Tag Archives: amarnath

RECIPROCITY and HINDUS

This starts as a beautiful story. Once upon a time, there was a tiny village in South Arcot’s district of Tamil Nadu, called Bampralayam. Now Bampralayam is like hundreds of villages in South Arcot: it is peopled with Hindu Vanniars, a caste slightly higher than the untouchables, poor, living off agriculture, usually a few meagre fields of cashew nuts. But then Bampralayam happened to be near Pondichery, where many westerners live.

Thus Bampralayam prospered: its inhabitants learned trades needed for Pondichery: carpenters, masons, craftsmen, a few of its children attended some of Pondichery’s schools and were educated along with western kids and in time graduated and went into white collar jobs. From a few cycles 40 years ago, Bampralayam has today motorcycles, tractors, cars, vans, cable TV, cell phones, etc. The main road of Bampralayam which used to boast only shady huts, became lined-up with fancy shops which sell everything, from vegetables to handicrafts.

And then the unavoidable happened: a Kashmiri Muslim from Chennai heard about Bampralayam and its new found prosperity, and understanding that he could make a packet with so many westerners passing though Bampralayam, he opened the usual shawls & carpets’ shop in the village. Now Bampralayam never counted a Muslim amongst its population in its 1200 years of recorded history; but in the true Hindu tradition, this one was welcomed and nobody raised an objection, although he was competition for some of the other shops. Our Kashmiri Muslim, seeing his success, called his cousin in Kolkata, who came and opened another shop; and that one phoned his friend in Mumbai, who also landed-up and opened a third shop. Still nobody found anything to say, even when it became known that they also dealt in drugs which they sold to the youth. Kashmiris are sociable fellows and they quickly made friends with Westerners, most of them blissfully unaware of the political situation in India, so business was booming, till they were twelve Kashmiri shops in Bampralayam. And again nobody complained, even when the fellows started doing their naamaz in their backyards. “Isn’t God everywhere and isn’t He Krishna, as well as Allah”, said one of the villagers?

But one day, Bhoumi, one of the young boys of Bampralayam, who had gone to study in Delhi, told his parents when he came back, about the fact that not only no Hindus were allowed to buy land or start a shop in the Valley of Kashmir, where the shopkeepers came from, but that four hundred thousand Hindus, were chased out of the Valley by terror, many of them having been murdered and that many were still living as refugees in camps in Jammu and Delhi. His parents started talking to their friends and there was the first hint of resentment against the newcomers.

Then some elders of Bampralayam heard that Muslims of Kashmir rioted when the Government allotted some land in Amarnath, one of the most sacred and ancient Hindu pilgrimages, high in the Himalayas. Bhoumi’s father went to see a group  of Bampralayam Kashmiris having tea, and told them that Hindus never complained about their government giving billion of rupees in  subsidies to Indian Muslims so that they can perform the Haj in their most Holy place, the Mecca. “But when Hindus, he continued, need shelters, toilets and basic facilities at height of 15.000 feet to worship at one of the holiest places of Hinduism, why do you Kashmiri Muslims deny it to us” ? The Kashmiris looked a bit uneasy, then replied “that anyway the Amarnath ice lingam had been discovered by a Muslim shepherd and that Muslims have always welcomed their Hindu brothers to Armanath”. But this did not convince the Bampralayam man who had heard from his son that many grenade attacks had happened over the years against the Amarnath pilgrims. And anger started mounting in Bampralayam.

So it is all a question of reciprocity. Most Hindus are peace-loving people. The average Hindu that you meet in a million Indian villages, such as Bampralayam, is easy-going and accepts you and your diversity, whether you are Christian, Muslim, Parsi or Jain, Arab, French or Chinese. He goes about his business and usually does not interfere in yours.

In fact Hindus take it a little further:  they hate trouble and go out of their way to avoid it. Have you noticed how every time there is a possibility of a strike or trouble, Hindus stay home? Or how – forget about rioting – Hindus never speak-up, complain or protest in a united manner. Not only that, but everywhere in the world, Hindus are hounded, humiliated, routed, be it in Fiji where an elected democratic government was twice deposed in an armed coup, or in Pakistan and Bangladesh, where Muslims indulge in pogroms against Hindus every time they want to vent their hunger against India (read Taslima Nasreen’s book “Lalja”). In Assam, Tripura, or Nagaland, Hindus are being outnumbered by Bangladeshi illegal immigrants and terrorized some of them, while local governments often turn a blind eye. Their temples are being taken over in many states like in Kerala or Karnataka, and the donations appropriated by the state governments.

Yet, in 3500 years of known existence, Hindus have never military invaded another country, never tried to impose their religion upon others, by force or even by induced conversions. No, it has rather been through peaceful invasions that Hinduism has stormed the world, whether in the East, witness Angkor Vat, or in the West today, where the by-products of Hinduism, yoga, meditation, ayurveda, pranayama, spread by great gurus such as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, have been adopted by millions.

Thus Hindus, who accept everybody, welcome all religions, allow Indians from other parts to trade next to them, as it happened in Bampralayam, do not receive in return any gratitude and the same respect. On the contrary, they get mocked at, bombs are planted in their markets, their trains; their temples, their five star hotels get attacked, they are chased out of their homelands; television and newspapers make fun of them, their own politicians ostracize them… Hindus recognize the fact that God may manifest at different times under different names, the concept of the avatar –  Krishna, Buddha, Mohamed or Jesus Christ. Indeed, Hindus gave refuge to all persecuted minorities of the world from the Parsis, to the Jews (India is the only country in the world where Jews were not persecuted, or killed bar the 26/11attack on the Nariman house in Mumbai) to the Armenians and the Tibetans today.

So recently, the elders in Bampralayam went back to confront the Kashmiris, but now in anger: “You people have been the most brutal and ruthless in our country: you razed our temples, killed our people, enslaved our women and children. But still, we accepted you – and at Partition, many Indian Muslims chose to stay here in India, for they knew that they would get the freedom of speech and religion that we Hindus are denied in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. Yet today, you continue to bully us, chasing our brother and sisters from the Valley of Kashmir, rioting and burning all over India, every time you are dissatisfied, keeping silent when Islamists attack our hotels or temples. On top of that, you portray yourselves as martyrs, like Shah Rukh Khan who is idolised by millions of Hindus, yet complains that because he is a Muslim, he is discriminated against. And lately, you deny the very truth that Vishwaroopam dared to depict,: that in the name of your Holy book, your coreligionists kill and maim all over the world and have just coldly executed 39 innocent westerners in Algeria”.

This time the Kashmiris kept quiet and looked down. But Bhoomi, who was present, saw that they did not agree at all and that they would not change…

François gautier

RECIPROCITY & HINDU ANGER

RECIPROCITY & HINDU ANGER

This starts as a beautiful story. Once upon a time, there was a tiny village in South Arcot’s district of Tamil Nadu, called Kuilaplayam. Now Kuilapalayam is like hundreds of villages around Pondichery: it is peopled with Hindu Vanniars, a caste slightly higher than the untouchables, poor, living off agriculture, usually a few meagre fields of cashew nuts. But then Kuilapalayam just happened to be in the midst of Auroville, the international township, founded by the Mother of Pondichery, based upon the ideals of the great yogi and revolutionary, Sri Aurobindo.

Thus Kuilaplayam prospered: its inhabitants learned trades needed for the city: carpenters, masons, craftsmen, some of its children attended Auroville’s schools and were educated along with western kids and in time graduated and went into white collar jobs. From a few cycles 40 years ago, Kuilapalama has today motorcycles, tractors, cars, vans, cable TV, cell phones, etc. The main road of Kuilapalayam which used to boast only shady huts, became lined-up with fancy shops which sell everything, from vegetables to handicrafts.

And then the unavoidable happened: a Kashmiri Muslim from Chennai heard about Auroville and the prosperity of Kuilapalaym and understanding that he could make a packet with so many westerners passing though Auroville, he opened the usual shawls & carpets’ shop in the village. Now Kuilapalayam never counted a Muslim amongst its population in its 1200 years of recorded history; but in the true Hindu tradition, this one was welcomed and nobody raised an objection, although he was competition for some of the other shops. Our Kashmiri Muslim, seeing his success, called his cousin in Kolkata, who came and opened another shop; and that one phoned his friend in Mumbai, who also landed-up and opened a third shop. Still nobody found anything to say. Kashmiris are sociable fellows and they quickly made friends with Westerners, most of them blissfully unaware of the political situation in India, so business was booming, till they were seven or eight Kashmiri shops in Kuilapalayam. And again nobody complained, even when the fellows started doing their naamaz in their backyards. “Isn’t God everywhere and isn’t He Krishna, as well as Allah”, said one of the villagers?

Then Bhoumi, one of the young boys of Kuilapalayam, who had gone to study in Delhi, told his parents when he came back, about the fact that not only no Hindu were allowed to buy land or start a shop in the Valley of Kashmir, where the shopkeepers came from, but that four hundred thousand Hindus, were chased out of the Valley by terror, many of them having been murdered and that many were still living as refugees in camps in Jammu and Delhi. His parents started talking to their friends and there was the first hint of resentment against the newcomers.

Then some elders of Kuilapalayam hear that Mulsims of Kashmir rioted when the Government allotted some land in Amarnath, one of the most sacred and ancient Hindu pilgrimages, high in the Himalayas. Bhoumi’s father went to see a group of Kuilaplayam Kashmiris having tea and told them that Hindus never complained about their government giving billion of rupees in subsidies to Indian Muslims so that they can visit their most Holy place, the Mecca. “But when Hindus, he continued, need shelters, toilets and basic facilities at height of 15.000 feet to worship at one of the holiest places of Hinduism, why do you Kashmiri Muslims deny it to us” ? The Kashmiris looked a bit uneasy, then replied “that anyway the Amarnath ice lingam had been discovered by a Muslim shepherd and that Muslims have always welcomed their Hindu brothers to Armanath”. But this did not convince the Kuilapalayam man who had heard from his son that many grenade attacks had happened over the years against the Amarnath pilgrims. And anger started mounting in Kuilapalayam.

So it is all a question of reciprocity. Most Hindus are peace-loving people. The average Hindu that you meet in a million Indian villages, such as Kuilapalayam, is easy-going and accepts you and your diversity, whether you are Christian, Muslim, Parsi or Jain, Arab, French or Chinese. He goes about his business and usually does not interfere in yours.

In fact Hindus take it a little further: they hate trouble and go out of their way to avoid it. Have you noticed how every time there is a possibility of a strike or trouble, Hindus stay home? Or how – forget about rioting – Hindus never speak-up, complain or protest in a united manner. Not only that, but everywhere in the world, Hindus are hounded, humiliated, routed, be it in Fiji where an elected democratic government was twice deposed in an armed coup, or in Pakistan and Bangladesh, where Muslims indulge in pogroms against Hindus every time they want to vent their hunger against India (read Taslima Nasreen’s book “Lalja”). In Assam, Tripura, or Nagaland, Hindus are being outnumbered by Bangladeshi illegal immigrants and terrorized by pro-Christian separatist groups, such as the Bodos or the Mizos, while local governments often turn a blind eye. Their temples are being taken over in many states like in Kerala or Karnataka, and the donations appropriated by the state governments.

Yet, in 3500 years of known existence, Hindus have never military invaded another country, never tried to impose their religion upon others, by force or even by induced conversions. No, it has rather been through peaceful invasions that Hinduism has stormed the world, whether in the East, witness Angkor Vat, or in the West today, where the by-products of Hinduism, yoga, meditation, ayurveda, pranayama, spread by great gurus such as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, have been adopted by millions.

Thus Hindus, who accept everybody, welcome all religions, allow Indians from other parts to trade next to them, as it happened in Kuilapalayam, do not receive in return any gratitude and the same respect. On the contrary, they get mocked at, bombs are planted in their markets, their trains; their temples, their five star hotels get attacked, they are chased out of their homelands; television and newspapers make fun of them, their own politicians ostracize them… Hindus recognize the fact that God may manifest at different times under different names, the concept of the avatar – Krishna, Buddha, Mohamed or Jesus Christ. Indeed, Hindus gave refuge to all persecuted minorities of the world from the Parsis, to the Jews (India is the only country in the world where Jews were not persecuted, or killed bar the recent attack on the Nariman house in Mumbai) to the Armenians and the Tibetans today.

The first Christian community of the world, that of the Syrian Christians was established in Kerala in the 1st century and Christians in this country always had freedom of worship and respect from Hindus. But how did Christians repay their Hindu brothers and sisters? When the Portuguese landed in India in the 16th century, their Jesuits started a reign of terror in Kerala and particularly in Goa, forcibly marrying young Hindu girls to their soldiers, razing hundreds of temples to build churches, crucifying Brahmins. Today, Indian missionaries are converting with unethical means innocent tribals and Dalits in states like Orissa with the million of dollars donated by Westerners thinking it is to alleviate poverty. I am a Westerner and born Christian, but I cannot condone conversion from one religion to another by using cash and other financial baits. Furthermore, the new converts are encouraged to look down on their own culture and it creates tensions and havoc in their society as seen recently in Kandhamal.

So, sometimes, Enough is Enough. At some point, after years or even centuries of submitting like sheep to slaughter, Hindus, the most peace-loving people in the world, those the Mahatma Gandhi once called gently ‘cowards’, those who cringe in their houses at the least sign of riot, erupt in fury – uncontrolled fury. And it hurts. It hurts badly. It happened in Gujarat. It happened in Jammu. It is happening in Orissa now. It may happen again elsewhere, as Hindus are reaching a boiling point.

Yes, one should condemn the pogroms that happened in Gujarat or in Orissa, but one should look also in the causes. It is not only the 36 innocent Hindu women and children who were burnt savagely in a train by a mob of criminals, worse than animals, or the fact that an 84 year old harmless swami and his Mataji were brutally murdered. It is also how much silent frustration and anger must have built over the years, decades, or centuries even, amongst Gujarati or Orya Hindus, that in one moment, normal Hindus, peaceful people, many of them Dalits, tribals, or even upper middle class, came out on the streets of Ahmedabad or the jungles of Khandamal with such fury.

François Gautier

The volcano of Hindu fury erupts sometimes

Fran�ois Gautier

Source : The NEWINDPRESS

INSTEAD of calling an all-party meet to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir row, the government would do well to try to understand the fury of Hindus and not limit the scope of the introspection to the Amarnath issue. Are Hindus angry only with the hypocrisy of the government on the land issue? Are there no other topics that make them furious?

Hindus are a peace-loving people. The average Hindu is easy-going and accepts you and your diversity, whether you are Christian, Muslim, Parsi or Jain, Arab, French or Chinese. He goes about his business and usually does not interfere in yours. In fact they take it a little further: They hate trouble and go out of their way to avoid it.

Everywhere in the world, on the other hand, Hindus are hounded and humiliated; be it in Fiji where an elected government was twice deposed in an armed coup, or in Pakistan and Bangladesh, where Muslims target Hindus every time they want to vent their anger against India (read Taslima Nasreen�s book Lajja). There were one million Hindus in the valley of Kashmir in 1900. Only a few hundred are left today, the rest having been forced to flee through terror. In Assam, Tripura, or Nagaland, Hindus are being outnumbered by Bangladeshi illegal immigrants and terrorised by pro-Christian separatist groups, such as the Bodos or the Mizos, while local governments often turn a blind eye. Their temples are being taken over in states like Kerala or Karnataka, the donations appropriated by the state governments.

Yet in 3,500 years of known existence, Hindus have never invaded another country and never tried to impose their religion upon others. No, it has rather been through peaceful invasions that Hinduism has stormed the world, whether in the East, witness Angkor Wat, or in the West today, where the byproducts of Hinduism, yoga, meditation, ayurveda, pranayama have been adopted by millions.

Hindus also gave refuge to all persecuted minorities of the world.It�s a pity that these two communities turned against their Hindu brethren , the former by way of lured conversions, and the latter with bloody invasions.

Hindus, who accept everybody and welcome all religions, are mocked and bombs are planted in their markets, their trains and temples are attacked, they are chased out of their homelands; television and newspapers make fun of them, their own politicians ostracise them.

So, sometimes, Enough is Enough. At some point, Hindus, the most peace-loving people in the world, those Mahatma Gandhi once called gently �cowards�, erupt in fury � uncontrolled fury.

Yes, one should condemn the Gujarat pogrom, but one should look also at the causes. It is not only the 36 innocent Hindu women and children who were burnt to death in a train by a mob of criminals. It is also how much silent frustration and anger must have built over the years, decades, or centuries even, amongst Gujarati Hindus, that in one moment, 1,25.000 Hindus, normal, peaceful people, came out on the streets of Ahmedabad with such fury.

The same thing is true of Jammu and the Amarnath issue. Hindus never complain about their government giving billion of rupees to Indian Muslims for the pilgrimage to Mecca. But when Hindus need shelters, toilets and basic facilities at a height of 15,000 feet to worship at Amarnath, it is denied by the same government. So they erupt in fury.

Instead of appealing for calm and communal harmony, instead of giving us all this eyewash about a 500-year-old Dargah �mostly patronised by Hindus� political leaders, journalists, and spiritual leaders, would do well to look at the root cause of Hindu fury, and try to address their frustrations.

Journalists should also do a little bit of introspection. Hindus have had enough. If this government, or the next, does not take note of their frustrations, we might very well see more Jammus erupting in the coming months and years.

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ALSO READ HIS EARLIER POST ON THE SAME SUBJECT FROM PARIS

Unity, not separation, is the answer
Tuesday July 1 2008 08:17 IST

Source: The Newindpress

READING in Paris about Kashmiri Muslims rioting because of land transferred to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) and the People’s Democratic Party pulling out of the Jammu and Kashmir Government coalition, one feels a little bit surprised. The Amarnath pilgrimage is an ancient tradition and after all, Kashmir,much before some of the inhabitants of the Valley were converted to Islam, is the seat of Shaivism, the place where thousands of yogis, sadhus, holy men, prayed, meditated and often attained realisation, for at least 3,000 years.

Millions of devotees have flocked to Armanath over the centuries — and Muslims from Kashmir should show them generosity, because in India, although Muslims have been a minority since the beginning, Hindus have always respected the religion of Islam. Indeed, Muslims in India have had a freedom that Hindus or Christians do not enjoy in Saudia Arabia or Pakistan.

Furthermore, Indian Muslims returning from the Gulf, have built, in the last 20 years, tens of thousands of mosques, thanks to Gulf money, often with land donated by the Indian Government and without the Hindus ever protesting. Kashmir is also the land of Sufism, where the best of Islam and Vedanta blended, which allowed many generations of Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims to worship together in mosques and temples and attend each others’ festivals.

Unfortunately, after the creation of Pakistan, a hard Sunni fundamentalism has entered the Valley, mainly with Pakistani and Afghan jihadis, and four lakh Kashmiri Hindus have been forced by death, terror and violence, to flee the valley of their ancestors, one of the biggest ethnic cleansings in human history. Sitting in Paris, one wonders if it is worth it for India to fight for Kashmir.

After all, both Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh have hinted time and again that self-determination could be a solution. But all those who have covered Kashmir extensively, like myself, know that 98 per cent of the Valley would vote to separate from India and eventually land in Pakistan’s lap.

This leads to the next question: should India surrender to international pressure and let Kashmiris decide their own fate? Well it all depends on the Indian people’s determination. Each nation has, or has had in the past, a separatist problem.

Today, the Spanish have the Basques, the French the Corsicans, or the Turkish the Kurds. Amnesty International will continue to lambast India over human rights violations. But has Amnesty the right to decide what is right or wrong for each nation?

Can India let itself be dragged into this mire? Why should India, which took so long to unite itself and saw at the departure of the British one-third of its land given away to Pakistan, surrender Kashmir? The evolution of our earth tends towards unity, oneness, towards the breaking up of our absurd borders, the abolishing of passports, bureaucracies, no man’s lands; not towards the building up of new borders, new customs barriers, new smaller nations.

India cannot let herself be broken up in bits just to satisfy the West’s moralistic concerns. To preserve her Dharma, India has to remain united, even conquer again, whether by force or by peaceful means, what once was part of her South Asian body. For this she should not surrender Kashmir, it could be the beginning of the breaking up of India. Still in Paris, reading the BBC’s coverage of the Amarnath episode, any Indian lover such as myself can only be appalled. Reports of the BBC on Amarnath always speak about “Indian-administered Kashmir”, never giving the full picture of Hindus being forced to flee the Valley, nor of the sacredness of this ancient pilgrimage for all Hindus.

It reminds me when we were covering Kashmir in the Nineties, how the BBC always scoffed at the Indian Government’s accusation that Pakistan was sheltering, sponsoring and arming Kashmiri militants, which it was sending back across the border to create havoc. The accusation has been proved true, but, of course, the BBC never apologised for its partiality.

It’s arrogance and hypocrisy, of course, because we all know how the British decided to go all the way to the end of the world to retain the Falkland Islands, killing many innocent Argentinians in the process.

Indeed the BBC is a state within a state: recently a BBC journalist did a feature on Auroville, the international city near Puducherry based on Sri Aurobindo’s ideals, making accusations of of paedophilia. In spite of numerous protests by residents of Auroville, and the fact that there is no paedophile in their midst, the BBC never apologised. Finally, Kashmir, the Valley of all absurdities, atrocities and human cruelty, could also become the land of hope and redemption, if only the Muslims of Kashmir would understand that their forefathers were Hindus, who must have suffered a lot during invasions by Turk or Afghan warlords, often converting out of fear or necessity.

If only Muslims in Kashmir would understand that Hindus are their brothers and sisters and that although Hinduism and Islam are so different, only Hinduism recognises the divinity of other religions, the avatarhood of other prophets — not Christianity or even Buddhism. If only Kashmiri Muslims would allow Sufism to make a comeback in the Valley, would permit the spirit of Bhakti, of devotion, of tolerance and acceptance of other creeds to re-enter the Islam which is practised in the Valley, it could not only save Kashmir, allow the return of their four lakh Hindu brothers and sisters, but it might help Islam to regenerate itself, open its dogmas to a world which has changed enormously since the Koran was written 1,500 years ago and save itself from the path of confrontation with the West on which it is embarked at this moment.

The author, a journalist and writer, is editor-in- chief of La Revue de l’Inde.

E-mail: fgautier@sify.com