The young men who make Pakistani flags in Kashmir – Sheikh Saaliq

Pakistan flags appear at Syed Ali Shah Geelani's public meeting in Srinagar

Sheikh Saaliq“Shahid stops, stubs his cigarette and opens a wooden door. He walks on a concrete pathway, to the main entrance of the house. Slowly opening another door, the three friends enter a pitch-dark room. Shahid turns on the lights. In one corner, Pakistani flags lay spread on the bare floor. “It’s all homemade,” Shahid explains, “the safest option.” The green and white cloth is procured from the nearby market, and the crescent and star are hand-drawn with fabric paint.” – Sheikh Saaliq

Activists of Dukhtaran-e-milat (Daughters of Nation) shout slogans and carry Pakistan's national flag in Srinagar, IndiaIn the blue glare of his mobile phone’s screen, Muneeb’s clean-shaven face looks pale and nervous. His friend Altaf, 18, shifts his weight from one foot to another and takes a guess: “He must be Shahid.”

The shadow approaches closer, the outline of a frail young man now visible. “Be quick about it. I don’t want any trouble,” Shahid, 20, instructs the two, pulling on a cigarette.

“Easy,” Muneeb, 19, snaps back. “We also don’t want to rot inside a police station. Let’s go.” A little before midnight, the trio quickly shuffles through the slender lanes of Batamaloo, a middle-class neighbourhood in Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir.

Shahid stops, stubs his cigarette and opens a wooden door. He walks on a concrete pathway, to the main entrance of the house. Slowly opening another door, the three friends enter a pitch-dark room. Shahid turns on the lights.

In one corner, Pakistani flags lay spread on the bare floor. “It’s all homemade,” Shahid explains, “the safest option.” The green and white cloth is procured from the nearby market, and the crescent and star are hand-drawn with fabric paint.

“I don’t fear anyone,” Shahid, a college student, declares. “Making a Pakistani flag and raising it is a form of protest for me.”

In the last two months, such Pakistani flags have reportedly been raised in different separatist rallies across Kashmir. The most controversial of these events was perhaps when Masarat Alam, a separatist leader, was arrested after allegedly raising a Pakistani flag on April 16.

Since then, there has been a rash of incidents where Pakistani flags have appeared in different parts of Kashmir.

Pakistan's national flag displayed by Muslim youth in KashmirMiddlemen and artists

“Pakistani flags have been hoisted in Kashmir since 1947 and the only reason for this is that people of Kashmir see themselves as a part of that country. They have sentiments and aspirations attached to Pakistan,” says Ayaz Akbar, a spokesperson for the Hurriyat Conference, an alliance of separatist parties in Jammu and Kashmir.

Akbar claims that Pakistani flags were raised during protests in 2008 and 2010, but went unreported. “Now that the media doesn’t have anything to report, they are trying to over-hype the issue,” he argues.

The Peoples Democratic Party—part of the ruling alliance, along with the Bharatiya Janata Party—terms the flag displays as a “publicity stunt.”

“Separatists and their supporters raise Pakistani flags to gain much-needed attention and to register their presence,” says the president of the party’s youth wing, Waheed-ur-Rehman Para.

Although this has apparently been a feature of pro-freedom rallies in Kashmir for decades, the new government is having none of it. Alam, for instance, was arrested in April for “seditious activities” after he allegedly waved a Pakistani flag. And a wider crackdown may be underway.

“It’s not so difficult to make a Pakistani flag at home,” says Para, “and police is on a hunt to track down people who are behind all this.”

That possibly includes the likes of 23-year-old Tanveer from Nowhatta, a congested neighbourhood in the heart of Srinagar city. Nowhatta has been an epicentre of resistance in Kashmir since the emergence of an armed rebellion that began in the late 80s.

On a cold rainy afternoon, Tanveer takes out his mobile phone and pulls up photographs from a protest rally, where Pakistani flags were raised. It took place outside the Grand Mosque in Nowhatta last month.

“You see that guy with a face mask. Yes, the black mask,” he says, zooming into the image of a young man holding a Pakistani flag. “That’s me.”

“You see that flag in my hand?” he asks. “I made it.”

Tanveer apparently made the flag a day before the protest rally. He also ordered five more from an artist who he knows personally. The flags were eventually distributed among his friends and raised at that rally.

“It takes time to make a flag,” he explains. “So, I place an order with a trusted guy and next day, the flags are ready. It only costs (between) Rs 50 and Rs 80 per flag.”

The artist who makes these flags, according to Tanveer, doesn’t quite know who places the orders.

“The guy I give my orders to is an azadi pasand (freedom sympathiser),” he explains, “I know he won’t tell anyone but for the sake of precaution, I take flags from him through a middleman, who takes his commission of (between) Rs 10 and Rs 20 per flag.”

“It works fine for me.”

Pakistan flag waver in SrinigarRisky business

But even all these precautions don’t always work.

It was an early winter morning last year when Tanveer was arrested for circulating Pakistani flags. He was whisked away in a police jeep from his house and taken to a nearby police station.

“But I didn’t stop making these flags. I believe this is the best way to raise your voice,” he says.

“Kashmir is a disputed territory and it [hoisting of Pakistani flags] is not a crime but a matter of sentiment.”

Not everybody, however, is making these flags because of their political beliefs.

Few days before separatist leader Shabir Shah’s arrest on May 29, for allegedly raising a Pakistani flag, two boys entered a flag-making shop in the main market at Anantnag, a town in south Kashmir.

Riyaz, 38, who has owned the tiny establishment for a decade and a half, had no clue of who they were. They asked him to make four Pakistani flags for Rs 500, and promptly arrived the next day to pick up their order.

“I didn’t know them. I hadn’t seen them before,” Riyaz says. “They didn’t say anything. I handed them the flags and they left.”

He doesn’t quite know if those were the same flags that were raised in the rally few days later. “It’s my job to make flags and I do it for money,” he explains, while working on his latest creation: A flag that reads “Keep your environment clean.”

Making Pakistan flags in Sopore, KashmirMade in Kashmir

In north Kashmir’s Sopore, a town on the banks of the Jhelum, Pakistani flags have been spotted at rallies or sometimes even seen hoisted atop mobile towers and other buildings.

But here, going to a shop to order a Pakistani flag is simply too dangerous. That’s because Sopore is among the most volatile towns in Kashmir, with a massive paramilitary presence. So, protestors conjure up methods to make their own at home.

Inside a newly built house, Umar, a 23-year-old student, sits next to his close friend Arshid, who was arrested for stone pelting during protests last year, and released four months later.

“Tell him (the reporter) about that flag we made last year. Tell him how we made it,” Umar urges his friend. “Tell him.”

“We stole a green flag from a mosque, stitched a white cloth to it, and then painted the crescent and the star with correction fluid,” Arshid reluctantly explains.

“We are not professionals,” Umar adds, “and that was our first try.”

Despite that bizarre attempt, he is convinced that homemade flags are an easier and safer bet.

“They (police) know these flags are made by protesters in their homes but they can’t arrest people until they know who made them,” Umar says, before rebuffing theories about Pakistani flags being brought from across the border. “Why would somebody get these flags from the border? Who will get them? We make them here.”

Back at Shahid’s place in Srinagar’s Batamaloo, the three friends are still talking about the flags. Altaf quietly draws the curtains. “This is very risky, you see,” says Shahid. “But you know what? Once these flags are out in the open, every camera is going to zoom in on them.” – Quartz, 18 June 2015

» Names and places have been changed to protect the identity of the people interviewed.

» Sheikh Saaliq is a freelance journalist based in Kashmir and New Delhi. He tweets @Sheikh_Saaliq.

ISIS flags and stone throwing in KashmirISIS flags displayed in Kashmir

Saudi funded Rs 1,700 crore for Wahhabi influence in India – Vicky Nanjappa

Vicky Nanjappa“Saudi sponsored Wahhabis are aiming to set up their own education system in India. … Out of the total Rs 1700 crore that has been earmarked for the cause, Rs 800 crore is being spent on setting up universities in different parts of the country. One such university was seen in Andhra Pradesh as well. Over all they propose to set up 4 such universities which will only cater to Wahhabi preachings.” – Vicky Nanjappa

Bommanahalli MasjidLast year violence broke out near a mosque in Bommanahalli, Bengaluru and what was being termed as minor tiff was in fact a case of some youth trying to impose the Wahhabi preachings.

When the seniors in the administration of the mosque opposed these youth, there were clashes in which 4 persons were injured seriously.

In another incident that occurred in Maharashtra, Wahhabi scholars bribed some members of the mosque and attempted taking over the administration. While the Muslims in many states have opposed the Wahhabis tooth and nail, success for the Saudi Arabia sponsored Wahhabis was highest in Kerala.

These are instances that could be read with the recent Wikileaks documents which suggested that Saudi Arabia is worried about the growing influence of Iran over India and the outreach by Tehran to the Shia community was worrying. The Muslim World League also requests Saudi Arabia to establish Wahhabi centres in India to counter the threat from the Shias.

Salman bin Abdulaziz Al SaudHow Saudi Arabia set up Wahhabi centres in India?

Saudi Arabia realizes that the Shias in India are a threat to the dominance of the Sunni community. India houses a large number of Shias and this according to the Saudis gives Iran an upper hand in India. However for Saudi the Sunnis in India have not followed the violent Wahhabi style of Islam and there are many seniors in the Muslim community who will not allow that to happen.

The only way Saudi could instill a radical thinking in the minds of the Sunni Muslims in India was by the establishment of Wahhabi centres. The Wahhabis are an extremely orthodox set of Sunni Muslims. There are several Muslims in India who subscribe to the Wahhabi view [Muhammad Shams-ul-Haq AzimabadiSiddiq Hasan KhanSyed Nazeer Husain, Zakir Naik were and are adherents of this Salafi movement – Ed].

As a first step, Saudi sent in several Wahhabi preachers into India an Intelligence Bureau report states. The years 2011 to 2013 alone saw a record number of 25,000 Wahhabis coming to India and conducting seminars in various parts of the country. With them they brought in Rs 1700 crore in several installments and used it to propogate the Wahhabi style of Islam.

Salafi Masjid, Mudappallur, KeralaWahhabism found success in Kerala

The drive by Saudi to impose the Wahhabi culture in India has not been entirely a success. The highest rate of success that they have witnessed is in Kerala.

This is a lot to do with the fact that there is a large population of people who go to Saudi in search of employment. Many in Kerala have welcomed with open arms the Wahhabi style of preaching and this has let the Saudi controlled lot take control over nearly 75 mosques in the state.

The newer mosques that are coming up in Kerala are also constructed in the manner in which they done in Saudi Arabia.

This is just one small indicator of how much people of the state are willing to follow the radical style preached by the Wahhabi scholars. Moreover the inflow of funds into Kerala from Saudi is the highest when compared to any other part of the country.

It was in Kerala that one got to see posters mourning the death of Osama Bin Laden and also a prayer for Ajmal Kasab after he was hanged. Intelligence Bureau officials tell OneIndia that a large number of youth appear to be attracted to this radical style of Islam, but also add that there are some elders who are trying to oppose it.

Muslims in IndiaThe Wahabi rule book in India

Each time a Wahhabi preacher comes to India, he comes in with a rule book. What they intend to do is ensure that the rule book is circulated in the Mosques.

However when the administration of the mosques have opposed this it has led to clashes. The rule book has a set of guidelines which need to be ahdhered to failing which the horrific Sharia law would be imposed.

Guidelines that have been set as per the Wahhabi rule book

  • Shrines shall be forbidden
  • Every Muslim woman should wear purdah or be subject to severe punishment
  • Men have to compulsorily grow beards
  • Women should not be allowed to work. Exception can be made only if the family is in need.
  • Men and women should not mingle together in public.
  • No weeping loudly at funerals.
  • Abide by the Shariat law; every offence committed shall be punishable under this law.
  • All men should wear trousers which are above their ankles.
  • No laughing loudly or listening to music; no dancing or watching television.

 Faisal Foundation on March 1, 2015 shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz (L) presenting Zakir Naik, president of the Islamic Research Foundation in India, with the 2015 King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam in Riyadh. Naik was honoured for being one of the most renowned non-Arabic speaking promoters of Islam. He founded the Peace TV channel, billed as the world's only channel specialising in comparative religion. AFP PHOTO / HO / King Faisal Foundation == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / King Faisal Foundation" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ==Wahhabi universities being set up

The Saudi sponsored Wahhabis are aiming to set up their own education system in India as well. Out of the total Rs 1700 crore that has been earmarked for the cause, Rs 800 crore is being spent on setting up universities in different parts of the country. One such university was seen in Andhra Pradesh as well. Over all they propose to set up 4 such universities which will only cater to Wahhabi preachings.

With the take over of the existing mosques becoming extremely difficult, they have earmarked Rs 400 crore to set up 40 mosques adhering only to Wahhabi preachings in different parts of the country.

A sum of Rs 300 has been been earmarked to set up madrasas while the remaining Rs 200 crore has been set aside as miscellaneous costs which also would include bribes to paid off to mosque authorities as was seen in Maharashtra.

Muhammed ibn Abd al-WahhabThe birth of the Jamiat Ahl al-Hadith

The birth of the Jamiat Ahl al-Hadith took place in India in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. As a first step they wielded their influence on the various mosques which began preaching the Sharia law as mandated by the Wahhabis.

The next stop was Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh following which they began wielding influence heavily in Kerala. The Jamiat Ahl al-Hadith was the umbrella body which oversaw the flow of Wahhabi scholars into India. The same outfit is also making efforts to spread their ideology into Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and until last year Karantaka. – OneIndia News, 25 June 2015

Update

Why Christianity poses a threat to India – Rakesh Krishnan Simha

Nasrani or Syrian Christians of Kerala

Rakesh Krishnan Simha“Under the cloak of democracy, Christian missionaries can sneak in and conduct their unholy work among the poor and helpless. Christian churches have cropped up like a rash across the east coast after the tsunami hit southern India. Nagaland, which was entirely animist, despite two centuries of British rule, became 100 per cent Christian under 50 years of democratic—or rather Nehru-Gandhi dynasty—rule.” — Rakesh Krishnan Simha

India Crossed-OutChristianity poses a clear threat to India

If you could sum up the history of Christianity in India in one word, that word would be ingratitude. Among the earliest refugees to arrive in India were the Syrian Christians, who were facing persecution in their native lands in the Persian Empire in the fourth century CE.

Persecution would be the wrong word to use here because the Syrian Christians of the Persian Empire were found to be collaborating with Christianised Rome. Aghast at the betrayal by his Christian subjects—in the midst of Persia’s war with the Romans—the Zoroastrian king Shapur II lamented: “We are in a state of war; they are in a state of joy and pleasure. They live in our land but are of like mind with the emperor, our enemy.”

Shahpur II deported some Christians from his Eastern Syrian province and imposed a double tax on those that remained. The Christian subjects were then ordered to revert to their native Zoroastrian religion.

Down on their luck, the Syrian Christians sought refuge in India. Kerala’s Malabar coast attracted them because they had heard of an ancient community of Jews who had been living there since the first century CE, having also fled the turmoil of the Middle East.

How were these Syrian Christians—or Nasranis as they are still called by the locals—treated? “The Indian king received them with great kindness,” George David Malech writes in History of the Syrian Nation and the Old Evangelical-Apostolic Church of the East.

“At the Kotem school in Malabar there are still some copper tablets in existence on which there are written messages from the king to the Christian leader, permitting him and his followers to settle in some places and recommending them to neighbouring chiefs.”

In fact, around the time (1498 CE) when the Portuguese marauders led by Vasco Da Gama arrived in Malabar, the Syrian Christian community was thriving, with at least 30,000 members. Now, here’s how they repaid India’s generosity. When Da Gama returned for the second time in 1502, he was met by a delegation of Syrian Christians: “They identified themselves, surrendered their ancient honours and documents, and invited him to make war on their Hindu king,” writes Ishwar Sharan in The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple.

According to George Menachery, a Catholic apologist and former adviser to the Kerala State Department of Archaeology, the Syrian Christians presented Da Gama “a ‘Rod of Justice’ and swore allegiance to the Portuguese king and implored Portuguese protection.”

K. M. Panikkar elaborates in Malabar and the Portuguese: “More than this they suggested to [Vasco da Gama] that with their help he should conquer the Hindu kingdoms and invited him to build a fortress for this purpose in Cranganore [Kodungallur]. This was the recompense which the Hindu rajas received for treating with liberality and kindness the Christians in their midst.

Author and researcher Sanjay Subrahmanyam, no friend of Hindus, writes in the extensively annotated The Career and Legend of Vasco Da GamaThe perspective of the Syrian Christians on early Portuguese activities in Kerala is an interesting one; they clearly support their co-religionists, rather than the local rulers….

In a letter of late 1524, the Syrian Christian bishop Mar Jacob writes after recounting all his actions in favour of the Portuguese Crown: “This, Sire, is the service that I have done in these parts, with the intention of moving you to the help me in the expansion of these people [Syrian Christians] through this India in the faith of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.”

Subrahmanyam continues: “In the same context, he hence offered the aid of the Syrian Christians as an auxiliary military force, to aid the Portuguese, claiming that they represent ‘over 25,000 warriors.‘” The bishop requests Vasco Da Gama to intercede—that is use military force—on behalf of the Syrian Christian community. Mar Jacob also proposed the construction of a Portuguese fortress at Cranganore, a proposal that was put into effect a decade later, in 1536, paving the way for the Portuguese colonisation.

However, once they had cynically used the help of the traitorous community, the fanatic Portuguese persecuted the Syrian Christians with a vengeance, and forced them—on pain of death—to abandon their ancient Orthodox church and swear allegiance to Roman Catholicism.

Vasco da Gama & Zamorin of Calicut

Flash forward to the 20th century

The history of Kerala Christians—who today comprise around 20 per cent of the State’s population—hasn’t exactly been exemplary in modern times. In the early 1970s when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was publicly denouncing the threat of CIA subversion of India, the US ambassador in New Delhi, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, ordered an investigation into the matter.

The US embassy uncovered two occasions during Indira’s father Jawaharlal Nehru’s premiership when the CIA had secretly provided funds to help the communists’ opponents in state elections. The first occasion was in the 1950s, in Kerala, where cash was supplied to the Syrian Christian Church to destabilise the democratically elected Communist Party of India. According to Moynihan, “Both times the money was given to the Congress Party which had asked for it. Once it was given to Mrs Gandhi herself, who was then a party official.”

Just like the Syrian Christians backed their western co-religionists over the local Hindu and Muslim communities, with whom they had co-existed—and from whose help they had thrived, prospered, and gentrified—modern Indian Christians look up to the West, especially the United States. In their view, America, being the most Christian nation, should help them in keeping India—and thereby Hindus—in line.

Role of Christians in India’s Partition

In a paper titled The Role of Christians in the Freedom Movement of Pakistan published in the Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences, Munir-ul-Anjum and Shahnaz Tariq write: “The support of Christians for the cause of Pakistan was based on their belief that the Muslim society in its nature was more secular than the caste ridden Hindu society hence more permissive for the rights and safe guards of the religious minorities.”

“Christians strongly supported Quaid-e-Azam and Muslim League at that critical time when there was lot of opposition to the formation a new Muslim state. The All India Christian Association assured unconditional full cooperation to the founder of Pakistan. This crucial role of Christian population of the region was recognised by the founder of Pakistan and the All India Muslim League at all levels. These Christians played a very strong role in the creation of Pakistan…. The Christian vote before the Boundary Commission was the only decisive vote for the true foundation of Pakistan. Christian leaders voted for Pakistan because they believed that Quaid-e-Azam would be the real protector of their rights and interests.”

“When the proceedings of the Boundary Commission took place, Christian leaders Dewan Bahadur S. P. Singha, C. E. Gibbon and Fazal Elahi, in their recorded statement, demanded that for the demarcation of the boundaries, the Christian population be included and termed as Muslim population.”

“In the last days of united India Jinnah visited Lahore as a part of his campaign to fetch the support of the minority community for Pakistan. He met the Christian leader Chandu Lal and Sikh leader Giani Kartar Singh. The Sikh leader turned down his offer while Chandu Lal declared unconditional support of the Christians for Pakistan. When the resolution to join Pakistan or India was moved and voted upon in the Punjab Legislative Assembly, the three Christian members voted in favour of Pakistan and saved the situation. Eighty-eight and 91 votes were cast in favour of India and Pakistan respectively. In this way the three Christian votes decided the fate of the province.” 

However, not content with the creation of Pakistan, the Christians “denounced and condemned the unfair distribution of Punjab province more forcefully even than the Muslims and tried their best to get the districts of Pathankot and Gurdaspur included in western Punjab”.

Bishop of Tuticorin Roman Catholic Diocese Rt. Rev. Yvon Ambroise

Are Christians a fifth column?

Christian fundamentalists thrive on suffering and disaster. In February 2001, T. John, the Karnataka civil aviation minister and a member of the Orthodox church, described the Gujarat earthquake, which resulted in death of over 20,000 people, as “the punishment of God to the people for ill-treating Christians and minorities in the state.”

John also saw a divine connection between attacks on Christians in Orissa and the cyclone that hit the region in December 1999, killing 10,000 people. This is nothing but vicarious pleasure at the expense of non-Christian Indians.

He wasn’t the only one expressing such sentiments. The tsunami in India—in which 10,136 people were killed and hundreds of thousands made homeless—was indeed a windfall for many American Churches which poured in billions of dollars to convert large numbers of poor fisher folk in the Kudankulam area.

Ten years later, these converts were unleashed against the crucial Kudankulam atomic power plant. In 2014, the Intelligence Bureau (IB)—India’s premier internal security agency—submitted a report to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, identifying several foreign-funded NGOs that are “negatively impacting economic development”.

The IB report neatly ties in with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s claims that NGOs funded by the Americans were leading the protests against the Russian-built nuclear reactors in Kudankulam. That the maddeningly taciturn Singh would speak out—despite owing his prime ministership to his party boss, the pro-Christian and Catholic Sonia Gandhi—is an indication of the danger posed to India’s national security by forces being remote-controlled by the West.

The NGOs that were at the centre of the mass protests were associated with Bishop Yvon Ambroise, the Tuticorin Church leader, who had been active in the vicious campaign against the power plant.

In fact, there is evidence that the earliest Christian converts from Hinduism betrayed Indian interests. It also illustrates how Christians are easily coerced by their western masters.

Animalising—the process by which cotton is dyed—was a secret that remained a mystery to Europeans. Stephen Yafa explains in his book Cotton: The Biography of a Revolutionary Fiber how this trade secret was stolen: “Ironically it was a man of the cloth, Jesuit Father Coeurdoux, who betrayed these fiercely guarded secrets. In 1742 the French cleric took advantage of his missionary posting on the Coromandel coast to gain the trust of Indian master dyers who he had converted to Catholicism.

These Indian Christians confided their secret process to him with an understanding that he would never reveal it. And what the father do? “Coerdoux immediately gave a detailed description in a step-by-step letter published in France. In a blink, 3000 years of clandestine artisan practice became public knowledge.”

The point is not the betrayal by newly converted Indian Christians. To be sure, they had—albeit naively—asked the European priest to keep the secret to himself. The point is that this is exactly how Indian Christians can be used by their western masters. For instance, pressure can be applied on the family of a seemingly loyal Indian Christian who is, say, a rocket scientist at the Indian Space Research Organisation.

Pressure can come in a variety of ways but the most likely approach a western intelligence agency would take is to first approach the Christian scientist’s parish priest via the local bishop, who may be approached through someone in the Vatican.

Parish pressure is no joke. Hindus, who do not formally congregate under a priest, cannot understand how closely integrated the Church is with the families of local Christians in a particular area or parish. When this writer was studying in St Thomas College, Thrissur, Kerala, he was witness to priests, some of who were lecturers, demanding to know why a particular student had skipped Sunday mass.

The family can be threatened with pariah status. For instance, many Kerala Christians who joined the Communist Party of India were denied burial services by the Church upon their deaths. This can be traumatic for the surviving members because the rest of the community members tend to treat them as outcastes. (Imagine the state of children who are not able to bury their dead father.)

Under such circumstances, transferring national secrets into a pen drive and handing them to an agent of a western intelligence agency might seem like a small inconvenience. To be sure, individual Christians in high-level positions may not be predisposed to betrayal. But because the entire Christian ecosystem is geared towards complete control of its flock, it’s unlikely many of them can stand the immense pressure brought to bear on them and their families. As Subrahmanyam writes, the Portuguese looked at Syrian Christians as a means to get “political and economic mileage”. Similarly, today’s Indian Christians are a means for the West to penetrate the higher echelons of power in New Delhi.

Onesimus & Paul

Why Christianity has no place in India

Some argue the caste system in Hinduism is unfair to the lower castes and hence Christianity can lift them by treating them as equals. That’s probably the lamest argument in favour of the Abrahamic faith. For, if Christianity has not made, say, Europeans or Americans, better human beings, what makes them think it will make Indians any better?

First up, racism is at all-time high levels in the West. American Christian Churches quoted the Bible to give approval to the slave trade. Today, black Christians are again being lynched by white Christians in America. What can they teach India about equality?

Also, despite the horrendous bloodshed of two world wars, these Christian nations are still at each other’s throats and still bombing innocent civilians around the world. And if events in Ukraine are any indication, European Christians haven’t learnt anything at all and are creating a situation that could lead to World War III.

At any rate, caste schisms among Indian Christians mirror the caste divisions in Hinduism. “Conversion to Christianity does not seem to eradicate caste prejudice in India any more than it eliminates racial discrimination in the US. Despite Jesus’ call for brotherly love, isn’t Sunday the most segregated day in America?” writes C. Alex Alexander, a naturalised US citizen and former Chief of Staff, US Department of Veterans Affairs in a detailed expose of the Christian threat to India.

Caste segregated Christian graveyard in Tamil Nadu

There are others some who argue that converted Hindus will remain Indians, and therefore where’s the problem with conversion? Well, there is a major problem and Swami Vivekananda set it in the founding document of the Ramakrishna Mission in 1897. If India embraces a foreign religion, he wrote, “Indian civilisation will be destroyed. For whomever goes out of the Hindu religion is not only lost to us but also we have in him one more enemy.”

Because the West has usurped the soul of Christianity, Christianisation—like Islamisation—equals denationalisation. Western missionaries who were rampaging through China in the 1940s were fond of the line, “One more Christian, one less Chinese.”

Religious conversion is therefore a flick of a switch that transforms an Indian—or for that matter any follower of a native religion—into an extension of western culture and influence.

In his book The Armies Of God: A Study In Militant Christianity, Iain Buchanan, a British-born, Malaysia-based academic, has explained how Christianity imported from the West can cause havoc in developing countries. In an interview with DNA newspaper, he says“There is no doubt at all that US strategy makes deliberate (and somewhat cynical) use of Christian agencies in pursuit of foreign policy – and that the distinction between the religious and the secular is deliberately blurred in the process…. Most of the major evangelical corporations (like World Vision, Campus Crusade, Youth with a Mission, and Samaritan’s Purse) operate in partnership with the US government in its pursuit of foreign policy—World Vision, which is effectively an arm of the State Department, is perhaps the most notable example of this.”

What does this mean, in practice, for a targeted country?

“Above all, it means that it is often very difficult to distinguish the agencies of evangelization. Active Christian proselytization is often just a small part of the process; in addition, there must be infiltration of every sector of influence in a society, from religious groups to government departments to local charities to private business, in ways which blur the line between Christian indoctrination and secular change.”

Alex Alexander agrees: “Self-professedly Christian pressure groups have both a highly influential membership and a powerful grip on policy. The network of evangelical influence goes far beyond this: there are scores of such groups at work in Congress, the military, and departments of state. All act to connect politics, business, the media, and the military with one another in pursuit of a common vision of a Christian American dominion over the world.”

It is well-known that Indian Christians in cahoots with fundamentalist American politicians, Church groups and Indian Marxists played a leading role in getting Prime Minister Narendra Modi banned from entering the US for his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat religious riots.

However, Christians have been working against Indian interests even prior to that. In September 2000 when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in the US on an official visit, Christian fundamentalist John Dayal appeared before the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in Washington DC.

According to Alexander, the virulently anti-Hindu “Dayal should have thought of the possibility that the timing of that invitation extended to him by USCIRF was not an accident. It is quite likely it was part of the US State Department’s plan to place the visiting Prime Minister on his defensive and thereby weaken India’s efforts to convey to the American public the destructive consequences of cross-border terrorism aided and abetted by Pakistan.”

Alexander offers an example of the West-Christianity nexus: “A page from the recent history of East Timor may be appropriate for Indians to review in order to understand the negative potential of offshore proselytisation. The indigenous tribes in that island were first converted to Christianity by Dutch and Portuguese missionaries. Then they were helped by the western nations to secede from Indonesia. India may run similar risks if it continues to allow foreign missionaries to have unfettered access to its tribal populations.”

Indeed, the activities of Christian missionaries can cause turmoil as it did on a massive scale in 1857. Historian R. C. Majumdar wrote: “The sensitiveness of the sepoys to their religious beliefs and practices and the dread of conversion to Christianity worked as a nightmare upon their minds…. A vague dread that the government was determined, by hook or by crook, to convert the Indians to Christianity pervaded all ranks of society, and the sepoys, fully shared these apprehensions with the rest…. The aggressive attitude of the Christian missionaries … in matters of proselytisation had been frequent subjects of complaint.

Among such aggressive activities, Majumdar noted the practice of missionaries of “open unchecked denunciation of their cherished social usages and customs in most violent language, and filthy abuses of their gods and goddesses by bands of Christian missionaries.
John Paull II & Hindu Swami (1999)

Myth of passive Christians

Outwardly, Christianity might appear to be a benign religion. Indeed, when compared with the aggressive face of Islam, it definitely appears to the tamer Abrahamic sister. In “Why Christianity Failed in India,” Tony Joseph writes in Outlook magazine that after 2000 years of trying to convert India, Christians form just around 2 per cent of the population. However, he misses the point entirely.

Christianity did not grow much during the centuries preceding the period of European colonialism because the early Christians were refugees and not keen on converting native Indians. Again, during the colonial period, when hordes of missionary Europeans waded into India, the pace of conversion failed to pick up because Indians knew who the enemy was—Christian Europeans, who came to destroy Indian civilisation just as they destroyed Native American and Australian Aboriginal cultures.

Today, the Europeans are gone but their agenda remains. Where earlier you could spot a Christian or evangelist by the colour of their skin, now they are in our midst. They have names like Mahesh Bhupathi, whose mother once said, “My burden is for India, since in this country we fight with about 33 million other gods.” Had she not uttered those tasteless remarks, nobody would have been the wiser to her and her son’s proselytization activities.

Under the cloak of democracy, Christian missionaries can sneak in and conduct their unholy work among the poor and helpless. Christian churches have cropped up like a rash across the east coast after the tsunami hit southern India. Nagaland, which was entirely animist, despite two centuries of British rule, became 100 per cent Christian under 50 years of democratic—or rather Nehru-Gandhi dynasty—rule.

Christianity has not—yet—failed in India. With powerful backers in the West, it is preparing for another big harvest. While visiting India in 1999, the Pope openly proclaimed his wish to “witness a great harvest of faith” there through the Christianisation of the entire country. Predictably, it led to a backlash from Hindus who felt threatened—and betrayed—by the huge crowds of Indian Christians who turned out to greet the Pope.
Jesus

Breaking India

Christian leaders and organisations in sync with western NGOs and Church backed bodies are playing a divisive game aimed at breaking India. Author Rajiv Malhotra has exposed this with abundant evidence in the book Breaking India, which he co-authored with Aravindan Neelakandan.

According to Malhotra, US and European churches, academics, think-tanks, foundations, government and human rights groups play an aggressive role in fostering separation of the identities of Dravidian and Dalit communities from the rest of India.

Koenraad Elst says, “There is a vicious attempt to delegitimise Hinduism as India’s native religion, and to mobilise the weaker sections of Hindu society against it with ‘blood and soil’ slogans.”

Seeing how the nativist movement in the Americas is partly directed against Christianity because of its historical aggression against native society (in spite of Liberation Theology’s attempts to recuperate the movement), the Indian Church tries to take over this nativist tendency and forge it into a weapon against Hinduism.

Christian involvement in the so-called Dalit (“oppressed”) and Adivasi (“aboriginal”) movements is an attempt to channel the nativist revival and perversely direct it against native society itself. It advertises its services as the guardian of the interests of the “true natives” (meaning the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) against native society, while labelling the upper castes as “Aryan invaders”, on the basis of an outdated theory postulating an immigration in 1500 BC.

Elst adds: “To declare people ‘invaders’ because of a supposed immigration of some of their ancestors 3500 years ago is an unusual feat of political hate rhetoric in itself, but the point is that it follows a pattern of earlier rounds of Christian aggression. It is Cortes all over again: Cortes, the conqueror of Mexico, could defeat the Aztecs, the ruling nation which had immigrated from Utah three centuries earlier, by enlisting the support of nations subdued by the Aztecs, with himself posing as their liberator (of course, they were to regret their ‘liberation’). The attempt to divide the people of a country on an ethnic basis—whether it is a real ethnic distinction as in the case of Cortes’ Mexico, or a wilfully invented one as in the case of India—is an obvious act of hostility, unmistakably an element of warfare.

“Therefore, ‘without any restriction’, Christians are teaching some sections of Hindu society hatred against other sections. You don’t normally try to create hostility between your friends, so the Church’s policy to pit sections of Hindu society against one another should be seen for what it is: an act of aggression, which warrants an active policy of self-defence and counter-attack. This counter-attack should take a proper form, adapted to the genius of Hinduism.”

From allying with the fanatic Portuguese to siding with the murderous Muslim League mobs of the 1940s, Indian Christians have shown an unbelievably stupid and opportunistic streak. Their Abrahamic compass is fixed due west and there’s little hope Christians will suddenly become nationalist. For, identifying with the Indian nation-state would also imply acceptance of Hinduism. That, more than anything, is incompatible with the Christian worldview. Former top cop Julio Ribeiro and Supreme Court judge Kurian Joseph—who both railed against the Indian nation-state—are living symbols of this incompatibility. In this backdrop, Ghar Wapsi-–or reverting of Christians to Hinduism—is not such a bad idea after all. – IndiaFacts, 18 May 2015

» Rakesh Krishnan Simha is a New Zealand-based journalist and foreign affairs analyst, with a special interest in defence and military history. He is a columnist with the Rossiyskaya Gazeta group, Moscow, and Modern Diplomacy, a Europe-based foreign affairs portal.

World Vision India

How does the Jesus proto-image for pseudo-theology impact Hinduism? – Shiva Das

Brahmin“From a Hindu and Vedic view, Christianity would be viewed as adharmic teachings or asuric dharmas.  Due to the lack of any compelling evidence of the existence of Jesus, aside from a requirement of blind faith that this is true, one must wonder if there was really a Jesus and if so to what extend did he really involve himself in teaching.  In reality, modern Christianity is more akin to the teachings of Paul than Jesus; ironically, Paul did not personally know Jesus or receive the teachings directly from him.   For Christianity to expand through conversion of Hindus, it has also embraced and was an originator of the proto-image.” – Shiva Das

Jesus the YogiWith the globalization of an obscure sect that existed within Judaism, the Christian Bible has become one of the most studied and research texts in modern history.  Yet, despite numerous generations of scholars pouring over the compendium of Biblical writings, there remains numerous questions about the life of Jesus.  Most notable his life from age 12-33, but there are numerous other apparent conflicts including a remarkable similarity with elements of “Wars of the Jews”[1] as well as a marriage between a person, image or concept of Jesus with various qualities procured the world’s older religions.  As an example, it is commonly known amongst scholars that Jesus was not born on December 25; in reality this was a common day amongst ancient civilizations for celebrating the culmination of the Winter Solstice celebration.  This celebration had a primary focus on the deity of one’s choice. A careful examination of religious teachings reveals that little is really known about Jesus or his teachings, and scholars do acknowledge that Christianity borrowed some concepts from other ancient religions, as an example Easter which was a pagan holiday and is the reason rabbits are still a part of the celebration.  Additionally, ancient Christianity “borrowed qualities or attributes” from the Vedic deity Mitra which was the concept of the “Divine Friend” that permeates Christianity to this day, but in the modern age this acquisition of attributes has been expanded to include Krishna and even Prajapati.  It is most interesting that this parallel is at times propagated by a small number of Hindu teachers, and the association of the Vedic Prajapati is commonly used as an attempt to portray Christianity as sort of a creator of Hinduism and pre-date Christianity to an earlier era which is simply false. Additionally, another rational may be the purpose of creating a spiritual typology aligning Christian and Hindu theologies, which simply does not exist.  We have seen this appear with absurd suggestions that the Vedas are a Christian text and more recently in Southern India, the equally absurd suggestion that Jesus created the Surya Namaskar.

Christ Pantocrator, Sinai, 6th centuryOne of the most pressing issues facing biblical scholars is actual evidence of the life of Jesus.  One criticism is pertaining to the name of Jesus which ironically cannot be found in any significant writings of the time, which would make sense as Jesus is not a Jewish name, therefore, there would be an absence of the name; as the name for Jesus was Yeshua.  While the actual name for Jesus (Yeshua) is a common name for that age and geographic region, it has proven to be no easy task to find actual documentation of Yeshua from the period Yeshua (Jesus) was believed to live.  Strangely, there is a surprising lack of references within Greek, Roman or Jewish records referencing Jesus.  In fact, there is considerable debate as to any location being identified as Nazareth i.e. Jesus of Nazareth, with the latest theory being that Nazareth must have been a small village of 2-4 families.  In fact, references to Jesus as a physical person appear in only one ancient writing to any degree and that is still somewhat limited: The Wars of the Jews by Josephus.  Scholars throughout history have noted similarities between The Wars of the Jews and the story of Jesus to some degree, a modern debate has emerged centering upon the question if this was an effort by the Romans to control the apoplectic Jewish sicarii,[2]  who were quite violent and rebellious from a Roman perspective.  Other views have suggested that the information about Jesus was added later to create a historical record.  Likewise, there have been attempts by scholars to “fill in the gaps” that have been fiercely debated, these attempts to whitewash and change records are often attributed to bad science with a nefarious religious agenda.  As an example, several scholars historically have attempted to resolve some of these issues by changing only a few key words in texts to secretly resolve issues regarding a historical Jesus.

This has led to my theory of Jesus being a proto-image for the formation of religion with numerous agendas such as promoting a Roman[3] agenda while vilifying the followers of Judaism. Even a casual read of the teachings of Jesus will reveal an occasional pro-Roman position and an almost anti-Judaic view.  This conflict between Christianity and Judaism has been reflected historically in the relationship between the Catholic Church and Judaism.  It appears clear that the Romans developed an interest in the formation of Christianity to meet a political as well as social agenda.  My suspicion is that the Flavian era discovered that the masses can be more easily controlled through religion than through military means, this management of the masses through religion is not only more easy to do but is rather cost effective, as military campaigns require considerable financial resources.  The proto-image has been a powerful image throughout history, but a more correct definition for the modern age would be the Proto-image psychological disposition.

Dancing Jesus in The New Indian BibleThe proto-image is an image that is designed to appear psychologically to the masses.  This has appeared frequently within Christianity, commonly manifesting simplistically in various visual cues such as a white Jesus, a black Jesus, blue-eyed Jesus to various ethnic variables included in the imagery of Jesus.  I have even witnessed an image of Jesus dressed as a Hindu on the cross with Hindu women dressed in sari’s standing around. This establishes the first basic psychological requirement, namely to establish a connection by way of the visual cultural identification. The second psychological requirement is to identify an obligation to the image, for the world the proto-image creates a psychological feeling of debt, as the image that someone died for you can easily create a feeling of a psychological debt and moves one further from the proto-image psychological disposition and more towards dogma, but we will explore that shortly.

While the world is currently witnessing a mass exodus from the Church amongst western peoples, evidenced by churches closing and numerous church properties being sold globally, especially in Europe, there is also prolific loss of churches occurring in the United States, as well.  While the current exodus from the Church is quite obvious, ironically, it is due the proto-image psychological disposition that is most responsible and likely the driving force for the exodus in modern western society.

JesusThe proto-image psychological disposition group is a rejection of the other Christian groups, the formal Church or dogma of the Church.  This group ignores all contrary statements relative to their particular view, emotional need and attachment to the proto-image of Jesus, in essence allowing Jesus to be whatever they wish with disregard for any conflicting message that violates their individual proto-image concept. This group will ignore violent actions of the Church littered throughout history, and psychologically believe that the action of the institution of the Church is somehow separate from the man (Jesus), while ignoring the violent message found in the Bible and associated with Jesus.  Some examples would include:

“Violence is mine…” (Deut. 32.35)

“Think not that I come to send peace on earth; I come not to send peace but a sword.” (Matthew 10.34)

“For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” (Matthew 10.35)

“Eye for eye, tooth for tooth…” (Exodus 21:24)

“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” (Luke 12:51)

“I have come to bring fire on the earth…” (Luke 12.49)

Paul burning books at EphesusTo compensate for these violent messages, the proto-image psychological disposition devotee must project their own interpretation upon the Biblical teaching based upon their own proto-image view, again often based in little to no study of the language, languages of translation (such as Greek), people, era, translation or other quality used to justify a rational. To state it in blatant terms, they simply make up their own meanings to conflicting passages. These groups typically focus on such statements as love, turn the other cheek and various examples of forgiveness, while ignoring comments attributed such as, and I paraphrase, I am the only way to the father[4].  Some might argue that this is in reality a division between fundamentalist and more secular views, certainly there would be some degree of truth to this, and certainly there is nothing wrong with embracing love or turn the other cheek, it becomes more of a conflict between following dharma and the desires of the ego.  This has ultimately resulted in a hybrid or pseudo Christianity which is commonly reflected in the New Age movement.  Ironically, the New Age movement is largely based on snippets of Hinduism and to some degree Buddhism combined with the Jesus proto-image.

The proto-image psychological group is powerfully influenced by samskaras[5], often the by-product of being raised within a Christian tradition or having joined a tradition and creating numerous latent impressions within the mind.  These impressions are repeated and reinforced to such a degree that often one loses discrimination between impressions and desire for factual realization of the latent impressions. In other words, a false belief must be made believable. It is the samskaras that in essence demand reconciliation within the mind of the student of spirituality, but the latent impressions are so strong within the field of the mind that the only easy reconciliation is a proto-image that is heavily modified to ones comfort zone.

From a Hindu and Vedic view, Christianity would be viewed as adharmic teachings or asuric dharmas.  Due to the lack of any compelling evidence of the existence of Jesus, aside from a requirement of blind faith that this is true, one must wonder if there was really a Jesus and if so to what extend did he really involve himself in teaching.  In reality, modern Christianity is more akin to the teachings of Paul than Jesus; ironically, Paul did not personally know Jesus or receive the teachings directly from him. For Christianity to expand through conversion of Hindus, it has also embraced and was an originator of the proto-image.

Jesus & KrishnaWhat does this mean for Hinduism?

Of all the forces supporting the proto-image in India, it is through teachers within Hinduism that the proto-image is becoming most prolific. An example is a conversation I had with a swami residing in India. He was trained by a well-known and established sampradaya within India. He publicly stated that “the teachings of Jesus were 100% compatible with Hinduism.”  I found this strange, and questioned how he reconciled Jesus’ statement that he was the only way to the father, which is contradictory to most Hindu beliefs. After considerable debate, in private the swami confessed he had never read the Bible and knew little to nothing of the teachings of Jesus. I was shocked by such a confession, and it beckons the question “why would such a statement have been made?” if one had never read the teachings of Jesus. While I cannot speak of what was truly within the heart of the swami, one must wonder if financial motivations and the prospect of western dollars was a temptation to strong to resist. Or possibly there were some other motivations, but clearly making such a statement would clearly be adharmic and appealing to the proto-image psychological group.

The Jesus proto-image is problematic for Hinduism. As questions as to if Jesus really existed are becoming more common and evidence to support his physical presence is lacking in the current archeological and historical records. If the image of Jesus is not real, not correct and the reality is that Jesus is only a psychological proto-image, the ramifications for Hinduism are rather severe. It appears that a large number of teachers have seemed to need to align themselves with Jesus in order to come to the west and teach, some have even proclaimed to reveal “secret teachings of Jesus” or special insight into the teachings of Jesus.  In reality, this is a rather sad commentary for Hinduism, as it seems to imply that the teachings of Hinduism cannot stand upon their own without help from Christianity.  This is certainly not the case, as Hinduism is the last remaining teachings of the great Dharmic traditions!  Likewise, this action does a disservice to western students as it strengthens samskaras within their own minds, further trapping them in the world samsara[6].

M.K. Gandhi in 1929While the proto-image is a method of exodus in the western church, it has the exact opposite effect in India as it is a tool for conversion.  But for the Hindu, the proto-image is an appealing image that makes the process of conversion easier and much more simplified, as the nature of the proto-image is to appeal psychologically to people by design. Likewise, Hinduism has been accommodating to the image of Jesus, but if the image is merely a proto-image and nothing else, it would question the levels of realization of some teachers as they would have demonstrated an inability to not see through the illusionary proto-image. A compelling recognition of this proto-image was actually made by Gandhi, who said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”[7] But something more insidious is hiding in such statements, a potential assumption of Jesus that is more akin to a psychological proto-image. So the Hindu begins the journey into Christianity through the proto-image, then a further conversion takes place, one that moves past the proto-image. After indoctrination into Christianity with the proto-image, the convert is slowly manipulated away from the proto-image and more into the dogmatic teachings of church, masterfully moving the Indian convert away from proto-image psychological disposition and more toward the dogmatic position of the church.

For the Hindu, this has opened a floodgate of missionary activity and has begun a process of implanting Christian samskaras within the Hindu mind. It is the purposeful application of samskaras that is most insidious.  In the west, they have a saying, “once a Catholic, always a Catholic” which recognizes the powerful force that samskaras have within each mind. Once the samskaras are planted within the mind, these samskaras prove difficult to remove; as a number of Hindu’s that studied in Christian schools appear almost as Christian apologists. It requires tremendous iccha shakti (will power) to free oneself from these powerful samskaras, yet, certainly there are Hindu’s that are able to stand against these impressions.  Therefore, this process of implantation of the proto-image begins in the Christian-based schools in India. 

Jesus as Shiva?Conclusion

Hinduism faces a difficult path in the long-term, if it does not recognize the hidden adharmic nature of the proto-image theory and begins to deepen the honouring of its own teachings regarding samskaras. Likewise, Hinduism must tap into its own teachings to explain the appeal of the proto-image, as it is understood that we are in the Kali Yuga, in this yuga the dharmic teachings become largely ignored, and spiritual belief is given to false concepts and ideas.

As westerners that have embraced the proto-image psychological disposition leave the Church, relatively few actually identify themselves as Hindu.  Despite the fact that many are practising some form of Hinduism or at a minimum a hybrid Hinduism.  In reality, they are practising more what is known as “eclectism”, which is disorganized mixture of various religious views and beliefs. The fact is that this group is taking Hindu teachings and concepts or dharmic concepts preserved by Hinduism and are repackaging them as something separate from dharma and not part of Hinduism.  Some have even been so bold to state they are “improving them”, yet one must ask how can one “improve” dharma?  This mentality of “improving” is prolific within yoga, but is spreading to other areas of Hinduism and even to the relationship with the deities.  As I have encountered numerous westerners that profess to worship Ganesh, as an example, yet have no concept or understanding of Hinduism.  It is common to see icons in yoga studios now, but few appear to know what a murthi is.  This will ultimately result in a pseudo-theology that is based upon the whims of the ego and samskaras rather than the realization of the Rishis. But the greater threat to Hinduism is far more reaching, as the greater threat to the religion is re-importation of a westernized Hinduism or pseudo-theology back into India.  In fact, this may ultimately prove to be a greater concern to India than Christianity, but the two combined are a powerful force facing modern Hinduism.

Adhi Guru DakshinamurthyThe solution is quite simple. We need the leaders of Hinduism, the Brahmins, the Swamis, Paramahansas, the Yogis and Babas to come out and embrace the masses with knowledge and tools to understand the illusions of the proto-image. This needs to not just be taught to wealthy Hindu’s, or the growing middle class within India, it needs to be taken to villages and the poor as well.  Just as Krishna instructs Arjuna to perform his duty within the Bhagavad Gita, the dharmic leaders must begin to perform their duty on deeper levels. We have entered a time where each of us is standing in Dharmakshetre, Kurukshetre or in the field of dharma and in the field of the kurus[8].  As it is the duty of all dharmic teachers to preserve and protect dharma. It is important for each and every Hindu man, woman and child to remember—“Dharmo rakshati rakshitah” (One who protects Dharma is protected by Dharma). – The Chakra, 21 June 2015

References

  1. Atwill, Joseph, Caesar’s Messiah
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid
  4. King James Bible, John 14.6
  5. Samskaras are a Hindu teaching that each thought leaves an impression within the mind and body.  We are powerfully influenced by the sum total of these thoughts.
  6. Reincarnation.
  7. Good Reads Quotes
  8. Bhagavad Gita 1.1

» The author Shiva Das was trained in the traditional dharmic systems of India. 

Nine reasons why everything you know about Jesus is a myth – Valerie Tarico

Dr Valerie Tarico“The person of Jesus, if indeed there was such a person, is shrouded in the fog of history leaving us only with a set of hunches and traditions that far too often are treated as knowledge. The “facts” I have listed here are largely trivial; it doesn’t really matter whether Jesus was tall or short, or how he cut his hair. But it does matter, tremendously, that “facts” people claim to know about how Jesus saw himself, and God and humanity are equally tenuous.” – Dr Valerie Tarico

Jesus with wife Mary Magdalene and KidsJesus has been described as the best known figure in history, and also the least known. If you mentioned the name “Jesus” and someone asked Jesus who, you might blink. Or laugh. Even people who don’t think Jesus was God mostly believe they know a fair bit about him. You might be surprised that some of your most basic assumptions about Jesus are probably wrong. 

We have no record of anything that was written about Jesus by eyewitnesses or other contemporaries during the time he would have lived, or for decades thereafter. Nonetheless, based on archeological digs and artifacts, ancient texts and art, and even forensic science, we know a good deal about the time and culture in which the New Testament is set. This evidence points to some startling conclusions about who Jesus likely was—and wasn’t.

1. Married, not single. When an ancient papyrus scrap was found in 2014 referring to the wife of Jesus, some Catholics and Evangelicals were scandalized. But unlike the Catholic Church, Jews have no tradition of celibacy among religious leaders. Jesus and his disciples would have been practising Jews, and all great rabbis we know of were married. A rabbi being celibate would have been so unusual that some modern writers have argued Jesus must have been gay. But a number of ancient texts, including the canonical New Testament, point to a special relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus. The Gospel of Phillip says, “[Jesus] loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth.”

2. Cropped hair, not long. Jewish men at the time of Christ did not wear their hair long. A Roman triumphal arch of the time period depicts Jewish slaves with short hair. In the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he addresses male hair length. “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him?” (1 Corinthians 11:14 NRSV). During the 1960s, conservative Christians quoted this verse to express their disgust against the hippy movement and to label it anti-Christian.

3. Hung on a pole, not necessarily a cross. For centuries scholars have known that the Greek New Testament word “stauros,” which is translated into English as cross, can refer to a device of several shapes, commonly a single upright pole, “torture stake” or even tree. The Romans did not have a standard way of crucifying prisoners, and Josephus tells us that during the siege of Jerusalem, soldiers nailed or tied their victims in a variety of positions. Early Christians may have centered on the vertical pole with a crossbeam because it echoed the Egyptian ankh, a symbol of life, or the Sumerian symbol for Tammuz, or because it simply was more artistically and symbolically distinctive than the alternatives. Imagine millions of people wearing a golden pole on a chain around their necks.

4. Short, not tall. The typical Jewish man at the time of the Roman Empire would have been just over five feet tall, which makes this a best guess for the height of Jesus. That he is typically depicted taller derives from the mental challenge people have distinguishing physical stature from other kinds of stature. Great men are called “big men” and “larger than life.” In ancient times they often were assigned divine parentage and miraculous births, and the idea that Jesus was uniquely divine has created a strong pull over time to depict him as taller than is likely. A good illustration of this is the Shroud of Turin, which is just one of many such Jesus-shrouds that circulated during medieval times and which bears the image of a man closer to six feet in height.

5. Born in a house, not a stable. The miraculous birth story of Jesus is a late, maybe second-century addition to the Bible, and it contains many fascinating mythic elements and peculiarities. But the idea that Jesus was born in a stable was added to the Christmas story even later. In the original narrative, Joseph and Mary probably would have stayed with relatives, and the phrase “no room for them in the inn (gr: kataluma)” is better translated “no room for them in the upper room.” Later storytellers did not understand that people of the time might bring animals into their ground floor, as in Swiss housebarns, and they assumed that the presence of a manger implied a stable.

6. Named Joshua, not Jesus. The name Joshua (in Hebrew Y’hoshuʿa meaning “deliverance” or “salvation”), was common among Jews in the Ancient Near East as it is today. Joshua and Jesus are the same name, and are translated differently in our modern Bible to distinguish Jesus from the Joshua of the Old Testament, who leads the Hebrew people to the Promised Land. In actuality, the relationship between the two figures is fascinating and important. Some scholars believe that the New Testament gospels are mostly historicised and updated retellings of the more ancient Joshua story, with episodes interwoven from stories of Elisha and Elijah and Moses. A modern parallel can be found in the way Hollywood writers have reworked Shakespearean tropes and plot elements into dozens of modern movies (though for a very different purpose).

7. Number of apostles (12) from astrology, not history. Whether Jesus had 12 disciples who ranked above his other devotees is an open question, as their names vary from list to list. Since the Gospels echo the story of Joshua, the “12” apostles most immediately mirror the 12 tribes of Israel. But the number 12 was considered auspicious by many ancient people, including the Israelites, and the 189 repetitions of the number 12 in the Bible ultimately may derive from the same pre-historical roots as the 12 signs of the zodiac and 12 months of the year. Astrotheology or star worship preceded the Hebrew religion, and shaped both the Bible and world religions more broadly. One might point to the 12 Olympian gods or 12 sons of Odin, or 12 days of Christmas or 12 “legitimate” successors to the prophet Mohammed.

8. Prophecies recalled, not foretold. Even people who aren’t too sure about the divinity of Jesus sometimes think that the way he fulfilled prophecies was a bit spooky, like the writings of Nostradamus. In reality, Scooby Doo could solve this one in a single episode with three pieces of information: First, Old Testament prophecies were well-known to first-century Jews, and a messianic figure who wanted to fulfill some of these prophecies could simply do so. For example, in the book of Matthew, Jesus seeks a donkey to ride into Jerusalem “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet” (Matthew 21:4). Second, “gospels” are a genre of devotional literature rather than objective histories, which means that the authors had every reason to shape their stories around earlier predictions. Third, scholars now believe that some Bible texts once thought to be prophecies (for example in the Book of Revelation) actually relate to events that were current or past at the time of writing.

9. Some Jesus quotes not from Jesus; others uncertain. Lists of favorite Jesus sayings abound online. Some of the most popular are the Beatitudes (blessed are the meek, etc.) or the story of the woman caught in adultery (let he who is without sin cast the first stone) or the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you, which, we are told, sums up the Law and the Prophets).

Thomas JeffersonWhich words are actually from Jesus? This question has been debated fiercely by everyone from third-century Catholic Councils to the 20th-century Jesus Seminar. Even Thomas Jefferson weighed in, but much remains unclear. The New Testament Gospels were written long after Jesus would have died, and no technology existed with which to record his teachings in real-time, unless he wrote them down himself, which he didn’t.

We can be confident that at least some of the wise and timeless words and catchy proverbs attributed to Jesus are actually from earlier or later thinkers. For example, the Golden Rule was articulated before the time of Christ by the Rabbi Hillel the Elder, who similarly said it was the “whole Torah.” By contrast, the much-loved story of the woman caught in adultery doesn’t appear in manuscripts until the fourth century. Attributing words (or whole texts) to a famous person was common in the Ancient Near East, because it gave those words extra weight. Small wonder then that so many genuinely valuable insights ended up, in one way or another, paired with the name of Jesus.

JesusThe person of Jesus, if indeed there was such a person, is shrouded in the fog of history leaving us only with a set of hunches and traditions that far too often are treated as knowledge. The “facts” I have listed here are largely trivial; it doesn’t really matter whether Jesus was tall or short, or how he cut his hair. But it does matter, tremendously, that “facts” people claim to know about how Jesus saw himself, and God and humanity are equally tenuous.

The teachings attributed to Jesus mix enduring spiritual and moral insights with irrelevancies and Judaica and bits of Iron Age culture, some of which are truly awful. That leaves each of us, from the privileged vantage of the 21st century, with both a right and a responsibility to consider the evidence and make our own best guesses about what is real and how we should then live. A good starting place might be a little more recognition that we don’t know nearly as much as we’d like to think, and a lot of what we know for sure is probably wrong. – Salon, 14 May 2015

» Dr Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. As a writer she tackles the intersection between religious belief, psychology and politics, with a growing focus on women’s issues, and is actively engaged in dialogue that aims to find common ground between theists and freethinkers, in particular by focusing on humanity’s shared moral core. She is a founder of WisdomCommons.org, an interactive site that allows users to find and discuss information about virtues that emerge repeatedly across secular and religious wisdom traditions.

Workers lift the head of a giant idol of Jesus the King onto its body in Swiebodzin, Poland

See also

Warren Anderson’s Release: A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma – B. S. Raghavan

Rajiv GandhiOh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!
– Sir Walter Scott

Since everybody is on the job of unravelling the mystery behind the abrupt release of the Chairman, Mr Warren Anderson, of the Union Carbide, after first arresting him on arrival in Bhopal after the horrendous tragedy, why not I throw my hat in the ring? But first, in fairness, I must make a disclaimer and ask for caution.

What I am going to set out falls within the domain of deductive logic, heavily borrowing from the tell-tale technique of fictional heroes, Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. The clues are all in favour of supporting the proposition that Rajiv Gandhi had a compelling reason to want to oblige the US Administration by releasing Warren Anderson.

I would not have ventured to come out with it unless I had thought it plausible after obtaining the honestly-expressed views of many friends with long experience of holding high responsibilities and eminent in their own spheres.

I simply narrate the happenings at the same period as when the gruesome catastrophe took place at Bhopal for you to mull over.

Mohammed YunusThe happenings

Now, to the happenings before and after the Bhopal tragedy insofar as it relates to Rajiv Gandhi. Adil Shahryar, the son of Muhammad Yunus, who was almost a part of the Indira Gandhi family, and a mentor of both Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi, was tried in a US District Court by a jury, and convicted on an indictment of five counts (including trying to blow up a ship, illegal possession of firearms and carrying them across State borders and drug trafficking) and sentenced in 1982 to 35 years hard labour in prison.

He appealed to the 11th Circuit US Court of Appeals which rejected the appeal on November 21, 1983 saying, “We find that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to support the verdicts and therefore affirm the district court’s (judgment).”

PrisonerIt is not unreasonable to imagine what a shock this would have been to Yunus and how desperate he must have been to get his son released by using the influence of his highly placed friends. The fact of his leaving no stone unturned is evident from the fact that at one stage, the famous actor Charlton Heston (Ten Commandments, Benhur, The Bold and the Beautiful) got into the act to write to the US Attorney General (pdf), William F. Smith, asking him to intervene in the case. That he was sternly rebuffed (pdf) is another matter.

When Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister, it is not far-fetched to believe that he must have come under relentless pressure from Yunus to make the release of Adil from US jail his topmost priority, even if it be by using his position and broaching the matter directly to President Ronald Reagan.

It was just at that time — December 3, 1984 — the Bhopal tragedy shook the world. If Rajiv Gandhi’s appeal to Reagan on Yunus’ behalf were to succeed, it was imperative to make a gesture that would somehow make President Reagan deal with Rajiv Gandhi’s request favourably.

Warren AndersonGood bargain

Hey, presto! Warren Anderson is given VIP treatment and allowed to fly out of the country on December 7, 1984 and Adil Shahriyar is granted presidential pardon “as a goodwill gesture” and “for reasons of state” on June 11, 1985.

It certainly was a good bargain to exchange a convict undergoing a 35-year sentence for heinous offences in the US for an American corporate honcho, in order to oblige a long-time family friend. – Business Line, 14 June  2010

References

Maggi noodles ban imperils the livelihood of lakhs – Offstumped

Maggi noodles vendor in Ahmedabad

Offstumped“In a nation where there is no semblance of food safety in the unorganized food retail sector for the government and the media to go after a packaged foods corporate that holds itself to account through quality checks is reflective of an anti-enterprise mindset. … When the dust settles on this Maggi alarmism, it is the roadside vendor who sold Maggi, the street corner kirana store that stocked Maggi, and the entire supply chain of shopkeepers and distributors who will pay the economic price with their livelihoods for this collective folly of cynical politicians and opportunistic media houses.” – Offstumped

Maggi NoodlesHow many have reported falling sick after eating Maggi noodles?

How many complaints of ill-health attributed to eating Maggi noodles?

Questions to which there is no credible answers for in all of this frenzy over food safety and Maggi noodles we have forgotten if there was an imminent threat to public health or is this one of many routine quibbles over nutrition value of junk foods?

If the present controversy over Maggi has just made you aware that the two-minute noodles isn’t ‘the healthy food’ you thought it to be then perhaps you were more to blame than the Brand. Like any other fast food, packaged food or snack – the McDonald’s burger, KFC or Coca Cola – instant noodles was of course going to be of questionable nutritional value but what is with this HashTag alarmism and 24×7 news frenzy?

Did Maggi noodles suddenly turn unhealthy overnight ?

It all started 15 months ago in March 2014 in UP, when a district food officer collected samples of Maggi noodles from a retailer in Barabanki, which was then found to contain monosodium glutamate (MSG) and lead more than its permissible limit. On appeal from Nestle – Maggi’s parent company, the sample was sent to Central Food Laboratory, Kolkata in July 2014. After 10 months, in April 2015, the Kolkata test results confirmed the presence of MSG, as well as lead in high quantity. Why would it take a year to confirm the findings?

Since then Maggi is facing tests in various parts of the country – Delhi government banned Maggi [on June 3rd] for 15 days and has decided to initiate a case against Nestle; Karnataka, Haryana, Punjab, Tamil Nadu have ordered tests; Gujarat and Maharashtra are awaiting test results; West Bengal’s Food Department has called a high-level meeting.

What is MSG and if it is harmful at all

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is one of the most abundant naturally occurring amino acids found in tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, mushrooms and many other vegetables and fruits. It is a flavour enhancer, which is either added artificially or is found in other ingredients of the products. According to reports, MSG stimulates the nervous system and makes food appear tastier. It is widely used in ‘Indian Chinese’ food.

An NDTV report quoted Indian dietitians and nutritionists as saying that there was no scientific evidence to establish adverse health effects of MSG. Prominent nutritionist Hena Nafis said:

“Recent reports of MSG having adverse effects such as headache, flushing and excessive sweating – which are typically associated with Chinese Restaurant Syndrome (CRS) – have not been clinically established.”

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers the addition of MSG to foods to be “generally recognized as safe”.

However, Maggi masalas were found to have monosodium glutamate without proper label declaration which is an offence under the category of misbranding. The Maggi packet says, “No added MSG”.

How harmful is lead

Lead, which was found to be more than its permissible limit, can cause can cause serious damages to internal organs including liver and intestine, said Vijay Bahadur, assistant commissioner (food safety), FSDA Uttar Pradesh.

Girish Shahane in his article ‘Maggi Controversy: Millions of Indians face danger of lead poisoning ‒ from Ayurveda’ calls the Maggi row scaremongering and another instance of bureaucratic over-reach, by highlighting that more than 20 per cent of our Ayurvedic medicines contain heavy metals including lead in amounts much more than what has been found in Maggi.

“Why go after trace quantities of lead in noodles when our air and water are poisonous, and noise levels orders of magnitude above the recommended maximum? How many food stalls, or even restaurants, in India would remain open if they had to adhere to prescribed hygiene standards? And how many have been shut down by the food safety chaps?”

Nestle Nestle in its defence

Nestle India claimed it has got samples tested in an external laboratory as well as in-house and that the product was found “safe to eat”.

Nestle is replying to people’s questions and concerns on its website. On the question of misbranding and presence of MSG, Nestle said:

“We do not add MSG to our Maggi noodles sold in India and this is stated on the concerned product. However, we use hydrolysed groundnut protein, onion powder and wheat flour to make Maggi noodles sold in India, which all contain glutamate. We believe that the authorities’ tests may have detected glutamate, which occurs naturally in many foods.”

On withdrawal of products which had lead more than permissible limit:

“We understand that consumers are concerned by reports that the authorities in India have found elevated levels of lead in a sample pack of Maggi masala noodles. The sample came from a batch that had an expiry date of November 2014 and is therefore no longer in the market.” 

That Kerala government still runs retail stores is the bigger outrage

Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation, also known as Supplyco, has around 1400 outlets throughout the state. The government has decided to temporarily stop distribution of Maggi noodles from its retail outlets.

Today when everyone – from consumers to the private companies – is arguing for economic freedom and limited government, why is Kerala government still running retail stores? The leaky public distribution system is an example of government’s failure as a retailer. Government’s involvement in distribution and selling is wastage of government’s limited resources which should otherwise have been focused on better governance and creating conducive atmosphere for business.

Also, the state-run retail business decision on Maggi has been wrongly interpreted as a government ban. 20,000 bakeries in the state have also decided not to sell any brand of noodles until the government takes a decision on this matter.

Arvind Kejriwal eating Maggi noodles!It adds fuel to Kejriwal’s anti-industry rhetoric

Even when the test results on Maggi were still awaited in Delhi, the Kejriwal government had already decided to initiate a case against the Indian arm of Swiss multinational giant forgetting perhaps this famous visual now doing the rounds on Twitter:

This Maggi controversy gives fodder to Kejriwal’s hypocritical anti-industry stand, which was exposed in his krantikari interview to Aaj Tak. His style of populist politics forces him to pretend like someone who is against big industries.

Why drag in the brand ambassadors?

A Bihar court has ordered that a FIR be registered against Maggi brand ambassadors Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta and arrest them. While Bachchan said he no more endorses the brand, Dixit recently met Nestle officials in this regard and said the company has assured her about the quality of the product.

TOI quoted Anirban Das Blah, celebrity agent, who handles the work of big celebrities including Deepika Padukone, Farhan Akhtar, Shahid Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor, as saying, “If such things happen, our contract states that the celeb is as much a victim as a consumer. Besides, we’re not investigating agencies. If celebs are being held for false promises, what about our politicians? The buck should stop with ministers and bureaucrats who give permission to sell such products.”

Times of India GroupMedia frenzy

Though creating awareness is the fundamentals of journalism, creating frenzy is overreach and uncalled for.

Why is Times Group going after Nestle? Is this a new business model to manufacture outrage to feed the news cycle? Times group, which makes money off brand ads, is now feeding public alarmism with it’s over the top outrage.

This government alarmism feeds into media frenzy, damaging a brand and an enterprise’s reputation.

What raises further doubts about the design of isolated targeting of Maggi is that so far there is not a single reported case of sickness due to consumption of Maggi. Nobody has been hospitalized or complained of damage to health on account of consumption of Maggi.

It is irresponsible to fuel a media frenzy against a food product in this manner implying an imminent threat to public health when none exists and none has been proven. This kind of irresponsible activism will have a devastating effect on the entire ecosystem that is financially dependent on Maggi.

It is high time we demolished this negative stereotype of a greedy enterprise when in fact an enterprise assumes financial risk, creates jobs not just within its four walls but across layers of society. This is not to absolve the ham-handed manner in which Nestle responded to this crisis of confidence in its flagship brand. But in a nation where there is no semblance of food safety in the unorganized food retail sector for the government and the media to go after a packaged foods corporate that holds itself to account through quality checks is reflective of an anti-enterprise mindset.

When the dust settles on this Maggi alarmism, it is the roadside vendor who sold Maggi, the street corner kirana store that stocked Maggi, and the entire supply chain of shopkeepers and distributors who will pay the economic price with their livelihoods for this collective folly of cynical politicians and opportunistic media houses. – Niticentral, 3 June 2015

A Maggi Noodles Auto-da-fe!

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