Did Islam gain more from its contact with India or Did India gain from its contact with Islam.

 

This was done already, but I guess periodical reminders are important.

http://www.brownpundits.com/2018/03/08/no-mughals-didnt-loot-india-they-made-us-rich/#comment-5282

Well, all the knowledge on mughals is on display here already.

https://twitter.com/pseudoerasmus/status/874818240563863557
“Mughal India was probably one of the most extractive regimes in history ”

https://twitter.com/pseudoerasmus/status/890495958424973312

“Shocking # of people believe India’s global share of GDP in 1750 was an indicator of living standards! Contrast with ”

https://twitter.com/Parikramah/status/837077222091546624

1. During Mughal rule, Hindu peasants who could not afford the Islamic jiziya tax would be forced to sell a son into eunuch slavery.

https://twitter.com/Parikramah/status/837081691407667200

https://twitter.com/Parikramah/status/837079573913300992

Facts dont cease to exist just because you choose to ignore them.


Europe was well on its way ahead of India.

Leonardo da Vinci was contemporary of Babur
1452-1519, 1483 – 1530
Copernicus was contemporary of Humayun
1473-1543 , 1508- 1556
Galileo Galilei was contemporary of Akbar
1564-1642 ,1542-1605
Francis Bacon was contemporary of Jahangir
1561-1626,1569 – 1627
Descartes was contemporary of Shah Jahan
1596-1650, 1592 -1666
Newton was a contemporary of Aurangzeb
1643- 1727, 1618-1707

The only people who came close to working out the ideas of calculus was in kerala by Madhava and his school and the other place with something along lines of chemical industry was also in India.

https://www.chemistryworld.com/opinion/the-origins-of-chemical-industry/3008292.article

Madhava of Sangamagrama, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madhava_of_Sangamagrama

One oxford or Cambridge perhaps did more than entire Islamic contribution including mughals to India. We have gone down this route before already. Facts are clear. The only worthwhile contribution was in subjective fields like arts ,food,music, architecture. Here too one isnt sure how well would they match to wonders that did exist or would have existed.

https://www.firstpost.com/india/world-landmarks-taj-mahal-ranks-third-after-machu-picchu-angkor-wat-916635.html

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/taj-mahal-2nd-best-unesco-world-heritage-site-after-angkor-wat/articleshow/61946063.cms

A Hindu temple far away from India still ranks higher. As to food, It is India that was the land of spices, and it was spice race that got colonial empires interest in India to begin with. As for music, India already had an evolved music tradition and arts . It is safe to say, it was Islam which benefited from contact with India than the other way around. Harking back to Music, food ,arts, architecture of just one empire reveals incredible myopia. One would call this fanaticism .

Ever wondered Why not much is said about scientific contribution in India by left?. Because they have a lot to hide and deflect. So people write about jonardan ganeri and logic in bengal, or romila thapar questions why kerala mathematicians didnt make progress to physics like Newton. Logic is pathetic compared to science. And progress requires a large network of people to work and kerala school was small network. Indian muslims and mughal aficionados have been a pampered lot. Having been pampered by lies, truth seems shocking.It is not the questions that have been asked that reveal the truth where left is concerned, It is the questions that have never been allowed to be asked that reveals the truth.

I would claim that if one did a decent study on this it would reveal that India didnt gain much and in areas like science and freedom of thought, Islam;s contribution wasnt even zero. It was wholly negative and it took away precious space that could have been occupied by other belief systems. As it was the case in earlier India, whether in was Buddhism, ajivika, jainism, atheism among others. Infact there were many belief systems that were vying for more space before Islam came in. Many,egalitarian in their views. And it was they who ended up as the biggest losers in this cultural exchange.

 

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37 Replies to “Did Islam gain more from its contact with India or Did India gain from its contact with Islam.”

  1. Word.
    Now get ready to be accused of being a Hindu revisionist, Muslim/Mughal hater etc.
    But I’m hoping we can have an objective, rational discussion here. Fingers crossed.

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  2. BB, as things stand today, I would argue that India gained a lot more from its contact with Islam.

    1) The redirecting of a part of the outsider sentiment, which develops naturally along with national consciousness, towards Abrahamics has mostly dampened inter Hindu conflicts due to language and sect. In contrast, the absence of a similar minority was an important factor in the devastating conflicts seen in Europe and Middle East as they modernized.

    2) A huge chunk of the civilizational development from the Middle East and Central Asia was introduced to India, and as things stand today they have been added to the repository of Indian civilization without overwhelming it.

    I would like to emphasize that point 1 is far more important than point 2. The absence of inter Hindu conflict despite the minefield of modernization ensured that our religious traditions carried on almost seamlessly. There is a far greater chance for a modern Hindu to have a chance to reflect on and discuss complex spiritual and moral topics via the conduit of religion, than for Christians and Muslims. West Europeans and their descendants have appropriated the reference points of the Greeks and Romans, but these resources are not available to Christians universally. This has stunted the growth of societies like Philippines and Mexico.

    I would say that the real kernel of the disagreement with Zachary and Kabir will be the second point. They would like to think that Persian/Arabic traditions did overwhelm the Indian traditions, which now occupy the role only of a substrate. Behind the ‘it sounds better’ lies ‘it comes from a superior/victorious civilization’. I dont think that any agreement on this is really possible, because we are far from the realm of objectivity here.

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    1. “A huge chunk of the civilizational development from the Middle East and Central Asia was introduced to India, and as things stand today they have been added to the repository of Indian civilization without overwhelming it.”

      This had already happened for thousands of years before 632 AD. There was extensive trade between the Indus Valley Civilization and Iraq 4 1/2 thousand years ago and extensive trade between Iraq and Egypt/Sudan 4 1/2 thousand years ago; which meant that there was substantial contact between North Africa and India 4 1/2 thousand years ago.

      There was substantial contact between Greece and India during the Alexander the Great Hellenistic period. Can’t someone argue that the ancient contact and trade India had with Egypt, Iraq and Greece was more helpful to India than the Islamist invasion that began in the 640s AD?

      Iranian and Indian culture were extremely closely allied for thousands of years. Perhaps close to half of Cyrus the Great’s subjects were Santhana Dharmis. Post Modernist historians believed Cyrus the Great lived 600 – 530 BC. I believe that Cyrus might have lived earlier than that.

      Scandinavians, Germanic peoples, Eastern Europeans, Romans and Greeks were all part of the great Arya civilization with close ties to the Vedas and Samhita Sanskrit.

      The pre 632 AD period was an exchange of civilization, culture, technologies and ideas. The broader global Arya civilization might have been an open architecture pan Asian system that evolved based on the combined contributions of many throughout a vast geography.

      Having said all of this, I would argue that Bharat gained greatly from the sweetness, richness and beauty of the Sufis and Sufi music.

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      1. I would say that the Hindi spoken by a section of the population (both Hindus and Muslims) in North India today, which incorporates substantial ‘high words’ from Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic represents an expression of the shared fruits of studying both Indian and Middle Eastern civilizations. This language is as comfortable in using ‘nirdosh’ as it is ‘beykasoor’.

        It will not be recognizable to most Pakistanis though, who will not be comfortable in accomodating in high Sanskrit into their vocabulary. I feel that a lot of these debates would have not arisen if Pakistan had just chosen Persian or Arabic as its national language, and used words and literature from Urdu to enrich it. For example, Iranians have themselves used a lot of French loanwords in the modern variant of Persian.

        I also think that the choice of Urdu was the result of a genuine belief that it was closer to Arabic/Persian than Indian languages. Ironically, it has put them firmly in the Indian orbit, and even set the stage for at least a partial reIndianization of the long Iranic Pashtuns.

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        1. Vikram, ancient Pharsi, ancient avesta, Samhita Sanskrit are closely linked. Where is slapstik when you need him? This is why Ancient Persia could rule so much of ancient India for so long without the appearance of an occupation. Iran and India and much of Asia for that matter were part of a common civilization and faith ecosystem.

          This is also why Urdu Hindustani Hindi so organically drew from Persian and Sanskrit.

          The Arabs benefited greatly from their interactions with ancient Turkey, Babylon (Iraq), Persia and India. Do you believe the reverse is as true? At least greater Bharat (including Afghanistan, Uzbekistan) and Iran and Turkey have retained some part of their ancient culture. The Iraqis did not retain as much. 🙁 They did for centuries. But then 1258 happened. And then Ibn Taymiyyah happened. And then the Wahhabis happened. Wahhabi armies sacked Iraq until Nadir Shah liberated Iraq around 1830s and 1840s. But by then much of the damage had been done.

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          1. Zachary I learned about the Wahhabi sack of Iraq from Iraqis–who seemed to know a lot about it. Iraqis saw the invasion of Al Qaeda in 2003 as connected and similar to the previous Wahhabi sacks of Iraq. This improved my perception of Nader Shah.

            This isn’t some twelver or Kurdish or Turkmen thing. Many Sunni Arab Iraqis also feel very strongly about previous Wahhabi invasions of Iraq.

            Fortunately in 1920 the Wahhabis were not very influential in Pakistan, India or Bangladesh. Sadly the Wahhabis (and related extremists linked to Ibn Taymiyah) are much stronger now.

            Zachary, what can be done about this?

            I prefer Sufis, nice twelvers from UP, moderate Sunnis, atheist muslims to Wahhabi extremists. Does this make me a sectarian racist islamaphobe extremist?

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        2. Why should Pakistan have chosen Arabic as its national language? When did we become Arabs? You sound like those “Islamists” in Pakistan who insist even now that Arabic be given more importance.

          The Pakistan Movement was funded by the UP zamindars. Urdu was their language. Hence it became the national language of Pakistan. If (West) Pakistan were to have any other national language it would be Punjabi–which is again an “Indian” language.

          Your idea that Pakistanis would have ever used Farsi and Arabic for daily conversation is frankly ridiculous. Just because of Partition, we’ve become Arabs or Persians? We are still ethnically Punjabi, Sindhi, Muhajir.

          How can you expect us to give up on our greatest poet Mirza Ghalib just because he lived and died in Indian territory?

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          1. Pakistan saved Urdu from going the way of Ottoman Turkish.

            I pity the Turks who gave up their language, religion, alphabet, Empire and dynasty. Hence the cultural chaos they are now undergoing as they don’t know who or what they are.

            The feeble racialism that Ataturk bequeathed them is crumbling to the roar of Osman..

            We should not forget in an Iranian context that Aryamehr is dead & buried in some foreign land (I don’t even know where he is buried) whereas Ayatollah Khomeini has pride of place in Behesht-e-Zahra (he has an impressive mosque in Tehran’s most prominent graveyard).

            I’m quite the imperialist it seems!!

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          2. Urdu is in a much worse state than Ottoman Turkish. There were 51,000 books published in Turkey in 2013, compared to 3,800 in Pakistan. This is more than a factor of 10 difference despite Pakistan having almost 3 times as many people.

            I believe the Turkish tv show on the Ottomans was a big hit in Pakistan. I doubt any Pakistani show has had the same kind of profile in Turkey.

            Turkey is a lot richer than Pakistan with great industries, produces far more scientific output and offers far more freedom to its women. Only thing Pakistan produces more of is English medium educated immigrants who like to talk a lot about how great their ancestors were, without reflecting on how much of this greatness was built on the destruction of other people’s heritage.

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          3. I initially deleted your comment but I let it stand as I thought it was unnecessarily below-par.

            If Pakistan produces “English medium” educated immigrants (whatever that means since I’m actually British and went to an International School all over the world – read my bio while your at it).

            Also I don’t think you know many Turks or have been to Turkey? Ottoman Turkish is extinct for heaven’s sake; Jesus Christ!!!!

            As sbakkurum has alluded to – there is a hidden period of South Asian history that preceded the Islamic era. The effective nullification of Buddhism must have involved some destruction as well?

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          4. How did the Turks give up their language? They still speak Turkish, they just write it in the Roman script.

            Urdu would probably be easier written in the Roman script too (at least for Westernized Pakistanis like me). Not that I think we should get rid of Nastaliq. But there are a lot of rich Pakistanis who think in English, speak in English, write in English and use Urdu to talk to servants or to grandparents who don’t speak English. My nani could speak English. She had read “Ivanhoe” and stuff like that. But she was more comfortable in Urdu or Punjabi, so I spoke Urdu to her. I sometimes speak English to my parents and sometimes Urdu. It depends on the situation. Obviously my parents are fluent in English, having obtained graduate degrees from the West.

            I probably speak better Urdu than my cousins who grew up in Pakistan. I attribute this to the fact that I was taught to sing Ghazals which obviously demand proper Urdu pronunciation and some understanding of what you are singing about. Quite a few of my cousins totally dumped Urdu when they went to college abroad. Even in O Levels they took “Easy Urdu” (I have no idea what this means, except clearly they weren’t going to read Diwan-e-Ghalib).

            If Pakistan based its self-conception on the Mughals more than on hardcore “Islam”, it would probably be a much more psychologically healthy place (See I am capable of criticizing my country).

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          5. I know many Turks. I have worked with them, used to play football with them. Nothing your comment rebuts my central point. Pakistan publishes less than a tenth of the books that Turkey does, and you are somehow trying to tell us that culture thrives more in Pakistan ?

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          6. Then you would have known Ottoman Turkish is an extinct language

            Yes of course Pakistani and Persian culture are so much more authentic than Turkish culture; they can’t access their history Pre-1920 because they cant read it.

            Look at the amazing poetic tradition Urdu & Farsi have; compared it to Turkish.

            Random statistics are just blurbs and didn’t address the thrust of my point. When one loses their language they lose their soul

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    2. yes, interesting points. I would say, the lack of conflicts in bigger scale ensured rather perverse ideas on untouchability etc to continue. I think, without the outsiders, there would have very well been a greater conflict in India which would have done us far greater good. I consider, the biggest loss was of Buddhism triumphing over ajivika. Who among all belief systems in India rejected karma altogether. We ended up with pseudo radicalism when ajivika would have been so much better. We ended up with much nonsense of nonviolence which ensured those at the top continued to stay at the top. Wars can be very good in upturning society . Of course, I dont want it now, But I imagine, something like this in past 1000 yrs would have done much good. Instead we ended up diminished with no new idea revolution, unlike Europe. I have come to conclusion that mere moral speculations wouldnt have been enough, it needed wars. We now have capitalism, which is a much better generator of ideas revolution without the similar degree of violence.

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    3. Don’t presume to speak for Kabir. You have no idea what I am about.

      “Persian/Arabic traditions did overwhelm Indian traditions”– What are “Indian” traditions? If “Indian” means “Hindu” that is my “real kernel of disagreement with you”. The arrival of the Mughals led to a synthesis– a new Indo-Islamic High Culture (you can call it what we who are from the UP call it “Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb”)

      To take the example I am most familiar with, it was under the kings of the Delhi Sultanate that Hindustani Music began to develop. It was Hazrat Amir Khusro and Khawaja Nizamuddin who developed Qawaali. Hazrat Amir Khusro began to write poetry in Rektha. Tansen performed at Akbar’s court and developed several ragas. Without the Muslim influence, North Indian classical music today would probably be very different–not necessarily worse but different. The ragas are Indian, but their ornamentation and way of elaboration was developed in the Muslim courts. This is why Hindustani Music is different from Carnatic Music.

      Honestly at this point you guys just sound incredibly ungrateful. We gave you the Lal Kila, the Taj Mahal, the Qutub Minar. We added to India’s culture. And you want to throw out anything Muslim just because it is Muslim. If we have discussed the “Pakistani psychosis” many times on this blog (I know Zach invented this term and I hate it), let’s discuss the Indian psychosis? Just what is your deep seated hatred against Islam and the Mughal dynasty?

      By the way, nice to see you back Vikram.I thought you had picked up your toys and gone off.

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      1. I use the Pakistani psychosis as a self-referential point; I can use it cause I’m a “stani” myself. The virus within me automatically leaps to the defence of the Mughals when their honour has been impugned.

        Bharata’s comment deliberately maligned Mughal majesty; we constantly bicker and analyse the Indo-Islamic legacy (I’m not a fan of Aurangzeb) but do so from a place of love not animus.

        I have nothing against Ranjit Singh and/or the Marathas; I wish they had been able to beat back the Colonisers but unfortunately they weren’t. But I don’t understand why Pride in the Marathas/RS has to come at the expense of the Mughals.

        Say what you will about the Indo-Islamic legacy but at the end of the day we have the Taj. This tear stain on the cheek of eternity resounds through time as the quintessentially symbol of India.

        When they come to bulldoze the Taj as they did Babri Masjid then we’ll know that Islam’s long sojourn in Hindustan will finally come to an end..

        I love the contradictions of being a Paki; we are endlessly interesting (if only to ourselves lol)..

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        1. Why is the Taj the ‘quintessential symbol of India’ ? What exactly is Indian about it in terms of architecture and style ?

          This is like a Silicon Valley tycoon building a grand Dravidian temple in San Jose and the world calling this a ‘quintessential symbol of America’.

          The Taj is the finest and most expensive work of Persian architecture in the world. As such, it deserves the praise that it gets. But it no way reflects the architectural principles and philosophies that developed in India over the centuries. You may not think highly of these principles, but that is besides the point.

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    4. You impute my views; I believe in a syncretic Indo-Islamic culture. But at the same time I am sensitive to the disparagement of my ancestors (Mo Bin Qasim onwards).

      Your villains are my heroes; I cannot change my DNA nor would I want to for that matter.

      Welcome

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  3. this is historically myopic. i understand that this is an india-centric view, but south asian influences were pretty clear in islamic culture in baghdad btwn 750 and 900. there were some scholars who even talked about the ‘indian period’ in islamic culture.

    (not interested in getting into an argument on this fwiw, i understand most people don’t care about cultures which aren’t their own so they’ll be myopic)

    e.g. the madrassa system and the tradition of sharia may own a lot to buddhism viharas and textual analysis and interpretation. in fact i’m convinced that the madrassa was explicitly modeled on the vihara by christopher beckwich.

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    1. Yes, I do know of this reference, I think you made this earlier as well. I agree with your view. I am of course intentionally being myopic here,within the Indian context. Its more of a game with some interesting and valuable speculation. Aim of the game is to show that one can always play this game. The left plays its dialectical game, one way to trip them up is this. I would of course prefer a less crude and a less myopic point of view. But hey, this is easy and it probably will stick in the minds of many people on the street. Thats their way as well.

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  4. The sufism is the gain for Islam not India per se, e.g. Muhammad Ali {Sunni to Sufi} – Followed https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inayat_Khan & Inayat Khan’s sufism is heavily influenced by Hinduism.
    https://books.google.co.in/books?id=ekw2nps4KcwC&pg=PA18&lpg=PA18&dq=Inayat+Khan+Sufi+%26+Hinduism&source=bl&ots=emiVuqqusI&sig=VvMuApUQSfl0PFuR83ZivkhLD5w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjA_p_41u_aAhVLMo8KHaBJC40Q6AEIZjAI#v=onepage&q=Inayat%20Khan%20Sufi%20%26%20Hinduism&f=false
    Problems –
    The lack of acknowledgement of Hinduism & other non Abrahamic traditions in formulating the modern thought is the real problem at the same time Abrahamics keep creating modern terms to not have to take how negatively they influenced Hinduism.
    Hindu influence in Christian belief – https://www.academia.edu/34695452/From_Christian_Apologetics_to_Deism_Libertine_Readings_of_Hinduism_1650_1730

    Yeah we do find the “Bhakti literature” but does any one notice the increasing prominence of supernatural in every substantial work compared to the objective & subjective outlook of the prior period {like important works of linguistics, logic systems, mathematics, metallurgy etc.} ?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_science_and_technology_in_the_Indian_subcontinent

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Indian_innovation

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_mathematics

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_mathematics – {Note in section – 1st millennium AD & how the region gets concentrated & became smaller where mathemical work was being produced i.e. Northern regions producing less & less mathematical work while the regions which were less influenced by Islamic rule due to their geography like Karnataka & Kerala producing great Mathematicians.}

    Could have lost the historical metallurgic achievements like rust free iron & already lost ancient techniques of things like “Wootz Steel” –
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_pillar_of_Delhi

    India’s influence on modern forms of logic –
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_logic

    India’s influence on Legal framework is still a work in progress but if anyone is interested check these books –
    Studies in Hindu Law and Dharmaśāstra by Ludo Rocher
    Hinduism and Law: An Introduction
    The Spirit of Hindu Law by Donald R. Davis, Jr
    Hindu Law: A New History of Dharmaśāstra
    The Dharma of Business: Commercial Law in Medieval India

    I guess the advent of Islam fundamentally changed the whole subcontinent & turned religion from abstract beliefs to religious belief that people should believe in & then the period of colonization simply created the mess that made sure that the ‘religion’ does not go out of public space ever again.
    Unifying Hinduism by Andrew J. Nicholson

    So in total i do find that Islam’s advent was mostly a loss for the subcontinent {India, Pak & Bangladesh}.

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  5. Deep Bhatnagar, I very much like and agree with your comment. Would you like to convert it into a stand alone article on Brown Pundits?

    My hope is to eventually write about many of the themes in your comment.

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  6. This is just weird now. One isnt “maligning mughals” by pointing out that mughal empire was brought to an end by the marathas. They were kept around as titular heads for a while just as the british did, eventually would have been thrown out as the British did eventually. As to buildings etc, democratic states can do what they wish to do so. It wouldnt be nice though, I think Taj is beautiful.
    If people are trying to evangelize on arts and culture, then they are going about it the wrong way. It should be arts and culture that should take the center stage, not mughals. And its perfectly fine to care about other things. I for example havent watched Indian movies in long time. I think there are more intelligent and entertaining shows being made outside India than with in. Game of thrones in my view is of such incredible talent that I literally cant think of any Indian show that can even come close to doing that now. There are shows made on Chandra Gupta and Chanakya apparently, The melodrama, the repeated screen shots and takes is idiotic. There was apparently another mahabharata series made as well which became popular in Indonesia, I didnt watch a single show. I think Pizza is criminally cruel in its delicacy , more so than any other Indian food. As for science, the west has so far gone in its intellectual adventures that I would rather follow those tales than some brilliant medieval Indian alchemist . When I dont watch movies from own country anymore, admire more number of scientists outside India than with in. You really cant obsess me with mughals, or their art or music. It just doesnt capture my interest. There are other people like suhel seth, who watches bharata natyam, urdu poetry and so much more, to them I say, all power to you. There are many dalits for example who dont like sanskrit, I say fine to them too. Its your life, your time, your dime.

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      1. Why can’t we have both?
        I feel dominos daily helps my constipation for instance. Better than hakeem usmani’s jamalgota.

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      2. I tried watching GoT. Too much nudity and rape. The nudity was gratuitous (in my view). I’m ok with artistic nudity occasionally but not for no reason. Rape is one of those things that just bothers me so much that I mostly have stop watching a show or reading a novel in which it happens.

        But there are lots of American shows I like. “How to Get Away with Murder” for instance. Currently watching “Rise” about a High school English teacher directing the school musical with a motley crew of misfits (I relate for obvious reasons). There were even “GoT” type shows I watched all the way through like “The Tudors” and “The Borgias”. GoT for some reason just bothered me.

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  7. Bharata – I am quite amazed at smart people like you, and many others trying to engage Kabir on anything. He has never shown any capacity to understand nuance, engage in a healthy dialog, allow opposing arguments or have an open mind about anything. You can always predict his position, even his exact reaction in a particular argument, especially if is about Hindu-Muslim, India-Pak, Paknationalist vs not, Mughals vs others and heck even Paki Punjabi vs Paki Pashtun (the interaction with the Paki Pashtun was particularly enlightening)..
    I would just advise you and others to be judicious with your time. There are already many who choose not to engage with the same person, and this includes some of the most prominent Pakistanis here. That is certainly for a reason.

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  8. I feel Kabir’s viewpoint is needed. I find his articles on music interesting.

    On the whole Mughal vs Marathas / Hindu vs Muslim etc , Ambedkar was right after all (just like he in on most issues)

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    1. Thanks Saurav,
      I will try to stick to music in the future. You can always follow me on my main blog as well.

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