Vir Sanghvi’s ‘secular mumbo-jumbo’

via H Balakrishnan published on October 3, 2010
Kuppara Vizhindalum Meesaiyil Mannu Ottavile

Dear Sir,

Reference the  ‘secular mumbo-jumbo’ of  ‘ food & beverages expert ‘ – Vir Sanghvi -  in  his – ” BJP’s ‘semitic’ agenda falls “ – (TNSE – 03 Oct).

The subject title that I have given for Sanghvi’s ‘ drawl ‘ is a pithy Tamil proverb: ” Kuppara Vizhindalum Meesaiyil Mannu Ottavile ” – loosely translated in English, though it can NEVER capture the spirit in Tamil : ” A man with a moustache falls flat face down in slush [ in the case of Ayodhya  lets say – COWDUNG ]. The entire face is covered with dung. The man says ‘ My moustache is still clean ‘ !!  That’s the pitiable case of the ‘seculars’ after the verdict in the Ayodhya – Babri Masjid Case. Here’s why.

The entire ‘secular’ hysteria, in the years preceding the verdict was :
(a) What is the proof that ‘it’ is the Janmasthan;
 (b) What is the proof that a Hindu Temple was destroyed by Islamic iconoclasm ?

And, in the days just prior to the verdict, the ‘secular’ drum beat was  ‘ The Judicial Verdict must be honoured ‘. The verdict is ‘ OUT ‘. And, no surprises, it is the ‘seculars’ who are stating it is a ‘Panchayat Verdict’; ‘The judges went by a tainted ASI report’ etc. etc.

In his column of 26 Sep, entitled : ” Land of Ram is no longer at war with itself “, Sanghvi wrote: ” I have no idea what the rights and wrongs of this dispute are. I know that many archaeologists deny that there ever was a temple at the site. Equally, other archaeologists say that they have found evidence that a temple did stand on this location. Still others argue that even if a temple had once existed on the land, there is nothing to suggest that it was destroyed and a mosque built in its place. A more off-beat interpretation states that there may have been a Buddhist monastery that pre-dated the mosque “.  Hopefully, he knows the answer NOW, and his ‘History’  updated !!

However, since the verdict is so very ‘uncomfortable’ to the ‘secularists’ like Sanghvi & Co, they have to ‘ deflect & divert ‘ from the ‘ stinging retort ‘ they have received from the Learned Judges !! Their canards and calumny stand exposed. Hence the new tack of Sanghvi – BJP & Semitism !!! Thus, he pontificated : ” But there exists another tradition of political Hinduism [ whatever that means !! ] . There are people who believe that the secularism enshrined in our Constitution does Hinduism a disservice. They would much rather have India declared a Hindu (rather than secular) republic. This does not mean there would be no room for Muslims, Christians, etc. but that they would be seen as people who flourished in a Hindu country because of the tolerance of Hindus “. Blah ! Blah ! No more. No less. Because, this so-called Senior Editor of a mainstream newspaper only ends up ‘highlighting his crass ignorance of Santana Dharma and its ethos’.

In his regular Sunday column in the daily ‘Pioneer’ – 03 Oct – , journalist Swapan Dasgupta has come down ‘ hard ‘ on the likes of the Sanghvi’s !! He wrote: ” Some of the outburst was
predictable. Those whom Arun Shourie dubbed the “eminent historians” were understandably agitated that the High Court judges had the effrontery to discount their ‘no-temple-ever’ assertions in favour of the evidence culled by the Archaeological Survey of India. Their spirited attempt to reclaim the mantle of sole spokesmen for India’s past was understandable. If the courts discount their fatwas, it was only a matter of time before the stifled voices of other historians would make their departmental dominance more fragile. Also following the script was the apoplectic fury of those who had hitherto been the respectable face of secularist modernity. Their apprehension was any possibility that the Hindu and Muslim leaderships would cut a deal above their heads and make redundant their franchise to speak on behalf of the minority. For two days and courtesy some TV channels, the secular modernists attempted to whip up Muslim opinion against the judgement and use the community’s apparent displeasure to force the Government into using its proverbial ‘good offices’ with the Supreme Court. The overall idea is to build up an intellectual climate so forceful that the Supreme Court would think it prudent to overturn the HC judgement. The provocative, self-preservation tactics of the thekedars of conflict — one ‘secular’ lady said that the Indian state no longer had a social contract with Muslims, an assertion that could well be construed as legitimising terrorism — would have certainly had a disorienting effect had it been backed by community pressure. Without mincing words, the professional secularists are trying to create a fresh communal schism by nurturing minority victimhood. It’s a very dangerous game. “


A Westerner, U.S. citizen,  Dr.David Frawley,  understands the ethos of Sanatana Dharma,  with greater sensitivity and depth than our ‘Macaulay-putra’ Sanghvi !! Frawley wrote in
his essay, ” Is there a Hindu Fundamentalism? ” : ” Fundamentalism is an easily discernible phenomenon in belief-oriented religions like Christianity and Islam which have a simple
and exclusive pattern to their faith. They generally insist that there is only One God, who has only one Son or final Prophet, and only one true scripture, which is literally God’s word. They hold that belief in this One God and his chief representative brings salvation in an eternal heaven and disbelief causes condemnation to an eternal hell. Muslims daily chant “there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his (last) prophet”.

Most Christians, whether Catholic or Protestant, regard belief in Christ as one’s personal savior as the only true way to salvation. Fundamentalists are literalists in these traditions who hold rigidly to their beliefs and insist that since their religion alone is true the other religions should not be tolerated, particularly in the lands where members of their religion are in a majority. Fundamentalists generally hold to their religion’s older social customs and refuse to integrate into the broader stream of modern society which recognizes freedom of religious belief”.

Again. ” While the news media of the Western World, and of India itself, speaks of Hindu fundamentalism, no one appears to have really defined what it is.  Is there a Hindu fundamentalism comparable to Islamic or Christian fundamentalism? Using such a term merely assumes that there is, but what is the evidence for it? Hindus with their many names and forms for God don’t mind accepting the Christian name God or even Islamic Allah’s referring to the same reality, though they may not use these names in the same strict or exclusive sense as Christians or Muslims. A belief in God is not even necessary to be a Hindu, as such non-theistic Hindu systems as Sankhya reveal. For those who speak of Hindu fundamentalism [ like Vir Sanghvi ], we must ask the question: What One God do Hindu fundamentalists groups insist upon is the only true God and which Gods are they claiming are false except for Him? If Hindus are not insisting upon the sole reality of the One Hindu God can they be called fundamentalists like the Christians and Muslims?

Further. ” Hindus are not of one faith only. They are divided into Shaivites (those who worship Shiva), Vaishnavas (those who worship Vishnu), Shaktas (those who worship the Goddess), Ganapatas (those who worship Ganesh), Smartas and a number of other groups which are constantly being revised relative to modern reachers around whom new movements may be founded (like the Swami Narayan movement, the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda groups or the followers of Sri Aurobindo). Those called Hindu fundamentalists are similarly divided up into these different sets. What common belief can be found in all these groups which constitutes Hindu fundamentalism? What common Hindu fundamentalist platform do the different sets of Hinduism shares? is it a Shaivite, Vaishnava or other type fundamentalism? How do such diverse groups maintain their harmony and identity under the Hindu fundamentalist banner? While one can make a code of belief for Christian or Islamic fundamentalism, what code of belief applies to Hindu fundamentalism of all different sets? No Hindus-including so called Hindu fundamentalists insist that there is only one true faith called Hinduism and that all other faith are false. Hinduism contains too much plurality to allow for that. Its tendency is not to coalesce into a fanatic into a fanatic unit like the fundamentalists of other religions, but to disperse into various diverse sets and fail to arrive at any common action, historically even one of self-defense against foreign invaders “.

Besides . ” Fundamentalism creates various political parties limited to members of that religion only, which aim at setting up religions dictatorships. What exclusively Hindu
religious party exists in India or elsewhere in the world, and what is its common Hindu fundamentalist platform? Who is asking for a Hindu state that forbids the practice of other religions, allows only Hindu religious centers to be built and requires a Hindu religious figures as the head o the country? This is what other fundamentalist groups are asking for in terms of their religions and what they have instituted in a number of countries that they have taken power, like Iran and Saudi Arabia. There are no Hindu fundamentalist statements of such nature. Can we imagine any Hindu swearing that there is no God but Rama and Tulsidas is his only prophet, that the Ramayana is the only true scripture, that those who believe differently will be condemned by Rama to eternal damnation and those who criticize Tulsidas should be killed ?”

Lastly, Frawley answers the ‘scaremongering’ Sanghvi indulges in his Article : ” Hindus are called fundamentalists for wanting to retake a few of their old holy places, like Ayodhya, of the many thousands destroyed during centuries of foreign domination. Several Hindu groups are united around this cause. This, however, is an issue oriented movement, not the manifestation of a monolithic fundamentalism. It is a unification of diverse groups to achieve a common end, not the product of a uniform belief system. There are those who warn that Hindu rule would mean the creation of a Hindu theocratic state? Yet what standard Hindu theology is there, and what Hindu theocratic state has ever existed? Will it be a Shaivite, Vaishnava, or Vedantic theocracy? What Hindu theocratic model will it be based upon? Is there a model of Hindu kings like the Caliphs of early Islam to go back to, or like the Christian emperors of the Middle Ages? To lump them together as problems of Hindu fundamentalism fails to examine them adequately but, rather, uses them as a scare tactic to discredit Hinduism as a whole . What famous Hindu king was a fundamentalist who tried to eliminate all other beliefs from the land or tried to spread Hinduism throughout the world by the sword? Does Rama or Krishna provide such a model? Does Shivaji provide such a model? If no such model exist what is the fear of a militant Hindu theocratic rule based upon? “    


At a conceptual level, and ,  as a critique of Sanghvi’s Article, it is worthwhile quoting Dr.Subash Kashyap , well known Constitutional expert from his edited book : ” Understanding
India : Relevance of Hinduism, Vitasta Publishing, New Delhi (2007) : ” Samuel P.Huntington,  the famous author of ” The Clash of Civilizations “, has come up with another provocative work, which raises the question: Who are we? What is the substance of American national identity as contra distinguished from other people? His very clear, categorical and unequivocal
conclusion is that Americans are essentially religious people, the core of American national identity is ‘Anglo-Protestant Culture’ and that religion and nationalism go hand in hand. Huntington forcefully argues that America will cease to be itself and its creed is unlikely to retain its salience if Americans abandon the Ango-Protestant culture in which the nation is rooted”.

Again. ” The purpose of drawing attention to Huntington’s seminal work and his idea about American national identity is to pose a similar question to ourselves: ‘Who are we?’ What is India’s national identity? If the logic of Huntington’s argument is followed and applied to India, the thesis that emerges would perhaps be immediately frowned upon as diabolical Hindu chauvinism. [As indeed Vir Sanghvi avers in his Article !!]. All that is necessary is to substitute ‘American’ by ‘Indian’ and ‘Anglo-Protestant’ by ‘Hinduism’. Anyone who attempts would be at once denounced by the pseudoliberal intellectuals as anti-secular fundamentalists. [As indeed Vir Sanghvi does !!] (pp-5)

Huntington had stated ‘ that religion and nationalism go hand in hand ‘. That is precisely what Sri Aurobindo had stated on 30 May 1909, in his ‘ famous ‘ Uttarpara speech : ” This is
the word that has been put into my mouth to speak to you today. What I intended to speak has been put away from me, and beyond what is given to me I have nothing to say. It is only the word that is put into me that I can speak to you. That word is now finished. I spoke once before with this force in me and I said then that this movement is not a political movement and that nationalism is not politics but a religion, a creed, a faith. I say it again today, but I put it in another way. I say no longer that nationalism is a creed, a religion, a faith; I say that it is the Sanatan Dharma which for us is nationalism. This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatan Dharma, with it it moves and with it it grows. When the Sanatan Dharma declines, then the nation declines, and if the Sanatan Dharma were capable of perishing, with the Sanatan Dharma it would perish. The Sanatan Dharma, that is nationalism. This is the message that I have to speak to you”.

One harbours no doubts whatsoever, that in ‘ India’s perverted political parlance ‘,  the likes of Vir Sanghvi will have no hesitations in dubbing Sri Aurobindo “COMMUNAL” !! What a bunch of ‘fraudsters’ these ‘secularists’ are?

Another one of Sanghvi’s waffle : ” There are people who believe that the secularism  enshrined in our Constitution does Hinduism a disservice “.

Here is Dr.Subash Kashyap, who understands and interprets the Constitution : ” While religious minorities are certainly entitled to rights of freedom of religion and to practice their religion freely and peacefully, political rights must flow to every citizen equally without any discrimination on grounds of religion etc. Minoroties must be protected and their interests must be promoted in all civilised societies. But, a question is asked whether it is not anachronistic for a ‘secular constitution’ to recognise religious immunities in the political system or to provide any special political privileges on grounds of religion under the garb of protecting them? It is a strange and dangerous scenario in any democracy where the majority feels threatened of gradually losing ground.”

Arun Shourie has an interesting take on these so-called ‘liberal seculars’, in his riveting ” A Secular Agenda “, HarperCollins (1997) : ” There are several factors that explain the perversity [of the liberal seculars]. The simplest is just that their mental life is derivative : feminism becomes a big thing in the West and three years later feminist articles fill our papers and magazines; homosexuals assert their presence in the West, and three years later articles and features voicing the ‘same critique’ of our society begin appearing here. As India is not ONE to the West, it is NOT one in the wr
tings of these commentators. Next, there is just sequence: having asserted one proposition today, or another commentator having asserted it, our commentator feels compelled to out-do it; the competition is ‘ being with it ‘, of being radical and emancipated of ‘ false consciousness ‘ itself leads to assertions which are so oblivious of what is manifest. But there is something deeper too: having internalised slander about our tradition, these commentators [ like Sanghvi ! ] feel it their personal curse that they are Indians; but they can’t go elsewhere all that easily either; they know too that even if they were to leave this accursed land, they would be consigned to the margins of society they may settle in. It is this bind – of not being able to discard this ‘geographical expression’, nor being able to find a position of as much prominence in another society – which accounts for their refusal to see that which is unifying and edifying in our tradition”. (pp-24)

In conclusion, it is best to rubbish Sanghvi’s ‘waffle’, with the ringing words of the nationalist Sri Aurobindo:

” India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken the last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human peoples. And that which must seek now to awake IS NOT AN ANGLICIZED ORIENTAL PEOPLE, DOCILE PUPIL PF THE WEST AND DOOMED TO REPEAT THE OCCIDENT’S SUCCESS AND FAILURE,  but still the ancient immemorable Shakti recovering her deepest self,  lifting her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and form of HER DHARMA”.

Against the backdrop of the foregoing, Sanghvi’s Article reminded me of a verse in the Katha Upanishad :

” Living in the midst of ignorance, considering themselves to be wise, the deluded wander confused, like the blind led by the blind “.  Fits the likes of the Sanghvis to the ‘proverbial T’.



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