The need for a resurgent Bharat – Vamadeva Shastri

Abhaya Mudra

Vamadeva Shastri / David FrawleyA nation is largely defined according to its history. There is a great battle going on relative to the history of India. After independence, history studies and national institutions, such as the Indian Council of Historical Research, were dominated by socialists, if not Marxists, who were naturally hostile to the older dharmic culture of the region. … When the greatness of India’s past, such as the extensive urban sites along the ancient Sarasvati River were discovered, this largely Delhi intelligentsia found little to be proud of or made known. The older Vedic period was reduced and not made into anything foundational for India as a whole. It was treated as a limited culture said to originate from outside of India in Central Asia.” – Pandit Vamadeva Shastri

BharatvarshaThere is an ongoing battle occurring at many levels relative to the concept of India and what India is, was and is meant to be. This is not merely a scholarly debate to arrive at truth but resembles more a struggle for power. Whoever controls the idea of India, as presented at media, education and government levels, to a great extent controls the country along with its resources, and shapes its future.

In this debate about India, the term Bharat—which is the correct and long-term name for the country—is usually left out, as that would immediately change the tenor of the discussion.

Bharat is the traditional name of India and is enshrined in the constitution, showing that those framed the constitution were aware of the importance of the term and its equivalence for India as a whole. Article 1(1) of the Constitution states, “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”

If we use the term Bharat for India a number of issues of the nature and identity of the country are automatically solved. Bharat is the name of India in the region’s literature going back to Vedic times and shows a continuity of the country for thousands of years.

If we look at India only since 1947, we start with the idea of partition and tend to build upon it with further partitions and divisions of culture, people and language, each with its own separate identity. Those who are biased against the older history of India avoid the term Bharat so that they can redefine India today as if it no real past as a country before 1947, which allows them to turn the country into what they would like it to be, with no specific culture of its own.

Some modern thinkers say that India as a country was invented by the British during the period of colonial rule, who put together under a single administration the diverse group of peoples, countries, cultures and languages of the subcontinent, which overall had little in common to begin with. Other credit the Moguls (who called India “Hindustan”) for providing some sense of national unity to the far-flung land.

If we use the term Bharat, no one can say that there is no unity of culture, civilization or history to the region. Bharat implies a history of the country going back to the famous Vedic emperor Bharata, one of the early kings in the ancient Puru dynasty said to have reigned long before Rama, Krishna or Buddha.

Bharatiya Samskriti: The Culture of Dharma

Indian culture translates as “Bharatiya Samskriti” in the older terminology of the region, which also explains a lot as to what it is. Indian culture is not something invented over the last century or two and enshrined in the intellectual circles of modern Delhi. Indian culture is Bharatiya Samskriti, the culture of Bharat.

Samskrit is not simply a language but a way of culture and refinement, and a body of knowledge. The idea of Bharatiya Samskriti naturally brings back the culture of Bharatiya or Indian classical music, dance, poetry, philosophy, medicine, mathematics and science, and aims at a renaissance for them in the modern age. It includes the Prakrits or regional languages of the country as well as their cultural traditions, which are all linked together.

The culture of classical India or Bharatiya Samskriti is first of all a culture of dharma. It is built upon an effort to understand the dharma of all life and all aspects of human life and culture. This dharmic culture embraces a pluralism of spiritual paths, including the many sects of Hinduism, as well as Buddhists, Jain, and Sikhs and can be extended to anyone who honors a pluralistic view and respect for the whole of life.

Who are those who uphold the culture of Bharata or Bharatiya Samskriti in India today? It is not the English language media or even most of academia. These groups may address aspects of the traditional culture, but usually in a fragmentary manner, forgetting the overall connections, examining local folk customs in isolation for example. Or they may denigrate the idea that there was any overriding culture for the region as a whole.

Those who uphold the culture of Bharat are now on the periphery and often criticized as narrow-minded or out of date, though the dharmic culture of classical India or Bharat cultivated a broader view of life and consciousness than what we see in predominant modern ideologies and educational trends. Yet these voices of Bharat can still be heard and are making their present felt again.

This means that there is no need to create a new Indian culture post-independence in order to bring unity and identity to the country. The need is to honour the ongoing continuity of Bharatiya and Dharmic culture, its relevance for the future and its ability to adapt itself to the times, including its capacity to embrace and integrate diverse views. If India is a free and democratic country today, it is because of its history as Bharat.

Yet Dharmic culture is not confined to the boundaries of any political or religious system or dogma. This Bharatiya Dharmic culture was not limited to the subcontinent of India but spread throughout Asia and influenced Europe and much of the rest of the world as well. Yet it was in Bharat itself that this characteristic dharmic civilization most took root and survived.

Bharatiya culture is largely a culture of knowledge and promotes learning, considering meditation as the most important form of study that one can do. The symbol of Bharatiya culture is the Yogi or Buddha sitting in meditation pose. This dharmic culture of knowledge can embrace science as well as spirituality and sees consciousness as the underlying ground of the entire universe. The Bharatiya tradition of learning and knowledge is the basis for the success of India’s diaspora in the US, UK and western world.

There are those who say that India is an inclusive concept but Bharat is communal because it is mainly Hindu, though Hindu Dharma itself has a pluralistic and respectful view of life. But traditional Bharat never tried to invade and conquer other countries. There us no history of wars of religious conquest or conversion by Bharatiya armies, or any Bharata based colonial rule and exploitation of other lands.

The Bharatiya model is an excellent model for the modern era in which we must integrate a number of cultures from throughout the world. Compared to the inclusive and synthetic Bharatiya model of culture, socialist and Marxist models are narrow, repressive and materialistic. Even the capitalist model lacks the depth of the dharmic approach and its sense of compassion.

What should be our model for defining India, if not Bharata? Is it China, the Soviet Union, the EU or the USA? Is it Nehruvian socialism, Bengali communism, European nationalism, or American consumerism? These may have some benefits but reflect much more circumscribed views of human life and culture.

Mahabharata

Bharat has the longest and most extensive literary continuity of any modern country or culture. This extends through its massive Sanskrit literature to the main local languages from Tamil to Hindi, which are linked to Sanskrit, and often have larger literatures of their own than the literature of modern European countries.

The concept of Bharata as comprising the entire subcontinent of India is clear in the Mahabharata itself, which is over two thousand years old. The Mahabharata embraces every portion of greater India from Sri Lanka in the South to Uttara Kuru or the lands beyond the Himalayas to the north.

The Mahabharata is not just a story of ancient kings but outlines the kingdoms, countries and cultures of the region. It reflects all the main sects of Hindu Dharma as Vaishnava, Shaiva, Ganapata, and Shakta but also honors freedom of thought and inquiry, with extensive dialogues examining numerous subjects, spiritual and mundane. It discusses the rule and laws of kings and the role of dharma in all aspects of life. No other country or region, whether Europe, China or the Middle East, has a text of such extent and a continuity of culture as the Mahabharata.

The Mahabharata looks back on the older Vedic tradition, which originated in the Saraswati region of North India over five thousand years ago, when the Saraswati was a great river. Yet today it is in Kerala in the South that we find the strictest adherence to Vedic rituals and practices, showing the extent of influence of this ancient culture.

Saraswati RiverThe Battle Over History

A nation is largely defined according to its history. There is a great battle going on relative to the history of India. After independence, history studies and national institutions, such as the ICHR (Indian Council of Historical Research) were dominated by socialists, if not Marxists, who were naturally hostile to the older dharmic culture of the region.

Their goal was to emphasize a new India defined in the post-independence era that was removed from its traditional past. There were a few traditional figures like Ashok and Akbar who were brought in as historical precedents of their idea of India, but much of the history of the country was ignored. When the greatness of India’s past, such as the extensive urban sites along the ancient Saraswati River were discovered, this largely Delhi intelligentsia found little to be proud of or made known. The older Vedic period was reduced and not made into anything foundational for India as a whole. It was treated as a limited culture said to originate from outside of India in Central Asia.

Today the Archaeological Survey of India and Geological Survey of India have placed the Vedic period on a firm footing, showing a continuity of culture in the Saraswati region from the beginnings of agriculture before 7000 BCE to the drying up of the Saraswati River around 1900 BC.

We can identify the early Vedic period with the period from 7000-3100 BCE. Curiously when the Greek scholar Megasthenes visited India along with Alexander’s armies, he noted a tradition of 153 kings going back over 6400 years to a date of around 6776 BCE. This suggests a continuity of dynasties in the region going back a very long time.

We can identify the late Vedic period from 3100-1900 BCE with the urban Harappan period, in which the Saraswati River was already in decline, which is how we find the river described in several later Brahmana texts, in Mahabharata and in Manu Smriti.

The New Battle for Delhi

Delhi is the seat of government in India. But it is also the main center for the English language media and academia in the country, which often uncritically reflects the opinions of its western education and values. This Delhi intelligentsia has had the main role in defining India in recent decades, though the culture of Delhi, particularly of its ruling elite, is very different from the culture of most of the country.

The Delhi elite has redefined India largely in a Nehruvian-socialist-Marxist image, mainly as India after 1947. They have tried to make classical India into a foreign culture or something merely regional, while glorifying recent political trends in the West as capable of defining and raising up India as a modern nation.

Even today we have well-known communists appearing in the media, pretending to be defenders of India and examples of intellectual thinking, tolerance and compassion, though their comrades throughout the world have largely been thrown out of power, with their views discredited.

The Post-Marxist Era and the Twenty First Century

We need to redefine India in the post-colonial, post-Marxist era, which requires the rediscovery of Bharat. While India did throw off the British rule at an outer level in 1947, the rule of colonial based concepts, biases and institutions continued. These were gradually combined with Marxist and leftist concepts that maintained the denigration of the older dharmic culture of the region.

The great majority of Marxist countries in the world came to an end in the period from 1989-1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European allies. China has moved away from a Marxist orientation and is now re-embracing its Confucian past. Russia once more emulates the Czars and the Russian Orthodox Church. Yet India’s intellectuals continue to promote Marxist ideas in India’s universities as if Marxism were still an important and innovative trend in world thought.

India Resurgent as Bharat

India today in the twenty-first century is becoming resurgent as Bharat, because that is the actual foundation of the country through its enduring culture throughout the centuries.

India’s great dharmic traditions—including Yoga, Vedanta, Buddhism and Ayurveda—have gained respect throughout the world, with millions of followers in every continent. It is this older dharmic culture of Bharat that the world looks up to and hopes India develops, not the recent India of the Nehru dynasty.

Economically speaking, India is rising up today only by casting off the Marxist-Nehruvian-socialist yoke and embracing its own older Vaishya, merchant and dharmic economic traditions, which are similarly an integral part of Bharat. India was not poor when it was Bharat. It became poor when it ceased to be Bharat.

Bharat MataBharat Mata as Mother India

The land of Bharat has always been regarded as Bharat Mata, Mother India. This is not a cultural concept defined by aggression, intolerance, and materialism, but one that honors Mother Earth and Mother Nature and sees culture as a mother who nurtures us, not as a social control mechanism.

Bharat Mata is also Yoga Mata and regards human culture as a movement towards Yoga and the evolution of consciousness, such as Sri Aurobindo so eloquently proclaimed. Bharat Mata is Ma Durga, the protective force the takes us from darkness to light. She is Bharata Bhavani, Mother India as the mother of life and culture. Bharat Mata embodies the Yoga Shakti or power of spiritual striving in humanity. She is not the imposition of a religious concept upon the country but a poetic/spiritual representation of the soul of its people and its dharmic ethos.

Bharat was traditionally Vishvaguru or the world guru among nations for many centuries. People came from throughout Asia and the Middle East to study at its great centers of learning like Takshashila and Nalanda. Bharat was famous for its spiritual and scientific knowledge but also for its art, philosophy, medicine, mathematics, and material prosperity.

Bharat remained prosperous until the period of British rule, showing that the colonial rulers did not raise India up but pulled it down. Colonial rulers tried to remove Bharat and in its place substitute an artificial idea of India, made according to their own biases, which they therefore had the right to rule.

Bharat Mata can be the Vishvaguru or the world guru, but India as defined by the last hundred years only cannot. It is time for Bharat to arise again and awaken the world to a greater destiny and higher awareness that goes back to its great ancient seers and yogis. A resurgent Bharat is of tremendous value for the entire world, if not essential for the future of humanity. – Vedanet, 13 August 2015

» Pandit Vamadeva Shastri (Dr David Frawley) is a guru in the Vedic tradition. He is recognized as a Vedacharya in India, and includes in his scope of studies Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic astrology, as well as the ancient Vedic teachings going back to the oldest Rigveda. 

Raksha Bandhan
Raksha Bandhan
Bindeshwari Pathak
Narendra Modi

History is factual and seamless – Sandhya Jain

Chronos (Time)

Sandhya Jain is the editor of Vijayvaani.“As modern India renews ties with Central Asian nations with whom we lost our land links due to Partition, it would help to teach students that while it is a colonial (and post-colonial) fantasy that the Aryans raced down the Central Asian steppes, the Mongols and medieval Turks took this route in their quest for empire. For a century between 1221 and 1327, the Mongols raided the subcontinent, subduing Kashmir and occupying much of modern Pakistan and Punjab. … The Great Khans rank among the world’s greatest imperialists, overrunning Russia, China, and Central Asia.” — Sandhya Jain

Narendra Modi & Islam KarimovAt the banquet hosted for Mr Modi, Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov said, “Quite a lot of history, literature, music, painting and architecture of the Uzbek and Indian people, their mutual enrichment and mutual penetration is linked with the name of our great ancestor Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur and his descendants, with everlasting heritage which they left to humanity”. He added, “ancient Indian culture, which strikes with its depth, perfect form and variety, exerted and continues to exert a startling influence on many countries of the Orient. It is for this very reason that today India and its diligent people enjoy a stable respect in our country”.

Babur, of Mongol-Uzbek descent, founded the Moghul empire; Hindu memory of his legacy clashes with that of the Uzbek, for whom he ranks as a warrior of the genre of Chengez Khan, in an age when History belonged to the conqueror. But the larger point being made by President Karimov is that history is factual—it cannot be undone—and seamless. The continuity of Time links apparently tectonic ruptures.

Hence Chronology (from the Greek god, Chronos, Time) is the backbone of History, against which students are taught about nations and civilisations. Yet textbooks of the erstwhile UPA government, currently under review for correction, are remarkable for persistent disrespect to chronology, depriving tender minds of a coherent sense of history. Some chapters of Indian history have a mixed, even vexed, legacy; shying away from the factual narrative (which alone is required at school level) can only produce an intellectually handicapped citizenry.

The NCERT Social Science textbook, Our Pasts, for Class VII (12-year-olds), deals with new dynasties such as the Rashtrakutas and Cholas in a chapter that suddenly mentions Mahmud of Ghazni, though there was no link between them. The chapter on Delhi Sultanate omits the Turkish invasions which were the backdrop to its establishment. Possibly the intention is to project the Sultanate as an indigenous kingdom, a grave distortion.

Qutbu l-Din Aibak, founder of the Delhi Sultanate, is ignored, while there is sudden mention of Iltutmish as father of Razia, a short-lived ruler of no consequence. This chapter discusses architecture of the Sultanate era, mainly the Quwwat-ul Islam mosque, while a later chapter mentions the Qutb Minar. The eminent historians who oversaw the project (the Who’s Who of history scholars) were so confused that Sultanate architecture again figures in the chapter on Mughal architecture! It mentions the Mongols, without linking them to developments of the time.

BaburAs modern India renews ties with Central Asian nations with whom we lost our land links due to Partition, it would help to teach students that while it is a colonial (and post-colonial) fantasy that the Aryans raced down the Central Asian steppes, the Mongols and medieval Turks took this route in their quest for empire. For a century between 1221 and 1327, the Mongols raided the subcontinent, subduing Kashmir and occupying much of modern Pakistan and Punjab. Their ingress brought them into conflict with the Delhi Sultanate. Hulagu Khan’s desire for conquests in the west took the bulk of the Mongol armies towards Baghdad and Syria, sparing India, though wars continued. In Baghdad, the Mongols converted to Islam; native Mongolians remained Buddhist. The Great Khans rank among the world’s greatest imperialists, overrunning Russia, China, and Central Asia.

Korean Buddhist monk Hyecho, called in Sanskrit Prajñāvikram (704 -- 787 CE). He travelled to India in 723 CE to acquaint himself with the language and culture of the land of the Buddha.It is a safe bet that average students do not know that the Turks originated in Central Asia; the Arab armies converted them to Islam in the seventh century and blocked the land route by which Chinese pilgrims came to India. Korean pilgrim Hyecho was possibly the last to take this route, and witnessed the changes being wrought by the new faith.

It is these ancient land routes—beaten out by traders and pilgrims and followed by armies—that Asia’s contemporary rulers want to revive to mutual advantage; hence the International North South Transport Corridor, BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Ashgabat Agreement, Silk Road Economic Belt and Eurasian Economic Union. Ignorance of history can only be a handicap to the rising generation.

All nations joining these initiatives are equally concerned with terrorism. There are the Chechens in Russia, Uighurs in China, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda and multiple groups in Pakistan and India. Iran is helping Iraq fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Closer home, fundamentalism in undivided Bengal, specially the Great Calcutta Killing of 1946, forced the Congress to succumb to Partition. But, in recent times, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed has emerged as the foremost leader fighting jihadis; she is also denying sanctuary to northeast insurgents from India. To reciprocate, Prime Minister Narendra Modi persuaded West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to help resolve the vexed land boundary dispute with Dhaka. Both nations are now working on the sharing of Teesta waters, and will hopefully tackle the issue of illegal immigrants.

History is thus a continuum. Hence, it is inexplicable how purging Rana Pratap from the story of Akbar makes better history. Even the fact that the early Mughals distrusted and fought the Afghans is suppressed to project the ruling elite as a composite balance of foreign and Indian ethnic groups. Actually, the Mughals incorporated the Marathas much later in a bid to pacify them when they could not be crushed militarily.

Temple destruction may be mentioned or omitted altogether. But centuries of iconoclasm by Muslim armies cannot be equated with stray instances of Hindu rulers taking the tutelary deity of a defeated king to their own realms. The great Vijayanagar empire; the stressful relations between the Sikh Gurus and Jehangir and subsequent emperors, particularly the execution of Guru Tegh Bahadur, have place in an honest history. Any reference to Shivaji is meaningless without explaining Aurangzeb’s 25-year bid to expand the Mughal empire into the Deccan. In sum, the modification of textbooks is overdue. – Vijayvaani, 15 July 2015  

» Sandhya Jain is a writer of political and contemporary affairs for The Pioneer, New Delhi. She edits an opinions forum, Vijayvaaniand contributes to a web portal, Niticentral.

NCERT History Textbook 'Our Pasts'

Reclaim civilisational self from shallow history texts – Anirban Ganguly

Dr Anirban Ganguly“Political considerations, ideological affiliations—especially of those who have always tried to establish an imported ideology—of well-resourced groups who have thrived in the Western academia by projecting India as a society in perpetual conflict and instability, has largely influenced the study of history. Their prime political objective, despite their arguments to the contrary, has been to generate confusion and to finally deconstruct Bharat’s civilisational self-perception.” – Dr Anirban Ganguly

R.C. MajumdarIn the preface to his three-volume classic, History of the Freedom Movement in India, R. C. Majumdar (1888-1980), one of India’s most distinguished 20th century historians, made a very telling remark, especially relevant to teaching the history of the Indian freedom  movement to young learners. “I have not hesitated,” wrote Majumdar, “to speak out the truth, even if it is in conflict with views cherished and propagated by distinguished political leaders for whom I have the greatest respect.” He also argued that a “solid structure of mutual amity and understanding cannot be built on the quicksands of false history and political expediency.”

One notices a compartmentalised and selective approach to the study of India, especially when examining the freedom struggle and the role of various regions and leaders. How many, for example, have been taught in some detail, of the rebellions against the East India Company rule in the southern region between 1800 and 1801? Why is the Northeast’s contribution to the freedom struggle and its pre-British civilisational identity and achievements not highlighted, researched and taught? Shall we not marvel to know how V. O. Chidambaram Pillai launched a Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company and challenged the British monopoly of the shipping sector until he was held, charged with sedition, and sentenced to life imprisonment? Sri V.O. Chidambaram PillaiAurobindo’s columns in Vande Mataram still stir the depths of our being and shape our patriotic sentiments. Ranima Gaidinliu’s exploits continue to inspire, as does the poetry of the revolutionary Subramaniam Bharati. Sister Nivedita’s contribution to strengthening scientific research in India against great colonial opposition is worth knowing.

Political considerations, ideological affiliations—especially of those who have always tried to establish an imported ideology—of well-resourced groups who have thrived in the Western academia by projecting India as a society in perpetual conflict and instability, has largely influenced the study of history. Their prime political objective, despite their arguments to the contrary, has been to generate confusion and to finally deconstruct Bharat’s civilisational self-perception. Therefore, all episodes in our history that have strengthened that civilisational self-perception, any individual or movement that has derived inspiration from Bharat’s civilisational self or has worked to discover and disseminate its achievements has been marginalised and suppressed.

So opportunistic and shallow has been the commitment to officially write the history of the freedom struggle that Marxist historians who got down to writing it could never complete it despite spending crores of taxpayers’ money and working on it for over four decades. The “Towards Freedom” project that continues to languish was essentially handed over to a group of scholars with no known commitment to India’s civilisational  K. M. Panikkarethos and who used the opportunity to perpetuate a political line and to exonerate a political class whose only contribution to the struggle for freedom was through collaboration with colonialists and imperialists in suppressing the movement itself.

But finally, there seems to be a gradual reversal of that approach. Attempts are being made to rediscover and re-interpret, as inspiring icons, many marginalised personalities who have made epochal contributions to shape our civilisational self and world view. Efforts are being made to study and disseminate their contributions, the contributions of historical episodes, events and achievements that have instilled a genuine civilisational sense in us. The compartmentalised approach is being challenged and questioned, new ideas, hitherto suppressed, are finding voice.

Such first steps towards restating our civilisational self is an urgent necessity, it alone can lead towards achieving that second dimension of freedom—the freedom of the mind, self and self-perception. – The New Indian Express, 15 August 2015

» Dr Anirban Ganguly is Director, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, New Delhi. Email anirbangan@gmail.com

History of India

The first step towards de-mythifying Nehru – Anirban Ganguly

Dr Anirban Ganguly“The book’s manner of discussing Nehru’s shortcomings directly and unequivocally, and basing the discussion on solid primary and secondary sources, and its way of linking Nehru’s legacy to the challenges of the present Indian polity make the study even more interesting. The predominant Nehruvian narrative has almost always depicted him as a great democrat, liberal, man of vision and an indefatigable administrator. Singh’s work challenges each of these assumptions and through a complex web of arguments and analysis proves the hollowness or unilateralism of these.” – Dr Anirban Ganguly

Jawaharlal Nehru was the archetypical Indian brown sahib.When he had just been two years in office, Prime Minister Nehru once wrote to a close colleague expressing a view which would, 15 years later, in a sense define the decadent political legacy he would eventually leave behind. “I have repeatedly made a mess of things, but, I hope, I have not forgotten the major ideals which Gandhiji taught us…. His (Gandhiji’s) face comes up before me, gentle and reproachful, sometimes I read his writings, and how he asked us to stick to this or that to death, whatever others said or did. And yet these very things we were asked to stick to slip away from our grasp. Is that to be the end of our labour?” Indeed, after an uninterrupted 17 years of steering the ship of the Indian state, Nehru had led the nation “up the blind alley”.

R. N. P. SinghIn his new book, Nehru: A Troubled Legacy, R.N.P. Singh, a former officer of the Intelligence Bureau and author of a number of books on modern India who is presently a senior fellow at the New Delhi-based Vivekananda International Foundation, examines in some detail Nehru’s legacy and weaves a narrative that looks at his other dimensions, shorn of all hagiographic sentimentalism.

Nehru, argues Singh, “left behind a confused and anaemic legacy of political culture, with the result that the foundation of Independence laid by him affected not only the present and the future generations of Congress party, but the entire political spectrum of the country…. His arbitrary, autocratic and impulsive decisions shaped India’s political culture in such a way that it diverted the course of politics to the point of systemic failure for the first six decades of Independence”. Singh asks to “ponder as to what went wrong with the foundation of independent India”. Did the “pillars of freedom” go “to the hands of incapable architects?” This book provides significant points to ponder over these questions.

Arranged in eight chapters and with a large appendix section that brings together, for the benefit of the lay reader and serious researcher, a collection of letters that essentially deal with crucial issues in the Nehru era, Singh’s book comes as an important intervention in the process of dismantling the Nehruvian consensus. Chapters such as ‘Seeds of Dynastic Democracy’, ‘Betrayal of Democratic Values’ and ‘Defence Policy in Post-Independence India’ (1947-62) introduce dimensions that are bound to generate a greater interest and certainly aid in making a fresh start to the assessment of India’s first Prime Minister and his complex legacy.

Nehru: A Troubled LegacyThe book’s manner of discussing Nehru’s shortcomings directly and unequivocally, and basing the discussion on solid primary and secondary sources, and its way of linking Nehru’s legacy to the challenges of the present Indian polity make the study even more interesting. The predominant Nehruvian narrative has almost always depicted him as a great democrat, liberal, man of vision and an indefatigable administrator. Singh’s work challenges each of these assumptions and through a complex web of arguments and analysis proves the hollowness or unilateralism of these.

In the end, the author observes that with the passage of time and with the “advent of genuine academic freedom one can be certain that many more tomes will follow to add to what we know about Nehru, the man and the politician. This will make for a more credible and dispassionate assessment of Nehru and for robust research in our universities”. And when this happens, argues Singh, “our view of Jawaharlal Nehru will change, the gap between history and truth will stand bridged” and the “coloured versions produced over the last sixty years … will cease to be relevant”.

Singh’s book is a decisive first step towards bridging that gap between “history and truth”; it is a major contribution to the de-mythification of Nehru. – The New Indian Express, 19 July 2015

» Dr Ganguly is Director, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, New Delhi. Email anirbangan@gmail.com

C. I. Issac: Christian ICHR member calls for ban on conversions – G. Sreedathan

G. Sreedathan“Although a St Thomas Christian himself, Issac disputed the claim that St Thomas landed in Kerala and converted Namboodiri Brahmins. ‘They are targeting higher jatis. They realized that without converting Brahmins they can’t bust the very foundation of Hinduism. In this line they deputed Robert de Nobili, an Italian padre, to Madurai in 17th century CE and he studied Sanskrit and wrote Jesus Veda, and lived in sanyasin attire in order to convert high-class Hindus, and miserably failed.'” – G. Sreedathan

Prof C. I. IssacThe lone Christian member in the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) under the Human Resources Development ministry and noted historian, C. I. Issac, has put up a passionate defence of the Sangh Parivar’s ghar wapsi (home coming) programme and called for a ban on conversions.

A retired history professor and author of over 10 books, including Evolution of Christian Church in India, Issac is now vice-president of Kerala-based right-wing think-tank Bharateeya Vichara Kendram. “Ghar wapsi is not religious conversion. It is a measure of opening doors for those who left earlier from poorva dharma due to historical reasons. Article 25 of the Constitution is not a provision for a one-way traffic or of a non-return valve. In no way with this Article, the founding fathers of our Constitution thought of any sort of conversion. Their intention was the healthy coexistence of all cultures and religious groups. Conversion by brainwashing, coercion, allurement, incentives, etc. is cruel in cultural terms,” said Issac.

According to him, ghar wapsi is a legitimate right of the Hindus. This movement began not only after May 26, 2014.  “Its origin in Kerala goes back to British period that is 1921. It started systematically as the shuddhi movement in the 19th century CE by Arya Samaj leader, Swami Dayananda Saraswati.”

Calling for capital punishment for indulging in conversions, he said, “The conversion is a criminal offence against humanity. The death of a religion means the total vanishing or death of a culture, civilization and knowledge system which generated by a religion through generations…. We lost the Greeks, Mayans, Persians, Romans, etc, like classical societies legacies. We missed Bamian rocks of Afghanistan. Nobody can New Delhi Archbishop Anil J.T. Coutoretrieve the lost knowledge. They have a substantial, objective, and observationally demonstrated information framework, obtained through generations. We, as an enlightened society, are bound to secure all societies and their commitments appropriately,” he added.

When his attention was drawn to Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto’s statement in an interview to Business Standard that he has a problem with the word ghar wapsi and not conversion, he said, “Behind this answer a fraudulent design is hidden. Ghar wapsi means return to poorva dharma. In it there is nothing as wrong. On the other hand, if it is conversion they can level charges against the Hindu society in international forms that Hindus are forcibly converting Christians to Hinduism, Hindus are fundamentalists, etc. Now they can’t raise such allegations. Above all in Hinduism there is no provision of conversion to Hinduism. Prima-facie, one may feel it is an innocent and genuine demand. But in fact it is cunning and putting Hindus in doldrums.”

Claiming himself to be a practicing Christian, he said, “The Church has good relations with me. When I was nominated to ICHR, the bishop arranged a meeting to congratulate me. I believe in Christ but I don’t believe Christ as the only way.”

On Delhi church attacks, he said, “Martyrs and saints are fuels for the gigantic engines of the Church (like jihadis for Islam) without which it cannot sustain. The nature and character of the Delhi church attack is doubtful. All the churches subjected attacks were suffered with minor damages. After the Delhi election they never pressed for the arrest of the persons behind attack or further investigations. It can be considered as a self-goal strategy.”

St. ThomasAlthough a St Thomas Christian himself, Issac disputed the claim that St Thomas landed in Kerala and converted Namboodiri Brahmins. “They are targeting higher jatis. They realized that without converting Brahmins they can’t bust the very foundation of Hinduism. In this line they deputed Robert de Nobili, an Italian padre, to Madurai in 17th century CE and he studied Sanskrit and wrote Jesus Veda, and lived in sanyasin attire in order to convert high-class Hindus, and miserably failed. Madras Bishop Arulappa bribed Ganesh Iyer and converted him as John Iyer and deputed him for manipulations and attempted to high-jack ancient Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar.” – Business Standard, 11 July 2015

» G. Sreedathan Sr Assistant Editor at Business Standard, New Delhi Area.

Roberto de Nobili

Evolutionary biology cannot prove any theory about a linguistic homeland: Koenraad Elst – Scroll.in

Human migration out of Africa to India and then to Europe.

The following comments are in response to a Scroll.in article called Video: an animated map shows how Sanskrit may have come to India by Shoaib Daniyal.

Koenraad Elst♦ Thanks to Scroll for mentioning my name in an article lambasting the Out-of-India Theory as a Hindutva concoction similar to the Flat Earth theory. 

The OIT was actually the first Homeland theory of Indo-European, prevalent till ca. 1820, and had nothing to do with the 20th-century ideology of Hindutva. (Of which I am a published and consistent critic, but if the author has to compensate for his lack of hands-on understanding of the controversy by labelling better-informed people as “Hindutva”, so be it.)

A research result from evolutionary biology cannot possibly prove any theory about a linguistic homeland, because genes don’t talk: you can genetically (or archaeologically) prove any migration you want, but then you still don’t know what language the people concerned spoke.  This is usually pointed out by the opposing camp, by the believers in an Aryan invasion of India, because the non-linguistic evidence is so massively going against their pet scenario: whereas in Central Europe, plenty of archaeological and genetical evidence proves an Indo-European invasion from the east ca  2900 BCE, such evidence is totally lacking in India. Thus, it has freshly been shown that the lactose tolerance (milk-drinking habit) of the Europeans resulted from this overwhelming immigration from the East: through Ukraine (where the cows’ genes show Indian ancestry) ultimately from India.

Textually too, the Vedas (and in more detail though by hearsay, the Puranas) report emigrations from, not immigrations into India during the period concerned. In linguistics too, the last bulwark of the non-Indian homeland theory is coming down step by step through the work of Nicholas Kazanas, Shrikant Talageri and myself.

Prof B.B. LalRemember the Ayodhya controversy: for 20 years we were lambasted and ridiculed in similar terms by the Indian secularists and their dupes in Western academe. But we were proven right while the secularists and their dupes have egg all over their faces. The pillar-bases proving (among many other things) the demolished Hindu temple in Ayodhya were first dug up by BB Lal, the same man who jettisoned his earlier Aryan invasion beliefs and now, at 90+, elaborates the Out-of-India scenario and declares: “Vedic history and Harappan history are but two sides of the same coin.” He was lambasted for his Ayodhya findings just as he is still lambasted for his stand on Indo-European history, but he was proven right then and is now being proven right again. — Koenraad Elst


♦ What a poor piece about how Sanskrit came to India. It’s reflective of the mediocrity in Indian media where lazy bloggers-turned-journalists dish out “factual” pieces on complex topics (such as history in this case) with minimal rigour, research or objectivity. For example, the writer Shoaib Daniyal makes sweeping inferences based on one  research study (inflated as “seminal”), multiple references to Wikipedia and a PowerPoint slide-turned-video to support it. And that’s the extent of his rigour to explain the history of a civilisation going back 6,000 years. — Ankit S.


♦ Can you please provide documents on how you come to this conclusion? Anyone can make graphics to say that man came from Mars. Does the author have any archaeological evidence, or is this just false propaganda. — Alokjyoti Bal


♦ This was a very informative piece. The potshot at the Sangh Parivar was unnecessary. Why can’t an article on Sanskrit be only about Sanskrit? It will just give some people an excuse to start trolling. The influence of right-wing groups (both Hindutva and Islamist) is often amplified by too much media attention. — Soumyakanti Chakraborty


♦ Scroll.in started like a beacon of liberal press. With this article, it buries the myth.

The way you have so polemically dumped the alternative theories reeks of a bigoted agenda. The author seems to be a twenty-something with little exposure to the world of theoretical research or of the way history evolves.

The question whether Sanskrit evolved from Latin/Persian or vice-versa is still being debated amongst international historians. Suffice to say that language colleges in Europe still teach of Sanskrit as the “Mother of all languages” (I am sure you won’t check the curriculum for your petty-minded article).

It is sad that a progressive website has tumbled down to such depths of shallow journalism. I think you must stop considering yourself as history experts. You are not. — Kulveer Singh


♦ I have come across several stories in Scroll.in which talk of Hindutva Loonism. It appears that authors are direct descendants of Macaulay and other Europeans who could not digest anything which showed India in good light.

In fact there is no Hindutva except in the minds of Congress and leftists, the public school educated and the missionaries (Muslim or Christian).

I have no link to BJP or RSS or Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Reading of Indian history with an open mind has brought me to same conclusions. The term Hindu refers to natives of India adhering to indigenous culture. For political reasons,, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs have been separated, not in too distant a past. All these Indian faiths are to be contrasted actually with Semitic religions, which have the aim of eliminating all native or Indian religions.

Most of your articles are a step in that direction. Confuse Hindus. Belittle Hindus. And degrade Hindus. Expedite the destruction subtly.

If Padmini is likely to be a fiction, so is Jodha, so is the greatness of Akbar, so is the moaning of Babar about absence of gardens in India, which might have been destroyed by Muslim invaders—one finds lots of references to gardens in Sanskrit literature. Why always speak of “Hindu” fiction and remain silent about fiction of other communities.

Why not accept that sati, purdah and degradation of status of women in Indian society was a result of Muslim invaders. Why not accept that most Hindus became Muslims due to Jazia and Christians due to patronage and financial temptations in the name of charity.

Everybody from writers on Scroll.in to PK to OMG berate Hindus while other religions, races and ethnicities have plenty of ills. It is irritating. Please editor, either follow a balanced approach or abandon touching subjects that denigrate and hurt Hindus and their culture.

Hindus have an eternal existence. They should be a  world heritage. (I remember in an article in Scroll.in the writer lambasted the eternalness of “Hinduism”.). Your authors always question beliefs of Hindus. They do not have courage to question Muslims or Christians.  — Anil Dutta 

» Source: Scroll.in, 27 June 2015

Swastika Sanskrit Etymology

See also

Ramayana not a work of fiction – Kumar Chellappan

Kumar Chellappan“Dr Chaubey and Prof V. R. Rao, an anthropologist in Delhi University, said that the studies proved that these groups of people have maintained their genetic continuity for more than 10,000 years. ‘This again sets at rest the Aryan Invasion Theory. There is no inflow into the genetic traits of these tribes from outside elements,’ said Saroj Bala, a specialist in Vedic and Ramayana studies, who shot into fame by calculating the date of birth of Lord Rama based on planetary positions.” – Kumar Chellappan

Rama & GuhaRamsevak of the Kol tribe from the Sidhi district of Madhya Pradesh, stands head and shoulders above other Indians.  Genetic studies prove that he is one of the descendants of King Guha of Ramayana. An international team of researchers consisting of geneticists, anthropologists, archaeologists and historians have found that Ramayana, written 10,000 years ago, is a chronicle of events and characters recorded by Sage Valmiki and not a work of fiction.

The mystery behind the characters in Ramayana has been solved by a team led by Dr Gyaneshwer Chaubey, ace genetic scientist of the Estonian Biocentre in Estonia. A three-year long research by Dr Chaubey and his team drawn out from Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, Delhi University, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and Institute of Scientific Research on Vedas has found that the Gyaneshwer ChaubeyBhils, Gonds and the Kols, categorised as Scheduled Castes and Tribes by the modern day administrators of India are the true descendants of characters featured in Ramayana. The peer reviewed scientific paper authored by the team has been published by PLOS ONE, a respected scientific portal.

The Kol tribe, found mainly in areas like Mirzapur, Varanasi, Banda and Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, are the descendants of the Kol mentioned in Ramayana, according to Dr Chaubey and his team. Remember Guha, the chieftain of Sringaverapura who helped Lord Rama, Sita and Laksmana cross the Ganga during their journey to the forests? “Guha, the Nishad king, is the ancestor of the present day V. R. RaoKol tribe we found in these regions. This ancestry was established by genetic studies. These groups of people carry the basic indigenous genetic traits of India. Ramsevak and thousands like him spread across the States of UP, MP, Odisha, Chhattisgargh are the true descendants of Lord Rama and his contemporaries,” Dr Chaubey told The Pioneer from Tartu in Estonia via video conferencing.

Dr Chaubey and Prof V. R. Rao, an anthropologist in Delhi University, said that the studies proved that these groups of people have maintained their genetic continuity for more than 10,000 years. “This again sets at rest the Aryan Invasion Theory. There is no inflow into the genetic traits of these tribes from outside elements,” said Saroj Bala, a specialist in Vedic and Ramayana studies, who shot into fame by calculating the date of birth of Lord Rama based on planetary positions.

Saroj BalaProf Rao said the studies confirmed that the characters mentioned by Valmiki in Ramayana are real life characters. “King Dasaratha, Rama and others were not fictional characters,” he said.  Dr S. Kalyanaraman, an Indologist of repute, said the Kols are the iron smelters about whom there are mentions in Indus script excavated from the banks of Indus as well as River Saraswathi.

“This paper by Gyaneshwer Chaubey and team is an attempt to explain the roots of Hindu civilisation which has been distorted by creating false ethnic identities by the categorisation of people,” said Dr Kalyanaraman. He said a comprehensive study incorporating all tribes should be undertaken which would prove that the breaking up of essential unity of Bharatiya identity based on caste and ethnicity are academic fiction with no basis and a distortion of the history of ancient India. – The Pioneer, 15 June 2015

Rama crossing the Ganga

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