Tag Archives: History

Years of violence

Author: Francois Gautier

Publication: The Pioneer
Date: August 6, 2003Do you know the real history of Kashmir? There is a great deal of misconception among the people about the State: That Kashmir did not always belong to India, or that it is a “disputed area”. This is why we recently at FACT (Forum Against Continuing Terrorism) chose to hold an exhibition at the India Habitat Centre, which was a great success. Here are some of the facts we highlighted through the photographic exhibition.For two thousand years, the Himalayan Valley of Kashmir in Northern India has been the home of learning and wisdom. From this small Valley have emanated masterpieces of history, poetry, romance, fable, and philosophy. Many of the greatest Sanskrit scholars and poets were born and wrote in the Valley. Kashmir flourished under some of India’s greatest rulers such as the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, who reigned between 273 and 233 BC, and is recorded to have founded the old city of Srinagar. It was under his sovereignty that many Buddhist scholars, missionaries, and intellectuals permanently settled in the Valley. Then there was the great Hindu King Harshavardhan (1089 to 1101 AD) who was versed in many languages, was a good poet himself, a lover of music and the arts. He had made his court a centre of luxury, learning and splendour.

Unfortunately, at the beginning of 14th century, a ferocious Mongol warlord, Dulucha, invaded the Valley from its northern side, Zojila Pass, with an army of 60,000 men. His savage attack ended for all purposes the Hindu rule in Kashmir, and Dulucha is said to have destroyed many temples and killed thousands of Hindus. Muslim rule was further tightened in 1389, during the rule of Sultan Sikandar. He banned all celebrations and would not even listen to music. He imposed jizia (tax on infidels) upon Hindus and stopped them from using tilak on their foreheads. Almost all the Muslim chroniclers of that time speak of wholesale destruction of Hindu shrines, including the famed Martand Temple, and forcible conversion of Hindus to Islam. Thousands of Hindus fled southwards to the plains of India to save their religion and holy books, and also to escape the wrath of the Sultan.

Then, after a period of relative tolerance and peace, came the rule of Afghans warlords till 1819 – roughly, a period of 67 years. The very first Afghan governor Abdullah Khan Aquasi, immediately after assuming powers, began his reign of terror. People were looted and killed indiscriminately, and even soldiers began to amass wealth beyond imagination. Fortunately, in 1819, 30,000 soldiers of Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh attacked Kashmir, defeated the Pathans, and Kashmir became a part of Ranjit Singh’s empire for nearly 40 years, providing some relief to Hindus in the process. However, the British defeated the Sikhs and became the undisputed masters of India. Not interested in Kashmir, they sold it in perpetuity for Rs 75 lakh (approximately $150,000) to Maharaja Gulab Singh of the Dogra dynasty. (What wonderful merchants, the British, who sell something which does not even belong to them!)

By treaty, conquest, or inter-marriages, the Dogras created a state comprising five major units, which are fundamentally very different from each other in terms of geography and ethnicity and have further complicated the problems of Kashmir: The territory around Gilgit (today in Pakistan), which belongs basically to Central Asia; Ladakh, which is an extension of Tibet and is peopled at 55 per cent by the Buddhists and 45 per cent by Muslims; the area around Muzaffarabad, which is today in Pakistan’s control, comprises mostly Punjabi Muslims; Jammu, which in essence belongs to Himachal Pradesh and is Hindu in majority; and the Valley of Kashmir, of course, which was Indian Muslim at 95 per cent in 1947.

India gained its independence in 1947 but was disastrously divided by the British, against the advice of saints and seers such as Sri Aurobindo, along religious lines into India and Pakistan. Although many Muslims chose to stay back in India, knowing they would be granted the freedom of practicing their own religion, most Hindus had to flee Pakistan as they were being slaughtered mercilessly. Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir decided to attach his state to free and secular India. Furious, the Pakistan Government invaded Kashmir, and encouraged the Muslim tribal people to carry loot, plunder, death and destruction into the hearths and homes of innocent Kashmiris in general and among Hindus in particular.

Since 1947, Pakistan, aided by China, which also claims parts of Indian territory (well, Mr Vajpayee, you got led up the garden path by the Chinese, like other prime ministers before you!), has initiated three wars to regain Indian Kashmir, and four if you include the Kargil war fought in the icy reaches of upper Kashmir. Worse, the proxy war which Pakistan is today waging on India by arming, training and financing not only Kashmiri separatists, but also Islamic militants from Afghanistan, or even faraway Sudan, has taken the lives of nearly 60,000 innocent people, both Hindus and Muslims.

It should be added that Pakistan decided in the late 1980s that it would be easier to regain Kashmir if all its Hindus were pushed out by a campaign of terror, both in the Valley, where they are a tiny minority and in Jammu where they still have a thin majority. Thus 450,000 Kashmiri Pandits, constituting 99 per cent of the total population of Hindus living in the Kashmir Valley, have been forcibly pushed out of their homes by terrorists. Since 1989, they have been forced to live like exiles in their own country.

People should also be reminded that terrorism in Kashmir is not about separatism alone; it is also an ideological struggle with specific fundamentalist and communal agenda. Terrorist violence aims at the disengagement of the State of Jammu & Kashmir from India and its annexation to Pakistan. It is a continuation of the Islamic fundamentalist struggle.

Finally, I would like to thank all those who contributed to FACT and helped make the exhibition on Kashmiri Pandits at the India Habitat Centre a success. We are pursuing our efforts further. The exhibition will now travel to Bangalore at the end of August. Thereafter, on September 10, we have been invited to Poland for a conference, ‘World Without Aggression’, which will take place in the main Warsaw Congress Hall, which seats 3,000 people, in the presence of the President of Poland and many VIPs.

West and Islam

Author: Francois Gautier

Publication: Pioneer:
Date: July 10, 2002
Boston, Massachusetts – American newspapers publish daily commentaries by eminent Muslims, who all want to prove that Islam is a tolerant creed, that the Taliban were an isolated aberration, and that Osama bin Laden is desecrating the scared non-violent tenets of Islam with his terrible deeds.

It is in such times that it is useful to remind the world, particularly the United States – which has chosen as a frontline state for its war on terrorism, a nation which breeds terrorism – that while Pakistan is an aberration of what Islam has stood for since its inception in the 7th century, India is a living example of a peace loving nation, tolerant of other creeds, ethnic groups and religions. Most Western history books, for instance, eulogise the Mughal period in India as a time of refinement and enlightenment, and many of them say that Aurangzeb was a strict but just emperor. What is the truth?

Aurangzeb (1658-1707) did not just build an isolated mosque on a destroyed temple, he ordered all temples to be destroyed and had mosques built on a number of cleared temples sites. All other Hindu sacred places within his reach equally suffered destruction. A few examples: Krishna’s birth place temple in Mathura, the rebuilt Somnath temple on the coast of Gujarat, the Vishnu temple replaced with the Alamgir mosque now overlooking Varanasi and the Treta-ka-Thakur temple in Ayodhya. The number of temples destroyed by Aurangzeb is counted in 4, if not 5 figures. According to his own official court chronicles: “Aurangzeb ordered all provincial governors to destroy all schools and temples of the pagans and to make a complete end to all pagan teachings and practices.” Aurangzeb did not stop at destroying temples, their users were also wiped-out; even his own brother, Dara Shikoh, was executed for taking an interest in Hindu religion and the Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded because he objected to Aurangzeb’s forced conversions.

We can see, Romila Thapar and Percival Spear’s statement of a benevolent Aurangzeb is a flagrant attempt at negationism. Even the respectable Encyclopedia Britannica, in its entry on India, does not mention in its chapter on the Sultanate period any persecutions of Hindus by Muslims, except “that Firuz Shah Tughlaq made largely unsuccessful attempts at converting his Hindu subjects and sometime persecuted them”.

Many orthodox Indian Muslims still cling to the Deoband school, which says that India was once “Dar-ul-Islam”, the house of Islam, and should return to that status. The Aligarh school, on the contrary, led by Mohammed Iqbal, propounded the creation of Pakistan. What particularly interests us in the Aligarh school is the attempt by Muslim historians, such as Mohammed Habib, to rewrite the chapter of Muslim invasions in India. In 1920, Habib started writing his magnum opus, which he based on four theories: One, that the records (written by the Muslims themselves) of slaughters of Hindus, the enslaving of their women and children and razing of temples were “mere exaggerations by court poets and zealous chroniclers to please their rulers”. Two, that they were indeed atrocities, but mainly committed by Turks, the savage riders from the Steppes. Three, the destruction of the temples took place because Hindus stored their gold and jewels inside them and therefore Muslim armies plundered these. Four, the conversion of millions of Hindus to Islam was not forced “but what happened was there was a shift of opinion in the population, who on its own free will chose the Shariat against the Hindu law (Smriti), as they were all oppressed by the bad Brahmins…”

Unfortunately for Habib and his school, the Muslims invaders did record with glee their genocide on Hindus, because they felt all along that they were doing their duty; that plundering, enslaving and razing temples was sanctioned by their religion. Indeed, whether it was Mahmud of Ghazni (997-1030) – no barbarian; although a Turk, he patronised art and literature and would recite a verse of the Quran every night after having razed temples and killed his quota of unbelievers – or Firuz Shah Tughlak (1351-1388) who personally confirms that the destruction of Pagan temples was done out of piety and writes: “On the day of a Hindu festival, I went there myself, ordered the executions of all the leaders and practitioners of his abomination; I destroyed their idols, temples and built mosques in their places.” Finally, as Belgian historian Konraad Elst points out, “Muslim fanatics were merely faithful executors of Quranic injunctions. It is not the Muslims who are guilty but Islam.”

It is not only Indian historians who are negationists, but also Western historians and India-specialists. We know that the first historians of India, the British, twisted India’s history to suit their theory that they had come to civilise a race which was not only inferior to them, but was also supposed to have been heavily influenced in its philosophies or arts by European invaders (read the Aryans or Alexander the Great).

However, but what is less known is that today many Western historians not only still cling to these outdated theories, but also actually, more or less willfully, mislead their public, which is generally totally ignorant and takes these “knowledgeable” comments about India as the absolute truth. Many of these India-specialists are not only Left-leaning, but they are also specialists of the Mughal period of Indian history, which is to say that they are sympathetic to Islam’s point of view on India, while they often consider Hindus fanatics.

It is time Indian historians looked again at their own history and wrote it based on the latest archaeological and linguistic discoveries, so that the West is better able to understand India.

Servitude or freedom?

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.”

Taliban, Hindu Kush and Hindu Genocide

Taliban, Hindu Kush and Hindu Genocide
Author: Mr Francois Gautier
Date: April 16, 2001

The West seems to have suddenly woken-up to Muslim fundamentalism in South Asia when the Taliban broke down the Bamyan statues, in spite of frantic appeals from all over the world. But there is a bit of hypocrisy in the outrage triggered by this destruction.

Firstly, Islam is very clear about statues: didn’t the Prophet Mohamed break down himself the first stone Gods ? Thereafter, it became a holy duty for all good Muslims. Firuz Shah Tughlak (1351-1388) who has an avenue named after him in New Delhi, wrote: “on the day of a Hindu festival, I went there myself, ordered the executions of all the leaders and practitioners of this abomination; I destroyed their idols and temples to build mosques in their places”.

As Belgium historian Konraad Elst points out, “Muslim fanatics are merely faithful executors of Quranic injunctions. It is not the Muslims who are guilty, but Islam”. Thus, the Taliban, who want to restore the early purity of Islam, really thought they were performing a righteous act by destroying the “heathen” Buddhist statues.

Secondly, does the West ever protest when Hindu temples are destroyed periodically in Bangladesh and Pakistan? The HRCBM, a Santa Clara-based organisation that investigates and exposes human rights violations in Bangladesh, has recorded a few of the outrages against Hindus in Bangladesh during the year 2000: On March 29, 2000, Malarani Roy of Karagola village was abducted by Muslims. She was brutally beaten up and gang-raped. The local police found her, but refused to register a case.

On June 26, a group of Muslims directed Smriti Rani Saha of Sirajganj town to migrate to India. When she refused, she was abducted, gang-raped and brutally murdered. On May 28, Debasish Saha of Poradaha was fatally shot by a Muslim gang. On June 4, Mayaram Tripura of Balipara was shot dead by local Muslims. On October 6, 2000, Muslim devotees, after offering namaaz at the Gajipur Jama Masjid, strolled across to the Hindu Kali temple, destroyed the puja pandal, smashed the idols, and looted nearby Hindu-owned shops.

Take a look at the figures of the Hindu population of India’s Muslims neighbours: in 1941, there were approximately 25% Hindus in Pakistan and 30% in Bangladesh; in 1948, only 17% in Pakistan and 25% in Bangladesh; in 1991, a bare 1.5% remained in Pakistan and less than 10% in Bangladesh.

==============added by LSK begin==================
__________________________________________________________
| year  ||  % of hindus in Pakistan  ||      % of hindus in Bangladesh    ||
|_____||____________________ ||___________________________||
| 1941 ||             25                     ||                 30                             ||
| 1948 ||            17                      ||                 25                             ||
| 1991 ||            1.5                     ||                 <10                           ||     |________________________________________________________ ||

=============added by LSK end  ===================

Thirdly, the West has not yet realized that for the Muslims of South Asia , Hindus are the Kafirs by excellence: the Buddhists adore only Buddha, the Christians only Jesus, but Hindus worship a million Gods and Goddesses; and that makes them – even today – the number one enemy of Islam. This is why Kashmir is so important: it is not about territory, it is about a Holy war against Hindu India that has been going on for fifteen centuries and it is only the first step of the encirclement of India by hostile Muslim neighbours: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, with soft nations, like Nepal, often lending them a helping hand.

Nothing symbolizes more the absoluteness of Muslim belligerence towards Hindus than the Hindu Kush. Historically, the passes across the Hindu Kush have been of great military significance, providing access to the northern plains of India to foreign invaders, starting from Alexander the Great in 327 BC, to Timur Lane in 1398 AD, and from Mahmud of Ghazni, in 1001 AD, to Nader Shah in 1739 AD. As noted by Srinandan Vyas in the Hindu.net website: ” In Persian, the word ‘Kush’ is derived from the verb Kushtar – to slaughter or carnage, because all Hindus living there were slaughtered.

Encyclopaedia Americana says of Hindu Kush: The name means literally ‘Kills the Hindu’, a reminder of the days when Hindu slaves from Indian subcontinent died in harsh Afghan mountains while being transported to Moslem courts of Central Asia. While Encyclopaedia Britannica mentions “that the name Hindu Kush first appears in 1333 AD in the writings of Ibn Battutah, the medireview Berber traveller, who said the name meant ‘Hindu Killer’, a meaning still given by Afghan mountain dwellers who are traditional enemies of Hindus”.

“Unlike the Jewish holocaust, writes again Vyas, the exact toll of the Hindu genocide suggested by the name Hindu Kush is not available. However the number is easily likely to be in millions”. A few known historical figures can be used to justify this estimate. Encyclopaedia Britannica recalls that in December 1398 AD, Timur Lane ordered the execution of at least 50,000 captives before the battle for Delhi; likewise, the number of captives butchered by Timur Lane’s army was about 100,000 .

Encyclopaedia Britannica again mentions that Mughal emperor Akbar ‘ordered the massacre of about 30,000 captured Rajput Hindus on February 24, 1568 AD, after the battle for Chitod, a number confirmed by Abul Fazl, Akbar’s court historian. Afghan historian Khondamir records that during one of the many repeated invasions on the city of Herat in western Afghanistan, which used to be part of the Hindu Shahiya kingdoms “1,500,000 residents perished”.

Why does not the Government of India tell Indian children about the Hindu Kush genocide? The horrors of the Jewish holocaust are taught not only in schools in Israel and USA, but also in Germany. Because both Germany and Israel consider the Jewish holocaust a ‘dark chapter’ in the history. Yet, in 1982, the National Council of Educational Research and Training issued a directive for the rewriting of school texts.

Among other things it stipulated that: ‘Characterization of the medireview period as a time of conflict between Hindus and Moslems is forbidden’. Thus denial of history, or Negationism, has become India’s official ‘educational’ policy.

It is high time that the West realizes that India is fighting a lonely battle against Muslim fundamentalism in Asia. The French for one, who have a definite problem with Muslim terrorism, should support India more openly.

NOTE: The Indian Express refused to carry this column by Gautier, clearly indicating a policy of censorship being applied by the publication.