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Sunday, 19 June 2016

The Battle for Sanskrit, Purva Paksha and Bhakti

Who has adhikar to do purva paksha is a relevant question. The Battle for Sanskrit answers the question. Whoever considers Sanskrit to be her sacred heritage and has the requisite skills to understand and deconstruct the opposing point of view can do purva paksha. Sacred heritage means something that is an integral part of one's way of life, a living tradition and something that gives positive meaning to one's life, an emancipatory tradition. The opponents treat Sanskrit as a dead artifact to be kept in a museum for analysis and admiration, while the adhikaris consider it a medium of wisdom and worship. The opponents treat Sanskrit as an oppressive language on women, tribals, Dalits and Abrahamic religions, while the adhikaris find in Sanskrit the way to transcend all false identities and oppressions.

Bhakti is a sacred Sanskritic tradition that thrives among the masses, irrespective of gender or caste and it makes all socioeconomic, bodily or mental constructions insignificant in front of Shri Bhagavan. Hence, bhaktas have the right to do purva paksha, only the requisite skills need to be developed.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Hinduism, ISKCON and OCHS: Some Ideas from Rajiv Malhotra Thought

In response to Hindu Human Rights

ISKCON - International Society for Krishna Conciousness
OCHS - Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

The article gives an outsider, slightly hostile perspective on ISKCON. Let me give an insider perspective.

ISKCON is a diverse organisation with multiple factions. There are some problems that ISKCON shares with other Hindu institutions, some are unique to ISKCON and some are specific to certain factions.

1. When Prabhupada says we are not Hindu, he means that our Paramarthika identity is not Hindu, we are Atma, translated as spirit souls. Unfortunately, ISKCON  in the West has extended it to the Vyavaharika identity, except in order to gain acceptability as Hinduism in the Western academia and collect donations from Hindus. That is duplicitous. A new movement within ISKCON called Krishna West wants to discard all Hindu elements to appease Hinduphobic Westerners, who enjoy some things like  lactovegetarian Prasadam, Sankirtana musicals and monotheistic philosophy, but despise the references to Indian history, geography and sociocultural norms and institutions. Krishna West is bound to fail because of the poison pill, Krishna. Then they may try some form of syncretism involving Krishna, Buddha and Christ, which had been tried during the 1980s in New Vrindavana, West Virginia. However, the mainstream ISKCON, that is based in India, is rooted in Vedic-Vaishnava heritage, even if the term Hindu is not used.

2. Prabhupada spoke of Jesus and Mohammad as devotees of Krishna and Avesha incarnations (beings empowered by Krishna to perform special missions).  So, many ISKCON devotees believe that they preached Vaishnavism within the Jewish and the Arab cultural contexts respectively. Since there is no evidence in the Christian or Islamic scriptures of Krishna Bhakti, they believe that the Abrahamic God is Krishna. On this point, they betray the Vaishnava Siddhanta. Krishna doesn't resemble the Abrahamic God, He has form, He has female consorts, He assumes multiple personalities like Rama, Narasimha, etc. The Abrahamic religions will never accept Krishna as God. Hence, it is a stupid to validate the Abrahamic God, when they consider Krishna a false god. Traditionally, the idea of Avesha incarnation was applied to Buddha, who denounced the Vedas and preached ethical principles like Ahimsa to prevent misuse of Vedic technologies, especially animal slaughter. When Hinduism turned towards Vedanta and Bhakti and condemned animal slaughter, Buddhism lost prominence in India. It seems that Prabhupada envisioned something similar for the Abrahamic religions, but these things should be done from a position of strength and our generation is not the right time in history to do it.

3. ISKCON's obsession with Prabhupada Uvacha (said) is contrary to Vaishnava epistemology. Prabhupada's disciples recorded every word and gesture made by him through electronic devices or post-Samadhi memoirs. Many of these records are controversial and contradictory because they were spoken in jest, tongue in cheek or meant for a particular situation. The foundation of the Gaudiya Vaishnava Siddhanta was laid by the disciples of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan - all succeeding Acharyas have to conform to the Siddhanta (conclusion drawn from Shruti), while they can amend the rituals and the sociocultural norms and institutions (Smriti). Besides, every Guru has the right to interpret the Shruti-Smriti according to a particular situation. But these interpretations of the Guru cannot become Siddhanta. That has been the tradition also of other prominent Vaishnava Sampradayas  - Shri, Madhva, Vallabha and Nimbarka. Thus, it is important for outsiders not to exaggerate the statements made by Prabhupada and then project ISKCON as a outlandish, anti-Hindu organisation. There are numerous and fierce debates within ISKCON on every subject and so far ISKCON has not done anything serious to undermine Hindu civilisation.

4. Although the OCHS is not a branch of ISKCON, an ISKCON devotee heads it. He is a member of ISKCON's Ministry of Education. There is a serious problem in the ISKCON of the West that sometimes influences other parts of the world as well. The problem is the ideological influence of Western academia - liberal-leftism, feminism, postmodernism, queer theory, psychoanalysis, critical theory, et al.  These ideologies are as Hinduphobic as Abrahamic religions. After many ISKCON gurus fell down from the Vaishnava standards and deprogrammers and local communities harassed the ISKCON devotees, the ISKCON leaders decided to go mainstream during the 1990s. In the West, mainstream meant becoming acceptable to the academicians, theologians and politicians. So, ISKCON began to emphasise the aspects compatible with the Western civilisation - monotheism, whiteness, etc. But they could not become mainstream without numbers and funds, for which Hindus were the only tool. That is the genesis of the duplicitous nature of some ISKCON devotees like the head of OCHS. They are playing the game of balancing the two sides - on one hand, the Western mainstream and on the other, the Hindus. However, the balance has been disturbed by two opposite forces - the Hinduphobia of the Western academia and the rising power of ISKCON India. So, some of the Western devotees want a complete breach with India through Krishna West.  Nonetheless, the vested interests like OCHS will continue to play the old game that only the foolishness of Hindus in the West can sustain.

Some ideas taken from Rajiv Malhotra Thought include insider-outsider lens, Hinduphobia, poison pill, etc.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Sikhism, Gaudiya Vaishnavism and Indian Nation State

I think religion should be our moral and philosophical compass, our individual path to salvation, rather than a doctrine of hatred. We should not suffer from difference anxiety, but have mutual respect for one another (Rajiv Malhotra, Being Different, 2011).

1. Sikhism teaches oneness with God, elimination of ego as a path to God and neutrality to other paths.

2. Sikhs have contributed to freedom struggle, national defence, agricultural revolution and industrial innovation. The Sikh work ethic, community service and faith in God's Name are exemplary. We must all strive to be Sikh that way.

3. Sikhism is a separate religion, it is neither Abrahamic nor Brahmanic. Some devotees innocently believe that Sikhism is a form of Vaishnavism, but Sikhs don't believe that Vishnu is God. We must respect what the Sikhs believe, not misrepresent it. Sikhism is not Vaishnavism.

Gaudiya Vaishnavism
We have our own religion called Gaudiya Vaishnavism, we are a Brahminical religion because our religion is based on Shruti-Smriti. We also believe in the truth of other Vaishnava religions - Shri, Tattvavada, Pushtimarga and Nimbarka. But we consider Mayavada as a wrong interpretation of Shruti-Smriti, although it is also a Brahminical religion. We don't recognise the validity of any religion that doesn't conform to Shruti-Smriti.

Nation State of India
Nevertheless, we also have a nation state called India, which is a home to multiple religions - Brahmanic, Shramanic, Abrahamic, Nirgunavadi, Reformist, etc. The Constitution provides every citizen the right to practice, preach and propagate his religion. So, we must respect that right and live together. Otherwise, we shall be divided into 1000 tiny countries with no international power. There are some things common to the Indian way of life, called Hinduism. It is not a theological concept, but a geo-civilisational one.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Free Will in Gaudiya Siddhanta and Christianity

According to Gaudiya Siddhanta, as Jiva is qualitatively one with Bhagavan, he has Free Will, but quantitatively, he is infinitesimal, so his Free Will is infinitesimally minute. So, Jiva has infinitesimally minute Free Will.

Christian Idea of Free Will
Free Will is a Christian concept. Since God, the Creator is all good, then what is the origin of evil? The Christian theologians gave the answer that Adam and Eve had Free Will, they disobeyed God and so fell down from the Garden of Eden. That is the origin of evil. Thus, God is not responsible for the existence of evil. Since we are the progenies of Adam and Eve, we also have Free Will. If we accept Jesus Christ, the Only Son and Incarnation of God, as our Lord and Saviour, we shall attain eternal life in Heaven, if not, we shall go to Hell forever. Thus, we have Free Will to decide our fate and God cannot be held responsible.

However, our Free Will is limited because we are born of the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, when they disobeyed God, leading to the emergence of sexual awareness. As sinners, we have to suffer the mundane existence of hunger, thirst, disease, pain, temptation, etc. But the tribulations of mundane existence cannot be the creation of God, who is all good, so they are attributed to Satan, a fallen angel, who had grown envious of God in Heaven, revolted against him, got defeated, banished from Heaven, assumed the reign of Hell and tempted Eve and through her, Adam to disobey God. Until death, Satan would continue to trouble all of us and after death, only those who have exercised their Free Will to accept Jesus Christ would be freed from the clutches of Satan and live in the Heaven with God and his Son. The rest will be transferred eternally to the control of Satan in the burning fire of Hell.

In the end, there would be a Second Coming of Christ, he would fight the agents of Satan and establish his 1000 year reign on Earth. All the non-Christians will be slaughtered and the Satan would escape to Hell. After 1000 years, there would be the final battle between Christ and Satan, in which the Satan along with his hellish slaves would be defeated and permanently restricted to Hell, while the Christians would serve God and his Son in Heaven. I don't know if the Earth will be destroyed or become a part of Heaven.

Our Free Will determines whether we become the slaves of Satan or the servants of God and Christ. There is a debate with regard to predestination, whether God has only foreknowledge of our choice or he actually determines the choice. Most Christians believe in Free Will or God's non-interference with our choice, only Calvinists believe in absence of Free Will or absolute determination by God of our choice.

Gaudiya Idea of Free Will
At the time of our modern Acharyas, Christianity was the dominant worldview and so they had to explain the Vaishnava doctrine in Christian categories. Therefore, the idea of Free Will, Fall from Grace and Incarnation of Christ became popular in Vaishnava circles. I don't know if these categories are still relevant in a post-Christian paradigm.

Sunil Krishna Prabhu has applied scriptural logic to establish that Bhagavan is Svatantra (Free) and we are Anu (minute) parts of Bhagavan, so we are Anu Svatantra (minutely Free). From another angle, we have Chetana (sentience), so we have choice, otherwise we would be Achetana (insentient). Hence, Anu Svatantrata leads to Chetana and ability to make choices. But these choices cannot have the adjective Free because we are conditioned by either Maya or Bhakti in our choices. I think, conventionally, by Freedom, Liberation or Mukti, we mean controlled by Bhakti that is supposed to be the natural state of Atma. Thus, Bhagavan remains the only Svatantra, who controls everything either through Maya or Bhakti and we are Asvatantra (Not Free), the conditioned or dependent.

Only Bhagavan is absolutely independent, our desires and choices can be Free only in relation to something else. For instance, transcendent to three modes of nature means Mukti from Maya, not from Bhagavan. On the other hand, our independent desires mean unconnected to Bhakti, but under the control of Maya. So, our desires are induced by Maya, although they are our own because another Jiva has different desires. Thus, individual responsibility or karma principle is not violated by Asvatantrata or Anu Svatantrata. It only means that we are fatally entangled by Maya and none of our choices are Free. Only by the mercy of Bhagavan, we can engage in Bhakti, untouched by Maya. Bhakti grants us Freedom from Maya, but not from Bhagavan. It makes us Servant of Bhagavan. So, there are only two choices Maya or Bhakti, both controlled by Bhagavan.

Sunil Krishna Prabhu interprets the statement, "It only means that we are fatally entangled by Maya and none of our choices are Free" as "Our choices are out of our Free Will although that independence is infinitesimally small, but significant enough that we do not fall under the category of dull matter but conscious matter ." This interpretation conforms to Gaudiya Siddhanta.

After a point, it is only semantics. Free Will has a specific theological meaning in Christianity and has led to confusion in Vaishnava circles. My objection is why call it Free, when it is conditioned or dependent. We can say infinitesimally Free, but it gives the same meaning as conditioned or dependent. The Jiva has Will or choice, it is conditioned Will. That is why, he is not Bhagavan who has Free Will and not Jada that has no Will. I prefer Not Free or Asvatantrata as it clearly removes the confusion with Christian theology and is also the conclusion of Bhagavadpad Madhvacharya (Tattva Sankhyan 1-2): 

Svatantram Asvatantram Cha, Dvividham Tattvam Ishyate. Svatantrah Bhagavan Vishnuh. Bhava Abhavau Dvidha Itarat

"Free and Not Free, these are two categories of What Is. Free is only Bhagavan Vishnu, Not Free consists of Existent and Non-existent."  

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Some Points on Bhagavata Mayavada, Ramanandi and Gaudiya Traditions

When we come out of our circle, we shall have to hear different kinds of opinion. Besides providing opinions of our esteemed Acharyas, I think we also need to do Purva Paksha of Ramanandi Sampradaya in the spirit of mutual respect, then we can understand why they hold such radical views on Lord Rama. I think there is a close relationship between the philosophy of Ramanandis and Bhagavata Mayavada of Shri Madhusuadana Saraswati. Shri Karpatri Swami, who is held in high esteem by Ramanandis, comes in the tradition of Shri Madhusudana Saraswati. Madhusudana Saraswati was a great exponent of Advaita Vedanta as he wrote Advaita Siddhi to refute Shri Vysasa Tirtha's Nyayamrita, but he also wrote:
dhyānābhyāsa-vaśīkṛtena manasā tan nirguṇaṁ niṣkriyaṁ
jyotiḥ kiṁ ca, na yogino yadi paraṁ paśyanti paśyantu te |
asmākaṁ tu tad eva locana-camatkārāya bhūyāc ciraṁ
kālindī-pulineṣu yat kim api tan nīlaṁ maho dhāvati ||

If the yogis see the supreme truth as qualityless, inactive and light alone through their minds controlled by the practice of meditation, so be it. Let them see what they see. For us, however, may that divine blue light who wanders by the banks of the Yamuna always dazzle our eyes with his beauty.

There was a harmonisation between Advaita tradition and Bhakti tradition at that time. Shri Tulasi Dasji was supported by Shri Madhusudana Saraswati when he was criticised by the Brahmins of Varanasi when he wrote Ramacharitamanasa in the local dialect rather than Sanskrit, after which there has been the close interaction. The interaction has led to emergence many radical ideas, diluting the traditional dichotomy between Mayavada doctrine and Saguna bhakti.

The Ramananda tradition has had a lot of influence on the development of Sanatana Dharma since the 13th century. We must remember that it began in the period of Islamic expansion, when numerous temples were destroyed and genocides committed. There was deep co-operation among Ramanandis, Shaivites and Mayavadis to fight the Islamic expansion, leading to exchange of ideas and mutual respect among themselves and aggression towards the Muslims. There is also an apathy towards traditions that emerged in the 16th century, especially the Gaudiya tradition. The Gaudiya acharyas rejected the existing consensus - condemning Mayavada, arguing that Krishna is the source of all incarnations, etc. The confrontation reached its pinnacle at Galta Gadi, when Shrila Baladeva Vidyabhushana had to debate the Ramanandis to establish the authenticity of the Gaudiya tradition. The Gaudiyas have also co-operated with the existing political structures unlike the Ramanandis, whether the Mughal or the British, showing disinterest in the political realm. Only the demon Aurangzeb transgressed the peace of the Gaudiyas by rampaging many of their temples, otherwise after the toleration granted by Badshah Hussain Shah of Bengal, the Gaudiya tradition has not been harrassed by political authority. The antagonism between Ramanandis and Gaudiyas reached as far as Manipur during the reign of Maharaj Garib Nawaz in the early 18th century. I feel that both sides should do purva paksha of each other in a spirit of mutual respect.

Both Ramanandi and Gaudiya traditions have been rich in innovative ideas and heresies. There also has been exchange of ideas in the last 500 years. We must understand Sanatana Dharma as an open architecture with a solid base of Shruti, but a continuous construction and deconstruction of Smriti that include legal, historical and philosophical interpretations. The Bhagavata Mayavada tradition is ancient. The innovation of Shri Madhusudana Saraswati is particularly amazing that a Mayavadi does not aspire to merge into the impersonal Brahmajyoti, but serve Vrindavana as a jackal, without rejecting the Mayavadi philosophy of Advaita Siddhi.  In fact, it is said that Madhusudana Saraswati wanted to meet Bhagavan Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Navadwipa, but Mahaprabhu had already left for Puri, so he enrolled himself in a Navya Nyaya school (He should have joined other Gaudiya Vaishnavas, no reason is given why he did not do so). After becoming a Nyayika, we went to Varanasi to do Purva Paksha study of Advaita Vedanta, instead he converted to that tradition and became a Dashanami Sannyasi. He wrote Advaita Siddhi to refute the great Vyasa Tirtha's Nyayamrita. However, his later works contain ideas of Saguna Upasana and his desire to accept Bhagavata Kainkarya rather than Brahma Sayujya Mukti.

The contribution of Ramanandi tradition is not limited to Ramabhakti. Shri Ramananda inspired the Nirgunavadi tradition of Shri Kabir Das, et al, further inspiring Guru Nanak and the Sikh Panth. Of course, later Shri Tulasi Das condemned the doctrine of two Ramas of Kabir. The Ramanandis also inspired the militant spirit against Islamic imperialism in Sikhism. In 1980s, it led the Rama Janmabhumi Movement that turned Hindutva from the fringe into the alternative to Nehruvian establishment. Even in the political aspect, there has been a close co-operation with Mayavada, ever since the time militant Akhadas were established to fight against the Muslims. On the other hand, Gaudiya tradition has not been militant as well as maintained a distance from the Mayavadi tradition, once the Dashanami Sannyasa institutions were abandoned. It is clearly stated in Mahaprabhu's biographies that he took Dashanami Sannyasa and behaved respectfully towards Mayavadi Sannyasis as social convention. We need to rethink the relationship among the various traditions according to the contemporary conditions.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Panditji, Bhagavaan Kaun Hain, Unke Hone Kaa Kyaa Pramaan Hai?

Prashna - Kyaa aap bhagavaan ko maante hain?

Uttar - Haan.

Prashna - Bhagavaan kaun hain?

Uttar - Bhagavaan woh param svatantra vyakti hain, jinki kripaa ke upar shrishti pratyaksh aur paroksh rup se nirbhar hai.

Prashna - Kripaa kya hai?

Uttar - Shrishti me bahut saare vastu hai, jinke upar bhagavaan bahut prakaar se kripaa karte hain. Bhagavaan saare vastuo kaa palaan karte hain. Unko shrishti ke niyamo kaa palaan karvaate hain. Wo kaal, prakriti aur jagat ke gyaan ka praarambh aur ant karte hai. Wo kuch jivo ko samsaar me rakhte hain aur unme se jo anukul hote hain unko moksh pradaan karte hain.

Prashna - Aap bhagavaan ko kyun maante hain?

Uttar - Kyunki mujhe bhagavaan ke mahaan bhakto ke shabdo me shraddhaa hai. Ye bhakt bhagavaan ko jaante hai, unkaa darshan karte hai aur unke lilao me bhaag lete hai.

Prashna - Ye mahaan bhakt kaun hai?

Uttar - Bahut mahaan bhakt hain. Main Bhagavaan Chaitanya Mahaaprabhu ka anuyaayi hun. Wo Isaayi Samvat ke pandhravi sadi me us samay ke duniya ke sabse samriddh aur vidvat saamraajya, Bangaal me avataarit huye the. Unke sabse prasiddh bhakto me hain

1. Rup-Sanaatan Goswaami, do bhaai jo Bangaal sarkaar ke sabse bade mantri the. Unhone pad tyaag karke Vrindaavan me pustake likhin aur mandiro kaa nirmaan kiya.

2. Raghunaath Daas Goswaami, jo Bangaal ke sabse dhanvaan zamindaar parivaar ke uttaraadhikari the. Unhone apni sampatti ka tyaag karke Vrindavaan me bhajan aur prachaar kiyaa.

3. Saarvabhauma Bhattaachaarya, jo us samay Bharaat me Vedaant ke sabse bade praadhyaapak the.

4. Mahaaraaj Prataaprudra, jo Odisa ke param prataapi aur shaktishaali samraat the.

Is prakaar se Bhagavaan Chaitanya ke anek bhakt hue hain, jinke kshamataa aur vivek pe bharosa kiya jaa saktaa hai.

Prashna - Aapko in mahaan bhakto ke shabdo pe bharosa kyun hai?

Uttar - Kyunki ye mahaan bhakt satyanishth, gyanvaan aur anubhavi the, isliye mujhe bharosaa hai ki inhone bhagavaan ke saath apne saakshaatkaar kaa satya vyaakhyaan kiyaa hogaa.

Prashna - Anye vyakti jinhone bhagavaan ke baare me bolaa hai, unke upar aapkaa kyaa vichaar hai?

Uttar - Pratyek vyakti kaa alag se vishleshan hona chahiye. Main Raamaanujaachaarya, Madhvaachaarya, Vishnuswaami aur Nimbaarkaachaarya jaise mahaan bhakt aur unke paramparaao kaa bhi aadar kartaa hun.

Prashna - Buddh, Isaa aur Mohammad ke baare me aapka kyaa vichaar hai?

Uttar - Main inko bhagavaan ke pratinidhi maanta hun. Inhone bhagavaan ke aadhesh pe kuch kaarya kiye. Bhagavaan Buddh ne sabhi jivo ke shoshan ke tyaag ko sikhaaya, jisko hum ahimsaa kehte hain. Isaa Masih ne bhagavaan ke kshamaa karne ke svabhaav ko dikhaayaa. Paigambar Mohammad ne ekeshvarvaadi-samataavaadi samaaj ki sthaapanaa ki. Inke alaavaa Aadi Shankaraacharya ne vaidik ritiyon aur bauddh darshan kaa samanvay karke sanaatana dharm ka punarutthaan kiyaa. Lekin main inke kaaryo ko vishesh sthiti ke liye hi maanya sochtaa hun.

Prashna - Aapke tippaniyo kaa kyaa aadhaar hai?

Uttar - Meri tippaniyo ke tin aadhaar hai

1. Mahaan bhakto ke shabd,

2. Shodh,

3. Vishleshan.

Prashna - Yadi aapki tippaniya galat huin to?

Uttar - Meri tippaniyo ka kuch aadhaar hai aur meri inme shraddhaa hai. Parantu, inme mujhe koi truti mile to, main inka sudhaar karungaa.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

JNU Protests and Stern Action by the Government

JNU teachers and students must be made accountable for the public subsidies. There must be regular assessment of their performance. These subsidies are given for a purpose, I wonder if the purpose is being served. If not, the taxpayers have every right to question the subsidies as well as the very existence of the university. You will notice the smugness with which some JNU people respond to such questions. They have a superiority complex. But more than 50% of the teachers and students are not involved in campus politics, whether of the left or the right. So, we cannot brand the entire university as parasitical. However, I think a scientific assessment should be made on the contribution of JNU as compared to other institutions like IITs, etc.

Anti-India sloganeering and posters are part of JNU life. May be government had some intelligence reports in this case, linking these students to terrorist outfits, hence the crack down. The intelligence, police and courts are competent enough to handle the situation. Unfortunately, children of some politicians have come under scrutiny, so there is lot of pressure on the government to be lenient. The opposition is attempting to take political advantage of the situation, that is its right in a democracy. But I think the public opinion does not favour it in this case. Our law enforcement agencies are capable of handling any terrorist linkages. I think these are minor incidents, poor students being misguided by those who enjoy fixed tenures and high pay cheques. Some of the students come from elite families of politicians, bureaucrats and academicians, you will notice that their parents would protect them. The opposition and the professional protesters would make lot of noises in the media as it serves their political purpose. I think the public should question these three sections - who brainwash the students, for whom protests are entertainment - millionaires pretending misery and who run the industry of protests.

We must also understand the philosophy of these protesters. They believe that

1. Society consists of disparate and antagonistic groups that are engaged in a zero sum struggle for hegemony. These groups are classified as hegemonic-marginalised, e.g. men-women, rich-poor, Hindu-Muslim, Brahmin-Dalit, industrialist-worker, landlord-tenant, Aryan-Dravidian, urban-rural, core-periphery, mainstream-tribal, etc.

2. State is an instrument of oppression of the hegemonic groups over the marginalised groups. So, it is an evil that needs to be weakened, until it melts away.

3. Ideologies that emphasise organic unity of the state are the primary enemy of the marginalised groups because they deny antagonism and oppression in society and glorify the state and its components like military, police, intelligence, market, property, family, spirituality, etc.

4. India is an artificial entity put together by the British imperialists. In reality, it is a conglomeration of ethnicities, castes and sects, only united by the Indian state and constitution. Indian constitution has inherent class, caste, religious, linguistic, regional and gender biases that need to be corrected by progressive legislation.

5. Hindutva is the primary enemy of this 'Idea of India' as an artificial entity  because  Hindutva believes that India is a civilisational unity, at least 5000 years old. It believes in the existence of a Hindu core that transcends ethnicity, caste and sect, thus uniting the Hindus and marginalising religious minorities.

6. Only way to defeat Hindutva is perpetuate disparity and antagonism on the lines of class, caste, religion, language, region and gender, so that there is a power struggle in society and Hindus do not vote as a bloc.

7. A coalition and weak government with numerous power centres is the best for the marginalised groups as their interests cannot be bulldozed by a brutal majority.

8. To further weaken the majority, there must be numerous restrictions through license-quota raj, reservations, government control of Hindu temples, non-imposition of a national language, strong laws against gender discrimination to the extent that the onus of proving innocence lies with the accused, etc.

9. The 'Idea of India' will survive only when the Hindu civilisation is fossilised by mythologising and demonising Sanskrit texts, promoting Aryan invasion theory, denying Islamic and Christian atrocities, rejecting scientific and cultural achievements, celebrating anti-Hindus as heroes, etc. Once Hindu civilisation is fossilised like ancient 'pagan' cultures, then the marginalised groups will be liberated from its hegemony.

10. 'Idea of India' project would reach its conclusion with the melting away of the Indian state.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

My Revised Views on Sikhism

Sikhs believe that God is Nirguna and the World is Saguna manifestation of God. They praise Krishna as a manifestation of the Saguna manifestation. Since God is Nirguna, He has no name. So, to meditate on Him, they chant the names of the manifestations of His Saguna manifestation. The philosophy is quite clear. At least, Mayavadis accept that Krishna is a direct Saguna manifestation of Nirguna Brahman, in other words, a form of God. But the Sikhs believe that Krishna is a manifestation of the World or Baddha Jiva, not even Mukta Jiva. Thus, for them, He is a great hero who glorifies the true God, Nirguna, dies in the end and has to take rebirth to continue glorifying the true God. They have now even adopted a different name Wahe Guru, to differentiate their God from Krishna or Allah.

The above is the orthodox Sikh philosophy, especially after the Gurudwara Reform Movement in the early 20th century. Before that, the Brahmins had almost digested Sikh Panth into Sanatana Dharma. There were Murtis of Devi-Devatas in most Gurudwaras and Brahmin priests officiated the rituals. However, the Sikh reformers threw out the Murtis and Brahmins and declared that Sikh Panth was a separate religion. Even if Sikh Panth returns to Sanatana Dharma, it could be accepted as a branch of Mayavada, never a Vaishnava Sampradaya, unless it merges into one of the four Vaishnava Sampradayas. But radical Sikh organisations, known as Khalistanis are attempting to overtake even the Reform Movement, by declaring Sikh Panth as an Abrahamic faith.

The Sikh idea of God bears some resemblance with the Islamic notion of an absolutely transcendent God who communicates with human society through prophets. It is specifically closer to a stream of Sufi thought that God can be realised within the depths of our mind and any doctrine, ritual or symbol is a dispensable indicator to the true path. However, it is too far-fetched to call it an Abrahamic faith because the Sikh God is neither envious of other gods nor seeks vengeance on unbelievers. The Sikh World is a manifestation of God. The Sikh souls transmigrate in many species and ultimately merge with God. The Sikhs do not believe in Satan and believe that all religions represent some truth. In all these latter matters, it resembles modern Hinduism, a derivative of the Sanatana Dharma. The former ideas also can be traced to obscure Hindu sects, even some interpretations of the Vedas.

As far as if Guru Nanak was a genuine Vaishnava, but preached according to place, time and audience, it is only a matter of opinion. I would favour such an opinion if there is any evidence. The Sikhs protected Shaastras, Brahmins and cows from the Muslims. Guru Teg Bahadur was martyred when he tried to save Kashmiri Brahmins from forced conversion. Many Punjabis worship both Sikh Gurus and Hindu Devi-Devatas. But after the Gurudwara Reform Movement, Sikhism became a separate religion.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

My Ideological Journey with Three Social Media Gurus - Subramanian Swamy, Rajiv Malhotra and Tarek Fatah

I have written this blog for 6 years.  I began as a confused and depressed 25 year old student, who was residing in a religious institution, Bhaktivedanta Academy of Culture and Education (BACE) and taking a course in Chinese Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. My earlier investigations were into religious traditions and debates, from the point of view of upholding the doctrines of my institution. I gradually have evolved from institutional mind-set, but certainly cherish the moral and philosophical landscape provided by BACE.

The core principles of the landscape are:
1. Shelter of the devotees and the holy names of Radha-Krishna
2. Sympathy for all sentient beings
3. Cleanliness of mind, body and environment
4. Aspiration for the audience of Radha-Krishna

Although I believe in these core principles, I can no longer claim to upload the high standards of purity in diet, attire or sexuality or the devotional regulations. The purity standards include honouring only sanctified food cooked by devotees and offered to the deities; wearing flag, forehead mark, neck beads and loin cloth; having no proximate relations with members of the opposite sex, except one’s spouse; and intense morning routine of worshiping the deities, chanting the holy names and listening to religious discourse. I have struggled for six years to maintain these standards and have failed. Still, I wish to organise my life in such a way that I can spend a fixed time in devotional activities. My immediate goal, however, is to complete my research on China and establish myself as a scholar.

I have a long way to go. I come from a lower middle class, small town background. The preferred course for anyone from my background would be to study medicine or engineering, but my deep interests in history and philosophy led me into JNU as a student of International Relations and Chinese Studies. The intellectual climate I witnessed in JNU was in complete contrast to my religious situation. So, at the time I started writing this blog, I was torn between my religious and academic commitments. Indeed, I was confused and depressed. Nevertheless, I managed to survive and now I feel more comfortable in my identity. Three social media celebrities guided me out of difficulties and into a new thinking.

Subramanian Swamy

I do not remember when I started to follow Dr Swamy. There are many facets to him - anti-corruption crusader, Hindu nationalist, politician, economist, lawyer, Sinologist and youth icon. In the recent times, his most famous contribution has been the exposure of the 2G corruption scandal. But he has a history of big achievements - blue print for economic reforms and nuclear deterrence of India, calculation of national incomes of India and China, struggle against Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi, facilitation of normal relations with China and Israel and fight against corruption of big leaders. He has proved that law can get hold of those in high positions who abuse their power, truth however politically incorrect would ultimately lead to triumph and integrity in public life is an asset, not liability in the long run. 

He has asserted that the Modi government enjoys a mandate on three issues:
1. good governance
2. anti-corruption
3. Hindutva

He has specific recommendations on these issues. For instance, he wants abolition of income tax and excise duty on most items, lower interest rate and innovations like hydrogen cells for cars and thorium based nuclear power. On returning black money from abroad, he has suggested that India should nationalise all the foreign bank accounts and then the money that is proven to be acquired through legitimate means should be returned to the owners, while the illegal money confiscated by the government. On Hindutva, he was responsible for opening the first route to Kailash Mansoravar and protecting the Rama Setu and now he is finding legal ways for early construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya, imposition of common civil code, abrogation of Article 370 and release of Hindu temples and properties from the hands of governments. His statements on these issues have evoked controversies in the media, but there can be no doubt that his arguments are based on facts and logic. Dr Swamy considers the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty as the anti-thesis of good governance, anti-corruption and Hindutva and so has vowed to bring it down like Chanakya had the Nanda dynasty.

It will be interesting to see how his fights pan out. Notwithstanding the results, the intellectual rigour put by Dr Swamy into these public causes is inspirational. In fact, he always reminds us that he believes in doing his duty without craving for the result and he will get whatever he deserves according to Prarabdha or fructification of his Karma.

He has started an organisation, Virat Hindustan Sangam to train young, educated Indians for Hindu Renaissance.

Rajiv Malhotra

When I had joined JNU, I had no idea about the radical anarchist orientation of many teachers and students here. My perception of JNU was that of an institution for India's strategic and foreign policy thinking. I had thought that everyone would be planning to join the Indian Foreign Service or become an International Relations professor after their education. Instead, I realised that it was a highly politicised campus, especially titling towards radical anarchist ideologies and denouncing institutions like God, country and family, specifically Hinduism. I kept a distance from the campus and did not care about the anti-Hindu propaganda.

I was drawn into Hinduism only from 2011 when I started to read Mr Malhotra's books. As the BACE philosophy also denounces Hindu or Indian identity, it took me many years to embrace that identity. Basically, I have embraced three levels of identity - moral-philosophical (Radha-Krishnaite), geo-civilisational (Indian-Hindu) and family-livelihood.

Mr Malhotra argues that Hinduism is an open architecture. The base was laid by ancient Rishis who had experimented with diverse states of consciousness and established the paths of Yoga to achieve those states, viz. Yajna, Svadhyaya, Dhyana and Bhakti. The Anubhav or Yogic experiences of the Rishis, also called Shruti, were included in ancient texts like Veda-Upanishad, Itihasa-Purana, Tantra, Shastra and Darshana. Besides the Shruti, these texts also contain specific instructions applicable to specific place, time and subject and different narratives serving different needs according to the level of consciousness, called Smriti. The great Acharyas have interpreted these ancient texts or written new texts, according to new circumstances, expanding the body of Smriti, while conforming to the Shruti. So, the base or Shruti never changes, but the Smriti or superstructure needs revision or re-interpretation. Moreover, the Guru, a contemporary expert in the lineage of the Rishis and Acharyas, instructs and trains us in both Shruti and Smriti, according to our individual characters. Thus, the open architecture of Hinduism consists of three elements - Shruti, Smriti and Guru, in which Shruti is changeless, Smriti changes with circumstances and Guru is individual.

Mr Malhotra is the founder of the Infinity Foundation. He conducts Intellectual Kshatriya workshops to train a Hindu home team to represent our civilisation.

Tarek Fatah

I am a conservative, but these days the term has come to mean many different things. I am not a neo-liberal or a libertarian, a religious fundamentalist or an ascetic, an imperialist or a supremacist. By conservative, I mean I cherish social institutions - faith, nation state and family and believe that our individual rights are secured by these institutions through moral philosophy, rule of law and love respectively.  But I must credit the commentaries of a liberal, democratic socialist, Mr Fatah for giving clarity to my ideology. The commentaries contain elementary instructions on Political Science that I had long forgotten in the complicated world of BACE spiritual ascetism and JNU radical anarchism. Mr Fatah argues that sovereignty, welfare, secularism, democracy and human rights are necessary ingredients of a modern nation state.

Sovereignty is based on a common ancestry, a civilisational grand narrative, aspirations of the people expressed in a written constitution and a moral standing at the international level. Welfare means every citizen is assured affordable education, healthcare, social security and reasonable working conditions. Secularism means laws of the state are not made by ancient texts, but by elected representatives of the people and the state shall not interfere in the faith of its citizens. Democracy means every citizen enjoys freedom of thought and expression, faith and worship; food, dress, culture and education; non-violent protest, criticism of religion and government, peaceful assembly and association, marriage, livelihood, minimum wage and accumulation of property; independent judiciary and media; equality before law; rights protected by a written constitution; protection against violence, exploitation and discrimination; government by periodically elected representatives; regional and ethnic autonomy and local self-government. Human rights is the respect for the rights of each sentient being, man woman and child; aged, disabled and sick; black, white, brown and yellow; rich and poor; of any region, ethnicity, religion, ideology or occupation; animal and plant, especially protection against murder, torture and starvation of beings with brain and nervous system, particularly those that serve the human society by providing valuable goods and services; and the environment that makes sentience possible.

Mr Fatah claims to be a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru, as they laid the foundation for a modern nation state in India, unlike Md. Ali Jinnah who created a theocratic and authoritarian state that imposed Urdu and Deobandi Islam on Bengalis, Punjabis, Sindhis, Baluchis and Pakhtuns practising Sufi Islam and Hinduised culture. Even the Urdu speaking Mohajirs, who had migrated to the new land of purity, are alienated in Karachi. What keep the state together are a nuclearised, authoritarian army and an ideology of Islamic supremacism. Mr Fatah argues that Islamic supremacism is a state of mind, not limited to the land of Islamic purity. Any Indian, who celebrates the barbarians responsible of genocide, mass rape, slavery or iconoclasm in India named Md. Bin Qasim, Mahmud Ghaznavi, Timur, Aurangzeb and Md. Ali Jinnah, who never condemns the doctrine of armed Jihad and Sharia law and who denounces his Hindu ancestry, is afflicted by the disease. But there exists an alternative Islam of Bulle Shah, Akbar, Dara Shikoh, Nazir Akbarabadi, Mirza Ghalib, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Arif Mohammad Khan, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and Sheikh Hasina, that is compatible with both the Hindu ancestry and modern nation state. Mr Fatah has thus reconciled the contradictions in India among the Sangh Parivar, the Indian National Congress and the Left-liberals.

After writing about my ideological journey of the last 6 years, I feel relieved. I am grateful to the three social media gurus – Dr Subramanian Swamy, Mr Rajiv Malhotra and Mr Tarek Fatah. I hope they enjoy long and healthy lives. I pray to Radha-Krishna to keep me engaged in the service of their devotees and holy names. I should now return to write my PhD thesis and my chapter on China-Taiwan.