Monday, March 19, 2018

Hindutva is Pro-Constitution…..

BJP MP Subramanian Swamy and Hindutva Ideologue Govindacharya at a conference where he urged Muslims to hand over their part of land in Ayodhya to help the construction of the Ram temple, in Patna, on 26 March 2017. Photo: IANS

Hindutva is Pro-Constitution…..

The structure of Indian Constitution is consistent with the Hindu tradition, a part of Hindutva: Dr Subramanian Swamy’s New Book to be published soon.

Here is an exclusive extract from the BJP MP’s soon-to-be published book on India’s modern right.

The Ideology of India’s Modern Right
By Subramanian Swamy
Publisher: Har-Anand
Publications Pvt Ltd
Price: Rs 495
The structure of our Constitution is consistent with the Hindu tradition, a part of Hindutva. Ancient Bharat or Hindustan was of janapadas and monarchs. But it was unitary in the sense that the concept of chakravartin [propounded by Chanakya], i.e., of a sarvocch pramukh or chakravarti prevailed in emergencies and war, while in normal times the regional kings always deferred to a national class of sages and sanyasis for making laws and policies, and acted according to their advice. This is equivalent to Art.356 of the Constitution.
In that fundamental sense, while Hindu India may have been a union of kingdoms, it was fundamentally not a monarchy but a Republic. In a monarchy, the King made the laws and rendered justice, as also made policy but in Hindu tradition the king acted much as the President does in today’s Indian Republic.
The monarch acted always according the wishes and decisions of the court-based advisers, mostly prominent sages or Brahmins. Thus Hindu India was always a Republic, and except for the reign of Ashoka, never a monarchy. Nations thus make Constitutions but Constitutions do not constitute nations.
Because India’s Constitution today is unitary with subsidiary federal principles for regional aspirations, and the judiciary and courts are national, therefore the Rajendra Prasad—monitored and Ambedkar—steered Constitution— making, was a continuation of the Hindu tradition. This is the second pillar of constitutionality for us—the Hindutva essence! These aspects were known to us as our Smritis. Therefore, it is appropriate here to explore ways by which Hindutva can be blend into the present Constitution more explicitly.
The Hindutva plank of restoring temples that were demolished by Islamic tyrants and mosques built on it, is constitutional thanks to the judgment in the Farooqui case.
In this case [(1994) 6 SCC 361], the Constitution Bench has held that a mosque is not an essential part of Islam and hence it can be demolished for a public purpose by a Government. This opens the way for building a Ram temple in Ayodhya. Of course, the
1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid would have to regarded as an offence under the IPC because of a mob taking law into its own hands.
But the Babri Masjid demolition offence does not prevent a future Hindutva government from demolishing Masjids and Churches (also not an essential part of Christianity) built after demolishing Hindu temples.
As the House of Lords U.K has held (1992) in the Nataraj idol case, because of Prana prathista puja, according to Agama Shastra, a temple is always a temple even if in disuse.
Thus for restoring the Kashi Visvanath temple or the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple, demolishing of the existing mosques by a government is constitutionally permitted.
Even in the Ramjanmabhoomi temple case currently entangled on the unauthorized demolition by some people taking law into their own hands, it is an IPC offence and has no constitutional significance. Any government can even now take-over the project for public good, and build a Ram Janma bhoomi temple.
Third, Article 370 is peculiar provision. It can be deleted, without a Parliamentary amendment, by a Presidential notification, subject to the concurrence of the J&K Constituent Assembly which however has long ceased to exist.
Moreover, the moral basis for it has eroded completely because the Kashmiri majority has already driven out Pandits completely altering the religious composition of the state, to preserve which the Article was incorporated.
Hence, there is no fetter now to constitutionally abolish Article 370 by a notification. By way of abundant precaution the President can obtain the concurrence of the J&K Governor who legally can be treated as a proxy for the J&K Constituent Assembly.
 Since the Article 44 is a Directive Principle for State Policy to have uniform civil code and moreover since the Muslims on ground of violation of the Shariat have not objected to a uniform criminal code which the Indian Penal Code is, hence it is constitutional to enforce Article 44 as not violative of Article 15, since the latter is subject to reasonable restrictions of health, morality and public order.
The question whether India should adopt a uniform civil code should be treated as a legal question because it is a mandate addressed to the ‘State’ by Art. 44 under Directive Principles of the Constitution.
Unfortunately, in India, legal questions are politicised when it affects the “Muslim vote bank.”
Article 44 of the Constitution says –“The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.”
A controversy has however arisen as to the formation of a uniform code relating to the family or personal law of the parties relating to matters such as marriage and divorce, succession, adoption.
The framers of the Constitution clearly indicated what they meant by the word ‘personal law’ in Entry 5 of List III of the 7th Schedule of the same Constitution.
Entry 5 says:
“5. Marriage and divorce; infants and minors; adoption; wills; intestacy and succession; joint family and partition; all matters in respect of which parties in judicial proceedings were immediately before the commencement of this Constitution subject to their personal law.”
The fathers of the Constitution had witnessed the baneful effects of a claim for separate identity of the Muslim community on the ground that their religion prescribed a separate Personal Law,—resulting in the lamentable Partition of India on the footing of the theory of ‘two Nations’, founded on two religions.
Hence, in the Constituent Assembly it was made clear that in a secular State personal laws relating to such matters as marriage, succession and inheritance could not depend upon religion, but must rest on the law of the land. A uniform Civil Code was accordingly necessary for achieving the unity and solidarity of the nation. [K.M. Munshi, VII C.A.D., 547-48]. Every time subsequently the question of uniform Civil Code was raised by anyone in Parliament, the Government of India opposed it on the ground that to achieve it would be to hurt Muslim ‘sentiments’ and that no implementation of this Directive of the fundamental law could be made so long as the Muslims themselves would not come forward to ask for it. [see Prime Minister Rao Statesman, 1-6-1995; 28-7-1995], and also at his Independence Day Speech at Red Fort on 15-8-1995; Law Minister, Bharadwaj [Jugantar, 12-12-1993; Statesman, 22-7-1995]; Gadgil, Secretary General of Congress (I) Party [Vartaman, 21-4-1995]; Dinesh Goswami, Law Minister [U.N.I., 22-12-1989].
Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has recommended, more than once, to take early steps towards the formation of a uniform Civil Code [Mudgal v. Union of India (1995) 3 S.C.C. 635 — Kuldip Singh and Sahai JJ. (10 May, 1995).
That the Shariat is not infallible or immutable is evidenced by the patent fact that it has been discarded on modified in many respects by various Muslim States. And this has been achieved in an orthodox Muslim State such as Tunisia, through the process of liberal or progressive interpretation of the scriptures.
Advocates of immutability should be silenced by the following observations of a Muslim Judge of Pakistan, Huq, J., of the Lahore High Court –
“It would not be correct to lay it down as a positive rule of law that the present-day Courts in this country should have no power or authority to interpret the Quran in a way different from that adopted by the earlier Jurists and Imams. The adoption of such a view is likely to endanger the dynamic and universal character of the religion and laws of Quran.”
The ground of immutability of the Shariat was in fact raised by some Muslim members in the Constituent Assembly of India but was rejected on the opposition from Dr. Ambedkar. It would be an eyeopener to many today to recount what Ambedkar said [VII C.A.D. 55] in this context.
“… up to 1935 the North-West Frontier Province was not subject to Shariat Law; it followed the Hindu Law in the matter of succession and in other matters, so much so that it was in 1939 that the Central Legislature had to come into the field and to abrogate the application of the Hindu Law to Muslims of North-West Frontier Province and to apply Shariat Law to them… apart from North-West Frontier Province, up till 1937 in the rest of India, in various parts, such as the United Provinces, the Central Provinces and Bombay, the Muslims to a large extent were governed by the Hindu Law in the matter of succession … that in North-Malabar the Marumakkathayam law applied to all—not only to Hindus but also to Muslims.”
Even in the Ramjanmabhoomi temple case currently entangled on the unauthorized demolition by some people taking law into their own hands, it is an IPC offence and has no constitutional significance. Any government can even now take-over the project for public good. 
Even in India the Koranic laws of crimes and evidence have been supplanted as early as the 19th century by enacting the Penal Code and the Evidence Act, e.g., by saving the Muslims from the following mediaeval atrocities which are still prevalent in Muslim countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh.
(a) Chopping off the hands of a criminal as a punishment for theft, or stoning to death as a punishment for adultery.
(b) Adultery and apostasy being punishable by death.
(c) Where the witnesses are women, their value as against the evidence of men is in the ratio of 2:1.
The entire law of criminal procedure has been replaced in India by statute. The Indians laws of crimes and evidence make no distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims. The Judges in a Muslim dispute need not be Muslims.
In this context, one critic has pointed out that in Goa, from the days of Portuguese rule, the people have been governed by a uniform civil code, but for the matter of that, Goanese Muslims have not lost their identity or culture.
If it is contended that personal law, founded on religion, has any special status, the answer is that it is the British Parliament which made the English Crown the head of the Church and altered the law of royal succession; and an Indian Parliament superseded the Hindu law of marriage and succession, in the teeth of opposition from an enlightened section of Hindus. It was opposed by Dr. Rajendra Prasad himself on the grounds that Art.44, being applicable to all persons in the territory of India, should not be imposed on the Hindus alone and that the Government who sponsored the Hindu Code Bill to replace the personal law of the Hindus had no mandate from the Electorate in this behalf.
Above all, the Muslims who remained in India after the Partition did so with the full knowledge that divided India was going to adopt a Parliamentary system of democracy and not any Muslim system of the Middle Ages where Shariat would be the supreme law of the land.
They should also have known that a personal law founded on the religion of different communities was incompatible with the very concept of a ‘Secular’ State which divided India was going to be.
Factually also, the assumption of the Government of India that the entire Muslim community is opposed to the implementation of Art. 44 is not correct. The Shah Bano case demonstrated that it was only a section of the Sunni sect amongst the Muslims which was vehemently opposed to the judgment.
The Supreme Court can no more wash its hands off Art. 44 on the ground that it is a Directive Principle which is not directly enforceable. Jordan v. Chopra (1985) 3 S.C.C 62 Besides, some Supreme Court Judges had expressed their views to the same effect out of Court: Gajendragadkar, C.J., and Chairman, Law Commission, in his book—Secularism and the Constitution of India (1971), p.126; Shelat, J., Secularism, Principles and Application (1972); Hegde, J., in the Law Institute, in January,
1972; Tulzapurkar, J.,—article in A.I.R. 1987 Jours. 17; Beg. C.J., in his Motilal Nehru Lecture on ‘Impact of Secularism on Life and Law.’
Prior to Kuldip Singh, J., in numerous cases, the Supreme Court has remedied the inaction of the Government in other clauses of Directive Principles to implement various Directives, in Arts. 38, 39, 39A, 41, 42, 43, by issuing ‘directions’ which are mentioned in Art. 32(2) as legitimate instruments in the hands of the Court.
Even in the matter of Art. 44, previous Benches of the Supreme Court had commented upon the inaction of the Government and the need for an early implementation of the Article –
(a) A unanimous Constitution Bench in the Shah Bano case (para. 32).(b) A Division Bench, speaking through Chinnappa Reddy, J., in Jordan’s case.
Today we have demonstrated by taking the “Teen Talaq” to Supreme Court and obtaining a judgment of the Constitution Bench that Teen Talaq is unconstitutional as vio; stove of equality before law [Article 14] and immoral [Article 25].
That the Shariat on personal law is not sacrosanct will appear from the following examples of Muslim majority countries which have superseded or modified polygamy.
Turkey: The Court can declare a second marriage as invalid on the ground that a spouse is living at the time of the second marriage [Turkish Civil Code, Art. 74].
Pakistan: A person cannot contract a second marriage without the permission of the Arbitration Council; and a wife can obtain divorce on the ground that the husband has married another wife.
Iran: A person cannot remarry without permission of the Court.
Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Syria: Similar restrictions on bigamy as in Iran and Pakistan have been imposed in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Syria.
Tunisia: Bigamy is totally prohibited by the Tunisia Law of personal Status (s. 18).
Registration of all marriages, including those contracted in conformity with Shariat formalities, has been made compulsory in Iran, Algeria, Indonesia, Malaysia.
There is no reason why such law cannot be adopted in India. Fifth, the call for Hindutva has been held by the Supreme Court  in  Manohar  Joshi  [1996]  case  to  be  within  the Constitutional requirements of free speech. Hence, time has arrived for us to openly declare India as an ancient Hinducivilization, which is the only way we can perform the Fundamental Duty under Article 51-A(f), and boldly up revere our sacred symbols.
Factually also, the assumption of the Government of India that the entire Muslim community is opposed to the implementation of Art. 44 is not correct. The Shah Bano case demonstrated that it was only a section of the Sunni sect amongst the Muslims which was vehemently opposed to the judgment.
For example, the total ban on cow slaughter in Article 48 has been held by a 1958 Constitution Bench to possess constitutionality in the sense that the total ban is held to be a reasonable restriction on fundamental rights of all Indians.
At present the Government has been taking over Hindu temples its resources and land and using it for all kinds of non- religious purposes under the states enacted Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment Acts on the pretext of maladministration of the temple properties.
Under Article 31A of the Constitution such a take-over cannot be permanent. If maladministration charge is true, then the Government should rectify it within a reasonable period such as three years, and then hand it back. At present State governments have taken over tens of thousands of temples for decades. Time is now to get them released…
Throughout ancient Indian history, Hindu kingdoms, never required any ‘subject’ to be of Hindu religion in order to be regarded a first class citizen. Only in Asoka’s reign and Islamic rule, India was a theocracy. Hindu is naturally ‘Secular’. But secularism is a much-bandied-about subject nowadays. Unfortunately, those political parties who have been swearing by it all these years have failed to persuade the masses that secularism is good for country.

A Hindutva Rally on Hindu News Years Day Vikram Samvat. Is there any Contradiction with Constitution? The answer is No.
In fact, secularism as defined and propagated today has lost its relevance. The concept as understood by the masses of India stands thoroughly discredited. Hence the question is whether we should redefine secularism in keeping our civilization tradition to make it acceptable to the masses or capitulate to the rising fundamentalism in the country with dire consequences for national integrity and security.
When Rev. Martin Luther had defined secularism in Europe, it simply meant that the power of the state would be exercised independently of the directions of the Church. Thus, a secular government would act to safeguard the nation-state, even if such action was without Church sanction. Later, Marx calling religion the ‘opium of the masses’ defined secularism to completely eschew religion.
In India, Jawaharlal Nehru and his followers subscribed to the later Marxist redefinition of the concept in which even in public functions, cultural symbolism such as lighting a lamp to inaugurate a conference or breaking a coconut to launch a project was regarded as against secularism.
This orthodoxy induced a reaction in the Indian masses. Nehru failed to define what historical roots ought to be a part of the modem Indian, and what was to be rejected. In the name of‘scientific   temper’,   he   rejected   most   of   our   past   as ‘obscurantism’.
His orthodox secularism sought to alienate the Indian from his hoary past. Since nearly 85 per cent of Indians are pan- Hindu in beliefs, and Hindu religion from its inception has been without a ‘Church’, ‘Pope’ or ‘Book’ (in contra – distinction to Christianity), therefore neither Martin Luther nor Marx made any sense to the Indian masses.
Since there was little political challenge to Nehru after the untimely death of Gandhiji and Patel, the Marxian secularism concept superficially prevailed till Nehru’s demise in 1964. Themasses therefore humoured Nehru without accepting his concept of secularism. A Conceptual void however remained to be filled.
But Congress Party continued thereafter to fail to provide a political concept of secularism by which an Indian citizen could comprehend how he should bond “secularly” with another citizen of a different religion or language, or region and feel equally Indian. The Hindu instinctively could not accept the idea that India was what the British had put together, and that the country was just an area incorporated by the imperialists.
Such a ridiculous idea, fostered quixotically by Jawaharlal Nehru University historians, found just no takers amongst the Indian people. The void remained thus, but the yearning in the masses to be “Indian” grew over the years with growth of mass media. This void had therefore to be filled and the yearning of national identity required to be articulated for the masses.
Courtesy: The SundayGuardianLive

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Islamists And Maoists – Two Sides Of The Same Coin

  Youngsters pelting stones at the Army in the Kashmir Valley (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

  • The modus operandi of the Maoists in Bastar and Islamists in Kashmir is exactly the same.
    They are opposed to development and fear education.

On 22 February this year, a group of students owing allegiance to leftist student unions raised azadi slogans at Ramjas College, in New Delhi. The video is there on the internet for all to see. The slogans raised were Kashmir maange azadi, Bastar maange azadi among others.
We have heard the slogan Kashmir maange azadi before at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). But it was the first time that students chanted Bastar maange azadi. And why wouldn't they? It is exactly the same ideology that feeds and nurtures both the separatist groups.
The sinister thread that connects the Islamists in Kashmir and the Maoists in Bastar doesn't stop at mere sloganeering. Both are separatist groups using acts of terror and violence to destabilise the Indian state. The ultimate aim of both Maoists and Islamists is the Balkanisation of India.
The modus operandi of the Maoists in Bastar and Islamists in Kashmir too is exactly the same.
First, they oppose all development in the region by stalling infrastructure projects like the construction of roads and bridges. The attack on the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) battalion in Sukma happened while the soldiers were supervising road construction in Bastar. Maoists have attacked road construction labourers and contractors in the past and have even burnt down construction equipment. Earlier this month, Kashmiri separatists forced a shutdown on the valley because they did not want the Prime Minister to inaugurate the 10-kilometer long Chenani-Nashri tunnel in Kashmir. Both Maoists and Islamists fear infrastructure development, as increased connectivity helps in bringing people into the mainstream, thereby weakening their hold over the local people.
The Islamists of Kashmir and the Maoists of Bastar fear education, too. Young people are the chief recruits for both groups, and it is easier to attract illiterate young people, who have no hope for a future, to the movement than youngsters who see a ray of hope and a bright future in India through education. Maoists and Islamists therefore burn state-run schools or forcefully shut them down. The local population is then forced to depend upon the mercy of these separatist groups to access the most basic of facilities.
They first deny people access to basic infrastructure and education, shutting down every chance of a bright future that they might have, and then argue that local people take to arms as 'there is no development in the region’. This circular argument has been repeated many times by the Islamists in Kashmir and the Maoists in Bastar.
In Kashmir as well as in Bastar, women and children are used as human shields to attack the forces, while the actual arms-wielding assault party follows in the rear. In Kashmir, there is a careful mobilisation of school kids and women as stone-pelters who serve as a cover for the arm-toting terrorists in the rear. The Supreme Court of India had expressed concerns over Kashmiri separatists increasingly using minors as human shields while confronting the forces. In Bastar, when the assault party of the Maoists attacks the forces, they first send women and children ahead, like they did in Sukma yesterday. If the forces fire in retaliation, Maoist and Islamist sympathisers can always cry 'human rights abuse’, which is then taken up by the intellectual back-room boys and girls of the two movements.
Neither the Islamists of Kashmir nor the Maoists of Bastar want to resolve their issues through discussion or negotiations. No matter how hard the Indian state tries to assimilate the local people into the mainstream, Maoists, as well as Islamists, resist it with all their might. It is in their interest that the local population remains uneducated, poor, dispossessed and unhappy.
Lastly, the biggest common factor among the Islamists of Kashmir and the Maoists of Bastar are the people supporting them. It is the same group of ‘left-leaning’ intellectuals ensconced in academic hidey-holes like JNU and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and newsroom studios, who provide the Islamists and Maoists intellectual legitimacy.
A successful war depends as much upon ideological warfare as it depends upon the manoeuvres on the battlefield. The job of these urban terrorists is to legitimise the acts of violence by the Maoists and Islamists and lend a romantic halo to their story. Which is why seditious slogans inciting people to break India are passed off as ‘freedom of speech’ and a hardline terrorist like Burhan Wani is humanised as a ‘schoolmaster’s son with a bright future who was led astray’. In the context of Bastar, the urban terrorists’ job is to rationalise the acts of unspeakable violence and terror by the Maoists by inventing catchy phrases like ‘Gandhians with Guns’, as Arundhati Roy once famously described them.
We might get the impression that the battle against the Indian state is being fought in the valley of Kashmir or the jungles of Bastar, but the real war is being fought in India’s cities, thousands of miles away from both Kashmir and Bastar. It is being fought in news studios, in universities and colleges and seminars and symposia. The fingers that pull the trigger might belong to the Maoists or Islamists, but the firepower is provided by the urban terrorists that you will find all around you, in academia, media, films and even in the government. The gun-toting puppets may be in Bastar and Kashmir, but the people who pull their strings are hiding in our midst.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Padmavati: History of Hindu triumph

  • The agitation over Padmavati is only partly about history, but mainly about honour. Dishonour is not an option for many, even unto death.
The Queen of Chittor, history’s heroine and the protagonist of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film, has been the subject of much debate and controversy, not to mention threats of dire consequences or even death to those responsible for it. It behoves, therefore, to try to understand the uproar.
Let me, however, clarify at the outset that what follows is not a retelling of the story. In fact, it is not even an exercise in mere re-interpretation. Instead, I would like to offer a hermeneutical methodology or meta-interpretation — how to make sense of Indian stories, especially such stories of incredible courage or sacrifice.
The key is to see these stories, after Frederick Jameson, as allegories, not just national, but civilisational allegories. In other words, Padmavati is not only an Indian story; that would be rather obvious. For there are countless such Indian stories. After all, India is the original home of stories, the veritable Kathasaritasagara. I would argue, in fact, that Padmavati is not an ordinary, but quintessential Indian story. It is the story of India itself. I shall try to demonstrate this in my essay.
Let us try to find out what, keeping this in mind, the Padmavati dispute is really about.
Was Padmavati a historical figure? We don’t know for sure. But what is pretty much uncontested is that Alauddin Khilji did lay siege to Chittorgarh, capturing it in 1303, after eight months of stubborn endurance by the Guhila Rajput ruler Ratan Singh. The earliest account of this military feat is Amir Khusrau’s Khaza’in ul-Futuh. Khusrau, one of the founders of Hindavi literature, better known today for his Sufi songs dedicated to Nizamuddin Auliya, was Khilji’s courtier. What is more, he actually accompanied the sultan on this campaign.
In Khusrau’s account, there is no mention of Padmini, nor of the terrible jauhar, mass immolation, committed by her and the ladies of the fort before it fell into Khilji’s hands. What Khusrau does state is that 30,000 Hindus were “cut down like dry grass” on Khilji’s order. Would Khusrau not have written about Padmini or the jauhar led by her? We cannot be sure, but he does mention that during Khilji’s earlier conquest of Ranthambore, the ladies of that fort performed jauhar rather than be taken as sexual prey to Khilji’s marauding hordes.
Whence springs the legend of Padmini then? The answer is from Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s Padmavat, an Avadhi epic. The poem was composed in 1540, nearly 250 years after the siege of Chittor. Jayasi, moreover, lived in what is today’s Uttar Pradesh, not in Rajasthan. So how did he come to know this story? The likely answer is that he combined the legend of Padmini, which was already prevalent and popular, with known literary antecedents. He, of course, added his own imagination to make the story rich and powerful. Jayasi’s Padmini does commit jauhar to repel Khilji.
The whole story, like the Illiad and the Ramayana, is really one of a conquest which links woman to territory. Padmini, like Helen of Troy and the abducted Sita of Ayodhya, is the trigger of Khilji’s imperial lust not just for a woman, but for territory, and the spoils of war. It would seem that Bhansali’s Padmavati, which most of its supporters or opponents have not yet seen, is based on Jayasi’s fictional rendering. Why then should it bother us so much, threatening to tear apart the social fabric?
The reason is that Padmavati is not about history or Rajput pride or Hindu anxiety or glorification of sati. It is really about splendid, if not solitary, exemplars of resistance. The Muslim conquest of India was as brutal as it was bloody. It also involved temple-breaking, large-scale loot, decimation, enslavement of subdued populations, and, yes, predatory sexual violence and captivity. No attempt to whitewash this history or mitigate its trauma will succeed.
I say this not to ask for retributive corrections or revenge histories; that would be absurd and unfortunate. The wrongs of history cannot be righted by present politics or academics. Itihas, as both legend and history, instead, calls for deep, contextual understanding, combined with corrective self-reflection, so that the errors of the past are not perpetuated into an uncertain future. If I were to slightly tweak what Vishwa Adluri said, “we seek salvation not in, but out of history”. When it comes to Padmini, the legend is more important than history; Padmini quickly escaped from history to be immortalised in legend.
Padmini, like Rana Pratap, who was also from Chittor, symbolises resistance to the Muslim conquest of India. Why are such stories important? Because they show that one part of the Hindu psyche remained undefeated and unvanquished. Indeed, throughout the 800 or so years of Muslim rule, there were always pockets of resistance, some like Chittor, Vijaynagar, the Marathas and Sikh empires, quite glorious and successful. What obtained in India is thus quite different from the other territories of Islamic conquest, whether Arabia, Iran, Africa, Central or South East Asia. In all these places, there are hardly any accounts of such resistance, let alone of jauhar. Padmini is worshipped to this day because she symbolises that die-hard refusal to submit to the evils of greater power.
So, we must understand the difference between Padmini and Padmavati — the historical figure and character in the epic. Though both are related, with the latter based on the former, they are not identical. As to the historical Padmini, unfortunately we know little; she was, as we have seen, soon apotheosised into folklore after the purported jauhar of her martyrdom. Indeed, it was these stories of Padmini’s great sacrifice sung by bards that probably inspired Jayasi.
But that still does not explain why this Muslim Sufi poet, who lived 200 years after the tragic siege of Chittor, chose to write about it. Why did he make it his main theme? I believe that he did so because he too thought he was telling the story of India, the India that he knew and loved. Padmavat, we must acknowledge, is an epic of Hindu-Muslim synthesis and comingling. If anything, it is more Hindu than Muslim. Because it is not simply a tale of Islamist domination and conquest, which was a well-established genre by the time of Jayasi. Nor is it written in Persian, the court language of Muslim rulers, but in Avadhi, the people’s language. In fact, the Padmavat, written about 80 years before what is arguably the most important mediaeval North Indian text, the Tulsi Ramayan, becomes its precursor, readying the vernacular for epic exertions.
Jayasi follows Hindu invocatory and narrative traditions; his epic is steeped in Hindu mythology and metaphor, beginning in Kailash, with a supplication to Shiva. He, moreover, follows Hindu aesthetic and spiritual traditions, chiefly the Kamashastra and the Nath parampara. Dr Anand Kumar, who is working on a new verse translation, believes that Jayasi was an initiated Nath Yogi, though also Chisti Sufi. In that sense, he is a forerunner to the current Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath. The Nath Yogis, like the tantrikssiddhas, alchemists, daoists, and kabbalists before them, sought physical immortality, a quest that has been revived in recent times by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, though it is not fashionable to talk about it, or, at least, to take it literally.
Padmavat is thus also an esoteric yogic manual, explaining the mysteries of the horizontal and vertical axes of transformation, contained in the ancient symbols of both the cross and the swastika. Ida (left, feminine, som) and Pingala (right, masculine, agni) represent the two hemispheres of the brain, or reason and passion respectively. Between these poles and balancing them is the sushumna, the central subtle nadi, the channel of ascension of the coiled kundalini shakti from the muladhara to the sahasrara. This is the riddle that Sigmund Freud rediscovered and solved in his psychoanalysis — Id and Superego, with the Ego playing the balancing role. In tantra yoga, when the kundalini reaches the sahasrara, the practitioner attains immortality. But really the underlying structure of synthesis involves the abolishing of duality. Duality is death; non-duality, advaita, is immortality.
In a brief essay, it is be impossible to explain this symbolism in Padmavat fully. But the whole story is set in motion by the search for Padmini, the perfect or the superior type of woman, who is thus described in the Kamashastra text Anangaranga:
“She, in whom the following signs and symptoms appear, is called Padmini, or Lotus-woman. Her face is pleasing as the full moon; her body, well clothed with flesh, is soft as the shiras or mustard-flower; her skin is fine, tender and fair as the yellow lotus, never dark-coloured, though resembling, in the effervescence and purple light of her youth, the cloud about to burst. Her eyes are bright and beautiful as the orbs of the fawn, well-cut, and with reddish corners. Her bosom is hard, full and high; her neck is goodly shaped as the conch-shell, so delicate that the saliva can be seen through it; her nose is straight and lovely, and three folds of wrinkles cross her middle, about the umbilical region. Her yoni resembles the open lotus-bud, and her love-seed (kama-salila, the water of life) is perfumed like the lily which has newly burst. She walks with swanlike gait, and her voice is low and musical as the note of the kokila bird; she delights in white raiment, in fine jewels, and in rich dresses. She eats little, sleeps lightly and, being as respectable and religious as she is clever and courteous, she is ever anxious to worship the gods, and to enjoy the conversation of the learned.”
Such, then, is the Padmini, the perfect “lotus-woman.” Interestingly, Kalyana Malla, the author of Anangaranga had a Muslim (Lodi) patron. Moreover, Padmini corresponds to sayujya-mukti, the highest state that comes about from merging with the essence of the Lord (or ultimate reality). In this “erotic” text, all the women, whether Padmini, Hastini, Shankhani, Chitrini, represent various types of mukti or liberation from human suffering. So wonderfully woman-, life-, and sex-positive are these texts.
Padmini, therefore, refers not only to a specific historic queen, but the ideal type of woman. She also signifies physical, ultimately spiritual, perfection — whoever unites with her will attain immortality. Here’s where the political angle of Jayasi’s story attains prominence. When we read the text as national allegory, we see the Hindu Rajputs as disunited; they fight each other and are therefore weak. An abused and disgraced Brahmin minister in Ratan Singh’s court takes his revenge by defecting to Alauddin Khilji’s court. It is he who, having overheard from the parrot Hiraman, of the fabulous and unearthly beauty of Padmini, plants the idea of ravishing her in the sultan’s head. In the end, two Rajput brothers-in-arms fight over Padmini, both dying in the process. The great fort of Chittor is about to fall to Khilji. The queen, along with the ladies of the court, mass-immolate in the terrifying act of jauhar.
An empty, charred fort, still smelling of burning human flesh, falls into Khilji’s hands. Jayasi mocks him: the Sultan has only the stones and bricks of the ruined citadel to convert to Islam.
So, here’s the moral of the story: no one gets Padmini in the end. Neither the legitimate, but incompetent spouse, who cannot understand her true value, let alone defend her. Nor the pillaging and plundering conqueror. The fort, itself a symbol of Padmini’s virtue and maidenhead, falls, but the queen does not surrender. She prefers death over dishonour. Another princess, who has been offered as booty to Khilji by a neighbouring Rajput king, is at first married to one of his sons, then handed out to others as a sexual trophy.
In contrast, Padmini is the medieval version of Sati, the ancient spouse of Shiva, who jumped into her father’s yagna rather than submit to him. Daksha was often portrayed as a figure of lust, with a ram’s head. Why was his yajna so intolerable to sati that she destroyed it by jumping into it? Her husband then carried the charred remains of her body all over India, till Vishnu cut off bits of them. Wherever these body parts fell became a Shakti Peeth.
The other great exemplar of India, as the phrase Sati-Savitri suggests, is Savitri, the saviour, the symbol of light and higher consciousness, Tat Savitur Varenyam…hence the pair Sati-Savitri, which we trivialise and mock these days, but which actually represents the dyad of Bharat Shakti as martyr or saviour. Between these two is the whole range of happy spouses, equal partners or in many cases, more than equal, in both kama and artha on the one hand, and dharma and moksha on the other. Of these, Radha Rani is the supreme, as paramour of god.
I would suggest that all these Devis and heroines are archetypes of Mother India herself. Bharat Mata, whom Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya taught us to worship. In Anandamath he gave us a new mantra, Vande Mataram. Sri Aurobindo took it a step farther in Bhavani Mandir by speaking of Bhavani Bharati and Bharat Shakti.
So…Now let’s try to tie up the loose ends.
Why are we so upset over even an imagined slight to Padmini? That is because we cannot tolerate the rape of Mother India by any foreign conqueror or sexual predator, even if such a narrative is justified by an alien theology of imperialism or substantiated by our unfortunate history.
Just as in real life, many a Draupadi might have been disrobed or worse, as the atrocity to Nirbhaya shows, in our great Mahabharata, Vyasa did not permit such a disruption of the moral order. He literally introduced deus ex machina, the unending sari of our heroine, by the grace of Sri Krishna himself. So also in Jayasi’s epic, as in the traditions of bardolatry which he drew on, such an insult to Padmini was never shown, nor can it be tolerated today, even in the name of freedom of expression.
Bharat Shakti, Bharat Mata, Mother India — in her ideal type — will always prefer death to dishonour. Indeed, that is why despite centuries of Islamic onslaught and relentless oppression, Hindu India was not completely subdued.
There were a million Padminis who preferred death over rape and dishonour. There were a million Rana Prataps who ate grass and slept on rocks in the jungles than accept the vassalage of a foreign power.
Both Padmini and Rana Pratap were the swarajya warriors of India.
We have seen the same saga of courage and sacrifice played out over and over again, right up to our own times. India was not, is not, will not be conquered; she is immortal because she will always prefer death to dishonour.
That is why I would argue that the agitation over Padmavati is only partly about history, but mainly about honour. Dishonour is not an option, even unto death, at least for some of us.
That is why Padmavati is not just an Indian story, but the story of India. That is why Padmini, as the symbol of resistance unto death, cannot be compromised or diluted. At least the people of India will not take very kindly to it.
This is an edited version of the author’s presentation at the Indic Thoughts Festival, Goa, 18 December 2017.
The author is Professor of English at JNU. His latest publications include The Death and Afterlife of Mahatma Gandhi (Penguin Random House, 2015), Cultural Politics in Modern India: Postcolonial Prospects, Colourful Cosmopolitanism, Global Proximities (Routledge, 2016), and Transit Passenger/Passageiro em Transito (University of Sao Paolo Press, 2016).

sabhar from above 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hindu Society Contemporary Problems

Hindu Society Contemporary Problems

Hindu Temple
From The Editor's Desk
(Hinduwebsite Editorial - Exploring Truth Amidst Illusions and Distortions)

Everywhere, people face problems. No one is free from them. Problems remain unresolved or become complicated when people do not take responsibility for their lives or their actions, or disregard time tested values. One may blame the governments or the leaders for the ills of the world, but at least in democracies much of what happens or what the governments or the leaders do happen upon people's tacit consent and approval.
People may ignore their own role in the decline of any country, society or religion. They may blame others, without realizing that even passivity or negligence on their part can be a contributing factor. Can anyone enter your house without your permission? Would you let garbage be thrown by others on your front yard? I think that in many parts of India people may not mind much if it happens just outside their houses, because they do not think that the earth and the country are also their homes.

Current problems

Because of such attitudes, the Hindu community in India is currently going through many problems. As people from India migrate to other countries, they carry along with them some basic practices and perpetuate the values associated with them. The following are the most pressing problems faced by the Hindus in India and to some extent in other parts of the world.

1. Ignorance

According to a recent report about 35% of the world's illiterate people live in India. That is, one in three illiterate people in the world live there. Most of them live in the villages and remote tribal areas. Some of them migrate to the cities in search of work. Since the government hardly regulates and monitors the working conditions of poor laborers, they live in makeshift houses or sleep on the pavements in the most deplorable conditions. For them their main sources of education, if you can call it that, are Indian movies and television. You cannot expect them to practice any religion, since survival and feeding their families are their primary concern. They are also easily susceptible to conversion by missionaries who offer them economic incentives, while the educated and wealthy Hindus look away with problems and concerns of their own.

2. Confusion

With ignorance arises confusion of values, beliefs and priorities. Hinduism is a very complex religion. No one can definitely say what Hinduism really is. There are as many versions of Hinduism as there are people. How many gods shall you worship, one, ten, a thousand or millions? What scriptures should one follow, the main texts, commentaries, the sectarian literature or the teachings of gurus and saints? Is it appropriate to worship Gurus as if they are gods and build temples and shrines for them, while the ancient gods of the faith are ignored or given scant attention or offerings?
Many such questions are difficult to answer because in Hinduism there are conventions, customs and practices, but no definitive standards that can be universally applied. People may celebrate the common festivals with a lot of fanfare, but it is just one aspect of religious observance and in most cases very vain and cinematic. Festivals and rituals represent the outer aspects of Hinduism. They provide people with good opportunities to socialize and generate awareness but do not do much good to their souls. A religion can save its festivals, but festivals alone cannot save a religion.

3. Conflicts

Necessity forces people to live in communities, but it is difficult to make them agree to the same ideas and opinions. It should be rightly so. However, beneath diversity there must be unity so that people can largely live in peace and harmony. Hindus are probably the most disorganized, divided and conflicted society in the world today. A hundred years later, historians will probably study how for 60 years people have allowed atheistic and corrupt leaders and families to rule India generation after generation and how democracy has been degraded to such unique levels in the history of democracy itself. Hindus are divided into castes, linguistic communities, economic classes, and regional groups. These divisions and conflicts often escalate into hatred and communal clashes.

4. Corruption

Corruption is a major issue for the Hindu community. Hindus have been bribing rulers, ruling classes, and gods for centuries, but in modern India it has assumed a greater dimension. Corruption has filtered down to the lowest level and infected the society at large. Unfortunately, it is not going to go away anytime soon, because people see corrupt leaders, business people, and employees amassing huge wealth in a short time, and not being punished at all. In a corrupt society, it does not make sense to a common man to live honestly while he has to pay extra for every service. For most of them it is easier to join the looting programs rather than fighting against them. It is a huge problem, so much so that people are now bribing gods also by throwing a lot of black money into temple coffers and seeking favors from them. In most busy temples during rush hours, some people get a priority pass to see the deities, while others have to wait. It is a shame, but it regularly happens in the very presence of God. The income disparities in India are also a problem. On the one hand you have nearly 400 million people with less than five dollars a day income and on the other you have a consumer market that wants to push products at the same prices for which they are sold in the western countries where the per capita income is in the range of $40,000 to $100,000.

5. Declining values

Hinduism places a lot of importance on righteousness (dharma) and morality. The theory of karma implies that if you engage in evil actions, you will suffer from the consequences. The Bhagavadgita is all about cultivating purity (sattva) and manifesting divine qualities. All the scriptures emphasize the importance of selfless living, so much so that even using the mind and body for selfish purposes is considered evil. If you examine Hindu society today, people mostly follow the evil qualities enumerated in the Bhagavadgita rather than the divine qualities. They live very selfishly and pay little attention to the problems of the poor and the backward castes.

How it will impact the future of Hinduism

Will Hinduism survive until the end of this century? Two likely outcomes are possible. Hinduism may become a dominant world religion as more people from different parts of the world becomes its ardent followers, or it may decline and end up like Buddhism as a religion with limited appeal. A lot depends upon how the world shapes up in future and how further inventions and innovation in the field of science and technology will have an impact on the world and the survival of the planet.
Those who are familiar with the history of Hinduism know that it has great tenacity and resilience. Hinduism and its sectarian traditions withstood many challenges in the past and may continue to do so. As civilization progresses, future generation of Hindus may stand up to the challenge and initiate several internal reforms and further consolidation of its tenets and practices, which may build up some rigidity in its doctrine and structure, but may make it stronger and resistant to external threats.
Alternatively, if they fail to save it, many things can happen. The following are the most likely scenarios if Hinduism loses its appeal or fails to adapt to the changing world.

1. Disintegration

If Hindus fail to uphold the core spiritual values of their faith and resort to rituals and superstitious practices, which constitute its lower knowledge (avidya), Hinduism will most likely weaken from within and in a hundred or years or so it may lose a sizable following. Certain sections of Hindus such as the upper castes and privileged groups may remain committed to it and patronize it while the rest may turn to atheism, communism, decadent lifestyles or other religions. If the economy fails to improve the lives of people, especially those who are poor and underprivileged, educated Hindus may continue to migrate from India to other places in search of better living conditions, eroding its strength further and contributing to its decline.

2. Localization

Due to the large-scale migration of Hindus, Hinduism may survive outside India in different parts of the world and gather strength. However, in the process it may develop further diversity and complexity as it adapts to the local conditions and develops distinct beliefs and practices that are specific to the region or the country. The process will be similar to what happened in case of Hindu communities in countries such as Fiji, Mauritius, Nepal, Bali and Cambodia. Those streams of Hinduism may contain its core values but may be different from the one which is currently practiced by the majority. The descendants of the migrant Hindus who grow up in distant lands, with little or no emotional connection to India, will have a different mindset and attitude towards their religion and may be influenced by the cultural trends and lifestyle choices of the countries in which they live, which will in turn affect their religious beliefs and practices.

3. Synthesis

Hindu gurus will continue to dominate Hinduism and contribute to its popularity both at home and abroad. They may build large personal empires with vast fortunes and exert great influence upon the progress of the religion and the community. At the same, they may also impart to it their own distinct brand identity. Going by the current trend, many Gurus may not even like to call their teachings Hinduism to avoid being discriminated against or prefer to incorporate teachings from diverse faiths to attract followers and patrons from other religions. Such strategies by the Gurus will weaken mainstream Hinduism and undermine its influence, while they may gain prominence and further influence as champions and messengers of their own version of spirituality.
It is important to remember that these scenarios emerge, if Hindus collectively fail to save their faith from disintegration from within and attacks from outside. Therefore, in these changing times, there is a huge responsibility on their part to prevent such possibilities and strengthen Hinduism so that it can march into future with greater strength, determination and following.