Our Saints and Sages : Their clarion call to the planet

via Dr. Vijaya Rajiva published on February 4, 2011

Since time immemorial our saints and sages have celebrated the terrestrial, the atmospheric and celestial powers, and the interaction of these powers with our own planet, Prithvi (Earth). Our sages and saints have also provided guidance on how to organize our societies through the four fold division called Varna : the intellectual segment, the political , the economic , and the agricultural /service segment. They have presented an acceptable/practical division of life into 4 stages : childhood/student years, the life of the householder, the retirement years of quiet and meditation and the last years of detachment from all earthly attachments(varnashrama dharma). As  Hindu society developed there also developed occupation based jatis. The Western word ‘ caste’ does not quite capture the role of jatis in Hindu society. Each jati was a flexible guild like stucture which allowed economic activity to flourish and made India the economic powerhouse of the ancient world and medieval worlds. The words ‘caste’ and jati are not synonymous.

Mahatma Gandhi endorsed both Varna and Jati, the former because it played to the necessary functions of any given society and the latter because it allowed for pride and excellence in one’s work. He did not condone a hierarchy of occupations or a rigid adherence to any one jati. The individual could, if he or she wanted to,  move from one varna to the other and from one jati to the other. This is how he envisaged the organization of his ideal village republic. And  this flexibility existed in India prior to the two Occupations, the Islamic and the British. And in the economic realm it continues to exist even today. Jati was and is India’s ‘social capital’ as one scholar Dr Kalyanraman of the Sarasvati Research Centre has put it.

Historically, this flexibility existed in a variety of ways, and not enough work has been done in this area by Indian sociologists to explain the richness and diversity of this system. One gleans this from literature and philosophical classics and as well from the contemporary surviving knowledge and skills of segments of the Indian population and from the small entrepreneurs who make up the backbone of the Indian economy.Only the Untouchables as they were called till recently, were not based on an occupational foundation, since their economic role was not bound to wealth production and this meant that they were engaged in the purely service role of doing  the menial tasks of society, and the lowest of these being manual scavenging.

This segment can be described as a Caste. It is distinct from jati. It seems to have become ossified  a few hundred years before the Christian era and has continued to this day in independent India in certain pockets, but  not any longer widely prevalent in many states. But it does persist. The Indian Constitution has abolished the practice of Untouchability. Caste oppression and social injustices are confined largely to this caste. The Indian Constitution has also dealt with the problem of the tribal population, first created by the Occupations. The tribals are aligned to the Hindu religion and only after the entry of Christian missionaries were there beginnings of manufactured alienation where the tribals were split into Hindu and non Hindu groups and an attempt was made to separate out their religion from the ancient Hindu base. The British policy of driving tribals into isolation is well known.

A classic case is that of the tribals of Kandamahal ,Orissa, in 2008, which ended in the assassination of the Hindu monk Swami Lakshmananda who was seen as encroaching on the turf of the missionaries. The brutal killing of the Christian missionary Staines and his sons must also be seen in this context. Staines, even while he engaged in social and medical work, repprtedly also secretly baptized the unsuspecting tribals. His letters to his Australian missionary group  seem to provide the evidence.  The two tribal groups were at war because the Christian group was attempting to steal the land of the Hindu group, by illegally claiming the land as part of the governmental settlement (which they were not clearly entitled to, since the affirmative action for tribals included only the Hindus and not the Christian converts).

However, the problem of the Untouchables (or Dalits as they now call themselves) is very much a problem that Hindu society has a responsibility for. They cannot shirk this.

Undoubtedly, this  aspect of Hindu society  has to be dealt with. On the other hand, it cannot become the occasion for excessive and in the last analysis,futile mea culpaing. The Government of India has affirmative programs, NGOs and individuals continue to work for reform in this area. The Sangh Parivar does sterling work to eradicate it and as well the odium of upper and lower caste mental conditioning. Their work, done without publicity and fanfare has not received the attention it deserves.  Much has been  done by independent India. Of this there is no doubt. But more can still be done.

Neverthless, Hindus should not undertake a misguided large scale demolition derby on their entire tradition (apart from the Dalit question) as is being done by deracinated Hindus and other individuals who may have an agenda dictated by colonizing forces. These colonizing forces exist and are not the product of one’s imagination. They may be described as asuric forces (an apt description by a Hindu in the Diaspora) because they seek to destroy not only an ancient civilization but the entire planet with their need for domination and aggression. In the religious sphere it manifests in an aggressive monotheism which seeks to impose its own limited view of the infinite universe and the beings therein, on people who are variously described by them as pagans, infidels and so on.

Hindus must recognize this aggressive monotheism for what it is and resist it at all cost because it is not only Bharat that is in danger from them but the entire planet.

‘Arise O Arjuna’ is not only addressed to the historic Pandava prince in the Bhagavad Gita but to all Hindus and to all right thinking people. And in such a context, it is every Hindu’s duty (Dharma) to recognize the asuric force, which sometimes comes in disguise, in various gift bearing roles, in seemingly harmless enterprises. The recognition is all important, since the speed and goals of modernism can act as a distraction and as an obstacle to a clear recognition of the real agenda of the asuric forces.

In concrete terms one can begin with the straightforward conversion activity of Christian evangelical groups and the attempt by jihadic(Islamic) forces that cannot tolerate the existence of a Hindu India. The latter is a political battle and is more readily recognized. The former is now beginning to shed  their masks (emboldened by an Italian Catholic at the helm in New Delhi) and as in Karnataka openly speak against Hindu gods and goddesses, mock them, ridicule them and publish literature in that genre. A lot of it is scurrilous and should not be tolerated by any civilized society. This can be done if strict anti conversion laws are enforced.

The brazen proselytisation which included the above mentioned insult to Hinduism led to some violent attacks by individual Hindus in acts of spontaneous reprisal such
as the destruction of some church property in 2008 in Karnataka.

Within India there are scores of NGOs, many funded by foreign organizations, that seek to dent the Hindu social fabric. The recent, newly released book ‘Breaking India’ by authors Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan (Amaryllis,2011)     should be read carefully by all Indians, not just the Hindu population, as soon as it is available. The danger to India by way of balkanization is 3 fold according to the authors in their press release :

1.Islamic-jihadi terrorism
2. Maoist and other insurgencies in the North East
3. The Dravidian-Christian nexus in Tamil Nadu

The book concerns itself with the last mentioned danger. The book is newly released and will be available soon on the market. The present writer would point out that this Dravidian-Christian nexus in Tamil Nadu correctly sees that the unity and integrity of India has lasted several millennia, even before the rise of the modern nationalist independence struggle against colonial rule. The present writer has written previously about the Idea of Bharat. It is this which has held the country together and it is this which the nefarious nexus in Tamil Nadu seeks to undermine.

 The present writer has observed that abroad, there are various groups and organizations, some sincerely and genuinely of a reformist nature (seeking to reform Hinduism at its weak points) but who, unfortunately,  also harbour extremist elements.And so, whatever the valid subjective aims of these groups, objectively they function as conduits for those who would try to balkanize India. A case in point could be Navya Shastra, one of whose board members is said to have  called for the removal of the great epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata from the Hindu canon, owing to alleged discrimination against the Dalits.

This allegation cannot be taken seriously in light of the above mentioned nexus. One can readily see that the epic narratives have elements of ethnic groupings. But is this enough justification for removing the famous epics from the Hindu canon ?  The authors themselves of the two great epics are members of the lower jatis, illustrating the flexibility that existed in ancient times between the various jatis. They were certainly not from the upper echelons. Valmiki the author of the Ramayana was a hunter and Vyasa, author of the Mahabharata from the fishermen jati.

And the central figures Rama in the Ramayana and the lofty spiritual message of the Bhagavad Gita in the Mahabharata are what Hindus relate to. Rama is the embodiment of the just and compassionate ruler whose Ayodhya can be held up as a model of governance for all societies. Peace and prosperity for all in society is the central theme of Ayodhya. There are ethnic groupings in the New Testament, for instance, and yet this does not take away from the inspiring message of the sermon on the mount.

In any case, no Hindu or for that matter no civilized non Hindu would condone the burning of these two books (reportedly advocated by Pathmaraja Nagalingam of Navya Shastra). It would be similar to condoning the destruction of  the Bamyan Buddhas by the Taliban.

Writers such as Arundhati Roy frequently invoke the bugaboo of the ‘Hindu Brahmanic state’ when talking about social injustices such as the corporate exploitation of the tribals in tribal areas in the eastern states of India. This lunatic thinking not only lessens the credibility of her arguments (some of them valid) against corporate India, but also misses the point about the Idea of Bharat which was  and is the creation of the masses of India, not some Brahmanic conspiracy. The Indian Left, also wearing their own ideological blinkers, are unable to see this either.

To sum up:

All right thinking people have the obligation to resist the asuric forces. The Hindus have a double burden which they cannot shirk, since our sages and saints have left an enduring and inspiring legacy not only for Bharat but for the entire planet.

What could be nobler than their utterance ? May all beings be happy (sarve bhavantu sukhinah).

(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university).

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