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The riddle of Hinduism

The riddle of Hinduism

Hinduism is not merely Pagan, not merely “polytheistic”, and not monotheistic either, despite its insistence on tad ekam (“that One”) or tat satyam (“that Truth”), a single all-pervasive divinity which later became the Brahman and has nothing in common with the biblical god. – Prof Michel Danino

Previous articles in this series focused on India’s sacred geography, sacred ecology and the rich interactions between “tribal” and “mainstream” cultures. Why bother about all that when so little of it is apparently relevant to our “official” definition of today’s India? The “apparently” can be disputed: the country’s many sacred geographical landmarks, for instance, remain of great cultural importance to a large proportion of Indians, though they may not have the privilege of belonging to our urbanised, Anglicised and secularised elites. But there is a compelling reason to revisit those traditions: They help us to define Hinduism. Again, why bother to do so? Because, whether we like it or not, Hinduism has been a major historical component in the making of India, and its definition remains at the centre of some of today’s hottest controversies.

Defining Hinduism has been an exercise perhaps as unsuccessful as the ancients’ attempt to square the circle. It is reasonably easy to define Judaism, Christianity or Islam: An article of faith in their single book, founder or prophet will do. There is no single book in Hinduism, no founder, no prophet; it has no set of well-defined tenets either. What would then be its anchorage points and boundaries? The nationalist leaderBal Gangadhar Tilakonce attempted a definition: “Acceptance of the Vedas with reverence; recognition of the fact that the means or ways to salvation are diverse; and the realisation of the truth that the number of Gods to be worshipped is large, that indeed is the distinguishing feature of Hindu religion.” When, in 1995, the Supreme Court rejected the Ramakrishna Mission’s plea to recognise “Sri Ramakrishna-ism” as a religion distinct from Hinduism, it found Tilak’s definition an “adequate and satisfactory formula” and broadened it thus (I abridge):


Before Reza Aslan, There Was This

Before Reza Aslan

Reza Aslan is only the most recent in a long line of leaders, writers, and others from the West who actively sought to defame Hinduism.

Along with the murderous attacks on NRIs (Hindus and Sikhs) in the United States, came the CNN documentary that has created a lot of heartburn for the Hindus.

Interestingly, the documentary in question features Reza Aslan. Aslan loves to flaunt himself as ‘a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and a fluency in biblical Greek who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim’. Yet, he comes across as more a crypto-fundamentalist Muslim; more sophisticated than Zakir Naik of course, but nevertheless in the same spectrum. Aslan finds philosopher Daniel Dennett — leave alone Richard Dawkins — an ‘atheist-fundamentalist’. His sympathy for creationism comes out when he finds fault with Dawkins for comparing creationists with Holocaust deniers.

And what should be interesting for the Hindus is why this man, who has no scholarship of Hinduism, has been allowed to distort Hindu culture, similar to the way the colonialists distorted Hinduism and Hindu culture in a supposedly secular medium in the West.

The reason can be discovered in a small article published in the December 2016 issue of History Today. Titled bluntly as ‘A Hatred for Hindus’, it was written by Mihir Bose, an NRI journalist who has been the first sports editor of BBC. The article makes one cringe. He says it straight:

“Long before the recent rise in Islamophobia, distrust of Hinduism was rife among Britain’s ruling class.” Winston Churchill’s secretary John Colville records in his diary a conversation the PM had with Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthus Harris: “The PM said that the Hindus were a foul race ... and he wished Bert Harris could send some of his surplus bombers to destroy them.”


Dark ‘State’ Called Nagalim: Arunachal’s Evangelists Pose Grave Threat To National Security

Dark State Called Nagalim

It is only a matter of time - a decade or so at best - before the Christian missionaries’ gameplan of convincing the indigenous tribes of Arunachal that they are, in fact, Nagas succeeds. 

The alarming changes in the demographic composition of the strategically placed north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh that borders Tibet has been pitchforked to national consciousness two days ago by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju. The minister, who hails from that state, has rightly ignited a debate on the unbridled activities of Christian missionaries who have been proselytising poor tribals of that state with monetary and other enticements.

But what also needs to be highlighted is that these Christian evangelists pose a grave threat to national security. Not only have they been converting the simple tribals, the proselytisers have been implanting the seed of rebellion in their heads. In doing so, these evangelists have followed a long tradition of creating a sense of alienation between the newly-baptised tribals from the rest of India. This sense of alienation is what led to the birth of many insurgencies in north-east India.

The church in states like Mizoram and Nagaland has always played a nefarious role in aiding and abetting insurgencies and even providing the insurgents a global platform to plead for secession from India. The diabolic role played by Michael Scott, a Christian priest, in aiding the Naga rebels in the name of negotiating peace between them and the government Of India, is well known. Mizo insurgent leader Laldenga and Naga insurgent leader A Z Phizo received a lot of help from the Church of England.


क्या मीडिया हिन्दू विरोधी है : मीडिया की निष्पक्षता का अवलोकन |

आज भारत में मीडिया की ख़बरों को यदि देखा जाए, तो लगता है कि भारत में अल्पसंख्यकों पर बहुत अत्याचार होते हैं , तथा हिन्दू उन्हें बुरी तरह से प्रताड़ित करते हैं  | कई अखबारों में यह खबर भी बार बार छपती है कि बीजेपी के आने के बाद मुसलमानों पर अत्याचार बढ़ गए हैं तथा यह पार्टी मुस्लिम विरोधी है एवं बाकी सब पार्टिया मुसलमानों की हितैषी हैं  आदि | लेकिन इसी के उलट जब सोशल मीडिया पर देखा जाता है तो जनता बीजेपी के समर्थन में ज्यादा नज़र आती है | अब ऐसे में मीडिया और सोशल मीडिया दोनों ही बिलकुल विपरीत बाते करते नज़र आते हैं | दोनों में से कौन सही है कौन गलत यह जानने के लिए मैंने एक शोध किया जिसमे मैंने देश के ५ बड़े अख़बारों का अध्ययन किया | इस अध्ययन में ३ केसेस को मैंने लिया तथा उनका तुलनात्मक अध्ययन कर के देखा कि किस तरह से मीडिया ने इन्हें छापा है और उसके आधार पर मैंने यह पेपर लिखा है | अंत में जो नतीजे आये उससे यह साबित हो गया कि मीडिया कितनी हिन्दू विरोधी तथा पक्षपाती है |

क्रियाविधि :

इस शोध में ५ अख़बारों को लिया गया जिनके नाम हैं इंडियन एक्सप्रेस, द हिन्दू, हिंदुस्तान, जनसत्ता और टाइम्स ऑफ़ इंडिया | इसमें तीन अंग्रेजी तथा २ हिंदी अखबारों का मैंने अध्ययन किया है | इसी के साथ मैंने ३ केसेस को लिया है जो उत्तरप्रदेश में लगभग एक ही समय के अंतराल में घटित हुए हैं:


इनको चुनने के पीछे कारण यह था कि तीनो ही मामलो में हत्याकांड हुए हैं जिसमे एक समुदाय के व्यक्ति को दूसरे समुदाय के व्यक्तियों ने मारा है | इसलिए इस शोध में यह जानने का प्रयास किया गया कि किस केस को मीडिया ने कितनी जगह दी | इस तुलनात्मक अध्ययन को करने के लिए पांचो अख़बारों को लिया गया, तथा जिस तिथि को यह घटना घटी है उस दिन से लेकर १० दिनों तक हर अखबार में उस घटना के बारे में कितनी न्यूज़ छपी है , इसे गिना गया | इस तरह ५ अखबार , ३ खबरे और १० दिन अतः ५ * ३ * १० = १५० खबरों का अध्ययन इस शोध में किया गया तथा अंत में सभी अख़बारों की खबरों को जोड़ दिया गया एवं यह भी पता लगाया गया कि इनमे से कितनी खबरे पहले पृष्ठ पर थी और कितने अलग अलग पन्नो पर (जैसे  पेज १ , पेज ५ , पेज १३ आदि ) खबर सारे दिनों में मिलाकर छापी गयी |


How I Learnt That Liberals In India Are Not Really Liberal

How I Learnt That Liberals In

Shefali Vaidya has faced harassment for daring to go against the ‘liberal’ consensus in India. Here she writes on why instead of taking it lying down, she chose to speak up.

‘If you like Modi so much, why don’t you go, sleep with Modi’? The first time someone asked me this question was in 2013 when I had just started writing on Facebook about my political beliefs. I was engaged in a fierce debate about Narendra Modi with a few people when this question landed in my comment box.

Thirteen words that changed my world view forever!

I was shocked not so much by the viciousness and venom of the question, but by the identity of the person who asked it. He was a mild-looking 65-year-old man with a flowing white beard. Almost Tagore-like in his looks, he was a self-professed Marxist who claimed to publish a dubious rag called ‘Civil Society’! Apparently, his idea of civil society allowed him to throw sexual slurs at a woman he did not even know personally.

It was my first brush with the intolerance of the ‘liberals’! Since then, I have been abused, threatened and ridiculed by people who call themselves ‘liberals’ thousands of times. There are parody pages dedicated to me. Fake profiles are created in my name, and my photographs are morphed and circulated as Facebook and Twitter memes.


Four women icons from India’s Dharmic tradition

Women’s day is a day of celebration of womanhood and of showing respect, love and appreciation towards all women. Western feminism has had its own trajectory, in its efforts to be free for Christian misogyny, along with the Biblical exhortation that “woman shall not have authority over man.” Even the feminism arising from Western modernity struggles with privileging traditional masculine roles and measuring success of women by that sole yardstick and by their commercial objectification. On the other hand, in the Indian context, women were always honored for who they were, for their wisdom, courage, beauty, and sacrifice. There have always been women exemplars and role models. From Sita, Draupadi, Kunti or Mandodari in the Itihasas and Vedic Rishikas like Gargi and Maitreyi to Kshatriya women like Lakshmibai and Rudhramadevi or saints like Meera and Andal. They all represent various facets of womanhood and can serve as inspiration for generations of women to follow their inner calling towards self-actualization.

Towards this end, in the present article, we would look into life accounts of four women, who are less known, but whose lives are nevertheless as inspiring and instructive as those listed above. All the four women whose accounts are included were fiercely independent, freely pursued their own paths to self-actualization, and they never swayed away from their swadharma. While the two of them were renunciates, the other two were householders.

Let us now look briefly into the life accounts of these four women and what we may learn from it.


10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Hinduism

10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Hinduism

1. Hinduism’s core principle is pluralism.

Hindus acknowledge the potential existence of multiple, legitimate religious and spiritual paths, and the idea that the path best suited for one person may not be the same for another. The Rig Veda, one of Hinduism’s sacred texts, states Ekam sat vipraha bahudha vadanti, or “The Truth is one, the wise call It by many names.”

As a result of this pluralistic outlook, Hinduism has never sanctioned proselytization and asserts that it is harmful to society’s well being to insist one’s own path to God is the only true way. Hindus consider the whole world as one extended family, and Hindu prayers often end with the repetition of shanti – or peace for all of existence.

2. Caste-based discrimination is not intrinsic to Hinduism.

Caste-based discrimination and “untouchability” are purely social evils not accepted or recognized anywhere in the Hindu scriptural tradition. The word “caste” is derived from the Portuguese “casta” — meaning lineage, breed, or race. As such, there is no exact equivalent for “caste” in Indian society, but what exists is the dual concept of varna and jāti.

Sacred texts describe varna not as four rigid, societal classes, but as a metaphysical framework detailing four distinctive qualities which are manifest, in varying degrees, in all individuals. Jātirefers to the occupation-based, social units with which people actually identified.