pradesh to Tamil Nadu has a natural understanding of the universality of God, who takes many names throughout the ages who could be Buddha, Jesus Christ, Ram or Mohammad. This humble farmer possesses the knowledge that there is a something deeper than the skin and the mind, and a life beyond death. This knowledge is inbred, it is not in his head, not even in his heart, but in his or her genes from generation to generation.

Of course, the English-speaking media is too happy to oblige Brinda Karat and come down hard on gurus with all kind of accusations.

Before Ramdev, they came down on the Kanchi Shankaracharya, before him on Osho, before him on Dhirendra Brahmachari. You can even go back to Sri Aurobindo, who was accused in the early 1900s by the moderate Congress-controlled press to be a ‘fanatic’, when he was only demanding total independence from the British long before Gandhi took it up.

Accusations against Hinduism of superstition, brainwashing, ritualistic ignorance, date back from British missionaries and have been taken up today by the Communists. Yet, Hinduism — at least the Hinduism which goes beyond the rituals and becomes universal spirituality — has nothing to do with superstition and conmanship: it is all about science, knowledge and light.

Look at Pranayama, a science that has known for thousands of years how to harness breath and use it for controlling the mind, for a better, more healthy, more spiritualised life. If you read Osho’s books today, you find a lot of solid common sense, wisdom, even light.

Satya Sai Baba cannot have millions of disciples from the most humble to the Presidents of India without ‘something’ which is beyond superstition. So goes for Amritanandamayi, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Ramdev, or Guruma of Ganeshpuri.

And why should Brinda Karat target Ayurveda, the most ancient medical system in India still in practice, the first medicine to realise 3,000 years ago that plants and minerals offer the best cure, that many illnesses have a psychosomatic origin, the first to practice plastic surgery on patients?

In India today, every third shop is an allopathic medical shop, whose profits go to Western multinationals (hello Mrs Karat!) at a time when Ayurvedic medicine is becoming increasingly popular in Western countries, after being disillusioned by antibiotics and other heavy-handed medicines.

We are witnessing an interesting phenomenon in India today. Some Communists, some Christians, some Muslims and some Congress leaders — all of whom have nothing in common and often hate each other are united against Hinduism and Hindu leaders.

In contrast, look at the Hindus: Swami Ramdev himself criticised Sri Sri Ravi Shankar live on television, advising his followers not to practice Art of Living breathing techniques. During the tsunami relief operations in Nagapattinam, disciples of Amritanandamayi and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar nearly came to blows over who would give relief to whom, instead of networking and uniting their efforts.

And who came to the rescue of Osho when he was maligned to death, or Dhirendra Brahmachari when the entire press came down on him, or Satya Sai Baba, when he was slandered, or the Shankaracharya when he was thrown into jail, or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, when Javed Akhtar accused him of coming ‘from a cave to live in a palace’ (and not from a palace to a cave like the Buddha)? None of the previously mentioned. Yet, Indian politicians can commit any crime, have any number of court cases against them, and they still end up as Union ministers and get positive press coverage.

The greatest curse of Hinduism throughout the ages has been its disunity — and more than that — its betraying each other. The British did not conquer India, it was given to them by its warring Hindu princes, jealous of each other. The same is true of Islam: the last great Hindu empire, that of Vijaynagar, was betrayed to the Muslims by the Lingayats.

I know there is something mysterious and unfathomable in the manifestation of the Divine upon earth, and that each guru has a defined task to fulfill and that the combined task of all the gurus may solve the great puzzle that is this ignorant and suffering earth.

Thus, it may not be necessary for each guru to communicate with each other. But nevertheless, it is of the greatest urgency today that Hindu leaders unite to save Hinduism, rather than ‘each one for his own’ that we see today.

The Catholics have their Pope and his word is binding on all Catholics. Muslims have Prophet Mohammed’s words and that binds all of Islam together. Indian Communists have the words of Marx and Lenin, even if it has become irrelevant in Russia, Germany, and also in China. But the poor Hindus have nobody to refer to, so as to defend themselves.

Yet, if you take the combined people power of Satya Sai Baba, Amritaanandamayi, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Swami Ramdev, Guruma of Ganeshpuri, the Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram, and so many others I cannot mention here, it runs in hundreds of millions.

Again, in all humility and conscious of the limitation of mind compared to some of these great gurus whom I have met, I propose that a Supreme Spiritual Council, composed of at least seven of the most popular Hindu leaders of India, be constituted, maybe under the leadership of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the most travelled of all these, the one who has disciples and teachers of all religions, both from India and the West.

It should be a non-political body, and each group would keep its independence but nevertheless. It could meet two three times a year and issue edicts, which would be binding on 850 millions Hindus in India and one billion over the world.

Then and then only can this wonderful spirituality which is Hinduism, this eternal knowledge behind the outer forms, the wisdom to understand this mad earth and its sufferings, be preserved for the future of India, and for the future of humanity.

I bow down to each of these gurus mentioned above and to all those not mentioned, to Swami Vivekananda, the initiator of modern Hinduism, to Sri Aurobindo, the great avatar of the supramental, and to all the great gurus who have graced over the ages, this wonderful and sacred land which is India and beseech them to hear my prayer:
Hindus leaders, unite, if you want eternal Dharma to survive.


Bhutto resorted to anti-Indianism – Francois Gautier

Bhutto resorted to anti-Indianism – Francois Gautier

<!– Views : 339
–> January 2, 2008

Source: http://www.rediff.com

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Benzair Bhutto as ‘one of the outstanding leaders of our sub-continent, who always looked for reconciliation between India and Pakistan’.

Most magazines are doing cover stories on her.

Bhutto is on the verge of becoming a ‘martyr of democracy’. It is a sad that a mother of three children was so brutally killed and we all mourn her terrible death.

Full coverage: Benazir Bhutto killed

Nevertheless, truth must be told. For, as usual, what the press says is not exactly what happened.

Firstly, under Bhutto, anti-Indian terrorism in the Kashmir region was fostered and increased. Benazir was also directly responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Kashmir.

“She was instrumental in sponsoring jihad, openly inciting militants to intensify terrorism in India,” says Ajai Sahni, the executive director of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management. “I find it very difficult to discover a single element with her relationship to India that is positive and for the betterment of her country or the region,” he adds.

Remember how she was shouting her slogans of azaadi, and exhorting the people of Kashmir to cut Jagmohan, then governor of the state, into pieces, as in “jag-jag, mo-mo, han-han”. She would say this while making chopping motions with her right hand as it moved from her left wrist to the elbow, leaving nobody in any doubt as to what she meant.

Secondly, under Bhutto, the Taliban formed and, helped by Pakistan’s intelligence service, swept across Afghanistan and later hosted Osama bin Laden. It is a bit of an irony that she may have been killed by the very people she helped foster if at all she was murdered.

We South Asians like our leaders dead

Thirdly, she deliberately increased tension levels and then threatened India with a pre-emptive nuclear strike. The tension peaked when Bhutto repeated her late father’s immortal boast of waging a 1,000-year war against India. Even Rajiv Gandhi was forced to mock her in Parliament, asking if those who talked of a 1,000-year war could last even a 1,000 hours.

And fourthly, in her last speech before she died, she alluded to India as one of the threats Pakistan had to face, implying that if she was elected she would deal firmly with it.

Then why is it that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calls her a friend of India and that Indians mount candlelight vigils in the Gateway of India for her?

I interviewed Benazir Bhutto twice, the second time as she was campaigning to be re-elected for a second term. The first question I asked, was about Kashmir, as she was the one who had called for Azad Kashmir, a Kashmir free from India, which had triggered the ethnic cleansing of most of the Hindus of the Valley of Kashmir — 400,000 of them had to flee their ancestral land.

“You know,” she answered, “You have to understand the Pakistani point of view on Kashmir. If one goes by the logic of Partition, then at least the Kashmir valley, which is in great majority Muslim — and it should be emphasised that for long the Hindus Pandits in Kashmir exploited and dominated the Muslims, who are getting back at them today — should have reverted to Pakistan. But let us say that officially we want to help grant Kashmiris their right to self-determination.”

“That’s the only reason?” I continued.

“No,” answered Benazir. “It should be clear also that Pakistan never forgot the humiliating loss of Bangladesh at the hands of India, although India claims it only helped Bangladesh to gain its freedom in the face of what the Bangladeshis say was Pakistani genocide. Zia’s emergence was a result of that humiliation.”

“But Zia hanged your father?” I interrupted.

“Yes and I hate him and god the almighty already punished him for that,” said Benazir, alluding to Zia’s death in a plane crash. “But Zia did one thing right, he started the whole policy of proxy war by supporting the separatist movements in Punjab and Kashmir, as a way of getting back at India.”

“What about Pakistan’s nuclear bomb?” I asked.

“That’s my father’s work,” she said proudly. “He realised, after having lost the 1965 and 1971 wars with India, that both numerically and strategically, we can never beat India in a conventional conflict. Thus he initiated the programme by saying that ‘We will get the nuclear bomb, even if we have to eat grass’.”

“But is it not a dangerous weapon if it falls in the hands of the fundamentalists of your country?” I asked.

Anti-Bhutto army factions behind the murder?

“No such danger,” Benazir answered. “Anyway, it is not only a deterrent against India’s military conventional superiority and an answer to India’s own nuclear capability, but also the ultimate weapon to re-assert Islam’s moral superiority.”

“We in Europe are going to unite in a Common Market, why don’t Pakistan and India forget their differences and form some kind of confederation with other South Asian countries, instead of killing each other?” I asked.

“Pakistan and India were never one country,” answered the imperious lady. “They were only kept together by force, whether by Mauryan, Moghul or British rule. Hindus have recognised the reality of Islam, and we needed our own country to feel free.”

I was flabbergasted: here was a lady educated in Oxford and Harvard, who mouthed such irrational statements. She spoke good English, was pretty, articulate and pleased the press.

But when in power, she had to resort to anti-Indianism to please her voters. Her husband was known as Mr 10 Per Cent. She was hounded out of power twice for incompetence and corruption.

Is she then a martyr of democracy?

History will tell.

Francois Gautier is the editor in chief of Paris-based La Revue de l’Inde

Source : rediff.com/news