Tag Archives: vedanta

Francois Gautier: Custodian of India’s Historical Heritage

Houston Web

HOUSTON: Eminent journalist and author Francois Gautier is passionate about India. His love affair with that country began in the ‘70s, when as a young student, he left his native France and meandered across Europe and arrived in India. So captivated was he by India’s arresting liveliness and the warmth and kindness of the people, that years later in the early ‘80s he returned to India and made it his home. During the last three decades, he has been a high-profile ambassador to India through the power of his pen.

“It is a wonderful privilege to be born Indian,” said Gautier to a multigenerational gathering at the Arya Samaj of Greater Houston on August 10. “I’m a westerner but I feel it is a privilege to live in India.”

The renowned writer is currently visiting several cities within the US to raise funds through his visionary foundation FACT – India for the creation of an Indian history museum in Pune, in the state of Maharashtra in India. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum of Indian History, named for the Indian military leader Shivaji (1627 – 1680), will cost an estimated US$40 million. Gautier is eager to begin work as soon as he returns to India and is confident that this fundraising tour will bring in the much-needed initial $100, 000 to jumpstart the project. A wall within the museum will bear the names of donors supporting the museum project. The museum will be built on land donated by a private trust. Gautier believes that with the help of commissioned historians hired by the museum, visitors will be privy to accurate chronicles of India’s great history. For Gautier, the epiphany came upon him when he started research on a book he was writing. He found that history books carried outdated theories such as the Aryan invasion that have since found to be fictional.

Earlier in the day, he chatted informally with Indo American News sharing his thoughts and vision for the museum.

“India has been largely maligned by distorted information and misrepresentation. No records or schoolbooks have a correct account of the Hindu Kush genocide, where millions were slaughtered. Exactly how many were killed isn’t known but that was India’s holocaust. Yet everyone knows about the Jewish Holocaust,” said Gautier. “India’s history, falsely propagated by the British, Christian missionaries, and western media, has made me realize that we need to show Hindu civilization in its correct and true context. For the sake of our children and the generations to come, and the world!”

The first exhibit to be set up will honor the life and times of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. India’s rich cultural heritage will be portrayed through the Vedas. The museum will document and exhibit the various invasions from Alexander the Great to the Arabs, the Goa Inquisition, the ongoing massacre of thousands of Kashmiri Hindus by Muslim terrorists, the persecution of the Syrian Christians, Buddhism’s rise and decline, India past and current. Highlighted too, will be India’s glorious contribution of yoga and Ayurveda to the world community.

“The museum will be there for our children, for them to know that regardless of the fact that the British broke the backbone of our agricultural system and caused the deaths of millions of Indians from famine, and despite the Muslim onslaught, India prevailed and remains prosperous,” added Gautier, a practicing Hindu who was spiritually influenced by the writings of Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950). He has since joined forces with spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who supports him in his quest for the truth about India’s past. Gautier estimated that it would take several years till completion of the museum.

“I’m thinking about 10 to 15 years. Once people realize how important this project is, and how essential, the funds will pour in,” confided Gautier. Speaking softly in a lilting Indo-French accent, his messages however were undoubtedly strong as he condemned the slaughter and maniacal “ethnic cleansing” of Hindus in the Kashmir valley by the Muslims, an area Gautier covered as a political journalist from 1987 to the late ‘90s.

“There were over a million Hindus living peacefully in Kashmir. Today there are a mere hundreds. The Kashmiri Pandits moved me with their despair, but nobody else seemed to give a damn. Indian media abroad and in India were only covering the Muslim angle,” said Gautier.

Through FACT – India, an organization he founded in 2003 to draw attention to human rights abuses in South Asia, Gautier documented the genocide in Kashmir in a video called Terror Unleashed – An Exhibition on Kashmir, and presented it to the US Congress in the desperate hope that Washington would intervene and help resolve the issue.

“Several House Representatives saw it and lauded the video but nothing was really done about it,” said Gautier. “US presidents think that by pouring money into Pakistan, it will curb terrorism. That won’t work.”

Gautier said that the dissent among Hindu community leaders has led to disunity.

“If there’s fighting among ourselves, how do we present a united front to the world? After all this time that Indians have been in the US and enjoy great prosperity, they still do not have a voice that is heard. Yet other communities work together and in that unity, they find a voice. Indian organizations need to share a common agenda and work towards that.”

He confided that it is “tragic” that the children of Indian immigrants adopt the American way of life and are lost to India.

“They’re hostile to spirituality. And it’s mostly the fault of the parents who either don’t care, or don’t instill cultural pride in their children. Families are fragmented, values lost. Instead of pushing children to visit the temple, engage them in other spiritual activities like the classical arts and yoga. It will bring them closer to their cultural roots,” said Gautier. “It’s such a pity that India is so poor at sports, as that could have helped make them proud of India.”

At a private meeting with local youth at the Arya Samaj, Gautier urged young people to be proud of their cultural heritage. “It is a privilege and a responsibility to have Indian roots and there is no contradiction here – you hail from the lineage of the Vedas. People are moving forward and coming to Hinduism for spiritual answers,” said Gautier.

By Kalyani Giri, www.indoamerican-news.com

Terrorism – Islam in India must be different

Terrorism – Islam in India must be different
Source: The Sunday Indian
Terrorist attacks in India will stop if Indian Muslims stop actively participating in them
Francois Gautier

French Journalist

Islam in India is different. It is the inheritor of a long tradition of Sufism – the blending of Vedanta and the best of Islam – and a certain philosophy of acceptance. I remember when I was covering Kashmir in the late seventies, one could still see remnants of that tradition and observe Hindus and Muslims worshipping in dargahs and visiting each other’s homes during their respective religious festivals.

Then the Sunni Wahabite influence, via the Paksitani and Afghan jehadis, who supplanted the early JKLF movement, seeped in and everything changed for the worst. I was there in 1995 when the last Sufi shrine – the magnificent Chrar-e-Sharif, tomb of Sheikh Nuruddin, which was a sumptuous brick-and-cedar building with architectural and aesthetic roots right out of Central Asia – was burnt to the ground.

Though it has been rebuilt now, its destruction signalled the end of Sufism and tolerance in Kashmir. The 300,000 Kashmiri Hindus who had to flee their ancestral homeland are the living testimony of it.

For a long time, the present Indian government has been able to blame the successive terrorists attacks – Jaipur, Varanasi, Mumbai train blasts, Hyderabad, etc. – on the ISI or Bangaldeshi outfits and get away with it. The Delhi blasts signal the end of the charade and for the first time – barring the Ahmedabad blasts, where the Centre did not have much to do with the investigations – it was recognised that they were the handiwork of Indian Muslims.

Yet, the Indian government went on with the same pattern it used repeatedly after a terrorist attack in the last four years: (a) condemn ‘in the strongest terms’ this ‘barbarous act’; (b) appeal for calm and ‘communal harmony’; (c) give a few lakhs each to the families of the deceased or injured, so that they shut-up; and (d) never catch the culprits and go on as before till the next terrorist act.

But look at America, the most hated and targeted country in the world: it has not suffered a single terrorist attack since September 11, 2001. Which Indian politician will have the courage to call a spade a spade and tackle terrorism with courage and determination?

Does the UPA think that the common citizen of India is a nitwit and does not understand that Manmohan Singh or Sonia Gandhi have never pronounced once the word ‘Islamic terrorism’ not only because of the matter of vote banks in times of coming elections, but also because of the fact that politicians in India want to keep a blindfold on their citizens and pretend that nothing is happening?

Muslims should also realise that their Hindu brothers and sisters are angry now. Hindus gave refuge to all persecuted minorities of the world – from the Parsis, to the Jews (India is the only country in the world where Jews were not persecuted) to the Armenians, and the Tibetans today. The first Christian community in the world, that of the Syrian Christians, flourished in Kerala, thanks to Hindu tolerance; Arab merchants were welcomed by Hindu rulers to do trade and live in India, while freely practicing their religion, from very early times. It’s a pity that these two communities turned against their Hindus brothers and sisters, the former by way of lured conversions, and the latter with bloody invasions.

Ultimately, Islam in India can still preserve its difference, show the rest of the world that Muslims can live in peace with their brother and sisters and practice an Islam which is faithful to its own creed, while accepting other religions. But for that, terrorists attacks have to stop in India – and they will if Indian Muslims stop participating actively in them.

Islam cannot be wished away. As Sri Aurobindo said, “Mohammed’s mission was necessary, else we might have ended by thinking, in the exaggeration of our efforts at self-purification, that earth was meant only for the monk and the city created as a vestibule for the desert”.

Thus, Indian Muslims have to keep their faith and any attempt by Hindus to convert them back is not only futile but counterproductive. But the question to be asked to them is: what kind of Islam do you want to practice? An Islam which looks westwards, towards a foreign city, the Mecca, swears by a scripture, the Koran, which is not only not relevant to India, but which was meant for people living 1,500 years ago, in a language which is not Indian ? Or do they want to practice an Islam which is ‘Indianised’, which accepts the reality of other Gods, as Hinduism and Buddhism accept that there have been other avatars than Ram or Buddha.

Do India Muslims want to worship Babar, a man who destroyed everything which was good, beautiful and holy and lived by the power of violence, or do they want to imbibe the qualities of Ram, who believed in the equality of all, who gave-up all riches and honours of the world because he thought his brother deserved the throne more than him?