Hindutva in the 21st century – N. S. Rajaram

Veer Savarkar

Dr. N.S. Rajaram“India and Sanatana Dharma exist for each other. Sanatana Dharma is Indian nationalism and Indian nationalism is Sanatana Dharma. Hindutva is the practical and political manifestation of Sanatana Dharma. It exists to defend Sanatana Dharma, while threatening no one. This was the India that Sri Aurobindo and many other sages dreamed about. It should also the dream and goal of every nationalist and leader, and everyone who holds spiritual freedom dear. – Dr  N. S. Rajaram

Bhagwa Dhwaj or Hindu FlagBackground

The rise of Hindutva may prove to be the most important phenomenon of the 21st century. It is therefore of great importance to understand its meaning and implication.

India is unique as a civilization that embodies spiritual values reflecting its overriding concern for Dharma—or justice and righteous code of conduct. Of late, some politicians and intellectuals are holding up something they call ‘secularism’ as the foundation of the Indian nation. But secularism is a negative concept. All it originally meant is the negation of any role for organized religion, particularly intolerant and exclusivist religious beliefs, in the government. The same people deny also any role for India’s spiritual tradition (Sanatana Dharma) in national life. This is a deeply flawed vision, for secularism can never define a nation. United States, France and Germany are secular in the true sense of the word: their Governments are independent of religion. But that alone has not made them a single nation. What defines a nation is shared history and tradition. In the case of India, this role is played by the Hindu Civilization founded on Sanatana Dharma. Hindutva is its present-day ideological offshoot.

The term Hindutva was coined by Veer Savarkar — a man who suffered more for the country than almost any other leader. Many scholars, including Savarkar have tried to define Hindutva, but none so far is entirely satisfactory. This is because they begin with some assumptions about Hinduism and the land or the territory where it has historically flourished. This territory can of course change. A thousand years ago, Hinduism was flourishing in Afghanistan but not today. In contrast, it has now extended its reach into parts of America, which was not the case a hundred or even fifty years ago.

Distorting the history of the Freedom Movement

At the same time Hinduism is increasing in importance both nationally and internationally, with the ideology known as Hindutva gaining ground in India and abroad. There will soon be a time when Hindutva will define India as a nation, just as democracy defines the United States. It is therefore of great importance for everyone to have a clear idea of what Hindutva really stands for. For this, we must first understand what Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma stands for. This can be difficult because Hinduism embodies a state of mind and a way of looking at the world and not just beliefs and rules prescribed in a book as in the case of Western religions. The problem is compounded by the fact that for several centuries, Hinduism has been described by forces basically hostile to its spiritual aspirations and the civilization it has given rise to. The same is true of Hindutva. As I next describe, Hindutva is not tied to any sect or religious group— though it draws its inspiration from India’s ancient heritage.

What is Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma?

First we need to understand Hinduism, more properly called ‘Sanatana Dharma’. It is not a creed like Christianity or Islam, but a code of conduct and a value system that has spiritual freedom as its core. Any pathway or spiritual vision that accepts the spiritual freedom of others may be considered part of Sanatana Dharma. Let us try to understand the essentials of this value system and the associated vision that form the core of Sanatana Dharma or Hinduism. This is the foundation of Hindutva.

First and foremost, Sanatana Dharma is anadi (without beginning) and also apaurusheya (without a human founder). It is defined by the quest for cosmic truth, just as the quest for physical truth defines science. Its earliest record is the Rigveda, which is the record of ancient sages who by whatever means tried to learn the truth about the universe, in relations to Man’s place in relation to the cosmos. They saw nature — including all living and non-living things — as part of the same cosmic equation, and as pervaded by a higher consciousness. This search has no historical beginning; nor does it have a historical founder. This is not to say that the Rigveda always existed as a literary work. It means that we cannot point to a particular time or person in history and say: “Before this man spoke, what is in the Rigveda did not exist.” On the other hand, we can say this about Christianity and Islam, because they are historical religions.

Sanatana Dharma is also apaurusheya, which means it did not originate in any man (purusha). That is to say it has no historical founder like Christianity has Jesus and Islam has Prophet Muhammad. We can say that Jesus is the purusha of Christianity while Muhammad is the purusha of Islam. These religions have no existence without their founders.

Christianity and Islam are therefore paurusheya. Hinduism has no such purusha on whose authority it rests. Hinduism is apaurusheya also in a deeper sense, which brings it close to science, bringing its spiritual quest close to the scientific method. In paurusheya religions, the word of the purusha (the founder) must be accepted without question, and that no one else can achieve what he did. This gives rise to an enforcing authority known as the clergy to ensure that no one strays from the ‘true path’ as shown by the founder, but in reality as enforced by the human representative who claims to be the true spokesman of the purusha. This naturally leads to men exercising power in the name of God. In this scheme, the medium invariably becomes more important than God and truth.

Hinduism on the other hand acknowledges no such authority. If any work is considered great, it is because of the message and not the messenger. Similarly, a teacher is considered great because of the greatness of the teaching. For example, Vishwamitra is considered a great sage because of the greatness of the Gayatri Mantra, which he enunciated. If someone else than Vishwamitra had given us the Gayatri Mantra, it would still be considered great because of its message. It is the same with Krishna and the Gita. It is the message of the Gita that has led to people revering Krishna as a great teacher. Also, a Hindu is free to question or reject any part or all of a religious work. The teaching must stand or fall on its own merit. This is what makes it apaurusheya. Cosmic truths existed before the arrival of Vishwamitra and Krishna. These sages, who first expressed them, were historical persons but the truth of their message is eternal and always existed.

This feature— of focusing on the message and its truth rather than the authority of the messenger brings Sanatana Dharma close to science and the scientific method. In science also, a principle or a theory must stand or fall on its own merit and not on the authority of anyone. If Newton and Einstein are considered great scientists, it is because of the power and validity of their scientific theories. In that sense, science is also apaurusheya. Gravitation and Relativity are eternal laws of nature that existed long before Newton and Einstein. These are cosmic laws that happened to be discovered by scientific sages Newton and Einstein. Their greatness as sages lies in the fact that they discovered and revealed great scientific truths. But no one invokes Newton or Einstein as authority to ‘prove’ the truth of laws of nature. They stand on their own merit. The same is true of the Gita and the Gayatri Mantra.

In addition to these, Hinduism recognizes the freedom of the individual. It recognizes no prophet’s claim as the possessor of the ‘only’ truth or the ‘only’ way. This is probably the greatest difference between Sanatana Dharma and revealed religions. I can illustrate this with the help of a recent proclamation by the Vatican. In a document titled “Declaration of Lord Jesus” [Dominus Iesus] the Vatican proclaims non-Christians to be in a “gravely deficient situation” and that even non-Catholic churches have ‘defects’ because they do not acknowledge the primacy of the Pope. This of course means that the Vatican refuses to acknowledge the spiritual right (and freedom) of non-Catholics. This consigns non-Christians to hell, and the only way they can save themselves is by becoming Christians, preferably Catholics, by submitting to the Pope.

It is worth noting that this statement has nothing to do with God, or even noble conduct. A Hindu who lives a life of virtue is still consigned to hell because he refuses to acknowledge Jesus as the only saviour and the Pope as his representative on earth. A believer is one who accepts the intermediary as the saviour. God is irrelevant. He is even dispensable, but not the intermediary. Hinduism recognizes no intermediary as the exclusive messenger of God. In fact the Rigveda itself says: “ekam sat, vipra bahuda vadanti,” meaning “universal truth is one, but the wise express it in many ways.”

From this it is also clear why revealed religions always claim to be monotheistic: One God allows only One Intermediary. So every monotheistic religion also tends to be monopolistic. It also requires a thought police to enforce this belief system, just as every earthly dictator does. So they invariably become theocratic political systems. In contrast, in Hinduism, God is internal to the seeker. As a result each seeker has his or his own version of God. Different traditions like Dvaita, Advaita and others represent different pathways. They exercise no authority and there is no clergy to enforce belief.

This spirit of freedom is the foundation of Hindutva. Where the twentieth century was dominated by the materialist ideology of Communism, this century will see Hindutva founded on spirituality on the rise. Its rise will accompany the ecological catastrophe that is likely to overtake our planet. Ecology is not my concern in this essay, important though it is, and a topic to which Hinduism attaches great importance. In politics, Hindutva is the application of this principle of spiritual freedom to national life.

Hinduism and spiritual freedom

India is the land where Sanatana Dharma took root and flourished. So whatever her present condition, the rise of Hindutva in India will have a major impact on the history and politics of this century. It is therefore of fundamental importance to understand it role in the growth of the Indian nation. It is a uniquely spiritual ideology founded on spiritual freedom. In the light of this, ‘conversion’ to Hinduism entails accepting a way of looking at the world and not simply changing faith and adopting a new mode of worship. Above all it means acknowledging spiritual freedom and rejecting exclusivism.

It is like accepting the scientific method, which also is a way of looking at the world. But ultimately, every Hindu must place truth and knowledge above faith. There is no dogma. This is why people who are initiated into Hinduism are made to recite the Gayatri Mantra, which is an assertion of this spirit of intellectual freedom. The only enemies of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) are those that oppose spiritual freedom. Protecting and nurturing Sanatana Dharma and the society founded on it is the responsibility of Hindutva. Rights like spiritual freedom come with responsibility.

Sri RamaIndia’s unity is of untold antiquity

After a long and dark period in its history, Hinduism is again on the rise. This is true in the national as well as the spiritual sense, for India cannot exist without its spiritual foundation. There are many Western scholars as well as Western educated Indians who hold that India was never a nation but only a collection of clans and groups in a geographical ‘subcontinent’. They further claim that Indians were united as a people for first time by the British. This has two fallacies. First, the British did not rule over a united India. Their authority extended over roughly two-thirds of India while the remaining portion was ruled by hereditary rulers — like the maharajas and nawabs — who acknowledged the British monarch as their chief but ruled according to their own laws and tradition. This means it is not India per se, but British India that was not a nation, but a patchwork or states. Second, although often politically divided, the goal was always to unite all of India under a single rule.

In spite of this history, it was claimed by the British, and faithfully repeated by the Leftist intellectuals, that the British unified India. This is completely false. The unity of India, rooted in her ancient culture, is of untold antiquity. It may have been divided at various times into smaller kingdoms, but the goal was always to be united under a ‘Chakravartin’ or a ‘Samrat’. There was always a cultural unity even when it was politically divided. This cultural unity was seriously damaged during the Medieval Period, when India was engaged in a struggle for survival — like what is happening in Kashmir today. Going back thousands of years, India had been united under a single ruler many times. The earliest recorded emperor of India was Bharata, the son of Shakuntala and Dushyanta, but there were several others. I give below some examples from the Aitareya Brahmana.

“With this great anointing of Indra, Dirghatamas Mamateya anointed Bharata Daushanti. Therefore, Bharata Daushanti went round the earth completely, conquering on every side and offered the horse in sacrifice.”

 “With this great anointing of Indra, Tura Kavasheya anointed Janamejaya Parikshita. Therefore Janamejaya Parikshita went round the earth completely, conquering on every side and offered the horse in sacrifice.”

There are similar statements about Sudasa Paijavana anointed by Vasistha, Anga anointed by Udamaya Atreya, Durmukha Pancala anointed by Brihadukta and Atyarati Janampati anointed by Vasistha Satyahavya. Atyarati, though not born a king, became an emperor and went on to conquer even the Uttara Kuru or the modern Sinkiang and Turkestan that lie north of Kashmir. There are others also mentioned in the Shatapatha Brahmana and also the Mahabharata. This shows that the unity of India is an ancient concept.

As previously noted, the British did not rule over a unified India. Far from it, for their goal was divide and rule. They had treaties with the rulers of hereditary kingdoms like Mysore, Kashmir, Hyderabad and others that were more or less independent. The person who united all these was Sardar Patel, not the British. But this unification was possible only because India is culturally one. Pakistan, with no such identity or cultural unity, is falling apart.

The spiritual tradition of Sanatana Dharma, which we call Hinduism, includes the code of Raja Dharma and Kshatra Dharma needed to defend the nation. This is also part of Hindutva. This is needed to defend society against hostile forces seeking to destroy society, especially its spiritual foundation. This is what happened during the medieval period when Islamic warriors tried to uproot Hinduism from its soil. But thanks to the heroism of both rulers and the common people, Hindutva defeated these forces and saved Sanatana Dharma. It is now being called upon to defend again in the face of cries of Jihad by fanatics across the border and intellectuals and politicians hostile to the concept of nationalism. It is therefore of paramount importance to understand what the role of Hindutva is in defending the country. This is what we need to look at next.

Kshatra Dharma is everyone’s duty

While Hinduism (or Sanatana Dharma) provides and nourishes spiritual freedom, there are always hostile forces at work that want to destroy this freedom and turn humans into intellectual and spiritual slaves. So it is always necessary to have the tools — both physical and intellectual — to protect this freedom. This part of Sanatana Dharma is called Kshatra Dharma. Those engaged in the defense of Sanatana Dharma are called kshatriyas. Politics, like warfare calls for the kshatriya spirit — to protect the weak and uphold values like freedom.

A kshatriya does not always fight with weapons. The intellect is as important as the sword and the gun. As Sri Aurobindo put it:

“We should be absolutely unsparing in our attack on whatever obstructs the growth of the nation, and never be afraid to call a spade a spade. Excessive good nature will never do … in serious politics. Respect of persons must give way to truth and conscience.… What India needs especially at this moment is aggressive virtues, the spirit of soaring idealism, bold creation, fearless resistance, courageous attack; of the passive tamasic inertia we already have too much.”

His words still hold today. It was this “tamasic inertia” as Sri Aurobindo called it that gave rise to endless appeasement of evil in the name of ahimsa — or nonviolence. (In Sanskrit, ‘tamas’ means darkness or ignorance.) Evil must always be resisted, not appeased. Intellectually, this calls for taking and defending unpopular positions. A kshatriya must do it.

Without this kshatriya spirit, a noble ideal like Sanatana Dharma becomes an orphan. This is what happened in India a thousand years ago. Excessive wealth and attachment to pleasure sapped its strength. Soldiers were willing to lay down their lives in defending the land, but intellectuals failed to analyse the new destructive ideology that came in the guise of religion. As Alauddin Khilji’s general Malik Kafur ravaged South India, our acharyas sat in the seclusion of their monasteries and wrote commentaries upon abstruse commentaries. There were noble exceptions. Sayana, the greatest Vedic scholar of the age, and his brother the great Vidyaranya helped Harihara and Bukka found the empire of Vijayangara. They too were kshatriyas but fighting without weapons. They used their mind as weapons— like Krishna in the Mahabharata War.

Physical and intellectual weapons are both necessary. As Sri Aurobindo wrote:

“The sword of the warrior is as necessary to the fulfillment of justice and righteousness as the holiness of the saint. Ramdas is not complete without Shivaji. To maintain justice and to prevent the strong from despoiling, and the weak from being oppressed is the function for which the Kshatriya was created. Therefore, says Krishna in the Mahabharata, God created battle and armour, the sword, the bow and the dagger.”

Resisting evil does not simply mean fighting invaders and other foreign enemies. There are internal evils also — lack of education, discrimination on the basis of caste, untouchability, rampant corruption — that should also be seen as enemies to freedom that must be destroyed. This is the case in India today. At the same time, in a time of national crisis, everyone has to become a kshatriya of one kind or another. Scientists have to work on new weapons to defeat the enemy. Similarly, businesses and workers must create whatever is necessary to defend the nation. Everyone must contribute to the defence of society, and not just depend on the ruling class and the professional soldier.

This is what people had to do during the medieval period when Hindu society was struggling for survival against the onslaught of Islam. In fact, many of what we call backward and scheduled castes and tribes were created out of the fighting classes when they were dispossessed by the invading armies. As the renowned medieval historian K. S. Lal has written:

“The Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, Dalits and Other Backward Castes are there in large numbers in present-day India. Many backward classes were there from pre-historic or very ancient times, but many more were added in the medieval period spanning over a thousand years…. As we put the record straight, we find that the small and scattered class of trained and traditional warriors, mostly Rajputs, stood exhausted by the time of the Mughal invasion, having fought the earlier invaders at every step for well-nigh eight centuries — from the middle of the seventh to the end of the fifteenth.

“The leadership of Hindu resistance to Muslim rule thereafter was provided by what are termed the Backwards Castes and the Dalits in present-day India. These classes had fought earlier under the leadership of Rajput rajas and zamindars. Now onwards they took up the leadership on themselves, and battled with the Moghul regime till the latter stood shattered by the middle of the eighteenth century. It is a different story that in the process the Backward Castes and the Dalits suffered grievously and found themselves in bad shape by the time the Islamic nightmare was over.”

This shows that the people we call Dalits— the Scheduled Castes and Tribes have made a major contribution to defending India and Sanatana Dharma. It is no accident that many such tribal clans still carry names lake ‘Nayaka’, ‘Raja’ and ‘Dorai’ that bear testimony to their previous station as warriors and defenders of the land. (History books should bring out and highlight this forgotten chapter in history.) This was so even in ancient times. In times of crisis and oppression, it was the duty of everyone, regardless of position to fight to uproot evil and defend society. This is the reason that the sage Parashurama became a warrior to end the tyranny of the Haihaya king Kartavirya Arjuna.

Hindutva leads to spiritual nationalism

Hindutva therefore is an outgrowth of Sanatana Dharma as well as an essential part of it. Its main goal is to serve, defend and nurture Sanatana Dharma. It is not an aggressive or imperialistic ideology. It seeks to destroy no one except those that want to destroy spiritual freedom, i.e., enemies of Sanatana Dharma. It is no accident that the Hindus have never sent armies of missionaries to convert others. It is important to note that ‘dharma’ does not mean religion or creed or sect, but a way of life, a code and a body of knowledge. Sanatana Dharma is this body of knowledge acquired through the ages by sages, rulers and the common people.

And for India to rise again and find its place in the world, it must rediscover the message of its ancient sages. When Sanatana Dharma was going through a crisis like the present one, and leaders had lost their nerve, in the Bhagavad Gita Sri Krishna gave the message to Arjuna:

“I taught this timeless Yoga to Vivasvan, who taught it to Manu. Manu bequeathed it to Ikshvaku. This ancient wisdom transmitted through generations of royal sages became lost in the tides of time. I have taught you, my best disciple, this best and most mystical knowledge.”

Observe the importance Krishna attaches to the ‘royal sages’ or members of the ruling class. This wisdom became lost again in the darkness of the medieval age when India and her civilization were struggling for survival. Then other sages arose — from Vidyaranya and Ramdas to Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo — to lead India out of the darkness. All were sages, but they were also kshatriyas in the intellectual field. They fought hostile forces — both soldiers and propagandists like missionaries — with uncompromising force of the spirit and intellect. To inspire this struggle, Sri Aurobindo defined Indian nationalism in spiritual terms. He expressed it in public in his famous Uttarapara speech:

“It is this dharma that I am raising up before the world, it is this that I have perfected and developed through the Rishis, saints and Avatars, and is now going forth to do my work among the nations…. When therefore it is said that India shall rise, it is Sanatana Dharma that shall rise. When it is said that India shall be great, it is Sanatana Dharma that shall be great. When it is said that India shall expand and extend itself, it is Sanatana Dharma that shall expand and extend itself all over the world. It is for the Dharma and by the Dharma that India exists…. I say no longer that nationalism is a creed, a religion, a faith; I say that it is the Sanatana Dharma which for us is the nationalism.”

So the message is clear. India and Sanatana Dharma exist for each other. Sanatana Dharma is Indian nationalism and Indian nationalism is Sanatana Dharma. Hindutva is the practical and political manifestation of Sanatana Dharma. It exists to defend Sanatana Dharma, while threatening no one. This was the India that Sri Aurobindo and many other sages dreamed about. It should also be the dream and goal of every nationalist and leader, and everyone who holds spiritual freedom dear— regardless of race, creed or national origin. – IndiaFacts, 29 April 2015

» Dr N. S. Rajaram is an Indian mathematician who has taught in American universities and an acclaimed author who has published with Voice of India.

Sacred thread ceremony of ex-untouchables at Malvan, 1929 under the leadership of Veer Savarkar

VIDEO: Who began negationism in India? – Koenraad Elst

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Testimonium Flavianum: The Jesus passage in Josephus is a forgery, says expert – D.M. Murdock

D.M. Murdock / Acharya Sanning“In the end, it can be argued convincingly that the Testimonium Flavianum as a whole is a forgery and therefore does not provide evidence for a historical Jesus of Nazareth crucified during the reign of Pontius Pilate.” – D.M. Murdock

Titus Flavius JosephusThe passage about Jesus Christ in Jewish historian Josephus’s writings (Antiquities 18.3.3/63) has been debated for centuries, as concerns its authenticity totally, partially or not at all. This brief Testimonium Flavianum (TF) is put forth by Christian apologists as the “best evidence” for the historicity of Jesus, but it has been declared many times to be a forgery in toto. A recent study by a renowned linguist confirms this analysis of the entire passage as an interpolation by a Christian scribe, likely during the fourth century.

The most popular view of the Testimonium these days among critical scholars is the “partial interpolation theory,” which posits that a number of Christian-sounding phrases were inserted into the passage, which is nonetheless original to Josephus. Nevertheless, many scholars, historians, researchers and writers over the past centuries have held to the analysis that the Testimonium in toto is an interpolation into the text by a later Christian hand.

Most of the reasons for questioning the TF’s authenticity can be found in my book Who Was Jesus? and articles “The Jesus Forgery: Josephus Untangled” and “Does Josephus prove a historical Jesus?” Suffice it to say that there are a dozen or so scientific and convincing arguments against authenticity, including its abrupt introduction into the text and its omission in early Christian writings, as well as its pious language.

However, this pious language is not simply part of the supposed Christian insertions postulated by the partial interpolation theory but is present in the entire passage. The recent linguistic examination of the Testimonium’s original Greek shows the assessment Prof Paul J. Hopperof the entire passage as an interpolation to be correct, as it gives other scientific reasons to view the whole TF as a Christian profession of faith, rather than a report by a sober historian.

The author of this study published in 2014 is a professor of Humanities at Carnegie Mellon University, Dr. Paul J. Hopper, a longtime scholar who has been publishing peer-reviewed articles in journals for over 40 years. Hopper’s linguistic analysis of the TF in his article “A Narrative Anomaly in Josephus” is definitive and adds significantly to the numerous other arguments against the passage’s authenticity evinced over the centuries.

In this regard, Hopper comments:

It is suggested that the Jesus passage is close in style and content to the creeds that were composed two to three centuries after Josephus.

He further explains:

The Testimonium itself is, when compared to the surrounding episodes, unusually short. Its very brevity is a suspicious feature, one that has led some defenders of its authenticity to suggest that while parts of the text are genuinely Josephan, the text has been tampered with by later Christians wanting to erase scandalous content.… In fact, however, the syntax of the Testimonium does not display the kinds of discontinuities we might expect to find if substantial changes such as major deletions or insertions had been made.

Here the linguist states that the syntax or arrangement of words and phrases of the TF shows no sign of either removals or insertions, the former put forth to explain the TF’s brevity and the latter as in the partial interpolation theory.

After discussing the history of TF criticism, Hopper concludes:

There is, then, reason to suspect that the Jesus episode is a later insertion, dating from more than two hundred years after Josephus’s death, and probably absent from most manuscripts of the Jewish Antiquities until even later.

Jesus the New ApolloThe Testimonium’s syntax and morphology indicate it was written as an apology or profession of faith, rather than a historical report. The passage seems to be addressing criticisms, as if written for those who had challenged Christian doctrine at some point after the religion had been established. Its structure reflects protest, and “Methinks it doth protest too much.”

The problems with the TF, therefore, go beyond a few Christian-sounding interpolations and extend to the syntax of the sentences themselves. To wit, they are composed not in typical narrative styles, but resemble more closely the writings of early Church fathers and apologists of succeeding centuries.

As concerns plot, the TF as a whole represents a summary of the gospel story, as recounted in the New Testament, not drawn from separate historical reports or oral history. As Hopper remarks:

… It is from the Gospels, and the Gospels alone, that the Jesus Christ narrative in the Testimonium draws its coherence and its legitimacy as a plot, and perhaps even some of its language. It is not just that the Christian origin of the Testimonium is betrayed by its allegiance to the Gospels, as that without the Gospels the passage is incomprehensible. … The Testimonium does not so much narrate to first century Romans new events, but rather reminds third century Christians of events already familiar to them.

The evident Christian context of the TF speaks also to genre or category of subject matter, likewise examined by Hopper, who states:

The Testimonium is anchored in a radically different discourse community from that of the rest of the Jewish Antiquities. The Testimonium reads more like a position paper, a party manifesto, than a narrative….

Nicaean CreedAgain, the Testimonium Flavianum as a whole sounds like a Christian “political statement,” creed or profession of faith, precisely as so many have averred in the past.

Hopper next says that the “closest generic match for the Testimonium is perhaps the various creeds that began to be formulated in the early fourth century, such as the Nicene Creed (325 CE).”

Hopper’s linguistic analysis is yet another nail in the Testimonium coffin and should convince fence-sitters, although Christian apologists likely will never relinquish this “best evidence” because without it their claims to historicity are threadbare indeed.

In conclusion, Hopper states:

The narrative grammar of the Testimonium Flavianum sets it sharply apart from Josephus’s other stories of the procuratorship of Pontius Pilate. The most likely explanation is that the entire passage is interpolated, presumably by Christians…

In the end, it can be argued convincingly that the Testimonium Flavianum as a whole is a forgery and therefore does not provide evidence for a historical Jesus of Nazareth crucified during the reign of Pontius Pilate. – Examiner, 9 February 2015

See also

» A longer and more in-depth analysis of Paul J. Hopper’s work on the Testimonium Flavianum can be found at Josephus’s Testimonium Flavianum Examined Linguistically: Greek Analysis Demonstrates the Passage a Forgery In Toto. See also Jesus passage in Josephus a forgery.

» Dorothy M. Murdock, also known by her pen name Acharya S, is an American author and proponent of the Christ myth theory. She writes books, and operates a website named Truth be Known. She argues that Christianity is founded on earlier myths and the characters depicted in Christianity are based upon Roman, Greek, Egyptian, and other myths.

Indian Pursuit of Scientific Temper: The dumbing down of Hindu civilization – Rajiv Varma

Radha Rajan is the editor of Vigil Online“A word of caution. We [must] all stop thinking and articulating in speech and writing words and phrases like ‘false realm of mythology.’ It is absolutely Romilla Thapar. Mythology like pagan is [a] derogatory description of non-Abrahamic worship, cultures and worldview. As tho Jesus alone or Mohammed alone are historical while Hindu devas and devis are all mythology” – Radha Rajan

Rajiv VarmaIt is good to see resistance is offered to this idea. I will extend this to put this resistance in a certain framework. Indians who find “science” in Vedas or historicize Ramayana or Mahabharata or Puranas, actually end up demeaning our culture and civilization. It is akin to dumbing down a horse to the level of a donkey, so that the horse can fit into a herd of donkeys.

In their classical definitions – “Science” and “History” are disciplines that are contextual to the Western civilization. The evolution of classical “Science” in the West is not an intrinsic development, it is in response to the Abrahamic colonization of the West that began with Emperor Constantine. After 17 centuries, this colonization has been internalized no doubt, and now the then colonized have became the “new” colonizers, but it is colonization nevertheless.

Thus the Science/Philosophy/Knowledge development during Graeco-Roman-Hellenestic pre-Christian era has a certain philosophical disconnect with Renaissance and post-Renaissance “Science”. While the Graeco-Roman knowledge development had a natural rhythm, the post-Renaissance science evolved in the backdrop of earlier Dark Ages that was a direct consequence of Christian colonization of the West.

While it may be true that Renaissance thinkers did rely, inter alia, on (for example) Cicero’s De Natura Deorum for inspiration in their quest for new knowledge, they never did escape the outer orbit of Christianity. Thus, it explains the formation of now discredited “sciences” such as craniometery, which became the basis of racism and genocide later. There is a certain amount of “irrationality” (or I call it unnaturalness) in the Western “scientific rationalism or temper”. That is – “it” is limited to the cartesian plane – and it is not allowed to look beyond it – transcend it, because the Christian God is waiting on the other side, to save the souls.

The efforts like the so-called Noetic Sciences are still disjoint in their conceptualization. Western Science can make giant strides, but it cannot do one thing – it cannot see beyond the “Edge of the Universe” – it does not have the means to – and most importantly it does not have the will to do so. The limitation is provided by the Christian worldview. One can see that the notion of secularism, protects Christianity, God and Jesus business from scrutiny.

On the other hand Vedic Rishis have no such handicap. The material and non-material transcend. Hence the sciences that evolved in Ancient India were in tune with the natural rhythm of human civilizational development. The Vedic epistemology established the scope for a Rishi to explore the worlds beyond the “Edge of the Universe” if his/her inquest pointed in that direction. The system never posed any problem in this regard. A student of civilizations can see that harmful sciences like craniometery would have had no chance of forming in a naturally inquisitive culture like India. Thus, Vedic knowledge system is much more comprehensive than Post-Renaissance “officially secular but Christian-nevertheless sciences.”

Therefore, finding such (Christian-European) “science” in Vedas is demeaning to the Vedic culture.

It is the colonized Indian mind that sees the (Christian-European) “science” as virtuous, and due to its deep-seated inferiority complex, seeks validation from the West

Ditto with “history”. Again, post-Renaissance academic discipline of “History” is also a false benchmark to aspire to for Indians. Western discipline of History also exists in Christian framework, whose evidentiary parameters are limited to a set that disables a researcher and an academician to go prior to the dates of Genesis. It is made to sound rational, but in essence it is highly irrational. If Indians were to re-write their history based on Christian parameters, all they would get is a molehill and never discover the mountain that they have.

Then, there is another problem that is even more severe. The authors of Ramayana and Mahabharata and the Puranas never intended to tell legends for the purpose of “modernist” historical validation. The purpose of this corpus of literature is adhyatmic (spiritual). These are tools for a human to know his larger Self (capital S). Valmiki never intended for the shrota of Ramayana to start digging graves to find cartesian evidence of existence of Rama or Sita. Ramayana serves only one purpose – viz. spiritual empowerment for the purposes of upholding Dharma. Ramayana serves as a living kernel of the Indic/Hindu civilization. Not a cartesian history book.

I am not against finding historical evidences for the Indian past. But that needs to be a separate discipline. I am not for dumbing down Ramayana and Mahabharata to “fall” to a pseudo-benchmark that our colonialist has set for us.

Ultimately, Western Science will self-destruct and will become extinct, just like the Neo-neanderthal man, because of its own limitation. Graeco-Roman-Hellenestic, Chinese and Vedic Knowledge Systems have a better chance of survival and growth, because of their natural rhythm.

Let us not dumb down our horses to the level of donkeys.

When the term “scientific temper” was inserted in the Indian Constitution, good ole Panditji had no clue that the West had hoodwinked him into a herd of donkeys.

See also

Book Review: The stubborn myth that the US is a Christian country – Laura Miller

Laura Miller“It was Ralph Waldo Emerson’s brilliant, irascible Aunt Mary, a ‘prototypical American eccentric,’ who first introduced her nephew and intellectual protégé to the concepts and iconography of Hindu mythology after she met ‘a Visitor here from India’ in 1822. Their correspondence on these and other spiritual matters would inform Transcendentalism and in turn the Eastern-infused philosophies of generations to come.”- Laura Miller

John WinthropAs Peter Manseau, author of “One Nation, Under Gods: A New American History,” would have it, nothing has done more damage to the ideal of American religious pluralism than the “stubborn persistence of words spoken more than a century before the United States was a nation at all.” Those words are “a city upon a hill,” preached by the Puritan John Winthrop to his fellow colonists as they prepared to leave their ship at Massachusetts Bay in 1630. Most strenuously invoked by Ronald Reagan, the city on the hill, according to Manseau, has for the past 50 years “dominated presidential rhetoric about the nation’s self-understanding, causing an image borrowed from the Gospels to become a tenet of faith in America’s civil religion.”

The incessant citation of Winthrop’s metaphor — which envisioned the fledgling colony as a shining example set up to inspire the world but also to invite its comprehensive moral scrutiny — keeps reinforcing the assumption that the United States is fundamentally Christian. There’s more behind that stubborn belief than just rhetoric, of course, but when even ostensibly pluralistic presidents like John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama conjure up Winthrop’s biblical metaphor, it starts to take on the aura of an unquestioned truth.

Peter ManseauWell, Manseau certainly questions it with “One Nation, Under Gods,” an unusual work of history meant to revive the idea that the U.S. is a “land shaped and informed by internal religious diversity — some of it obvious, some of it hidden.” Most key points in our national narrative involve a non-Christian element if you look closely, he maintains. “One Nation, Under Gods” is less a continuous narrative itself than a series of isolated snapshots, each chapter telling the story of a person considered a heretic, blasphemer, atheist or heathen, who nevertheless helped in some way to shape the course of American history.

A few of Manseau’s examples are familiar, particularly Thomas Jefferson, the founding father often branded an atheist in his own time and whose Deism today’s Christian conservatives strategically overlook. In a deft move, Manseau captures Jefferson’s heterodox status by relating how, as an old man, the third president offered to sell 6,000 volumes from his own personal library to the nation. (These books remain the core collection of the Library of Congress.) It was a controversial proposal, as some critics complained that Jefferson’s library “abounded with productions of atheistical, irreligious and immoral character,” and some were even “in the original French”! In examining Jefferson’s own cataloging system, Manseau finds evidence of the Sage of Monticello’s conviction that “religious systems inevitably and necessarily interact with each other in ways at once contentious, intimate and transformative.”

Some of the stories in “One Nation, Under Gods” are more surprising. “It is perhaps the greatest of forgotten influences on American life and culture,” Manseau writes, that some 20 percent or more of Africans living in America around the time of the Revolutionary War were Muslims, a quantity that “dwarfed the number of Roman Catholics or Jews.” The majority of enslaved Africans did practice such Western African religions as Yoruba and Obeah, all of which contributed to the distinctive customs of African-American Christianity. But we also have a handful of stories of African Muslims abducted to the U.S., where, as in the case of one Omar ibn Said, they astonished the natives by writing fluently in a strange alphabet (Arabic) and impressed, if also bewildered, everyone with their abstemious piety.

TitubaTituba, a slave, was the first person accused in the Salem Witch Trials, and although often depicted as African, she was most likely an “Indian” from South America, by way of Barbados. She had made a “witch cake” (a nasty concoction of rye flour and urine) for divinatory purposes, and in doing so was probably tapping into multiple folk traditions, including those of the colonists’ own native England. Manseau believes such practices, though forbidden, were anything but rare in the colonies and should be thought of as “a kind of spiritual equalizer, providing religious authority outside social structures that were inevitably defined at times by class and gender.” Tituba herself quickly figured out that the best course of action when called up before the court was to “confess” every lurid detail the magistrates wanted to hear, including the visits she received from the devil, his commands that she serve him, and the culpability of her two co-defendants (unpopular village women) in casting spells on children. As a result, Tituba was the only one of the three to escape execution. Long before the advent of modern-day spin doctors, she grasped the advantage of getting ahead of the story.

Then there is the network of Jewish merchants extending from Pennsylvania to Amsterdam by way of the island of St. Eustatius, in the Caribbean, a major conduit of supplies and funds through the British blockade during the Revolutionary War. One Polish Jew, Haym Solomon, gave so much money to the cause of independence that he died penniless. He and his co-religionists, driven from one European nation to another in a roundelay of persecution, hoped and believed they could finally find refuge in the fledgling nation.

Ralph Waldo EmersonIt was Ralph Waldo Emerson’s brilliant, irascible Aunt Mary, a “prototypical American eccentric,” who first introduced her nephew and intellectual protégé to the concepts and iconography of Hindu mythology after she met “a Visitor here from India” in 1822. Their correspondence on these and other spiritual matters would inform Transcendentalism and in turn the Eastern-infused philosophies of generations to come. (Manseau provides a survey of Hindu beliefs and stories cropping up in the work of Thoreau and even Melville, as well as a persistent interest in Indian religion on the part of American feminists like Elizabeth Palmer Peabody and Margaret Fuller.)

But perhaps the most fascinating chapter in “One Nation, Under Gods” explores recent theories about the influence of a syncretic Native American revival movement on Joseph Smith and his Book of Mormon. The young half-brother of a Seneca chief, Handsome Lake, was an aging, ne’er-do-well hunter who experienced a revelation during a near-fatal illness. What was revealed to him fused Iroquois mythology with Quaker-like morality into a reimagined creation story explaining how the Iroquois had fallen so low in their own land. Handsome Lake died when Smith was 10, but a Mormon scholar has pointed out that only weeks before Smith’s own visions commenced, Handsome Lake’s nephew spoke at a public gathering in Smith’s town of Palmyra, New York.

The Code of Handsome Lake, like the Mormon story of the Native Americans as a lost tribe of Israel, is “a tale of white and Indian unity interrupted by evils brought across the sea.” Both creeds stressed sobriety and involved the manifestation of three angelic presences charged with guiding the inhabitants of the New World to a better future. Both were born during a period of intense, innovative religious activity known as the Second Great Awakening and arose in a region of Western New York state dubbed “the Burned-Over District” for the fervor that seemed to consume everyone in the vicinity. Shakers, One Nation, Under Godsutopian communities, millenarians and spiritualists were just some of the unorthodox and fractious believers who flourished there.

But even the idea that Winthrop’s little community represented a unified city on a hill is an illusion, as the Puritan dissidents Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson could testify. The Pilgrims might have all called themselves Christians, but some differences among them were seen by their theocratic leaders as profound threats to the spiritual survival of the community. Both Williams and Hutchinson were cast out and created communities of their own. There was literally never a point in the history of the colonies or the U.S. when all or most Americans genuinely shared the same faith. “The true gospel of the American experience,” Manseau writes, “is not religious agreement but dissent.” – Salon, 3 Februsry 2015

» Laura Miller is a senior writer for Salon. She is the author of “The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia” and has a website, www.magiciansbook.com.

Mahatma’s Murder: An experiment with Godse’s truth – Virendra Parekh

Nathuram Godse, left, one of nine co-defendants in the Mohandas Gandhi assassination conspiracy case, and defense counsellor L. B. Bhopatkar confer May 27, 1948, at the start of the hearing.  (AP Photo)

Virendra Parekh“Killing Gandhiji was a great tactical blunder. If Gandhiji had not been killed, he and Congress leaders would have been held answerable for their failure to avoid partition. … Hindu nationalism would have occupied the centre of our polity as a logical consequence of partition. … Today, the Hindu Mahasabha is all set to repeat that blunder by seeking to glorify Godse. The move for Godse’s temple betrays the same recklessness as the act that it seeks to glorify.” –  Virendra Parekh

Chander Prakash Kaushik is National President of Akhil Bharat Hindu MahasabhaEver since the BJP’s ascension to power, attempts have been made to eulogise Godse as a sterling patriot who committed an outrageously bold act in national interest. Hindu nationalists are understandably eager to present an alternative perspective to the momentous event whose consequences haunt them till date. True to style, the Hindu Mahasabha plans to erect a temple to the memory of Nathuram Godse.  

For decades, we have seen the visceral hatred heaped by the secularist establishment on Godse and, by association, on all Hindu nationalists. “Mukh mein Ram, bagal mein Nathuram,” Congressmen chanted during the Ayodhya days, pretending as if the slogan had clinched the issue. More recently, in the debate on the issue in the winter session of the Parliament, Godse’s name was struck off the records for being ‘unparliamentary’. He has been placed in the august company of Hitler, Mussolini, Idi Amin and Ravan whose names cannot be mentioned in the hallowed precincts of democracy. Lenin, Stalin and Mao, of course, face no such bar. 

The Congress version of Gandhiji’s assassination is deeply ingrained in the public psyche. It is a myth, according to it, that Gandhiji was pro-Muslim. He accommodated not only Muslims but all strands of political expression in the hope that eventually they will all be subsumed in a broad-based national identity. It was not capitulation, but far sightedness of a national leader, affectionate indulgence of a father figure. It is wrong, we are told, to blame Gandhiji for Partition. He opposed it till the very end. On the contrary, Hindu leaders like V. D. Savarkar, Dr. K. B. Hedgewar and M. S. Golwalkar provided Muslim League with ample material to work up Muslims. 

This version of Gandhiji’s assassination, put out by Congress-Left-secularist combine,   still dominates the public debate and textbooks. It blames the violent act on frustrations of narrow-minded Hindu activists who neither shared Gandhiji’s all-inclusive liberal concept of Indian nationalism nor could prevent his ascent to the top in political life during the freedom struggle. 

Several decades after the event, the chinks in the secularists’ armour are glaringly visible. If Gandhian thinking represented the national consensus among masses, why was the country partitioned? Muslims as a group were clearly not impressed by him. Even among the Hindus, the reaction to Gandhiji’s assassination was NOT universal condemnation. In fact, a lot of Hindus agreed with Godse at that time and were emotionally with him. As proof, we have the famous oft-quoted testimony of none other than the judge who heard his appeal and sentenced him. 

“Godse ended his peroration on a high note of emotion, reciting verses from Bhagavad Gita. The audience was visibly and audibly moved. There was a deep silence when ceased speaking. Many women were in tears and men coughing and searching for their handkerchiefs…. I have, however, no doubt that had the audience of that day been converted into jury and entrusted with the task of deciding on Godse’s appeal, they would have brought the verdict of not guilty with an overwhelming majority,” wrote Justice G. D. Khosla, member of the three-judge bench of the Punjab High Court that confirmed death sentences for Godse and Narayan Apte, in his book Murder of the Mahatma and Other Cases

Godse’s deposition before the courtMay It Please Your Honour by Nathuram Godse was in fact a political charge sheet against Gandhiji whom he accused of consistently sacrificing national interests to appease Muslims. The climax came with Gandhiji’s fast to force payment of Rs. 55 crore and Hindu refugees being driven out of abandoned mosques in Delhi’s winter. 

Long before Gandhiji entered India’s political scene, the British rulers had laid a trap. Faced with the rising tide of national resurgence, they started saying that while they appreciated the legitimate aspirations of ‘the majority community’ they could not leave the minority community at the mercy of the former. The minority on its part started protesting that institutions of parliamentary democracy were not suited to the peculiar conditions of a country divided into rival communities and that the Muslims could not view with equanimity the prospect of the British leaving the country till the majority community had succeeded in winning the trust of the minority. As can be expected with hindsight, the price of the ‘trust’ went on increasing in direct proportion to the effort mounted to secure it.  

The details need not detain us. As Arun Shourie has observed perceptively, at each stage the national leaders thought that the onus of finding a solution that would satisfy Jinnah was on them and since the previous concession had not satisfied him the new one must bend more his way. It was a blind alley from which there was no escape. 

Gandhiji made it worse. He converted a political compulsion into a moral obligation. Communal amity became an article of faith for him, to be pursued independently of cost-benefit analysis. The more it eluded him, the more doggedly he chased it. 

He met with a comprehensive failure. Muslim League leaders concluded that their advantage lay in remaining cross with ‘Hindu banias’. Gandhiji’s attitude to and treatment of the communal problem embittered Hindu nationalists no end and led many of them to keep away from the freedom struggle. In the post-independence period, this idea of communal amity at any cost (to the Hindus, of course) reincarnated in the Nehruvian secularism and led to political emasculation of Hindus in spite of their majority. Indian nationalism came to be reviled as majoritarianism and Hindu communalism. For this Gandhiji is heartily despised by Hindu intellectuals.  

Voices of warning were not missing. Many leaders of impeccable credentials had expressed doubts about the wisdom and efficacy of Gandhiji’s policy of winning over Muslims through appeasement, as Sita Ram Goel has documented meticulously in his Muslim Separatism: Causes and Consequences(Voice of India, New Delhi.) 

“I am sorry they have made a fetish of Hindu-Muslim unity. It is no use ignoring facts; some day Hindus may have to fight Muslims and they must prepare for it. Hindu-Muslim unity should not mean subjection of Hindus. Every time, the mildness of the Hindu has given way. The best solution would be to allow Hindus to organize themselves and Hindu Muslim unity would take care of itself.” 

Who said it? No, not Dr. Hedgewar. Sri Aurobindo said this on 18 April 1923 (Evening Talks with Sri Aurobindo recorded by A. B. Purani, Second Series, Pondicherry, 1974, p. 48).  He was more explicit a little later (13 July 1923): “You can live amicably with a religion whose principle is toleration. But how is it possible to live with a religion whose principle is ‘I will not tolerate you’?” (Ibid, p. 50) 

Muhammad Ali Jinnah & M. K. GandhiSimilar sentiments were expressed by Sarat Chandra Chatterji[1], Lala Lajpat Rai[2] and Ravindranath Tagore.[3] All these warnings fell on deaf ears. On the communal problem, Gandhiji steadfastly stuck to the beaten path throughout his career. His support for the alien and retrograde Khilafat Movement, his defence of the Moplahs who perpetrated unspeakable atrocities on Hindus in Malabar, his kindness to the murderer of Swami Shraddhanand and above all and his treatment of Jinnah and Muslim League were all motivated by an earnest quest for communal amity. But it kept eluding him. 

A keen observer of men and matters like Gandhiji could not fail to see the consequences of his policy. “My own experience confirms my belief that the Hindu as a rule is a coward and the Musalman as a rule is a bully,” he wrote in Young India on 24 May 1924. That did not prevent him from behaving like a bully to the ‘coward’ and like a coward to the ‘bully’. Like most Hindus, he did not trace Muslim gangsterism to the tenets of Islam which remained a ‘noble faith’ to him till his own life was consumed by the flames lighted by that faith. 

Yet it is also a fact that despite all the rhetoric of Hindu nationalists, it was Gandhiji and not they who could stir the masses and inspire them to rise above their petty selves and make highest sacrifices. He knew that Hindus value spiritual qualities far above political fervour. He realized in his personal life all the spiritual ideals that the Hindus had cherished through centuries and they in turn poured their hearts out on him. 

India’s tragedy during the freedom struggle was that those who could see the danger could not carry people with them. People chose to go with Gandhiji who refused to learn from experience. 

Gandhiji’s failure to avoid partition holds important lessons for us. 

One, there is a hard core at the heart of Islam which even a man of oceanic goodwill like Gandhiji could not melt. That should open our eyes to the hollowness of slogans like secularism. 

Secondly, it shows that in real politics good intentions and even good behaviour is no guarantee of good results. We must understand the enemy’s mentality and put him out of the harm’s way. 

That brings us to the final question. Was Godse justified in killing Gandhiji? Godse called it ‘vadh’ (slaying, typically of a demon). But that is stretching the language and mythology too much. Neither Hindu ethos nor modern sensitivities endorse suppression of political dissent through murder. Having said that, it may also be pointed out as Koenraad Elst did, that the proper target for Godse and those who share his methods was Jinnah and not Gandhiji. Anyone who killed Jinnah in the run up to the independence would have instantly become a Hindu hero, though it is impossible to predict the consequences of such an action. 

That apart, killing Gandhiji was a great tactical blunder. If Gandhiji had not been killed, he and Congress leaders would have been held answerable for their failure to avoid partition; and that would not have been easy. Hindu nationalism would have occupied the centre of our polity as a logical consequence of partition. 

 Beretta 9 mm pistol owned by Godse Gandhiji’s assassination changed all that. It put Hindu nationalists in a dock from which they have not yet been able to come out. The plaintiff became the accused, and the culprits became the plaintiffs. Godse killed Gandhiji because in his estimation the latter had become a great liability for the Hindu society. But his own cruel act became an even greater liability for the cause for which he was ready to kill and die. 

Today, the Hindu Mahasabha is all set to repeat that blunder by seeking to glorify Godse. The move for Godse’s temple betrays the same cussedness and recklessness as the act that it seeks to glorify. Presenting an alternative view point is one thing, elevating an assassin to the status of a god is an altogether different thing. Such an action can only revive the martyr’s halo around Gandhiji at a time when India has already dumped him into dying institutions and meaningless ceremonies. It can only lower Hindu nationalists in the eyes of their countrymen and Hinduism in the eyes of the world.     

Today, jihadi zealots and suicide bombers are educating the civilized world about what Islam has in store for non-Muslims and the kind of life it offers to the believers. The reservations expressed by Hindu leaders in last century about Islam and Gandhian methods are surfacing in the minds of independent observers all over the world. The West is asking itself how long and how much it should bend to accommodate Islamic diktats. Godse believed that honest writers of history would judge him more favourably. His supporters should await the verdict of history, and not presume to write it. 

References 

  1. “Hindustan is the land of the Hindus. It is, therefore, the duty of the Hindus alone to liberate it from the shackles of foreign domination. Muslims are sitting with their faces turned towards Arabia or Turkey. Their heart is not in the land of Hindustan. But when it is not there, it is no use lamenting over it. We need not be unnerved by counting the heads of Muslims. Numbers are not the supreme truth in the world. In freedom’s battle in any country, do all the people of that country take part? When the Americans fought for their freedom, more than half the people of that country were with the British. In the Irish freedom struggle, how many were actually involved in it? Right or wrong is not decided by the counting of heads. It is decided by the intensity of tapasya or the single-minded devotion to the cause. The problem before the Hindus is not to devise ways and means of bringing about an artificial unity. The problem before them in how to organise themselves.” Quoted in The Tragic Story of Partition by H. V. Shesadri p. 252.
  2. Lalaji wrote as follows in a confidential letter to Deshbandhu C.R. Das: “I have devoted most of my time during the last six months to the study of Muslim history and Muslim Law and I am inclined to think that Hindu-Muslim unity is neither possible nor practicable. Assuming and admitting the sincerity of the Mohammedan leaders in the Non-Co-operation Movement, I think their religion provides an effective bar to anything of the kind. There is no finer Mohammedan than Hakim [Ajmal Khan] Sahab, but can any Muslim leader override the Koran? I can only hope that my reading of the Islamic Law is incorrect and nothing would relieve me more than to be convinced that it is so. I do honestly and sincerely believe in the necessity and desirability of Hindu-Muslim unity. I am also fully prepared to trust the Muslim leaders, but what about the injunctions of the Koran and the Hadis? The leaders cannot override them”. Quoted by A. Ghosh in Making of the Muslim Psyche in Devendra Swarup (ed.), Politics of Conversion, New Delhi, 1986, p. 147.
  3. “Another very important fact which according to the poet was making it almost impossible for Hindu-Mohammedan unity to become an accomplished fact was that the Mohammedans could not confine their patriotism to any one country. The poet said that he had very frankly asked many Mohammedans whether, in the event of any Mohammedan power invading India, they would stand side by side with their Hindu neighbours to defend their common land. He could not be satisfied with the reply he got from them. He said that he could definitely state that even men like Mr. Mohammed Ali had declared that under no circumstances was it permissible for any Mohammedan, whatever his country might be, to stand against any other Mohammedan.” Rabindranath Tagore in an interview to The Times of India published on April 18, 1924. Ibid p. 148. 

» Virendra Parekh is the Executive Editor of Corporate India. He lives in Mumbai.

Gandhi's body after assassination on 30 January 1948 before the evening prayer at 5:17 pm.

“Debate about Indian contribution to science must not be seen as jingoism,” says Dr Joshi – Navtan Kumar

Navtan Kumar“Joshi cites the statement of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, during the Infosys Science Prize ceremony in Kolkata, in which he said Indian research was deeply influenced by the knowledge of foreign works on the subject. ‘But there was no specific mention of what India has given to others. There should be an objective view as far as sharing of knowledge is concerned,’ says the veteran BJP leader.” – Navtan Kumar

Murli Manohar JoshiSenior BJP leader and former Union minister, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi is peeved that all talk of ancient Indian science is being branded as jingoism by a section of the “intellectual” class. He says there is no doubt that India has learnt many things from the West, but wonders why there is no talk about what India has given to others.

Speaking to this correspondent, Joshi says the time has come for a “reappraisal” of the history of science. “This is the responsibility of the academic institutions, authors and thinkers to ponder over this issue. The government can only act as a facilitator, which can encourage people to explore space and time and compare that with rest of the world,” he says.

Joshi cites the statement of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, during the Infosys Science Prize ceremony in Kolkata, in which he said Indian research was deeply influenced by the knowledge of foreign works on the subject. “But there was no specific mention of what India has given to others. There should be an objective view as far as sharing of knowledge is concerned,” says the veteran BJP leader.

He says that there is plenty of evidence, mainly documentary, to suggest that India has made significant contribution to science in the past. “And this is not me (talking), but many Western experts and academicians have said this for a long time. Please have a look at their writings in several books.”

Bhaskara IIHe points out that according to Jean Filliozat, the trigonometric “sine” is not mentioned by Greek astronomers and mathematicians. But it was used in India from the Gupta period onwards: the Surya Siddhanta gives a table of sines, which the Arab astronomers picked up from their Indian contacts and passed them to Europe in 12th century. The only conclusion possible is that the use of sines was an Indian development and not a Greek one, he adds.

John Playfair, in 1789, referred to certain astronomical tables received from the East Indies by European scholars at an early stage in their contact with the East. Some of these tables were received from Siam (Thailand) and their “epoch” corresponded to 21 March 638 AD. But interestingly, the “meridian” of these tables was not Siam but Benares, now Varanasi.

Other tables received from South India had one thing in common. Their epoch coincides with the era of “Kali yuga”, that is, with the beginning of 3102 BC. Playfair finds that the positions of the planets given in these tables is close to the positions calculated with the help of modern integral calculus and the theory of gravitation. So, for him, the inescapable conclusion is that these positions were observed by the Brahmins and it is rather a wonder that the Brahmins could do so rather precisely at so distant a past.

PythagorasSimilarly, E. J. Urwick has said that Pythagoras accepted the most popular Indian theories of the time. Almost all the religious, philosophical and mathematical doctrines ascribed to him were known in India in the 6th century BC. According to Urwick, the transmigration theory, assumption of five elements, the Pythagorean theory in geometry etc., have their close parallels in ancient India.

Seidenberg, while discussing the origin of geometry, argued that the Babylonians knew the algebraic aspect of this theorem as early as 1700 BCE, but they did not seem to know the geometric aspect. The Shatapatha Brahmana, which precedes the age of Pythagoras, knew both the aspects.

Joshi feels that there should be an “academic debate” on the issue. “I am saying this as a student of science. No political colour should be attached to it,” says Joshi, who did his PhD in Spectroscopy and then taught physics at the Allahabad University.

Asked to comment on the papers presented by some scientists at the Indian Science Congress, suggesting things like aeroplanes existed 7,000 years ago, and thus creating much controversy, he says, “That is not the issue. The issue is whether there was scientific tradition in India or not; whether or not India made original contribution. What were the landmarks in these areas? Sadly, nobody is discussing this. As a result, people are taking extreme positions. Some say it was developed while others say it was under-developed. But there is a need to take an objective view on the issue. While talking about Western contribution, we should also discuss what India has given to others.”

“We have also made ample contribution in science. Talking about India’s contribution should not be taken or misunderstood as ‘jingoism’ or ‘distorted nationalism’. There is always a case to be studied objectively. Rather than condemning the Indian view all the time, we should discuss how others got ideas from us, like how Pythagoras got the Buddhist concept,” he says.

SushrutaOn the role of the government, he says, “The government should create conditions so that India becomes the ‘principal contributor’ to science once again. For this, there should be a proper vision and encouragement. Science should have no monopoly for the rich or affluent. Rather, it should be used to work for the overall well-being of civilisation.”

He says, as Minister of Human Resources Development, he started the process. “I tried to discuss ancient Indian science, traditions, context and level of scientific theory. We should talk about these things.” Joshi also defends Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark that plastic surgery existed thousands of years ago. “When he said this, he basically highlighted the achievements of Indian science. Sushrut had done it 500-600 BC,” he says. – The Sunday Guardian, 18 January 2015 

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