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LETTER TO AN AMBASSADOR

This letter was written to the Irish ambassador in India, after my wife was nearly denied a visa to Ireland, but it could be addressed to all the ambassadors of the Delhi diplomatic enclave, as most of them fall in the same category.

LETTER TO AN AMBASSADOR

Dear Mr Ambassador,
Wanted to thank you for my wife’s visa, as I have no doubt the sanction ultimately came from you.

At the same time, allow me a few comments, as I have been living in India for 45 years and that probably entitles me to my own opinions, however wrong they may be.

New Delhi remains very much a British capital, far away AND CUT from the rest of India – and the diplomatic enclave of Shanti Path / Chanakya Puri, a luxury ghetto, where it is even more difficult to have a clear idea of what India is really about, as the same clichéd ideas are repeated at every diplomatic cocktail and every journalists’ parties.

The capital i is full of young arrogant diplmomats, such as Arnaud Mentre, the Press Attaché of the French embassy, who think that in 2 or 3 years,they know everything about India, but actually go back with all the prejudices they came with, without having learnt anything (of course, there are exceptions: Peter Vrooman, the ‘sympathique’ Press Councilor of the US embassy is one)

The British, your erstwhile enemy, created an entire class of Indians, which formed their buffer middle zone, so as to govern this country through proxy. In this way, their army was mostly constituted of Indians – and you know,that a million of them fought during the Great War (1914-1918), a hundred years ago, in a conflict that did not concern them.
I find that the foreign embassies in Delhi have replicated the same system: from your security guards, to many of the visa officers, Indians unfortunate enough to seek a visa, often have to deal with Indians.

It is sad that those Indians, these brown ‘sahebs’, as those created by the British, often want to be more British than the British, more Irish than the Irish, or more French than the French, in the case of the Pondichery Tamils, rejecting their Indian roots, though in truth, they are never fully accepted as one of their own by their white masters. Thus they have to make a show of being tough with those of their brothers and sisters seeking a visa. In the case of my wife’s visa, while Peter Frisby, you consular head, seemed pretty open, it is your Indian visa officer, Mrs Dass, who created the problems for my wife and wanted to apply the rule to the letter, even though we had submitted an online application which she retrieved, as she called my wife on the mobile mentioned in the application. It’s only become I am myself a foreigner and a fairly well known journalist, that she ultimately got it. An ordinary Indian would have been rebuffed.

It seems to me that foreign embassies in India act as if they are doing a favour by granting a visa. But it is actually the opposite: my wife, as millions of Indians, is going to spend her money in your country, travel by your airline, stay in your hotels and generally grace you country. It however breaks my heart when I see the long lines of Indians queuing at the UK or US embassy, the biggest brain drain in the world ever. That they are badly treated by the embassies, made to wait long in the heat, to come back repeatedly and their visas often denied, is another matter.

It has been my belief for long, that as in the case of China, one day it will be westerners who will queuing for employment opportunities in India, the next superpower in the world, for it is everything that China is, plus democracy, legality and friendliness to the West.

Awaiting this day, please rest assured of my best feelings
Yours truly,
Francois Gautier
Correspondent South Asia Valeurs Actuelles
Editor in Chief La Revue de l’Inde, Paris
Author The Guru of Joy/ A History of India as it Happened

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LETTRE DE FRANCOIS GAUTIER ADRESSEE A TOUS CEUX QUI L’ACCUSENT D’ÊTRE UN FACHISTE

Le fascisme c’est d’accuser l’autre sans prendre la peine de faire passer ces accusations par le test de la logique et de la raison…

Le fascisme c’est de refuser le dialogue, comme le font tous les indianistes du CNRS et de l’EHESS quand on leur tend la main, dialogue qui peut prendre place devant témoins sous forme de débat…

Le fascisme c’est de traiter de fasciste quelqu’un qui vit depuis 40 ans en Inde, est marié depuis 20 ans à une Indienne, dont les meilleurs copains sont des Indiens appartenant à toutes les religions. Quelqu’un qui dans sa vie privée n’est ni raciste, ni haineux, ni méchant…

Le fascisme c’est d’être assis sur son pesant derrière à Paris (ou dans cette grosse bulle qu’est Delhi) et de disséquer l’Inde à partir de préjugés, de faux théorèmes, en se basant sur le politiquement correct, qui n’est que du reçu de son éducation, son atavisme et ce qu’on lit (cela s’appelle  de la connaissance de deuxième main)….

Le fascisme c’est d’accuser de fascisme quelqu’un qui a couvert le Cachemire pendant 15 ans, au moment des troubles les plus graves, qui a parcouru de long en large le Pakistan, le Bangladesh, l’Afghanistan, qui a sillonné l’Inde comme aucun autre journaliste français… Même s’il se trompe – au moins il parle d’expérience – et peut-être le temps lui donnera raison…

Tout ce que j’ai fait, lorsque je travaillais pour le Figaro, c’est de dire qu’il existait un problème avec l’islam en Asie du sud, à un moment où il n’était pas politiquement correct de le dire. J’ai aussi rédigé une série d’articles sur les grandes religions en Inde, qui ont provoqué l’ire des indianistes. Ceux-ci ont écrit au Figaro un impressionnant nombre de lettres de protestation, demandant des droits de réponse et ma démission. De ce jour là, j’ai été marqué et une campagne de diffamation à tous les niveaux a été initiée contre moi.

Quand on est accusé d’être antimusulman, c’est pire que d’être un pestiféré, on est condamné sans jugement, sans que les accusateurs s’objectivent une seconde. S’ils le faisaient, ils réaliseraient que c’est une ironie terrible: on excuse les attentats suicide en Israël ou à Bombay qui tuent des centaines d’innocents, au nom de la ‘persécution’ des Palestiniens, des Tchéchènes ou des Kashmiris; mais on accuse des pires crimes quelqu’un qui n’a jamais assassiné personne, ni même prôné la haine, mais a simplement écrit ce qu’il a constaté de ses yeux, en vingt ans de reportages.

Tout au long de ma carrière, j’ai souffert de cette étiquette qui ne s’explique pas mais est véhiculée de personne en personne et fait rapidement le tour de tout ce qui touche à l’Inde, que ce soit les agences de voyage, les expatriés, les diplomates ou les journalistes : « c’est un antimusulman, un pro-hindou, un fasciste »… Les gens, même les plus éclairés, ne veulent écouter que le politiquement correct, l’idéologie de masse, ils ne veulent jamais entendre la différence. J’ai connu six ambassadeurs de France, mais jamais m’a-t-on invité pour me demander mon avis sur un sujet ou un autre. Je me suis même dernièrement fait jeter par l’ambassadeur actuel, Jérôme Bonnafont, qui m’a traité de… fasciste… parce que je lui ai fait remarquer que c’est après que 59 hindous innocents, dont 36 femmes et enfants, aient été brûlés dans un train par une meute de musulmans, que les émeutes antimusulmanes du Gujarat ont démarré. Pourtant Jérôme Bonnafont ne fait pas lui-même exactement dans le politiquement correct: il est le premier ambasadeur étranger à Delhi ouvertement gay, ce qui fait jaser le tout Delhi francophone.

C’est cette arrogance bien française, qui ne s’explique pas au pays des cartésiens, de traiter de secte tout ce qui a une couleur hindoue, ou de fascistes ceux avec qui on est en désaccord, sans leur accorder la chance de s’expliquer et sans même s’expliquer à soi-même la logique de ses accusations. Le président Sarkozy, qui a montré qu’il savait être différent, devrait constituer un petit comité de Français qui VIVENT l’inde du dedans, pour le conseiller.

Francois Gautier FAQs – 2

A) Background

Q. Where were you born and brought up, education?

A. I was born in Paris in 1950. I had a strict upper-class catholic education, but I never really fitted in the system and revolted against it quite early. Thus, I was sent to many famous boarding schools all over Europe, from which I was regularly kicked out ! My family wanted me to be a businessman and I attended an American business school in Paris called IDRAC, but my interest was in writing and I quit to work in a small newspaper, which quickly folded; then I wrote the script of a film for a friend (whose father, a famous film director, had given him 30.000 francs to do his own film). Needless to say, the film was never released and soon after, I left for India : I had just turned nineteen.

Q. Tenure: how long, any affiliations other than Le Figaro ?

A. When I reached India, I stopped writing for a long time, except my own diaries and I went into other spheres – meditation and gardening, for instance ! In 1982, at the occasion of the Asian Games in Delhi, I chanced upon an article (on the Asian games) in a French newspaper. It had all the usual clichés on India : poverty, fakirs, Mother Teresa… So I wrote a letter of correction to the Editor.. and he offered me to write an article, which I did. And then another article followed and another and another… I then started writing and photographing for different publications and finally ended-up being the correspondent in South Asia, for the Geneva-based « Journal de Geneve », which at one time used to be one of the best international newspapers in Europe.  Five and a half years ago, I switched to Figaro, for which I now work exclusively, except for the occasional photo feature (on Kalarapiyat for instance).

Q.  How interested in Indology — what set it off, what caused it?

A. Indology grew on me the moment I started getting out of Auroville (which is a bit of an island in the midst of India). In fact I would say that India grows on those (Westerners) who LIVE India in whatever field (dance, music, spirituality, crafts, photography – but not journalism). Also I have an interest in spirituality and it opens-up so many different areas of Indian life.

Q. Married to Indian, other roots in India?

A. I have been married nine years to Namrita, who is from Delhi (mother is Hindu, father Sikh). Being married to a « daughter of India » is a natural complement of my being in this country for thirty years. My roots are very much in this country, even though I remain a Westerner. But I have no intention of going back to France, except for yearly visits to meet my family.

Q. Relationship to Auroville?

A. I came to India with the first caravan for the international city of Auroville – and even though I spent seven years in the Sri Aurobindo ashram Pondichery, because I was immediately attracted  by this totally Indian and spiritualised atmosphere (lots of Westerners in Auroville), my dedication is to Auroville, where I have spent most of the last 22 years. It is this ATTEMPT at  human unity which makes Auroville great (because so far, we cannot boast of many achievements !) and the fact that such a place exists and that it is in India (where else could it be but in the land of great tolerance and spiritual experiment ?) is a sign of hope for the rest of humanity.

B) Publications and books

Q. I have read excerpts from “Rewriting Indian History” on the web at http://www.hindu.org · Relationship if any, with Hinduism Today?

A. Not directly. Sitaram Goel, Publisher of the Voice of India ( For a long time, Sitaram Goel and Ram Swarup, who just passed-away, single handedly defended Hinduism in the face of the Marxist-Christian-Muslim onslaught in India) had read some of my articles in Blitz magazine and asked me if he could publish a series of them under a book form. I answered that I would rather write the book from scratch and thus was born “The Wonder that IS India”. Later, Hinduism Today, a remarkable set-up, which for the first time in the history of Hinduism is attempting to rationalise and gather together this great knowledge to present it to the world, offered to put it on their site in the net.

Q. You take exception to Basham’s book: because it thinks of India only in the past tense?

A. Not only does he think that India was great solely in the past, but his idea of India’s greatness is very selective; furthermore, he subscribes to the usual western slogans : the eternal clichés propagated by a few Christian missionaries and “enlightened secularists” on the Indian caste system. “The Aryans anointed themselves the ruling class (= Brahmins and Kshatriyas), while the poor conquered Dravidians (Harappans), became the slaves, (= Vaishyas and  Shudras)”. Or: “As they settled among darker aboriginals, the Aryans seem to have laid greater stress than before on purity of blood and class divisions hardened…” (36, Wonder that was India). Or else this monstrosity: “…In the Vedic period, a situation arose rather like that prevailing in South Africa today, with a dominant fair minority, striving to maintain its purity and its supremacy over a darker majority”… (138, Wonder). Poor India, being granted the honour by Mr Basham, of being the founding father of racism! But it is thus that Mr Basham lays the ground for his later theories on what he calls Hindu imperialism.

Q.  Quoting from Koenrad Elst (whom I have interviewed in the past), Isn’t Elst dismissed by some as not a serious scholar?

A. It is very unfortunate that Konrad Elst is not able to publish his writings but in Hindu oriented magazines or publishing houses, for he is not only one of the most thorough and knowledgeable scholars on India, but also, because he is a Westerner, he is able to perceive things that Indians themselves, blinded by two centuries of colonialism and 50 years of so-called secularism, do not see any more. I hope that History will grant him his due place in the fight for Indian Renaissance.

Q. What other books have you written? Tell me more about them.

A. I have written “Rewriting Indian History”, published by Vikas. Next February “Un autre regard sur l’Inde” (a different look at India), will be published in France and Switzerland by Editions du Tricorne and I have just finished a novel called “The last caravan to India”, which I hope to publish first in France and later in India, after getting it translated in English.

Q. What are you currently working on? Kalari Payat?

A. I am working on two books in collaboration with Indian photographer Raghu Rai. The first one indeed is on Kalaripayat, which as you may know is the ancestor of all great Asian martial arts, such as judo and karate. This Kerala-based multi-discipline martial art travelled to China and later to Japan with Buddhism and brought to these countries not only martial knowledge, but also medical science which gave birth to acupuncture in China. The other book is about the French influence in India past and present.

C)· Views

Q· Why are Elst, Frawley, Kak etc. so much devalued by the mainstream English-language press in India? Are they not rigorous scholars?

A. Again, they are very rigorous scholars – the scope of Elst’s knowledge is amazing. But they have been going for a long time against the mainstream thought of this country, which was initiated first by the Britishers and later taken on by Nehru and the intellectual left based in JNU, all of which were predominantly anti-Hindu and which strove to eradicate the genius that was India.

Q· Your views on the discrediting of the Aryan Invasion Theory. Isn’t it a bit far-fetched to suggest that in addition to not being invaded, in fact Indian tribes went westwards?

A. Not at all. Because not only do latest archaeological and linguistic discoveries prove that there never was an Aryan invasion of India and that it was a theory propounded by the early archaeologists and linguists which were all at the service of the British (including the much vaunted Max Mueller who has falsified India’s historical datings). Because how could the colonisers of the land, the bearers of « civilisation » and the true religion, ever accept that they might be the  descendants of those they were colonising ? As for Aryan (or rather Indian tribes) to go westwards, there is nothing preposterous in that theory. Just compare Greek philosophy with Vedic thought, which it is known now, is much older than Greek civilisation. There is also a striking similarity – which has been dwelt upon by numerous Indologists, including French scholar Alain Daniélou – between some forms of Christianity and Hinduism. There is no doubt that Christ was inspired by Hindu and Buddhist esoterism and there are numerous stories that he even came to India to be initiated. And finally, many recognise that the Gypsies, whose language has still many similarities with Sanskrit, and appeared in Europe around the 14th century after having transited through Iran and Egypt, were a lost tribe of India, probably of harijan origin.

Q. I have been reading a good deal of argument about Bhagwan Gidwanis “The Return of the Aryans”. What is your view of this?

A. I have not read this book and I would be interested to know where I can get a copy. But this whole Aryan concept is an invention of colonial linguists for their own hidden purpose; it is even today used by Christian missionaries and was also taken up by Hitler, this great asura of the 20th century, to justify the killing of six millions Jews. What does Aryan mean ? Nothing ! There were Vedic tribes who happened to be receptive enough to the forces of Nature and the Cosmos to develop a unique spiritual system which was the basis for the future Indian civilisations. Full stop. All the rest is propagaganda of Muslim writers and Christian missionaries, who, since they came to this country, have been intent to divide India into religions, castes, tribes etc. Whereas vedic philosophy was always for unity : santanam dharma. Everything, every path, every sect is acceptable, as long as it leads you from untruth to truth, from darkness to light, from mortality to immortality. Today the Congress, the Left and all the Mulayam Singh are still at it : how to divide this country and make sure it dies forever.

Q. Your views on Islamic invasion and missionary invasion

A. I think the above answers your question, but I must add that if the Vedic greatness had not degenerated and India had remained united in dharma, there could have never been Muslim invasions and later western colonisation. This said, the massacres perpetuated by Muslims in India are unparalleled in history, bigger than the Holocaust of the Jews by the Nazis; or the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks; more extensive even than the slaughter of the South American native populations by the invading Spanish and Portuguese. In the words of another historian, American Will Durant: “the Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilisation is a precious good, whose delicate complex order and freedom can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without and multiplying within”.

Q. Why is it that foreign writers fall into either of two camps: either openly hostile (eg. Barbara Crossette,Molly Moore) or openly supportive (eg. you, Mark Tully)

A. You either hate India or love it. Let’s forget about tourists, because they are a distinct breed and their purpose is different. But if you take western journalists or writers, you will find that a great many of them (after some time) dislike India, or even sometimes hate it. Take the British who were in India for 300 years, how many of them got even to understand truly even a little bit of this great country ? 0.02% (you can’t even say that Foster understood India) ? There is basically an unconscious militant dislike of the Christian world towards Hindu India (and in this militant hate, Christians are even ready to ally themselves with their traditional enemies: Islam. Last week I was in Jhabua, where the four nuns were raped [it was not a ‘religious’ rape as reported by the Press] and the lawyer whom the Christian priests had selected to defend their case, was a Muslim). And even today you find that the West loves to honour only these Indians who basically are anti-Hindus, such as Mother Teresa or Amartya Sen, however brilliant they are  in their own fields. True, India  is a difficult country for a westerner : dirty, unhygienic, obscure sometimes. It is also full of contradictions and it does not open-up to those who do not make any efforts to truly understand it. But once more, you have to LIVE India if you want to understand it. This is why journalists and western corespondents always closeted in Delhi, this artificial and arrogant city, can never understand India : they are just mouthing the same old clichés (Hindutva, caste system, Ayodhya, secularism), which they hear at the same embassies cocktails, the same journalists’ parties, the same secular Indian Press meet (such as Outlook)…

Q. What is your view on the Sarasvati Vandana/Vande Mataram controversy?

A. The Ministers  walked out when the Saraswati Vandanam was played. But why should anyone object to Saraswati, the Goddess of learning, She who bestowed so much Grace on India. In 1939, a disciple had said to Sri Aurobindo that: “there are some people who object to the singing of Vande Mataram as a national song; Sri Aurobindo had replied: “in that case Hindus should give up their culture”. But the disciple had continued: “the argument is that the song speaks of Hindu gods, like Durga and that it is offensive to Muslims”. Said Sri Aurobindo: “but it is not a religious song, it is a national song and the Durga spoken of is India as the Mother. Why should not the Muslims accept it? In the Indian concept of nationality, the Hindu view should be naturally there. if it cannot find a place, the Hindus may as well be asked to give-up their culture. The Hindus don’t object to “Allah-Ho-Akbar”.

Q. What do you think the solution is to endemic Macaulayism in India?

A. It is obvious that Education in India has to be totally revamped. The kind of Westernised education which is standard in India, does have its place, because India wants to be on par with the rest of the world, and Indian youth should be able to  deal confidently with  the West: do business, talk, and relate to a universal world culture. But nevertheless, the first thing that Indian children should be taught is the greatness of their own culture. They should learn to revere the Vedas, they should be taught the genius of the Mahabharata and the Ramanayana; they should be told that in this country everything has been done, that it was an unsurpassed civilisation, when the West was still mumbling its first words, that Indian civilisation reached dizzying heights, which have been since unsurpassed. But overall they should be taught early that India’s greatness is her spirituality her world-wide wisdom. INDIA’S NEW EDUCATION HAS TO BE SPIRITUALISED; IT HAS TO BE AN INNER EDUCATION, WHICH TEACHES TO LOOK AT THINGS FROM THE INNER PRISM, NOT THROUGH THE WESTERN ARTIFICIAL LOOKING GLASS.

Q. Do you find Hinduism in danger? Besieged? But isn’t it true that it has always survived — muddling through somehow?

A. Yes, it is true that Hinduism has always managed to survive in the face of tremendous odds (Muslim holocaust, British colonisation, Nehruism…). But it is also true that life is always on the razor’s edge and that nothing is won until the last moment. Today Hinduism is facing a more insidious onslaught, but which may be even more dangerous: from its own people. From the Left, who wants to eradicate totally Hinduism and for that purpose supports whatever is inimical to it, including Islam and Christianity; from the so-called ‘secular’ politicians, such as Mulayam Singh or Laloo Prasad, who have done tremendous harm to India; from Sonia Gandhi, a Christian, who might one day Prime Minister of India; from missionaries who continue to convert through covert means; from its so-called intellectual elite which swears by liberalisation and westernisation, not understanding that this will eventually kill India’s soul… Overall, there is a vast semi-conscious conspiracy to denigrate Hinduism; and there Muslims and Christians walk hand in hand : it goes from Husain painting Saraswati naked, to Deepa Mehta’s lesbians being called Radha and Sita. Everybody calls Thakeray a fascist or a madman, but let a Hindu minority in Saudi Arabia, or even in Europe, try to denigrate the Virgin Mary or Jesus, and see what happens. At least the man has guts, whatever his excesses.

Q. Do you think the state-sanctioned disparity between Hindus and other faiths will continue?

A. It is great tragedy that for instance different Congress governments have left millions of Bangladeshis settle in Eastern India and have kept quiet about it, just to cater to the Muslim vote bank. Today even, all the ‘secular’ politicians refuse to accept the Assam Governor’s conclusions which are absolutely right : Assam’s way of life, its culture, religion, are being totally wiped out by the Bangladeshis immigrants, who on top of that bring with them a militant religion and do not really integrate in the Indianmainstream. This should not happen and it is one of the dangers that Hinduism has to face today, because Muslims multiply much more rapidly than Hindus, who have generally accepted the need to have only two or three children, even in the backwards villages of Tamil Nadu.

Q. Where do you think the population is going in regards to Hinduism, never mind the politicians?

A. I do hope that India is not going to turn its back on Hinduism. Because with 800 millions souls, Hindus constitute the majority of this country. Traditionally and historically, Hinduism has always been the most tolerant of all religions, allowing persecuted minorities from all over the world, whether the Jerusalem Jews, the Parsis from Persia, Christians from Syria, or even Arab merchants, to settle in India over the centuries and practice their religion in peace. Are the French ashamed of their Greco-Roman inheritance? Not at all ! On the contrary they even think that civilisation started only with the Greeks. Would you call the Germans or the Italians « nationalists » because they have Christian Democrats Parties?  Christianity is the founding stone of Western civilisation and nobody dares deny it. Clinton goes to the mass and swears on the Bible and none finds anything to say. We French are brought-up listening to the values of Homer’s « Iliad », or Corneille’s « Le Cid ». It is true that in France there has been a separation of the State and the Church; but that is because at one time the Church misused its enormous political power and grabbed enormous amounts of lands and gold. But no such thing ever happened India. The much maligned Brahmins never interfered in politics and today they are often a neglected lot.

Q. Aren’t there ills in Hinduism? Why aren’t these being cleansed? You would admit that there is continuing casteism in India; perhaps also patriarchal ill-treatment of women?

A.  Oh yes, there are a lots of ills in Hinduism, the worst one being that for some mysterious reason, Hindus tend to be the most undisciplined, (look how they drive) collectively selfish, and nationally uncaring community in India, so that it requires a Mother Theresa to look after their own underprivileged. In the same way, they tend to extend cleanliness only to their own immediate surroundings : their homes, or their front porches, but neglect the rest. It is puzzling for instance how a people which has worshipped the Ganges for thousands of years, treats it with so little respect, dumping every day thousands of chemicals in its waters. They are panicky, cowards (I have my own theory on this: the collective terror unleashed by the Muslim invasions in the unconscious mind of Hindus still trigger in them this panicky and everyone-for-himself- syndrome) and have lost this great quality of courage, selflessness and boldness, which Vivekananda tried to drill back into them, with little success. They are corrupt, which is the gravest of sins, because it is not only the poor, which is understandable, but also the rich, who mix ashes in cement, adulterate petrol, mustard oil, alcohol (maybe we should have here for a few years a military dictatorship China-like. Take for instance a few of the hoarders who recently manipulated the prices of onion or salt, put them against a wall and shoot them like animals. You will see how India’s economy will straighten-up quickly). There is so much black money in this country, so much hidden wealth, which could make India one of the richest countries in the world if it became white again. And finally Hindus exploit and abuse their own underprivileged : they pay badly their servants, mistreat them; no wonder that sometimes these very servants kill their masters for a few rupees ! My good friend and competitor, Françoise Chipaux, Le Monde’s corespondent, showed me recently the servant quarters of her flat which is in Sujant Singh Park, one of the poshest districts of Delhi. You should have seen them : there were not even toilets ! Once again you take a few of these owners (who ask for two years advance, half of it payable on a foreign account) and shoot them…

Q. We have a dilemma regarding reservation and the upliftment of the weaker sections. What is your view on the OBC, SC/ST problems?

A. India’s great Sage and philosopher, Sri Aurobindo, felt that the caste system is the most misunderstood, the most vilified subject of Hindu society : “Caste was originally an arrangement for the distribution of functions in society, just as much as class in Europe, but the principle on which this distribution was based was peculiar to India. A Brahmin was a Brahmin not by mere birth, but because he discharged the duty of preserving the spiritual and intellectual elevation of the race, and he had to cultivate the spiritual temperament and acquire the spiritual training which alone would qualify him for the task. So it was for the Vaishya whose function was to amass wealth for the race and the Shudra who discharged the humbler duties of service without which the other castes could not perform their share of labour for the common good”.

But, yes, there is no doubt that the institution of caste degenerated : « It ceased to be determined by spiritual qualifications and thus lost most of its meaning. The spirit of caste arrogance, exclusiveness and superiority came to dominate it instead of the spirit of duty, and the change weakened the nation and helped to reduce us to our present condition ».

Thus, Nehru’s intentions by devising the reservation system may have been good, but as usual it has been perverted by human nature and has encouraged sloppiness, cheating and believe it or not, casteism in the reverse sense, as it pays today to say that you from an underprivileged caste ! Thus, everybody wants to be part of OBC, even Christians who converted to escape the caste system ! Moreover, it has encouraged anti-brahmanism, like in Tamil Nadu, whereas Brahmans never interfered in political affairs and single handedly preserved the Hindu tradition.

Q. What are your views on the Nehru dynasty and Sonia Gandhi’s recent rise?

A. It would be a real shame if Sonia Gandhi becomes one day India’s Prime Minister. It is not the question of her being a foreigner (although there should be enough brilliant people amongst the 800 millions Hindus); it is the question of her having not the slightest idea of what India is truly about, locked that she is in her 6, Janpath fortress, surrounded by sycophants. Moreover there is no doubt that she is a Christian, which is perfectly her right; but as most Christians, she probably has a hostile bias against Hinduism – and it shows in her remarks against the BJP and for « secularism ». As For the rest of the Gandhi dynasty, I hold Nehru most responsible for this country’s present condition, because his policies have done tremendous harm to India and continue to do so. What we see today is his legacy at all levels of Indian life, be it political (secularism), education (Macaulysm), intellectualism (Left) or even art (aping the West).

Q. India’s relations with the US are at best rocky, but lately France seems to have taken it upon itself to try and supplant the UK as India’s partner in Europe. Is there going to be improved trading relations with the EU?

A. I should hope so ! the US has demonstrated since 1947 the most stupid, arrogant, ignorant, short-sighted policy towards India. Today is no better,as it is continuing to favour Pakistan, a country which is ten times smaller than India, ten times less democratic, ten times more dangerous. When you see the amount of love, adulation -nay aping, I would say – there is amongst Indians towards America; and when you see at the same time the basic hostility that the Muslims masses in Pakistan and other Muslim countries have towards the US, you can only conclude that Americans are the most idiotic race there ever was in this planet, which is already full of imbeciles !

France is equally ignorant of India, but for some strange reason there is a measure of good will, of sympathy, of symbiosis even, for India. It gets translated sometimes in the wrong manner: France’s love for Satyajit Ray for instance, who however brilliantly, presents a very pessimistic image of Indian society. But there, we find a ray of hope, there is a chance of the two countries finding some meeting ground. Thus if India, now that she is a nuclear power , can develop some kind of privileged relation with United Europe, it could counterbalance the US’s hostility. But then you will see, as soon as China will start to falter economically – and that should not be too far – the US will suddenly « discover » that India exists and Newsweek will run a cover on « the other Giant of Asia ». The rest of the world, which anyway always copies America, will follow.

Q. What do you think the long-term fallout of the nuclear bomb will be? There are some who say that if Napoleon Bonaparte hadn’t been side-tracked at the Battle of the Nile, he would have come to India and helped Tipu Sultan. What do you think of this line of thought?

A. India should stand by the dogma of ahisma, non-violence, But to be non-violent one needs to be strong . Over the centuries history has shown that India has always been the bullied, the oppressed, the invaded, whether by Alexander’s armies, the Muslim, or the western colons. Even the Chinese made mincemeat of India in 1962. By getting the nuclear weapon, India makes the first step in getting some respect – even if it is fear – in the eyes of its hostile neighbours. Look at the paranoiac reaction of the Chinese, isn’t it symptomatic ? Also there should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that Pakistan is the latest reincarnation of Islam’s militant hatred towards Hindus, the Infidels ‘par excellence’. Pakistan’s present active hostility towards India, is nothing but what the Koran still preaches : « Jihad fi Sabilillah », ‘Holy War for the Greater Glory of Allah’.  In the face of such hostility, India has to guard herself; then only she can allow herself to be magnanimous. Gandhi’s and Buddhism’s ahimsa, were the non-violence of the weak and the coward; not the non-violence of the lion, which lets preys walk by, because he is not hungry and knows he can get them any time he wants.

Q. In some ways, aren’t you being disloyal to your country and the Catholic faith into which you were born, by accepting India so much?

A. Why ? A soul has no nationality, no religion ! Rather I would say that it has only the religion and the nationality of it past lives. Each soul has a history and belongs to some country, some race, where it reincarnates again and again. I consider India as my country, not because I happen to live here, but because the moment I set foot in this country, something deep in me recognised that it was my place, my known territory. Now it is also true that I cannot deny my own culture and upbringing – and I am proud of it in many ways: it allows me to express myself, it gave me the backbone of my professional and literary achievements. If only India could get some of the material perfection the West has, its thirst for perfection, its caring for the others and motto of egalitarism !

D) Closing

Q. If you were setting India’s course with Europe, what would you do, on a political and foreign policy front?

A. Again, India has to assert her own personality, by pursuing the foreign policy that suits best her own interest. Automatically she will then gain respect, not only from Europe, but also from the US. Actually India should take a lesson or two from China. Look at the Chinese, they do exactly what they like, they keep threatening and blackmailing the world, and not only they get away with it, but also have the respect of all Industrialised nations. India presents a far more better picture than China, which has killed a million innocent Tibetans: it has managed to remain democratic in spite of all its problems – separatisms, overpopulation, corruption, etc. I think Europe will come to appreciate India’s democratic achievements, specially the day when China’s iron (and bloody) communist hand will be removed by whatever circumstances. That day, all problems which were kept bottled-up and suppressed in China will erupt to the surface and one could witness a chaos similar to what happened in URSS. And this is exactly what the present government should tell Europe : «  look, you cannot ignore us, we are the next superpower in Asia and the largest country by 2020; we are nuclear, but we are democratic and we have a long tradition of tolerance and culture ». I think a few nations will understand that language – maybe not the British, (who are anyway a spent nation) because they still live in the past – but at least the French – and maybe the German.

Q. How exactly does the French people and the French establishment view India? The view from here is that the French are supremely pragmatic, not given to posturing.

A. I did not know the French were supremely pragmatic ! The German, surely; but the French : you flatter them ! French are like Bengalis : they are great talkers, good artists, warm, fun-loving people, but infinitely lesser doers than the Germans. Today with modernism and the American way of business, which the US has slowly imposed upon the world, this may be changing; but still the French love good food, fun, debating and posturing – witness their sports mania, which is mostly armchair sportsmanship ! This is why maybe there is an empathy with India, which is also a bit of an armchair sportsman, such an in cricket, this crazy sports left by the British, which is totally unsuited to India’s climate. True, the French are the only nation which did not condemn India outright after their nuclear blasts. There maybe three reasons to it : first of course, the French had  just concluded their Pacific tests and suffered themselves from the world’s hypocrite condemnation; two, there is that mysterious ‘kinship’ between India and France (of which Sri Aurobindo and the Mother of Pondichery often spoke); and three, different Indo-French programmes, started by Mrs Gandhi who spoke good French and knew Malraux well, continued by Rajiv Gandhi who promoted the year of India in France in 1985 and continued by Mr Chirac’s visit to India beginning of 1998, finally bore some fruits.

Q. Your views on Hinduism and its central place in the Indian enterprise, if it were to come from an Indian, would be considered ‘fundamentalist’. But you seem to be tolerated to some extent by the ‘secularists’ of India. Is that primarily because you are a white person? Is it a racial thing?

A. Very good question ! I would say that it is not so much because I am a white person, although that can help in India, either because the average Indian is nice with the western man, or because there is a colonial hangover here which means that your white skin sometime opens you a lot of doors with India’s upper class, ‘elite’ intellectuals, or top bureaucrats (in passing, upper-class Indians must be the most snobbish people in the world; but they don’t realise that it is something they inherited from the British and that they are only aping their erstwhile colonisers). No, I would say that the fact that I work for a very reputed and conservative newspaper opens a lot of doors to me, which would otherwise be closed. Konraad Elst or David Frawley, that other eminent Indologist, do not have this privilege and I make the most of it (would you interview me otherwise?)

Q. Paul Theroux said recently that Indians are obsessed about race, caste and food. What do you think?

A.  Paul Theroux is a very pompous man and on top of that, a mean and treacherous friend – witness his book on his ex friend Naipaul (who had the courage to change his ideas about India). People like Theroux may be brilliant and witty, but they are quickly forgotten by History : who will know Theroux in 100 years ? As for his opinion about India, I would not pay too much attention to it; first it is not very original, as millions of westerners have already condemned India in  the lines of race, caste and food. By race, he probably means the Aryan race, which is as we have seen, is a bogus subject; we shall not get again into the caste issue, the favourite whipping boy of India haters. But food ??? At any rate, the West is much more obsessed with food than India ! From the Romans downwards there was a mania of overeating and bulimia is a typically western phenomenon, (which may come to India because of westernisation). But long ago, Indian Sages knew that « one eats for living; but does not live for eating ».

Bibliography

* The Wonder that was India (Voice of India,  2/18 Ansari Road, New delhi 110002)

* Rewriting Indian History (Vikas, 576 Masjid Road, Jangpura, New delhi 24). Can  be found in New delhi at some bookshops, such as Fakir & Sons in Khan Market.

* Un autre Regard sur l’Inde (Editions du Tricorne, 14, rue Lissignol, Genève 1201, Switzerland)

* La dernière Caravane des Indes (to be published)

Francois Gautier FAQs – 1

1. Why did you choose to move to India ?

I came to India by accident, if you wish. My best friend’s father was the last French Governor of Pondichery and he told me there was a caravan of cars driving from Paris to Auroville-Pondichery. AS I had had a strict upper class Christian education, I thought I needed to see the world – and driving to Pondichery seemed a good way to start. But when I reached Delhi I understood India was my home and I stayed.

2. What would you consider the greatest change brought in you by the masters Shri Aurobindo and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar?

Sri Aurobindo is my Supreme Master, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is my living guru becasue he does the work that I feel is most important for Mother India and of which Sri Aurobindo was a pioneer.

3. Why is terrorism in India a topic that is ignored by the West?

West is good-willing but extremely ignorant about India. We need to educate westerners about India. There are a few hurdles, chief amongst them Western Indologists who have made it a tradition to belittle India and its traditions and always harp and amplify its negative sides, such as castes, sati, child marriage, poverty, etc.

4. Why do you think Western Media ignores the human rights abuses against Hindus inflicted by terrorists?

Well, the West  is facing the same terrorists threats than India, but as long as it is not hit too hard by them, it pretends they do not exist. How long with this blindness last???

5. What motivated you to create a “Museum of True India History”?

We see more and more today that Indian History has to be rewritten according to the latest linguistic and archaeological discoveries, if Indian children are to understand who they are and where they come from. We know now that not only the history of India’s beginnings were written by European colonizers, with an intention to downsize, downgrade and postdate Indian civilization, but that unfortunately, generation after generation of Marxist Indian historians, for their own selfish purposes, endorsed and perpetuated these wrong theories, such as the Aryan invasion, which divided India like nothing else, pitting South against North, Aryan against Dravidian, Untouchables against Brahmins.

Not only that, but British and Marxist historians, eager to give prominence to the Congress, which was in the first place a British institution, robbed of their true places in 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 Congress wanted was a few crumbs from the British. As a result, very few Indian children know about Sri Aurobindo today. Thus we need to have a physical place where true Indian history will be shown.

6. Can Kashmiri Pandits ever hope for a return to their homeland and for the world to understand the atrocities committed against them?

There has to be a strong Hindu nationalistic government in place for that. It willnot happen for quite some time.

7. What is life like for a “firangi” In India?

It’s good. I am a lucky guy. Hindus and Indians accept easily different people in their midst.

8. Any special message for our readers?

How much of yourself do you give to your American identity – and how much space do you preserve for your Indian-ness ? These are the questions that Indian expatriates should ask themselves today. For we see many of the children of Indians who settled in the US twenty or thirty years ago, merge themselves totally in the American way of life, speak with an American accent, eat Mac Donald, think American… and in the process forget all about their wonderful Indian culture… Hindus need to be united in the US, as they are fragmented in a thousands of groups that often fight with each other. The time of Hindu power has come.

The Hindu Rate Of Wrath

Illustration by Sorit
OPINION
The Hindu Rate Of Wrath
When the Mahatma’s cowards erupt in fury, it hurts. It isn’t terror. ......

Is there such a thing as ‘Hindu terrorism’, as the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur for the recent Malegaon blasts may tend to prove? Well, I guess I was asked to write this column because I am one of that rare breed of foreign correspondents—a lover of Hindus! A born Frenchman, Catholic-educated and non-Hindu, I do hope I’ll be given some credit for my opinions, which are not the product of my parents’ ideas, my education or my atavism, but garnered from 25 years of reporting in South Asia (for Le Journal de Geneve and Le Figaro).

In the early 1980s, when I started freelancing in south India, doing photo features on kalaripayattu, the Ayyappa festival, or the Ayyanars, I slowly realised that the genius of this country lies in its Hindu ethos, in the true spirituality behind Hinduism. The average Hindu you meet in a million villages possesses this simple, innate spirituality and accepts your diversity, whether you are Christian or Muslim, Jain or Arab, French or Chinese. It is this Hinduness that makes the Indian Christian different from, say, a French Christian, or the Indian Muslim unlike a Saudi Muslim. I also learnt that Hindus not only believed that the divine could manifest itself at different times, under different names, using different scriptures (not to mention the wonderful avatar concept, the perfect answer to 21st century religious strife) but that they had also given refuge to persecuted minorities from across the world—Syrian Christians, Parsis, Jews, Armenians, and today, Tibetans. In 3,500 years of existence, Hindus have never militarily invaded another country, never tried to impose their religion on others by force or induced conversions.

You cannot find anybody less fundamentalist than a Hindu in the world and it saddens me when I see the Indian and western press equating terrorist groups like simi, which blow up innocent civilians, with ordinary, angry Hindus who burn churches without killing anybody. We know also that most of these communal incidents often involve persons from the same groups—often Dalits and tribals—some of who have converted to Christianity and others not.

However reprehensible the destruction of Babri Masjid, no Muslim was killed in the process; compare this to the ‘vengeance’ bombings of 1993 in Bombay, which wiped out hundreds of innocents, mostly Hindus. Yet the Babri Masjid destruction is often described by journalists as the more horrible act of the two. We also remember how Sharad Pawar, when he was chief minister of Maharashtra in 1993, lied about a bomb that was supposed to have gone off in a Muslim locality of Bombay.

I have never been politically correct, but have always written what I have discovered while reporting. Let me then be straightforward about this so-called Hindu terror. Hindus, since the first Arab invasions, have been at the receiving end of terrorism, whether it was by Timur, who killed 1,00,000 Hindus in a single day in 1399, or by the Portuguese Inquisition which crucified Brahmins in Goa. Today, Hindus are still being targeted: there were one million Hindus in the Kashmir valley in 1900; only a few hundred remain, the rest having fled in terror. Blasts after blasts have killed hundreds of innocent Hindus all over India in the last four years. Hindus, the overwhelming majority community of this country, are being made fun of, are despised, are deprived of the most basic facilities for one of their most sacred pilgrimages in Amarnath while their government heavily sponsors the Haj. They see their brothers and sisters converted to Christianity through inducements and financial traps, see a harmless 84-year-old swami and a sadhvi brutally murdered. Their gods are blasphemed.

So sometimes, enough is enough.At some point, after years or even centuries of submitting like sheep to slaughter, Hindus—whom the Mahatma once gently called cowards—erupt in uncontrolled fury. And it hurts badly. It happened in Gujarat. It happened in Jammu, then in Kandhamal, Mangalore, and Malegaon. It may happen again elsewhere. What should be understood is that this is a spontaneous revolution on the ground, by ordinary Hindus, without any planning from the political leadership. Therefore, the BJP, instead of acting embarrassed, should not disown those who choose other means to let their anguished voices be heard.

There are about a billion Hindus, one in every six persons on this planet. They form one of the most successful, law-abiding and integrated communities in the world today. Can you call them terrorists?


Francois gautier’s Interview with Tribune

Meet the author
“Content-wise, Indian fiction writers have
little to offer”
Source: Tribune India

Francois Gautier
Francois Gautier

RECIPIENT of this year’s Nachiketa Award for Excellence in Journalism, Francois Gautier is one of those rare writers who mince no words when it comes to telling the truth. Although French by birth, his knowledge of contemporary and historical Indian affairs gives him an unparalleled position among the major writers of non-fiction. He came to India when he was barely 19, an age, in his own words, when the mind has not yet settled into hard and frozen patterns. It was during his stint as a journalist that he discovered the real India while traversing its length and breadth. Unlike most foreign journalist who usually highlight the negative aspects of the Indian society, Francois Gautier talked about the positive aspects as well.

He has been lambasted by his critics for his rather unorthodox writings and applauded by his admirers for acquainting them with the rich legacy of India. His works, spanning over two decades, have been condensed into two books, Arise O India and A Western Journalist’s View on India, brought out by Har Anand Publishers. Not only is the content of his books unusually striking but their spontaneity and lyrical rhythm are also enthralling. The thorough research that has gone into his writings adds a compelling tone to his essays. Aditya Sharma met him for an interview. Excerpts:

When did you come to India for the first time and what was it that held you back ?

I visited India in 1969 with a friend of mine whose father was the last French Governor of Pondicherry. Although India was just another stopover in my journey around the world at that time, but it turned out to be the final destination for me. In Pondicherry I came to know about the Aurobindo Ashram where I got to learn a lot through Sri Aurobindo’s writings. Slowly I found myself so besotted with Indian culture and its pioneering philosophies on spiritualism that I decided to make this country my home.

What were your early experiences in the Aurobindo Ashram like?

When I first went there I discovered an entirely new approach of looking at life. It was as if I had sudden awakened from deep slumber. And later when I met Mother personally, I was left with an ethereal sensation of existence. Her gaze transfixed me and it didn’t take me long to realise that there was more to life than a wholehearted participation in the blind race for material gains.

At what stage of your life did writing begin to interest you?

Prior to coming to India I used to write for a national daily based in Paris. Thereafter after living for a few years in the ashram at Pondicherry, I resumed writing for various national and international papers but this time about Indian affairs.

Did freelancing for various newspapers pay enough for you to be able to support yourself?

It is rather difficult to make one’s ends meet merely through freelancing. The payments made by our various national dailies to such writers are rather nominal, no matter how well they write. I was, however, fortunate enough to write columns for various newspapers based in the West, which fetched me enough to keep myself going.

Some people say that your writings are political, while others feel that you also blend spiritualism into them. In what category would you place yourself as a columnist?

Both politics and spiritualism are inherent parts of our lives. There is actually no distinction between the two. In ancient India it was a rishi who advised the king on the political and other affairs of the country. I only try to combine relevant topics in my columns, be it politics, literature, spirituality, economics or any other subject of significance.

You are quite critical of Gandhi’s policies in your writings and also accuse him of precipitating the process of Partition.

Leaving aside his saintliness, I believe his extreme and somewhat rigid romanticism did enormous harm to India. Right from the beginning he adopted a policy of appeasement towards the Muslim fundamentalists in the hope of making them see light. It, however, never really worked. On the contrary, it led to further demands from them until finally they asked for the partition of the country. History has shown time and again that the policy of appeasement has never worked against bullies. Another classic example of this is Nehru’s policy of pacifism towards China. Did it ever work?

What does India need to do to make all-round development possible?

I believe for that our government needs to drastically revamp its systems.

Besides non-fiction, do you also plan to write a novel or short stories?

I have just finished a novel in French. It is at present with a prominent publisher in France awaiting publication at the earliest. I hope to provide its English translation within a year or so.

Is the story autobiographical?

If the French title is translated into English it will read The Last Caravan to India. It is the story of a Westerner who comes to India and of his impressions of Indian life. It is not strictly autobiographical, although I have, like all novelists, liberally drawn material from my own experiences.

What do you think about the many Indian fiction writers winning laurels outside the country?

Its nice to see Indian fiction writers making their presence feel in international circles. Judging from their style and command over the language, they are evidently quite talented, but content-wise, I think they have little to offer. Most of them end up in catering to western tastes. Unfortunately, many of them have drawn a very dismal and backward picture of India in their stories, which is exactly what the West likes to read.

Besides reading and writing, what other interests occupy you?

I am quite interested in sports and play basketball and go swimming. I also practice yoga regularly. Other than that I enjoy my teaching assignment in a school of journalism at Bangalore where I am a visiting faculty member.

You donated the entire Nachiketa prize money.

Yes I gave away the award money to FACT (Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism). Its an organisation which is genuinely involved in helping and highlighting the plight of the Kashmiri Pundits who have ironically become homeless in their own country.


Reciprocity and Hindu anger

Source: Rediff.com

August 19, 2008
Once upon a time, there was a tiny village in South Arcot district in Tamil Nadu, called Kuilapalayam. Now Kuilapalayam is like hundreds of villages around Pondichery: it is peopled with Hindu Vanniars, 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 Kuilapalayam prospered: Its inhabitants learned trades needed for the city: carpenters, masons, craftsmen, and 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 bicycles 40 years ago, Kuilapalayam today has motorcycles, tractors, cars, vans, cable television, cell phones, etc. The main road of Kuilapalayam, which used to be only shady huts, became lined with fancy shops which sold everything, from vegetables to handicrafts.

And then the unavoidable happened: A Kashmiri from Chennai heard about Auroville and the prosperity of Kuilapalayam and understanding that he could make a packet with so many Westerners passing though Auroville, he opened the usual shawls and carpets shop in the village. Now Kuilapalayam never counted a Muslim amongst its population in its 1,200 years of recorded history; but in true Hindu tradition, this one was welcomed and nobody raised any 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, 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 the open. “Isn’t God everywhere and isn’t He Krishna, as well as Allah?” said one of the villagers.

Then Rathinam, one of the young boys of Kuilapalayam who had gone to study in Delhi [Images], told his parents when he came back, about the fact that not only were no outsiders allowed to buy land or start a shop in the valley of Kashmir, where the shopkeepers came from, but that 400,000 Hindus were chased out of the valley by terror. His parents started talking to their friends and there was the first hint of resentment against the newcomers.

Fifteen days later, the Amarnath row exploded. Rathinam’s father went to see a group of Kuilapalayam Kashmiris having tea and told them that Hindus never complained about the government giving billion of rupees in subsidies to Indian Muslims so that they can visit their most holy place, Mecca. But when Hindus, he continued, need shelters, toilets and basic facilities at a height of 15,000 feet to worship at Amarnath, 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 had 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 on the Amarnath pilgrims. And anger has 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 go even 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 riot, Hindus stay home? Or how — forget about rioting — Hindus never speak up, complain or protest in a united manner? There is a UN Human Rights Conference on terrorism in New York coming up on September 9, and they have been desperately trying to get Hindu survivors of recent bomb blasts to testify; but no one is willing to come forward.

Despite that, 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 anger against India (read Taslima Nasreen’s [Images] Lajja to know more).

In Assam, Tripura, or Nagaland, Hindus are being outnumbered by Bangladeshi illegal immigrants and terrorised by pro-Christian separatist groups while local governments often turn a blind eye.

Yet, in 3,500 years of known existence, Hindus have never invaded another country, never tried to impose their religion upon others through force or even conversion. No, rather it has 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 — have been adopted by millions.

Hindus also gave refuge to all the persecuted minorities of the world, from Parsis to the Jews (India is the only country in the world where Jews were not persecuted) to Armenians and Tibetans today. The first Christian community of the world, that of Syrian Christians, flourished in Kerala [Images], thanks to Hindus’ tolerance; Arab merchants were welcomed by Hindu rulers to do trade and live in India while practicing their religion, from very early times.

Thus Hindus, who accept everybody and 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.

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 Mahatma Gandhi [Images] once gently called ‘cowards’, those who cringe in their houses at the least sign of a riot, erupt in fury, uncontrolled fury.

Instead of trying to pour water over the fire, instead of appealing for calm and communal harmony, political leaders, journalists as well as spiritual leaders would do well to look at the root cause of Hindu fury, and try to address their demands and frustrations.