Global Times: Thanks to Hinduism, India doesn’t have radical Islam – ET

Surya Deva

“Indians attach great importance to spiritual matters while Chinese are more concerned about material matters. Such different worldviews are the source and explanation of all differences between China and India as well as the misunderstandings the two peoples harbour toward each other.” – Global Times

After China’s climb down on Doklam, the state-run media has softened its shrill tone against India. An article in Global Times appreciates Hinduism for preventing the spread of radical Islam.

“Why does it seem that Muslims in India have remained largely apart from the radicalization that has happened to Muslim groups in other parts of the world?” the article raises the question, citing the Islamist unrest in other parts of Asia: “Indian Muslims seldom have extreme organizations compared with groups in many other Asian countries. In the southern part of the Philippines, extremists backed by Islamic State have turned their occupied cities into horrible places. In southern Thailand, terror attacks staged by Muslim extremists take place almost every week.”

The article attributes the absence of radical Islam in India to Hinduism. It says India breaks the “arc of Islam” in Asia: “In Asia as a whole, Islam forms an arc that includes the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, southern Thailand, southern Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Central Asian countries. There are tensions at various degrees at junctions in this arc where it encounters other religions and ethnicity, but a dent exists in the Indian portion of this arc.”

It says this lack of Islamic extremism in India gives it a tall standing in the world, and that’s the reason why it reckons with the US, Japan, Russia and European countries when it comes to their Asia policies. “The lack of Islamic extremists in India has helped determine its role in Asia,” it says.

Media rhetoric is a significant part of China’s foreign policy as was seen during the Doklam conflict. Is the article in praise of Hinduism linked in any way to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China next week for the BRICS Summit?

In a June article, Global Times had blamed Hinduism for misunderstandings between China and India: “Indians attach great importance to spiritual matters while Chinese are more concerned about material matters. Such different worldviews are the source and explanation of all differences between China and India as well as the misunderstandings the two peoples harbour toward each other.” – The Economic Times, 30 August 2017

Indian PM Modi with Chinese priest at Daxingshan Buddhist Temple in Xi'anGlobal Times

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Video: The Vanishing Hindus of India – Saswati Sarkar

Saswati Sarkar

What Hindus really want is justice – R. Sriram

Hindu Activism

R. SriramThe Hindus awakening seen in … an increasing sense of pride in the country’s rich cultural and religious heritage bodes ill for the Liberal Left which has always believed in denigrating Hinduism beliefs while praising or elevating those of other religions. – R. Sriram

An ideology’s durability and strength is often misunderstood by many. Its fiercest believers will always find little to complain but neutral observers can also be sometimes lulled into what is called “the willing suspension of disbelief” when it comes to the receding impact of a political or religious system on people. It is easy to miss the rumblings on the ground while focusing on an artificial sense of stability created by apparatchiks of an imploding ideology.

Liberalism is going through such a phase, both in India and overseas. In India, the shock of the Narendra Modi victory in 2014 has been worsened by the PM’s continuing popularity, the BJP’s electoral surge and the crippling inability of the opposition to even play token defence. This sense of anger, outrage and helplessness at the Right ecosystem’s inexorable march would have been more palatable if it had not been accompanied by a nationalistic and religious awakening among the country’s majority Hindu population. This awakening seen in outward displays of aggression, the increased passion and fervour with which festivals are being celebrated and an increasing sense of pride in the country’s rich cultural and religious heritage bodes ill for the liberal Left which has always believed in denigrating Hinduism beliefs while praising or elevating those of other religions.

Some arguments being made against this trend show the real fear among the Liberal Left brigade. According to these arguments, India’s biggest problem is a growing sense of Islamophobia, not terrorism, terrifying demographic change, joblessness or sneak attempts to divide the country. The Hindus, they feel are out to get their Muslim neighbours and their alleged hatred has been fed by rantings by fringe extremist groups.

This is so silly that one doesn’t know where to start. The Hindu does not feel victimised. He does not hate his Muslim or Christian brethren. He would willingly live and work with them and there are many instances where the people from two or three religions live in harmony. What he hates is a crass and corrupt political system that, aided and abetted by a section of power-hungry journalists, unelected bureaucrats and venal academics, try to denigrate the ordinary Hindu’s pride in his ancient culture religion and civilisation.

The Hindu is upset that a corrupt political system in a desperate search for votes will try and bring about cataclysmic demographic change with little regard for language, culture and religious feelings of citizens.

The Hindu is angry that a weak, impotent state will allow an implacable neighbouring foe to dictate terms while committing aggression in one part of the country in the garb of fighting for freedom. The Hindu is angry that Marxist and liberal historians have spent years whitewashing the crimes of Mughal imperialists and marauding Islamic invaders who looted, pillaged and destroyed Hindu temples while enslaving thousands of its people.

The Hindu is upset that nothing is being done to stop and roll back the creeping conversion movement that seeks to destroy Hindu identity in the northeast and southern parts of the [country].

This is the real issue. Not Islamophobia. The average Hindu is angry at the political system, its masters, whose slavish devotion to a foreign concept of secularism, is being seen as an attempt to deny the Hindu’s true sense of identity.

Take the recent attempts to revive the much-maligned theory of Aryan migration. People bent on reviving this discredited concept make an error common among liberal and left thinkers. A nation’s identity is not dependent on which migrant group was the first to cross the border centuries ago. It is dependent upon the dominant culture and religion practised by people of that country and region. In India’s case, it is Hinduism whether one likes it or not.

Egypt is an Islamic state. The fact Pharaohs ruled the country centuries ago and developed a vibrant, robust culture cannot take away the fact that Egypt’s identity is Islamic and its people practise an Islamic culture brought to the country by Arab armies in the eighth century. It is also wrong to link alleged victim-hood to economic security. For the Hindu, it is not economic insecurity that makes him angry and resentful, but a realisation that justice does not prevail under a corrupt political system.

It is not about whether he is poorer than the Muslim or the Christian. The belief that politicians have perverted the principles of natural justice for petty political ends has created a sense of anger and outrage. That anger is now manifesting itself in various ways and eroding the false ramparts built by pseudo-secularists and their entourage in media, academia and politics. This alone should give the Liberal Left warriors enough cause for worry. – The Economic Times, 24 July 2017

» R. Sriram is the Resident Editor, Economic Times, Mumbai.

HINDUS PROTEST DEMONSTRATION AGAINST PROFESSOR DONIGER AGAINST ON WEDNESDAY MARCH 10, 2010, IN FRONT OF NEW SCHOOL UNIVERSITY BUILDING ,Dr. Wendy Doniger, Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School, will be honored by National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) on March 10th at The New School University Building, New York City for her book titled Hindus An Alternative History...PIC Mohammed Jaffer-SnapsIndia

 

How the NCERT covers up Islam’s role in temple destruction – Koenraad Elst

Gyanvapi Mosque Varanasi

Koenraad ElstNo matter how many cases of Hindu idol abduction [the secularists] manage to find, it will never amount to proof for the hypothesis … that Muslim conquerors and rulers did what they did because Hindus had inspired them to do it. – Dr Koenraad Elst

During the Rama Janmabhumi commotion ca. 1990, it was the “done” thing for secularists to deny that Muslims had ever committed destruction of Hindu sacred buildings and statues. This even became the official position worldwide, for practically all Indologists and India-watchers internalized it and zealously condemned any acknowledgment of Islamic iconoclasm as stemming from “Hindu fanaticism”. However, this position is hard to sustain, because it is so obviously untrue. Therefore, they have recently refined their propaganda strategy in two ways.

First, they now minimize Islamic iconoclasm but admit some of it. Not that they would concede the Islamic motivation for this mandir-and-murti destruction, but alright, some Muslims had done it. That, after all, is what human beings do, Hindus included, see? As long as Islam remains out of the picture, they are willing to admit a little bit of destruction for the sake of salvaging their own credibility.

Second, they now try to make Hinduism guilty of the crimes of Islam, viz. by providing the inspiration through its own example. Muslims destroyed Hindu temples because Hindus had destroyed Hindu temples. Provincials like our secularists and their foreign imitators try to lead you by the nose towards whatever happened within India’s borders, and never ask, nor want you to ask, what the record of Islam outside India is, including in the period before it entered India. They don’t want you to realize that Islam’s behaviour in India was only a continuation of its behaviour in West Asia and around the Mediterranean, starting with Mohammed’s own model behaviour in Arabia.

The secularist narrative is now being propagated everywhere and inserted into the textbooks of history, including in the projected new textbooks mulled over by the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT). As per the official procedure, there is a provision for feedback from the public. A friend of mine sent in an objection to the NCERT’s scenario. What follows is the NCERT’s response, interspersed with my comments.

Bluff

The objection to the cited passage—that temples demonstrated the power and resources of the kings who built them and that is the reason why medieval rulers targeted the temples of rival rulers—can be substantiated by innumerable references.

This is a sheer bluff. The two examples given do of course not amount to the “innumerable” cases which they mendaciously claim to have. Nor have such numbers of cases been mentioned elsewhere. Yet, given the strong motive the NCERT secularists have to overrule the straightforward narrative of Islamic iconoclasm, they would by now certainly have published a book full of such evidence and made sure it was quoted in every relevant paper and editorial—if it existed.

Sheer bluff, we said, but in the real world, there is nothing “sheer” about bluff. On the contrary, a bluff is a mighty weapon that can produce impressive results. Take the Rama Janmabhumi controversy. The secularists suddenly claimed that all the Muslims and Hindus and Europeans who had unitedly assumed that a Rama temple had stood at the disputed site on which the Babri Masjid had been imposed, had all been wrong. They offered no evidence whatsoever for their proposed scenario (say, a sales contract in which a landlord sold Babar a piece of empty real estate to build a mosque on), and denied the evidence on the opposite side which had existed all along and which accumulated further once the challenge to bring more evidence had been raised.

Though their behaviour was that of conspiracy-mongers, their shrill bluff carried authoritative public opinion with it. They managed to make the Government abandon its plans for a negotiated settlement, they managed to have national and state governments toppled, they managed to trigger a number of bloodbaths, all through “sheer bluff”. Even when they collapsed one after another when questioned in court, even when their bluff had been exposed (though the media did all they could to hide this development from you), they have never apologized, never publicly admitted how wrong they had been. Bluff can get you very far in life, so the NCERT tries more of it.

Even the evidential value of their “evidence” is a bluff. No matter how many cases of Hindu idol abduction they manage to find, it will never amount to proof for the hypothesis they really want to push: that Muslim conquerors and rulers did what they did because Hindus had inspired them to do it. These conquerors mostly didn’t even know the record of Hindu kings, and at any rate they didn’t care. They would never have wanted to be seen imitating the idolaters and instead invoked the solid justification for iconoclasm within their own tradition. Mohammed himself had set the example, and in his wake came the conquerors of West Asia and the Mediterranean, unaffected by Hindu examples.

Power of discrimination

Consider the gold statue of Vishnu which was once in the Lakshmana temple of Khajuraho. The statue actually belonged to the rulers of Kangra, it was taken by the Pratiharas and finally by the Candell ruler Yasovarman just before 950 CE (and a near contemporary of Mahmud Ghazni). The inscription in the foundation stone of the Khajuraho Laksmana temple commemorated these events and stated—“With his troops of elephants and horses, Herambapala (Pratihara, ruler of Kanauj) seized it from [the king of Kangra]. Obtaining it from his son, the (Pratihara) prince Devapala, the illustrious (Candella) king Yasovarman—an ornament among kings and a crusher of enemies—performed the ritual establishment of [Vishnu] Vaikuntha [in the Laksmana temple at Khajuraho].

See F. Kielhorn, “Inscriptions from Khajuraho” in Epigraphica Indica, vol. 1 (1892), p. 192.

This example is a beautiful illustration precisely of how Hindu idol-kidnapping differs radically from Islamic idol-breaking. According to the NCERT itself, the Vishnu statue from Khajuraho was abducted not once but twice, and ended up (not walled into a lavatory or underfoot, nor smashed to pieces, but) consecrated as a prominent murti in a Vaishnava temple, exactly where it belonged. What was abducted, was merely an object of art, duly consecrated. There was no destruction of the religion behind the murti. It was used for Vaishnava worship in its original site, after it was abducted, and again after Yasovarman abducted it. Further, the worship at the temples robbed of their murtis, was perfectly allowed to continue, though they would have to install a new murti.

By contrast, in Islamic iconoclasm, the goal was to destroy the “idolatrous” religion of which the murtis were an expression. The destruction of murtis and the demolition of mandirs had the purpose of destroying Hinduism or whichever the Pagan religion behind some given murtis was. When Mahmud Ghaznavi was done destroying the Somnath temple, he did not mean to let Shiva worship resume at the site, not as long as he was militarily in a position to prevent it. While Yasovarman installed the abducted Vishnu murti for worship, Mahmud Ghaznavi would have the captured murtis destroyed or worked them into lavatory walls or into floors in order the humiliate them—not so much the murtis themselves but the religion they represented. In destroying the Somnath Shivalingam, he meant to destroy Shiva worship.

One day, a man needed some paper to light a campfire, but he had none. His friend suggested: I have some paper, wait. And he took his wallet to produce a wad of dollar bills. The friend turned out not to see any significance in the dollar bills, only their material dimension. Whether a little rectangle of paper was a currency note worth an exchange value, or a newspaper clipping containing specific information, or merely a blank slip of paper, they were all the same to him: enough paper to light a campfire with. Now that is Nehruvian secularism for you: a deliberate suspension of the power of discrimination. This wilful superficiality claims not to see any difference between abducting an object without any further consequence and destroying this object as part of the attempted destruction of the religion it stands for.

Lalitaditya

From a different cultural zone note also the example of the conflict between the soldiers of the Gauda (Bengal) ruler and the ruler of Kashmir, Lalitaditya. The episode concerns the moment when the Bengali rulers chose to attack the idol of Vishnu Parihasakesava who was providentially saved because the soldiers mistook this image of the royal God for another. The Rajatarangini notes—“Though the king was abroad, the priests observed that the soldiers wanted to enter, and they closed the gates of the Parihasakesava shrine. Aroused with boldness, the soldiers got hold of the silver Ramasvamin image, which they mistook for Parihasakesava. They carried it out and ground it into dust. And even as Lalitaditya’s troops who had come out from the city were killing them at each step, the Gaudas continued to break it into particles and scatter them in every direction.

See Ranjit Sitaram Pandit, trans., Rajatarangini: The Saga of the Kings of Kashmir, The Indian Press, Allahabad, 1935, pp. 326-28.

Note firstly that this Lalitaditya episode is also related, complete with the spin dear to the NCERT, in Robert M. Hayden, Aykan Erdemir, Tuğba Tanyeri-Erdemir, Timothy D. Walker, Devika Rangachari, Manuel Aguilar-Moreno, Enrique López-Hurtado, and Milica Bakić-Hayden, Antagonistic Tolerance: Competitive Sharing of Religious Sites and Spaces, 2013, p. 136-137. As you can see, the Nehruvian secularist bluff is being spread far and wide and is acquiring the status of academic orthodoxy.

We are here dealing with a typical case of Western imitators, if not careerists who want to serve the current orthodoxy of battling “Islamophobia”. Concerning India, they have completely swallowed the Nehruvian bias. Thus, about Islamic iconoclasm deniers Romila Thapar and Richard Eaton, they say: “As scholars of India in the late 20th century, their aim in doing so is to counter the accusations by Hindu nationalists that the Muslims uniquely violated the sensibilities and rights of Hindus by destroying temples, by showing that Hindu rulers had done much the same thing before Muslims reached India.” (R. M. Hayden et al., Antagonistic Tolerance, p. 136)

It is in itself commendable that they point out the political intentions of these academics. These have a purpose other than dispassionately seeking the truth, which to Marxists would only be “bourgeois objectivity”. While not in itself disqualifying their research, it should at least set some alarm bells ringing. But this political bias only enjoys the unquestioning approval of the new generation of dupes.

So much have they already internalized the belief in Hindu iconoclasm that they take it one step further: “From the perspective of the AT [= Antagonistic Tolerance] project, of course, it would be surprising if Hindu rulers had not done so.” (R. M. Hayden et al., Antagonistic Tolerance, p. 136)

Naturally, they should think so, for it fits in with the reigning paradigm that “all religions are essentially the same”.

At the end, when practical conclusions are drawn, fashionable academics tend to differentiate again and favour Islam over Hinduism, e.g. by clamouring about “Islamophobia” but ignoring “Hinduphobia” (including their own); but at some point within their narrative, it is useful to put forward the equality and sameness of all religions, viz. in order to preclude or drown out all specific Hindu complaints about distinctly Islamic behaviour.

Since those authors are only second-hand spokesmen of the Nehruvian view, they sometimes let on facts that, when properly analyzed, don’t really fit their narrative, e.g.: “Tantalizingly, Eaton (2000a:293) mentions that temples not identified with royal patrons were generally left unharmed.” (R. M. Hayden et al., Antagonistic Tolerance, p. 136)

Tantalizing? Only if you pursue the Nehruvian paradigm. In fact, it follows logically from the difference between Hinduism and Islam. If at all there were Hindu kings who “harmed” temples because through them they wanted to harm hostile kings, they clearly opted for a policy that constituted another distinction with Muslim iconoclasm: they left politically irrelevant temples untouched. By contrast, when Muslim armies went on an iconoclastic spree, they did not care about these petty considerations, precisely because their motive had nothing to do with “royal patrons” but only with non-Islamic religion.

Thus, when the Ghurid army ca. 1193 destroyed a “thousand” temples in Varanasi (as admitted by Eaton), obviously, not all of them had enjoyed royal patronage. But all of them contained Pagan idols, and what was enough to get the Muslim conquerors in a destructive mood. This off-hand refutes the whole point of this new-fangled soft-Marxist hypothesis: that iconoclasm had nothing to do with religion.

Now, as to Lalitaditya, he defeated the Gauda king, invited him with the  Parihasakeshava (Vaishnava) idol as a guarantee for the Gauda king’s safety, yet had him murdered. To take revenge, the Gauda servants contrived to visit the relevant shrine in order to destroy this idol. Though they mistook another idol for Parihasakeshava (and apparently the story is gleefully told in order to convey this idol’s supposed cleverness in arranging for its own safety at the expense of another), they did indeed destroy the idol that they could lay their hands on. The fragmentation of the idol is duly described.

So, this indeed is one rare case where Hindus destroyed a Hindu idol. To be sure, they did nothing to Vaishnavism in Kashmir, nor in Bengal, nor anywhere else. They only wanted to get at that particular idol, a radical difference with the numerous campaigns of idol-breaking by Muslims, who were not so fussy. While Hindus did it, Hinduism was not involved. On the contrary, the text itself stipulates that their motive was quite mundane, viz. vengeance for their murdered king. The perpetrators did not quote any Hindu scripture prescribing: “Thou shalt destroy a Parihasakeshava idol whenever thou seest one!” They did not invoke any idol-breaking model behaviour of a Vedic rishi.

Islamic iconoclasm

We have spent some time writing out several pages in analyzing the NCERT response to an objection. To be sure, a fool can famously ask more questions in a few lines than a normal man can answer in a number of pages. Nevertheless, the fact deserves mention that, through misdirection, the NCERT has succeeded in keeping us busy all while the true answer was so simple. We have been forced to deal with two of the handful of cases of idol-abduction and iconoclasm by Hindus as the supposed reason for Islamic iconoclasm, when in reality, Islamic iconoclasm had nothing to do anything good or bad done by a Hindu. And no secret is made of this in Muslim chronicles, clear enough about the real motive.

Neither the folks at NCERT, nor the Nehruvian historians, nor their foreign followers, have ever succeeded in finding a Muslim chronicle saying that “the Sultan was inspired by Hindu example to destroy idols and demolish temples”. The point, after all, was not finding fault with what Hindus may have done (though finding fault with Hindus is certainly also on the secularists’ agenda), but to explain through Hindu behaviour the known Islamic conduct of iconoclasm. This relation between Islamic iconoclasm and Hindu example has never ever been established. On the contrary, whenever Muslim iconoclasts feel the need to motivate their destructive behaviour, they cite Islamic examples, first of all, the destruction of the idols in the Kaaba by Mohammed himself.

And let alone the words in chronicles or elsewhere, it is actual deeds that prove the radical difference between Islamic iconoclasm and any possible Hindu attitude. The NCERT itself quotes a case where a Vishnu statue was abducted, and then installed for worship by the abductor himself. If such were the example followed by Muslim iconoclasts, we would expect to find mosques where Hindu statues from, say, the Somnath temple or the Rama Janmabhumi temple had been installed. Unlike the Nehruvians, we are not provincials and will not confine ourselves to India, so images of Apollo, Osiris, or any other deity will also do. Pray, NCERT, where is that mosque where an abducted idol has been installed for worship? We are not asking for two examples, just one. – Pragyata, 31 March 2017

Surya Temple at Marttand, Kashmir from Hardy Cole's Archaeological Survey of India Report 1869

Hindus in Spain organise to create a united voice – PNE

A Hindus gathering in MadridThere are about 50,000 Hindus in Spain, including Hindus of Indian descent and Spanish followers of Hinduism. They are spread all over the country but Canary Islands have the largest concentration of them. – Punjab News Express

Hindus in Spain are reportedly coming together to form a united platform to work on issues of common interest and be a voice for the community.

A Federación Hindú de España (FHE) has reportedly been formed in Spain to unite all Hindus, defend, preserve, and promote Hinduism, challenge and correct academic misrepresentation of Hinduism, advise local, regional, and national governments on Hinduism, make Hindu representation, promote authentic yoga, and claim equal standing with other religions.

FHE reportedly intends to approach and enroll or affiliate other Hindu temples, organizations, and groups all over Spain who are not members yet. In future, it also plans to conduct educational programs, train Hindu priests, and create a directory of Hindu temples, institutions, associations, and groups in Spain.

According to reports, founding Hindu groups included Veda Dharma (Madrid), Sudha Satva (Valencia), Arsha Vidya (Madrid) and Advaita Vidya (Barcelona); while Centro Védico Dharma (Alicante) and Om Shiva Shakti (Barcelona) joined later. FHE is expecting three other Hindu groups to join.

Meanwhile, distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, commended efforts of Hindu groups and community in Spain to unite in order to give Hinduism a voice.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that it was important to pass on Hindu spirituality, concepts and traditions to coming generations amidst so many distractions in the consumerist society and hoped that this Hindu federation would help in this direction in Spain. Zed stressed that instead of running after materialism; we should focus on inner search and realization of Self and work towards achieving moksh (liberation), which was the goal of Hinduism. Zed also urged the federation to actively indulge in interfaith dialogue with other religions to help promote harmony in the Spanish society.

Per a rough estimate, there are about 50,000 Hindus in Spain, including Hindus of Indian descent and Spanish followers of Hinduism. They are spread all over the country but Canary Islands have a large concentration of them.

There are various Hindu groups in Spain; some of which are reportedly officially registered, while many are not registered yet. There are about 40 Hindu temples, worship-places, and worship-groups in Spain, including temples in Valencia, Malaga, Melilla and Madrid; Hare Krishna temples in Madrid, Barcelona, Tenerife, Malaga, besides an institute and a farm, plus followers, groups, and movements of Brahma-Kumaris, Mata Amritanandamayi Amma, Sathya Sai Baba, Siddha Yoga, Sahaja Yoga, etc. Various Hindu festivals, including Rath-Yatra, are celebrated. There is also a Hindu temple in neighbouring Gibraltar. – Punjab News Express, 8 June 2017

Hindu temple in Benalmádena, Malaga, Spain

Freeing temples from state control – Subramanian Swamy

Srirangam Temple Gopuram

Subramanian SwamyWhat is scandalous is the corruption after the takeover of temples as politicians and officials loot the temple’s wealth and land, and divert donations of devotees to non-religious purposes. – Dr Subramanian Swamy

The Supreme Court delivered a landmark judgment on January 6, 2013, allowing my Special Leave Petition that sought the quashing of the Tamil Nadu Government’s G.O. of 2006 which had mandated the government takeover of the hallowed Sri Sabhanayagar Temple (popularly known as the Nataraja Temple).

The Madras High Court Single Judge and Division Bench had in 2009 upheld the constitutionality of the G.O. by a tortuous and convoluted logic that new laws can overturn past court judgments that had attained finality earlier. The Supreme Court in 1953 had dismissed the then Madras Government’s SLP seeking the quashing of a Madras High Court Division Bench judgment of 1952 that had upheld the right of Podu Dikshitars to administer the affairs of the Nataraja Temple while dismissing all charges of misappropriation of temple funds against the Dikshitars. The Supreme Court thus made this judgment final and hence that which cannot be re-opened. But in 2009 the Madras High Court did precisely that. In 2014, in my SLP, the Supreme Court Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and S.A. Bobde therefore termed this re-opening of the matter as “judicial indiscipline” and set aside the 2009 Madras High Court judgment as null and void on the principle of res judicata.

In their lengthy judgment, the Bench has clearly set the constitutional parameters on the scope of governmental intervention in the management of religious institutions. In particular, the Court has opined that any G.O. that legally mandates a takeover of a temple must be for a fixed limited period, which I had suggested as three years.

The Dravidian movement intellectuals and politicians in various parties in Tamil Nadu are incensed with the judgment. The recent article “Reforms in the House of God” (A. Srivathsan in The Hindu January 13, 2013) is one such example that laments the Supreme Court judgment.

In this Dravidian movement background, it is not difficult to understand the views of those who believe that Hindu temples ought to be managed by the government, and that any deviation is a social, ethical, moral and legal sacrilege! In Mr. Srivathsan’s article it is stated that: “For almost a century, the Tamil Nadu government has been trying to bring the Chidambaram Natarajar Temple or the Sabanayagar Temple as it is officially known, under state administration”. This is one expression of the outlook that only Hindu religious affairs need to be managed by the government. The obvious question, why should a “secular, socialist” government control only Hindu places of worship, but not Muslim and Christian religious institutions clearly has been avoided.

But the country has moved on after the phase of British imperialist grip on Tamil Nadu during which phase the Dravidian Movement was founded. Prominent leaders of this Movement had declared that “blowing up of the Nataraja Temple by a cannon is the goal of the Dravidian Movement”. Unfortunately for them, in the last two decades, the rising popularity of the Hindu religion among the youth, and the debilitating corruption in financial affairs of the Dravidian movement have made such a violent aim unattainable. But the biggest roadblock is the Constitution of India.

In fact, what is scandalous is the corruption after takeover of temples by the Tamil Nadu officials, MLAs and Ministers by looting the temple wealth, lands, and jewels, and the reckless diversion of donations of devotees to non-religious purposes.

For example, temple properties: Tamil Nadu temples, under Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Department, has control over more than 4.7 lakh acres of agricultural land, 2.6 crore square feet of buildings and 29 crore square feet of urban sites of temples. By any reasonable measure, the income from these properties should be in thousand of crores of rupees. The government, however, collects a mere Rs. 36 crore in rent against a “demand” of mere Rs. 304 crore—around 12 per cent realisation. How much is under the table only a court-monitored inquiry can reveal. In any corporate or well-managed organisation with accountability, those responsible would have been sacked. Yet, we have people rooting for “government administration”.

Temples themselves: The Srirangam Ranganathar Temple paid the government a (yearly) fee of Rs. 18.56 crore (2010-11) for “administering the temple”; for employees rendering religious services, like reciting Vedas, pasurams during the deity procession, no salary is paid. There are 36 priests in Srirangam who perform the daily pujas—they are not paid a monthly fixed salary. They are entitled to offerings made by devotees and a share in the sale of archana tickets. Yet the temple pays a monthly salary ranging from Rs.8,000 to Rs.20,000 for the temple’s government-appointed employees, like watchman, car drivers etc. who perform no religious duties.

The situation is “significantly” better at the famous Nelliappar Temple in Tirunelveli. In this temple, priests performing daily pujas are paid monthly salaries, but ranging from Rs. 55 to Rs. 72 (and this is during 2010-11). But did some politician not say you can have a hearty meal for Rs. 5 per day? But it is just Rs. 1.65 per day, going by the standards of the “secular” government.

Many large temples maintain a fleet of luxury vehicles, typically the “fully loaded Toyota Innova”, for the use of VIPs! And for the use of assorted Joint and Additional Commissioners and, of course, the Commissioner himself. It is very difficult to understand the religious purpose such extravagance serves or even a ‘secular’ purpose! The HR & CE Dept takes away annually around Rs. 89 crore from the temples as administrative fee. The expenditure of the department including salaries is only Rs. 49 crore. Why does the government overcharge the temples—literally scourging the deities—for a sub standard service?

Temple antiquity: The third “contribution” of the government is the mindless destruction of priceless architectural heritage of our temples.

There are several instances of sand blasting of temple walls resulting in loss of historical inscriptions; wholesale demolition of temple structures and their replacement by concrete monstrosities; in a temple in Nasiyanur near Salem, an entire temple mandapam disappeared, leaving behind a deep hole in the ground, literally.

Recently the government started covering the floor of Tiruvotriyur Thyagaraja Temple with marble, a stone never used in south Indian temples. The original floor was of ancient granite slabs with historical inscriptions. There are several initiatives for “renovation” of temples—the bureaucrats rarely consult archaeologists or heritage experts. Without knowledge, experience, competence or appreciation and with great insensitivity they use inappropriate chemicals on ancient murals, insert concrete/cement structures, use ceramic tiles to “embellish” sanctum sanctorum and construct “offices” within temple premises. Ancient monuments 300 to 1000 plus years old are never “renovated”, only “restored”, a distinction that escapes the babus.

More importantly, the Supreme Court, in the 2014 Chidambaram case has held that the government cannot arbitrarily take over temples, which is what has been happening in Tamil Nadu under the Dravidian movement’s influence.

In the case of Trusts and Societies, takeover of temples can happen, the Supreme Court held, only on establishing a clear case of mal-administration and that too the takeover can be for a limited period, and the management of the temple will have to be handed back immediately after the “evil has been remedied”.

There are several large temples in Tamil Nadu under government control for several decades. If the Supreme Court judgment is applied, then the government is in illegal, unethical and unfair control of these temples. apart from being answerable for innumerable acts of dereliction of duty, defiling of temples that has resulted in loss of several thousands of crores of rupees to the temples and to their antiquity. That is my next move—to liberate all Hindu temples presently in government control on expired GOs. In the future we need to bring some mosques and churches to rectify the mismanagement going on in these places. Then the secularism of India’s intellectuals will be truly tested. – The Hindu, 12 September 2016

Chidambaram Nataraja Temple

Gujarat: Life imprisonment for killing cows – Parimal A. Dabhi

Vijay Rupani

NewsChief Minister Vijay Rupani said that while he was “not against any food,” he wanted to make Gujarat “shakahari (vegetarian),” “We do not want Jersey cows, but Gir and Kankreji cows instead,” he said. – Parimal A. Dabhi

The Gujarat government Friday amended the state’s Animal Preservation Bill to entail a maximum punishment of life imprisonment and a minimum of 10 years for cow slaughter after it was passed in the assembly in the absence of the Opposition Congress and with the visitors’ gallery packed with saffron-clad Hindu priests.

Speaking on the amendment, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said that while he was “not against any food”, he wanted to make Gujarat “shakahari (vegetarian)”, “We do not want Jersey cows, but Gir and Kankreji cows instead,” he said.

Rupani also described Gujarat as a “unique state”, which followed the tenets of Mahatma Gandhi—“non-violence and truth”. “This is Gandhi’s Gujarat, Sardar’s (Vallabhbhai Patel) Gujarat and (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi’s Gujarat,” said Rupani.

The passage of the Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 2017 came eight months after seven Dalits were beaten by self-styled cow vigilantes for alleged cow slaughter in Una.

The punishment for cow slaughter under the earlier law was imprisonment ranging from three to seven years. The new law also makes offences under the amended Act non-bailable.

The amendment was cleared after the Speaker suspended members of the Congress for creating a ruckus before the Bill was passed.

When the amendment Bill was introduced over a month ago, it had a maximum punishment of ten years imprisonment. On Friday, however, the ruling BJP moved to enhance the punishment to a life-term.

In another major amendment, the Bill included a provision that vehicles caught in transporting cows, beef or beef products illegally will be forfeited to the state government. The maximum fine for the offence has also been increased from Rs 50,000 to one ranging from Rs 1 lakh-Rs 5 lakh.

Besides, the punishment for conviction for illegal transportation of cow, beef or beef products has been increased from three years imprisonment to seven years.

The Act allows transportation of animals of cow progeny with permission, but not between 7 pm and 5 am.

The statement of the Bill reads, “In the year 2011, the State Government had made certain amendments in the said Act for better implementation of the Act. It is, however, experienced while implementing the said Act that still more stringent provisions are required to be made by amending the said Act for curbing the menace of illegal slaughtering of the animals covered under the said Act to provide for more stringent punishment and effectively check the rampant use of vehicles for transporting such animals.”

During the discussion on the Bill, Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja said, “This is not a Bill, but a feeling of crores of Indians. It is my humble attempt to give voice to the cows being killed by butchers. A single drop of cow blood falling on earth pains Hindus. With this law, Vijaybhai Rupani’s government will make Gujarat cow-slaughter-free.”

Jadeja also offered his respects to the “Hindu saints” in the visitors gallery, and said that he was “feeling proud as a Hindu” to introduce the Bill in the House.

One of those present in the gallery, Kaniramji Bapu of Dudhrej in Surendranagar district, an important religious seat of the Maldhari community (cattle herders) in Gujarat, said, “We oppose cow slaughter and believe in its preservation. And so, we came here in support of the Act. Cows should be preserved and their slaughtering must end.”

Another religious figure, Mahant Vikramgiri from Ghela-Somnath of Jasdan in Rajkot district, said, “Around 300 sadhu-sants have come to Assembly. Since the government had announced that they will bring the Bill, we knew it in advance and are here to support it.”

In 2011, when Narendra Modi was chief minister of Gujarat, the state government had imposed a complete ban on slaughter of cows, transportation and selling of cow meat by amending the Act. – Indian Express, 1 April 2017

» Parimal A. Dabhi reports for The Indian Express in Gujarat.

Gujarati Sadhus