Letter to a Young American Hindu, by Vijay Prashad

The following is a guest contribution from Vijay Prashad. He is the author of eleven books, including Karma of Brown Folk (2000), and most recently The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World (2007).

Dear Friend,

Like you, I was raised in a mixed family. My parents' families came to Bengal from Punjab, and from Burma. One side leans towards Hinduism; the other to Sikhism. The city, the metro, provided its own cultural mooring, and in secular India, I found myself interested in all religions and deeply schooled in none. Id meant fellowship with my Muslim neighbors and friends; a Navjot meant a crash course in Parsi life; Nanak's birthday meant a visit to Gurudwara Sant Kutiya in the center of town; Christmas, which is Bara Din in Calcutta, meant a brightly lit Park Street and a visit to St. Paul's Cathedral; and, of course, Diwali and Holi represented the high-points of our festival culture. Religion was colorful, and friendly. It didn't represent either the harshest of personal morality nor the resentments or distrust of others.

I learnt a few prayers and songs, but this learning was not systematic. Some of my friends were better schooled than I in their various traditions. Our diversity was not simply across religion, but also a diversity of the density of our engagement with religion: agnostics or religious illiterates were as welcome as those who were committed to their faith. The festival that I most liked was Saraswati Puja, the day when we wore yellow and put all our schoolbooks at the feet of the goddess. The respite from study was welcome, as you can imagine.

My morality came from elsewhere than religion, from recognition of the pain in the world. Religious teachers whom I encountered sometimes talked about this suffering, but they didn't seem to have more than charity to offer to those who suffered. It struck me that while religious festivals were beautiful, religions themselves were not adequate as a solution to modern crises. But religion, as I came to understand while reading Gandhi many years later, can play a role in the cleansing of public morality. In 1940, Gandhi wrote, "I still hold the view that I cannot conceive politics as divorced from religion. Indeed, religion should pervade everyone one of our actions. Here religion does not mean sectarianism. It means a belief in ordered moral government of the universe. It is not less real because it is unseen. This religion transcends Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, etc. It does not supersede them. It harmonizes them and gives them reality" (Harijan, February 10, 1940). In other words, politics should not be simply about power struggles, but it must be suffused with moral concerns. It is not enough to win; one must strive to create, what Gandhi called, Truth in the world.

To strive for Truth does not mean that we, as humans, can be sure that what we believe in or what we aspire to is some transcendental truth. Gandhi's autobiography was not called I've Found Truth, but The Story of My Experiments with Truth. The use of the word "experiments" is revealing, since it refers to a scientific tradition that privileges verifiable testing (this is also the case with the Gujarati word "prayago," which is in the original 1927 title, Satya-na Prayago athva Atmakatha; Professor Babu Suthar links "prayoga," the singular of "prayago," to the ayurvedic and yogic sense of treatment and practice. An ayurvedic doctor must ask the patient to "prayoga" a medicine, which would imply, try it out to see if it works). Religious traditions are resources to guide us, as social individuals, through the difficulties and opportunities of our lives. They are not dogmas to tear people apart from each other. In a powerful essay against compulsory widow segregation, Gandhi wrote, "It is good to swim in the waters of tradition, but to sink in them is suicide" (Navajivan, June 28, 1925). Let tradition be a studied resource, not a set of inflexible, unchanging rules.

The Gita.

More than a decade ago, I was teaching South Asian history in central New York. A few young students invited me to their Gita reading group. I was delighted to join them, not because I was an expert in the Gita, but because it pleased me to see second-generation South Asian Americans take an interest in the history and traditions of the subcontinent. The students, dutifully, read their section for the evening and proceeded to have a discussion about it. They had little guidance apart from the text, and they valiantly drew from the analytical skills they learnt in their classes to make sense of the Gita. For them, religion was not an "experiment with truth," but because of their context, it was the Truth that had to be unmasked by their close, devoted reading. I felt myself sinking into it.

The Gita is a remarkable book, precisely because of its history (it was composed long after the Mahabharata, written in classical Sanskrit of the Gupta era, and interpolated into the long epic much later). Frustrated with the hierarchy promoted by Brahmans through the Vedic traditions, scores of people turned to Sramanic traditions (most familiarly, Buddhism). The Gita is a sublime response to the power of Buddhism with concepts such as karma drawn from it. The genius of the text is that it takes concepts and ideas from these popular traditions and brings them into line with some of the central principles of Brahmanism (varna, mainly). The Gita is awash with contradictions: it preaches ahimsa, and yet is set in a battlefield, where Krishna must convince Arjun to go into the fight; it validates the importance of caste hierarchy, and yet shines a light on the equality of all before the awesome might of divinity. The contradictory nature of the text allows every reader to find something beneficial in it. It works as a mirror to our reality.

Then there is bhakti, one of the foundation stones of modern Hinduism. It is the Gita's central concept. Personal devotion (bhakti) drew out from the oppressed peoples of the subcontinent the ability to challenge those who stood between them and divinity (the Brahmins, for instance) and those who stood between them and a peaceful life (Kings, for instance). The concept, Bhakti, was the central idea for a series of important spiritual and social rebellions, led by such people as Andal, Kabir, Mirabai, Tukaram, and above all, Jnanesvar. Jnanesvar, the 13th century Marathi poet, wrote an extended commentary on the Gita in which he not only went after the powerful, but also bemoaned the great harm done to the people for whom religion had become a crutch rather than an engine. "The peasant farmer sets up cult after cult, according to convenience," he wrote. "He follows the preacher who seems most impressive at the moment, learns his mystic formula. Harsh to the living, he relies upon stones and images; but even then never lives true to any one of them." Jnanesvar's powerful critique was not met with an equally powerful movement to overthrow the foundation of the social order of his time. As the historian D. D. Kosambi wrote, "Though an adept in yoga as a path towards physical immortality and mystical perfection, there was nothing left for [Jnanesvar] except suicide." The ideas were glorious, but there was no institutional platform to realize them.

Noxious Hindutva

All this is lost if one reads the Gita as settled Truth rather than an experiment in truth. When Gandhi claimed to base his ahimsa philosophy on the Gita, he faced opposition. "My claim to Hinduism has been rejected by some," he wrote in Young India (May 29, 1924), "because I believe [in] and advocate non-violence in its extreme form. They say that I am a Christian in disguise. I have been even seriously told that I am distorting the meaning of the Gita when I ascribe to that great poem the teaching of unadulterated non-violence. Some of my Hindu friends tell me that killing is a duty enjoined by the Gita under certain circumstances. A very learned Shashtri only the other day scornfully rejected my interpretation of the Gita and said that there was no warrant for the opinion held by some commentators that the Gita represented the eternal duel between forces of evil and good, and inculcated the duty of eradicating evil within us without hesitation, without tenderness…My religion is a matter solely between my Maker and myself. If I am a Hindu, I cannot cease to be one even though I may be disowned by the whole of the Hindu population."

Those who criticized Gandhi for his "misuse" of Hinduism came from the organizations of the Right. The Hindu Mahasabha (1915) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (1925) provided this Right with an institutional nucleus to sharpen the assault on both Indian society and on the Indian freedom movement (whose undisputed leader at this time was Gandhi). The leadership of this Right considered Gandhi a "traitor" to the "Hindu people," and it was their cadre that murdered him in 1948. The RSS, the spearhead of the new "Hindu nationalism," eschewed the mass Freedom Struggle that emerged in the 1920s, sharpened in the 1930s and eventually defeated the British Raj in the 1940s. In 1928, the RSS inaugurated its Officer Training Camp to train its own storm-troopers, not to do battle with the powerful British and its institutions, but with the relatively powerless Muslim masses. The swayamsevak, or volunteer, took an oath, "offering himself entirely – body, mind and wealth – for the preservation and progress of the Hindu Nation." The complexity of India, its diverse heritages and its fluid cultural resources, was anathema to the RSS and its doctrine of Hindutva (Hinduness).

The influence of Italian fascism and German Nazism pervaded the RSS, becoming clarified in the 1939 book by M. S. Golwalkar, "Germany has shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by." For Golwalkar, the role of the "Jew" within India was to be played by the "Muslim" (it should be said that his 1939 book was reprinted in 1944 and in 1947, after the Holocaust was known to all, and yet there was no revision of this section). No wonder Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen considered the ideology of the RSS to be "communal fascism." The RSS remained a marginal element in Indian political life, having played no role in the Freedom Struggle and having a noxious view of the complexity of Indian social life that appealed only to a few among the dominant castes who felt left out of the new Indian republic.

Indian Honeycomb

That complexity is something that Gandhi and others well understood. In 1992, the Anthropological Society of India published the first of an ongoing series of monographs with the omnibus title, The People of India. In this volume, the late K. S. Singh laid out the basic findings of this immense study of the Indian people. There are, he wrote, 4635 identifiable communities in India, "diverse in biological traits, dress, language, forms of worship, occupation, food habits, and kinship patterns. It is all these communities who in their essential ways of life express our national popular life." Strikingly, the scholars working under Singh's direction discovered the immense overlap across religious lines. They identified 775 traits that related to ecology, settlement, identity, food habits, marriage patterns, social customs, social organization, economy and occupation. What they found was that Hindus share 96.77% traits with Muslims, 91.19% with Buddhists, 88.99% with Sikhs, 77.46% with Jains (Muslims, in turn, share 91.18% with Buddhists and 89.95% with Sikhs). Because of this, Singh pointed out that Indian society was like a "honeycomb," where each community is in constant and meaningful interaction with every other community. The boundaries between communities are more a fact of self-definition than of cultural distinction. This Gandhi knew implicitly. Unity was a fact of life, not a conceit of secular theory.

When I went to Punjab in the early 1990s to do my dissertation research, I was startled to find communities that considered themselves on the fence about their religious identification. Three in particular (that make their way into Singh's study) stood out: the Mirasi, Sonar and Rajputs, who claimed to be both Hindus and Muslims. The group I had gone to study, the Balmikis, had a wonderfully rich religious history, where they crafted their own spiritual tradition around the preceptor Bala Shah Nuri and Lalbeg. Bala Shah's poems attacked both the Brahmins and the Mullahs for their perpetuation of untouchability and their refusal to stand for justice. Ram te Rahim kian chhap chhap jana, the followers of Ram and Rahim will hide themselves in fear, sava neze te din avega, hade dosakh pana, and when the sun sets, Bala will send them to hell. This evokes the kind of language of that other great Punjabi poet, Bulle Shah, who sang, Musalman sarne to dared hindu dared gor, dove ese vich mard eho duha di khor (Muslims fear the flame, Hindus the tomb; both die in this fright, such is their hatred).

Hindutva, or the ideology and movement of Hindu chauvinism, attempts to do to this richness what agro-businesses do to bio-diversity. They want to reduce the multiplicity and plurality of cultural forms into the one that they are then able to control: a deracinated "Hindu," like a Genetically Modified form of rice or barley. The joy of religious life, of social life, is reduced into a mass-produced form of worship, cultivated out of hatred for other religions rather than fellowship for humanity. With the RSS and its parivar (family), we are no longer in the land of religion. We are now in the land of power and politics, hate and resentment.

Till the 1980s, the RSS remained on the margins of Indian politics. Rejected at the ballot, the movement emerged only through assassination and intimidation, through riots and mayhem, through which it sought to define the political and social space. In the 1980s, conditions changed, as the Congress abandoned its soft socialism/soft secularism for neo-liberal globalization and the politicization of religion (first by patronizing Sikh separatists). The RSS family won over the Congress' "Hindu vote bank" through an aggressive campaign against dalits (over the Mandal Commissions attempt to deepen reservations), against Muslims (over the Meenakshipuram conversions and the controversy over the mosque at Ayodhya) and against the Left (by deeming its ideology to be "foreign"). Flamboyant campaigns designed to make the most of the television media and harsh rhetoric against minorities attracted the dispossessed, who now joined with disgruntled dominant castes to bring the BJP to power.

The Indian honeycomb began to breakup in this period. It was also in this time that Hindutva went overseas with a new confidence.

Yankee Hindutva

More than a decade ago, I used the term "Yankee Hindutva" to describe the way Hindu chauvinism came into the United States. Eager to branch out to the Diaspora, the RSS and its subsidiaries took advantage of multiculturalism to build their foothold here. Not for the American audience an unadulterated anti-Muslim rhetoric (that would come only in some "safe" spaces, and more aggressively, after 9/11). Initially, the RSS organizations, particularly the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA) and its youth wing, the Hindu Students Council (HSC), promoted the idea that Hinduism is denigrated in the U. S. and that if other cultures are being celebrated, why not Hinduism too. This is an unimpeachable argument, but it came with some implementation problems. First, it assumed that "Hinduism" is a singular thing, not a clumsy name for a diversity of beliefs and affections that litter not only the subcontinent but also the South Asian Diaspora (from Trinidad to Fiji). Second, because the VHPA and the HSC jumped in the game first, and because the most stringent are best often to claim to speak for a religion, the conservatives took control of this issue. There was no liberal critique of the denigration of Hinduism, and when liberals and radicals did dare to tread, the conservatives harshly shut the door to them as being inauthentic defenders of the Culture. This was the tenor of the battle over the 2005-06 revisions of the California text-books. We didn't like the old books either. But we didn't like the sanitized version of Indian history promoted by the conservatives. We wanted "India" to appear for what it is, a land of contradictions, not an unblemished "brand" that needs to be sold so that we can feel falsely proud.

In 1990, a group of committed activists of the hard Right formed the Hindu Students Council (HSC) in the woods of New Jersey. Their public pronouncement was along the grain of liberal multiculturalism, that they wanted to assist Hindu students who struggle with the "loss and isolation" due to their "upbringing in a dual culture Hindu and Judeo-Christian….We try to reconcile our own sorrows and imperfections as human beings in a variety of self-defeating ways. And we usually go through this confused internal struggle alone. It was precisely to assist you with this spiritual, emotional and identity needs that HSC was born." Given the strictures of liberal multiculturalism, everyone, including college administrators, stood by and applauded. But the HSC was never simply about the identity struggles of those whom it called Hindu Americans. It was also the youthful fingers of the long-arm of Hindutva-supremacy in India. The HSC was initially a "project of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America," the far Right "cultural wing" of the hard Right Sangh Parivar (Family of the Faithful). When activists of the Right destroyed a five hundred year old mosque in 1992, the VHP egged them on, the VHPA cheered, and so did the leaders of the HSC. For them, concern over the identity struggles of young Indian Americans could easily be reconciled with their anti-Muslim politics. Multiculturalism in the U. S. provided cover for the cruel, cultural chauvinism in India.

Young South Asian Americans, such as yourself, come to the HSC not always for its politics, but as a space for shelter and struggle against anti-Indian racism. Falguni Trivedi, who participated with the HSC in 1997, tells the story poignantly, "When I was twelve years old, American kids would gang up on me at the bus stop, yelling 'Gandhi Dot' and ask, 'why do you people in India worship cows and drink cow urine?' It is pretty tough for young Hindus stuck between two cultures." When Trivedi went to her parents, they, like many first-generation migrants, offered her the ostrich-strategy. "Adjust" to the verbal abuse, they said. Trivedi, however, wanted her parents to offer clear answers to the questions posed by the racist youth, such as answers about the cow. The parents didn't have ready answers. "Parents don't know," said Dheeraj Singhal, now a lawyer in Ohio, "they're lost. They don't know where to look. Kids are really desperate to know who they are, the meaning of their customs. This giant void of ignorance facing them is a great issue." It is here that the HSC and other such organizations (including the non-communal South Asian Student Associations on various college campuses) come in. But the HSC is actually unable or ill-fitted to deal with U. S. racism. It tells the youth that they come from an ancient heritage and that they should be proud of it, but the HSC makes no attempt to undermine the structures of racism that produce this sort of off-the-cuff racist remark. To promote Indians as the "model minority," who have a great and ancient culture, and not combat the racism that devastates the world of color and pits people of color against each other, is inadequate. It simply lifts up one minority, us, and says that we shouldn't take this nonsense because we are culturally great.

Groups like the HSC and the VHPA are less concerned with the broad problem of racism and of Indian American life, than they are to push the Hindutva agenda in the U. S. and Canada. Here are two examples:

(1)Air-conditioned Sadhus.

By the late 1990s, Hindu temples could be found in most of the areas where Indian Americans lived (or where American Hindus did, such as in Hawaiii). The Prathishtapanas for the Middletown, CT., Satyanarayan temple near where I live took place in 1999 (although families in the area had worshipped in their basements since the early 1980s). These temples are a resource for Hinduism, with ceremonies and festivals, "Sunday Schools" and devotional sessions. The VHPA has other ideas for the temples. In 1998, at a VHPA Dharam Sansad, the conclave decided that all temples and cultural organizations "should associate, endorse and/or affiliate with the VHPA to make the Hindu voice more effective." In 2000, the VHPA sent a hundred God-men from India on a Dharma Prachar Yatra "in a manner so that all of America is covered with Hindutva," as a VHPA activist put it. One of the tasks of the Yatra was for the sadhus to "clear the misconceptions about the VHP" and to assert "the VHP's point of view about issues like Ayodhya movement and attacks on Christians." All talk of "inter-faith dialogue" and of Hinduism as tolerance was out the window. These God-men went on tour, not to offer solace, spiritual guidance or to explain the travails of racism – they came out to plug for the BJP, the VHP and its campaigns against Muslims and Christians in India.

The God-men were treated like touring rock-stars. Luckily I was teaching the Manavadharmasastra (or the Laws of Manu) that semester: "A priest should always be alarmed by adulation as if it were poison and always desire scorn as if it were ambrosia" (II. 162). Our air-conditioned priests are far removed from even the barest humility asked of them by their calling.

(2)Representing Hinduism.

For decades, there has been an ongoing debate within the broad field of India Studies. Influenced by social historians who opened up the world of Indian popular culture and the struggles of ordinary Indians, and by the intervention of Edward Said's Orientalism (1978), these scholars fought against the racism and conservatism of the academy. Sanskrit studies, for instance, treated India as an ancient resource with no lived heritage of Hinduism; political scientists saw India in terms of U. S. or British foreign policy, not in terms of what is in the best interests of the Indian people. Graduate school in the 1980s and early 1990s was a hive of conflict against what some of us saw as a racist representation of the subcontinent.

In 2000, Rajiv Malhotra of the Infinity Foundation published a long essay against the tenor of Hinduism Studies in the U. S. As if he were a lonely pioneer, Malhotra went hell-for-leather against the entire U. S. academy. Much of what he said is correct (there is an insensitivity toward the Hindu tradition, and a disregard for the real living Indians), and it had been the basis for a long-standing debate around the institutions. With his access to the Indian American media, Malhotra (and the soon to be formed Hindu American Foundation) went after individual academics and then the California 6th grade textbooks. It was a lot of flash and lightning: many of us liberals and radicals were already in the thick of these fights, and much of our work has been fruitful. But we were not invested simply in making India look good: we wanted to ensure that the diversity of India's history and its struggles be represented in the curriculum and in the research agendas. "The social science and history textbooks do not give as generous a portrayal of Indian culture as they do of Islamic, Jewish, Christian cultures," carped Malhotra. When asked about the struggles of dalits and women in ancient India, Suhag Shukla of the Hindu American Foundation grumbled, "In terms of men and women, I think, first of all if you look at Christianity or Judaism or Islam, no-where in the textbooks is there any discussion of women's rights. Then to pull it in for Hinduism, is a different treatment of Hinduism." All culture must have equal treatment, all contemporary representatives of that culture should be able to create their sense of self-worth based on this representation. Shukla has a point: no tradition is in the clear on these issues. The solution is not to brown-wash the textbooks on ancient Indian history, but to write more honest books about the contradictions of all civilizations.

Malhotra's assault to get a politically correct interpretation accepted or nothing at all is the genteel version of the Shiv Sena and VHP activists in India who went after James Laine's book on Shivaji (by book burnings and physical assaults on his collaborators).

These issues are brought to the center by the VHPA, the HSC, the HFA: all to blind us from other issues, such as racism in the U. S., the Iraq War, economic uncertainty and distress in India, rising numbers on sexual assault and female infanticide in India, and the Gujarat pogrom. Yankee Hindutva is a set of blinders, not an optic to see the world clearly.

What Would You Have?

yadidam svayamarthanam rocate tatra ke vayam
If the objects themselves are like that, who are we?
Dharmakirti (7th Century).

The suffocating presence of the VHPA and the HSC, of the RSS and the BJP does not exhaust the capacity of either Hinduism or of its adherents. Our affection for its resources is not diminished, nor should we turn away from our traditions because the RSS and its family try to debase it.

In 2004, the Indian people, and a majority of them being claimants to the title Hindu, rejected the parties of the far Right in the parliamentary election (they were defeated again in 2007 in the Uttar Pradesh state elections). The mandate was offered to the Congress and the Left, who crafted a Common Minimum Program that promised a more generous set of policies for the working-class, the peasantry and the indigent, as well as a more secular defense of the public sphere. The parties of Hindutva went into a self-imposed period of infighting, as scandals interrupted their claim to holding the high-moral ground.

In the Diaspora, there was some reflection of this change in the Indian political landscape. The far Right moved to consolidate its agenda despite changes within India – closer ties between Indian American lobby groups and pro-Israeli lobby groups, to sharpen the idea that the Indo-Pakistani problems can only be resolved in the Israeli fashion, through force; the creation of the Hindu American Foundation (whose main campaign in 2004-05 was the Diwali resolution, and who was an active leader of the California textbooks campaign); an assault on scholars of India and Hinduism, led this time by the Infinity Foundation. But not a word from any of these organizations on the farmer's suicides in Andhra Pradesh, on the deepening problem of unemployment across India, and on the cataclysmic child malnutrition rates across the country. These matters were not, apparently, of importance. Discussions about Planet India, as Mira Kamdar puts it, eclipsed the burgeoning social crises in India. As Gandhi warned his fellows ninety years ago, "The test of orderliness in a country is not the number of millionaires it owns, but the absence of starvation among its masses" (Muir Central College Economics Society, Allahabad, December 22, 1916). Equally, these organizations remained silent after 9/11 at the attacks on South Asians and Arabs and at the illegal detentions of hundreds of South Asians (the civil rights and activists groups, such as South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow and Desis Rising Up and Moving were in the lead here). Immigration reform, "Operation Meth Merchant" (against the small Indian shopkeepers in Georgia) and other such issues were equally off the radar of the HSC, the VHPA and HAF.

If I were you, I'd abandon the Hindu Students Council and create a new organization called Sarvodaya (Compassion for All), a word Gandhi coined for his variety of social justice. You can still have intellectual and spiritual investigations of the Gita, you can still hold inter-faith discussions, you can still educate your fellows about the rich and diverse tradition of Hinduism, and you can also promote egalitarianism and social justice as values derived from your tradition.

The Hinduism that cares more for its reputation than for its relevance is no longer a living tradition. It has become something that one reveres from a distance. To keep it alive, Hinduism requires an engagement with its history (which shows us how it evolves and changes) and with its core concepts (what we otherwise call philosophy). "Every formula of every religion has, in this age of reason, to submit to the acid test of reason and universal justice if it is to ask for universal assent" Gandhi wrote in 1925. "Error can claim no exemption even if it can be supported by the scriptures of the world" (Young India, February 26, 1925). Submit all faith to experiments, to see how they are able to assist one in the messy world we live in: to detach faith into self-indulgence is to patronize those traditions. That's the nature of experimentation, a far better approach to faith traditions than empty reverence.

The choice lies between giving over the traditions you love to the forces of hatred who might masquerade as the defenders of tradition; or to the force within you, and around you, a force of love and ecstasy, passion and pain to transform the world. What would you have?

Vijay Prashad
May 17, 2007.

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Comments

I just saw how long my

I just saw how long my comment is- sorry!

some updates: * HSC has

some updates:

* HSC has issued a new PR
* CSFH has responded here

Anant: I have also found that

Anant:

I have also found that many of the young American hindus are completely unaware of the rich diversity and layered complexity within the “hindu” family of traditions. Many of them have only been exposed to the completely bland “Hinduism Lite” that the VHP seems to be peddling.

I totally agree with this. I see myself as very lucky that my parents passed down to the best of their abilities the religious practices that run in my family, while at the same time exposing me to everything. Anytime I've heard, seen, and read an ISKON, VHP, or some other group's definition and representation of "Hinduism," I have always found it incredibly bland and way too homogenized, to the point that it makes me suscipicious that it's totally manufactured in order to make it an easy consumption.

Which is why I really believe that it is up to the parents to pass this heritage down to their children. It might be hard, time consuming, and whatnot- especially for second generation parents who may not be well conversed in their family's traditions.

What he does not mention (at least in this article) is that this problem is not limited to “hindus.” Christians are stuck with a similarly homogenized “Christianity Lite” and Muslims with a homogenized “Islam Lite.”

Absolutely; anytime you have an institution that seeks to "educate" followers, their is always the tendency that things will get homogenized in an attempt to make it more uniform, less messy, less incoherent (which means removing the diversity that I think is present in reality).

Because this same phenomenon seems to be hitting all the communities, I wonder if the reasons are not also common. Could it be that few communities are actually socially-dense enough to sustain/pass-down their own quirky diversity? I suspect that parents are accepting of homogenized traditions as seemingly better than nothing with the resulting “infrastructure cost” across many different communities.

Yes and no. I do think that the way the US social, economic, and political framework in a way helps foster this phenomenon (see this comment, and this post).

However, I think this phenomenon hits home more for some communities and less for others. The dominant communities-- which seem as more "natural" and "native" to the US, such as Anglo Saxon Protestants- feel this less.

Take for example the fact that we- some of us here on this blog, the mass media, politicians, organizations- can easily say "Hindu Americans" and "Muslim Americans." Have you ever heard someone say, "Christian Americans?" No.

No doubt, the Christian Right in the US is powerful. But if you compare their numbers to the actual number of people who regard themselves "Christian" to varying degrees, it is largely disproportionate.

Dear Friends, I want to

Dear Friends,

I want to address two questions, themes.

The first was raised by Desi Italiana, regarding the problem of how to address liberal Hindu majoritarianism. Indian secularism, rather than secularism in the U. S. for instance, is of a peculiar nature. It asks not that the State be absent from religion (which is the basic conceit of the U. S. position), but that the State equally inhabit all traditions. That's one reason why it was hard for Indian State banks to be efficient -- they had to be closed for everyone's traditional holidays! For a long while, the presumption was that the State and society would embrace all religious traditions, with some parity. It is true that among the elite, whatever the religious background, there was a very low committment to religious development: English-medium schools, English-medium social circles, and what not, hardy provided the best environment for Hinduism or Islam or other religions. There was a deracination from Indian traditions, even as there was a creation of a new kind of Indian social idenity, that of the "metro" person. People raised in these circles in one or another metro shared a common culture: for a generation it was Musical Band Box, Britannia Quiz Contest, and other such cultural monuments (anyone remember Osibisa and Ra Ra Rasputin -- that's the cultural world I mean). For about forty years after independence, this class remained constrained by the import-substitution industrialization pact and by the broader foreign policy of non-alignment; by the 1980s, that arrangement frayed, and this class longed to break out of its constraints. It wanted to be "free" from state regulation, to reject national patriotism for the patriotism of the bottom line (I have written about this in The Darker Nations -- indeed, this is one of its central arguments).
When this class broke free, some analysts thought that it would succumb to "cultural imperialism," that American things and commodities would swamp the imagination of this class. That was a fear. But it was mis-guided. As my friend Sudhanva Deshpande shows in his essay "Grannie Doesn't Skip a Bhangra Beat" (http://www.unesco.org/courier/2000_07/uk/doss211.htm), the children of this class turned to "Indian forms" in the 1990s as a way to be both consumers and patriots. In this context, the parents of these children, Gurcharan Das and others, returned to the epics and other texts that they themselves had not referred to in the previous decades. If their children turned to Bhangra, they turned to the Bhagavadagita. Culture became the space of patriotism, as the economy and the polity were mortgaged to finance capital.

So, this is all a long way of locating the emergence of this discourse of liberal Hindu majoritarianism.

How does one deal with it? It is indeed silly to say that the Mahabharata cannot be talked about in a school. By all means it should be a part of the educational experience. But how should it be taught? That is the question. The real issue is the anecdotal way in which this sort of thing is talked about - how many schools actually don't talk about the Mahabharata or the Ramayan? I think we'd find that most do teach them, and that this kind of anecdotal evidence is actually fear-mongering rather than the results of a genuine silencing of Hindu traditions. Hindutva seeks to redefine democray as majoritarianism. This is very troubling and needs to be directly challenged.

The second issue is my Marxism. One, there is a general misreading of Marx on religion that makes it seem as if Marxism is opposed to religion. This is the classic text where Marx says that religion is the "opium of the people," but he also says that it is the "soul of the soulless world." In that section, Marx shows that where there is suffering, religion plays a crucial role in its alleviation; but it does not transform the conditions of the suffering. It acts as balm, as opium, but not as an agent of transformation. One can argue with the last point, as the great Indian Marxist Buddhist Rahul Sankrityayan does, but it is erroneous to read Marx as anti-religion.

Second, there is a tendency to see the Soviet experience with religion as somehow the necessary Marxist policy toward faith. The USSR does not have a monopoly on how to bring Marxism in the world. God forbid! As they say, if that was the fullness of Marxism, even Marx would shun the term. The Soviet Union had its good points, but its religious policy was not one of them. It was an error to try to institutionally minimize the role of religion. I think it is correct to insist that religious traditions come to terms with the prejudice of equality, that hierarchical structures within religious traditions should not be tolerated (whether caste or the infallibility of humans who are religious teachers).

peace and love, Vijay.

BTW, I have very strong

BTW, I have very strong issues with the identity markers of "Hindu American," "Muslim American," and "Sikh American."

Indian is as Indian does.

Indian is as Indian does. Each and every one of over 1 billion.

Hindu is as Hindu does. Each and every one of over 800 million in India.

Muslim is as Muslim does. Each and every one of over 135 million in India.

I cringe when people point at individuals, or actions of individual groups, and spread them like jam over the entire Roti of the Indian population.

I cringe when young Indians caught up in Hubris describe India as a 'peace loving' country... They, apparently, have not witnessed the iron fist of the state, applied with equal harshness against Muslims and Hindus alike, during their time in India, or have simply chosen to ignore it, when professing in the West...

I do not define 'Indian' culture, and cringe at definitions such as Hindutva precisely because they are insulting to hundreds of millions of non-BJP Hindus, and non-Hindus, who are part of India, and have been part of 'Indian culture' for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

I am a Kashmiri Pandit. Many Kashmiri Pandits are part of the Hindutva movement because they have a deep resentment against Muslims due to the post-1947 KP experiences in Kashmir. I, and many other KPs, are not a part this type of Hindutva because we do not believe the reactionary reading of history that has convinced some KPs that they should bear nothing but hate toward Muslims.

I am sure we can pick out radical pockets of Xenophobia and racist bigotry among nearly all communities in India... This essay was a letter to a Young American Hindu, but seemed to be written precisely to a Young American VHP/Shiv Sainik/Bajrang Dal/BJP cadre member - and in that, it strikes some very good arguments...

I look forward to reading a letter to a Young American Sikh, and so on...

As I work for a living, I

As I work for a living, I haven't been able to respond to some of the comments on the list.

First, I want to thank interactors sudha and vivek who speak to their life experience with HSC and some of their dissapointments - especially the ugly promotion of "babri masjid" demolition by visiting VHP members. It is wrong to involve american hindus with political vendettas in India. On the other hand, the need for community and self-knowledge amongst american hindus shines thru their comments.

It is hard to know how to react to the puerile inanities of people like Desi Italiana. Silly remarks like

BTW, I have very strong issues with the identity markers of “Hindu American,” “Muslim American,” and “Sikh American.”

make one wonder about basic issues of maturity and education of this interactor.

I challenge Mr. Prashad to issue the following kind of public statement: that the hindu identity of american hindus is important and significant and deserves representation and support, just like the identity of any other minority religous group in the USA. Further, that he supports the development of organizations within American hindus to take this development further. Finally, Mr. Prashad should list ANY existing organization of american hindus he considers positive and have contributed to this identity.

Until such time that Mr. Prashad issues such a statement, I (and many other folks who have nothing to do with the VHP or HSC) will continue to question his sincerity in this matter.

^^^ you know what's funny, I

^^^

you know what's funny, I was the president of a Hindu organization at my university that was unaffiliated with HSC. We only focused on religious aspects-absolutely nothing to do with India or politics or anything. This was somewhat in contrast to the Jewish and Muslim Students who held a considerable number of events of a political nature. Yet, reading the Gita at a weekly session was actually encouraging us to kill Muslims, at least according to an Indian leftist professor who taught at my university)

Nevertheless, when my sister actually went to a YSS conference in New York(she is a committed leftist, but also very devout Shakta) she got so much crap from the other participants for being a practicing Hindu, that she has completely disassociated with them.

Here's the crux of the matter, there is a very real perception (and one that they have brought on themselves, whether intentional or not) for YSS, FOSA etc as being anti-Hindu. And even though I am a proud liberal, I would never join hands with an organization like that.

Also, it seems that almost none of anti-HSC crowd actually have much experience with HSC-it really is ridiculous when you say that they're a hindu supremacist organization. The reason we didn't link up with them was partly because our officers were largely south indian and we didn't feel like going to any events where we all had to sing "om jai jagadisha"

Ya! Maha Bahrat, did I spell

Ya! Maha Bahrat, did I spell it righta?

Random view from a lost aussi...lead away.

I am wondering if Desi

I am wondering if Desi Italiana and Vijay Prasad are one and the same person. And if not, I am wondering if Desi Italiana is fundamentalist Christian or a hard core Muslim. Frankly, these people see no wrong in defining a Hindu who stands up for himself as a fundamentalist. These haters have put upon themselves the right to confer the label "obnoxious Hindutva" or just plain "hindutva" to denigrate Hindus. Frankly, it is time to get past this nonsensical "penmanship" of these left wing fundamenatalists. Debates are not always settled by the written word.

Hinduism has always adopted from other religions and cultures, and it is time to adopt the Fatwa. Just as there is no discussion if someone draws a caricature or a picture of the Islamic Prophet, so also there is no point in have lengthy discussions about points and counterpoints. The Moghuls did not rule over India by debate. They just took it.

So it is time for Hindus to just take India. NO questions, if or buts.

So the Left Wingers better watch out. No Hindu or India bashing allowed.

With Love.

dc, thanks for your

dc, thanks for your comment.

Yet, reading the Gita at a weekly session was actually encouraging us to kill Muslims, at least according to an Indian leftist professor who taught at my university)

That does sound pretty absurd. What was the logic there?

Nevertheless, when my sister actually went to a YSS conference in New York(she is a committed leftist, but also very devout Shakta) she got so much crap from the other participants for being a practicing Hindu, that she has completely disassociated with them.

I attended YSS in 2003 and I really enjoyed it, so it pains me to hear this. It's awful that your sister felt ostracized for being a practicing Hindu. YSS shouldn't be a space where that happens. Do you know what exactly was said and where? Individually? In a group?

Pratik: It is hard to know

Pratik:

It is hard to know how to react to the puerile inanities of people like Desi Italiana. Silly remarks like...make one wonder about basic issues of maturity and education of this interactor.

You don't really have anything to say, do you?

Since you like flinging shit rather than anything concrete, how about this: you really lack maturity and education because you have not addressed one thing with any substantiative argument that actually discusses what is written here. Insults do not count as arguments, and neither do baseless assertions.

Dilip:

I am wondering if Desi Italiana and Vijay Prasad are one and the same person. And if not, I am wondering if Desi Italiana is fundamentalist Christian or a hard core Muslim.

Usually I try very, very, very hard to be diplomatic, but at this point, screw diplomacy. Your comment is idiotic. I am not Muslim, nor am I Christian, but I am a Hindu. I have never hidden the fact that I was raised a Hindu. I've written several posts in which I discuss my Hindu upbringing openly. Just because I don't abide by your definition of Hinduism- which is clearly something you have fashioned to help you overcome your inferiority complex, hence the pumped up militant Hindu assertions you've made here- does not mean I am a fundamentalist Christian or Muslim.

The fact that none of you have anything to say except throw insults leads me to conclude that you two are blowing a lot of hot air, and that's it. Both of you have totally discredited yourselves. If you will have something interesting to say, I'll respond. If not, have a nice day, and keep up the crap you've been posting here.

It's good to have comments like yours so that people could see that those who adhere to Hindu militancy do not really understand Hinduism, its credos, its complex systems; they really do not have any rational grasp of what they stand for; theirs is not an agenda that revels in Hinduism but is in fact a political ideology in which they are using Hinduism as the garb; the only thing that forms the base of their militancy is irrationality, illogic, and misplaced anger.

The second issue is my

The second issue is my Marxism. One, there is a general misreading of Marx on religion that makes it seem as if Marxism is opposed to religion. This is the classic text where Marx says that religion is the “opium of the people,” but he also says that it is the “soul of the soulless world.” In that section, Marx shows that where there is suffering, religion plays a crucial role in its alleviation; but it does not transform the conditions of the suffering. It acts as balm, as opium, but not as an agent of transformation. One can argue with the last point, as the great Indian Marxist Buddhist Rahul Sankrityayan does, but it is erroneous to read Marx as anti-religion.

Thanks for bringing this into the conversation--made me learn something. Here's the full text of the Marx passage being referred to in case anyone's interested.

DC: Nevertheless, when my

DC:

Nevertheless, when my sister actually went to a YSS conference in New York(she is a committed leftist, but also very devout Shakta) she got so much crap from the other participants for being a practicing Hindu, that she has completely disassociated with them.

I hear you. I have noticed this tendency from some so called "leftists" who do this.

Here’s the crux of the matter, there is a very real perception (and one that they have brought on themselves, whether intentional or not) for YSS, FOSA etc as being anti-Hindu.

I understand this sentiment. However, I've noticed that anybody who criticizes Hindu fundamentalism, the Hinduization of politics, and religion driven political agendas risks being labeled as "anti Hindu," so I take your assertion with caution. On the other hand, what you are talking about- your sister being ostracized for being a practicing Hindu by so-called 'leftists'- is definately a situation where I could see how someone could interpret this as "anti-Hindu."

Yet, reading the Gita at a weekly session was actually encouraging us to kill Muslims, at least according to an Indian leftist professor who taught at my university)

I agree with Vivek-- it sounds absurd. What was the reasoning behind this, if at all?

Desi Italiana I noticed you

Desi Italiana

I noticed you ignored the key point of my comment: that your "pronouncement" that:

BTW, I have very strong issues with the identity markers of “Hindu American,” “Muslim American,” and “Sikh American.”

betrays a certain immaturity and unreality. I stand by my comment.

Dilip

What are you saying? That might is right? Really, is that all you have learnt from your traditions? If so, I wonder if you should consider yourself a hindu, except in an ethnic/family sense. In any case, you seem to have a fondness for the worst aspects of islam - fatwas and what not.

It is ok to be angry and annoyed with the kind of stuff that Mr. Prashad (very slick, very educated, very much focussed on his own agenda) or Desi Italiana (immature, patronizing, lots of prescriptive comments). But instead of venting your anger, let it guide you to study and understand who they are. Read and write and counter them at their own level. Otherwise, you are falling into their trap that their opposition are all violent people with no brains.

On the other hand, the need

On the other hand, the need for community and self-knowledge amongst american hindus shines thru their comments.

Pratik, thanks for your comments, though some of the namecalling was unnecessary. I wonder about this statement of yours. It's been an underlying assumption of this entire conversation and I wonder where it comes from. American social politics for Hindu desis involves religion, and probably more so than when i was growing up in the 80s and 90s, but it's predominantly racial, and to a lesser extent, class oriented. Specifically with regard to "commmunity," I wonder why there's a necessity for "Hindu" community beyond the cultural events that are around in life like pujas, family gatherings, ceremonies, stories your mother tells you like the Ramayan, etc. Why isn't that enough?

For self-knowledge, there's other ways of going about it then joining a club where the two poles seem to be simple socializing with other Hindus (which seems odd, given that, for example, Christians and Jains and Buddhists and Muslims might have just as much to a conversation among South Asian Americans) and joining VHP type politics. Even the form of joining a club in college is totally American.

I really enjoyed the reading I did in college, both in class and outside it, of specific texts and some of the conversations I subsequently had.

I challenge Mr. Prashad to issue the following kind of public statement: that the hindu identity of american hindus is important and significant and deserves representation and support, just like the identity of any other minority religous group in the USA.

Important distinction: minority = numerical minority. Disempowered group = group that is made to suffer through specific or structural mechanisms. One of the things that American politics does is subsstitute the former for the latter in conversation. This elides the fact that the dominant group--white men, mostly straight--is actually a minority, that women are a majority, that different "minority" groups have different forms of disempowerment and I would say different levels of disempowerment; American Hindus, as a broad rule, proabbly have it better than, say, Muslims but they have it worse than, say, 3rd generation assimilated citizen Jews, though I know of no studies or actual data collection that documents the experiences of American Hindus in a thorough way.

Further, that he supports the development of organizations within American hindus to take this development further. Finally, Mr. Prashad should list ANY existing organization of american hindus he considers positive and have contributed to this identity.

I'm not Mr. Prashad, and I understand where your question comes from, but as someone with broad sympathies towards some of what he's saying, I think it's fairly easy to find spaces on the broad spectrum of Hindu organizations that exist. For example, in addition to the unorganized spaces I talked about above, which are probably more useful for actual communication and indoctrination of whatever hindu ethos is (i really don't know, nor do i think it's uniform), there are numerous puja organizations that are formalized, there are south asian spaces that tend to be hindu dominated already, there are groups of friends who are interested in particular things, there are ways of reaching out to professors as a friend of mine did and setting up study groups and what not, there are things like Ramkrishna Mission which, I dont' know enough about but I think would be classified as more decent than HSC, etc.

Until such time that Mr. Prashad issues such a statement, I (and many other folks who have nothing to do with the VHP or HSC) will continue to question his sincerity in this matter.

So you can continue to question his sincerity in the matter and that's fair, but you should be aware that there are many people who have broad sympathies to the argument that young people of Hindu origin should be careful about what groups they join and that it's been fairly heavily documented that some of the extremely noxious Hindu politics in India preys on their minds. It may or may not be through HSC, but it certainly happens. Even through such basic things as RSS fundraising appeals during calamities in India like the cyclone in Orissa or the Tsunami.

Pratik, I do not dislike

Pratik,

I do not dislike Islam as such. I think Hindus have a lot to learn from it. However, there are aspects of Islam which I feel are quite misinterpreted and dangerous. Ofcourse, that is another discussion.

Basically, no one dares draw a picture of Prophet Mohammad. No amount of intellectual penmanship will make it otherwise. The modern society based on secular ideas from the West is a hindrance to democracies in the developing world. As such it protects haters of the likes of Mr. Prashad and Desi Italiana. When a Hindu fights back, he is portayed as a radical, fundamentalist, what have you.

Please understand that people like Mr. Prashad and Desi Italiana who have the weapon of the pen are the aggressors who are waging war against those who are not as good with the pen. Or those who choose to mind their own business. Just because someone is a book worm does not give them the right to wage war.

I stand by what I said earlier --- Laaton ke Bhoot baaton se nahin maantein. Enough of these points and counterpoints. Arjun fought, and so should we. Baaton ka to ant hi nahin.

Desi Italiana:

You said,

"Just because I don’t abide by your definition of Hinduism- which is clearly something you have fashioned to help you overcome your inferiority complex, hence the pumped up militant Hindu assertions you’ve made here- does not mean I am a fundamentalist Christian or Muslim."

The problem is really you are trying to define Hinduism for the rest of the HIndus. According to you all Hindus should be like you or what you would like them to be. Frankly, I just dont see a commie Marxist, an anti religious nut, defining or telling Hindus how they ought or ought not to be. I dont see you write stuff about fundamentalist Muslims or Christians. Maybe you are afraid of their Fatwa.

The mind of a person can be changed by words or other easier ways....think about it.

Al Hamdulillah.

Desi Italiana, You still did

Desi Italiana,

You still did not answer my question. ARe you and Mr. Prashad the same person ?

Be honest, if it is in your "jati" .

Pratik, Jiski laathi uski

Pratik,

Jiski laathi uski bhainse.

The English took India, before that the Moghuls, before that others...

Want more proof ??

Very early in this thread,

Very early in this thread, Dilip said:

"Laaton ke Bhoot baaton se nahin maantein."

I think it is also important to understand that Baaton kay bhoot laaton sey nahin manaygay.

We are given to dialogue but that doesn't mean that you can intimidate us by threats of a thrashing. In fact, if you understand anything about Gandhi's followers, you will know that they based their creed on absorbing violent attacks while refusing to bow their heads or change their minds, even after having their skulls cracked.

But of course, if you are one of the Sangh Parivaris and supported the assassination of Gandhi, then all of us Gandhivadis are essentially objects of your hate and violence anyway. In that case, we can expect nothing better than murder and threats from you because you belong to an organization that, as with its radical Muslim counterparts, has a long history of unprovoked violence against innocent people.

And, of course, it is easy to inflame passions by aiming your rhetoric at Muslims, and calling all your opponents 'Muslim-lovers', but let's not forget that members of the Sangh Parivar have also attacked and killed Christians, including the incident where they burned alive a Christian missionary and his two sons in their car in India. In that particular incident, there was clearly no threat of violence from Christians, but they made an easy target for the bigoted cowards in the Sangh Parivar.

Arjun fought, and so should

Arjun fought, and so should we.

Dilip, what irks me about you is not as much your passion or your idiocy as much as your misreading of the Gita.

First, a response to

First, a response to Prakrit's challenge:

I challenge Mr. Prashad to issue the following kind of public statement: that the hindu identity of american hindus is important and significant and deserves representation and support, just like the identity of any other minority religous group in the USA. Further, that he supports the development of organizations within American hindus to take this development further. Finally, Mr. Prashad should list ANY existing organization of american hindus he considers positive and have contributed to this identity.

My question is this: what would count as a Hindu organization? If it has a large number of people of the Hindu faith, does that make it Hindu? Or does it have to be organized around Hindu principles (such as the Ramakrishna Mission) or have an agenda that is isolated to what it deems to be Hindu things (such as the VHP)? Is a trade union capable of being a labor organization and a Hindu one? The Sangh Parivar has a labor organization. Is it a Hindu one? Or a labor union that is affiliated with the BJP?

That off my chest, I support many organization that defend the rights of Indian Americans, many of them Hindus, to live with dignity in the U. S. For instance, SAALT (South Asian American Leaders for Tomorrow) and AALDEF (Asian American Legal Defense Fund). When Rishi Maharaj (a Hindu boy), AALDEF came to his rescue, not one of the self-important Hindu organizations. Much the same can be said of who came to the defense of members of our community when they were assaulted after 9/11 (Sikhs, but also Hindus and Muslims -- as well as, I'm sure agnostics).

Obviously, I defend the right of people to organize Hindu temples and Hindu activities in the U. S. That is a protected civil right. But I also challenge the temples and the organizations to open themselves to the other needs of our community, just as I challenge mosques and jamatkhanas, gurudwaras and churches -- they too must service the wider community with an ecumenicalness that befits our "honeycomb." I have written elsewhere about the dangers of parochialism and a lack of appreciation for interpretation in all religious traditions, as well as in some secular ones (including Marxism, which has spawned its own dogmatists). But I also want to point out that I abhor any argument made on the grounds of authenticity: only I, as a Hindu, can wear a bindi, etc. This is a longer discussion, which we could have elsewhere.

DC: I am sorry to hear of your sister's experience. I think what often happens, as it did in the immediate aftermath of Ayodhya and Gujarat, is that those who tend to secularism fear religious identity and don't have a good emotional way to separate the practice of religion from the practice of hatred in the name of religion. This is a serious failing in many of our left spaces, and it is something we have to struggle to rectify. There is nothing worse than a culture of insensitivity among those of us who preach tolerance.

And, to you Dilip, I say: drink a cup of chai. Relax. Adjust. Come on yaar.

peace and love,
Vijay.

Abhinav Aima: The Christians

Abhinav Aima:

The Christians are wolves in sheep's clothing. They convert so that they can take over your mind, soul, property. Want proof ?? Look at what happened to ancient Rome, Greece, Incas, Mayas, Native Indians, etc. Read the hundreds of web sites and how they talk about using the same ideas they used in converting Rome to Christianity. Dont be fooled.

Like I said, Laaton ke bhoot baaton se nahin maantey.

Fight fire with fire.

In the NOrth East of India, the Christians have destroyed Hindu temples. Go dialogue with them.

In the NOrth East of India, Chrisitians forbid public Arti... go dialogue with them.

To Vijay Prashad:

Are you Desi Italiana ? Tell us the truth.

And I am drinking chai, but you are pouring kerosine on us. How can I relax ?

Zara akkal se kaam karo mere dost.

Dr. Anonymous: Take it for

Dr. Anonymous:

Take it for what it is. There are thousands of commentators of the Gita. I have my own interpretation. Why does this irk you ?? Dont you have your own interpretation ???

I think of this song:

"Caravan Gujar Gaya Gubar dekhte rahe...."

Ab khursi se utho bhi...kuch kaam ki cheez karo, like Arjun.

Jab sare Hindu ko Kashmir se

Jab sare Hindu ko Kashmir se bhagaya gaya, tab tum logo ni kiske saath baatein ke thi ?

Sri Prashad aur uske ke "South Asian" (read secular, Paki, Bangla, etc. anything but Hindu) organisations sirf Gujarat ki baatein karte hai.

Kyon Sri Prasad ? Aap Musalman se darte hai ki aap Kashmir ke baare mein kuch likhte nahin hai ?

Yeh kahan ka usool hai inka?

whoa, this conversation has

whoa, this conversation has gone off in numerous directions since the last time i was here.... one thing, a statement from "gurpreet", i wanted to comment on -

----
jra, if you were one of these people, the only way that you can absolve your guilt of being born in a family of bigoted Hindus is to publicly denounce them; sorry, your association with them, and continued association makes you guilty of genocide in Gujarat. I’m not sure who you love more, your father or Vijay Prashad’s bias.
----

huh? i feel no guilt for having a bigoted dad. he's the bigot, not me. (and my mom's not... nor are any of my siblings... so it would be wrong to call my family a "family of bigots".) and where exactly should this public denouncement occur? at the mall? i find your comment quite funny. as far as i know, the events which i was dragged to as a child don't even occur anymore.

to other commentators: can people please use english, or translate into english? not all of us are north indian. (argh!) then again, perhaps i don't want to know what crazy dilip is saying? dilip, you seriously should take a chill pill. violence is NEVER the answer. as topo in the fiddler on the roof said, "if we carried out the injunction "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" the whole world would be blind and toothless".

in regards to dr. anonymous' question - "Specifically with regard to “commmunity,” I wonder why there’s a necessity for “Hindu” community beyond the cultural events that are around in life like pujas, family gatherings, ceremonies, stories your mother tells you like the Ramayan, etc. Why isn’t that enough?"

i have to guess that you did not grow up here as an immigrant? apologies if i sound simplistic or obvious but... immigrant life can be extremely lonely and isolating, and religion and culture have always been closely tied. indian hindus are far from the first immigrant group to build community around a shared religion. see for example korean christians (of all sorts - catholic, protestant); and the jewish community (again of all sorts - reform, orthodox, etc.)

i could say more but... i'm tired, it's late, i need to go to bed. please, can this conversation stay civil? on both sides of the argument? i'm with vijay and his appeal to reason a la al gore... it seems to be sorely missing in today's world... sigh.

HSC - the youth wing of US

HSC - the youth wing of US branch of RSS: Irrefutable evidence:

WHY DID THE HSC BUILD AND MAINTAIN THE ELECTRONIC INFRASTRUCTURE OF THE GLOBAL SANGH PARIVAR?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SIX WEEKS LATER: NATIONAL HSC STILL UNABLE TO REFUTE EVIDENCE AMASSED IN "LYING RELIGIOUSLY"

Saturday, May 26, 2007: Six weeks after the CSFH report -- "Lying Religiously" (LyR) -- was published with conclusive evidence that the National HSC was part of the RSS family of organizations (Sangh Parivar), the National HSC has failed to refute even a single piece of evidence in our report. Far from providing any substantive counter evidence or argument, officers of the National HSC have resorted to ad-hominems against the CSFH collective.

This strategy is not new. It is typical of the Sangh Parivar. The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate has done investigative work on the Sangh since 2002. In our first report, "The Foreign Exchange of Hate", which exposed the flow of dollars from the US to the RSS in India, we used a similar structure of evidence as the current report on the HSCs -- a majority of the evidentiary documents were drawn from the Sangh itself. In response, the Sangh Parivar attacked the collective and NOT the report, just like the National HSC leadership has done now. Our response from 2003, entitled "Deceit as a Core Value: The RSS Method", is archived at: http://stopfundinghate.org/actions/press/012803.htm. We urge all HSC members and the Indian-American community at large to take careful note of this pattern -- when completely unable to deal with the evidence against it, the Sangh resorts to ad-hominem attacks against its opponents.

In our two earlier press releases, we pulled out evidence from our report and framed it in a simple and easy to understand format and challenged the national HSC to refute the evidence. They have failed to do so in both their press releases. Do we take the national HSC's silence on the issue as its inability to deny its close links with the Sangh Parivar?

In our effort to keep the focus on the substantive evidence presented in the LyR report, CSFH will in the next 12 weeks send out one question every week to the national HSC leadership with a single issue or piece of evidence for them to respond to. Our reason for this is simple: we want to make absolutely clear to every reader –- and especially, every HSC member past and present -- that the National HSC has been deceptive about its connections with the RSS family and its only strategy is to distract from the evidence presented in the report.

Week #1: Why did the National HSC build the Sangh Parivar's Global Internet infrastructure and why does it continue to maintain it?

In our report, we have documented how the National HSC has built and continues to maintain the Sangh's Global Internet infrastructure. The evidentiary source for the IP Map is a neutral site, DomainTools. The IP Map (available at http://hsctruthout.stopfundinghate.org/ch3.html#1) is probably the most damning piece of evidence against the National HSC that establishes deep, systematic and undeniable links to the rest of the Sangh Parivar. It is not an incidental set of connections, but a deliberate and carefully built infrastructure. The National HSC has of course remained silent on this. However, some concerned HSC chapter members have written to us directly asking questions. The most often repeated question is whether the IP map shows anything more than some electronic links, and this needs further explanation.

Allow us to explain in some detail: Every machine on the Internet has a unique IP address that reads something like: 206.251.242.160, that is, four numbers separated by periods. Each set of numbers in an IP address that is separated by periods is called an octet (because it is represented in the binary form by a set of eight zeros and ones). Thus an IP address is made up of four octets. For brevity, we will represent an IP address as A.B.C.D where A,B,C and D represent numerical values and are each an octet. How the octet pattern is arranged says a lot about the organization that is using an IP address. For instance, a large network like AT& T will typically have an octet structure where every single machine that it owns on the internet will share the exact same value in the first octet. That is, all of AT&T's computers on the internet share the same first octet. Such addresses with a common first octet are called Class A addresses.

So also, a large to medium size business could ask for a Class B address where the first two octets (in our scheme, A and B of the A.B.C.D structure) are common for every machine it has on the internet anywhere in the world. Many MNCs have Class B addresses. Finally, smaller organizations could seek and be allotted a Class C address where the first three octets – A, B and C are fixed. Every machine they have on the internet will then have the first three octets repeated and the last octet will change. This is the case for most of the Sangh Parivar organizations hosted by the HSC -- they share the first three octets and have CONTIGUOUS fourth octet (as in, say 206.251.242.160 and 206.251.242.161). Furthermore, most of these websites, including those of the RSS (206.251.242.221), HSS (206.251.242.229), VHP (206.251.242.217), VHP-America (206.251.242.195), IDRF (206.251.242.226), Sewa International (206.251.242.203), Organiser (206.251.242.182) and Akhil Bharthiya Vidyarthi Parishad (206.251.242.198) list "Hindunet. Inc" as the "Admin Organization" and/or Ajay Shah (the first president of the HSC) as the "Admin Name". And the copyright notice on Hindunet says: Please note that entire collection of GHEN websites is copyrighted 1989-1999, Global Hindu Electronic Networks, Hindu Students Council.

In short, the HSC supports the electronic infrastructure of the Sangh Parivar. There is no way for all this to be an accident or a coincidence. In other words, there is no other explanation for this phenomenon but the fact that the national HSC, under the leadership of Ajay Shah, was given this task by the Sangh which they executed faithfully. (For a brief organizational overview of the Sangh Parivar, see
http://hsctruthout.stopfundinghate.org/images/Sangh_Parivar_OrgChart1.jpg).

CSFH continues to urge all concerned individuals and groups to engage in a substantive public discussion on the issues we have raised in our LyR report. Such open discussions are important within the South Asian community, especially among Indian-American youth, who have been deceived by the National HSC leadership. It is incumbent upon all HSC chapters to begin sorting out the truth from the lies by asking the National HSC leadership to respond to the concrete challenge we have raised above and not produce random distractions.

Jra: i have to guess that you

Jra:

i have to guess that you did not grow up here as an immigrant? apologies if i sound simplistic or obvious but… immigrant life can be extremely lonely and isolating, and religion and culture have always been closely tied.

My parents are immigrants, and I'm second generation. But they have never joined any religious organization. They do go to the mandir regularly, read the Gita, Shikshapatri, and other texts, and strictly abide by the practices that they had been taught. Thankfully, they have passed down all this wealth to me (but I'm not a practicing Hindu), and as such, I've never felt impelled to join a religious organization (there are other reasons for this sentiment as well). What they have taught me makes me feel secure enough.

But I also think that if people would like to set up and be part of a religious organization, they should be free to do so.

Thread has been effectively

Thread has been effectively derailed and turned into a string of tirades.

1. "Gora

1. "Gora thinking"--

Interestingly, some rant at "Gora thinking" but have absolutely no problem in pushing an orientalist vision of Hinduism-- which is ironically a "Gora" people's construction of Hinduism. I'll try to pull up some examples later on.

2. Just to point out, the HSC doesn't focus solely religion. It is, in fact, politically involved as well:

HSC, NetOHM Members Meet with US Senators

On Tuesday, July 18th, 2006, representatives of the Network of Hindu Minds (NetOHM) and the Hindu Students Council (HSC) met with over 100 legislators and senior officials from both parties at the 10th annual Gala Banquet Dinner of the Indian American Friendship Council. The day-long event on Capitol Hill was an opportunity for Indian-Americans from all over the nation to meet with their elected officials in Washington and to learn more about the inner workings of the political process. NetOHM members played a critical role in organizing this event, which was highly successful and filled with energy and activism. [Link]

HSC/NetOHM members meet with Senators and Congressmen to garner support on Hindu issues

Members of HSC (Hindu Students Council) and NetOHM (Network of Hindu Minds)spent an eventful day in Washington D.C. on July 19th, 2005, participating in a youth conference and engaging US lawmakers on issues of importance to the Hindu community in America. Participating in the youth seminar at the 9th Annual Legislative Conference organized by the Indian American Friendship Council provided for a constructive dialogue. However, it was acknowledged that while co-operation in the war on terror and transfer of civilian nuclear technology are importa nt for Indian Americans, so are issues having to do with religious plurality closer to home.

American Hindu Awareness Council (AHAC) coordinator Srikant Mookerjee stressed the need for our public education system to reflect the America of the 21st century that enables its students to learn Hindi and Tamil along with French and Italian and allows students to take a day of from school to celebrate Diwali along with Christmas! and Hanukkah. According to Mr. Mookerjee, %u201CSecond generation Hindu Americans, who know the system better, have a moral obligation to do what they can to make the mainstream more Hindu friendly for the future generations of Hindu Americans and NetOHM is working to fulfill such a goal%u201D.

One key issue discussed was that of international human rights. The participants felt that human rights must be enforced and agreed that the US is a leader in creating standards for international human rights. Samir Rawal, the international president of the Hindu Students Council pointed out %u201CI believe that it is the social and moral obligation of every Hindu American youth to be aware of issues affecting Hindus globally, whether they are issues related to human rights violations in Kashmir, Fiji, and Bangladesh, whether it is the Tsunami in South East Asia. We are proud citizens of a great and powerful country - the U nited States of America and it is our dharma (righteous duty) to partak! e in its democratic process. India being the largest democratic government in the world is our natural ally, so it is in our interest to maintain good relations with it.%u201D

%u201CWhile there is a great convergence of the US and Indian interests internationally, there are however, some instances where the Hindu-American community can do more to educate and influence policy debates in the US, given their unique experiences%u201D, said Devang Vyas, a national committee member of NetOhm. Vyas added %u201CFor instance on the issue of terrorism, while both the US and India agree that terrorism is an international threat that needs to be combated, there is a fundamental difference in the perception about where the threat comes from. The Indians consider Pakistan as the epicenter of terror while the US considers Pakistan as a fro ntline ally in the war on terrorism. In such instances, Indians who have dealt with Islamic terror for decades may be able at a vantage point that helps secure America.%u201D

Co-founder of the Hindu Students Council, Mr. Kanchan Baneerjee, mentioned, %u201CStudent and youth organizations like the HSC / NetOHM or other campus India Student Associations or Temple youth groups can play a critical role in providing leadership to our community, provided there is strategic co-operation%u201D.

At meetings with India-friendly lawmakers, James Saxton (Rep, R-NJ: Member of House Armed Services Committee, Chairman of Joint Economic Committee), James Leach (Rep, R-IA: Chairman of Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Chairman Emeritus of Financial Services), Frank Pallone (Rep, D-NJ: Founder of India Caucus, Communications Chair of the Democratic Policy Committee), Gary Ackerman (Rep, D-NY: India Caucus Co-Chair, Member o f Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific), Joseph Crowley (Rep, D-NY: Member of Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Non-Proliferation), and their staffers, HSC / NetOhm activists along with FACT (Foundation Against Cont! inuing Terrorism) coordinator Francois Gautier explained how Islamist inspired terrorism has wreaked havoc on the Kashmiri Hindus, made them refugees, and destroyed their will to come back to their own land. The legislators were very supportive and gave solid assurances that they would bring these issues to the attention of their congressional colleagues, as well as the White House.

Hindu Students Council (HSC) and Network of Hindu Minds (NetOhm) constitute the largest youth movement in the Western world reposing its value in the Hindu Value System. American Hindu Awareness Council is the groups%u2019 social and political awareness activism wing. [Link]

Not saying that any of this political activism is wrong, but it is 1)misleading to think that the HSC concerns itself exclusively with religion,when it doesn't; and 2) there's too much of an easy conflation of India and "Hinduism."

And finally, the HSC's statement on the Gujarati pogrom riots:

India witnessed the horror of 58 Hindu pilgrims, mostly women and children, hacked or burnt alive while on a train traveling through the city of Godhra, in the state of Gujarat. This was followed by an equally reprehensible and violent backlash against mostly Muslims in the city of Ahmedabad, with the death of over 600.

Hindu Students Council (HSC), the largest Hindu student organization founded in the U.S., expresses its profound shock and sadness with the loss of many innocent lives in what has been one of the worst acts of rioting in recent Indian history.

Evidence continues to mount that the grisly massacre of Hindus in the train at Godhra was not a spontaneous outburst of religious hatred, as initially presumed, but a premeditated act of terrorism. This evidence includes the recovery of ammunition stockpiles and crude bombs, as well as photographs depicting terrorist training camps located in India. In addition, most of those arrested have criminal records, including one who is directly linked to international terrorist, Dawood Ibrahim.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the goal of this act of brutality against Hindu pilgrims was to spark communal riots, which is exactly what transpired. This, however, in no way justifies the brutal backlash against hundreds of Muslims in Ahmedabad, a city located in the home state of India’s biggest proponent of peace, Mahatma Gandhi.

Hindu Students Council (HSC) in North America demands that the Prime Minister of India utilize his full resources in apprehending all those responsible for the premeditated, brutal massacre of the Godhra train victims. In addition, HSC implores the people of India, Hindus and Muslims, to reflect back on the powerful Gandhian principles of love, peace and humanity. Gandhi’s philosophy, based on the Hindu ideals of tolerance and "holding fast to the truth", were powerful enough to aid in setting a nation free from the clutches of colonial rule. The question now is, can these ideals set India free from terrorism and communal violence? [Link]

Of course, I'm pulling up stuff from their website, and so it's hard to assess how much of these thoughts are exactly pushed onto students and the separate branches of the HSC. Furthermore, I know how much of the influence of the HSC's leadership ties to right wing groups trickle to students themselves.

In any case, more stuff to think about.

Dear Dilip, I think you don't

Dear Dilip,
I think you don't realize that your completely fanatical rants only help confirm your lack of any real substance. You lash out against Vijay even when he politely responds to your queries. You seem to convey the vibe of a goonda not a sincere person. Keep up the good work - the HSC needs exactly you type of comments to prove how degenerate they are.
With gratitude,
Baloo

Baloo, What are you ?

Baloo,

What are you ? Vijay's Chamchaa ?

Just because I choose not to stick to a "secular" or so called "civilised" form of discourse you rant against me. I am tired of these so called "civilised" discourses cuz they lead to nothing. Such discourses only help hide the types "secular/liberal/commie" haters, who do nothing but malign others.

Yes, I am passionate, but I have made valid points. Try respoding to them if you dare.

And let me mention, that at least my intentions are open and honest. The most dangerous goondas are the ones who pretend and hide their agenda.

Just ask yourself. Who has killed more people in India and Nepal ? The communists (Marxists, Maoists) or the HSC.

Jra: religion and culture

Jra:

religion and culture have always been closely tied.

Yes and no. There have been instances where the things I see are obviously tied to a specific religion. On the other hand, I know of lots of Desis of different religions (notably Sikhs, Parsis, Muslims, and Christians) who engage in the same practices that Hindus do. So I suppose you could say that you don't necessarily have to be part of a religious organization to find that connection to things that are familiar and intimate to you.

BTW, I really appreciate your comments here.

A question for those still

A question for those still not convinced that the HSC is the youth wing of the Sangh Parivar in America.

Why did the HSC build and (continue to) maintain the Sangh Parivar's electronic infrastructure?

http://hsctruthout.stopfundinghate.org/pr.html

In our report, we have documented how the National HSC has built and continues to maintain the Sangh's Global Internet infrastructure. The evidentiary source for the IP Map is a neutral site, DomainTools. The IP Map (available at http://hsctruthout.stopfundinghate.org/ch3.html#1) is probably the most damning piece of evidence against the National HSC that establishes deep, systematic and undeniable links to the rest of the Sangh Parivar. It is not an incidental set of connections, but a deliberate and carefully built infrastructure. The National HSC has of course remained silent on this. However, some concerned HSC chapter members have written to us directly asking questions. The most often repeated question is whether the IP map shows anything more than some electronic links, and this needs further explanation.

Allow us to explain in some detail: Every machine on the Internet has a unique IP address that reads something like: 206.251.242.160, that is, four numbers separated by periods. Each set of numbers in an IP address that is separated by periods is called an octet (because it is represented in the binary form by a set of eight zeros and ones). Thus an IP address is made up of four octets. For brevity, we will represent an IP address as A.B.C.D where A,B,C and D represent numerical values and are each an octet. How the octet pattern is arranged says a lot about the organization that is using an IP address. For instance, a large network like AT& T will typically have an octet structure where every single machine that it owns on the internet will share the exact same value in the first octet. That is, all of AT&T's computers on the internet share the same first octet. Such addresses with a common first octet are called Class A addresses.

So also, a large to medium size business could ask for a Class B address where the first two octets (in our scheme, A and B of the A.B.C.D structure) are common for every machine it has on the internet anywhere in the world. Many MNCs have Class B addresses. Finally, smaller organizations could seek and be allotted a Class C address where the first three octets – A, B and C are fixed. Every machine they have on the internet will then have the first three octets repeated and the last octet will change. This is the case for most of the Sangh Parivar organizations hosted by the HSC -- they share the first three octets and have CONTIGUOUS fourth octet (as in, say 206.251.242.160 and 206.251.242.161). Furthermore, most of these websites, including those of the RSS (206.251.242.221), HSS (206.251.242.229), VHP (206.251.242.217), VHP-America (206.251.242.195), IDRF (206.251.242.226), Sewa International (206.251.242.203), Organiser (206.251.242.182) and Akhil Bharthiya Vidyarthi Parishad (206.251.242.198) list "Hindunet. Inc" as the "Admin Organization" and/or Ajay Shah (the first president of the HSC) as the "Admin Name". And the copyright notice on Hindunet says: Please note that entire collection of GHEN websites is copyrighted 1989-1999, Global Hindu Electronic Networks, Hindu Students Council.

In short, the HSC supports the electronic infrastructure of the Sangh Parivar. There is no way for all this to be an accident or a coincidence. In other words, there is no other explanation for this phenomenon but the fact that the national HSC, under the leadership of Ajay Shah, was given this task by the Sangh which they executed faithfully. (For a brief organizational overview of the Sangh Parivar, see
http://hsctruthout.stopfundinghate.org/images/Sangh_Parivar_OrgChart1.jpg

in regards to dr. anonymous’

in regards to dr. anonymous’ question - “Specifically with regard to “commmunity,” I wonder why there’s a necessity for “Hindu” community beyond the cultural events that are around in life like pujas, family gatherings, ceremonies, stories your mother tells you like the Ramayan, etc. Why isn’t that enough?”

i have to guess that you did not grow up here as an immigrant? apologies if i sound simplistic or obvious but… immigrant life can be extremely lonely and isolating, and religion and culture have always been closely tied. indian hindus are far from the first immigrant group to build community around a shared religion. see for example korean christians (of all sorts - catholic, protestant); and the jewish community (again of all sorts - reform, orthodox, etc.)

I assume you mean the u.s. as here, and yeah, i did. in the areas near new york in the 80s and 90s. yes, it was lonely. yes it was isolating. but largely not on religion--on race, is how i felt it.

of course people build religion around community--the examples i was giving were attempts to show that it can (and did, for me) happen organically. what's problematic is when it happens artificially or in a contrived manner which easily lends it self to being (ab)used by an outside politics.

please, can this conversation stay civil? on both sides of the argument? i’m with vijay and his appeal to reason a la al gore… it seems to be sorely missing in today’s world… sigh.

the absence of reason is a problem. the absecne of cilivity is just a symptom, in my opinion. how are you going to reason with people like dilip? you just have to ignore or retort (ignoring probably being the more civil option). or you can stop letting them claim the dialogue and claim your own space.

-dra

yes, it was lonely. yes it

yes, it was lonely. yes it was isolating. but largely not on religion–on race, is how i felt it.

^^ I have to echo Dr. Anon's experience.

Sri. Vijay Prashad: -- You

Sri. Vijay Prashad:

-- You never mentioned about the Marxist communist violence in India and Nepal.

-- Why did Prakash Karat meet the Maoists ? What was he trying to do ?

-- Why does Brinda Karat threaten to sue when magazines publish her pics doing yoga ? Yeh kaise log hai , jo chupke yoga karte hai, or janta ke samne usi pe hinsa karte hai ?

I agree that the situation in Kashmir is outrageous, for all Kashmiris

What do you mean all Kashmiris ?? Hindus are the victims of Muslims here. Muslims are not the victims of Hindus. The main point here is that all the terrorists are muslims. None of the are Hindus. Why are you ashamed to mention this ?

In the article on your link (the other links did not work)

we must continue to demand the secularization of society, indeed demand that religion in the modern age must conform to the basic norms of equality and democracy. In a strong book from 1997 (Furies of Indian Communalism, Verso), journalist Achin Vanaik argued that religious systems must "learn their place in the new dispensation" of the modern. Religions "have no inherent dynamic leading them to endorse or practically reinforce modern principles of pluralism and democracy. The world religions are historically shaped entities bearing the marks of that shaping. But this does not mean they are incompatible with these modern principles." Quite the contrary, the secularist must engage with religious systems, not to show their "inherently tolerant" nature (which is an essentialist claim), but to fight to make them democratic and pluralistic if they are to be relevant in our modern future.

Anything less gives legitimacy to those who speak of faith as they destroy the shallow trenches of human progress. It is the voice of faith that killed the women of Hast. Even as we raise our voices against that barbarity, we must renew our call for the broader secularization of society.

You treat all religions alike. This is "Gora" thinking, specifically "Gora" liberal/socialist thinking. It is all based on "false ideals" , which have no bearing in reality.

You demand secularization of society --- meaning suppression of Hinduism and pacifying the rest. Take temple money and give it to Muslims, Christians, Marxists, anyone but Hindus.

You talk about the "modern" and "our modern future" -- can you explain what you mean by these terms ? I find them quite vague. Be specific.

YOu talk about making religions democratic and Plural -- Have you tried making Islam democratic and plural ?? (There is no God but Allah... Plural ? democratic ? ). Same with Christianity -- There is no God but God...Plural ? democratic ?

Interestingly, a Marxist communist is talking about Pluralism and democracy and secularisation. What a joke >

And you never told you what, you as a Marxist, are doing in the USA . Shouldnt you be in China ?

your association with them,

your association with them, and continued association makes you guilty of genocide in Gujarat

So JRA what about the Hindu Genocide in Kashmir ? Are you guilty of that since you dont speak out against it ? Why dont you condemn it ? Isnt that worse by a million times that what happened in Gujarat. At least in Gujarat the Muslims are still there..in Kashmir, no HIndus. Their properties seized by the terrorists.

how are you going to reason with people like dilip ?

By being honest to yourself. See the truth for what it is. It is easy to bash Hindus, cuz they are like Gandhi. But remember before Gandhi there was Arjun, and there will be an Arjun again. Wake up and be proud of who you are, no matter what. Dont be an apologist.

A question for those still not convinced that the HSC is the youth wing of the Sangh Parivar in America.

So what ? What is your agenda ? Why do you spread hatred against the Sangh Parivar ? I think there are more Al Quaeda and Islamic terrorist funded organisations around. Go after them, they are the most dangerous. Don't try to hit on someone who is peacefully keeping to himself. It will backfire on you .

violence is NEVER the answer. as topo in the fiddler on the roof said, “if we carried out the injunction “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” the whole world would be blind and toothless”.

Also being peaceful has not helped Hindus much. Violence against Hindus has left many Hindus blind and toothless, and since they do not retaliate, the terrorists conduct more violence.
Enough is enough.

Some other points:

---- What is a Commie Marxist, Sri. Vijay Prashad, doing in the USA ? Shouldnt he be in China ?

---- Why doesnt Sri. Prashad talked about the violence unleashed by the Marxists in India and Nepal ? Why doesnt he ask Young American Hindus to fight against the mindless violoence of the Marxists ? He is keen that they help out in other ways...

What double standards.

I'm not much given to

I'm not much given to self-defense, although I've often enjoyed a bit of kung fu in my day. Below; it's intellectual self-defense.

On the record, Dilipji:

Kashmir: http://www.counterpunch.org/prashad1228.html and one more at Outlook (August 2002) called "Hindutva and Kashmir", and more. I agree that the situation in Kashmir is outrageous, for all Kashmiris. Pandits had it bad, and most of them had to flee, but the Kashmirs who remain in the Valley are only now, after over a decade, coming up for air. The military presence in the Valley criples social life. None of us has ever minimized the plight of the Kashmiris, including the Pandits. I was at Columbia University recently, where someone asked this of me, as if to say that I care little for the Kashmiri Pandits. This has become a lithmus test. But, Dilip, you should also note that the Communist parties in India have consistently raised the long-term issue of the Pandits, as well as of the continued killing of the Pandits (for example, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/41292062.cms).

Bengal and Communism (i. e. Nandigram): http://www.counterpunch.org/prashad05232007.html.

Additionally, on the role of race and fundamentalism in the Diaspora, I wrote a review of Moazzam Begg's very strong book, Enemy Combatant: http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2317/stories/20060908000607500.htm. Many of the racism issues relate stateside.

peace and love,
Vijay.

The Gora Orientalist vision

The Gora Orientalist vision of Hinduism also has its faults. Let Hindus interpret Sanatan Dharma, not Goras, atheists, Indian Marxists etc.

What is wrong for HSC to get involved with politics. Why are some people so against it ? Muslim, Christian, Jewish student groups do that. But Hindus cant ???

You people are still ruled by the Raj. You have no qualms about pushing the religions of secularism, communism, and liberalism on Hindus, but Hindus are not supposed to speak up.

What do you want Hindus to do ?? be sitting ducks, while doing puja, so that the evil ones can come and massacre them, as happened in the Swaminarayan temple in Ahmedabad.

These Liberals/seculars/commies and the Chrislamo Fascists and these self loathing, apologist "Hindus" want to dictate to the rest of the Hindus that they do not have any right to be politically involved and to stand up for themselves.

Dont you have any shame ?? Stand up for your Dharma. Be a man. Be like Arjun.

Furthermore, I know how much

Furthermore, I know how much of the influence of the HSC’s leadership ties to right wing groups trickle to students themselves.

Whoops-

Meant to say, "I do not know how much of the influence..."

Dilip, I thought the HSC was

Dilip,
I thought the HSC was supposedly devoted to "culture and religion" - now you are asking "What is wrong for HSC to get involved with politics." Very good question! Yes there is nothing wrong if the HSC gets *into* politics (assuming they exist somewhere *outside* politics!), they would be wonderfully honest if they came out and said - YES, we are political, we are a Sangh Parivar project, and we are not ashamed of it. That would be courageous and very Arjun-like (since you call for . Right now, they behave like cowards - sanghi operatives pretending to be little angels.
Baloo

Hindus are not supposed to

Hindus are not supposed to speak up.

Hindus should speak up all the time--I don't think anyone said they shouldn't (unfortunately...it would have been an interesting perspective to have, in this conversation). They should speak up on behalf of themselves whenever they're oppressed, as Hindus, and in a way that doesn't damage other people's own attempts to speak up for themselves.

But in India, they're not oppressed--not as Hindus, anyway. They're oppressed as poor people, as women, as queer people, as victims of domestic violence, as pawns of global politics, and myriad other ways. And those people (who are Hindu, as well as from other faiths) should speak up too.

Just not by defining themselves as Hindu and promoting a "pro-Hindu" agenda that seems like more of a mask for authoritarian impulses than anything else. Arguments to the contrary welcome.

I am of South Asian Diaspora

I am of South Asian Diaspora of Nepali decent. I read the article by Mr. Prashad, I can’t refute or assert his claims of infiltration of various religious groups (Hindu) in the US by the ultra right wing religious political group such as VHP, since I have never attended any of their meetings in North America.

Nonetheless, I believe him, from the modus operandi of VHS in Nepali politics. Apparently, the greatest ally of the Monarchy in Nepal is VHS, while majority of Nepalis want the country to be republic and no more a Hindu Kindom, obliterating 200 years of feudal rule of Shah Dynasty, I read many articles in Indian Papers, argued by Hiduvtabadis that, Nepal should never be republic and secular, just because, the King is the reincarnation of Lord Bishnu, and Nepal is the only Hindu Kingdom in the world. How ridiculous? It’s like Nepali Muslims demand that India be run by Mughal Badshah once again.

Where is the compassion of Hinduism in that, when millions of Non-Hindu Nepali will have equal constitutional rights for the first time in the history of Nepal? When the organization such as VHS is made the champion of religion, it sucks the spirituality out of it.

And, there have been reported cases of instigated violence by sidekick of Nepali version of RSS to preserve the monarchy.

Republic or Monarchy, that’s for people of Nepal to decide, not the saffron God men in Delhi, until now, Nepal has been able to enjoy religious harmony, but that seems to be doubtful, if VHS keeps meddling with Nepali politics and religious sentiments.

These elements should be checked, and their every moves should be scrutinized, never should give them a free pass, and I applaud Mr. Prashad for that.

I wasn’t going to write this comment at all, I was just doing offhand reading, and enjoying the tirades between the commenter, but someone above, made some stupid remark on Maoist Movement in Nepal.

I call it stupid, because, commenter seemed to be totally unaware of Nepali socio-economic/religious/political background. I suggest him to read a little before making such stupid remarks on the issues that you are totally blank.

To Baloo: Either you are

To Baloo:

Either you are naive or brainwashed or both.

To preserve culture and religion one MUST get involved in politics.

And why is it ok for you to demonise the Sangh Parivar, but not ok for the Hindus or the Sangh Parivar to assert itself. Are you the one going to decide who is the good guy and who is the bad guy ? Do you think Hindus should just sit and shut up to your rants ?

Tell me why you hate the Sangh Parivar and Hindus ? Give me one good reason why you are so self righteous.

So what if the HSC was promoting the Sangh Parivar agenda ? Why should they explain it to haters like you ?

Do you realise that the likes of you are nothing but Pseudo fundamentalists ? nothing different from the Taliban. At least the Taliban was honest.

But in India, they’re not oppressed–not as Hindus,

Dr. Anon:

Either you are blind or scared.

--- Hindu temples and education institutions are taken over by the Government. Only 5% of money from temples is given back to temples. Money is given to Muslims to go to Haj.

--- Muslim, Christian Mosques and churches are not taken over.

--- Hindus have been kicked out of Kashmir. Ethnic cleansing.

--- Secular pseuds are banning HIndu festivals. For example, no Garba after 10 pm during Navratri. No kirtans in trains. No firecrackers during Diwali after 10 PM. All these are attempts to dilute Hindu religion.

--- People like M F Husain are insulting the religion under the guise of "Art". These criminals are protected by the pseudo secular media under the guise of "artistic freedom" and "freedom of speech" , whicha are pseudo Gora concepts taken up by the brown slaves of India.

--- HInduism by nature is a public relgion. Everything is practiced in public. The secular/liberal pseuds do not respect this and try to ban public displays. Another Gora idea. This is suppression.

--- Constant media rants against Hindus, Hinduism, Hindutva. Gujarat situation is called Pogram, when it was clearly an an act of self defense.

--- Media rants against Hindu Gurus.

--- Denigrating of Hindu religion by constantly focussing on caste. Crimes of other religions, like priests raping little boys, is never mentioned.

--- Bombs in Hindu temples.

--- Bombs in trains targetting Hindus...

---- Pseudos/Seculars/liberals always running to foreign media to denigrate Hindus.

---- Aggressive Evangelisation propaganda by Christian Missionaries. These missionaries denigrate Hindu religion.

--- Muslim invaders and murderers of India portrayed in good light.

Want more examples ??

Please, please. Enough of this nonsense.

It is time to be like Arjun and fight of the evil ones.

To Gols: Are you a Christian

To Gols:

Are you a Christian ?

Interestingly you see the VHP as more dangerous to Nepal than the terrorist Maoists, who have murdered, killed, raped.

I am sure you are one of those Evangelists funded by the Western Churches to destroy Hinduism.

It isnt enough that Nepal lost its Hindu identity. If this wasnt an attack on Hinduism then what was it ?

Yet you say Hindus are the bad ones.

That is why I say it is time to stop talking and start acting.

Laaton ke bhoot baaton se nahin maante.

^^^ Dude is either 1)

^^^
Dude is either 1) trolling to get people riled up and smirking at the commentators who take him seriously and respond to him or 2) really believes this stuff, and no amount of rational engagement will make him consider a different point of view.

Better to just stop responding to him.

Hello All, So I haven't

Hello All,

So I haven't responded to any of the comments yet, and the longer I wait the more overwhelmed I feel by the myriad directions the comment threads seem to be going. So now is the time, I guess. I'm getting a little exhausted by the name-calling, squabbling over semantics, and fact-flinging, and I'd like to move back towards personal reflection and discussion--as jra is so effective at doing. (And by the way, thanks jra! Anyone who quotes from Fiddler is a-okay in my book. "Papa, can you hear me?" Oh wait, that's Yentl.)

I first became aware that there were ways of practicing Hinduism far more politicized than the faith I grew up when I was 11 or 12. I had been sent to a week-long Hinduism camp at our nearby temple--a more pragmatic decision on my parents' part than anything else, since it amounted to free babysitting during the dog days of summer while they were at work. The director of the camp was on the board of trustees of the temple, a professor of mechanical engineering at a local college, and I was soon to find out, a member of the conservative Hindutva movement in America. During one of the daily lectures on Hindu practice, he mentioned that the ancient Hindus had invented the atom bomb and calculus. Imagine that! My people were science geniuses from the very beginning. I was 11 years old, what the hell did I know? I excitedly told my mother in the car after she picked me up for the day. She turned to me at a red light and quickly set me right: "Don't be ridiculous. Ancient Hindus didn't invent the atom bomb. The director is one of those fundamentalist Hindus patsies--just like the people who really believe that the world was created in exactly six days." Later on, she explained that many Sanghis believe in the existence of an ancient atom bomb because of the frequent mention of world-destroying weapons in Vedic texts. What else could that be but an atom bomb?

Did any of this stop my folks from taking advantage of the free babysitting? Of course not. But I was suddenly alerted to the cross-currents of politics and bigotry among people I had grown up with, and I felt foolish for being so naive. I think that was the last year I attended temple camp. I spent the rest of the week asking the director rude (and to be honest, not particularly intelligent) questions during his morning lectures.

Fast forward about twelve years. I attended the YSS conference this year while I was in New York. On the last day of the conference, members of CSFH presented their findings about the connections between HSC and VHP and screened a publicity video that HSC put out last year. Many of the students who attended HSC camps and events were interviewed for the film and they all said things to the effect of, "We're so proud of our Hindu heritage. This stuff is so interesting and it's a part of our history!" There was an extended shot of some harmless horseplay--laughing during yoga practice, a water balloon fight, that sort of thing. It was all very reminiscent of, well, temple camp. Except that these kids weren't in the seventh grade, they were in college. After the film ended, one of the CSFH members asked the conference participants what kind of thoughts they had. I called out the first word that came to my head: "Losers!" Initially there was some uncomfortable laughter, but afterwards I caught quite a bit if flak for being intolerant and judgmental. A number of people told me that the point wasn't to feel superior to the HSC kids, but to figure out how to open the dialogue with these students, many of whom are not aware of the connections between HSC and Hindutva and are thus being used as unwitting political pawns.

I was defensive for a while--We all have choices! All of us at YSS have figured this out and we're the same age and have the same resources at hand, so why should we be making excuses for them?--but I realize now how much my reaction was bourne out of shame and embarrassment about my own easy collusion when I was young. The desire to disavow my own vulnerability to this kind of manipulation was great enough that I doled out great dollops of scorn to people who really aren't so different from me. The genius of VHP is to take the pain that young Indian-Americans feel at being the targets of racism and marginalization and subvert it into an unearned, uninformed "pride" in our so-called Hindu heritage--as though "Hindu", "Indian", and "pride" are all interchangeable ways of identifying and being. We really need to move away from this "us vs. them" attitude--and I'm talking about us on the left here--and start opening the dialogue from a place of acceptance and sympathy. After all, had a few a few circumstances been a little bit different, I could have been an HSC member myself.

If someone does not consider

If someone does not consider your "rational" point of view then he is wrong. So no matter what, You are right. Hmmmm

Padma:

The us vs. them attitude is a reaction, not an action. You would push back too if someone entered your house to rob you, wouldnt you ?

Besides, there are numerous reasons to be proud of. Yoga, meditation, ayurveda, dance, music, mathematics, art, seva, astronomy, astrology, festivals, stories (Puranas) etc. are just some of the things that make Hinduism so rich. Sure there are many things that can be improved, but that is the case with every tradition.

I do hope you can be proud Hindu, if for nothing else, than some of the things about Hinduism that I mentioned. Hinduism is more than Caste, dowry and bride burning as its enemies like to hammer on to you.

Never apologise for your Dharma. Be proud and say it loud.

Dilip: I'm interested to know

Dilip:

I'm interested to know which aspects of Hinduism "can be improved." A number of the aspects of Hindu practice you mention as worthy of pride--the Puranas, astrology, etc.--are deeply entrenched in the Vedic high-caste tradition and not part of the spiritual practice of many (even most) people who identify as Hindu. Is this one of the things that you think can be improved, the hegemony of Brahmanic traditions in defining "Hinduism" as a category? Can you elaborate?

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