Tag Archives: US

Ten 21st Century Challenges for #Hindus

Every 6th person on this Planet is a Hindu and Hindus still constitute the overwhelming majority in India – nearly 80% of the population. Humanity needs thus to re-discover the wonder that is Hinduism, the oldest spirituality still in practice in the world. It is also true that Hindus must to rise to the challenges of this second millennium. Here they are – in order of difficulty.

  1. Break the Polytheist image. One of the most enduring clichés about Hinduism is that Hindus adore a multitude of gods and goddesses, which makes them heathens in the eyes of Christians, thus good to be converted to the ‘true’ God, often with unethical financial baits; & ‘kafirs’ for Muslims from all over the world, particularly from neighbouring countries, such as Pakistan, which encourages them to wage a jihad on India.

Yet, Hinduism, whether you want to call it a religion or a spiritual system, is without doubt one of the most monotheist creeds in the world, because it always recognized that the One is Many and that He incarnates Himself or Herself in a multitude of forms – hence the million of gods & goddesses in the Hindu pantheon. Vedic Sages (from the Vedas, the oldest and most sacred Scriptures of Hinduism) had understood that man has to be given a multiplicity of different approaches to the Unfathomable. And truly, for the Hindus, the Divine cannot be “this” or “that” – neti, neti. In its essence, He cannot be several – or even one – and thus can never be perfectly seized by the human mind. Indeed, Hindus, who were once upon a time the best dialecticians in the world (and this is maybe why they are today the top software programmers of this planet), were able to come-up with this kind of equation: a) God is in the world; b) the world is in God; c) the world is God; d) God and the world are distinct; e) God is distinct from the world, but the world is not distinct from God; f) it is impossible to discern if the world is distinct from God or not… Never has the unique nature of Hindu polytheism been better defined.

Hindus in the world need to emphasize to their western brothers and sisters that they have also always recognized the divinity of other religions, as their concept of the avatar (the different forms that the Divine takes at different times to incarnate Himself or Herself in a human form) helped them to accept the reality of other prophets, masters or gurus. It is, for instance, perfectly acceptable for an ordinary Hindu to have on his wall the image of Krishna, alongside the one of Buddha, one of the Christ, with a few photos of the Mecca or even John Fitzgerald Kennedy ! And Hindus have always worshipped at non-Hindu places, such as Velangani, the Christian seat of pilgrimage of South India, or some Sufi shrine in Kashmir or Rajasthan. It should be said too that Hindus never tried to convert others to their own religion, not even by peaceful means, as the Buddhists did all over Asia; and their armies never but oh, never, set to conquer other nations to impose their own culture and religion, as Islam and Christianity did, often in a bloody manner. Thus, Hindus in the West, need to be able to counter in a knowledgeable manner, verbally or in writing (letters to editors, etc.) this wrong polytheist image which has harmed them.

  1. Dispel the image of poverty attached to India. One of the reasons Hindus are not taken too seriously abroad, is that their country, India, is always associated with poverty. True, there is still poverty in India, social inequality, but since 1947, thanks to the Green Revolution, there has been no famine. Hindus in the West can always counter this pervading untruth in the mind of the English, by stating that according to British records, one million Indians died of famine between 1800 and 1825; 4 million between 1825 and 1850; 5 million between 1850 and 1875; and 15 million between 1875 and 1900. Thus, 25 million Indians died in one hundred years under the benevolent rule of the British Raj!

Poverty in India is also commercially exploited by Hollywood and writers. A book such as ‘The City of Joy’, by Frenchman Dominique Lapierre, which was a huge success worldwide, gives the impression that India is a vast slum, which is absolutely untrue – and the author, who often comes to India, had to know that he was inducing his readers in error. As for the film “Slumdog Millionnaire”, which raked-up so many Oscars, it is even more perverse: it says things which are false, portrays situations that are untrue, such as the young boy throwing himself in excrements, to get an autograph of India’s film star Amitabh Bacchan & should have been boycotted by Hindus.

Yet, India is a wealthy country. It is said, even today, because of the socialist policies of previous governments and the heavy taxation, that half of India’s money is in the black. The poverty is only there because of the mismanagement, the dishonesty, and the inheritance of wrong structures. For Indians must be with some of the best savers in the world. And they don’t hoard in abstract concepts: they go in for solid gold, land, cash – and that from the little shopkeeper to the business magnate.

As economic liberalisation is happening in India at this very moment, the rise of India as a superpower will herald the rise of the status of Hindus in the West and all over the world, for today the assessment that every industrial nation in the world casts on another country, is primarily economical. Thus China is respected so much today in the world, not for its political power, which is overshadowed by immense Human Rights abuses (Mao Tse Tung killed 3 million of his own people during the Cultural revolution and it has been calculated that one million Tibetans have been murdered by the Chinese), but by its economic clout. In the same way, India’s image, whose PIB has now overtaken China’s, will shed many of the prejudices attached to her, when the world takes notice of the huge investment possibilities there.

  1. Explain the caste system to westerners. Caste is still a curse that hangs around India’s neck. While it is true that 75% marriages are still arranged in India, Hindus in the US, UK and elsewhere, need to whisper in the ears of their western friends that the Indian Government has made tremendous efforts since 1947 to uplift the lower castes. And it has succeeded in great measure. Tell them that your present Prime Minister comes from one of the lowest castes and was a tea seller, that some of today’s Indian Chief Ministers are untouchables, or that one of India’s best known saints, Amrita Anandamayi, who has hundreds of thousands of disciples in the US, UK, & millions all over the world, and has built hospitals, universities, housings for the poor, comes from the lowest caste possible in Kerala.

You can also ask your British friends if the caste system is really that worse than the huge class differences you can see nowadays in Europe or the USA!

  1. Dispel the notion that Hindus can be fundamentalists and violent. Hindus need to repeat again and again to their British brothers and sisters that the only country in the world where Jews were never persecuted is India. Tell them that the genius of this country lies in its Hindu ethos, or rather in the true spirituality behind Hinduism. Explain that the average Hindu that you meet in a million villages, possesses this simple, innate spirituality in his or her genes and accepts your diversity, whether you are Christian, Muslim, or Jain, Arab, French or Chinese. It is this ‘Hindu-ness’ (which cannot be experienced if you sit in Delhi most of the time) that makes most Indian Christians different, from say a French Christian, or an Indian Muslim unlike a Saudi Muslim. Also that Hindus have given refuge to all persecuted minorities of the world, whether the Syrian Christians, the Parsis (Iranian worshippers of Zarathustra), the Jews, the Armenians, or today the Tibetans (the real Tibet is in India now, as the one in the hands of the Chinese has lost much of its Tibetan character). Thus you cannot find less fundamentalist than a Hindu in this world and Hindus in the US, UK & Europe, should immediately react when they read articles in the British Press (often unfortunately from New Delhi-based correspondents) trying to equate Islamic terrorism, which blow-up innocent civilians, to angry ordinary Hindus who burn churches without killing anybody. Tell them that however reprehensible was the destruction of the Babri Masjid (a Mosque built in the 15th century by Muslim invader Babar on a very ancient and holy Hindu temple dedicated to the God Ram), no Muslim was killed in the process; compare this with the ‘vengeance’ bombings of 1993 in Mumbai, which wiped-out hundreds of innocent, mostly Hindus. Yet, the Babri Masjid destruction is often described by journalists as the most horrible act of the two. Today, you can argue with your British friends, Hindus are one of the most successful, law abiding and integrated communities in the world. Can you call them terrorists?

5. Tell Westerners about the greatness of Hindu philosophy & Literature. Indian education is a leftover from the British Raj. Nothing wrong with that, except that as a result, Indian students know all about Shakespeare, Napoleon, the Bible, but very little about their great warriors. And there were many : Shivaji Maharaj from Maharashtra, as great as a warrior as Napoleon, who started the first Indian navy, made laws, protected women and children from all religions; Maharana Pratap from Rajasthan, the only Rajput (maharaja, if you wish) who stood up to the Moghol invaders in the 17th century); and even great women warriors, the equals of Jeanne d’Arc: the Rani of Jhansi, who fought the British; Ahilyabai of Indore, who had the first women battalion in India, or Chennama in the South. Tell you British friends that some of the greatest poets who walked on this earth were Hindus: Kalidasa, whose Sanskrit was so pure, than even translated in English it still shines; Vyasa, who composed the Mahabharata, which has been considered by many western authors, of the same epic quality of the Iliad and Odyssey, etc.

Western philosophy and culture trace its sources to ancient Greece… But many famous writers and Indologists have pointed out that Greece was greatly influenced by Hinduism. Famous Indianist Jean Herbert reminds us that “many many centuries before us, India had devised most of the philosophical systems which Europe experienced with later. They contained, at least in its essence, the philosophy of the Greeks, the Alexandrine mystique, the religious speculation of the Middle Ages, the rationalism of the XIXth century and even the most recent incarnations of modern pantheism”. In 1782, already, French philosopher Pierre Sonnerat had written: “Ancient India gave to the world its religions and philosophies : Egypt and Greece owe India their wisdom and it is known that Pythagoras went to India to study under Brahmins, who were the most enlightened of human beings”.

But it is in XIXth century Europe that an open admiration for ancient India’s culture flourished best, particularly in Germany, where philosophers, such a Frederich Shlegel, said that “there is no language in the world, even Greek, which has the clarity and the philosophical precision of Sanskrit”, adding “that India is not only at the origin of everything, she is superior in everything, intellectually, religiously or politically – and even the Greek heritage seems pale in comparison”… The great Shopenhauer agrees with him and writes in the preface of his “The World as a Will and as a Representation”: “According to me, the influence of Sanskrit literature on our time will not be lesser than what was in the XVIth century Greece’s influence on Renaissance. One day, India’s wisdom will flow again on Europe and will totally transform our knowledge and thought”. And Nietzsche himself had read the Vedas, which he admired profoundly, could quote from the Law of Manu and thought that “Buddhism and Brahmanism are a hundred times deeper and more objective than Christianity”.

  1. Hindus in the West should preserve their Indian-ness. Hindus in US, Britain & Europe have to ask themselves that question: what is it to be an Indian abroad today? What is meant by Indian-ness ? How much of yourself do you give to your British identity – and how much space do you preserve for your Indian-ness ? For we see many of the children of Indians who settled in the USA, Great Britain, or France, twenty or thirty years ago, merge themselves totally in the British way of life, speak with an English accent, eat fish fry, support Chelsea football club… and in the process forget all about their wonderful Indian culture…

What are those special qualities that confer an 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 July 2005 London bombings 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 UK & US on negative articles on India written by Indians – nay by Hindus.

What second, third or even fourth generations Hindus in America, or the UK should also 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, UK, or Europe, and elsewhere in the West, but did they not also inherit that certain Indian-ness, which has been a great help to adapt to the western way of life. Or: “In what way can I contribute to this great nation which is India, which is often maligned and side-lined in the UK and Europe” ?

It would be a low to both Britain (or the US or Canada, or France) if Hindus would totally blend in their countries of adoption and lose their values of tolerance, gentleness, hospitality and the ability to see the One in the Many, it would be not only a loss to themselves, but also to their countries of adoption, to which they would not bring anything special.

  1. Take political power & Unite. You know by now that wherever Hindus exiled themselves, they did well, whether as labourers in Mauritius or doctors in the UK or IT engineers in the USA! They pay their taxes, integrate themselves, do not riot, their children top in colleges and universities and generally blend in the culture of the country they adopted. Everybody also knows that some of the biggest multinationals, such as Adobe, Microsoft, Diageo, Mastercard, Google, Pepsi, or others are today headed by Indians – read Hindus.

Yet, Hindus are individualistic people and they tend to look down on politics, as something ‘dirty’. This is why they did not always get the politicians they deserve in their home country. We see today that a lot of Muslims are elected in local boroughs or even towns in the US and UK. That is good and should be praised. But it is also true that often these Muslim leaders tend to think only of their community and sometimes use their offices to enforce the vision of their particular communities, such as segregated swimming pools, or even try to modify British textbooks. Hindus, with their universal outlook will not do such things. But they need to come out of their shells and stand for elections at all levels of the British political system.

Another drawback of Hindus in the UK and the USA, is that they are terribly disunited and are splintered in many groups, along states of origins, profession, or even castes, sometimes even are at odds with each other. Hindus in the USA & UK should therefore unite under one umbrella organization & the united Hindu diaspora leadership should meet at least once a year with a rotating president.

  1. Explain @NarendraModi. There is a lot of disinformation floating around India. We saw how poverty, caste and polytheism still hang around Hindus’ necks, but what about political misconceptions? For instance, Hindus in the West should offer some counter arguments on the disinformation about Mr Narendra Modi, India’s present prime Minister. They should first remind their friends, that Mr Modi had made of his state, Gujarat, the most efficient, most prosperous and least corrupt of all the states of India. Of course, he is labelled “anti-Muslim and accused him of having engineered the 2002 Gujarat anti-Muslim riots. But remind them that these riots were triggered by the horrifying murder of 57 Hindus, 36 of them innocent women and children, burnt like animals in the Sabarmati Express. Riots of that intensity like in Gujarat, do not happen in a day, they are a result of long term pent-up angers and a spark like the killing of Hindu brothers and sisters, whose only crime was that they believed that the God Ram was born in Ayodhya, is enough the ignite the smouldering fire.

Ask your British friends if it is logical that only Mr Modi is targeted? But who went down in the streets in fury in 2002? Hundreds, if not thousands of Gujuratis, not only from the lower strata of society, not only Dalits, but also middle class, and sometimes even upper middle class! Should they also not be judged and condemned? But then it would be the whole of Gujarat who should be hauled to court, an ancient and noble race, who gave so much to India, including Mahatma Gandhi, and today is still exporting all over the world its upright and successful businessmen, to the UK or the US, for instance, where they own most of the motels. Finally, tell them that it was never roved that Mr Modi waited 24 hours before calling the army to quell the riots.

  1. Help India become the alternative to China. Emphasize again and again in western forums that India is the natural economic and geopolitical partner of the USA and the rest of the civilized world. For contrary to China, it is democratic, pro-western, liberal, with a middle class as important as China’s. Tell them that the West haves banked all their investments on China, neglecting India, the other giant of Asia, which is a grave mistake because some social upheaval is bound to happen in China sooner or later, as soon as the authoritarian hold is removed one way or another. Highlight the fact that India is a much safer bet in the long run for western investments. Already India’s PIB has overtaken the Chinese, who are facing a lot of economic difficulties. Tell them that at the very least, the US, UK and Europe should balance their chips by investing half of them in India – the Prime Minister, Mr Modi is in the process of liberalizing the economy and making it easier for foreign investors. Tell them that India is the next economic superpower and that it has a much better human rights record than China.

It is also very important that you point out that India is the natural geopolitical buffer of the West in an Asia racked by Islamic fundamentalism and the Chinese thirst for hegemony (explain to the British that Beijing is claiming for instance an Indian state as big as England – Arunachal Pradesh). The UK and the US also keep making the mistake of funding and arming Pakistan, even when they fully know that the Pakistanis have unleashed Islamic terrorism not only towards Kashmir, but unto the whole world.

  1. Spread Happiness in the West. “India will become the spiritual leader of the world”, Swami Vivekananda had predicted. Thus share with your British friends the fact that hatha yoga, today practiced by hundreds of millions in the world, is a Hindu invention. Tell them too that Ayurveda, also taking the West by storm, is the oldest medical system still in practice in the world; that much before the West knew it used plants and minerals to cure people, knew that many illnesses have psychosomatic sources, and that Indian doctors practiced plastic surgery 1000 years before Christ. Talk about Pranayama, the most exacting, precise, mathematical, powerful breathing discipline one can dream of. Its effects and results have been observed and categorised by Indian yogis for millenniums. This extraordinary knowledge, brings in very quickly wonderful results in both the well being of the body and the quietude of the mind. Pushed to its extreme, it gives to the disciple deep spiritual experiences and a true inner perception of the world. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has revitalized this science and packaged it in modern terms. Help them to practice meditation, queen of all the yogic sciences, that which is above everything, that without which any yogic discipline is impossible. That which interiorizes us, carries us within ourselves, to the discovery of our true soul and nature. There are hundreds of different mediation techniques, simple, cartesian, easy to experience, which have been devised by Indian sages since the dawn of Bharat. Each one has its own characteristics, each one gives particular results, which has been experienced by the billions of aspirants who have practised them since the dawn of Vedic times. This is the Wonder that IS Hinduism, tell them.

In conclusion, when the Hindus help shed these prejudices which have been harming their image, they can not only continue to contribute to the world’s economic growth, as they have done for several decades, but also, once they participate more intensely in the political power, be recognized as a distinguished community, with a separate and honored identity. Francois Gautier

Advertisements

THE BJP SHOULD NOT BE ARROGANT

Dear friends, there is no doubt that a BJP Govt – and Mr Narendra Modi as PM – will be a huge improvement for India & Hindus, here and worldwide. The Congress has dragged down this country and still does, selfishly, without any concern for the people that have elected them. Growth will dip soon at 4,5%, while China, which is India’s bitter and most dangerous enemy, is soaring without any competition worth the name.

At the same time, we have seen that the BJP, once in power, quickly forgets about its true goals, what the people who have elected them want & falls in the Nehruvian fold of power and its Delhi trappings. Already there is an arrogance in the BJP that ‘ we are already there’, while Rahul Gandhi and his mother are  quietly gaining votes with the rural innocent people of India, by TV adds, for example, which are simple, but have an appeal to the heart (however  false there are). Already, Mr Narendra Modi, has become unreachable, even to his staunch supporters. One understands that campaigning is his priority and that it is a tiring business. But if you look at the US elections, Obama’s campaigns, for instance, it’s as exhausting, there are even more meetings, in small towns, which Mr Modi avoids, America is as big and Obama himself shakes a million hands, eats hamburgers, carries babies, sings with children, which Mr Modi also avoids because of ‘security’ concerns. But Obama is probably  targeted even more than Mr Modi by Islamist terrorists.

This is why, if you love India, you should be all after your BJP local representatives, by voice, letters, mails, push them, prod them to remain true to your aspirations, your needs, your hopes. As for me, I have always been a journalist who stands by his intuitions, from moment to moment, without bending to the line of my editors or of any party, even the BJP. MY first love is Mother India, Her Welfare, Her protection in the face of so many threats She is facing at the moment. I know that Kejriwal is a Marxist at heart and does not have much love for the Hindus. At the same time, he is the only one who has the guts to fight corruption & the VIP system, which is corroding India – and as a journalist I have to praise him of that, even if his tools of dharna are ridiculed (but were they not Gandhi’s favorite tools?) even if it’s a losing battle. And mind you, the common people may vote for his party again in greater numbers. He is even admired abroad.

So friends, do not be mad at me if sometimes I criticize the BJP and Mr Modi. While I have a lot of respect for Narendra Modi, whom I met several times, while I am probably the only foreign journalist who has defended him for ten years, much before he was the PM candidate of the BJP (as I have defended Murli Manohar Joshi, Advani and Vajpayee in the 90’s), I have seen that Mr Modi is also like many other Indian politicians of the Congress and the BJP: he takes and gives back little. The art of Living Foundation of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, for instance, has worked tirelessly for Mr Modi, not only in Gujarat, but all over India. But Mr Modi in return, has never done anything for the Art of Living which does so much free sewa in India and needs support at all levels. As I said, I have written countless articles praising him in the French and even  US media, but my publisher Har Anand of Delhi, has been begging him for 6 months to release my latest book “a History of India as it Happened, not as it has been written”, a book that rewrites Indian History and is crucial to the thoughts of the Hindus, anywhere, anytime – but we never got an answer.

As Sri Aurobindo said in his Hour of God, this is the hour of the unexpected. Long Live Mother India
francois gautier

ARE HINDUS COWARDS ?

“Muslims are bullies and Hindus cowards”, the Mahatma Gandhi once said. He may be right – at least about Hindus: there has been in the past 1400 years, since the first invasions started, very few Shivaji’s and Maharana Pratap’s to fight the bloody rule of the Moghuls, or hardly any Rani of Jhansi’s to stand against the humiliating colonial yoke of the British. If a nation’s soul is measured by the courage of its children, then India is definitely doomed: without the Sikhs, whose bravery is unparalleled in the more recent history of India, Hindus would have even lost additional land to the Muslim invaders and there would have been infinitely more massacres of Hindus by Muslims during the first weeks of Partition.

Are Hindus more courageous since they have an independent nation? Not at all! Because of Nehru’s absurd and naïve “hindi-chini-bhai-bhai” policy, the Indian army was shamefully routed in 1962 by the Chinese, a humiliation which rankles even today. Beijing is still able to hoodwink Indian politicians, by pretending it has good intentions, while quietly keeping on giving nuclear know-how to Pakistan, as well as the missiles to carry their atomic warheads to Indian cities, arm separatists groups in the north-east and continuing to claim Arunachal Pradesh or Sikkim.

Today, we see that Indian politicians, instead of standing-up to Islamic militancy and Chinese bully, prefer to look the other way and speak of ‘Hindu terrorism’, an absurdity if there is one. Hindus are hounded, humiliated, routed, be it in Pakistan and Bangladesh, where Muslims indulge in pogroms against Hindus every time they want to vent their hunger against India (read Taslima Nasreen’s book “Lalja”). In Kashmir, the land of yogis, where Hindu sadhus and sages have meditated for 5000 years, Hindus have been chased out of their ancestral home by death, terror and intimidation: there were 25% of Hindus at the beginning of the century in the Kashmir valley… and hardly a handful today. And look how the US is treating India, refusing to hand over Headley, responsible for the planning of the horrible Mumbai attacks and continuing to prop-up Pakistan, knowing very well that when American troops will leave Afghanistan, Islamabad will make sure that a friendly Taliban regime is reinstalled, with dire consequences for India’s security

There is no point in playing cricket against Pakistan, as long as Islamabad is sending militants to kill and maim into Indian territory. Yet, Hindus continue to think that in the name of sportsmanship, or democracy, it’s the right thing to do. We keep hearing about Hindu ‘terrorism’. But since fourteen centuries, Muslims have always struck first against Hindus, And those who live in Indian cities which have important Muslim minorities, will tell you that every time there are Hindu-Muslims, it is the Muslims who start them, either by attacking the police, or by provoking the Hindus.

The truth is that there are two standards in India: one for the Hindus; and one for the Muslims. Did the “fanatic” Hindus who brought down Ayodhya (and brought shame onto secular India, according to the Indian media) kill or even injure anyone in the process? No. But Muslims do not have such qualms. When Gandhi said they were bullies, he was being very nice or very polite. For forget about the millions of Hindus killed during the ten centuries of Muslim invasions, probably the worst Holocaust in world history; forget about the hundreds of thousands of Hindu temples razed to the ground, whose destruction – whatever our “secular” Hindus of today say – was carefully recorded by the Muslims themselves, because they were proud of it (see Aurangzeb’s own chronicles); forget about the millions of Hindus forcibly converted to Islam, and who sadly are now rallying under a banner, a language, a scripture which have nothing to do with their own ethos and culture (*). Yesterday and also today, when the Muslim world feels it has been slighted, in even a small measure by Hindus, these Infidels, who submitted meekly to Muslim rule for ten centuries, it retaliates a hundred fold – this is the only way one intimidates cowards. After Ayodhya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia (at least in a passive way by giving shelter for a while to Tiger Memon) with the help of Indian Muslims, planted bombs in the heart of Bombay and killed a thousand innocent human beings, most of them, once more, Hindus.

This is no to say that all Muslims are fanatics; on the contrary, many of India’s Muslims are extremely gentle and their sense of hospitality unsurpassed. The same thing can be said about Pakistan: Pakistani politicians, for instance, are much more accessible than in India and Pakistan has its own identity, which cannot be wished away. No, the problem is not with Muslims, whether they are Indians or Pakistanis, the problem is with Islam, which teaches Indian Muslims from an early age, to look beyond their national identity to a country – the Mecca, in Saudi Arabia – which is not their country, to read a Scripture which is not written in their own language, to espouse a way of thinking, which is inimical to their own roots and indigenous culture. Indian Muslims, have to think of themselves first as Indians and secondly only as Muslims. Muslim soldiers fighting against Pakistan in Kargil, have shown the way.

One would be tempted to say in conclusion : “Arise ô Hindus, stop being cowards, remember that a nation requires Kshatriyas, warriors, to defend Knowledge, to protect one’s women and children, to guard one’s borders from the Enemy”….
And do Indians need a Narendra Modi to remind them of that simple truth ?

FRANCOIS GAUTIER

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

 

It is a special privilege to be born a Hindu: Francois Gautier

_Gauiteweb_912441932NEW YORK: Noted French journalist and writer Francois Gautier who has made India his home and propagation of Hinduism his cause and mission for over three decades, is currently traveling across the US to raise funds through his foundation, FACT – India, for the setting up of an Indian history museum in Pune, India.

Gautier, perhaps one of the very few Westerners to have unconditionally adopted a Hindu way of life, feels the widely prevalent distorted image of Indian history as propagated by the British, Christian missionaries, communists and the western world in general for over two centuries, has necessitated the museum to portray Hindu civilization in the right light.

In an interview with India Post during his visit to New York last week, Gautier spoke about his ambitious museum project, the many threats to Hinduism in today’s world and how Hindus can gain the respect of the world.

IP: Can you tell us about the Museum of Indian History?

Gautier: I have been donated some land in Pune by a private trust where I want to build the museum to be called the Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum of Indian History.

I see in India there are no museums of Indian history worth the name. So the idea is to start from the Vedas, go on to talk about the greatness of the whole of India and the entire drama of the invasions through history, the Hindu holocaust, and then portray India of today and tomorrow.

IP: What kind of funds do you need and how long will it take to complete the museum?

Gautier: It’s a huge project but definitely it will happen. It’s about $40m dollars, and I don’t know how long it will take — perhaps 10-20 years, because I don’t have the money right away. But I am ready to start, once I start, the donations will come and people will understand the importance of this museum.

IP: Why is it important to have such a museum?

Gautier: As a journalist and writer, when I started documenting for my book, I realized that most history books on India are based upon very old theories considered defunct or debatable such as the Aryan invasion theory, which evidence shows has never taken place.

Both British historians and later Nehruvian historians have toned down the considerable impact on Indian culture of the invasions starting from Alexander the Great to the Arabs, the Muslim invaders and the British — that entire part of the history has been swept under the carpet. And even later, the history of India’s Independence is very unfairly portrayed.

The need of the museum is very important so we can look at India’s history in a very scientific manner, which is what my organization FACT India is doing.

IP: Will the museum focus only on the Hindu history of India?

Gautier: The museum will also broach upon many of India’s dark periods in its history like the inquisition in Goa by the Portuguese, the Sufi persecution, the Ahmedi Muslim persecution in Bangladesh, how the Buddhist history was wiped out and how some of the early Syrian Christians of Kerala were persecuted. And of course the Hindu holocaust right from Hindu Kush (massacre of Hindus) to the current terrorist activities against them.

I want school children to come to the museum and learn of their own culture and be proud. Kids in Indian schools are learning about Shakespeare and Milton, not about their Hindu or Indian culture. In my country we are taught about great French people like our poets, social reformers, artists etc… so I grew up proud of my culture, but Indian kids do not grow up learning about or feeling proud of their culture.

IP: Do you see any kind of opposition to your project from either the government or any section of the Indian society?

Gautier: Of course there’s bound to be some opposition, you can’t make everybody happy. But one has to go by the truth. Whatever one’s limitations, if backed by truth, even if it is opposed, there will be some kind of direction and protection.

In fact, there are three reasons for setting up the museum in Pune: One– of course the land donated is in Pune; second– since I work in Pune, I found that people of Pune, irrespective of their political affiliations, are quite nationalistic in nature. I feel my museum will be more protected in Pune than anywhere else in India; thirdly– Pune is Shivaji’s birth place. There is no museum of Shivaji anywhere in Maharashtra though he is a true hero. So naming it after Shivaji will be a protection for this museum.

IP: Over the many years of your career, how successful have you been in changing western perceptions of Hinduism?

Gautier: It’s a very difficult task, because unfortunately the image of Hinduism is not that good. But, there is more ignorance than hostility. Westerners do not know that it is a monotheistic religion. Secondly, Hindus, especially Brahmins have been at the receiving end of many like the British, the missionaries, the Islamic invaders all of who created a very negative image of Hinduism — particularly the missionaries emphasized only the negative sides of Hinduism and amplified them a thousand times. Today we still find that even after 200 years, these negative images have survived even in the minds of Hindus in India.

Unfortunately it is a great handicap for journalists like me who like Hinduism and want to defend it. I can’t say I have been very successful, but at least now westerners are open to going to India and understanding Hindus.

There are so many good things to be said for Hinduism, but unfortunately there is no will among Hindus to try to explain to westerners. Hindus are just content to come to the West and melt into local cultures or at best keep their spirituality and religion to themselves.

IP: What do you think of the role of the Indian intellectual elite and media in projecting the image of Hindus?

Gautier: The British have left such a mark on the minds of much of Indian intelligentsia and elite, right from the erstwhile Maharajas who have copied the British way of life that it has left a deep impression on generations after that. Today Indians think that everything that comes from the West is good. It’s very stupid, because many things in the West have failed like family values etc.

This generation of Indian intelligentsia is aping Marxism so brilliantly, which is dead even in Russia, and is probably only left in Cuba, but I don’t see why Indians should copy Cuba (laughs).

Look at the Chinese, they are so proud of their culture; nobody dares to fiddle with them, even America will not dare to interfere with their affairs.

IP: Many Hindus fear the very survival of Hinduism in the face of Islamic fundamentalism. How real are their fears?

Gautier: The fear is very real. I see there are five or six enemies that may be covertly or overtly attacking Hinduism. In the past there was any one threat at a time like the Greek, British or Muslim invasions. But today, there are the threats of Muslim fundamentalism, Christian conversions, Marxist onslaught, Westernization and so on which are eroding the Indian culture all at the same time. However, there are many great gurus today like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and others who are repackaging the Hindu tenets like spirituality. pranayama, yoga, ayurveda etc for everyone’s easy consumption while not associating them with Hinduism. Though I do not agree with that, it’s an important movement today and helping to preserve that culture.

It’s true that Hinduism is under attack and it looks frightening at times. That’s why the museum is so important.

IP: Have you ever felt conflicted about the culture you were born into and the one you adopted?

Gautier: Personally I have never felt conflicted, but people of my country often do not understand why I defend the Hindus– that has been a bit of a problem. Though my country is sympathetic to India, when you touch the intellectual layer – people who are fed on the Nehruvian history and the downgrading of Hindu culture, I have come into conflict sometimes with these people. But for me living in India is a protection; people often appreciate the work I do. Some of my friends do not understand why I poke the dangerous Islamic fundamentalism by defending Hindus. I started speaking about it (Islamic fundamentalism) 20-25 years ago when it was not at all politically correct to speak about it. Even those friends who like me sometimes do not really understand me. I have faced a lot of hostility also.

IP: What can Hindus living in America do to preserve their culture?

Gautier: For Hindus living in the US, whether fist or second generation, it is important that they carry their Hinduness. It is a special privilege to be born a Hindu, because you inherit the knowledge which is very ancient and very practical. Also the many Hindu groups which are scattered should unite to become a lobby like the Jews. They should teach their children to be proud of being Hindu while being faithful to their Americanness. They should create a lobby in the US to be able to influence South Asia policy at the administration level and see that it does not cap India’s nuclear policy.

IP: Is there something that really frustrates you?

Gautier: Hindus don’t think big. Most Hindu movements in the US have mostly people without a vision, they don’t unite; it’s very frustrating. When I last visited the US in 2002, the Hindu community was more vibrant, today I find many of the Hindu leaders of that time burnt out or taken a back seat or gone back into mainstream life; that is saddening. If only Hindus knew their own power — there are one billion in the world — Islam is conscious of its might and its numbers; Christianity though on the decline, is conscious of its greatness in terms of technology and power. Hindus, who are not all that small in number, have to use more muscle. Meekness and submissiveness will not take them far, they have to show muscle power. That’s the way to get respect in the world.

By SRIREKHA  N. CHAKRAVARTY, India Post News Service

URL: http://www.indiapost.com/us-news/5138-special-privilege-born-Hindu-Francois-Gautier.html

TIBET, CACHEMIRE & CORSE

INDE : Les attentats de Bangalore puis d’Ahmedabad, et auparavant ceux de Lucknow, Varanasi et Mumbai, qui ont fait plus de deux cents morts, ont tous une connexion indépendantiste kashmirie. C’est le moment ou jamais de vérifier quelle est la position de la France par rapport au Cachemire.
Par François Gautier, ancien correspondant du Figaro en Inde, rédacteur en chef de la Revue de l’Inde (lesbelles.lettres.com)

TIBET, CACHEMIRE & CORSE

Y a-t-il un lien entre le Tibet, le Cachemire et la Corse? Paradoxalement, oui ! La France reconnaît à la Chine, depuis fort longtemps déjà, droit de suzeraineté sur le Tibet ; nous n’accordons cependant pas la même latitude à  l’Inde, nous cantonnant à déclarer que le Cachemire est un territoire ‘disputé’ (entre le Pakistan et l’Inde) ; par contre, il ne viendrait jamais à l’idée des Indiens de nous dire que l’appartenance de la Corse au territoire français est ‘contestée’.

La France et l’Inde, depuis les premiers comptoirs, c’est une histoire de grandes promesses  qui n’aboutissent à rien, pour une raison ou une autre (que ce soit le rappel de Dupleix par Louis XV ou l’histoire du Clémenceau). Aujourd’hui la France n’est que le 7ème investisseur en Inde, loin derrière les Etats-Unis, qui ont compris qu’il leur faut reporter une partie de leurs investissements en Chine sur l’Inde et qui utilisent New Delhi pour contrecarrer l’expansion chinoise en Asie.

A la base, notre politique en Asie du sud est faussée, car nous avons toujours mis sur le même pied le Pakistan, petit pays non démocratique, toujours au bord de l’anarchie islamiste ainsi que de la banqueroute, et l’Inde, extraordinaire nation démocratique, pro-occidentale, au formidable potentiel économique. Si nous le faisons moins maintenant, nous continuons tout de même à succomber au chantage nucléaire pakistanais et pour cela nous ne voulons pas « déséquilibrer » le dialogue indo-pakistanais (qui n’existe pas) en reconnaissant à l’Inde le Cachemire.

La sensibilité indienne quant au Cachemire est exacerbée. Et avec quelque raison : le Cachemire a toujours fait partie de la nation indienne, c’est même le berceau du shivaïsme et de la philosophie de l’Advaita. Le fait qu’une partie de la vallée du Cachemire (le Ladhak est bouddhiste et la région de Jammu à majorité hindoue) ait été brutalement convertie à l’islam au 16ème siècle n’y change rien. Aujourd’hui, 400.000 hindous ont été chassés par la terreur de leurs terres ancestrales de la vallée du Cachemire,  et certains vivent encore dans des camps de réfugiés à Delhi ou Jammu, sans doute le plus grand nettoyage ethnique de notre ère.

La France se targue depuis quelques années de « soutenir » l’Inde, mais ce sont des promesses qui ne lui coûtent rien et sont vides de sens. L’appui de la candidature indienne au Conseil de Sécurité de l’ONU, par exemple, n’a aucune valeur, car la Chine s’y oppose, ainsi que d’autres pays. L’accès au nucléaire français frise l’absurdité, car non seulement il est tributaire de multiples conditions qui musèleraient la force nucléaire militaire indienne, qui fait fonction d’arme dissuasive face à la bombe pakistanaise et à l’énorme arsenal nucléaire chinois, mais nous attendons que les Américains leur vendent du nucléaire pour s’engouffrer dans la brèche.

Et le Tibet alors, que vient-il faire là-dedans ? Dès 1948, les Chinois ont compris que l’Inde était la seule puissance qui avait le potentiel de leur faire contrepoids en Asie. Pour neutraliser cette menace indienne, Beijing s’est d’abord saisi du Tibet, qui traditionnellement a toujours fait office de tampon entre les deux géants d’Asie (c’est d’ailleurs exactement ce qu’offre le Dalaï-lama aujourd’hui lorsqu’il propose de faire du Tibet une zone démilitarisée et dénucléarisée) et s’empressèrent d’y poster dans les années 80 un nombre impressionnant de missiles nucléaires (voir rapport de la CIA de 2004 au Congrès américain), dont un certain nombre visent les principales villes indiennes. Puis sous de fallacieux prétextes (contentieux frontaliers, hospitalité indienne au Dalaï-lama), la Chine attaqua l’Inde par surprise en 1962, humilia l’armée indienne  et quand elle se retira, garda quelques dizaines de milliers de kilomètres carrés de territoire indien dans l’Aksai Chin (Ladhak). Ensuite, les Chinois soutinrent tout au long des années 70 et 80 les mouvements séparatistes du nord-est de l’Inde (Tripura, Assam, Megalayana etc.), tout en continuant à revendiquer l’état stratégique de l’Arunachal Pradesh, un des plus beaux de l’Inde, qui se situe à la jonction du Bhoutan, du Tibet, de la Chine et du Bangladesh.

Mais surtout, les Chinois comprirent vite que c’est en se servant de l’animosité pakistanaise vis à vis des hindous, qu’ils pourraient le mieux neutraliser l’Inde.  La liste de la “coopération” stratégique entre la Chine et le Pakistan est longue et très éducative. Cela va de la route la plus haute du monde entre le Cachemire pakistanais et le Sin-Kiang, jusqu’aux missiles M11, capables de porter des têtes nucléaires, qui ont été fournis par Beijing, malgré les avertissements du Pentagone. Puis bien sûr, Les Chinois ont littéralement donné aux Pakistanais la Bombe – et les Américains qui se taisent, le savent depuis longtemps. Le père de la bombe pakistanaise a également vendu de la technologie nucléaire à la Corée du Nord, à l’Iran et à la Lybie, comme tout le monde le sait aujourd’hui.

Alors pourquoi donc nous acharnons-nous à investir massivement en Chine (et à vendre des armes au Pakistan) et négligeons-nous l’Inde, continent de liberté et de démocratie dans une Asie en proie au fondamentalisme islamique et à la tentative d’hégémonie chinoise ? Il est vrai qu’à l’heure actuelle il est beaucoup plus facile de faire des affaires en Chine qu’en Inde, car il existe là-bas une volonté centralisée qui a les moyens autocratiques de réaliser ses ambitions, que ce soit pour imposer le contrôle des naissances ou pour tracer des autoroutes en expropriant les petits propriétaires  (en Inde cela prend quelquefois sept ans de litiges).Pourtant non seulement l’Inde, “l’autre” géant d’Asie a su préserver sa trame démocratique depuis 60 ans, mais en plus, il offre des conditions de travail bien supérieures à celles du géant chinois: l’Inde possède par exemple un système juridique qui protège les contrats (ce qui n’est pas le cas en Chine), l’Anglais est parlé dans tout le pays, (idem) et le couvercle de la marmite a été enlevé depuis longtemps. Ainsi depuis l’Indépendance, tous les séparatismes, révoltes, excès, ont déjà bouillonné à la surface, sans affecter la trame démocratique de ce pays, preuve s’il en est de la stabilité future de l’Inde, qui assurera sécurité et rentabilité aux investissements étrangers. Ajoutons que les Indiens aiment l’Occident et qu’ils acceptent la diversité de ‘l’Autre’, contrairement aux Chinois.

Le Président français a montré qu’il savait aller au-delà des conventions  et des sentiers battus. S’il veut que la France reprenne sa place en Inde, et ne se fasse pas – une fois de plus – damer le pion par les Américains (qui tentent en ce moment de persuader Delhi de signer un accord nucléaire, qui lierait l’Inde politiquement et économiquement aux Etats-Unis pour les vingt prochaines années), la reconnaissance à l’Inde de sa suzeraineté sur le Cachemire frapperait un grand coup : nous nous gagnerions tous les coeurs indiens, tout nous serait possible en Inde. Elle rétablirait également une certaine parité entre les deux géants de l’Asie, l’un dictatorial, avec un ‘karma noir’ (à part le million de Tibétains  occis depuis 1959 les dirigeants chinois ont éliminé deux millions des leurs) ; et l’autre démocratique, doté d’un ‘bon’ karma (les Indiens, durant toute leur histoire n’ont jamais envahi militairement un autre pays).

Peut-être alors, le grand rêve de Dupleix serait-il en passe de se réaliser.

fgautier26@gmail.com