Last updateFri, 23 Jun 2017 9am

Dholkal Ganesh and the Sad Tale Of Apathy

Dholkal Ganesh and the

Fifty-six stone fragments lying forlornly on a blue tarpaulin. You can see the vermilion mark still on the part that used to be the face, as the trunk turns gracefully. A fragment that formed the large stomach still has the remnants of the snake coiled around it. The stone fragments are all that remains of a one thousand year old Shri Ganesh Moorthi of Dholkal, a remote place in the jungles of Bastar in Chattisgarh. So, what happened to the Ganesh, you might ask.

Well, it is a tale that has been repeated many times in the history of India.

The Dholkal Ganesh is the latest victim of the systematic vandalism and destruction of Hindu icons and objects of worship. For centuries, the Islamic invaders achieved this with great precision, and now we, the people of India, are doing the job ourselves! The perks of being independent, you see!

The Dholkal Ganesh was carved during the 9th and 10th century, during the reign of the Nagvanshi Kings of Bastar.  It was a six feet tall monolith weighing more than 500 kilos. Carved out of solid block of granite, the Moorthi stood on its majestic circular perch in the thick, impenetrable jungles of Bastar in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh state. Revered by the local tribals, the Moorthi was first rediscovered by the British geologist Crookshanks, while surveying the area before opening the Bailadila mines, way back in 1943.

However, after independence, the Ganesh Moorthi again vanished from public memory, till a local journalist rediscovered it in 2012 while on a trek. The discovery created a sensation. So exquisite was the Moorthi, and so enchanting was the setting that it soon became a favoured destination for pilgrims, history lovers as well as adventure seekers. Chhattisgarh tourism started featuring the Moorthi prominently in its travel programs.


The Growing Network of Pakistan’s ISI in India

The Growing Network of

The role of the Pakistani Military’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is being suspected in a series of recent train mishaps, especially since the Indore-Patna Express train tragedy near Kanpur on November 20 in which about 150 lives were lost. The National Investigating Agency (NIA) is also investigating the ISI’s involvement in these incidents. While the most likely cause of these train incidents seems to be the poor upkeep of rail tracks, the ISI has indeed been active throughout India in the recent decades. Scores of Indian nationals, mostly non-Muslims, were arrested from towns across India for their role as an ISI agent in recent years. These arrests revealed the involvement of ex-military officers, terror suspects, army clerks, criminals and others.

Over the past decade and more, the cities and towns from where the ISI agents were arrested included Ahmedabad, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Mumbai, Delhi, Mohali, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Patiala, Jalandhar, Shimla, Aligarh, Meerut, Kanpur, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Patna, Kolkata, Darjeeling, Agartala, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Bengaluru, Chennai, and so on. The names of these cities crop up when you search the websites of Indian newspapers. The ISI agents active in India are mainly of two types: those engaged in gathering secret information of military nature, and those involved in recruiting and planning terror modules. However, some are also involved in sabotage activities and in flooding the country with fake currency notes.

In his book “Pakistan’s ISI: Network of Terror in India,” senior cop S.K. Ghosh examined the revelations of the arrested ISI agents and noted that the ISI’s strategy involved the following: Use Kashmiri Muslims and cause subversion and terrorism across India, prepare an extensive ISI network and plant cadre of terrorists and spies in every part of India, trigger serial blasts in major cities, create insurgencies in parts of India where Muslim population is significant, and create newer fronts in Pakistan’s proxy war against India. Speaking of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, Ghosh observed that these were “not a Hindu-Muslim problem” but “an India-Pakistan problem.”


Alauddin Khilji and Padmavati: just who is afraid of History?

Alauddin Khilji and Padmavati

Several “liberal” columnists have expressed anguish at the recent protests against the director of the upcoming controversial film ‘Padmavati’, which is based on the historical saga involving the characters of Alauddin Khilji, the 13thcentury ruler of the Delhi Sultanate and the contemporary Rajput princess, Padmini. Their defense of the film-maker and demonization of the protestors involves the following ‘liberal’ arguments:

(1) Rani Padmini was not a real historical figure and so there is no historical distortion, just re-imagination of an old legend.

(2) Cinema is a form of creative expression and artistic license permits historical reinterpretation, even if devoid of historical merit.

(3) What about freedom of expression? If you don’t like the movie, do not watch it, or just make your own movie on the subject.

The analysis of each of these positions reveals the problematic nature of contemporary Indian “secular-liberal” discourse, its bias, duplicity, mendacity and lack of sensitivity, while exploring Hindu culture, history and traditions.

First, the historicity of Padmini is far more complex than the rude and vulgar “secular” fictionalization of a legendary figure whose sacred memory is alive in the hearts and minds of millions of Hindus. In the land of Chittor, century old temples and shrines dedicated to the memory of the legendary princess continue to be active sites of devotion.


Our cultural legacy

Our cultural legacy

The first and foremost thing, which India is privileged with, is the concept of holiness. We have inherited a legacy of cultural and civilisational tradition, which adds spiritual values to even material things of larger importance. – Prof Rakesh Sinha

There has been oft-repeated controversies regarding respect for flags, national anthem, national songs and other symbols of national importance. Most of the controversies are unnecessary because those behind such incidents have no logic or justification for their negative approach to the national anthem or the national flag. A few years ago, a parliamentarian cited religion as a reason for not singing the national songVande Mataram, and more recently Amazon Canada used the tricolour for making doormats.

In Kerala, some radicals refused to sing the national anthem in cinema halls. A pertinent question arises: why Indians are sensitive to national symbols? And why we do not treat them liberally as some of the advanced democracies do? To understand this problem one has to re-examine the growth of our national sentiments.

The first and foremost thing, which India is privileged with, is the concept of holiness. We have inherited a legacy of cultural and civilisational tradition, which adds spiritual values to even material things of larger importance. Our civilisation has never been materialistic; material fortunes have always been superseded by intellectual and spiritual prosperity. Therefore, unlike other countries, Indian nationalism distinctly gives a sense of spiritualism too and we celebrate our territorial boundary not merely as a piece of land or a sign of mere sovereignty, but as a spiritual entity (which should not be confused with religious entity). We consider India as our motherland, Bharat Mata. This trait is present in each and every Indian, and even in those who oppose it due to political reasons or ideological indoctrination. But a close scrutiny of the behavioural pattern shows that Indians too have cultural nationalism.


Pride Of India: Why The Republic Day Parade Must March On

Pride Of India

India celebrates the anniversary of its Republic Day every year on 26 January. It’s the day when the Constitution of India was formally adopted and the transition from being an independent dominion under the British Commonwealth to an independent republic took effect. While celebrations of this day took place from 1950 to 1954 in different parts of Delhi, it was on Republic Day 1955 that the format of the current parade was adopted. It is well known that the parade is the pride of India and the celebrations take place from 26 January with the parade to 29 January, when the ceremonies close with the Beating Retreat at the Vijay Chowk. The latter is a unique spectacle, when the massed bands of the three services participate in a traditional band display in a grand setting with the South and North Blocks and the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the backdrop.

Nothing controversial about this; in fact there is everything to be proud of. Yet every other year question marks are raised in cynical circles about the parade and the very ‘military flavour’ that it projects. These objections and observations are also laid to rest every year. However, this year just a few objections have emerged, but they assume greater significance due to the rising tide of analyses in the last few months about the alleged increasing influence of the military in national decision making. The counter analyses, which are also written each year, therefore need to build on this factor and ascertain the veracity of the claims by those who are detractors of the current format of the Republic Day parade, and the allegations against India’s military.

The four days from 26 to 29 January every year comprise three major events, which are organised and coordinated by India’s Armed Forces, with military flavour of different shades and ratio. First is the parade itself. It is largely the responsibility of the Indian Army Headquarters, Delhi Area and the Ceremonials and Welfare Directorate.


My thoughts on Jallikattu

My thoughts on Jallikattu

There has been a nationwide debate going on whether the age-old festival celebrated in southern states, Jallikattu, should be banned or not. The Supreme Court of India banned the organisation of Jallikattu in 2014 and since then there has been many petitions to the court to review the decision and let people celebrate the event. The Tamil Nadu government has sought Centre’s intervention regarding this. The central government is in the process of passing an ordinance to allow people to hold Jallikattu.

What’s Jallikattu?

This link traces its history back to 5000 years ago when cow herders used to tame bulls that went out of control. Then later on it turned into a sport. The link above presents a case in favour of organising Jallikattu and why the festival, or event, is important for the survival of the indigenous species of cows. Of course there are contrary views and many believe that in the name of the sport animals are mistreated.

Even a few weeks ago, I was strongly opposing Jallikattu. According to the information I had, or rather the opinion that I had formed without much research, just to prove how strong some people are, they severely harass the animals and sometimes they are even gored to death (both animals and humans) .

Does it happen? Can’t say. But the general perception — and I have gotten this information from people I really trust — is that there might be some instances when the animals are cruelly treated but otherwise, it is a totally harmless sport considering everything that goes on all over the world and in different communities in the name of tradition and culture.


The great game in Jallikattu

Some months ago, I had written about Project Thessalonica, an evangelical project that systematically aims to attack Hindu festivals and institutions. Tamil Nadu is a major battleground for the Church where it is has been able to establish deep institutional control. The battle for Jallikattu has to be seen in that light.

What is Project Thessalonica?

“Project Thessalonica aims to stop or limit Hindu activity by converting people, who form the pillars of Hindu culture, festivals, traditions and activity... They are making environmental groups raise the voice so that Ganesh processions, Kumbh Melas and Jagannath Rath Yatras are limited…”

Native festivals are part of a social ecosystem that binds people to native traditions. This is one reason native festivals have always been attacked as part of establishing Christian dominance.  Let us look briefly at the timeline for the Jallikattu ban.

In 2006, a judge in the Madras High Court suo moto banned Jallikattu, even though she was hearing an entirely different case and no one had petitioned against the sport.

As, The Hindu reported, based on the lawyer Shaji Chellan’s interview :

“Pointing out that he had actually filed a writ petition seeking permission for rekla (bullock cart) race at Thaniankootam in Ramanathapuram district, the lawyer claims that Justice R. Banumathi (now a Supreme Court judge) expanded the scope of the case on her own and banned rekla race, oxen race and jallikattu.