Dialogue January - March, 2008 , Volume 9 No. 3
Editorial Perspectivetc "Editorial Perspective"
Growing Trends of Terror and Anarchy
Some recent developments in different parts of the country point towards growing trends of terror and anarchy in the country. The discovery of large-scale opium cultivation in Kishanganj, Katihar and Purnea districts of Bihar near Siliguri corridor in the area adjacent to India-Bangladesh and India-Nepal borders, and also in Gumla and Latehar districts of Jharkhand; seizure of Uranium with the smugglers on India-Nepal border at Supaul in Bihar, pilferage of one lakh litres of petrol from a railway rack coming from Numaligarh in Assam to Katihar, are dangerous signals. It needs mention that the smuggling of drugs has been an important component of terrorist economy everywhere, be it the Golden crescent in Islamist region of Afghanistan or Golden triangle region in our eastern neighbourhood. The ISI partly funded Punjab terrorism through drug-smuggling. The root cause of Naga-Kuki conflict in Manipur was the NSCN (IM)’s desire to derive benefit from the drug trade. The seriousness of the attempted Narco-terrorism in this region may be understood in the light of the fact that (i) the region forms part of the ‘red corridor’ planned by Maoists; (ii) Bangladesh wants to incorporate it into a greater Islamic State through illegal migration of its nationals; (iii) the eastern region of India, as elsewhere, is infested with the Lashkar cells and HuJI-SIMI modules; (iv) both ISI and Bangladesh Government help them and other Indian terrorist/secessionist outfits; and (v) unprincipled nexus between Islamists, Maoists, ethnic outfits and the criminals is an open secret.
ULFA, a secessionist outfit, has been targeting Hindi-speaking people in Assam on behest of ISI and the Bangladesh, where top-leaders of the outfit are safely sheltered. It is heartening that Assamese society — the people, intellectuals, social workers and journalists — continue to condemn their nefarious acts. The latest to join the game is Raj Thackeray, the leader of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. Nephew of the Shiva Sena supremo, Bal Thackeray, Raj is treading on his uncle’s footsteps, following his modus operandi to establish himself. The Hindi-speaking people, mostly taxi-drivers and poor hawkers, were targeted by MNS activists. The MNS action was against the provisions of Article 19(1)(d) of the Constitution, guaranteeing the citizens the right “to move freely throughout the territory of India” and that of Article 19(1)(e), which allows residing and settling in any part of the territory of India. It was natural that the highest court of the land was firm, and in the response of a PIL against Raj, it reiterated that none shall be allowed to break this country. The petitioner, however, was asked to move to the Mumbai High Court for the needful and the Election Commission for de-recognition of the party. The other developments, needing mention, were the national anger against the episode and the political parties distancing themselves from the chauvinistic politics of the MNS. The State Government, after exhibiting initial knee-jerk syndrome, showed some firmness by arresting MNS goons. The situation, by and large, was brought under control. The strong statement by Deputy Chief Minister RR Patil — “you can not change the law or the Constitution by burning a rickshaw or stoning a bus” — should be followed by prompt and firm action in case of such eventuality in future.
The episode, as usual, has brought out some of the glaring weaknesses of our public life and administration. The public safety concerns are so low in this country that even when millions are targeted by the activists of even an insignificant political party under an almost unknown leader, the State machinery is very often caught napping and unprepared to meet the situation. After all, the root cause of the Mumbai episode was the feud between two cousins fighting for supremacy within a family run political party, then separating and trying for effective public support. The country has failed to evolve suitable mechanism to meet politically the challenges posed by Raj Thackeray and others. The Election Commission has also, so far, not worked out the policy and modus operandi to derecognise such parties, which openly defy the constitutional provisions or debar criminal politicians from entering the law-making bodies.
The Mumbai episode has brought out the truth of lopsided development of the country to the fore. After all, why should the poor from distant Bihar or Uttar Pradesh, or even from Ratnagiri or Raigarh (Maharashtra) flock to Mumbai? Why the poor villagers are uprooted and forced to migrate to the nearby towns? A person like Raj Thackeray, or even Bal Thackeray, who constantly cultivate ‘Maharashtrian constituency’, cannot understand that the constituency is only one, and that of India. Bal Thackeray is right when he talks about corruption among the politicians of Bihar. Unfortunately, his myopia prevents him from viewing the same phenomenon in Mumbai and Delhi. I do not know whether he is ignorant about other factors facilitating the growth of Mumbai. He should do his homework and know that Mumbai, along with other Indian metropolis, were built by the men and resources of the entire nation.
The Planning Commission of this country was incapable of growing out of the Nehru-Mahalonobis formula, which perpetuated injustice for decades towards states like Bihar and Orissa. Bihar gave not only coal and steel to Mumbai and other parts of the country, but even the carriage charges under unjust ‘Freight Equalization Policy’. Steel was manufactured in Jamshedpur, the corporate tax was paid in Mumbai. The conscientious people of Maharashtra understand this truth, but not the leaders like Raj Thackeray. After all, why the head-offices of the bodies like Khadi and Village Industries Commission are located in Mumbai and not in any underdeveloped corner of the country?
There is no state in India, which does not have migrants from other states. Most of the migrating people learn and use the language of the state, they inhabit. Some resist it. The tendency often proves to be counterproductive.
Again, it may be relevant to point out the harm caused by the electronic media, which has the habit of blowing such incidents out of proportion. The irresponsible media behaviour, such as non-stop coverage of Raj’s irresponsible actions, making a hero out of an unknown politician, becomes irritating. In reality, the media is devoid of creativity and imagination, lacks the understanding of society and the nation; its coverage is most shallow and superficial. “Here he is, coming out of the car”, “He is waving to the public” and similar non-stop coverage make hero out of a non-entity and an irresponsible person.
Making steel, petrol and glass bombs, as reported, is a cottage industry in Kannur in Kerala, in which at least 12 people belonging to the CPI(M), leading partner of the ruling combination, and the RSS specialise; 15 persons have been killed in the group clashes. The latest murder of a RSS activist has resulted into stalling Parliament’s proceedings. The incident reminds of what happened in Nandigram. The violent activities of the ruling party cadre and the state’s inability to tame them continue to shock the nation. After all, it is their responsibility to maintain law and order.
India’s Encounter with the West
India’s encounters with the West have been of varied nature; encounters — sweat and pleasant; encounters of bitterest nature. We had both positive and negative encounters. Soothing encounters through Gandhi, and further through Bacon, Carlyle, Ruskin, Emerson, Thoreau, Tolstoy, Ben Jonson, Walter Scot and many others. These encounters widened our vision. We had painful colonial encounters with the West — with the East India Company, the British Raj, the Portuguese and others — which were strangulating us to sure death. Encounters with them generated colonial negatives among us both historical and philological. As a result India developed loss of memory, divided and borrowed vision, incapacity of self-appraisal leading to self-denial, self-abnegation and even self-defeat and surrender.
The discovery of Indian culture through translated Sanskrit literature and then the Sanskrit language itself by European scholars opened up new chapters in our relationship with the West. Some of the greatest scholars of Europe – Voltaire, Schelling, Schopenhouer among others – looked upon it with respect and admiration. The discovery gave birth to the Oriental Renaissance. The Indian culture gave lofty base to the Romantic Movement of the West as did Greece and Rome to the Classical Movement. Our linkages, contributions and cultural continuum with them were duly recognised by Toynbee, Will Durant and others.
Durant, aptly, summed up the findings and wrote: “Let us remember… that India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe’s languages; that she was the mother of our philosophy, mother, through Arabs, of much of our mathematics, mother, through Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity, mother through the village community, of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.”
India and Greece, and therefore the West, had positive interface with each other in ancient period, as they formed the parts of the same cultural continuum. Things changed drastically after Semiticisation/Christianisation of Europe. The West fought bitterly against itself (its own culture and religious beliefs), against the Greek and Eastern influences (Mitraism, Gnosticism, etc) during the process of its Semiticisation. Graeco-Roman approach to life and spirit differed from that of the Christianity and, therefore, Christianity fought relentless war against the same. Semiticised West fought against Greece and obliterated it from its memory. When the memory revived, Greek learning found limited receptivity; but it came only as a legend. Europe’s Christian soil, as usual, was not hospitable for the Greek ideas, and therefore for any truly classical revival. In reality, Greece was very much needed by the colonial Europe for boosting its self-image; also for deepening its history, and not the Christian Europe. Here it needs mention that the assumption by Professor Wilhelm Halbfass (India and Europe: An Essay in Philosophical Understanding; English translation of the German book) that old Greece represents modern Christian Europe’s classical antiquity, has no basis. It needs to be said that India and Greece had only intra-culture dichotomy. Greece belonged to India more than it belonged to Europe. Similarly, Iran and Central Asia belonged to India more than they belonged to Semitic brotherhood.
The new awareness, after the discovery of Sanskrit, generated widening and deepening forces. However, it also mobilised the old and newly generated opposing forces which combined together and became stronger and effective against India. The recognition of India’s contribution was precisely at the root of the problem. It was against the interests of both the British colonialism and the missionary movement. The British knew very well that India cannot be defeated and retained as a colony unless it is defeated culturally and ideologically. The Romantic Movement was strengthening India in that aspect and was thus harming the cause of the empire.
As the discovery of Sanskrit generated new confidence and self-assertion among the Germans — it was said that Sanskrit gave birth to German nation — it disturbed the existing political balance in Europe, downgrading the Oriental Movement that started soon after. It was called “romantic” and “fanatic”; its fascination for India was labelled as a form of “Indo-mania”. The Oriental Movement was against the tendency of searching Biblical roots everywhere; it was against the Middle-East-Centrism. On the other hand, giving credence to others was viewed by pro-Christianity lobby as a danger for the faith. Dr Spiegal once expressed the view that perhaps the Biblical account of creation of the universe had been borrowed from the Iranian sources. Max Mueller got furious when he heard this remark. He said, “A writer like Spiegal should know that he can expect no mercy; nay, he should himself wish for no mercy, but invite for heaviest artillery against the floating battery which he has launched in the troubled waters of Biblical criticism.” Under such prevailing ethos, when missionaries perceived Hinduism as a “handiwork of devil” and “unmitigated evil”; when St Xavier thought of destroying Brahmins, perceiving them to be a barrier between Christianity and the heathens, it was too much if the roots of the Christianity were searched in India — in Hinduism.
Here it needs mention that downgrading India was already in operation when the Oriental Movement started. Mill’s History of British India was recommended for study to the candidates of the Indian Civil service (ICS). Mueller writes about the book: “The book which I consider most mischievous, nay, which I hold most responsible for some of the greatest misfortunes that have happened to India, is Mill’s ‘History of British India’, even with the antidote against its poison, which is supplied by Professor Wilson’s notes.”
Mueller further wrote, “Mill’s History, no doubt, you all know, particularly the candidates for Indian Civil Service, who, I am sorry to say, are recommended to read it and are examined in it. Still, in order to substantiate my strong condemnation of the book, I shall have to give a few proofs… Mill in his estimate of the Hindu character is chiefly guided by Dubois, a French missionary, and by Orme and Buchanan, Tennant, and Ward, all of them not very competent, not very un-prejudiced judges. Mill, however, picks out all that is most unfavorable from their works, and omits the qualifications which even these writers felt bound to give to their wholesale condemnation of Hindus. He quotes as serious, for instance, what was said in joke, namely, that ‘a Brahmin is an ant’s nest of lies and impostures.’ Next to the charge of untruthfulness, Mill upbraids Hindus for what he calls their litigiousness.”
It may not be out of context to quote opinions about the works of some Sanskrit scholars. Professor Goldstucker severely criticised Western Sanskritists — Bothlingk and Roth (authors of St Petersburg Sanskrit English Dictionary), Waber and Kuhn — for their ignorance and ill-motives. He wrote: “It will of course be my duty to show, at the earliest opportunity, that Dr Bothlingk is incapable of understanding even easy rules of Panini, much less those of Katyayana and still less capable of making use of them in the understanding of classical texts. The errors in his department of dictionary are so numerous… that it will fill every serious Sanskritist with dismay, when he calculates the mischievous influence which they must exercise on the study of Sanskrit philology.”
Professor Goldstucker also wrote about the shortcomings of the dictionary: “Questions, which in my mind, ought to be decided with very utmost circumspection, and which could not be decided without very laborious research have been trifled with in his Worterbuch in the most unwarranted manner.” He further exposes the role of Western Sanskritists in mutilation of sacred texts and their unjustified attack on Vedic tradition: “When I see that the most-distinguished and most learned scholars and divines — the most valuable and some times the only source of all our knowledge of ancient India are scorned in theory, mutilated in print, and as a consequence, set aside in the interpretation of the Vaidic texts;…When a clique of Sanskritists of this description vapours about giving us the sense of the Veda as it existed at the commencement of the Hindu antiquity;—when I consider that this method of studying Sanskrit philology is pursued by those whose words apparently derive weight and influence from the professional position they hold…then I hold that it would be want of courage and a dereliction of duty, if I did not make a stand against these Saturnalia of Sanskrit philology.”
It is obvious from the above-mentioned paragraphs that Oriental Renaissance resulted into the very opposite of what many Orientalists wanted to achieve through the translations of the Sanskrit texts. William Carey had proclaimed the purpose of the translating Sanskrit texts to be to show that they were “filled with nothing but pebbles and trash.” HH Wilson, Boden Professor of Sanskrit and the translator of Rig Veda and Vishnu Puran, outlined the purpose of Sanskrit studies as “to contribute to the religious enlightenment of a benighted, but intelligent and interesting and amiable people”; and, “to confute the falsities of Hinduism”.
The Indian credibility after the Oriental Movement did not go unchallenged. The attempt of the damage control was massively made. For every Toynbee and Will Durant, there were many Ms Mayo and the like, including the Indian-born ones. The forces opposing India combined as they had converging interests in doing so. They summoned the support of scheming scholars, manipulated Indian education and made Indian educated class their partners in systematically denying the contribution of India. They mustered strength due to propaganda and not the fact. Starting from writing Ezourvedam (a forgery of the Jesuits, most probably of Di Nobili) to “confused, empty verbiage” (according to Schopenhauer) of Hegel to intellectually irresponsible misinterpreting and myth-making Indology — every kind of schemes were applied to deny India of its due.
They indulged in myth-making and hypothesising where it was not possible to summarily reject a fact. The story of legendary Prester John, though devoid of facts, was believed and propagated. The story of Barlaam and Josaphat, two fictional characters in a story of Gautam Buddha, were taken over, suitably adapted and converted into two real saints of Christiandom. Their feast day falls on November 27. The myth of Apostle Thomas visiting India is promoted as a fact due to extraneous reason.
The hypothesis of ‘third lost source’, first proposed by William Jones, was widely applied, especially in Linguistics, and later on lapped up and accepted as fact. The third source hypothesis promoted further hypotheses that ‘both Sanskrit and European languages had a common source, still more ancient but lost now’, that “Pythagoras and Plato derive their sublime theories from the same fountain with the sages of India”. ‘The Aryan Aggression Theory’ was the last game which denied Indians even their legitimacy as the inhabitants of the land.
The all-embracing ‘Aryan invasion/migration theory’ denies the indigenousness of all Indians inhabiting the subcontinent. All this is in denial of forthcoming scientific and anthropological evidence to the contrary. Unfortunately, the post-Independence Indian academia failed to break free from this colonial dogma. In fact, some continue to reinforce it for their vested interests by labelling all those who question this dogma as ‘reactionaries’, ‘communal’ et al, thus stifling independent academic search for the truth in the welter of West-induced confusion. There is an apparent need to rise above the partisan approach and rediscover our roots, origin and history without any prejudices to any section of society. True scholarship unites by providing perspective and depth. It is only the borrowed and false notions which divide. It is in this light we would wish the future academic debate on the issue should be carried on.
A number of factors have made Indian intellectuals the partners in this nefarious game. The colonial powers were full of contempt and condescension for the colonised, such as India. The unpleasant comments emanating from them often bordered on slanderous accusations. They subjugated their colonies not only physically, but also intellectually. Indians became confused due to colonial education; developed borrowed vision; under the motivated negative influence of Western education, Semitic and Marxist dogma, many Indian intellectuals, academicians and writers act like mercenaries of the West. It needs mention that Marxist academicians are more confused, as they carry the negative impact of colonial education and Marxist dogma — after all, Marx was in favour of British colonisation of India. Two significant facts need mention: (i) that many Marxist intellectuals, such as Romila Thapar and RS Sharma, were the disciples of colonial scholars; and (ii) that the West, though opposing the Communists, finds utility in using these Marxist scholars. Due to acceptance of colonial hypotheses as facts and their defeatism many Indian intellectuals, even well-intentioned ones, use Western categories to define their history society, culture and religion, and Indian categories to define the Western and Semitic ones, and thereby confuse Indians..
It has been the effort of the West during colonial days to confuse India. The effort still continues. A writer, especially Indian, who writes negatively against this country and its society has chances to get rewarded and awarded. Take the case of Arundhati Roy, Booker Prize-winner for her book, The God of Small Things. For her, “India was forged on the anvil of British Empire for the entirely unsentimental reason of commerce and administration. But even as she was born, she began her struggle against her creators.” India, according to her, “is, at best, a noisy slogan…” for the impoverished, illiterate, agrarian majority” with “no stake in the State.” She only sees the “fissures” running vertically, horizontally, layered, whorled, circular, spiral, inside out and outside in.” For her, Indian bomb is a Hindu bomb. Her description of Velutha, being reduced to a mere lump of flesh, is a cunning way to exaggerate and depict caste cruelty, a colonial myth. She parades a large number of myths and hypotheses in her writings.
The West, in spite of tall claims, finds difficulty in breaking the combined effects of Semitic dogma, Euro-centrism and its colonial past. It needs great intellectual vigour and sublimity to break the barrier, which was possible for a few like Huxley. The days are, however, not far when the iron cage shall open and the West shall make its soul free.
In this issue of Dialogue, we endeavour to open a meaningful and non-partisan debate on the vision of India independent of the one promoted and nurtured by the European/Western self-interests about our history, philology, literature and our origins.
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