8 – Tamil Nadu in the grip of Jihad – Thamizhchelvan

Moorthi

JournalistMoorthi was brutally murdered in broad daylight on 27 February 2010, which also happened to be the Prophet’s birthday, Milad un Nabi. Moorthi was murdered inside the temple complex itself. The documentary shows a person named Ponnan, who says, “Saying that it was an offering on the occasion of Milad un Nabi”, the killers “slashed Moorthi’s neck and poured sand into it”. – Thamizhchelvan

After presenting the true story of the murder of four brothers who fought for the protection of temple land, the Hindu Munnani’s documentary presents the gruesome murder of a temple manager who fought against the attempt to convert the samadhi of a sant into a dargah.

Moorthi The samadhi of a sant, Sarveswara Baba, is situated in Kruthalapuram village adjacent to a place called Sholavaram in Thiruvallur district. The Sarveswara Baba Samadhi was also known as Sarveswara Temple. A local person, Moorthi, was managing the affairs of the temple-cum-samadhi.

Muslim fundamentalists have a considerable presence in the village. When they conspired to convert the Sarveswara Baba Samadhi into Shah-in-Shah dargah, Moorthi opposed it vehemently and filed a case in the local court against the attempt. The fundamentalist elements were also reportedly active in illegal activities. As the case was poised against them and the judgment in favour of Hindus was expected anytime, the fundamentalists decided to eliminate Moorthi.

Subsequently, Moorthi was brutally murdered in broad daylight on 27 February 2010, which also happened to be the Prophet’s birthday, Milad un Nabi. Moorthi was murdered inside the temple complex itself. The documentary shows a person named Ponnan, who says, “Saying that it was an offering on the occasion of Milad un Nabi”, the killers “slashed Moorthi’s neck and poured sand into it”.

As the area is a stronghold of fundamentalist elements, Member of Parliament J. M. Haroon of the Congress party, conspired to help the infiltration of Muslims into the temple by constituting a committee comprising both Hindus and Muslims for administering the Baba Temple. His brother forcibly obtained the signatures of Hindus who were opposed to it.

Describing this scheming act of the MP and his brother, Ponnan says, “J. M. Haroon prepared a deed in which there were 10 persons each from the Moslem side and the Hindu side. When the Hindus refused to sign on the dotted line, they beat us to sign. It was his brother Amanullah who unleashed violence upon us. Some of us had to give in”.

After the formation of the committee, Muslims entered the administration and started creating trouble for the Hindus. They went to the extent of stopping Hindus from worshipping. Ponnan says, “When we visited the temple, they said that flowers should not be brought inside for offering and chased all of us out of the temple”.

Consequently a peace committee meeting was organised in which it was decided that the samadhi belonged to the Hindus. However, before the decision was made, an attempt was made to purchase a few Hindus by offering money.

J. M. HaroonThe documentary shows Ponnan saying that he too was bribed. He says, “A peace committee meeting was organized and J. M. Haroon came to attend it. Hindus belonging to the village too participated in this. It was concluded in the peace committee meeting that the place belonged to the Hindus and hence it had to be handed over to them. At that time, Haroon placed his hand upon my shoulder and took me aside. He then stuffed a bundle of currency in my pocket, which I exhibited to the Hindus. I showed the currency to Hindus and announced in public that Haroon was attempting to buy me”.

The jihadis murdered Moorthi just 15 days before the verdict was to be delivered by the Thiruvallur court. Had the judgment come, Muslims would have had to vacate the property and the temple would have been in the control of Hindus.

Ponnan says, “Moorthi was murdered just 15 days before the judgement was to be delivered. If the judgement had been delivered they would not have been able to enter the premises and hence they did away with him. That was an important reason to murder Moorthi”.

After the murder of Moorthi, the authorities sealed the Samadhi Temple and the case is still pending in court.

Meanwhile, someone broke open the seal and entered the temple. Although he was caught by the police, they let him go on the pretext that he was mentally deranged. Ponnan says, “Someone broke open the seal and looted all the money. Police caught a Moslem boy. Someone told that he was a mentally deranged person and based on that the police let him off”.

In course of time, further encroachments have taken place upon this land due to occupation and illegal encroachment. The samadhi of a Hindu Baba is in the danger of being usurped by non-Hindus.

The documentary says that the fundamentalist outfit Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK) has entered the premises to facilitate the annexation of this area by their community.

Are Hindus destined to lose their beloved Baba’s samadhi? Will Moorthi’s sacrifice go in vain?

 (To be continued…)

» Thamizhchelvan is an independent senior journalist in Chennai.

Moorthi's wife with Moorthi's body

The visual documentation of the above article can be viewed and downloaded from the video below (English) from 13.25 mts to 17.52 mts.

Tamil Newspaper Report

William Dalrymple: Scion of colonial bounders continues to manipulate the Indian mind – Rakesh Krishnan Simha

William Dalrymple

Rakesh Krishnan SimhaArvind Kumar writes, “William Dalrymple’s direct ancestor, John Warrender Dalrymple, was a judge who was paid a huge sum of 37,992 silver rupees per year when every ounce of silver was worth a sixteenth of an ounce of gold. That is a whopping 27.69 kg of gold per year since each silver rupee weighed 11.66 gm. This amount does not include bribes he may have received to rig lawsuits.” – quoted by Rakesh Krishnan Simha

Holocaust deniers in the West are banished to the fringes of academia and society. In India, they strut around like peacocks and get invited to society parties. Joining the long list of Hindu-phobic holocaust deniers is William Dalrymple, who runs the Jaipur Literature Festival. On 30 October, the Scotsman tweeted: “The Hindu Kush—the Tears of the Hindus—named after the Delhi craftsmen forcibly transported to Samarkand by Timur.” These are the words of a man who describes himself as a historian and Indophile.

First up, Hindu Kush does not mean tears of the Hindus. It means Hindu-killer, and is named so because of the numerous Hindu men, women and children who perished while crossing these mountains when they were being hauled off to the slave markets of Central Asia by Muslim invaders. Their numbers run into the millions going by the accounts of Muslim chroniclers who accompanied these invaders, in particular Mahmud Ghazni and Muhammad Ghori.

Ibn BattutaLet’s hear it from the experts. Koenraad Elst, a leading Indologist from the University of Leuven in Belgium, quotes Arabic-French translation of Ibn Batuta’s travels. In Voyages d’Ibn Battuta, the Moroccan traveller says: “Another motive for our journey was fear of the snow, for in the middle of this route there is a mountain called Hindu Kush, meaning ‘Hindu-killer’, because many of the male and female slaves transported from India die in these mountains because of the violent cold and the quantity of snow.”

Elst writes: “Yes, Ibn Battuta testifies that Hindu Kush means ‘Hindu-killer’, and he records it as an already existing name. He also testifies the name was occasioned by a Muslim mistreatment of Hindus, viz. their massive abduction as slaves to Central Asia. In his account, the name does not refer to one particular incident of slaughter, but to the frequent phenomenon of caravans of Hindu slaves crossing the mountain range and losing part of their cargo to the frost.”

Secondly, Dalrymple throws in Timur to back up his argument. Here’s what Elst has to say: “While we are at it, we may lay to rest another misconception concerning the name Hindu Kush. It is sometimes claimed that the term refers to the occasion when the Uzbek invader Timur transported a mass of Hindu slaves and a hundred thousand of them died in one unexpectedly cold night on this mountain. This is a case of confusion with another incident, where indeed a hundred thousand Hindus died (were killed) in one night by Timur’s hand. That was in 1399, when Timur, fearing an uprising of his Hindu prisoners to coincide with the battle he was planning for the next days, ordered his men to kill all their Hindu slaves immediately, totalling a hundred thousand killed that very night.

“Ibn Battuta lived a few generations earlier, and he mentions ‘Hindu Kush’ as an already well-established usage. In his understanding, the reference was not to one spectacular occasion of slaughter, nor of mass death by frost, but of a recurring phenomenon of slaves on transport dying there. The number of casualties would not amount to a hundred thousand in a single night, but over centuries of Hindu slave transports by Muslim conquerors, the death toll must have totalled a far greater number.” If Dalrymple’s got it all wrong—as he has on several occasions—then he needs to take a crash course in history. But coming shortly after the religious clashes in Delhi, his timing looks suspicious.

I. K. GujralThe problem with the British is that even seven decades after they ceased to be a global power, they continue to suffer from a colonial hangover. Former prime minister I. K. Gujral illustrated it perfectly while rejecting British foreign secretary Robin Cook’s offer to mediate on the Kashmir issue: “Britain is a third-rate power nursing delusions of grandeur of its colonial past. It created Kashmir when it divided India. And now it wants to give us a solution.”

Throughout the colonial era, especially at Partition in 1947, and later during the 1971 India-Pakistan War and during the years of Khalistani terrorism, Britain backed forces that were hostile to India.

Take the Gates of Somnath incident of 1842 when governor-general Edward Law, the First Earl of Ellenborough, removed the wooden gates of a mosque in Ghazni, Afghanistan, and brought them to India. He claimed the British had got back the gates of Somnath looted by Ghazni in 1024. The governor general then displayed the gates around the country, and proclaimed that the British had avenged an insult 800 years back.

But the gates were anything but Indian, and were proven to be of Afghan origin. They are currently stored in the Agra Fort, with an Archaeological Society of India plaque saying: “It is lying here either as a war trophy of the British campaign of 1842 or as a sad reminder of the historic lies of the East India Company.”

Colonialists and carpetbaggers—whose only interest was to kill Indians and siphon wealth back to Britain—were pretty much the norm during the 200 years of British rule. The irony is that 67 years after the British retreat from India, people like Dalrymple are allowed to peddle snake oil here. While outwardly claiming to be friends of India, they play the divide-and-enjoy game perfectly, knowing full well that there are many Macaulayites—a class of people Indian in looks and English in outlook—who will pay good money for their concoctions.

Now, the term “friend of India” takes on an Orwellian turn when it comes from the British. To illustrate, in January 2012, frustrated at the loss of a multi-billion dollar fighter contract to archrival France, the British launched a tirade against India. While the usual India-baiters such as the British media talked about India’s “ingratitude” (for daring to question the benefits of colonialism?), it was the reaction of the so-called liberals that was an eye-opener. The Labour Party’s Barry Gardiner, a self-styled friend of India, called for “downgrading” of India-UK trade relations.

Dalrymple is no different—he is no friend of India either. He just likes to play the gora (white) sahib to his many Indian followers or sepoys (Indian soldiers who facilitated the rapid expansion of the British Empire). The Jaipur Lit Festival, for instance, has become the watering hole where Indian leftists, liberals and anti-national elements congregate under the auspices of their gora master. Indeed, sepoys of a feather flock together.

The Scotsman is clearly upset at the rise of the nationalists because anti-national forces are losing traction. Dalrymple’s neat little racket is in danger of coming unstuck. Perhaps he’s not getting any sleep and in his sleep-deprived state is prone to make nonsensical statements.

Prof Romila ThaparR. S. SharmaIn an April 2005 article in the New York Review of Books, he is all over the place, trashing Indian history and abusing Hindu nationalists, and just stops short of saying that India was better off under his ancestors. He comes up with this gem: “The Nehru-era school textbooks were the work of the greatest historians of their day, among them Romila Thapar and R. S. Sharma, who tended to come from the left-leaning elite.”

Thanks to the reach of social media, Indians know that Thapar and Sharma have peddled the worst lies about Indian history. They are set to slide into the proverbial dustbin. The twosome are Lenin’s “useful idiots”—a Soviet-era term for people perceived as propagandists for a cause whose goals they are not fully aware of, and who are used cynically by the leaders of the cause.

At the same time, Dalrymple never talks about the massive wealth that his family has accumulated by plundering India. Arvind Kumar writes in Indiafacts that he suffers from an incurable colonial hangover: “Here is some information published in 1872 giving some clues about the size of this loot. William Dalrymple’s direct ancestor, John Warrender Dalrymple, was a judge who was paid a huge sum of 37,992 silver rupees per year when every ounce of silver was worth a sixteenth of an ounce of gold. That is a whopping 27.69 kg of gold per year since each silver rupee weighed 11.66 gm. This amount does not include bribes he may have received to rig lawsuits. This particular Dalrymple was in India for 30 years. That is just one Dalrymple. There were other looters in the family, including a Dalrymple in Madras whose job was to kill Indians. Given this background, William’s massive sense of entitlement should surprise no one.” [See Sir Hew Hamilton-Dalrymple, 10th Baronet, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, William’s father. – Ed]

It is because of this sense of entitlement that when Englishmen and women set foot in India, something goes off in their brain and they start believing they can be some sort of interlocutors between Hindus and Muslims.

It is ironical that while Indians have for decades studied history concocted by European scholars to justify British rule in India, the modern-day British have airbrushed all colonial crimes from their history books. The likes of Dalrymple should, therefore, go back and reform their own country. They have no business being in India, which anyway has enough brown sahibs who can perform the same role—for a lot less. – Tehelka, 15 November 2014

William Dalrymple

 See also

2 – The Koenraad Elst Interview – Surajit Dasgupta

Koenraad Elst

Dr Koenraad Elst is a Belgium Indologist who calls himself an “Orientalist”. He is a leading author with Voice of India and has many publications on India behind him.

Surajit Dasgupta• Q : While Swarajya has published articles exposing how Marxist historians hound peers who disagree with them out of academic institutions, we have got news from different sources that you are finding it difficult to get employed even in Belgium. Is it true? If yes, what precisely is the objection of your detractors? Can you name the people who have raised objection to your appointment in a Belgian university? Did you receive regret letters from Belgian academic authorities, explaining why they couldn’t appoint you? Did they communicate verbally to you why they thought you were unemployable?

• A : After giving this matter some thought, I have decided against offering much detail here. Firstly, I am not privileged to know the details of decision-making instances that lead to my own exclusion. Even if sending an official “regret letter”, they would not give in writing the real reason behind their decision (as anyone experienced with job applications knows).

Secondly, even though no law was broken, going into this still has the character of an allegation, and that requires proof. Some cases of deliberate exclusion or dis-invitation were simply obvious, but my standards of proof are higher than that. Thus, recently I missed an appointment at a Belgian university and in that rare case I was unofficially but fully informed of the details by an insider (of course I was vetoed for reputedly being too embroiled with Islam criticism), but now that this crown witness has died, it would only be my word against theirs; which would not be good enough. So, I simply want to close this chapter. Let’s not bother, everybody has his problems, and these career hurdles are mine. In fact, I have had quite a bit of luck in my life, including help from individual Hindus whenever the need arose (air tickets paid, hospitality etc.), so any fussing about this boycott against me would be disproportionate. Let’s just assume I missed those opportunities because I was not good enough. Or because of Karma, whatever.

The topic in general is important, though. The Leftist dominance of the Humanities departments in India, often amounting to total control, results from the wilful and systematic “ethnic cleansing” (to borrow Madhu Kishwar’s term) of any young scholar suspected of pro-Hindu sympathies. Exceptions are the people who entered on the strength of ideologically neutral work, or of initially toeing the line, but coming out with pro-Hindu convictions only after getting tenure.

This cleansing of enemies stems from the old Marxist mentality: a war psychology treating everyone with a different opinion as an enemy inviting merciless destruction; and a boundless self-righteousness rooted in the belief of being on the forward side of history. As an ideological wave, Marxism is waning even in India, but that attitude is still rife among the anti-Hindu forces, both in India and among Western India-watchers.

• Q : We refer to the established historians in India as Marxist historians, not to their knowledge because they look at this country through the Marxist lens of “class conflicts”. You refer to them sarcastically as “eminent” historians. Please explain your choice of words.

• A : “Eminent historians” is what they call one another, and what their fans call them. When they don’t have an answer to an opponent’s arguments, they pompously dismiss him as not having enough “eminence”. So when Arun Shourie wrote about some abuses in this sector, he called his bookEminent Historians. It is also a pun on an old book about prominent colonial-age personalities,Eminent Victorians.

“Eminence” in this case refers to their position and relative glory. The Communists always made sure to confer position and prestige, as opposed to the Sangh Parivar, which fawns over people with position but doesn’t realize that those people have only acquired their position by toeing the anti-Hindu line. In a way, you have to concede that the Left has honestly fought for its power position. Half their battle was already won by the Hindu side’s complete absence from the battlefield.

One example of the Sangh’s ineptness at playing this game. In 2002, the supposedly Hindu government of AB Vajpayee founded the Chair for Indic Studies in Oxford. The media cried “saffronization” and, as usual, portrayed the BJP as a wily party fanatically committed to Hindu causes. However, the clueless time-servers at the head of the BJP nominated a known and proven opponent of Hindu Nationalism, Sanjay Subrahmaniam, who thus became the poster-boy for “saffronization”. This way, they hoped to achieve their highest ambition in life: a pat on the shoulder by the secularists. That pat on the shoulder, already begged for so many times, remained elusive, but the tangible result was that they too had conferred even more prestige on an “Eminent Historian”, all while denying it to their own scholars (if any).

• Q : What would you tell your peers who say that the “Out of India Theory” (OIT) is a fringe theory?

• A : Of course it is a fringe theory, at least internationally, where the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) is still the official paradigm. In India, though, it has the support of most archaeologists, who fail to find a trace of this Aryan influx and instead find cultural continuity. As for the situation abroad: most scholars assume the invasionist paradigm, but only very few also argue in an informed manner for the invasionist theory, not many more than those who argue against it. But anyway, this “fringe” aspect doesn’t impress me at all. When Copernicus put the sun rather than the earth in the middle of the solar system, he was in a minority of one, very “fringe” indeed; but he won the day.

• Q : What is the evidence against the Aryan Invasion Theory?

• A : First of all: that there is no evidence in its favour. Archaeologists have spent a century of well-funded excavations for a trace, any trace, of the Aryans moving into India. Even the invasionists concede that “as yet” no such thing has been found. The new genetic evidence, while still immature, generally goes in favour of emigrations from India and, while leaving room for immigrations too, is emphatically failing to pinpoint an invasion coinciding in time with the hypothetical Aryan invasion.

Meanwhile, the written record emphatically points to an emigration scenario. That the Iranians lived in India and had to leave westwards is reported in the Rg-Veda, a text thoroughly analysed and shown to support an “Aryan emigration” by Shrikant Talageri. It can equally be deduced from the Avesta. Even earlier migrations are mentioned in the Puranas. These are of course very mixed and unreliable as a source of history, but it is a bad historian who discards them altogether. Their core, later fancifully embellished, consists in dynastic lists. Keeping that ancestral information was the proper job of court poets, and they devised mnemotechnical tricks to transmit it for many generations. In this case, it too does convey a basic scenario of indigenousness and emigration.

Finally, there is the linguistic evidence. Many Indians believe the hearsay that it has somehow proven the invasion. It hasn’t. But permit me to forego discussing those data: too technical for an interview.

• Q : Of late, the Marxist historians have revised “invasion” to “migration”. They say that there might not have been a war when the so-called Aryans arrived here, but they have no doubt that the ancestors of today’s north Indians, especially the upper castes, by and large migrated from central Asia into India. In other words, the Marxists say that we Indians were originally not Indians—invasion or no invasion! Does this “revision” satisfy you?

• A : Exasperated at not finding a visible trace of this invasion, conformist scholars have theorized an alternative that doesn’t require such visible remains: a migration under the radar. Often, when they try to give details, they still mean a military invasion rather than a gradual migration, since they bring in the military advantage of horses and chariots to explain how such a large and civilized Harappan population could be overrun by a handful of outsiders.

But even if they genuinely mean a migration, it still amounts to the same scenario as an invasion, viz. the Vedic Aryans came from abroad and the natives took over the language and religion of the intruders. So, anyone who thinks that the migration theory is a breakthrough away from the invasion theory really shows he doesn’t understand the issue. “Migration” effectively means “invasion” but avoids the burden of proof that the more dramatic term “invasion” implies.

To be sure, it doesn’t much matter who came from where. The so-called adivasis (a British term coined in ca. 1930) or “natives” of Nagalim in the Northeast have settled in their present habitat only a thousand years ago; which is fairly recent by Indian standards. So, ironically, they are genuine “immigrants” or “invaders”, yet no Indian begrudges them their place inside India. Many countries have an immigration or conquest of their present territory as a proud part of their national myth: Madagascar, Romania, the Siberian part of Russia, Hungary, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, etc. If the Indo-Aryans, or indeed the Dravidians (theorized to have come from Iran or even Central Asia), had really immigrated, that would then have been a pre-Vedic event, at least 3500 years ago, and that time-span ought to have been enough for integration into the national mainstream.

So this Homeland debate ought to have been a non-issue, only of interest to ivory-tower scholars. But different non- or anti-Hindu forces decided to politicize it. Abroad, these were the British colonialists, White supremacists in the US and Europe, and among them the Nazis, who considered the AIT as a cornerstone and eloquent illustration of their worldview. Inside India, first of all the Christian missionaries, then followed by the non-Brahmin movement, the Dravidianists, Nehruvians and Ambedkarites, followed in turn by their Western supporters. The AIT was used to break up Indian unity and pit upper castes against lower castes, non-tribals against tribals, and North Indians against South Indians. After this massive politicization, the partisans of Indian unity finally decided to give some feeble support to the fledgling Out-of-India Theory (OIT). Yet, scholars rejecting the OIT because of its alleged political use have no qualms about espousing the AIT, politicized since far longer, in many more countries, and not as a pastime of a few historians but as the basis for government policies.

• Q : On the one hand, the unaffiliated or apolitical Indian student loves your theories; your passages are quoted widely in debates on ancient Indian history. On the other, you do not seem to get along well with the so-called right-wing historians of this country either. You have written a blog against them. Please comment.

• A : Well, I have nothing but good to say about some Indian researchers, both naturalized ones like Michel Danino and natives like Meenakshi Jain or Srikant Talageri. But then, there are others too. Certainly the name P. N. Oak rings a bell? In the second half of last century, he spread all these theories that the Taj Mahal was a Shiva temple; that the Kaaba was built by Vikramaditya as a Shiva temple; that the Vatican (originally the Roman “Poets’ Hill”) is really “Veda Vatika“; that my mother tongue, Dutch, is the language of the Daityas (demons), etc. The bad thing is that numerous Hindus have run away with these stories, and even some NRI surgeons and engineers of my acquaintance believe in diluted versions of the same. In a less extreme manner, this disdain for historical method is widespread among traditionalist Hindu “history rewriters”. They frequently put out claims that would make legitimate historians shudder.

Many of these rewriters thought that with Narendra Modi’s accession to power, their time had come. I know, for instance, that many of them have sent in proposals to the ICHR. None of these was accepted because they ignored the elementary rules of scholarship. Any student writing a thesis knows that before you can develop your own hypothesis, you first have to survey the field and assess what previous scholars have found or theorized. But these traditionalist history rewriters just don’t bother about the rest of the world, they are satisfied to have convinced themselves. Their horizon is not larger than an internet list of like-minded people.

In itself, it is no problem that their knowledge and method leave much to be desired. People can learn. Unfortunately, they are too smug to do that. They actively misinform Hindus by claiming that the Aryan Invasion Theory has long been discarded. They also do a lot of harm to the bona-fide historians with whom they get juxtaposed. So it is true that I have lost patience with them.

• Q : Since the Narendra Modi government came to power in 2014, has there been an effort to revise the subject of Indian history in academic curricula, which, many in India believe, is politically motivated? Has the Government of India approached you with the request of being a part of any such initiative? If yes, how is the project going?

• A : No, there has been no such request at all. However, I myself have sent in an application to the Indian Council of Historical Research, but that has run into technical difficulties, mainly to do with my foreign passport. So, the situation is and remains that institutionally, I have nothing to do with the Indian history scene.

The version of history taught by the Nehruvians was politically motivated. The feeble Hindu attempt to counterbalance this (“saffronization”) in ca. 2002 was confused and largely incompetent. Humbled by this experience, the BJP today is not even trying to impose its own version. Contrary to the Nehruvians’ hue and cry, allegations about the BJP’s interference in history-teaching or more generally in academe are simply not true.

Here we are only talking of changing some lines in the textbooks, and even that seems a Himalayan effort to the BJP. Yet, what is really needed is a far more thorough overhaul. Except for some scholars without any power, nobody is even thinking about this very needed long-term job.

• Q : If no, could the reason be that RSS-affiliated historians and you are not particularly fond of each other and this government is influenced by the Sangh?

• A : Any Sangh-affiliated historians would not need me to arrive at their positions or to devise a policy if called upon to do so by the present Government. But again, I am not aware of any governmental interest in correcting the distorted history propagated by the Nehruvians. I would welcome it if it happened, but so far the BJP, still begging to be recognized as “secular”, only has its eye on “development”.

I am happy to report that there are some as yet insignificant private initiatives, though. Once they achieve results, there will be more to say on them.

• Q : Would you say or agree that the Government of India, regardless of the political party that runs it, would be uncomfortable appointing or commissioning an academic who is perceived as being anti-Muslim?

• A : Certainly.  Though it never had any problem with anti-Hindu candidates to even the highest post. Long ago, it even managed to appoint to the chair of the Constitution Commission, no less, a man who had expressed his outspoken aversion to both Hinduism and Islam: Dr B. R. Ambedkar.

• Q : Does the genesis of your problem with anti-left historians in India lie in the fact that on the issue of Babri Masjid, if you do not agree with the left, you do not agree with the right-wing either? If it is something else, please explain the problem.

• A : On Ayodhya, there has never been a conflict with any non-Left historian. To be sure, I have my disagreements on some minor points, but they have never been the object of a controversy. So: no, on Ayodhya I may have minor and friendly differences of opinion with “right-wing” historians, but no serious quarrel. In that debate, the long-standing quarrel has been with the Eminent Historians, their supporters in media and politics, and their foreign dupes. They were on the wrong side of the history debate all along, and it is time they concede it.

In the case of the Eminent Historians, it is also time for the surviving ones to own up their responsibility for the whole conflict. The then PM, Rajiv Gandhi, was on course towards a peaceful settlement, allotting the site to the Hindus and buying the militant Muslim leadership off with some typically Congressite horse-trading. Not too principled, but at least with the virtue of avoiding bloodshed. It is the shrill and mendacious declaration of the Eminent Historians in 1989, amplified by all the vocal secularists, that made the politicians back off.

Not only have they falsely alleged that no Rama temple ever stood on the contentious site: their more fundamental lie was to bring in history at all. Ayodhya belongs to the Hindus not because it was their pilgrimage site a thousand years ago, nor because of “revenge” for a temple destruction effected eight hundred or five hundred years ago, but because it is a Hindu sacred site today. No Muslim ever cares to go to Ayodhya, and in spite of being egged on by the Eminent Historians, enough Muslim leaders have expressed their willingness to leave the site to the Hindus. This whole controversy was unnecessary, but for the Nehruvians’ pathetic nomination of the Babri Masjid as the last bulwark of secularism.

• Q : If all the archaeological findings from Ayodhya are arranged chronologically, what story of the disputed plot of land comes to the fore? Did a temple of Lord Rama stand there, which Babar’s general Mir Baqi demolished to build the mosque? Or, did Mir Baqi find ruins on the spot, which were a mix of a dilapidated Muslim graveyard and remains of a temple of an even older generation? 

• A : That a Hindu temple was demolished by Muslim invaders is certain, on that we all agree. But there is less consensus around, or even awareness of, the fact that this happened several times: by Salar Masud Ghaznavi in 1030 (the rebuilt Rajput temple after this must be the one of the excavated pillar-bases), by Qutbuddin Aibak’s troops in 1193, and by Mir Baqi on Babar’s behalf in 1526.

What it was that was replaced by Babar’s mosque, is not fully clear. I speculate that in the rough and tumble of the collapsing Delhi Sultanate, Hindus had managed to take over the site and started worship there even though the building they used was a mosque imposed on the site. That was exactly the situation in 1949-92, and I think it also applied towards 1526. Babar destroyed a Hindu pilgrimage centre, a Hindu presence at the site, but not the Rajput temple from the 11th century of which the foundations were excavated in 2003.

Was the temple’s demolition just an odd event, or was it the necessary materialization of an ideology, repeated many times and in many places? When Mohammed Shahabuddin Ghori and his lieutenants conquered the entire Ganga basin in 1192-94, they destroyed every Hindu temple they could find. Only a few survived, and that is because they lay out-of-the-way of the Muslim armies, in the (then) forest, notably in Khajuraho and in Bodh Gaya. But all the Buddhist universities, all the temples in Varanasi etc. were destroyed. Ayodhya became a provincial capital of the Delhi Sultanate, and it is inconceivable that the Sultanate regime would have allowed a major temple to remain standing there.

So, the narrative propagated by the Sangh Parivar, that Babar destroyed the 11th-century temple, cannot be true, for that temple was no longer there. When Babar arrived on the scene, Hindus may have worshipped Rama in a makeshift temple, or in a mosque building provisionally used as a temple, but the main temple that used to be there, had already been destroyed in 1193. See, Ayodhya’s history becomes more interesting once you discard the lies of the Eminent Historians as well as the naïve version of the Sangh Parivar.

The controversial part lies herein, that the persistence of the temple all through the Sultanate period would have implied a certain tolerance even during the fiercest part of Muslim rule. In reality, the demolition of Rama’s birthplace temple was not an odd and single event, but a repeated event in application of a general theology of iconoclasm imposed by the Prophet.

• Q : Was it a temple of Lord Vishnu rather? Or, were they quite a few temples of one or more deities built in different periods by different kings?

• A : In her book from 2013, Rama and Ayodhya, Prof. Meenakshi Jain has detailed all the scholarly evidence and the debate around it, including the embarrassing collapse of the Eminent Historians’ case once they took the witness stand in Court. She shows that the Rama cult has already left traces more than 2000 years ago. Attempts to make Rama worship a recent phenomenon were just part of the sabotage attempts by the Eminent Historians. Also, the site of Ayodhya, though probably older, is at least beyond doubt since Vikramaditya in the 1st century BC. All indications are that the disputed site was already visited by pilgrims as Rama’s birthplace since well before the Muslim conquest.

So, this was a long-standing pilgrimage site for Rama. Against the utter simplicity of this scenario, anti-Hindu polemicists of various stripes have tried all kinds of diversionary tactics: saying that Rama was born elsewhere, or that the temple belonged to other cults. This Vishnu-but-not-his-incarnation-Rama theory, or the claim of a Shaiva or Buddhist origin, came about as some of those diversionary tactics; they are totally inauthentic and artificial. Alright, among historians we can discuss every possible hypothesis. But from the very relevant viewpoint of Islamic iconoclasm, all these distinctions don’t matter: all those sects were false, leading men astray, away from the one true religion, and therefore they all, and certainly their idols and idol houses, were to be destroyed.

• Q : Whatever be the story, which community do you believe has a greater right of ownership over that disputed site?

• A : The community that holds the site sacred. Muslims go through all this trouble to travel to far-away Mecca, why don’t they go on a cheap and easy pilgrimage to Ayodhya instead? It seems they have made their choice. So let us respect their choice, and also the choice of the Rama worshippers who do care for Ayodhya, by leaving the site to the latter. Case closed.

• Q : Do you hate Muslims or Islam?

• A : No, I do not hate Muslims. They are people like ourselves. Having travelled in Pakistan and the Gulf States, I even dare say I feel good in Muslim environments. And if I desire the liberation of Muslims from Islam, that is precisely because I like them. Suppose you discover that a friend of you still believes in fairy-tales: wouldn’t you consider it your duty to set him straight and confront him with the true story, precisely because he is your friend?

But then, perhaps the writer of the Quran “hated” the unbelievers when he wished them godspeed to hell.

And I do not “hate” Islam either. If a teacher uses his red pencil to cross out a grammatical mistake in a pupil’s homework, we do not say that he “hates” the mistake. He simply notices very dispassionately that it is wrong. The use of the word “hate” in this case stems from an attempt to distort the debate and misrepresent the argument by means of emotive language. The belief that someone heard the word of God, dictating the Quranic verses, is just one of the many irrational and mistaken beliefs that have plagued mankind since the beginning. 

• Q : You have been on record saying at a function in Goa in late 2014 that a general impression must be created that being a Muslim is “uncool”! Representatives of some Islamic countries reportedly walked out of the venue in protest of your statement. Would you explain what happened at that event?

• A : We had been given to understand that it was going to be a Hindu think-fest where the only constraint on our free discussion was going to be the truth. Satyameva Jayate! The offer of first-class airplane tickets (which I refused as unnecessarily luxurious) should already have alerted me to a different agenda: a glamorous diplomatic show. Arriving on-site, and seeing some high-profile Muslim guests from West Asia (what were they doing at an “India Ideas Conclave”?), I proposed the organizers to change the topic from what I had been invited for: the roots of religious terrorism. Thus, an evaluation of the BJP Government’s record from the angle of its Hindu reputation seemed to me an excellent topic that as yet no one was scheduled to talk about. But no, they insisted I talk about the roots of Islamic terrorism, then colourfully illustrated by the frequent video reports of beheadings by the Islamic State, apart from the more usual bomb attacks. Even when I warned them that I was not going to parrot the diplomatic white lies churned out by Obama and Cameron (and, very recently, in my presence, by Narendra Modi speaking in Brussels), viz. that jihad “has nothing to do with Islam”, they still persisted.

So they got what they had bargained for. I detailed the justification for all of the Islamic State’s actions from the Quran and the Prophet’s precedents. The reaction of the Hindu audience was very warm and enthusiastic. Finally someone who didn’t try to shift the blame to the victims, as the Nehruvians always do. A few foreigners were not so happy, and neither were the BJP organizers. They had preferred a diplomatic lie to the truth, so I had spoiled their show, intended to prove how nice and “secular” those ugly Hindu Nationalists really were.

On the panel there was also the advocate of “moderate Islam”, Sultan Shahin. I liked him as a person, and I also understand that the stand he took was risky. For Muslims, it is more dangerous to stray from the orthodox line than for non-Muslims to even criticize Islam. I have to knock on wood here, given the attacks on the Satanic Verses translators and the Danish or French cartoonists, but still Kafirs (Pagans) have more leeway than Muslims who risk being treated as apostates. So, I concede the bravery of “moderate Muslims”. But all the same, they are wrong.  They are probably being truthful when they swear that they themselves would never countenance such terrorist violence. But that is because of their normal inborn human feelings, not because of (but rather, in spite of) their later conditioning by Islam. They try to reconcile their human tolerance with the religion they have been taught by their beloved parents. It is humanly understandable, and I sympathize with them, being myself an apostate from my home religion, Catholicism. But alas, I cannot spare them the difficulties inherent in outgrowing your native religions. And I can testify that the end result is worth these steps on the way.

As Taslima Nasrin has said: “What the Muslim world needs is not moderate Muslims but ex-Muslims.”

Making Islam uncool? I have been part of a massive walk-out from the Church. For intellectuals, the decisive reason was the dawning insight that Christian belief was irrational. But for the masses, it was mainly that it was no longer cool to be a believer. People started feeling embarrassed for still being associated with this untenable doctrine, and are none the worse for having left the beliefs they were brought up in. I wish Muslims a similar evolution, a similar liberation. I do not wish on them anything that I have not been through myself.

• Q : How do you view the recent terrorist attack on Belgium? To what extent is migration from Islamic countries responsible for terrorism on European soil?

• A : As Ché Guevara said, a Guerrilla fighter is among the masses like a fish in the water. In this case, the Jihad fighters had found safety and comfort in the Muslim community. So the demographic Islamization of some neighbourhoods in Brussels (due to our own silly policies) has indeed played a role. But I expect you to retort that there were also other factors, and that is true.

• Q : How do you react to the Muslim refrain that the terrorists in their community are a creation of America and NATO’s flawed foreign policy and interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc?

• A : It is simply not true that Ghaznavi or Aurangzeb took to Jihad and iconoclasm in reaction to British colonialism or American bombings. They were inspired by an older source, viz. the Prophet’s precedent, Islam. However, it is true that many contemporary Jihad fighters have indeed been fired up by a specific circumstance, viz. Western aggression against Muslim countries.

Assenting to Quranic lessons about Jihad is one thing, but actually volunteering for the front-line of Jihad it quite another. In most people, it needs a trigger. The illegal invasions of Iraq or Libya, or footage of an Afghan wedding bombed from American jets, provided such a trigger. I am very aware that being bombed is just as unpleasant for wedding guests in Kandahar as for commuters in Brussels or Mumbai. Right now, even little Belgium has five bomber planes in Iraq as part of the US-led war effort against IS. These bombers must already have killed, along with some Jihad fighters, more civilians than were killed in the terrorist attacks in Brussels.

In Belgium, I have drawn some attention with my defence of the Syria volunteers: young Muslims grown up in Brussels or Antwerp and going to fight for the Islamic State. Our politicians call them “monsters”, “crazy” and other derogatory names, but in fact they are pious idealists. They may be misguided in their beliefs, and I dare say they are, but they do have the courage of their conviction. Without any pressure on them, they volunteer for putting their lives on the line in the Syrian desert. You cannot deny them bravery and self-sacrifice.

The Western invasions and bombings in Muslim countries have brought nothing but misery, and I have opposed them all along. What the Muslim world needs, is not more civil wars, sectarian wars, foreign military interventions, which all serve to polarize the minds, to freeze them in existing antagonisms. What it needs is a thaw. Here again, I speak from my own experience: the post-war climate of peace and prosperity in Europe has allowed a genuine cultural revolution, an emancipation from the stranglehold of Christianity. The Muslim world will only evolve if it attains a modicum of peace and stability.

Note that the military interventions have nothing to do with Islam criticism, nowadays slandered as “Islamophobia”. On the contrary. Without exception, all the politicians ordering interventions in Muslim countries have praised Islam, calling it “the religion of peace” that is being “misused” by the terrorists. Not a single word of Islam criticism has ever crossed their lips. A legitimate Islam critic like the late historian Sita Ram Goel has never harmed a hair on the head of a Muslim. Islamophiles such as these politicians, by contrast, have killed many thousands of innocent Muslims.

• Q : How would you advise Indians to fight terrorism?

• A : Security measures and repression are not my field nor my favourite solution, but I understand that sometimes they are necessary. So I want to spare a moment to praise the men in uniform who risk their lives to provide safety. However, this approach won’t go very far and won’t provide a lasting solution if it is not accompanied by a more fundamental ideological struggle. That is what I am working on. – Koenraad Elst Blog, 6 May 2016

» Surajit Dasgupta is National Affairs Editor for Swarajya.

Ram Temple on the Babri Masjid site after the demolition.

“The community that holds the site sacred [has the right to it].” – Dr Koenraad Elst

See also

How Jesus the Himalayan yogi is used as a conversion ploy – David Frawley

Issa (Jesus) and Giant's Head by Nicholas Roerich (1932)

Acharya David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri)In India today, the image of Christ as a yogi is not used by Christians to honor the teachings of Yoga. Jesus as a yogi is a new form of conversion propaganda employed by those who do not follow Yoga at all, but use the story to subvert a deeper questioning of their motives and the biases of their theologies. – Dr David Frawley

The Jesus in India Story

In the nineteenth century, Hindu gurus and Western mystics, while examining teachings of the Gospels about non-violence and turning the other cheek, came to the conclusion that Jesus must have been a yogi who visited India.

The Ahmadiyya movement: a new nineteenth century sect of Islam centered in Kashmir, added much to the idea. They claimed their founder, Mirza Gulam Ahmad, was in fact Jesus reborn to fulfill the prophecies of Islam. Ahmadiyyas taught that Jesus survived his ordeal on the cross and went to Kashmir where he was later buried.

Stories of Jesus in India became popular, with claims of secret teachings found in ancient monasteries confirming this, though no such documents seem to have ever been verified.

Apollonius of TyanaMysticism in the Greco-Roman world

There are certainly mystical teachings in early Christianity, particularly in unorthodox and syncretic Gnostic sects, that have Vedantic and Buddhist affinities. But these can be found in all the literature of the Greco-Roman era with its many combinations of mystical teachings from Greece, Egypt, Persia and India. The entire Greco-Roman world was exposed to teachings from India through an extensive mercantile trade and travel.

Apollonius of Tyana, who also lived in the first century CE, was a miracle working mystic like Jesus, famous for having travelled to India to study with its great gurus. Some scholars claim that the Jesus and Apollonius stories were at times confused. Even the great Neoplatonic philosopher Plotinus in the third century CE made an abortive effort to travel to India, indicating that the mystical journey to India was a common theme of the Greco-Roman world. This means that a yogic influence existed in the mix of contemporary teachings that Christianity came out of.

Compounding the issue is the ongoing debate about the historicity of Jesus. The Jesus story that mainstream Christianity accepts of the four Gospels was not finalized and made authoritative until the fourth century. Yet these gospels do not agree as to the timing of the birth of Jesus. Actual historical records of the Christians of the first century are limited and questionable.

Modern scholarship does not accept the Jesus in India story, though it does accept that mystics like Apollonius traveled to India. No major Western scholars, religious or not, place Jesus in India during any period of his life.

Jesus & KrishnaYogi Jesus as a conversion ploy

To date, no major sect of Christianity outside of India, including the Catholic Church, regards the Jesus as a yogi story as more than fantasy or heresy. However, Christian groups in India do circulate the Jesus as yogi story to aid their efforts to convert Hindus.

In India today, the image of Christ as a yogi is not used by Christians to honor the teachings of Yoga. Jesus as a yogi is a new form of conversion propaganda employed by those who do not follow Yoga at all, but use the story to subvert a deeper questioning of their motives and the biases of their theologies.

Missionaries tell uninformed Hindus that Jesus was a yogi or the avatar Kalki (a ploy Muslim missionaries use for Mohammed). But they do not direct people to honor Yoga teachings or Yoga gurus as well. Rather they say that since Christ was a great yogi, you can gain everything spiritually by converting to Christianity and do not need the rest of Yoga. They quote Hindu gurus praising Jesus but do not praise these gurus or their teachings in turn. Some Christian priests in India formally study Yoga or Vedanta, not to follow these teachings, but to aid in communication for converting Hindus, using Hindu concepts for their advantage, like Jesus as a yogi.

If Christians want to honor the image of Christ as a yogi, let them first use it in Rome or in any other major Christian country or church! Otherwise it is dishonest. Let them honor Yoga, not simply Jesus, and the Hindu background of the Yoga tradition.

Jesus the YogiSubversion of Hindu practices

The Christ as yogi image is combined with an entire range of missionary subterfuges. Missionaries take Hindu bhajans to deities like Rama, Krishna or Shiva and substitute the name of Jesus. A Christian form of Bharat Natyam has been invented, with traditional Hindu dance forms as offerings to Jesus. Hindu pillars or stambhas are placed in front of churches in South India as if these were types of Hindu temples. Churches perform aratis to Jesus rather than the usual Christian rituals. Mother Mary is made to resemble Hindu Goddesses in her depictions. Such practices are used to draw people away from their Hindu roots and make them receptive to conversion.

Rather than affording a greater respect for Hindu and Buddhist teachings, the Jesus as a yogi story is sadly becoming one of the main conversion ploys in the country.

We must be very clear about this fact: Regardless of whether Jesus was a yogi (which remains debatable) the exclusion and conversion based theology and practices of Christianity must be understood along with their consequences. The idea of only One True God, church, savior, or scripture, a single life for the soul, with sin and salvation to heaven and hell are contrary to Yoga philosophy, which aims at Self-realization, a state of unitary awareness beyond body and mind, time and space.

Unfortunately, when one exposes Christian conversion efforts today, some Hindus rush to the defense of the church under the response that Jesus was a yogi! They forget to note that whether Jesus was a yogi, the churches do not honor or represent the tradition of Yoga. If it is Yoga that people want to learn, it will not happen in the churches or by the priests, but by true Yoga gurus in the traditions of Sanatana Dharma, which remain abundantly available today. – Swarajya, 24 May 2016

» Dr David Frawley is a Vedacharya and includes in his unusual wide scope of studies Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic astrology, as well as the ancient teachings of the oldest Rigveda. Contact him at vedanet@aol.com.

Christian Yoga?

How Sanskrit came to be considered the best language for computer programming – Dilip D’Souza

Devanagari (Sanskrit) Keyboard

Dilip D'SouzaBut while Rick Briggs’ abstract does say that “a natural language can serve as an artificial language also”, nowhere in the paper did he claim that Sanskrit is “the most suitable language for computer software”. – Dilip D’Souza

About Sanskrit in contemporary India, there are two things of note.

The first is typified by what I found in the Hindustan Times [some months] ago. When a mobile app firm observed August 15 by asking people to tweet with the hashtag #IndianAndProud, many Indians responded. A selection of their 140-or-less character epigrams covered three full pages in the paper on August 19. One repeated an assertion that’s been made so often it’s no longer even questioned: that “Sanskrit is considered the most suitable language for computer software”.

The way I’ve often seen it, that statement is usually prefixed by the words “A report in Forbes magazine in 1987 said that….” Perhaps in this case the Twitter character limit forced their omission. But this attribution to Forbes has been made so often, it is no longer even questioned. Though if it was, we’d find that no such report was ever in Forbes, whether in 1987 or any other time.

So why do so many people appear to believe it? Or what does it even mean? Or where did this shibboleth come from in the first place?

Computer Operator IconNatural language for computers

To answer that, you have to go back about 30 years, to 1985. That’s when, in a previous life, I was writing software for a living, particularly in a field that the industry was actively trying to profit from at the time, Artificial Intelligence. That year, a researcher named Rick Briggs at National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, made waves by publishing a paper in AI Magazine, titled “Knowledge Representation in Sanskrit and Artificial Intelligence.” (Abstract and full text available here.)

This is the paper that would launch a thousand claims about Sanskrit and software.

Now a major AI goal at the time was to get computers to understand “natural language”—meaning not Lisp or C or Prolog, which they all did quite well, but languages we humans speak. Like English, or Hindi, or Tagalog—or, for that matter, Sanskrit. That you can today ask Google a perfectly grammatical English question (try “What is the temperature on Tristan da Cunha?”) and actually get meaningful results owes something to those early research efforts. And Briggs alerted AI folks to something fascinating and useful: that the grammar of Sanskrit—structured and rule-based as it was—had significant lessons for this business of natural language understanding. Studying the way ancient Indian grammarians worked, Briggs suggested, might help AI researchers “finally solve the natural language understanding [problem]”.

All of which is fascinating enough. But while his abstract does say that “a natural language can serve as an artificial language also”, nowhere in the paper did Briggs claim that Sanskrit is “the most suitable language for computer software”. That second is an essentially meaningless statement.

For one thing, different kinds of software are suited to different computer languages. Much of AI research has happened in Lisp, for example, because of its ability to manipulate words and sentences—but Lisp is nearly unheard of outside AI. So there is no such thing as the “most suitable language” for software. But for another thing, if it was indeed so spot-on suitable, we’d have seen software written in Sanskrit by now. That we haven’t is a pointer to the truth: certainly the rigorous rules of Sanskrit grammar have lessons for AI, but writing software is another challenge altogether. The way computers are built requires a certain clear and unmistakable logic in how we give instructions to them. Nobody has yet found a way to do that in any natural language, whether Sanskrit or English or Tagalog.

SanskritElective, not mandatory

Which brings us to the other thing about Sanskrit in contemporary India: Himachal Pradesh has announced that “Sanskrit will be made a mandatory subject in all government schools” in the state.

Why would a state force its students—or at least, the students in government schools—to learn Sanskrit? This is not to suggest that no students must learn it, not at all. After all, plenty of the collective wisdom of this country, gathered over many centuries, is recorded in Sanskrit and is, we believe, stored somewhere safe. I would have liked to learn enough Sanskrit—and maybe will someday—to read and understand even the line Rick Briggs deconstructs in his paper: “Maitrah: sauhardyat Devadattaya odanam ghate agnina pacati.” (He did kindly translate: “Out of friendship, Maitra cooks rice for Devadatta in a pot over a fire.”) And of course some of us—AI researchers, in particular—would do well to learn enough of the language’s grammar to use it as Briggs suggests.

The word, of course, is “some”. Some of us will learn the intricacies of quantum mechanics, so as to tackle the endless mysteries of our universe. Some of us will learn the ins and outs of economics, so as to understand the dynamics of trade and markets. But not all of us. Because we don’t need that knowledge to live our lives. Which is why those subjects are not taught to every school-going kid.

In the same way as it would make no sense to make quantum mechanics and economics mandatory, it makes no sense to make Sanskrit mandatory in schools. Make it available as an elective for those who want to study it; leave the rest to focus on their other subjects.

Because for all its precise grammar and its centuries of history, this is the truth about Sanskrit: few people today speak it—just over 14,000 according to the 2001 Census, in fact. And certainly computers don’t speak it. – Scroll.in, 25 August 2015

» Dilip D’Souza is an author and correspondent in the communications and media industry at Mumbai. Follow him on Twitter @DeathEndsFun.

Sanskrit class in Auroville

See also

Knowledge Representation in Sanskrit and Artificial Intelligence – Rick Briggs

  1. Abstract
  2. Full Text
 

Book Review: The cancer of jihad and reforming Islam – David Frawley

Tufail Ahmad
Vamadeva Shastri (David Frawley)Some Leftists may be unhappy that Tufail Ahmad exposes Indian secularism as a pandering to minority vote banks that excuses jihad. It is not just the conservative elements in Islamic society that suppress Islamic reformers, it is also the Left and liberal elements in India and the West, who … excuse fundamentalism, if not terrorism, coming from Islamic groups. – Dr David Frawley

Tufail Ahmad is a powerful and provocative voice for reform in Islamic society and in India in particular. He is also a key expert on national security issues in India, which is under siege by jihad.

His recent book—Jihadist Threat to India: The Case for Islamic Reformation by an Indian Muslim—is probably the most in-depth study of jihad, terrorism in India available, extending to its global implications.

Ahmad’s background is quite relevant, from a student at madrasas in Bihar, to study at JNU and work at the BBC. He knows his issues from the inside, having examined jihadi literature extensively. He does not have to rely upon secondary sources, nor does he excuse jihad for vested political or religious interests.

In short, he tells it like it is.

India flag desecrated in Pakistan by baby jihadi.Jihad and Pakistan’s war on India

Ahmad details how the Al-Qaeda threat to India has arisen through the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He explains how ISIS is slowly radicalising Muslims in a number of states in India, with little scrutiny.

Behind the threat in India, he reveals how jihad is linked to the history of Pakistan and its identity as a nation. Pakistan is by nature if not a jihadi state, a state promoting jihadi sympathies and training jihadi warriors. This mentality extends to Pakistani textbooks that teach students to hate India with a religious fervour.

Yet Pakistani jihad is not just aimed at India, it is used to control minorities within the country, particularly Balochistan, which is subject to a brutal and violent suppression. This is because Pakistan’s identity is defined by religion and remains precarious when people awaken to their local needs.

Ahmad uncovers Pakistan’s support from Saudi Arabia, as well as Saudi’s support for global jihad through its well-funded network of madrasas. Sympathy to jihadist activity is taught in Saudi funded and Deobandi schools throughout the subcontinent.

Ahmad examines the scope of global jihad, including the role of the US, Britain and Europe, noting the great blunders made by the West in dealing with it. Jihadist terrorism is not about disenfranchised or poor young Muslims who have no jobs or alternatives to express themselves. It is not about young Muslims in western countries who feel culturally inferior or rejected. Such factors may provide some fertile ground for jihad but do not cause it.

To put it simply, jihadist terrorism is part of a proxy war. It cannot flourish without significant state support. Pakistan remains the focus of this proxy war relative to India, with Saudi help in the background, and an outdated Islamic theology as its ideological mooring.

Muslim women in MumbaiSeveral other Islamic countries have lended state support to jihad or turned their eyes aside from terrorist funding from within their own borders.

A call for reform in Islam

Ahmad raises a compelling case for reform in Islamic society, notably promoting a secular education for the Muslim youth, particularly girls between the formative ages of 6-14. It is sad that governments are not taking up the cause of proper modern education for Muslim children, especially the girls, nor are NGOs.

Some Muslims may not be happy with his call for reform being combined with promoting India’s national security interests. But the fact is that jihad is a great danger to Muslims as well non-Muslims, such as we see occurring in Syria and in the attacks on Shias and Sufi sites in Pakistan.

Some Leftists may be unhappy that he exposes Indian secularism as a pandering to minority vote banks that excuses jihad. It is not just the conservative elements in Islamic society that suppress Islamic reformers, it is also the Left and liberal elements in India and the West, who promote reform movements in their own societies, yet excuse fundamentalism, if not terrorism, coming from Islamic groups.

Jihadist Threat to India should be read carefully by all Indians concerned about the future of the country and by all those in the world who wish to know the roots of global jihad. Such Islamic reformers as Tufail Ahmad should be studied and supported, as the solutions to these grave problems are most likely to arise from their insights. – Daily-O, 30 April 2016

» Dr David Frawley is a Vedacharya and includes in his unusual wide scope of studies Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic astrology, as well as the ancient teachings of the oldest Rigveda. Contact him at vedanet@aol.com.

» Tufail Ahmad is an author, commentator on South Asian current affairs, newspaper columnist, ex-BBC journalist, researcher and informed critic of everyday Islamism. He is also the Director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Washington, DC. Contact him at contact@tufailahmad.com.

Jihadist Threat To India

Eastern philosophy can simplify science – Come Carpentier

Prof K. Ramasubramanian

Come Carpentier de GourdonA new simplifying physics is called for to get us out of the maze of contemporary theories, according to the Perimeter Institute’s Neil Turok. It requires a new mathematics for a new science, designed as an art and a technique to study and mimic the cosmos, in the spirit of Hindu-Buddhist “natural philosophy”. – Come Carpentier

In the second session of the one-day symposium held in Dharamsala on modern science and ancient Indic knowledge, the Dalai Lama observed that Tibet kept the intellectual legacy of Indic sciences intact during centuries of turmoil and invasions in the subcontinent. He drew a symbolic parallel between the Hindu Lord Shiva who dwells on Mount Kailash in Tibet and the Indian prince-turned-monk Sakya Muni whose successors brought Buddhism to Tibet. The two civilisations are hence inseparably intertwined, he pointed out, although Tibet also had ancient and intense intellectual interaction with China. In the field of astronomy, for instance, Tibet knows of both the “white” tradition, imported from India and the “black” school brought by the Chinese.

14th Dalai Lama Tenzin GyatsoThis was His Holiness’s preamble to IIT Professor K. Ramasubramanian’s overview of Indian astronomy. A physicist and a Sanskrit and Vedantic scholar, Ramasubramanian is known for his translations and detailed explanatory notes on various mathematical and astronomical Indian texts and he made it clear at the outset that jyotish-shastra, “the systematic science of (celestial) illuminating bodies”, is primarily concerned about determining time through calculations of the exact positions of the sun, moon and other astral objects, not about reading individual destinies. While astronomy is purely based on observation (pratyaksa-shastra) astrology, he pointed out was a later adjunction.

Ramasubramanian recalled that as per references found in the Upanishads, jyotish is a vedanga (a limb of the Veda) pertaining to the domain of aparavidya (relative science, concerned with the natural world and samvrti satya, relative truth), as distinct from paravidya (transcendent knowledge, related to the self and to consciousness: paramartha satya).

Jyotish studies various natural cycles of time measured against the planetary motions on the background of “fixed” stars and defines time (kalakriya) according to recorded events. The main purpose is to keep track of time and hence it is rightly called kalavidhanashastra: a timekeeping technique based on dikdesakalanirmaya: definition of space, place and timeframe. Hence, astronomy is the source of mathematics. By developing the necessary sophisticated mathematical techniques, Indian astronomers seem to have achieved extraordinary precision in computing planetary positions in very ancient times, as acknowledged by western astronomers like John Playfair, who concluded in 1798 that observations would have had to be made and recorded since 4,000 years before the Christian era.

The astronomical tables and calculations brought to Europe by Simon de la Loubere in the 17th century and studied by Bailly and others in the 18th made some of them wonder how such accuracy was achieved.

On a philosophical note, the speaker reflected that man can only say what is the time in a zodiacal-calendric frame of reference, but not what Time itself is. The emphasis laid by Indian astronomers on direct observation and validation of parameters for computation of planetary positions, enabled them to periodically correct the data provided by their predecessors. Ramasubramanian also added that there is enough evidence to prove that the common western contention that the Indians were unoriginal and merely adopted concepts and methods invented by Babylonians and Greeks, is thoroughly misconceived. The invention of infinite series for Pi and other trigonometric functions by the Kerala school of astronomers, was in fact a landmark in the history of astronomy and mathematics.

Another important feature of Indian scientific philosophy is its open-model methodology which rests on the acceptance that a theory need not portray reality accurately as long as it is useful to reach the desired knowledge or result. Validity is not a matter of accuracy but of effectiveness. This idea is related to the philosophical and ethical notion of upaya or “adroit means” embodied in the Sanskrit word kausala. Theories, interpretations, ways and means are asatya and change with time. As long as they are internally consistent, and serve as useful tools in realising the ends (upeya) they are valuable.

A language, for instance, may be analysed through diverse grammatical and semantic methods, but what matters is their ability to make sense of it. The axiom is “set your goal and then select your method accordingly”. The latter requires simplification and omission of many details in order to be understandable and pragmatic. Calculations are theoretical tools which do not embody reality; hence, unlike Greek science, the Indian vidya does not set constraints on representations.

Indian astronomy integrates the awareness that nothing is ever fixed, that many models can coexist and that there may not be a single way to explain or depict nature.

The mythological, puranic cosmology which survived all along, despite contradicting the siddhanta’s scientific data (flat earth vs spherical earth whose shape and size as well as the moon’s distance from it were known to ancient Indian astronomers) is often cited by modern scholars as proof that ancient Indian civilisation was shrouded in fantastic superstitions and theological mysteries, but even in today’s world, in which science has pride of place, vast proportions of people continue to repose faith in biblical and other traditions based on authority and dogmas.

Professor Ramasubramanian illustrated the ability of Indian scientists to explain rationally the traditional metaphor of devata prasadam: gift of the Gods, invoked to explain a scientific finding “as clarity in thought obtained through grace”, and not as the deity coming to the seeker and revealing knowledge to him. Thus according to the tradition, devata prasadam is the result of hard work (tapasya), and as such any form of knowledge is fallible and always subject to revision, which would not be the case if it were a literal divine revelation.

The discussion about Indian and Tibetan cosmological and chronological notions led to a summing of the proceedings, which the author of this article preceded with an overview of emerging concepts and speculations in astrophysics, mathematics and biology.

The universe appears as made up of information “spread across an infinite memory bank” (Jacques Vallee) with “matter and energy as incidentals” (John Wheeler). Information turns into knowledge when it is inserted in an epistemic context which gives it meaning that can be shared.

The “laws” that are said to rule nature look more like “attractors” such as the famous “Golden Number” and may be regarded as acquired and evolving habits in certain domains within an erratic universe, whose randomness is an effect of our fragmentary perception of a process we perceive as a set of discontinuous events and separate structures, incoherent when seen apart from the greater whole to which they belong.

Similar to our communication with our fellow humans, our interaction with the outer world is mediated by sensorial and intellectual signs or symbols (like icons on a computer screen or words in speech, according to the Interface Theory) that are only conventional and select, simplified images of the underlying imperceptible reality. The latter appears discontinuous in the space-time frame in which we “read and write it”, but is in fact continuous and unbroken when grasped altogether.

The most advanced models of physics such as the String Theory are unable to make sense of the universe, which no longer looks “natural” in the sense Einstein gave to that adjective, but rather appears as a multiverse (without beginning, eternal and infinite, hence shapeless?) in which a Grand Unified Field Theory becomes ever more elusive and in which laws are only “arbitrary messy outcome of random fluctuations” (Quanta Magazine).

To paraphrase Einstein, it is not God who plays with dice but the dice play with Him. Sri Krishna says in the Gita that he is the game of dice itself.

Biological processes cannot be reconciled with “laws” of physics. Non-linear dynamic systems are apparently chaotic, hence unpredictable and challenge scientific criteria such as replicability and falsifiability. Truth in science is only a “fractal truth quotient”, recalling the Indic notion of relative truth and mathematics is an invented tool, which strips sensible symbols of their concrete content by reducing them to numerical abstractions. Instead we may have to look for a Theory of Everything (Else) as Vallee calls it, concerned with the properties of Information.

Recent discoveries about the process of human perception show that our cognition rebuilds a consistent, unbroken picture of reality on the basis of discontinuous fragments of sensorial input and that the brain processes and structures the images a very short time before we become aware of them. The world is truly “created” by our mind out of a “metasystem” which we can neither describe nor envision, but it may be described as a “total conscious process” shaped by the interactive behaviour of all its components that retain constant degrees of complexity at all scales of magnitude.

We are not even able to tell whether that matrix, that web of maya or Indrajala tantra is multidimensional (as we see it) or two-dimensional, but we find such interactive networks at all levels of creation, from the subatomic world to the rhizomes and “fungus internets” studied by botanists and on to the galaxies and the even larger “webs” that connect and encompass them.

To take that image further, reality is a textile, a text and a tissue like the quasi-crystalline patterns found in physics and like the fractal sets and pavings mapped by Mandelbrot and Penrose. In such a structure, chaos and order are entangled and may be seen as two sides of the coin. A new simplifying physics is called for to get us out of the maze of contemporary theories, according to the Perimeter Institute’s Neil Turok. It requires a new mathematics for a new science, designed as an art and a technique to study and mimic the cosmos, in the spirit of Hindu-Buddhist “natural philosophy”.

The hope expressed at the end of the Dharamsala symposium is that India might lead the way in this new epistemology. The Dalai Lama invited the participation of scientists and scholars from other Asian countries including China in the ongoing process of “Mind and Life” conferences that he has hosted for years in Dharamsala. – Sunday Guardian, 21 May 2016

» Come Carpentier de Gourdon is currently the Convener of the Editorial Board of the WORLD AFFAIRS JOURNAL, a quarterly publication dedicated to international issues, sponsored by the Kapur Surya Foundation, New Delhi. He is also a consultant to Indfos Industries Ltd, a company founded and chaired by the well known Indian philosopher, futurologist and engineer J. C. Kapur, and continues to provide consulting services to various other companies in India and Europe.

Indras Net

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