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

Hindutva has a ferocious

Hindutva has a ferocious hatred of Buddhism....It was after Ambedkar’s conversion to Buddhism in 1956 that the forces of Hindutva began to promote Buddha as an incarnation of Vishnu, and Ambedkar as a reformer within Hinduism. Ashok Singhal of the VHP has been making this claim these last ten years.

Vijay, I don't buy this argument entirely. I don't doubt that people like dilip (who prompted my original question with his string of epithets :) can turn their anger in many different directions, but I find it interesting which ways it does turn. I very rarely hear anti-Buddhist, anti-proselytization comments in the same vein that I hear about Muslims and Christians despite that there's active proselytization going on by Buddhists. And they seem too stupid to realize that people on the Left also proselytize, despite that they hate the Left anyway.

But again--that raises the same point--what are the parameters around which the hatred or whatever you want to call it are shaped. e.g. the Sangh woudl have a hard time arguing that the Left is both atheistic and anti-Hindu and at the same time proselytizing because of the framework in which they're operating (to the limited extent I understand it).

I don't think it's entirely fair to resort to continuously resort to stands taken two millenia ago or in some cases even 50 years ago to justify a critique of a contemporary political trend without drawing connections that illustrate the links. We all know that Brahminism was historically hostile to any movement that questioned its power--the question is why Hindutva in the recent past hasn't attacked Buddhism with the same fervor.

As to your questions Dr. Anonymous...You’re assuming the Sangh is a Hindu supremascist organization. I think the very fact that they don’t show any antipathy toward Buddhists or Jews means that they are not.

Anonymous, your claims are sweeping and, therefore, more likely than not, hard to engage in a constructive conversation. For example, you say that Buddhism is viewed by Hindutvaites as a part of Hinduism. Why aren't syncretic practices that mix Hinduism and Islam similarly viewed Obviously, there are many answers, but I think they take more knowledge of Indian colonial and post-independence history than you've demonstrated so far.

If the Sangh is not a Hindu supremacist network (it's not an organization), then what is? :) They build mandirs next to masjids and then argue that the former were there forever or that the sites were originally Hindu religious sites and therefore the mosques should be razed (which in and of itself doesn't even logically follow though I know the history of razing religious sites and raping women of other communities is more complicated than that). That's just one example off the top of my head...I'm sure Aatish or Vijay or someone else could easily give you 100 other examples.

the Sangh would be quite hypocritical to only hate prosthelityzers, since they engage in large-scale prosthelytization as well, particularly in rural Adivasi belts.

Aatish, we both know that the sangh is rabidly anti-proselytization when it comes to talking about other faiths despite their own efforts to proselytize. The question is why their volume on Buddhism seems low (at least in the fora where I hear them speak...i.e. primarily the Internet).

They build mandirs next to

They build mandirs next to masjids and then argue that the former were there forever or that the sites were originally Hindu religious sites

Another leftist lie. Muslims and Christians have a history of razing religious structures of other religions and putting their house of worhip on it. European landscape is full of Christian Churches built over pagan temples. Muslims did the same in Persia, by building mosques over Zoraostrian temples. Muslims have done the same in India, by destroying Hindu temples and building mosques over them.

we both know that the sangh is rabidly anti-proselytization when it comes to talking about other faiths despite their own efforts to proselytize. The question is why their volume on Buddhism seems low

Buddhism is viewed by Hindutvaites as a part of Hinduism. Why aren’t syncretic practices that mix Hinduism and Islam similarly viewed

Proselytization by the Abrahamic "religions" are taboo, because they use coercion, bribes, denigration of native religions. Also, these religions have a recent history of violence. Hindu efforts is a reaction to Arbrahamic assault. It is a defensie move.

Syncretic mix of Hinduism and Islam are not accepted by Muslims. Hindus have no problem accepting that, as is witnessed by numerous Hindus visiting those syncretic shrines.

It is the exclusivity claims of the Abrahamic traditions, their denigration of Hindu religions that is the real issue here. Hindu/Buddhists on the other hand do not "proselytise", but rather propagate their philosophy. That is the difference.

GOLS May be we can exchange

GOLS

May be we can exchange our address, to arrange meeting in person to break your jaw

Wow. A Brahmin willing to fight for his beliefs. Now thats more like it. Except that your beliefs are misplaced. But that can be rectified.

Secularism/Liberalism/Jihadism/Crusaderism/Idealism/Communism/Chrislamo Fascism all stem from the same source, which is the cerebral part of a human being. These are intellectual ideas whose main tool of communication is the spoken or written word. This is in contrast with native traditions which tend to be holistic and take the whole person into account.

With emphasis on only a certain aspect of one's personality, the person following any of these ideologies tends to be skewed, misplaced, or even aggressive with sometimes violent tendencies. This is exactly the idea behind the Jihads and the Crusades, whose leaders create skewed ideas and followers are riled up for violence.

Communism is similarly violent. (Only Sufism is peaceful, but Sufism pre existed Islam, and the Sufis "accepted" the Prophet so that they would not be killed).

In recent times we have the phenomenon of Secularism and Liberalism. These are the same ideas, but in a different form. These ideologies are violent in an indirect way.

Thus when I refer you to any one of those labels, it means the same thing. Basically, if you are not Holistic, you are a radical. Its as simple as that.

I didn’t fill an application to be born as a Hindu or anything else, it was my fate, had I been born in any Islamic society, I would have been equally critical of Mullah’s hijacking of Islam, or Evangelist, I would have scorned the idiocy of people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Would that mean I reject the teachings of Jesus or Mohammed?

This is again a secular/liberal/etc. idea. Do you really remember NOT FILLING OUT AN APPLICATION OR FILLING OUT ONE ? The fact is you just dont know. Now, if you were born in an Islamic society you could have been a Jihadi, and in a Christian society, a crusader. How can you say for sure what you could have or would have been ? It is only because you were born as a Hindu that you have the freedom to think in different ways. If you were born among the Taliban, you would have been hanged for speaking against them.

Learn to see Hinduism as religion, not as Hinduism as politics, my wishful and naïve thinking, sigh, for all the organized religions of the world, it’s just plain politics

Again Idealism. Not based on reality. Look at life as it is not how you would wish it would be. Fact is religion is politics and vice versa. You cannot ask Hindus to just look inside of them and then ask them to have no say in their worldly life. Thats just not possible. Will you ask a Muslim the same thing ?

Please do not blame Hinduism for Nepal's ills. Communism has not helped, but rather created violence as it always does.

Maoism is viloent and apart from a promise of "social equality" it does nothing else. There is no mechanism to bring internal peace in a person. This is what Hinduism does best. It is better to have a person at peace with himself, then someone all riled up for violence. Also, a person at peace with himself brings more prosperity even materially. Case in point are the states of Bengal and Kerala, which are communist, but are substantially less wealthy than the States of Gujarat, Punjab or Maharashtra.

Common sense beats Communism.

Now lets get holistic and get rid of Prashadism and Bhalooism.

Lets fight like Arjun.

Comment 101 Santana Dharma

Comment 101

Santana Dharma has always been and will always be. Let us be all proud of it. Let us not denigrate it. Let us not apologise for it to anyone. Let us all make it better. Hope I have made sense to you.

No, not really.. I don't think you make sense to yourself even. How do you know what "has always been"? Have you been around since antiquity? And that too, in every single part of the world at the same time? Do you not see the fallacy in looking for 'origins' and the 'native'? And who or what gives you the authority to determine that? It's very easy to locate significance in some past that we can really, never know about with certainty.... the problem with all nutcases today of whatever extremist bent, religious or not, is their fight for some originary truth that is, at best, invented and buttressed by ascribing essential, innate characteristics to places, people, isms..

153

Basically, if you are not Holistic, you are a radical. Its as simple as that.

???????????

Do you really remember NOT FILLING OUT AN APPLICATION OR FILLING OUT ONE ? The fact is you just dont know. Now, if you were born in an Islamic society you could have been a Jihadi, and in a Christian society, a crusader. How can you say for sure what you could have or would have been ? It is only because you were born as a Hindu that you have the freedom to think in different ways.

99

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

And I could go on quoting....I'm sorry moderator, I don't mean to add fuel to fire but I think posessing some faculty of reason, the capacity for rational thinking or sound thought in general, LITERACY (particularly if you're going to throw around terms and labels like liberalism, secularism etc when you don't understand them or the historical trajectories in which they have developed and changed) and being generally SANE and not blatantly MAD should be criteria to take a discussion participant seriously no?

Moderatorji Take a break. Relax, have a cup of chai and chill.

Oh DilipJI, I'm trying to be constructive here so I think you need to a) go look up the word 'holistic' and how about 'consistency', 'soundness', 'fallacy', 'contradiction', 'argument' while you're at it.. and then b) consider going back to grade school.. I think you need to relax and play with crayons and have mummy run you through abc's or ka, kha, ga's again.

The rubbish hindi 'poetry' you're going to predictably respond with is really painful to read as are your calls to reenact Arjun so don't even bother. Read suggestions above.

Reading over Vijay Prashad's

Reading over Vijay Prashad's response, I believe he is either suffering a significant lapse of memory, or intentionally obscuring the truth.

1) On his talk that I heard: The talk was not about the Hindutva-Zionist "alliance". Nor was it about Isarel's growing relations with India on the eve of the PM of Isarel visiting India in 2004. (I cannot recall who was the Prime Minister of Isarel at the time) While he barely touched on that topic (he did mention his pamphlet once), his main focus was the growing alliance between Hindus and Jews in terms of political voice in the US. Looking at my notes (which I had to dig up, hence the delay in replying), he talked about the following subjects, none of which really deals with Hindutva or Zionism:

- He discussed how USINPAC was working with Jewish/Israeli lobbying groups, which is where he made the comment I referenced above.
- He talked about how some Hindus were running on the Republican party line in New Jersey, and implied that Jewish groups were behind the move. (of course, he failed to mention that politics in New Jersey are in the grip of a Democratic political machine, which effectively shuts out any new voices getting elected via the Democratic Party in NJ except on rare occasion.)
- Using that example from New Jersey and others, he conflated the Hindu right wing with US right wing politics in general, which made no sense to me whatsoever.
- He said that Hindus should not work with Jewish groups, and instead work with black political groups, saying that Hindus were taking advantage of the fights that the black community had fought for minority rights if they did not do so. Of course, that implies two things: 1) That it was a mutually exclusive choice, as though Hindus could only choose to work with one or the other. That of course creates the false inference that Jews and Blacks cannot work together; and 2) That Jews were treated throughout American history perfectly fine, which of course is not the case. They faced significant social discrimination (the Anti-Defamation League was not created in the 1910s for no reason). And on top of that, Jewish groups and individuals went out of their way to support African-Americans in their struggle for civil rights in the 1960s.

Was it an explicitly anti-Semitic talk that should have been obvious to everyone there? No. In fact, a freshman sitting two seats over from me said at the end, "Wow! He's the man!" But to anyone with a good knowledge of U.S. political and social history, once you took the time to unpack and decode what he was saying, it basically boiled down to: "The Jews are dangerous people. Don't work with them." I don't know about you all, but I believe what he said was anti-Semitic.

I will, however, give him credit for his anti-Bush jokes in regards to the U.S. Presidential campaign during the talk. Those were funny. (and probably got most people in the audience to think he was just a liberal Democrat, instead of a Marxist.)

2) On Hindutva and Buddhism: It appears Vijay Prashad is intentionally conflating Hindutva and "Brahminism". Nice sophistry. As I've written already, many Hindus view Buddhism as an outgrowth of Hinduism. This extends to Sangh members, who call Buddhism as a dharmic tradition. One of the things I've noted anecdotally is that quite a few Sangh members have attended a Vipassana meditation course. (if you're not familiar with it, Vipassana is a meditation technique that traces its history back to Buddha Himself. It's a very strenous technique, and a very pure Buddhist style of meditation. I've done a course myself.) I don't think that believers in Hindutva would be attending those courses if they "ferociously hated Buddhism".

3) Prof. Prashad, I'm going to address you directly here: While your statement may have talked about the "struggle to change how India Studies is taught in the University", I specifically referred to the part that discussed the California textbook scandal. (I am betting we use scandal for different reasons...I use scandal to refer to the due process violations committed by the California Dept. of Education and perpetuated by Dr. Witzel.)
Until Nov. 8, 2005, the edits proposed by the Hindu groups were going to be approved. Once the letter came from Witzel, the State Board of Education reversed course on Nov. 9 (the planned date for final approval), and in the ensuing process, violated the U.S. Constitution.

You frame the question as: "Should the textbooks have been approved or not?" That is NOT the question I have posed to you. My question to you is "Do you support the violations of due process committed by Dr. Witzel?" You may seek to minimize Dr. Witzel's role in the process, but the facts are obvious: Until his letter came in Nov. 8, the edits proposed by the Hindu groups were going to be approved because there had been no opposition to them. That makes his involvement central to what happened after Nov. 8 (especially since he was retained as an advisor by the California Dept. of Education), and if he communicated with any of the opposition groups that you have talked about, then discriminatory treatment and Constitutional violations occurred.

That's what a nation of laws means, Dr. Prashad. You can't break them because just because you believe your political viewpoint is more important than someone else's political viewpoint. (in that sense, you echo the Neocon backers of the Bush administration in justifying the warrantless wiretapping that's been committed, or calling for a pardon of Scooter Libby.) So let me ask again:

Was he aware of the fact that Prof. Witzel was acting on the behalf on narrow special interest groups instead of the neutral advisor he was supposed to be? Does he support the subversion of the California textbook adoption process that Prof. Witzel has committed? Most importantly, was he a part of any of the third party groups that Prof. Witzel was coordinating with in violation of California law?

Aatish and Dr. A, I think I've partially responded to your questions to me here via this reply, though I haven't gotten to all of them, I know. I'll try to get to them soon.

(I cannot recall who was the

(I cannot recall who was the Prime Minister of Isarel at the time)

Ariel Sharon.

his main focus was the growing alliance between Hindus and Jews in terms of political voice in the US.

If you study the most vociferous strands of Indian American politics and American Jewish politics, PAC's, and lobbies, there are very conservative religious platforms that push for a religious based agenda in the countries of their interest (India and Israel).

There's loads of stuff (articles, analyses, etc) out there; judging from the way you write, you must be still a student, so using your university digital library, look that up.

He discussed how USINPAC was working with Jewish/Israeli lobbying groups, which is where he made the comment I referenced above.

I really, really, don't want to get into a discussion about how there's a difference between
Jewish, Israel, and Zionism. But the fact that you put "Jewish/Israeli" as something that is synonymous speaks volumes.

If you observe the USINPAC closely, they have in fact recieved a good chunk of their training from AIPAC and AJC, which a groups that not only call themselves "Jewish" but that push for a right wing idea of Israel that some Israelis (and American Jews) themselves have issues with. The USINPAC has never hid this fact; on their own website last year, they published articles that proudly mentioned their training.

Keep in mind- since you didn't know who the Israeli prime minister was back then- was Ariel Sharon. USINPAC, AIPAC, and the AJC were all groups that lobbied for that historic landing of Sharon.

I know that once you bring up Israel/Palestine, equate criticism of right wing groups and politics with anti Semiticism/anti Hinduism, it starts to get very nasty. So I won't continue to discuss I/P and alleged anti-isms...

The basic argument as far as

The basic argument as far as Israeli assistance to India is concerned it this: does the Indian state want to adopt a forward policy of Occupation which will only fuel resentment? If yes, then it is worthwhile to take the step that Israel took forty year ago with the Six Day War (Tom Segev’s new book is instructive). To my mind, a military response to the problems of South Asia will not solve anything, although it might inflame the macho sentiments of sections of the population.

Your use of the word "Occupation" is deliberately misleading. Kashmir is as much a part of India as Bombay is. To preserve one's territory is called defense, not "Occupation". It is interesting to note that the Indian Communists during the Chinese aggression of India in 1962 was on the Chinese side.

A zebra never changes its stripes...

Laaton ke Bhoot baaton se nahin maantein. (For you Ogre-Douche bag).

This extends to Sangh

This extends to Sangh members, who call Buddhism as a dharmic tradition. One of the things I’ve noted anecdotally is that quite a few Sangh members have attended a Vipassana meditation course. (if you’re not familiar with it, Vipassana is a meditation technique that traces its history back to Buddha Himself. It’s a very strenous technique, and a very pure Buddhist style of meditation. I’ve done a course myself.) I don’t think that believers in Hindutva would be attending those courses if they “ferociously hated Buddhism”.

Nice. The strength of your argument reminded me of this. ;)

Laaton ke Bhoot baaton se

Laaton ke Bhoot baaton se nahin maantein. (For you Ogre-Douche bag).

Charming. You're the biggest ogre here - It must be hard to fit into human society after living in a jungle and being raised by a pack of wolves. You have my sympathy.

Kashmir is as much a part of India as Bombay is. To preserve one’s territory is called defense, not “Occupation”.

Really? Why is that? Because of geography? Because of 'culture'? Because of what? Borders and boundaries have not existed in the way we know them to today.. and they have changed constantly over time. The nation-state, i.e. "India" - also a new and modern concept...without which the Sangh and Hindutva have no meaning and would not have come into existence. Why am I stating the mindnumbingly obvious? What else do you say to someone who collapses the past and the present into one flat, fossilized plate and thinks nothing has changed for millenia?

Ogre-Douche bag Kashmir

Ogre-Douche bag

Kashmir (including POK) is part of India just as Bombay, Delhi or Kanpur are a part of India. There is no need to justify this statement.

What is the difficulty in understanding this ? Please do not make issues more complex than they are.

Dilip I realize complex

Dilip
I realize complex thinking is extremely difficult for you. I'm really glad you finally admitted it. Two points for finally seeming like a human being capable of even the minutest degree of self-reflection!

I know that once you bring up

I know that once you bring up Israel/Palestine, equate criticism of right wing groups and politics with anti Semiticism/anti Hinduism, it starts to get very nasty. So I won’t continue to discuss I/P and alleged anti-isms…

I think you are quite free about critisizing Hindus and their organizations. However, you WOULD NOT DARE to be critical of Jewish/Israeli organisations in the same way. You would not dare say much about the I/P issues. You are too chicken for that. Basically, you have been silenced on that issue, and you know it. So all your high flying language, "rationality", liberalism etc. are all out of the window on this issue.

For everything said and done, Jews are fiercely proud people, whether they be Reform, Secular, Hasidic or what have you. All of these are united about certain issues. They do not bring down their own or their country.

On the other hand many "brown" Hindus that have a deep rooted complex of hitting out against their own. I call this the Deepa Mehta syndrome i.e to fit in the White society you have to act according to the biases of the Whites. For the White man, India is just caste, dowry, bride burning. And thus these servile "brown" Hindus hit out against their own, under the pretext of equal rights, human rights, justice, liberty, what have you.

(I suppose thats where you get the term "brownie points".)

This is the root cause of this hatred for Hindus trying to assert themselves with their new found confidence.

And this is the main reason for ideologies like Prashadism.

Thats why I say,

Be like Arjun, or Ram, Sita, Parvati, Ganesh, Shiva, Buddha, Durga....pick your own, there are enough role models there.

Mr. Khatta Meetha: There is a

Mr. Khatta Meetha:

There is a time for complex thinking.

But often times issues are deliberately obscured or misrepresented, to suit someones hidden agenda, by making things more complex than they are.

Yes there are lots of people with hidden motives....which reminds me of a song ( I know how you love these ;)

Kya miliye aise logon se
jinki niyat chupi rahen
Nakli chehra samne aye
Asli surat chupi rahen.

USINPAC is certainly a

USINPAC is certainly a product of AIPAC's training and nurturing. In a sense it is good that the Sanghis are embracing the Zionists - that helps take the sheen of legitimacy the latter cultivate for themselves. Like the embrace of a putrid zombie, Hindutva's friendship with Zionism will help sully even the suited booted, gleaming Zionist visage in the public eye. After all who can deny that something is terribly wrong when the likes of Daniel Pipes and Alan Dershowitz obtain the love and kisses of the dirty Sanghi zombies? We should actually say thanks to the Sangh Parivar for helping bring down Zionism!

Baloo

Uff... its actually Ms.Khatta

Uff... its actually Ms.Khatta Meetha (must you assume everyone is male and if they are female, denigrate them?) and EVERYTHING is 'represented' ... which is why we use our faculties of reasoning to understand who represents what in a particular way and why... so complex thinking is always needed and nothing is to be taken for granted or for a 'fact'. I cant believe I am waxing basic epistemology here.

For everything said and done, Jews are fiercely proud people, whether they be Reform, Secular, Hasidic or what have you. All of these are united about certain issues. They do not bring down their own or their country.

I'm not sure "Jews" would appreciate you dumping them into one 'united' group. As to your obsession with blind patriotism and nationalism..... you still haven't explained how you understand the development of the Sangh, the idea of a "hindu" identity and how this is all connected to the creation of the modern state and the subsequent competing ideas on what constituted the Indian nation. Singing about asli or nakli chehras isn't an adequate response.

On the other hand many “brown” Hindus that have a deep rooted complex of hitting out against their own. I call this the Deepa Mehta syndrome i.e to fit in the White society you have to act according to the biases of the Whites. For the White man, India is just caste, dowry, bride burning. And thus these servile “brown” Hindus hit out against their own, under the pretext of equal rights, human rights, justice, liberty, what have you.

Okay, you can identify orientalist thinking and unchanging power relations regarding how the sub-continent has been represented. Anger against the above is one thing most of us can agree on. However, you think Hindutva and the Hindu 'rashtra' is the answer to that??????Acting within the same paradigm created by colonialism? Because the expanses of the subcontinent were understood dichomotously as dark, spiritual, weak, passive, esoteric...opposed to how the colonial power wanted to see itself (beacon of civility, rationality, progress, scientific advancement) and as a result, the population broken down and viewed on the basis of religion, followed by constructions of gender based on religion - the virile Muslim invader, the effeminate passive Hindu male etc etc.... you think that resistance to these notions comes by merely reacting in opposition to them?!?

Also, do tell me, if the Sangh cares so much about its "own" - where the hell are they when it comes to fighting for their "own" in "white" society? Where are they when it comes to speaking out against immigration reform that hurts their "own"? Where are they when it comes to protesting policies based on race hiearchies that affect people's everyday lives? Oh wait a minute.... "brown" people don't matter, its just the Hindus right... So helping their "own" in North America would be nearly impossible because what would they do if they truly wanted to help say, taxi drivers who are largely desi in New York, go to a union meeting and say, "Every Hindu, please stand up, please stand up?" No... the Sangh is too busy screaming about chappals or t-shirts produced with ganesh or krishna on them not the undesirable but nevertheless their "own" illegally kept in detention centres across the US. If they're not doing that, they're running Hindu student councils or camps for learning hindi and bharatnatyam in suburbia. Are you not recognizably Hindu unless you're middle class and up?

al-Qaida Declares Holy War on

al-Qaida Declares Holy War on India

By AIJAZ HUSSAIN
The Associated Press
Saturday, June 9, 2007; 4:24 AM

SRINAGAR, India -- A group claiming to represent the al-Qaida terror network declared a holy war on India over its partial control of the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir, Indian officials said Saturday.

This is the news in today's papers. Well, some anti India folks around the world would rather India do nothing but capitulate to terrorists. While the Muslim Ummah works as one nation and does not recognise the boundaries of countries when it comes to their bretheren, it is but imperative the India use all means to counter these terrorist.

While no help can be expected from Islamic quarters in defense of India, to make matters worse, the Pseudo left with its skewed and hidden anti India agenda would rather side on the sides of these terrorists.

Needless to say that Israelis have been the best friends of India in combatting this ugly monster. The likes of Daniel Pipes and Alan Dershowitz are a million times more human and civlised than the barbarians cults of the desert Prophets, or the genocidal ideologues of the fundamentalist left.

Hindutva and Zionism are not synonimous, but the enemy loves to conflate the two for his hidden agenda.

To be sure, Sanatana Dharma is not about to go away, but is rather asserting itself through out the world in its own way. This influence will only grow as truth is unstoppable. Satye mev Jayate. I cannot say much about Zionism, but the Jews are not about to give up. If they can wait for 2000 years to create Israel, they will stick around another 2000 years to preserve.

So will India or should I say Bharat.

Jai Hind.

Dilip: What I am about to ask

Dilip:

What I am about to ask is by no means my being snarky; I'm just asking because I've noticed that you use words that you do not understand, or take things that people say and respond in an incongruent manner....

Is English a second language for you?

I had said:

I know that once you bring up Israel/Palestine, equate criticism of right wing groups and politics with anti Semiticism/anti Hinduism, it starts to get very nasty. So I won’t continue to discuss I/P and alleged anti-isms

I really, really, don’t want to get into a discussion about how there’s a difference between
Jewish, Israel, and Zionism.

And then you said,

I think you are quite free about critisizing Hindus and their organizations. However, you WOULD NOT DARE to be critical of Jewish/Israeli organisations in the same way. You would not dare say much about the I/P issues. You are too chicken for that. Basically, you have been silenced on that issue, and you know it.

???

What my statements meant was "It's a whole other topic, which I don't want to get into here because already we are talking about a complex topic." Wasn't this obvious? If I were silent on this issue, I wouldn't have even posted that comment, na? (Also, it was 7 pm and I was still at work...I wanted to get home so I posted that comment in a hurry).

All of these arguments are complicated- there are entire BOOKS and a plethora of articles written on lobbies, PAC's, and so on; you seem to have a very superficial grasp on all subjects we've discussed here. I think otherwise, so I refrained from going further into something that arguably merits an entire post on its own.

Again, I'm not being mean when I ask you if English is a second language for you. Most desis that are around me are not native speakers (including my maabaap), so I don't intend to make fun of you. But I would like to know if this is the reason why you tend to use words, concepts that imply that you don't know entirely what you are writing; and in the manner you respond to folks here suggests that you are misreading what they are saying. Or maybe you are skimming people's posts too fast and misunderstand what they are saying....?

Also, you have loads to say. Why not start up your own blog?

https://www.blogger.com/start

It's for free!

P.S. Tell me the truth...are you making all of this up just to have fun? Are you trying to get under Vijay Prashad's skin so that you can tell your college buddies that jokingly, you made comments and people actually responded to you, including a professor?

Just to make it clear, I'm

Just to make it clear, I'm not taking swipes at first generation folks and linguistic capabilities. I asked Dilip this question whether English is his second language or not, and whether this influences how he's using words/concepts and misreading what people are saying because I remember that for the first two years I was in Italy, I would literally translate stuff into Italian, and I would discover that I didn't mean what I said in Italian. Sometimes the stuff I would say would be a string of charmingly hilarious boo-boos; other times I gave the impression that I was some Bushavite, gung ho American imperialist, when nothing could be further from the truth. This required long winded explanations of what I meant to say.

Anyway.

Vijay: Strikingly, the

Vijay:

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).

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.

I could totally see this. There'a another Indian sociologist- Ali Asghar Engineer, I think?- who did a study of rural areas; and if I remember correctly, he found that apart from the religious names and prayers that people used, there was almost no difference between the Hindus and Muslims living in the areas he studied.

On a personal level: Part of my family is Punjabi Sikh, and so there is this whole network of family and friends who hail from Punjab and the Punjabi diaspora (not Gujarat, where both my parents are from). I've always been struck at just how intertwined everything is. At first I thought that it a result of our immigrant and minority condition- that because there's so few of us, we hung out with whoever was desi, period- even if they weren't Gujarati, Hindu, whatever. But knowing and meeting a variety of people from Punjab make me rethink this assumption.

Example: One of my sister-in-laws is Punjabi Sikh and she just recently came from Punjab to the US (she married into the Punjabi Sikh side). Every morning she does puja in front of Guru Nanak's picture and then Laxmi Mata. I was watching the wedding DVD, and there were shots of her pind and family home. There were OM signs everywhere, including in the two gurdwaras that appeared in the DVD. I asked her about this; she looked suprised and couldn't understand why I noticed that, thought it was interesting, and wanted to know more. I got the impression that it was normal for her to practice some things that were "Hindu" and "Sikh" and that maybe it was me who was making a distinction and drawing lines between "Hinduism" and "Sikhism" when maybe those lines weren't even there to begin with.

On the first Sunday of every month, my Punjabi Sikh family members do puja in front of Laxmi mata's picture while there is a CD of kirtans on. Then they go to the gurdwara.

Also, when we were in India, my mother made me pray to the Sufi tombs (can't exactly remember where) that we came across. Then we went to Mathura to visit Krishna's birthplace (my folks are Hindu, Swaminarayan to be exact, but Krishna is a big huge deal in my household so my mother felt it was necessary to go to Mathura).

What they found was that

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).

Oh mi god. I respect the impetus behind such work and the utility it could have but please... only within a discipline as mediocre and methodologically shaky as sociology would anyone consider so preposterously quantifying the study of human reality. Yuck. What does that mean.."share 88.99%" traits?!?!?!? Are we comparing the genetic traits of plants? Are botanists qualified to talk about human society? The social sciences are fragile enough working on the assumption that modern scientific method is adequate to the study of human reality.... is there any need for its practitioners to display a willingness to indulge in such base applications of lower objectivity.

Be like Arjun, or Ram, Sita,

Be like Arjun, or Ram, Sita, Parvati, Ganesh, Shiva, Buddha, Durga….pick your own, there are enough role models there.

Dilip bhai, none of these people are real except Buddha in the way that contemporary Hindutva talks about them and in this context Buddha's message has been disfigured beyond recognition.

How about some other role models? Subhash Chandra Bose or Mohandas Gandhi or Aurobindho Ghose or Jawarhlal Nehru or Salman Rushdie or Arundhati Roy or any of the hundreds of millions of people who are just trying to get by?

At least they exist and you don't need someone else to tell you what they think and why.

Oh mi god. I respect the

Oh mi god. I respect the impetus behind such work and the utility it could have but please… only within a discipline as mediocre and methodologically shaky as sociology would anyone consider so preposterously quantifying the study of human reality

I disagree aigre-doux. I think that genetics on the basis of mitochondrial DNA and other things can be useful and, moreover, interesting.

Of course, relying on it without consideration of what "Hindu" and "Muslim" etc. mean is, agreed, pretty useless, and using contemporary genetic understandings as the reason for defining groups has been demonstrated to be dangerous.

genetics and mitochondrial

genetics and mitochondrial dna - Interesting in the social sciences!??! In biology maybe.

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)

That's just bad, meaningless academic work and worse when people rely on it.( It was from an anthropological society not a sociology based study so... my bad..Still it was 1992, and I think anthropology has atleast made massive headway since then no matter how problematic unlike sociology) I'm totally surprised Prashad quotes it though.... I least expect it from him. You cannot 'identify traits' in any kind of reliable manner around people.. human beings are not something you can isolate in a lab, study with limited variables and work on with an hypothesis to produce knowledge in the social sciences.

To get to some points raised,

To get to some points raised, questions posed:

#155. Anonymous (why not use a better tag name? Or your own name? It is probably so much more colorful. One could wonder, along the grain of our Hindu American baiters, is this person embarrassed of his or her real, Hindu name?).

I will return to you on the California textbooks. That will take more time to answer.

(1) On Buddhism. I recommend you read several of the essays in Anand Teltumbe's edited volume, Hindutva and Dalits. Perspectives for Understanding Communal Praxis (Kolkata, Samya, 2005). OK, fine. Desi Italiana will complain that it uses the word praxis, so academic of Teltumbe (who is Dr. Ambedkar's grandson). The book has wonderful essays, by people such as Gopal Guru, Meera Kandasamy, Suhas Palshikar, V. Geetha and Subhash Gatade.
One of the important points to consider is how the Hindutva movement, since the late 1980s, has tried to draw in certain Dalit communities (such as the Balmikis, whom I studied for my Ph. D. in that period). The attempt to be nice to Buddhism and to the Buddha has as much to do with this strategic necessity (particularly in U. P.) as it does with anything else. Brahmanism destroyed Buddhism's hold over the Indian population. Hindutva has no reason to be hostile to Buddhism in terms of seeing today's Buddhists as a threat (Savarkar's stuff that I quoted is against Gandhi's interpretation of the Gita, which Savarkar saw as overly influenced by its Buddhist accretions). Hindutva has wanted to draw Dalits into an alliance, although not in equal terms (I show this in my first book). Mayawati (of the BSP) was at one point in the web of the BJP, and has not outfoxed them, as the results from the recent U. P. elections show.
BTW: #151, Dr. Anonymous wants more contemporary examples. It is to be understood that in an hierarchical organization such as the RSS, reverence to the founders is at a premium. What Savarkar or Golwalkar wrote is divine; thus, a read of their writings is a good indicator of what is taught in the Parivar. This does not mean that there are no shifts, but that the Savarkars are centrally important for the ideology of the Parivar.

(2) on the Israel-India link. I recommend you read the article I wrote in South Atlantic Quarterly, already cited. It is a good place to see the broad point about Yankee Hindutva's link with American Zionism -- AIPAC/AJC and USINPAC, et. al. The charge of anti-Semitism is specious.

(3) on traits. I'm afraid I think that #170 misses the point of the methodology. It was an immense exercise to study Indian social reality. Singh and his team isolated a set of "traits" (such as how people relate to nature, what food they eat, etc.). They then conducted surveys of different communities, to come up with their data sets. Then these were compared. There is enormous scope to dispute the choice of traits and to argue about how the answers work. That's the role of reviews and reviewers, and the discussion has been very rich on that basis. However, it is also not to be disdained. To call something "bad, meaningless academic work" does not make it so either; that's just name-calling. What is "bad" about it? That traits are identified? Perhaps it is the word you object to? What about social processes? We can isolate 775 social processes, and then do surveys? Or is it the survey method itself? In that case, and if we had the funds, we could send out several thousand anthropologists to do participant-observation (a dying art in the U. S. academy at any rate) and wait for their results. I'm not sure what is "meaningless" about such research. There is no claim that this is a mirror to reality, simply that it is an indicator of social life that is far more useful than, for instance, the Census returns that mark off and separate out Muslim from Hindu.

peace and love,
Vijay.

Dr. Anonymous: using

Dr. Anonymous:

using contemporary genetic understandings as the reason for defining groups has been demonstrated to be dangerous

Wasn't the Singh study on social practices, how people define themselves and how others seem them ("Muslim", "Hindu", etc), and not genetics?

Aigre Doux:

You cannot ‘identify traits’ in any kind of reliable manner around people.. human beings are not something you can isolate in a lab...study with limited variables and work on with an hypothesis to produce knowledge in the social sciences.

I think you are talking more about the semantics of the issue ("traits" as opposed to "social practices"). From what I gather, the Singh study was identifying social practices. And I don't disagree with that. There are social practices that differ from location to location, and within a given location. There wasn't an implication that those traits were somehow innate, but social practices which are learned. And the fact that people in seemingly different "communities"- ie "Hindu", "Muslims", etc- share those same/similar social practices strengthens and underlines the argument that it is hard to create and define presumably seperate and different communities and that you can't do that. Which is what I suspect you are arguing.

#155. Anonymous (why not use

#155. Anonymous (why not use a better tag name? Or your own name? It is probably so much more colorful. One could wonder, along the grain of our Hindu American baiters, is this person embarrassed of his or her real, Hindu name?).

Why, Dr. Prashad, you wouldn't be trying to bait me, would you? One would think a professor could do better than that. In any case, if you and your confederates could release an anonymous report attacking HSC (is the reason no names were on the report is that they were ashamed of their Hindu names?), then surely you can handle one anonymous person asking you questions on a blog.

(1) In reference to Buddhism and Hindutva, you've said the following:

Hindutva has a ferocious hatred of Buddhism.

and:

The attempt to be nice to Buddhism and to the Buddha has as much to do with this strategic necessity (particularly in U. P.) as it does with anything else. Brahmanism destroyed Buddhism’s hold over the Indian population. Hindutva has no reason to be hostile to Buddhism in terms of seeing today’s Buddhists as a threat

So would you like to pick one? Or are you arguing that people that have ferocious hatred of another belief system are also simutalenously able to be nice to them?

(2) You know, I tried to read the paper you cite, but as it turns out that I'd have to pay $15 to gain access to the archives, I shall pass. However, reading over the various responses to that one point, there seems to be a belief that USINPAC is a Sangh organization, or at least believes in Hindutva. AFAIK, neither of those is the case, considering none of the Sangh people I know donate to that PAC, or via looking at the PAC's board of directors.

But the charge of anti-Semitism was not predicated on that one point of the speech alone. Do you want to explain why you said Hindus should form an alliance with black people instead of Jews, presented as a mutually exclusive choice? You implied that black people are the only minority that had to fight for equal status, and the Jews did nothing of the sort, flying in the face of recorded history. Why don't you explain those comments, instead of ignoring them entirely?

I await your response on the California textbook issue.

However, it is also not to be

However, it is also not to be disdained

I'm sorry but people who think that human processes can be talked about in percentages should be treated with nothing but disdain. That's the kind of mentality and shoddy approach to knowledge displayed by engineering students who think they are qualified to talk about human society, history and politics and uncles who sit around drinking scotch not professors that teach the social sciences. I do think it is arrogant to dismiss work just because it is unpalatable but there has to be a certain standard of rigour in place. I would expect you of all people to realize that epistemological confusion and weakness is not abstract nonsense to be dismissed but something that has real consequences and is responsible for so much conflict, misunderstanding, and people clinging to vacuous political positions and identities..

To call something “bad, meaningless academic work” does not make it so either; that’s just name-calling. What is “bad” about it? That traits are identified? Perhaps it is the word you object to? What about social processes? We can isolate 775 social processes, and then do surveys? Or is it the survey method itself? In that case, and if we had the funds, we could send out several thousand anthropologists to do participant-observation (a dying art in the U. S. academy at any rate) and wait for their results. I’m not sure what is “meaningless” about such research. There is no claim that this is a mirror to reality, simply that it is an indicator of social life that is far more useful than, for instance, the Census returns that mark off and separate out Muslim from Hindu.

I don't understand your tone here particularly in relation to the last sentence. If you had taken the time to read my previous comments, you would realize that I'm not criticizing such work because I'm some scoffing hindutvadi with an agenda. To me, people who give credence to the kind of "study" you quoted are usually the same myopic people who don't see why it is not 'natural' or agiven to be marked a certain way in a census. There are enough problems with the way people digest 'facts' without any thought to what a fact is. Also, you think 'social processes' can just be subsituted for the term 'traits'???? and that these processes can be 'isolated' and ultimately reduced to numbers?!?! If you think 'surveys' are needed to counter the construction of difference based on religion in India, then its no wonder we are losing the battle against right-wing nutcases and liberal multi-culturalists.

DI: I think you are talking

DI:

I think you are talking more about the semantics of the issue

I appreciate your far more polite response (see above, Prashad just fell 10 times in my eyes, what a way to crush a student that's gained karma of brown folk atleast 8 new devoted readers). However, I wouldn't have wasted time saying anything if I was irritated about mere semantics.

(1) Buddhism. Re. #176. There

(1) Buddhism.
Re. #176. There is, to my mind, no contradiction. Hindutva, as an ideology, is in direct contradiction to Buddhism. In that sense, there is an ideological "hatred." And, strategically, the forces of Hindutva have taken a pragmatic approach toward Buddhism, largely to draw in Dalits for a "vote bank."

(2) USINPAC.
Yes, it is true that Duke University Press charges money for the essay. If anyone is interested, please send me an email, and I can forward the PDF to you.
There is no allegation that USINPAC is a Hindutva outfit. Only that its broad understanding of the geo-political environment is in accord with that of the BJP.
Also, I didn't say that Indian Americans should only form an alliance with Black people, as #176 glosses it. Only that the struggle for Black liberation in the U. S. is, to my mind, the principle task for lovers of freedom, that the way the model minority poses us as a weapon against Blacks is part of the war against Black, and that therefore we need to be in alliance, with progressive Jews (please see the new book by my Trinity colleague Cheryl Greenberg on this), on this plank of the broader freedom struggle. This is also the argument in Karma of Brown Folk.

(3) Traits.
I'm sorry to sound snarky above. I'm not keen on methological reductionism either. But the problem might often be in what readers assume of this research rather than in the goals set by the research. We think that these percentages are a mirror of reality, when they might simply be an indicator. Social science of this kind is not more true than fiction or any other attempt to represent reality, to present reality anew.

(4) on textbooks.
I'm guided by my friend Shalini Gera, of the Friends of South Asia. This is what she says,

"1. Witzel did not "flout" any rules by writing to the California Board
of Education, either on 8th Nov 2005 or at any other time. Anyone can
write to the CA Board of Education, at anytime, and indeed it is the
duty of responsible academics to write and inform the board if they
are aware of any shoddy scholarship in the texts.

2. No approval for any changes had occured by 8th Nov 2005 in any
case. It is true that the Curriculum Commission had heard and
deliberated on some of the proposed changes by then--but they had NOT
approved *anything*. What they might have approved in the absence of
Witzel's letter is just speculation. The Curriculum Commission did
approve some changes on Dec 2nd 2005, but then too -- their approval
is only advisory and NOT binding upon the State Board of Education.
The SBE went on to establish an independent subcommittee to further
evaluate the CC recommendations--largely at the behest Dalit, Tamil
and secular groups--which had vocally opposed the CC recommendations
in the public meeting on Jan 12th 2006. To reduce all this extensive
public discussion to merely Witzel flouting some arbitrary rules is
absurd.

3. The state court ruling in this case is also significant. The court
did find fault with the SBE for not updating their procedures for
textbook approval to make them compliant with the current state law.
But nowhere did the court state that a particular intervention was or
was not lawful--only that the SBE had not laid down clear procedures.
However, given the fact that this ruling could have far-reaching
effects of invalidating many textbooks that had undergone this
'non-updated' approval process, the court took the unusual step of
evaluating the complaints against the history textbooks itself--and
found all those complaints of unfairness and discrimination to be
completely unfounded and absurd. For instance, on the question of
caste, the court ruling states:

"The caste system is a historical reality, and indisputably was a
significant feature of ancient Indian society. Nothing in the
applicable standards requires textbook writers to ignore a historical
reality of such significant dimension, even if studying it might
engender certain negative reactions in students. Indeed, it appears
to the Court that to omit treatment of the caste system from the
teaching of ancient Indian history would itself be grossly
inaccurate."....

All this means is that in the court's view, the interventions made by
Witzel and subsequent groups only made the books much better, more
accurate and more legally sound. There was simply no question of
anyone flouting any rules by making these interventions.

4. And of course, we strenuously object to groups like HSS, HAF and
the Vedic Foundation hijacking the "Hindu" agenda and making this a
fight between "hindu groups" and non-Hindus like Witzel. First of
all, these textbooks are about history and not Hinduism. Secondly,
there are many hindus on both sides of the issue (despite constant
attempts from the Hindutva side to label all secular and dalit groups
as "marxist" and "anti-hindu"). This constant focus on Witzel is a
deliberate attempt to force a Hindutva/anti-Hindutva controversy into
a Hindu/non-Hindu one."

And then another Friend of South Asia,

"The Sacramento Superior Court's final rulings on the
textbook matter are now available at:
http://www.saccourt.com/courtrooms/trulings/d19archives/Sep1D19--06CS003...
http://www.saccourt.com/courtrooms/trulings/d19archives/Oct27D19--06CS00...

The two rulings above must be read in conjunction since the second was
issued only because the HAF objected to parts of the first ruling. In the
first ruling, dated September 1, 2006, the judge agreed only with one of
HAF's three claims, that the California State Board of Education (SBE) was
not following formally enacted policies and procedures, something it was
required to do by law.

On the second issue, whether the Board violated California's 'Open Meeting
Act,' by meeting and consulting with experts (Witzel was just one of the
experts the Board consulted, but the Sangh is going after him because he was
the most open of the lot), the court declined to rule on it since fixing the
administrative procedures would take care of any Open Meeting Act
violations.

Both of the preceding issues are covered in about a third of the judgment;
the bulk of the judgment deals with the third and only substantive claim
made by HAF, that the content of the textbooks does not conform to
applicable legal standards. And here the judge did not simply rule against
HAF's claim ("The Court has reviewed the content of the challenged textbooks
by reading in their entirety the excerpts of the texts that the parties have
submitted in their requests for judicial notice. On the basis of that
review, the Court finds that the challenged texts comply with the applicable
legal standards as set forth above."), but the judge specifically demolishes
each of HAF's claim - on theology, on Aryan invasion/migration, on the
supposed unfair treatment of Hinduism, on caste, on the status of women. As
court rulings go, this one is the judicial equivalent of a public beating.

HAF of course screamed blue murder and asked that the judge reconsider. The
judge held a second hearing (the Oct 27 judgment), and ruled that no
reconsideration could be allowed of the textbooks already adopted:
"Petitioners seek to have a provision included in the judgment and writ
giving them the right to have the textbooks adopted in March, 2006 reviewed
in accordance with the standards and regulations that respondent adopts
under the APA, to the extent that such new standards and regulations differ
from those currently in force. The Court declines to include such a
provision in the judgment and writ. The Court found that the content of the
textbooks did not violate applicable legal standards for content as found in
the governing statute (Education Code section 60044), the regulatory
Guidelines for Social Content, and the non-regulatory Criteria for
Evaluating Instructional Materials.""

-----------

Anonymous. I'm not baiting you. I simply find it hard to hold a discussion with people who know who I am, but who are themselves in disguise. You are reduced to what you write, whereas I carry a history with me. That's all. I recognize why people use tags, and that's fine. It is just uneven.

peace and love,
Vijay.

Re: 179 This message: Social

Re: 179

This message:

Social science of this kind is not more true than fiction or any other attempt to represent reality, to present reality anew.

is not the same as this:

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.

I understand that messages change over the course of argument, depending on the context, but you can't espouse extreme relativism on "the truth" of social classification and at the same time cite an anthropological study to refute perceptions. Sure, the billion plus people in South Asia and elsewhere have complex, interweaving relationships that are not solely tied to religion but quantifying it in order to make a point is really not rigorous.

But I understand also why it's useful in the course of a simple discussion to make a point (e.g. the way it might be useful to quantify how important the epistemological discussion here is to the larger discussion about Hindutva--i would say about 0.01%).

HSC caught again...and

HSC caught again...and again!! Here's the latest weekly question to HSC from CSFH. I suggest people go to the website and check out the links - very damning stuff.

Baloo

http://hsctruthout.stopfundinghate.org/PRs/pr_Question3.html

The Cover-up Continues: National HSC Takes Yet Another Step to hide its ties
Why is the National HSC Scrambling to restrict access to its archives?

Last week, we had pointed to the National HSC changing the domain registration details for hscnet.org and the contact page on Hindunet (http://www.hindunet.com/contact.htm) in an effort to distance itself from the Sangh Parivar's electronic infrastructure that it had set up and continues to maintain (see our Week #2 question to the National HSC; http://hsctruthout.stopfundinghate.org/PRs/pr_Question2.html).

This week, we look at yet another belated and unsuccessful attempt by the National HSC to hide its ideological affinity with the Sangh Parivar.

Before the world wide web became popular in the mid-1990s, Usenet newsgroups were used for communication and sharing information. Through the early 1990s, the Hindu Students Council's announcements and discussions were carried extensively on the Usenet newsgroup alt.hindu. GHEN/Hindunet maintains an archive of alt.hindu at http://www.hindunet.org/alt_hindu, and this was one piece of evidence we used in our report to establish the ideological and/or material linkages between the National HSC and the Sangh Parivar. This archive was public when our report was published, but now it requires a password for access. If one goes by the dates on Google caches of
alt.hindu messages, this change happened some time in May 2007. The timing of this change coincides with changes made to the WHOIS domain registration pages of the National HSC website (we discussed these in
our last week's question to the National HSC, but there has been no response yet).

Our question to the National HSC for Week #3: Why has the National HSC password protected the alt.hindu archives? Why has it NOW sought to hide discussions that happened in the public domain in the mid-1990s?

The most plausible explanation is that the National HSC is trying to hide virulent Hindutva content in the alt.hindu archives. As we scan through the archives, we find that even as HSC chapters posted announcements about meetings and so on, National HSC leaders and other Sangh ideologues posted Hindutva propaganda including strong statements of support on the destruction of the Babri Masjid, the programs of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and VHP of America, as well as glowing tributes to Hindutva (samples). Besides, alt.hindu messages in 1994 and 1995 acknowledged HSC as being sponsored by the VHPA, even as the HSC's history page says that in 1993, "HSC becomes an organization by itself is run independently of VHPA" (http://hsctruthout.stopfundinghate.org/footnotes/026.pdf)

The alt.hindu archives going back to 1994 are available on the Internet archive (http://web.archive.org/web/20010605055130/www.hindunet.org/alt_hindu) and an incomplete archive of the newsgroup is also available on Google Groups (http://groups.google.com/group/alt.hindu). We will be glad to
share the archives, as a zip file, with anyone interested.

For more information, contact: Raja Swamy (raja.swamy@gmail.com) or Samip Mallick (samipkmallick@gmail.com)

P.S. Last week, the Stanford HSC held a discussion on our report. We thank them for inviting us to the discussion, and for reading out our letter. In days to come, we will address some of the issues raised in the discussion. A video of the discussion is available at: http://www.stanford.edu/group/hsc/video.html

Dilip bhai, none of these

Dilip bhai, none of these people are real except Buddha in the way that contemporary Hindutva talks about them and in this context Buddha’s message has been disfigured beyond recognition.

How about some other role models? Subhash Chandra Bose or Mohandas Gandhi or Aurobindho Ghose or Jawarhlal Nehru or Salman Rushdie or Arundhati Roy or any of the hundreds of millions of people who are just trying to get by?

Again another mindless attack by the secular/chrislomo fundamentalists on Hinduism. Now even believing in Hinduism and Hindu books is to be labelled as a "radical", by these left wing terrorists.

Europe lost its pagan culture, just in the same way. The Pagan Gods were ridiculed, "mythologised" and turned into a work of fiction and imaginary. Then these same pagans were ripe for conversion, and once converted they destroyed their own culture. You just wont get this part, ofcourse, cuz you are so blind about what goes on under the surface.

You are free to choose your role models, but many of the folks you mentioned are as unreal as Vijay Prashad.

(1) Buddhism. Re. #176. There

(1) Buddhism.
Re. #176. There is, to my mind, no contradiction. Hindutva, as an ideology, is in direct contradiction to Buddhism. In that sense, there is an ideological “hatred.”

Its more like Marxism has an ideological hatred towards religions. China thru its Marxist ideology destroyed countless Buddhist temples and institutions. Communist Soviets banned religions.

So its more like Indian Marxists have a deep hatred towards Hinduism. But to hide their true motives, they refer to Hinduism as "Hindutva", and then try to create divisions between Hindus and Buddhist.

Mr. Prashad, please dont try to weasel out of your lies and contradictions. We are on to you.

Desi Italiana: I got the

Desi Italiana:

I got the impression that it was normal for her to practice some things that were “Hindu” and “Sikh” and that maybe it was me who was making a distinction and drawing lines between “Hinduism” and “Sikhism” when maybe those lines weren’t even there to begin with.

Exaclty !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is the fundamentalist left that is creating these divisions for their own hidden agenda. Beware of these wolves in sheeps clothings.

On the first Sunday of every month, my Punjabi Sikh family members do puja in front of Laxmi mata’s picture while there is a CD of kirtans on. Then they go to the gurdwara.

Also, when we were in India, my mother made me pray to the Sufi tombs (can’t exactly remember where) that we came across. Then we went to Mathura to visit Krishna’s birthplace (my folks are Hindu, Swaminarayan to be exact, but Krishna is a big huge deal in my household so my mother felt it was necessary to go to Mathura).

Again proves the point about Hindus been very accepting.

Now, if you mother donated some money to a temple, which then took up any cause that the PRASHADISTS diapprove, then your mom is a Hindutvadi, according to them.

Beware the lies of these Leftie extremists.

Desi Italiana: ONce

Desi Italiana:

ONce again..didnt come out right last time.

I got the impression that it was normal for her to practice some things that were “Hindu” and “Sikh” and that maybe it was me who was making a distinction and drawing lines between “Hinduism” and “Sikhism” when maybe those lines weren’t even there to begin with.

Exaclty !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is the fundamentalist left that is creating these divisions for their own hidden agenda. Beware of these wolves in sheeps clothings.

Also, when we were in India,

Also, when we were in India, my mother made me pray to the Sufi tombs

Hindus go to Sufi, Buddhist, Sikh, Bahai, Churches, and even Secular temples.

Have you seen or heard any of the following going to Hindu temples ?

1. Muslims
2. Christians
3. Communists
4. Bhaloo

Now compare and see who is a pluralist and who is an exclusivist .

Dilip: Go away. Please? I

Dilip:

Go away. Please? I think all of us would rather attempt a conversation with Bal Thackeray than with you.

Dilip: Could you please

Dilip:

Could you please e-mail me at

italiandesi@gmail.com?

Your identity/condition of anonymity will still be secured.

Go away. Please? I think all

Go away. Please? I think all of us would rather attempt a conversation with Bal Thackeray than with you.

Whats your problem with Bal Thackeray, Meez. Khatta Meetha ? Could you elaborate on that please ?

I’m guided by my friend

I’m guided by my friend Shalini Gera, of the Friends of South Asia.

Friends of South Asia is a dubious organization set up by fundamentalist left wingers and Muslims. The members of these organizations are stridently anti Indian on the Kashmir issue and anti Hindu for the most part.

It is alleged that Friends of South Asia has connections with numerous extreme Muslim organisations thru out the world. It must be known that numerous extreme Muslims from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have connections with Al Queda, Jaish e Mohammad, and other terrorists groups. Associations with the ISI of Pakistan is also alleged.

Shalini Gera belongs to an organisation which is suspect by many, and thus her motives are suspect.

Anonymous. I’m not baiting

Anonymous. I’m not baiting you. I simply find it hard to hold a discussion with people who know who I am, but who are themselves in disguise. You are reduced to what you write, whereas I carry a history with me. That’s all. I recognize why people use tags, and that’s fine. It is just uneven.

Isn't this a case of the pot calling the kettle black ? So who are your Mr. Prashad ? You carry a Hindu name, but are not a Hindu, but rather a Marxist. To make the field even, you might want to use the Tag, Marxist with your name, i.e. Mr. Vijay Prashad, Marxist. Otherwise you are just disguising yourself as a Hindu.

Desi Italiana: I am very

Desi Italiana:

I am very suspicious of another Italian desi, who happens of rule our country.

Do you have yahoo messanger ?

Dilip daarling, You probably

Dilip daarling,
You probably never had the experience of inviting your Muslim and Christian classmates to Diwali, or accepted your non-Hindu classmates' invitations to Id or Christmas festivities. For that I have nothing but sympathy for you. Syncretism is not one religion's property but the practice of everyday people in everyday situations. Most often syncretism is the way in which folks just go about taking ownership of their practices away from clergy, priests, social elites and other assorted parasites who would love for there to be water-tight compartments within which the faithful can be locked and controlled. I can already see your nimble saffronized mind reach for the "but Hindus never do this, only Muslims do this" mode of explanation. Again, its your ailment that is the source of this reflex action dude. Maybe you need to open your mind a little even if it means putting down that Hindutva crack pipe for a few days no matter how hard that would be for an addicted victim like yourself.
with hugs,
Baloo

Bhaloo, I included your idea

Bhaloo,

I included your idea of syncretism and responded to that. So now you have a problem with your own definition of syncretism ?

Why dont you reply back to my post in an honest manner instead of trying call it names and try to be a spokeperson for other's reactions to it ?

Maybe, you need to get out of your Chrislamo Jihadi camps and see the light.

Jaago sone walo...

Bhaloo Mausi: Firstly, you

Bhaloo Mausi:

Firstly, you obscure the issue, and then blame only Hindus. Your radical Left wing agenda once again.

Yes, I have celebrated Holi, diwali, Id, Christmas with different religious peoples. But there is a difference between being a guest or a tourist and being a follower.

Hindus in general have no problem following sufi saints, or Mother Mary (Hindus giving reverence to her specially in the Carribbean), or Our Lady Fatima (as HIndus do in Portugal). Hindus in India and Pakistan throng the sufi shrines. The followers of other religions rarely do, and if they do they do it as a tourist, mostly. I know many Muslims who like to go to Garba or Dandia, to pick up Hindu women.

In Hindu households, you will find images of Christ, Sufi shrines, etc. Muslims or Christians never do that.

And you say:

Most often syncretism is the way in which folks go about taking ownership of their practices away from clergy, priests, social elites and other assorted parasites

So then Catholicism or Islam are not syncretic at all. While the Pope makes all the rules for catholics, the Mullahs call all the shots in Islam. Even in "secular" Malaysia, Non Muslims have a hard time. Hindu temples have been demoished en masse just in the last year. A Hindu women had her children taken away from her, because the Muslim courts deemed her children Islamic. So even a Hindu woman does not have the right to raise her children her own way in "Secular Islamic" Malaysia. Just recently, a woman's conversion from Islam to Christianity was not recognised, by Malaysia. Talk about freedom.

In Fiji, Christian fascists regularly vandalise Hindu temples. And the Christian pastors okayed that. So much for religious freedom.

So if anything Islam and Christianity are getting less syncretic and more fundamentalist by the day.

Ofcourse for your crusader/Jihadi mind that is an issue not to be discussed. Like a greasy pig you skirt the real issues and hit out at others. You Chrislamo/secular terrorists have only one agenda --- Destroy Hinduism, by lies, deception, hook and crook.

So lets get out of your high horse and look yourself in the mirror before advising others. We are on to hypocrites like you.

Loha lohe ko kaata hai.

Laaton ke bhoot baaton se nahin maantein.

Dilip, You proclaim: "So then

Dilip,

You proclaim: "So then Catholicism or Islam are not syncretic at all. While the Pope makes all the rules for catholics, the Mullahs call all the shots in Islam."

Do you understand what syncretism is? No. You cannot see world where these categories are blurred and complicated by reality. As for your loutish rhetoric, hey, I doubt anybody here is impressed. You should run along to forums where khaki nikkar wallas like yourself grunt and growl to feel manly.

Baloo

Religions may have syncretic

Religions may have syncretic elements to their beliefs or history, but adherents of so-labeled systems often frown on applying the label, especially adherents who belong to "revealed" religious systems, such as the Abrahamic religions, or any system that exhibits an exclusivist approach. Such adherents sometimes see syncretism as a betrayal of their pure truth. By this reasoning, adding an incompatible belief corrupts the original religion, rendering it no longer true. Indeed, critics of a specific syncretistic trend may sometimes use the word "syncretism" as a disparaging epithet, as a charge implying that those who seek to incorporate a new view, belief, or practice into a religious system actually distort the original faith. Non-exclusivist systems of belief, on the other hand, may feel quite free to incorporate other traditions into their own.

Above from Wikipedia. Exclusivist "Abrahamic" religions frown upon syncretism, while non excluvist traditions do not.

Islam/Christianity/Marxism etc. are all excluvist, Hinduism is not.

I rest my case.

Can I make a suggestion that

Can I make a suggestion that everyone ignore anyone that they feel is totally counterproductive to conversation? It's what you would probably do in real life, and it usually helps.

Dilip, You say: "Exclusivist

Dilip,

You say:
"Exclusivist “Abrahamic” religions frown upon syncretism, while non excluvist traditions do not. Islam/Christianity/Marxism etc. are all excluvist, Hinduism is not."

Your distorted view is that 1) there is no syncretism in Islam, Christianity and other so called "Abrahamic" faiths. and 2) that Hinduism is not exclusivist. 3) Hinduism is naturally open to syncretism. I will answer part of 1) I am sure others can add to this and also answer 2) and 3) for you. Of course this response is in good faith despite your tendency to sound like a broken record.

1) Across the world, from Morocco to Indonesia, Central Asia to Central Africa - there are a bewildering array of syncretic practices that go under the label Islam. You will find lots of materials on this topic (if you are of course interested). I list a few examples of studies of syncretism in Islam in South Asia, Central Asia and elsewhere that may actually open your eyes (if you're not shutting them deliberately that is):

A) On Becoming an Indian Muslim : French Essays on Aspects of Syncretism/translated and edited by M. Waseem. New Delhi, OUP, 2003, xiv, 356 p., $36. ISBN 019565807-8.
(source: https://www.vedamsbooks.com/no31047.htm)

Contents: Introduction. 1. Hinduism and Islamic mysticism (1922)/Louis Massignon. 2. Haud al-Hayat: the Arabic version of Amratkund (1928)/Yusuf Husain. 3. Medieval Indian mystics: Kabir (1931)/Jules Bloch. 4. An experiment in Hindu-Muslim unity: Dara Shikoh (1926)/Louis Massignon. 5. Dara Shikoh’s interview with Baba La’l Das at Lahore (1926)/Cl. Huart and Louis Massignon. 6. Dara Shikoh’s Samudrasangama (1980)/Jean Filliozat. 7. The spiritual significance of Gandhi’s last pilgrimage (1956)/Louis Massignon. 8. The concept of divine love in Jayasi’s Padmavat: Virah and Ishq (1926)/Charlotte Vaudeville. 9. Pir Shams and his Garabi songs (1991)/Francoise Mallison. 10. Hir Waris Shah (1988)/Denis Matringe. 11. The Ghazi Miyan cult in Western Nepal and Northern India (1975)/Marc Gaborieau. 12. The Isma’ili origin of the Hindu cult of Ramdeo Pir (1993)/Dominique-Sila Khan. 13. Between caste and sect: the Muslim Bhartrhari Jogis of Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) (1995)/Catherine Champion. 14. Towards a sociology of Indian Muslims (1993)/Marc Gaborieau. Conclusion: a note on the Isma’ili Khojas/M. Waseem. Appendix: Notice on the popular fetes of Hindus, according to Hindustani works (1834)/Garcin De Tassy.

B) Gujarat Unknown : Hindu-Muslim Syncretism and Humanistic Forays/J.J. Roy Burman. New Delhi, Mittal, 2005, xi, 238 p., ills., $32. ISBN 81-8324-052-6.
(source: https://www.vedamsbooks.com/no42830.htm)

Contents: Acknowledgements. 1. Introduction. 2. Bhakti, reform sects and social reformers of Gujarat. 3. Dargahs and syncretic shrines in Gujarat. 4. Syncretic communities in Gujarat. 5. Hindu-Muslim economic interdependence and social amity. 6. People's peace initiatives during 2002 carnage. 7. Conclusion. Bibliography. Index.

C) Privatsky, Bruce G. Ph.D. Turkistan: Kazak Religion and Collective
Memory. The University of Tennessee, 1998, 470 pages; AAT 9923318
This study in the anthropology of religion examines the relationship between
Kazak ethnicity and religion, exploring how the collective memory is
mediating Muslim values in Kazak culture in the 1990s. Ethnographic field
research was conducted in the Kazak language from 1992 to 1998 in the city
of Turkistan (Turkestan) in southern Kazakstan (Kazakhstan) . . . In five
descriptive chapters these elements are substantiated with verbatim interview
data in Kazak, with English translations. The problem of normative
and popular Islam (folk Islam), the Islamization of Inner Asia, the syncretic
interpretation of Turko-Mongolian shamanism, and the semantic fields of
Kazak religious discourse are explored.

Source: http://www.lib.umich.edu/area/Near.East/MELANotes78/braune.pdf
Islam as Practiced by the Kazaks: A Bibliography for Scholars, Simon Michael Braune†
Indiana University

D) THE MALAY COMMUNITY OF GAUTENG: SYNCRETISM, BELIEFS, CUSTOMS AND DEVELOPMENT
BY: MOEGAMAT ABDURAHGIEM PAULSEN RAND AFRIKAANS
Ph.D. Dissertation - summary available at http://etd.rau.ac.za/theses/available/etd-05252005-115424/restricted/SUM...

E) Aspects of Religious Syncretism in Southern Ethiopia, Ulrich Braukamper, Journal of Religion in Africa, XXII, 3 (1992) http://www.jstor.org/view/00224200/ap050041/05a00030/0

F) YORUBA RELIGION AND GLOBALIZATION: SOME REFLECTIONS, by Olabiyi Babalola Yai, CUADERNOS DIGITALES: PUBLICACIÓN ELECTRÓNICA EN HISTORIA, ARCHIVÍSTICA Y ESTUDIOS SOCIALES. NO.15. OCTUBRE DEL 2001. UNIVERSIDAD DE COSTA RICA. ESCUELA DE HISTORIA. http://www.ts.ucr.ac.cr/~historia/cuadernos/c15-his.htm

G) Nubian Ceremonial Life: Studies in Islamic Syncretism and Cultural Change. John Kennedy. American University in Cairo Press (December 30, 2005): http://www.amazon.com/Nubian-Ceremonial-Life-Syncretism-Cultural/dp/9774...

Indeed, critics of a specific

Indeed, critics of a specific syncretistic trend may sometimes use the word “syncretism” as a disparaging epithet, as a charge implying that those who seek to incorporate a new view, belief, or practice into a religious system actually distort the original faith. Non-exclusivist systems of belief, on the other hand, may feel quite free to incorporate other traditions into their own.

This is the last part of my original copy and paste from Wikipedia.

Now you must look at Syncretism from the point of view of current trends and issues. For example, hard core Christians frown upon Yoga and meditations being taught to Christians. SIMI group from India issued death threats to Swami Ramdev for teaching Yoga to Muslims. There are many other examples.

However, the issue I raise is much larger and goes beyond syncretism (which was a term you brought up). The main issue here is inclusion. The fact that Hindus do not think twice about offering reverance to the religious figures of other traditions is a case for example here. HIndus fully understand that these Sufi saints are in fact "Islamic" figures, but nevertheless pay reverence to them. As I have mentioned earlier, you will often find images of other religions in Hindu homes, whereas the vice versa is hardly common.

The politics of separation is at the root of the problems today, thus what is needed today is inclusion more than anything else.

My question is Can the revealed religions and the Left Wing ideologies be also inclusive ?

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