Ode to Shiva – Raji P. Shrivastava

Lord Shiva meditating in bliss while Devi Parvati plays the vina

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-Mahima 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 10-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. 


Obama insults India, Krauthammer defends her – David Cohen

Barack Obama

David Cohen“Obama might have said: ‘Many of those acts of intolerance have been perpetrated by missionaries and NGOs from our own country.’ Few Americans are aware of the coercive, deceptive and abusive tactics used by some American missionaries, funded by stateside religious groups, to convert Indian Hindus to Christianity. The worst offenders go well beyond the open exchange of Charles Krauthammerreligious ideas, and are appallingly disrespectful of Hinduism and Indian culture.” – David Cohen

Appearing on Hugh Hewitt’s radio talk show Friday, columnist Charles Krauthammer launched into a devastatingly hilarious riff on President Obama’s infamous National Prayer Breakfast speech last week. Obama, of course, invoked the Crusades and other ancient grievances lest Christians get on their “high horse” over the recent savagery of Islamist extremists. Krauthammer’s take:

This is a combination of the banal and the repulsive. The banal is the adolescent who discovers that, well, man is fallen and many religions have abused their faith and used it as a weapon. This is what you discover when you’re 12 or 17 and what you discuss in the Columbia dorm room. He’s now bringing it to the world as a kind of revelation. And he does it two days after the world is still in shock by the video of the burning alive of the Jordanian pilot, as a way of saying: Hey, what about Joan of Arc?”

But Krauthammer was particularly taken aback when Obama’s sanctimony abruptly swerved eastward: Obama inexplicably called out India for supposed (and unspecified) acts of religious intolerance. “What the hell is he doing bringing India into this?” Krauthammer wondered aloud.

That question was certainly on the minds of many Indians. Obama had recently returned from a visit to India, where he received a hero’s welcome. Alas, India’s love for Obama appears to be unrequited.

Krauthammer strongly defended India’s honor:

Here he is essentially insulting [India], and it’s because it’s a Hindu country. It’s not Muslim. I mean, he’ll say [people committed terrible deeds] in the name of Christ. He won’t say in the name of Muhammad and in the name of Allah. He won’t use those words. And then he goes after India, which is probably our strongest, most stable, most remarkable, democratic ally on the planet, considering all the languages and religions that it harbors. It has the second-largest Muslim population on Earth. And yet he goes after it as a way of saying hey, everybody here is at fault. They are not at fault.”

It’s good that India is on Krauthammer’s radar. Krauthammer is probably America’s most respected conservative opinion leader. With a weekly column in the Washington Post and a daily platform on Fox News’s excellent Special Report panel, Krauthammer continuously injects his wise insights directly into the political discourse.

Krauthammer is also a strong supporter of Israel. He may not be aware of a rather counterintuitive conclusion that I reached in a recent column: No country has more supporters of Israel than India. That includes the U.S. and, in terms of absolute numbers, it even includes Israel. To be sure, the Islamist and leftist brands of anti-Zionism are predictably well represented in India. But the widespread affinity for Israel in India, especially among the Hindu majority and most particularly within Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s base, is something that’s not sufficiently appreciated in the U.S. or in Israel. Much of that affinity derives from India’s shared experience with Israel as a prime target of Islamist extremism. With its large population and burgeoning economic clout, India will be a key ally to both Israel and the U.S. in the coming years. For Israel in particular, Modi’s India can provide an enormous exception to the Jewish state’s isolation in the developing world.

In his National Prayer Breakfast remarks, after talking Christendom down from its high horse, Obama turned his attention to his recent hosts. After paying condescending lip service to the fact that India is “an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity,” Obama proceeded to his actual purpose: calling out India for religious persecution, “acts of intolerance that would have shocked” Mahatma Gandhi.

Had he been so inclined, Obama might have added: “Many of those acts of intolerance have been perpetrated by missionaries and NGOs from our own country.” Few Americans are aware of the coercive, deceptive and abusive tactics used by some American missionaries, funded by stateside religious groups, to convert Indian Hindus to Christianity. The worst offenders go well beyond the open exchange of religious ideas, and are appallingly disrespectful of Hinduism and Indian culture. This is perhaps the primary sticking point in what I believe is a natural alliance between the GOP and the BJP (Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party). However, it is a sticking point that can be overcome with education: I am certain that most Christian conservatives in the U.S. are not aware of the abuses committed by some American missionaries and would not approve of them. (This, by the way, is another bond between India and Israel: Jews and Hindus generally do not proselytize, and generally do not wish to be proselytized.)

When Obama lamented the supposed “acts of intolerance” in India, of course, he did not have American missionaries in mind. According to the narrative of espoused by Indian leftists — who, in an ironically colonial way, crave the validation of Western leftists — Hindus are oppressing India’s minority religions. I would bet that certain Indian leftists have Team Obama’s ear. Many Hindus, for their part, feel besieged by Muslims and Christians aggressively trying to increase their numbers through conversion. If you think it implausible for Hindus to feel besieged in a Hindu-majority nation, consider the case of the Pandits, a Hindu community from the Muslim-majority Indian state of Kashmir. Islamists drove them out of Kashmir a quarter century ago with a murderous terror campaign. They now mostly live in internal exile in other parts of India. (There are poignant commonalities between the Kashmiri Pandits, a very learned and accomplished community, and the Jews.) – The Daily Caller, 9 February 2015

» David Cohen is former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior. He is a practising attorney and consultant in Los Angeles.

The Swastika: Ancient symbol of well-being struggles to overcome Nazi connections – Antonia Blumberg

Swastika Elephant Gate, Carlsberg Brewery, CopenhagenSwastika Sanskrit Etymology

Antonia BlumbergFor many around the world, the swastika is a sign of genocide and hatred, reviled for its association to the Nazi party. But for centuries before the Holocaust, and to this day, the swastika represented something very different for millions of Hindus, Buddhists and Jains across the globe. – Antonia Blumberg

Hindu boy with a swastika drawn on his head during a upanayana ceremony.An ‘auspicious’ symbol

The symbol bears special significance for one 18-year-old born and raised in India. She is a poet, student and interfaith activist, and her name is Swastika Jajoo. The name is not uncommon in India, where the swastika is a revered symbol in many of its faith traditions. Though the symbol has always played a central role in Jajoo’s life, the meaning of the swastika to her has begun to shift as she mulls the prospect of studying abroad.

Jajoo, who was featured in a Huffington Post article in November after winning a teen writers’ award from online magazine KidSpirit, is considering using a shortened nickname when she pursues academic studies in Europe or the United States — a bittersweet reality for a teenager born and raised in a Hindu family in India, where the swastika is revered.

“The swastika is emblematic of prosperity that extends beyond the individual to all four directions of the world,” Jajoo told The Huffington Post by email. “My parents wanted a daughter with infectious goodness, enthusiasm and love for life […] and so they decided to give me the name Swastika.”

The word “swastika” translates to “well-being” from its original Sanskrit, and it has long been considered an auspicious symbol by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, as well as in Mesopotamian, Mayan and other indigenous civilizations around the globe.

“[The swastika is] 3,000 years old and maybe more,” Devdutt Pattanaik, an Indian mythology researcher and author, told HuffPost by email.

Swastika on a Hindu temple gateway in MaharashtraIn India, the swastika is “as common as the cross is in Europe and America,” he said. It’s often featured in Hindu homes, on temples and in artwork. Many draw the swastika on accounting books and in their offices to affirm prosperity, as Manav Lalwani, a Hindu American young professional, does and his father and grandfather did before him. Lalwani is the director of product development at a manufacturing company in New Jersey, which his father owns with three Jewish business partners.

The hooked cross occupies four corners of a square, Lalwani said, which can indicate that “God pervades all directions.”

Pattanaik said he doubted many in India were aware of the swastika’s association to Nazi Germany, though some, like Jajoo, may understand the negative connotations but still appreciate it as a religious symbol.

“It somehow makes me feel like a carrier of benevolence, of harmony, of peace,” Jajoo told HuffPost.

But many in the U.S., where Jajoo intends to study, will not share her feelings about the name.

“Some names just don’t fly — at least in some social, geographic or cultural contexts,” Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, president of CLAL–The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, told HuffPost in an email. “They are not inherently evil or morally wrong … but they may be contextually wrong.”

This context, Hirschfield continued, is one in which Holocaust survivors still bear tattoos from concentration camps. For them, the swastika likely communicates all the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust.

“The swastika is a symbol of more than oppression,” the rabbi said. “It is a symbol of genocidal hatred, and hopefully not only for Jews, but for all decent people.”

A street scene showing displays of the Olympic and German (swastika) flags in Berlin, site of the summer Olympic Games. Berlin, Germany, August 1936.‘A legacy of misappropriation’

Although some groups in Europe and the Americas have undertaken campaigns to “reclaim” the swastika as a symbol of peace, Hindu Americans have largely opted out of these efforts.

“It’s not at the top of the list right now,” said Khyati Joshi, a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University who specializes in immigrant religious communities and multicultural education.

The main concern for Hindu Americans, Joshi continued, is securing a place for Hinduism in American public life and “transmitting the culture to the next generation.” That said, Joshi and Lalwani both said they have images of the swastika displayed throughout their homes. The symbol can also be found in Lalwani’s office, which has long featured the swastika on its safe and balance sheets.

When he was a child, Lalwani said, his father placed the swastika out of sight behind a TV monitor in deference to his Jewish business partners.

“It was an interesting way for him to negotiate tradition and sensitivity in an inherently diverse environment,” Lalwani said. He said his father has been in business with some of his partners for decades, and so over time, the swastikas in his office have become less of an issue, and he takes care to explain its significance in Hinduism to any new employees.

For Joshi it’s less a question of negotiating tradition and more about picking her battles.

“Sometimes we have to fight these ideological fights, and sometimes practicality must reign,” she said.

When her grandfather gave her a piece of jewelry decorated with swastikas in high school, she had to explain to him why he would never find her wearing it in the U.S.

“There’s so much pain it causes people, that … do I need to wear it and inadvertently hurt someone?” Joshi said. “No.”

Joshi’s reluctance to make a public demonstration of adoration for the swastika and Hirschfield’s caution against doing so are indicative of what Lalwani called a “legacy of misappropriation.” Adolf Hitler and his ilk managed to turn an ancient auspicious symbol into one of vile racism and oppression — perhaps irrevocably.

Nazis used it for but 20 years yet they seem to have to appropriated [the] swastika totally, like cultural colonizers,” Pattanaik argued. “The global village seems to have legitimized their appropriation.”

Adolf HitlerNazis use of the symbol

The swastika was well-known in Europe and the U.S. prior to the Holocaust. Over a century ago archaeologists encountered it in the cultural remains of the Ancient Greeks, Celts and Anglo-Saxons, as well as across Eastern Europe. The symbol also found a place in modern Western architecture and design before the Nazi party made it taboo.

In his book, The Swastika: Symbol Beyond Redemption? Steven Heller writes of the swastika’s use in Masonic imagery, the Theosophical movement, on several countries’ flags and even as the chosen symbol of peace for the League of Nations’ Vilna Commission in the 1920s.

Things changed when shoddy scholarship and archaeological analysis led the Nazis to mistakenly conclude they were direct descendants of an ancient Indian tribe — the so-called “Aryans” — who lived circa the second millennium B.C.

BBC writes:

The Nazi use of the swastika stems from the work of 19th Century German scholars translating old Indian texts, who noticed similarities between their own language and Sanskrit. They concluded that Indians and Germans must have had a shared ancestry and imagined a race of white god-like warriors they called Aryans.

This idea was seized upon by anti-Semitic nationalist groups who appropriated the swastika as an Aryan symbol to boost a sense of ancient lineage for the Germanic people. 

Poet and Austrian-German nationalist Guido von List first suggested the swastika’s use as a symbol for anti-Semitic organizations in 1910, and the National Socialist Party adopted it roughly a decade later. It wasn’t until Hitler placed the black swastika on a white circle with a red background in 1935 that it became the national flag of Germany and the official icon of anti-Semitism.

Even this narrative may be flawed, however, said Rev. Dr. T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki, who serves as the president of the Buddhist Council of New York and wrote his dissertation on the swastika’s complex connotations. A Buddhist priest and researcher, Nakagaki has studied the history of Hitler’s appropriation of the symbol and argues that there is a linguistic error at play.

“‘Swastika’ shouldn’t been the word to describe the Nazi symbol,” Nakagaki told HuffPost over the phone. “It should be ‘hakenkreuz.’

Using his own translations of Mein Kampf, the priest argued that Hitler in fact never used the term “swastika” but instead referred to the symbol as “hakenkreuz” — the German word for a hooked cross.

“It was a cross for Hitler,” Nakagaki said. “By saying ‘swastika’ people don’t see the cross anymore.”

What this suggests, he continued, is that people who view the swastika as forever-tarnished by the Holocaust may actually be thinking of an entirely different symbol than the one beloved by Hindus, Buddhists and many others.

“People think of it as a universal symbol of evil, but it’s not really universal at all,” Nakagaki said.

Indus Valley Swastika SealsBridging the divide

For those eager to shift the narrative, dialogue can go a long way to begin bridging the divide. Today these conversations are more feasible than they may have been several decades ago, said Joyce The swastika, the Phoenician sun symbol, on the Phoenician Craig-Narget stone in Scotland, and on the robe of a Phoenician high priestess. Dubensky, CEO of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding.

“There has been education,” Dubensky told HuffPost over the phone, “[and] I think we can move on beyond a monolithic perspective of what the symbol means — and a Western-centric one.”

Pattanaik argued it is “for the West to accept” the swastika’s older significance, but Lalwani would disagree.

“It has beautiful meaning,” he said, “and I think it’s up to those who use it ​to talk about it ​and​​ explain why, in a way that ​broadens its perception en masse.”

The goal should be education, not conversion to a particular belief system, he added.

Lalwani argued that it isn’t “up to the Hindus or necessarily in their interest to change what the swastika means to the Jews.”

“They should be allowed to be repulsed by it just like Hindus should be allowed to be bolstered by its auspiciousness,” he said.

The symbol may never find a place in the hearts of those who came to know it as a symbol of oppression. But through dialogue, Dubensky suggested, people across the spectrum can come to better understand the swastika’s manifestations and the symbol may even become “a bridge for respect.”

“I don’t know if [the swastika] will ever be one that’s comfortable for some of those who identify as among the people who were victimized by Hitler,” Dubensky said. “[But] I think this conversation can be one of the doorways to our living with one another with greater respect and understanding.” – HuffPost, 4 February 2015

» Antonia Blumberg works for HuffPost Religion covering a range of faith and spirituality topics. She is passionate about interfaith activism and strives to explore the ways in which religion plays out in contemporary media and politics. Antonia graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Anthropology.

Swastika, Lambach Benedictine Abbey, Austria

Lambach Benedictine Abbey, Lambach, Austria

Book Review: The stubborn myth that the US is a Christian country – Laura Miller

Laura Miller“It was Ralph Waldo Emerson’s brilliant, irascible Aunt Mary, a ‘prototypical American eccentric,’ who first introduced her nephew and intellectual protégé to the concepts and iconography of Hindu mythology after she met ‘a Visitor here from India’ in 1822. Their correspondence on these and other spiritual matters would inform Transcendentalism and in turn the Eastern-infused philosophies of generations to come.”- Laura Miller

John WinthropAs Peter Manseau, author of “One Nation, Under Gods: A New American History,” would have it, nothing has done more damage to the ideal of American religious pluralism than the “stubborn persistence of words spoken more than a century before the United States was a nation at all.” Those words are “a city upon a hill,” preached by the Puritan John Winthrop to his fellow colonists as they prepared to leave their ship at Massachusetts Bay in 1630. Most strenuously invoked by Ronald Reagan, the city on the hill, according to Manseau, has for the past 50 years “dominated presidential rhetoric about the nation’s self-understanding, causing an image borrowed from the Gospels to become a tenet of faith in America’s civil religion.”

The incessant citation of Winthrop’s metaphor — which envisioned the fledgling colony as a shining example set up to inspire the world but also to invite its comprehensive moral scrutiny — keeps reinforcing the assumption that the United States is fundamentally Christian. There’s more behind that stubborn belief than just rhetoric, of course, but when even ostensibly pluralistic presidents like John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama conjure up Winthrop’s biblical metaphor, it starts to take on the aura of an unquestioned truth.

Peter ManseauWell, Manseau certainly questions it with “One Nation, Under Gods,” an unusual work of history meant to revive the idea that the U.S. is a “land shaped and informed by internal religious diversity — some of it obvious, some of it hidden.” Most key points in our national narrative involve a non-Christian element if you look closely, he maintains. “One Nation, Under Gods” is less a continuous narrative itself than a series of isolated snapshots, each chapter telling the story of a person considered a heretic, blasphemer, atheist or heathen, who nevertheless helped in some way to shape the course of American history.

A few of Manseau’s examples are familiar, particularly Thomas Jefferson, the founding father often branded an atheist in his own time and whose Deism today’s Christian conservatives strategically overlook. In a deft move, Manseau captures Jefferson’s heterodox status by relating how, as an old man, the third president offered to sell 6,000 volumes from his own personal library to the nation. (These books remain the core collection of the Library of Congress.) It was a controversial proposal, as some critics complained that Jefferson’s library “abounded with productions of atheistical, irreligious and immoral character,” and some were even “in the original French”! In examining Jefferson’s own cataloging system, Manseau finds evidence of the Sage of Monticello’s conviction that “religious systems inevitably and necessarily interact with each other in ways at once contentious, intimate and transformative.”

Some of the stories in “One Nation, Under Gods” are more surprising. “It is perhaps the greatest of forgotten influences on American life and culture,” Manseau writes, that some 20 percent or more of Africans living in America around the time of the Revolutionary War were Muslims, a quantity that “dwarfed the number of Roman Catholics or Jews.” The majority of enslaved Africans did practice such Western African religions as Yoruba and Obeah, all of which contributed to the distinctive customs of African-American Christianity. But we also have a handful of stories of African Muslims abducted to the U.S., where, as in the case of one Omar ibn Said, they astonished the natives by writing fluently in a strange alphabet (Arabic) and impressed, if also bewildered, everyone with their abstemious piety.

TitubaTituba, a slave, was the first person accused in the Salem Witch Trials, and although often depicted as African, she was most likely an “Indian” from South America, by way of Barbados. She had made a “witch cake” (a nasty concoction of rye flour and urine) for divinatory purposes, and in doing so was probably tapping into multiple folk traditions, including those of the colonists’ own native England. Manseau believes such practices, though forbidden, were anything but rare in the colonies and should be thought of as “a kind of spiritual equalizer, providing religious authority outside social structures that were inevitably defined at times by class and gender.” Tituba herself quickly figured out that the best course of action when called up before the court was to “confess” every lurid detail the magistrates wanted to hear, including the visits she received from the devil, his commands that she serve him, and the culpability of her two co-defendants (unpopular village women) in casting spells on children. As a result, Tituba was the only one of the three to escape execution. Long before the advent of modern-day spin doctors, she grasped the advantage of getting ahead of the story.

Then there is the network of Jewish merchants extending from Pennsylvania to Amsterdam by way of the island of St. Eustatius, in the Caribbean, a major conduit of supplies and funds through the British blockade during the Revolutionary War. One Polish Jew, Haym Solomon, gave so much money to the cause of independence that he died penniless. He and his co-religionists, driven from one European nation to another in a roundelay of persecution, hoped and believed they could finally find refuge in the fledgling nation.

Ralph Waldo EmersonIt was Ralph Waldo Emerson’s brilliant, irascible Aunt Mary, a “prototypical American eccentric,” who first introduced her nephew and intellectual protégé to the concepts and iconography of Hindu mythology after she met “a Visitor here from India” in 1822. Their correspondence on these and other spiritual matters would inform Transcendentalism and in turn the Eastern-infused philosophies of generations to come. (Manseau provides a survey of Hindu beliefs and stories cropping up in the work of Thoreau and even Melville, as well as a persistent interest in Indian religion on the part of American feminists like Elizabeth Palmer Peabody and Margaret Fuller.)

But perhaps the most fascinating chapter in “One Nation, Under Gods” explores recent theories about the influence of a syncretic Native American revival movement on Joseph Smith and his Book of Mormon. The young half-brother of a Seneca chief, Handsome Lake, was an aging, ne’er-do-well hunter who experienced a revelation during a near-fatal illness. What was revealed to him fused Iroquois mythology with Quaker-like morality into a reimagined creation story explaining how the Iroquois had fallen so low in their own land. Handsome Lake died when Smith was 10, but a Mormon scholar has pointed out that only weeks before Smith’s own visions commenced, Handsome Lake’s nephew spoke at a public gathering in Smith’s town of Palmyra, New York.

The Code of Handsome Lake, like the Mormon story of the Native Americans as a lost tribe of Israel, is “a tale of white and Indian unity interrupted by evils brought across the sea.” Both creeds stressed sobriety and involved the manifestation of three angelic presences charged with guiding the inhabitants of the New World to a better future. Both were born during a period of intense, innovative religious activity known as the Second Great Awakening and arose in a region of Western New York state dubbed “the Burned-Over District” for the fervor that seemed to consume everyone in the vicinity. Shakers, One Nation, Under Godsutopian communities, millenarians and spiritualists were just some of the unorthodox and fractious believers who flourished there.

But even the idea that Winthrop’s little community represented a unified city on a hill is an illusion, as the Puritan dissidents Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson could testify. The Pilgrims might have all called themselves Christians, but some differences among them were seen by their theocratic leaders as profound threats to the spiritual survival of the community. Both Williams and Hutchinson were cast out and created communities of their own. There was literally never a point in the history of the colonies or the U.S. when all or most Americans genuinely shared the same faith. “The true gospel of the American experience,” Manseau writes, “is not religious agreement but dissent.” – Salon, 3 Februsry 2015

» Laura Miller is a senior writer for Salon. She is the author of “The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia” and has a website, www.magiciansbook.com.

Our Lady of Madhu Church is built on an ancient Pattini Amma Temple site – Shenali D. Waduge

Madhu Church, Mannar, Sri Lanka

Shenali Waduge“The site where Madhu Church presently stands was the original site of a Pattini Devale (later called Amman Kovil) since 114-136 CE under King Gajabahu. This means that the Pattini Devale has been where the Madhu Church now stands for 1850 years. If the Pattini Devale is no longer in its original site it is because the Portuguese Catholics destroyed every place of worship that was non-Catholic and converted non-Catholics to Catholicism.” –  Shenali D. Waduge

Goddess PattiniWith the recent calls to rewrite history it is no better a time than now to bring out all the hard facts that have got both hidden or buried (pun intended). Every time the topic of colonial atrocities are brought forward for debate the quick response is to claim these as history pushing to the background the crimes committed in the name of peaceful coexistence.

However, when most of the laws in place today were created with the intention of putting past crimes into the background and to ensure the continuance of the reign of white rule over the rest of us. Given that we are all victims, it is time we started to remind these very nations of some of their crimes. The background of the Pattini Devale is important for many reasons – it is where the Madhu Church presently stands, the Pattini Devale has a history beyond 1850 years whereas the Madhu Church is hardly 150 years old. Misappropriation of sacred sites belonging to other religions need to stop. The Church has to apologize and return the site to its original owners.

Of late the media attempts to portray the Madhu Church as being more than 600 years old which is proven an exaggeration for the Portuguese Catholics came to Sri Lanka in 1505 – Catholic history starts after conversion of Sinhala Buddhists and Tamil Hindus. In fact a recommendation was to be made under the Ranil Wickremasinghe Government to recommend to the Vatican that the church be sanctified as a National Basilica of the Roman Catholic Church. How historically and morally incorrect this move is to the Pope Francis with Sri Lanka flagHindus who are well aware of the history behind the ‘church’.

If anyone contests this claim they have to only refer to Brief Notice of the Origin and History of the Sanctuary of Madhu by the then Bishop of Jaffna to Mr. E. B. Denham who had tried to conceal that the church was on top of the ancient Pattini Devale as admitted by British civil servant R. W. Levers. They would also need to refer to Manual of the North Central Province by R. W. Levers who says “At the present day the offerings are generally taken to St. Mary’s Church at Madhu, which is considered by the Buddhist and a great many of the Tamil pilgrims, who resort there, as the Temple of Pattini Amma (Amman Kovil).” – these are historically recorded truths by the British themselves.


  • Portuguese Catholics arrive in Sri Lanka – 1505
  • Dutch Christians arrive in Sri Lanka – 1602
  • British arrive in Sri Lanka – 1796
  • Dutch Protestants drove out Portuguese from Mannar – 1670 (344 years ago)
  • Madhu a Catholic shrine only since 1870 (a history of 144 years only)
  • Even though the Bishop of Jaffna initiated the Madhu Festival since 1870, it did not have a church.
  • The foundation stone of the church was laid only in 1876. (so the church itself is only 138 years old and thus the claims made by the late UNP minister that the church is 600 years old is a total fabrication). Moreover, even by 1911 there were no permanent residents at Madhu. The Census of 1911 recorded 320 pilgrims, 230 of whom were Sinhalese from Colombo and the rest from Chilaw.

Gajabahu I also known as Gajabahuka Gamani (c. 114 – 136 CE) of Rajarata in Sri LankaHindus have greater claim

The site where Madhu Church presently stands was the original site of a Pattini Devale (later called Amman Kovil) since 114-136 CE under King Gajabahu. This means that the Pattini Devale has been where the Madhu Church now stands for 1850 years. If the Pattini Devale is no longer in its original site it is because the Portuguese Catholics destroyed every place of worship that was non-Catholic and converted non-Catholics to Catholicism. These conversions were done by force and anyone resisting faced death. We are well aware of the suffering the Catholic Inquisition since 1233 caused for all non-Catholics and heretics, and it was because the Dutch themselves were victims that they avenged the suffering they were put through by the Catholics when they arrived in Sri Lanka. The 1638 Treaty between the Dutch and the Sinhala King provided a clause to expel all Catholics.

The Madhu site is where the Hindu Amman Kovil has stood for at least 1850 years as against 144 years for the Madhu Church. What needs to be reiterated and what the Catholic Church needs to accept is that the Church usurped this ancient Hindu temple, not only that they desecrated the Durgai Amman Silai and built a Catholic church in its place in 1876 though the annual Madhu Festival has been held since 1870.

Cankili II (Cekaracacekaran IX)The usurping of the Hindu kovil is very much part of the inquisition objectives and a continuation of the wanton destruction of scores of temples, kovils and murder of Muslims by the Portuguese Catholics. The Church clergy may not like to be reminded that they ordered the beheading of the last Tamil Hindu ruler Sangili Kumaran and conversion of his family. Tamils should not forget that it was the Sinhalese king who sent his general to rescue the Hindu Tamils and in so doing sacrificed his life. Was it not a repetition of this very same scenario that occurred during the final phase of the war when 5000 military lives was lost to save 300,000 Tamils many of whom were possibly LTTE family members or even LTTE in civilian attire.

Therefore all Catholics in Sri Lanka descend from Sinhalese and Tamils who were forcibly converted by the Portuguese Catholics. 

At this point we need to also remind the Hindus that prior to the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505 the Sinhalese and Hindus were living amicably. It was the spectre of the arrival of the white man that brought a curse to the country since 1505.

Hindus and Buddhists became united through the efforts to bring about the anti-conversion legislation. We recall the efforts of UNP MP Maheswaran who tried his best to reconvert Tamils to Hinduism but he fell prey to LTTE’s guns.

So did six soldiers who were cleaning the Madhu Church premises on 12 Feb 2008.

Cardinal Malcolm RanjitWhile the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka says sacred places should be kept free of violence and bloodshed we cannot but wonder why they are silent about very prominent Catholic clergy who had been and continue to be very much involved with the LTTE and their sponsors both locally and internationally. The accusation against the Church of connections to the LTTE could have been easily negated by the Church taking action against these Catholic clergy by defrocking them. The golden question is – why has the Church not taken action against these clergy who have been very much aligned to terrorist activity.

Rayappu JosephIf Father Rayappu Joseph opened Eelam House in London, allowed the Madhu Church to be used as an LTTE office. We also recall the arrests of 3 priests on 1 February 2008 carrying suicide jackets and interrogations revealed that these priests had brought down 30 suicide cadres from Mannar to Kandy and Nuwara Eliya. These priests had even transported several suicide kits and weapons. One of the 3 arrested was a pastor of a church in Mannar. The previous year on 20 February security forces also recovered cyanide capsules and equipment from St. Mary’s Church Jaffna. What we can make out is that the Christian clergy had been used to transport weapons and explosives across the country – this is aiding and abetting terrorism.

Fr. S. J. EmmanuelWhat individual priests do using the cover of the religion can be effectively responded to not simply by issuing a statement denouncing the action. Given the innumerable cases of involvement by priests with a banned terrorist movement what the Church and its headquarters in the Vatican should have rightfully done was to defrock those like Father Emmanuel and Father Rayappu Joseph.

Returning to the issue of the ownership of the Madhu site – all that needs to be repeated is that the place is rightfully that of the Pattini Kovil of the Hindus. It is immoral for the site to be usurped and made into a holy site for Catholics totally ignoring the history behind the site. Numerous other sites across the country where churches stand were all formerly sites of Buddhist temples as well. The exact positions of these churches where former Buddhist temples once stood are given in the Portuguese chronicler Queyroz’s works.

Sri Lankan Catholic priests demonstrating in support of LTTE chief PrabhakaranWhat needs to be also said is that the continents of Asia, Africa and Latin America were all invaded, occupied and systems put in place to convert the natives, kill those who refused, plunder the wealth of the lands and devise devious ways to play the natives against each other by creating sub-cultures that would create the necessary environment for these white Western nations to prevail over the ‘uncivilized’ world. Has any of this colonial mentality changed at all over the years?

 Be that as it may what needs to be said is that the very countries ignoring their own track records are dictating the rules of law to us the victims and all we can say is to return all that they took by force and level the playing field first. – Express, 25 January 2014

 » Shenali Waduge is a Sri Lankan civil society writer concerned about fair play in all matters that concern citizens of her country as well as the world at large.

Devi Kannagi-Pattini

Conversion is what Christians and Muslims do; what VHP does is not conversion: Jugal Kishore – Nistula Hebbar & Anurag Tripathi

Jugal Kishore

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Jugal Kishore, in charge of ‘Ghar Vapsi’ meant to ‘reconvert’ Muslims and Christians, speaks to Nistula Hebbar of the Economic Times on the controversial programme. Edited excerpts: 

What do you have to say to the anti-conversion bill proposal?

♦ What we do is not conversion. We want conversions done by other religions through huge funding of petro dollars and missionaries to be investigated and stopped. Religious conversion is a national problem. We want a bill which will make it difficult to convert people to other religions. Conversion is an attack on country and a conspiracy to divide it again by attacking the roots of our national culture. 

Did you know why Communist leader E.M.S. Namboodiripad gave a statue of Nataraja to the Chinese leadership? It was because it depicted Indian culture; not the Bible or the Koran. It was for the same reason that Narendrabhai Modi presented the Gita to Obama. 

Why is VHP converting people?

♦ What we do is ‘ghar vapsi’ – getting back converted people back into the fold. It is not conversion. When we went to the northeast, tribals were seen worshipping nature. We said, Hinduism also worships nature, tulsi, the peepal tree, gaumata, etc. We are no different. 

What ritual have you devised, since there is no such thing as conversion in Sanatan Dharma?

♦ Again, this is not conversion. It is a simple acknowledgement that some people were converted to other religions and now want to return. This has been done by people historically too. Madhvacharya did this, Vidyaranya Swamiji did this, Rishi Deval did this. Even Shivaji, whose associate Netaji Palkar was converted to Islam, got him back into the Hindu fold. In no case is VHP making people Hindus in Arab countries or in Christian countries. We just want our people to realise their identity. 

As for the ritual, there is no such fixed thing. Our local units reach out to people, tell them through our vanshavali (lineage) programme their family tree, when they underwent conversion. Those wishing to return have to later file an affidavit and in some cases publish in newspapers. If there are many people, there is a ‘havan’ or ‘yagya’, where ‘sankalp’ is taken. 

Hindusim is structured on caste and even government benefits are distributed through caste identity, how do returnees fix themselves in this structure?

♦ Most people already know which caste they belong to despite conversion to Islam or Christianity. In some cases, Hindus of their caste groups are contacted and a caste identity is accorded. Hindu leaders assure them that they would have consanguinity and marriage relations. 

Writer Muzzaffar Husain in a ‘vanshavali’ programme in Jaipur admitted that his family was Hindu three generations ago. 

In the Vedas there is no manual scavenging and boycott of people. If you look closely at these communities, their gotras have Solankis, Chauhans, Sisodias, Rathores etc. Because they were defeated Rajputs punished for not accepting Islam. They were made the lowest of low. Other Hindus were made to socially-boycott them. 

Now, Narendrabhai is trying to end manual scavenging and end the Mughal tradition. 

Will you facilitate Dalits, Muslims and Christians who ‘return’ to secure benefits of reservations?

♦ We do help such people to get a caste certificate. We help in filling forms and other legal procedure. 

What about allegations of allurement by some people in Agra?

♦ These people, I feel, were put under pressure by custodians of the minority vote bank into recanting. We haven’t done anything illegal. This work was going on under Congress governments too. Stopping this would be politically motivated. 

Why are Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs not targeted?

♦ We don’t consider these religions as foreign to India’s culture. They originated here. We consider Buddha as part of Vishnu’s Dashavatar. These religions do not cut one away from our cultural moorings. We don’t consider them foreign, as we consider Islam and Christianity. – Economic Times, 15 December 2014 

Bharat Mata“Don’t politicise Ghar Wapsi. It’s been going on since 1964.” –  Jugal Kishore to Anurag Tripathi

Even as the BJP is engaged in a virtual slugfest with its political opponents in Parliament on the religious conversion issue, its ideological ally, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), has warned all political parties, including the BJP, to “mind their own business”. In a conversation with Anurag Tripathi of Tehelka, the VHP’s Jugal Kishore, who is in charge of the ‘Ghar Wapasi Abhiyan’ (homecoming campaign), says that his organisation has been running similar campaigns since its inception in 1964 and does not want the political parties, including the BJP, to politicise the issue. Edited excerpts: 

Why does the VHP choose only Muslims and Christians for conversion and not Sikhs and Buddhists?

♦ First of all, let me clarify that what we are doing is not conversion, but ghar wapasi (homecoming). Every Muslim and Christian living in India was originally a Hindu. They were either forced or bribed to change their religion. We are only bringing them back to the Hindu fold. We are a Hindu nation and with the ‘Ghar Wapasi Abhiyan’, the VHP is only restoring the pride of Hindus who were lured into converting. We are giving them back their identity. As far as Buddhism and Sikhism are concerned, they originated in India and the VHP doesn’t consider them to be foreign religions. Their religious practices and values are more or less the same as those of Hinduism. 

Do you support the BJP’s proposal to enact a law to ban conversions?

♦ There are enough provisions in the Constitution that bar forcible conversion. Yet the Christian missionaries and Muslims have been converting Hindus. No one questions them about the foreign funding used for the purpose. We want a stringent law against converting people by luring them with money and other means. People should be free to choose their religion. 

It has been alleged that the VHP used money and muscle power in the ‘Ghar Wapasi’ campaign, especially in Agra. What do you say to that?

♦ That is a baseless and politically motivated allegation made against our outfit by political parties that consider the minorities as their vote bank. We have only convinced people of their lineage, their cultural legacy. Since 1964, we have never used money to lure people for ‘Ghar Wapasi’. 

But haven’t outfits such as the Bajrang Dal distributed pamphlets for collecting money to conduct the campaign in Aligarh?

♦ We don’t distribute money to people who reconvert to Hinduism. Many people donate money to rehabilitate their brothers and sisters who have come back to their religion. I don’t see anything wrong in this. Some people might have said that the VHP offers money to those who participate in ‘Ghar Wapasi’, but it is their political bosses who have asked them to make these statements. 

Whenever the BJP comes to power, the VHP’s Hindutva rhetoric and conversions pick up pace. Why?

♦ The BJP is a political outfit. Let it do what it does. The VHP has been carrying out ‘Ghar Wapasi’ campaigns since 1964, but never before was the issue politicised to this extent. Political parties, including the BJP, should mind their own business and let us do what we have been doing for decades. We are doing nothing unconstitutional and we will keep on organising ‘Ghar Wapasi’ events. We are a non-political outfit and our main concern is to restore the pride of people who were forced to convert to Islam and Christianity. No political party can stop us in our endeavour. 

Why is ‘Ghar Wapasi’ on top of the VHP’s agenda?

♦ If Pakistan and Bangladesh can be Islamic States, why should India, which is Hindustan, not be a Hindu State? Why don’t you raise questions when Hindus are converted to Islam and Christianity? Why do you single out the VHP when all we are doing is to help people return to their religion? – Tehelka, 16 December 2014

The Sanskrit words 'Sangachhadhwam Samvadadhwam' stand for unity and combined efforts to achieve victory. Therefore, in the symbol, two human forms are shown holding hands and soaring upwards. Also, in these two graphical human forms, the Devnagari letterforms that stand for the initials of san' and 'sam' can also be seen.

PK and Leela Samson ‘Agonistes’ – Radha Rajan

Radha Rajan is the editor of Vigil Online“Discerning Hindus have taken serious exception to PK’s story-line and to several scenes in the film which besides insulting Bhagwan Shiva, heaps insult upon insult on the ordinary religious Hindu. Aamir Khan mouths a corny dialogue – jo dar gaya vo mandir gaya. While it is obvious how the film passed unscathed through the Censor Board, it is a mystery why Modi Sarkar did not evict the Sonia Gandhi appointee Leela Samson as Chairperson Censor Board in May 2014 after the new government took charge.” – Radha Rajan

Leela SamsonLeela Samson was to Sonia Gandhi what Pupul Jayakar was to Indira Gandhi; Samson, hand-picked by Sonia Gandhi is currently in the eye of another storm and this time for sins of omission and commission as Chairperson Central Board of Film Certification or Censor Board as it is commonly known. Hindus and Hindu organizations protesting against Rajkumar Hirani directed Aamir Khan starrer PK, are accusing Leela Samson of Abrahamic bias: for passing a film which mocks and insults Hindu religious sensibilities. The film is one long anti-Hindu diatribe, (with what has recently become a mandatory Bollywood Pakistani Muslim romantic angle), all packaged in slick photography and appealing music. Indian Hindu loves Indian Muslim love story has now escalated to another level: Indian Hindu loves Pakistani Muslim love story.

Aamir Khan PK PosterThe Muslim underworld which is known to fund Bollywood films, while on the one hand is preparing the soil for secular debunking and young acceptance of the love jihad phenomenon is also simultaneously aiming high with its political intent; from campaigning for the seemingly innocuous communal harmony through Hindu-Muslim love stories, Bollywood’s Muslim underworld  is pushing the multi-billion Hindi film industry, especially Hindu artists towards India-Pakistan bhaichara hoping Bollywood’s Hindus will turn a blind eye to the very real threat of love jihad and to Indian Muslim and Pakistani Muslim jihadi terror against the Indian nation. A hope that was realized when a deracinated Bollywood Hindu director got a Hindu actor to play the protagonist in Haidar – a vicious anti-India, anti-army and anti-Hindu movie.

Discerning Hindus have taken serious exception to PK’s story-line and to several scenes in the film which besides insulting Bhagwan Shiva, heaps insult upon insult on the ordinary religious Hindu. Aamir Khan mouths a corny dialogue – jo dar gaya vo mandir gaya. While it is obvious how the film passed unscathed through th Censor Board, it is a mystery why Modi Sarkar did not evict this Sonia Gandhi appointee as Chairman Censor Board in May 2014 after the new government took charge.

That’s what made Sonia Sarkar so different from Modi Sarkar – Sonia Gandhi’s complete indifference to public or professional opinion when she placed all her loyalists, domestic minions, and sycophants in high places – CBI, CAG, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Raj Bhavan, Prime Minister, NSA, Sangeet Natak Academy, Censor Board and Kalakshetra Foundation. Sonia Gandhi understood power; she purchased silence and rewarded loyalty.  Modi Sarkar suffers from the same ‘tolerant Hindu image’ that plagued Vajpayee and his khichdi government. Leela Samson succeeded Sharmila Tagore as Chairman Central Board of Film Certification while Tagore succeeded Anupam Kher. Kher took over as Chairman of the Censor Board on October 16, 2003, during the NDA government. The NDA lost the 2004 Lok Sabha elections and Sonia Gandhi began her determined move to pack all government and administration with her men and women. We do not know if Sonia Gandhi asked for Kher’s resignation or if Kher resigned of his own accord but Sharmila Tagore, who too was hand-picked by Sonia Gandhi for embodying Indian Hindu-Indian Muslim love story,  took over from Anupam Kher on 13th October 2004, three days short of Kher’s one year as Chairman.  Why did Modi Sarkar not show Leela Samson the door in May 2014?

This is not the first time Leela Samson’s anti-Hindu Abrahamic bias has come to the fore. Previously her stint as Director Kalakshetra Foundation, Chennai was mired in one controversy after another. At one point during Sonia Gandhi’s ten year long neo-colonial rule, between 2011-2012, Leela Samson was heading three of the country’s most prestigious and powerful organizations simultaneously – as Director, Kalakshetra Foundation 2005-2012, as Chairman, Sangeet Natak Academy August 2010-September 2014, and as Chairperson, Central Board of Film Certification April 2011-till date. Born to a Bene-Israeli Jewish father and Roman Catholic mother it is not difficult to guess why Leela Samson was hand-picked by Sonia Gandhi over the heads of other more illustrious Indians; and Hindus.

Sonia GandhiLeela Samson may have been a student of Kalakshetra but when Sonia Gandhi appointed her Director of the prestigious institution, she did it by ignoring other equally meritorious Hindu artists. It needs to be emphasised, if M. K. Narayanan was hand-picked for a definite purpose by Sonia Gandhi as National Security Adviser after the sudden and mysterious death of J. N. Dixit, Leela Samson too was hand-picked by Sonia Gandhi as Director Kalakshetra Foundation for a definite purpose. Leela Samson had her own art school and active social life in Delhi where she was living when she was appointed Director Kalakshetra and was therefore considered an outsider and viewed with resentment by a large section of the teaching faculty in Kalakshetra. If Sonia Gandhi gave Kalakshetra, the temple of classical dance and music an Abrahamic face, then Leela Samson lived up to Sonia’s expectations when step by calibrated step she de-Hinduised the legendary Kalakshetra.

Kalakshetra LogoSeveral stories soon began to leak out of Kalakshetra from unhappy teachers and students – about Leela Samson pushing aside Rukmini Devi’s long-established tradition, especially with regard to the distinct Kalakshetra style of dance or ‘bani’ and themes chosen from our Itihasas and Puranas, in the guise of innovation and creativity; about Leela Samson removing murtis of Ganesha in and around the Kalakshetra campus as being antithetic to Theosophist abstraction; about running Kalakshetra according to her whims and fancies ignoring or by-passing New Kalakshetra Logoestablished rules; and even about financial hokey pokey. But Leela Samson and her de-Hinduising mission were exposed with proof when one of Kalakshetra’s students showed me the new logo on diploma and post-diploma certificates which the Foundation was issuing after Leela Samson took charge; the student also showed me what the Kalakshetra logo looked like before Leela Samson began to innovate with Abrahamic license and iconoclasm.

Leela Samson was forced to put in her papers on 12th April, 2012 following a Board meeting on the 10th April when several Board members expressed unhappiness with Leela Samson’s style of functioning. The Kalakshetra Board was divided over the issue and Leela Samson’s critics conveyed their unhappiness to Chairman Gopalkrishna Gandhi and demanding her resignation with two weighty arguments: 

  1. Kalakshetra was taken over by the central government and the Foundation was placed under the Ministry of Culture. When Leela Samspon was appointed Director, she was in effect a central government employee and as such had to retire at the age of 60. But despite having attained the age of superannuation, Leela Samson continued as Director.
  2. Several Board members also sought Samson’s resignation because the CAG report held her guilty of financial and administrative irregularities.

Left with no choice Gopalkrishna Gandhi forwarded Samson’s resignation to the Ministry of Culture and it was accepted. But Leela Samson was a Sonia loyalist and Sonia Gandhi overruled the Ministry of Culture and refused to accept Samson’s resignation. Sonia Gandhi reinstated Leela Samson once again as Director Kalakshetra on June 29, 2012, forcing angry reactions from several members of the faculty. One of them filed a PIL in the Madras High Court challenging Samson’s re-appointment. The High Court struck down Leela Samson’s re-appointment and she had to exit Kalakshetra unceremoniously, her reputation in tatters. For some reason, Leela Samson submitted her resignation as Chairperson Sangeet Natak Academy in September 2014 but she did not offer to resign and/or Modi Sarkar did not evict her from the Censor Board. The country has seen a pate Singham Returnsof anti-Hindu, anti-national films passing muster on her watch – Singham Returns, Haider, Mardaani and now PK.

Singham Returns: It this film, like in the Ram Gopal Verma directed and Amitabh Bachchan starrer Sarkar, released in 2005 when Sharmila Tagore was Chairperson Censor Board, the villain is a Hindu religious leader. In Singham Returns the hero Ajay Devgun reportedly threatens to physically assault the sannyasi while he is shown entering a mosque respectfully with his head covered.

HaiderHaider: Directed by Vishal Bharadwaj with actor Shahid Kapoor in lead role, Leela Samson passed this anti-India, anti-Hindu and anti-army film; only goes to show that Bollywood’s underworld patrons have a long reach. A Muslim wedding and a song have been shot in the ruins of the majestic Kashmiri Hindu Martand Sun Temple referred to as devil’s den in the film. No religious, temple-going Hindu would have agreed to refer to a Hindu temple as a ‘devil’s den’. No patriot would have acted in an anti-India film with no redeeming objective; and no self-respecting Hindu would have agreed to be a part of a film which depicts the Indian state, Indian establishment and the Indian army as villains. Leela Samson passed this movie too with no cuts.

MardaaniMardaani: A brilliant film on child trafficking and child prostitution, two of the film’s pimps in the child prostitution business are shown wearing the Hindu sacred sign ‘om’ around their necks.  Hindus do not wear ‘om’ around their necks like Christians wear the cross. The ‘om’ was intentional and meant to show Hindus in poor light.

PK: Leela Samson is reported to have said, she will not review her decision to pass PK; that PK is already in the public domain and she will not call it back to remove scenes offending Hindu religious sensibilities. Leela Samson should answer the following questions:

  1. Would she have passed a film which showed Christ being chased around a city until his robes slip off and he stands in his underwear? Or if instead of Bhagwan Shiva this had been Prophet Mohammed?
  2. Would Leela Samson have passed the movie if Director Rajkumar Hirani’s dialogue read ‘jo dar gaya vo masjid gaya or mecca gaya’?
  3. Would Leela Samson have passed the movie if the movie was about sodomising Christian priests or terrorist mullahs and maulvis exhorting the faithful to jihad from inside a mosque?

Leela Samson had the audacity to remark that she cannot remove scenes wounding religious sensibilities on the ground that adherents of every religion then would be calling to ban films unless some scenes were removed. “”Every film may hurt religious sentiments of somebody or the other. We can’t remove scenes unnecessarily because there is something called creative endeavour where people present things in their own way. We have already given certificate to PK and we can’t remove anything now because it’s already out for public viewing,” she told PTI.

Famous last words but was Leela Samson speaking the truth when she said she would never excise scenes just because it hurt someone’s religious feelings?

Kamaal Dhamaal MalamaalLook what she did when the Church and Christians were up in arms

Mumbai, September 27, 2012: After the protest and procession against the film, Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal from St. Peter’s Church in suburban Bandra, the Censor Board assured community groups – The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC), Maharashtra Christian Youth Forum (MCYF), Catholic Residents Organization for Social Services (CROSS) & Catholics for Preservation of Faith (CPF) – that their concerns had been addressed and objectionable scene had been deleted from the film. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chairperson, Ms. Leela Samson conveyed to the community groups that the film was shown to a Catholic review member and necessary action had been taken.

Today, a delegation met with representatives of apex film producers associations – Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA), Film Makers Combine (FMC) and Western India Film Producers Association (WIFPA), who in writing assured them that an advisory would be sent out to the film fraternity, cautioning the industry of stringent action, in case religious sentiments of any community was hurt. The producers associations also spoke to Percept Pictures, the producers of Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal, who assured that corrective action would be taken and the hence, the producers associations requested that the movie release be uninterrupted.

It's EntertainmentAnd when Muslim religious feelings were offended

Censor Board slams jokes on Johnny Lever’s name ‘Abdullah’ in Entertainment, April 8, 2014

Mumbai: The censor board has objected to the way Johnny Lever’s character’s name has been mispronounced in the forthcoming film Entertainment and asked its makers to change it.

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), which viewed the film late last week, has asked that Lever’s character’s name be changed.

Said a source: “Lever’s character is named Abdullah, which is a very sacred name. Throughout the film other characters keep mispronouncing Abdullah’s name, calling him all sorts of things like ‘arashogollah’ and ‘amashallah’.

“The CBFC has asked the film’s producers and co-directors Sajid-Farhad to change Johnny Lever’s character’s name to avoid hurting anyone’s sentiments.”

While the jokes on Johnny’s name remain, he is no longer called ‘Abdullah’ but ‘Habibullah’ in the movie.

Starring Akshay Kumar in the lead role, the film is coming out Friday, therefore, the director duo had to work overnight to make the necessary change.

“It was a lot of hard work since Johnny’s character is there throughout the film and the jokes on his name occur all through. But there was no option. We can’t afford to take risks of hurting religious sentiments.

Leela Samson’s Abrahamic bias is beyond dispute. She was shown the door in Kalakshetra, she read the writing on the wall in Sangeet Natak Academy and resigned before she was evicted. Modi Sarkar must respect the religious sentiments of Hindus who voted for this sarkar and show Leela Samson the door. Leela Samson is an Abrahamic pretender in the Hindu classical and folk arts. Hindus must escalate their protests against PK until the government orders a review of the Censor Board decision. After all and Modi Sarkar will agree, had Aamir Khan been chasing Gandhi and not Bhagwan Shiva, Modi Sarkar would have had Leela Samson’s head by now. Hindus deserve no less. – Vigil Online, 1 January 2015

Aamir Khan’s Piety: Mullahs, Mecca, and Mother

Aamir KhanAamir Khan and his mother on Hajj


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