Meritocratic Jury

(In the backdrop of Supreme Court of India’s bench comprising Justice Misra and Justice Pant citing national interest to scrap quota in higher education institutions)

 

Looks like you have the merit –
Birthright of the nationalist.
Wearing that Sacred Thread.
Making a call to daddy’s
old boys network every now & then.
Misra uncles and Pant uncles
And their colleague uncles.
Uncle’s uncles. Bhagwat uncles.
Generationally scholarly.
Proud Indian Hindus.
Feeling the national interests
Merit runs in their veins.

Your access not denied
to the temples.
Of gods and sacred texts.
Interpreted by
sacrosanct gatekeepers.
High Court
Jagannath Temple
Supreme Court
Meenakshi Temple.
Looks like you have the merit
To determine the fate
of those you get to oppress.
Alas.
Cannot reverse the caste,
whose virtues and vices –
are determined at birth.
No automatic entry
Into life of dignity.
But Hinduism is not religion.
Just a way of life.
Savarna – Salvation.
Dalit – Damnation.

No fault of Brahmins –
Just born that way.
Conspiracy of the galaxy
Coming together of forces
To offer them higher birth
infinite inborn meritocracy.

Being born a Brahmin
Is it a reservation –
Or is it a merit?
Who gets to answer?
The Brahmin himself.
The enlightened one.
So, end of argument.
Dialogues among his peers.
Their judicial reviews, their revisions.
Recommendations. Directions.
Judgements. Death penalties.
Fake penalties. Bail penalties.
End of reservations.

High priests of justice
Enlightened enough
to believe in no caste.
They create caste, they dispose caste.
Just a state of mind.
Situationally enlightened sign.

Unlike, those that decide
to liberate themselves,
for their own interests.
Not for the Brahmin nation’s –
sacred temples
sacred cows
sacred courts
sacred definition of merit.
A nation of monopolists
over professions of science,
law, medical, engineering,
historical lies.
All things intellectual,
no things scavengential.

Looks like you have passed
the Brahmin-Savarna IQ Test.
Standardizing the merit –
since the founding of
the Hindu religion,
not the disease.
Working to promote
the national interest,
not nepotism.
Feeding the country’s
collective conscience,
not meritorious lynching.

 

– Saswat Pattanayak, Peoples’ Poet, 2015

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No Surprise Over Ayodhya Verdict – Religious Bench Favors Religious Terrorism

The verdict on Ayodhya to divide up the land among Hindus, Muslims and a certain type of God was completely predictable. For the judiciary, mass media and general population soaked in superstitions and religious fanaticism, anything else was absolutely not expected to be rendered. However, amidst the celebrations, it needs to be noted that the judgment is intrinsically unconstitutional, and inconsistent with the spirit of humanist progressivism.

Whether Ayodhya was the birthplace of Lord Rama is akin to asking if the world was creation of the God. Lord Rama is as fictitious a character in Hindu mythology as any other brand of God is. If any of these divine characters were ever born, then they were not Gods, to begin with. And if they were Gods, then they certainly did not need a land to seek shelter. Certainly not in our times of profound homelessness being witnessed by people all around the world.

Constitutionality:

After independence from British misrule, the Indian Constitution through its Directive Principles of State Policies had barred the destruction or demolition of any ancient monument, heritage and structures. Even as India would subsequently declare itself as a “Secular” republic, the religious seats of worships were still preserved and not destroyed only on the ground that no one should be permitted to vandalize ancient relics.

That said, a truly secular society does not need places of worship. A huge structure – temple or mosque or church or synagogue – is not required to worship God anyway. In a secular society, God resides in personal houses of the believers, if any. In a secular society, the existence of God is as valid as the nonexistence. The State does not endorse, nor specifically encourage religious ceremonies. Rights of believers are as respected as the rights of the atheists. Therefor, public places are not to be used for either Godly or unGodly acts.

And yet, Indian State committed a major act of fraud by tolerating the right-wing Hindu fanatics who stormed into Babri Masjid at Ayodhya and demolished the shrine. It was an act of fraud not because Islamic preachings were any better, but because the Masjid was a monument of historical significance. It was meant to be preserved just as Sun Temple at Konark is supposed to be protected – even if solely for the purpose of witnessing the history of collective human innocence/idiocy.

Demolition of Babri Masjid was an act of terrorism, sponsored by the State. Indian government has never come forward to arrest the terrorists on charges of treason. In fact, quite the contrary. The Hindu terrorists roam with dignity, enjoy power privileges and plan further attacks on minority worshippers. They conduct hate speeches all over the country without an iota of regulations. To top it all, some of those terrorists are right now governing at the highest levels of political power.
Ayodhya verdict, then is quite predictable. Not only the Hindu terrorists who demolished a national heritage site are not going to be persecuted, they are now being gifted a substantial piece of their loot. Not only has Indian State failed to acknowledge the necessity to respect constitutional clauses regarding protection of monuments, it has indeed paved the way for Hindu supremacists – the majority in the country – to play havoc with the lives of religious minorities.

Neither Ram nor Babar were fighting on behalf of the Indian people against British colonialists. Neither of them were present when the Constituent Assembly went to draft national ethics. More importantly, neither of them or their legally appointed heirs are today claiming that land to be theirs.

However, what is known is the fact that in 1950 when India became a republic, Babri Masjid was physically present and was counted among India’s heritage monuments. Indian state had every obligation to protect that shrine. And if it failed to protect the shrine, it should have imprisoned the hooligans who caused its demolition. Indian State failed on both grounds, and lost its ‘secular‘ credential once and for all.

Morality:

Not just the Indian State, the morality of the judiciary bench that rendered verdict is also highly suspect. All of them are religious people with irrational belief in existence of a supreme being – be it a Hindu God or a Muslim God. Their judgements are bound to be biased. For instance, in general legal practice we do not appoint former rapists as members of a jury that is to decide on the case of someone accused of domestic violence. There is no reason why deeply religious people are to be given the responsibility to decide on the case of a land being disputed and fought over by other religious fanatics.

The people on both sides – practicing Hindus and Muslims – are clearly a deluded lot if they insist on a dwelling place for either of their Gods. However, it is unfair to treat Muslims as second-class religious worshippers in the present context. After all, if the Hindus can worship frozen dick looking structures at Amarnath, as well as snakes, elephants and cows all over the country, then their Muslim counterparts can worship anyone they damn well please. If Hindus can have their thousands of temples, Sikhs theirs, Christians their churches – all untouched by uncouth members of rival religions, how is it that the Muslims have to sacrifice their place of worship only because some obviously confused Hindu fanatics claim their god was a human being by the name of Ram who was to be worshipped because he did not trust his wife’s sexual overtures.
Just as the petty agents of a gang cannot stoop to the levels of the mafia don, the perversions of religious people cannot match that of those they tend to worship. The immorality of religious people cannot compete with the standards of immorality their holy texts have established. Thankfully, not all Muslims follow their Korans religiously. Equally relief it is to observe that most people do not take Bhagavad Geeta or Bible with much seriousness either. Each Holy Scripture representing various religions and their respective Gods declare holy wars and battles against rival gangs. They subjugate women as half of an individual, gays and lesbians as criminals and black people as monsters. The sources of racist, classist, sexist literatures comfortably reside within the Holy scriptures.
Thankfully, the majority of people in the world do not give two hoots to the holy scriptures. Huge majority of believers does not even read their holy books with half as much curiosity as they devote towards graphic erotica of Victorian era. And most people are slowly realizing the chains of socializations and the irrationality of the belief systems they were forced into from childhood days. It is in this backdrop that Ayodhya provided a great opportunity to the majority of Indians to take a stand.

Prospects Ahead:

Even before the largely secular people could gather their collective opinions, the corporate media kept on interviewing religious heads of all organizations about their takes. Every news channel was flooded with religious leaders declaring with confidence that they shall abide by the court judgements. Mass media in democracies play the most vital part in hoodwinking people into believing that they reflect popular opinion. They manufacture a consensus in absentia. In no time, almost the entire country of India was convinced that the judiciary bench was going to render a sound judgement. A judgment in the media was already construed before a judgement was meted out in the court.

Now that the judgement is out, most people seem to agree with it. The larger question, they have no other option in the illusive society they live in, where they equate voting with freedom. This haplessness is because of several reasons. Primarily, we as a people have lost the capacity to critically question the foundations of our racist societies. Judiciary has evolved as ‘holy cow’ precisely because of this. Any challenging of the court orders immediately create the imaginary picture of getting imprisoned. Since our politicians have failed us miserably on every conceivable ground, the Hobson’s Choice rests on our morally and financially corrupt judges. The idea that the court verdicts need not be challenged at a fundamental level is so repulsive that citizenry is systematically getting devoid of informed alertness without even realizing it.

Ayodhya provided an opportunity through the rejection of a court verdict, than through welcoming of the same. The opportunity to declare that historical monuments shall never be demolished by random hooligans. The opportunity to declare that Babri Masjid be declared a state heritage site. Just as Lingaraj Temple needs to be declared. Just as Meenakshi Temple and Golden Temple need to be. Some of the heritage sites can in fact bring in revenues for the State if they were declared museums, sites of architectural wonder, or even as symbols of labor exploitations in ancient India.

In fundamentally challenging Ayodhya verdict, Indians also had the opportunity to declare that the people want communal peace and harmony and this can be achieved if they kept their beliefs at homes and not bring them to the roads. Just as they defecate at home and not make a public ceremony out of it. Prayer, like peeing, is a private practice and it needs to remain like that if peace is to prevail.

The world does not need public places of worship, just as it does not need slave trade any longer. Why it does not need any of the above is because they are both unethical and undesirable, to begin with – even during the times they seemed somewhat acceptable to the ruling class. Just because people used to congregate in the past to lynch black people or worship white gods in Sunday churches does not mean such horrible traditions need to continue. Just because Hindus and Muslims practiced casteism as part of their religious faiths does not mean they must continue to do so. We have – almost – put an end to child marriages, widow immolation, dowry exhibitionism. We are yet to put an end to burqa clad perversions, sindoor on the foreheads, homophobe society and routine domestic violence. Just because all these inhuman tendencies used to be appreciated by the wisdom flaunting beards of our forefathers does not mean they shall continue to take place in the present age. We have stifled the voices of progressive resistance well enough to be declared the most brutish race on the face of earth. There is no reason why we need to inculcate such loathsome traditions unto the future generations. No reason why we need any longer to grow children up as religious beings, of one kind, or another.

It is true that the Muslims and Hindus worshipped together in those barbaric days of the past when slavery and oppression were the accepted norms. But this does not mean people need to continue with their irrational practices even today. Just because some fancy but carefully orchestrated series of superstitions created a God as an instrument of terror does not mean that India, United States, Isreal and Iran shall continue to practice their Godly instruments of mass destructions; and we shall all be expected to silently applaud and welcome judgements being meted out by their religious judges, taking turns over their various holy lands – be they the places of birth or death, of imaginary words like Gods.

(Saswat Pattanayak, 2010)

Hindu Terrorism :: Scriptures & Roots

In officially denying institutionalized racism, Republic of India has been glorifying its source: Hinduism. Heralding the philosophy as a peaceful way of life and a non-violent religion, the Hindus have largely repudiated charges of casteism, misogyny, and terrorism. Each instance of terror and injustice perpetrated by the Hindus upon oppressed minorities are eagerly dismissed as handiworks of tiny fundamentalist elements within the religion. Handful of opportunistic regional parties and disgraced cultural outfits proudly don the mantle as the revivalists, while the majority of Hindus cautiously tread away from being labeled.

Religious fanatics are everywhere, and in extremely small numbers. In the current world order of great religious intolerances, what must bother us more is the comfortable stoicism protecting majority of religious followers who thrive on their superstitions, uncritical silence, and eschewal of deep-seated biases. This majority Hindus, who unequivocally, and at times famously, perorate against the historic apartheid, racism and colonialism across the planet, remain obnoxiously phlegmatic about their own continued violence against the oppressed minorities. Shamelessly enough, our officials and scholars have refused to equate casteism with racism, and most have taken resort to a medieval differentiation between caste and varna to steer clear of internationalization of Indian racism.

How does a nation take pride in its civilizational history while having systematically mutilated its poorest for centuries, through well conceived genocides? How does the modern Indian citizens reconcile their beliefs about the golden culture of peace and tolerance with the suppressed facts related to heritage of methodical violence deeply embedded in their religious ethos? Perhaps only by preaching the exact opposite of what need to be deconstructed. As a result, Hinduism – the religion which apparently binds Indian nation, its gods and religious texts are upheld as what they clearly are not. Not only the myths of cultural purities are attributed to the Aryan invaders, it is also propagated through textbooks that social discriminations found no place in ancient self-righteous religious texts.

Vedic Myths and Aryan Violence:

Casteism, the most vigorously active form of human oppression in the world today is actively dissociated from Hinduism on the ground that the earliest Vedic scriptures had no mention of castes, and that the caste system was merely a product of later colonial phases. However, this is a dangerous legend of a great proportion. Rigveda’s Mandala VI (47.20-21) while clarifying Aryan invasion, pronounces the primary Hindu God Indra as a violent entity inflicting cruelty upon the dark-skinned indigenous peoples: “Day after day, from their seat he, Indra, drove them, alike, from place to place, those dark-looking creatures. The Hero slew the meanly-behaving Dasas, Varchin and Shambara, where the waters gather.”

Historian Irfan Habib alludes to violent behavior of Aryan gods: “With about 250 hymns addressed to him alone, and 50 more to him together with other gods, Indra occupies a practically paramount position in the Rigvedic pantheon. He is described as a great hero with long arms and the thunderbolt as his weapon. He is the god of war: he not only subdues demons, he also destroys the Aryans’ enemies.”

It was Rigveda which identifies not only the Dasyus and the Dasas as enemies of the Aryans whose mass annihilation (dasyu-hatya) alone can bring victory to Indra God, it was Rigveda which also in Mandala X (Purusha-sukta) presents the caste society the Aryans envisaged: “The Brahmana was his (Purusha’s) mouth; the Rajanya was made out of both his arms. His thighs turned into the Vaishya; from his feet was produced the Shudra.”

Hindu reformers often defend Vedic description by claiming the divisions as varna rather than caste, as if by doing so, the religion would then have no say in institutionalizing varna violence. Even if just deeds were to determine one’s varna, one needs to acknowledge the impacts hereditary privileges have on human capacity to excel. Kings and their priests invariably always continued their family traditions of conquering over people through might, deception and violence.

Historian Romila Thapar writes: “The great heroes of early Indian history Ajatashatru, Chandragupta Maurya, Kanishka, Samudragupta, Harsha, Pulaskeshin II, Mahendravarman Pallava, Rajendra Chola et al, are heroes primarily because they were conquerers. Year after year, thousands of students of history proclaim Samudragupta as the Indian Napoleon (after Vincent Smith) and glory in his actions in uprooting kings and tribal chiefs in victory after victory. One wonders where the nonviolence comes in.”

Indeed, more than Mahmud of Ghazni whose being Muslim is associated with his capacity as a breaker of idols, it was Hindu rulers such as Harsha – an eleventh century king of Kashmir – who organized and institutionalized despoiling of temples. Kalhan’s Rajatarangini describes at length how Harsha created a special position called the devotpatananayaka (literally, the officer in charge of uprooting of the gods), whose job was to plunder the temples for their wealth. Such monopolizations over territorial gains and associated historical Hindu aristocracy owe their violent flavors to the divine teachings of model rulers exemplified by epics.

Epic Violence:

Contrary to popular assertions, Mahabharata (in specific, Bhagavata Geeta)’s moralities are highly suspect. A tiny group of power hungry upper caste elites in the form of Pandavas unleash a war upon the majority of people comprising lower caste Yadavas to win it in the most deceptive manner. Yudhisthira considered in Hindu scriptures as a paragon of virtue is a habitual gambler who silently witnesses his wife Draupadi being dishonored owing to his own vices. Nevertheless, he harbors the ambition to rule over the world and conducts the Rajasuya Yagna where he endorses beheading of Sishupal whose crime is his jealousy. In the war he finally championed, Yudhisthira loses and yet his life is spared by Karna, for whom instead of gratitude, he maintains great disdain throughout, simply because of the latter’s identification with the lower caste.

Bheema, the mightiest one is another cruel and violent character the readers are asked to empathize with. Bheema while failing to assess why Yudhisthira could be in the wrong in gambling away his state and his wife, gets to kill Keechak, the commander of Virat’s army for evincing interest in Draupadi. When his teacher Drona remains invincible, Bheema kills an elephant and spreads a lie about Ashwathama’s death. He lets his son Ghatotkacha break all codes of war by fighting late into the night. And he breaks the mace fight law himself by hitting Duryadhana in the thigh with an aim to kill.

The great warrior Arjuna is idolized by the Hindus for being a humanist. And yet Arjuna’s personality is anything but. When Lord Shiva in disguise killed a wild boar to save Arjuna and the latter displayed his respect, Shiva offered him a boon, any boon. Arjuna requested for the Pashupat weapon from the lord to be used in the great war. Such was his propensity to kill that he took assistance of Krishna to kill Jaidratha through creation of a sunset illusion, in direct contravention of war policies both Pandavas and Kauravas had consented to prior to the commencement. Furthermore, unable to defeat Karna, Arjuna gets to kill him in the most cowardly fashion while he was fixing a chariot wheel.

The caste war prolongs in Mahabharata with its grandest personality, Bheeshma agreeing to join it only with the condition that he shall not kill any of the Pandavas, would not permit Karna to kill them and will not fight a weak opponent. The divine fighters on the side of the Pandavas then decide to bring in Srikhandi, an eunuch, to fight Bheeshma.

From subjugation of women and sexual minorities, to genocide of lower caste Yadavas who were gifted by Krishna to represent Kauravas’ army, Mahabharata is a great tale of outrightly violent caste war. Its immoralities only match the other epic, Ramayana – a tale of crude justification of Aryan invasion of the Southern India. In the garb of Hindu God Vishnu’s purpose of halting a demon, Ramayana was a saga of casteless indigenous who refused to assimilate with the Northern invaders. The indigenous were characterized as ugly and uncivilized, starting with Ravana’s sister Surpanakha (who possibly could have been a beautiful woman whose face was disfigured by Lakshmana). Earliest traces of misogyny manifests itself within the God himself who must put Sita on trial to prove her chastity. On the other hand, Lakhsmana and Hanuman, both great advocates of unbridled violence, emerge as the most beloved to Lord Rama.

So have we been worshipping the false gods?

Dalitbahujan scholar Kancha Ilaiah says it was violence alone that made Krishna so acceptable to brahminical forces: “When the majority were not willing to give up the land they had acquired through sweat and blood, Krishna resorts to violence and asks members of his camp to kill anyone – guilty or otherwise – from the majority camp, as they had rebelled against brahminical dharma.” Likewise Brahminical patriarchy glorying itself in violence and intimidation had held sway during the period of Ramayana. Ilaiah says, “With the killing of Ravana, many Brahmin rishis migrated from the North to the whole of South India, which had basically been a casteless society. It was turned into a caste-based society and the Brahmins established their ideological hegemony over the whole of South India.”

Contemporary Continuations:

“The religion which regards the recognition of man’s self-respect as sin is not a religion but a sickness. The religion which allows one to touch a foul animal but not a man is not a religion but a madness. The religion which says that one class may not acquire wealth, may not take up arms, is not a religion but a mockery of man’s life. The religion which teaches that the unlearned should remain unlearned, that the poor should remain poor, is not a religion but a punishment.” – Babasaheb Ambedkar

“If he mentions the names and castes (gati) of the (twice-born) with contumely, an iron nail, ten fingers long, shall be thrust red-hot into his mouth.” – Manu Smriti: 271

“A Brahmana is to be addressed with ‘Speak,’ a Kshatriya with ‘Speak the truth,’ a Vaisya (while admonishing him) by (mentioning) his kine, grain, and gold, a Sudra (threatening him) with (the guilt of) every crime that causes loss of caste” – Manu Smriti: 88

Freethinking is an ancient Indian philosophical tradition. However, The Vedic manipulators/preachers not only forbade any questioning of the sacred words, but over time, they also eliminated those that did. Where it was not possible to purge the great rationalists, such as in the case of Buddha, the Hindu seers misappropriated them for religious ends. Vivekananda, a much esteemed revivalist did the greatest disservice to Buddhist heritage by proclaiming Buddha as a Hindu sage who had no command over his followers. Declaring Buddhism as merely “a fulfillment of Hinduism”, Vivekananda extolled the annihilation of the rational philosophy in such words, “Buddhists dashed themselves against the eternal rocks of the Vedas and could not crush them, and on the other side they took away from the nation that eternal God to which every one, man or woman, clings so fondly. And the result was that Buddhism had to die a natural death in India. At the present day there is not one who calls oneself a Buddhist in India, the land of its birth.” Not only have proponents of Hinduism basked in the glory of suppression of Buddhism, many have also firmly succeeded in obliterating traces of rational knowledge that founded Indian atheism. Subsequently, Charvaka and Lokayata philosophies have been unduly expunged.

Perhaps, Hinduism is not merely a way of life in India. It is also a most violent reminder of oppression countless Dalits face on a daily basis. Therefore, in contemporary times, with the growth of the Hindu terrorism, the religion and its codes need to be reassessed. If Ambedkar famously burnt down one of its symbolisms, the Manu Smriti, it was Vinayak Savarkar who continually upheld it as the core rule book of Hinduism. Declared a ‘Veer’ by the Hindu mainland, Savarkar used to famously impose Hinduism upon the ‘untouchables’, while forbidding them entry into Hindu temples.

Inspired by Savarkar, the Hindu Nation has found its modern day distinct ideology through writings of Keshava Hedgewar and Madhav Golwalkar. Full of hatred and parochial intents, Hindu supremacism has mesmerized the country today. Once, a communal outburst, Hindu nationalism today has gained not only a cultural admissibility in the form of RSS, but also a wide-scale political platform in the form of BJP. The killers of Gandhi are celebrated in the land of the Buddha.

The ancient religion, still barbaric, has metamorphosed into a sophisticated philosophical tool in the hands of the communalist preachers, and the majority of Hindus remain gleefully absorbed at their own religious appropriations. Time has come to revisit the myths, in order to disown the trends, and one should hope the world’s third largest religious identity has sufficient moral courage to do just that.

(Saswat Pattanayak, 2010)

Prelude to Mumbai Blasts: Hindu Terrorism

By Saswat Pattanayak

Like Mumbai, also in Maharashtra, Malegaon was the site to bomb blasts on September 5, 2008 – less than three months prior to Mumbai blasts. Three bomb attacks killed more than 31 people – mostly Muslims – while they were returning from offering Friday prayers at a mosque.

Immediately thereafter, the “India” woke up to terror alerts. Politicians and administration were quick to point out the role of Muslim terrorists. The usual hounding of suspects continued, and all the “illegal” Muslim student outfits were harassed. Police arrested Muslim youths under suspicion. Until, one after the other evidences led to a radically different conclusion: That, it is not the Muslim people of India, but Hindu terrorists who were behind the Malegaon blasts.

Malegaon blasts have opened up a whole Pandora’s Box. Not so much of a shock considering that the Hindu fundamentalists who are still holding seats in Indian Parliament today were the despicable figures behind the biggest communal clash and tragedy to hit India when they demolished Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. That was the darkest day in India’s contemporary history. Those that led the procession of mayhem and sinister murder trails went on to get elected to the highest offices of Indian democracy soon thereafter. Such coveted politicians included chargesheeted riot leader like LK Advani – that shameful face of Hindu fanaticism masquerading as a meticulously passionate orator of Hindi-Hindu aspirations.

Hindu terrorism is also not a shock for millions of Indians who did witness the biggest tragedy to reshape Bombay due to the reactionary terror attacks orchestrated by a Hindu Chauvinist Bal Thackeray and his gang of Hindu fundamentalists calling themselves Shiv Sena. Following Ayodhya terrorism against Muslims’s sacred place, instead of bringing calm and publicly apologizing on behalf of the Hindu civilization, misguided Hindu supremacists like Advani and Thackeray conducted nationwide victory marches to incite hatred against the minorities in India. As a result, Mumbai, the commercial capital under the mercy of Thackeray, was converted overnight into a terrorized center of Hindu-Muslim riots. While in power, all that Thackeray did was continue his mode of operation- hate-speech against the Muslim minority. Currently his political cronies have taken up staunch regionalism in Maharashtra to threaten the lives of “outsiders”, whereas the terrorist outfit representing the Hindu interests have been bombing all over Maharashtra, recruiting a few Muslim youths for training, and then shifting blames of terror attacks either on Pakistan or on Indian Muslims.

Hindu terrorism is also not a shock for millions of Indians who have been silent sufferers to a merciless manner in which Gujarat – the birthplace of the Mahatma – had been converted into the rowdiest of states in India under the disgusting leadership of a racist politician Narendra Modi – also part and parcel of the revived Hindu fanaticism. Gujarat’s famous Godhra incident, which was used as a tool to ravage the Islamic business sector in the state ended up taking lives of more than 2000 people, more than 80% of which were Muslims. Under the rule of the Hindu right wing political party, the infamous, yet legal, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), unprecedented violence was let loose on the streets to pointedly murder innocent Muslim citizens. Not surprisingly by the culturally same Hindu fanatics who pride themselves for having assassinated Mahatma Gandhi sixty years ago. Unheard of atrocities against Muslim women were committed by the Hindu “Sainiks” and “Saints” and terrorists that have no parallel in world history.

Thus, Hindu terrorism is not a matter of shock to the huge majority of Indians- majority of whom are deeply innocent Hindus themselves.

Dark Ages of Hindu Revivalism: Secular India to Communal India

Indian history has never been devoid of Muslim roots. Predominantly, Indian land was ruled by Moghuls. Most of the glorified historical personalities of India- from secular emperors to magical musicians, from wise philosophers to lyrical poets have been Muslims. Muslims also have been a successful business class, self-sustained and despite prejudices, well organized. Whenever foreign colonial powers assaulted Indian nationalism, Muslims joined the struggles for freedom alongside the Hindus. They were so united in spirit with Hindus that it took the meanest and most corrupt methods of the British colonialists to separate the two religions from living in harmony.

As a result of British interventions and formation of pseudo-Hindu outfits such as Hindu Mahasabha (which opposed Gandhi’s call for unity), and submission to ruling class blackmails by Muslim League, Pakistan was created upon the blood of millions.

Pakistan’s life was made even more difficult to manage thanks to the illogical and criminal manner in which the British divided the map geographically. East Pakistan (on the east of India) naturally enough remained the point of contention since Pakistan (on the West of India) could neither rule over it to its abilities nor could remain a distinctive nation in the subcontinent without it. Added to the miseries were the decisions of a Hindu supremacist Sardar Ballavbhai Patel to blackmail all Princely States of India to join the British-freed India. This was a cause of misery because in the predominantly Hindu North-Indian democratic setup in Delhi, the representation of predominantly Muslim princely state rulers was almost impossible. Therefore, India, after her independence from British rule, emerged a fractured country of inconsistent neighborhood (which finally got “resolved” with the creation of Bangladesh) and internal religious divides (now officially revived through impositions on Hyderabad and Kashmir – one Hindu state with a Muslim King, and the other a Muslim state with a Hindu King. )

Taking advantage of the problems Nehru faced in his initial years as the first Prime Minister, the ugly head of Hindu fanaticism started to show up. Not only were they banned from participation in mainstream politics by a secular Constitution of the land, they were forbidden from expressing themselves. Despite the fact that Nehru himself was a Kashimiri Brahmin, he was unwilling to cooperate in escalating the communal tensions in India, following Gandhian footsteps. This period of Golden Age of Independent India came to an abrupt end when the country started noticing that many of the Hindu fanatics had hidden their identities and joined the mainstream Congress with an aim to take over the power later. Vajpayee who became the right-wing leader of Indian democracy later on, used to claim himself as a Nehruvian socialist to climb the ladder of power, only to later condemn Nehru after his death. George Fernandes who later became the most tainted Defense Minister of India for his deals with Western militarists used to deceive people in his early years as projecting himself to be a socialist. Indeed, many congress leaders of Nehru’s period claimed Socialism as their paths only to gain entry into mainstream politics of India – and to later disband every principle of socialism in favor of domestic capitalism.

Nehru’s Congress as the dominant political party cannot be absolved of the crime of overlooking the nature of its disciples in favor of their sycophancy. As a result of its professed but unintelligent silence over growth of communal politics in India – where its official policy was to advance the cause of Muslims and minorities even as several of disguised communal politicians were busy thwarting possibilities of harmonious living- India evolved into a vulnerable land soon to be ruled over by the very same Hindu fundamentalists that Gandhi and Nehru, Subhas Bose and Bhagat Singh, together opposed tooth and nail throughout their illustrious lives.

Hindi-Hindu India overshadowed and almost choked to death all the rich historical heritage brought to Indian culture through Islamic traditions. Urdu was relegated to nowhere, Hindustani was not recognized as a language, affirmative actions for Muslims continued to perish under caste politics within Hindu religious majority. Casteism and untouchability continued to exist despite constitutional dictums. Both Dalits and Muslims emerged as outcasts and myth of Hindu cultural purity continued to prosper.

Nehru’s Congress which prided itself for receiving aid from Soviet Union, while at the same time forming Non-Aligned Movement and taking respectable roles in the United Nations to promote peace was gradually reduced to a capitalistic economy headed by a finance minister called Manmohan Singh, who today has become the Prime Minister for his able diplomacy at praising the British Raj (his enslaved speech at Oxford University heralded Queen’s English as the biggest development for India), and unconditional surrender to NATO interests on every conceivable grounds – military to economic.

In such overtly distressing times, it is only natural that the likes of Hindu supremacists who were vehemently opposed by the founding leaders of India’s freedom movement, are back to power. They rule the roads of Maharashtra and Gujarat – two most economically successful states in India. The Hindu supremacists are funded by their bosses – the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) – an outright communal racist organization based in the United States. Indeed, most universities in the US allow VHP-funded student outfits to recruit local students for to promote anti-Islam causes in the name of cultural diversity. And back home, the same organizations routinely attack any Islamic institutions or student unions. As long as it is Banares Hindu University – a completely unnecessary university to be founded on religious grounds considering that Hindus anyway comprise the majority and community-based institutes are required to be formed to protect minority cultures – there is never a talk on terrorism emanating from them. Even as it has been proved countless times that Hindu student organizations such as Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) are violent in nature, and misconstrue history to depict Vivekananda, Bhagat Singh and Subhas Bose radically differently in the minds of the impressionable youths, they go scot free and celebrate their existence and growth. At the same time, Muslim Madrassas are constantly under police investigations. Faculty members of Aligarh Muslim Universities are routinely harassed. Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) has been legally banned by the Indian government.

Usual Suspects: Muslim Youths

Indian official authorities continuously arrest numerous Muslim people, doctors, professors and students on alleged grounds of terrorism, whereas the proven terrorists of Hindu based organizations continue to contest elections, win seats and influence courts. In the most recent Malegaon serial bomb blasts, the first arrests were that of SIMI activists. Noor-ul-Hooda was arrested by the police along with two other “suspects”: Shabbir Batterywala and Raees Ahmed.

Such arrests based solely on suspicion are no exceptions. Even without undertaking any investigations of merit, such Muslim youths are subjected to arrests on a routine basis. In Malegaon, this was massive, because the suspicion was on accusation of murder of 31 people and injury of over 300.

Times of India in their initial report reported: “The involvement of both Shabbir and Hooda in the Malegaon blasts came to light during their interrogations after their arrest in a bomb hoax case. The intention of conspirators of Malegaon blasts was to create communal tensions in the textile town which has a history of riots and the bomb hoax exercise undertaken by Shabbir and Hooda as the blasts failed to disturb the peace in the town, the DGP said.”


So Who Were Behind Malegaon?

After the initial arrests of Shabbir and Hooda, public demand increased to arrest everyone concerned. The investigation was thus under public demand, transferred to the most efficient branch to deal with issues of terrorism: the Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) and its superhero cop Hemant Karkare.

Karkare and his team thoroughly investigated the Malegaon blasts and reached entirely different conclusions. For the firs time, the official agencies had to admit their errors in arresting Muslim youths whereas the real culprits were the Hindu terrorists.

Among the eight arrested following due investigations the Hindu terrorists had high profile candidates: Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur of the right wing political coalition, Indian army official Ramesh Upadhyay, Hindu fundamentalist youth organization Abhinav Bharat’s leader Sameer Kulkarni, and Army official Lt Col Prasad S Purohit.

Hell broke loose. Just when the western world was eyeing Pakistan, including America’s President-Elect Obama who was at his rhetoric worst in calling for war on Pakistan and it was the long cherished time for the Hindu fanatics to rejoice, the real truths were slowly uncovering to indicate otherwise. Immediately reacting to ATS, Delhi’s right-wing leader VK Malhotra attacked the officials and asked its officers to undergo narco-tests! Malhotra of course resorted to his proverbial American master’s tongue: “Whereas the world is seeing Pakistan and Bangladesh as hub of terrorism, ATS is accusing the “saints”!”.

No amount of rhetoric could save the right wing political party this time, because not only it was found upon investigation that the Hindu terrorist leaders representing the BJP’s interests were involved in masterminding the blasts, but even the Indian defense forces officials were. The Hindu “Holy Cow” and the India’s “Holy Cow” were both the actual culprits.

In the past, when Shabbir and Hooda were arrested on suspicion, media reports were agog with conclusions that the previous bomb blasts in India had a very similar strategy. Hence, the conclusions of the media were that, all those blasts perhaps were also caused by Muslim outfits. Hence investigations were on into all the previous blasts. And soon, one after another, the truths started emerging when the cases were “reopened”.

Also came under investigations of ATS were the closed cases of yesteryears: Parbhani blasts of November 21, 2003, Jalna blasts of August 27, 2004, Jama Masjid blast in Delhi on April 14, 2006, Mecca Masjid blast, May 18, 2007, Ajmer blasts, October 11, 2007, Modasa blast, September 29, 2008.

In all of the above terror attacks, the Muslim youths were held under suspicion without investigations. But when the cases were reopened, ATS unearthed evidences which startled the very foundation of Hindu supremacism in India.

Upon due investigations, it was indeed found out by the Indian authorities that the series of blasts have been planned since 2001 by the same group of people- Hindu terrorists. A Hindu supremacist Rakesh Dhawade had transported 54 people, trained them in a camp in Sinhagad in Pune for three years, starting 2001. Using his access to power structure in India, Dhawade continued to remain free despite all evidences against him. Finally, after more than four years of Jalna blast, and after seven years of his discovered training camps, he was chargesheeted in early November 2008. On Novemeber 11, 2008, as a bigger blow on Hindu terrorism, another accused Maruti Wagh was arrested by Jalna police. In the entire Marathwada region, terrorists involved in the several bomb attacks in Parbhani, Purna, Jalna, Nanded and Malegaon were found to be the same –the highly protected Hindu terrorists.

Likwise, in Nanded blasts, new truths had emerged. On April 6, 2006 when a terror attack woke India up in Nanded, it was not as much highlighted in the local media, and received zero coverage on international media. It was so because the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) in its investigation found that behind the bomb blast, there was no role of any Muslim agency. Indeed, it was a hardcore Hindu fundamentalist group that carried out the terror attack. During investigation it was also found out that the Hindu terrorist group was planning to orchestrate such terror attacks in Aurangabad. One Hindu terrorist Rahul Pande was arrested in regards to Nanded bomb blast. Two of his accomplices Naresh Rajkondwar and Himanshu Panse who prepared the bomb died on the spot. Three more Hindu terrorists Yogesh Deshpande, Maruti Wagh and Gururaj Tupttewar were seriously injured.

In related investigations, Hindu supremacist Manoharrao Pande, one of the accused, said that they were trained in handling explosive devices and one trainer Himanshu Pande, died while assembling the explosives. Pande had also implemented the terror attacks in the Marathwada region, including in Jalna, Purnea and Parbhani.

Rationale Behind Mumbai Blasts: Who Benefits?

November 11, 2008 – the day of victory of Anti-Terrorism Squad against Hindu Terrorism- happened two weeks before the latest Mumbai Bomb Blasts.

Just when the world opinion was about to be reshaped following the ugly face of Hindu terrorism being officially exposed, the foreign nationals – the supposedly Muslim-fearing American and British citizens – were attacked in Mumbai. Just when the Hindu “Saints” were going to be declared terrorists, some Muslim youths were once again arrested in the center of commercial capital as accused of the blasts. Just when proper and due investigations were about to begin, lawyers were threatened by right wing political parties from representing the accused. Just when the Anti-Terrorism Squad captured the accused for investigations to find out the masterminds (going by the past blasts, who were going to be the Hindu supremacists), ATS chief and nation’s most beloved police officer Karkare was mysteriously killed.

The fact that Karkare had received death threats from BJP activists, the Hindu terrorist groups and his wife could be interrogated for further information about the letters, Karkare was converted into a national hero and declared to be dead while fighting Islamic terrorism!

India, a country of independent spirited people who took on the mightiest of empires through actions and thoughts of the wise and the nonviolent, has been forced to be converted into a country of hero-worshipping uncritical enslaved people that refuse to believe that the problems are indeed from within.

Karkare has been converted into a national hero and is being heralded as the bravest police officer. Yet ironically, his principles of life that defied conventional thinking while he unearthed the most shameful chapter of Hindu nationalism, have been already forgotten. Domestic media – both vernacular and English language have adopted a tone that’s most submissive, prejudiced and rhetorical. Indian parliament has always been the mainstay of chosen criminals from across the country since last few decades. Now it has evolved as the chamber of discussion among most of them demanding across parties, to control the country through new draconic laws.

Indian Hindu terrorism has once again been shoved into obscurity by once again successfully shifting blame on Pakistan. Instead of working closely together with Pakistani officials to eradicate roots of terrors – which are implanted by the politicians in both countries than invented by the misguided people – India has chosen to allow Israeli and American interests to prevail upon the land in a quest to convert Gandhi’s Free India into a Militarist Enslaved Agent of Global Imperialism.

Hindus, Muslims and Secular Traditions: Vande Mataram (Part II)

Vande Mataram debate has almost engulfed India these days. I would not claim it to be entirely of no consequence. And those who say that people should be left to sing what they want to, in the tradition of liberal democracy, in my view again, are continuing to enjoy a Hindu privilege. If for a moment, they would imagine how it feels to be member of a minority group being subjected to a song that was targeted against them, most of us would clearly understand the inherent pain. Muslims in India have been told from the beginning that they are citizens of a secular country, and it is the responsibility of the Hindu majority to live upto that expectation. There must not be any confusion in this regard.

Furthermore, some of my beloved readers of this blog have vociferously attacked the communalism in Islam, and in fact to that extent shown solidarity with Bankim Chandra, the poet of Vande Mataram, who also happens to be the founding father of modern Bengali literature.

I am not surprised at the way both perceptions have been intertwined. However, I shall like to dispel some myths about the dismissal of Islam as a communal or fanatical religion, as many in the Hindutva brigade would like to portray it and influence some of us in that process in their abominable quest to establish a “Hindu Rashta”. Some even bring to question the credibility of Mohd. Iqbal who penned down “Sare Jahan se Achha” and compared it with “Vande Mataram”, which I think is a valid comparison, but a grossly non-issue, this time. I will attempt to make some clarifications within the limits of a weblog:

Vande Mataram vs Sare Jahan se Achha:

Let there be no doubt that the origins of the writings and the world-views of the authors are important in understanding the significance of any work. However, even while doing so, one should always keep in mind the socio-political context in which the works have been authored.

I have elaborated on Vande Mataram already in a previous post. The origin of the song was embedded in the work “Ananda Matha” which was just like every other written work of Bankim Chandra, a highly hindu supremacist literature. It clearly outlined Bankim’s aversion towards Muslim people and possibly could have sowed the seed among the Bengali community to later on engage in the religious animosities that eventually led to partition of India into two separate religious regions (East Bengal-Pakistan region and India).

Sensitizing the Bengali population to become reactionary elements in that age was the sole aim of Bankim Chatterjee, and he fairly succeeded in it (which is why the Hindu hymn became so popular to begin with). It can be said without a doubt Bankim was the founding father of reactionary Bengali literature and unfortunately as it is, quite a handful of works during that time thrived with feudal stories and patriarchal protagonists with entire omission of British misrule, (Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s stories included) thanks to the unmistakable popularity of this legendary writer.

Speaking of historical context, Bankim Chatterjee lived at a time that was not about “Islam invasion”, that his works were so apprehensive about. It was rather a time when British people had already invaded India. The primary enemies of Indian people were the British colonialists. And yet, Chatterjee was a loyal civil servant of the British administration, and worked as a deputy collector. And he was instrumental in sowing the seeds of two-nation theory through his works full of hatred for Muslims, who he used to describe as “Mlechhas”.

As regards Mohd. Iqbal, who is unfortunately brought to discussion in the context of Bande Mataram controversy, one can only say this. Mohd. Iqbal was a patriot of the highest order whose revolutionary songs were targeted against the British rule only. He had no expressed hatred against Hindus, although looking at growing popularity of Hindutva brigade within the Congress those days, he had sufficient reason to turn skeptical. Muslims, Buddhists and Dalits were among the most oppressed in India, and yet they were the least represented in the high echelons of Congress power. Congress was losing its secular focus with continued tension between Nehru and Patel. Despite Gandhiji’s reluctance, the Patel faction was growing in strength also due to the immense influence the Indian business houses had on sponsoring Gandhi’s visits and shelters at Ashrams. In disillusionment, Netaji Subhas also had to quit Congress. One needs to remember that the hindu fanatics had taken up so much of political space that Netaji Subhash was as unsure as Mohd. Iqbal about the eventual victory of Indians under leadership of mere religious reformers. Netaji was always known for his determined effort to persuade people to give up all their political differences and get united under the banner of Congress. He has emphatically stated that Congress was the only platform that needs support from people all across political spectrum, thus helping to enlist thousands of communists as well as receiving communist support to win the presidentship. However, Netaji was deeply influenced by the Soviet system of governance, its secularism and collective ownerships and he wanted to establish India in similar lines. Except for Nehru, who had himself visited Soviet Union and was a pronounced supporter of Marxist philosophy, Netaji could not gather support from any other major leader, finally leading to his quitting the party and forming an alternative Left organization.

It was during these times that Mohd. Iqbal also went through transformation as he was witnessing how the power structure of Congress was slipping into the hands of Hindu fundamentalists. He used to be a teacher in Philosophy after completing MA from Lahore University. During the college days, his radical poetry to destabilize the British rule with united efforts from Hindus and Muslims were inflammatory enough. At the same time, while on a short visit to London, Iqbal became conscious of the international Islamic revolutions against the European colonial powers, and his alignment towards Islamists became sharper. India was not merely struggling for independence from British during those days, one also needs to remember that some Hindu supremacists within the Congress were making clear their intent to get rid of Urdu as the lingua franca (which it was till that period), and to declare a Hindustan where Muslims would be tokenly represented as was the trend. Hindu leaders like Rajendra Prasad, Radhakrishnan, Sardar Patel were rabidly pursuing Hindu scholarships. And Gandhi himself was trying to adjust to Hinduism demands by “reforming” the religion, not condemning it. Clearly the country was about to be divided, just like Bankim Chatterjee had envisaged, the question was regarding when.

Bankim and Iqbal: Dichotomies

Again unlike Bankim Chatterjee who preached religious violence based on Militant Hinduism, Mohd Iqbal was deeply secular despite being a Muslim. And this is why there were attempts to caste aspersions on his popularity. Iqbal’s poetry were nationally sung and were widely popular (interestingly, it became popular even on the space when Rakesh Sharma made India proud by saying he saw “Sare Jahan Se Achha” from above when asked by Indira Gandhi about what India looked like to him while he was on the Soviet space expedition). Iqbal’s poetry was in Urdu, as opposed to Sanskrit, and that was a great dichotomy already. He was a Muslim revolutionary writing about the poor and the oppressed people of India grounded on realism of political economy. Chatterjee was a Hindu Brahmin reactionary who was writing about glorification of one-nation of Hindu India that was conditional upon annihilation of the Muslims. Whereas Chatterjee was preaching that deaths of Muslims were inevitable for India to be a proud nation, Iqbal was writing:

“Gurbat mein ho agar hum, rehta hai dil watan mein
Samjho wohi humein bhi, dil mein jahna hamara
Majhab nahni sikhata, aapas mein bair rakhna
Hindi hain hum, watan hain Hindustan humara”

(roughly translated it means: We are where our hearts are, and even when we reside abroad, our hearts live in our land. Thus artificial borders cannot separate our patriotic feelings. What of the religions? Our religions do not teach us to create enemies among each other. We are the people from the land of the Hind and shall remain thus despite religions and artificial borders.)

This was the great radical poet Mohd. Iqbal who wrote this “Taraana-e-Watan” among other brilliant works where he always stressed on Hindu-Muslim unity that was needed to overthrow the British rulers.

Sadly, the country was so taken hostage by the Hindu supremacists that they did everything possible to highlight Bankim Chatterjee’s conservative anti-Islam works while they continued to demean Mohd Iqbal. Any serious reader of progressive literature would be able to fathom the length at which Iqbal was subsequently saddened by the way his hopes for a united India was being shattered through the aspirations of the growing Hindu militancy even within the rank and file of the mainstream Congress.

I am reproducing a rare poem of Mohd Iqbal written to his beloved son, where he is asking his child to treat poverty as an asset, and not a weakness. Living the life of the oppressed calls for revolution against the foreign invaders, he declares. He directs his son to recognize that Mother Nature (interesting because its not a similar portrayal like Goddess Durga) has gifted a heart to him that must be used to appreciate the diversity of flowers (his stress on ‘Gul’ is consistently present in most of his poems, including another poem by the name ‘Gul Hai to Gulistan ho’. Also interesting, considering that flowers have universal appeal unlike nation-state names). Iqbal asks his son to dedicate life towards serving the poor and the oppressed in a colonial India and not get disheartened by inherent limitations. “Do not be a sell-out; Make a name amidst poverty!”

“Garibi mein Naam Paida Kar”

Dayare-Ishq mein apna muqaam paida kar
Naya Zamaana naye subh-o-shaam paida kar

Khuda agar dil-e-fitrat-shanaas de tujhko
Sukute-laal-o-gul se kalaam paida kar

Utha na shisha-garane-Firang ke ehsaan
Sifale-hind se mina-o-jaam paida kar

Mein shakhe-taak hnu meri gazal hai mera samar
Mere samar se maya-e-lalafam paida kar

Meri tariq amiri nahni fakiri hain
Khud-i na bech, garibi mein naam paida kar

I could go on quoting from the works of the great poet who did his best to promote religious harmony in the country that was facing threats from fanatic Hindus and insecure Muslims in terms of its future. And bowing down to the pressure of the Hindu revivalism that was to sketch a conditional secular country, Iqbal, like Malcolm X of African-American struggle, turned more towards recognizing the religious mainstream than secular alternatives. When he died in 1937, the entire country mourned the great loss whose expectations could not be lived upto by millions of people of the country who were engaged in falling into the traps of Hindu supremacists’ hatred towards Muslims as well British endorsement of the riots. What’s ironic is that Hindu atrocities those days were only usually tolerated with grief (as Gandhiji famously used to feel ‘sad’ about the conditions in a non-violent manner, which later allowed people like Patel to infiltrate Kashmir with terrorism), and it was continuation of a tradition. What’s often missed in the discourse is that most Muslims actually were converted from Hinduism because of the atrocities and caste-structures of Hinduism. Islam, despite its Shia/Sunni divisions never practiced “untouchability” which was a cornerstone of Hindu religion, and continues to exist even today in practice.

Finally, the categorical difference between Iqbal and Chatterjee was that whereas the former was a die-hard secular who wanted a “Hindustan” based on religious harmony, Chatterjee was a Hindu fanatic and British loyalist who wanted the country to be divided into two parts. Of course Chatterjee won by design since that’s also what the British wanted, and later on towards the late 30’s and early 40’s even the secular people of India had no other option than to accept the two-nation theory, simply because in the other case, there was a clear indication that India would have been ruled by Hindu Brahmins almost to the exclusion of Muslim leaders in power sharing. Even having more Muslim population in India than there is in Pakistan, today, India continues to oppress Muslims when it comes to relegating power.

Those who say that Congress is “appeasing” the minorities are entirely misguided. In fact, Congress, as much as the BJP, has been appeasing the majority in all respects, as a result of which the country’s power equation has fallen in the hands of Hindu Brahmin Supremacists.

Historical evidences, and why the right-wing never quite gets it right?

“Battle of Algiers” is considered to be a landmark in the history of cinema. And its Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo (who co-wrote it with the great Franco Solinas) shot Algeria while the Islamic revolution was defeating French colonialists in the 60’s. His extremely sympathetic treatment of cause of the revolutionaries won him great admiration from the progressive world, whereas the French were quick to ban the film in their country.

Encouraged by the response from the world over, he and his son went ahead to shoot Algeria once again, this time in the 90’s to get the pulse of the country under Islamic rule. Surprised as he was, his videos showed that people just could not tolerate his entry into the country, simply because he was a European filmmaker. However, after knowing that this was the man who had directed “Battle of Algiers”, he was immediately recognized by the new generation of people who greeted him, although with a little pinch of salt.

Seeing the commotion on the streets, a fellow European journalist asked him the reason behind Islam being such a violent religion. Such violent was it, that the Muslims even would not entertain a Marxist filmmaker like Pontecorvo, just because he was a European. Since throughout Pontecorvo was sad while shooting the second film in Algeria (and at some places children were spitting on his car), I was anxious to see how Pontecorvo responds to this stereotyped “European” question.

Pontecorvo, unfazed, replied that Islam was never a violent religion. Indeed its been violent from phase to phase since last 200 years only, and that marks the beginning of European colonization period. It was only in the manner that the European colonizers projected an image of the Muslim people as inherently backward that, they are now facing the wrath of a reaction (which is an ‘open wound’ still). He said he is convinced that the women in Algeria are not oppressed due to their religion, they are oppressed due to economic sanctions imposed by a group of elite colonialists who have made wealth by looting the Muslims during their illegal occupations. As regards the culture, Islamists were not ‘backward’ and the women were not ‘humiliated’. When asked why the women then covered themselves up in such primitive manner, Pontecorvo quoted a female Muslim doctor who said that burka is actually one of the most liberal outfit a woman can wear. It reveals the least and that’s why it makes the woman sexier. The point is to also see the perspectives of the other culture from different levels.

This is also a lesson one can get from the various radical postcolonial studies about how the Islam was never a regressive or oppressive religion in comparison to any other (every religion thrives on codes that are equally repressive). As in the case of India, MJ Akbar, the renowned journalist and author, gives the most comprehensive account about Muslim Rule in his book “Kashmir: Behind the Vale”.

He cites how Saiyyid Bilal Shah (called with love as Bulbul Shah) introduced Islam with love and compassion. That was a time when Kashmir was being ruled by Hindu King Sahadeva. Owing to Bulbul Shah’s immense popularity, there was great support for him, and consequently the King had befriended him in order to carry on the rule. In fact by the time Bulbul Shah passed away in 1327, the king, king’s brother and commander-in-chief of the army were all converted to Islam! The converted king had even constructed Bulbul Langar in Srinagar.

Two things can be noticed here. One, that the King was himself a convert, naturally a voluntary one. And there were many Hindus, predominantly lower castes, but also quite many Kashmiri Pundits themselves, who were horribly disenchanted by Hinduism’s orthodoxy and voluntarily converted themselves. In fact, works by Mulla Ahmed, the first Sheikh-ul-Islam, such as “Fatwa-i-Shihabi”, and “Shihab-i-Saqib” were immensely secular works that held more relevance to Hindus and Muslims than the epic superstitious mythologies of Hinduism.

Upon death of mongol expansionist Kublai Khan (1260-1294), there were huge tribal uprising that led to death of Beijing’s viceroy Lha-Chen-Dugos Grub. Tribes attacked the region Sonamarg valley, which was being ruled by Rama Chandra, who was the prime minister of King Sahadeva. But Sahadeva did not lend much support to Rama Chandra during the period of crisis when tribals attacked the area (in fact Sahadeva was supportive of the tribals). This betrayal led to Rama Chandra declaring himself as the King. As a rather feeble king, Rama Chandra was no match for Lha-Chen’s son Rinchin who attacked the king soon after. Rinchin had escaped the border and aspired to be a king, as much as his friend from Swat valley Shah Mir. Rinchin with support of Mir took over the palace. And Rinchin was declared the Lord of Kasmir on 6 October 1320. Interestingly, Rama Chandra’s daughter Kota who was in love with Rinchin much before the attack, quickly declared herself the queen.

Rinchin’s era is considered to be the golden age in the history of Kashmir, as Rinchin was a Buddhist and he wanted to spread peace throughout the region. He not only married Rama Chandra’s daughter, he also made Rama Chandra’s sons his prime ministers. But since Rinchin was a Buddhist, he could not rule over the state that did not have much Buddhist presence. Hence he decided to convert to Hinduism and called for the head priest. And as shocking as it may sound, the high priests of Hinduism declined to convert him, since they could not determine what caste in the hierarchy was King Rinchin!

Since the Brahmin pundits exercised this folly, Shah Mir found the opportunity to ask his friend to convert to Islam. Although Rinchin was skeptical, he soon saw the great Sufi divine Bulbul Shah at a prayer. Bulbul Shah provided Rinchin what the Brahmins could not: a casteless religion. Islam had no caste: it was built on the equality of humans and faith in the omnipotence of Allah and His last Messenger, the prophet Muhammad. To become a Muslim, Rinchin only had to utter the Qalimah: ‘La-e-laha illallah, Muhammad un-Rasul Allah’.

Rinchin thus became a Muslim, and Islam arrived not through violent coercion, but through peaceful understanding of a harmonious religion. Rinchin took the name Sultan Sadruddin, and built a mosque called Bodro Masjid. During his friend Shah Mir’s rule as Sultan Shamsuddin, a dynasty that lasted for 222 years, Islam had become the paramount religion of Kashmir, but because of its popular success and their identification with the Kashmiri people. Jonaraja described this rule:

“This believer in Allah, calm and active, became the savior of the people and protected the subjects.”

And throughout, despite the brahminical prejudices against the converted kings (Hindus and Budhhists who had turned into Muslims), the Muslim rulers were always sympathetic towards the high priests. It was the period when Nand Rishi or Lal Ded and other religious people flourished. In fact, Abul Fazl wrote in the Ain-i-Akbari:

“The most respected people are the Rishis who, although they do not suffer themselves to be fettered by traditions, are doubtless the true worshippers of God. They do not revile any other sect, nor ask anything of anyone. They plant the roads with fruit trees to provide the traveler with refreshments. They abstain from meat and have no intercourse with the other sex. There are 2000 of these Rishis in Kashmir.”

Moghul rulers likewise, and especially Akbar, were aware of the large Hindu population and worked towards their harmonious living. Firstly, it was the most practical thing to do, since any alternative could have called for doom. Tribal populations were always up in arms against any empire, and it could become a matter of time before Hindus got disenchanted and joined the revolution. To that end, the emperors were forced to be considerate towards diversity of religions. Needless to point out, just as characteristic of any empire (just like it is true in today’s so-called democracies running large thought controls called mainstream media), there were state propaganda working those days to lull people to passivity and relaxation instead of agitated uprising. And just like today’s cheap slavery and draconic hours of call centers, people were forced those days to seek cheap labor in works they had no interests in. But as evidenced, the secularism during the Muslim and Moghul periods were quite practiced at several levels.

“The fusion of Islamic culture with existing Indian culture achieved the most positive expression in the activities of the artisan classes of the towns and amongst the cultivators, as is evident from the socio-religious ideas of the time, and also in primarily artisan activities such as building monuments, the fusion being evident in the architecture of the period. The pattern of living in both these classes came to be interrelated to a far greater degree than amongst the nobility. Domestic ceremonies and rituals such as those connected with birth, marriage, and death became mingled. The converted Muslims were also heirs to long-standing rituals practiced by the Hindus. New ceremonies which had come with Islam, and which were regarded as auspicious, crept into Hindu ritual.”
(page 300, A History of India, Volume One. Romila Thapar.)

Upon deconstruction, what it merely suggests is that Moghul rule created more problems for the upper caste Hindu feudalists than the working peasants. The assimilation was seen more among Muslims and the working poor of India, than between Muslims and the upper caste people.

Now I will quote from Orissamatters, authored by SCP, who is an eminent journalist of Orissa:

“Kalhan’s classic work ‘Rajtarangini’ describes how the Brahmins conspired against Queen Dida as she was not patronizing to Brahminism and after her death, beheaded from behind Sri Tunga, the most powerful protector of the liberal policies of the Late Queen.
So ruthlessly the Brahmins known as Kashmir Pundits imposed their caste supremacy that the people exploited under caste apartheid jumped into Islam which was not vitiated by caste system. They not only became Muslims en masse, but also they became so with so much revengeful resolution that they drove away the Pundits from the soil.
The entire land mass that has now become Pakistan and Bangladesh was the dwelling place of Indians where our ancient people had established their own civilization. It is the Brahmins’ supremacist mentality that has helped Islam to spread in India.
So whosoever has embraced the Muslim religion in this Sub-Continent is an Indian who has revolted against Brahminism, against Brahminic caste apartheid.”

Eminent historian Irfan Habib says that Moghul rulers had even appointed Brahmins as administrators owing to their upper caste/class/knowledge backgrounds. And even in such positions, the Brahmins under the Moghul rule, did not amend their behavior. As an example, we shall take the case of ‘Satnamis’, a sect founded in 1657 by a native of Narnaul, who proclaimed himself to be of the tradition of the great monotheist Kabir, the weaver. They were opposed tooth and nail by the banyas and Brahmin caste people, since Satnamis (worshipper of the True Name or God) comprised people from sections such as sweepers, carpenters and tanners. “It was obviously owing to this contamination from contact with the untouchables that the sect became particularly hateful in the eyes of the orthodox,” says Habib. (Essays in Indian History, Tulika, New Delhi, 1995).
Isardas Mehta in “Futuhat-i ‘Alamgiri” quotes a loyal Hindu official of the Mughal government describing Satnamis as:

“That community, because of its extreme dirtiness, is rendered foul, filthy and impure. Thus in their religion they do not differentiate between Hindus and Muslims. They eat porks and other disgusting things. If a dog has eaten from their bowl, they do not abstain from eating from it or show any revulsion.”

Thus, even during the Mughal period, the Hindu supremacists continued to hold sway, even in the face of definitive secular reigns by Akbar and Aurangzeb. Unfortunately, they continue to do so even to this date–to the extent that the stories of forced labor were exaggerated by the Hindu revisionists, without a mention of exploitation of workers to build temples. More than the Hindu kings, it was the Moghul rulers who played their part in promoting economic parity. Indeed Sir Walter Lawrence’s works show how in Moghul periods, women were given six annas a day for independent sustenance. And in projects involving large-scale labor, the main gates were written with inscriptions such as these:
“Na kardeh hech kas beggar anja
Tamame yaftand az makhzanash zar”.

(No one, it proclaims proudly, was shanghaied into beggar, or forced labor, for this imperial project; each worker was paid fully for his her labor.”)

This blog cannot go on in the direction of glorifying the Moghul rulers. Indeed far from it, this stands to condemn any of the rules by the kings and emperors, since none of them established peoples’ democracy. Also because of the stages of development those days, such dreams were quite distant. But in view of the current attack on Islam and an ignorant dismissal of it as a religion inherently violent, oppressive or backward, I thought it would serve well to do a small analysis of the situation using a critical historiography.

In Conclusion:
The day of patriotic exhibition of India has passed us by. We can rejoice at its passage. To begin with 2006 is not the centenary of Vande Mataram. It was used this way solely for sensational purpose. In addition, even singing of National Anthem Jana Gana Mana is not compulsory and should not be. Hence Vande Mataram controversy was furthered solely for the political purpose. Lastly, Islam is unlike Hinduism. Just the way Hindu preachers know that Hinduism is an organically developed national religion that has always stayed inside India due to its exclusionary philosophy that forbids people from joining it (just like Puri Pandas are absolutely right in not allowing non-Hindus to enter Jagannath Temple since they know Hinduism quite well to be discriminatory), Muslims know it well that Islam is a global religion that is based upon spreading the word of the last Messenger of Allah, and hence it does not recognize a nation-state to be paramount. So certain religious people condemning certain other religious people because they think their base of religion is valid while other bases of other religions are not, amounts to mere assertion of misconception.

And the way the right wing brigade took advantage of death of Pramod Mahajan and statue of Bal Thackrey’s wife to cause unrest in the country, they are now trying to take advantage of a song-recital drama. News reports say that their Vande Mataram demonstrations are causing violence in muslim areas where the hindu fanatics are having a free hand in harassing the minorities in India. And this is simply intolerable and unacceptable, and every patriotic Indian must rise up against the narrow minded ignorant bigots of the rightist parties and stop them from further claiming that they represent us in any manner whatsoever. Its time for them to either gain newer knowledge and get rid of their professed idiocy, or prepare to face the wrath of the oppressed in coming times when the people of India will no more merely vote them out of power like a dying party of losers, but also wipe them off the public platforms where they stage hypocritical melodramas.