Atrocity literature as a tool to silence Hindus and Christianize India – Sandeep Balakrishna

Sandeep Balakrishna“Christian atrocity literature is one-sided without exception in all cases. … It ignores missionary conversion attempts which lead to conflict when they are met with resistance from the local Hindu population. Only acts of Hindu resistance—which sometimes lead to violence—are reported across international media and other forums as acts of Hindu fascism and state-sponsored violence against hapless Christians.” – Sandeep Balakrishna

Gun CrossThat the Christian Church has been one of the foreign policy arms of Western powers since the colonial era is a given. As we witness geopolitical developments around the world today, we notice that this selfsame policy has remained unchanged. From denying the US visa to the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to triggering protests against developmental and nuclear energy projects in India, the global Christian network continues to wreak havoc across the world from Africa to Asia.

Including India.

With unlimited funds at its disposal and both covert and overt support of powerful Western Governments, the global Evangelical industry uses every trick in the book to subvert regimes and cause irreparable damage to societies. And it is this last point that needs urgent attention as far as India is concerned.

As we see over the last six decades, perfectly harmonious social equations have been violently disrupted the moment missionaries have succeeded in weaning away enough numbers into the Christian fold. The Rwandan genocide is the best example of this in recent times. The present condition of almost the entire North East is another classic case. Odisha continues to boil under Church-sponsored and engineered social disruptions. Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu seem all set to follow Odisha’s lead.

Devasahayam PillaiIntroduction to Atrocity or Outrage Literature

One of the more effective techniques that the global Evangelical nexus adopts to push its agenda both on the global and local stages is to generate what is known as atrocity or outrage literature.

Atrocity or outrage literature can be defined as material—including written, audio and video—produced by the global Christian network that highlights and exaggerates historical, social, political, ideological and other fault lines in non-Christian societies with the deliberate aims to show how:

  • These societies are backward, regressive and in a state of perpetual internal conflict.
  • Only Christianity has the means and equipment to end such conflict and rescue these societies.
  • There is a need for political intervention from powerful White Christian Western countries to aid the work of these Evangelicals.

The first and only aim of atrocity or outrage literature is to completely Christianize non-Christian nations. Both missionary activities on the ground and the generation of atrocity literature go hand in hand. In a way, atrocity literature is both a subset of and a companion to hard-core evangelical literature.

Infanticide in the Ganga according to Christian missionaries!History of Atrocity Literature

To be sure, atrocity or outrage literature isn’t a new phenomenon. It has a history of nearly four hundred years in India and elsewhere as we shall see.

The first Evangelists who set foot in India undertook a painstaking process of studying every single aspect of the Hindu society and identified practices, traditions, heritage, heroes, languages, grammar, laws, epics, prose, poetry, puppetry, sculpture, art, painting, dance, and drama that glued it together. And then they developed elaborate strategies to unglue the Hindu society. These strategies were multi-pronged, ranging from outright abuse of Hindu gods and goddesses, modes of worship, practices etc, to showing that their “roots” actually lay in Christianity. As we see today, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

Today, the average Hindu is woefully ill-informed and/or ignorant about almost every aspect of his/her own religion and there is no dearth of well-meaning Hindus who subscribe to the “all religions are equal” screed.

Jawaharlal Nehru was the archetypical Indian brown sahib.Nehruvianism as a destructive force

Even worse, the post-Independence political and economic policies of India has opened up the entire Hindu society as a vast and fertile field for Christian conversions. The blame for this singularly lies at the doorstep of the double-blow that Jawaharlal Nehru dealt to Hindu society: his state policy was designed to place Hindus at a disadvantage in religious, legal and social domains given his advertised disdain for Hinduism. His economic policies impoverished millions of Hindus who, faced with a hunger crisis, converted to Christianity which was open about bribing destitute Hindus with money, education and healthcare in exchange. Thus, Swami Vivekananda’s words that “you cannot preach philosophy to an empty stomach” strikes us as extraordinarily clairvoyant when we recall them now. The same clairvoyance was also reflected in his brutally honest as well shall see at the end of this essay:

[Hindus] shall otherwise decrease in numbers. When the Mohammedans first came, we are said—I think on the authority of Ferishta, the oldest Mohammedan historian—to have been six hundred millions of Hindus. Now we are about two hundred millions. And then every man going out of the Hindu pale is not only a man less, but an enemy the more. – Prabhuddha Bharata, April 1899

John Dayal: Professional Christian agent provocateur and mischief-maker.Colonial discourse on India as an enduring success

One of the earliest and enduring successes of atrocity literature remains in the domain of caste. It has now become an article of faith to blame almost every negative aspect and/or problems of Hindu society on caste, specifically Brahmins.

For example, the All India Christian Council (AICC), which often allies itself with Dalit Freedom Network (DFN)—an organization run by White Evangelical Christians—produces a distorted version of India’s so-called caste system and exaggerates caste atrocities. The recent “success” of the DFN is the successful passage of the anti-caste legislation in the British Parliament. And this legislation is derived directly from the same colonial narrative on caste. And a key member of the AICC is John Dayal who has a history of working against India.

The other domain that the Evangelical machinery has successfully exploited happens to be the status of Hindu women. The early days of colonialism witnessed narratives of how the socio-religious practices of the natives like idol worship and nature worship were identified with Satanism which victimised women and children. Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy’s powerful rebuttals—most notably, in his Status of Indian women and Indian Images with Many Arms—highlight the mischiefs in this Church-inspired narrative. Equally, Veena Oldenberg’s book Dowry Murder gives detailed instances of British officials encouraging Indians to narrate dowry cases in an exaggerated fashion in order to pin the blame on the native culture. Today’s aggressive feminist literature and laws unjustly favouring women are direct holdovers of this narrative.

Common characteristics

More fundamentally, the Church-inspired atrocity literature against non-Christian cultures in the world from the early days of colonialism share a few common characteristics:

  • In the early days of colonialism, around the 17th and 18th century, the European settlers portrayed the natives of the Americas, Africa and Asia as primitive savages who needed to be civilised by God-fearing Christians.
  • All conflicts between colonisers and natives were presented as clashes between native barbarism and civilised Christians. This narrative justified the brutalities inflicted upon the colonised natives.
  • These narratives eventually went mainstream and justified racist theories like the Aryan Invasion Theory and the White Man’s Burden. These theories were therefore taken as the justification for their own colonialism because they were “saving” the oppressed Dravidians from the Aryans.
  • While the oppressed natives were shown as barbaric, the Western colonisers saw their own ills like racism, misogyny, and slavery as incongruities that can be corrected.

Much later, when the mirror was shown to the justifiers of colonialism, they mounted their defence in the form of whitewashing colonial brutalities—racism, misogyny and slavery—as mere “incongruities that can be corrected” while continuing to uphold the Church-inspired discourse on Dalits and tribals.

Fake dalit Kancha Ilaiah is one of India leading cultural traitors. He enjoyed the beef biryani at the recent Osmania Beef Festival but has not had the courage to demand a pork festival for his Christian students from the universtity administration.Dalit discourse Christianized

The selfsame DFN and AICC in many instances, use the Aryan-Dravidian clash to paint a gruesome picture of Dalits being brutalised in India by the descendants of the Aryans. One of the leading proponents of this variety is Kancha Ilaiah who believes that India is a fascist state which tortures its Dalit constituents. Other proponents include Angana Chatterji, Gail Omvedt, V.T. Rajshekar and Vijay Prashad. Such is the pervasive influence of this poisonous discourse that based on the DFN’s propaganda, US Congressman Edolphus Towns identified India as a theocratic tyranny.

Indeed, over at least four hundred years, atrocity literature has found its way even to fiction, plays and films. The theme of academic theories such as the White Man’s Burden have been portrayed in these genres as showing that colonized countries were grateful to the colonisers for civilizing them.

Swami Lakshmanananda SaraswatiAtrocity literature is one-sided

Atrocity literature is one-sided without exception in all cases. In every single case, it ignores missionary conversion attempts which lead to conflict when they are met with resistance from the local Hindu population but only acts of Hindu resistance—which sometimes lead to violence—are reported across international media and other forums as acts of Hindu fascism, and state-sponsored violence against hapless Christians.

Perhaps the best (or worst) representative example of this sub-genre of atrocity literature which was disseminated widely across the globe is in the aftermath of the 80-year old Swami Lakshmananda’s brutal murder in Kandhamal, Odisha. He was gunned down by Maoists at the behest of Evangelicals but Hindus were blamed both in the Indian and international media as committing atrocities against Christians in Odisha.

Today, a mini-sub-genre of the same atrocity literature is emerging in the form of denunciations against ghar wapsi (homecoming) initiated by many Hindu groups engaged in reconversion attempts of their Hindu brethren who were converted to Christianity or Islam by force or fraud or both.

The Vice President, Shri Mohd. Hamid Ansari releasing the book entitled “Muslims in Indian Cities”, edited by Laurent Gayer and Christophe Jaffrelot, in New Delhi on September 10, 2012.Gujarat riots cottage industry as national security threat

If the Kandhamal discourse is representative of one type of atrocity literature, there’s yet another and bigger representative: the discourse on the 2002 Gujarat riots.

This discourse gave birth to a phenomenon for which the noted columnist Rajeev Srinivasan coined a new term: the Gujarat Riots Cottage Industry. Indeed, there was no columnist, academician, analyst, author, media outlet, filmmaker, playwright, psychoanalyst, poet, activist, NGO, Mullah, and Evangelist who was not a member of this cottage industry—or who did not profit from it.

To be sure, this industry was centred exclusively on demonising exactly one man: the current Prime Minister of India. The international seminar and lecture circuit was deluged by precisely these Indian suppliers of atrocity literature to the West. Among other things, such concerted efforts resulted in getting the US to deny a visa to Narendra Modi, then the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

During that period, the French scholar Christophe Jafferlot was instrumental in providing significant amounts of atrocity literature about the 2002 Gujarat riots, which then flooded the Western media. Even worse, some prominent members from the Indian Christian lobby and its affiliates—Indian citizens to be sure—testified against a constitutionally elected Chief Minister on foreign soil, before the USCIRF. Members of this lobby include—but are not limited to—John Dayal, Father Cedric Prakash, Teesta Setalvad, Kamal Mitra Chenoy, and John Prabhudoss. If this was not enough, in 2013, 65 Members of the Indian Parliament wrote to Barack Obama to maintain status quo on Narendra Modi’s visa to the US. Indeed, the 2002 Gujarat riots discourse demonstrated with frightening aplomb the casual disregard for Indian sovereignty, the scary power of and the threat the Christian lobby poses for national security.

Sonia Gandhi with Major Archbishop George Alencherry, head of the Syro Malabar Church in Kerala.Indian vendors of Atrocity Literature

This then brings us to yet another dangerous aspect of atrocity literature in the present day—Indian Christian (and other) groups who regularly supply material for atrocity literature to their sponsors in the West.

Again, the AICC acts as the Indian arm of the said global Evangelical network. Even more worrying is the fact that US-based mainstream think-tanks with enormous political clout use these inputs from India to fashion the US government’s India policy. Among others, these are the notable right-wing think-tanks: The Policy Institute for Religion and State (PIFRAS), Federation of Indian Christians of North America (FIACONA), Freedom House, Asia Society New York, RAND Corporation (which characterizes the RSS as the Hindu equivalent of Al Qaeda), and the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC).

Conclusion

And so the deadly and tragic history of atrocity literature which when it began, was produced exclusively by the missionaries (and used effectively by the colonial British administration), stands transformed thus today:

  • It is produced in copious amounts by foreigners directly and indirectly working for or on behalf of the worldwide Evangelical machinery.
  • It is produced equally in copious amounts by Indian Christians—both neo-converts and otherwise—who are Indian citizens living in India and abroad, some even working in Government and government-funded institutions, and some working actively in the pay of Evangelical organizations/NGOs of various hues.
  • It is produced by Hindus—even by well-meaning Hindus—who are working in NGOs, educational institutions and other charitable/service organizations which are fronts for Evangelical work.
  • It is also disseminated by Hindu organizations and media outlets which make apologies for and whitewash even genuine instances of Church brutalities and the widespread phenomenon of child abuse in the Church—all for the sake of career prospects, money, fame, influence and similar considerations.

In the end, we need to call out atrocity literature for what it really is: a determined, focussed and premeditated atrocity against India’s civilizational ethos, which is Hindu first and last. As history is witness, attempts to paint it otherwise or to fail to clearly discern sophisticated attempts at deception have only resulted in greater erosion of this civilizational ethos.

As I mentioned earlier, Swami Vivekananda was extraordinarily clairvoyant. – IndiaFacts, 12 January 2015 

Denial is not a cure for historical abuse, truth is – Amish Tripathi

Amish Tripathi“Examine honestly the troubling episodes of our history; accept the truth and learn from it. Forgive, but do not forget. This truth will kill the poison that is coursing through a few extremists in India. Denial is not a cure for historical abuse. Truth is.” – Amish Tripathi

Victoria & African ChiefOne of the greatest gifts that children can receive from their parents is an emotionally stable childhood. Materialistic trappings cannot compensate for the bliss of growing up in a well-adjusted, happy family; one where the child is not exposed to domestic violence, warring parents, physical or emotional abuse. Sadly, both research and anecdotal evidence indicate that many children are deprived of this blessing and grow up in dysfunctional families. They develop coping skills to handle traumatic experiences: Sometimes denial (convincing their conscious mind that no abuse happened) and at other times unfocused anger (allowing inner rage to poison their mind to the extent that they become hateful, even towards those unrelated to the abuse). One doesn’t need to be a psychologist to know that both approaches are unhealthy. 

As it is with children, so it is with countries. Few countries can rightfully claim that they have no ‘history’ to contend with. But it is easier to gaze charitably at the past with quiet confidence when the country is successful. During my recent travels across the United States on a fellowship programme, it was apparent that the Anglo-Saxon American mind was unscathed by the oppression of British colonial rule (the African-American mind is another matter). My journey through the Arab world, however, told a different tale. They still cringe at the memory of the persecution and oppression they had suffered for centuries through Mongol, Turkish and later European conquests. The present-day outbursts of ‘unfocused anger’ in the Arab world could well be strongly associated with this historical abuse — besides other issues, I admit. 

The psychological strategy of ‘denial’ however — where the victim convinces himself that no (or minimal) abuse happened — finds almost matchless expression in India. 

Winston ChurchillOne example of this is the attitude of many Indians towards the British Raj. 

Many believe that, while there may have been some injustices meted out during the British Raj, overall, colonial rule was beneficial. Some even claim that the British created India, as, apparently, we weren’t a nation before their arrival. If one draws up a list of the excesses of the British Raj, the worst, we are told, was the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, where over 1,000 Indians were killed in cold blood. But is this the worst that they did? Not by a long shot. In the early 1940s, Winston Churchill consciously ordered a scorched earth policy in eastern India to halt the advancing Japanese army, which led to the death of 1.5 to 4 million Indians. That’s nearly as many as the number of Jews that Hitler ordered to their deaths. Late Victorian Holocausts by Mike Davis gives troubling accounts of the vast numbers — in the millions — killed by British policies. A little-known fact in India is that the edifice of the British Raj (and the white man’s ‘civilising mission’) was built on the biggest drug-running racket in the history of humanity. The British forced Indian farmers to grow opium, which was then smuggled into China. The Chinese economy — not to mention the lives of millions of Chinese — was destroyed through this trade. At the same time, millions of Indians died as food crops were forcibly replaced with opium (besides other crops for British trade), leading to recurring food shortages and famines. 

These events have been carefully airbrushed from Indian history books. Why? Some will say that those who have dominated the Indian imagination for most of its independent history — the Indian anglicised elite — have obscured these facts due to loyalty to the country of their cultural ancestors: Great Britain. But I think that would be too grave a charge. I have interacted with many members of the anglicised elite. I admit that most of us would find it difficult to understand their strangely eccentric culture, but they are not Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Baburtraitors. They do love India in their own peculiar way; but many of them believe that Indians cannot handle the truth and ‘social peace’ can only be maintained by ‘airbrushing’ history to remove the ugly portions. Besides the British era, this also includes other painful historical episodes, like the brutal Turkic invasions of India in the medieval period, rated as one of history’s bloodiest conquests (read Tarikh-i-Ferishta to know more). 

But denial leads to the repressed truth finding expression in ugly forms, resulting in hatred and anger, as we see in some parts of India today. It’s healthier to accept the truth and learn to handle it. Forgive, but do not forget. We should have detailed sections in our history books on the famines caused by British policies; and also on the massive British drug-smuggling business. We should honestly teach Indian students the truth about the horrific brutality of medieval Turkic invaders. 

But we must also teach that history should not extend itself into the present and colour our evaluations of a people today. For example, we don’t need to settle scores with today’s British for the actions of their ancestors. And furthermore, if Indian Christians are not blamed for British excesses just because the British happened to be Christians, why should Indian Muslims be blamed for the vicious Turkic/Mongol/Persian conquests, just because these foreigners happened to be Muslims? We were slaves under foreign rule for 800 years. Let’s not blame our fellow Indians for the crimes of those barbaric foreigners. 

Many civilisations have at some point of time been victims, and at other times, oppressors. Present conduct rather than past ills should determine the way a people are judged today. 

IndiaMy suggestion: Examine honestly the troubling episodes of our history; accept the truth and learn from it. Forgive, but do not forget. This truth will kill the poison that is coursing through a few extremists in India. 

Denial is not a cure for historical abuse. Truth is. Satyamev Jayate. – Hindustan Times, 21 November 2014

» Amish Tripathi is a banker who has become the best-selling author of the Shiva Trilogy. He is passionate about history, mythology and philosophy.

Unless we’re able to face China, we will only be left writing books: Arun Shourie – Maxin Mathew

Maxin MathewWe have to prove that we’re serious about our own development and security. I sincerely hope he (Modi) doesn’t think that increasing trade with China is going to defang it. China has large trade ties with Japan and the United States, but it is also determined to overcome America in dominance and influence. Unless we prepare ourselves to face China, we will only be left writing books.” – Maxin Mathew

Arun ShourieAn intellectual who carries off his fearless persona and animated repartee with effortless panache, Arun Shourie lived up to the billing perfectly at the Bangalore Literature Festival.

The former cabinet minister and veteran journalist’s views on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fierce focus on China and simmering Indo-Sino border relations were received with a standing ovation by a packed audience on Sunday, the last day of the festival. Excerpts:

Question: How effective will Modi’s Chinese gameplan be?

We have to prove that we’re serious about our own development and security. I sincerely hope he (Modi) doesn’t think that increasing trade with China is going to defang it. China has large trade ties with Japan and the United States, but it is also determined to overcome America in dominance and influence. Unless we prepare ourselves to face China, we will only be left writing books.

Question: Modi has been aggressive in his speeches about Pakistan and China, but why aren’t we seeing any change?

Options depend on capacity, rather than the rhetoric of an individual. Over the years, we’ve always deluded ourselves that if we keep talking sweetly, the dragon will become vegetarian. After 1971, Pakistan realized they cannot take us on in a frontal war. So General Zia ul-Haq devised this strategy of a proxy war, built a capacity and have succeeded for 20 years. We didn’t build a counter-capacity to do a Kashmir in Balochistan. Maybe Does the dragon have the tiger by the tail?Modi spoke firmly about the border, but talking is not as effective as building capacity.

Question: Ironical that during the Indo-Sino talks, tensions were building on the border?

It’s a crucial Chinese strategy — Claim, keep repeating the claim, grab, hold on and let time pass till the adversary gets used to it. China is India’s long-term problem. Their determination to get Tawang is a powerful signal to Southeast Asia and the rest of the world that if India is not able to look after its own interests, what will it do to help you?

Question: Your thoughts on Jayalalithaa’s conviction

First, I want a safe passage to the airport (laughs). No case involving a public servant should take 18 years. This is a good move by Modi to dispose of such cases in a year. In cases involving public servants, there should be no adjournments. We must have confiscation of all assets, and not just those that are acquired through corruption. And we must involve physical incarceration and not just fines, with the person being barred from public life for ever. – Times of India, 29 September 2014

Putin is selfish, wants to rebuild Berlin Wall, says Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama
Patriarch Kirill & Dictator Putin“We had become accustomed (to the fact) that the Berlin Wall has fallen,” the Dalai Lama said, alluding to the shattering of the Communist bloc begun 25 years ago. Now President Putin seems to want to rebuild it. But he is hurting his own country by doing this. Isolation is suicide for Russia.”

Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama criticised Russia’s President Vladimir Putin as “self-centred” in a German newspaper interview Sunday, saying Putin seems to want to “rebuild the Berlin Wall”.

“His attitude is: ‘I, I, I’,” the Dalai Lama said, pointing out that Putin had served as Russian president, then prime minister and then president again.

“That’s a bit too much,” he told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. “This is very self-centred.”

The Buddhist leader also had more criticism for Russia, now in the worst standoff with the West since the Cold War, than for China, which has ruled Tibet since its 1950 invasion.

“China and Russia, these are two very different cases,” said the Dalai Lama, voicing hope that “the modern world supports China becoming a democratic country”.

“China wants to be part of the global political system and will be ready to accept the international rules in the long run,” he said in the interview conducted in English.

“I don’t have the impression that this accounts for Russia and President Putin, as well, at the moment.

“We had become accustomed (to the fact) that the Berlin Wall has fallen,” he said, alluding to the shattering of the Communist bloc begun 25 years ago.

Now President Putin seems to want to rebuild it. But he is hurting his own country by doing this. Isolation is suicide for Russia.” – AsiaOne, 7 September 2014

 Berlin Wall

Rending the veil of historical negationism in India – Bharavi

S.L. BhyrappaAn analysis of Aavarana: The Veil by S.L. Bhyrappa. Translated into English by Sandeep Balakrishna. Paperback: 400 pages. Publisher: Rupa Books Co., 2014. ISBN-13: 978-8129124883

Introduction

Ostensibly a work of historical fiction, the Kannada writer S.L. Bhyrappa’s book is apt to touch raw nerves for readers of every persuasion, especially if they endure till the bitter end. Without saying so, it reminds us that the Indian national motto “Satyameva jayate naanrtam” (‘Truth alone triumphs, not falsehood’, Mundakopanishad 3.1.6) takes some character and conviction to live by, or risks being reduced to sloganeering and eventually, to irony and parody in equal parts.

Mr. Sandeep Balakrishna, who has translated the book from the Kannada original into English, richly deserves the collective gratitude of Hindu society for having brought this book to a larger reading public, potentially including foreign scholars.

Among historical novels and even history books, Aavarana is likely to stand tall for its candor and accuracy tempered by human sympathy. Few Indian historians and fewer Indian novelists have dared to approach the subject of this work, either due to a lack of the requisite erudition or for fear of political incorrectness.

The main theme of the book is the prevalent, official negationism of the less savory events and effects of the Islamic conquest of India on the Hindu psyche and society. This negationism is what the term “aavarana” literally denotes – the covering up of inconvenient facts in the service of ideology at best and expediency at worst. However, many other sub-themes are woven together in a literary style that India has known since the days of the Ramayana and Mahabharata – that of the ‘story within a story’. Dialogues between different characters and even mental soliloquies can pique the inquisitive and attentive reader into commencing new directions of investigation, just as the thought-provoking dialogues of classical works do.

The framing narrative in Aavarana is that of a modern Hindu Kannadiga woman in independent India, Lakshmi Gowda, who discards her ancestral religion in favour of what is called ‘Progressive thought’, followed by conversion to Islam for the sake of marrying a Muslim filmmaker and integrating into his orthodox family.

In this and other efforts to break free of what she considers the archaic, patriarchal and parochial mores of Hindu society, she is encouraged by an ‘eminent intellectual’, Prof. L.N. Sastri. He is of her own ethnicity, a Brahmin who leads by example, most prominently by marrying a British Catholic woman and flaunting his beef-eating in a defiant newspaper article.

Many years after her marriage, while filming at Hampi, where the ruins of the Vijayanagar empire lie strewn around, ‘mute witnesses’ (Sita Ram Goel[1]) to wanton destruction motivated by Islamic iconoclasm, Razia Begum Qureshi née Lakshmi Gowda starts the examination of the facts on the ground, literally and metaphorically. Here, news of the death of her Gandhian father who disowned her on her marriage and conversion decades ago reaches her. Razia, emotionally affected by the sudden turn of events, visits her natal house. An intellectually transformative event occurs when she chances upon her father’s study wherein he had accumulated a large number of books (including several by Muslim historians) describing various facets and periods of India under Islamic rule. He was apparently planning to write a book using this material, and had made copious notes, but was unable to complete the work before his death. Wanting to complete her father’s work, but not being an academic scholar herself but an artist, she decides not to write a book on history, but a historical novel based on the material available, and with scrupulous adherence to the truth. This novel is the second narrative within the book.

Aaravana: The VeilAn eye for detail

This is a novel with a mission – to encourage Indians to think objectively about their history on the basis of primary evidence, rather than take refuge in pleasing platitudes that have metastasized into unsupportable speculations and mindless sloganeering in the service of political and ideological fashions. In this account of not one, but several intellectual journeys, Razia is the freethinker who has done a Malhotran U-turn[2] in reverse, and Prof. Sastri is the distilled essence of our ‘eminent historians’ who write ‘official history’.

Bhyrappa deals very knowledgably and with great sympathy and accuracy about doctrinal matters and worldviews essential to the Hindu-Islamic encounters, not incidental to them. In the latter category of incidental matters we may include linguistic borrowings and the adaptation of Hindu art forms to Islamic tastes, the basis of the much-beloved and laboriously contrived, but nevertheless unreal, contemporary ideal of a ‘composite culture’.

The overall effect of this approach is to maintain a rare clarity of thought and a high level of detail, framing each issue in sharp relief, until the reader can disagree with the inevitable conclusions only by closing (or banning) the book. This is what the Indian secular establishment has been doing – ‘strangling by silence’[3] – simply refusing to acknowledge, leave alone trying to systematically examine the literary and material evidence.

Perceptive and conscious Hindus will additionally find in this book a welcome literary revival of their hoary philosophical tradition of ‘poorva paksha’. This involves rendering the opinion of others with utmost honesty and fidelity. Each of the arguments and thoughts of the characters involved is imbued with these admirable qualities precisely because this is truly a book of essentials. As Bhyrappa writes in the acknowledgements, he spent time traveling, researching texts and interacting with people to the extent of having practicing Muslims advise him on the finer points of Islamic customs and manners. This level of research constitutes a clean and hopefully irreversible break with the harmful legacy of mindless sloganeering by Hindu religious and political leaders culminating in Gandhi’s ‘sarva dharma sama bhaava’ (equanimity towards all religions) – an opiate designed for Hindu consumption that no Muslim or Christian can subscribe to without committing a combination of social hypocrisy and doctrinal heresy.

Hindu leaders (except perhaps the late Swami Dayananda Saraswati of the Arya Samaj) have historically contented themselves with blaming fanatics among Muslims, but obstinately refrained from even the simplest study of core Islamic doctrines, leave alone analysis of the consequences of those doctrines for the Hindu society. Thus, Hindu leaders lead their followers astray by pretending to know all about Islam (and other competing ideologies) without having read any foundational texts worth the name.

Dr. Shreerang Godbole, a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS – ‘National Volunteer Association’), exposed a major instance of self-deception among contemporary Hindu nationalists in a series of articles and some revealing correspondence[4]. Instances of Hindu-led, self-delusional ‘inter-faith’ exercises can be multiplied, going back to the nirguna(‘attribute-free’) strains of the medieval Bhakti movement itself and, nearer our own times, Gandhi’s obstinate attempts to remain doctrinally illiterate. Bhyrappa administers the much-needed corrective to such persistently ad hominem and ad hoc reactions from Hindus by going back to the fount, as we shall see.

HijraReopening suppressed facts

Aavarana also treads on territory that has been scrupulously kept out of sight in Indian textbooks, and even in much of Hindutva literature – the enslavement of Hindus by Islamic conquerors that, in the case of young male captives, was often accompanied by forced emasculation. Even a cursory review of Islamic history (e.g. the Ottoman caliphate) will indicate that the slave-taking and eunuch-making described in the book was but a local instance of a more widespread behavioral pattern. When such uncomfortable facts cannot be avoided, the standard secularist tactic is to either allege ulterior motives on the part of the informant (shoot-the-messenger or spit-and-run policy) or to creatively recast the account as an ancient instance of some contemporary social ideal.

An example of the last tactic was recently in evidence in the self-described ‘India’s national newspaper’, The Hindu. In his review of a work on the history of the Delhi Sultanate, Mr. Ziya-Us-Salam bemoaned contemporary homophobia and prejudice against the transgendered and neutered, saying that the Delhi sultanate was much ‘wiser’ in such matters by highlighting that Alauddin Khilji’s famous general, Malik Kafur, was both a eunuch and a converted Hindu, not a Turk. Yet, Kafur’s gender was never a point of concern for his contemporaries. All the way into Mughal times, eunuchs continued to hold important positions and to actively participate in the politics of the time.[5] The review concluded with a clarion call for an equitable attitude towards LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) rights:

“In the liberal ways of the Delhi Sultanate and later the Mughals lie a few lessons for us today.”

Now, a liberal attitude towards contemporaneous LGBT individuals is unexceptionable for anyone who cares for human rights. But, the inconvenient historical fact glossed over is that Malik Kafur was surnamed ‘Hazardinari’ i.e., ‘costing a thousand dinars’. He was a Hindu boy captured as booty during Alauddin’s Gujarat campaign, castrated and eventually sold for the aforementioned dinars. Understandably, you would be hard-put to discover prejudice against eunuchs in a society that created them and valued them for their services. These facts again highlight the contemporary relevance of Bhyrappa’s investigation into the liberties one can take with historical facts, even to support valid social causes. Razia’s novel within Aavarana is in the form of the autobiography of a eunuch who was a newly-married seventeen year-old Hindu prince prior to his capture and enslavement in war, followed by forced castration.

We will let the late historian K.S. Lal have the last word on the status and role of eunuchs under the Islamic dispensation:

“The need for turning so many boys and men into eunuchs and also obtaining them from outside is obvious. The safety, security and surveillance of a large number of beautiful women in the seraglio could not be left only to female matrons. And normal healthy men could not be trusted to serve in the harem in which resided so many sex-starved young women. So the safest thing was to make men who were on duty in the harem harmless. The king also lived in the harem, and nobles and servants personally attending on him also had to be eunuchs. The cruelty entailed in this system was nobody’s concern in a despotic regime. On the other hand, it was very advantageous to the master. Once a man was made eunuch, his sensibility for manhood was dwarfed, his spirit of assertiveness destroyed, and he was perforce turned into a loyal and devoted slave; it did not matter to the master if his loyalty and devotion were fruits of compulsion. So the practice of making eunuchs went on and on under Muslim rule. If eunuchs were denied “the greatest pleasures attainable in this world”, they were compensated by sometimes performing great feats of bravery, by showing great loyalty to the master or by just piling up great wealth.

It is not the task of the historian to pity the eunuchs or condemn those who emasculated them. But pernicious was the system in which man could exploit man to this extent. It is another matter that most eunuchs perforce reconciled themselves to their lot, though cruelty and crime could go no farther than deforming and desexing of man by man. Many people suffered because of the medieval Muslim slave system, but undoubtedly the eunuchs suffered the most.”[6]

Thus, the signal merit of Aavarana lies in the scrupulously faithful characterization of not only historical events and persons, but also the contemporary secularist Indian-Islamic axis and praxis. The secularist technique of maintaining hegemony by limiting access to relevant information or depending on the ignorance of their audience is a technique that is long past its expiry date.

Most damagingly, in Bhyrappa’s hands, the prompt juxtaposition of the lofty, yet shifty, Indian secularist ex-cathedra proclamations and ‘analyses’ with the inconvenient historical data leaves the reasonable reader in no doubt as to how silly Indian secularism can be when it is not actively poisoning Indian society. Thereafter, only the wilfully duplicitous or compulsively self-deluded can keep up the charade of Indian secularism. That this simple juxtaposition could have been successfully deferred for nearly half a century after India’s independence in 1947 speaks volumes of the intellectual climate of the Nehruvian-Stalinist state that India had been reduced to, until the advent of more modern and less controllable forms of information transfer, particularly the internet.

Aavarana vividly demonstrates the truth of Arun Shourie’s assertion – ‘cut out and store their (i.e. secularists’) vituperation — in less than no time it mutates into the ridiculous.’[7] These facts sufficiently account for the extreme distaste with which Bhyrappa is being viewed by sections of the Kannada (secular) literary establishment.

Even more problematically from the Indian secularist viewpoint, Bhyrappa has not fallen into the vulgar error of blaming Muslims as a community. Going deeper than the compilation of various historical accounts, he highlights the doctrinal foundations of Islam – the Koran, the Hadiths and the Sunnah. These foundational texts of Islam, we find, in and of themselves, sufficiently account for the attitudes and behavior of conscious Muslims towards Kafirs and their practice of Kufr. In less politically correct times, this was an obvious fact admitted as much with pride by Muslim historians themselves, and is still being repeatedly highlighted by the so-called ‘radical’ Islamic groups and regimes, but it bears restating in the current climate of gratuitous, and often, professional obfuscation.

Heads in the SandAcademic corruption and the Indian progressive/secular/Marxist intellectuals

Aavarana will (or should) make every academic (and not only in the social sciences) sit up and think, if not cringe: Absolute truth may well be distant, abstract, even unattainable, but are they doing violence to more mundane, observable facts in blind devotion to cherished theories? And, what about the hefty governmental grants and patronage that are employed to these ends? Do academics that make honest errors bother to correct themselves?

However, Aavarana’s most ominous and troubling question about the academic establishment (especially its Indian avatar) is left unstated, so let us make it explicit.

Now, right or wrong, at least the temple-breakers and Kafir-enslavers had the honesty to admit the reality of their intentions and actions, and acknowledge their rootedness in doctrinal convictions. Do our academics have any such principles, or do they hunt with the hounds and run with the hare as it suits them? Are they rank opportunists who fall into one of the four categories of ‘eel-wrigglers’ enumerated by the Buddha?[8]

One can only shake one’s head with cynicism when we find Prof. Sastri eating beef as a gesture of defiance one day, but happily agreeing to give a discourse on the wisdom of cow protection for a Gandhian organization on the next. This writer witnessed in person an ‘eminent historian of India’ waving off Timur’s admission of Islamic motives in his autobiography by censuring the British historians who documented this (Elliot and Dowson) for their ‘imperial-colonial motives’ (see: shoot-the-messenger and spit-and-run above). So, I can tell from experience that Prof. Sastri is pretty much true to type, as are the outnumbered and organizationally outmaneuvered Hindu activists who try to call the secularist bluff at ‘progressive’ seminars.

But then, Prof. Sastri is also the true hero of this novel. Without his undeniable erudition and command over the English language that are ‘gainfully employed’ to justify anything ‘progressive’ with aplomb, to suppress key facts and wilfully indulge in outright fabrication when mere misinterpretation won’t suffice, all in the name of secularism and communal harmony (see: eel-wriggling, above), the central problem of the novel – the veiling (Aavarana) of the truth in history-writing – would not even exist. Verily a case of philosophia ancilla theologiae (pace St. Thomas Aquinas)! In passing, we also note that Yoginder Sikand’s confession about the lucrative and prestigious progressive academic-activist circuit[9] eerily corroborates Bhyrappa’s characterization of Prof. Sastri, so that this book is well-nigh ‘certified’ too by high authority, if such were required. This only enhances Bhyrappa’s standing as a careful and conscientious gatherer of facts and as a consummate storyteller who weaves them into a coherent narrative.

Non-Indian academics and assorted “India/Hinduism experts” should also take Bhyrappa’s unstated warning seriously. From their positions of prestige, they should not mindlessly first swallow, or worse, unthinkingly propagate, notions fed to them by their native informants (or ‘academic collaborators’) in the Indian secularist establishment. They need to engage directly with primary data to make sure that they are not being fed cock-and-bull stories sugar-coated with fashionable ideologies by the allegedly progressive secularists of India. More importantly, for their own sakes, they also need to get their act in order and function with at least some appearance of disinterested objectivity, if they are to salvage what is left of their integrity

On the Hindu side, Ram Swarup’s words bear reiteration if Hindus are not to discredit themselves in turn by going to the opposite extreme and disregarding all academic researchers (even those hostile to Hinduism) as a matter of policy:

“… But there were also others (British historians) who had genuine curiosity and in spite of their pre-conceived notions, they tried to do their job faithfully in the spirit of objectivity. In the pursuit of their researches, they applied methods followed in Europe. They collected, collated and compared old manuscripts. They deciphered old, forgotten scripts and in the process discovered an important segment of our past. They developed linguistics, archaeology, carbon dating, numismatics; they found for us ample evidence of India in Asia. They discovered for us much new data, local and international. True, many times they tried to twist this data and put fanciful constructions on it, but this new respect for facts imposed its own discipline and tended to evolve objective criteria. Because of the objective nature of the criteria, their findings did not always support their prejudices and preconceived notions. For example, their data proved that India represented an ancient culture with remarkable continuity and widespread influence and that it had a long and well-established tradition of self-rule and self-governing republics, and free institutions and free discussion.” [10]

An example of negationism by a non-Indian academic is that of Richard Eaton who documented cases of temple destruction by Sufis in the book, Sufis of Bijapur[11]. However, flying in the face of facts, Eaton has also written apologetics for Islam. One would think that, being a free American citizen and an academic with tenure at the University of Tucson, Arizona, he would have robustly stood by his scholar’s prerogative to unearth inconvenient facts with complete honesty, and left it to the distant Indian society to deal with these facts as best as it might. In fact, this is routinely done in every case of ‘drain inspection’ carried out on the ills of Hindu society.[12]

Rather, Eaton laboriously tried to establish a false parity between Hindu and Islamic kings by highlighting an imagined ‘continuity’ in temple destruction, citing pre-Islamic instances of rival Hindu kings taking away images of deities during conquest for re-installation in their own temples.[13]

This ‘continuity’ is, of course, entirely in the eye of the scholar. A little thought and common sense will indicate that the Hindu kings’ appropriation of images worshipped by their rivals is in no way equivalent to the Islamic act of carrying away Pagan idols where their eventual fate is not respectful re-installation and worship in the Islamic Sultan’s personal shrine, but melting down for precious metals, or breakage and embedding into doorsteps so that they could be subjected to desecration by the faithful for the foreseeable future. These indignities are in addition to disrupting Pagan idol-worship at the original site, which is not the case with pre-Islamic India, where the defeated Hindu king was free to re-commence worship of a different image. Eaton’s (and others’) historical skullduggery rooted in a studied refusal to examine Islamic doctrine for reasons underlying Islamic behavior have been documented and critiqued at length by Koenraad Elst in his book Negationism in India.[14]

Ram SwarupOn the Pagan response to prophetic revelatory religions

Bhyrappa ends his work on a very tantalizing note that has not been much remarked upon even in favorable reviews as far as I could see – Vivekananda’s attempted yogic analysis of wahi – the process of divine revelation in Islam. He also offers instances wherein Hindu thought categories are used to analyze events, something that is hardly met with even in Hindu-friendly literature.

So far, the Hindu revivalist author Ram Swarup has been the only Hindu to interpret the process of prophetic-monotheistic revelation from a yogic viewpoint.[15] On the secular front, the Dutch scholar Herman Somers, a former Jesuit priest and a qualified psychologist had unearthed psychopathological syndromes associated with many instances of prophetic revelation in the Bible, including that of Jesus. His findings, inaccessible to those who don’t know French or Dutch (including this author), have been ably summarized by the Belgian Indologist Koenraad Elst in his book Psychology of Prophetism.[16]

Hindus, especially their assorted, well-funded gurus, would do well to read these books and develop their own informed critique of other religions at deeper, doctrinal levels and desist from misleading their families and flocks with misinformation in the guise of ‘promoting religious harmony’. This intellectual shoddiness and poverty of thought has been termed ‘radical universalism’ by Frank Morales, a Hispanic-American convert to Srivaishnava Hinduism.[17]

Bhyrappa has therefore performed a signal service to Hindu society by taking his readers on a whirlwind tour of both the historical and doctrinal aspects of the Hindu-Islamic encounter, while scrupulously avoiding the pasting of collective or inherited guilt on contemporary communities. It is obvious that durable peace between these two communities will require a lot more than mere political correctness and formal niceties involving soppy, Bollywood-style inter-religious love stories, lavish Mughlai food or florid Urdu poetry, not to mention candlelight fairs at the Indo-Pak border post at Wagah.

Taslima NasrinConclusions

Aavarana is a literary efflorescence (detractors would like to say recrudescence) of what the likes of Sita Ram Goel,[1] Arun Shourie[18] and Koenraad Elst[14have painstakingly achieved for serious history writing over the last few decades – an exposé of the official Indian negationism of the career of Islam in India, as well as the legal censorship of all doctrinal critiques of Islam that has prevailed for most of independent India’s recent history. The denial of asylum to the Bangladeshi atheist-feminist writer Taslima Nasrin and the denial of an Indian visa to Salman Rushdie by the Indian government are merely two notable manifestations of this self-imposed censorship.

Of course, two can play this game of officious legality and offended religious sensibilities. Thus, the Hindus, in their turn, filed cases in the courts against the Muslim painter M.F. Hussain and the Jewish-American academic Wendy Doniger, on the grounds of offending their religious sentiments. As a result of legal harassment, M.F. Hussain chose to end his days in exile in Qatar and Penguin India, the publishers of Doniger’s book The Hindus: An Alternative History, opted for an out-of-court settlement, pulping all the unsold copies of Doniger’s book and refraining from releasing any new copies in India.

Interestingly, Doniger could not resist doing her own bit of veiling – Aavarana – in the wake of this controversy. Referring to Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, under which Penguin India were hauled to court in the first place, she wrote as follows in a statement in Outlook magazine:

“They (Penguin India) were finally defeated by the true villain of this piece – the Indian law that makes it a criminal rather than civil offense to publish a book that offends any Hindu, a law that jeopardizes the physical safety of any publisher, no matter how ludicrous the accusation brought against a book.”[19]

The innocent reader may justifiably conclude that this villainous law is preoccupied solely with offended Hindu sentiments, something that would befit the secularist scarecrow of a rabid Hindu theocracy. However, on closer inspection, the British-era law, though intended primarily to pre-empt Islamic riots that erupt with monotonous predictability on grounds of outraged religious sensibilities, takes adequate care to use neutral language befitting an even-handed concern for all groups:

“Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India (originally ‘British India’)…[20]

Yes, any class of Indian citizens, not just Hindus – potentially every religious, linguistic, regional, vocational, sectarian, or caste grouping. Suppressio veri, suggestio falsi, and that too by an American academic, the “Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions; also in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, the Committee on Social Thought, and the College…”[21] no less.

Given such instances, Bhyrappa’s concerns about the truth being hidden or conveniently diminished by our ‘eminences’ holding forth from their lofty pulpits are fully warranted. Time and again, the Indian secularist establishment and their foreign fellow travelers have painted themselves into inconvenient corners, often with their own weapons used against those very cherished humanistic values and ideals whose custodianship they have arrogated to themselves.

Secularists, especially Bhyrappa’s fellow Kannadigas like Girish Karnad, Aravind Adiga and U.R. Ananthamurthy, have concentrated their ire on Bhyrappa, either disowning him or condemning him. Aravind Adiga characterizes Bhyrappa as a novelist ‘in search of an ending’ and one who is ‘in danger of having a fanbase composed entirely of bigots’.[22] Indeed, the ‘danger’ exists precisely because of the falsification and fabrication that has become de rigueur in the teaching (or preaching?) of Indian history.[1][14][18] Six years ago, when asked about his (Adiga’s) own choice to portray the crushing poverty of India in his novel, Adiga proclaimed that ‘provocation is one of the legitimate goals of literature’.[23] Clearly, he is not interested in extending that legitimacy to Bhyrappa now. Another instance of the famed ‘Aavarana’?

The only way to ‘save’ Bhyrappa, if the likes of Adiga sincerely want it, is to have the snooty ‘eminences’ dismount their high horses, and make amends for their chronic negationism, and allow for glasnost in the critiques of ‘minority religions’. And, a truly secular way to combat the feared ‘Hindu bigots’ would be to address their legitimate contemporary concerns regarding Islamic violence as well as treat the historical record of Islam in India in a more professional manner than has been in evidence so far.

Of course, none of this is possible without at least a tangential critique of Islamic doctrine, a move fraught with a real, as opposed to an imaginary shot (pun intended) at martyrdom that every secularist knows only too well.

There are more vital and interesting facts in this novel, especially about traditional Hinduism, the views on conquest and polity in the Dharmashaastras, historical material on Aurangzeb’s times and policies and so on, that have not been purposely touched upon by this reviewer to avoid ‘spoilers’.

Bhyrappa deftly has Razia write a bibliography within Aavarana, which indicates the extent of research and reading he has undertaken. Therefore, aside from the dominant theme of the Hindu-Islamic struggle, Hindus can learn much about their own heritage, legacy and history from Aavarana, and the bibliography can serve as a starting point for further inquiry. In addition to fulfilling its literary function as a novel on a historical theme using classical Hindu literary devices, Aavarana can reasonably double as a popular introduction, a Berlitz if you will, for lay Hindus to the landscape of what may well develop into an academic specialization in its own right – ‘Indian secularism studies’.

Jihadi: Koran in one hand, AK-47 in the other!The elephant herd in the already crowded room – recurring street riots, petty violence and arson, not to mention chronic acts of terrorism against the Hindu populace of India, often aided and abetted by the Indian Muslim enclave of Pakistan – cannot be wished away by platitudes alone. This book should initiate introspection among serious and observant Hindus and Muslims about the doctrinal foundations of their respective religions.

Under the circumstances, resolving to consciously eschew the less humane aspects of religious doctrines and practices might seem a reasonable course of action to adopt. However, upon such objective scrutiny and reform, person-and history-centric religions like the Abrahamic ones[24] will probably end up all the worse for the wear, as compared to Pagan ones. And therein lies the rub: Why should anyone willingly choose inconvenient truths over beautiful secular constructs? A Pagan myself, I may tentatively suggest an answer culled from an Abrahamic text – ‘And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’.[25]

All right-thinking (in the sense of ‘decent’ not ‘politically conservative’) Hindus and Muslims should be thankful to Bhyrappa for holding up a mirror to their attitudes and mores, unflattering though the reflections may be on occasion. After all, to err is human, but not to realize one’s error when so clearly highlighted would only qualify as incorrigible obstinacy or sheer perversion. Though hardly remarked upon by inimical secularists, a relentless focus on fact and truth constitutes the truly ‘fanatic’ aspect of this singular novel. Posterity will recall it as a pioneering literary contribution to the Hindu-Islamic narrative from the Hindu side or, to put a truly secular slant on it, a sorely needed infusion of reality into the fashionable, not to say lucrative, business of inter-faith dialogue in India.

Notes and References

  1. Hindu temples: What happened to them (vol.1).   A preliminary survey. (1990). SR Goel (ed).   pp. 41-154. Voice of India, New Delhi, India. http://voiceofdharma.org/books/htemples1/ch10.htm
  2. Dey A. (2006). Rajiv Malhotra’s “U-turn theory.” http://www.deeshaa.org/2006/02/16/rajiv-malhotras-u-turn-theory/
  3. Elst K (2001). India’s only communalist: A short biography of Sita Ram Goel. http://koenraadelst.bharatvani.org/articles/hinduism/sitaramgoel.html
  4. Time for stock-taking: Whither Sangh Parivar? (1997). Goel SR. (ed.) Voice of India, New Delhi, India.
  5. Ziya-us-salam. In wiser days. In The Hindu, April 25, 2014http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/in-wiser-days/article5947289.ece
  6. Lal, KS (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India, ch. 9. Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi, India. http://voiceofdharma.com/books/mssmi/ch9.htm
  7. Shourie A. Cut, paste and preserve their calumny. In The Observer,January 22, 1999. http://arunshourie.voiceofdharma.com/print/19990122.htm
  8. In the Brahmajala Sutta the Buddha refers to ‘ascetics and Brahmins’ who equivocate as those who ‘wriggle like eels.’ http://buddhasutra.com/files/brahmajala_sutta.htm
  9. Sikand Y. Why I gave up on ‘social activism.’ In Countercurrents, April 19, 2012. http://www.countercurrents.org/sikand190412.htm
  10. Swarup R. Historians versus history. In The Indian Express, January 15, 1989. http://www.voiceofdharma.com/books/htemples1/ch6.htm
  11. Eaton RM. (1978). Sufis of Bijapur, 1300-1700: Social Roles of Sufis in Medieval India. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.A.
  12. This refers to Gandhi’s characterization of the racialist and anti-Catholic historian Katherine Mayo’s (in)famous book Mother India as being a ‘the report of a drain inspector.’
  13. Eaton RM. Temple desecration in pre-modern India and Temple desecration and Indo-Muslim states. In Frontline, December 22, 2000 and January 5, 2001. http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00islamlinks/txt_eaton_temples1.pdf; http://ftp.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00islamlinks/txt_eaton_temples2.pdf
  14. Elst K. (2002). Negationism in India: Concealing the record of Islam. Voice of India, New Delhi, India. http://koenraadelst.bharatvani.org/books/negaind/
  15. Swarup R (1982). Hindu view of Christianity and Islam. Voice of India, New Delhi, India.
  16. Elst K (1993). Psychology of prophetism: A secular look at the Bible. Voice of India, New Delhi, India. http://koenraadelst.bharatvani.org/books/pp/
  17. Morales, FG. All religions are not the same. The problem with Hindu universalism, a critique of radical universalism. In Hinduism Today, July/August/September 2005 issue. http://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=1424
  18. Shourie A (1998). Eminent historians: Their technology, their line, their fraud.ASA Publications, New Delhi, India.
  19. Doniger W. I do not blame Penguin Books, India. Statement in Outlook, February 11, 2014. http://www.outlookindia.com/article/I-Do-Not-Blame-Penguin-Books-India/289473
  20. The Indian Penal Code. Of offences relating to religion (Chapter XV). Note that the chapter itself refers to ‘religion’ not specifically ‘Hinduism.’ http://districtcourtallahabad.up.nic.in/articles/IPC.pdf ,
  21. Quoted verbatim from the official website of Prof. Wendy Doniger at the University of Chicago. http://divinity.uchicago.edu/wendy-doniger
  22. Adiga A. A storyteller in search of an ending. In Outlook, March 11, 2013. http://www.outlookindia.com/article/A-Storyteller-In-Search-Of-An-Ending/284084
  23. Adiga, A. Provocation is one of the legitimate goals of literature. Interview with Vijay Rana, InThe Indian Express, 18 October 18, 2008 http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/-provocation-is-one-of-the-legitimate-goals-of-literature-/374718/0
  24. Malhotra R. Dharma Bypasses ‘History-Centrism.’ Published June 13, 2013. http://www.speakingtree.in/spiritual-blogs/masters/philosophy/dharma-bypasses-historycentrism
  25. The Bible. John 8:32 (King James Version). Lest I should be accused of indulging in radical universalism and aavarana myself, I hasten to add that the original context of the statement has nothing to do with knowing objective or cosmic truths. The ‘truth’ referred to is simply Jesus’ reiteration to his Jewish followers that he was indeed their promised messiah. But the rhetorical impact is significant nevertheless. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage

When will India get a strong foreign policy? – Gautam Sen

Dr. Gautam Sen“The Anglo-Americans, leave aside China, which is fully committed to the Pakistani goal of harming India, have little to gain from switching their support to India and effectively abandoning Pakistan. In turn, the West will have no value to Pakistan if it repudiates all support for its claim to Kashmir and suspends help to sustain its quest for some sort of military parity with India, which the acquisition of a nuclear arsenal has indeed substantially allowed. The West would then lose an ally that has shown little hesitation in doing its bidding, even though there has been a public display of various discords in the recent past.” – Dr Gautam Sen

Sushma SwarajIndians and their policy makers share a belief that they are ineffably decent people, who embody worthy moral values. This was clearly the basis for Nehru’s much-reviled, pompous self-righteousness. It was in fact a distorted legacy of the Gandhian syndrome of self-harm that assured partition of the worst kind imaginable. By and large, the good Indian took this unprecedented calamity in his stride even while its victims languished indefinitely in the paradise Nehru sought to inflict on a hapless nation. But Indians and their deluded rulers earnestly expected the world at large to note the solemn conviction pertaining to their essential goodness and behave with appropriate diligence towards their interests.

The real world predictably intruded very promptly and Indian expectations had to adjust to the harsh realities of a world indifferent to righteousness and thoroughly unpredictable. Hard experience forced India to accord greater priority to realistic behaviour that required self-defence in the shape of expensive weaponry, counter-intelligence, etc. But somewhere in the recesses of their psyche Indians never quite overcame the delusion that they would wake up one day to find the world had understood them and begun to engage with due regard.

The paradox is that in reality India only invites ridicule, contempt and even hatred abroad rather than the respect and affection it craves. Every single Indian neighbour espouses an admixture of these sentiments and the one to which is supposedly closest culturally harbours the greatest animus. Unfortunately, the upright Indian, preoccupied with reaping a harvest of crass material gratification, having lots of fun and generally self-absorbed, has not bothered to introspect. Every now and then Indians experience a rude shock, whether in the shape of the Kandahar hijack, aided by their very own estranged neighbouring cousins or 26/11, administered by their sworn enemy. But self-indulgence presides and everything is quickly forgotten.

An evaluation of some specific critical issues in the backdrop of Indian self-delusion and cupidity might provide insights into the Indian political predicament. It may be inferred that India has espoused the goal of economic and social development as paramount. In addition, dealing with its two adversarial neighbours has been a constant preoccupation, which, in fact, militates against the first goal. Both China and Pakistan seek to cut India down to size. It is an aspiration that has not diverged unduly from the entrenched British impulse to punish an India ruled by what they have always regarded as wily Hindus that dared expel them. The US soon subscribed to this view since India refused to kowtow with the great white imperial ruler of the earth, which also found its alleged proximity to the communist USSR insufferable.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US-Pakistan_relationsThe Anglo-Americans immediately embraced Pakistan, which abandoned with alacrity the supposed political and religious rationale that had prompted partition. Instead, it eagerly seized the opportunity of becoming foot soldiers in the millennial struggle against ungodly communism. The outcome was the complete and enduring militarization of Pakistan and its transformation into an aggressive ghazi state, committed to warfare. The consequences of that fateful decision have since led to its veritable unfolding implosion. The pinnacle of Pakistan’s wholehearted commitment to the Anglo-American imperial cause, in the name of Islam of course, came in the 1980s and the US war to corner the USSR in Afghanistan. As a reward for its cooperation, investigations reveal the US discreetly helped Pakistan’s quest to best India by acquiring a nuclear arsenal. It was of course facilitated directly by unstinting help from its all-weather friend, China. The three cynical agents of godly moral purpose engaged in a crusade to undermine the ungodly USSR and its supposed friend, India.

The question that might be posed is what would be the rationale for the Anglo-Americans to now abandon Pakistan in favour of India. India has of course been arguing strenuously that Kashmir is a legitimate part of the Indian Union, while also tenaciously upholding legal provisions that simultaneously undermine that very claim! Its response to Pakistani terrorism has been wayward, at the very best, but it has also been warning plaintively that Pakistani terrorism against India will spill over and impact the West itself. It duly did so on 9/11 and elsewhere, from London to Madrid. There is now an earnest Indian hope that the West, namely the US, will use its enormous financial and military clout over Pakistan, as its principal supplier of weapons, to somehow restrain it. There is, as yet, no sign of such a gratifying finale for India.

However, the reason for this Indian disappointment is not far to seek. The Anglo-Americans, leave aside China, which is fully committed to the Pakistani goal of harming India, have little to gain from switching their support to India and effectively abandoning Pakistan. In turn, the West will have no value to Pakistan if it repudiates all support for its claim to Kashmir and suspends help to sustain its quest for some sort of military parity with India, which the acquisition of a nuclear arsenal has indeed substantially allowed. The West would then lose an ally that has shown little hesitation in doing its bidding, even though there has been a public display of various discords in the recent past. One suspects these were manufactured to shield Pakistan’s military dictators from domestic hostility for their supine conduct in allowing the US carte blanche in the region.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif is overshadowed by the army.Yet, Pakistan remains the only Muslim country with a serious army, which earlier protected US allies like King Hussein of Jordan. A military contingent, led by none other than the late President Zia ul-Haq, crushed a Palestinian revolt in what came to be known as Black September during 1970. It was Pakistani commandos who also rescued the reviled US-backed Saudi monarchy when the Grand Mosque was seized by religious zealots in 1979. Most significantly of all, Pakistan contributed hugely to the Afghan campaign, effectively instigating the retreat of the USSR from Afghanistan. The Afghan victory culminated in the historic triumph of the West in the Cold War. However, unpalatable it may be for self-important Indian bureaucrats and deluded Indian politicians, Pakistan’s usefulness to the West can hardly be doubted.

It should also be noted that the West does not actually hold the Pakistani government and establishment responsible for 9/11. In private, there is acknowledgment the catastrophe was partially due to forces unleashed by the historic Afghan campaign to dislodge the USSR from the country. In addition, Pakistan is cooperating exhaustively with the West to interdict further attacks on Western targets, if not others. In recent months, the usefulness of Jihadis from Pakistan has been rediscovered by the US, with a contingent, perhaps led by the Pakistani army itself, making its way to Syria to help overthrow Bashar al-Assad.

Pakistan, along with Turkey, has been the key third world allies of the West during the Cold War. Pakistan’s usefulness to Anglo-Americans political machination, especially in the Middle West, can hardly be denied. As a result, Pakistan has powerful allies in the US, whether it is the State Department, the CIA or the Pentagon, ready to argue its case. To quote the pithy raison d’être offered by one US President in another context: ‘they may be bastards, but they are our bastards’!

By contrast, if the US somehow compelled Pakistani authorities to cease terrorist activities against India the result can well be surmised. From the point of the view of the US, it would entail the loss of a substantial source of leverage over India if such an unlikely goal was attained. At present, fear of conflagration on its western border is a key facet in India’s calculus of feasible policy options. In the aftermath of the end of the Cold War, India views with trepidation open hostilities with Pakistan since Chinese intervention may be in prospect, without the likelihood of a Russian response to deter the latter. Should this constraint on policy options disappear, India would have less need of US goodwill, for example, even in the climactic situation of a nuclear standoff with Pakistan, when US intervention would be invaluable.

Map of secret terrorist training camps in PakistanThe end of Indo-Pak hostility, which the cessation of terror against India would effectively imply, would transform Indian defence options. It would free anything up to 600,000 troops as well as other critical defence assets, for use on its northern border. It would, in other words, be a transformative moment for India. India would gain a degree of policy autonomy it has not possessed since independence. Its dependence on others, who may have helped achieved this highly advantageous outcome, would, paradoxically, also be far less. It should be noted that the legion of ignorant amateurs in India, pronouncing endlessly on peace with Pakistan and settlement with China, have understood little. These two conflicts are inseparably interlinked for India. Neither adversary is likely to jeopardise the core interests of their declared ‘all-weather’ ally by negotiating a separate settlement with India that would leave the other completely exposed!

India has two urgent goals with respect to China and their achievement through the intercession of the West, namely the US, is also problematic. The first is to maintain the northern LAC status quo and second, to curb China outsourcing nuclear deterrence to Pakistan. However, it should be noted that China regards India as one of the two countries with which it will need to settle accounts to emerge as the major player in Asia and attempt equalling the US in the global arena eventually. It is unclear what India’s now obdurate conviction that the US needs it, because of changing geopolitical conditions, means for its modest goals of security on the Indo-Chinese LAC and a restraining influence over Pakistan’s rapidly growing nuclear arsenal.

The US calculus of how India might be useful, in the event of tensions with China and as a source of Chinese restraint, is not necessarily co-terminus with the two Indian goals identified above. In fact, there is little evidence that Chinese incursions into the Indian side of the LAC have been influenced by US grand strategy in Asia. However, it might be contended there would be major diplomatic fallout over serious Chinese adventurism along the border with India. Of course the US is seeking a measure of economic and military collaboration to reinforce India’s defence capability and its value should be acknowledged. But they do not decisively assist India’s immediate twin concerns, with Sino-Pak nuclear collaboration only continuing to deepen.

Perhaps India needs to consider the unsentimental reality of the Asian predicament that has emerged with the rise of a China determined to achieve its goals, by force if necessary. Countries in South East, like Vietnam, as well as the Philippines and indeed Japan, are not in a position to help India in the immediate future in the event of a dramatic denouement. Japan’s interests have converged with India’s and it has a strong incentive to become a stakeholder in India’s economic advance. However, that will require a decade or more and a serious Indian economic policy framework that its political class has hitherto proved incapable of implementing. Much more alarming is the highly plausible self-interested outcome of a Sino-US condominium in Asia than direct military encounter in Asia, which will suit neither. In negotiating such an overall settlement, the US will likely accede to two non-negotiable Chinese goals, the first pertaining to Taiwan and the second, securing unassailable control over Tibet, which may require border adjustments disfavouring India.

Obama, Clinton & KerryThe sheer cynicism of US foreign policy cannot escape cursory observation of its shocking activities in the contemporary Middle East. It is prepared to destroy entire countries, indeed civilisations, to achieve shifting targets. Knowledge of the full history of the 1962 Indo-China border war and the international context continues to elude. Nehru’s dislike of the armed forces and inept interference, despite zero knowledge of military affairs and frequent threats by Defence Minister, Krishna Menon to court martial officers who dissented from him, may have instigated disloyalty within it.

It may be hazarded that some of India’s most senior army officers and the IB chief were also suspicious of Nehru’s perceived attachment to communist hyperbole and were secretly in touch with Anglo-American governments. These Indian officers had achieved career successes during the British era, serving the colonial power faithfully and had not defected to the INA! They also evidently espoused sympathy for the Cold War Western response against the Soviet Union. The US had been meeting Chinese representatives in Warsaw since the mid-50s and was aware of Sino-Soviet differences and could have also known in advance of China’s intention to attack India. It may have been anticipated by parties to the possible conspiracy, including disloyal senior Indian military officers, that a military encounter with China would bounce India out of the Soviet camp and into the arms of the West. The US had already concluded that Indian behaviour indicated fealty to the despised Soviet camp.

On the issue of India’s unfulfilled aspirations of economic advance and social transformation, the idea that these goals will be actively aided by the outside world is another chimera of the ideological detritus of empire. Nothing could be further from the truth, Ricardo, Hecksher-Ohlin, Samuelson, et. al. notwithstanding. The real-world agents of the international economy, mostly operating from New York and London, are pitiless marauders. Their rapacious, scorched earth misconduct worldwide has apparently been missed by India’s comprador class. Admittedly, these insatiable agents, wallowing in Pharaonic wealth, do not today dispatch armed levies to seize, in an older tradition, though that too happens more often than understood. They will do nothing for India that does not entail gargantuan returns for themselves. They will also subvert India, much as the international retail giants, being welcomed by their paid local Indian agents, are poised to do.

India will surely need foreign capital, but only a strong and ruthless Indian state can bend them to India’s national purposes. The competence to do so has been singularly lacking in an India in the thrall of a third-rate media, a second rate bureaucracy and an essentially self-seeking political class. Rascals abound in every Indian Elephant in the Living Roomnook and cranny, especially in the benighted city that is its capital. They are the overweening presence in the shape of the elephant in the living room, which needs to have its tusks, embedded in Indian body politic, extracted unceremoniously. The performance of the exceptional recent political dispensation, which came to power in May this year and assured the nation of its determination defend India’s people, is still to unfold. – India Facts, 2July 2014

» Dr. Gautam Sen taught international political economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science

US intrusions into West Asia and India are ruinous – Gautam Sen

Dr. Gautam Sen“Iraq, Libya and Syria are examples of the brutal cynicism of Anglo-American and French humanitarian intervention to achieve imperialist goals through regime change. The fascist Islamic ISIS, failing to make sufficient headway in Syrian, decided to create a Caliphate out of Iraq. The Iraqi regime of Nouri al-Maliki had done everything to alienate its substantial Sunni population through blatant sectarianism, thereby facilitating the Sunni reprise. The US is now facing a dilemma since a militant Sunni enclave, hostile to the West, threatens to emerge across of a swathe of the region.” – Dr Gautam Sen

George W. Bush & Tony BlairThe final denouement of Iraq is proceeding apace. The sustained assault against Iraq and its people began because Saddam Hussein fell into a trap set by the US when he invaded Kuwait. The latter, a mediocre Anglo-American colony of no observable merit, did everything to provoke the Iraqi invasion of its territory by asserting unwarranted territorial claims and other acts of provocation, etc. But such is the total dependence of degenerate oil sheikhdoms Kuwait’s rulers acted as shameless agent provocateurs of its Anglo-American patrons and accepted the high cost entailed for their people of the Iraqi invasion. The subsequent US invasion of Iraq on the flimsiest excuse, which now stands exposed as a gigantic hoax, resulted in its virtual destruction as a society and deaths of anything up to two million Iraqis. Yet one of the principal schemers, the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, remains at large, as some sort of trifling envoy. He travels the world counselling assorted dictators and presides shamelessly over a real estate empire like any suspect used car salesman.

The US had also sponsored a Sunni-Shia sectarian war in Iraq to gain political advantage because it found itself in an unanticipated quagmire after its initial rapid military successes. The Saudis, another ever pliant sheikhdom with few historical parallels in political venality and moral bankruptcy, played the role of facilitator and financed much of the grotesque mayhem. Its dominant role in financing and promoting religious extremism across the world on an unprecedented scale has not bothered the legion of hand-wringing Anglo-American politicians and their paid media pundits. For all of them, Islamic terrorism was merely a useful tool of statecraft and 9/11 a golden opportunity for advancing imperial goals. Significantly, for Indians, Pakistani Islamists were sent to Syria recently to help overthrow Bashar al-Assad, largely a US project.

Saddam Hussain & Bashar AssadIt is has now been officially revealed that it was Bashar al-Assad’s Syria that possessed chemical weapons, but it was Saddam Hussein the US decided to remove because it was alleged Iraq had the ‘capacity to produce chemical weapons’. Syria soon also became the target for regime change, a counterpart of US attempts at regime preservation in India to thwart Narendra Modi becoming its prime minister. The decision to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, admittedly a particularly unattractive and blinkered dictator, impervious to reason when it might have yielded a political settlement when the first protests began, has a wider political dimension. Having failed to achieve regime change in Iran, despite assiduous efforts to subvert its unpopular clergy, striking a blow by removing its key Shia Syrian ally was regarded as masterstroke to undermine it. But the Israelis were not altogether convinced since Bashar al-Assad, like his father Hafez al-Assad before him, had reserved belligerence to talk while ensuring tranquillity in the Golan Heights. But they too assented because the Iranian clergy‘s attempt to enrich uranium was viewed as the greater challenge to its security.

The murderous Sunni ISIS reprise is the inadvertent product of US failure to manoeuvre successfully in Syria. It failed to achieve its preferred outcome of removing Assad and his cronies, without empowering a militant Sunni alternative. It only aided the anti-Assad insurgents sufficiently to pressurise Bashar al-Assad in the hope of forcing him out and replacing him with someone pliant, whom Israel would also find acceptable. But Russian help has allowed Bashar al-Assad to hang on though much of the country, like Iraq, is now in ruins, its people destitute refuges and dying in unconscionable numbers. The experience of Iraq, Libya and Syria are examples of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadithe brutal cynicism of Anglo-American and French humanitarian intervention to achieve imperialist goals through regime change. The fascist Islamic ISIS, failing to make sufficient headway in Syrian, decided to create a Caliphate out of Iraq. The Iraqi regime of Nouri al-Maliki had done everything to alienate its substantial Sunni population through blatant sectarianism, thereby facilitating the Sunni reprise. The US is now facing a dilemma since a militant Sunni enclave, hostile to the West, threatens to emerge across of a swathe of the region.

The cost in hapless non-white lives is deemed inconsequential by these three principals of old-fashioned imperial terror and no venality, like the continuing manipulation of Islamic terrorism when useful, is beyond the pale. Historically, Islamic terrorism has been used against India and Russia whenever the US sought to achieve its purposes. At present, the twin Anglo-American goals in the Middle East appear to be to secure even better leverage over oil resources and secure Israeli interests. They have been by handing control of oil resources to separatist regional governments they themselves have sponsored and enabling their effective political independence, as they have now done in Iraq and Libya. The latter is considered to possess vast oil reserves, now safely in the indirect custody of local nominees of the West. These separatist enclaves are then beholden to the US to fend off the parent state and disposed to sign lucrative contracts with US companies. The Kurds are the most obvious example of this model of imperial control. The other ancillary goal has been to demolish all possible military challenge to Israel since it can intervene in US domestic politics to oppose plans that do not suit it.

Hillary ClintonIt should be a salutary reminder of their folly to Indian nationals who have taken to appearing before US Congressional committees to denounce India, virtually inviting US intervention into their country. The alleged 2002 Gujarat genocide (sic!) has been the stick to beat Hindu India with, now known to have been cynically espoused personally by none other than Hillary Clinton. No doubt US Indian NRIs are busy raising funds for her presidential campaign, in exchange for a briefest glimpse of this utterly cynical anti-Indian creature. She has taken a leaf out of her husband’s determined earlier campaign to injure India. In the past two decades, Anglo-American agencies have had a free run in India owing to the ignorant cupidity of successive governments. No email exchange or conversation in India by any communications medium is private and foreign-funded NGOs and foreign-national nationals, often masquerading as journalists and academics, are diligently inciting protest and engaged in subversion. Yet India is too large to easily commandeer directly though many Indians are apparently ready to sell their proverbial grandmother for consideration. Yet fate has brought into power a government and a prime minister determined to defend Indian sovereignty. The new dispensation needs no reminding that seventeenth century European marauders, who eventually seized India in entirety, first arrived modestly to trade and were then allowed to build fortifications by weak and foolish rulers.

After the Portuguese arrived in Japan in 1543, along with commodity exchange and an enormous slave trade in Japanese women, they proselytised massively, converting large numbers. But Japanese rulers read the writing on the wall and by 1610 all missionaries were banned. All their activities were curbed four years later and commerce restricted to Hirado and the southern port of Nagasaki. The Tokugawa prescience prevented the eventual conquest of Japan. India’s seventeenth and eighteenth Muslim rulers failed to comprehend European imperial designs because they themselves were foreign conquerors, looking to West Asia for political and spiritual succour. India’s historical fate was almost re-enacted in the past decade by the most violently anti-Hindu government India has known since the end of British rule. Its treasonous protagonists have only been thwarted temporarily, but not erased and remain alive, nurturing foreign-sponsored plots against Indian sovereignty. – India Facts, 26 June 2014

» Dr Gautam Sen has taught Political Economy at the London School of Economics

Tony Blair

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