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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.

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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.

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Eight Anti-India Intellectuals and Academics you must be aware of

Eight Anti-India Intellectuals and Academics you must be aware of

Angana Chatterji

angana

 Books:

  • Violent Gods: Hindu Nationalism in India’s Present; Narratives from Orissa
  • Land and Justice: The Struggle for Cultural Survival in Orissa

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How to teach Indian history, and how not to – N. S. Rajaram

How to teach Indian history

It is now a time-worn cliché that the teaching of Indian history has been distorted. The real question is how to correct it. A committed teacher has taken an important step by showing how to go about doing it. – Dr N. S. Rajaram

Speaking before the Kerala History Association, Kochi on 18 Dec. 2005, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, then President and among the most respected intellectuals in India observed: “The best historians present us with descriptions and analyses of the past that make unfamiliar times and places somehow comprehensible. In seeking to penetrate the veil of the past, we end up by studying how other individuals and societies dealt with the practical and existential problems at least related to our own.” 

After this sage observation, Dr. Kalam came specifically to Indian history and noted: “My observation is that in India many have written history of India [coming] both from the Indian historians recently and by those who had conquered us. So far, even 58 years after Independence, the dogmas, rituals, systems and norms of the historical past, imposed by the last millennium of invasion and conquest, still continue to condition our minds.” Most tellingly he emphasized: 

“We tend more to conform to the past [as described by our invaders and occupiers], rather than think in true freedom and create a future, free from the pain of the past. Now time has come, in the 21st century, we need new breed of historians who can make the past meet the present and create the future….”   

More than a century before Dr. Kalam, Swami Vivekananda told a group of youngsters (1891): “Study Sanskrit, but along with it study Western sciences as well. Learn accuracy, my boys, study and labor so that the time will come when you can put our history on a scientific basis. … The histories of our country written by English writers cannot but be weakening to our minds, for they talk only of our downfall. How can foreigners, who understand very little of our manners and customs, or our religion and philosophy, write faithful and unbiased histories of India?”   

He then went on to observe: “Naturally many false notions and wrong inferences have found their way into them. Nevertheless they have shown us how to proceed making researches into our ancient history. Now it is for us to strike out an independent path of historical research for ourselves, to study the Vedas and Puranas and the ancient annals (Itihasas) of India, and from them make it your sadhana (disciplined endeavor) to write accurate, sympathetic and soul-inspiring history of India. It is for Indians to write Indian history.” 

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कहीं यह भारत के तालिबानीकरण की शुरुआत तो नहीं ?

कह यह भरत क तलबनकरण

रविवार को  एक शर्मनाक घटना कल दिल्ली के आई.जी.एन.सी.ऐ. में आयोजित ‘जश्न ऐ रेख़ता’ नामक कार्यक्रम में हुई | यह कार्यक्रम उर्दू भाषा की खूबियाँ तथा सूफी इस्लाम की संस्कृति तथा इस्लाम की खूबियों को दुनिया के सामने लाने के विषय में था | यहाँ भारत में आये मेहमान ६७ वर्षीय तारेक फ़तेह जब इस जगह को घुमने तथा पुस्तके आदि देखने आये, उस समय कुछ नौजवानों ने उनके साथ फोटो खिचाना और उनके हस्ताक्षर लेना शुरू किया | तभी कुछ १०० के करीब मुस्लिम कट्टरपंथी लोगो ने आकर पहले नारे लगाने शुरू कर दिए फिर तारेक फतह पर हमला कर दिया | पुलिस के साथ होने के बाद भी कोई लातो से कोई हाथो से हमला करता रहा | इसके बाद भी जब तारेक फतह ने कहा कि सब लोग बुरे नहीं हैं , मुझे यहाँ रुकना है तो ऑर्गनाइजर्स और पुलिस दोनों ने तारेक फतह को ही वहां से चले जाने को कहा एवं उन हिंसात्मक लोगों पर कार्यवाही नहीं की , यह सब तारेक फ़तेह ने बाद में टाइम्स नाउ के इंटरव्यू में बताया तथा दुःख प्रकट किया |

हाल ही में पाकिस्तान में सूफी दरगाह लाल शाहबाज़ कलंदर पर हुए हमले में ७५ से ज्यादा लोगों को जेहादियों द्वारा मौत के घाट उतार दिया गया था जिनमे संगीतकार, औरते, बच्चे तथा बुजुर्ग भी शामिल थे | इनका कसूर सिर्फ इतना था कि यह सब सूफी दरगाह पर जाते थे  तथा संगीत से नफरत नहीं करते थे जो सदियों से सिंध की संस्कृति में रहा है पाकिस्तान में पिछले कुछ सालों से अहमदिया, बलूची, सिन्धी, शिया, आदि कई मुसलमानों की हत्या का दौर चला आ रहा है तथा इसके पीछे की जड़ है तालिबानी कट्टर सोच के लोगों का इस्लाम पर बढ़ता प्रभुत्व | खैर यह तो बात हुई पकिस्तान की , कई लोग इससे यह कहकर पल्ला झाड सकते हैं कि पकिस्तान से हमें क्या लेना देना , मगर पकिस्तान जैसा मुल्क जब आपका सबसे निकटतम पडोसी हो तो लेना देना अपने आप हो जाता है | खासकर कि तब जब भारत में दुनिया की सबसे बड़ी मुस्लिम आबादी रहती हो |

कुछ सालों पहले सलमान रश्दी पर “सटानिक वर्सेस” पुस्तक लिखने के कारण , कट्टरपंथी लोगो ने फतवा जारी किया था | इसी तरह बंगलादेशी लेखिका तसलीमा नसरीन पर भी “लज्जा” नामक पुस्तक लिखने के लिए कई फतवे जारी हुए तथा हैदराबाद में उन्हें पीटा भी गया | ऐसे ही जब एक मुसलमान लड़की ने पर्यावरण और जानवरों के लिए काम करने वाली एक एन.जी.ओ. के साथ पर्यावरण को बचाने के लिए भोपाल में ईद पर बकरा ना काटने की अपील की तो उसे दौड़ा दौड़ा कर मज्जिद के बाहर पीटा गया तथा उसके कपडे फाड़ दिए गए | यही नहीं नरेंद्र मोदी और सानिया मिर्जा जैसे लोगो पर भी कुछ मौलवी फतवे देते नज़र आ जाते हैं |  

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Secularism is a National Security Threat to India

Secularism is a National Security

Every year in the rainy season, frogs come out and try to say something noisily. Similarly, during elections, some seasonal frogs emerge into India’s mainstream and proclaim loudly: “Muslim vote is secular; Hindu vote is communal;” “Long live India; Long live the Constitution.” Nowadays, the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind are the leading advocates of the Constitution, not the politicians and police officers of India. Over the past year, All India Muslim Personal Law Board has been organising a series of conferences under the theme: “Save the Constitution, Save the Religion.” For them, if Islam is in danger, the constitution must be in danger too. The constitution and Islam are not separate for them.

The Urdu newspaperRoznama Inquilab, in its edition of February 10, carried a frontpage headline, which declared that the first phase of the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh are “Musalmanon ka Imtehan”— a test for Muslims. Let’s imagine the following: what if the Hindi newspapers declared the UP elections as “Hinduon ka Imtehan?” The government will most likely ban such Hindi newspapers. Most probably, you will declare these Hindi newspapers as communal. But when Urdu newspapers do this, you think of it as secular. Your mind is caught by the sinews of a vichardhara, an ideology. This vichardhara is known in India as secularism.

Secularism has emerged as a national security threat to India. Every politician, every police officer, every journalist and every dharm guru knows that secularism is damaging the soul of India. Everyone pretends that everything is right. Cops find secularism as a textbook tool to run the beyawastha, the law and order founded on secularism. Kamlesh Tiwari said something about the prophet of Islam, he was arrested by police officers rightly. But the same police officers don’t have guts to even touch the Islamic clerics of Bijnor, who in 2015 announced a reward of 51 lakh rupees to behead Tiwari either in jail or outside. Secularism has emerged as India’s national sports; everyone participates, everyone pretends, everyone claps, everyone shuts their eyes to reality.

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8 reasons why Article 30 is completely Anti-Hindu

At a time when the whole country is shouting out loud “intolerance”, do you think the prejudice is only against the minority classes?

If you think so, kindly avert your attention towards Article 30 of the Indian Constitution which is predominantly anti-Hindu (or, anti “majority”, can we say?).

If you are unfamiliar with this Article, here’s a brief about it—

1. To start with, how do you like the temples and other Hindu religious and educational institutions being under direct Government control while there aren’t any religious institutions of other religions that are directly controlled of the Government?

Isn’t this discrimination, to begin with? It is a discrimination that spells deprivation, despair and sheer injustice. There are two provisions in the Indian Constitution that have spelled this injustice: they are Articles 26 and 30. These two articles have been used to appropriate Hindu religious structures, denying the Hindus the freedom to run their own educational institutions – a privilege enjoyed by all the non-Hindu communities.

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