Sunday, May 03, 2009

vijay r: India shining to India was shining

may 3rd, 2009
erudite letter to the editor

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Vijay

The Editor,
The Hindu

Dear Editor,

I read with great interest the article 'From India Shining to India was Shining', Sunday,May 3,2009.

Some comments are in order:

It was refreshing to see an animated response to the BJP Manifesto's preamble.

All is well on the Indian subcontinent when ideas are exchanged, quite a contrast to some of its neighbhours!

However, it is disappointing to see that the anonymous author(s) of the article cite the evidence of 'eminent historians' without mentioning their names. This makes the article sound arbitrary, whimsical and even unprofessional. At least one or two names of the 'eminent historians' could have been cited (Mr. Joshi of the BJP at least is definitely not a ghost writer.We know who he is and where he is coming from).

But there are also some serious substantive errors in the article. Mr.Joshi speaks of Indian culture being spread far and wide, as far as Bamiyan(in Afghanistan) and Borobodur in the Far East, Cambodia). This is historically accurate since the Indian influence there is seen even today in art,artifacts,architecture,religion and customs( Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the Bamiyan Buddhas, destroyed by the Taliban in Afghanistan to cite two prominent instances).

Mr. Joshi's meaning is not that each and every Indian knew about all this, but that the culture was widespread. It seems silly for the author(s) of this article to take him to task for that.

And yes, there is nothing undignified or inaccurate about Mr.Joshi's statement: truth or reality is one but wise men describe it in different ways.

He is quoting from the Veda (Ekam Sad Viprah Bahuddha Vadanti). The post modernists will dismiss this as 'essentialism' but fail to see the important second part of the statement. In "different ways" is the key here.

This tolerance is an expression of a noble and profound truth, namely, that human beings can approach it in various ways. This is not only unique to the Veda but is also the earliest statement in human history of a noble vision.

It does not exist in the monotheistic traditions, which by definition are exclusionary and therefore intolerant of other faiths. Hence, the  intolerant wars of proselytisation, violent or behind the scenes. In fact, this intolerance of other faiths is also the basis of present day missionary activity in India.

The Veda's influence can be seen in a variety of ways. Even the Enlightened One, Gautama the Buddha, did not spring overnight like Athena from Zeus's brow. He too, while rejecting the empty ritualism of his day, was deeply influenced by the noble philosophy of the Veda. Mahatma Gandhi is a contemporary example.

The 'eminent historians' whom the author(s) quote must surely be aware of the fact that the Upanishads present intense questioning and introspection and that they are an integral part of the Veda (Sruti).

Jesus was influenced by the Essene sect, which in turn was influenced by Buddhist ideals. And so it goes.

Thomas Paine's book Rights of Man presents a 'Christian' view of the dignity of the individual and the rights of citizens. The point that needs to be stressed is that such ideas did not spring overnight, out of the blue.

And secularism as the Veda defines it, needs to be incorporated to round off  the goal of the author(s)' of the article: 'A new paradigm is called for, but one that endorses the primacy of the human being, the citizen of India, rather than the Hindu.'

Ofcourse, this raises two questions: who is a Hindu ? And what exactly is the abstract being called 'citizen'?

In his Essentials of Hindutva(1922)by Savarkar, he defines a Hindu as one among the many people living in Hindustan and who practises the Hindu faith. This happens to be an accurate definition.

The difficulty for the so called minorities is that in sheer numbers the everyday Hindu is the majority population. The minorities happen to be adherents of the monotheistic faiths and therefore distance themselves from the Hindus who are polycentric in their belief system.

Commonsense and realism says that the minorities who enjoy special privileges as Sharia law, and in the case of the Christian community, non interference by government in the financial transactions of their churches (this is in direct contrast with the governmental appropriation of Hindu temple finances), should be happy that they live in a democracy. As MJ Akbar, noted Indian Muslim journalist has observed: In India alone have Muslims enjoyed uninterrupted democracy for 60 years !

Regarding the Dalits and other scheduled castes, not only is government sponsoring affirmative action, but NGOs such as the RSS are at the forefront of the struggle against casteism, for which they deserve kudos, not the constant brickbats thrown at them by Indian liberals. En passant, the efforts made by some misguided diaspora Indians to stop the flow of funds to the NGOs is deplorable. The  work of the RSS is simply stellar(this statement may be politically incorrect to our Liberal-Left authors!) Because it is undertaken by the RSS is simply no justification for thwarting this project. If the Christian missionaries and liberal NGOs (who are supported by foreign funds) are allowed to propagate their faith, why not the RSS also ?

To return to the question of the abstract 'citizen' of the authors' article.

In their zeal at being iconoclasts the 'eminent historians' or their supporters, throw the baby out with the bathwater. This is their Achilles heel, as of all Left-Liberal thinking in India,their chronic inability to work with the positive aspects of the Hindu tradition and their somewhat hasty subservience to labels such as secularism( as defined by the West).

In reality the noble vision first propounded by the Veda of the equality of all paths and peoples, is even more relevant in today's world than a dessicated understanding of what constitutes 'secularism'. The primacy of the human being is to be integrated with respect for all life and the universe. That is the message of the Veda.

Marx himself in one of his more enlightened moments rebuked the Social Democrats of Germany for advocating a bourgeois notion of rights and equality (Critique of the Gotha Programme, 1875). In other words, the abstract 'citizen' as envisaged by our Left-Liberal friends in India is one that is torn out of time and space.

In a somewhat 'dialectical' way our Liberal-Left friends (the authors of the article) and the eminent historians might want to return to the Veda, for insight and values.

Meanwhile, there is no harm in debate and discussion. There is   such a tradition. Not only the great Sankara's intense debates and discussions but the everyday Indian's ongoing engagement with life. He/she is not going to thank the zealots (our Liberal-Left friends) for muddying the waters and robbing them of India's  rich heritage.


Dr. Vijay R


blogger said...

Please read, and

Seriously, this guy for PM! I mean how seriously ideologically and politically bankrupt are these KKKangress people to even think of him as a local corporator let alone PM. VVhat an @$$!

Shahryar said...

For those who wish to read the original article, From ‘India Shining’ to ‘India was Shining’.