IN November 1945 one of the top Congress leaders inaugurated on Marine Drive in Mumbai, just next to the Chowpati Beach, the Pransukhlal Mafatlal Hindu Swimming Pool. It was, and still is, exclusively for the use of Hindus. Its doors remain shut, even in 2013, for Muslims and other communities. No prizes for guessing who that top leader was. There was one and only one top Congress leader who would have done the deed, namely, Vallabhbhai Patel. For long a plaque on the frontage of the premises boldly proclaimed his achievement.
Its implications were lost on none. The astute advocate of the two-nation theory, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was quick to seize on it. In a statement issued on November 18, 1945, from New Delhi, in a rejoinder to Patel’s speech at the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) session, Jinnah said, “As to his other slogans that Hindus and Muslims are brothers and one nation, the less Sardar Patel talks about it [the] better. It does not come with any grace from his mouth, at any rate. For did not Mr Vallabhbhai Patel perform the opening ceremony of swimming bath in Bombay meant exclusively for Hindus? Has he forgotten that some young men demonstrated protesting against his participation in the opening ceremony of the swimming bath which excluded the Muslim brethren even sharing the sea-water” (The Nation’s Voice, Volume IV, Waheed Ahmad ed., 1947, 3/3).
Neither Jawaharlal Nehru nor C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji) would have stooped to this. Nehru had good reason to write in his Autobiography: “Many a Congressman was a communalist under his national cloak” (page 136).
Patel is best judged by the cabal which idolises him today. L.K. Advani: At Ayodhya on November, 19, 1990: “Henceforth, only those who fight for Hindu interests would rule India.” October 2, 1990: “Secular policy is putting unreasonable restrictions on Hindu aspirations.” To the BBC: “It would not be wrong to call the BJP a Hindu party” (Organiser, August 5, 1989; emphasis added, throughout). On October 17, 1989, The Times of India editorially censured him: “Mr Advani while holding forth on ‘Bharat Mata’, now goes so far as to deny that Mahatma Gandhi was the Father of the Nation” (for details vide the writer’s book The RSS and the BJP, LeftWord, Chapter 4, “The RSS and Gandhi”). The BJP’s affection for Gandhi is a recent and calculated development.
What could be said to be the first act of terrorism in independent India?
Everybody would agree that killing of Mahatma Gandhi by a Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse constitutes the first terrorist act in independent India. Godse, a Maharashtrian Brahmin, hailing from Pune was associated with Hindu Mahasabha at the time of Mahatma’s assassination and had his initial forays in the world of politics with the RSS. During his tour of the area Hedgewar, the first supremo of RSS, use to be accompanied by Nathuram , the future assassin of Gandhi. Godse had in fact joined the RSS in 1930, winning prominence as a speaker and organiser.
If somebody poses before you another simple query relating to similar episodes in the sixty plus year trajectory of independent India – then what would be your response. Perhaps you would like to add the death of Indira Gandhi – killed by her Sikh bodyguards , killing of Rajeev Gandhi – who fell to a suicide attack by a Tamil Hindu woman, or for that matter demolition of the 500 year old Babri mosque by the marauders of the RSS-VHP-BJP-Shiv Sena. If one follows the debate further you would like to underline the 1984 riots ( actually genocide of Sikhs mainly perpetrated by Hindu lumpen elements instigated by the then ruling Congress Party with due connivance of Hindutva brigade), emergence of Khalistani terrorists movement or the eight year old Gujarat genocide executed with military precision allegedly by the RSS and its affiliated organisations led by one of those Hindu Hriday Samrats.
Compare all these major episodes in the history of Independent india – which encompassed many a terrorist acts within them - with the mental image which conjures up in your mind or which finds prominence in the media when one listens to any terrorist act in any part of the country. Does it have any resemblance with the image of a member of the majority community or one of those minority communities ? You would agree that the mental image/projected image has features specific to one of the religious minorities in our country. If in the late eighties or early nineties it would have been the image of a turbaned Sikh, the end of first decade of the 21st century has found its replacement with a bearded Muslim.
Question naturally arises why is it that despite their participation in many a gruesome incidents, the role played by them in instigating riots (as noted by many a commissions of enquiry) or there [their]admission before camera about the planning which went in making a genocide happen (courtesy Tehelka sting operation or the interview given by Keka Shastri to rediff.com) the Hindu fanatic has not become a part of our social common sense. Why when someone called Sadhvi Pragya or Major Purohit or Dayanand Pandey or for that matter Swami Aseemanand are found to be engaged in conspiring and executing terrorist acts and police decipher their certain involvement in similar sinister operations earlier as well, we are ready to call them ‘exception’ and when a completely innocent Muslim youth is arrested by the police, the media is ready to paint him the real mastermind of few terrorist acts. Why the slogan coined by one of the majoritarian formations ‘All Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslim’ does not receive broadest possible condemnation which it deserves.
I am being very polite.
And here is the latest from Tambrahm Rage (funny only if you know a lot of South Indian Hindu memes):
Kerala probably got the worst of the assorted brutalities of Vedic Brahminism among different Indian states and the avarnas (those in the lower strata in Brahminical hierarchy) of Kerala were the most destitute and depraved in the bigoted social system that was Kerala Hinduism of yester-years. There are people who believe it didn’t used to be always this way. They say there was a time when Buddhism and Jainism flourished in Kerala during which society was much more egalitarian and equitable-a (relative) utopia in contrast to later times when an exploitative priestly caste (Namboothiri brahmins) and their savarna (upper-caste) allies denied even basic dignity and humanity to the lower orders. I don’t really have an opinion on this but I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Things certainly got radically different with the increasing influence of Namboothiris and I am sure the transition from Buddhism and Jainism into Vedic Brahminism caused loss of prestige and power to those tribes that were the most vigorous patrons of the losing religions. It is indeed highly likely that many of them would have been deemed avarna and shunned by the winning faction but to extend this framework to all lower orders would be a stretch. Also, there are people who say there isn’t really any difference between Buddhism and Hinduism in practice (or rather how it was practiced in ancient India) and this extends even to the theological justification for caste discrimination. I am of the opinion that theology doesn’t matter all that much since humans have an amazing unparalleled ability to contextualize anything (which means the ability to make up BS as and when necessary to serve any purpose). What it would mean is that it is entirely possible a relatively liberal culture was replaced by a tyrannical one and this doesn’t need to have everything to do with theology but rather to the existence of a new political structure along with different power equations among various players (which made the Vedic Brahminism as practiced by Namboothiris possible).
With this intro, let me introduce “Margins“- a blog by Ajay Sekher.
Start here: Architectural and Iconographic Relics of Buddhism in Kerala
Pariyapuram: Neo Buddhism and Social Change in Malabar: “[U]nfortunately after the re-Hinduization period following the temple entry politics and republican rule the Avarna people have lost their political and historical awareness and memories and found cozy asylums in the so called greater fold of liberal Hinduism. The RSS and the right wing Hindutva forces are now encroaching into the cave at Pariyapuram and there is already an enamel fresco depicting Rama, Lakshmana, Hanuman and Sita worshiping a Linga in the cave. It is only a few years old and interestingly depicts Sita as prostrating and fondling the phallus with her hands. The VHP has also recently made a plea to make this cave a Hindu pilgrim place.”
Women in Kerala especially Avarna or dalitbahujan women were forced to uncover their breasts in public by the caste feudal lords for more than a millennium as a symbolic humiliating bodily practice reinstating caste and gender hierarchy. This dehumanizing practice that followed genocidal violence came to currency around the 8th century when Brahmanic Hinduism was established here subverting Buddhism through a hegemonic nexus between patriarchal priestocracy and the militia clans and continued up to the 20th century. Brahmanic patriarchy and its Savarna subservient Sudra foot soldiers were maintaining this inhuman convention in the name of the Sanatana Hindu religion and its sacred purity tradition with bloody repression and violence for all these 1200 years at least with regional variations.
This heinous Hindu caste practice came to an end in Nanjinad in south Travancore in mid 19th century with the colonial missionary interventions that contributed to the Nadar rebellion that transformed Travancore challenging Savarna power and absolute hegemony for the first time in the modern times.
“After all even the kashmiris are still only choosing which hindustani overlords are best for them”
Kashmiris are not Hindi/Urdu speakers. There was always an undercurrent of Kashmiri nationalism in the separatist movement, which is now coming to the fore more than ever. In the historical discourse of Kashmiri separatists, Kashmiris are seen as subjugated by foreigners since the mid 16th century CE, which is the start of the Moghal rule by Akbar. Interestingly enough, the Moghals didn’t (couldn’t) take the Valley by brute force and used trickery to let their army in and capture Srinagar.
Totally unrelated but here is Pankaj on Indra:
There is evidence to suggest that even the great Indo-Aryan Lord of all gods, Indra, wasn’t part of the original pantheon .. let alone latter day dudes like Shiva, Ganesha (Vinayaka) etc.
Comparative IE mythology suggests that the composers of the Rg Veda conflated the role of the primary IE deity, the sky-father and wielder of thunderbolts, Dyeus Pater (cf. Greek Zeus pater, Roman Ju-piter, Germanic Thor), with Indra.
Rg Veda does mention “Dyaus Pitar” briefly, but as the father of Indra, whom Indra kills to get the position.
This leads us to the conclusion that there never was a fixed “Aryan” religion, but layers and cultural influences built on earlier layers and cultural influences. Hinduism of today is merely today’s snapshot of that cultural accretion.
It could be argued that the “Vedic” deities lost, and the Indian (I hesitate to use the word Dravidan) or ANI/ASI admixed people’s gods won; when Indra/Agni/Rudra were entirely replaced by Siva/Muruga/Vishnu etc.
This is an example of the conquered (????) people winning the culture battle, and replacing the gods of the conquerors. Same as Christians upon the Roman empire.
The same turnabout was repeated a few centuries later, when Budhism and then Jainism which had become the de-facto royal religions, were wiped out by the ninth century. This wipeout had again a south-north axis as the Jains were first bheaded by sixth century in Tamilnadu.
This is not to claim any religious victory, but to state that the religious prehistory of the peaceful religions, was often the most violent. The descriptions of Jain and Budhist killing in Tamil sacred literature would put Quran to shame.
the INC-> liberal, so India is liberal is also a wrong interpretation of history.
In a political sense, the Indian Governing party was never a liberal entity. Congress has consistently, from Nehru to Indira Gandhi, has been against political definition of liberalism, especially ” civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free trade, and private property”; they freely muzzled free trade, property and the media. As a person growing up in India in 60s and 70s, free media came into being only after 1979, and free economy after 1990.
Socially, Nehru was a liberal; but Congress was not. M.K. Gandhi was not a liberal; Indira was not a liberal. They were hidebound social conservatives. Whatever social liberalism that exists comes from people, and western influences, equally. Congress was not an arbitrator of this liberalism. To the social liberalism of India, I thank the east India company, and then, Ambedkar, EVR and Phule. Bizarrely, the political liberalism in India had its origins in CVR who was a hidebound conservative.
When we enter the world of Jain tellings, the Rama story no longer carries Hindu values. Indeed the Jain texts express the feeling that the Hindus, especially the brahmans, have maligned Ravana, made him into a villain….
Vimalasuri the Jain opens the story not with Rama’s genealogy and greatness, but with Ravana’s. Ravana is one of the sixty-three leaders or salakapurusas of the Jain tradition. He is noble, learned, earns all his magical powers and weapons through austerities (tapas), and is a devotee of Jain masters. To please one of them, he even takes a vow that he will not touch any unwilling woman… In another tradition of the Jain Ramayanas, Sita is his daughter, although he does not know it: the dice of tragedy are loaded against him further by this oedipal situation….
Here Rama does not even kill Ravana, as he does in the Hindu Ramayanas. For Rama is an evolved Jain soul who has conquered his passions; this is his last birth, so he is loath to kill anything. It is left to Laksmana, who goes to hell while Rama finds release (kaivalya). One hardly need add that the Paumacariya is filled with references to Jain places of pilgrimage, stories about Jain monks, and Jain homilies and legends. Furthermore, since the Jains consider themselves rationalists—unlike the Hindus, who, according to them, are given to exorbitant and often bloodthirsty fancies and rituals—they systematically avoid episodes involving miraculous births (Rama and his brothers are born in the normal way), blood sacrifices, and the like…. The monkeys too are not monkeys but a clan of celestials (vidyadharas) actually related to Ravana and his family through their great grandfathers. They have monkeys as emblems on their flags: hence the name Vanaras or ‘monkeys’.
Update: Mark has responded, and plans on exploring Tulsi Gabbard’s faith more in the future.
Mark Oppeheimer has an article up, Politicians Who Reject Labels Based on Religion. It’s good. But he says:
Hawaii, is the daughter of a Hindu mother and a Roman Catholic father. She calls herself Hindu, a first for a member of Congress. But it is not quite that simple.
“I identify as a Hindu,” Ms. Gabbard wrote in an e-mail on Thursday. “However, I am much more into spirituality than I am religious labels.”
“In that sense,” she added, “I am a Hindu in the mold of the most famous Hindu, Mahatma Gandhi, who is my hero and role model.”
Ms. Gabbard wrote that she “was raised in a multicultural, multirace, multifaith family” that allowed her “to spend a lot of time studying and contemplating upon both the Bhagavad-Gita and the teachings of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.”
Today, her spiritual practice is neither Catholic nor traditionally Hindu.
“My attempts to work for the welfare of others and the planet is the core of my spiritual practice,” Ms. Gabbard wrote. “Also, every morning I take time to remember my relationship with God through the practice of yoga meditation and reading verses from the Bhagavad-Gita. From the perspective of the Bhagavad-Gita, the spiritual path as I have described here is known as karma yoga and bhakti yoga.”