Tag Archives: Sikhs

WHY DOES WILLIAM DALRYMPLE ADORE AURANGZEB SO MUCH???

William Dalrymple has always been a great fan of Muhammad Aurangzeb Alamgir, India’s sixth Mughal emperor (1658-1707). In his two previous books, The Last Mughal and White Mughals, Dalrymple reenacted the British’s fondness for the Mughal period, by directly and indirectly praising the longest reigning emperor after Akbar.

In his forthcoming opus magnum, which will be solely dedicated to Aurangzeb, Dalrymple says he will go further: “Aurangzeb was absolutely fascinating, very self aware, very Shakespearean. By the end of his life, Aurangzeb does becomes a monster of myths, but his final letters are full of regret and awareness about how much he destroyed of what he had inherited”. And he concludes: “What is little spoken is that he was an extremely generous donor of various ashrams and maths. Just the sheer data that can be gathered about his donations to Hindu monasteries is extraordinary”….

Was the emperor such a pious man? Well, just look to what he did to his own family: Aurangzeb, who was neither the eldest, nor the favorite son of his father Shah Jahan, killed his two brothers to ascend the throne, dispatched his father to jail and subsequently murdered him by sending him poisoned massage oil. He later had his own son imprisoned (in his will, he admonished: “never trust your sons”). He was also very cruel to the majority of his subjects, the Hindus, ordering all temples destroyed, such as the Kashi Vishwanath, the rebuilt Somnath temple, the Vishnu temple (replaced with the Alamgir mosque now overlooking Benares), or the Treta-ke-Thakur temple in Ayodhya. He also made sure that deities of Hindu Gods and Goddesses were buried under the steps of the mosques (like the Jama Masjid in Delhi) so that future generations of Muslims would trample upon them.

Sikhism, the youngest religion in the world, owes its initial phenomenal growth to the persecutions of one man: Aurangzeb Alamgir. The Mughal emperor not only had the Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur beheaded, because he objected to his forced conversions, but he also viciously persecuted the followers of Guru Gobind Singh, whom he had never forgiven for having supported his brother Dara.

The sad thing is that today the Sikh world seems to be growing closer to Aurangzeb and drifting away from its Hindu brothers and sisters, forgetting that their order was originally created to defend them. Indeed, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), Amritsar, has not uttered a word against Dalrymple’s forthcoming book.

More serious even, the Central Government always eager to please ‘minorities’ has set up a dangerous precedent by removing from its ‘blacklist’ the names of 142 wanted Sikh terrorists and their associates, some of them now in Pakistan.

Among those: Lakhbir Singh Rode, nephew of dreaded slain terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and chief of International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), Ranjit Singh, alias Neeta, a native of Jammu and Kashmir who heads Khalistan Zindabad Force, Wadhawa Singh, chief of Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) and Paramjit Singh Panjwar, chief of Khalistan Commando Force (KCF). Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) It is said that President Paramjit Singh Sarna lobbied hard with Sonia Gandhi for this decision.

Aurangzeb’s deadly legacy of murderous fanaticism is still alive in parts of the world; such as Kashmir or Pakistan. The Sikh community should protest Dalrymple books and remember how much they suffered at the hands of Aurangzeb.

THE MUSLIMS INVASIONS OF INDIA

Resuming publication of excerpts from my next book: “The History of India as it happened – and not as it has been written” (Har Anand, New Delhi) :

Let it be said right away: 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.
We shall quote from the French historian Alain Danielou, as well as the Dutch scholar Koenraad Elst who has written a very interesting book called “Negationism in India (see next chapter), and finally from Sri Aurobindo, who was one of the very few amongst Indian revolutionaries, who had the courage to say the truth about what was called then « the Mahomedan factor ».

“From the time when Muslims started arriving, around 632 AD, remarks Alain Danielou, the history of India becomes a long monotonous series of murders, massacres, spoliations, destructions. It is, as usual, in the name of “a holy war” of their faith, of their sole God, that the Barbarians have destroyed civilisations, wiped-out entire races. Mahmoud Ghazni, continues Danielou, was an early example of Muslim ruthlessness, burning in 1018 of the temples of Mathura, razing Kanauj to the ground and destroying the famous temple of Somnath, sacred to all Hindus. His successors were as ruthless as Ghazini: in 103O the holy city of Benares was razed to the ground, its marvelous temples destroyed, its magnificent palaces wrecked. Indeed, the Muslim policy “vis à vis” India, concludes Danielou, seems to have been a conscious systematic destruction of everything that was beautiful, holy, refined”. (Histoire de l’Inde, p.222)
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”.

But more horror was to come, for without any doubt the bloodiest Muslim deeds in India were done from the 14th century onwards, thanks to the Mughals, who today have been nearly raised to the ranks of great art patrons and benevolent rulers, bringing to India such treasures as the art of miniature painting, ghazals and Sufism.
For instance, Danielou points out that the sack of the magnificent city of Vijayanagar, which was like an island of civilisation, chivalry, and beauty, in the midst of a shattered and bleeding India, by Husain Nizam Shah, was an horror: “During nearly FIVE months, reminisces Danielou, the Muslims set themselves to the task of destroying everything, the temples, the palaces, the magnificent residences. The scenes of terror and massacre were unparalleled and mightier than the imagination can ever fathom. The victors grabbed so much richness in gold, jewels, precious furniture, camels, tents, girls, boys, slaves, weapons, armours, that there was not a single plain soldier who did not depart a rich man. And nothing remained after their departure of the most beautiful and prosperous city of that time, but smoking ruins”. (Histoire de l’Inde, p.251)

Babur was another ferocious conqueror, indulging in unnecessary massacres and his ultimate goal was the destruction and the enslaving of the Hindus. His successor, Sher Khan, was no better, ravaging Punjab, betraying his word to the Rajputs of Malwa, who were all massacred one by one after they had honourably surrendered. Women and children were killed by the Rajput themselves, knowing what would happen to them if they fell in Muslims hands. As for Humayun, History has treated him well, forgetting that he too, was a staunch Muslim. Under his reign, a terrible famine ravaged India, people were killed, erring miserably in their land. What happened to the beautiful land of Bharat, where once honey and wine flowed like an Himalayan delight?

Akbar was the exception in a sea of monsters, although he had his preceptor Bairam, and the regent Adam Khan killed, and was responsible for the great massacre of Chittor. In his 40 years of conquests, he too must have slaughtered his fair share of Hindus. Nevertheless, he was better than the average lot, maybe because his mother was Persian and he married Hindu wives. His intelligence, his love of arts, his interest for his people, his religious liberalism, make of him a unique emperor. Through his Rajput spouses, Akbar had a close contact with Hindu thought and he dreamed of a new religion that would be a synthesis of all creeds – and under him the Hindus were allowed some breathing space.
Unfortunately, his successors started again their policy of massacre and persecution of the Hindus. Jahangir, Akbar’s son, had Guru Arjun Singh killed. Jehangir was a warped personality, “he was moved by the shivering of elephants in winter, says Danielou, but had people he disliked whipped in front of him until they died. The story of how he had Husain Beg and Abdul Aziz, two enemies, sewn in the skins of a donkey and a cow and paraded in the city, has never been forgotten”. (Danielou, Histoire de l’Inde, p.269)

But the worst of the Mughal emperors must be Aurangzeb. He had his father imprisoned till the end of his life, ordered his brothers executed and his own son imprisoned for life. Aurangzeb’s religious fanaticism plunged India again in chaos, famine and misery. Aurangzeb was foremost a Sunni Muslim, puritan, unbending; he had the koranic law applied in its strictest sense, chased from the court all musicians and poets, banned all Hindu religious festivals and imposed the very heavy “jizya” tax on unbelievers. He thus made once more the Mughal monarchy highly unpopular and everywhere revolts sprang-up, such as the one of the Satnamis of Alwar. “Aurangzeb had them massacred until the last one, leaving an entire region empty of human beings”. (Danielou p. 278). Aurangzeb also battled the Sikhs and the Rajpouts. But it’s against the great Mahrattas, who spearheaded a Hindu renaissance in India, that Aurangzeb was most ferocious: he had Shambuji, Shivaji’s son and his Minister Kavi-Kulash tortured scientifically for THREE weeks and after that they were cut in small pieces till they died on 11 march 1689. Aurangzeb was also the first Mughal who really attempted to conquer the South. By the end of his reign, there was nothing left in the coffers, culture and arts had been erased and the Hindus were once more haunted by persecution.

Fortunately, by then the Mughal empire was already crumbling; but the woes of Hindus were not finished. Nadir Shah, of Iran attacked Delhi in 1739 and for one whole week his soldiers massacred everybody, ransacked everything and razed the entire countryside, so that the survivors would have nothing to eat. He went back to Iran taking with him precious furniture, works of arts, 10.OOO horses, the Kohinoor diamond, the famous Peacock throne and 150 million rupees in gold, (Danielou p.290). After that blow, the Mughal dynasty was so enfeebled, that India was ready for its next barbarians: the Europeans.

Being an Indian abroad. Part II

 My article, « Being an Indian abroad », posted on Facebook & Twitter, triggered a few reactions.

 Obviously, America is not only fast food, artificial lights, cars and a superficial vitality. There is certain openness about America, a willingness of the American people to listen to other points of view, which is unique. Yes, America is also a land of freedom where in the last three hundred years, people from all nationalities, all social classes, have been given the chance to make it good. And immigrants have in turn responded to this unique trust by giving the United States their 100% allegiance and energies, which makes it today the leading industrial and military nation in the world. One finds too a sense of collectiveness, a caring for the others, which gives America some of the best road system in the world and first-class public amenities, such as the community centers found in many American cities.

 But is America really the benevolent, casteless society that some of facebook members are convinced it is ? Well, its true that hey have reelected Obama, a unique phenomenon, which shows America’s openness, but still, I am not sure. For one, what the White Americans did to the Blacks not that long ago, must be ranking amongst some of the saddest deeds perpetuated by one class of humanity on another; not to speak of the terrible and shameful treatment inflicted upon the hapless Red Indians, the original inhabitants of their land, a karma that the US will have to pay sooner or later. There are also a lot of inequalities in the States: extremely rich people and some incredibly poor folks, mostly Blacks, for such a country of tremendous wealth. American journalists and human rights activists like to highlight the “oppressed” condition of women in India. But as early as the late sixties, India elected democratically a woman Prime Minister, the highest post of the nation – and that for nearly twenty years. Can the country of triumphant feminism and gender equality boast of a woman President? Hillary Clinton did not make it. The problem is that most Indians suffer too much from an inferiority complex vis à vis the West, to point this out to the Americans who are constantly criticizing India for its human rights in Kashmir and Gujarat

 Yes, in America one enjoys the liberty to do whatever one wants without the red tape, bureaucracy and heavy taxation that one is subjected to in India, or even in industrialized countries such as France. But after 11th September 2001, freedoms have been heavily curtailed in the US, especially if you have a brown skin, as many Indians, Hindus or Sikhs, are finding out today, being mistaken by ignorant Americans for Pakistanis, Afghanis or Saudis. Today, each of your movements is watched in the US, as there are video cameras everywhere, not only at airports, but also at traffic lights, in stores, at cinemas. Everything is known about you, thanks to computerization – and we even once heard on the PA of Atlanta airport: “ you can go to jail for something you say, even as a joke” ! Compare this to India: I have lived here for 40 years, I have gone to the most remote places, traveled to sacred spots with my cameras, tape recorder and white face. And never once have I been aggressed, never once has my passport been asked in the streets (try traveling in the subway in Paris if you have a brown face and a leather jacket), never once have I been mugged at late nights in Delhi, Mumbai or Chennai, whereas in Washington, the capital of the ‘land of freedom’, we were told not to go out alone in certain parts after 8 PM.

 Some of the posts dealt with the extraordinary “religious freedom one can enjoy in the US, where nobody bothers whether you are a Jew, a Hindu, or a Christian”. Fair enough. But let’s put it that way: the American population is overwhelmingly Christian and nobody there finds anything to say that the President of the United States is sworn in on the Bible, or that in some states a Christian prayer is uttered before the start of the school. India has a thumping Hindu majority (80%), but imagine the uproar if Mr. Manmohan Singh had been sworn in on the Bhagavad-Gita  ! And remember what happened when Murli Manohar Joshi wanted to introduce the chanting of the Vandana Saraswati in schools. Yet, India had three Muslim Presidents since independence, a Sikh PM, when Sikhs constitute 3% of the total population and a Christian Supremo, who is just an elected MP, when Christians are only 2% in India. Would that be possible in the US?

 OK, some of you have a point: when I say that all Indians settled in the US should regroup themselves under a “Hindu American banner”, it does look as if I want to exclude Christians, Muslim and Sikh Indians. Indeed, most of the protesting posts, were from Christians, Muslims and Sikhs. But the question is: do these minorities really want to be part of India? Let’s answer the objections from Christians first. One Christian reader tells me “Christians have no freedom in India, look what’s happened in Orissa recently where churches were burnt”. True, but first it should be pointed out that most of these incidents are between converted tribals or low castes and non-converted one. Moreover, this is an isolated case and our friend disregards what the Christians have done to Hindus over the centuries. The first Christian community in the world, that of the Syrian Christians, settled in India in the first century. They were not only allowed to practice their religion in peace, but they prospered here, whereas at the same time they were persecuted in Rome and later in many Arabic countries. But when Vasco de Gama landed in India in the 16th century, the Portuguese, with the active collaboration of many of the Indian Christians, unleashed a reign of terror in Goa and some parts of Kerala, crucifying Brahmins, razing temples, forcibly marrying their soldiers to Goanese women. The British, even if they did not use such violent means, gave a free hand to missionaries to convert huge parts of India, particularly in the North-East. Today, American or Australian dollars are used to still convert unethically, by using the economic incentive amongst tribals and untouchables, teaching the new converts to hate their culture and customs and creating a spirit of separatism, as the Christian Bodo and Mizo militants have shown.

 A few Sikh friends also resented my not having mentioned Sikkism. Let me quote straightaway from Sri Aurobindo: “ The Sikh Khalsa was an astonishingly original and novel creation and its face was turned not to the past but to the future. Apart and singular in its theocratic head and democratic soul and structure, it was the first attempt to combine the deepest elements of Islam and Vedanta. But it could not create between the spirit and the external life the transmitting medium of a rich creative thought and culture. And thus hampered and deficient it began and ended with narrow local limits, achieved intensity but no power of expansion…”

Unfortunately, the Sikhs, because they had to defend themselves against the terrible persecutions by the Muslims, became a militant religion, adopting hawkish habits, which they kept, even in time of peace. And they also retained some of the more negative sides of Islam: intolerance, or feeling of persecution, thus cutting themselves from the mainstream spirit of Hindu tolerance from which they anyway came, and where they might ultimately go back.  But do they not come from the great Hindu family? Has not till lately every good Hindu family donated one of their sons to Sikhism? Do not Hindus, still today go to Gurdwaras? Yet today, many expatriate Sikhs want to have nothing to do with Hinduism, and sometimes even with India. Badrinath, a holy place to Hindus and Hemkunt Saheb, the most important place of pilgrimage for Sikhs after the Golden Temple, are only separated by a few kilometers. You will find Hindus taking the very arduous trek up to Hemkunt Saheb, but today hardly any Sikhs bother to take the bus to Badrinath. By cutting itself from its roots, Sikkism might be running adrift and lose its relevance.

 What about Indian Muslims? Today we see, even though they benefit in India from a freedom they would not have in Saudi Arabia, or even in Pakistan, that Indian Muslims often feel their first allegiance goes to Islam and not to India. The irony of it all is that Muslims invaded India, raped it repeatedly, ran it with an iron and bloody hand, attempted to make of India a totally Islamic country by forcibly converting millions of Hindus – and today they manage to portray themselves in the eyes of the world as the persecuted ! When fed-up by centuries of Muslim oppression, persecutions, ostracism and separatism, upper caste, as well as lower caste Hindus in Gujarat burst out in a frenzy of unforgivable violence after the burning of 57 innocent Hindus in a train by a Muslim mob, Indian Muslims cry for revenge:  “I invite people to commit crimes against Hindus in Gujarat”, said one of the emails from a Muslim gentleman. Another Muslim lady, Shabnam Hashmi, has been going around all the United  States, saying that it was the RSS who killed the hapless kar sevaks in the Sabamarti Express – and she got the ear of all US mainstream newspapers, such as the NYT, as well as many Government-backed human right agencies. Are American that stupid to believe such a terrible lie ? Isn’t it time that the Indian Muslim community, both abroad and in India, most of whom are Hindus who had to convert by force, make a choice between Babar, a man who destroyed everything which was good, beautiful and holy and lived by the power of violence and Ram, who believed in the equality of all and gave-up all riches and honors of the world because he thought his bother deserved the throne more than him ?

 Another strong objection from some readers: religion divides. First let me say that Hinduism, as Sri Aurobindo or Vivekananda, or Shri Ramakrishna, envisioned it, is not a religion but a living spirituality which has given to the world – and still gives it today – wonderful tools: hata-yoga copied all over this planet, meditation, or pranayama, which, says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, which teaches pranayama in 150 countries, “can be practiced by anybody, whatever their nationality and religion”. Secondly, at a time when the two largest monotheistic religions of the world, Islam and Christianity still claim that their God is the only true one and it is still their right in the 21st century to convert, or even kill in the name of Jesus Christ, or Mohamed, Hindus, through the extraordinary concept of the avatar, recognize that God manifests himself at different times, in different countries, under different names and thus grant to everybody the right to worship God under any form. This is a very precious  spiritual (and not religious) knowledge which has been lost to the world and which, even the most humble Hindu peasant spontaneously practices.

 It is also true that things in India are not as they should be. Hindus there are not united, India is divided along caste and religious lines by unscrupulous politicians. Yes, Hindus can also be racists, as one reader remarked; they do suffer at the same time, as another one commented, from a big inferiority complex, as well as one of superiority, quite an achievement! Yes, it is as well correct that expatriate Indians do often tend to become more conscious of their roots than India Indians: they will send their children to learn Bharata Natyam and will remember all the festivals. Good: there is a whole generation of upper middle class kids in India who are so desperately aping the worst of the West, that they are lost for India. Yes, Hindus can on top pf that be selfish, passive, cowardly, miserly, whereas many of them are extremely rich. But nevertheless, they remain a wonderful people, alive with an inbred joy and spirituality.

 Contrary to what one of the readers assert, there is a definite atmosphere in India, something special, something unique, which is there nowhere else in the world. Those of you who spent a lot of time abroad, will notice a certain quality in the atmosphere as soon as you enter India, if you are a little sensitive. There is nothing miraculous about it, it juts springs from millions of sages, yogis, thinkers, sadhus, avatars having incarnated themselves on this sacred land of India and meditated there and preached love and compassion. This can be felt even more strongly at certain locations: on the banks of Benares, in Rishikesh or Haridwar, in Madurai, or even of all the places, in Srinagar, where there is still today a strong spiritual atmosphere, maybe because it was once the cradle of Shivaism.

 So: Indian Americans or Hindu Americans ? To start with, there are already Indian Americans, those that Columbus mistook for real Indians and you can’t usurp their names. Secondly it ultimately depends on the Christians, the Sikhs and the Muslims, who in the last few decades, have drifted more and more from the Indian psyche, striving to strike a fundamental identity of their own. India and Hinduism always gave them space to express themselves and left them the full freedom of religious expression. But in return, Muslims and Christians persecuted the Hindus; and Sikhs, let themselves be used by Pakistan to harm India’s collective unity. We have also seen that the numerous Indian Americans associations in the US, where there are indeed Muslim, Christians and Sikh Indians, are frequently paralyzed by these three groups, who although they are very small in numbers, often work against India and the Hindu majority by creating such forums as the South Asian journalist Association, which is sometimes used as an anti-Hindu/India forum by Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Indian Muslims.

 Thus, if Hindus in the United States regroup themselves under a “Hindu American” label it might prompt the three minorities to wake-up to the reality of a stronger, overwhelmingly Hindu majority. On top of that, as I have already said, it will give a clear-cut identity to Indians in the States, dissociating them from the Pakistanis, the Bangladeshis, the Saudis, or the Afghans, who have a much less friendly attitude towards the West than Hindus. It will also help make known to the average American the extraordinary achievements of the Hindu community in the US, which must be the most upwardly mobile – and perhaps the richest – community in America. Lastly, it will help the Indian Government, by creating a powerful and effective lobby in the US, free from the shackles imposed by the Christian, Sikh and Muslim Indians. Ultimately, it will up to these three minorities to decide whether they want to re-join this great family that is “Induism”. For we should then give back to ‘Hindus’ it proper meaning: Indus from the civilization of the valley of Indus, probably the most ancient civilization of the world still active today. Once upon a time, Indian Christians, Parsis, Muslims and Hindus were called ‘Indus’ by the invaders without differentiation of caste and religion. Is it not time to put back this habit into practice?

 Finally, is America going to be perpetually the Eldorado that still make Indians dream ? Not sure. There are certain signs which show that the US economy is not fully recovering: the slump in the stock market, the packing up of half of Silicon Valley, the near bankruptcy of many American airlines and banks, and more than that, the eroding of the cocksure confidence of Americans. There are bound to be more terrorist attacks on the US in the next few years, as Samuel Huntington’s prophecy of a “clash of civilization” between Islam and the West, with China siding with Islam (lets us not forget that Beijing already gave Pakistan the technology to build its nuclear weapons) and Hindu India allied with the West, will prove more and more true. This in turn will trigger more panic, more loss of confidence amongst Americans and eventually a stock market crash on the lines of the one which happened in 1929.

 On the other hand, India, this “Third World country”, has learnt to live with Islamic terrorism, its people do not panic as Americans do, it has a relatively stable stock market, its software business is still expanding and is beginning to offer salaries which will compete with the West. Could it be that this great brain drain towards America could be reversed and that NRI’s start coming back to their country of origin in search of greener pastures? One could even dream: today one still sees this huge humiliating queues in front of the US embassy in Delhi, where visa applicants are treated like cattle. Will we one day witness Americans waiting in line in front of the Indian embassy in Washington to obtain working visas in

India ? It will happen my friends. One day.

 FRANCOIS GAUTIER

 

WHAT IS IT TO BE AN INDIAN ABROAD TODAY ?

Obama has won again and most Indians in the US rejoice. What is it to be an Indian today in the United States? What is meant by Indian-ness ? What is it to be an Indian abroad ? 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…

 What is it in the American way of life, which fascinates so much Indians ? The fast life ? Right: fast is exciting; but Americans live so fast, eating their breakfast in their cars on the way to work, gulping down these huge amounts of meat and French fries at lunch or dinner, always on the move, that not only they often grow immensely fat, but also catch ulcers and get heart attacks by the time they reach sixty five. What else dazzles Indians in the American way of life ? The lights? True, New York is a fascinating city, with its illuminated skyscrapers, its million of pulsating lights, its giant electronic billboards, its fancy bars, that one feels a kind of throbbing vitality entering oneself as one walks the streets by night. But what a waste of energy, when the world is fast losing its sources of energies; and is isn’t this a kind of artificial vitality, that fades away when one wakes-up in the morning, with a hangover and one has to face the reality of life ? What else ? America’s Nature ? No doubt, the United States boasts some wonderful pieces of nature and Americans have shown us what it means to plant trees and live in a green environment: even Washington is densely wooded. But Nature can also be an illusion here: a highway is never very far from the forest, with its thousands of cars pouring out millions of cubic feet of carbon dioxide, which annihilates natures’ bounty, as the Los Angeles smog amply demonstrates. Besides, America is an unending suburban concrete jungle, with its boring repetition of mega stores, parking lots, and KFC’s. And when you have seen a city, you have seen them all. What else ? The “quality” of American life: barbecue parties, beaches, tattoos, fun and frolic? Yes, except that one out of three American couples divorce within three years, one out of four Americans consults a psychiatrist for depression, bulimia, schizophrenia or plain boredom, and American children regularly indulge in shooting other children, just because they are exposed to so much violence…

 Is this the legacy you want to bequeath to your children, O Indian brothers and sisters, who are longing so much for the American way of life ? For this great brain drain, this bleeding of India’s heart and lungs, which has been going for so long, does not affect only the ordinary middle and upper class “secular” Indian, but also many good Hindus, who put their children in the best US universities and accept the fact that these children will settle in the American way of life and will probably never go back to India. True, their kids get heftier pay checks in the US , better facilities, they escape the Indian bureaucracy, red tape, corruption, slowness… But what are they going to bequeath to their own children in the long run: insecurity, violence, divorce, depression and above all their offspring, unknowingly, will be afflicted by a loss of identity : they will not know, nor feel anymore in themselves, as their grandparents did, this natural space of Indian-ness, which automatically confers certain qualities. What is that Indian-ness ?

 Firstly and foremost: “I accept you; I accept that you may be White or Black, Red or Yellow, Christian, Buddhist, or Muslim”. Not only that, “but I am even ready to go and worship in a church or a mosque, besides my temple.” “I accept that my Gods are avatars, incarnations of the Divine, but so is Jesus Christ, and also Buddha and even Mohamed”. This an extraordinary statement and a marvellous instrument towards world peace, at a time when the two great monotheist religions of the world, Islam and Christianity  still say: “there is only one true God in the world – mine- and if you worship any other god, you are an Infidel and a Pagan and it is my right to convert you by any means, or even to kill you”. The 11th September 2001 attacks are nothing but a result of that  dangerous theorem. As a result, Indians adapt easily wherever they go, particularly in the West, as they are very open to western culture. Of course, Indians also go to the other extreme: “not only I accept you, but I am going to become exactly like you – no even Whiter than the White: I am going to denigrate my own culture, spit on my religion, belittle my countrymen”. This is why you come across so often in the US in negative articles on India written by Indians – nay by Hindus. The Gujurat massacres were actually a great opportunity for these Hindu haters, such as Pankaj Mishra, to come out full blast and prove to the world that India is a land of Hindu fundamentalists where nobody is safe, particularly the Muslims “who are regularly victims of pogroms”. P.Mishra conveniently forgot to mention that India is an extraordinary country of freedom, where all persecuted religious minorities in the world have found refuge over the centuries, whether the Jews, the Parsis, the Syrian Christians, or today the Tibetans.

 What else ? “I have inherited from my ancestors the tools to become a better man, whatever my religion, ethnicity and profession: a better Christian, a better Hindu, a better Muslim, carpenter, or CEO, IT engineer, or sailor”. What are these tools ? Hata-yoga, India’s gift to the world, which has been copied and imitated everywhere (although Time magazine did a story on yoga without mentioning the name “India” once). What else ? Meditation, this extraordinary technique of coming back to one’s Self, of settling the mind and the body, which is today practiced by millions around the world – another bequest of India to humanity. Pranayama, the science of respiration, perfected by Indians for three millenniums. “Does the breath have any religion”, asks Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living movement, which has spread today in 150 countries ?

 What first generations Indians in the States should ask themselves today is “How can I repay my debt to India” ? After all not only they got a nearly free education in India which was good enough for them to obtain well paid jobs in the US, but did they not also inherit that certain Indian-ness, which has been a great help to adapt to the American way of life? As for second, or third, or even fourth generations Indian Americans, what they should tell themselves is “”what can I do for my country” ? “In what way can I contribute to this great nation which is India, which is so maligned and sidelined in the United States” ? And the first thing they can do is to counteract the highly unfair and biased press coverage which India gets in America by writing to editors, or challenging the shameful coverage of CNN (which depicts  Mr Vajpayee as an old feeble man, but gives hours of live retransmission of the recent Pope’s visit to Canada, when the man, whatever his extraordinary will power,  is a walking mummy compared to Mr Vajpayee), or canvassing their elected representatives.

 Finally, Because of the probable continuing confrontation between Islam and the United States (Iraq, Palestine, Pakistan etc), even though Mr Obama thinks that the problem is nearly over after he killed the elusive Bin Laden, and once he withdraws American troops from Afghanistan, Hindus in the US should evolve a friendly and separate identity. It will not matter that they speak with a perfect Yankee accent and think of themselves as one hundred percent Americans – they will be seen in the streets as “coloured” Asians and could be mistaken as Afghanis or Saudis and targeted like the unfortunate Sikhs recently in New Jersey. For too long, Indian Muslims, Christians and a small minority of ‘secular’ Hindus, have used the bogus South Asian label to isolate genuine Hindus in the US. The only solution for them would be that they start regrouping themselves under an “Hindu American” banner. Not only it will rekindle in them an ancient beautiful and powerful identity, but also grant them a protection, as it will quickly become known that Hindus in the US are upwardly mobile, western friendly and themselves a target of Muslim fundamentalism. How  will it be done? By the force of circumstances, probably, because left to themselves Hindus are too passive and selfish to do anything.

François Gautier