Iran as a modern Zoroastrian nation

After the counter-revolution the majority of Iranians have decided that they have had enough with Islam and want to return to their Zoroastrian roots. After the neo-Zoroastrians (they prefer to be called noZis) wrest back control, one of their first shock findings is that the birthplace of Zoroaster happens to be under the Naqsh-e Jahan square in Isfahan.

The noZis tear down the square and leave the rubble while they decide what to do with the site. In the interim all the medieval Muslim sites, which form the bulk of the architectural legacy of Iran, are benignly (or rather callously) neglected in favour of Persepolis (which is garishly rebuilt in what the  noZis think was Darius’s court) and other “reconstructed” Sassanian/Achamenian sites (many mosques have been discovered to have been built on top of fire temples).

Ferdowsi is the only Muslim poet truly privileged in noZi Iran but even the Shahnameh is under threat because it’s written in the “alien Arabic script” and not in the purer Pahlavi script (in fact some noZis argue that there should be a switch to the more “Aryan” Latin alphabet). At any rate the majority of Iranians are back to being officially illiterate.

Modern Persian is deemed to have far too many Arabic words and so the more rustic Dari of Yazd is chosen as a base language. Considering that this Dari was spoken by insular villagers the last millennium; it’s deemed that Avestan is the only acceptable source  language. Reality turns out to be a bit different; Old Persian in the Arabic script remains the dominant language of arts, calligraphy and culture while New Dari in Pahlavi becomes totally dependent on Anglo-French borrowings to become a complete language.

In the interim any Islamic poet, scientist or historian (even if Persian/Iranian) is sort of cast as the “other” and a scramble/obsession begins to discover ancient Persia’s scientific & aesthetic contributions. Some of Iran’s finest minds have been able to prove that ice cream in fact originated in Yazd.

Furthermore thousands and thousands of online noZis descend on the web to foam and obsess about Iran’s Muslim neighbours and to complain about Iran’s preferential treatment of her Muslim minority (they still maintain their own separate laws to the chagrin of the noZis).

They are also fuming at Eastern Iran’s still heavily Muslim region decision to secede into a new Khorasani state with Mashad & Herat as the capital. Iranian nationalists draw maps of Greater Iran that prominently figure Khorasan and constantly remind the Khorasanis that their Islamic identity is a myth and in fact they were Zoroastrians just a few generations back.

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61 thoughts on “Iran as a modern Zoroastrian nation”

  1. I’d hope since the Nozis are overthrowing Islam by violence and succeeding, they nip any secession and preferential treatments in the bud.
    India’s problem is essentially coming from that we didn’t ourselves remove the Brits by force. Freedom kinda fell into our laps in a convoluted way. The nationalist enterprise had no muscle worthwhile that could keep it together. The secessionists had plenty of street muscle to will their way in.

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    1. I actually agree with you; that India’s Independence was botched.

      Either it should have been a Subhash Chandra Bose style of Independence where Hindu & Muslim would have shed blood together and died together for the Freedom cause OR
      It should have been a Hong Kong style independence in the Year 2000 with a pretty longish graduation period so that all issues could have been ironed out (the Princely states, communal and caste issues, self-rule).

      Independence was the Worst of All Worlds
      Partition is what you get when Lawyers are the ones handling Independence

      Mahatma Gandhi – Barrister
      QeA – Barrister
      Liaquat Ali Khan – Barrister
      Chaudhary Rahmat Ali – Founder of Pakistan Barrister
      JN – studied Law
      Vallubhai Patel – barrister
      Menon – Lawyer
      Allama Iqbal – Philosopher

      So like most lawyers they could only negotiate endlessly and in the end they weren’t able to see the bigger picture.. Professional training has an outlook towards approach.

      Sheikh Abdullah incidentally married a half English woman (Akbar Jan) meaning his grandson (Omar Abdullah) is actually more English than Kashmiri since he has an English mother. Shocking really even King Abdullah married a Palestinian to rebalance the blood.

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      1. Yup totally agree. Although I will not disrespect the memories of any of these lawyer leaders because it is in that hindsight 20/20 category to do so.

        Many of us as just itching for the “aar paar ki ladai” lol, suffocated enough by lawyers. Pax Indica will not be ushered in without nuke exchange and on the streets these folks are neutralized
        https://youtu.be/o0-QP0OhLD4
        Still operating in pre partition mode above.

        Besides a few hundred millions less gives a solid chance at rebooting Indian civilization.

        Bose himself said, give me blood I’ll give you freedom. Blood sacrifice is what is needed when a civilization goes awry. The Chinese killed umpteen millions off during Mao’s time. Bose would have likely placed all the Jinnah’s and Iqbal’s in front of a Pashtun firing squad and eliminated them if he made his way in. Probably done the same with Savarkar etc. Or some combination of unleashing the Savarkarites where the Muslims were being secessionist like above video.

        Partition is a big tragedy only because we have this deep seated soft vegetarian Hindu ethos (both the Kabir type Muslims and Hindus obviously have it). To those on the outside of it, I’d say partition and brutal population exchange was the order of the day throughout rest of Eurasia. Yes in India’s case the mleccha ethos finally caught up in South Asia. But it was inevitable and bound to happen for a civilization that had become so inept at keeping it together. The sad part is that it wasn’t done “enough”. Only again, predictably in the northwestern province of Punjab, was it done “enough”. In the minimizing of partition, the old vegetarian softy Hindu ethos continues showing some ridiculous level of resilience.

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        1. Are you actually recommending ethnic cleansing? If so, that is actually quite disgusting.

          What is a “Kabir type Muslim”? I’m genuinely curious.

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          1. The one who have a entry in the club called “good muslims” who unlike the others are softer and more hindu-lite

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          2. Kabir & I are probably at the ultra-liberal end of the Pakistani discourse; we just happen to stake our battles at different points. We share concerns over Urdu & the Mughals but he’s additionally vested in Kashmir and Islam..

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          3. What;’s with Pakistani diaspora in Usa, I feel half of them are PTI bhakts (pro army and shit) while the other half are Asma zahangir (The state is evil). The Indians here, the few leftie and liberals have not gone full Roy mode here , they still have some hope from the state.

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          4. I’m actually not all that religious but I would take exception to being described as “Hindu-lite”.

            I happen to believe that religion is a private affair and not the business of the State. I do however notice Islamophobia from some commenters on BP so I suppose I can be seen as defensive about Islam. But generally, I am center-left on the political spectrum.

            On Kashmir, I naturally subscribe to the Pakistani position, just as the Indian nationalist commenters subscribe to the Indian position.

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          5. The funny thing is mleccha civilizations are the ones that do the ethnic cleansing but then trash talk it the most. Hindu vegetarian ethos (which you and traditional south Asian Muslim culture also has at a macro level) is least capable of unleashing such brutality, hence we may “wet dream” about it.

            There’s nothing wrong in talking of a few hundred millions south Asians getting bumped off. We need it. Different medicines are valid for different folks. The barbarous tribes of West Eurasia are the most violent, hence they speak like “peace be upon you”, “peace out” etc. Indians don’t greet with “Om shanti” lol. We don’t need it. We’re not coping over an innate violent nature with peaceful lipstick.

            Telling Indians or rather folks imbued deeply in “not hurt a fly” ethos that ethnic cleansing is disgusting is like telling a fat person about dangers of anorexia lol. Let’s shed some weight first, then we can be capable of judging arguments about losing too much weight

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          6. We have had ethnic cleansing in the subcontinent. In 1947, Punjab was ethnically cleansed (Hindus and Sikhs from West Punjab, Muslims from East Punjab). 1971 is another example.

            The population exchange between Greece and Turkey is a shameful episode in history.

            I can’t believe that in 2018, people are non-ironically talking about the pros of ethnic cleansing.

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          7. Kabir type Muslim is deeply integrated in their genesis of value system etc in the south Asian framework. You like your Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb, you like your Urdu high culture, are uncomfortable with Islamist orthodoxy as unnecessary rabble rousers.
            Nobody is doubting your political alignment to Islamist causes though. Yes the irony is indeed that the most syncretic or Hindu lite Muslim is politically and on the street the most dangerous to the Hindus. Example, Hindus get wiped out from east Bengal in one night over stolen hair of prophet. Forget that veneration of prophet hair is probably very anti Islamic, but again this is nature of the beast.

            The reverse is possibly also true. The most Muslim lite of the Hindus or non Muslim south Asian or Dharmics is possibly the most dangerous to the Muslims. Think Sikhs and Arya Samajis as opposed to some idli vada Smartha Brahmin deep in south India that doesn’t have a violent bone in his body.

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          8. What “political alignment to Islamist causes”? I’m sorry, you have zero idea what you are talking about at least when it comes to me.

            I feel for the Palestinians as a human being because they are an oppressed people. I feel for the Kashmiris because the dispute is the unfinished business of the Partition and India continues to refuse to honor the promises that Pandit Nehru made to the Kashmiri people.

            I’m the furthest thing from an “Islamist”. “Islamists” don’t support LGBTQ rights or sing Hindustani classical music.

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          9. Kabir

            I didn’t say you’re an Islamist lol. I just said your type will fight frontline for Islamist causes. Anyway I’m not saying anything new but rehashing old news. All the Jinnah’s and Iqbal’s came from Hindu lite backgrounds but did the heavy lifting for Islamists against the Hindus.

            A Muslim can do aarti on grave of Nizamuddin auliya and sing a khayal that imbues or plagiarizes Radha Krishna love as longing of momeen for beloved prophet, it really doesn’t make a difference to the Hindu.

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        2. Also in what capacity did Pandit Nehru make any promises to the Kashmiris? Did he practice any real democracy? Who were his checks and balances? Why should India legitimately honor anything made by a de facto dictator dynast?

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          1. Pandit Nehru stood in front of the UN as Prime Minister of India and told the entire world that India would not hold Kashmir against the will of the Kashmiri people. The will of the Kashmiri people has never been ascertained.

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        1. We got rid of the colonisers 70yrs ago – I don’t want their spawn ruling us.

          FWIW I consider the Anglo-Indians to be a native community; a bit like the Urdu was, both foreign and indigenous fused metaphysically..

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          1. The spawn of the colonizers isn’t the Anglo Indians. That would be biological spawn. But the spawn that matters or is problematic is the Macaulayite or Lutyens etc. I myself am part or was part of it.

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      2. Zack,

        You seem to have high hopes from S. C. Bose. The 3 year occupation history of Andamans islands by Japanese forces during WW II is suppressed in India, rightly so, otherwise it will expose what Mr. Bose was trying to bring to India by collaborating with Japanese.

        A close relative was a Japanese POW in Burma for 4 years. The torture he endured at the hand of Japanese drove him half mad. We kids used to call him “crazy uncle”.

        Even Bhagat Singh had a low opinion of Bose. So Bose’s idea of independence (if you can call it that) was batshit crazy.

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  2. Nozis Lol! These people have a name too. The only diaspora i feel who are more deluded about their homecountry than us Indians are the Iranians

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  3. I see what you did there. Creating an alternative future scenario to obliquely comment on Hindutva. Very clever.

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  4. Before it becomes a sort of alternate reality thingy with Bose being our supreme leader

    https://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/aakarvani/is-our-revered-netaji-the-same-man-who-was-enamoured-by-hitler/

    ” But what exactly were Bose’s military achievements? I ask because he liked to be photographed in that uniform. If you are struggling to think of any, it is not because you don’t know but because there is not much to report.”

    “Netaji’s interest, going by this book, was mainly in inspecting parades, which were a serious and time-consuming ritual for Bose, himself neither trained nor particularly fit. And the other activity was making daily speeches, two hours long, on the radio, which exhausted him.”

    “This play-acting of soldier-soldier was the primary aspect of Bose’s militarism.”

    In during the Indian freedom struggle which has been portrayed as overwhelming non violent we sort of romanticize anyone who tried to appear a bit martial(Patel). Bhagat Singh is another example who in India is revered not necessarily because of his ideas.

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    1. Again, nothing wrong in fat people idolizing anorexia as an ideal or vice versa anorexic idolizing obese people as an ideal lol
      Let the fat learn from the ways of the anorexic for some time. If they actually benefit from it and swing beyond healthy weight level to become underweight, then they can think about how to return to a healthy norm.

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    2. It’s typically unknown or glossed over, but Bhagat Singh had strong Marxist/Leninist sympathies.

      Bose decidedly seemed to have fascist tendencies and his sense of judgment during WW2 leaves much to be desired, but I’d be surprised if he really was a wanker like he’s described in the above quotes. A man who escaped from house arrest, traveled all the way from eastern India to Russia overland and incognito, then to Berlin, and then all the way to Japan on a submarine, and then finally to various parts of SE Asia, can’t have been all that physically unfit or mentally weak.

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      1. Aakaar exaggerates but his point seems on to me. The book he refers to is authored by the medical officer of INA who (thankfully not a bengali) was still in awe of Bose and wrote weird stuff like ” military mind of Shivaji, the catholicity of Akbar and the intellectual genius of Vivekananda.” for Bose. The book mostly say good stuff about Bose.

        Funny enough i actually dont think much about the whole Bose-Hitler thing. Just like i dont think much about the whole RSS-Nazism comparison the left makes. Its actually the gulf between the adulation Bose gets vis-v INA;s achievement that I have a issue with.

        ” So poorly were they led that the vast majority of them died of disease. When they found their way out of the jungles and surrendered, they fell into the arms of the British Indian Army, their former comrades, weeping.”

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  5. It is an interesting counter-factual thought experiment. However, I think there are three main issues, where the analogy is over-milked:

    A) Unlike Hinduism in India, Zoroastrianism was a foreign import in Iran. And Zoroaster, most likely, never even set foot in what is now Iran nor was his language ever spoken there (I know what I am talking about and do not make that comment lightly)

    B) The reference to separate laws for minority religious groups, as if it were a good thing, is a mistake. To have such a system is quite racist in fact.

    C) Islam grew in India in a major way *after* the Islamic golden age (for what it was worth) was long past. So there are no major pre-modern Indian Muslim scientists or philosophers of note. Medieval Indian Muslims don’t even scratch the surface when compared to the towering legends of Persianate Iran-o Turan from 9c-14c in the Sciences.

    (As is the norm, no more comments from me. Please feel free to delete if anyone is triggered/offended)

    Edit: just want to add that Iran will overthrow its present regime in all probability at some time in the future, but won’t become zoro (though some may dabble with it). More likely is a path England took with Anglicanism.

    Iran has been majority Muslim *longer* than it was majority Zoroastrian. Islam is the newest and thickest layer on that cake.

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    1. “Islam grew in India in a major way *after* the Islamic golden age (for what it was worth) was long past.”

      This I think is a major reason why India wasn’t fully Islamicized. The lack of Indian Islamic philosophers, thinkers etc meant that, unlike Iran, Indians never took ownership of Islam and it always remained a foreign religion in India with its foreign culture and foreign ways.

      If Islam had arrived in India in its first flush when it was still forming and still had the Golden age ahead of it, India would have produced Islamic philosophers and theologians to rival Iran. Then it would have been only a matter of time before the whole of the country converted. Albeit, Islam too would have received a very definite Indian influence. Something like the myths that Mohyal (Hussaini) Brahmins developed, would have been common across many castes across India.

      Since I consider myself leaning towards the Hindu right, I thank God that the Gurjara-Pratihara and the Shahi Kingdoms in North and North-West had enough strength to resist the Arab invaders after the loss of Sindh. If not, we definitely would have gone the Iran way. These kingdoms held out for the whole of the Arab Islamic period succumbing only later to Turkic attacks.

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      1. We should also credit the Chalukya/Rashtrakuta dynasty from Deccan India which decisively beat back at-least 1 major invasion by the Arab Muslims forces and along with Gurjara/Pratiharas restricted them to the Western side of the Indus in Sindh for several centuries.

        That’s why I don’t get Iran envy amongst several Hindus and other Indians. We beat back the Arab invasions while they got run over and conquered so thoroughly that they have developed a permanent contradiction in their psyches and national consciousness. The greatness of their pre-Islamic past just cannot be reconciled with their current Islamic piety.

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        1. Why do you think no attempts were made to turn the tide? Why were the different kingdoms content to thwart Arab invasions, and did not try to forge a common alliance to push back against the invaders in their home territories? In the Indian context, perhaps we can think of the legendary Bappa Rawal as the equivalent of the French Charles Martel. Why wasn’t there any equivalent to Charlemagne in India in the following decades and centuries?

          And it’s not just the pre-Islamic Hindu kingdoms of India. Based on what I’ve read, Nadir Shah first invaded the “Afghan” portions of the Mughal realm. When he faced no opposition nor any pushback, he went all the way to Delhi, with fateful consequences for the history of the subcontinent. It seems like the Mughals had acquired the characteristics of the Hindu kings of old; which vaunted courage but disdained strategic thinking and organization.

          (Just posing open questions, not trying to challenge you on anything)

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          1. Harihara I and Bukkaraya founded the Sangama dynasty of Vijayanagar, regained southern India below the krishna river from Tughlaq forces and maintained that as a frontier of turco-muslim power. Within a few generations Prauda Devaraya would have territory from Orissa to Sri Lanka under his suzerainty. This might be analogous to Martel/Charlemagne

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      2. “Since I consider myself leaning towards the Hindu right, I thank God that the Gurjara-Pratihara and the Shahi Kingdoms in North and North-West had enough strength to resist the Arab invaders after the loss of Sindh. ”

        Well the Pakistanis see it a bit differently , for them it was only dark ages till Qasim came along. The champions of the convert and non convert differ. “The great conqueror” vs “The resistance”

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        1. Most Pakistanis are in the same quandary as Iranians. Unable to reconcile their pre-Islamic past (of which next door India is a constant reminder) with their Islamic piety.
          As Naipaul said Islam and the non-Arab Muslims

          “It [Islam] has had a calamitous effect on converted peoples. To be converted you have to destroy your past, destroy your history. You have to stamp on it, you have to say ‘my ancestral culture does not exist, it doesn’t matter’… This abolition of the self demanded by Muslims was worse than the similar colonial abolition of identity. It is much, much worse in fact… You cannot just say you came out of nothing.”

          We must be grateful that as Indians we do not have to carry this additional layer of potentially destructive and nihilistic psychological paradox in us. For all the problems in Hinduism and other Dharmic faiths, they are ours, product of our creative and philosophical insights; and we can do with them what we want.

          There is a reason why Ambedkar, perceptive as he was and despite having little love for traditional Hinduism, never considered converting to Islam.

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          1. In fact, even E.V.Ramasamy Niacker , the much hyped atheist and rationalist in Tamilnadu, asked Ambedkar not to convert even to Buddhism. He advised him to stay put in Hinduism, so that Hinduism can be reformed from within.

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    2. B) The reference to separate laws for minority religious groups, as if it were a good thing, is a mistake. To have such a system is quite racist in fact.

      Huge difference between ideological/theoretical liberalism and practical liberalism.

      So I appreciate the candor in the post.

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  6. “Why do you think no attempts were made to turn the tide? … Why wasn’t there any equivalent to Charlemagne in India in the following decades and centuries?”

    This is a very complicated question and in my opinion hasn’t really been studied by our historians or public intellectuals who if belonging to the left want to bury their head in the sand and not look at anything which might be unsuitable to their present day leftist politics. The domination of academia by the left in India has not let good right wing historians emerge yet. What you have are intellectual midgets who cannot fathom the enormity of the intellectual exercise leave it attempt to understand it.

    IMO, while you can see the rise of the Shivaji & the Marathas or Sikhs Misls and later Ranjit Singh’s kingdom as Indians trying to take back political control of their lands, their successes did not have any lasting effects in reversing the tide of Islam.

    For one thing, this resistance began too late. Indian kings and Indians, in general, were ready to let the Turkic/Moghul invaders replace the top rungs of the feudal hierarchy if they could be left in relative peace. Often their own prejudices (caste system) and petty jealousies were more important than any common cause against the invaders. Finally it was Aurangzeb’s off the scale zealotry and bigotry which forced rebellions throughout India and led to the rise of Marathas, Jats and Sikhs.

    Secondly, the period of political domination was too short to induce Indian Muslims to convert back to Dharmic faiths. The Sikhs even after conquering Peshawar, did not manage to lure many Muslims to Sikhism nor did the Marathas (who at one time held suzerainty over most parts of the sub-continent) to Hinduism. The British conquest and the arrival of European enlightenment basically froze the competition between Indic faiths and Islam and independence/partition has since made it an inter-country affair.

    Vijayanagara is an obvious exception to the above but there too it was just fighting a lone battle against multi-directional attacks and finally succumbed to a joint confederation of Islamic Sultanates. It did not inspire people from other parts of India to join them and throw off the foreign yoke.

    So yes, Indian resistance to Islam has as yet been a more or less defensive operation. Maybe you can see the 1971 war and the breakup of Pakistan as a glimmer of hope and a harbinger of change. A Charlemagne might yet emerge.

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    1. Thanks for your observations. I think I agree with most of them, but what I was particularly interested in was the period between the invasions of Qasim and Ghazni. (After the Tarain battles, the game was essentially lost.) That was when Western Europe turned the tide (so to speak) and started evolving its own civilization (perhaps we can call it Frankish/Germanic Christianity.) India seems to have more in common with south-eastern Europe and the Byzantine Empire.

      As you say, this is a period well worth studying. Perhaps it has already been obscured too much from us? But given a few zealous PhD students and ample funding, we might be able to get more insight.

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  7. I like the part about online noZis descending on the web to “foam and obsess” about Iran’s Muslim neighbors. We can see it happening here to some extent with respect to India’s Muslim neighbor.

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    1. Ah Kabir, Dear old friend. Here are some lines by Naipaul specially for you.

      “Islam is in its origins an Arab religion. Everyone not an Arab who is a Muslim is a convert. Islam is not simply a matter of conscience or private belief. It makes imperial demands. A convert’s worldview alters. His holy places are in Arab lands; his sacred language is Arabic. His idea of history alters. He rejects his own; he becomes, whether he likes it or not, a part of the Arab story. The convert has to turn away from everything that is his. The disturbance for societies is immense, and even after a thousand years can remain unresolved; the turning away has to be done again and again. People develop fantasies about who and what they are; and in the Islam of converted countries there is an element of neurosis and nihilism. These countries can be easily set on the boil.”

      and …

      “The Hindus, especially in Bengal, welcomed the New Learning of Europe and the institutions the British brought. The Muslims, wounded by their loss of power, and out of old religious scruples, stood aside. It was the beginning of the intellectual distance between the two communities. This distance has grown with independence; and it is this—more even than religion now — that at the end of the twentieth century has made India and Pakistan quite distinct countries. India, with an intelligentsia that grows by leaps and bounds, expands in all directions. Pakistan, proclaiming only the faith and then proclaiming the faith again, ever shrinks. ”

      finally …

      “It was Muslim insecurity that led to the call for the creation of Pakistan. It went at the same time with an idea of old glory, of the invaders sweeping down from the northwest and looting the temples of Hindustan and imposing the faith on the infidel. The fantasy still lives; and for the Muslim converts of the subcontinent it is the start of their neurosis, because in this fantasy the convert forgets who or what he is and becomes the violator.”

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      1. Naipaul was not some authority on Islam. I really don’t see why you are extensively quoting his bigoted views.

        India is on its way to becoming a Hindu fundamentalist country, the mirror image of Pakistan. That’s what you and all your Hindu Right friends are doing to Nehru’s idea of India.

        You all have a disturbing animus against Islam and particularly against Pakistan. This just reflects your own biases and insecurities. Frankly, it’s getting rather boring.

        This whole post was addressed to people with your mindset. The fact that you can’t recognize it is quite fascinating.

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      2. Self conception is fluid and not static. If the majority of Pakistanis believe that they are somehow superior to Indians and of a purer religion, well then so be it. It may be a delusion but delusions can be good for human beings if it enables them to become better, to reach for something higher.

        There are enough Indians who are proud of their ancient ancestral faith, so the loss of a few million from the ‘dharmic’ sphere isn’t a crippling loss. Besides Hindus are full of delusions too – the brahmins believe that they’re at the top of the intellectual food chain and that somehow their privilege in Hindu society is well deserved. I think till the ignominy of the caste system is acknowledged, any Hindu projection of superiority over others is only going to come off as hypocrisy.

        Zack – great satire in the article, mate

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        1. Pakistanis are not superior to Indians. We are the same people as North Indians but are divided by religion. I am simply tired of the extreme hate for Pakistan that is evident in some people’s comments.

          There is nothing to be proud of in being born in a particular faith. It’s not a personal achievement. Most of us are Hindu or Muslim simply because our parents were Hindu or Muslim.

          I agree with you about the ignominy of the caste system.

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          1. I am simply tired of the extreme hate for Pakistan that is evident in some people’s comments.

            I agree with you. It’d be good if we could treat each other as normal (and “legitimate”) countries without going off to the deep end each time we discuss history.

            But from what I’ve read, it’s not limited to the Indian side. My understanding is that Pakistani children are taught a very warped version of history where the country’s Indic (I won’t call it Hindu) past is denigrated, Hindus are looked down upon, and people are encouraged to think of themselves as the descendants of West Asians.

            Is this basically accurate or has it been exaggerated?

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          2. Numinous,
            There is a subject called Pakistan Studies (which I didn’t take since I was educated abroad) which is basically state indoctrination. History goes from the Indus Valley Civilization straight to the arrival of Muhammad bin Qasim in Sindh. Some people think of him as the “first Pakistani” (which makes no sense). The Hindu period is not really discussed while the Mughals are a big part of the curriculum. Then it basically goes to Sir Syed and the Muslim League and all that. When it comes to the backdrop to Partition, obviously the Indian and Pakistani narratives differ. In Pakistan, Congress is blamed for betraying Quaid-e-Azam–particularly when it comes to the Cabinet Mission Plan. The untrustworthy nature of the mostly Hindu Congress party is emphasized. It is also true that in our national narrative, freedom was not so much from the British but from the Hindus.

            As for descendants of West Asians, most people know that they are descendants of native converts. Punjabi clans were obviously Hindu before the coming of Islam. Some of us actually do have West Asian ancestry (some of my own ancestors came to British India from Iran about 200 years ago).

            I feel the difference is that Pakistanis don’t tend to think of India as an illegitimate country. Some of the comments on this blog seem to suggest that Pakistan should never have existed and that British India’s Muslims had no right to create their own sovereign nation-state. The Pakistani equivalent of the Akhand Bharat types are the Ghazwa-e-Hind crowd and I think they are much more of a fringe element. Certainly, they are not commenting on BP. Pakistanis have issues with India, but those are rooted in politics (Partition, Kashmir, the treatment of Muslims) and do not have so much to do with the country’s very existence.

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          3. Most Pakistanis believe they have West Asian ancestors.
            The ones who are from convert castes are usually extraordinary obvious in their names and Zat.
            For instance the Baloch and Rajput tribes in Sindh.
            The Ghazwa-e-Hind crowd don’t go online..

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          4. Zack,
            Most Pakistanis can believe they have West Asian ancestors. Factually, most of them are wrong. 50% of the population is Punjabi and they were obviously Hindu before they converted. Their last names “Janjua”, “Cheema” etc make their pre-Islamic origin very clear.

            It is historically accepted that the vast majority of British India’s Muslims were converts from Hinduism. I think most of us are supposed to have been from the lower castes and to have converted because Islam offers formal equality. But of course, there were people who came with the Mughals etc.

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  8. On the topic of Iran, have any of the pundits here visited the place? It’s been on my list since I read Mirrors of the Unseen (highly recommend it). I’m wondering how easy it is for Indian nationals to get a visa, etc. My fiancé isnt too keen due to dress code requirements but I hope to convince her. Is it possible to get around with spoken Urdu? I can’t read Nastaliq, unfortunately…

    This is part of a wider trip I’m planning for next year covering Turkey -> Levant (I’d rather see Beirut than Israel but I’m keeping tabs on the Syria situation) -> Iran -> Uzbekistan -> India. Would be glad to get pointers if others have tried similar routes!

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    1. Siddharthji

      On topic of language, read this post by a Pakistani Urdu speaker and their comparative journey in trying to pick up Hindi and Farsi
      https://thesouthasianidea.wordpress.com/2011/06/18/from-urdu-to-hindi-farsi-and-beyond/

      My wife and I had a Eurotrip once with a fifteen hour transit in Turkey at the end. I will say that going from the US to France/Italy etc we were pleasantly surprised at how much at “ease” we felt. The larger Western cultural etiquette of professional service industry and “customer is right” etc were all very much there.

      In Istanbul we were in for a nasty awakening (kind of even more so because to our Indian eyes the Turks “look” very European themselves). But all of a sudden it felt like we were in India, except perhaps in some part of India where we don’t know the local language. In India we can turn on our “privileged-turd-worlder” side and get our way, but this was a foreign third world culture, it is no different than showing up in Ethiopia. We had to shut up and put up. So just be careful. You are after all a meek brown Hindu going into the den of the white Turanian lions, and as Western as they have tried being from top down to get into EU, fundamentally it is very evident even in Istanbul that these folks are at the base level not so at all.

      Culture of hospitality is a thing that again kicks on I’d say from Pakistan to Sri Lanka. Many Indian visitors that visit Pakistan note how much out of the way aam Pakistanis go. Many poor labor types even refuse to be paid for things once they find out you’re Indian. This, comes down to our own deep rooted Desi Dharmic ethos of “atithi Devo bhava”. I have noticed this myself in homes of Pakistani friends and how they go out of their way to stuff you and cater to you (very excited to try out their hand at fish cooking once they know I’m Bengali on top of being Indian).

      Anyway, be ready for culture shock. That’s all.

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      1. Sounds like you had a experience in Istanbul than I did a few years ago (prior to the whole Syria situation). I fell in love with the city, as it felt like a European city with mosques instead of cathedrals. And I found them to be very friendly except for this one tea shop guy who asked where we were from (3 Indian guys and 2 Pakistani) and then only spoke to the Pak guys as he said he could ‘trust’s them more.

        Another time we were walking in the square in front of the Hagia Sophia and taking loudly in Hindi when a group of hijabi local girls from a madrassa came up to us and started practicing their Bollywood lines lol. They took us to their favourite markets and tea spots and hung out with us later as well. Guess Bollywood has been a great image booster for desi guys haha

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    2. Iran is my Motherland; of course I’ve been there.
      Iran is amazing; I was shivering with fear when I landed (as a Baha’i) but it was the most spectacular travel experience. I don’t know it all worked out for me.
      Very easy for Indian Nationals.
      It is of course one of the greatest tragedy in South Asia that Hindus have barred themselves from the beauty of Nastaliq.

      Turkey is a tourist trip; the Turks are an arrogant and attractive people.

      The Ummah is always stunning.

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      1. Haha did you mean trip or trap? 😉
        Did you see the naqsh e jahan square and the Lotfollah mosque? Isfahan is definitely in my list, Tehran I heard is a bit grey and scruffy.

        I would love to add the Nastaliq to the list of scripts I can read – devanagri, Tamil and Telugu. But alas, never had the chance!

        The Turks are definitely very attractive – the men a bit thuggish but the women stunning. Knew quite a few during my days in the Netherlands.

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    3. Iranians don’t speak Urdu. Farsi grammar is very different.

      I spent two days in Istanbul a few years ago on the way back from Pakistan to the US. It was a nice trip. We did all the usual touristy things (Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, etc).

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      1. Ah ok, thanks. I was under the impression that the languages are quite related. Guess it’s only the script.

        The blue mosque is magnificent! So is the Sulimanye mosque but it was the small Sultanahmet mosque that I found the most charming, as it was kinda hidden away and had a great view of the Bosporus.

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        1. The languages are related but the grammar is very different. There are some common words but they also sometimes mean something different.

          Urdu is a Persianized register of Hindustani just as Hindi is the Sanksritized register. Linguists consider Urdu-Hindi to be one language since the grammar is identical (as is most vocabulary unless you are speaking some very literary Urdu).

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        2. // that the languages are quite related //

          Urdu and Farsi are as related as, roughly, Romanian and French. Urdu and Hindi are as related as RP and cockney, basically registers of the same language.

          Farsi grammar is closer to that of Sanskrit in some respects (eg verb conjugation) than it is to Urdu ironically. Mainly because Farsi has been generally conservative (perhaps by design) in preserving the conjugation of its verbs esp in indicative present or perfect tenses.

          E.g. Skt ~ Persian

          asmi ~ hastam = am
          asi ~ hasti = (sing. you) are
          asti ~ ast = is

          smaH ~ hastim = (we) are
          stha ~ hastid = (pl. you) are
          santi ~ hastand = (they) are

          What I have written above is more of a formal written standard (bookish Farsi), whereas the actual colloquial speech has moved on quite a bit E.g. esme chi-e vs the more formal esme chi ast, i.e. what is (your) name?.

          It is as if some Persian scholar or scribe, who wanted to formalize New Persian grammar, took the third pers. sing. tense as the root morpheme and started conjugating that. Perhaps vaguely remembering how conjugations were done in the olden days before Arabs showed up. But languages are like genes, no matter how much you wish to control them they will drift and change.

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    4. // have any of the pundits here visited the place? //

      I have not, and have been meaning to for a while. But it would have to be alone – if ever – due to my wife’s principled stand of not letting others dictate what she wears. Besides we are planning a holiday to Israel next year so that may screw things up for potential Iran visits.

      However, I have personal family connections with Iranians and my uncle (Dad’s maternal first-cousin) was an Indian diplomat in Iran for a very long time – from before the Revolution through the early years of IRI. A staple of many interesting stories and vignettes…

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  9. Slapstik do you know any ancient languages other than ancient Sanskrit, ancient Kashmiri, ancient Farsi, ancient Avesta and ancient Pali? You also know Hindi/Urdu . . . but that is a modern language.

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