Category Archives: religion

A Diwali for ALL Indians

A Diwali for ALL Indians

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–> November 8, 2007

Mumbai (Maharashtra): Diwali is the Festival of Lights. This Light is symbolic of the spread of Knowledge. What is this Knowledge that is still alive in this wonderful country which we call India?

Firstly and foremost: “I accept you; I accept that you may be White or Black, Red or Yellow, Christian, Buddhist, or Muslim. I accept that God may manifest at different times, under different names, using different scriptures. Thus God is Krishna, but also Jesus Christ, Buddha or Mohammad. “This is an extraordinary statement and a marvellous instrument towards world peace, at a time where terrorism is striking everywhere in the world in the name of One God.

It is also a Knowledge that only the body dies, but not the soul, which is born and reborn again till it achieves perfection. A Knowledge that whatever you do bears consequences in this life or another. A Knowledge that all human beings are made out of Love, even beneath the hate and the killings.

And also: “I have inherited from my ancestors the tools to become a better man, whatever my religion, ethnicity and profession: a better Christian, a better Hindu, a better Muslim.”

What are these tools?

Hatha yoga, India’s gift to the world, which has been copied and imitated everywhere. Meditation, this extraordinary technique of coming back to one’s Self, of settling the mind and the body, which is today practised by millions around the world – another bequest of India to humanity.

Pranayama, the science of respiration, perfected by Indians for three millenniums.
“Does the breath have any religion,” asks His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living movement, which has spread today in 140 countries. “Is the air we breathe around us Muslim, Christian, or Hindu ?”

This knowledge thus does not only belong to Hindus, but also to the Buddhists, Christians, Jains and Muslims of India.

Once upon a time, the Syrian Christians of Kerala, though they remained faithful to the word of Jesus Christ, had incorporated some basic tenets of hinduism such as reincarnation and karma.

Once upon a time, great Sufis such as Dara Shikoh, Shah Jahan’s eldest and preferred son (who should have become emperor instead of Aurangzeb), while remaining true Muslims (and not apostate ones), could translate the Upanishads and step into a temple without thinking they were committing a mortal sin.

Once upon a time, Sikhism was born out of Dharma, to defend the Hindu Dharma and neither Sikh nor Hindu saw any difference between themselves. Once upon a time, Buddha, although he did strike against ritualism and hereditary Brahmanism, did not found a religion, but a path that led to the same Ananda he came from.

This knowledge is unique to India. For the West has lost the truth. We have lost the Great Sense, the meaning of our evolution, of why so much suffering, why dying, why getting born, why this earth, who are we, what is the soul, what is reincarnation, where is the ultimate truth about the universe. 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.

Thus, if you are an Indian settled abroad, whatever your religion, you should carry that identity in your actions and your aura, that you may shine without words, for it is a great privilege and responsibility to be born an Indian. Yet, too often, Indians in the US or Canada, or even the UK for that matter, hide their identities and try to merge into the mainstream culture, becoming more American than Americans, more British than the British.

Sometimes Indians are even ashamed to say that they are Indians and it is a tragedy to themselves and to their children, who lose the connection with one of the most ancient cultures in the world, which is not a religion but the last living spirituality on this planet.
You should also know that today this Knowledge is under attack from all sides. Foremost, from the Globalisation and Westernisation which is taking place at the moment in India at a frantic pace. Television channels and advertisements must be the biggest culprits.

Is white the most beautiful colour, does having a white skin make you so hep? Do a cell phone, a suit or a fancy car really make you a man? This is what millions of innocent villagers or lower middle class viewers are enticed to believe.

There is also a rapid Christianisation of many villages in India, whether in Tamilnadu post-tsunami or in the North-East where innocent tribals are converted with the help of million of dollars.

What about the radicalism that seems to grip some Muslim youth? Nowhere but in India do they have so much freedom to practise their faith. And we know that the Pakistani or Bangladeshi bombers in Hyderabad or Mumbai could never function without the active participation of some Indian Muslims.

Lastly Hindu renegades, those intellectuals who want to cut off India at any cost from her past and make a copy – however brilliant – of a Marxism which has died everywhere else, or of the United States of America, where violence, divorce and depression are affecting three persons out of five, are extremely active at the moment, thanks to a government who chooses to close its eyes while this is going on.

Yet, it is for this Precious Knowledge that all Indians, be they Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or Sikh, should retain their dharmic identity, while being faithful to their Creed or Supreme God. This Diwali thus should symbolise for all Indians, the rekindling of this Light in their hearts.

Let Mother India protect shine in them and rekindle their common indentity beyond their religions.

A Happy And True Diwali to ALL Indians.
Francois Gautier


Will Islam convert itself?

Will Islam convert itself?

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November 3, 2006

The recent bombings of the Western Railway system in Mumbai have once again thrown up the same question: Is it possible to dialogue with today¹s Islam ? Does it listen to reason ? Does plain logic work ? Will it ever stop killing innocent people in the name of God ?

Take these bombings for instance: do they really make sense ? Here you have a Central Government which is heavily pro-Muslim, making sure that a number of Muslims are appointed in top posts, endeavouring to carve a sizable chunk of reservations for Muslims, as seen in Andra Pradesh and constantly pandering to India¹s Muslim minority. The bombings also happen in Maharashtra, a state governed by the Congress, where many Muslims live and work, the financial capital of India, whose prosperity benefits all, including Muslims.

The same illogical strain seems to have got hold of the Government of India, whether it is BJP or Congress ruled. We keep hearing that those blasts, in Delhi, Vanarasi or Mumbai, are the work of the ISI of Pakistan or Bangladeshi extremists. But what they don¹t say is that it would be impossible for these people to function unless they have a lot of ground sympathy amongst local Indian Muslims. And the question has to be asked again: why should Indian Muslims go against their own Government, which has done so much for them since Independence ? Why should Indian Muslims target India, a country where they have more freedom than in say Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia ?

Every time also, the Government comes out with the same litany: these acts are meant to create communal violence, be peaceful, don’t react. Which basically means, You Hindus (who are targeted), keep quiet and get killed. Who cares anyway. And a few months later, another blast takes the lives of a few more innocent Hindus. But how long will the Hindus keep quiet? This is the question that the Indian Government has to ask itself. Gujarat has paved the way: However reprehensible these acts of mass vengeance were, they have shown that Hindus keep quiet for a long time: they get riled at, they are made fun of, they are despised, their women raped, men killed, children burnt in trains and one day they blow up – and blow up badly. Riots don¹t erupt in a few days: they are the fruit of decades, of generations even, of suppressed anger, of frustration, of a silent majority which sees itself more and more marginalized and taken for granted.

Yes, we do occasionally come across wonderful Muslims, open, friendly, who have somehow preserved the knowledge that all religions are the same, that Islam in India owes a lot to the tolerance of Indians, that Hinduism, yoga, meditation and pranayama, are India¹s gifts to the world and can be practiced by Muslims, Christians and Hindus alike. I have personally met quite a few of them, within the Art Of Living Family, for example. But they are such rarities. And even those educated Muslims, whom you can talk to, will not go as far as criticizing the Koran. Look at Javed Akhtar’s poetic tearjerker on the Bombay blasts (As a human being, I shudder to think how can my fellow humans do something so heinous? Are these terrorists made of flesh and blood? Do they laugh and cry like us?). Not once Akhtar, who has made a favourite pastime of deriding Hindu Gurus, said that all these crimes are committed in the name of Islam and the Koran, his religion and his Scriptures

So will Islam ultimately convert itself? Because the problem is not with Muslims, but with the Koran. Will it, instead of feeling totally paranoiac, thinking that it is under attack everywhere, whether it is Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir, or France, realize that it is actually Islam which is the aggressor all over the world, that Muslims who have settled in France or India, or the UK, and which these countries have sincerely accepted, giving them citizenship and the same rights as any French, Indian or German citizens, are actually biting the hand that fed them ? Will the mullahs of Islam accept to sit down and reform the Koran, which is a perfectly acceptable scripture for the Middle ages, when mentalities were very different, but which today still propagates an aggressive, exclusive, and dangerous zeal in its children?

This is what we are all hoping for. This is what most Western leaders secretly crave for, when they go out of their way to praise and favour the moderate Muslims of their country. This is what spiritual leaders like His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar are attempting, with a certain amount of success, by speaking to Muslim leaders, fostering ties in Muslim countries such as Iraq or Afghanistan, or reforming Kashmiri terrorists through meditation.

Unfortunately, time is running out. Muslims in India and elsewhere in the world do not understand is that we are slowly losing our innocence. At the moment, Islam still benefits from the sympathy of the media, which constantly negates Islamic fundamentalism, making a hero for instance of the Chechen warlord Shamil Bassayev, recently killed, who organized the gruesome massacre of hundreds of children in Beslan and a villain of Vladimir Putin (or a hero of Sadddam Hussain and a monster of Bush) but it is slowly losing that sympathy. Sooner or later nearly the entire world will wage a war against Islam, from Europe to China, from the Ural to Pakistan.

There will also come a time, which is not very far, where everybody will become wary of anything Islamic. Anyone looking slightly Muslim, in a plane, in a train, in a shopping mall, will be looked upon suspiciously. Anybody with a Muslim name will have problems entering any country. Those who have Muslim friends will quietly stop seeing them or find some excuses not to meet them. It is already happening. Muslims will cry themselves hoarse and speak of persecution. But they will have only themselves to blame: they did not speak up as a community when innocents all over the world were killed in the name of their religion .

And this may be the way Islam will slowly disappear. Muslims with a little common sense, or just maybe with a sense of survival, will start changing their names quietly, they will stop going to the Mosque, they will send their children to Christian or Hindu schools. Governments will clamp down so hard on their own Muslims, there will be so many restrictions on them, that entire families, will move out of the Muslim enclaves you find all over the world, to resettle elsewhere. Jehadis facing certain death even if they are not suicide bombers, will melt back in civilian life. Muslims will slowly lose faith in the righteousness and the power of their own religion, become atheists, or even embrace back Hinduism, as 90% of Muslims in India are Hindu converts. It may take a few decades, a hundred years even, But Islam will surely disappear in the alleys of history and what look now like menacing, dangerous, foreboding force will be looked upon as just another religion that came and passed away.

Unless Islam converts itself?

Anti-Brahmanism should stop !


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June 17, 2006

The first article published by rediff on Brahmins as an underprivileged community, brought a flurry of reactions, mostly of surprise: “What, Brahmins as toilet cleaners, coolies, rickshaw pullers, priests earning less than Rs 150 a month… How is it possible, we always thought that Brahmins were a rich, fat, arrogant community?”
Many Brahmins and other upper castes expressed online their relief that someone was speaking about their plight, that for once they were not attacked, made fun of, ridiculed. Of course there were also a few hostile e-mails, accusing the author of upper casteism, of anti-Dalits bias.

One would have thought however, that at a time when reservation was the hottest journalistic topic, the media would have seized this story and made it its own. After all, isn’t impartial journalism to show both sides of the story?

Don’t you think, for instance, that the discovery that all 50 Sulabh Shauchalayas (public toilets) in Delhi are cleaned and looked after by Brahmins — traditionally the task of the lowest of the lowest caste — and that this noble institution was started by a Brahmin, Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, makes a wonderful story, both for the print and electronic media?

That is what I believed, at any rate. So when I discovered that the Art of Living Foundation was conducting workshops for all coolies, irrespective of their religion and caste of the Delhi railway station — and that quite a few of them were Brahmins — I thought I could share this story and the Sulabh Shauchalayas scoop, with a few journalistic acquaintances, who would jump on it with glee. Unfortunately I was very wrong.

Initially, some young journalists were enthusiastic and joined us in our investigation. We expected the story to hit the headlines soon and be taken up by the entire press, hungry for something different than the strike of the medicos, or Arjun Singh’s adamant attitude. But nothing happened.

We called them day after day, proposed some more data, but still no story came out. Then one of the young journalists, working for one of the largest media outfits in India told us off the record that the sub-editor, backed by the editor, had killed the story in true journalistic freedom.

The second scenario we encountered was stone silence: the star anchors, bureau chiefs, editors of national English newspapers whom I personally contacted, either did not return my calls or were evasive.

Third scenario: Downright hostility: “You’re a right winger, a pro-BJP-RSS journalist” etc. What does truth and investigative journalism have to do with the BJP (who by the way did no more than the Congress for the Kashmiri Brahmins, for instance, when it was in power)? I don’t know.

Some journalists, initially willing to do a story, backed out after some time under the pretext that the data was not solid enough. Not solid enough? Does flimsy and unchecked data ever stop the Indian media to publish slanderous stories in the recent past?

Then, I came to the conclusion that more than fifty years later, the Nehruvian culture which directly brainwashed two generations of Indians in certain thinking patterns, has survived today. Actually, you have to go farther back than Nehru. For Jawaharlal was a true end product of Macaulay’s policy of creating Indians who would be Indians by the colour of their skins, but British in their thinking. Thus, the English outlook on India survives today in India’s intellectual class, particularly the journalists, who often cast a Westernised, anti-spiritual, pro-minority, anti-majority, un-Indian, anti-Brahmins and other upper castes — look on their own country.

It is true that Nehru started from a positive volition: How to solve India’s huge class and caste disparity? How to appease a Muslim minority which ruled India ruthlessly for ten centuries and was not ready to be ruled by those who were for a long time Islam’s pliant subjects?

But Nehru went overboard. He made the paupers of yesteryear the saints of modern India, allowing some states to literally hound out Brahmins and other upper castes. He twisted history and thanks to docile historians, made of cruel Muslim invaders and rulers, the benefactors of medieval India.

He went to the extent of excusing the razing and sacking of thousands of exquisite temples all over India, by saying that Muslim invaders such as Babar did it because these temples were full of hidden gold and jewels, damning again indirectly the poor hapless Brahmins, who were beheaded by Muslim invaders, crucified in Goa by the Portuguese Inquisition, vilified by British missionaries, and morally crucified today by their own brothers and sisters.

It is true that Brahmins may be paying today for the excesses of yesterday. In ancient times, as Sri Aurobindo wrote: ‘A Brahmin was a Brahmin only if he cultivated the spiritual temperament and acquired the spiritual training which alone would qualify him for the task.’

But once Brahmanism became hereditary, arrogance, complacency and casteism became rampant, ultimately bringing the downfall of Brahmins, a downfall which the Dalai Lama defines (for his own people) as Black Karma.

Thus, thanks to the lingering influence of Nehruvianism, ‘Brahmins’ remain today a dirty word, even in the face of reality: that Dalits have considerably come up since 1947 in Indian society, that no nation in the world has done so much for its underprivileged (India had a Dalit President — did the US ever have a Black President?). But the intellectual elite of India, which never mentions these facts, continues to hide its face in the sand like an ostrich, refusing to see the reality.

And rampant anti-Brahmanism and upper castes, first used by the Muslim invaders, then by the British colonialists and missionaries, is still in vogue at the hands of Nehruvians, Marxists, Indian Christians and politicians in search of the votes of Dalits and Muslims, which combined together make and unmake prime ministers.

Yet, Brahmins and other upper castes have played an invaluable role in Indian history, as Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, the founder of the Sulabh Shauchalaya Movement remarks: ‘Society sustained the Brahmins and other upper castes earlier, who upheld the Hindu scriptures and Hindu culture. Today hinduism is on the decline day-by-day. There is a lack of ancient knowledge. No political party has objected to reservation thanks to vote-bank politics. People have a very short memory. They have forgotten the contribution made by Brahmins to our society.’

And who says that Brahmins and other upper castes are anti-Dalits. Some of India’s top avatars, saints and gurus were of low caste and are still worshipped today by all upper castes. Valmiki, the composer of the Ramayana, was a fisherman; Ved Vyasa, the epic poet of the Mahabharata, which also contains the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible of Future Humanity, was the son of a fisherwoman; Krishna was from the shepherd’s caste. And are not today’s Amritanandamayi or Satya Sai Baba of low caste birth? Don’t they have millions of Indians, many of them from upper castes, bowing down to them?

Anti-Brahmanism has to be stopped!

This inter-caste war, triggered by the politicians’ greed for votes, has to be defused.

FACT, my Foundation, which conducts exhibitions on persecuted minorities, whether the Kashmiri Pandits, the Christians, Buddhist Chakmas and Hindus suffering in Bangladesh at the hands of fundamentalists in Bangladesh, or the Tibetans facing a cultural and spiritual genocide in Tibet, decided to take things in hand.

We started, with the help of a few dedicated friends, a film on Brahmins and other upper castes as an underprivileged community. This film will lead to a photoexhibition and hopefully to a book. All testimonies and documents are welcome.

The future of this country lies in a unified India, where all castes will find their just place, where all will feel Indians first and belonging to this caste or that one, after.

Francois Gautier