July 28, 2008
Since time immemorial smaller nations without a strong soul, or which are on the decline, have copied — – and often blindly aped — the strong prevailing civilisations of that moment. In that manner, when Rome was at its peak satellite nations copied the Roman style of democracy, clothes, food, mannerisms… And so it was for Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia when they dominated, or even for ancient India whose dances, temples, customs, martial arts, were replicated all the way to China on one side and down to Greece on the other (many Greek gods are derived from Hindu deities).One cannot call today’s India a declining civilisation, although it has suffered tremendously from invasions in the last 1,500 years. Indeed, India is one of the few civilisations today which has managed — albeit in a diluted manner — to retain intact much of her culture and spirituality from the Vedic ages. If you look at civilisations like Greece, Egypt or Italy [Images] (erstwhile Rome) today, not much has come down from their times of domination and greatness — whereas in India the knowledge of karma, of yoga, of the avatars and the hidden realities behind life are still there in teachers, gurus, ashrams, individuals, for us to learn from.
Why is it, then, that at the moment India seems to be paralysed into inaction in the face of an all-out war against Indian liberties and values by Islamic terrorists? Why is it that Indians are aping so much the Western type of democracy without caring to adapt it to the Indian psyche and conditions, that anybody can twist the system, cheat and win in the end? Why is it that it appears at this very moment that there never has been so much corruption, debasement and selfishness in Indian politics?
Why it that the Indian government appears hell-bent to impose upon the nation a nuclear deal, which will neutralise India’s weapons of nuclear deterrence in the face of China’s and Pakistan’s aggressive nuclear weaponisation and castrate India’s independence in foreign policy, as well as bring with it immense Westernisation, not to mention a strong influx of Christian missionaries? Why is it that sections of Indian journalism seem to have touched a new low just to get more ratings?
Look how the United Progressive Alliance won the vote of confidence in Parliament, with the connivance of the press and Indian politicians, and the ways and means which were used to secure that vote.
Look at the role of Speaker Somnath Chatterjee [Images]? Should he not have satisfied himself about the veracity of allegations of bribery before undertaking further proceedings in Parliament? If votes were procured in a brazen manner, affecting a crucial outcome for the nation, should he not have deferred the trust vote?
Posterity will also judge him on the history museum he built in Parliament annex at a cost of Rs 100 crore from the taxpayer’s money and which shows Indian history starting with Ashoka, continuing with Akbar, and more or less jumping to Subhas Chandra Bose and Nehru, without any mention of the great Hindu political and spiritual leaders from Kalidasa to Sri Aurobindo, from the great Sri Krishnadeva Raya, the last king of the last great Hindu empire of Vijayanagar, to Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a true nationalist. So much for the Communists’ view of Indian history.
Look at the silence of the business community on the ethics of what has just happened in the last two weeks. One can understand the silence of an Anil Ambani who stands to benefit from the Amar Singh-UPA entente. But what about others like Ratan Tata, the Jindals, Hindujas, Birlas, who may be swayed by the prospect of doing big business with the Americans, or by the possibility of the government going in for last-minute liberalisation after it got rid of the Communists’ hurdle?
Do any of these tycoons first think Indian and not of profit for themselves? Do they think for a minute of the price, or shall we say in a more Indian manner the karmic price that India, their country, will have to pay sooner or later for the manner in which the nuclear deal has been won and the low depths to which Indian politics and ethics have sunk to in the process?
Look at the inertia of the government and the press after the Bangalore blasts and then the horrible Ahmedabad blasts. Does the UPA think the common citizen of India is a nitwit and that he does not understand that on one hand, if the Government of India keeps pointing fingers at Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence, or at some Bangladesh outfit, it is to deflect the fact that most of the recent terror attacks have been perpetrated by Indian Muslims, with or without Pakistani or Bangladeshi (or Al Qaeda [Images]) help?
It is not only a matter of vote banks in times of coming elections, but also a fact that politicians in India want to keep a blindfold on their citizens and pretend that nothing is happening. Does not the government, on the other hand, understand that we have all become cynical to its usual conduct on these occasions when it: a. condemns ‘in the strongest terms’ this ‘barbarous act’; b. appeals for calm and ‘communal harmony’; c. gives a few lakhs each to the families of the deceased or injured, so that they shut up; and d. never catches the culprits and goes on as before till the next terrorist act.
But look at America, the most hated and targeted country in the world: it has not suffered a single terrorist attack since September 11, 2001. Which Indian politician will have the courage to call a spade a spade and tackle terrorism with courage and determination?
Is it not time that India reminds itself that it is still a great civilisation with a composite society that has always accepted diversity? That it has entered another period of Renaissance and that it needs to think Indian, to protect its borders, its women and children, to retain, in the true Spirit of the Bhagavad Gita, the will to fight, physically if necessary, for the preservation of dharma and knowledge?
Yes, India can borrow what is good from the West in terms of technological advancement and ecological conservation, but it should not discard all the great things that come down from ancient India and make this country so unique, so wonderful.
Correspond to values
Author: Francois Gautier
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: April 30, 2002
Dear friends – India’s image in the West has never been so bad. We, the foreign correspondents, have been propagating in the last few weeks a picture of an intolerant Hindu majority, ruthlessly hunting down the Muslim minority. Not only has this falsified public opinions abroad about India, but has also put pressure on governments to bring out so-called Human Rights reports on Gujarat, whereas they have no right to interfere in India’s affairs, given the fact that it is one of the very few working democracies in Asia.
Would the British, who left a mess wherever they colonised, dare to interfere in such a way in China’s affairs, whose human rights record is a million times worse than India’s? This is unfair: Those of us who have lived long enough in this country, know that not only have Hindus historically been extremely tolerant, accepting the fact that God manifests himself at different times under different forms, but also that, in spite of the bureaucratic hassles, the dirtiness and the heat, we westerners are living in a paradise of freedom compared to what would be our lot in, for instance, China. Here we can criticise as much as we want, slander even, without fear of reprisal.
As a foreign journalist having covered India for the last 25 years, I am shocked by the ambivalence of our standards when it comes to writing or reporting on Hindus. There were 400,000 Hindus in Kashmir in 1947; there are only a few hundreds left today. All the rest have been made to flee through terror in the late 1980s and early ‘90s. I remember the time when Muslim militants would stop buses in Kashmir and kill all its Hindus occupants – men women and children. None of the foreign correspondents and diplomats protested about human rights the way they are doing now, after the Gujarat riots. There are 400,000 Hindus who are refugees in their own land, an instance of ethnic cleansing without parallel in the world.
Why are none of us interested in highlighting these facts? Do we know that Hindus themselves have been for centuries the target of a genocide at the hands of Muslim invaders, and that today in Bangladesh and Pakistan they are still at risk? In Assam, Tripura, and 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.
Are we playing our role, which is to inform and educate our fellow countrymen, who are generally totally ignorant about India? Many of us are using the word “genocide” to describe the riots in Gujarat, or even making comparisons with the Holocaust. But do we tell our readers that Jews in India were never persecuted and that they lived and prospered in total freedom till most of them went back to Israel? The same cannot be said about my country, France, where even today they face problems. We do not care to balance our articles: We take an isolated incident such as the murder of Graham Staines or the riots against Muslims in Gujarat, and we make it look, as it is a whole, telling our readers abroad that Christians and Muslims are persecuted in India.
When the Ayodhya mosque was brought down, it was as if eternal shame had descended upon India. ‘Death of secularism’, ‘Hindu fundamentalists have taken over the country’, ‘Black Day in the history of our democracy’, we screamed…
However unfortunate, the Ayodhya episode was, nobody was killed there; but the terrible Bombay blasts which followed, orchestrated by Indian Muslims, with the active help of Pakistan and the silent approval of Saudi Arabia, which took the lives of hundreds of innocent Hindus, never warranted the kind of moral indignation which followed the rioting against Muslims in Gujarat. Why does nobody bother to say that, maybe, the tolerant, easy-going middle class Hindu, is so fed-up with being made fun of, hated, targeted, killed, bombed, that he is ready to take to the streets?
If you dare say that there are 850 millions Hindus in this country and that they not only represent the majority culture, but also a tradition of tolerance and gentleness, and they cannot be the fundamentalists that the Press makes them out to be, you are immediately branded as an RSS spokesman or a VHP lover. Why this primitive labels? In the West we are not ashamed to call ourselves a Christian civilisation: The American President swears on the Bible when he takes office and look also how all European children, be they Italian or German, are brought-up on the values of Christianity and the greatness of Greek philosophy.
It would be impossible, in France for instance, for the Muslim minority – immigrants from France’s ex- colonies such as Algeria or Morocco – to impose their views and culture on the government. In fact, Muslim girls are not allowed to wear a veil when they go to French school: “You are in France, you have been given the French nationality, so behave like a French first and like a Muslim, second,” they are told bluntly. Would that be possible in India? Does any Indian, except the much-maligned RSS, have the courage to ask Muslims to be Indians first and Muslims second? Or tell Catholics and Protestants that they have to revert to a more Indianised Christianity, such as the one that existed in Kerala before the arrival of the Portuguese Jesuits? And see how stridently Muslims and Christians – backed by most of the foreign media – react when Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi wants to teach Indian children a little bit of the greatness of their culture!
I know that many foreign correspondents arrive here with an aspiration to understand India and to report on it fairly. The problem is that there is no way we are going to know India if we stay in Delhi, or fly all over the place, staying in five-star hotels, to do features which give justice to a civilisation which is 5,000 years old. It is also true that in Delhi, an arrogant, superficial city, we are never in contact with the real India, and always hear the same stories in the journalists’ parties, or diplomatic cocktails, about secularism, the Sangh parivar or human rights in Kashmir. We should take some time off the political situation and go out to the South, which is so much more gentle and easy-going than the North.
Write, for instance, some features on Kalaripayat, Kerala’s martial art that gave birth to kung fu and karate; or on Ayurveda, the oldest medical science still in practice; or see for yourself the extraordinary Ayyappa festival in the mountains bordering Tamil Nadu; or witness one million Christians who descend every year on the “Lourdes” of India – Velangani on the Coromandel coast. There you will discover that the genius of India, its tradition of tolerance, hospitality and gentleness lies in rural areas, amongst the humble people – and not in the arrogant westernised cities that have lost contact with their own roots. Or else, do an Art of Living basic course and learn first-hand India’s ancient traditions of meditation and pranayama… For the truth is that if you want to know and understand this country in some degree, you have to live India from the inside.
Servitude or freedom?
Author: Francois Gautier
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: June 25, 2003
There is a growing need to rewrite Indian history according to the latest linguistic and archaeological discoveries if Indian children are to understand who they are and where they come from. We now know that not only the foundations of Indian history were written by European colonisers with an intention to downsize, downgrade and postdate Indian civilisation, but that, unfortunately, generations of Marxist Indian historians, for their own selfish purpose, endorsed and perpetuated these wrong theories. Among these are the Aryan invasion theory which divided India pitting the South against North, Aryan against Dravidian, and “Untouchables” against Brahmins.
Not only that. These British and Marxist historians – eager to give prominence to the Congress, which was a British institution in the first place – robbed of their true place in India’s history, giants such as Sri Aurobindo, who – apart from being the avatar of the supramental age – was the early prophet of Indian Independence when all that the Indian National Congress wanted was a few crumbs from the British. As a result, very few Indian children know about Sri Aurobindo today. But now comes Professor Kittu Reddy and his book History of India: A New Approach (Standard Publisher, New Delhi), which was released in February 2003. It addresses a grave lacuna in Indian historiography, and compels us to take a second look at Indian history. It opens our eyes to incidents we had totally ignored. These new facts are peppered with wonderful quotations from Sri Aurobindo, which give an altogether new dimension to the book.
Professor Kittu Reddy was best equipped for this task. He was born in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh in 1936. His father, C Narayana Reddy, was one of the first MLCs when he was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1924 as a member of the Swarajya party. Professor Reddy is the nephew of Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, the former President of India. At the young age of five, he was taken to Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, by his parents. Brought up in the spiritual ambience of the Ashram, he has lived there ever since. He had all his education at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education from where he graduated in 1957. In 1958, he started teaching at the same Centre, first at the school level and later from 1971 at the college level. His subjects today are The Foundations of Indian Culture, Political Science, Social Science, and History. It must be mentioned that all these subjects are taught in the light and vision of Sri Aurobindo.
In 1987, Professor Reddy came in contact with the Indian Army and has since been giving talks to the Indian Army on subjects like Indian culture, the Mission of India and Motivation and Leadership. In 1994, at the request of General BC Joshi, who was then Chief of Army Staff, Professor Reddy shifted to Delhi for two years to help him in his work. He was appointed Adviser to the Army Welfare Education Society. After the passing away of General Joshi, he worked closely with General Shankar Roy Chowdury when he was the Chief of Army Staff. Since then, he has been in close touch with the Armed forces and has conducted workshops for the Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force. These workshops deal with Motivation, Leadership, and the Indian nation. They have been held both in Pondicherry at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and at training centres of the Armed forces elsewhere.
Professor Reddy has also written a book for the Indian Army, Bravest of the Brave, and a monograph Kargil: The Manifestation of a Deeper Problem. Professor Reddy’s brief is that History, as it has generally been conceived and written in modern times, has limited itself to the outer narration and interpretation of events and has ignored the psychological forces and factors that affect human life. This predominance of external events has been so great that most modern historians and political thinkers have concluded that objective necessities are bylaws. Nature, Professor Kittu Reddy implies, is the only really determining force; all else is a result of superficial accidents of these forces.
Scientific history has been conceived as if it must be a record and appreciation of the environmental motives of political action, of the play of economic forces and developments and the course of institutional evolution. But man is essentially mental and spiritual being, and to ignore these psychological factors would be to miss out the very essence of human growth and evolution. Indian history in particular loses all its true significance when looked from this purely external viewpoint. For the Indian mind and temperament is naturally inward looking.
And, indeed, this book is an attempt to look at Indian history from the psychological and inner angle. It is an attempt to place in proper perspective the deeper psychological and spiritual elements even in the outer life of the Indian nation. As Sri Aurobindo wrote: “All great awakenings in India, all her periods of mightiest and most varied vigour, have drawn their vitality from the fountainheads of some deep religious awakening. Wherever religious awakening has been complete and grand, the national energy it has created has been gigantic and puissant.”
Professor Reddy’s book, History of India: A New Approach, begins with the pulsating spiritual happenings in the Vedic and Upanishadic times, and traces the evolution of India to the building of empires. It is followed by a description of the invasions, both Muslim and English, and the psychological impact that these had on the people of India. Next, there is a detailed description of the freedom movement with special emphasis on the psychological forces that were in play till the attainment of Independence in 1947. Finally, it concludes with a vision for the future of India.
It is to be hoped that History of India will give a greater insight and lead to a truer understanding of Indian culture and civilisation. This book is particularly aimed at the young – not only to those who are young in body but also in the heart. Because, as Sri Aurobindo prophesied: “It is not till the Motherland reveals herself to the eye of the mind as something more than a stretch of earth or a mass of individuals, it is not till she takes shape as a great Divine and Maternal Power in a form of beauty that can dominate the mind and seize the heart, that these petty fears and hopes vanish in the all-absorbing passion for the Mother and her service, and the patriotism that works miracles and saves a doomed nation, is born…
“Once that vision has come to the people, there can be no rest, no peace, no further slumber till the temple has been made ready, the image installed and the sacrifice offered. A great nation, which has had that vision, can never again bend its neck in subjection to the yoke of a conqueror.”