What is Hindu rashtra? – Aakar Patel

Mohan Bhagwat

Aakar Patel“The conflation of India, Indus and Hindu is of course ancient and we know of the Indica of Arrian (which records the campaigns of Alexander the Great in Punjab) and the Indica of Megasthenes. Arrian refers to Punjabis east of the Indus as the Indoi.” – Aakar Patel

Najma HeptullaWhat exactly is Hindu rashtra? This is one of the phrases that worry those who are frightened of the tendencies of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. But are they right to be worried?

What is the RSS thinking of when its chief Mohan Bhagwat says, as he did a few days ago, that “Hindustan Hindu rashtra hai (India is a Hindu nation)”?

The question to be asked is: What does Mr Bhagwat mean by “Hindu” in this context?

And also a second one, what does he mean by “rashtra”? To answer the second one first, rashtra means nation, though loosely it could also mean state (ordinarily the word used in Hindi for the state is sarkar).

A Hindu state is a reasonably precise thing, because the religious texts tell us what its structure is.

Till 2008, Nepal was the only Hindu state on earth. The Chhetri (Kshatriya) dynasty ended with the republic of 2008. Why was Nepal a Hindu state? Because executive power flowed from a warrior king, as prescribed in the Hindu code, Manusmriti. But Nepal was a “Hindu state” only to that extent. Nothing else from Hindu texts could be applied because much of it is against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The RSS has not made the demand that the Indian state be organised by caste, so we will assume that the word rashtra was used in the sense of “nation”.

The dictionary defines nation as “a large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory”.

Let us look at the word Hindu then.

Goa’s Deputy Chief Minister, Francis D’SouzaThe conflation of India, Indus and Hindu is of course ancient and we know of the Indica of Arrian (which records the campaigns of Alexander the Great in Punjab) and the Indica of Megasthenes. Arrian refers to Punjabis east of the Indus as the Indoi.

However, this conflation makes no sense when used in the line “Hindustan Hindu rashtra hai” because it would then mean Hindustan is an Indian nation, which is a tautology. Clearly, Mr Bhagwat meant something a little different when he said Hindu. One interpretation is that he meant that Indians should all recognise that it is Hindu identity that is at the root of their cultural expression.

That Islam and Christianity in India were also in some way an aspect of Hindustani culture and should be different from Islam and Christianity as they are practised elsewhere in the world.

When Hindu is used in the geographic sense, the RSS has support from many people, including some minorities who agree with its definition. Goa’s Deputy Chief Minister, Francis D’Souza of the BJP, told in an interview: “India is a Hindu nation. There is no doubt about it. It is always a Hindu nation and it will always stay a Hindu nation. You don’t have to create a Hindu nation.”

Asked to explain, Mr D’Souza said, “India is a Hindu country — Hindustan. All Indians in Hindustan are Hindus, including me. I am a Christian Hindu, I am Hindustani.”

Abdul Rasheed AnsariThe BJP’s Minority Morcha president Abdul Rasheed Ansari also agreed. In an interview to PTI, Ansari pointed to Allama Iqbal’s poem Tarana-e-Hindi (commonly known as Saare jahan se achcha). In it, Iqbal refers to Indians as Hindi in the lines — “Hindi hain hum, watan hai Hindustan ha-mara” (We are Hindis and our land is Hindustan).

Mr Ansari said that “in my opinion, whatever Mr Bhagwat said was in a social context.”

Another Muslim, Union minority affairs minister Najma Heptullah, also defended Mr Bhagwat in an interview [listen to the recording of what she actually said to the Hindustan Times]. Asked if it was right to call India’s minorities “Hindu-Muslims” and “Hindu-Christians”, Ms Heptullah said, “It is not about right or wrong. It is about history.” If some people called Muslims Hindi or Hindu they should not be so sensitive because it didn’t affect their faith, she added.

It is good that the RSS chief has Christians and Muslims interpreting his words, but it would be much better if he himself gave a coherent explanation that would satisfy his critics. – Deccan Chronicle, 31 August 2014

» Aakar Patel is an editor, author and columnist in Mumbai and Chennai. He tweets at @AakarPatel_mint — though he says he is not on social media!

Napoleon Bonaparte

Ganesh Chaturthi – Sadhu Rangarajan

Ganapati

Sadhu Prof. V. Rangarajan“Ganesha stands for clarity of mind. For the clarity of the mind, a large head which can conceive and understand the Vedic truths is required. And the ears should be wide enough to hear clearly the srutis. The long trunk stands for the power of discrimination which can solve gross problems in the outer world, which are similar to lifting of heavy weight, and also be employed in the subtle realms of inner personality layers, which can be compared to plucking small blades of grass. His pot-belly stands for the capacity of the mind to digest all sorts of experiences—pleasant or unpleasant. Thus every aspect of his form is a symbolic representation of an aspect of the perfected mind, the pranava swaroopa.” — Sadhu Prof. V. Rangarajan

Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva within an OmOf all the Gods and Goddesses of the Hindu pantheon, Lord Ganesha is the most popular and powerful too. No undertaking, auspicious or inauspicious, can be launched even by the other Gods without invoking Lord Ganesha. Brahma once forgot to worship Ganesha before commencing a yagna. Even the creator will not be spared if he violates the rules of righteousness. Not only he, but all the other Gods who participated in his yagna incurred the wrath of Saraswati due to a misunderstanding, and were cursed. No wonder that Shiva worshipped him before the conquest of Tripura, Vishnu before tying up Mahabali, Brahma before starting creation, Sesh Nag before carrying the earth on its head, Parvati before destroying Mahishasura, Rama before Setubandha and Krishna to get rid of a false accusation.

VarahamihiraLike many other Gods, Ganesha, too, emerged only as a totemic God. But this tribal deity got entry into the Aryan pantheon and had an almost meteoric rise to a higher position and popularity than others. It is believed that Ganesha worship began during the Gupta period, even before the sixth century CE, for the Brihad Samhita of Varahamihira belonging to that date prescribes details regarding fashioning of Ganesha images. But soon, in the tenth century, we see Ganesha enjoying a prominent position, and having a separate sect called Gaanaapatya. He is also Vishwaksena or Tumbikkai  Alwar  of Vaishnavism. He was borrowed by other sects like Buddhism and Jainism and became popular all over Asia and in many other parts of the world. As a Hindu deity he is worshipped in South-East Asia and as a Buddhist in Far East. He commands worship in Dargah Pir Rathan Nath in Kabul, and the early representations of Ganesha are found in Afghanistan. He is the popular Heramba of Nepalese, and finds a place above the main entrance to Tibetan temples including Buddhist. He is  Ateshgah Fire Temple on Azerbaijan postage stamp.popular in Khotan. Along with Buddhism, he entered into Mongolia. In Baku, on the Caspian, in Azerbaijan, he is in a fire temple claimed by both the Hindus and Parsis as their own. The Japanese and Chinese knew him in two forms—one similar to that in India and the other two-faced elephant representing the male part and the female counterpart. The Japanese call him Kon-Kiten. Ganesha serves as a model of meditation for the Javanese Muslims.  His worship has spread in Mexico, Burma, Cambodia, Champa and everywhere the Indians have gone.

Worshipped in many forms, Ganesha, in his female form, is Ganeshani, not only in the South Indian temples at Suchindram and Madurai and in Bhere Ghat near Jabalpur in the North, but even in the remote Tibet. He is a child, like Navaneeta Lord & Lady Ganesha embracing in JapanKrishna, in Jalakanteswara temple of Vellore, a Saligram in Tirunallore, a dancing God in the Hoyasaleswara temple at Halebid and a flute-player in Srisailam. Why, you can see him sporting in Western trousers in the distant Chinese Turkistan! He has varying forms in each yuga too—in Krita with ten hands and with the lion for his vehicle, in Treta as Mayuresa seated on peacock, in Dwapara with four hands and of red hue, and in Kali with two hands and, of course, the trunk.

Ganesh is verily the chosen deity of the youth. Himself youthful and energetic, he is “sadaa baalaroopaapi vignaadrihantree” (although young always, can yet despoil a mountain of obstacles) according to Sankara. Innumerable are the temples dedicated to him throughout the length and breadth of the country. In states like Tamilnadu, there cannot be found any street corner in cities and towns and any village where there is not at least one Vinayaka temple—big or small. The Ashtha Siddhi Vinayakas near and around Poona and nearly 200 places known for Ganesha worship are listed in Maharashtra alone. He is popular in other States too, but not looked uniformly by all people in the county. In the North he is younger brother of Karthikeya and having two wives, Siddhi and Buddhi, while in the South he is the elder one and a confirmed bachelor.

Lokmanya Keshav Bal Gangadhar TilakCelebrations of Ganesh festival as a public programme were prevalent under the Swaraj of the Peshwas in Maharashtra. But it was Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak who rejuvenated it in 1893. Like all other activities of Tilak, the Ganapati festivals were also socio-political in conception. The songs sung in the melas, the lectures delivered by prominent leaders during the festival days and the immersion procession on the last day of the festival, all provided a great impetus to the task of national re-awakening for swaraj and fight for freedom. No wonder that the British Government looked down upon these festivals with disfavour. But one remarkable fact is that in spite of the persuasions of the opponents of Tilak, who came out demanding scriptural authority for these public celebrations; the groups like the Prarthana Samajists who were opposed to idol worship; and the Muslim community who abhorred the procession passing in front of mosques, the British Government never exploited such easy excuses to suppress the Ganesh festivals, which were from the very beginning, unassailable on sound social lines and having their religious aspect much more dominantly expressed. Ganesh festivals are spread even outside Maharashtra and at Indore, in the far off Malwa, the festival has the grandest finale to it.

Lord Ganesha curses Chandra Deva!The fourth day of the waxing moon in the lunar month, Bhadrapada, is held sacred to Lord Ganesha, for it is the day on which the lord descended to the earth as the son of Siva and Parvati. There is a legendary explanation for the celebration of Vinayaka Chaturthi, according to which the Moon God invited the curse of Ganesha by laughing at his ungainly shape, and after penitence and penance, he got the curse reversed with the condition that he should worship Ganesha on the fourth day of the bright half of the lunar month and particularly on the Bhadra-Shukla Chaturthi. But worship of Vinayaka by his devotees aspiring for wealth and happiness on this auspicious day is not merely a matter of faith. It has its scientific significance too. On this day, Vinayaka is worshipped with leaves of twenty-one different trees, plants and shrubs, and it is called Ekavimsa Patrapooja. From the point of view of Ayurvedic science, these leaves and flowers have great medicinal effects and are abundantly available in Bhadrapada (August-September). Hence the celebration of the festival provides training to young men and women in the Ganesha Symbolism. identification, collection, preservation and usage of some valuable materia medica.

Legends are many as to how Ganesha got this anthropomorphic form. But wise youth will ponder over the symbolic representation of the Ganesha tattva. Ganesha stands for clarity of mind. For the clarity of the mind, a large head which can conceive and understand the Vedic truths is required. And the ears should be wide enough to hear clearly the srutis. The long trunk stands for the power of discrimination which can solve gross problems in the outer world, which are similar to lifting of heavy weight, and also be employed in the subtle realms of inner personality layers, which can be compared to plucking small blades of grass. His pot-belly stands for the capacity of the mind to digest all sorts of experiences—pleasant or unpleasant. Thus every aspect of his form is a symbolic representation of an aspect of the perfected mind, the pranava swaroopa. Similarly every action attributed to Lord Ganesha also represents some subtle truth. His riding the mouse points out that a perfected mind can ride over and control desires which run towards sense objects. His circumambulatiing the ओ३म्Divine Parents and thus defeating his brother in a race round the world signifies that all knowledge is encompassed by the realization of the Supreme Wisdom.

If rightly understood, Hindu religion is not merely a faith, unlike others, or a plethora of Gods and Goddesses or different modes of worship. Each God stands for a tattva and once it is rightly understood, the worth of Hinduism as a universal religion, which crosses the barriers of country and clime, castes and creeds, can be realized. Let us hope that our intelligent youth will strive to understand the real meaning and significance of Hinduism. – Yuva BharatiSeptember 1975

» Sadhu Prof. V. Rangarajan received initiation from H.H. Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Tiruvannamalai, in 1988. Since then he has been travelling all over the country and abroad, propagating the Ramnam Taraka Mantra in accordance to the command of Yogiji Maharaj. He visited South Africa in 1996 for the World Hindu Conference at Durban and since then made three more visits, spreading the ideals of spiritual nationalism in that country.

Ganesh image under construction in Thailand

Get free Ganapati chants and songs here

Kashmir: With State govt complicity, Muslims usurp ancient Hindu site at Kounsar Nag – Vivek Sharma

Kounsar Nag

Vivek Sharma “Pakistan’s prestigious media house Dawn has come up with a pictorial feature … showing seven odd young Kashmiri boys offering Namaz in a make-shift prayer place on its magnificent banks. … Behind those offering prayers lays hanging a huge banner, seeking donations for ‘reconstruction’ of Masjid Sharief, Syed Akbar, Ahrabal. On a corner of the slightly raised stone fencing, stands a tall post fluttering a green flag. This is exactly the location, which some Kashmiri Pandits claim to have been worshipping from times immemorial as ‘Vishnu Paad’, foot print of Bhagwan Vishnu.” – Vivek Sharma

Kashmir PanditsNow that the controversy over holy Kounsar Nag in Kashmir was gradually dying down, Pakistan’s prestigious media house Dawn has come up with a pictorial feature in its multimedia segment on 11th August, showing seven odd young Kashmiri boys offering Namaz in a make-shift prayer place on its magnificent banks in the scenic backdrop of Pir Panchal ranges. Behind those offering prayers lays hanging a huge banner, seeking donations for ‘reconstruction’ of Masjid Sharief, Syed Akbar, Ahrabal. On a corner of the slightly raised stone fencing, stands a tall post fluttering a green flag.

This is exactly the location, which some Kashmiri Pandits claim to have been worshipping from times immemorial as ‘Vishnu Paad’, foot print of Bhagwan Vishnu. The pilgrimage to this lake by about 40 Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley route was allegedly denied, after proper permission, by the District Administration Kulgam, for the fear of causing ecological disaster. Ruling National Conference legislator, Dr Syed Bashir Ahmed Veeri was among the first in mainstream camp to oppose the Yatra, saying, “We must not allow this. These virgin spaces shall be left out of the human intervention as these pose grave threat to Kashmir ecology.” The controversial Congress Minister Ghulam Ahmed Mir vehemently opposed the Yatra, saying it was not a pilgrim destination but will be developed as tourist attraction. The high pitch opposition by separatists and secessionists led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who forced Kashmir shut down in protest against the Yatra, is seen by defence experts as a move to keep higher reaches in the Valley out of bounds for ensuring safe havens for terrorists.

With new twist to the holy lake of Kounsar Nag by Dawn of Pakistan, a mischievous impression is sought to be created for raising or ‘reconstructing’ a mosque, which is fraught with the danger of raising passions. The report supporting is quite inflammable and far from facts. For example, the report describes the lake as source to Jhelum River, which is factually incorrect.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad has taken strong exception to communalising the situation and “Islamisation of the State”. Patron VHP J and K Ramakant Dubey told State Times that the lake has been worshipped by Hindus for over 5,000 years and under a conspiracy and diktat of separatists; a group of Kashmiri Pandits were stopped from proceeding towards this holy place. He threatened of launching an agitation if the Governments continued to succumb to the pressure of separatists.

Sonia Gandhi, Omar Abdullah & Farooq Abdullah: Good-bye Pandits!Senior Bajrang Dal activist and BJP leader, Susheel Sudan said that the matter is being taken up with the central leadership as the “State Government was playing into the hands of separatists”. He expressed regrets over Hindus being denied permission for Yatra while there was nothing wrong with fencing a spot for offering prayers.

Sudan wondered why the Congress minister and National Conference legislator had maintained silence over a make-shift mosque being raised at a place they deem to be kept away from human intervention.

“The development is alarming; it is an attempt to make the lake out of bounds for Hindus either from the Valley or Reasi forever”, he said while seeking immediate corrective measures in the interest of peace and amity.

Recounting the significance of the lake for Kashmiri Pandits, Vinod Dua said that Kashmir owes its name to Saint Kashyap and, therefore, various lakes and mountainous ranges have religious sanctity for them. “This fact cannot be wished away by the so-called secularists or fundamentalists like Geelani, Yasin Malik or Shabir Shah”, he added. – State Times, 13 August 2014

Kounsar Nag

Celebrate India’s past, don’t ignore it – Madhav Nalapat

The Wonder That Was India

“I will omit all discussion of the science of the Indians, … of their subtle discoveries in astronomy, discoveries that are more ingenious than those of the Greeks and the Babylonians, and of their valuable methods of calculation which surpass description. I wish only to say that this computation is done by means of nine signs. If those who believe, because they speak Greek, that they have arrived at the limits of science, would read the Indian texts, they would be convinced, even if a little late in the day, that there are others who know something of value.” – Bishop Severus Sebokht of Nisibis, ca. 7th century, quoted by A.L. Basham

 

Prof M.D. Nalapat

“This columnist believes that the Ramayana and the Mahabharata described real life situations, and that Rama and Sita existed in flesh and blood during a time erased on the excuse of myth by colonial-era historians. … What is needed to be done in India is to re-discover the truth of the epics. Were, for example, a tourist trail to be created that would retrace the journey of Rama to Lanka and back, the same would not only generate an awareness of the awesome past of this country, but also attract tens of millions of tourists and pilgrims from across the globe.” – Prof Madhav Nalapat

Leonardo da VinciA visitor to Europe would not fail to be struck by the pride that is shown in showcasing the past. In Vienna, a favourite of tourist guides is a dwelling designed by an architect who disliked flat surfaces, and so ensured that the floors of each room sported a clutch of small and big mounds, thereby making it a trifle less easy to walk on. In Paris, museums show sketches of Leonardo da Vinci and other greats from the past, some of which seemed somewhat unimpressive. No matter. They were each lovingly cared for, as much so as a mound of rocks an hour’s train ride from London, Stonehenge, which is showcased as a major tourist attraction dating back to the days of the druids. Schoolbooks in Europe are filled with page after page of illustrious sons and daughters of EU countries, all presented in the context of the history of the world as seen through the eyes of Europe.

In contrast, India is a country where much of history has been rubbished as myth, to such a degree that for those passing through the school system, this is a country that in effect was born on 15 August 1947, much like Pakistan a day earlier. There is chapter after chapter in school textbooks on a very few “heroes of the freedom struggle”, with most of the space being devoted to the Nehrus and Mahatma Gandhi.

Jawaharlal Nehru apparently agreed with his teachers in England that the ancient past of India was a myth, and that therefore the heroes and heroines celebrated in ancient epics were just characters in a novel. While Greeks may be proud of the Iliad and the Odyssey, in India, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata have been banished from histories of India as “myth”, thereby constricting the history of the country in a way that would be sacrilegious in Greece or in Italy, where the exploits of Julius Caesar are celebrated to this day.

This columnist believes that the Ramayana and the Mahabharata described real life situations, and that Rama and Sita existed in flesh and blood during a time erased on the excuse of myth by colonial-era historians.

The Chinese Communist Party rebuilt much of the Great Wall of China, and what is needed to be done in India is to re-discover the truth of the epics. Were, for example, a tourist trail to be created that would retrace the journey of Rama to Lanka and back, the same would not only generate an awareness of the awesome past of this country, but also attract tens of millions of tourists and pilgrims from across the globe.

Certainly the Sri Lankan government would be willing to join in such a re-creation of the past, in view of the immense goodwill that an extension of Rama’s trail to Sri Lanka across the Ram Setu would generate in India.

Sita, Rama & LakshmanWhile a re-creation of Rama’s path to Lanka on the lines of the Great Wall would be a joint enterprise between Sri Lanka and India, an authentic rendering of the life and travels of the Buddha would be a joint effort between India and Nepal, while re-creating the deeds of Guru Nanak would necessitate the cooperation of Pakistan, where several locations associated with the founder of Sikhism exist, whereas a rendition of events in the life of Mahavira could possibly be carried out entirely within this country.

Apart from a greater realisation in our people of what A.L. Basham saw as the wonder that is India as well as greater tourism, a spin-off of this effort would be a better atmosphere between India and its neighbours.

Also included would be a deepening of the understanding that cooperation between the countries of South Asia (including Afghanistan and Myanmar) is essential if a deadly common enemy, poverty, is to be eliminated.

It needs to be said at this point that those who seek to appropriate Rama and Sita to Hindus alone are doing an immense disservice to the memories of this illustrious pair, for they are the cultural treasure of every citizen of India and not just of those belonging to a single faith, just as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, the Panchatantra and the Jataka tales, not to mention so many other treasures from the past, are the heritage of every citizen of India, and indeed of the world, and ought not to be either promoted or rejected on the grounds of religion.

What is needed is faith in India, and this can only develop to the levels seen in the US, the UK, Japan and China if the ancient past of our country is celebrated rather than put away as myth. – The Sunday Guardian, 17 August 2014

» Madhav Das Nalapat (also known as M. D. Nalapat) holds the UNESCO Peace Chair and is Director of the Geopolitics and International Relations Department at Manipal University, an international private university headquartered in Southern India. He is also the Editorial Director of the Sunday Guardian.

Ram Sethu

The Bharatas of Bharatavarsha – Sandhya Jain

Bharat Mata

Indian Kings“The three Bharatas seamlessly united the Satayuga, Tretayuga and Dwaparayuga and the land itself in political and cultural unity. They exemplified three ideals each that permeated Hindu civilisation and form its core values to this day. Rsabhdeva’s son Bharata gave us daya, Brahma-jñana and tapas; Dasaratha’s son Bharata gave us prema, bhakti, and bandhutva; and Dushyanta-Shakuntala’s son Bharata gave us seva, shaurya and dana.” – Sandhya Jain

Map of BharatvarshaBharatavarsha is encompassed from north to south by Sagarmatha, forehead of the ocean, a beautiful epithet for the tallest Himalayan peak, and Hind Mahasagar, the Indian Ocean. Famed as a divine creation, it is the bhumi of the Bharatas, hallowed by its sacred geography and the great souls who have guided her spiritual ascent and steered her civilizational  destiny. Bharatavarsha literally means the continent (‘varsha’. Sanskrit) that is dedicated (‘rata’) to light, wisdom (‘bha’). Our Vedic Rishis devoted themselves to the quest for the eternal truth and ultimate reality, kevala jnana, satchidananda.

The Bharatas were a venerable and ancient tribe mentioned in the Rg Veda, particularly in Mandala 3 of Bharata Rishi Vishwamitra.  Mandala 7 says the Bharatas were on the victorious side in the Battle of the Ten Kings.

There were three personifications of ‘Bharata’ in Hindu tradition, one each in the first three yugas, or time cycles. Together they are regarded as the epitome of the civilisational values of the Sanatana Dharma.

Bharata of the Satayuga

The first Bharata was born in the Satyuga as the son of Rshabdeva, first among recognized ancient sages. The Jaina community traces its spiritual lineage from Rshabhdeva, designated as the first Tirthankara; he is also known as Adinath, and synonymous with Siva, the foremost yogi of the Hindu tradition.

Jinasena’s Adipurana says three great events occurred simultaneously in Jaina history: Rsabhdeva attained enlightenment and became the first Jina; the cakra (wheel) appeared in the armoury of his son Bharata and proclaimed him a cakravartin (emperor); and a son was born to Bharata, ensuring continuation of the Iksvaku dynasty founded by Rsabhdeva.

Elaborating the multiple rebirths of father and son in the bhogabhumi (world of enjoyment) where salvation is not possible, the Adipurana explains their evolution to karmabhumi (world of karma) where the law of retribution operates and men follow different occupations (karman). Rsabhdeva created the Ksatriya, Vaisya, and Sudra castes; Bharata later created Brahmanas and appointed kings.

The duty of the cakravartin is total conquest of all the directions (digvijaya) by means of superior moral and political powers, to unite the country under a single moral kingdom and prevent anarchy. Readers will note that the cakravartin is not merely an ideal ruler, but a powerful ancient political concept, inspired by a vision of the Hindu bhumi as a unity which was not belied by the presence of multiple centres of political power. That is why civilisational values permeated the whole land and gave the tradition its abiding continuity.

As first cakravartin, Bharata, fasted, meditated, performed puja and followed the cakra symbolizing his kingship as it moved of its own accord to various parts of the country. He paused to perform pradaksina in Saurastra, where the Jina Aristanemi (cousin of Sri Krishna) would be born, all the while circling Ayodhya, centre of Aryavarta (land of the Arya, noble ones).

Bharata thus subjugated rival kings and punished those who taxed their subjects excessively. His digvijaya was accomplished without violence, through innate capability, on account of punya (merit) acquired in previous lives through practice of Jaina precepts. He exemplified the virtues of compassion (daya), divine wisdom (Brahma-jñana) and penance (tapas).

Bharata of the Tretayuga

The second Bharata was born in the Tretayuga as the son of King Dasaratha of Ayodhya, and younger brother of Sri Rama. He embodied the virtues of love (prema), devotion (bhakti), and brotherhood (bandhutva).

The story of the Ramayana is well-known, but briefly, Keikeyi, the second wife of King Dasaratha, schemes to have the heir apparent, Sri Rama, sent into exile for fourteen years, and her own son, Bharata, appointed crown prince in his place. Rama, accompanied by his brother Lakshman, and wife Sita, departs immediately and the grief-stricken Dasaratha passes away soon afterwards.

Bharata, then on a visit to his maternal grandfather’s kingdom in Gandhara, returns only to learn of his father’s tragic demise and brother’s unfair exile. Tortured further by the thought that he could be considered complicit in this palace conspiracy, he decides – unswervingly – not to accept the throne. He then leads the people to the forest to persuade Rama to return. This political renunciation of a kingdom won illegitimately is a unique Hindu ethic.

Bharata is regarded as the symbol of dharma and idealism, second only to Sri Rama. To this day, he is revered for his adherence to family values, truth, righteousness, filial love and duty.

When Sri Rama refused to return to Ayodhya as rightful king, Bharata, at the intervention of Sita’s father, King Janaka, accepted the onerous duty of facilitating Rama to live righteously, i.e., in exile for fourteen years. He vowed to immolate himself if Rama did not return immediately at the end of the exile period and ascend his throne. Agreeing to govern Ayodhya only as regent, he placed Sri Rama’s sandals at the foot of the royal throne as the symbol of His kingship.

Bharata of the Dwaparyuga

The third Bharata was born in the Dwaparyuga as the son of Shakuntala and King Dushyant. Their story is part of the Mahabharata narrative, but it was Kalidasa who immortalized their love in Abhigyan Shakuntalam.

Shakuntala was the daughter of Rishi Vishvamitra and the apsara Menaka, who was sent by Indra to distract the sage. Menaka returned to heaven, and her daughter was raised in the hermitage of Rishi Kanva.

King Dushyant was the youngest son of King Puru, who had sacrificed his youth for his father, King Yayati. He founded the Paurava dynasty. Dushyant was hunting in the forest when, following a wounded deer into the hermitage of Rishi Kanva, he found Shakuntala nursing the animal. He fell in love and they married secretly in the Gandharva style, being their own witnesses.

The king gave her a ring as token of his love and to establish her identity as his wife. Sadly, Shakuntala lost the ring and the king refused to accept her; she retired to the forest and gave birth to Bharata, who grew up so bold and fearless that he played with lions. Some years later, the ring was found and Dushyant brought Shakuntala and Bharat to Pratishthan, where Bharata later became king.

Bharata is regarded as the greatest king of India, who lent his name to the country. He had nine sons, but deemed none of them fit to succeed him, and hence adopted a capable child as future ruler. Bharata personified the values of service (seva), valour (shaurya), and charity (dana).

Eternal values, eternal tradition

Thus the three Bharatas (two kings, one prince) seamlessly united the Satayuga, Tretayuga and Dwaparayuga and the land itself in political and cultural unity. They exemplified three ideals each that permeated Hindu civilisation and form its core values to this day. Rsabhdeva’s son Bharata gave us daya, Brahma-jñana and tapas; Dasaratha’s son Bharata gave us prema, bhakti, and bandhutva; and Dushyanta-Shakuntala’s son Bharata gave us seva, shaurya and dana.

Their sterling qualities raised a landmass to divine bhumi – Bharat Mata, mother of the Bharata people. This explains the Hindu anguish and anger over M.F. Husain’s exceedingly vulgar imagery of the Eternal Mother.

Hindus impart these nine values to every generation. The jeneu ceremony marking the transition from childhood to youth revolves around this value system. The youth bestowed the sacred thread takes nine vows; each vow is represented as a knot that binds the three separate strands of the jeneu.

The jeneu was therefore a great privilege, bestowed upon conscious Hindus. Today Hindu gurus are extending its reach to all sections of society, shattering mindsets and barriers, and raising the whole population to higher awareness about the responsibilities of religion and culture.

Adi Shankara's digvijaya route across India.Useful Idiots

All this should nail the lie – peddled incessantly by Western Abrahamic so-called scholars and a modern ‘caste’ designated by some as Useful Indian Idiots – that India was not a nation until the British made it so; that Hindu dharma is not a religion but an assorted collection of ‘cults’ (whatever that means) and beliefs of folk origin (whatever that means too – who’s going to ask, anyway?).

We have only to look at ourselves as our Vedic Rishis and Gurus did – as children of the Himalayas, the Ganga, Yamuna, Narmada, Krishna, Godavari, down to Kanyakumari. According to the distinguished scholar, Prof. Lokesh Chandra, the eternal significance of Adi Sankara is that in establishing Mathams in the four corners of India, he also established the sacred geography of the four directions and united the country in common pilgrimage and cohesive culture at a time of grave danger.

As we look back, some things startle the mind. The ancient seers travelled extraordinary distances, covering every nook and corner of the country and every community howsoever remote, and uniting them in a complex religious and cultural matrix that endures to this day.

But more extraordinary is the fact that the ancient world seems to have had singular communicative skills. In the absence of what is called a common language (read English), a villager from Kerala could traverse the land and dominate the civilisation for over a thousand years, Marathi poets from the Deccan could settle in Punjab, a Guru from Punjab could reach Karnataka and Patna, one born in Gujarat could dominate north India. No one felt alien, or homeless, or misunderstood.

This is surely one of the most enduring mysteries of the Sanatana Dharma.

» Sandhya Jain is a senior journalist and editor of Vijayvaani  

Independence Day

VIDEO: The Story of the Swastika – BBC

Swastika use in the USA

At last, the BBC has produced an excellent video explaining how Hitler hijacked the swastika–a symbol of auspiciousness used by ancient cultures worldwide and held sacred by Hindus–and distorted its meaning so that the Western world now regards it with fear and loathing, as a symbol of hatred and genocide. Footage of Nazi Germany is contrasted with the swastika’s uses and significance in Hindu culture and religious observances. Although the narrator doubts we can ever effect a complete recovery (even saying that Hitler “changed the perception of the swastika in the West forever”), the video ends on a very positive note, hypothesizing the day when each child’s early exposure to the swastika will be in terms of its traditional, benevolent uses and meanings–and the later knowledge of Hitler’s misuse of it will be met with the same sense of sock, horror and outrage that Hindus themselves feel. “And if we can get to that point, then Hitler will have finally been defeated.” – Hinduism Today, 1 August 2014

Bharat by Batra & Co. – Anil Dharker

History Lessons In Gujarati Schools

Anil Dharker“Mr Batra is not the first man to claim that planes were invented in ancient India because our epics refer to them. That’s because people like Mr Batra do not have the imagination to credit our ancient writers with imagination: if a writer described flight hundreds of years ago, it was not because he had witnessed a plane taking off, but because he imagined people in flight. Writers of science fiction take their characters through time and space, not because they have seen this happening, but because they have let their imagination soar. Only the literalists are capable of believing that what is written is proof of having been witnessed.” – Anil Dharker

Dina Nath BatraIf you care about India’s children, prepare to shed a tear now. If you care about Gujarat’s children, prepare to cry buckets now. Because Dinanath Batra, ace scholar, perfervid activist, slayer of Donigers, is a revered figure in the schools of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s motherland.

Mr Batra’s office-cum-residence, however, is not in Gujarat but in Delhi. It is located in Saraswati Bal Mandir, a school affiliated to Bharatiya Vidyapeeth. The lift plays music, but it’s not the usual muzzak or distortions of Mozart, but the Gayatri Mantra. His own room is dominated by portraits of Maharana Pratap, Swami Vivekananda, Chanakya — who are the real heroes of India he says, yet haven’t got their due. He sees it as his mission to correct this. Actually, it’s only part of his mission. He wants to completely overhaul our system of education, which is “distorted by Marx and Macaulay.” This is almost a Modism. (A real Modism would be “mauled by Marx and Macaulay”.) The proposed overhaul of the curriculum embraces every possible subject.

If you remember your days at school, almost the first thing you did in geography class was to learn to draw a map of India. Dinanath Batra’s students would have to relearn the basics, because Mr Batra’s India would not be the truncated version we live in now, but the glorious Bharat of old, the Akhand Bharat of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh which includes Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, and unless I am mistaken, even Burma.

Mr Batra’s erudition covers every possible subject:

  • Aeronautics: “Pushpak Viman, a flying chariot used by Lord Rama, was the first aeroplane in the world”.
  • Mathematics: “Vedic maths is the real mathematics and must be taught in schools”.
  • Medicine: “When the royal couple couldn’t produce an heir, they were asked to do gai puja, and their cow devotion helped them beget a son”.

All this stems from his belief that “we must reject English education and revert to our ancient languages.” We should reject Western education because it has not given our ancient wisdom its due. “Our rishis were scientists,” Mr Batra says, “Whose inventions in the fields of technology, medicine, science have been appropriated by the West.” So he doesn’t want children to celebrate birthdays by blowing candles on cakes, an imported idea, but by wearing swadeshi, taking part in a havan, reciting the Gayatri Mantra and feeding cows. The Books of Batra have many such pearls of wisdom. There are nine books, all made supplementary reading for schools in Gujarat, and to encourage the reading of which free copies are being distributed to 35,000 government schools. Mr Batra has his ideas on creating an ideal society, too: “Keeping a good friend circle is not enough. To keep it faultless, a good company is also required. This means a company of saints and learned people. The student that goes to a RSS shakha daily, he finds miraculous change in his life.”

Mr Batra is not the first man to claim that planes were invented in ancient India because our epics refer to them. That’s because people like Mr Batra do not have the imagination to credit our ancient writers with imagination: if a writer described flight hundreds of years ago, it was not because he had witnessed a plane taking off, but because he imagined people in flight. Writers of science fiction take their characters through time and space, not because they have seen this happening, but because they have let their imagination soar. Only the literalists are capable of believing that what is written is proof of having been witnessed.

Batra's BooksTejomay BharatSadly for the student going to Gujarat government schools, Mr Batra is not alone in his looniness. A 125-page book called Tejomay Bharat, not written by him has also been mandated along with Mr Batra’s, as supplementary reading for all government primary and secondary schools. Here are some passages from it: “What we know today as the motorcar existed during the Vedic period. It was called anashva rath. Usually a rath (chariot) is pulled by horse, but an anashva rath means the one that runs without horses or yantra rath, what is today motorcar. The Rig Veda refers to this…”

“We know that television was invented by a priest from Scotland called John Logie Baird in 1926. But we want to take you to an even older Doordarshan…. Indian rishis using their yog vidya would attain divya drishti. There is no doubt that the invention of television goes back to this…. In Mahabharata, Sanjay sitting inside a palace in Hastinapur and using his ‘divya shakti’ would give a live telecast of the battle of Mahabharata … to the blind Dhritarashtra”

“America wants to take the credit for invention of stem cell research but the truth is that India’s Dr Balkrishna Ganpat Matapurkar has already got a patent for regenerating body parts…. You would be surprised to know that this research is not new and that Dr Matapurkar was inspired by the Mahabharata. Kunti had a bright son like Sun itself. When Gandhari, who was not conceiving for two years, learnt of this, she underwent hysterectomy. From her womb a huge mass of flesh came out. (Rishi) Dwaipayan Vyas was called. He observed this hard mass of flesh and then he preserved it in a cold tank with specific medicines. He then divided the mass of flesh into 100 parts and kept them separately in 100 tanks full of ghee for two years. After two years, 100 Kauravas were born of it. On reading this he (Matapurkar) realised that stem cell was not his invention. This was found in India thousands of years ago.”

This book’s content adviser is Harshad Shah, vice-chancellor of Children’s University in Gandhinagar and former Gujarat chairman of Vidya Bharati. By the way, Tejomay Bharat objects to our country being called India. It says, “We should not demean ourselves by calling our beloved Bharatbhoomi by the shudra (lowly) name ‘India’. What right had the British to change the name of this country? … We should not fall for this conspiracy and forget the soul of our country.”

Mr Shah at least is from Gujarat. How does Mr Batra from Delhi exert such a strong influence on that state’s education system? And what are Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s views on this?

Narendra Modi as Gujarat's Chief MinisterCould they be any different from the views expressed in the following two passages?

“It is congratulatory that Gujarat State Board of School Textbooks is publishing writer Dinanath Batraji’s literature. It is hoped that this inspirational literature will inspire students and teachers…. Seeds of values which are sown in the childhood emerge with time like a large banyan tree of idealism. Then it becomes possible to build a citizenship based on character and intelligence”

We should be surprised if the Prime Minister’s views are too different. After all, the two passages above are from the forewords of two books by Mr Batra. The forewords are by Mr Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat. – The Asian Age, 30 July 2014

» Anil Dharker serves as head of the National Film Development Corporation and as a film critic and novelist. He is a columnist for many of India’s leading newspapers such as The Times of India, The Economic Times, Mid-day, The Hindu and DNA. At various stages in his life, he has been an engineer, a film critic, a film censor and a promoter of New Cinema. 

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