CHAPTER 7: 15th August 1947
The first leaders of pre-independent India took some disastrous decisions, and the worst of them was to allow the division of their own country on religious lines. And today, the consequences of this partition are still felt : Kashmir is the most visible of them; but you also have Ayodhya, Kargil, the nuclear bomb, the Bombay or Coimbatore blasts - and above all, the self-negation of a nation which is not whole, which has lost some of its most precious limbs in 1947. Yes, it is true, the British used to the hilt the existing divide between Hindus and Muslims; yes, the Congress was weak : it accepted what was forced down its throat by Jinnah and Mountbatten, even though many of its leaders, and a few moderate Muslims, disagreed with the principle of partition; it was also Gandhi's policy of non-violence and gratifying the fanatical Muslim minority, in the hope that it would see the light, which did tremendous harm to India and encouraged Jinnah to harden his demands. But ultimately, one has to go back to the roots, to the beginning of it all, in order to understand Partition. One has to travel back in history to get a clear overall picture. This is why memory is essential, this is why Holocausts should never be forgotten.
For Jinnah was only the vehicle, the instrument, the avatar, the latest reincarnation of the medieval Muslims coming down to rape and loot and plunder the land of Bharat. He was the true son of Mahmud Ghaznavi, of Muhammed Ghasi, of Aurangzeb. He took up again the work left unfinished by the last Mughal two centuries earlier: 'Dar-ul-Islam', the House of Islam. The Hindu-Muslim question is an old one - but is it really a Muslim-Hindu question, or just plainly a Muslim obsession, their hatred of the Hindu pagans, their contempt for this polytheist religion? This obsession, this hate, is as old as the first invasion of India by the Arabs in 650. After independence, nothing has changed: the sword of Allah is still as much ready to strike the Kafirs, the idolaters of many Gods. The Muslims invaded this country, conquered it, looted it, razed its temples, humiliated its Hindu leaders, killed its Brahmins, converted its weaker sections. True, it was all done in the name of Allah and many of its chiefs were sincere in thinking they were doing their duty by hunting down the Infidel. So how could they accept on 15th August 1947 to share power on an equal basis with those who were their subjects for thirteen centuries?
"Either the sole power for ourselves, and our rule over the Hindus as it is our sovereign right, we the adorers of the one and only true God - Or we quit India and establish our own nation, a Muslim nation, of the true faith, where we will live amongst ourselves".
Thus there is no place for idolaters in this country, this great nation of Pakistan; they can at best be ‘tolerated’ as second-class citizens. Hence the near total exodus of Hindus from Pakistan, whereas more than half the Muslim population in India, chose to stay, knowing full well that they would get the freedom to be and to practice their own religion. In passing, the Muslims took their pound of flesh from the Hindus - once more - by indulging in terrible massacres, which were followed by retaliations from Sikhs and hard core Hindus, the ultimate horror. Partition triggered one of the most terrible exodus in the history of humanity. And this exodus has not ended: they still come by hundreds of thousand every year from Bangladesh, fleeing poverty, flooding India with problems, when the country has already so many of her own.
For French historian Alain Danielou, the division of India was on the human level as well as on the political one, a great mistake : "It added to the Middle East an unstable state, Pakistan, and burdened India which already had serious problems". And he adds:
"India whose ancient borders stretched until Afghanistan, lost with the country of seven rivers (the Indus Valley), the historical centre of her civilisation. At a time when the Muslim invaders seemed to have lost some of their extremism and were ready to assimilate themselves to other populations of India, the European conquerors, before returning home, surrendered once more the cradle of Hindu civilisation to Muslim fanaticism." (Histoire de l'Inde, p.355)
Pakistanis will argue that the valley of Kashmir, which has a Muslim majority, should have gone to Pakistan – and in the mad logic of partition they are not totally wrong. It is because Nehru and Gandhi accepted this logic, which was tremendously stupid, that India is suffering so much today. Of course, we cannot go back, History has been made : Pakistan has become an independent country and it is a “fait accompli”. But if you go to Pakistan today, you will notice that its Punjabis look exactly the same as Indian Punjabis : they have the same mannerisms, eat the same food, dress similarly, speak the same language… Everything unites them, except religion. And this is what Sri Aurobindo kept saying in 1947 :
" India is free, but she has not achieved unity, only a fissured and broken freedom…The whole communal division into Hindu and Muslim seems to have hardened into the figure of a permanent political division of the country. It is to be hoped that the Congress and the Nation will not accept the settled fact as for ever settled, or as anything more than a temporary expedient. For if it lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled; civil strife may remain always possible, possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest. The partition of the country must go…For without it the destiny of India might be seriously impaired and frustrated. That must not be." (Message of Sri Aurobindo on the 15th of August 1947).
It is only when the subcontinent will be whole again and the scars on both sides have been healed, that a Greater India will regain some of the self-pride gone with Partition.
All right, Nehru got his 'tryst with destiny', although a truncated tryst. India was free and everything was anew, the sky was the limit and a new glory was awaiting the land of Bharat. But what did Nehru and the Congress proceed to do with this new India? Writes Danielou:
"The Hindus who had mostly supported the Congress in its fight for independence, had thought that the modernist ideology of an Anglo-Saxon inspiration of its leaders was only a political weapon destined to justify independence in the eyes of Westerners. They thought that once independence was acquired, the Congress would revise its policies and would re-establish proper respect towards Sanskrit culture, Hindu religious and social institutions, which form the basis of Indian civilisation. But nothing doing, the minority formed by the Congress leaders was too anglicised, to reconsider the value of what they had learnt. Few things changed in Indian administration, only the colour of the skin of the new rulers, who were most of the time lower ranks officials of the old regime". (Histoire de l'Inde, p. 348).
And indeed, on top of the Partition tragedy, there is the other calamity of modern India: namely that under Nehru's leadership, it chose to turn its back on most of its ancient institutions, social and political and adapted blindly and completely the British system, constitutional, social, political, judicial, and bureaucratic. For not only the Greatness that WAS India was ignored, but unconsciously, it is hoped, one made sure that there would never be a greatness that IS India.
Democracy was then the new name of the game for India. But Sri Aurobindo had very clear ideas on "western democracy:
"I believe in something which might be called social democracy, but not in any of the forms now current, and I am not altogether in love with the European kind, however great it may be an improvement upon the past. I hold that India, having a spirit of her own and a governing temperament proper to her own civilisation, should in politics as in everything else, strike out her original path and not stumble in the wake of Europe. but this is precisely what she will be obliged to do if she has to start on the road in her present chaotic and unprepared condition of mind".
This was written, mind you, on January 5 1920 (India's Reb 143) - and it was exactly what happened. Sri Aurobindo also felt :
"The old Indian system grew out of life, it had room for everything and every interest. There were monarchy, aristocracy, democracy; every interest was represented in the government. While in Europe the Western system grew out of the mind: they are led by reason and want to make everything cut and dried without any chance for freedom or variation. India is now trying to imitate the West. Parliamentary government is not suited to India…"
Socialism certainly has its values, as Sri Aurobindo observed in 1914.
"The communistic principle of society is intrinsically as superior to the individualistic as is brotherhood to jealousy and mutual slaughter; but all the practical schemes of Socialism invented in Europe are a yoke, a tyranny and a prison." (India's Reb 99).
At India's independence, Nehru opted for what Danielou calls "romantic socialism". Was socialism best suited for India? It was maybe a matter for the best in the worst, to forestall a complete take-over by communism,(*) which would have, as in China, entirely killed the soul of India and damaged for ever its Dharma. But if Nehru and the Congress leaders had not been so anglicised and had known a little more of the exalted past of their country, they would have opted for a more indianised system of socialism, such as the ancient panchayat system (which Rajiv Gandhi would attempt to revive later). Their socialism, although it was full of great and noble intentions, created great evils in India. Writes Danielou:
"But this socialism was empty of meaning, for there existed no class struggle in India, nor social conditions similar to those in Europe. The controls established by a an incapable and corrupted bureaucracy, the ruin of private property, the incredible taxes slapped on capital, the confiscations, the dictatorial exchange controls, and the heavy custom duties, plunged India in a terrible misery. The lands of the zamindars were distributed to the poor peasants, without any institution of agricultural financing, and farmers depending 100% on the loan shark, got completely ruined and agricultural production went into a slump. The prohibition to export profits as well as the excessive taxes, forced all capitalist to flee the country." (Histoire de l'Inde p. 349)
One of the worst legacies of Nehru and the Congress is political. Like the British, Nehru centralised all the power at the Centre, the states were formed in an arbitrary manner and very little political autonomy was left to them. This created a land of babus and bred corruption. In turn, it triggered in certain states such as Tamil Nadu, whose culture has been preserved much more than in North Indian states, (maybe because it was more sheltered from Muslim incursions by the Deccan plateau), a resentment against the Centre, who was trying to impose Hindi on them, for instance, and fostered a seed of separatism. And why should the Centre try to impose Hindi on all Southern states? Hindi is a language which is spoken only by a few Northern states. And why for that matter should the Centre impose anything on the States, except in vital matters such as Security and External Affairs?
Nehru also initiated the entire bureaucratisation of India, which was a terrible mistake, if only because it was a system established by the British who wanted to centralise and control everything from the top. It was all right when the English were there, they were the masters, they made their riches out of plundering the country and had no need to be corrupt. But how do you give so much power to an insensitive babu, who earns only a few thousand rupees a month? Hence corruption and bureaucracy flourished together in India under Nehru. The Soviet-type industrialisation, such as massive state industries, big steel, mills and mega dams, have already proved a failure in the West; yet Nehru and his successors all went for it. India became a state owned country which produced sub-standard quality goods. The only merit it had was to shelter her from a take-over by multinationals and allow her to develop her own products, however deficient.
Indians are so proud of their judicial system; but isn't it a carbon copy of the British one, with as a consequence, a flurry of problems, whether it is the political interference in the naming of judges, the incredible backlog of pending cases, or the overcrowding of jails? Again, the Indian judiciary relies for his judgements on western values, on European jurisprudence, which are totally unfit for India. Once more, it is proud of its « secular » values and often comes down heavily on the fanatical bigots, meaning the Hindus. In education, Nehru carried on with the British policy of imposing a westernised English system: more and more the universities and schools of India, many of them run by Christians missions, produced a generation of English speaking diploma holders, who did not belong any more to Hindu society, but only to a fake bureaucratic society with westernised manners.
Finally, Hindu-bashing became a popular pastime under Nehru's rule. Jawaharlal had a great sympathy for communism (*), like many men of his generation and indeed of the generations thereafter till the early 7O's. We have all been duped by communism, whose ideal is so appealing in this world of inequalities, but whose practise was taken over by Asuric forces, whether in Stalin's Russia, or in Maoist China. Nehru encouraged Marxist think-tanks, such as the famous JNU in Delhi, which in turn bred a lot of distinguished "Hindu-hating scholars" like Romila Thapar, who is an adept at negating Muslim atrocities and running to the ground the greatness of Hinduism and its institutions. Today even, most of the intellectuals, journalists and many of India's elite have been influenced by that school of thinking and regularly ape its theories. The sympathy of India’s English media goes more towards Christians and Muslims, whatever excesses they commit, than to the majority Hindus, thanks to whom Christianity and Islam strive in India. We have seen that bias time and again, whether after Graham Staines murder, or during the burning of the kar sevaks in the Sabamarti Express in Gujurat. This too is leftover from Nehruvianism.
But ultimately, whatever his faults, Nehru was part of India's soul. He fought for her independence with all his heart; and when freedom came, he applied to India the ideals he knew best, however misconceived they might have been. He was lucky enough to be in office while India went through a relatively peaceful period of her post-independence history, except for the first war with Pakistan and the China invasion. And he must have felt gratified to see his beloved country through the first stages of her recovery from the yoke of colonialism.
(*) One does not want to dwell too much on communism in India, such as the one practised in Bengal or Kerala, although in its defence it must be said that on the one hand it is an Indian brand of communism, as the influence of Hinduism was able to soften it. On the other, that the Bengalis are too great a race for completely being bowled over by a thoroughly materialistic ideology. Naxalism also had its meaning: when one sees the injustice going on in India, with the amazing gap between the incredibly rich with black money, marrying their daughters for lakhs of rupees in the five star hotels in Delhi -and the very poor, who can barely eat one meal a day, one feels like taking a gun and doing one's own justice. But once again this is not the way for India, for she has another wisdom waiting to be used again and solve all her problems without violence. What is the future of communism in India? Like the rest, it may be absorbed back in her psyche, transformed and adapted to her psychology, for even communism can find its place, as long as it recognises the central Dharma of India. Or maybe will it disappear altogether from the land of Bharat.
CHAPTER 8: 21st century India : A self-denial
Why is it that Indians, particularly its elite - the intelligentsia, the journalists, the writers, the top bureaucrats, the diplomats - hold an image of themselves which is often negative, and have a tendency to run down their own country ?
The self-perception that Indians have of themselves, is frequently detrimental to their self-confidence. This is particularly striking amongst Indian journalists, who always seem to look at India through a western prism and constantly appear to worry how the foreign press views India, how the foreign countries - particularly the United States of America - perceive India, what the Human Right agencies say about India… What matters to them is not what might utter India’s sages, avatars, gurus, wise men and yogis, who dress Indian, eat Indian, think Indian and even dream Indian, but what the western media, or Amnesty International will think about India. They are not interested at all by what the Bhagavad Gita, probably the world’s most revelatory, most comprehensive, most relevant sacred book has to say, or how Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, India’s 21st century avatar, could help. No, they would rather turn to Thoreau, Marx or Jean-Paul Sartre, people who have even lost relevance in the West, for a solution to thy immense problems.
Thus, when one reads certain Indian magazines, one has the impression that they could be written by foreign journalists, because not only do they tend to look at India in a very critical manner, but often, there is nothing genuinely Indian in their contents, no references to India’s past greatness, no attempts to put things in perspective through the prism of India’s ancient wisdom. Therefore, most of the time, their editorial contents endeavour to explain the present events affecting India, such as Ayodhya, or the problem of Kashmir, or the Christian missionaries’ attempts at conversion of tribal Hindus, by taking a very small portion of the subcontinent’s history - usually the most recent one - without trying to put these events in a broader focus, or attempting to revert back to India’s long and ancient history. In a gist, one could say - although things have been changing in the late nineties - that there is hardly any self-pride amongst India’s intellectual elite, because they are usually too busy running down their own country. It is done in a very brilliantly manner, it is true - because Indian journalists, writers, artists, high bureaucrats, are often intelligent, witty and talented people - but always with that western slant, as if India was afflicted by a permanent inferiority complex. One then has to try to analyse the underlying reasons of this negative self-perception that India has of herself, probe the unconscious impulses which give many Indians - Hindus, we should say, as the majority of India’s intelligentsia are born Hindus - the habit of always depreciating their own culture and traditions. And certainly, Nehru, his daughter Indira, Rajiv and the subsequent Congress leaders must be held partly responsible for this lack of confidence.
A. The humiliation of 1962
The so-called Kargil war of Kashmir in June 99 has triggered two very positive phenomenons for India. For the first time in a long stretch, it gave the country a bit of nationalism, it made many Indians proud of the heroism and selflessness of their soldiers. Whatever jingoism, or chauvinism there also was, one could feel, from Tamil Nadu to Punjab, that for a time there grew a feeling of togetherness in the nation, the knowledge of one’s soldiers fighting it out there, in the harshest and most dangerous conditions and defending Mother India’s sacred land. And that was very positive, for unless a nation possesses a bit of nationalism, it cannot keep on growing. And the second very positive aspect is that it has revived in India a notion which has been extinct for a long time : that of the kshatriya spirit. A nation needs warriors, it needs soldiers to defend itself and protect its women, children, and its borders from hostile and asuric elements, which throughout history have negated the Good and the Holy. It is fine to be Gandhian and non-violent, but in the tough and rough world of today, one cannot be too naïve : you need a strong and well-equipped army to be able to defend one’s dharma. But a well equipped army is not enough – we have seen how today the United States’ army, the most modern and high-tech of the world, is only capable of fighting from a distance, either bombarding from the sky, as they did in Yugoslavia or Afghanistan, or shooting from boats off-shore, a coward’s war, as its soldiers have lost the sense of kshatriya, of honour, of dying for one’s country. In Kargil, India saw the selflessness of its soldiers, with all the officers in front, climbing in the cold under enemy fire and wrestling peaks in impossible conditions, with little more than blood and tears.
But not only Indians lack self-confidence in their dealings with the West, but they seem to have a permanent fear of the Chinese. Is it because in 1962, the Chinese took advantage of India’s naïveté, and attacked treacherously in the Himalayas, humiliating the Indian army and taking away 20.000 square kilometres of her territory, which they have not yet vacated ? India’s first Prime Minister, Jawarlahal Nehru, had decided that India and China were the natural ‘socialist’ brothers of Asia. Shortly before China’s attack, the Indian Army Chief of Staff had drafted a paper on the threats to India's security by China, along with recommendations for a clear defence policy. But when Nehru read the paper, he said : "Rubbish. Total Rubbish. We don't need a defence plan. Our policy is non-violence. We foresee no military threats. Scrap the Army. The police are good enough to meet our security needs." We know the results of this very foolish assessment.
But the biggest mistake that Nehru did was to betray Tibet, a peaceful spiritualised nation. For Tibet had always been a natural buffer between the two Giants of Asia - in fact, the Dalai Lama‘s repeated offer that Tibet becomes a denuclearised, demilitarised zone between India and China, makes total sense today and Indian leaders should have immediately adopted it. But unfortunately, if there is one thing which all political parties in India share, it is the policy of appeasing China in exchange for a non-interference of the Chinese in Kashmir. But what non-interference ? Not only did China give Pakistan the know-how to develop nuclear weapons, but it also provided missiles to deliver them ! On top of that, according to the CIA, China has transferred one third of its nuclear arsenal to Nagchuka, 250 kms away from Lhassa, a region full of huge caves, which the Chinese have linked together by an intricate underground network and where they have installed nearly one hundred Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, many of them pointed at Indian cities. The reason for this is that the Chinese, who are probably among the most intelligent people in the world, have always understood that India is their number one potential enemy in Asia – in military, nuclear and economic terms.
It should be clear that as long as India does not stand-up up to its responsibility towards Tibet and continues to recognise China’s unjust suzerainty of it, there will be no peace in Asia. Indian leaders are perfectly aware that the Chinese, a span of fifty years, have killed 1,2 million Tibetans, razed to the ground 6254 monasteries, destroyed 60% of religious, historical and cultural archives and that one Tibetan out of ten is still in jail. As we enter the Third Millennium, a quarter million Chinese troops are occupying Tibet and there are 7,5 million Chinese settlers for six million Tibetans - in fact, in many places such as the capital, Lhassa, Tibetans are outnumbered two to one… India has also to wake-up to the plain fact that China needs space and has hegemonic aspirations : it got Tibet, it got Hong Kong, it got part of Ladhak; now it wants Taiwan, Arunachal Pradesh, the Spratly islands and
what not ! Fifty years ago, during the Korean war, Sri Aurobindo, had seen clearly in the Chinese game : “the first move in the Chinese Communist plan of campaign is to dominate and take possession first of these northern parts and then of South East Asia as a preliminary to their manoeuvres with regard to the rest of the continent in passing Tibet as a gate opening to India”.
India should overcome its awe of China and be ready to eventually face once more the Chinese army. The nuclear tests of India, which have been very criticised, because ideally you have to get rid of nuclear weapons if you want a safe world, should be seen in that light.
B. Indira Gandhi
Indira certainly had a better understanding of the deeper, rural India than her father. But her legacy is still very bleak : she institutionalised the way the Congress still functions today, with its totally centralised pyramid-like system, with one person at the top wielding absolute power – and paved the way for Sonia Gandhi’s absolute one-woman rule and the sycophancy surrounding her. Punjab and the Sikh problem however the undoing of Indira; it poisoned the last years of her reign and finally killed her in the most frightful manner.
Wonderful religion that of Sikkism: the only true attempt ever to synthesise Hinduism and Islam - and who knows what would have happened if it had succeeded. "The Sikh Khalsa, writes Sri Aurobindo, was an astonishingly original and novel creation and its face was turned not to the past but to the future. Apart and singular in its theocratic head and democratic soul and structure, its profound spiritual being, its first attempt to combine the deepest elements of Islam and Vedanta, it was a premature drive towards an entrance into the third or spiritual stage of human society, but it could not create between the spirit and the external life the transmitting medium of a rich creative thought and culture. And thus hampered and deficient it began and ended with narrow local limits, achieved intensity but no power of expansion…" (Foundations of Indian Culture, p. 380)
Unfortunately, the Sikhs, because they had to defend themselves against the terrible persecutions by the Muslims, became a militant religion, adopting hawkish habits, which even in time of peace they kept. And they also retained some of the more negative side of Islam: intolerance, or feeling of persecution, thus cutting themselves from the mainstream spirit of Hindu tolerance and width- from which they anyway came, and where they might ultimately go back.
Today, but even more during Indira Gandhi's time, Sikhism is on the defensive, or rather displays an aggressive spirit of defence. Why? As Sri Aurobindo points out, Sikhism was a wonderful attempt at synthesising Islam and Hinduism, but because the conditions were not right, it faltered. And today, whatever the loveliness of Sikh rites, the incredible beauty of the Golden Temple and its wonderful atmosphere; Sikhism, like Zoroastrianism of the Parsi community, may be a stagnating religion -whereas Hinduism from which Sikhism sprang in greater part, is very much alive and remains the Dharma, the source of all religions in India. it may be this unconscious realisation by the Sikhs that their religion is being slowly absorbed back into Hinduism, which triggers their militancy and fundamentalism. And after all, what is fundamentalism, but going back to the fundamentals, the foundations ? And Sikhism strove best when it was militant, when it fought the Muslims; thus unconsciously, the separatists of the late seventies went back to that crease, to that glorious epoch to regain their identity. That is all what separatism is, a desperate attempt to regain Sikh identity in the face of the all pervasive and subtle Hindu onslaught. The fact that the British had planted that seed of separatism and that later it was fuelled, financed and armed by Pakistan, certainly did not help. But can the British, or Pakistan, or even Indira Gandhi be credited with having of FABRICATED Sikh separatism? Mrs Gandhi was also accused of having 'created' Bhrindhrawale and made thus responsible for the whole Punjab problem. This is going to extremes; she may have helped politically Bhrindhrawale and thought of using him later to counterbalance her opponents in Punjab. That's bad enough; but Bhrindhrawale's fanaticism and violence was his own, he was just an embodiment of Sikh militancy and frustration; if he had not been there, another Bhrindhrawale would have sprung-up, with or without Mrs Gandhi's help.
Finally, Sikhs and many other Indians have not forgiven Mrs Gandhi for giving the order of storming the Golden Temple. History will judge. But think of it this way: would the French Government have tolerated that for months, Basque separatists, for instance, be holed up in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the holiest of all Christian shrines, with their weapons, issuing deaths warrants against politicians, and receiving journalists, as Bhrindhrawale did? Certainly not. These Basque militants would not have lasted three days in Notre Dame; the army would have been called - and although great care would have been taken that no harm be done to the wonderful 1000 year old church, it would have been a fight to the finish. Remember also what happened to the 350 militants who took over the Kaba in Mecca in 1989? Most of them were killed when the Saudi government sent its special forces against what is the most sacred place of worship in the world to all Muslims. And what about the men, women and children barricaded up in Waco, Texas, with only a few guns: the FBI went in with flame throwers and armoured cars, killing so many innocents; and nobody in the world found anything to say. It is a credit to Indira Gandhi and the inherent Indian tolerance, that Bhrindhrawale and his followers were allowed to hole-up for so long in the Golden Temple. No democratic government in Europe or any Arab state would have allowed such a situation to continue. It was unfortunate that the Golden Temple got damaged and so many were killed during the assault; but as the Head of Government, Mrs Gandhi took the correct decision. It was not her fault that the Sikhs allowed their most sacred place to become the shelter of men armed with weapons and with death in their hearts.
It is shameful that many Sikhs rejoiced when she was murdered in such a terrible way by her own Sikh bodyguards, men she had trusted, even though she had been told earlier to have all Sikhs removed from her personal security. To kill a woman lying on the ground with bullets, is a curse to any race that condones it. And ultimately, whatever her faults, Indira Gandhi - as she had predicted a few days before her assassination- did give her blood and her life for the country she loved in her own way. The vengeance of Hindus, backed by Congress leaders, was equally shameful and the culprits should be punished, it is never too late.
Rajiv Gandhi was typical of a certain breed of westernised Indians, totally ignorant about their own country, yet full of goodwill. It must be said to his defence that he was never interested in power, content to be a pilot, hobby around and live a quiet life with Sonia and his two children. But fate and his mother's distrust for everybody but her own sons, decided otherwise. It must also be said that the man (and his wife and children) demonstrated poise and dignity at his mother's assassination- and what a horrible way to lose one's mother- which could fill one's heart with hatred and ideas of vengeance. Rajiv showed in his early years goodwill and a sincere aspiration to transform the Indian system. But there were two problems: one was that being totally cut off from the Hindu reality of his country, he applied to his effort misconceived ideas about what India should be. And two, that like Don Quichote battling the windmills, he had to fight the Congress system, its corruption and bureaucracy. In the end he gave-up this unequal battle and had to fall back on advice from the old guard. His ill-advised judgement in the Shah Bano case or his pandering to Palestine, were certainly more in tune with the old Congress policy of flattering the Indian Muslim community, as in the pre-independence Kalhifat movement, than his own opinions, for everything in his upbringing was pro-Western and Israel certainly was no enemy of his. He must have also secretly agreed with the Supreme Court judgement in the Shah Bano case.
If his mother's downfall and ultimate death was due to the Sikh separatist problem, his undoing was Sri Lanka and the Tamil separatist factor there.
D. Sri Lanka
There seems to be little doubt that once upon a time, not so long ago, India and Sri Lanka were linked by a small strip of land, which can still be seen today from the air: Adam's Bridge. And this is how the first Tamils, those who settled in the North, came to Sri Lanka (are they the first inhabitants of Sri Lanka and not the Sinhalese? This is another question!). There is also no doubt -and the Sinhalese recognise it- that they are originally Indians, although some say that they came from Gujurat, others from Bengal. Thus it can be established beyond doubt that Sri Lanka and India are one ethnically, although they differ in religion (but the same can be said within India). And throughout the ages, under one form or the other, Ceylon was under the influence of India. That is why, when the British conquered it in the late 18th century, they chose to attach it to their Indian empire. But when they left in 47, in their desire to see that India never dominates too heavily the subcontinent, they facilitated the creation of Pakistan and handed to Sri Lanka its freedom. And India and Sri Lanka seemed to part way for ever, as Tamils and Sinhalese were left to war with each other, until Rajiv sent the IKPF in 1988.
One has to go back a long time to understand what decisive factors shaped the psyche of the island's two communities. And this decisive factor bears the names of two of the world greatest religions: Buddhism and Hinduism. The first one, Buddhism, is a gentle, peaceful creed, that teaches non-violence and brotherhood, even to enemies. Unfortunately, Ceylon, often called the "isle of beauty", has always been too tempting a prey for sea-faring invaders. And indeed, successive colonisers, from Arabs to Africans, from Portuguese to Dutch and finally, British, preyed on the tiny, defenceless island. In the name of Buddhism and because, the Sinhalese are by nature a fun-loving, gentle people, not only did they hardly resist these invasions, but often, many of their women, mingled freely with the foreign intruders. The result can clearly be seen today on the faces of many Sinhalese women folk, with their African-curled hair, Arabic features and fair skinned faces. As a result, the Sinhalese slowly lost their sense of identity, their feeling of being a collective being, to the point that when the British came, they collaborated wholehearted with them and had to be handed back their independence on a platter, for want of a real freedom movement. Today, democracy and western institutions are just a flimsy cloak that the Sinhalese wear. Lurking underneath the pleasant, sometimes servile attitude towards Westerners, is a sense of hopelessness and a terrible violence. And in reality, since independence, Sinhalese politicians must have been some of the least farsighted of the entire subcontinent: nothing is made in Sri Lanka, everything has to be imported and only tea, tourism and Western grants help the country survive.
On the other hand, Hinduism with its strict caste hierarchy, which forbids much contact with outsiders, particularly sexual contact with foreigners, protected Sri Lankan Tamils from mingling with their invaders. Thus they preserved their identity, their racial purity and their culture. Sinhalese live an easier life in the South, which was always more fertile than the arid North. As a result, Tamils have often been better at studies and more hard- working, (although one should not generalise). This was quickly noticed by the British, who often gave Tamils preference for jobs and university grants, thus angering the Sinhalese, who after all were the majority community.
It is this deep-rooted resentment of the Sinhalese towards the Tamil community which is the cause of the present troubles. When the British left, the Sinhalese quickly moved in to correct what they saw as an unbalance: they set on depriving the Tamils of most of the rights they had acquired under the British and proceeded to establish a Sinhalese-dominated Ceylon. And every time a Sinhalese politician tried to give the Tamils their just share of power, he quickly had to backtrack under Sinhalese resentment. For years, the Tamils bore the brunt of Sinhalese persecution. But one day, too much became too much and Tamil armed groups started springing up to defend their people. To cut short a long story, the LTTE finally emerged as the most ruthless and sole militant organisation. For those who remember the Tamil Tigers in their early years: young, bright, soft spoken university students, there was no doubt that they had started with a genuine aspiration to secure their just rights. But violence breeds its own violence and today the Tigers have lost all sense of measure and restraint, eliminating ruthlessly all what they think stands in the way of their freedom.
Yet, in 1988, Rajiv stepped in to mediate between the warring Sinhalese and Tamils. All kind of insulting epithets have been thrown onto the Jeyawardene-Rajiv Gandhi peace plan and the IPKF's role in Sri Lanka, but these are unfair (as unfair as accusing Mrs Gandhi of creating the Sri Lankan imbroglio by arming and sheltering the Tamil separatist groups in Tamil Nadu's coastal area. Those who vent these accusations have no knowledge of Sri Lankan history: 1) the problem goes back to 2000 years of strife. 2) The Tamils were at that time genuinely persecuted and faced pogroms. Short of India intervening militarily, it made sense to arm the Tamils so that they could defend themselves). The Rajiv Gandhi peace plan was the best attempt that could be made in the circumstances, to solve the ethnic war and ensure the region's stability - and the IPKF did not come to conquer and colonise, but to help. That the LTTE betrayed the hand that had fed it, because it wants total and unequivocal freedom and it saw India's move as thwarting it (that is the main reason for their murdering Rajiv Gandhi. If he had come back to power, as indeed he was sure to, he would have pressurised the Sinhalese to grant the Tamils a semi-autonomous region in the North-East). But that is another matter. India's thus got bogged down in a guerrilla war it did not want to fight, with one hand tied behind the back to avoid killing civilians; and ultimately it had to leave because of pressure at home and Mr Premadasa's intense dislike of Indians.
Today, Tamils have actually come one step nearer to freedom. The partition of Sri Lanka may be considered a "fait accompli". It might take some time, but ultimately, some Sinhalese leader will have to come to the conclusion that Sri Lanka's economy cannot be bled any more by this senseless war. What happens if one day the island's one million Tamil tea planters, (whose forefathers were "imported" from India by the British, another parting gift from dear Britannia), who up to now have kept away from the conflict, join hand with their North-East brothers? It would be the end of Sri Lanka. And how long can tourism, the island's other source of revenue, be promoted in the midst of strife? The LTTE have chosen for the moment to leave the tourists alone. But it would be enough that they kill a few, to scare away Sri Lanka’s main source of revenues.
But even if the partition of Sri Lanka in two is granted by the Sinhalese, with the north-east portion for the Tamils, the island will remain a hotbed of uncertainty, a potential time bomb in South Asia.
And this raises the question of India's security. At the moment, th Norwegians seem to have brokered a truce between the Sinhalese and the Tamil Tgers. But time and again the Tigers have used these truces to rearm and regroup, as their ultimate goal seems to be partition. What should be New Delhi's reaction in case of a Sri Lankan partition? Can India remain unaffected by whatever is going to happen in Sri Lanka? There are 55 millions Indian Tamils in Tamil Nadu. It has been shown already that instability in Sri Lanka breeds instability in Tamil Nadu. Certainly, Mrs Jayalalitha's autocratic ways, her godlike worship by her party men and her paranoia for security, which is justified by the terrible assassination of her friend Rajiv, are a direct result of Sri Lanka's strife. This frightful cold-blooded murder of Rajiv Gandhi, was a consequence of the Sri Lankan problem, which India cannot ignore.
And ultimately, it is hoped that history will remember Rajiv with indulgence and affection, even if he had little understanding of India’s true reality and her spiritual genius had completely eluded him. He was a gentleman and one always courteous with everybody, including journalists. Like his mother, he also gave his life for India and his terrible death shocked millions of us that fateful night in Sriperambadur. Apart from his goodwill, he must be credited with having started the economic liberalisation of India, indispensable if this country wants to become a 21st century superpower. Has the long Nehru dynasty ended with him?
PS. * A word about Bofors is a must, as it ended Rajiv Gandhi's first and only tenure as Prime Minister. The Indian Press has made too much of the Bofors controversy and the whole thing is a hypocrite’s scandal, as all political parties in the world use kickbacks on arms deals to finance their election campaigns. Rajiv must have been convinced by the old Congress guard to accept the Bofors kickbacks for the party through intermediaries - and lived to regret it, trapped that he was in his lies.
** The less we talk about his successor, V.P. Singh, the better. Here was a man of talent, certainly, but of an immense ambition under the guise of a Gandhian cloak. To achieve his lifetime ambition of becoming Prime Minister, he did not hesitate to betray his own leader, Rajiv Gandhi. It should be remembered too, that he withdrew Rajiv's special security, when he knew very well that the man was on the hit list of not only the Sikh militants but also of the Tamil separatists. His own conscience will be judge for that act.
V.P. Singh also did immense harm to India. His implementation of the Mandal Report, was only a move at assuring his reelection, even at the cost of splitting the country on caste lines. Who will ever be able to forget the images of V.P. Singh's police shooting on students? There was an asuric force at work, of which V.P. Singh was only one of the instruments. With him would come Mulayam Singh, Laloo Prasad, and Kanshi Ram, who would also use the caste factor to divide India and achieve their political ambitions.
CHAPTER 9: The Bharatiya Janata Party years
Western correspondents - and unfortunately also Indian journalists - keep labeling the BJP and organizations to which the BJP owes some of its ideologies - such as the RSS, or the VHP - as "Hindu nationalists", or "Hindu fundamentalists". But this is a totally false and misleading statement, as in the whole history of India, Hindus - who let us remember, are 850 millions today and constitute the overwhelming cultural and political majority of this country - have not only shown that they are extremely tolerant, but Hinduism is probably the only religion in the world which never tried to convert others or conquer other countries to propagate their own religion. This historical tolerance of Hinduism is never taken into account by foreign correspondents covering India and even, unfortunately, by Indian journalists.
On the other hand, Hindus suffered immensely at the hands of the two greatest "monotheists" religions of the world. And it is only in the last eighty years that some " nationalist " movements were born to try to preserve Hindu culture in the face of conversions by Christian missionaries and the rising influence of the Muslim League. These movements, whose descendants today are the RSS, the Shiv Sena or the VHP, may make preposterous statements - although that is debatable - but they have never killed anybody, never massacred anybody in the name of their God. Burning down a few makeshift churches, however reprehensible these acts are, does not make them nazis or even dangerous fundamentalists. Let's respect the proper use of words.
In 1984, the Bharatiya Janata Party bagged only two seats in the general elections, a total humiliation. Twelve years later, in 1996, it became the largest party in India with 186 MP's and came briefly to power, even though it's government was unfairly toppled ten days later. After the disastrous Governments of Mr Gowda and LK Gujral, a well meaning but largely ineffective man side of the Line of Control in Kashmir. The Indian soldiers performed very bravely in the face of tremendous odds and the international community appreciated India's restraint in not crossing over onto the Pakistani side of the LOC.
This is why, after Sonia Gandhi, with the help of Jayalitha, toppled once more the BJP Government, with the covert help of the President of India and the Election Commissioner, the Indian electorate returned to power the BJP and its allies with a stumping majority, although the BJP itself did not do as well as expected, specially in Uttar Pradeh, maybe because it had forsaken some of its original ideals, to satisfy its allies. Regrettably, the BJP, in its desire to appear "secular", forsook many of the ideals which had made it dear and unique in the eyes of many of India's voters, thus taking the road charted by the Congress before him. It did not take advantage of the unprecedented popularity it enjoyed once upon a time, of a new feeling of "nationalism" to come-up with some hard decisions, so as to "Indianize" (*) the nation that it may manifest again its true unique soul : Give back the power to the villages in the form of Panchayat. Reintroduce Sanskrit as the national language. Rewrite Indian History, which had mostly been devised by White Masters. Revive ancient traditional systems such as pranayama, yoga, and incorporate them in the education system and everyday life. Change the Constitution so that democracy may not be perverted as it is today . Privatise the numerous "White Elephants", such as many of the Indian Banks, SAIL, ITDC, etc.… Unfortunately, there has already been, at the time when this book goes to press, a certain amount of "Congressization" of the BJP in power and many of the Hindu groups, like the RSS, are disappointed with the BJP leaders, although some of the Ministers, such as Dr Manohar Muarli Joshi have tried to fulfill the prophecy of Sri Aurobindo :
"India of the ages is not dead nor has She spoken Her last creative word. And that which She must seek now to awake, is not an anglicised oriental people, docile pupil of the West and doomed to repeat the cycle of the Occident's success and failure, but still the ancient immemorial Shakti recovering Her deepest self, lifting Her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and vaster form of Her Dharma".
Today, India is still viewed with suspicion by foreign Governments, although things are beginning to change, because this country is the leading exporter in the world of software programs and Indians abroad are making a mark for themselves. But let us remember how in the sixties, China was to the world a backward nation, the "Red Devil". Richard Nixon's visit there in 1971, changed everything : today, it is a must for Industrialized nations to invest there, even if the returns are very poor and China is bound sooner or later to enter into grave political turmoil when the bloody hand of communism is withdrawn. India's eventual admission in the Security Council of the UN will signal to the world that India is the next superpower of this century, the "other" democratic giant of Asia and that it is time for the West to start doing business with India.
Nostradamus and the BJP
Here below extracts of a spoof I wrote in 1999 for my Ferengi’s column of the Indian Express. Was it prophetic ? Only time will tell….
Michel de Nostre-Dame, better known as Nostradamus (1503-1566), was a famous French astrologer whose predictions - which included the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, or the premature death of the previous Pope - have proved infallibly accurate.
Last month, unpublished manuscripts of Nostrodamus have been discovered (and authentified) in an old trunk in the French city of Lyon. Curiously, there are two full pages, which deal at length with India, particularly with the Bharatiya Janata Party and the just concluded elections. We are giving here the first words in Latin, the language which he used, along with a rough translation in English .
"Politicus Bharatus Janatus Indicus veni grandus est vingtus unus centurus - Congressus oublium est …"
The Bharatiya Janata Party will come to dominate India in the beginning of the 21st century, as the Congress, will slowly sink into oblivion.
"Malheureusus, duo annum millenium trahisonus idealum est Congressus ressemblum, fautum adoptus est. Electionirium Blanca Madamus attaquum"…
Unfortunately, to achieve power, the BJP may gradually forsake most of its idealism and it will not address the real burning changes which India needs to adopt so as to become again a Great Power”.
And Nostradamus goes on to enumerate these changes :
"Congressus independantum Blancum copium est; necessarus changum indianus cumum facus est"…
As the Congress had heavily borrowed from the White Man (British ?) at Independence, it will become necessary to "Indianize" the nation so that it may manifest again its true unique soul.
"Panchayatum villagum empruntus. Sanskritus introdum est. Historicum ecritum manus, daemonus est. Yogum, respirationnus introdum est…"
Give back the power to the villages in the form of Panchayat. Reintroduce Sanskrit as the national language. Rewrite Indian History, which had mostly been devised by White Masters. Revive ancient traditional systems such as pranayama, yoga, and incorporate them in the education system and everyday life. Change the Constitution so that democracy may not be perverted as it will be
"Malheureusus, secularus montrarus Congressus devenium est, corptionus introdus cancerus est…"
Unhappily again, goes on to say Nostradamus, the BJP in its eagerness to prove itself secular (secularus is originally a Latin word), will tend to become like the Congress : corruption, bureaucracy, the VIP plague, the madness of subsidies and the hunger for power, may eat its inner core as a cancer…
And this is Nostradamus’ scoop - if we may say :
"Politicus Bharatus Janatus interminum dividus duum et novus politicus formus"…
After some time, the Bharatiya Janata Party may split into two. Sincere idealists will form a parallel party which will have as its political platform many of the ideals which the BJP had forsaken.
"Indianus pretus reformus est, Grandus nationus manum"…
India by that time will be ready for the Big Change and the new party will sweep away the polls and implement these reforms.
"Sanskritus savantuus nationalum languus, decentralisum governmentus, aryanus theorum mortuum est, dharmum hinduus devenum. Christianum, Islamus influencum"…
Scholars will sit down to modernize and simplify Sanskrit; government will be decentralised; India will strive to form of a federation of SAARC countries; the theory of the Aryan invasion will be proved false and it will be shown that Indian civilisation is at least ten thousand years old and has influenced all great ancient civilisations and religions such as Christianity and even Islam.
And finally :
"Aurobindus Ghosus realisum est, Indianum Agus ancientus mortum non est"..
And the prophecy of Sri Aurobindo will be fulfilled :
"India of the ages is not dead nor has She spoken Her last creative word. And that which She must seek now to awake, is not an anglicised oriental people, docile pupil of the West and doomed to repeat the cycle of the Occident's success and failure, but still the ancient immemorial Shakti recovering Her deepest self, lifting Her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and vaster form of Her Dharma".
Sonia Gandhi and the future of the Congress
When Sonia Gandhi took over the reins of the Congress beginning of 1998, it was thought that the party would revive its fortunes her leadership. After all, was she not the inheritor of the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty ? But under her rule, the Congress did disastrous showings at the polls, particularly during the 1999 elections, where it only got 112 seats, a rout royal; the party did not do well either in the recent UP elections, coming in third place behind Mulayalam's party and the BJP. Yet, no voices were raised after these debacles to ask for her resignation, nobody, except Pawar and Sangma dared to challenge her autocratic ways, her absolute control over huge funds and foundations, her aloofness, surrounded that she is by security, sycophants and secretaries. Why is that ? Everything possible has been to explain how Congressmen, big and small, important and humble, have been humiliating and are still debasing themselves in front of Sonia Gandhi. There is sycophancy, of course : it is an old Congress tradition, although it should be said that Indian sycophancy is a perverted offshoot of bhakti, the great Hindu tradition of worshipping "That" which seems to be above us, regardless of its value; there is obviously self interest - most of the Congress bigwigs, who are much more intelligent that they are credited for, know that without Sonia (or Nehru / or Rajiv / or Indira), they stand to get very little votes; there is the dynasty rule angle - but again, dynasty is a very western word, which applies more to the American soap opera of the same name, than to India, where the concept of bhakti, coupled with the old maharaja tradition, have always ensured respects for "royal" families; there is the foreign angle, naturally : let us not forget that the Congress was founded by a Scot, A.O Hume, and that for long it was manipulated by its British masters to ensure that India stayed with the Crown - with Sonia, another foreigner at its helm, Congress has come a full circle; lastly, there is an element which has been overlooked : the shakti element, which is so strong and prevalent in India, that it allowed Indira Gandhi to govern with an iron hand this male-dominated country for nearly twenty years and that it has even survived in the neighboring Islamic states, such as Pakistan or Bangladesh, witness Benazir Bhutto or the two Bangla Begums. But the main cause for this fascination that Sonia Gandhi, whatever her merits (and she did put some order and dignity back in the Congress) exercises on Indians in general, whether they love or hate her, is the Great Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India, of which we have spoken earlier. It is because of this Aryan myth that dark-skinned Indians of humble origin dream of having a white skin; it is because of this myth that even the upper-class Indians think that everything Aryan -read White - is better than their own culture; it is because of this myth that Indians come by droves to witness in person the White Skin of Sonia Gandhi when she comes in their areas to address a rally, even if they might not vote for her…
What is the future of Congress in 21st century India then ? If it wants to be a worthy opposition party to the BJP,or whoever is in power , it should get rid of its hankering for the dynasty rule, and find within its ranks young and dynamic leaders - and there are quite a few waiting in the wings (although sadly, two of their best youthful leaders, Rajesh Pilot and Scindia, both died in accidents), more than the BJP even, where leaders are quite old generally. It should also look at the past in a frank and open manner and acknowledge the great blunders committed by the Congress since the beginning of the century : the pandering to the Muslim League by Gandhi, specially the horrifying Khalifat episode, the partition of India, for which Gandhi was also greatly responsible, the disastrous "socialist" policies of Nehru, his cowardly attitude towards China and Tibet, which led to the humiliation of the Indian army in 1962, the constant Hindu-baiting by the Nehruvian intelligentsia and Congressmen since 1926, and finally the catastrophic rules of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi, who whatever their goodwill, had no inkling about India's great past and potential spiritual future. Then only will have the Congress a chance to redeem itself and find a meaningful place in History books.
CHAPTER 10: The threats at the hands of Indian themselves
The worst enemies of Indians… are Indians… and very often they are
Hindus ! It is true that Hinduism has always been the target of India’s external enemies: Muslim invaders, Christian missionaries, or English colonizers, but ultimately, if Hindus were united – let us remember that there are 1,1 billion of them today throughout the world, the third largest religion - nothing could happen to them.
Very few foreign (and Indian journalists) know that in Srinagar you can still find a small Hindu temple on the banks of the river Jhelum, lost amongst the hundred and one mosques of Srinagar. Its entrance is always heavily guarded by BSF forces and it is protected by sandbags on all sides, as it has been hit a few years ago by a rocket fired by Muslim militants. Inside, a handful of Kashmri Pandits are still trying to preserve this sacred place, where a natural lingam is said to have emerged 3000 years ago and where their forefathers have worshipped for twenty generations. There were once 30.000 Hindus in Srinagar, but today only a handful are left. At the beginning of the century, a million Hindus were found in the valley of Kashmir, 300.000 in 1947; today 98% of the Kashmiri Pandits have fled the Valley of Kashmir: their houses were burnt, their women raped, their sons killed. Why does nobody ever mention these facts ?
Western journalists prefer to report on the Indian army’s “atrocities” in Kashmir. Which reminds one of an incident in May 98, during elections. The day before, the Government had all the separatist leaders put under house arrest, as a precautionary measure. But one of them, Yasim Malik, managed to slip away. His aides called the local stringers to warn them that he would surface on election day, near the Jamma Masjid. Thus, on the 30th May, a caravan of about 35 cars, with eager, impatient, news-hungry journalists on board, blasted its way towards the mosque. And there, sure enough, at 10AM, Yasim Malik, looking more sickly than ever, appeared with about three to four hundred Kashmiris. The loudspeakers of the mosque started blaring out slogans and as the BBC team headed by a very senior and famous British reporter (who later became an MP) arrived, the Kashmiris began getting hysterical: the woman wailed, the men shouted and gesticulated. Journalists were in ecstasy: the BBC cameraman zoomed onto the crowd and the foreign photographers pushed each other to get a shot of Yasim Malik, who said something like: « this election will happen only over our dead bodies ». Suddenly, the crowd, which so far had kept within the mosque’s compound, poured out through the gates and started throwing stones at the BSF, which in turn had to lob tear gas and shot in the air. Immediately, as if by magic, everyone vanished. An Indian cameraman working for a foreign network, obviously getting very scared, screamed: « I have them on film shooting, I have them shooting; let’s get out of here ». And the 35 cars winded back full speed their way to the hotels, the journalists to file their story, the photographers to print their photos and the cameramen to edit their story. Everybody was happy, because as one European photographer put it: « that was good, exciting stuff ». The same night and the next day, BBC, CNN and other networks beamed world-wide stories of « widespread violence in Kashmir » and of « intimidation of voters » (which nobody actually saw on that day). The BBC footage, which cleverly zoomed tight all the time on the gesticulating Kashmiris, made it appear as if a few thousand demonstrators were there, when actually they were only a couple of hundred; and great use was made of the police firing their guns in the air.
Ultimately, the truth must be said: we foreign journalists all come to Kashmir to get our pound of flesh. Our stories cannot be good and complete unless we can harp at human rights in Kashmir, speak of torture, rape, custody killings and generally berate the bad Indian army, because this is what our editors expect of us. Thus, most of us have already - at least subconsciously - set our mind to what we are going to say, even before setting foot in Kashmir. And the same can be said of most of the western diplomats who come to Kashmir on fact-finding missions for their government. Often, before they get down to write their reports, they have already decided what they are going to say - and even if they haven’t, they ultimately will. The reason is simple: both journalists and diplomats depend on two sources for their reporting in Kashmir: one is the stringers of Indian newspapers, who happen to be mostly Kashmiris. Publicly and in their writings, they have to be careful about what they say; but privately, specially in the presence of western journalists, whom they expect to share their feelings, they usually vent their hatred of India. And the second source is the taxi drivers of Srinagar, who are controlled by a handful of operators, who book hotels, get airline tickets confirmed, arrange meetings with separatists leaders, even with militants, or bring foreigners to houses where Kashmiris women have been supposedly raped and generally shape the mind of their protégés. Needless to say - and that is only fair - they have only one goal: to show the great suffering of the Kashmiri people at the hands of the Indian imperialists. Recently the Number Two of a very important European Embassy based in Delhi, was seen in the house of one of these operators; and although he was a little embarrassed, there was no doubt that his mind had already been made on what he was going to report.
But the question is: are Indian journalists better ? Well, sometimes they seem to want to outdo westerners in sensationalism, maybe to show that they are truly « secular ». What about this Indian newspaperman, whom we shall call N., working for a famous Human Rights agency based in Delhi, which is sponsored by German money. Everyday during the elections in Srinagar, he would proudly show us his « home work », thinking it would please us: « BSF broke into a house of two Kashmiris, and beat father and son », before faxing it to his office in Delhi. Good work. But why none of these so-called human rights organisations ever bother to meet these Pandits who courageously are staying behind to guard one of the rare Hindu temples still standing in Kashmir ? True the Kashmiri Muslims have genuine grievances: the Congress once rigged elections in their state, toppled their elected government, bought their leaders… But the story is the same everywhere in India. In fact, Kashmir is and has always been a privileged and pampered place. Indians are not allowed to buy land in Kashmir, but Kashmiris, who are very good businessmen, have had no qualms about investing in India and setting up flourishing businesses all over the country. The Indian Government keeps pouring crores of rupees in Kashmir. But if these people really want their independence, shouldn’t they be straightforward about it and stop using Indian money and utilising the Government of India’s services to export their carpets ? It is also true that the 36% participation in the elections does not seem quite realistic. But the situation in Kashmir has become very complex: you have the renegades who voted, the kashmiri pandits who voted by mail; then there are also those Kashmiris who genuinely wanted to vote, and others who voted out of fear either of the army, or of the renegades. And after all, this high percentage of voters might be a sign that some of the people are getting fed-up with militancy.
While India should definitely work on its human rights record in Kashmir and elsewhere, it should also ignore the moralising discourses of the West, which stink of hypocrisy. After all, if the British fought to keep the Falkland islands, thousands miles away from Great Britain; if Spain battles the Basques separatists; if France refuses to let go of Corsica - an island at that- why should India feel guilty about retaining what has been hers for 5000 years? The militants have initiated a reign of violence, murder and rape and the Indian army had to fight back with the same weapons, albeit ruthlessly. Kashmiris have only themselves to blame for their misery: you do not fight a counterinsurgency movement with flowers and polite talk. It is hoped that
2. Indian Muslims : Babar or Ram ?
Indian Muslims are today at a crossroad. The destruction of the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan, then later, the terrorists attacks on America of September 2001, have shown to the world in general – and to the Muslims of India in particular– that Islam still considers as kafirs not only the Buddhists, Hindus and Jews of this world, but also the great “American Satan”. Today, in Bangladesh, Afghanistan, or in Pakistan, Hindu statues and temples can still be razed and the Infidels eliminated. The Taliban and Al Qaida movement may have been partially wiped-out by the Americans, but they will be reborn somewhere else under a different name. Because for the fundamentalist Muslims and those who support them, covertly or overtly, nothing has changed since Mohamed broke the first ‘idol’ statues in the 7th century and the task has been left unfinished. The increasing suicide attacks on the Indian army by Islamic groups, still supported and financed by Pakistan, in spite of its commitment to do away with State sponsored terrorism, should also prove that the Islamic injunction of jihad is still very much alive and in practice in much of the Islamic world, from Sudan to Libya, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan.
The question that Indian Muslims should ask themselves now is simple: “who are we” ? Amongst the 120 millions of Muslims in India, only a tiny percentage descends from the Turks, Afghans, or Iranians who invaded India. The majority of them are converted Muslims. And converted how ? By terror, coercion, force, bloodshed. The ancestors of today’s Indian Muslims are probably those who suffered the most from the Arab and Muslim invasions. Those Hindus and Sikhs who chose not to convert, took refuge in their faith, fought together and kept their pride and honor. The first two generations of those who converted must have endured hell: for they certainly did not convert out of conviction, but because they had no choice: their daughters and wives were raped, sons taken into slavery, parents killed. It is sad today that their descendants have sometimes made theirs the intolerant cry of Islam.
It is true that many Indian Muslims were Hindu intouchables. Marxists would like us to believe that they converted because they thought that they would access the more egalitarian society of Islam. What rubbish! Does one think in that way in time of war, terror and tears ? Do today’s Hindu lower castes convert to Islam when there is no more violent coercion? More likely, the Intouchables were the most vulnerable, the least apt to defend themselves; they had neither the faith of the brahmins, nor the riches of the vaishiyas, nor the military skill of the kshatriyas. Do Indian Muslims understand that they were part of the richest, most advanced, most tolerant and generous civilization of ancient times. That their culture was so advanced that it had spread all over the world ?Do they realize that more and more archeological an historical discoveries are pointing out that the genocide of Hindus by Muslim invaders is without parallel.
Islam cannot be wished away. As Sri Aurobindo said “Mahomed's mission was necessary, else we might have ended by thinking, in the exaggeration of our efforts at self-purification, that earth was meant only for the monk and the city created as a vestibule for the desert”… Thus Indian Muslims have to keep their faith and any attempt by Hindus to convert them back is not only futile but counterproductive. But the question to be asked to them is: “what kind of Islam do you want to practice ? An Islam which looks westwards, towards a foreign city, the Mecca, swears by a Scripture, the Koran, which is not only not relevant to India, but which was meant for people living 1500 years ago, in a language which is not Indian ? Or do they want to practice an Islam which is “Indianized”, which accepts the reality of other Gods, as Hinduism and Buddhism accept that there have been other avatars than Ram or Buddha.
Do India Muslims want to worship Babar, a man who destroyed everything which was good, beautiful and holy and lived by the power of violence, or do they want to imbibe the qualities of Ram, who believed in the equality of all, who gave-up all riches and honors of the world because he thought his bother deserved the throne more than him ? Whatever the West says, which is obsessed with China, India, a vibrant, English speaking, pro-western democracy is going to become the superpower of the 21st century. Do Indian Muslims want to participate in that great adventure ? Do they want to feel that they are part of India, that they are Indians ? Nowadays it is politically not correct to say anything against Islam. You are immediately labeled anti-Muslim and dismissed as a “rightist”. No matter if you are only reporting the fact that there is a real problem with Islam in South Asia: that India is surrounded by fundamentalists sates: Afghanistan, even after the fall of the Taliban, and Pakistan, while more moderates like Bangladesh, tend to close an eye to anti-Indian activities; that Indian Muslims sometimes tend to put their religion before their country; and that Kashmiris, far from being the persecuted that the Foreign Press likes to portray, are actually paying the price for having allowed Afghan and Pakistani Sunnis radicalize what used to be a more gentle and tolerant Islam and left their Hindu brothers and sisters being butchered and chased away from their ancestral land.
Thus the question has to be asked again: do Indian Muslims want to be like Babar or like Ram ? This choice will their shape their future for generations to come. The suicide attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon were a chilling reminder that even in the 21st century, some Muslims are ready to kill and get killed in the name of Allah. In this hour of tensions, it is time for Indian Muslims to understand that they have to be Indians first and then Muslims second.
Ayodhya is the perfect example of the unwillingness of Indian Muslims to come to terms with the Indian reality; it is the symbol of a certain kind of insincerity and double standards. The 11th September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the
3. Why Ayodhya ?
AYODHYA is not a haphazard, crazy, meaning¬less event. It is a symbol through which two concep¬tions of India are facing each other, and the outcome of this confrontation will shape this country's future for generations to come. Ayodhya is also a sign of the pressure put upon India to remain faithful to her soul, to retain the essen¬tial of Dharma, true Hinduism; to avoid falling in the trap of total Westernization, which has al¬ready stifled so many collective souls in the developing world. India’s intellectual elite, instead of lamenting on the "death of secularism in India", the "mortal blow to our democracy", should do some honest, serious introspection, and see what the whole thing leads to. Because, ultimately, the Force of Evolution, whether individual or collective, always gives through events a hint of things to come, or points a finger at what is wrong in a particular set of cir¬cumstances. What are the roots of Ayodhya then? What is the core prob¬lem that led to the explosion? WHY AYODHYA?
To put the problem in its barest equation - and it is always good to come back to the ob¬vious - the Ayodhya confronta¬tion is between a mosque, emblem of the Islamic faith, and a temple, symbol of the Hindu religion. So, ultimately, it has to do between the Muslim-Hindu divide. This we all know. But what is the root of this divide? The Muslim conquest in India started in the 7th century AD, and in the words of Sri Aurobindo, the great Indian sage and revolutionary: "It took place at a time when the vitality of ancient Indian life and culture after 2,000 years of activity and creation was already exhausted or very near exhaustion and needed a breathing space to rejuvenate it¬self." Although Sri Aurobindo felt that "the vast mass of the Mus¬lims in this country were and are Indians by race", he adds, "the real problem introduced by the Muslim conquest is the struggle between two civilisations, one ancient and indigenous, the other medieval and brought in from outside… That which has rendered the problem indis¬soluble is the attachment of each to a powerful religion, the one militant and aggressive, the other spiritually tolerant and flexible"… Sri Aurobindo thus always felt that the increasing antagonism between Hindus and Muslims was a game the Britishers played to divide India so as to rule her better: "…Then came the British em¬pire In India which recast the whole country into artificial provinces made for its own convenience. British rule did not unite these people, but on the contrary, India was deliberately split on the basis of the two-nation theory into future Pakistan and Hindus¬tan."
Ah, we are coming to Pakis¬tan, at last. Because, after all, is not Pakistan, a million more times than Ayodhya, the symbol of the great Hindu-Muslim divide? How can the Ayodhya tangle be solved when two great nations, which are two parts of the same soul, which are but a play of diversity of the same oneness, are divided?
If Muslims leaders in India were a little wiser, they would voluntarily surrender the disputed site, thereby proving their goodwill and putting to silence their critics. Thus, in one stroke they would win the goodwill and trust of the whole Hindu community, not only in India, but also throughout the world. But no, they sabotaged the recent Shankaracharya of Kanchi mediation efforts, refusing to allow a token puja on the undisputed land, whereas the VHP had compromised by agreeing not to do it on the disputed site. It is always a case of Hindu bending against Muslim hardline; this is why maybe there is so much anger today in some of the Hindu lower classes against the Muslims. And unfortunately this anger erupted in the most horrible manner in Gujurat after the burning of the kar sevaks in the Sabamarti Express.
So let’s phrase the question again: why Ayodhya ? Well, Ayodhya is a sure sign that India and Pakistan (and also Bangladesh) must find ways to reunite, in any way, under any form, even a loose confederation, where everyone will keep its own iden¬tity, its own culture and religion. Then Ayodhya will only be a word in history books; then there will be no need to construct a mosque alongside a temple, or devise complicated and flimsy compromises that satisfy nobody in the end. Then there will be no more the Great Divide between Muslims and Hindus. Then even the Kashmir problem will get solved by itself. Then India will once again be the Greater India, Mother India, spiritual leader of the whole world.
4. Macaulay’s children
Why should Hindus not be proud of Hinduism ? It has not only shaped the psyches of Hindus, but also of Indian Christians, Jains, Parsis, even Muslims, who are like no other Muslims in the world. And why should Indians be ashamed of their own civilisation whose greatness was foremost Hindu? Why should they refuse to have their children read the Vedas, which constitute one of the great fountains of spiritual wisdom, or the Bhagavad Gita, which contains all the secrets of eternal life ? Or the Ramanaya and the Mahabharata, which teach the great values of human nature : courage, selflessness, spiritual endeavour, love of one's wife and neighbours…
Are the French ashamed of their Greco-Roman inheritance? Not at all ! On the contrary they even think that civilisation started only with the Greeks. Would you call the Germans or the Italians « nationalists » because they have Christian Democrats Parties? Christianity is the founding stone of Western civilisation and nobody dares deny it. American Presidents openly go to the Church and swear on the Bible and none finds anything to say. We French are brought-up listening to the values of Homer's « Iliad », or Corneille's « Le Cid ». It is true that in France there has been a separation of the State and the Church; but that is because at one time the Church misused its enormous political power and grabbed enormous amounts of lands and gold. But no such thing ever happened India. The much maligned Brahmins never interfered in politics and today they are often a neglected lot.
Yet, educated Indians seem to suffer from an inferiority complex vis à vis the West. Do they think theirs is a lesser democracy, afflicted with all the world's ills ? Does India's elite look down upon its own country ?
To a Westerner, it seems very much so. India's upper class, the cream of this nation, the privileged, those very men and women who had the great fortune not to be born in need, appear to enjoy India-bashing. Nothing seems to find grace in their eyes: everything is rotten, the system, the government, the politicians, the bureaucracy. Nothing works, nothing is possible, everything is bleak, worthless, hopeless.
But the truth is that those Indians who constantly negate India, are ashamed of their country. Educated Indians always seem to compare their democracy to Western standards. Their parameters appear to be set by what the West thinks about India, by Amnesty International's comments on their nation. They want to apply to India the same norms which are used in the industrialised world. And extraordinarily, many of India's elite ridicule what makes this country unique in the world, what no other nation in the word possesses: Dharma, true Hinduism; the knowledge passed down by thousands of sages, saints, yogis, sadhus of the Eternal Truth, that which gives a meaning to this otherwise senseless life and which the West has totally lost: the Wheel of Life, the endless rebirths and ultimately the evolutionary Ascension of man towards the Ultimate Truth.
Do not Indians realise that by constantly belittling their own country and seeing it the way the West wants them to perceive it, they are handing over India to her enemies, those who wish her ill? Those who would like to see her humbled, broken, fragmented? Do these people want to see India go the way of Yugoslavia? Don't they realise that they are traitors to their own country, to its uniqueness, to is unparalleled greatness? That ultimately their India-bashing is a colonial leftover? An unconscious inferiority complex, which has been planted in the minds of their ancestors more than two centuries ago?
Nobody in India is more representative of this Hindu-bashing syndrome than some of the Indian Press. They whipped up the Ayodhya controversy time and again, forcing recently, even as the Shankaracharya of Kanchi had offered his mediation, the Congress and the Muslim leadership to make a stand against the performing of a puja on the undisputed site. It is they who label Hindus as Nazis fundamentalists, it is they who called Advani a Hitler (do they have any knowledge of European history: Hitler killed in cold blood 6 millions Jews and crores of other people). It is they who in the aftermath of the destruction shouted themselves hoarse over "the end of our secularism" or "the mortal blow to our democracy", forgetting in the heat of their self-righteousness that Ayodhya was a symbol. It is they who are still at it today, by portraying the Christian community in India as persecuted, when many of the incidents are the result of jealousies between converted and non-converted tribals, or are even engineered by Muslims and forgetting how much harm Christianity has done to this country for three centuries, converting by devious means, crucifying Brahmins in Goa, destroying temples in Pondichery…
True, the Indian Press should also be praised for its incredible diversity, for its inexhaustible reserve of talented writers, for its investigative journalism which makes sense when it helps uncover corruption, injustice, or political despotism. But again, it should learn to look at things NOT through the Western prism, but through the Indian looking glass, and apply to India standards that are Her own and of which she has nothing to be ashamed, because they are unique in the world.
5. Mother Theresa
I am born a Christian and I have had a strong Catholic education. I do believe that Christ was an incarnation of Pure Love and that His Presence still radiates in the world. I also believe that there are human beings who sincerely try to incarnate the ideals of Jesus and that you can find today in India a few missionaries (such as Father Ceyrac, a French Jesuit, who works mostly with lepers in Tamil Nadu), who are incarnations of that Love, tending tirelessly to people, without trying to convert them. But I also do believe that it is wrong to mix charity with conversion.
It is true that Christians are a much quieter force than the Muslims. They do not advocate openly the breaking-up of India, and certainly the great majority of Catholics in India are peaceful Indian citizens. Yet the missionary spirit brought in by the British is still alive in India and goes on quietly about its work, as Arun Shourie demonstrated in his book, “Missionaries in India and as the continuing conversions of low-caste Hindus show clearly. And nothing symbolises this spirit better than Mother Theresa, even after her death.
But firstly, one should say in defence of Mother Theresa that she certainly did saintly work. After all, there is no denying that it takes a Westerner to pick-up the dying in the streets of Calcutta and raise abandoned orphans, a thankless task if there is one. Indian themselves, and particularly the Hindus, even though their religion has taught them compassion for 4000 years, have become very callous towards their less fortunate brethren and there are not enough Hindu organizations doing charitable work as the Christians do, although there is growing awareness amongst Hindu organisations that it’s time to put their act together.
This said, one can wonder: what did Mother Theresa really stand for?
Was caring for the dying and orphaned children her only goal ? Well, if you have observed her carefully over the years, you will notice that she did not say much. She did speak against contraception and abortion, in a country of more than one billion, where an ever growing population is swallowing whatever little economic progress is made; where the masses make life in India more and more miserable, invading the cities, crowding their streets and polluting their environments; where for 30 years the Indian Government has directed a courageous and democratic birth control programme, (whereas in China demographic control has achieved though autocratic means). She has also been attacked « for being a friend of the despots and accepting their money ». But of course, many Indian intellectuals immediately sprang-up to the defence of Mother Theresa, saying it was « bad faith, bad taste », to speak thus. But still, the question may be asked :
1) what did Mother Theresa really stand for?
2) Why do Indians defend her so ardently ?
During her whole lifetime, Mother Theresa spoke only of the dying of the streets in Calcutta, of course, of the poor of India left unattended, of the miseries of the cities. Fair enough, but then it should have been pointed out to her, that she projected (and is still projecting today after her death, through the order she has created) to the whole world an image of India which is entirely negative: of poverty beyond humanity, of a society which abandons its children, of dying without dignity. OK, there is some truth in it. But then it may be asked again: did Mother Theresa ever attempt to counterbalance this negative image of India, of which she is the vector, by a more positive one ? After all, she has lived here so long, that she knows the country as well as any Indian, having even adopted Indian nationality. Surely she can defend her own country? She could for example speak about India infinite spirituality, her exquisite culture, the gentleness of its people, the brilliance of its children…
Unfortunately, Mother Theresa said nothing. For the truth is that she stood for the most orthodox Christian conservatism. There is no doubt that ultimately Mother Theresa’s goal was utterly simple: to convert India to Christianity, the only true religion in her eyes.
Did you notice that she never once said a good word about Hinduism, which after all is the religion of 700 millions people of the country she said she loved and has been their religion for 5000 years. This is because deep inside her, Mother Theresa considered, as all good Christians do, particularly the conservatives ones, that Hinduism is a pagan religion which adores a multitude of heathen gods and should be eliminated.
For, make no mistake about it, there has been no changes about Christian or Protestant designs on India since they arrived with the Portuguese and the British, remember what Lords Hastings had to say about the Hindus! Mother Theresa was much more clever than Lord Hastings; she knew that on the eve of the 21st century, it would have looked very bad if she had openly stated her true opinions about Hinduism; so she kept quiet. But ultimately is not charitable work, whatever it dedication, a roundabout manner to convert people? For without any doubt, most of the people she saved from the streets did ultimately become Christians. And if you ask those « elite » Indians who knew her well, such as photographer Ragu Rai, a great admirer of her, she always came out after some years with : « It is now time for you to embrace the true religion ». (Rai politely declined). This proselytising is unfortunately not over: now that Mother Teresa is in the process of being made a saint, her name will be further used to convert innocent villagers and tribals. Even in death, her “work” continues.
6. The “persecution” of Christians
Christianity has always striven on the myth of persecution, which in turn bred “martyrs” and saints, indispensable to the propagation of Christianity. But it is little known, for instance, that the first “saints” of Christianity, “martyred” in Rome, a highly refined civilization, which had evolved a remarkable system of Gods and Goddesses, some of whom were derived from Hindu mythology via the Greeks, were actually killed (a normal practice in those days), while bullying peaceful Romans to embrace the “true” religion, in the same way that later Christian missionaries will browbeat “heathen” Hindus, adoring many Gods, into believing that Jesus was the only “true” God.
Now to come to the recent cases of persecution of Christians in India at the hands of Hindu groups, I have personally investigated quite a few, amongst them the rape of the four nuns in Jhabua (MP), nearly two years ago. This rape is still quoted as an example of the “atrocities” committed by Hindus on Christians. Yet, when I interviewed the four innocent nuns, they themselves admitted, along with George Anatil, Bishop of Indore, that it had nothing to do with religion: it was the doing of a gang of Bhil tribals, known to perpetrate this kind of hateful acts on their own women. Today, the Indian Press, the Christian hierarchy and the politicians, continue to include the Jhabua rape in the list of the atrocities against the Christians. Or take the burning of churches in Andhra Pradesh a few months ago, which was supposed to have been committed by the “fanatic” RSS. It was proved later that it was actually the handiwork of Indian Muslims, at the behest of the ISI to foment hatred between Christians and Hindus. Yet the Indian Press which went beserk at the time of the burnings, mostly kept quiet when the true nature of the perpetrators was revealed. Finally, even if Dara Singh does belong to the Bajrang Dal, it is doubtful if the 100 others accused do. What is more probable, is that like in many other “backward” places, it is a case of converted tribals versus non-converted tribals, of pent-up jealousies, of old village feuds and land disputes. It is also an outcome of what - it should be said - are the aggressive methods of the Pentecost and seventh Adventists missionaries, known for their muscular ways of converting.
Thirdly, conversions in India by Christian missionaries of low caste Hindus and tribals are sometimes nothing short of fraudulent and shameful. American missionaries are investing huge amounts of money in India, which come from donation drives in the United States where gullible Americans think the dollars they are giving go towards uplifting “poor and uneducated Indians”. It is common in Kerala, for instance, particularly in the poor coastal districts, to have “miracle boxes” put in local churches: the gullible villager writes out a paper mentioning his wish: a fising boat, a loan for a pukka house, fees for the son’s schooling… And lo, a few weeks later, the miracle happens ! And of course the whole family converts, making others in the village follow suit…
American missionaries (and their Government) would like us to believe that democracy includes the freedom to convert by any means. But France for example, a traditionally Christian country, has a Minister who is in charge of hunting down “sects”. And by sects, it is meant anything that does not fall within the recognised family of Christianity – even the Church of Scientology, favored by some Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise or John Travolta, is ruthlessly hounded. And look at what the Americans did to the Osho movement in Arizona, or how innocent children and women were burnt down by the FBI (with the assistance of the US army) in Waco Texas, because they belonged to a dangerous sect…
Did you know that the Christianity is dying in the West ? Not only church attendance is falling dramatically because spirituality has deserted it, but less and less youth find the vocation to become priests or nuns. And as a result, say in the rural parts of France, you will find only one priest for six or seven villages, whereas till the late seventies the smallest hamlet had its own parish priest. And where is Christianity finding new priests today ? In the Third World, of course ! And India, because of the innate impulsion of its people towards God, is a very fertile recruiting ground for the Church, particularly in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Hence the huge attention that India is getting from the United States, Australia, or England and the massive conversion drive going on today.
It is sad that Indians, once converted, specially the priests and nuns, tend to turn against their own country and help in the conversion drive. There are very few “White” missionnaries left in India and most of the conversions are done today by Indian priests. Last year, during the Bishop’s conference in Bangalore, it was restated by bishops and priests from all over India, that conversion is the FIRST priority of the Church here. But are the priests and Bishops aware that they would never find in any western country the same freedom to convert that they take for granted in India ? Do they know that in China they would be expelled, if not put into jail ? Do they realize that they have been honored guests in this country for nearly two thousand years and that they are betraying those that gave them peace and freedom ?
Hinduism, the religion of tolerance, the coming spirituality of this new millenium, has survived the unspeakable barbarism of wave after wave of Muslim invasions, the insidious onslaught of Western colonialism which has killed the spirit of so may Third World countries and the soul-stifling assault of Nehruvianism. But will it survive the present Christian offensive ? Many Hindu religious leaders feel that Christianity is a real threat today, as in numerous ways it is similar to Hinduism, from which Christ borrowed so many concepts (see Sri Siri Ravi Shankar’s book: “ Hinduism and Crhistianity”).. It is thus necessary that Indian themselves become more aware of the danger their culture and unique civilisation is facing at the hands of missionaries sponsored by foreign money. It is also necessary that they stop listening to the Marxist- influenced English newspapers’ defence of the right of Christian missionaries to convert innocent Hindus. Conversion belongs to the times of colonialism. We have entered in the era of Unity, of coming together, of tolerance and accepting each other as we are – not of converting in the name of one elusive “true” God. When Christianity will accept the right of other people to follow their own beliefs and creeds, the only will Jesus Christ’s Spirit truly radiate in the world
CHAPTER 11: The threats from India’s neighbours
For 40 years, India did not have relations with Israel. Yet, India and Israel share so much in common and both can learn a lot from each other ! Hindus and Jews, far from being the persecutors of minorities, that the Marxist, Arab and INC lobby like to portray, have been persecuted for nearly two thousand years and have been the victims of the two worst genocides in the sad history of humanity : Hitler, in his monstrous quest for a “pure” Aryan race, murdered six millions Jews in his gas chambers during the Second World War; and Belgium historian Koenraad Elst estimates that between the year 1000 and 1525, eighty million Hindus probably suffered the biggest holocaust in the whole history of our planet died at the hands of Muslim invaders, probably the biggest holocaust in the whole history of our planet. Indians and Israelis of today also share in common an awesome problem with Muslim fundamentalists. And India should learn a lesson of two from the way Israel handles this problem, however much it is criticized by the western medias. Unlike India, which since Independence has chosen to deal with this problem in the Gandhian spirit, that is by compromising most of the time with Islamic intransigence - if not giving in - Israel showed that toughness first, accompanied later by negotiations pays is much more productive, even if it pays today a havy price with the human havoc created by suicide bombers. Basically, the “land for money” concept is something that India should learn from : in 1967, Israel was threatened to be engulfed by its fanatic neighbors, so it stole the initiative by crushing them in a lightning six days war and kept some land which it used later as bargaining chips with Egypt and Syria. India is also surrounded by hostile Muslim countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and more and more Bangladesh. So far, India has followed the Nehruvian policy of Good Neighborhood.
Neighbourhood : you give first, expecting that your neighbor neighbourhood will reciprocate the gesture later.
Unfortunately, history has shown that India mostly gets stabbed in the back for its generosity by small insignificant nations, such as Bangladesh, which owes its freedom thanks to the sacrifices of India’s soldiers and is more and more lending its territory to the ISI. If during the 1965 Indo-Pak war, India would have kept a chunk of the Pakistani territory it has conquered, or if during the Kargil war, it had carried on with its victorious momentum by seizing some of the Pakistan-held Kashmir, which could be used as a buffer zone, there would be probably today less cross-border terrorism. There is another area where India has a lot to learn from Israel, it is the VIP security. We all know how it has become here a status symbol, a constant hassle for the ordinary citizen, who has to wait endlessly in his car for the VIP motorcade to pass by, or in his plane for the Prime Minister of India to land. Mr Vajpayee must be the most protected leader in the world - and it is a very heavy-handed, unfriendly and ultimately inefficient protection. But look at the Israelis: their Prime Minister moves around with only a few boyish looking men, in sneakers and civil dress and they don’t rough up onlookers or hassle innocent citizens. As for the recent hijack of the Indian Airline plane, again we have to look towards Israel, whose airline, EL Al, is the safest in the world, in spite of being the most threatened. But for them, no rude cops who hardly talk any English frisking you at airports, but civil and educated EL Al employees, who ask polite but pointed questions and unobtrusive security in the airports and aboard their aircrafts. Israelis have also shown that you should NEVER give in to terrorist demands and also that its commandos are the best.
24 years ago, when an Air France airplane, carrying mostly Israelis, was hijacked by Arab terrorists and forced to land in far away Uganda, which like the Taliban, were actually protecting the terrorists while pretending to help in the release of the passengers, Israel in one of the most daring rescue operation ever, sent its commandos flying in the dead of the night over half of the world, killed the terrorists, freed the passengers and brought them back to Israel with very little casualties. Unfortunately, India adopted a total opposite attitude during the hijack of IC 814, with the catastrophic result that we know : the terrorists released are today openly preaching in Pakistan a jihad unto death towards India.
Ah, Pakistan, finally, everything reverts to Pakistan, whether you talk about Kashmir, Ayodhya, or Kargil. Everywhere the Indian Government says it sees the "Pakistani hand" behind it. It is an hostile hand, they add, active, militant, whose ultimate goal is the destruction of India. India sees the Pakistan “hand” everywhere, whether it is the attack on Parliament in early 2002, or the burning of the kar sevaks in Godhra. Is actually, Pakistan the continuing incarnation of those Muslim invaders who raped India from the middle of the 7th century onwards? Militant Hindus contend that nothing has changed: "their cry is still the same: "Dar-ul-Islam", the house of Islam.
Yesterday they used scimitars, today they have the atomic bomb; but the purpose is identical, only the weapons have evolved: to conquer India, to finish what the Mughal Emperors were not able to achieve". To reason with Pakistan is useless, they conclude, "for once again they are only putting in practice what their religion teaches them every day -that 'the Pagans shall burn forever in the fire of hell. They are the meanest of creatures'. Or 'Slay the infidels, wherever ye find them and take them captive and besiege them and prepare them for all kinds of ambush'. Or again: 'Choose not thy friends among the Infidels till they forsake their homes and the way of idolatry. If they return to paganism then take them whenever you find them and kill them'. All these quotations are taken from the Koran and are read everyday to the faithful by their mollahs.(Koran 98:51-9:5-4:89) Is Pakistan's war against India then a Muslim "jihad", the ultimate jihad against the Infidel, which if necessary will utilise the ultimate weapon, nuclear bombs? And as in the case of Ayodhya, the whole of Islam might side with Pakistan, for to their eyes India is still the Infidel, the Idolater, which the Koran asks them to slay. Says Elst: "if tomorrow the Pakistani start the Prophet's first nuclear war against an Infidel country (India), a billion Muslims will feel compelled to side with this muhajid struggle and dissenters will be careful not to protest aloud."
But then you also have to understand the Pakistani point of view: take Kashmir for instance. If one goes by the logic of Partition, then at least the Kashmir valley, which is in great majority Muslim, (and it should be emphasised that for long the Hindus Pandits in Kashmir exploited and dominated the Muslims -who are getting back at them today), should have reverted to Pakistan. It should be clear also that Pakistan never forgot the humiliating loss of Bangladesh at the hands of India, although India only helped Bangladesh to gain its freedom in the face of what the Bangladeshis say was Pakistani genocide. Zia's emergence was a result of that humiliation and the whole policy of proxy war by supporting the separatist movements in Punjab and Kashmir, is a way of getting back at India. And the same can be said about the nuclear bomb, for Pakistan has realised, after having lost three wars (four if you count Kargil), that both numerically and strategically, it can never beat India in a conventional conflict. It is also clear when one goes to Pakistan today, that the country has evolved a soul of its own, has its individual identity and that in fact it has been able to do better than India in many fields. Their politicians are more accessible than in India for instance; their bureaucrats more friendly; and PIA is definitely a better airline than Indian Airlines !
Finally, can Pakistanis be accused of all ills that befall India ? The Indian Press has become possessed of total paranoia when it comes to Pakistan and Kashmir, always pointing a finger at its neighbour. But many of India’s problems are of her own making Thus, Indians can cry themselves hoarse about Pakistani treachery and see the evil hand of Islamabad everywhere, even sometimes behind events where Pak is not involved. But then the Indian Government should only blame themselves. For have they not recognised at independence the geographical and political reality of Partition and have they not continued to do so up to now? Is there any political leader in India who dares say today that India and Pakistan are ONE (except Mr Advani)? Is there any voice to proclaim the truth in a loud and clear voice, as Sri Aurobindo did in 1947:
"But the old communal division into Hindu and Muslim seems to have hardened into the figure of a permanent division of the country. It is hoped that the Congress and the nation will not accept the settled fact as for ever settled, or as anything more than a temporary expedient. For if it lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled: civil strife may remain always possible; possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest. THE PARTITION OF THE COUNTRY MUST GO"
The menace from within cannot be tackled unless the menace from without is solved. India and Pakistan (+ Bangladesh) are ONE. And as long as Partition remains, India will not be able to live in peace: Ayodhya, Kashmir, Kargil, Bangladeshi infiltration and a potential (nuclear?) war with Pakistan, are always possible.
2. The other neighbours
How is it that India is almost universally disliked, sometimes even hated by her neighbours, whether they are Muslim Bangladeshis, Buddhist Sri Lankans, or even Hindu Nepalese? Journalists, both in South Asia, as well as in India, are fond of saying that it is because India is a great bully, with a “big brother, hegemonistic attitude in her tendencies. Is she really? At least. But in her past history, as we have seen, India she has never shown any hegemonistic inclinations, her religion never tried to convert anybody and her armies never marched into other countries -the same cannot be said about Islam, or Christianity with her Crusades, or even the more peaceful Buddhist missionaries… Yet at one time India's influence, solely due to the sheer greatness of her culture and Hindu dharma, extended as far as China on one side and on Iran, Greece and even the Europe on the other. Even today, whether in Thailand, Mauritius, Cambodia, or even Bangladesh and Pakistan, there is a tremendous leftover of India's predominance. The key word must be fear. All these countries are afraid of India, not entirely because they think she is a great bully, but also because they unconsciously realise that they all sprang from India's vast bosom- and that one day, sooner or later, they might very well all return to that bosom, under whatever form. Nepal is a very good example of that India-hate syndrome. Here is a wonderful country, with simple and friendly people, which is the only Hindu nation in the world, which is so similar in many ways to India, that there is no reason to be antagonistic to a country with which they have so much in common. Yet before his assassination by his own son in 2001, the Kking Birendra was has often been able to play a divide and rule game by using the Chinese and blaming India for all the ills of Nepal and Nepal has become a haven for Pakistani agents, as the hijacking of the Indian Airline flight in December 1999 showed.
The same goes for Bangladesh. Bangladeshis, it is often said, are Bangladeshis first and Muslims second; this is why they separated from Pakistan, where they were treated as second-class citizens. And in truth, Bangladeshis are generally a friendly race, affectionate as all Bengalis, poetic, humorous. Their society used to be - and still is in many ways - one of the most open and tolerant in the world of Islam, which gives its women a unique place. Yet President Ershad was able to islamize in a radical way this nation which stood proud of its secular history. Yet every time there is a flood, the Bangladeshis blame India and not the corruption of their own Government and their habit of living-off the formidable funds they constantly get from Aid agencies. Yet, a Taslima Nasreen, whatever her personal failings (love of publicity, inflated ego, unnecessary shocking of Islamic feelings), when she dares in her book « Laljja », to utter the truth about the atrocities perpetrated on Hindus after the destruction of the Ayodhya mosque, is hunted down by obscure fundamentalists groups, let down by her government, betrayed by her own people.
Same phenomenon in Sri Lanka. Extraordinary country theat erstwhile Ceylon; God gave it everything: extraordinary exceptional climate, lush country, incredible diversity of races and religions, an easy-going and friendly people, who even welcomed its invaders. Yet the hate that the Sinhalese have for Indians is something to be seen to be believed. Again it is a hate which was fostered by their political leaders: the late President Premadasa had become a great adept at using the hate-India carrot every time he got in trouble. He also tried to utilise too many times the LTTE, sometimes killing them, sometimes wooing them- and got assassinated in the process. And why should India be blamed for Sri Lanka's ills? The Sri Lankans started in the early eighties to can go on accuseing Mrs Gandhi's of having abetted Tamil Militants in the late seventies. But was it Mrs Gandhi who discriminated for 40 years against the Tamil minority of Sri Lanka? Was it Mrs Gandhi who regularly prodded Sinhalese crowds to indulge in pogroms against the Tamils, thereby building-up a wall of hatred, so that today the Tamils in Sri Lanka cannot trust the Sinhalese anymore and want nothing but total independence, even though they agreed in march 2002 to a Norwegian-brokered ceasefire (but history has shown that the Tigers use ceasefires to regroup and rearm)? Why blame India for Sri Lanka's problems, a nation, who thanks to the lack of foresight of three generations of Sinhalese politicians, produces nothing today but tea -and that even at the mercy of its
Tamil workers imported by the British - and lives on a tourist industry which in turn is at the mercy of terrible civil war? India has also to account for the hostility of the Gulf countries. And very unfortunately, India's hands are bound, because of its millions of nationals, most of them Muslims, who work in the Gulf and regularly send home precious foreign exchange (even if this tendency is nowadays decreasing). But does India realise that this foreign exchange is sometimes a poisoned gift, that these Indian Muslims often bring home a more militant Islam? The Bombay blasts which followed the destruction of the Babri Masjid, were the perfect example of that threat to India from the Gulf countries: not only did the Indian Muslims who were the hands that executed, receive training arms and financing from Pakistan, but some of the Gulf countries must have had a prior knowledge of them. The fact that the perpetrators were able to transit through two of these Gulf countries after their deed is proof enough: the police of these countries are everywhere and are totalitarian tools to the monarchies; they must have known when the Memons entered the country and exactly where they were staying. It would have been a simple matter to stop them from leaving both the countries till an extradition was officially asked for. Yet they chose to let them go and now « Tiger » Memon has gone into hiding in Pakistan and India will probably never it is the whole Muslim world which secretly or overtly has felt insulted and humiliated. Furthermore, none of the Gulf countries have forgotten India's support to Iraq during the Gulf war. IS IT POSSIBLE THEN THAT IT WAS DECIDED TO TEACH INDIA A LESSON? That Pakistan and "some" other Muslim countries funded and planned, or at least knew in advance, of the Bombay bombings, which were followed by the Coimbatore attempt on LK Advani, the car bombing of the Srinagar Parlimanet in 2001, or the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in New delhi in early 2002 and the 22d January 2002 attack on the American Cultural Centre in Calcutta ?attempts, of which Bombay was supposed to be only the first of a series? Is this a warning of the Muslim word to Hindu India? But who are the fundamentalists? Who are the murderers? Who are the Nazis? Who are the Hitlers?
It is the infamous 1972 "historical trip" of Richard Nixon to Peking which set the trend: henceforth, the West was gradually going to put all its chips lently.. The Chinese, clever as they are, make from time to time a few Human Right concessions here and there, such as releasing a handful of dissident student leaders (who by the way, have never raised their voices against the Tibetan genocide), or releasing the crew of the American spy plane and at the same time they harden their tone. Washington pretends to be satisfied and gives again the green light to its army of businessmen, waiting impatiently to place their green dollars in the huge Chinese slot machine.
But is the West ready to pay the price for that impatience? Because finally, economical liberalisation or not, China remains a communist country with a dictatorial leadership, probably the only one worth that name left in the world. And communism means instability, as the sudden crumbling of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, has recently proved. What is going to happen to the billions of dollars of Western investment, if there is tomorrow a counter-revolution in China -or if communism shows again its true totalitarian face? India, which was ever ready to close its doors to her potential friends, such as Israel, with whom she partakes so many similarities (problems with a Muslim minority, ecological hurdles, nuclear threats), but fortunately, since the BJP’s coming to power, has mended her ways with Israel, has has always been duped by China.
Take Tibet for instance. Since 1950, when the Chinese invaded this wonderful, peace loving nation, which boasted the highest spiritualised society in the world (although quite feudal), 1,2 million Tibetans have been killed, either directly: shooting, death squads, torture - or indirectly: concentration camps, prison, or famines. 6254 monasteries, most of them ancient, have been razed to the ground. 60% of religious, historical and cultural archives have been destroyed. A quarter million Chinese troops are occupying Tibet. One Tibetan out of ten is still in jail. There are today In Tibet 7,5 million Chinese settlers for six million Tibetans- in many places such as the capital, Lhassa, Tibetans are outnumbered two to one… Do you think these statistics come from the Tibetans themselves? No at all. They are part of Resolution Number 63, adopted by the United States Congress on the 16th May 1989 and they have been substantiated by the American Secret Services. And do you know why China is ready to pay such a heavy price for Tibet, both in terms of the tremendous cost of keeping an occupation army and the harm done to its international image? The answer is simple: China has transferred one third of its nuclear arsenal to Nagchuka, 25O kms away from Lhassa, a region full of huge caves, which the Chinese have linked together by an intricate underground network and where they have placed installed, according to American Intelligence estimates, 90 Intermediate Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles… There are two reasons to it: The first is that this part of Tibet is always covered by a thick blanket of clouds, which makes it extremely difficult for the spy satellites. And the second and most important, is that Tibet is of a great strategic military importance to China, because being on a high plateau, it overlooks…Who? Russia and India!
But Russia's back is broken and it is no more a danger to China and it is thus towards North Indian cities that most of the nuclear missiles are pointed. This raises several important questions. India in her generosity, (through Jawarlhal Nehru), welcomed the Dalaï-Lama and his followers in 1959 and allowed them to settle in Dharamsala, where thanks to their spiritual leader's guidance, the Tibetans were able to recreate a small Tibet, complete with Government in exile, schools, monasteries, Tibetan medicine and arts. It is actually the only real thing that is left of Tibetan culture and civilisation today -and if ever the Tibetans recuperate Tibet, it will have to be re-transplanted to what has become a near completely Chinese Tibet. But the Chinese have never forgiven India for their generosity and compassion towards the Tibetans. And although some progress has been made and the External Affairs Minister, Jaswant Singh has just opened the first direct air link between India and China, the question remains: can Indians trust the Chinese? There are two superpowers in the making in Asia: India and China.
The West, seems to have lost the absolute predominance it used to enjoy and with its slow decline, it will drag in recession many of the so-called tigers of Asia, which vitally need US and Western political support for the growth of their economy: after Tibet and Hong-Kong, it might be soon Taiwan which will be swallowed back by China. And ultimately India and China will be the only superpowers left with Japan in their shadow. But one will be a democratic country, and the other still be a communist dictatorship, with a formidable military arsenal -nuclear and otherwise- at her disposal for her greedy appetite. China seems to be the direct adversary of India, both economically and militarily -and not Pakistan as the Indian Government wants its citizens to believe.
4. THE WEST
And finally no chapter on the threat to India from without, can be complete without a mention of the attitude oft hreat from the Western world, particularly the United States. It is true that after the 11th September 2001 terrorist attacks on America, there has been a change in the way Washington looks at India; but nevertheless, India remains isolated in Asia and the fact that the US chose Pakistan as its frontline state for its war on terrorism tells it all. which seems sometimes to unconsciously wish a divided and weakened India. And did not Senator Galbraith say after the exploding of Yugoslavia that "India is next"? Actually it makes sense to view that external threat by making a parallel, say between Palestine and Kashmir, or even Yugoslavia and India, as both have been equated. For make no mistake about it: the tears that the West shed a few years back on Bosnia and on the ethnic cleansing of Muslims are crocodile tears.
What the West wanted first was the complete destruction of a unified Yugoslavia, which was one of the most enlightened communist countries and to break the back of the Serbs, who alone have a sense of identity and history and who have retained some of their communist commitments- their greatest sin in the eyes of the US.
5. WTC attacks : The double standards of the West
“Target Humanity”, titled the editorial of a national Indian daily, the day after the horrendous terrorist attacks on the United States. Did the honourable editor of that newspaper think that when the Americans are struck by Islamic terrorism, it is humanity, which is targeted, and when Indians – Hindus rather – are struck, it is sub-humanity, which is targeted? It would seem so. Because, however dramatic, however enormous, however spectacular, however deadly in terms of human lives, these attacks on the United States were, India has been the target of Islamic terrorism for decades, with the world not only taking no notice, but the United States also turning a blind eye to the perpetrators of these barbarous acts.
But if it was only the Western press which was partial to India ! Indian journalists themselves have played a nefarious role: they have, for instance, recently devoted pages and pages to the “saffronisation” of India’s education, whereas it is entirely justified for a country to teach its children about the greatness of its ancient civilisation; but when Islamic groups in Kashmir hurl acid on women to force them to wear the burqua, it is reported in most of Indian newspapers in a few lines, without any of the outrage shown against Dr Murali Manohar Joshi, who has not thrown any acid on innocent girls, nor killed anybody. The Indian Press has shown the same partiality during the recent conference on Racism in South Africa. It chose to focus on the issue of the persecution of Dalits in India, forgetting that India is one of the only countries in the world to have initiated a reservation policy for its underprivileged (does the US have a reservation policy for its poor Negroes?), that India’s President is a Dalit, which shows that here, someone born in a low caste can rise to the highest post, while in France for instance, a Jew will find it very difficult to become President, or that Krishna, India’s most beloved God was from a low caste, as are many Indian saints and sages. This whole conference was a sham and a shame, concentrating on Zionism as the worst form of racism, whereas, like India, Israel is fighting a life and death battle against Muslim fundamentalism.
These attacks are indeed terrible and we mourn the loss of human lives. But maybe they were necessary to wake-up the West to the reality of Islamic terrorism. Let us also not forget that the United States literally created the Taliban, by arming, training and unleashing Pakistani Islamic fundamentalism against the Soviets in Afghanistan. India has been fighting (with Russia and Israel) a very lonely battle against Muslim fundamentalism, which is a real threat to a free and democratic world. Hindus are not only hounded and killed in Kashmir, but also all over India in bomb attacks, be it in Kerala or in Delhi. Hindus are persecuted in Pakistan, in Bangladesh, in Afghanistan, in Fiji, all this not only in the midst of total indifference from the world community, but also on the part of the Indian English speaking Indian Press, which only harps on Ayodhya - where no Muslim was killed, whereas the Islamic world enacted a terrible revenge by planting bombs in the heart of Bombay - and highlights “atrocities” against Christians and Muslims. It is time now that the West, particularly the United Sates, understands that India is a bastion of pro-Western democracy in the midst of an Asia in the throes of a growing Islamic fundamentalism, from Kabul to Srinagar, from Karachi to Indonesia, from Chechnya to Sin-Kiang.
Once again, these terrorist attacks are terrible, but not only will they serve to jolt the West to the reality of Islamic terrorism, to which they have turned so often a blind eye (remember how an Egyptian pilot “suicided” his whole Egyptian Airlines 767 last year and how it was hushed for fear of “offending” America’s Arab allies), but it is also a blessing in disguise for India. The BJP Government can now take strong measures against Islamic fundamentalism on its soil (but will he ?) and it will have the support of the whole western community. Pakistan will be seen in its true light, as a supporter of international terrorism, and the only country on the world, with Saudi Arabia, which supports Afghanistan and Bin Laden; and the BJP can now silence the Congress and the Communists, which have been the main opponents to a radical change in India. Finally, Samuel Huntington was right: in his book “The Clash of civilisations”, he had predicted that the 21st century would see a battle between Islamic fundamentalism, with the sometimes covert support of China (as witnessed in Pakistan, who got its nuclear Bomb thanks to Chinese technology), on one side, and the West and India on the other side.
What happened on the 12th of September 2001 is going to dramatically alter the political outlook of the West towards Islamic fundamentalism in general and towards India, in particular. Israel is going to come out of its political isolation (in greater part fostered by the medias, such as the BBC, which portray the Palestinians as freedom fighters, in the same way that they paint the Chechnyans or Kashmris as heroes) and the Israelis as the bad guys. Even China is going to lose some of its lustre, as India is going to slowly become the West’s privileged ally in Asia. It is also time for Indian journalism to wake-up and come out of its double standards, which are a direct inheritance of Macaulay's education: Hindus are also human… INDIA AND KOSOVO In 732 AD, French King Charles Martel stopped the Arab onslaught in Europe at Poitiers, 329 km south-west of Paris, the capital of France. Without this crushing victory, the whole of Europe would have become Muslim, with incalculable consequences for its culture, religion, history and future.
As it is, the Arab world never got a strong foothold on the European continent, as it did in the African and Asian continents, except in two places: Spain in the 8th century; and much later, in part of the Balkans. But by the 13h century, Christian kings had retaken the whole of Spain and the country was able to develop around European lines, while assimilating the Arab influence, which gives it today this extraordinary eastern atmosphere, unique in Europe. Henceforth, there only remained in the hands of Islam parts the Balkans (of which Yugoslavia and Albania concentrated the maximum presence), as these were the closest to the Ottoman empire of today’s Turkey. Which means in effect, that the only real European Muslims (by Europe we mean today’s ECC), can be found in these two countries (because there are other “White” Muslims” - in Crimea, for instance).
Serbia, a great nation, which embodies the best of the Slav spirit, had developed a wonderful empire, which culminated in the 14th century with Emperor Dulsan, whose kingdom reached till Greece. But in 1389, the Turks beat his armies in Kosovo (does that name strike anything ?) The Serbian empire, a bastion of Western and Christian culture in Eastern Europe, resisted, often alone, and was never washed out by the Muslim onslaught. Kings like Milos Obrenovic I, united the Serbs against the Turks and his son Michel Obrnovic II finally obtained the independence of Serbia in 1867.
Thus, thanks to Charles Martlel’s victory in 732 and Serbian Kings like Obrnovic, Islam was never able to penetrate the European continent and Europe owes today its distinct Greco-Roman and Christian culture to these brave men… But unfortunately, the good work of Charles Martel and Milos Obrenivic have been rendered to naught by the Nato forces and the United States of America… Today we see the same thing happening in Russia which is waging a desperate battle against Muslim fundamentalism in Chechnya: the West is applying all kind of pressures so that it stops its military action, thus giving Muslim fundamentalism a chance to spread like a cancer. Once more,TV’s all over the world are showing images of Chechen civilians in refugee camps, or being killed by blind bombardments, thus turning western opinion against the “evil Russians”, committing a genocide on the “good” Chechens. The Dalai lama often said that the present sufferings of the Tibetan people were due to a “black karma”. When asked what was a black karma, he explained that like an individual, a nation commits during different cycles bad karma, evil actions - and that sooner or later, all those who have participated in these collective unholy acts, come back together, in the same place, at the same time, in the same country, to pay for their bad karma. Viewing the Chechnya problem from this angle, gives a totally different picture than the one portrayed by the West.
For whatever can be said about the greatness of Islam - and there is no doubt that it fostered powerful civilisations and empires, whose refinements and achievements were unsurpassed in their days - the religion of Mohammed remains, even today, a militant and violent creed, which does not tolerate other religions and views all others as “kafirs”, infidels. Hence the bloody jihads Muslims are still leading all over the world, even as the 21st century draws near : in Chechnya, of course, but also in Algeria or in Kashmir. The atrocities committed over the centuries by the Arabs and Muslim armies in what is known today as Yugoslavia, are numerous and well documented. There is actually, an interesting parallel to do with India, where Hindus, like the Serbs, resisted the Muslims invaders, in spite of the forced attempts at conversion, the rapes, the millions of people taken in slavery, the killing of men by the thousands. In the same way, during the second world war, many of the Muslim Croats and Albanians ganged up with the Nazis and killed thousands of innocent Serbs, many of whom had enrolled in the underground against the dark forces which Germany was then incarnating (how strange that fifty years later, a people who killed six million Jews, because they thought they were ‘impure’, can play such an important role in Nato.
On top of that, very few know that the Germans, still thirsty for domination in Europe, partly triggered the Yugoslav conflict, by being the first to recognise Croatia, where there are many Germans and which sided with nazi Germany. How short a memory has Europe ! No doubt, Milosevic is a manipulating and bloodthirsty leader, who went in for ethnic cleansing to solve the Kosovo problem; no doubt the Serbs have committed many atrocities in Kosovo, while Nato was bombing them out of their minds; no doubt the plight of the Kosovo refugees was sad (but it was highly publicised by the western media and used by Nato as a propaganda tool to justify the terrible bombing of the innocent Yugoslavians - and there are much more needy refugees in the world - about whom the US does not give a damn. ..) It is true also that Yeltsin may have been be a corrupt vodka-soaked leader whom the United States supported, because it served their purpose to have a weak Russia, which will never challenge for years to come America’s hegemony (and this is why today they do not like Putin, a strong “nationalistic” leader).
But from a Buddhist point of view, were not the Kosovars (and today the Chechens) paying for the long, bloody and terrible karma they exerted on Yugoslavia for hundreds of years ? Or to put it in a more cartesian and down to earth mould, were not the Muslims getting back a fully autonomous (and sooner or later fully independent - whatever hypocrite noises the Otan makes about it) nation to the Muslims in Europe ? And make no mistake about it : one of the great traits of Islam - and also its biggest drawback - is that a Muslim is a Muslim, wherever he is, whatever the colour of his skin (that is, he helps his kindred brothers and sisters - contrary to the Hindus, who have not yet learnt a little bit of Christian charity). The Kosovar Muslims might look reassuring and harmless to the eyes of the Otan (whom, if you noticed, never once pronounced the word ‘muslim’ during their war - it’s a bit like Indian newspapers saying ‘one community attacked another community’, when Muslims go on rampage against Hindus), even if it is beginning to show its true face, witness the recent massacre of Serb civilians. But if you scratch a little bit and give them some time, you will quickly realise that like any Muslims, they consider all other religions as “infidel” and that the jihad is still a sacred concept to them.
Already, one can see that Saudi Arabia, which the United States considers as a ‘soft’ Muslim nation, but which actually sponsors international terrorism, is one of the biggest backers of the Kosovar people; already you can see the ruthlessness and ultimate motives of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which has been armed by the western powers. Is the West mad then, that it has the never heard about the snake that bites the hand which feeds him ? The Kosovo quagmire and its disastrous consequences will take decades to solve. Maybe Mr Xavier Solana, before embarking upon his ‘holy’ war on a traditionally pro-western, Christian, reasonably democratic nation, destroying bridges, factories, killing innocent beings, should have read the book of Samuel Huntington “The clash of civilisations”. He would have seen that Hutington had correctly predicted that in the 21st century there will be a clash between two civilisations : the West and Islam (with China sometimes siding with Islam for self interest purposes). This trend had already started in India, also a pro-western, highly democratic power, which is now battling in Kashmir the fundamentalist side of Islam, as incarnated by Pakistan, which in turn is helped by the Chinese, who gave it its nuclear bomb and ballistic missiles to carry it. By allowing an independent Kosovo, the West has made sure that the enemy is now in the heart of Europe. India should make sure that the same thing does not happen to her with Kashmir.
The Western nations, who not so long ago they were the great colonisers, the great plunderers of the Third World, where they left an utter mess, are guilty of a double standard when they of condemn India in Kashmir. When even in the 20th century the British to retain the Falkland islands, thousands of miles away from Great Britain, fought a war and killed innocent Argentineans in the process. If the United States could invade Panama because it felt its interests are threatened there, if France battles to keep Corsica in its fold, an island which could as well belong to Italy, why should not India retain what has been hers for 5000 years? The Indian army is fighting a guerrilla war in Kashmir, and there are bound to be casualties on both sides. So what? The world did not shed a tear about the 100.000 Iraqi soldiers killed during the Gulf war, many of them fleeing the allied forces. Will tomorrow the US use the UN forces in Kashmir, as in Bosnia, or Somalia? India should learn a few lessons from the Chinese, who, whatever their faults, take no nonsense from the world and just plod on steadily on the course they have chartered for themselves. India is one of the oldest and proudest civilisations of this earth and they have nothing to be ashamed of. Let India stand up and protect herself both from internal as well as external threats, with determination and confidence.
Thanks to the atomic explosions in the Pokharan desert of 1998, India has today the nuclear bomb ? But should India freeze her Integrated Missile Programme, under the pressure of the United States (as she seems to have already partially done) ? Should India sign the CTBT and scrap her potential nuclear power and delivery clout ? All weapons of war are a perversion of man’s greed and the ultimate symbol of the misuse he has achieved over matter. Thus, ideally, they should all be banned, or else slowly phased out until we all live in a weapon-less world, for the simple reason that they would not be needed anymore and that man would have outgrown their folly. Therefore, more than anything, the atom bomb symbolises that folly, because at a single stroke, at the simple push of one button by a misguided hand, or though the order of a mad leader, thousands of lives can be obliterated in a single second, entire cities be wiped out in a single flash. The film, the Day After, has given us an inkling of that terror, a glimpse of that horror. The atom Bomb also demonstrates the limit of man’s command over matter. For what use is that material mastery to man, when he has no control over his impulses, when he is still unable not only to love his human brothers, but even to reason with himself not to use his domination over matter to harm others. And ultimately, his might may slip out of his hands, because material mastery without inner control is incomplete and dangerous.
For this and many other reasons, should not India then voluntarily forsake nuclear power and cap its missile programme and become a true non-violent country, in the spirit of the Mahatma Gandhi ? But have those who are pushing this theory forward read properly the Baghvad Gita ? For once more, what does the Baghavad tell us ? It does not say, as Christians do, or as the Mahatma purported, that all violence is wrong. It asserts that when violence is absolutely necessary, when it is used for defending one’s country, one’s wife, brothers, sisters, then it becomes Dharma -duty- and is acceptable, as long as it is done with the right attitude in one’s heart. India, as we have just seen, is facing multiple threats from without by hostile nations, armed with both conventional and atomic weapons. The Islamic bomb, assembled by Pakistan with Arab financing, is the first one of these.
The other nuclear threat India is facing is coming from China. Nehru’s policy of « Hindi-Chini-bhai-bhai » was a disaster: China attacked India by surprise and took away 20.000 square kilometres of her territory. And today India is still making the same mistake of trusting the Chinese and it recognises the Chinese claim on Tibet, a wholly independent country, which always acted the perfect buffer zone between herself and China. The Indian Government also knows that many Chinese nuclear missiles are positioned on the Tibetan plateau and pointed towards the North Indian cities. For this and many other reasons, India should for the moment develop its nuclear military programme, in spite of the increasing pressure from the West, particularly the United States. India needs again Kshatriyas to defend herself, not businessmen, or intellectuals who will sell down their country’ security for a few more million dollars investments and a pat on the back from Uncle Sam. It is to be hoped that India will realise that surrendering to America’s pressure would jeopardise her unity and open her for dismemberment. For her nuclear and missile programmes are not meant for aggression -once gain in her 7000 year history, India was never an aggressor- but as a deterrent to protect herself, to show her enemies that she means business and that she will retaliate in case of first attack. It is a sad reality of the world today, and India has got to take it in consideration. Let India be strong, powerful, nuclear even, but as dharma, because it is her duty to protect her children.
CHAPTER 13: The real India
It is not only the British education system, which was blindly adopted at Independence by Nehru, but also the whole judicial, constitutional, and legal set-up. The Constitution, for instance, has repeatedly shown its flaws, as the Presidents, who has no real powers, are playing more and more games and trying to impinge upon the Prime Minister’s prerogatives. Democracy in India has also been perverted : we have seen how the Congress, who in the last three elections of the 20th century made disastrous showings, has used the subtleties of the system to bring down four successive governments, thus provoking useless and expensive elections, which in turn threw no stable governments until the National Democratic Alliance won by a landslide in 1999. Therefore, it is the whole democratic system of India that has to be reshaped to suit a new, truer nation, which will manifest again its ancient wisdom.
And what is true democracy for India, but the law of Dharma ? It is this law that has to be revived, it is this law that must be the foundation of a true democratic India:
"It has been said that democracy is based on the rights of man; it has been replied that it should rather take its stand on the duties of man; but both rights and duties are European ideas. Dharma is the Indian conception in which rights and duties lose the artificial antagonism created by a view of the world which makes selfishness the root of action and regain their deep and eternal unity. Dharma is the basis of democracy which Asia must recognise, for in this lies the distinction between the soul of Asia and the soul of Europe." (India's Reb p.37- March 16th 1908)
And the most wonderful thing is that, practically, India has at hand the model of a new form of democracy in the old Panchayat system of Indian villages, which has to be revived and worked up to the top. These ancient Panchayat system and their guilds were very representative and they had a living contact with the people. On the other hand, the parliamentary system has lost contact with the masses : the MP elected from Tamil Nadu or Andhra Pradesh, sits most of his time in Delhi, an artificial, arrogant and faraway city. The palatial bungalow, the car, the servants, the sycophancy, the temptation to get corrupt he encounters there, make him forget his original aspiration to serve the people – if he ever had one…What has to be done is not only to decentralize the Government, by giving a greater autonomy to the states – which should take care of most separatist movements – but also to send back the elected politicians to their fields of work, so that they have a living contact with their people, as they did two thousand years ago :
We had a spontaneous and a free growth of communities developing on their own lines…Each such communal form of life - the village, the town, etc. - which formed the unit of national life, was left free in its own internal management. The central authority never interfered with it… because its function was not so much to legislate as to harmonise and see that everything was going all right”… (India’s Rebirth 172)
The Judiciary, with its millions of backlog cases, which sometimes take decades to be decided upon, with its lawyers looking like crows in these ridiculous black dresses, would have to be reviewed too. The recent Supreme Court judgments on Ayodhya showed again the limits of the Western judicial system, by having the arrogance to think three judges with their own bias, could decide on something so ancient, so sacred and so complicated. It would be absurd to put back the Manu law into practice; but certainly the law of Dharma, of Truth, should be translated into a new Judicial system. Not to judge according to Western standards, with its so-called secular values, which have no relevance to India :
The work of the legislators attempted to take up the ordinary life of man and of the community and the life of human desire and aim and interest and ordered rule and custom and to interpret and formulate it in the same complete and decisive manner and at the same time to throw the whole in to an ordered relation to the ruling ideas of the national culture and frame and perpetuate a social system intelligently fashioned so as to provide a basis, a structure, a gradation by which there could be a secure evolution of the life from the vital and mental, to the spiritual motive.. (Found of Indian Culture p. 283).
India has no national language, as Nehru thought that English could be the unifying language. But barely 10% of India knows English fluently and Hindi is spoken only in the North. Yet, very few seems to realise that India possesses in Sanskrit the Mother of all languages, so intricate, so subtle, so rich, that no other speech can equal it today. It could easily become the unifying language of India : "Sanskrit ought still to have a future as the language of the learned and it will not be a good day for India when the ancient tongues cease entirely to be written or spoken", admonished 50 years ago Sri Aurobindo, A dead language, you say ! Impossible to revive? But that's what they argued about Hebrew. And did not the Jewish people, when they got back their land in 1948, revive their ‘dead’ language, so that it is spoken today by all Jewish people and has become alive again ? The same thing ought to be done with Sanskrit, but as Sri Aurobindo points out: "it must get rid of the curse of the heavy pedantic style contracted by it in its decline, with the lumbering impossible compounds and the overweight of hair-splitting erudition". Let the scholars begin now to revive and modernise the Sanskrit language, it would be a sure sign of the dawning of the Renaissance of India. In a few years it should be taught as the second language in schools throughout the country, with the regional language as the first and English as the third. On top of that, Sanskrit would be a gift to the world, because it will boost the studies of the Vedas, whose great secrets will be unravelled. And again, this will go in enhancing India’s self image and help her to evolve a
“ true India”.
Education of course has to be totally revamped. The kind of Westernised education which is standard in India, does have its place, because India wants to be on par with the rest of the world, and Indian youth should be able to deal confidently with the West: do business, talk, and relate to a universal world culture. But nevertheless, the first thing that Indian children should be taught is the greatness of their own culture. They should learn to revere the Vedas, they should be taught the greatness of the Mahabharata and the Ramanayana; they should be told that in this country everything has been done, that it was an unsurpassed civilisation, when the West was still mumbling its first words, that Indian civilisation reached dizzying heights, which have been since unsurpassed. But overall they should be taught early that India's greatness is her spirituality her world-wide wisdom. INDIA'S NEW EDUCATION HAS TO BE SPIRITUALISED IT HAS TO BE AN INNER EDUCATION WHICH TEACHES TO LOOK AT THINGS FROM THE INNER PRISM, NOT THROUGH THE WESTERN ARTIFICIAL LOOKING GLASS. India's Dharma, her eternal quest for truth should be drilled in the child from an early age. And from this firm base, everything then can be taught -from the most modern forms of mathematics, to the latest technologies.
"National education…may be described as the education which starting with the past and making full use of the present, builds up a great nation. Whoever wishes to cut of the nation from its past, is no friend of our national growth. Whoever fails to take advantage of the present, is losing us the battle of life. We must therefore save for India all that she has stored up of knowledge, character and noble thoughts in her immemorial past. We must acquire for her the best knowledge that Europe can give her and assimilate it to her own peculiar type of national temperament. We must introduce the best methods of teaching humanity has developed, whether modern or ancient. And all these we must harmonise into a system which will be impregnated with the spirit of self-reliance, so as to build up men and not machines". (India's Reb 36)
It should also be made clear that Indian history will have to be rewritten. Certainly if not only the Jews, but also the whole world is constantly drilled into the history of the holocaust, so as to remember and not repeat the same mistakes, definitely Indian children should be taught about the rape of their country by successive Muslim invaders and the incredible harm done to India. They should know the truth about Aurangzeb, Babar and Mahmud of Ghazni, instead of the present semi-glorifying of the great Mughal culture and period. They should not be taught to hate of their fellow Muslims in India, but to only know them in their real historical perspective. A certain effort in that direction has already been made by the present Government, which for instance has replaced some of the staunch Marxists, such as Romila Thapar from the Indian Council of Research. But what outcry in the “secular” press it has triggered and a lot more needs to be done.
Because, for instance, the Independence story should be also rewritten and true nationalists given their right place. The Congress should be granted its just share of the movement, but not sanctified as it is now. All Marxist denigration of India should also be banned from the books. Indian students should be taught to look at the world through the Indian prism and see historical events, such as the rape of the Third World by Spanish conquistadors or the colonising and impoverishment of Africa, in their factual colours.
Another symbol of the emergence of a new India will be the universal acceptance of Vande Mataram as the national anthem – we have seen in 1999 the farcical reaction of education Ministers from different states when when the Saraswati Vandanam was played at a function presided by Murali Manohar Joshi. But why should anyone object to Saraswati, the Goddess of learning, She who bestowed so much Grace on India. In 1939, a disciple had said to Sri Aurobindo that: "there are some people who object to the singing of Vande Mataram as a national song; Sri Aurobindo had replied: "in that case Hindus should give up their culture". But the disciple had continued: "the argument is that the song speaks of Hindu gods, like Durga and that it is offensive to Muslims". Said Sri Aurobindo: "but it is not a religious song, it is a national song and the Durga spoken of is India as the Mother. Why should not the Muslims accept it? In the Indian concept of nationality, the Hindu view should be naturally there. if it cannot find a place, the Hindus may as well be asked to give-up their culture. The Hindus don't object to "Allah-Ho-Akbar".
Let us again hear Sri Aurobindo’s message on the 15th of August 1947 :
"India is free, but she has not achieved unity, only a fissured and broken freedom…The whole communal division into Hindu and Muslim seems to have hardened into the figure of a permanent political division of the country. It is to be hoped that the Congress and the Nation will not accept the settled fact as for ever settled, or as anything more than a temporary expedient. For if it lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled; civil strife may remain always possible, possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest. The partition of the country must go…For without it the destiny of India might be seriously impaired and frustrated. That must not be."
This was indeed prophetic and we have to understand that as long as this partition remains, we will have Kashmir, Ayodhya and the spectre of a nuclear war between the two erstwhile brothers. In SAARC, South Asia possesses the basic frame work for an eventual reunification in a lose confederation, where everyone will keep its own identity and freedom while uniting in key economic, political and military issues like the United Europe is starting to do now. The question is: how? It certainly cannot be done in a day and it cannot be accomplished in a hurried and artificial manner. First there has to be an understanding among both the people, an acceptance of that possibility, which up to now has not even been thought off seriously. Once the idea has started to work among people, the process may begin - at the heart of the matter, where things are most difficult between India and Pakistan: in Kashmir, for instance.
For Kashmir represents the perfect impossibility, the absolute dead-end, and symbolises the irrevocable enmity between Pakistan and India. India will not surrender Kashmir, because she considers rightly that it has been part of her territory for 5000 years. Pakistan will not surrender its claim on the Valley, because it estimates rightly that the Kashmir vale is 95% Muslim and that under the (mad) logic of partition, it should have reverted to Islamabad. And both countries are trying by force, the one openly, the other covertly, to stake their claims on Kashmir. Thus, there is no issue, except war, a nuclear conflict maybe - and everyone will be the loser: who will have Kashmir then if there is nothing left of India and Pakistan?
If the absurdity of the whole Kashmir business is seen in that light, then India and Pakistan might agree to sit down and hammer out, not an idiotic splitting in two of Kashmir, as they have already done of India, which will solve nothing and only postpone a later confrontation, but a just reunion. LET BOTH INDIA AND PAKISTAN ADMINISTER KASHMIR, which would retain its identity and culture as a member of a greater India confederation. It can start in a gradual way by military observers of both the countries being posted to watch over the peace process. Eventually it can lead to a joint government of Kashmir. Then there could be a tentative reunification of both the Kashmirs, which would be a prelude to an eventual reunification of India and Pakistan in a loose confederation of which the Kashmir joint experiment would be the model and the guinea pig, because we have no illusion that this will be an easy process.
CHAPTER 14: India the spiritual leader of the world
“Arise O India and be proud once more of Thyself”, one would be tempted to say in conclusion. This should be India’s motto for the Third Millennium, after five centuries of self-denial. For, in spite of its poverty, in spite of the false Aryan invasion, in spite of the Muslim holocaust, in spite of European colonialism, in spite of Macaulay’s children, in spite of the Partition, in spite of the Chinese threat, in spite of the westernised framework, India still has got tremendous potential. Everything is there, ready to be manifested again, ready to mould India in a new modern nation, a super power of the 21st century. Of course, India has to succeed its industrialisation, it has to liberalise, because unless you can compete economically with the West, no nation can become a super power. India has also to solve its political problems, settle its separatist troubles, get rid of corruption and bureaucracy. And lastly, it has to apply quickly its mind and genius to its ecological problems, because the environment in India is in a very bad way, near the point of no-return. Thus, if India becomes a force to be reckoned militarily, economically and socially, then the wonder that IS India could again manifest itself.
And what is this Wonder ? Beyond the image of poverty, of backwardness, beyond even the wonder that is Hinduism, there is a Knowledge – spiritual, occult, esoteric, medical even – still alive today in India. This Knowledge was once roaming upon the shores of this world - in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece… – but it has now vanished to be replaced by religions, with their dogmas and rituals, do’s and don’t, hells and heavens. For we have lost the truth; we have lost the Great Sense, the meaning of our evolution, the meaning of why so much suffering, why dying, why getting born, why this earth, who are we, what is the soul, what is reincarnation, what is the ultimate re ality of the world and the universe… But India has kept this truth, India has managed to preserve it through seven millenniums of pitfalls, of genocides and attempts at killing her santanam dharma.
And this will be India's gift to this planet during this century: to restore to the world its true sense, to recharge humanity with the real meaning and spirit of life, to gift to this dolorous Planet That which is beyond mind : the Supra-Mental. India will become the spiritual leader of the world :
"It is this religion that I am raising-up before the world, it is this that I have perfected and developed through the Rishis, Saints, and Avatars, and now it is going forth to do my work among the nations. I am raising forth this nation to send forth my word…When therefore it is said that India shall rise, it is the Santana Dharma that shall rise, it is the Santana Dharma that shall be great. When it is said that India shall expand and extend herself, it is the Santana Dharma that shall expand and extend itself over the world. It is for the Dharma and by the Dharma that India exists". (India's Reb. p. 46 -Uttara speech)
This knowledge does not necessarily reside in mystical realms, but in authentic Indian traditional forms of genius which can be very practical. Take for example ancient medical systems, like Ayurveda, or Siddha. Today, alleopathic medecines are found even in India's remotest villages, making people dependant on harmful drugs which are expensive and only serve to enrich the big foreign multinationals. It takes a Deepak Chopra, an Indian doctor exiled in the United States, to remind the world that Ayurveda is one of the greatest medical systems ever devised; that 5000 years ago, when the rest of the planet lived in total medical ignorance, Indian doctors were already performing plastic surgery, knew that the origin of many diseases were psychosomatic, had found in Mother nature the cure for most of man’s ailments and realized that the five natural elements have to be made balanced in the human body for a perfect harmonious life. Not only that, but Indian doctors were also yogis. They perceived that beyond the human body was another divine reality, of which the soul was the vehicle on earth.
Today, Western doctors (and many Indian ones) are totally ignorant of the different planes of consciousness which superimpose our terrestrial life. Hence these doctors and the psychiatrists of the West are, as Sri Aurobindo pointed out, « searching with a torch light in the dark caverns of man’s Unconscious ». This ancient knowledge is unfortunately now being neglected. As a result, American companies are patenting medicines using the properties of neem or haldi, for instance, which were known 4000 years ago by India’s forefathers. As in the case of Sanskrit, the Indian Government should thus put its energies and resources towards the reviving of Ayurveda.
Or take pranayama, the science of breathing. The effects of pranayama have been studied for thousands of years and Indian teachers know exactly what results will this type of exercise have on you and what kind of routine you should do to improve that particular problem, or develop this certain faculty in you. Pranayama, in Sanskrit, means breath - and in India, it is known that prana circulates in the whole body and that one breathes not only trough the nose and mouth, of course, but through ANY part of the body, making thus prana flow everywhere. Thus, according to yogis, prana can revitalise all these parts of our body which do not receive enough energy - and which, as a consequence, become weak and lose their vitality, like the eyes for instance. Pranayama is in fact everywhere : in the air which surrounds us, of course, but also in animals, in Nature, in the mineral world even. It is also found in food : today, one speaks of vitamins, proteins, calories - but one does not understand that it is actually the prana in the food which gives us energy; and the quality of this prana depends on the sort of food we are partaking.
Recently, this ancient knowledge has been scientifically verified when the National Institute of Neuroscience in Bangalore, one of the most reputed in Asia, studied for the fist time in the world, the effects of pranayama on 80 patients suffering from various psychological problems : depressions, anorexia, insomnia, obesity, alcoholism… To do so, half of the patients continued to receive a normal treatment : electroshocks, sedation, psychiatric help, while the other half was only made to practise pranayama two hours a day for three months. By using the P300 method (Positive Electrical Wave), to measure the reactions of the brain, through electrodes placed on different parts of the body (vertex of the skull, left lobe of the ear), the doctors were able to study in nano-volts, thirty milliseconds after the stimulation, the auditory and somatic reactions of the patients. They quickly noticed that the latent periods - that is the delay between the stimulus and the response of the subject - decrease considerably after the pranayama exercises and one also notes a slowing down of the breathing and the cardiac rhythm. After three months, the 40 patients having only practised pranayama, showed so much improvement that they were allowed to go home, while the forty others stayed on behind in the hospital.
Pranayama is probably the best suited Indian yogic discipline for the West, because it is so down to earth, so scientific : there are no miracles, no levitation, no smoky mysticism, as everything can be explained in a rational way. And again, the U.S.A., always prompt to experience new techniques, is using this knowledge : quite a few American companies have included exercises of pranayama in the peps sessions of their executives; sportsmen too are experimenting with it to improve their performances, as the film « the Great Blue », has shown when the hero does a series of breathing exercises known in India as « Viloma », to store as much air as possible in his lungs, before breaking a world record in underwater diving without oxygen. Today, thanks to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the ancient science of pranayama is not only been revived, but it is travelling all over the world, thanks to the Art of Living Foundation. Who then, is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was born on May 13, 1956, in a religious family in Papanasam, Tamil Nadu. At the age of four he could recite the entire Bhagavad Gita and by the time he was nine years old, he had mastered the Rig-Veda. He however completed his traditional studies, including an advanced degree in modern science, before being noticed in 1975 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the guru responsible for introducing meditation to the West. Maharishi took the promising youngster with him to Delhi, Rishikesh, as well as abroad, and Ravi Shankar quickly became one of his start teachers, as well as his right hand man. In 1982, after having decided to strike it on his own, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar went into ten days of silence. It is during this silence that the Sudarshan Kriya, a unique cleansing and rejuvenating process based on the repetition of different breathing rhythms, was revealed to him – and it is probably also at the same time that he received full enlightenment. And so the Art of Living was born. Today the AOL Basic course, a combination of pranayama, course points, meditation and group techniques, is taught in 132 countries and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a world renowned spiritual master, as well as a founding member, along with several world leaders, of the International Association for Human Values (IAHV), a Geneva-based organization that aims to re-awaken human values. He has been a featured speaker at many forums across the globe including the European Parliament, the United Nations Millennium Summit and the World Economic forum in Davos, Switzerland.
And what about Kalaripayat, a very ancient multi-faceted martial art, which is still practised in the villages of Kerala ? In 522 A.D., an Indian Buddhist monk named Boddidharma, who had become a master of Kalaripayat (Buddhist monks, who travelled a lot in Asia to propagate their religion, used bare-handed fighting and the bamboo stick they used for walking to defend themselves against attacks) and was the son of the king of Kancheepuram in the state of Tamil Nadu, arrived at the court of the Chinese Emperor Liang Nuti of the 6th dynasty. The Emperor granted him a, audience and gave him travel documents to walk to the Kingdom of Wei (now Junan province) at the foot of the Han Shan mountains, to a Buddhist monastery called the temple of Shaolin.
Father and founder of Zen Buddhism (called C’han in China and Dhyana in India), Boddidharma taught the Chinese monks the barehanded fighting techniques of Kalaripayat, a very ancient Indian martial art, so that they could defend themselves against the frequent attacks of bandits. In time the monks became know all over China as skilled exponents of barehanded fighting, which came to be known as the Shaolin boxing art.
The Shaolin temple which was handed back a few years ago to the C ’han Buddhist monks by the Chinese Government, inheritors of Boddhidharma’s spiritual and martial teachings, is now open to visitors. On one of its walls, one can see a fresco depicting dark-skinned Indians teaching their lighter-skinned brothers the art of barehanded fighting. On the painting is inscribed : « Tenjiku Naranokaku », which means : « the fighting techniques to train the body (which come) from India.
Kalaripayat, or Shaolin boxing as it is came to be known, passed from China to Japan, through the Ryukyu islands, landing in Okinawa to blossom in the art of the Empty Hand, or later, Karate. Later it manifested in the Japanese mainland as jiu-jiu-tso, judo, Shorinji Kempo, etc. Karate, the art of the Empty Hand, father of all Japanese martial arts, is a blend of Boddhidharma’s martial teachings and the local fighting techniques, which existed there before the advent of Zen Buddhism. All Asian martial arts, particularly those of China and Japan, recognize their origin in the Shaolin Temple and honour Boddhidarma, (whom the Japanese call Dharuma). His portrait is often displayed in their dojos, where martial arts are practised.
And what about meditation, queen of all the yogic sciences ? That which is above everything, that without which any yogic discipline is impossible. That which interiorizes us, carries us within ourselves, to the discovery of our true soul and nature. There are hundreds of different mediation techniques, simple, cartesian, easy to experience, which have been devised by Indian sages since the dawn of Bharat. Each one has its own characteristics, each one gives particular results, which has been experienced by the billions of aspirants who have practised them since the dawn of Vedic times. Meditation is being practised more and more in the West and there have been numerous scientific studies, which have shown the positive effect of meditation on heart problems, psychological stress or blood circulation.
The irony of it all is that not only most of the Indian upper class and intellectual elite does not practise meditation and pranayama, ignores what is Kalaripayat and does not gets treated for its problems with Ayurveda, but that none of these wonders are included in the schools and universities’ curriculum. So you have this wonderful knowledge, which has disappeared from the rest of the world, but if you go to cities like Delhi, or Bombay, you realise that most of the youth there have no idea about meditation, or have never heard of pranayama. They are totally cut off from their ancient culture, from the greatness of their tradition, and even look down on it. So unless Indians start taking pride in their own culture, India will never be able to gift it to the world.
Famous French writer Andre Malraux had said that unless the 21 century is spiritual, then it will not be. What he meant was that the world has now come to such a stage of unhappiness, of material dryness, of conflicts within itself, that it seems doomed and there appears no way that it can redeem Itself : it is just going towards self-destruction, - ecologically, socially, spiritually. So unless the 21st century allows a new spiritual order to take over – not a religious order, because religion has been a failure, all over the world - then the world is going towards pralaya. And India holds the key to the world's future, for India is the only nation which still preserves in the darkness of Her Himalayan caves, on the luminous ghats of Benares, in the hearts of her countless yogis, or even in the minds of her ordinary folk, the key to the planetary evolution, its future and its hope.
The 21st century then, will be the era of the East; this is where the sun is going to rise again, after centuries of decadence and submission to Western colonialism; this is where the focus of the world is going to shift. And as when India used to shine and send forth Her Dharma all over the Orient: to Japan, Thailand, China, Burma, or Cambodia and influence their civilisations and religions for centuries to come, once more She will emit Her light and radiate, Queen among nations:
"India of the ages is not dead nor has She spoken Her last creative word; She lives and has still something to do for Herself and the human peoples. And that which She must seek now to awake, is not an anglicised oriental people, docile pupil of the West and doomed to repeat the cycle of the Occident's success and failure, but still the ancient immemorial Shakti recovering Her deepest self, lifting Her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and vaster form of Her Dharma”.
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