“Many Indians think Rahul Gandhi is related to Mahatma Gandhi,” says Francois Gautier

Francois Gautier

Bharat MataFrench author and journalist Francois Gautier feels traditional Indian knowledge is at risk.

At a lecture in Bangalore on Jan. 11th, Gautier, a staunch defender of Hindutva, said, “Education in India is in a tragic state. Parents produce children in order to export them. India is being westernized. People here want to be more westernized than the westerners themselves. They know IT, Math and Shakespeare but don’t know their own history and culture. Not many understand the value of knowledge.”

Gautier, 54, feels Hinduism is not a religion but a knowledge stream. “Though I am a Frenchman, I feel I am a Hindu. Being a Hindu entails believing that God has many manifestations. I have lived in India for 44 years. I experienced the presence of Bharat Mata while working in Kashmir and now (I am experiencing it) in Pune,” he pointed out.

He admitted that conversion is a reality and it’s easy to convert Indians because of poverty. “Many are so innocent that they think Rahul Gandhi is related to Mahatma Gandhi,” he said.

ShivajiAccording to him, many bitter truths about India’s history—such as genocide of Hindus by invaders—were swept under the carpet. He believes there are many cliches about India abroad. “Poverty and snake-charmers are part of them,” he added. Stressing the importance of truth in history, however bitter it is, he said: “Unless people face their history, they can’t move forward.”

On Maratha king Shivaji, he said: “With a handful of men, he fought the most powerful army of his time and secured southern India. But he is not represented properly. Some Indian history books even depict him as a plunderer or a petty chieftain.”

Referring to the Aryan invasion theory, he said: “It (the invasion) is the foundation of all historical information on India. But the invasion never happened.”

Gautier has set up a museum on Indian history—Shivaji Maharaj Museum of History—in Pune with the Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism (FACT). “If I write an article, it lasts a day. A book could last a few years. But a museum lasts for centuries. It’s important to rewrite Indian history on stone. I found it important to narrate history as it happened, and not as it was written. Hence, the museum,” he explained. The museum exhibits artefacts on India’s traditional knowledge and accurate history. – Times of India, 13 January 2014

» Francois Gautier is a French journalist who has been living in India since the 1970s. He is married to an Indian and lives in New Delhi. Gautier is one of the few westerners actively defending the hindutva movement. He can be reached at fgautier@rediffmail.com

Shivaji Museum, Pune

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Pune Shivaji Museum: Indian history as it really happened – Francois Gautier

Shivaji

Francois Gautier“At every step we have encountered problems creating this museum, some foreseen, some unforeseen, some even coming from our own people. Trying to portray Indian history as it happened, not as it has been written, is a very sensitive task that exposes one to all kinds of troubles. We are facing threats from a Shivaji group which objects to Shivaji Maharaj being associated with Mother India or the Vedas.” – Francois Gautier

AHDOOSI covered Kashmir as a journalist during the worst of its unrest, for Figaro, the largest French political daily, from the late-1980s till the Kargil war. Without doubt, it is there that I underwent some of the most dangerous incidents of my life, and where I acquired, I think, a little bit of fearlessness, which has helped me till today.

There was only one hotel open to journalists during the unrest. It was called Adhoos and it was on the bank of the river Jhelum. There was curfew most of the time and nobody could go out without a pass, but at night I would step out of the hotel and walk on the bund that stops the river from overflowing into Srinagar.

One could hear gunfire and sometimes even grenades in the distance, but I could feel the presence of the millions of saints, yogis, avatars and simple people who had prayed and meditated for thousands of years in Kashmir. It seems today like an abstract experience, but then and there, it was so strong and vivid that I felt it was the very reason India should keep Kashmir — for its sacredness and the Mother’s presence in spite of all the strife.

I came to Pune seven years ago for an Art of Living course. I knew of course about Shivaji Maharaj, having researched him for my books and having been a long-standing admirer of him. I had some time after the course and I asked my driver to take me to the main museum, which is called Kelkar. I was surprised and shocked to find that there was not a single exhibit on Shivaji and that even in the city of his birth, there was no museum worth the name honouring him.

ShivajiGreat men and women who walk this earth and are instruments of god, do most of their work while in their physical body. But when they die, I believe they leave something behind, a presence, a will, an influence. I felt that I should do something to honour Shivaji Maharaj who was so devoted to his country — which he worshipped as the Mother.

The idea of a museum of true Indian history, dedicated to Shivaji Maharaj, started taking shape in my mind. Pune is the ideal place for this museum as it’s Shivaji Maharaj’s realm, it is central to India and easily accessible from south or north. More than anything, Marathas have a stronger national fibre than people do in other States and I felt the museum would be better-protected there.

Yet, having spent the first 18 years of my life in France, I still believe in logic. What is the purpose of the Shivaji Maharaj shrine which has three exhibition halls? First, this is a place of knowledge. People can come to the temple, meditate, pray to Mother India or do puja and come down a little — from their heads to their hearts. They can learn something about the history of their country in the three exhibition halls, while the main museum comes up.

Programmes can also be organised in our small amphitheatre — films made by our foundation, FACT, can be screened, plays, satsangs can take place along with Art of Living courses. Some of the Pune youth may come out feeling a little prouder for being Indian, a little more knowledgeable about the history of the great civilisation that is India. It is a tragedy that the Indian education system produces so many brilliant youth who are just good for export as they are not made to learn about their own history, poets, avatars, and legends.

This is a difficult project. Anyone who has never attempted to raise money for a museum should give it a try. I have met hundreds of potential donors, but when you say “I need funds to build a Museum of Indian History, as it happened and not as it has been written,” you can almost see the mind of your interlocutor going ‘click’. Pat comes the answer, “Oh, I have to speak to my board” or “We only give money for health or education projects.”

Devi Bhavani & ShivajiAt every step we have encountered problems, some foreseen, some unforeseen, some even coming from our own people. Trying to portray Indian history as it happened, not as it has been written, is a very sensitive task that exposes one to all kinds of troubles. We are facing threats from a Shivaji group which objects to Shivaji Maharaj being associated with Mother India or the Vedas.

Shivaji was an extraordinary being, an instrument of god and whoever binds him to a particular caste, or even a particular guru, demeans him and hampers his work. He was a supra national figure and his qualities of dedication to Mother India, of extreme courage, of respect for human rights and honest administration, are needed in today’s India.

This is just a humble beginning. We have already started laying the foundation of the main museum which will house exhibitions from Vedas to India of tomorrow. It will be a wonderful and noble project that will be talked about for centuries.

But for that we need funds, a lot of funds. I hope those of you who will read these words will be touched and will pass along the message to your friends. – Niti Central, 12 October 2012

» Francois Gautier is a French journalist who has been living in India since the 1970s. He is married to an Indian and lives in New Delhi. Gautier is one of the few westerners actively defending the hindutva movement. He can be reached at fgautier@rediffmail.com

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The hijacking of Shivaji Maharaj by vested interests – Francois Gautier

Francois GautierThe biggest enemies of Hindus are Hindus, not Muslims or Christians. India could never have been conquered if Hindus had not betrayed Hindus. The last great Hindu empire, Vijaynagar, which was so extraordinary that its history will have pride of place in FACT’s museum, could not have been razed by Muslims if the Lingayats had not betrayed their brothers and sisters. Shivaji’s most dangerous opponent was a Hindu, Jai Singh who served Aurangzeb. – Francois Gautier

Chatrapati ShivajiMarathas should not only be proud that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was a Maratha, but they should also acknowledge that he has had a lasting influence on the Marathi psyche, which makes their people more nationalistic and self confident than those of many other Indian states.

At the same time, Shivaji should be elevated to the status of a ‘national hero for modern India’, for he embodied all the qualities that are so badly needed in today’s Indian politicians: Shivaji was fearless and his courage was extraordinary. He was devoted to his own country, call it Bharat or Bhavani Bharati, or India. He was truly secular, never harming his enemies’ wives and children and though he was a devoted Hindu, he never destroyed a mosque.

He was a great administrator; whatever he conquered, he saw to it that it was justly administered. He was absolutely free of corruption and cared little for his own comfort. He had great vision and wanted to unify India. Because of his sacrifice, India’s culture, spirituality and social fabric is better preserved from Mumbai to Kanyakumari.

There are a few who have tried to hijack Shivaji and bind him for their own purposes. One such is Marathi writer and activist Sanjay Sonavani, who wrote a piece in Lokmat on November 19, attacking the Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism for building a shrine and a museum in Pune. First, the article is full of glaring errors: the Foundation has erected a shrine dedicated to Bhavani Bharati, not Shivaji; second, FACT is trying to build a museum of Indian history named after Shivaji and which honours him, but Shivaji’s history will only be a part of the museum.

Sanjay SonawaniSonavani attacks FACT on three counts: he says FACT is trying to make a god out of Shivaji; he objects to the fact that Shivaji is associated to Bharat Mata; and he says FACT is trying to link Shivaji to the Vedas. But FACT never said Shivaji was god, we only quoted Aurobindo Ghosh who wrote that he was a Vibhuti. A Vibhuti is not god but an instrument of god. Sri Aurobindo had also written that Napoleon was a Vibhuti and that he was the first one who had a vision of a unified Europe. Nobody ever protested that.

Then, as far as Shivaji’s connection, or non-connection with Mother India or Bharat Mata, there are two undisputed facts: that Shivaji was extremely devoted to his own mother, who played an important influence in his life; secondly that he was as devoted to his own country, and that he wanted to rid her of her enemies. If that is not love for Mother India, then what is? That Hindus have, since time immemorial, chosen to associate their country to the feminine element is highly laudable. The Romans had done the same: Patria.

Francois GautierI am a Frenchman brought up in the ideals of liberty, equality, fraternity and to me it is absolutely irrelevant what caste Shivaji belonged to, who his father or guru was. He was an extraordinary being. It matters not either, whether he related himself to the Vedas or any Hindu scriptures. I doubt it: he was a warrior who wanted to preserve his culture and protect his people. What is for sure is that he was a Hindu, as are a billion Hindus today, whether they are Marathas or Tamil. The theory of the Aryan invasion has been proved false by numerous recent discoveries, it has been opposed by every saint, whether Sri Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar; yet it is still used today by Christian missionaries, Marxist historians and Muslim scholars to divide India between South and North, Hindi and Dravidian, Brahmins and Shudras. Sanjay Sonavani plays into their hands.

Finally, the biggest enemies of Hindus are Hindus, not Muslims or Christians. India could never have been conquered if Hindus had not betrayed Hindus. The last great Hindu empire, Vijaynagar, which was so extraordinary that its history will have pride of place in FACT’s museum, could not have been razed by Muslims if the Lingayats had not betrayed their brothers and sisters. Shivaji’s most dangerous opponent was a Hindu, Jai Singh who served Aurangzeb. It is sad that even today Hindus are so divided, undermining each other and the few supporters of their great history and spirituality. It is also a great shame that in the town of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, one cannot find a single museum worth the name to honour his memory and the spiritual and martial inheritance he left behind him. FACT only wants to remedy to that. – DNA, Mumbai, Nov. 23, 2011

» Francois Gautier is editor-in-chief of the Paris-based La Revue de l’Inde and author of A New History of India

» Contact Francois Gautier at francoisgautier26@gmail.com