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

Hinduism & Paganism – Koenraad Elst

Dr. Koenraad Elst“It happened to my European ancestors long ago, and I see it happening today in India. The Christian plan is to make the same destruction of Paganism happen all over India as well as the rest of the world. However, the rediscovery of the indigenous Pagan heritage among the natives of Latin America as well as those of Europe threatens to jeopardize their project, though as yet only marginally. They have a more acute fear of Islam, in spite of—or, on the contrary, proven by—their numerous gestures of reconciliation with Islam, such as the Pope’s apology for the Crusades, contrasting with their lack of apologies to the heirs of the far more unjustly treated Pagans [and Hindus].” – Dr Koenraad Elst

Yazidi Peacock God at Lalish TempleThe Christian challenge

Numerous British and more largely Western neo-Pagans seek contact with Hinduism.They recognize a similarity, both positively and negatively, both in their own religion’s characteristics and in the misfortunes that have befallen it. The extermination in summer 2014 of all the Yazidis (Kurdish Pagans) on whom the Islamic State could lay its hands has reminded many Pagans as well as many Hindus of what their own ancestors have had to suffer. We will start with a major negative experience of western Pagans of Hindus, viz. the challenge of Christianity, before addressing the similarities in contents.

Extermination of Paganism

European Paganism was exterminated by Christianity. The result was more thorough than in the case of the partial Islamization of South Asia, but far less violent. Initially, the Christians were a small and vulnerable community in the mighty Roman Empire. They had no real option but to adapt to the prevailing religious pluralism and to the law of the land. They have no separate systems of laws like Islam and ancient Judaism. So they didn’t have a law system to impose and could leave a society intact all while subverting its religion.

Rather than overthrowing a polity, they chose to work through its established authorities. All conversions were welcome, but the most promising ones were those of the king and his confidants. In Rome, the conversion of emperor Constantine changed history, turning a minority religion into the official and ultimately the only permitted religion. In the case of England, for instance, Pope Gregory the Great decided on a mass conversion after he saw some handsome young British slaves at the slave market in Christian Rome. (Slaves in Christian Rome? A modern line of apologetics is that Christianity was disliked by the elites because it wanted to abolish slavery. Not true at all, though it limited slave-taking to the remaining Pagan populations. The nearest were the Balkanic Slavs, hence the very word “slave”.) So he sent missionaries to work among the British elites and the royal court. Once enough of them were converted, or were at least turned favourable to the missionary effort, they in turn loaded the dice in favour of Christianity. Part of the deal in many countries concerned was that the Church would support the king against unsubmissive nobles, thus encouraging the centralization of power, or champion the ambitions of whichever nobles were most amenable to accepting the Christian message.

A very powerful factor was the monopoly on education which the first monasteries came to enjoy. This must ring a bell among present-day Hindus, considering the role of Jesuit and other Christian schools among the Indian elite. Another was the prestige of the Roman Empire as more civilized and more advanced than what the Pagans could muster. Before and during the conquest of the Roman Empire by the Goths, they embraced Christianity thinking this was an integral part in their advancement. That the Romans, for instance, built in stone rather than wood counted as an impressive innovation, but had nothing to do with Christianity. A similar thing is seen today: numerous Chinese and Koreans who migrate to the United States become Protestant overnight because they assume that this is a central element in becoming a real American. Among some Indian tribals, modern medicine passes as “Jesus medicine”, meaning “medicine coming from the same West as the missionaries”, though Jesus himself was an old-fashioned faith-healer who never used medicine. So, Christianity profited and still profits maximally from “merit by association”.

Catholic AshramsChristian subversion

One has to give it to the Christians that they were clever. They outwitted their opponents just as they are outwitting Hindus today. Thus, in the conversion of the masses, they made it a point not to destroy existing shrines: they replaced the central God-statue with a crucifix, but otherwise they allowed the masses to keep on visiting their old shrine, so that they would gradually attach to Jesus the aura of sacredness that they used to associate with their own gods. Many cathedrals were built on Pagan temples or open-air sacred places, but fairly rarely have Christians destroyed temples; only the “idols” in them. They adopted holidays and celebrations but gave them a new Christian meaning. They turned old Gods into Christian saints. They Christianized the procession, originally the triumphal march of a Pagan God, now a display in the streets of the sacred wafer representing Jesus. They accommodated the idea of pilgrimage, mostly to a purported relic of Jesus or a saint, even though the Christian view made nonsense of the idea that you can go on pilgrimage to the Omnipresent One. Like today in India, they used inculturation as a mission strategy.

And it worked. At the elite level, Pagan religion disappeared. It is common nowadays to bewail the injustice to the Jews because they were forced to live in ghettos; but the Jews were at least tolerated as a standing witness to the “truth of the Old Testament”. By contrast, there were not even ghettos for worshippers of Zeus, Venus or Thor.

As the Dutch poet Lucebert wrote: “Everything of value is vulnerable.” When a body dies, one of the first thing to degenerate and disappear is the brain, while the bones can last for centuries. The fabled secret traditions of the Druids were killed off by Christianity and remain forever unknown, but many popular practices and indeed also superstitions have survived till recently. The Middle Ages, though Christian at the elite level, saw the survival of numerous Pagan institutions and practices especially among the rural folk (both Latinate Pagan and Germanic Heathen mean “rural, rustic”). The Reformation in the 16th century delivered a body blow to the remaining Paganism, as Protestants started weeding out everything that was not Biblical, while the Catholics saw themselves forced to purify Catholicism and eliminate a number of practices that had come about as compromises with Paganism. A final blow was the Industrial Revolution, which saw the rise of an anti-religious mentality: it hurt European Christianity badly but it also flushed out the remaining Pagan practices among the common people.

So, Christianization was mostly effected through subversion and mass psychology. Instances of the threat of violence included the forced baptism of the Frankish king Clovis’ soldiers (“head off or head under [the baptismal water]”), or the threats by the king of Norway which convinced the Icelanders to adopt Christianity. Instances of effective violence include the lynching of the Neoplatonist scholar Hypatia or the slaughter of thousands of Saxon nobles by Charlemagne. These were smaller affairs than the wars between Catholics and Christian “heretics”, such as that in the 5th-6th century between the Byzantine Catholics and the Gothic votaries of Arian Christianity, and in the 17th century the Thirty Years’ War between Catholics and Protestants. One serious case of a Christian holy war against Pagans was the subjection of the Baltic area by the Teutonic Order in the 13th-14th century; but that was after Christians had developed the concept of Crusade mirroring the older Islamic concept of Jihad.

India Crossed-OutChristian strategic acumen

The practical impact of this assessment is that it won’t get you very far to remind your audience of the violent element in Christian history, such as the burning of maybe 50.000 witches in the 16th-17th century. That violence was certainly there, but not enough to explain Christianity’s conquest of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Even the Native Americans, who had so much to reproach the Christians for, turned Christian in large numbers. (Indians do well to remember that the fate of the American “Indians” was in fact meant for the people of the continent the Conquistadores had set out to reach, viz. “India”.) You will have to take into account other factors, such as:

(1) “merit by association”, viz. Christianity’s piggy-backing on a literate and materially more advanced culture, then in Europe like more recently in Asia; to which should now be added the propaganda linking Christianity with social causes and human rights;
(2) Christianity’s self-righteousness due to a belief in being the sole possessors of the truth, and the consequent contempt for non-Christians, a far more negative attitude than anything the Pagans could muster; or in other words, the unmatched power of hatred; as well as the consequent importance they attach to religious identity, which means the pressure to convert in a mixed marriage is usually on the Pagan partner;
(3) The Christian care to distinguish between Pagans and Paganism, which gave them a good conscience and strong motivation, because they believed they were loving the Pagans all while hating and demonizing Paganism, and that the effort to convert the Pagans was the supreme form of expressing their love for them;
(4) the Christian development of a sophisticated missionary strategy emanating from a goal-oriented strategic centre.

By contrast, Pagans have mostly been in retreat because:

(1) they have been on the defensive in material and “soft power” respects (though even where this applies less and less, such as in the Indian elite and in China, there are now numerous conversions to Christianity due to the other factors) and have successfully been demonized in matters of human rights;
(2) they don’t think of religion in terms of truth, so that Christianity might be a nuisance but not a “false” religion; believe in the good things claimed for Christianity; and don’t make sharp distinctions between the secondary aspects of the religion (which may be innocent or even laudable and are often borrowed from Paganism anyway) and its core truth claims, which are patently false; so that they consider conversion to Christianity as only a minor change which may often be justified;
(3) since they have comparatively little theological schooling and no catechism, they fail to distinguish between Christians and Christianity, and are easily duped by the existence of some fine Christians into thinking that the Christian truth claims must be innocent as well;
(4) the confused, unorganized, “me too”- imitative, uninformed and amateurish nature of their self-defence.

It happened to my European ancestors long ago, and I see it happening today in India. The Christian plan is to make the same destruction of Paganism happen all over India as well as the rest of the world. However, the rediscovery of the indigenous Pagan heritage among the natives of Latin America as well as those of Europe threatens to jeopardize their project, though as yet only marginally. They have a more acute fear of Islam, in spite of (or, on the contrary, proven by) their numerous gestures of reconciliation with Islam, such as the Pope’s apology for the Crusades, contrasting with their lack of apologies to the heirs of the far more unjustly treated Pagans [and Hindus].

Hindu activist raising the Bhagwa Dwaj over a CrossWhat to do after Christianity?

In Europe, at least, and to my knowledge also in Latin America, there is no direct or imminent threat of Christian violence. The battle can be won by consciousness-raising, which already happens automatically though it would benefit from a sharpening of its focus. Since the democratization of knowledge and of the scientific outlook, people have left the Churches in droves because they just cannot bring themselves to believing Christianity’s defining dogmas anymore. These ex-Christians (the majority of my own generation in the formerly very Catholic Flemish part of Belgium) are rarely tempted to turn back to the faith of their childhood, even on their deathbeds. Some Christian apologists find hope in demographics, asserting that the remaining Christian couples have more children (viz. just above the reproduction level) than the ex-Christian couples. True, but even of these born-again Christian couples, many children when growing up are just as susceptible to the temptation of scepticism as my generation was. After all, we have been there before: in the decades when Christianity decisively lost its majority, both the Christian birth-rate and the differential with the secularized minority were even bigger than now. I, for one, born in 1959, am the second of five siblings. Of my staunchly Catholic parents’ fourteen grandchildren, only six have been baptized – and that too is only a formality which doesn’t mean that they will be Catholics as adults. The last real hope of the Churches is the inflow of immigrants. In my country, the remaining Catholic churches are mostly filled with Polish or Congolese “new Belgians”. But there again, after a while many tend to conform to their ex-Christian environment. So, very much in contrast to India, where Christianity is making impressive gains, in Europe Christianity is largely a thing of the past.

That doesn’t mean these ex-Christians have lost the feeling for the higher things and immersed themselves in consumerism and sheer animality, as Christians tend to think. Nor are they without morality, which had unjustly been identified with being a Christian. But neither religiosity nor morals can be deduced from or made dependent on the defining dogmas of Christianity, which have been pin-pricked as delusional. Belief in Salvation through Jesus’ Resurrection cannot be revived, but that doesn’t mean the subtler dimensions have died. So now our job is to oversee the development of a new worldview and a different way of life, punctured by old-new rituals and celebrations. It is here that renascent Paganism in Europe seeks inspiration from Hinduism as the biggest and most developed surviving Pagan civilization.

» Dr Koenraad Elst studied at the KU Leuven, obtaining MA degrees in Sinology, Indology and Philosophy. After a research stay at Benares Hindu University he did original fieldwork for a doctorate on Hindu nationalism. As an independent researcher he earned laurels and ostracism with his findings on hot items like Islam, multiculturalism and the secular state, the roots of Indo-European, the Ayodhya temple/mosque dispute and Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy. He blogs at http://koenraadelst.blogspot.in/

Jihad: A deadly old game – Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar Etteth“Politics abides no principles. To counter the Raj, Lenin mixed religion and ideology, dreaming of a Communist India. He chose pro-Islamic M. N. Roy, an intense Bengali Communist, to found an army to fight the British empire, much before Subhash  Chandra Bose’s INA was formed. In September 1920, Comintern boss Grigory Zinoviev urged 1,800 Muslim delegates from the Middle East and Central Asia to start a jihad against imperialism.” – Ravi Shankar

ISIS tank on parade in RaqqaSometime around the turn of the 19th century, an agitated young Indian gentleman named Abdurrahman Peshawari decided to sail for Turkey. The British were fighting the last caliphate, the Ottoman Empire, and Indian Muslims were sending men and money to help the sultan. Jihad had a certain je ne sais quoi for Peshawari. He decided to bunk classes in Aligarh University, hawk all his belongings and took the steamer from Bombay to Istanbul. Peshawari was probably the first outsourced educated Indian jihadi. The tribe is growing. Eighteen homegrown fighters—mostly educated youth from South India— have given up filter coffee and Chettinad chicken to wage bloody war in Syria. They are among the hundreds of global holy warriors who believe in faith decaf—this depraved world has to get its just deserts of Wahab’s Arabia. Indian intelligence confirms that Indians have been fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan in hundreds. Middle East’s fractious politics now has infected the Indian psyche.

History shows that in spite of all the rabid romance of faith, jihad is about seizing power and creating new rules—in other words, politics by other means. Peshawari, after being wounded in Gallipoli, realised that the Ottoman cheque had bounced and became a politician and an acolyte of Kemal Ataturk, the Big Daddy of modern Turkey. Ataturk gave him much Turkish delight by appointing him ambassador to Afghanistan—the first Indian to represent a foreign power. Today, Ankara is playing politics in Syria, reportedly supplying arms to opposing factions. The result is that the jihadi story in Syria is not all ittar and virgins: there are over a hundred groups, killing one another for apostasy.

Napoleon  BonaparteBut then the politics of jihad is as old as the lust for power. Babur was a heavy-drinking and wenching, murdering bandit until he discovered the power of religion as a political weapon to motivate against Hindu armies. The spoils of war for his uneducated, bloodthirsty hordes were the usual—riches and women. Napoleon’s political move to appease Egyptian Muslims was to promise the great Imam of Cairo that he, along with the entire French army, was converting to Islam. It boomeranged, because his soldiers refused to be circumcised. In British India, the English, who were fighting the Sikhs supported Wahabi leader Syed Ahmad Barelvi who established a jihadi camp in Peshawar—now the capital of Taliban terror—recruiting fighters from Bengal, Bihar, Awadh and Agra against Maharaja Ranjit Singh. By the time the 1857 Mutiny happened, Raj politics had come full circle—historians like Sheshrao More claim that jihadis threatened to kill Nana Sahib if he didn’t lead the anti-British forces.

Politics abides no principles. To counter the Raj, Lenin mixed religion and ideology, dreaming of a Communist India. He chose pro-Islamic M. N. Roy, an intense Bengali Communist, to found an army to fight the British empire, much before Subhash  Chandra Bose’s INA was formed. In September 1920, Comintern boss Grigory Zinoviev urged 1,800 Muslim delegates from the Middle East and Central Asia to start a jihad against imperialism.

Jihad in the KoranThe principles of religion—whether it be the imams or the Church—have been exploited for centuries for political power. Invaders like Ghori, Ghazni and Aurangzeb conquered and ruled by fanatical faith. In Arabic, jihad means ‘struggle’—the believer’s spiritual effort to keep the faith to his best ability. Prophet Muhammed, after winning the war against his enemies, had said, “We are finished with the lesser jihad; now we are starting the greater jihad,” meaning the war against the enemy outside is less important than the spiritual struggle. It will take many decades and millions of lives lost for jihadis to realise the sublime truth behind the Prophet’s words. Meanwhile, the atavistic bestiality of belief is being baptised in blood daily, both of innocents and warriors fighting one another. – The New Indian Express, 3 August 2014

» Ravi Shankar Etteth or just Ravi Shankar is an Indian author, columnist and cartoonist. Contact him at ravi@newindianexpress.com

 

Denial of Love Jihad by Hindu politicians, TV anchors and newspaper columnists – R. K. Ohri

Love Jihad

Ram K Ohri IPS“It is a national shame that platoons of secularism doped Hindu politicians like Akhilesh Yadav, Gaurav Bhatia and Manish Tiwari are trying to assist the jihadis to take over India through a demographic coup. It is not only Hindu girls who are being seduced and converted. The Christians of Kerala are also angry over the demeaning antics of jihadi Romeos.” – Ram Kumar Ohri 

A stupid Hindu girl riding to disaster!Love jihad by Muslim Romeos is not something new. Nor is the narrative a canard cooked up by the BJP top brass to win elections, as mischievously alleged by some dumb politicians (most of whom have Hindu names) and many ignoramuses among telemedia anchors [and newspaper columnists]. 

The dangerous phenomenon had found mention at least twice in the US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in the years 2010 and 2011. It is a pity that some dumb politicians, wearing the green-coloured secularism on their sleeves have chosen to deny its existence. What is far worse is that many telemedia anchors and column writers have started denying that love jihad has already made deep inroads into several parts of India. Nearly five years ago there was a major furore across several states of South India due to increased activities of Muslim youth working overtime to entice Hindu and Christian girls of impressionable age.

Our ignoramus politicians and inadequately read media anchors ought to know that according to Wikileaks a cable mailed by Andrew T. Simkin, US Consul General in Chennai on February 26, 2010, had alerted his bosses in the USA that “An alleged conspiracy of “foreign-funded” Muslim men attempting to seduce, marry, and convert Hindu and Christian women, has led to state-level investigations and generated  widespread suspicions” in South India. The public at large dubbed the so-called conspiracy a “Love Jihad,” and finally top politicians in Karnataka and Kerala were forced to confront the issue in public forums.

The same denouement is likely to be repeated in U.P., Bihar and Maharashtra in the coming months where battalions of love jihadis funded by Gulf petro-dollars have been on rampage for last several years.

The contents of the wiki-cable further highlighted that many Hindu and Christian groups were outraged at the ongoing Islamic ‘plot’, while Muslim groups were trying to  defend their co-religionists against the conspiracy theorists belonging to Hindu and Christian communities. Though police investigations in South India have cast doubt on the  existence of an organized campaign of ‘Love Jihad’, the recurring assertion of its existence demonstrated “the suspicion and intolerance that exist among some of the religious communities in the region.”  

Initially the pernicious effects of the origin of Love Jihad had been noticed in the coastal region of southern Karnataka and northern Kerala, where religious and communal violence used to occur almost regularly.

Tara ShahdeoWhile India’s dumb politicians and ill-informed telemedia anchors continue to cast doubts on the existence of any love jihad campaign sweeping across many States of India, the stark truth highlighted by many researchers cannot be rebutted easily. On the one hand, Manish Tiwari of Congress, Naresh Agarwal of Samajwadi Party and the Chief Minister of U.P., Akhilesh Yadav were waxing eloquent on 24/7 television channels denying and deriding the campaign of Love Jihad. On the other hand simultaneously the complaint of a prominent national shooter, Tara Shahdeo, surfaced in media which shocked the Hindus. Tara has alleged that a Muslim, Raqibul Hussain had enticed her into love marriage by pretending that he was a Hindu named Ranjit Kohli. She alleged that she was tortured to force her to accept Islam as her religion. Tara showed her injuries to Mahua Majhi, Chairperson of the State Women’s Commission. Her complaint is a complete rebuttal of the lies being trotted by the secular chatterati of India’s warped political universe!

Incidentally, in a Power Point presentation circulated by the World Sikh Alliance 4 years ago it was mentioned that Muslim love-jihadis in the UK were enticing Sikh and Hindu girls by pretending to be Sikhs by wearing a ‘Karra’ (iron bracelet regularly worn by Sikhs) and by claiming to have a Sikh surname like ‘Gill’. No wonder, the modus operandi used by Raqibul Hussain to entice the unsuspecting Hindu girl Tara Shahdeo was similar to the stratagem used by love-jihadis of the United Kingdom, exposed by Sikh World Alliance.

The wiki-cable sent by Andrew Simkin in February, 2010, to his bosses in the USA further warned that it will be hugely embarrassing for Hindu parents to reveal to friends and relatives that their daughter had been seduced by a Muslim man. The fact that it happened due to machinations of multiple foreign-funded organizations targeting innocent Hindu girls will make the parents of seduced girl often feel ashamed to explain to themselves and others what really happened and how things went wrong.

The cable mailed by the Chennai-based American Consul General further added, ‘Love Jihad’ brouhaha also illustrates the perceived threat that many Hindus in the region feel from ‘forced conversions’, and the general encroachment of ‘alien’ religious forces into what they see as a Hindu religious space. These perceptions — and the related tensions — will likely continue regardless of the content of Karnataka’s official report on the alleged ‘Love Jihad’.”

Hindu bride in a hijab!It will not be easy for India’s secular chatterati to ridicule the existence of a vigorous campaign of ‘Love Jihad’ launched with help of foreign funds to entice Hindu and Christian girls. The truth is already out and more truth will come before the public in the months and years ahead to damn the falsehood preaching politicians wearing Hindu names and surnames. Ultimately they will succeed in further painting themselves as anti-Hindu and anti-Christian mavericks trying to charm their Muslim votebank by denial of truth. The allegations are not only true, but the fact that they have gained so much attention in the popular perception will ensure that growing hostility between religious groups will extensively tear apart the fabric of social harmony. It will promote greater tensions in the badly fractured relations between Hindus, Muslims, and Christians all over India.

It is a national shame that platoons of secularism doped Hindu politicians like Akhilesh Yadav, Gaurav Bhatia and Manish Tiwari are trying to assist the jihadis to take over India through a demographic coup. It is not only Hindu girls who are being seduced and converted. The Christians of Kerala are also angry over the demeaning antics of jihadi Romeos.

In an incisive article titled ‘Love Jihad: A Myth or a Mission’, posted on the website of Uday India an honest Muslim scholar, Syed Wazid Ali, has given some startling facts based on the statistics of a survey conducted by the Crime Record Bureau of Kerala Police and Kochi’s University of Advanced Law Studies. The survey revealed that the number of girls missing from Kerala was 2127 in 2006 and 2560 in 2008. The police is said to have no information in respect of nearly 600 girls out of a total of 4,687 girls trapped in two successive years by love-jihadis. It is only dumb Hindu leaders and “possibly paid media analysts” who are trying to rescue the fundamentalist fraudsters!

It is time for Hindu leaders to speak out openly instead of trying to evade this dangerously deceptive demographic challenge to the Hindu identity of India. –  © Ram Kumar Ohri

» Ram Kumar Ohri is a retired Inspector General of Police of, Arunachal Pradesh.

HJS protest against Love Jihad.

See also

 

Forced conversions and ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Pakistan – Maham Javaid

Pakistani Hindu WomenAbdul Malik

Maham Javaid“DIG Kharral said Hindus in Pakistan are a scared and vulnerable minority and forced conversion is an example of their vulnerability, especially when it occurs to their women.” – Maham Javaid

Sindh: Most Hindus in Pakistan live in Sindh ProvinceHyderabad, Pakistan: About two months ago, a Muslim businessman approached Dharmo Sochi and put a gun to his head, demanding his Hindu daughter’s hand in marriage.

The businessman, Jameel Solangi, allegedly threatened the family with abduction and murder unless they acquiesced.

Sochi’s 16-year-old daughter, Madhuri, had previously been harassed by Solangi but was too traumatised to tell the family about it, according to her aunt, Sri Devi.

“Dharmo dared him to shoot,” Sri Devi told Al Jazeera. “He thought it better to die than allow this unholy union between Hindu and Muslim. Somehow we pushed Solangi out of the house and no one was hurt.”

From that day onwards, Madhuri – who works as a panhandler, the traditional profession for women from her Sochi caste – was too fearful to leave the house.

Pakistan is home to about two million Hindus, most of whom live in the southern province of Sindh and belong to lower castes, including Sochi. While upper-caste Hindus complain of their traders being kidnapped for ransom, lower-caste Hindus say their daughters are being targeted.

“Our community can bear looting and the kidnapping of our men, but the abduction of our daughters and wives is too painful,” Bhawan Das, who holds a National Assembly seat reserved for minorities, told Al Jazeera.

“Unfortunately, the frequency of these crimes is increasing due to religious extremism.”

According to a report from the Movement for Solidarity and Peace, about 1,000 non-Muslim girls are converted to Islam each year in Pakistan. Every month, an estimated 20 or more Hindu girls are abducted and converted, although exact figures are impossible to gather, said Amarnath Motumal, the vice chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).

In Madhuri’s case, Solangi claims to love the young woman and does not understand why she refused to marry him.

“Right now she goes from house to shop begging for charity,” he told Al Jazeera. “I can provide her with so much more.”

Asked why he threatened to shoot Madhuri’s father, he said: “What else am I supposed to do? I can’t give up on her.”

While religion appears to be a secondary issue for Solangi, it is a chief concern for Madhuri, who would have to convert if she married a Muslim.

“I’m terrified he will kidnap me, force me to accept Islam and marry him,” she told Al Jazeera. “He is not Hindu. I will die before I marry him.”

Pakistan Hindu Girls: Abducted, converted, then forcibly married!‘Vulnerable’

HRCP chairperson Zohra Yusuf said Muslim girls in Pakistan are also abducted and married against their will or sold into prostitution.

However, “if you compare the number of kidnapped Hindu and Muslim girls, in relation to their population in Pakistan, you will see that Hindus are more vulnerable” – especially poorer ones such as Madhuri.

The HRCP doesn’t have a research to back its claim. No other organisation has the statistics on it because a large majority of the crimes go unreported.

One official who wished to remain anonymous said that the HRCP has been planning to do a countrywide survey of abducted girls in the last 10 years, “but it’s not high on the priority list”.

The Meghwar community, low-caste Hindus living on Hyderabad‘s Kali Road, are also said to face discrimination.

Amar Meghwar, a community activist, said such cases are rarely reported to the police because “our screams fall on deaf ears”.

Sanaullah Abbassi, Deputy Inspector General of Police for Hyderabad told Al Jazeera: “We do what we can. Sometimes the girls run away by choice, what can we do in such cases?”

Sumbal Bai, a Hindu worker at a local thread-making factory, said her daughter, Sanam, was abducted two years ago at the age of 18.

“One of Sanam’s co-workers, a Muslim boy, drugged her into unconsciousness and whisked her to Khanewal, Punjab,” she told Al Jazeera.

When Sanam’s father and brother attempted to rescue her, they discovered the abductors had financial clout and political connections.

“We have nobody to fall back on,” Sumbal Bai said. “We have lost one daughter and we risk losing another if we make too much noise.”

Sindh province’s top police official Sharjeel Kharral, told Al Jazeera that the lower tier of the police force is not sensitised to the discrimination faced by Hindus.

“It’s true that they don’t prioritise the community without pressure from the media or civil society.”

Kharral said Hindus in Pakistan are a scared and vulnerable minority and forced conversion is an example of their vulnerability, especially when it occurs to their women.

“The problem is that while some cases are actually forced conversions, others are love marriages and there is no way for us to differentiate between them.”

With little support from authorities as well as civil society, thousands of Hindus are forced flee to neighbouring India.

Pakistani HindusMarriage facilitation

Some Muslim leaders consider it an honour to convert non-Muslim girls.

Muslim cleric Mian Abdul Malik – who leads the Bharchundi Sharif Shrine, famous for conversions of young Hindu girls – discounted the complaints of the Hindu community.

“There’s no such thing as forced conversions in Islam and in Pakistan,” he told Al Jazeera.

This year, Malik has converted two Hindu men and 15 Hindu women. Asked about this ratio, he said: “Hindu women come readily to us because after conversion we facilitate their marriages to Muslims.”

Jai Prakash Moorani, editor of the Sindhi daily, Ibrat, told Al Jazeera that forced conversions are indeed taking place amid Pakistan’s permissive legal system.

“When Hindu girls are kidnapped, forcibly converted and married to Muslims, the police, government and courts all turn a blind eye,” Moorani said, noting this encourages more abductions and forced conversions.

Civil-rights activists maintain that because there has never been a court ruling on forced conversions in support of the aggrieved Hindu families, there is no precedent to deter the crime.

“Pakistan was built in the name of Islam,” Sanaullah Abbasi, the Deputy Inspector General of Police of Hyderabad, told Al Jazeera.

“This makes it easy to exploit religious minorities in our country,” he conceded.

For the Hindu community, their problems are at the bottom of the priority list. They may try to break the status quo, but no conscious effort from the government is being made to resolve the issue of forcible conversions amongst Pakistan’s small minority.

» Maham Javaid is a freelance journalist and graduate student @ NYU. Follow  her on Twitter: @JMaham

Ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Pakistan – Aaj Tak

See also

2 – An “eminent historian” attacks Arun Shourie – Koenraad Elst

Nalanda

Koenraad Elst“Like any stage magician, Jha indulges in misdirection. While he himself has been caught in the act of misquoting his source (Yadava), and repeats this act of dishonesty in this very article, he tries to offset his embarrassment by a flight forward, viz. heaping imaginary allegations and plain swearwords upon Arun Shourie.” – Dr Koenraad Elst

D.N. Jha’s “Reply to Arun Shourie”, dated 9 July 2014, was published in shorter form as “Grist to the reactionary mill”, Indian Express, 9 July 2014. It starts as follows: “I was amused to read ‘How History Was Made Up At Nalanda’ [28 June 2014, The Indian Express] by Arun Shourie, who has dished out ignorance masquerading as knowledge – reason enough to have pity on him and sympathy for his readers!”

Shourie had charged him with fudging evidence to distort the historical narrative of the destruction of the ancient Nalanda Mahavihar. Jha therefore considered it necessary to “rebut his allegations and set the record straight instead of ignoring his balderdash”. Note the unscholarly language, and this at his advanced age. We are dealing with a verbal street-fighter who has been given a post as an academic. Further down, we see him belittling his opponent, typical for the nouveau riche who thinks the world of his own status. When Shourie doubts miracle-tales as historical sources, Jha does not justify his own use of the same, but plays up his academic status: “Acceptance or rejection of this kind of source criticism is welcome if it comes from a professional historian but not from someone who flirts with history as Shourie does.”

Prof D. N. JhaMisdirection

The article is, as usual in secularist polemics, an exercise in misdirection. Beating around the issues of history, Jha draws the reader’s attention away from those by indulging in nit-picking: “My presentation at the Indian History Congress, to which Shourie refers, was in 2006 and not 2004 as stated by Shourie. It was not devoted to the destruction of ancient Nalanda per se – his account misleads readers and pulls the wool over their eyes.” His entire presentation may have contained material for several more articles, but here Shourie has focused on one daring lie of Jha’s in the course of that presentation, viz. the claim that the disappearance of Nalanda University was due to Hindus rather than Muslims.

Jha: “It was in fact focused on the antagonism between Brahmins and Buddhists, for which I drew on different kinds of evidence including myths and traditions.” At least he has the merit of pointing to a rhetoric that, that force of repetition from high pedestals, has by now almost become an established fact, viz. that Hindus themselves did to Buddhists what they allege Muslims did to them. Hindus have let this lie fester for decades, and at their own peril.

Jha: “In this context I cited the tradition recorded in the 18th century Tibetan text, Pag-sam-jon-zang by Sumpa Khan-Po Yece Pal Jor, mentioned by B. N. S. Yadava in his Society and Culture in Northern India in the Twelfth Century — with due acknowledgement, although in his pettiness Shourie is quick to discover plagiarism on my part! (I may add that ‘Hindu fanatics’ are not my words but Yadav’s, which is why they are in quotes. How sad that one has to point this out to a winner of the Magsaysay Award!)” Jha did mention Yadava as his source in general, but his quoted phrase “Hindu fanatics” was such that it gave the reader the impression of being from the Tibetan original. Either way, both he and Yadava are plainly wrong when they use the anachronistic term “Hindu fanatics”, because the source text only calls them “beggars”. There is no indication at all that they acted out of fanaticism; instead, it is explicitly mentioned that they were angry at being mistreated by some Buddhist monks.

The crux of Shourie’s argument is that Jha, too lazy to go to the original source, merely quotes Yadava as an authority but omits to mention that Yadava himself considers the source untrustworthy. That is clearly dishonest, and Jha has been caught in the act of committing it. Yet, in this article, Jha nowhere addresses the allegation that he himself has been dishonest, a central point of the article he claims to reply to. He even repeats the same trick: invoking Yadava as authoritative support for the Tibetan fairy-tale.

Jha: “In his conceit Shourie is disdainful and dismissive of the Tibetan tradition, which has certain elements of miracle in it, as recorded in the text.” Correction: he is only dismissive of the use a Marxist historian makes of it. In the Ayodhya affair, Marxists, and secularists in general, dismissed the Hindu side’s claim (which was not even miracle-mongering, just tradition-based) as “irrational”. And that claim was also based on documentary and archaeological evidence, whereas this Tibetan tale stands alone, is from five hundred years after the fact, and is contradicted by other evidence.

Jha: “Here is the relevant extract from Sumpa’s work cited by Shourie: ‘While a religious sermon was being delivered in the temple that he [Kakut Siddha] had erected at Nalanda, a few young monks threw washing water at two Tirthika beggars. (The Buddhists used to designate the Hindus by the term Tirthika). The beggars, being angry, set fire on the three shrines of Dharmaganja, the Buddhist University of Nalanda, viz. — Ratna Sagara, Ratna Ranjaka including the nine-storeyed temple called Ratnodadhi which contained the library of sacred books’ (p. 92). Shourie questions how the two beggars could go from building to building to ‘burn down the entire, huge, scattered complex’.”

Shourie is perfectly right to question the verisimilitude of this story. At any rate, Nalanda University comprised more than these three buildings. Whether this Tibetan miracle-tale is true or not, it does at any rate not pertain to the wholesale destruction of Nalanda, though that destruction did take place. The whole university was flattened by fire (as archaeology can confirm), not just three shrines but the teaching and living quarters as well. If anyone could be tricked by the Tibetan tale into thinking that it pertained to this wholesale destruction rather than narrating some small incident, at least it should not be a historian.

Arun ShourieBrahmin-Buddhist antagonism

Jha: “Look at another passage (abridged by me in the following paragraph) from the History of Buddhism in India written by another Tibetan monk and scholar, Taranatha, in the 17th century: ‘During the consecration of the of the temple built by Kakutsiddha at Nalendra [Nalanda] ‘the young naughty sramanas threw slops at the two tirthika beggars and kept them pressed inside door panels and set ferocious dogs on them’. Angered by this, one of them went on arranging for their livelihood and the other sat in a deep pit and “engaged himself in surya sadhana” [solar worship], first for nine years and then for three more years and having thus “acquired mantrasiddhi” he “performed a sacrifice and scattered the charmed ashes all around” which “immediately resulted in a miraculously produced fire” which consumed all the eighty-four temples and the scriptures some of which, however, were saved by water flowing from an upper floor of the nine storey Ratnodadhi temple. (History of Buddhism in India, English tr. Lama Chimpa & Alka Chattopadhyaya, pp.141-42).

If we look at the two narratives closely they are similar. The role of the Tirthikas and their miraculous fire causing a conflagration are common to both.”

Clearly, the two miracle tales have a common source. A polemicist would boast that he has no less than two sources available, but a genuine historian would soberly realize that he can draw only on a single source, centuries removed from the events it claims to narrate.

Jha: “Admittedly, one does not have to take the miracles seriously, but it is not justified to ignore their importance as part of traditions which gain in strength over time and become part of the collective memory of a community.” Notice the very different tune he is singing compared to the Ayodhya controversy. Back then, the whole mission of the “eminent historians” was to debunk the temple destruction scenario which they conceived as merely “part of traditions which gain in strength over time and become part of the collective memory of a community”. Here a sheer miracle story is not debunked, but on the contrary invoked as a decisive historical source.

Jha: “Nor is it desirable or defensible to disregard the long-standing antagonism between Brahmins and Buddhists, which may have given rise to the Tibetan tradition and nurtured it until the 18th century or even later. It is in the context of this Buddhist-Tirthika animosity that the account of  assumes importance; it also makes sense because it jibes with Taranatha’s evidence. Further, neither Sumpa nor Taranatha ever came to India. This should mean that the idea of Brahminical hostility to the religion of the Buddha travelled to Tibet fairly early, became part of its Buddhist tradition, and found expression in 17th-18th century Tibetan writings.”

Another explanation for this Tibetan tradition of hostility could be that they heard how Buddhism had been mistreated in India by the Muslim invaders, and concluded that “Indians” or “Hindus” (the two terms were not yet distinct) had done it. Even today, when the communication distance to the West is far smaller than to Tibet back then, numerous Westerners who hear about something wrong in India assume it must have been the doing of Hinduism. But if the Tibetans really thought that Hindus had been anti-Buddhist to the point of destroying major Buddhist shrines, they were simply misinformed. A historian should not merely quote sources, he should also ask himself how pertinent those sources are, and especially whether they are trustworthy. The question of truth, though central to the Indian Republic’s official motto, goes unconsidered too often.

At any rate, there was no “long-standing antagonism between Brahmins and Buddhists”, if only because most Buddhist writers were born Brahmins themselves and partook of Brahminical culture. Buddhist institutions in India flourished under Hindu rule for 16 centuries, otherwise there would have been nothing of them left for the Muslim invaders to destroy. By contrast, when Islam appears on the scene, Buddhism disappears, and not on account of two Tirthika beggars. Cases of polemic between Buddhists and Brahmins may be cited, as also between different Brahminical schools and different Buddhist sects, but they were only the normal exercise of freedom of opinion. They cannot be equated to the Islamic destruction of Buddhism in Central and South Asia.

Marxism

Jha: “Acceptance of the two Tibetan traditions, the one referred to by me has been given credence not only by Yadava (whom Shourie, in his ignorance, dubs a Marxist!) but also by a number of other Indian scholars like R. K. Mookerji (Education in Ancient India), Sukumar Dutt (Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India), S. C. Vidyabhushana (Medieval School of Indian Logic), Buddha Prakash (Aspects of Indian History and Civilization), and many others. They were all polymaths of unimpeachable academic honesty and integrity. They had nothing to do, even remotely, with Marxism: which is, to Shourie in his bull avatar, a red rag.”

Marxism is no longer what it used to be; its fall in the Soviet Union and decline in China are making themselves felt even in India at last. Some erstwhile Marxists do not like to be described as Marxist anymore. In the 1990s, Romila Thapar was mentioned in Tom Bottomore’s Dictionary of Marxism as a representative of Marxist history-writing without any discussion, but today she avoids the label “Marxist”. They may be telling one more lie here, this time about their own label, but some of them may genuinely have outgrown Marxism. I leave it to Jha and Shourie, and first of all to Yadava, to decide which description of Yadava is the correct one. But Marxism has conditioned the Indian history discourse, even through many who would reject the “Marxist” label for themselves. It will take time to undo its influence.

Worse is that here again, Jha repeats his lie. Yadava has explicitly written that the said Tibetan tradition is “doubtful”, but once more Jha cites him in its support. He insists on proving Shourie’s allegation right.

Odantapuri

Jha: “Now juxtapose the Tibetan tradition with the contemporary account in the Tabaqat–i-Nasiri of Minhaj-i-Siraj, which Shourie not only misinterprets but also blows out of proportion. Although its testimony has no bearing on my argument about Brahmanical intolerance, a word needs to be said about it so as to expose Shourie’s “false knowledge” – which, as G. B. Shaw said, is ‘more dangerous than ignorance’. The famous passage from this text reads exactly as follows:
“He [Bakhtiyar Khalji] used to carry his depredations into those parts and that country until he organized an attack upon the fortified city of Bihar. Trustworthy persons have related on this wise, that he advanced to the gateway of the fortress of Bihar with two hundred horsemen in defensive armour, and suddenly attacked the place. There were two brothers of Farghanah, men of learning, [Nizamu-ud-Din and Samsam-ud-Din] in the service of Muhammad-i-Bakhtiyar, and the author of this book [Minhajuddin] met with at Lakhnawati in the year 641 H and this account is from him. These two wise brothers were soldiers among that band of holy warriors when they reached the gateway of the fortress and began the attack at which time Muhammad-i-Bakhtiyar, by the force of his intrepidity, threw himself into the postern of the gateway of the place, and they captured the fortress and acquired great booty. The greater number of inhabitants of that place were Brahmans, and the whole of those Brahmans had their heads shaven; and they were all slain. There were a great number of books there; and, when all these books came under the observation of the Musalmans, they summoned a number of Hindus that they might give them information respecting the import of those books; but the whole of the Hindus were killed. On becoming acquainted (with the contents of the books), it was found that the whole of that fortress and the city was a college, and in the Hindu tongue, they call a college Bihar” (Tabaqat-i-Nasiri, tr. H. G. Raverty, Calcutta, vol 1, 1881, pp.551-52).

“The above account mentions the fortress of Bihar as the target of Bakhtiyar’s attack. The fortified monastery which Bakhtiyar captured was ‘known as Audand-Bihar or Odandapura-vihara’ (Odantapuri in Biharsharif, then known simply as Bihar). This is the view of many historians but, most importantly, of Jadunath Sarkar, the high priest of communal historiography in India (History of Bengal, vol. 2, Dacca, 1948, pp.3-4). Minhaj does not refer to Nalanda at all: he merely speaks of the ransacking of the ‘fortress of Bihar’ (hisar-i-Bihar). But how can Shourie be satisfied unless Bakhtiyar is shown to have sacked Nalanda? Since Bakhtiyar was leading plundering expeditions in the region of Magadha, Shourie thinks that Nalanda must have been destroyed by him – and, magically, he finds ’evidence’ in an account which does not even speak of the place. Thus an important historical testimony becomes the victim of his anti-Muslim prejudice.”

I remember Sita Ram Goel himself pointing out to me that this passage is about Odantapuri, not Nalanda. So Shourie may have misidentified the institution here. But of course, a description of the Islamic sacking of Odantapuri implies nothing about other places not mentioned. Would the motives that led to the destruction of Odantapuri not have applied to Nalanda as well. We have it from the horse’s mouth, and now also from Jha, that the Islamic invaders sacked Odantapuri and killed every single inmate. We learn elsewhere that in the same military campaign (end of the 12th century), a thousand temples in Varanasi and many more religious institutions at other places were destroyed. Would it then, even without appeal to other sources, be so strange to assume that they did the same to other institutions, which were left unmentioned but nonetheless disappeared? Would that not be far more likely than Jha’s contrived hypothesis that, after sixteen centuries of allowing Buddhism to flourish, Brahmins in their very hour of need suddenly turned against Nalanda?

Ikhtiyar ad-Din Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar KhiljiIslam destroyed Nalanda

Jha becomes distinctly unpleasant when he starts throwing around allegations: “In his zeal, [Shourie] fudges and concocts historical evidence and ignores the fact that Bakhtiyar did not go to Nalanda from Bihar (Biharsharif). Instead, he proceeded to Nadia in Bengal through the hills and jungles of the region of Jharkhand, which, incidentally, finds first mention in an inscription of AD 1295 (Comprehensive History of India, vol. IV, pt. I, p.601). I may add that his whole book, Eminent Historians, from which the article under reference is excerpted, abounds in instances of his cavalier attitude to historical evidence.”

Notice the rhetorical sleight of hand: Shourie the non-historian has made only one mistake of historical fact, and yet Jha multiplies his invective as if it were a habit. By contrast, Jha the history professor has repeatedly been caught in distortions and manipulations in this debate alone, yet he reckons he can get away with those.

But then Jha admits the very thing which secularists, and partly he himself, had set out to deny: “It is neither possible nor necessary to deny that the Islamic invaders conquered parts of Bihar and Bengal and destroyed the famous universities in the region.” So, next time the Vishva Hindu Parishad starts a temple reclamation campaign, it can cite Jha in support.

Jha: “But any one associating Bakhtiyar Khalji with the destruction and burning of the university of Nalanda would be guilty of gross academic dishonesty. Certainly week-end historians like Shourie are always free to falsify historical data, but this has nothing to do with serious history, which is always true to evidence.”

History may be true to the evidence, but Jha with his hair-brained reliance on a much later foreign testimony isn’t. Circumstantial evidence certainly still points to Bakhtiyar Khilji as the culprit, since we don’t know of another commander at that time and in that area. Not every event on his campaign was recorded. As all genuine historians know: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But even his name makes little difference for the larger debate that motivated Jha to his distortions. Numerous holy warriors of Islam displayed the same behaviour as Bakhtiyar Khilji because they had the same motive: the doctrine of Islam with its hatred of Pagans and their institutions. In spite of so much denial and so many distortions, secularists cannot alter that historical fact. Islam had the motive and the chance. Hinduism had the chance for sixteen centuries to destroy the Buddhist institutions but showed no interest because it lacked the motive. Islam, by contrast, appeared on the scene and immediately Buddhism disappeared. Islam is guilty.

Book-banning

Jha’s final word: “Shourie had raised a huge controversy by publishing his scandalous and slanderous Eminent Historians in 1998 during the NDA regime and now, after sixteen years, he has issued its second edition, from which the article under reference has been excerpted. He appears and reappears in the historian’s avatar when the BJP comes to power and does all he can to please his masters. His view of the past is no different from that of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and their numerous outfits, consisting of riff-raff and goons who burn books that do not endorse their views, who vandalize art objects which they label blasphemous, who present a distorted view of Indian history, and who nurture a culture of intolerance. These elements demanded my arrest when my book on beef-eating was published, and they censured James Laine when his book on Shivaji came out. It is not unlikely that Shourie functions in cahoots with people like Dina Nath Batra, who targeted A. K. Ramanujan’s essay emphasizing the diversity of the Ramayana tradition; Wendy Doniger’s writings, which provided an alternative view of Hinduism; Megha Kumar’s work on communalism and sexual violence in Ahmedabad since 1969; and Sekhar Bandopadhyaya’s textbook on modern India, which regrettably does not eulogise the RSS. Arun Shourie seems to have inaugurated a fresh round of battle by fudging, falsifying and fabricating historical evidence and providing grist to Batra’s mill.”

Jha seems to suggest that publishing these allegations (which he doesn’t refute) was only safe with the NDA in power. Apparently the UPA would have done the Eminent Historians’ bidding and arrested Shourie for slander. Then again, maybe as an intellectual Jha found it below his dignity to appeal to the authorities, and preferred the proper medium of a debate. In that case, we would like to see his refutation.

The rest of his final allegation is an exercise in guilt by association. This is beneath the standards of an intellectual but proper for a political polemicist. We have already pointed that the allegation of “fudging, falsifying” etc., repeated here, is unjustified and applies more to Jha himself. Then he associates Shourie with the VHP-RSS penchant for banning books. In reality, Shourie as a crusader for civil rights and probity in public life has always been on the side of free and frank debate. The RSS, by contrast, is a lot more like Jha himself: never addressing issues but grandstanding on extraneous factors: status and the perceived interests of secularism in Jha’s case, patriotic indignation in the case of the RSS. He supposes that is “not unlikely that Shourie functions in cahoots with people like Dina Nath Batra”: this is worse than empty speculation, as it is easy to verify that Shourie was not involved in these recent book-banning operations. Indeed, Jha himself has been targeted, so he knows from experience that those who persecuted him comprised Batra but not Shourie.

To sum up: like any stage magician, Jha indulges in misdirection. While he himself has been caught in the act of misquoting his source (Yadava), and repeats this act of dishonesty in this very article, he tries to offset his embarrassment by a flight forward, viz. heaping imaginary allegations and plain swearwords upon his critic.

Hindu passivity

But he will largely get away with it, and secularists will go on quoting his speech at the Indian History Congress as an argument of authority for their truly daring thesis that “not Muslims but Hindus destroyed Nalanda University” and that this was but an instance of the long-standing hostility between Brahmins and Buddhists. Since the record is not being set straight from any powerful forum, it may even become part of the received wisdom.

At the end of 1990, Sita Ram Goel and myself visited the VHP headquarters at R. K. Puram, Delhi. To some of their bigwigs (names available), I argued passionately that since they had been forced to make a historical case for their Ayodhya demand, and for other reasons too, they badly needed to invest in serious history-writing, rather than relying on either the output furnished by their enemies or the caricatures produced by incompetent Hindus of the P N Oak variety. Wise old Goel just smiled, knowing already what the effect of my enthusiastic plea would be. One VHP leader concluded the conversation by assuring me: “We will think about your suggestion”— the polite way of saying: “Drop dead.” As we left, Goel said: “You could just as well have talked to my wall.” The Sangh Parivar was determined not to invest in chicken but only in eggs; not to involve itself in building a Hindu worldview but to continue focusing on empty locomotion.

Today, 24 years later, no Hindu force has invested anything at all in rectifying India’s history. In about 2002, HRM Minister M. M. Joshi had the history textbooks rewritten, only to prove for all to see the incompetence of most people he picked for the job. (Notice, Prof. Jha, that Arun Shourie was not involved in this operation either.) The secularists had no problem in overruling this reform, and no Hindu force deigned to address the question: “What have we done wrong?” They only went on wailing about the daring injustice perpetrated by the secularists without ever wondering what they themselves could have done or could still do. Hindu moneybags who like to show off their commitment to Hinduism, finance large temple-building projects or sponsor their declared enemies, but never think of financing the research that Hindu society badly needs. And so, bad but highly-placed historians like D. N. Jha can go on rubbishing Hindu history.

» Dr Koenraad Elst studied at the KU Leuven, obtaining MA degrees in Sinology, Indology and Philosophy. After a research stay at Benares Hindu University he did original fieldwork for a doctorate on Hindu nationalism, which he obtained magna cum laude in 1998. As an independent researcher he earned laurels and ostracism with his findings on hot items like Islam, multiculturalism and the secular state, the roots of Indo-European, the Ayodhya temple/mosque dispute and Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy. He blogs at http://koenraadelst.blogspot.in/

Eminent Historians

1 – How history was made up at Nalanda – Arun Shourie

Nalanda

Arun Shourie“Surely, no self-respecting Marxist could have made his account rest on not just one miracle — acquiring siddhis and raining fire on to the Nalanda structures — but two, for we also have the streams of water running down from the scriptures.” – Arun Shourie

“The mine of learning, honoured Nalanda” — that is how the 16th-17th century Tibetan historian, Taranath, referred to the university at Nalanda. At the time I-Tsing was at the university, there were 3,700 monks. The total complex had around 10,000 residents. The structures housing the university were as splendid and as extensive as the learning they housed. When excavations began, the principal mound alone was about 1,400 feet by 400 feet. Hieun Tsang recounts at least seven monasteries and eight halls. The monasteries were of several storeys, and there was a library complex of three buildings, one of them nine storeys high.

As the Islamic invaders advanced through Afghanistan and north-western India, they exterminated Buddhist clergy, they pillaged and pulverised every Buddhist structure — the very word “but”, the idols they so feverishly destroyed, was derived from “Buddha”. Nalanda escaped their attention for a while — in part because it was not on the main routes. But soon enough, the marauders arrived, and struck the fatal blow. The ransacking is described in the contemporary Tabakat-i-Nasiri by Maulana Minhaj-ud-din.

Minhaj-ud-din rose and came to the notice of the rulers of the time — Qutb-ud-din Aibak and others — because of his raids and depredations, and because of the enormous booty he gathered, booty sufficient for him to set himself up as a plunderer in his own right. “His reputation reached Sultan (Malik) Qutb-ud-din, who despatched a robe of distinction to him, and showed him honour,” the historian writes. With its high wall, its large buildings, Nalanda seemed like a well-endowed fortress to Ikhtiyar-ud-din and his force. He advanced upon it with two hundred horsemen “and suddenly attacked the place”. Minhaj-ud-din continues,

“The greater number of inhabitants of that place were Brahmans, and the whole of those Brahmans had their heads shaven, and they were all slain. There were a great number of books there; and when all these books came under the observation of the Musalmans, they summoned a number of Hindus that they might give them information respecting the import of those books; but the whole of the Hindus had been killed. On being acquainted (with the contents of the books), it was found that the whole of that fortress and city was a college, and in the Hindu tongue, they call a college, Bihar [vihara].”

“When that victory was effected,” Minhaj-ud-din reports, “Muhammad-i-Bakhtiyar returned with great booty, and came to the presence of the beneficent sultan, Qutb-ud-din I-bak, and received great honour and distinction.…” — so much so that other nobles at the court became jealous. All this happened around the year 1197 AD.

Prof D. N. JhaAnd now the Marxist account of the destruction of this jewel of knowledge. In 2004, D. N. Jha was the president of the Indian History Congress. In the presidential address he delivered — one to which we shall turn as an example of Marxist “scholarship” — this is the account he gives of the destruction of Buddhist viharas, and of Nalanda in particular:

“A Tibetan tradition has it that the Kalacuri King Karna (11th century) destroyed many Buddhist temples and monasteries in Magadha, and the Tibetan text  Pag Sam Jon Zang refers to the burning of the library of Nalanda by some ‘Hindu fanatics’.”

“Hindu fanatics”? The expression struck me as odd. A Tibetan text of the 18th century using so current an expression as “Hindu fanatics”? Especially so because, on Jha’s own reckoning, Hinduism is an invention of the British in the late 19th century? So, what is this “Tibetan text”? What does it say? Had Jha looked it up?

Pag Sam Jon Zang was written by Sumpa Khan-Po Yece Pal Jor. The author lived in 1704-88: that is, 500 years after the destruction of Nalanda.

That is the first thing that strikes one: our historian disregards the contemporaneous account, Tabakat-i-Nasiri, and opts for a text written 500 years after the event. But had he read the text at all? Could a self-respecting Marxist have at all believed what is written in it?

This is how Sarat Chandra Das, the translator and editor of Pag Sam Jon Zang, sets out the account of the destruction of Nalanda as given in this text:

“While a religious sermon was being delivered in the temple that he (Kakuta Sidha, a minister of a king of Magadha) had erected at Nalanda, a few young monks threw washing water at two Tirthika beggars. The beggars being angry, set fire on the three shrines of dharma ganja, the Buddhist university of Nalanda — that is, Ratna Sagara, Ratna Ranjaka including the nine-storey building called Ratnadadhi which contained the library of sacred books” (pg 92).

Two beggars could go from building to building of that huge campus and, with all the monks present, burn down the entire, huge, scattered complex?

And, the account of the relevant passage reproduced above is the one set out by Sarat Chandra Das in his Index. That is, it is just a summary of the actual passage — in an index, it scarcely could be more. What does the relevant section, and in particular the passage about the burning down of the library, say?

The author is giving an account of how Dharma has survived three rounds of destructive attempts. One round was occasioned by the fluctuating relations between Khunimamasta, a king of Taksig (Turkistan?), and Dharma Chandra, a king of Nyi-og in the east. The latter sends gifts. The former thinks these are part of black magic. He, therefore, swoops down from “dhurukha” and destroys “the three bases” of Magadha — monasteries, scriptures and stupas. Khunimamasta drives out and exiles the monks. Dharma Chandra’s uncle sends many scholars to China to spread the teaching. He receives gold as thanksgiving. He uses this and other gifts to appease rulers of smaller kingdoms to join the fight against the king of Taksig (Turkistan?). The uncle thereafter revives “the three bases”. Almost all the shrines are restored and 84 new ones are built. And so, the dharma survives.

In the next round, “the teacher who taught Prajnaparamita for 20 years is assassinated by burglars from dhurukha. His blood turned into milk and many flowers emerged from his body. (Thus) he flew into the sky.”

We now come to the crucial passage, the one that Jha has ostensibly invoked. I reproduce the translation of it by Geshe Dorji Damdul in full:

“Again at that time, there was a scholar by the name Mutita Bhadra, who was greatly involved in renovating and building stupas. Eventually he had a vision of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra. He flew to Liyul by holding the garment (of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra) and there he made great contributions to the welfare of sentient beings and the Dharma. Reviving the Dharma that way, the Dharma flourished for 40 years in the Central Land (Magadha?). At that time, during the celebration over the construction of a shrine in Nalanda by Kakutasita, a minister of the king, some naughty novice monks splashed (dish) washing water on two non-Buddhist beggars and also pressed (the two) in-between the door and (the door frame.) Angry over these gestures, one (beggar) served as the attendant to the other who sat in a deep pit for 12 years to gain the siddhi of the sun. Having achieved the siddhi, they threw ashes of a fire puja (havan) they did, on 84 Buddhist shrines. They were all burned. Particularly, when the three dharma ganja of Nalanda — the shrines which sheltered the scriptures — as well got consumed in fire, streams of water ran down from the scriptures of Guhyasamaja and Prajnaparamita, which were housed in the ninth storey of the Ratnadhati shrine. This saved many scriptures. Later, fearing penalty from the king, the two (beggars) escaped to Hasama in the north. However, the two died due to immolation, which happened on its own.”

Surely, no self-respecting Marxist could have made his account rest on not just one miracle — acquiring siddhis and raining fire on to the structures — but two, for we also have the streams of water running down from the scriptures.

But we strain unnecessarily. There is a clue in Jha’s lecture itself. He doesn’t cite the Tibetan text, he does what Marxists do: he cites another Marxist citing the Tibetan text! To see what he does, you must read the lines carefully. This is what we saw Jha saying:

“A Tibetan tradition has it that the Kalacuri King Karna (11th century) destroyed many Buddhist temples and monasteries in Magadha, and the Tibetan text Pag Sam Jon Zang refers to the burning of the library of Nalanda by some ‘Hindu fanatics’.”

As his authority, Jha cites a book by B.N.S. Yadava, Society and Culture in Northern India in the Twelfth Century. What did Yadava himself write? Here it is: “Further, the Tibetan tradition informs us that Kalacuri Karna (11th century) destroyed many Buddhist temples and monasteries in Magadha.”

Jha has clearly lifted what Yadava wrote word for word — at least he has been faithful to his source. But in the very next sentence, Yadava had gone on to say: “It is very difficult to say anything as to how far this account may be correct.”

Words that Jha conveniently left out!

Yadava had continued, “However, we get some other references to persecution.”

He cited two inscriptions and a Puranic reference. And then came to the Tibetan text. Recall what Jha wrote about this text: “… and the Tibetan text Pag Sam Jon Zang refers to the burning of the library of Nalanda by some ‘Hindu fanatics’.”

And now turn to what Yadava wrote about this very text: “The Tibetan text Pag Sam Jon Zang contains a [I am leaving out a word] tradition of the burning of the library of Nalanda by some Hindu fanatics.”

Ikhtiyar ad-Din Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar KhiljiClose enough to pass for plagiarism? But wait, there is originality! Notice, first, that two Hindu beggars have become “Hindu fanatics”. Notice, next, that the words “Hindu fanatics” that Jha had put in quotation marks as if they were the words that the author of the Tibetan text had used to describe the arsonists, were actually the words of his fellow Marxist, Yadava. But the best clue is the word that I omitted from what Yadava had actually written. Yadava’s full sentence was as follows: “The Tibetan text Pag Sam Jon Zang contains a doubtful tradition of the burning of the library of Nalanda by some Hindu fanatics.”

Just as he had left out the words, “It is very difficult to say anything as to how far this account may be correct,” Jha now leaves out the word “doubtful”. And all this in the presidential address to the Indian History Congress.

In a word, there is a Tibetan text written five hundred years after the destruction of Nalanda. Sarat Chandra Das annotates it, and includes in his Index a summary in English of a passage in the text — the summary naturally leaves out telling components of the original passage.

Yadava looks only at the summary in the Index — “non-Buddhist beggars” becomes “Hindu fanatics.”

Yadava notes that the account is based on a “doubtful tradition.”

Jha omits the word “doubtful.”

And we have a presidential address to the Indian History Congress!

Given what we have seen of Marxist historians even in this brief book, the brazen-faced distortions — to the point of falsehood — do not surprise me.

What does surprise me is that no one looked up either the source that Jha had cited or the text.

Indeed, in concluding his section, Yadava had stated:

“A great blow to Buddhism was, no doubt, rendered by the Turkish invasions, leading to the destruction and desertion of the celebrated Buddhist monasteries of Magadha and Bengal. Many Buddhist scholars fled to Tibet and Nepal.” – Indian Express, 28 June 2014

» Arun Shourie, a former Rajya Sabha MP from the BJP, was Union minister for communications, information technology and disinvestment. This article has been excerpted from his book, Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud, published by HarperCollins India.

Eminent Historians

 

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