Ode to Shiva – Raji P. Shrivastava

Lord Shiva grinding bhang.

Raji P. Shrivastava“The scholarly hold this narrow view of you—that you are the sun, the moon, fire, air, water, space, earth, the Self. But who knows the things that you are not?” — Pushpadanta

“Nada tanu manisham shankaram….” sang Tyagaraja, the Carnatic saint-composer, in an immortal ode to Shiva or Shankara, the Lord of Auspiciousness.

“I salute you, with my head and my mind, for you are the embodiment of Nada (sound) and the essence of the Sama Veda. The sapta-swara or the seven notes, Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni emerge from your five faces—Sadyojata, Vamadeva, Tatpurusha, Ishana and Aghora.” Tyagaraja’s chosen deity was Ram, and his usual language of composition was Telugu, but here he employed some stunning Sanskrit epithets for Shiva.

Pushpadanta, a Gandharva, composed the Shiva-Mahimna Stotram, a string of lyrical verses in praise of Shiva, where he noted, “The scholarly hold this narrow view of you—that you are the sun, the moon, fire, air, water, space, earth, the Self. But who knows the things that you are not?” Shiva is the bestower of the most auspicious boons upon the Gods in heaven, despite the fact that his own possessions are seemingly inauspicious—the bull, a wooden hand-rest, an axe, a tiger skin, serpents, a human skull and ash smeared on his body. Shiva is beyond all delusions caused by the mirage of worldly life and therein lies his greatness.

Ravana, the ten-headed demon king of Lanka, whose pursuit of power was rivalled only by his legendary devotion to Shiva, realised that a different state of mind is needed to comprehend that sublime reality. “When will I be able to worship that eternal Shiva from a position of detached indifference towards a snake or a garland, precious gems or a clod of earth, friends or foes and a blade of grass or lotus-shaped eyes?” “Samapravartika kada sadashivam bhajamyaham?” he queried, in his famous composition, Shiva Tandava Stotram.

In the Vedas, obeisance is offered to Shiva in the form of Rudra. Curiously, the supreme ascetic is described as the wealth of the household and guardian deity of the home (vastavyaya cha vastupaya). Shiva as Rudra is worshipped as the sacred Om and the source of happiness in this life and in the hereafter. He confers bliss in this life and in the one beyond. The Rudram Chamakam, a powerful hymn from the Yajurveda, says that he is worshipped because he is auspicious—Shiva—but also because he is more auspicious—Shivatara—than any other thing.

Venerable seers or power-crazed demons, saintly musicians or divine minstrels, homemakers or office-goers—everyone connects with the Shiva within. The lyrics may differ and the settings may change, but the heart thrills with the instinctive realisation that we dance to an auspicious music deep within our souls—something very Shiva-like. – The Asian Age, 26 February 2014

» Raji P. Shrivastava is an IAS officer in Punjab. 

The non-dual reality of Lord Shiva – David Frawley

Parvati, Shiva, Vishnu and Garuda

David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri )Shiva is not what we think God is supposed to be, conforming to our opinions or hopes; Shiva is what the Supreme Divine truly is beyond the limitations of our minds and the fixed tenets of any particular faith or belief. … There is no box we can place Shiva into, no formula or structure that the mind can arrive at that can comprehend him. – Dr David Frawley

Shiva is ultimately a deity that represents the non-dualistic Absolute beyond all the contraries and oppositions of this dualistic world of time, space, and karma. He is the force of transcendent unity that is more than the combination of opposites and holds simultaneously the power of both sides of all dualities. Shiva is a deity who transcends duality in his very nature, appearance and manifestation—which also requires that he embraces all dualities and resolves them back into himself. This makes Shiva difficult to understand for the dualistic mind caught in outer differences and distinctions.

Shiva reflects the supreme truth that dwells beyond both relative truth and relative falsehood. He is the Supreme Being beyond both relative being and non-being. He is the supreme good beyond both relative good and evil. He embraces our world on both sides, above, below, and in the center and yet stands infinitely beyond it. He is One, yet he is all. He is everything and nothing, both within all things, outside of all things, and not limited by anything.

As a non-dual deity, Shiva seems contrary to our prevailing views of what is logical, right or appropriate. Shiva is portrayed as a dispassionate yogi yet he has the most powerful passions and the most beautiful and powerful wife. He both destroys Kamadeva, the ordinary God of love but then becomes the Supreme God of Love himself, Kameshvara. He takes us beyond suffering, but to do this he can cause us excruciating pain.

Shiva awakens a higher awareness in us, but for this to occur he must first take us beyond all our preconceptions, making us see the darkness of ignorance behind our lives. Shiva represents our higher Self that is the goal of our aspirations, but to reach it we must allow our ego, its attachments and opinions to be dissolved, giving up our ordinary sense of self altogether.

The challenge of our encounter with Shiva

Shiva in his diverse names, forms, and actions is meant to be challenging for us to grasp. Lord Shiva is not meant to be easy to understand, nor can we present his reality in a simple manner that resolves all doubts as to what he actually represents. To contact the reality of Shiva we must face all doubts and difficulties within ourselves and learn how to move beyond them with steadiness and grace. We must recognize the limitations of the mind and its particularized knowledge. The portrayal of Shiva is not meant to present us with only a pleasing appearance, any more than life is always kind. Our encounter with Shiva is meant to shake us up, to stir our inner transformative energies—to get us to question ourselves and all that we may hold to be truth or reality.

Any real encounter with Lord Shiva is not likely to conform to our existing beliefs, hopes, or expectations. It may not leave us feeling more confident about who we are, or more certain that our lives are moving in the right direction. An encounter with Shiva may not initially make us feel happier or give us more prosperity or what we may regard as a better life.

Shiva is not what we think God is supposed to be, conforming to our opinions or hopes; Shiva is what the Supreme Divine truly is beyond the limitations of our minds and the fixed tenets of any particular faith or belief. Shiva is the supreme reality, not we ourselves, our ideas, opinions, books, or institutions. Shiva is the cosmic reality not our individual or collective imaginations and fantasies. There is no box we can place Shiva into, no formula or structure that the mind can arrive at that can comprehend him.

To arrive at the state of supreme awareness that is Shiva, we must allow ourselves to be stripped bare of our personal conditioning down to the subconscious level, beyond the memories of the present birth and the perceptions of the outer world. We must learn to see ourselves in all beings past, present, and future. We must be humbled back to the core of our being where no self-image prevails, and where there is no other that we have to conform to, please, or fear.

The human mind as it is today is not a conscious intelligence that we can rely upon to determine what is real. It is a conditioned response mechanism for biological survival and social development. Information technology has augmented its powers but not taken us beyond its dualistic limitations. But in the silence of the heart, where all is forgotten, one can know the truth. You are Shiva in your deepest Self and core being. Shiva is the non-dual reality in which you personally are not there, yet in which through your inmost essence of feeling and awareness you are everything.

We can approach Lord Shiva many ways through ritual, yoga, mantra, pranayama and meditation, but these are only expedient measures to draw us beyond body and mind to the mysterious core of our being that knows all intuitively without being trapped in any concepts.

Om Namah Shivaya!

» Dr. David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) is a teacher in the Vedic tradition. In India, Vamadeva is recognized as a Vedacharya, and includes in his unusual wide scope of studies Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic astrology, as well as the Vedic teachings going back to the Rigveda. Article from Vedanet.

Lord Shiva meditating in bliss while Devi Parvati plays the vina.

How to teach Indian history, and how not to – N. S. Rajaram

Kamlesh Kapur

Dr. N. S. RajaramIt is now a time-worn cliché that the teaching of Indian history has been distorted. The real question is how to correct it. A committed teacher has taken an important step by showing how to go about doing it. – Dr N. S. Rajaram

Speaking before the Kerala History Association, Kochi on 18 Dec. 2005, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, then President and among the most respected intellectuals in India observed: “The best historians present us with descriptions and analyses of the past that make unfamiliar times and places somehow comprehensible. In seeking to penetrate the veil of the past, we end up by studying how other individuals and societies dealt with the practical and existential problems at least related to our own.” 

After this sage observation, Dr. Kalam came specifically to Indian history and noted: “My observation is that in India many have written history of India [coming] both from the Indian historians recently and by those who had conquered us. So far, even 58 years after Independence, the dogmas, rituals, systems and norms of the historical past, imposed by the last millennium of invasion and conquest, still continue to condition our minds.” Most tellingly he emphasized: 

“We tend more to conform to the past [as described by our invaders and occupiers], rather than think in true freedom and create a future, free from the pain of the past. Now time has come, in the 21st century, we need new breed of historians who can make the past meet the present and create the future….”   

More than a century before Dr. Kalam, Swami Vivekananda told a group of youngsters (1891): “Study Sanskrit, but along with it study Western sciences as well. Learn accuracy, my boys, study and labor so that the time will come when you can put our history on a scientific basis. … The histories of our country written by English writers cannot but be weakening to our minds, for they talk only of our downfall. How can foreigners, who understand very little of our manners and customs, or our religion and philosophy, write faithful and unbiased histories of India?”   

He then went on to observe: “Naturally many false notions and wrong inferences have found their way into them. Nevertheless they have shown us how to proceed making researches into our ancient history. Now it is for us to strike out an independent path of historical research for ourselves, to study the Vedas and Puranas and the ancient annals (Itihasas) of India, and from them make it your sadhana (disciplined endeavor) to write accurate, sympathetic and soul-inspiring history of India. It is for Indians to write Indian history.” 

Without resorting to polemics, Vivekananda exhorted his youthful audience to “…never cease to labor until you have revived the glorious past of India in the consciousness of the people. That will be the true national education, and with its advancement, a true national spirit will be awakened.” What he left unsaid was that such an approach would need them to develop new tools of historical research leading to new methodologies 

Historical method 

One scholar who appears to have taken this message to heart is Smt Kamlesh Kapur, an educator of great experience both in India and the US. She has put her knowledge, experience and the spirit invoked by Dr. Kalam and Swami Vivekananda into practice in producing the book Portraits of a Nation: History of Ancient India. In addition to giving the facts of history as can best be reconstructed the author provides details of methodology used and historiography.  

A book along these lines should have been, and could have been, written fifty years ago, but was not. The reasons are several, but two need to be highlighted because they have persisted. First, there was the Nehruvian feudal establishment; and pandering to his tastes and prejudices became the route to recognition and career success. This meant that the views advanced in Jawaharlal Nehru’s amateurish and entirely Eurocentric Discovery of India became entrenched in history books as the “authorized” view. To go with this, a whole generation of historians beginning with Romila Thapar and R. S. Sharma were trained by a single British professor, A. L. Basham of the School of Oriental Studies in London. Basham was more a religious scholar than a historian or archaeologist, but his legacy has persisted. 

It is unhealthy for any institution to be so in-bred in its research and faculty, with everyone trained to think the same way. A prime example is the Center for Historical Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. Until recently it was dominated by the Marxist historian—and Basham student—Romila Thapar and a clique around her. A singular feature of ‘scholars’ belonging to this clique is their ignorance of Indian languages, especially Sanskrit. This is true of Thapar also though it has not stopped her from writing extensively about Vedic India! As a result they are totally dependent on English translations made by colonial scholars. This has resulted in what Sri Aurobindo called their “lack of sturdy independence” and “excessive deference to European authority.” 

What this clique has produced is copycat scholarship, with status tied to how closely they follow their erstwhile European masters. This makes them oppose any revisions to Eurocentric models like the Aryan invasion theory and the Aryan-Dravidian myth. In fact, the strongest defenders today of these discredited notions are not Europeans anymore but their Indian followers. Harappans as Dravidians and victims of the Aryan invasion is propagated not by European scholars but Dravidian politicians like Karunanidhi. (One exception is Asko Parpola who was paid a generous reward by Karunanidhi for endorsing the DMK ideology built on the scientifically discredited Aryan-Dravidian divide.) 

This sheds light on another aspect of the post-Independence history establishment, especially of the JNU-AMU (Aligarh Muslim University) school, known more for political activism than any contributions to scholarship. Underlying their political posturing is the denial of everything good about India. Vedas and Sanskrit were brought by invading Aryans; Indian astronomy is of Greek origin; Muslim invaders including Babar never destroyed any Hindu temples—you get the drift. 

Much of this can be explained by the fact that this arrogance and posturing is a façade to cover up their deficiency in scholarship and inferiority complex. Being ignorant of both science and primary sources (in Sanskrit), they feel their best defense lies in denial and attack. This came to the fore when this writer and the late Natwar Jha in 2000 proposed a solution to the Harappan script puzzle by linking its language to Vedic Sanskrit and presenting readings of a large number of inscriptions. 

This of course demolishes the Aryan-Dravidian myth. The reaction of JNU-AMU clique was not any attempt at refutation, but a personal attack in the Communist magazine Frontline. Even here, Romila Thapar, lacking the self-confidence to deal with our work (based on Vedic Sanskrit), went to Hindu-baiter Michael Witzel of Harvard to mount the attack. (The recent attack on Subramanian Swamy and Rajiv Malhotra by Witzel and his colleague Diana Eck is not without precedent.) 

In pursuit of their goals, this clique has not hesitated to deny and even falsify evidence. A prime example that had tragic consequences was its denial and falsification of evidence for the existence of a prior temple and its destruction beneath the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. This was noted by the judge who severely criticized these scholars for their role. In its judgment on the long-standing Ram Janmabhoomi dispute, the Allahabad High Court flayed the role played by several witnesses including Thapar’s protégé Shireen Ratnagar.  She was forced to admit under oath that she had no field experience in archaeological excavations in India. 

Still their hostility bordering on hatred towards their ancestral land and culture is hard to comprehend. They owe everything to India; unlike Indian scientists and professionals, they would be nonentities in the West. Perhaps Shakespeare said it best when Julius Caesar was murdered by his erstwhile followers: “What private griefs these men have, alas, I know not.” 

Be that as it may, Kamlesh Kapur in Portraits of a Nation: History of Ancient India suffers from no such deficiencies or ignorance of primary sources and science. She displays a refreshingly original approach to the sources. She observes that the Vedas, the Rig Veda in particular has been the most faithfully preserved text of the ancient world and hence has suffered least in terms of interpolations. We must treat the Vedic records—names, dynasties, astronomical statements, etc—as the most reliable and accord them the highest priority. 

This is a valuable insight: it means that statements that seemingly violate our beliefs—like Aryans as nomadic invaders—cannot be dismissed. If the Rig Veda describes a maritime society of rivers, oceans and ships as David Frawley pointed out more than 20 years ago, we cannot ignore it and insist that it was nomadic-pastoral. Also to be admired is the author’s bold multidisciplinary approach by looking at natural history, genetics, and archaeo-astronomy in addition to the usual sources like archaeology and literary records. In fact, some of this material appears for the first time in a textbook (as opposed to articles and research monographs by Oppenheimer, Cavalli-Sforza and this writer). 

In the process, the author succeeds in building a sound foundation in historiography not only for her book but for all future students of Indian history. A particular strength of the book is that its author is no ivory tower academic writing to impress peers, but an educationist who has worked with students and teachers for many years. She has seen the problems at ground level, and has produced a book that is at once up to date and pedagogically sound. 

To appreciate the value of Kamlesh Kapur’s work it helps to have some idea of the magnitude of the distortion, nay perversions, inflicted on generations of innocent young minds by self-serving academics in the name of history. It is a vast subject, but here is a brief summary. It is a case study in how not to teach history, or any subject for that matter. 

Historians or ‘distortians’ 

While most educated Indians now have at least an idea that their history has been distorted, few know the lengths to which “scholars”—European and Indian—have gone to preserve and perpetuate the Aryan myth. Given the Aryans’ importance to their worldview, it is extraordinary that after two hundred years of voluminous outpourings, these scholars are still unable to identify them. Originally they were claimed to be a race related to Europeans but science has discredited it. 

After the defeat of Nazi Germany, scholars avoid overtly racial arguments but the basic idea of an invasion by Europeans bringing civilization to India is retained even if they acknowledge that ancient Indian records know nothing of any such invasion. All we have are repeated assertions of their central dogma. As expressed by the late Murray Emeneau, a leading linguist: 

“At some time in the second millennium B.C., probably comparatively early in the millennium, a band or bands of speakers of an Indo-European language, later to be called Sanskrit, entered India over the northwest passes. This is our linguistic doctrine which has been held now for more than a century and a half. There seems to be no reason to distrust the arguments for it, in spite of the traditional Hindu ignorance of any such invasion.” 

This is typical of the field, with arguments closer to theology than to science. In short Emeneau and his ilk are telling us: “Evidence be damned, we know Aryans invaded India and brought the Vedas.” Aryans are needed because there can be no Aryan invasion without the Aryans. It is a case of the tail wagging the dog, but theology cannot exist without such “logic”. Scientists, however, had long ago dismissed the idea of the Aryan race. As far back as 1939, Sir Julian Huxley, one of the great biologists of the twentieth century had observed: 

“In England and America the phrase ‘Aryan race’ has quite ceased to be used by writers with scientific knowledge, though it appears occasionally in political and propagandist literature…. In Germany, the idea of the “Aryan race” received no more scientific support than in England. Nevertheless, it found able and very persistent literary advocates who made it appear very flattering to local vanity. It therefore steadily spread, fostered by special conditions.” 

These “special conditions” were the rise of Nazism in Germany and British imperial interests in India. Its perversion in Germany leading eventually to the Nazi horrors is well known. The fact that the British turned it into a political tool to make their rule acceptable to Indians is not generally known. A recent BBC report acknowledged as much (October 6, 2005): 

“It [Aryan invasion theory] gave a historical precedent to justify the role and status of the British Raj, who could argue that they were transforming India for the better in the same way that the Aryans had done thousands of years earlier.” 

That is to say, the British presented themselves as “new and improved Aryans” that were in India only to complete the work left undone by their ancestors in the hoary past. This is how the British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin put it in the House of Commons in 1929:

 “Now, after ages, … the two branches of the great Aryan ancestry [Indians and the British] have again been brought together by Providence…. By establishing British rule in India, God said to the British, “I have brought you and the Indians together after a long separation. … It is your duty to raise them to their own level as quickly as possible …brothers as you are….” 

Preposterous as it sounds today, it was a ploy to create an Indian elite loyal to the British rulers by flattering them as long-lost brothers, now being uplifted from their degraded state. The ploy was so successful that English educated Indians continue to cling to this fiction long after the British themselves admitted to the fraud. While the British can live without their creation, their followers in the Indian history establishment cannot do without it. Their identity no less than their politics is bound up with it. 

All this is a matter of record. Our historians don’t have to learn Sanskrit or study the Vedas to understand it. Yet they are curiously reluctant to expose such passages that bring their whole history into discredit. They loudly denounce the Nazi misuse of Aryan myth, but carefully avoid mentioning its British version. Worse, they continue to perpetuate it by resorting to various subterfuges. 

Thomas Trautman (Aryans and British India) makes no mention of these even while acknowledging the British effort to create an Indian identity through a concocted Aryan kinship. In India: Brief history of a civilization (2011), he falls back on the Aryan migration—or invasion—with Sanskrit as a foreign import. He resorts to spurious arguments like the ‘rare’ depiction of the Aryan horse in Harappan archaeology to preserve the Vedic-Aryan, Dravidian-Harappa divide. (Why? Did those horses speak Sanskrit?) 

When I presented some of this material at a workshop in the U.K., a member of the audience, not a historian, joked that these people who engaged in distortion on such a monumental scale should be called “distortians” rather than historians. Historians in the audience did not find it funny. 

In the U.S., these “distortian” scholars are in a state of near panic and running to wealthy Indians for money with cries of “Sanskrit in danger if you don’t fund us.” Our response should be: “Sanskrit thrived for thousands of years long before any of you Indologists appeared on the planet. Vyasa, Valmiki, Bhasa, Kalidasa nor any of the great figures in the Sanskrit pantheon needed to go to you distortians or your blighted departments.”  – Vijayvaani, 18 February 2017

» Dr N. S. Rajaram is a mathematician who publishes on topics related to ancient Indian history and Indian archaeology, alleging a Eurocentric bias in Indology and Sanskrit scholarship, and arguing for the Indigenous Aryans theory instead. He publishes with Voice of India, New Delhi.

Portraits of a Nation: History of Ancient India by Kamlesh Kapur

Despite religious opposition the Bank of England will keep beef fat in its banknotes – Akshat Rathi

New plastic five pound note

Akshat RathiCritics … have strong philosophical or religious grounds for rejecting animal-derived products in money. “This is unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the UK,” reads the petition [to the Bank of England]. –  Akshat Rathi

“We demand that you cease to use animal products in the production of currency.” More than 130,000 people recently signed this petition, aimed at the Bank of England. (Who says central banking doesn’t stir up passions?)

The animal product in question is tallow, derived from beef or mutton. The bank admitted that its new plastic notes, launched with the £5 in September last year, contain trace amounts of it, stoking some controversy.

But after an extensive investigation into alternative methods to make the money, the bank said, essentially, “deal with it.” The fat-laced fiver will continue to be printed, as will a new plastic tenner, starting in September this year.

“Trace,” chemically speaking, means a substance is present in fewer than 100 parts per million, or 0.01% of the total. But when all the paper £5 and £10 notes are replaced over the next few years, there will be some 1.1 billion plastic banknotes in circulation, each containing trace amounts of tallow. How many cows, then, will die in the name of British money?

On average, slaughtering one cow yields 40 kilograms of tallow. Considering that a banknote weighs about 0.7 grams, each contains roughly 0.00007 grams of tallow. That means the total amount of tallow that those new £5 and £10 plastic notes will need is around 77 kilograms. That means the Bank of England’s move to plastic notes, which Bank of England Logoare more secure and durable than paper notes, comes at the cost of two cows to date. By comparison, the UK slaughters some 2.6 million cattle each year for food.

This still may not satisfy critics who have strong philosophical or religious grounds for rejecting animal-derived products in money. “This is unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the UK,” reads the petition.

Weighing these concerns against the cost of changing course, the bank decided that the tallow will remain. The bank has already spent £70 million ($88 million) on printing notes now in circulation and buying materials for more in the future. In its opinion, the outrage caused by an “extremely small amount” of tallow does not outweigh the advantages of the newfangled notes, nor justify spending more taxpayer money to produce notes in a different way.

For now, the £20 and £50 notes, which are printed on paper, will remain free from animal fat. The bank is looking for plant-based alternatives in time for 2020, when the £20 is scheduled to get its plastic makeover. – Quartz, 16 February 2017

» Akshat Rathi is a reporter for Quartz in London.

Beef Tallow

 

Jallikattu: Protests and Anti-Nationalism – Thamizhchelvan

Jallikattu

JournalistJallikattu remained as a pure tradition as long as it was practiced at the village level. However, as it got commercialized … it deviated from its tradition in course of time thereby losing its traditional values. … The bulls were subjected to various forms of cruelty, such as forced feeding of liquor, rubbing spicy chilli powder in the eyes, placing green chillies in the eyes, biting and twisting the tails, etc. – Thamizhchelvan

Jallikattu, a bull-taming sport conducted in the villages of a few districts of Tamil Nadu, was banned by the Supreme Court of India in May 2014. Though there were attempts to remove the ban in 2015 and 2016 during the Pongal festivals, the attempts failed and the ban seemed to settle permanently bringing the centuries old tradition to a grinding a halt. However, this year the country witnessed a week-long statewide protest involving youth and students, culminating in the passage of an ordinance by the State Assembly which was immediately enacted as a law. But in the process, the state also witnessed a sort of revival of separatist and anti-national movements in the name of Tamil culture utilizing a supposedly genuine student movement. Before going into the details of the protests, a look into the history of Jallikattu will be in order.

Ancient Hindu tradition

The original name of Jallikattu is “Yeru Thazhuvuthal” (Hugging the Hump of a Bull) and its history dates back to the days of Lord Krishna, as evidenced by Srimad Bhagawatham, which talks about Lord Krishna taming seven bulls in order to marry Naknajeeti, daughter of King of Koshala. The same is sung by famous Vaishnavite Saint Periyazhvar, who describes Naknajeeti as “Nappinnai” in his “Paasurams” (Hymns). Other Vaishnavite Saints like Thirumangai Azhvar and Nammazhvar have also mentioned it in their hymns.

The excavations of Indus Valley Civilization have also given an idea on such a tradition of bull taming in practice those days, as evidenced by the seal excavated from the site. The seal depicts the sport in which a bull tosses a man. Scholars like former archaeologist late Iravatham Mahadevan have confirmed this fact. Dr Kalyanaraman, Director of Saraswati Research Foundation has also confirmed the usage of Bulls in agricultural practices during the times of Indus-Saraswati civilization which dates back to 5000 years.

Yeru Thazhuvuthal has also been mentioned in Tamil Sangam literature like Kalithogai. Chozhan Nalluturhiranaar, a Sangam age poet, has sung in detail about this sport in his song named Mullaikal. Epigraphic inscriptions are also available for the practice of this sport for centuries in Tamil Nadu.

The sport has also helped the production and preservation of native breeds, as Tamil Nadu has a tradition of “temple bull system” which  is an agricultural practice clubbed with devotion and sport. The temple bulls have a special privilege of mating with number cows in its village and the same has also been exchanged with the bulls of other villages. Also during the conduct of Jallikattu, the temple bull will be the first to have a free run from the “Vadivasal” entrance chute to the sport arena) which will not be touched by the participating youth, as a mark of reverence. Pujas will be offered to it along with the temple Deity, as it is considered as Nandi Bhagwan, before the beginning of the sport.

In some districts a slightly different tradition is followed in the name of “Manju Virattu” or “Eruthottam” which is just chasing the bulls crisscrossing the village without the practice of taming them.

Hence Jallikattu is undoubtedly a Hindu religious and cultural tradition dating from the time of Lord Krishna to the present times through Indus-Saraswati civilizations and Sangam ages.

History of Jallikattu in the courts of law

The village sport remained as a pure tradition as long as it was practiced at the village level. However, as it got commercialized and the government started using it as a tourist attracting sport for the sake of revenue, it deviated from its tradition in course of time thereby losing its traditional values. Untraditional practices got into the system and the bulls were subjected to various forms of cruelty, such as forced feeding of liquor, rubbing spicy chilli powders in the eyes, placing green chillies in the eyes, biting and twisting the tails, etc.

Apart from cruelty heaped on hapless bulls, the sport also took the lives of youth and bulls too. Scores of youth have lost their lives; thousands of youth have been grievously injured and maimed for life over the years.  All these happenings attracted the attention of animal lovers and animal welfare organizations leading to cases being filed in the courts of law against the sport. In fact, the animal welfare organizations have been fighting against the sport for more than three decades. The legal history of Jallikattu goes as follows:

South Indian Humanitarian League and Blue Cross of India have been taking up the issue and submitting memorandums to the State Legislative Assembly against the  conduct of the sport for almost thirty years, with a request for a permanent ban.

2004: On a petition requesting for the conduct of Rekla sport in Ramanathapuram, Justice Ibrahim Kalifulla gave permission to conduct the sport without hurting the bulls.

2006: A petition requesting for the conduct of the sport was filed in Madurai Bench of the High Court. An aggrieved father, who had lost his only son in Jallikattu, also filed a case seeking ban of the sport. Justice Banumathi, taking into consideration the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 in its totality, banned all sports involving Bulls such as Jallikattu, Rekla, Bullock cart race, etc.

2007: On an appeal filed against Justice Banumathi’s order, HC Bench comprising Justices Elipi Dharma Rao and Janardhan Raja allowed Jallikattu, but, with some regulations under the supervision of District Collector, District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police, Animal Welfare Doctors and Animal Welfare organizations. Organisations like AWBI and PETA filed an appeal at the Supreme Court and on 27 July 2007, the SC issued an interim stay order.

2008: Later on 11 January 2008, Justice R. V. Ravindran and A, K, Patnaik ordered permanent ban of jallikattu. But surprisingly, they permitted Rekla Race, which is still worse and crueler. However, within a couple of days, the state government filed an appeal and the same bench revoked the ban and allowed the conduct of jallikattu albeit with regulations.

2009: Tamil Nadu government brought an ordinance (Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Regulation Act 2009) in the state assembly, making an amendment in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960. The government however failed to obtain the mandatory Presidential assent to the Ordinance.

Between November 2010 and March 2011, the Supreme Court allowed the conduct of sport with regulations and under the supervision of district authorities and animal welfare organizations.

2011: Environment and Forest Minister of UPA government Jairam Ramesh issued a notification including bull (and its progeny) in the List of Performing Animals.

2012: Animal Welfare activist Radha Rajan filed a case at the Madurai Bench of High Court seeking ban of the sport. Bench comprising Justice Chitra Venkatraman and Justice Karuppaiya almost decided to ban the sport and pronounced the order orally on 12 January 2012. But after witnessing the huge hue and cry and commotion created by the Jallikattu enthusiasts and the pro jallikattu advocates in the open court, they gave 24 hours time to the Advocate General of the central government. The next day, on 13 January 2012, the same bench permitted the sport.

In the meantime, between 2009 and 2013, AWBI recorded the cruelty heaped on the hapless bulls and submitted the recording and documentation to the Supreme Court.

2014: On 7 May 2014, SC Bench comprising Justice K. S. Radha Krishnan and Justice Pinaki Chandrabose gave the land mark judgment banning Jallikattu and other sports involving  animals (bull and its progeny, cocks, etc.). In their judgment, they also emphasized the fact that the animals also have fundamental rights and freedom rights.

Steps taken by BJP government

Right from the day it took office, the BJP led NDA government has been acting in support of Jallikattu. Minister Pon.Radhakrishna from Tamil Nadu has been taking the required steps by taking the issue up with Prime Minister and other concerned ministers.

On 7 January 2016, the center released an order removing bull (and its progeny) from the List of Performing Animals. However, based on a petition by animal welfare organizations, the SC stayed the order on 12 January 2016. Then after hearing the arguments put forth y both the central and state governments, the SC ordered a permanent stay of Jallikattu on 26 July 2016. However, the center preferred an appeal.

In the meantime, the office bearers of Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Forum met Senior BJP leader Dr Subramanian Swamy and sought his help and legal guidance. When Dr Swamy approached SC on 7 December with his impleading petition, he was asked to submit his arguments in writing. On 14 December he submitted written arguments, which contained the following significant points:

Jallikattu is protected by Article 29(1) of the Constitution, as it is a religious and cultural tradition in practice for centuries. (He had placed all the facts from Srimad Bhagawatham to Sangam literatures and Temple Bull tradition, etc.)

Jallikattu is a part of Tamil Hindus’ fundamental duties to preserve the cultural and religious traditional values and hence it is protected by Article 51(A) (f) of the Constitution of India.

There is no provision in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960 that could support enforcement of a permanent ban on Jallikattu or even for a limited period. Even if a ban on Jallikattu could be made based on the provisions of the PCA Act, 1960, such provisions would be hit by Article 13 of the Constitution of India.

A ban on Jallikattu—an ancient practice that is both cultural and religious—is not only unconstitutional—it is also in violation of the Doctrine of Proportionality. Apart from the above points, Dr Swamy has also dealt with in detail regarding how Jallikattu helps in the preservation of native breeds leading to healthy agricultural practices. He has also mentioned about the medicinal values of dung and urine of native breeds.However, the SC refused to deliver the judgment before Pongal.

Jallikattu protests

The social media like Facebook and WhatsApp were on fire with news and reports in favour of Jallikattu and the fire spread fast far and wide, creating a sort of uprising among the youth and student communities. Jallikattu was projected as Tamil pride and Tamil culture and a sustained campaign carried out through the social media platforms resulted in a statewide movement. Youth and students started congregating at the Marina Beach in Chennai, Thamukkam grounds in Madurai, V.O.C. Park in Coimbatore and other such venues across the state from 17 January onwards. They indulged in peaceful protest demonstrations seeking to ban PETA in India and also to lift the ban on Jallikattu.

As the demonstrations were peaceful, government and the police preferred to be mute spectators and just regulated the protestors. The protesters also cooperated with the police, without disturbing the traffic and commuting of general public. The college managements and parents also extended their support to the students.

The student uprising across the state surprised both the central and state governments. However, they preferred to allow the peaceful protests, probably in order to send a message to the Supreme Court. Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in turn assured all supports to the state government to pass an ordinance. Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan for his part took the office bearers (Mr.Rajasekar and Mr Karthikeyan Senapathy) of Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Forum to Home Minister, Law Minister and Environment and Forests Minister for a detailed presentation of the issue and further consultations. The center also requested the Supreme Court to postpone the final hearing for a week, in order to facilitate the passage of ordinance.

Infiltration of anti-national forces

Noticing the student uprising and the government’s passive reaction to it, anti-national outfits which have their own agendas to grind, intended to utilize the Jallikattu movement to their advantage. They started infiltrating the protest venues from the end of the second day onwards. The students also allowed them believing that they are from the general public coming in support of their movement. Although they refused to entertain film starts and political leaders in the beginning, in due course they could not stop film personalities and leaders of small outfits taking charge at the venues. Other major opposition parties sent their cadres disguised as students. Soon, anti-national outfits were seen very actively protesting against the central and state governments in the protest venues across the state.

Slogans against national integration and the idea of united India and slogans in support of Tamil Eelam and separate Tamil nation were shouted. Slogans personally attacking Chief Minister and Prime Minister were also shouted. Banners and posters having such anti-national slogans were also carried by the protesters. Vulgar songs were also sung and some elements indulged in obscene dancing too.

Although the media have been in support of the protesters in general, one particular TV channel, News-7, was very active and it also had the full support of protesting outfits.

Political observers are of the opinion that some forces inimical to the state and central establishments could be behind the uprising right from the beginning.  They also said that the role played by News-7 needed to be investigated.

Anti-national outfits and their agendas

The following anti-national outfits infiltrated the protest venues and changed the direction of the movement, in order to achieve their hidden agendas.

People Art and Literature Forum / Students Federation of India / Democratic Youth Federation of India are well known outfits functioning with Communist ideologies. They act as fronts for Maoists and Naxals and their activities are always against the establishment. As the Naxal and Maoist movements have been terribly affected by Prime Minister’s demonetization, they were waiting for a chance to create law and order unrest and violence. This Jallikattu protest came as a blessing for them in the state level and they utilized it as much as possible.

Revolutionary Youth Front / Revolutionary Students Front act in support of not only Maoists but also Tamil separatists. The cadres of these outfits conducted funeral procession carrying Prime Minister’s effigy.

They raised slogans personally attacking PM and were holding vulgar posters too.

May 17 Movement, which was founded during the Eelam War IV, was in the forefront of Jallikattu protests. But, the cadres were shouting slogans not in support of Jallikattu but in support of Tamil Eelam and separate Tamil nation. They also propagated for a separate Tamil national flag through social media and wanted to thwart the Republic Day celebrations. Thirumurgan Gandhi, who is the founder president of the outfit, was seen openly instigating the crowd through his speeches. He also gave interviews to TV channels.

Nam Thamizhar Katchi is a political party founded by actor/director Seeman. This party also supports Tamil Eelam and separate Tamil nation ideologies. The cadres of this party conducted pro Jallikattu rallies much before the student movement began. They have a tacit understanding with Islamic extremists. Known for his chameleon characteristics and double standards, Seeman has also supported the jihadis on cow slaughter and beef eating.

Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath / Social Democratic Party of India / Popular Front of India are some of the Islamic militant outfits, which infiltrated. These outfits are known for strategies of operating in the guise of social service, as they operate ambulance services and blood banks in many places. Through such services, they indulge in conversion activities and involve those converted people in acts of extremism. The cadres of these outfits infiltrated in the guise of doing services like serving food and water to the protesters. The gullible students allowed them, as they were starving without food and water. It was a sad irony that the Jallikattu protesters were served beef biriyani by these outfits.

These outfits are well known for their anti-national activities such as smuggling, spreading counterfeit currencies, indulging in hawala transactions, bomb blasts and murdering leaders and functionaries of Hindu organizations. Many of them have been arrested by state police and NIA for various offences. These cadres were seen carrying posters of terrorists Osama bin Laden and Palani Baba during the protests.

It must be noted that these outfits were also terribly affected by PM’s demonetization steps, as they could not indulge in any of the illegal activities.  So, they wanted to extend the protests for a few more days in order to sabotage the Republic Day celebrations and allegedly had plans of causing extensive damage to life and property. As a confirmation of the allegation, two jihadis were arrested in Madurai on the eve of Republic Day, for carrying pipe bombs.

Facebook and WhatsApp were fully utilized by these outfits for instigating their community to utilize the jallikattu protests to carry out anti-national activities.

Foreign funded NGOs and Congress Party have played a major role in instigating the protesters against central government. Ever since the BJP government took office, the Union Home Ministry has started cracking down on the shady activities such as religious conversions, etc., of these Church sponsored Christian NGOs. Those NGOs which have not submitted their financial accounts as per FCRA were brought under the scanners of IT department and Enforcement Directorate and thousands of such NGOs have been asked to shut their operations in India. Hence, backed by the Church and the Congress party, these NGOs played their role of instigating the students against the central government.

Minority educational institutions have also voluntarily sent their students to join the protests in large numbers, as they are also against the new education policy of the BJP government.

Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK), a dalit party, though against Jallikattu, has utilized this protest, to instigate the crowd against the central government. This party has close relations with jihadi outfits and hence, preferred to support them to carry out their anti-national agendas.

Dravidar Kazahagam (DK) the parent organization of all Dravidian parties in the state is a rank anti-national outfit right from its formation. Though the party’s policy is against Jallikattu, it allowed its cadres to infiltrate the protest venues, just to instigate the protesters against the central government. These cadres were seen shouting slogans against PM, BJP and RSS.  This party also has very close relations with Jihadi and Xian organizations.

DMK, the primary opposition party, also sent its cadres to infiltrate the movement in large numbers in the guise of students, in order to instigate them against the state and central governments. Although the party played its own role in bringing a ban on Jallikattu during the previous UPA regime, it projected itself as a pro Jallikattu party during the protests, with an ulterior motive of whitewashing its crime and bringing a bad name to BJP government.

High Command of AIADMK party played a very significant role during the protests with a motive of bringing down the chief minister, so that, it can occupy the chair.  In my previous cover story published after the death of former CM Jayalalithaa I had mentioned about Mr Natarajan, husband of Sasikala as follows:

The most important thing for the center to do is to keep a close watch on Sasikala’s husband Natarajan. It must remember that Natarajan has allegedly been the Sutradhari all these years, scripting each and every move and act of Sasikala in controlling the party, government and its leader Jayalalithaa. Natarajan is not an ordinary force. He has close acquaintances in all the parties and has good political connections across the country. He has been flirting with pro LTTE elements and also Tamil separatists. One of the most significant things which Jayalalithaa did was keeping him away from political limelight. But it’s a different matter that he took it to his advantage and carried on his shady activities. Now he has come out in the open and he must be kept under surveillance.

Things have happened during the Jallikattu protests in such a manner proving my above comments. The party high command of late, has become wary of Chief Minister Panneerselvam, as he seemed to be very accommodative of center listening to its advice and suggestions and acting accordingly for the well being of the state and its citizens. The CM earned the praise of general public for the way he had handled the Vardah cyclone.

As the Jallikattu protests started, he preferred not to clamp down on it and instead instructed the police to allow the protests to continue. On the other hand, he moved swiftly and coordinated with the center, met the Prime Minister personally and initiated required actions for the passage of the Jallikattu ordinance in the assembly. Fearing that Panneerselvam’s position would become stronger if the Jallikattu issue is solved, the Mannarkudi Mafia acted in haste by instigating the crowd.

The party high command was also in the center of controversy over the secrecy surrounding the hospitalization and death of former chief minister Jayalalithaa and it seemingly fears an investigation on the same. The knife of disproportionate assets case hanging on its head is another concern for it. So, it wanted to make full use of the jallikattu protests and capture the CM’s chair.

News-7 TV channel is run by mineral baron Vaikundarajan, who is close to Sasikala’s husband Natarajan. Political commentators, who closely observed the Jallikattu protests and the coverage done by News-7, are of the firm opinion that both Natarajan and Vaikundarajan had played a huge role behind the scenes, instigating the protesters to act against both the state and central governments. Confirming this point, Tamil daily Dinamalar in its issue dated 21 January, carried a five column report on CM-PM meet alleging that the CM had reported the shady activities of Natarajan to the Prime Minister.

Violence and riots

After getting the assurance of both the state and central governments that an ordinance would be passed immediately and a special session of the assembly would be convened to pass the ordinance as law, Jallikattu Forum announced the withdrawal of protests and appealed to the student community to withdraw from the protest venues immediately. Accordingly most of the students left for their homes.

As committed, the state government tabled the ordinance in the assembly and it was passed as a law on 21 January.  However, all the above mentioned anti-national outfits, and a small section of students, who were blinded by their propaganda, remained at the venue and refused to withdraw their protests. Although the senior police officials explained them in detail several times about the passage of ordinance and promulgation of law for the smooth conduct of Jallikattu, they refused to withdraw from the scene.

Meanwhile, in many places in Tamil Nadu Jallikattu was conducted peacefully though it took the lives of three persons including one policeman. Chief Minister, who proceeded to inaugurate the famous Alanganallur Jallikattu was stopped in Madurai itself, as the protesters continue their protests in Alanganallur. The CM however, preferred not to act in haste and came back to Chennai.

As the anti-national outfits were taken aback by the swift action of both the governments which brought immediate end to the protests, contrary to their expectations, they remained at the protest venue making demands like immediate ban of PETA, permanent solution for Jallikattu, etc.

Times of India reported that the people from nearby kuppams (fishermen hamlets) were offered 20,000 rupees per house for arranging food and 500 rupees per person to join the protests, by inimical forces which are against the central government. Even during the week-long protests the churches in the vicinity were seen supporting the protest demonstrations, as the coastal belt is predominantly populated by Christian community. So, the Times of India’s report must be seen with this fact in mind, so that the role of foreign funded NGOs could be understood.

Unable to digest the developments, they resorted to rioting and violence on Monday 23 January. Police stations were set on fire knowing fully well that a few personnel are inside. Policemen were attacked, women police were molested, police vehicles were torched, traffic was blocked in many places, cars and motorcycles were smashed and torched, public and private property were damaged and violence was unleashed across Chennai city and many other parts of the state. In the violent process, animal welfare activists were also not spared and their residences and offices were intentionally attacked.

The state police swung into action and brought the situations under control within a day. They were very restrained in their act, without harming the student community. They dealt only the anti-national elements with an iron hand and arrested many such elements across the state.

Thoroughly exposed anti-national elements

The week-long Jallikattu protests have thoroughly exposed the anti-national outfits and their devious agendas. The photographs and video clippings being shared on social media would serve as strong evidence against them. The state police also have got irrefutable evidences against these outfits, as confirmed by the senior police officials during their press meet which was organised after the protests were brought under control. Based on these evidences, both the governments must act immediately and enforce a total permanent ban on these anti-national outfits. Elements involved in violence and other anti-national activities must be brought to book. Any slackness on the part of governments would only help the revival of these forces leading to a Kashmir like situation in Tamil Nadu.

The youth, students and the general public have a huge responsibility. Through this firsthand experience they must understand the difference between democracy and anarchy, whom to support and who not to support. Based on such an understanding, they should strive to help the government, police force and the security agencies by rejecting and isolating the anti-national elements, which would help the development of the state and progress of the nation and prevalence of peace and harmony. – Uday India, 8 February 2017

» Thamizhchelvan is an independent senior journalist in Chennai.

Chennai Protests Jallikattu

Kashmiri Pandits: The ethnic cleansing we have forgotten – Vivek Gumaste

Kashmiri Pandit

Vivek V. GumasteKashmiri Pandits are the original inhabitants of Kashmir, with a culture and tradition that goes back 5,000 years. Close to 1 million Kashmiri Pandits inhabited the valley in the early 1900s and constituted 15% of the population. Today, no more than 3,000 remain. – Vivek Gumaste

To forget an evil is to condone the crime; to pardon an atrocity is to see it recur with dangerous consequences and to overlook a wrong is to alter the paradigm of justice.

The ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir Valley is one of the greatest tragedies of our times; a gargantuan ethical infraction that defies imagination when one fathoms the magnitude of the atrocity and takes cognizance of its inherent diabolism. Unfortunately, however, this horrific event is gradually drifting away from public memory and is set to be interred beneath the tombstone of time.

Therefore, it is imperative that we wind the clock back to the dark day of 19 January 1990—the “Kristallnacht” of the Kashmiri Pandits; the day when law and order collapsed in Kashmir and humanity died a silent death under the watchful eyes of an entire nation.

Here I reproduce two excerpts that capture the barbaric, perverted savagery of the perpetrators as well as the helpless vulnerability of the Kashmiri Pandit.

Kashmir Pundits (1895)Col Tej Kumar Tikoo, in his book Kashmir: Its Aborigines and Their Exodus (Lancer Publishers. 2012) writes: “As the night fell, the microscopic community became panic-stricken when the Valley began reverberating with the war-cries of Islamists…. These exhortations urged the faithful to give a final push to the Kafir in order to ring in the true Islamic order. These slogans were mixed with precise and unambiguous threats to Pandits. They were presented with three choices—Ralive, Tsaliv ya Galive (“Convert to Islam, leave the place, or perish”).

“The Pandits could see the writing on the wall. If they were lucky enough to see the night through…. Broadcasting vicious Jihadi sermons and revolutionary songs, interspersed with blood curdling shouts and shrieks, threatening Kashmiri Pandits with dire consequences, became a routine mantra of the Muslims of the Valley, to force them to flee from Kashmir…”

Kanchan Gupta corroborates these happenings (19/01/90: When Kashmiri Pandits fled Islamic terror. Rediff. 19 January 2005): “As evening falls, the exhortations become louder and shriller. Three taped slogans are repeatedly played the whole night from mosques: Kashmir mei agar rehna hai, Allah-O-Akbar kehna hai (“If you want to stay in Kashmir, you have to say Allah-O-Akbar.”); Yahan kya chalega, Nizam-e-Mustafa (“What do we want here? Rule of Shariah.”); Asi gachchi Pakistan, Batao roas te Batanev san (“We want Pakistan along with Hindu women but without their men.”)

Kashmiri Pandit Woman (1900)This reiteration of medieval bestiality made a mockery of the principles enshrined in our Constitution, reduced secularism to mere words on a paper document and highlighted the plight of the minority Hindu in a Muslim majority region.

Kashmiri Pandits are the original inhabitants of Kashmir, with a culture and tradition that goes back 5,000 years. Close to 1 million Kashmiri Pandits inhabited the valley in the early 1900s and constituted 15% of the population. Today, no more than 3,000 remain, making up barely 0.15 % of the population.

Since the separatist movement began, at least 1,000 Pandits have been killed, roughly 16,000 homes have been burnt and 350,000 have been displaced: these figures sum up the enormity of this human calamity.

Close to 1 million Kashmiri Pandits inhabited the valley in the early 1900s and constituted 15% of the population. Today, no more than 3,000 remain, making up barely 0.15 % of the population.

While it is easy to blame militants, it cannot absolve us of our responsibility. There was a total failure, at every level of the defence mechanisms that define a civilised nation: society, government and the press—all abrogated their responsibility and failed the Kashmiri Hindu.

But what happened in Kashmir could not have occurred without the tacit compliance of Kashmir’s majority Muslim community and so, despite their protestations, they must share the brunt of this charge.

In moral terms, the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits is so humongous that it reduces to irrelevance the validity of the separatist movement or the so-called atrocities of the Indian Army.

On 19 January 2017, 27 years after that fateful night, in an act of remorse, the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly passed a unanimous resolution for the return of the Pandits. Only when this is translated into practical reality and the Pandits are rehabilitated with dignity and security, will we be able to wipe away this seemingly indelible stain on the fabric of our secular democracy. – Sunday Guardian, 5 February 2017

»  Vivek Gumaste is a New York based academic and political commentator.

Kashmiri Pandit protest in New Delhi in August 2016

 

Book Review: Bose: An Indian warrior – Sandhya Jain

Subhas Chandra Bose

Sandhya Jain is the editor of Vijayvaani.It will remain a matter of enduring shame that the Anglophile elite that inherited the country treated the INA and military mutineers as traitors and refused to integrate them with the Indian Army and give them their richly-deserved wartime pensions. Far more scandalous is the recently revealed fact that independent India collaborated with British Intelligence and kept tabs on Netaji’s family and the released INA personnel, till the early 1970s. – Sandhya Jain

Recent years have seen an increase in the biographies of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, but these have failed to examine his contribution as a military leader and strategist, and tacitly treat him as a failure because the Indian National Army’s fate was intricately linked with that of Japan which lost in the Second World War. Maj-Gen G. D. Bakshi has filled this vacuum with Bose: An Indian Samurai. Netaji and the INA: A Military Assessment (Knowledge World, 2016).

The INA grew on the motivational power of “militant nationalism” like that of the German Wehrmacht and the Imperial Japanese Army. Created out of prisoners-of-war captured by the Japanese Army, Netaji abolished the British caste/religion-based regimental model for an all-India model including all groups and [led] by Indian officers, something the British had never permitted. In pre-independence India, this was revolutionary.

Examining a wealth of combat records and memoirs, Bakshi shows that even in highly adverse circumstances, the INA units performed exceedingly well. In the Imphal-Kohima campaigns, Netaji’s units matched the hard-marching Imperial Japanese Army in its infiltration and envelopment manoeuvres. The INA retained combat cohesion even when units were decimated to the extent of 60-80 percent.

The book reopens the debate on how India won freedom. Should we adhere to the Nehruvian myth that India got freedom through the soft power of ahimsa (non-violence) and satyagraha (soul force), or do we acknowledge the role of the INA? As Germany and Japan were defeated in World War II, it is inexplicable why Britain, which thrived on her colonies, especially India, should retreat before pacifists like Gandhi and Nehru. The colonies could have helped Britain rebuild her economy.

Bose believed that the British would never depart of their own volition and that World War II offered an opportunity to solicit support from Britain’s enemies, Germany and Japan, and fight. This led him to part ways with the Indian National Congress, evade house arrest and escape to Germany, from where he made a perilous submarine journey to Japanese territory and raised his legendary fighting force.

Nehruvian court historians have underplayed the psychological impact of the INA trials which triggered military mutinies in February 1946. The possibility of disloyal armed forces unnerved the British and in less than a year they announced their decision to quit India, with the parting kick of a bloody partition.

The Partition gave the Muslim League the new country of Pakistan, the demand for which was mooted only in 1940 and was not sought in the regions that became Pakistan. Even setting aside the betrayal of non-fundamentalist Muslims of the North West Frontier Province and the refusal to help beleaguered Muslims of Balochistan, the Partition represents the Gandhi-Nehru combine’s grand failure to understand the consequences of loss of strategic territory.

But for the British, the decision to humiliate the valiant INA by putting nine officers on trial at Delhi’s Red Fort was a political miscalculation which boomeranged, as until then, the activities of the INA had been a war secret. But now, the colonial power itself revealed that a sizable army had been raised to liberate the country; that Indians of all castes and creeds had united and fought bravely alongside the 15th Japanese Army and narrowly lost in Manipur and Nagaland. The public outrage over the public trial forced the Congress, which was virtually pulverized after the brutal suppression of the 1942 Quit India Movement, to set up a legal defence committee to defend the undertrials.

Bose’s nationalist army hit the foundations of British rule in India, and unnerved the Raj. Indian troops in the British Indian armed forces felt enraged at the INA trials as the undertrials were former colleagues who had been captured by the Japanese and converted by Netaji. Bakshi reveals that almost 20,000 sailors of the Royal Indian Navy, on board 78 ships, mutinied and went around Mumbai with portraits of Netaji, forcing the British to shout Jai Hind and other INA slogans. They brought down the Union Jack on their ships and refused to obey their British officers. Similar rebellions broke out in the Royal Indian Air Force and in the Army units in Jabalpur.

On one hand, the White troops were fed up of war and wanted to go home, not fight to subdue 2.5 million battle-hardened Indian soldiers who had acquitted themselves well in all theatres of war and had seen the British officers routed by the Japanese in Malaya, Singapore and Burma. Quitting was not an option; the haste is questionable.

It will remain a matter of enduring shame that the Anglophile elite that inherited the country treated the INA and military mutineers as traitors and refused to integrate them with the Indian Army and give them their richly-deserved wartime pensions. Far more scandalous is the recently revealed fact that independent India collaborated with British Intelligence and kept tabs on Netaji’s family and the released INA personnel, till the early 1970s. Historians must thoroughly investigate the nuts and bolts of the transfer of power to the government led by Jawaharlal Nehru to throw light on this astonishing matter.

Tormenting questions remain about the disappearance of Netaji Subhas Bose. Emerging evidence indicates that he did not die in an air crash in Taihoku, Taiwan on 18 August 1945, and may have been imprisoned by Josef Stalin for collaborating with Russia’s (and Britain’s) war-time enemies—Germany and Japan. Amidst rumours that Bose was incarcerated in a Soviet Gulag (Camp No 48 in Lezhnevesky district, 50 km from Suzdal in Siberia), it is unclear if he was ever handed over to the British as their war criminal.

Interestingly, two secret agreements between the NKVD (USSR) and MI-6 (Great Britain) regarding intelligence sharing and cooperation in covert operations were signed in December 1941 and March 1944. Many Indians suspect that the Nehru government connived to spread the falsehood that the hero had died in an air crash. The puerile story of Bose living as a reclusive Gumnami Baba in Faizabad, UP, must be seen as part of an attempt to exonerate the then Indian government. Bakshi writes with passion and verve. The book is a mine of information for the millions of Netaji fans in India and abroad. – Vijayvaani, 24 January 2017

Bose: An Indian Samurai : Netaji and the INA : a Military Assessment