Category Archives: On Politics

Hybrid Nationalism

No human can remain alone without being influenced by others. Though there are some original thoughts, most of them, in the course of their development, influence and are influenced by other thoughts paving for the emergence of new kinds of thoughts.

For example, some of our critics see that what we do as Hindu bhaktas of the Lord and say it is simply a parallel of what they are doing in the church. In my response to such criticism, first, I say that we cannot remain in isolation in life. So naturally we are influenced by others.

But I try to do everything to experience and express my bhakti in Muktinath as my birthright. Of course, even what I inherited as my birthright wasn’t completely original as I’ve been influenced by so many other cultures and traditions. But, I can also point out that as a Hindu bhakta of the Lord, my life has so many parallels from my own Indian tradition rather than only aping the Church.

In fact the nine forms of bhakti (Navadana bhakti1) already cover almost all that we do as Hindu bhaktas, which one can also see in the Indian church tradition also. Both individual personal sadhana and corporate worship are part of our Indian (Hindu) tradition, as is well-documented from various references from Vedic times to the present day.

Although Indian Christianity inherited so many of its religious expressions from the West, still it is part of our Indian dharmic tradition and cannot escape from Hindu influences. I must acknowledge that the intercessory prayer that we do is the same as what Christians do, though such prayer is not completely absent in the Hindu tradition (kuttup prarthanai is a form of corporate prayer).

Often the criticism is levelled from the Hindutva group, assuming we are just Christianity disguised in Hindu form. Though we can counter their arguments by proving that it is our birthright to follow this path and we have no need to defend it, there is no point of explaining to them about our conviction, because once they have made up their mind about our approach to it is mere waste of time and words.

However as a counter argument, I would like to point out that what they promote as ‘Hindutva’ is nothing but a ‘hybrid variety’ which cannot naturally multiply itself like the original or desi (local) variety. Here I don’t need to take time to point out that this ‘Hindutva’ Nationalism is imported from Europe, particularly from Nazi German which is purely racial and divisive in nature. That is why no matter how they try to promote this kind of ‘hybrid nationalism’ artificially among Indians, it never induces a strong sense of true nationalism among the common masses as Mahatma Gandhiji managed to invoke by giving a call to fight against the British.

Gandhiji’s nationalism was inclusive and it never divided people based on any criteria. It didn’t create ‘the Other’ among Indians by creating any sense of hatred about the British. However, this ‘hybrid nationalism’ can survive only by creating ‘the Other’ just for the sake of survival.

I am a strong Nationalist, even to some extent an ultra-nationalist. But while I agree with some of their cultural nationalism, I am dead against the way it is promoted and sustained by creating ‘the Other’ so that it can be sustained.

If we study our own Indian tradition of both the ancient and recent past — this so-called ‘NATIONALISM’ is not the original part of our Indian or Hindu worldview. It is artificially induced in our society, and it still struggles to take root among the common mass.

As I pointed out in Understanding Hinduism, though the Right wing groups try to promote it by encouraging people to celebrate and participate in certain events which they think will sustain such Nationalism, considering the size of our population not even a fragment of our people have followed this hybrid nationalism. I have previously mentioned Kargil day, which most of us have now forgotten.2

In the more recent past, our P.M. Modi sent an invitation for people to send Diwali greetings to our soldiers, which is good and we all should do (I have done it). But again considering the size of our population, I think only a tiny fraction would have sent such greetings.

It is sad that in this way, we Indians have not had the spirit of Nationalism and don’t honour our soldiers in proper way which they deserve. Personally, I have great respect and I serve them when I get the opportunity. In 2014, one soldier travelling with me was coming to finish some work in Chennai from Delhi. I helped him carry some of his heavy luggage and also arranged to keep it at Raman’s house until he was to continue his trip to his native place in Karaikkal. I even dedicated the book Understanding Hinduism to the soldiers of India who are guarding our civilization.

But before we seriously take up any issue or principle, we should stop and think, read, understand, and reflect rather than suddenly changing our position based on emotion.

Here I need not give any reference about the way Nationalism came from outside India and wasn’t a part of our civilization’s worldview. Liah Greenfeld’s ‘Nationalism & Modernity’, (Critical Quest, New Delhi, (1995, 2012) will give short but precise details about the concept of Nationalism and its origin and development in the West. Of course the Indian Hybrid Nationalists (Hindutva) will reject any kind of scholarship from the west in a sweeping generalization as they cannot stand to face the sincere and scholarly critical views about them (except those who have converted to their ideology). But simply closing their eyes and rejecting others view won’t hide the truth forever.

So the parallel is inevitable in life. However, there are certain parallels which may look parallel but might be a product of something indigenous, not unlike this kind of hybrid nationalism which cannot be reproduced, like any other hybrid items that we have at present—in vegetable, fruits and in animals (birds, chicken and egg).

Dayanand Bharati

5-1-17, Mathigiri.

 

Endnotes

1. “[In the] Bhagavata Purana…we come across as many as nineteen different classifications of bhakti, ranging from a threefold devotion to a thirty-six fold devotion, although a ninefold devotion (7.5.23; 11.6.9) comprising sravanam (hearing, 11.6.9), kiertanam (chanting, 12.3.52), smarnam (remembering, 12.12.54), padasevanam (service at Bhagavan’s feet), archanam (offering worship), vandanam (praising, 11.27.9), dasyam (servitude and humility), sakhyam (friendship), atmanivedam (self-surrender, 11.29.34) is more frequently recognised and recommended.” (Nath, Vijay (2001). Puranas and Acculturation: A Historico-Anthropological Perspective, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. 2001, 173-174)

2. In my travels I have often noticed a lack of nationalism among Indians. As I wrote in Understanding Hinduism:

“On July 26, 2001, while I was at Ranikhet (in Uttarkhand) some of my shishyas (on my instruction) and I lit a candle to celebrate Vijay Divas (victory day for the Kargil war with Pakistan in 1999). But none of our neighbours lit any candle, though it was announced both in TV and radio calling people to celebrate the day nationwide. This suggests that a spirit of nationalism is not part of our tradition. Politicians and other patriots can at times host successful events, but a spontaneous spirit is lacking.

“This is not limited to Ranikhet as I have seen in various parts of India that people themselves do not voluntarily participate in patriotic acts. Badrinath shows that our feelings go towards dharma rather than towards nation:

“Nationalism arises in India not in response to any inner impulse of Indian society but as a Western graft. An outcome of a variety of very complex political and economic and emotional factors to which German romanticism had contributed greatly, nationalism had become by the nineteenth century a dominant passion of Europe. That passion was introduced into India artificially. Much of the Western history of nationalism came to be grafted upon Indian society whose traditions and values were rooted not in the concept of nationality, or rashtra, but in the idea of dharma, and the understanding of social relationships that followed from it.” (Badrinath, Chaturvedi (1993). Dharma, India and the World Order. Bonn: Pahl-Rugenstein. 1993, 103)”

Understanding Hinduism, New Delhi: Mushiram Manoharlal, 2005, pp. 295-296.

Claiming Moral High Ground

The Tamil proverb says, ‘the frog will be get caught by own its mouth’. This is again proved by E.V.S. Ilangovan, the present Tamilnadu Congress President, when he addressed a gathering to celebrate the 46th year of Thugluk by Sri. Cho. Ramaswami at Chennai in January 2016.

While addressing the serious problem of giving money for votes, Ilangovan said that Cho, has the right qualification to say that people should not compromise their integrity by receiving money for votes. But further honestly confessing he said: Continue reading

Making in India

 

When I was watching “We the People” on NDTV conducted by Barka Dut*, at the tail end of the program there came some flashing news about a great fire accident that took place at Mumbai in a cultural program organized for the ‘Make in India’ week. Barka had to quickly close her program as they needed to cover the fire accident. She requested Sri Ashish Nandy to give his comment about the sedition charges levelled against him. He started with a condescending and sarcastic comment about the fire accident by saying something like “This is the make in India”, relating that accident with our ability to make things.

I have great respect for Nandy and he is one of my favourite authors, though I don’t agree with him completely. But the way he condescended our nation, particularly relating our ability to produce quality products with an accident is very condemnable. It is one thing to make a joke about ourselves by pointing out the lack of quality in our products, but comparing it with an accident which could have happened anywhere is not going to go well with his scholarship.

Salman Rushdie, in his novel Satanic Verses, does this through a character. When a character in the story tries unlocking a door after losing its key, another character uses a safety-pin to unlock it and comments, “Made in India.” In such a story one can laugh for such a clever joke that we hear about our products. But what Nandi has done is irritating because he compared it to an accident.

Of course we know well that he is anti-BJP and particularly anti-Modi and we have to respect his view. But by passing a condescending comment because of his aversion for Modi and BJP and relating it with an accident, he downgraded his own status as a scholar and thinker.

Db.

15-2-16.

*at JNU [Jawaharlal Nehru University] 14-2-2016, 8-8.50 pm

Democratic (Ir)Responsibility

It may not be the right time to share such a personal opinion, but as I am helpless like the people of Chennai, I need to vent my anger.

One of the several evils that democracy brought with it is the irresponsibility of the public and the need to blame the ruling party for everything. In addition, the opposition parties and the media continue to bark loudly, assuming they are the ‘watch dog of democracy’. Such barking only irritates people who think soberly. Of course, I would have done the same thing if I was affected by such a calamity and wasn’t receiving any help — particularly with the aged and sick. In contrast, the media in favor of the ruling party will glorify all their good work done irrespective of the adverse situation.

In one T.V. show (Vijay T.V. ‘Neeya Naana’, 30-11-15), a doctor shared how three months before the rainy season, various departments of the government met and discussed how to face the forthcoming rainy season. This is done by the government officials, irrespective of which party is ruling. But nobody can prepare for such a calamity which hit Chennai with the worst rain in nearly a century.

Continue reading

Media Menace

This deluge in Chennai not only exposed the poor planning of the city’s development and the goodness of individual to serve, but also exposed the true nature of some of the media. In the name of “telling only the true story” or “giving first news” and parading how they are serving people most of the media discredited themselves.

For example, this morning (9-12-15) on Raj TV, they showed where they helped some affected people by providing some essentials and rations. Then the reporter said, “No one so far has reached these affected people. They all came only on the main road but failed to reach these people who are living a bit interior. It was only Raj TV who reached these people to help.”

Accordingly they also took an interview of a few people who received the help. All of them in one voice said, “No one came to help them but only Raj TV came to help, although we were suffering for the last six days.”   Continue reading

The Real World of the West

We join with the world community to express our condolence for those killed in the terrorist attack in Paris and equally condemn such a cowardice attack. However, the response when western nations are attacked often reveal a lot about the western worldview about the rest of the world.

As usual, BBC on 14-11-2015 covered the Paris attacks for several hours, but don’t show the same courtesy when similar incidents happen in the third world. (See the another article: Fanaticism in the Name of Freedom.) For them, the ‘real world’ is only their own world that exists in Europe, Scandinavia and North America. The rest of the earth (note not the world) is a place inhabited by some species who claim to be human, but not recognized by them.  Continue reading

A Tribute to Kalam Baba

127 கலங்கரை விளக்கு

கனவு கானச்சொல்ல கற்றுத் தந்தாய்
கருத்தாய் அதற்காக வாழச் சொன்னாய்
“அக்கினி சிறகடித்து”1 பறக்கச் சொன்னாய்
அடுத்தவர்க் கென்று வாழச் சொன்னாய்

கடலோரம் முத்தாக கரை ஒதுங்கி2
காலெமெனும் பள்ளியிலே மெருகாகி
ஏவுகனை ஏறி விண்ணில் பாய்ந்து3
ஏற்றமிக புகழினையே நாட்டி வைத்தாய்

வல்லரசு நாடாக நாம் வரவேண்டி
வலிமையுள்ள ஆயுதத்தை ஆக்கித் தந்தாய்4
சொந்த பெலன்கொண்டு நாம் முன்னேற
சொல்லரிய திட்டங்கள் வகுத்துத் தந்தாய்5

எதிர்கால இந்தியா ஏற்றம் பெற
எத்தனையோ கனவுகள் காணவைத்தாய்
எவ்வளவோ மேன்மைகள் கண்ட நீயோ
என்றுமே எளிமையாய் வாழ்ந்து நின்றாய்

எதிர்காலம் இளைஞர் கையில் என்ற
எண்ணத்தை அவர்களுக்கு ஊட்டி விட்டாய்
ஏறுநடை போட்டு அவர்கள் முன்னேற
ஏற்றமிகு உரைகள்பல நீ ஆற்றிவைத்தாய்

காலமெனும் ஓட்டத்தில் உன் உடல்போனாலும்
“கலாம்” என்ற கலங்கரை விளக்காக நின்று
காலம் பலகடந்து ஒளி காட்டி
கோலோச்சுவாய் முடிசூடா மன்னனாக

28-7-15, மத்திகிரி, இரவு 3.30௮.௩0

1. அவர் எழுதிய புத்தகம்
2. அவர் கடலோர இராமேஸ்வரத்தில் பிறந்தார்
3. முதல் ஏவுகணை திட்டத்தை வடிவமைத்தவர்
4. அணுசக்தியை  ஏற்படுத்தித் தந்தவர்
5. தற்கால விண்வெளிக் கூடங்கள் ஏவ உதவும் கிரோஜனிக் இயந்திரத்தை
ஆரம்பித்து வைத்தவர்.  அணுகுண்டு சோதனைக்குப் பின் அமெரிக்கா உட்பட பல
வெளிநாடுகள் பல தடைகளை ஏற்படுத்தியும், உள்ளாட்டிலேயே விண்கல ஏவுதற்கான
இயந்திரங்களை உருவாக்கி அதில் வெற்றிபெர முன்னோடியாக இருந்தவர்

Baba Kalam

After Mahatma Gandhiji the one INDIAN I respect is Baba Kalam.  Though others address him as Dr. Kalam, I prefer to call him Baba Kalam. He deserves to be addressed this way as he epitomized his own jnana and karma in his bhakti to the nation with a sprit of a sannyasi. Thankfully he never remained a politician, but handled politicians very tactically —particularly in the episode of Sonia’s attempt to become the PM.

Dr. Pranap Roy (of NDTV) was interviewing Baba Kalam once while he was addressing the students at Rashtrabati Bhavan. He asked him, “Should the President be a politician or a non-politician?” Baba Kalam wisely answered, “This is a political question.”

Wherever his mortal body will be put to rest, the Presidency of Indian will always be divided as before Baba Kalam and after Baba Kalam. To honor his contribution to the nation, I wish that his statue should be put in front of the Rashtrabati Bhavan, as it will dignify that building permanently.

He lived a noble life and ended with a noble death — that too while doing his dharma of INSPIRING THE YOUTHS.

Db
28-7-15

President, Prime Minister, and Public Events

Yesterday (17-05-15) I was watching one of my favorite programs, ‘Appki Adalat’, on India TV. It has been hosted by Sri Rajat Sharma for the past 21 years. I have a lot of respect and appreciation for him. Even though he is a staunch supporter of the BJP, he tries his best to be objective and neutral when he ‘cross-examines’ opponents.

But when I watched the way both our President and Prime Minister, along with so many cabinet ministers and other political and public figures, including Film Stars, I was bit shocked the way both our President and PM wasted OUR precious time in staying back and watch the ‘thamasha’ done by the three famous ‘Khans’ of Boliwood actors.

I have nothing personal against those actors. I also understand that both our Prime Minister and President came to the program on the invitation of Rajat Sharma to felicitate and praise him for the successful completion of 21 years of the same program. Without any bias I really enjoyed the address given by both the PM and President. Continue reading

Unethical Interference

“The Semitic self-description contains a universal truth claim, which gives rise to a dynamic of proselytization. When the biblical God reveals His plan, it covers the whole of humankind. Those who receive this revelation should try to convert the others into accepting the message in this divine self-disclosure. That is, proselytizing is an intrinsic drive of Islam and Christianity. The pagan view, on the contrary, implies that every ‘religion’ is a tradition—that is, a specific set of ancestral practices—characterizing a human community. The traditions are upheld not because they contain some exclusive truth binding the believer to God, but because they make some community into a community. Any attempt at interfering with the tradition of a community from the outside will be seen as illegitimate, since all traditions are part of the human quest for truth….(p.209)

… The value of non-interference is central to the tradition of citizen x {a Hindu} and it is unethical for him to allow Muslims and Christians to interfere in the traditions of human communities. Thus he opposes conversion….—S.N. Balagangadhara, Reconceptualizing India Studies, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2012, pp.209-210

When I read the rebuke above from Gangadhara against the proselytizing of Semitic religions, I said to myself, ‘Gangadhara hits where it hurts’. But his statement about ‘non-interference’ being central to the Hindu tradition surprised me a bit. I could ignore it if it is his opinion, but when he calls other’s interference “in the tradition of human communities” unethical, I remembered all kinds of ‘unethical interference’ of one (Hindu) sampradaya with others. As a student of Hinduism (and the history of religion in general), this made me raise further questions about such claims by such scholars. Continue reading