Conditions brightening for recovery of PoK – M.D. Nalapat

India-Pak Line of Control (LOC)

Prof M.D. NalapatAs the capability of India grows, including its essentiality to the economy of China and to the security of the United States, the option of a taking back of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is moving towards operationalisation. – M.D. Nalapat

A flood of views has emerged supporting Article 370 by individuals who do not believe that they are votaries of the Two Nation theory. This construct, which was the basis for Pakistan, holds that Hindus and Muslims are two entirely separate entities, the corollary being that the two can never co-exist in peace. Article 370 is grounded in the Two Nation theory, for it treats India’s only Muslim-majority state as an “other” needing to be separated from the rest of India, including by the banning of settlement or purchase of property by “outsiders”. The shock of Partition resulted in Jawaharlal Nehru reinforcing his (unspoken but acted upon) conclusion that the “minorities” (shorthand for the Muslim community, as neither the Sikhs, the Parsis, the Christians or the Buddhists were involved in seeking a separate faith-based state) needed to be separated by law and policy from the “majority”, i.e. the Hindus. For long, such minds have treated Muslims differently from Hindus, including in matters relating to personal law. Beginning with Mahatma Gandhi’s backing for the Wahhabi-led Khilafat agitation to Rajiv Gandhi’s hasty rollback of the Shah Bano verdict and beyond to Sonia-Manmohan’s demonstrations of fealty to the Two Nation theory, those who led the country have acted as though Muslims and Hindus are different, thus falling into the Two Nation trap that before 1947 led to many millions of Muslims, especially in Bihar and UP, backing the establishment of Pakistan. Article 370 opened a fresh wound in a body politic already ravaged by the trauma of religion-based partition, and since then has been flashing with the intensity of a neon light the toxic untruth of the Two Nation theory: that Muslims need to be treated differently from Hindus. Apart from conceding Jinnah’s partition demand, rather than holding out for a united India, or continuing post-Partition to fight for it, for example by (a) moving into the whole of Kashmir, (b) assisting the Baloch in Pakistan to form a separate republic, (c) moving into and annexing “East Pakistan” in the early 1950s when hundreds of thousands of Hindus were murdered in a barbarity that has yet to be adequately documented, and (d) supporting Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and facilitating the merger into India of the Pakhtun territories. Mao Zedong unified China, while Abraham Lincoln fought a civil war rather than agree to the division of the US. They were clearly cut from a different cloth from the Indian leadership. The penchant for mistaking the superficial for the core has been most recently revealed by the protests of those who claim to swear by Hindu-Muslim unity while at the same time backing a provision based on the false proposition that the two communities need to be kept at arm’s length from each other in the only Muslim-majority state in the Union. The longstanding policy of treating Muslims differently from Hindus has been the cardinal error that led to so many unnatural bouts of tension between the two communities.

Media channels based in the US, the UK and the rest of Europe have been in the front rank of those wailing about the removal of the “secular” Article 370 by the “communal” Narendra Modi government. If that be so, surely the US, the UK and other countries in Europe are themselves “anti-secular” by depriving Muslim-majority zones within their territories of the quarantine provided against external ingress by Article 370. Amazingly, neither the BBC nor CNN or DW has demanded that Muslims in North America and Europe should have the right to marry up to four wives at a time, and to divorce them virtually at will. Yet when some in India ask for a similar policy to be adopted here, they are portrayed as “anti-Muslim”. Clearly, there is a difference in such media outlets between people living in India and those in Euro-ethnic parts of the world. Even Justin Trudeau has shown (by the definitions and reasoning used in the case of the Indian situation) that he is “communal”, by not allowing any Canadian citizen to have more than a single wife, or by allowing non-Muslims to settle in locations where a majority of the inhabitants follow a faith that is (when freed of the Wahhabis) among the most noble and profound ever seen in human history. The tenets of Wahhabism have sought to conceal the core of the Muslim faith, which is a compound of mercy, beneficence and peace. The artificially created hard-line outer layers seeking to obscure the Word of God need to be removed, but this has not been possible for the overwhelmingly moderate majority of Muslims, largely because the same “secularists” who back the communal Article 370 also pay obeisance to the Wahhabis as the sole representatives of Muslims, a misperception followed by media outlets across the world. “Nehruvian Secularist” politicians, who are in a sulk because of the removal of Article 370, act thus because of the belief that Muslims across India back that pernicious piece of legislation. In reality, the overwhelming majority of Muslims in India know that their progress hinges on accepting in brotherhood and living in harmony with their Hindu brethren, and that measures such as Article 370 (which posit Muslims and Hindus to be separate when the interests of the two are common) have worsened rather than healed the divisions caused by the folly of the Congress Party’s acceptance of Partition in 1947 and its subsequent policies. This is why only the thin Wahhabi layer has been fuming against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move, rather than the whole of a community that is close to a strength of 200 million across India.

The window for Pakistan to accept the 1972 Shimla offer of India’s to make the Line of Control the international boundary has begun to close. As the capability of India grows, including its essentiality to the economy of China and to the security of the United States, the option of a taking back of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is moving towards operationalisation. Although Imran Khan may babble about a nuclear conflict, this is out of the question. The generals in the Pakistan army are shrewd realists, and will not sacrifice the very existence of Pakistan in an Indian retaliatory strike, even were they to lose PoK. In 1971, D.P. Dhar fashioned an alliance with the USSR that kept both China and the US at bay, while the Pakistan army was driven out of what is now Bangladesh. To get back PoK, what is needed is an alliance with the US that will keep China at bay while PoK is recovered. The Modi government needs to also enlist Afghanistan in the moves by India, as well as the goodwill of Iran. This set of circumstances will enable the taking back by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of PoK, as forecast by Home Minister Amit Shah. – Sunday Guardian Live, 31 August 2019

Prof M.D. Nalapat is an academician and columnist. Currently, he is the Editorial Director of Itv network (India) & The Sunday Guardian, Vice-Chair of Manipal Advanced Research Group, and Director of the Department of Geopolitics & International Relations at Manipal University.

Jammu & Kashmir Map



Assam court punishes Hindu priest for preventing religious conversions – GWP

 Janardan Deva Goswami

Hindu Post“It is very unfortunate that I have been charged for my work done for the protection of my culture and religion. I believe it is my duty to protect my culture and religion at this ancient seat of Vaishnavite culture.” – Janardan Deva Goswami

In a first of firsts, the head priest of a satra at the hub of Vaishnavite culture in Assam is facing criminal charges for doing his dharmic duty. On August 1st, Prashant Payeng of Jorhat, Assam had filed a complaint against Janardan Deva Goswami, the head priest of Dakshinpat Ashromi, accusing him of preventing religious conversions and preventing the spread of Christianity in Majuli.

On receiving the compliant, the local court inquired the matter by examining the complainant and some witnesses on August 14th and August 30th, respectively. The case was heard by the judiciary and the judgement was ruled against the priest. Bail was granted only on September 25th.

When approached, Goswami expressed his utter dismay at the proceedings, “It is very unfortunate that I have been charged for my work done for the protection of my culture and religion. I believe it is my duty to protect my culture and religion at this ancient seat of Vaishnavite culture.”

He further added that he had appeared before the court when summoned and is committed to comply with the orders of the court. Incidentally, Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal is the MLA from Majuli constituency.

We tried to delve deeper into this case in search of more details; we wondered if the head priest was violent in his approach of resisting the encroachment by Christian missionaries into the Vaishnavite culture, and we were keen to know if the Hindu priest had employed hate or hate speech against Christians, missionaries, or Christianity as a whole, while resisting its proliferation in Majuli.

Despite a thorough search, we found no account of physical or verbal hate instigated by Goswami ji at the missionaries or those they wished to convert. This leaves us wondering, what aspect of the head priest’s behavior constituted the sentence pronounced by the court.

Earlier this year, a Christian missionary was caught on camera, screaming anti-Hindu slurs, standing right in front of the Adiyogi statue at Isha Yoga Center, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. “Neither Yoga, nor Yogi can liberate you from sins, only Jesus can,” he was heard yelling in a state of hysterical frenzy.

In September 2018, Mohan Lazarus, a Christian preacher denigrated Hindu temples calling them, “Satan’s strongholds”. The preacher, who is also the owner of Tamil television channel Sathiyam TV, is infamous for his habitual and repeated derogatory remarks against Hindu Dharma. Back in April this year, a Goan priest had called the BJP President, Amit Shah, a “devil” and added that god “punished” late Manohar Parrikar with cancer.

A video clip of Bishop Ezra Sargunam, a controversial evangelist from Tamil Nadu went viral on various social media platforms. The video captured him calling for violence against Hindus. He was seen addressing a sizeable audience, and through his speech, instigating them to, ‘Punch (the Hindus) in their face couple of times, make them bleed and help them understand the truth,” adding for good measure that “There is nothing called as a Hindu Religion.”

However, neither were any of the above evangelists arrested, nor any criminal proceedings carried out against them and their incessant venom-spewing against 80% of the country’s population.

On the other hand, a Hindu priest is held guilty by a court of law, for merely protecting his culture and faith from the vulture-eyes of evangelists in Assam. This reminds us of the brutal murder of Ramalingam in Tamil Nadu. The ex-PMK man was seen getting into a discussion with a group of Muslim men who were proselytizing Islam in his locality. Ramalingam lost his life at the hands of those radical Islamists for merely defending his faith against malicious proselytization, and the head priest, Goswami, lost his dignity at the hands of our judicial system for the same cause.

Neither of them were offenders, they were not the ones rolling out hate or hate-filled messages. But both ended up losing. Guess they were penalized for being Hindus in a Hindu majority country, Bharat. – Hindu Post, 2 October 2019

Mohan C. Lazarus, Ezra Sargunam, Jegath Gaspar


My reply to a dubious question on Quora – Maria Wirth


Maria WirthIndian and international mainstream media clearly give the impression as if lynching of Muslims has greatly increased, in spite of not being true. There may be even more lynching and rapes of Hindus by Muslims. Yet media and so-called celebrities try their best to portray Hindus as the villains. – Maria Wirth

The question on Quora was:

Why has the hatred between Hindus and Muslims increased in the past four to five years?

My reply, which was removed by Quora editors after 2 months:

The questioner makes a claim which cannot be substantiated. If “communal crimes” had increased, one might conclude that hatred also has increased. But actually, the ‘’communal crimes” have decreased over the last 5 years in India.

However, the questioner cannot be faulted, because Indian and international mainstream media clearly give the impression as if lynching of Muslims has greatly increased, in spite of not being true. There may be even more lynching and rapes of Hindus by Muslims. Yet media and so-called celebrities try their best to portray Hindus as the villains.

Rather surprisingly (as it is a new phenomenon), this has been strongly contested by other media channels and another set of celebrities recently, as it was too obvious that this portrayal was very unfair as only crimes by Hindus with Muslims as victims were highlighted and the numerous crimes committed by Muslims were fully ignored.

But it is indeed possible that if not hatred, but tension has increased in recent times—not only between Hindus and Muslim, but also between Buddhists and Muslims for example in Sri Lanka or Myanmar or between Christians and Muslims for example in Europe and Middle East or even between Chinese Communists and Muslims in Xinjiang. The reason is that more non-Muslims have become aware of the ultimate goal of Islam, which is to make the whole world Muslim. Christians have a similar goal, but at present, Muslims are more visible because of numerous terror attacks, other crimes like gang rapes and the terrible brutality of ISIS. Incredibly, this happened according to a plan, which a Jordanian journalist detailed already almost 20 years ago regarding the future of terrorism.

The journalist Fouad Hussein had spent time in prison with Al-Zarqawi, and had also contact with many of the Al Quaida network’s leaders. Based on correspondence with these sources, he has brought out a book about Al Quaida’s master plan and an abstract was published in 2005 in Spiegel Online. (One can read it here).

It is simply amazing how accurately the plan of 7 phases was followed. The quotes in inverted commas are from the Spiegel article:

For example “between 2010 and 2013 (4th phase), Hussein writes that al-Qaida will aim to bring about the collapse of the hated Arabic governments.”

Between 2013 and 2016 (5th phase) “will be the point at which an Islamic state, or caliphate, can be declared”.

In the 6th phase “Hussein believes that from 2016 onwards there will be a period of ‘total confrontation’. As soon as the caliphate has been declared the ‘Islamic army’ will instigate the ‘fight between the believers and the non-believers’ which has so often been predicted by Osama bin Laden.”

This was written in 2005 in the article by Der Spiegel, a major German magazine.

Now has hatred between Hindus and Muslims increased?

I just heard Prime Minister Modi talk on the occasion of the victory in the Kargil war against Pakistan 20 years ago. He mentioned that peace and humanity are ingrained in the mind-set of Indians. This is true. There is probably no other people who is so tolerant as Indians or more specifically Hindus. It is visible not only in India, but all over the world, where Hindus in all likelihood are the most ideal immigrant class who are least prone to crimes and contribute maximum to the welfare of their adopted countries.

In contrast, the mind-set of Muslims has to include ridding the world of kafirs. If a Muslim wants to be a good Muslim, he cannot take friends from among non-believers. This severely hinders him to be a good human being. In fact, he is encouraged to feel hatred, as he should see kafirs as “the worst of all creatures” (Quran 98.6).

So yes, since some Muslims obviously got instigated all over the world to unleash “total confrontation”, the hatred from their side and the wariness of the other side probably increased.

If Muslims don’t realise that the Supreme Being is the creator of all humans and that all are basically one according to ancient Indian philosophy, which is supported by modern science, a harmonious living together is not possible. – Maria Wirth Blog, 7 October 2019

Maria Wirth is  Germann author and commentator who lives in Uttarakhand.

Hinduphobia on NPR

Hinduphobia in the media



The meaning of Durga – David Frawley

Ma Siddhidatri Devi

Dr David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri )Ma Durga as the divine mother can guide humanity into a new era of peace and happiness. But she does so by first eliminating the powers of darkness, not by appeasing them. – Dr David Frawley

No country in the world demonstrates such enduring reverence for the Great Mother Goddess, as does India. The Goddess is celebrated in every form, aspect and quality, through music, art, ritual, mantra and meditation. She is honoured in women, the Earth, nature and the transcendent beyond all expression. Her worship is full of splendour, delight, mystery and wonder.

The Goddess is shakti, meaning power, the resort of all transformative energy and cataclysmic force that mere human logic cannot comprehend. She possesses martial and regal forms that all must bow down before in awe. During the Navaratri—India’s famous autumn festival of the Goddess—she is worshipped as Durga, the supreme shakti, holding all majesty, wisdom and grace.

Durga is the mother of the universe from who comes forth the creation, sustenance and dissolution of all beings and all worlds. She is chit-shakti, the power of consciousness, out of which the cosmos coalesces as matter, life and mind.

India as a sublime culture and profound civilisation is the gift of Ma Durga. Durga is the Goddess who personifies India as a whole and its incredible vitality, from her presence in village shrines to her representation of the highest yogic spirituality. Bharat Mata is Durga with her imperious lion. She was the image behind India’s independence movement, which worked through her inspiration, such as Sri Aurobindo so eloquently lauded.

Durga’s protective force

Durga means she who takes us beyond all difficulties. She is the divine energy that protects the soul from duality, adversity and opposition, known and unknown. As Durga-Tara she delivers us across the turbulent ocean of ignorance to the radiant other shore beyond all darkness. She carries us over all dangers like a ship across the sea, as Vedic chants poetically reverberate.

Durga arises from agni, our inner flame of immortal life, awakening our motivation to reach the highest bliss. She is born from the power of tapas, the wholehearted concentration of our aspiration to immutable truth. She is the spiritual fire on Earth who removes all impurities for the soul to shine. Her lion indicates her ruling solar force that illumines all existence.

Durga grants us the transformative knowledge that takes us to a higher level of existence beyond all that we have previously thought possible. She is the yoga shakti dwelling in the heart that opens us up to the clear light of self-realisation, the revelation of our true divine nature that stands above all time, space and karma. The kundalini shakti arises and works within us through Durga’s force.

Durga’s sword

Durga’s sword is the source of all dharmic ruling power at spiritual and mundane levels. She commands the celestial army and its earthly counterparts struggling for truth and justice in society. Shivaji Maharaj of the Marathas and Guru Gobind Singh of the Sikhs, among many other great leaders of India, received her sword and ruled by its support. Arjuna went to Durga for her blessings prior to consulting Sri Krishna on the battlefield. Sri Krishna affirmed to him Durga’s message of fearless resolve in the face of adharma.

Yet we cannot in our mere human nature wield Durga’s sword. We must draw out the Shiva consciousness within us to do so. We must surrender to her and let her direct us, taking the role of her devotees. All weapons, whether material or spiritual, should first be consecrated to Ma Durga, so that we use them wisely, without any pride or pity in their application.

As Mahishasura Mardini, Durga slays Mahishasura, the personification of ignorance, darkness and tamas. Vijaya Dashami is her glorious tenth day of victory, after displaying her nine magnificent forms, ending with Siddhidatri, her highest blessing aspect who grants all boons and accomplishments. This nine-day dynamic display of shakti takes us to a new vision and unlimited horizon on the culminating tenth day.

Ma Durga and the future of humanity

Ma Durga as the divine mother can guide humanity into a new era of peace and happiness. But she does so by first eliminating the powers of darkness, not by compromising with them, much less by consoling or appeasing them. Ma Kali arises as her martial aspect, dissolving entrenched old karmas, compulsions and attachments that bind us to adharma, to unfold a new creation.

Today we must bring back the power of Durga to deal with our mounting global crisis. This requires that India revive its dharmic and yogic traditions that honour the Goddess as our inner guide. Awakening the nation’s deeper yoga shakti can restore India to its ancient throne as Vishvaguru, the guru of nations—with its rishi vision leading humanity on the path to higher consciousness.

Honouring Durga means empowering women in the social and political world and in the inner realm of yoga and spirituality. It necessitates protecting the Earth, not just through wise ecological practices but also through uncovering the spiritual destiny hidden in our magical planet that we have long forgotten.

Awakening Durga’s shakti within us requires that we fearlessly and relentlessly challenge the forces of darkness, including our own weakness of will that allows us to tolerate or excuse negativity and corruption. It requires that we awaken the Arjuna in each one of us to achieve our highest dharma.

India can develop a new yoga shakti to help usher in a new yuga, a new world age for all humanity. Its yogic and meditation teachings are already bringing major changes into the world mind. Yet there remains a tyrannical Mahishasura of greed, violence, arrogance and fanaticism that must be removed to allow the higher forces to fully manifest.

Ma Durga as the eternal shakti and Supreme Mother descends to remove the shadows of falsehood on our struggling earthly realm, so that our planet can become full of light and bliss for all of its myriad creatures! – Swarajya, 7 October 2016

Padma Bhushan recipient Dr David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) is an author and Sanskrit scholar recognized as a Vedacharya in India. His scope of studies include Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic astrology, as well as the ancient teachings of the Rigveda. He is the director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies in Santa  Fe, New Mexico.

Ayudha Puja in Delhi

Durga's Devotees

Archaeologist K. K. Muhammed asserts presence of Ram Mandir under Babri Masjid – Swarajya Staff

K.K. Mohammed

Swarajya Magazine“Even now the time has not elapsed. Before the Supreme Court gives its judgement, Muslims should hand over the place to Hindus and create an example. That is my humble request to them” – K. K. Muhammed

With the Supreme Court currently conducting day to day hearing in Ram Janmabhoomi case, the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid issue is again in national focus and amidst all the din one man stands out—archaeologist K. K. Muhammed.

An acclaimed archaeologist who served as Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) regional director, Muhammed was involved in key discoveries including Akbar’s Ibadat Khana in Fatehpur Sikri.

His most notable contribution though has been reporting the presence of a temple below the Babri Masjid.

He was awarded the Padma Shri for his contributions and has been lauded for daring to speak the truth which has been uncomfortable for many entrenched in the Leftist ecosystem.

One such instance was given by author and scientist Anand Ranganathan on Twitter:

When Muhammed was told he was going to be suspended for making public the fact that he had discovered temple remnants inside Babri, he replied, in Sanskrit: “Lokasamgramevapi Sampasyan Kartumarhasi. Swadharme nidhanam shreya.”

I spoke the truth. Death is preferable while on duty.

Now in a latest interview Muhammed has again reiterated his bold claims.

What are K. K. Muhammed’s claims?

Muhammed was part of the first ASI archaeological team led by B. B. Lal in 1976-77 and has strongly maintained that there is enough archaeological evidence to prove that there are temple remains below the Babri Masjid.

During the 1976-77 excavation, Muhammed found that 12 pillars of the controversial mosque were built out of temple remains. He discovered a Purna Kalasha structure shaped in form of a Ghada (water pitcher) part of the Ashtamangala Chinha in Hinduism which is found on the base of 12th and 13th century temples.

He adds that at an excavation in the western side of the Babri Masjid, the team uncovered various terracotta sculptures. This proves the temple’s presence as such structures are haram (forbidden) in Islam.

ASI in 2003 had undertaken another excavation of the site, but matters were complicated with the destruction of the Babri Masjid. Despite this, Muhammed states that the survey found several structures underground.

While the first excavation had found 12 temple pillars, the 2003 excavation found over 50 pillars in 17 rows which proved the large (grand) nature of the structure which stood before the Babri Mosque.

As per Muhammed, this excavation also uncovered the temple Pranala which was used to bathe the deity. It also discovered a Makara Pranali (crocodile face) which is an exclusive property of a temple.

He adds that the excavation also uncovered other parts of the temple like Amalka, Grivah and Shikhara, besides discovering 263 pieces of terracotta structures of Hindu gods and goddesses.

Taking on the Leftist ecosystem

Muhammed has been a big critic of Leftist historians like Irfan Habib and Romila Thapar whom he accuses of preventing an amicable resolution in the Ram Mandir dispute.

He writes in his book Njan Enna Bharatiyan (I, an Indian) that the Babri issue would have been settled long ago had the Muslim community not fallen prey to the “brain washing by the Leftist historians”.

He states that historians like Romila Thapar, Bipin Chandra and S. Gopal supported by Irfan Habib, R. S. Sharma, D. N. Jha, Suraj Bhan and Akthar Ali argued that there was no mention of the dismantling of the temple before 19th century, and they also called Ayodhya a Buddhist-Jain centre.

As per Muhammed, when the Left historians falsely made this claim in the 1990s he then wrote a column detailing his findings.

He also blasts the Leftist historians for making their “ignorant statements” and taking the Muslim community for a ride. He added that virtually no-one in this Leftist team was an archaeologist thus they had no authority to state that they found no evidence of a temple below the Babri Mosque.

K. K. Muhammed’s personal view on the Ram Mandir dispute

Muhammed has time and again reiterated that the Ram Janmabhoomi is as significant for HIndus as Mecca and Madina is for Muslims. He thus has maintained that Muslims should have willingly handed over the piece of land to Hindus.

“Even now the time has not elapsed. Before the Supreme Court gives its judgement, Muslims should hand over the place to Hindus and create an example. That is my humble request to them”, Muhammed was quoted as saying.

With regards to the Supreme Court’s verdict, Muhammed states that archaeological evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of a Hindu temple and he believed that the apex court’s judgement would not be to the contrary. – Swarajya, 2 October 2019

› See also: Babri Masjid dispute was the outcome of a historical blunder

Ramlalla Temple on the Babri Masjid site after the demolition.


The Idea of India – Subhash Kak


Prof Subhash KakTo provide justification for colonial rule, the British declared that Indian society was pre-rational and it needed guidance by Western ideas. Depicted thus in textbooks at all levels, Indians came to believe this characterization, and this included nationalist politicians and intellectuals. – Prof Subhash Kak

There are many who see India’s recent election results as a repudiation of the textbook idea of India. They find the results painful, as if the walls of the India of their imagination have been brought down.

They say they love India as much as anyone, so they can’t understand how the people could have been so destructive to vote the way they did.

Spring is passing, the birds cry, and the fishes eyes fill with tears. — Matsuo Bashō (17th century)

I want to present a different take on the election. I concede that the results are a rejection of an India that many have come to feel comfortable with, but it is an India based on falsehoods and half-truths, motivated by pseudoscience and racism.

If the changes that have occurred inspire people to investigate the foundations of the rejected idea of India and examine them with an open mind, that will be a good thing. I am hoping they will be convinced that the past described in textbooks is inaccurate, make peace with it, look at the future with hope, and discover new ways for growth and prosperity for all Indians.

That will be a new dawn!

My barn burnt down, I can now see the moon. — Mizuta Masahide (17/18th century)

The Old Idea of India

The old idea of India emerged from the work of British colonial administrators and European scholars motivated by the demands of the Raj, pseudoscience and racial prejudice. The British dismantled India’s schools and created a new system of colleges and universities using English as the medium of research and instruction. Their understanding of India was imperfect quite like someone claiming to know Britain ignorant of Shakespeare and Shelley, Austen and Dickens, or Darwin and Dirac. But the British ruled the narrative; Indian classics were thrown out, and Indians could enter the academy only on the terms set by them.

To provide justification for colonial rule, the British declared that Indian society was pre-rational and it needed guidance by Western ideas. Depicted thus in textbooks at all levels, Indians slowly came to believe this characterization, and this included nationalist politicians and intellectuals. So I was not surprised that even a nationalist poet like Ramdhari Singh Dinkar in his much-praised Sanskriti ke chār adhyāya parroted this understanding.

There were two main elements to this idea of India:

One: India is a land divided by rigid caste and hierarchy and its social and intellectual history must be seen within this framework and as an encounter between different races.

Two: Indian society is deeply conservative and religious and it has no real tradition of science, arts and innovation. There has been some innovation in mathematics, architecture, and philosophy, but it was done by outsiders who were descendants of invading or migrating groups. India has received most of its worthy ideas from the west and the north, and this includes writing.

After the British left, the education, administrative, and political ecosystem remained tethered to this idea. There was challenge to it from scholars who knew Indian texts and by subaltern groups, but they were strongly ridiculed. New research over the last few decades has undermined the previous model and a new generation of serious scholars has joined in the criticism. It has become clear that the idea of India conjured up by the British is false, and mostly a fabrication.

But there has also been a reaction by others in the academy who are driven by Eurocentrism and prejudice. Astonishingly, some have even resorted to fabrication of evidence in support of the old view (for example, see here).

Caste in India

Many will be shocked to discover that the modern idea of caste is a colonialist construct (see also this). There is no synonym for caste in any Indian language. The word ‘caste’ comes from the Portuguese casta, a word that was meant to describe the jāti system that is composed of clan or occupation-based communities, but slowly it has come to have a much broader connotation. The term was conflated with varṇa, which is a theoretical classification based on social class.

India’s jātis represented a fluid system, not too dissimilar from that of other cultures. As people migrated from one region to another, they often changed occupation or were identified with a different class. There was also powerful religious sanction to the idea that varṇa, as representative of the class one fitted in best, was based on temperament rather than birth.

To get context for what was happening to the jātis, one should remember that the British destroyed India’s economy by crushing taxation and preventing investments in India just as the industrial revolution took off in Europe. India rapidly became deindustrialized and turned into a destination for British goods. This was great for the Empire but a disaster for India. The horror of that period may be guessed from the estimate that India’s share of the world manufacturing fell from 20% to about 1.4% during the British rule (the estimate if for 1750 -1914).

The dynamics between the jātis has been influenced a great deal by historical and political factors. During the periods of economic growth, the jātis have been relatively open-ended; during periods of hardships the jātis have tended to draw in for the sake of survival.

Colonial anthropologists failed to understand the complexities and fluidity of the jātis. The classification in terms of these castes was used to categorize people in the census forms in 1872. Most jātis were not aware of the specific varṇa class they belonged to but were squeezed into the varṇa system by the British administrators.

Based on his understanding of the 1872 Census, the British administrator Denzil Ibbetson argued that jātis were a social rather than a religious mechanism for those who had converted to Islam also had it. He insisted that varṇa categories of Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra did not correspond to reality. He thought that the Kshatriya likely no longer existed and Vaishya certainly did not. There were classes of Brahmins who were viewed as outcastes even by the lowest ritual rank, the Shudra, and that the latter term was primarily used as a form of abuse rather than in any categorical sense.

But the ideas of racism were very strong and the perfect fit for the colonial project in India. Missionaries, anthropologists, and government officials set about identifying and classifying Indians into different castes. They used head measurements, skin color, physique, and occupation to develop a racial theory of Indian civilization.

The British Superintendent of the 1921 census summarized what they had done over the previous half-century: “We pigeon-holed everyone by caste and if we could not find a true caste for them, labelled them with the name of hereditary occupation. We deplore the caste system and its effect on social and economic problems, but we are largely responsible for the system we deplore.”

Some jātis were declared to be martial and therefore fit to serve in the army, others were left with menial jobs, and yet others were labeled criminal. The British created a system of institutionalized discrimination. Slowly, the jātis that came out on the top in this classification began to believe in the myth of their superiority since immemorial time. These false ideas have poisoned politics for over a century in the entire Indian subcontinent.

Think about this: H. H. Risley hoped to demonstrate that the social status “varies in inverse ration to the mean relative width of the nose” and his colleague guessed that “intelligence is in inverse proportion to the breadth of the nose.” People were discouraged to apply for clerical jobs if their nasal index exceeded 78.

The historian Thomas Trautmann considers H.H. Risley, who became Census Commissioner in 1899, along with the philologist Max Müller, to have most aggressively pushed the idea “that the constitutive event for Indian civilization, the Big Bang through which it came into being, was the clash between invading, fair-skinned, civilized Sanskrit-speaking Aryans and dark-skinned, barbarous aborigines.” Their influence is not entirely gone. Some of the most racist scholars are to be found in the Indology and Sanskrit departments of the West.

India and science

Writing in 1068, the Spanish-Arab savant Said al-Andalusi declared in his book Ṭabaqāt al-ʼUmam (“Categories of Nations”) comparing the science of the leading nations that Indians were the most advanced: “The Indians are the essence of wisdom, source of fairness and objectivity. They are the peoples of sublime pensiveness, universal apologues, and useful and rare inventions.”

The British administrators in the education system were generally ignorant of India’s history of science so they did not accept this characterization, even if they acknowledged that the Indian schools were able to impart basic education to broad segments of society, irrespective of their jāti. Macaulay famously stated, Indian knowledge was worthless, and reason enough to separate Indians from their traditions and books, and this became a cornerstone of their education policy.

It is now well accepted that India has been one of the leading scientific nations of the world. Since I have already written much on it elsewhere, here are the links to an overview of ancient Indian science and how it supplied the foundational bases of modern science. Nevertheless, this material is generally unknown to the layperson and therefore old myths persist.

An aside on why I ever got into the study of the history of Indian science. In the eighties, I happened to see a paper which argued that if there was something in Indian scientific texts that was not to be found in Greek or Babylonian texts, then it should be taken as an example of lost Greek or Babylonian knowledge. The fact that such a stupid hypothesis was taken seriously in the academy got me hooked into investigating this field (see also this).

The election and the aftermath

The election was held in the background of rapid economic growth (fastest of any major economy) when jobs have remained under pressure due to the inevitable increase in the use of automation and AI technologies. The policy differences between the BJP and the opposition parties were not large but their manifestos appeared to be motivated by distinctly different visions.

The BJP espoused a nationalism that appeared to reject the Western textbook idea of India, which was ridiculed by the media in India and overseas. The Left parties spoke of incremental change while continuing to see India through the colonial lens that has been the consensus for decades.

The magnitude of the Left’s defeat surprised most observers. The election turned out to have been a subaltern revolt against the elites. The well-informed subaltern felt morally and educationally superior to those with advanced degrees who are ignorant of India’s own history. Seen from this perspective, the election results are an indictment of India’s education system.

Let the light of knowledge banish old myths and darkness. To help that along, the government will do well to undertake these two administrative steps:

1. Discontinue the use of the inaccurate term caste in government and official documents, and replace it by jāti or community, as appropriate.

2. Introduce a course on the history of Indian science in high school and college curricula, and also a curriculum for those who are interested in Indian classics.

Indian culture is humanistic and universal; it has no dichotomy of believer and non-believer, and it has the capacity to deal with the challenges of artificial intelligence for all mankind.

If the people of India voted for progress (सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः, सर्वे सन्तु निरामया: “let all be prosperous and let all be wholesome”) and a rejection of the colonialist prejudices of the yesteryear, isn’t that a good thing? – Medium, 22 August 2019

›  Padma Shri Professor Subhash Kak is an author, historian and AI computer scientist at the Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.


Burden of proof lies in past cultural transgressions – Ravi Shankar

Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji

Ravi Shankar The destruction of ancient cultures is caused by insecurity and arrogant ignorance that impose an alien god’s law on vanquished populations. Rookie religions are predatory and political. – Ravi Shankar

History isn’t always written by the victor. It is rewritten by vandals and murderers, too. Today, the Great Indian Cultural Debate has Leftist scholars scoffing at the classical authenticity of the scriptures and the Right claiming spiritual provenance as proof.

But there could be more credible answer for the absence of written records detailing post-Vedic India. Islamic holocausts perpetrated by waves of invasions burned down libraries and condemned native knowledge as heresy.

The writings of Chinese explorer Hiuen Tsang who visited India between 627 and 643 CE reveal a highly sophisticated civilisation.

He wrote of people wearing clothes of cotton, silk and wool, were well educated and loved literature and the arts. Students between nine and 30 years of age went to school.

The written language was Sanskrit. Very little evidence of this lost era exists in India, but they do in Chinese records.

Hence, it would be correct to presume that the drafted history of India was obliterated by Islamic raiders like Bakhtiyar Khilji who burned down over nine million manuscripts at Nalanda.

The story goes that he claimed that libraries which did not stock the Koran offended god and if they did have it, there was no need for any other book.

The ISIS has followed Khilji’s template across the Middle East. The destruction of ancient cultures is caused by insecurity and arrogant ignorance that impose an alien god’s law on vanquished populations. Rookie religions are predatory and political.

In the days before Hiroshima and Chernobyl, neophyte converts weaponised faith to conquer nations and loot their resources—all in the name of God. Sure, there were benefits, too. Great art, music, dance and cuisine were born from the Mughal experience.

The British brought English and technology. But both diminished India’s cultural reserves and brutalised its religious, linguistic and artistic heritage. It was cultural imperialism with a divine discount.

But the Islamic invaders were simply following their Christian counterparts. For over 1,000 years, early Christians in different countries continued to follow their local traditions which threatened the power of the Roman Catholic Church.

It ordered a savage cleansing of “heretics and agnostics” like the Cathars in France and Italy. They were a highly evolved Christian cult which followed the New Testament, believed in gender equality and refused to convert to Catholicism, calling the Church corrupt.

The only information on Cathars lies in Vatican records, which would naturally be highly biased. After the Church’s attempts to bring Cathars into its fold failed, Pope Innocent III ordered a crusade in 1208, promising that killing a Cathar would assure the murderer a place in paradise. Sounds familiar? Only the 72 virgins are missing! – The New Indian Express, 29 September 2019

Ravi Shankar is an author, columnist and cartoonist in New Delhi.

Albigensian Crusade