The Candid Eye

April 19, 2010

A temple where upper castes bow to Dalits

Stories of socially marginalised people not being allowed into places of worship are common in India. In such a scenario, a Dalit family presiding over an Uttar Pradesh temple for ages is nothing short of exemplary.

It’s only Dalits who have been priests of the Kali Mata temple, dedicated to goddess Durga, in Lakhna town in Etawah, some 300 km from Lucknow, ever since the shrine came up around 200 years ago.

‘Caste divisions and discrimination may not have given Dalits a place of respectability in society, but here as priests they are revered,’ Ram Dular Rajbhar, who owns a grocery store in the town, said.

‘Be it Brahmins, Thakurs or people from any of the other higher castes, after coming inside the temple, all have to bow before the Dalit priests and touch their feet. For others it may be surprising, but it has become a custom for us,’ he added.

Goddess Durga

Situated along the banks of the Yamuna river, the temple is sought after by the residents of Lakhna town for holding marriages, ‘mundan’ (tonsure ceremony of Hindu children) or other rituals particularly performed by Brahmins or members of the upper caste.

‘It’s not just a temple. It’s a place that is an example of social equality,’ said Umesh Dixit, who owns several garment shops in Lakhna town.

‘People in Lakhna also approach the priests to name their babies as it is believed that names given by Dalit priests would bring good luck and prosperity to the children and their families,’ he added.

According to locals, there’s a story behind the custom of Dalit priests. They say King Jaipal Singh, who got the temple constructed, made it mandatory that the priest of the temple would only be a Dalit.

‘While the construction of the temple was under way, Jaipal Singh noticed a Dalit labourer, Chhotelal, was being assaulted by a group of upper caste people for touching the idol that was to be placed inside the temple,’ said another resident Ram Raksha Pandey, who owns an eating joint in Lakhna.

‘Jaipalji soon intervened in the matter and said only Chhotelal and his family would be taking care of the temple after its construction. Since then, the practice has been alive,’ he added.

At present two brothers, Ashok Kumar, 43, and Akhilesh Kumar, 45, who are fourth generation descendants of Chhotelal are the priests at the temple.

Source: Sify

April 16, 2010

Dharbham the Holy Grass

Filed under: Hinduism,Spirituality,Temples — Abhay @ 6:00 AM
Tags: , , ,

The Holy Grass known as Dharbham or Dharbai – Kush Grass, Kusa – Eragrostis cynosuroides

by TRS Iyengar

This article is on one of the practices widely used by Indian Brahmins all over using a Holy Grass named Dharbham or Dharbai. The botonical name is Eragrostis cynosuroides and Hindi they call
as Kus or Kusha. Brahmins in general and Srivaishnavites in particular use this Darbai grass in all functions, auspicious or inauspicious, a performing person needs to wear a ring made of this
Dharbham. But many have lost the reason of why it is to be used in the first place.

What I learnt from my father is proved to be accurately correct by a Medicine Practitioner. A medical practitioner named Dr. Sadhashiv Rao, once visited my home. When the topic turned to many
subjects, I needed to tell him about the Holy Grass named Dharbham. When I told him about the usage and the values, he could not just believe my words. So, he took out a bunch of the Dharbham
from me, went straight to the clinic to take an x-ray of his palm, by covering his hand with the Dharbham. To his utter surprise, he found that the grass absorbed about 60% of the (x-ray) radiation!

When the so powerful X-ray radiation can be absorbed by the Holy Grass, why can it not absorb the ill-radiations spread over the atmosphere?  While chanting and reciting some Vedic phrases and
versus, one needs to wear a ring made of Dharbham on his right hand ring finger. This is most essential, while performing all the rituals, such as Agni Santhanam, Thiru-Aaradhanam, all sorts of
Havans known as Homam etc.
The count of leaves depends upon the function that is held viz.: for some functions related to death only Single leaf Dharbham is used; for Auspicious and daily routine a ring made of two leaves is
used; for inauspicious but not death related functions, (i.e. Amavasya Tharppanam,Pithru Pooja etc) a three leaf Dharbham ring is used. And for the Temple Prayer and Pooja, a Four-leaf Dharbham
ring is used.
Also, when a fire ritual known as Agni Santhana is performed, these Dharbham are spread all the four sides of the Agni Kundam. Also, during the Eclipse time, these Dharbham are used to cover all
food items to protect them from the harmful ultra violet radiation.
Whenever any function is held, firstly they perform a site-cleansing act known as “Sudhhi Punyaahavachanam”. While reciting the selective versus, they hold the Dharbham bunch in their hand and
placing the tip point of it over the vessel containing water. Thus the recited vibration values are absorbed by water in the vessel through the Dharbham.
They found that the Holy Grass known as Dharbham has the highest value in conducting the phonetic vibrations through its tip. Later, they sprinkle the Holy water at every nook and corner of the place,
where the function is held. A Dharbham without the tip is considered of no value, as the conductor-type value is lost in it.

If dharbam is cut & collected on the Avani Amavasya day (falls during 15th August & 15th Sept) it can be retained for usage for one full year. Also, if cut on the Masi Amavasya day then also one can
use it for full year. There is a specific slokha for cutting dharbam (the holy grass) that is to be recited while cutting it; I give below the same for readers to know. If Dharbam is obtained from a
Brahmin who doesn’t know this slokam or versus, the Dharbam is useless,  states the Vedic scripts!

My father, Late Shri Ramabathrachariar of Mukkur, fondly called by everyone as Sriraman, has taught me the immense values of Dharbham and its usage. With Sanskrit phonetic sound and
vibration, using the Dharbham increases its value. The usage varies according to the functions. It is really a marvel, that in those days of Vedic Era, the Sages & Saints of Hindu land used to control
the Magnetic path disturbances, just by simply using this Dharbham! While I was just preparing this article, I received an interesting E-mail from Sri. Vijay Narasimhan, which I give below without
editing:

Quote:

Basically all our Vedas and Upanishads are written in Sanskrit, Which basically is a phonetic based language. So I have a feeling that it is not just the mantras being powerful but mainly due to
the effects “Sound” has over a humans body. I feel that our ancestors had mastered the art of sound;  phonetics and acoustics as such. So when the Vedas was written and the tone set for its
deliverance that had no effect whatsoever on a “Man’s” body but it should have definitely had a profound effect on a “Woman’s” body that would have been the reason why ladies are not allowed
to chant mantra or the Vedas or Upanishads or for that matter any of the slokas that a man recites. When we do Paaraayanam, I feel that the reason why girls are not allowed to do that is basically
their physique cannot take the tremendous changes effected due to sustained practice of known as Recital.

This is something that my grandpa’s younger brother told me about, when we perform the Kumbabhishekam in a temple, At least 20 learned Vedic scholars would stand near the “kumba jalam”
( holy water kept in the copper or brass vessel) and holding a “Dharbam”,one end in their hand and other end in the water would recite all the slokas need or rather do the “Japam”  – I think this is
because “Dharbam” is a very good conductor of acoustic vibrations – When this happens you can surely find the difference in the water’s state before and after such a japam. The reason why i am
saying this has reference to my stating that Sanskrit is a phonetic based language and “Sound and Acoustics” does really change things.

Our ancestors would have done lot of research into acoustics management resulting in they mastering the art of sound and acoustics and using them to both, their constructive and destructive benefits.
Again this is purely my and only my own opinion.

Keep up the good work.

Thanks and Regards – Vijay Narasimham

Unquote.

Apart from the above, Dharbham cannot be planted and grown everywhere. It only grows naturally at selective places and available almost in every state in India. Several persons at many
occasions tried to cultivate this plant but failed to see its growth. Why, anyone can try this now if it is possible for them to plant & cultivate in their locations! Sorry, it will not grow as one might
think. It has its potential soil selection, magnetic path locations and soil conditions that add value to its growth only in selective places! Some learned scholars name it after Saint Vishwaamitra – hence
Dharbham is known and also called as “Vishwaamitra”. If it is kept for a longer time, say for more than six months, (excepting the one cut during Masi & Avani Amavasya days.) then it loses its
value and the power of absorbing the radiation or magnetic path control values.

Dharbham cannot just be plucked straight or cut on any day; There is a specific Slokha given above, that is to be recited before cutting it; That too it can be cut only on the day next to Full Moon –
known as Krishna Paksha Pradamai. A Dharbham without its tip portion is not to be used for making a Ring like item known as “Pavithram”.

A word of caution for the new users of this Dharbai / Dharbam. It is sharper than a blade! The edges are so sharp, it might even hurt & cut your palm if handled carelessly, that you’ll notice only
when you find blood oozing from your palm! Yes, you’ll not feel the pain while injuring, but later one feels it.  Only when it is wet, you can twist it to the form you need to make the called Pavithram
or Bugnams.

.o-o-o-0-0-0-o-o-o.

January 30, 2010

Court questions rail surcharge on Kumbh pilgrims

Citing the subsidy given to Haj pilgrims, a recently floated Hindu Personal Law Board has moved the Allahabad High Court seeking its intervention in getting free rail passes for poor pilgrims and a 50 percent concession to all others going to attend the Maha Kumbh Mela that is on in Haridwar now.

Kumbh Mela

“The present policy of the government is discriminatory and in violation of the provisions of the Indian Constitution which disallows any discrimination on religious lines,” the board’s counsel Ashok Pandey said.

A division bench of the court here directed the railway administration to submit the circular whereby the surcharge was being levied by the Indian Railways on pilgrims travelling to Haridwar for the Maha Kumbh Mela.

According to the pubic interest litigation (PIL) moved Wednesday: “The railway administration are charging a surcharge ranging from Rs.3 to Rs.15 per ticket from every rail traveller going to Haridwar during the Kumbh Mela period.”

Board secretary V.L. Misra told reporters here Thursday: “Since the local railway administration refused to provide us a copy of the circular, we urged the honourable court to direct them to submit a copy directly to the court.”

The Court has fixed Feb 3 for the next hearing.

Source: Express Buzz

January 19, 2010

Temple discovery reveals clues of Indonesia’s association with Hinduism

Filed under: Hinduism,Indian History,Temples — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
Tags: , , , , ,

Archaeologists in Indonesia have uncovered a 1,000-year-old temple that could shed light on the country’s Hindu past.The intricately carved statues and reliefs are some of the best preserved in Indonesia, but the dig is being conducted under tight security to protect the site from well-organised relic thieves.

The temple was found on the grounds of Yogyakarta's Islamic University. (ABC News)

The temple was found on the grounds of Yogyakarta’s Islamic University as workers probed the ground to lay foundations for a new library, and they realised the earth beneath their feet was not stable.Digging soon revealed an extraordinary find: three metres underground were still-standing temple walls. Heavy rains then exposed the top of a statue of the god Ganesha in pristine condition.

A few weeks into the excavation, archaeologists are declaring the temple and its rare and beautiful statues an important discovery that could provide insights into Indonesia’s pre-Islamic culture.”This temple is a quite significant and very valuable because we have never found a temple as whole and intact as this one,” said archaeologist Dr Budhy Sancoyo, who is one of the researchers painstakingly cleaning up the temple.

“For example, looking at where the statues are placed in this temple, they are in their original positions, unlike the other temples.”This temple is important for understanding the culture of our ancestors.”A volcanic eruption is thought most likely to have covered the temple around the 10th century, about 100 years after it was built.

The eruption preserved its statues and reliefs in better condition than almost everything else discovered in Indonesia from that period, including the Borobodur and Prambanan temple complexes.But now that they are exposed, the temple’s contents need to be protected with 24-hour security.

Last November, thieves plundered the nearby Plaosan Temple.The heads of two rare Buddhist statues were stolen, to be traded by organised syndicates dealing in artefacts.Tri Wismabudhi from central Java’s culture and heritage agency says temple thieves are robbing Indonesians of a piece of their history.

“To us, archaeological sites like this are archaeological data, so if the data is missing or incomplete, that means the history of the nation is also missing,” he said.”People don’t understand that. That’s why they steal, because they don’t realise how important this is for us as a nation.”

At the Kimpulan temple on the campus of Yogyakarta’s Islamic University, the statue of Ganesha is being kept slightly buried to make it harder to steal.It could sell for up to $250,000 on the black market.The university wants to open the site to the public once the dig is complete.The library that was destined for the site will be redesigned to incorporate the Hindu temple.

Source: ABC News

December 28, 2009

Confluence of services

The most needed thing for Hindu community is finally happening.All the spiritual organizations,different sects of Hinduism are coming together for harmony among the people, a much needed one in today’s India.Excerpts from Express Buzz.

Buoyed by the success of the first Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair organised by the Chennai chapter of the Global Foundation for Civilisational Harmony (GFCH) in February, its second edition will be inaugurated in the city on Thursday, with 96 Hindu organisations, some of whom have conflicting ideologies, showcasing their bouquet of service activities. The idea is to present a grand vision of their ceaseless, selfless, multi-dimensional service to humanity. In the first edition of the fair, 36 organisations had participated.

Zodiac Symbol Meanings Ecliptic path

To be held at Sri Ramachandra University grounds in Tiruvanmiyur, the five-day fair will be inaugurated by Governor Surjit Singh Barnala. Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa would be the guest of honour and chairman of the Murugappa Group A Vellayan would deliver the keynote address.

Noted columnist S Gurumurthy would make the welcome address.

Groups that denounce divisions of the basis of caste, like the Mata Amritanandamayi Math or Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Art of Living, will share space with caste-based groups, such as the Hindu Nadar Magamai and the Nagarathar associations. Likewise, the Arya Samaj, which denounces idol worship, will be a participant along with the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam.

Prominent among other organisations participating in the fair are the Brahmakumaris, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Andhra Mahila Sabha, ISKCON, Nandalala Seva Samithi Trust, ancient Tamil Saivite mutts of Tiruppanandal Adheenam, Sri Kasi Math and Thiruvavadurai Adheenam besides Sri Ramakrishna Math and Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam.

The central pavilion of the fair will have the aggregate details of the services rendered by different Hindu spiritual and service organisations.

Go puja would be performed everyday at the fair venue besides chanting of Vedic verses and Vishnu Sahasranaman. A lot of other spiritual functions are scheduled to be held.

A similar fair is likely soon at Coimbatore besides other Indian cities.

According to the GFCH, “the fair intends to dispel the myth that Hindu spiritual organisations are not socially conscious. For instance, 90,000 schools are being run by Hindu groups, but people are unaware of it.” Dr N Mahalingam of the Shakti Group is the chairman of the organising committee of the event and danseuse Dr Padma Subramaniam is its secretary.

December 12, 2009

Negationism and the Muslim Conquests

From: Rewriting the Indian History

It is important to stop a moment and have a look at what the Belgian scholar Koenraad Elst, has called “negationism in India”. In his foreword to the book of the same title, Koenraad explains that negationism, which means in this context “the denial of historical crimes against humanity”, is not a new phenomenon. In modern history, the massacre by the Turks of 1,5 millions Armenians, or that of the 6 million Jews by the Nazis, the several millions of Russians by Stalin, or again the 1 million Tibetans by the Chinese communists, are historical facts which have all been denied by their perpetrators… But deny is not the exact word. They have been NEGATED in a thousand ways: gross, clever, outrageous, subtle, so that in the end, the minds of people are so confused and muddled, that nobody knows anymore where the truth is. Sometimes, it is the numbers that are negated or passed under silence: the Spanish conquest of South America has been one of the bloodiest and most ruthless episodes in history. Elst estimates that out of the population of native Continental South America of 1492, which stood at 90 million, only 32 million survived; terrible figures indeed but who talks about them today ? “But what of the conquest of India by Muslims”, asks Elst? In other parts of Asia and Europe, the conquered nations quickly opted for conversion to Islam rather than death. But in India, because of the staunch resistance of the 4000 year old Hindu faith, the Muslim conquests were for the Hindus a pure struggle between life and death. Entire cities were burnt down and their populations massacred. Each successive campaign brought hundreds of thousands of victims and similar numbers were deported as slaves. Every new invader made often literally his hill of Hindu skulls. Thus the conquest of Afghanistan in the year 1000, was followed by the annihilation of the entire Hindu population there; indeed, the region is still called Hindu Kush, ‘Hindu slaughter’. The Bahmani sultans in central India, made it a rule to kill 100.000 Hindus a year. In 1399, Teimur killed 100.000 Hindus IN A SINGLE DAY, and many more on other occasions. Koenraad Elst quotes Professor K.S. Lal’s “Growth of Muslim population in India”, who writes that according to his calculations, the Hindu population decreased by 😯 MILLION between the year 1000 and 1525. INDEED PROBABLY THE BIGGEST HOLOCAUST IN THE WHOLE WORLD HISTORY. (Negat.34)
But the “pagans” were far too numerous to kill them all; and Hinduism too well entrenched in her people’s soul, never really gave up, but quietly retreated in the hearts of the pious and was preserved by the Brahmins’ amazing oral powers. Thus, realising that they would never be able to annihilate the entire Indian population and that they could not convert all the people, the Muslims rulers, particularly under the Hanifite law, allowed the pagans to become “zimmis” (protected ones) under 20 humiliating conditions, with the heavy “jizya”, the toleration tax, collected from them. “It is because of Hanifite law, writes Mr Elst, that many Muslim rulers in India considered themselves exempted from the duty to continue the genocide of Hindus”. The last “jihad” against the Hindus was waged by the much glorified Tipu Sultan, at the end of the 18th century. Thereafter, particularly following the crushing of the 1857 rebellion by the British, Indian Muslims fell into a state of depression and increasing backwardness, due to their mollah’s refusal of British education (whereas the elite Hindus gradually went for it) and their nostalgia for the “glorious past”‘. It is only much later, when the British started drawing them into the political mainstream, so as to divide India, that they started regaining some predominance.
Negationism means that this whole aspect of Indian history has been totally erased, not only from history books, but also from the memory, from the consciousness of Indian people. Whereas the Jews have constantly tried, since the Nazi genocide, to keep alive the remembrance of their six million martyrs, the Indian leadership, political and intellectual, has made a wilful and conscious attempt to deny the genocide perpetrated by the Muslims. No one is crying for vengeance. Do the Jews of today want to retaliate upon contemporary Germany? NO. It is only a matter of making sure that history does not repeat its mistakes, as alas it is able to do today: witness the persecution of Hindus in Kashmir, whose 250.000 Pandits have fled their 5000 year old homeland; or the 50.000 Hindus chased from Afghanistan; or the oppression of Hindus in Bangladesh and Pakistan. And most of all, to remember, is to BE ABLE TO LOOK AT TODAY WITH THE WISDOM OF YESTERDAY. No collective memory should be erased for appeasing a particular community.
Yet, what has happened in India, at the hand of Hindus themselves, is a constant denial and even a perversion of the genocide committed by Muslims in India. Hasn’t the “radical humanist” M.N. Roy, written “that Islam has fulfilled a historic mission of equality and abolition of discrimination in India, and that for this, Islam has been welcomed in India by the lower castes”. “If AT ALL any violence occurred, he goes on to say, it was a matter of justified class struggle by the progressive forces against the reactionary forces, meaning the feudal Hindu upper classes..” Want to listen to another such quote? This one deals with Mahmud Ghaznavi, the destroyer of thousands of Hindu temples, who according to his chronicler Utbi, sang the praise of the Mathura temple complex, sacred above all to all Hindus… and promptly proceeded to raze it to the ground: “Building interested Mahmud and he was much impressed by the city of Mathura, where there are today a thousand edifices as firm as the faith of the faithful. Mahmud was not a religious man. He was a Mahomedan, but that was just by the way. He was in the first place a soldier and a brilliant soldier”… Amazing eulogy indeed of the man who was proud of desecrating hundreds of temples and made it a duty to terrorise and humiliate pagans. And guess from whom is that quote? From Jawaharlal Nehru himself, the first Prime Minister of India and one of the architects of independence!
M.N. Roy, and Nehru in a lesser degree, represent the foremost current of negationism in India, which is Marxist inspired. For strangely, it was the Russian communists who decided to cultivate the Arabs after the First World War, in the hope that they constituted a fertile ground for future indoctrination. One should also never forget that Communism has affected whole generations of ardent youth, who saw in Marxism a new ideology in a world corrupted by capitalism and class exploitation. Nothing wrong in that; but as far as indoctrination goes, the youth of the West, particularly of the early sixties and seventies, were all groomed in sympathising with the good Arabs and the bad Jews. And similarly in India, two or three young generations since the early twenties, were tutored on negating Muslim genocide on the Hindus. In “Communalism and the writing of Indian history”, Romila Thapar, Harbans Mukhia and Bipan Chandra, professors at the JNU in New Delhi, the Mecca of secularism and negationism in India, denied the Muslim genocide by replacing it instead with a conflict of classes. The redoubtable Romila Thapar in her “Penguin History of India”, co-authored with Percival Spear, writes: “Aurangzeb’s supposed intolerance, is little more than a hostile legend based on isolated acts such as the erection of a mosque on a temple site in Benares”. How can one be so dishonest, or so blind? But it shows how negationism is perpetuated in India.
What are the facts? Aurangzeb (1658-1707) did not just build an isolated mosque on a destroyed temple, he ordered ALL temples destroyed, among them the Kashi Vishvanath, one of the most sacred places of Hinduism and had mosques built on a number of cleared temples sites. All other Hindu sacred places within his reach equally suffered destruction, with mosques built on them. A few examples: Krishna’s birth temple in Mathura, the rebuilt Somnath temple on the coast of Gujurat, the Vishnu temple replaced with the Alamgir mosque now overlooking Benares and the Treta-ka-Thakur temple in Ayodhya. (Neg 60). The number of temples destroyed by Aurangzeb is counted in 4, if not 5 figures; according to his own official court chronicles: “Aurangzeb ordered all provincial governors to destroy all schools and temples of the Pagans and to make a complete end to all pagan teachings and practices”. The chronicle sums up the destructions like this: “Hasan Ali Khan came and said that 172 temples in the area had been destroyed… His majesty went to Chittor and 63 temples were destroyed..Abu Tarab, appointed to destroy the idol-temples of Amber, reported that 66 temples had been razed to the ground”.. Aurangzeb did not stop at destroying temples, their users were also wiped-out; even his own brother, Dara Shikoh, was executed for taking an interest in Hindu religion and the Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded because he objected to Aurangzeb’s forced conversions. As we can see Romila Thapar and Percival Spear’s statement of a benevolent Aurangzeb is a flagrant attempt at negationism. Even the respectable Encyclopedia Brittannica in its entry on India, does not mention in its chapter on the Sultanate period any persecutions of Hindus by Muslims, except “that Firuz Shah Tughlaq made largely unsuccessful attempts at converting his Hindu subjects and sometime persecuted them”. The British, for their own selfish purpose, were of course greatly responsible for whitewashing the Muslims, whom they needed to counterbalance the influence of the Hindus and the Congress. It is sad that Jawarlhal Nehru and the Congress perpetuated that brand of negationism. But that is another story.
The happiest in this matter must be the Muslims themselves. What fools these Hindus are, they must be telling themselves: We killed them by the millions, we wrested a whole nation out of them, we engineer riots against them, and they still defend us!… But don’t the Hindus know that many orthodox Indian Muslims still cling to the Deoband school, which says that India was once “Dar-ul-Islam”, the house of Islam, and should return to that status. Maulana Abul Kala Azad, several times Congress President, and Education Minister in free India, was a spokesman for this school. The Aligarh school on the contrary, led by Mohammed Iqbal, propounded the creation of Pakistan. What particularly interests us in the Aligarh school is the attempt by Muslim historians, such as Mohamed Habiib, to rewrite the Chapter of Muslim invasions in India. In 1920, Habib started writing his magnum opus, which he based on four theories: 1) that the records (written by the Muslims themselves) of slaughters of Hindus, the enslaving of their women and children and razing of temples were “mere exaggerations by court poets and zealous chroniclers to please their rulers”. 2) That they were indeed atrocities, but mainly committed by Turks, the savage riders from the Steppe. 3) That the destruction of the temples took place because Hindus stored their gold and jewels inside them and therefore Muslim armies plundered these. 4) That the conversion of millions of Hindus to Islam was not forced, “but what happened was there was a shift of opinion in the population, who on its own free will chose the Shariat against the Hindu law (smriti), as they were all oppressed by the bad Brahmins”…!!! (Negationism p.42)
Unfortunately for Habib and his school, the Muslims invaders did record with glee their genocide on Hindus, because they felt all along that they were doing their duty; that killing, plundering, enslaving and razing temples was the work of God, Mohammed. Indeed, whether it was Mahmud of Ghazni (997-1030), who was no barbarian, although a Turk, and patronised art and literature, would recite a verse of the Koran every night after having razed temples and killed his quota of unbelievers; or Firuz Shah Tughlak (1351-1388) who personally confirms that the destruction of Pagan temples was done out of piety and writes: “on the day of a Hindu festival, I went there myself, ordered the executions of all the leaders AND PRACTITIONERS of his abomination; I destroyed their idols temples and built mosques in their places”. Finally, as Elst points out, “Muslim fanatics were merely faithful executors of Quranic injunctions. It is not the Muslims who are guilty but Islam”. (Negationism in India, p. 44)
But ultimately, it is a miracle that Hinduism survived the onslaught of Muslim savagery; it shows how deep was her faith, how profound her karma, how deeply ingrained her soul in the hearts of her faithfuls. We do not want to point a finger at Muslim atrocities, yet they should not be denied and their mistakes should not be repeated today. But the real question is: Can Islam ever accept Hinduism? We shall turn towards the Sage, the yogi, who fought for India’s independence, accepting the Gita’s message of karma of violence when necessary, yet had a broad vision that softened his words: “You can live with a religion whose principle is toleration. But how is it possible to live peacefully with a religion whose principle is “I will not tolerate you? How are you going to have unity with these people?…The Hindu is ready to tolerate; he is open to new ideas and his culture and has got a wonderful capacity for assimilation, but always provided India’s central truth is recognised.. (Sri Aurobindo India’s Rebirth 161,173) Or behold this, written on September 1909: “Every action for instance which may be objectionable to a number of Mahomedans, is now liable to be forbidden because it is likely to lead to a breach of peace. And one is dimly beginning to wonder whether worship in Hindu temples may be forbidden on that valid ground (India’s Rebirth p. 55). How prophetic! Sri Aurobindo could not have foreseen that so many Muslim countries would ban Rushdie’s book and that Hindu processions would often be forbidden in cities, for fear of offending the Muslims. Sri Aurobindo felt that sooner or later Hindus would have to assert again the greatness of Hinduism.
And here we must say a word about monotheism, for it is the key to the understanding of Islam. Christians and Muslims have always harped on the fact that their religions sprang-up as a reaction against the pagan polytheist creeds, which adored many Gods. ” There is only one real God they said (ours), all the rest are just worthless idols “. This ” monotheism versus polytheism business ” has fuelled since then the deep, fanatic, violent and murderous zeal of Islam against polytheist religions, particularly against Hinduism, which is the most comprehensive, most widely practiced of all them. It even cemented an alliance of sorts between the two great monotheist religions of the world, Christianity and Islam, witness the Britishers’ attitude in India, who favoured Indian Muslims and Sikhs against the Hindus; or the King of Morocco who, even though he is one of the most moderate Muslim leaders in the world, recently said in an interview: ” we have no fight with Christianity, our battle is against the Infidel who adores many gods “. But the truth is that Hinduism is without any doubt the most monotheist religion in the World, for it recognises divine unity in multiplicity. It does not say: ” there is only one God, which is Mohammed. If you do not believe in Him I will kill you “. It says instead: ” Yes Mohammed is a manifestation of God, but so is Christ, or Buddha, or Krishna, or Confucius “. This philosophy, this way of seeing, which the Christians and Muslims call ” impious “, is actually the foundation for a true monotheist understanding of the world. It is because of this ” If you do not recognize Allah (or Christ), I will kill you “, that tens of millions of Hindus were slaughtered by Arabs and other millions of South Americans annihilated by the Christians. And ultimately the question is: Are the Muslims of today ready to accept Hinduism ? Unfortunately no. For Muslims all over the world, Hinduism is still the Infidel religion ” par excellence “. This what their religion tell them, at every moment, at every verse, at the beginning of each prayer : ” Only Allah is great “. And their mollahs still enjoin them to go on fight ” jihad ” to deliver the world of the infidels. And if the armies of Babar are not there any longer; and if it is not done any more to kill a 100.000 Hindus in a day, there is still the possibility of planting a few bombs in Bombay, of fuelling separatisms in the hated land and eventually to drop a nuclear device, which will settle the problem once and for all. As to the Indian Muslim, he might relate to his Hindu brother, for whatever he says, he remains an Indian, nay a Indu; but his religion will make sure that he does not forget that his duty is to hate the Infidel. This is the crux of the problem today and the riddle if Islam has to solved, if it wants to survive in the long run.
We will never be able to assess the immense physical harm done to India by the Muslim invasions. Even more difficult is to estimate the moral and the spiritual damage done to Hindu India. But once again, the question is not of vengeance, or of reawakening old ghosts, but of not repeating the same mistakes. Unfortunately, the harm done by the Muslims conquest is not over. The seeds planted by the Moghols, by Babar, Mahmud, or Aurangzeb, have matured: the 125 million Indian Muslims of today have forgotten that they were once peaceful, loving Hindus, forcibly converted to a religion they hated. And they sometimes take-up as theirs a cry of fanaticism which is totally alien to their culture. Indeed, as Sri Aurobindo once said: “More than 90% of the Indian Muslims are descendants of converted Hindus and belong as much to the Indian nation as the Hindu themselves”…(Rebirth of India, p.237) The embryo of secession planted by the Mahomedans, has also matured into a poisonous tree which has been called Pakistan and comes back to haunt India through three wars and the shadow of a nuclear conflict embracing South Asia. And in India, Kashmir and Ayodhya are reminders that the Moghol cry for the house of Islam in India is not yet over.
* For more details, read “Negationism in India, concealing the record of Islam”, by Koenraad Elst, Voice of India, New Delhi.

September 29, 2009

In Rome, Durga is not welcome

This post is an excerpt written by Kanchan Gupta, appeared on Pioneer.

What does it mean to celebrate Durga Puja in Rome? It means to be humiliated, harassed and hounded by city officials who happen to be pious Christians. Alright, I could be utterly wrong in presuming they are pious since I have no independent confirmation of their piety or otherwise. But let’s get back to the question with which I began. Late Thursday night I was at the park near my house where the local Bengalis organise Durga Puja every year. It’s a raucous celebration of faith and culture. The food stalls are invariably hugely popular and there I was with my nine-year-old daughter, standing in a queue for kathi rolls. After what seemed like an interminable wait, it was our turn to be served. Just then my BlackBerry beeped. Balancing the piping hot rolls, dripping oil, tomato ketchup, green chilli sauce and lemon juice, in one hand, I tried to read the e-mail on my handset.

Devi Durga Puja Celebration

Devi Durga Puja Celebration

No luck. I got shoved around, nearly dropped both rolls and my phone, and decided to let the e-mail wait. Later, away from the crowd, I checked the e-mail and it was a fascinating story. Since the identity of the person who had sent the mail is not really relevant, let me reproduce the text: “The Municipal Police authorities of Rome have today withdrawn permission, granted three weeks ago, to celebrate Durga Puja in Rome. The cancellation came a few hours before the Ambassador of India was scheduled to inaugurate the Puja at 8 pm local time. No acceptable explanation has been given. This has caused the local Indian community the loss of thousands of Euros spent in preparatory arrangements. The same thing was done in the same manner in 2008 also. Please monitor developments.”

Now that’s awful, I told myself, here I am having kathi rolls and there they can’t even celebrate their own festival. On Friday, I called a friend in Rome who provided me with the latest details. Our Ambassador, Mr Arif Shahid Khan, a feisty man who has in the past taken up the issue of Sikhs being forced to take off their turbans at Italian airports, campaigned throughout the day, calling up officials, including the Mayor of Rome, and contacting members of the ‘Friends of India’ group in the Italian Parliament, arguing with them why permission for the Puja should be restored. By evening, the authorities had reversed their order and permission was granted to celebrate Durga Puja, which will now begin on Saturday, Ashtami — a full 48 hours behind schedule. Provided, of course, there is no last minute cancellation, as it happened on Thursday. Mr Khan will inaugurate the Puja, an honour he richly deserves.

The story behind the cancellation needs to be told, if only to point out that Christian countries in the West, whose Governments so blithely criticise the ‘lack’ of ‘religious freedom’ in India, have no compunctions about trampling on Hindu sentiments at home. After last year’s experience, when permission for celebrating Durga Puja in Rome was abruptly withdrawn by officials who cited specious reasons to justify their grossly unfair decision, the organisers, led by Mr Rajesh Sahani, a Sindhi from Kolkata who speaks flawless Bengali, took ample precautions this year. They were given permission to organise the Puja at Parko Centocelle, a public park on Via Cailina, Torpignattara. Three weeks ago, permission was granted for the Puja at the park and necessary formalities were completed.

Early this past week, the Puja organisers were told they could not use the park as a crime had been committed there and the location posed security-related problems. The organisers agreed to change the venue. Another park was selected, permission was given to celebrate Durga Puja there, and the preparations began all over again in right earnest. Then, like a bolt from the blue, at 4 pm on Thursday came the withdrawal of permission by the Municipal Police. The organisers were bluntly told to pack up and leave hours before Durga Puja was scheduled to begin with Akal Bodhon in the evening. Why? No reason was proffered.

Cross Question

Cross Question

Some officials are believed to have told the organisers that the cancellation of permission at the eleventh hour, both last year and this year, was meant to be “retaliatory action against the persecution of Christians in India”. It may be recalled that the President of Italy, Mr Giorgio Napoletano, has been vociferous in demanding that Europe should do more in support of Christians in India and to help them ‘affirm their right to religious freedom’. The Government of Italy has in the past summoned the Ambassador of India to convey to him that it has “deep concern and sensitivity for the ongoing inter-religious violence… that has caused the death of many Christians.” The Pope has been no less harsh in denouncing India.

There could be another reason, apart from its “deep concern” about the welfare of Christians in India, for Italy’s callous disregard of the sentiments of Hindus in that country. Although the Italian Constitution guarantees religious freedom, under the Lateran Treaty with the Vatican, Italy recognises only the three religions of Semitic origin — Christianity, Judaism and Islam. All other religions are no more than paganism and are to be shamed and shunned. The Vatican would not countenance any open breach of the Lateran Treaty; Italy would not want to be seen as recognising Hinduism.

“It’s only natural that Italy should have a surfeit of churches. But it’s the rejection of any other faith than Christianity, Judaism and Islam that explains why there are so many mosques but virtually no temples in Italy although this country has a large Hindu expatriate population,” my friend told me while regretting the attitude of the Government and the local authorities. According to him, there are only three temples in Italy: One in a garage in Venice; another at Frescolo and the third at Reggio Emilia. These survive at the mercy of local zoning officials.

But for Mr Arif Shahid Khan’s pro-active involvement — most Ambassadors tend to stay aloof from community affairs — this year too there would have been no Durga Puja in Rome. Indians in Italy owe him a debt of gratitude. So do Bangladeshis who are equal participants in this annual celebration of dharma’s victory over adharma, of the triumph of good over evil. Cultural and linguistic affinities unite Bengalis, irrespective of whether they are from the west or east of Padma, during this autumnal festival celebrated around the world.

Meanwhile, let’s not get carried away by the West’s bilious and bogus criticism of ‘lack of’ religious freedom in India and indulge in self-flagellation. Let the West look at its own ugly, septic warts. If Christians can celebrate Christmas in New Delhi, Hindus have the right to celebrate Durga Puja in Rome. This is non-negotiable.

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