Saturday, May 31, 2008

Revival of Hindu temples

Revival of Hindu temples
See: Structural restoration of Kailasanatha temple : Uttaramerur

REACH Foundation's contact is:

REACH Foundation's Blog has more details on Hindu temple restoration efforts in Tamil Nadu by its volunteers, including software engineers:
Restoration of 1,200-year-old temple to begin soon
T.S. Subramanian
REACH Foundation to conserve Kailasanatha temple at Uttaramerur in Kancheepuram district
The temple has inscriptions of Chola kings and Nayaka rulers
It has three storeys with sanctum sanctorums on all floors
________________________________________ — Photo: S. Thanthoni

Uncovering an era: ‘Bhoomi puja’ for the restoration and conservation of this 1,200-year old Kailasanatha temple at Uttaramerur, 90 km from Chennai, is to take place on June 2.
CHENNAI: Restoration and conservation of a 1,200-year old Siva temple called Kailasanatha temple built by the Pallava king Dantivarman at Uttaramerur in Tamil Nadu’s Kancheepuram district is all set to begin.

The “bhoomi puja” for the restoration will be done on June 3. The beautiful temple, which has inscriptions in Tamil of the Chola kings Raja Raja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola, the Vijayanagara king Krishnadevaraya and the Nayaka rulers Bommu Nayaka and Krishnama Nayaka, is in ruins today. A non-governmental organisation called REACH Foundation will undertake the restoration.

The challenge
T. Satyamurthy, a founder of REACH Foundation and B. Narasimhaiah, its consultant, visited the temple on Saturday (May 31) and held discussions on how to go about the restoration. “The challenge is to make the temple stand for a long time with its original splendour,” they said. Both retired as Superintending Archaeologists, Archaeological Survey of India. The restoration would be done with the cooperation of local residents, who were enthusiastic about it.

The Kailasanatha temple was built towards the end of the 8th century. While its base was made of granite slabs, the temple proper and its vimana were built with bricks. It has three storeys with sanctum sanctorums on the ground, first and second floors. But only the sanctum sanctorum on the ground floor has a beautiful Sivalinga now, which is still being worshipped.

R. Nagaswamy, former Director, Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology, who has written a book called Uttaramerur in both Tamil and English, calls this “a great temple, a Mahaprasada,” as “seen from the construction technique.” The book has been published by Tamil Arts Academy, Chennai. According to Dr. Nagaswamy, the main temple is built with two walls, the inner and outer, with an intervening space (technically called ‘sandhara’) over which rises the vimana superstructure. “The Chola records call this temple ‘Sri Kailayam Udaiya Mahadeva’ and refer to the gift of lands for puja, food offering (naivedya) and burning perpetual lamps,” he says. There is also an inscription of Krishnadevaraya.

This temple, thus suffused with history, presents a pathetic picture now. Dense vegetation over the vimana has dislocated its brick structure. Beautiful stucco figures, which adorned the vimana, are no longer there. Granite slabs of the base have moved from their position. The vegetation’s deep roots have sprung long cracks in the brick walls around the sanctum sanctorum. On the northern side, the crack is three-foot wide. The front mantapa, made of granite slabs and built by the Chola kings, has totally collapsed.

Dr. Satyamurthy said: “To save this temple from further collapse and preserve it, the cracks have to be stitched with the same type of bricks. Besides, the lower portion of the brick structure should be made to stand on granite slabs. The vimana, built of bricks, will be made to stand on granite slabs. These new granite slabs will bear the weight of the vimana and also distribute its weight uniformly. In short, it is transplantation of the vimana in situ.”

Dr. Narasimhaiah said it was easier to conserve temples built of stones than those built of bricks. “If vegetation has dislocated the stones, they can be dismantled and re-assembled. But bricks become brittle. So you have to stitch the joints and cracks, and ensure that the roots do not remain in the brick work,” he explained. The collapsed front mantapa would be re-assembled.

Uttaramerur is also known for its Sundara Varadaraja Perumal temple built by the Pallava and Chola kings, and Krishnadevaraya. It has sanctum sanctorums in three tiers of standing, sitting and reclining Vishnu.

Uttaramerur is the only village with a written constitution, inscribed on the granite slab-walls of the village assembly.

Dr. Nagaswamy says: “This inscription, dated around 920 A.D. in the reign of Parantaka Chola, is an outstanding document in the history of India. It gives astonishing details about the constitution of wards, the qualification of candidates standing for elections, the disqualification [norms], the mode of election, the constitution of committees with elected members, the functions of committees, the power to remove the wrong-doer, etc.”

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Amartya Sen spinning a tale of two peoples

Amartya Sen spinning a tale of two peoples

While the example cited by Amartya Sen is correct that the Bengal famine (resulting in the death of 3 million people) was caused by the British colonial regime, his diagnosis of the demand-driven situation creating ‘two peoples’ today is questionable.

He has no basis in fact to make such a pontificating statement. Take the example of the Indian situation. It is not demand-driven shortage for one of the ‘two peoples’ but a failure to sustain the rate of growth in supply of food grains, particularly after the ‘green revolution’. If the proposal initiated by NDA to set up a National Water Grid including interlinking of rivers had been put in place, making available 9 crore acres of additional wet land with assured irrigation by an expanded command area of irrigation could have been started. The alluvium in the nation provides for a potential quadrupling of agricultural production.

Yes, the nature of the problem has to be understood first. But, not the way Amartya Sen pontificates.


The rich get hungrier

By Amartya Sen (Deccan Chronicle, 29 May 2008)

WILL the food crisis that is menacing the lives of millions ease up — or grow worse over time? The answer may be both. The recent rise in food prices has largely been caused by temporary problems like drought in Australia, Ukraine and elsewhere. Though the need for huge rescue operations is urgent, the present acute crisis will eventually end. But underlying it is a basic problem that will only intensify unless we recognise it and try to remedy it.
It is a tale of two peoples. In one version of the story, a country with a lot of poor people suddenly experiences fast economic expansion, but only half of the people share in the new prosperity. The favoured ones spend a lot of their new income on food, and unless supply expands very quickly, prices shoot up. The rest of the poor now face higher food prices but no greater income, and begin to starve. Tragedies like this happen repeatedly in the world.
A stark example is the Bengal famine of 1943, during the last days of the British rule in India. The poor who lived in cities experienced rapidly rising incomes, especially in Kolkata, where huge expenditures for the war against Japan caused a boom that quadrupled food prices. The rural poor faced these skyrocketing prices with little increase in income.
Misdirected government policy worsened the division. The British rulers were determined to prevent urban discontent during the war, so the government bought food in the villages and sold it, heavily subsidised, in the cities, a move that increased rural food prices even further. Low earners in the villages starved. Two million to three million people died in that famine and its aftermath.
Much discussion is rightly devoted to the division between haves and have-nots in the global economy, but the world’s poor are themselves divided between those who are experiencing high growth and those who are not. The rapid economic expansion in countries like China, India and Vietnam tends to sharply increase the demand for food. This is, of course, an excellent thing in itself, and if these countries could manage to reduce their unequal internal sharing of growth, even those left behind there would eat much better.
But the same growth also puts pressure on global food markets — sometimes through increased imports, but also through restrictions or bans on exports to moderate the rise in food prices at home, as has happened recently in countries like India, China, Vietnam and Argentina. Those hit particularly hard have been the poor, especially in Africa.
There is also a high-tech version of the tale of two peoples. Agricultural crops like corn and soybeans can be used for making ethanol for motor fuel. So the stomachs of the hungry must also compete with fuel tanks.
Misdirected government policy plays a part here, too. In 2005, the United States Congress began to require widespread use of ethanol in motor fuels. This law combined with a subsidy for this use has created a flourishing corn market in the United States, but has also diverted agricultural resources from food to fuel. This makes it even harder for the hungry stomachs to compete.
Ethanol use does little to prevent global warming and environmental deterioration, and clear-headed policy reforms could be urgently carried out, if American politics would permit it. Ethanol use could be curtailed, rather than being subsidised and enforced.
The global food problem is not being caused by a falling trend in world production, or for that matter in food output per person (this is often asserted without much evidence). It is the result of accelerating demand.
However, a demand-induced problem also calls for rapid expansion in food production, which can be done through more global cooperation.
While population growth accounts for only a modest part of the growing demand for food, it can contribute to global warming, and long-term climate change can threaten agriculture. Happily, population growth is already slowing and there is overwhelming evidence that women’s empowerment (including expansion of schooling for girls) can rapidly reduce it even further.
What is most challenging is to find effective policies to deal with the consequences of extremely asymmetric expansion of the global economy. Domestic economic reforms are badly needed in many slow-growth countries, but there is also a big need for more global cooperation and assistance. The first task is to understand the nature of the problem.
Amartya Sen, who teaches economics and philosophy at Harvard, received the Nobel Prize in economics in 1998 and is the author, most recently, of Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny. rich get hungrier

Why Kaveri wears saffron -- Tarun Vijay


Why Kaveri wears saffron
28 May 2008, 1943 hrs IST,Tarun Vijay (Times of India)

The saffron Karnataka wears is aglow with the sacrifices of the anonymous workers who lived with a reason, for a cause. Who sowed saffron in Karnataka's soil – like Yadav Rao Joshi, H V Seshadri, Suryanarain Rao, often going to sleep on an empty stomach but worked day and night to spread the message of a strong nationalism, motherland first and foremost. Everything else was secondary.

When Seshadri breathed his last, he was listening to the Sangh prayer – namaste sada vatsale matribhume (Salutations to thee, O beloved motherland...) But Vidhan Saudha was never on their radar of achievements. Their mission was and remains a total transformation of society into a proud, strong, self-reliant, knowledge reservoir with character which would lead Bharat, which is India, into the highest ranks of the comity of nations. Political power is just one small step in that direction.

The people who remember their past have a future. The saffron we see blooming in the South is powered with the ideas of a man whose birth anniversary would largely go unnoticed today. Veer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was the name of the man who shook Hindus from their lethargic and self-demeaning attitude and who put the word Hindutva in vogue.

I remember Madhumangal Sharma who was killed while reading a book by Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyaya in his Imphal house. The day bullets pierced his heart, through the book, happened to be 11th February, 1995. It was also the martyrdom day of the author he liked most, Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, who was murdered mysteriously on 11th Feb 1968 on a moving train.

One could wonder in these times of extreme parochialism why a Manipuri in Imphal would be reading a book by a northerner? The same Manipur has banned all books of Hindi writers, Hindi movies, and finally the national anthem now.

The martyrdom of Pt Upadhyaya and Madhumangal and many others for a cause energised a collective will to bring change in polity. That's what nationalism is all about. Different parts, one body. There are youngsters who still have the courage to stand for a broader, Indian nationalism in Manipur facing foreign-funded extremists who have otherwise succeeded in silencing all other voices reflecting Indianness.

What makes them brave the bullets? Love for motherland, and that's saffron unquestioningly.

Shyama Prasad Mookerjee was born in Bengal and became the youngest ever vice-chancellor of Calcutta University at the age of 33. He was a close friend of Kaji Nazrul Islam, helped him when he needed most, was a part of the family of Rabindranath Tagore, became a legendary figure in his life time, inherited a legacy Bengal is justifiably proud of, and he died for Kashmir. His mysterious “death” in the jail of Sheikh Abdullah, in Srinagar on 23rd June 1953 raised questions that are still unanswered. The only reason for his untimely death was his demand that Kashmir be assimilated in India like any other state. And there should not be two flags, two constitutional provisions and two heads in relation to Kashmir. He was arrested for entering the valley without a permit, in his own country and jailed where he met a sudden death.

Mookerjee’s mother, Jogmaya Devi wrote to Nehru on 4 July 1953: “His death is shrouded in mystery. Is it not most astounding and shocking that ever since his detention there, the first information that I, his mother, received from the government of Kashmir was that my son was 'no more', and that also at least two hours after the end? And in what a cruel, cryptic way the message was conveyed! '. A fearless son of free India has met his death while 'in detention without trial' under most tragic and mysterious circumstances. I, the mother of the great departed soul, demand that an absolutely impartial and open enquiry by independent and competent persons be held without any delay. I know nothing can bring back to us the life that is no more. But I do want that the people of India must judge for themselves, the real causes of this great tragedy enacted in a free country and the part that was played by your government.”

Nehru gave a short reply on 5 July 1953: “l did not venture to write to you before without going into the matter of Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee's detention and death fairly carefully. I have since enquired further into it from a number of persons who had occasion to know 'some facts'. I can only say to you that I arrived at the clear and honest conclusion that there is no mystery in this and that Dr Mookerjee was given every consideration.”

This was really rude and Jogmaya Devi replied on 9th July, 1953: “Your letter dated 5th July reached me on the 7th. It is a sad commentary on the whole situation. Instead of helping to clear up the mystery, your attitude deepens it (further). I demanded an open enquiry. I did not ask 'for your clear and honest conclusion'. Your reaction to the whole affair is now well known. The people of India and I, the mother, have got to be convinced. There is a rooted suspicion in the mind of many. What is required is 'an open, impartial, immediate enquiry'.

'Your experience in jails is known to all. It was at one time a matter of great national pride with us. But you had suffered imprisonment under an alien rule and my son has met his death in detention without trial under a national government. It is futile to address you further. You are afraid to face facts. I hold the Kashmir government responsible for the death of my son. I accuse your government of complicity in the matter.”

Nehru never cared to reply.

Shyama Prasad's martyrdom too has added to the saffron we see in Karnataka.

The Kothari brothers and others who died facing brutal police repression in Ayodhya during their satyagraha to demand a Ram Temple in 1990 is a scar on India's body that would hardly be forgotten. The other side of the secular Talibanism creates ghettoes of Gulags and Siberia-ism for votebank politics. Hasn't the accumulated angst against these discriminations fuelled a change in the Indian political scene? Remember the best of Indian soldiers, editors and actors like Gen Candeth, Gen. Jacob, Girilal Jain and Victor Banerjee joined the saffron side in the aftermath of Ayodhya. And who were those who died demanding a ban on cow slaughter? Were they simply an expendable crowd of illiterate, empty-headed buffoons, trampling on other's rights in times when editors love to write about restaurants serving the most tasty beef?

Those teachers and truck drivers and auto-rickshaw owners who were killed in Kannur and Palakad just for wearing saffron have also contributed to the Karnataka victory.

And those hundreds of highly qualified selfless workers who lived and died anonymously for seeing saffron bloom, did help in paving the way for the leaders who rule today with a broad smile on their faces, though they never aspired to work for a political fortune.

Who were those workers who dedicated their lives for a cause that would never provide them comfort or fame? What was that magic bond that bound them in a solidarity that would not be shaken under any circumstances. They first fought the British, then the Communists and their political mates in Congress and progressed astoundingly well in spite of a collective media assault and opposition that would surpass every logic and sense of balance. Today the saffron brotherhood is running the largest number of successful schools, has the highest number of service projects in slums and tribal areas across the country from Port Blair to Leh and Naharlagun to the Nilgiris, runs centres to train Scheduled Caste youths as priests and computer engineers and provides the nation the sinews it needs during any crisis. None will see these elements of fire and light but will only comment frivolously on the electoral underpinnings and caste-religion equations. The saffron we see blooming over the Vidhan Saudha in Bangalore is the result of a collective will engulfing the grand Indian picture we worship as mother incarnate.

Those who occupy the plush chairs inside must remember this and the responsibility that comes along with wearing colour. The land of Hampi and Basaveshwara and Kanak Dasa wants to see that the polluted Kaveri (Cauvery) of public administration, behavior and accountability be cleaned and Sanskrit and Sanskriti (culture) flowers unhindered. Always remember why Hampi was razed and for whom. Should the children of that past forget their ancestors and get glued to elements that negate the fragrance of the land?
Karnataka results have defied the pettiness of the polity we had been witnessing over water sharing and language–regional conflicts and have proved that merger with the nationalist cause is worthier than asserting parochial and smaller identities. It's also a verdict against hate and ideological apartheid.

Media with seculars of the red variety have turned saffron into a term of abuse and derided its use as if belonging to saffron is a sin. Today with Karnataka, saffron rules over seven states on its own. The red smart seculars, self-obsessed “upholders” of the peace marches and candle-burning rituals for Afzals and betrayers of faith, find themselves completely marginalized and shrunk. Naturally so. As the grand Indian vision expands, the myopic market managers of Marx and Macs will have to squeeze into a smaller space.

I have always maintained that the hate factor in Indian politics is a contribution of the left and alien thought processes. Swami Dayananda fiercely attacked the practice of idol worship among Hindus but he was accommodated and respected, not turned into an outcaste and fatwa-ed to death. Guru Nanak and Kabir criticized ritualism and the blind faith prevalent among influential Hindus. But they were revered and adored. Hate and animosity on the basis of beliefs is alien to Hindus and was introduced by those who are inherently intolerant to the different viewpoint.

There is no reason for the hate between various political parties in India – after all they all swear to work for the good of India and Indians. The polity must play on the foundation of a pan-Indian vision. Programmes may differ but the fragmentisation must come to an end giving way to fraternisation. Seculars have so far invested their pride in being backward, most backward and other backwards. Yet they call themselves as most progressives. See what's happening in Rajasthan. A matter of pride?

It's the dharma of all Indian political organisations to see that India prospers and doesn't fall prey to divisive and mutually hateful policies to nurse vote banks. The nation must stand taller than the South Blocked ambitions.

The author is the Director, Dr Syamaprasad Mookerjee Research Foundation.,flstry-1.cms

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Manvantaras, pralaya, desiccation of R. Sarasvati and kaalagan.ana (time-reckoning)

Manvantaras, pralaya, desiccation of R. Sarasvati and kaalagan.ana (time-reckoning)

Manvantaras (stages of cyclical creation) and kaalagan.ana in the context of the cosmic events of Pralaya and the temporal event of desiccation of River Sarasvati

Many Hindu ancient texts contain a lucid account of the Pralaya, sarga (creation) and visarga (dissolution) in the cosmic dance exemplified by the taand.ava nr.tya of Mahes’vara as Nat.araaja. I am quoting extensively from two accounts of these texts collated by PV Kane and SA Dange.

These texts embody a living oral tradition, of emphatic collective socio-cultural memories, be they related to the super-eruption of Mt. Toba or the submergence of the in a great deluge or tsunami. As we traverse into the mists of history, trying to trace peopling of Bharatam in a continuum called Hindu civilization using genetic markers, we also have to relate these markers to the oral traditions which form the basis for the texts written down as Puraan.a-s.

I am fascinated by the brilliant insights of an engineer from IIT, Kharagpur, Shri GV Subramanian who relates the super-eruption of Mt. Toba to Vaivasvata Manu –- Satyavrata of Dravid.ades’a -- in Hindu tradition. I am sure he will document his perceptions (based on earth science interpretations and genetic differentiation markers) in the eternal quest for satyam and heritage. I give below the following two extensive excerpts from Kane and Dange to provide a framework for documenting the traditions of the Hindu community and to contribute to an understanding of the Peopling of Bharatam, say between 74k years ago (Mt. Toba super-eruption) and the flow of Himalayan Glacial Vedic River Sarasvati (say, 10 k years ago).

(quote) Saavarn.ya Manu was a great benefactor and leader of some terrority occurs in RV X.62.11. It is said that each manvantara had a separate set of sages, sons of Manu, gods, kings, smr.tis, Indra and guardians for the proper regulation of dharma and for the protection of the people (Brahma 5.29, VishnuP. II, Ch. 1-2). In the VishnuP. it is said that some gods remain for four yugas, some for a manvantara and some stay for a kalpa. Vishnudharmasootra (ch. XX.1-15) has the same account of Manvantaras and Kalpas as Manu’s but it adds one detail viz. that the whole age of Brahmaa is equal to a day of Purusha (Vishnu) and the night of Purusha is also as long. It is remarkable that the same view is attributed to Alberuni (Sachau vol. I, p. 332) to be Pulis’asiddhaanta. It is not known whether those European scholars who regard Pulis’a to be Paulus Alexandinus have shown that this detal occurs in the work of the Greek Astrologer Paulus. In the Vanaparva (188.22-29) the same account as in Manu occurs except this that 12000 years are called Yuga simply and not caturyuga (as in Manu I.71) The Maarkan.deya P. has a long story about Svaarochisha in chapters 58-65, devotes to Uttama to Caakshusa, chap. 74-76 to Vaivasvata, chap. 77 to Saavarn.i, chap. 78-90 to Devee, chap. 91-95 to Raucya or Ruci, chap. 96-97 is to Bhautya. The word ‘vaivasvata’ (son of Vivasvat, the Sun) is applied to Yama in several passages of the RV (X.14.1, X.58.1, X.60.10, X. 164.2). The, however, ascribes RV VIII.27-31 to Vaivasvata Manu as the r.s.i and in one of the Vaalakhilya hymns (RV X.52.1) occus the following verse ‘O Indra! Just as you drank the soma extracted in (the sacrifice of) Manu vivasvat, just as you frequently accept the hymn of praise in (sacrifice of) Aayu. It may be noted that the Manusmr.ti names only the seven Manus (1.61-63) and states that each Manu during his own time (which extended over thousands of years) created the movable and immovable world and protected it, that Manvantaras are numberless (Manusmr.ti I.80) and that the Great God (Parames.t.hin) brought about the creation and destruction of the world during the Manvantaras. Some of the such as Matsya (9.37-39, 142.40, 144, 97-98), Vaayu (59.34), Agni (150.21), Vishn.u (I.3 and VI.3) state that Manu and the seven sages in each Manvantara (i.e. there there is a change of Manu) who are the s’ that then exist are devoted to dharma, being ordered by Brahmaa for the purpose of continuing the worlds, declare the truth and promulgate the Vedas. Some modern writers (like Dr. Dattari) think (vide ‘The rationalistic and realistic interpretation of the Upanishads’ pp. 2 and 3 published at Nagpur in 1958) that in ancient times there was an Indian institution of public functionaries called Manu and the, whose function was to legislate and promulgate the Vedas. With great respect to the erudite scholar, I disagree with him. The extant Puraan.a passages are less than 2000 years old, while the present Vaivasvata Manvantara started several millions of years ago and even Kaliyuga in which we are deemed to live started in 3102 BCE. Besides, there is a dissolution of the world at each day of Brahmaa, if one is to rely on the Pauraan.ik accounts. How could a tradition of the several Manus survive such pralaya? A rationalistic interpretation requires that all this that is stated in the is mere conjecture and imagination and that one cannot safely build theories about the governance of society in ancient times on the accounts contained in the The Manusmr.ti (II.19) appears to assign the function of the regulation of the conduct of all men in the world to the learned born in Brahmars.ides’a (i.e. Kuruks.etra, the contries of Matsya, Pancala and S’oorasena or Mathuraa) at least after his own code was promulgated…In the Puran.aas pralaya is said to be of four sorts, viz. nitya (the every day deaths of those that are born), naimittika (when a day of Brahmaa ends, then there is a dissolution of the world), praak.tika (when everything dissolves itself into prakr.ti, primordial substance) and aatyantika pralaya is moks.a (liberation of the soul due to correct knowledge of Reality and absorption into the Supreme Spirit). Harrowing descriptions of the naimittika and praakr.tika pralayas are given in several A lengthy description of the naimittika dissolution is contained in Koorma P. II. 45.11-59 of which a brief summary is given here. When the one thousand Caturyugas end, there is the absence of rain for a hundred years; the result is that living beings perish and are reduced to earth; the sun’s rays become unbearable, and even the ocean is dried up; the earth is burnt by the fierce heat of sun together with its mountains, forests and continents. As the sun’s rays fall burning up everything, the whole world presents the appearance of one huge fire. Fire burns everything whether mobile or immovable. The animals in the big seas come out and are reduced to ashed. Then the samvartaka fire growing by the force of the wind burns the whole earth and its flames rise upto a height of thousand yojanas and the flames burn up gandharvas, goblins, yakshas, serpents and raakshasas and not only the earth but the worlds called ‘bhuvah’ and ‘mahah’ ar burnt; then huge samvartaka clouds resembling herds of elephants, lit up by lightning, rise in the sky, some looking like blue lotuses, some yellowish, some having the colour of smoke, some like sealing wax and fill the whole sky and then extinguish the fires by sending down heavy showers. When the fires are extinguished, the clouds of destruction cover the whole world with floods; mountains are concealed and the earth is plunged in waters and all becomes one ocean of water and then god Brahmaa resorts to Yogic sleep. Vanaparva (Chap. 272. 32-48) also contains a brief description of naimittika pralaya. The Koorma P. I.46 and Vishn.u P. 4.12-39 furnish a description of the praakr.tika pralaya which takes Saankhya terminology for granted, and is briefly as follows: when all the worlds including all the nether regions are destroyed by absence of rains and all effects from mahat onwards are destroyed, waters first absorb the gandha (the special quality of the earth) and when gandha-tanmaatra is destroyed, the earth is reduced to water; the special quality of waters, viz. rasa-tanmaatra is destroyed and nothing but fire remains and the whole world is filled with flames, then Vaayu absorbs fire and roopa-tanmaatra vanishes; Vaayu shakes all the ten quarters; aakaas’a absorbs the spars’a-gun.a of Vaayu and only aakaas’a remains as void and s’abda-tanmaatra is gone and in this way the seven prakr.tis including mahat and ahankaara are absorbed in order; even Prakr.ti and Purusha are dissolved in Paramaatman (named Vishn.u). The day of Vishn.u is said to be two Paraardhas of human years. Some works like the Harivams’a (Bhavishaparva chap. 10.12-68) provide that at the end of Kalpa the sage Maarkan.deya alone remains and lies at the time of the Pralaya (or kalpa) in the side of Lord Vishn.u and then comes out of His mouth. The Brahma P. (52.1-19 and 53,55) says that Maarkan.d.eya sees a vat.a tree at the end of Kalpa and a jeweled bed on which he sees a boy lying down (i.e. Vishn.u himself) and then he enters the side of that boy and later comes out. Vide also Matsya 167. (14-66) for the same story in almost the same words. The Bhagavadgeetaa (VIII.18-19) speaks of the recurrent absorption of all beings at the advent of the night of Brahmaa and reappearance of beings when the day of Brahmaa starts. The theory of yugas, manvantaras and kalpas with their fabulous numbers of years and harrowing descriptions of pralaya, appears unreal, bizarre and called up by sheer fancy. But underlying it there is the idea of timelessness of the universe, though from time to time it evolves, gradually declines and perishes, only to reappear in perfection after a cosmic night. There is alsothe hankering after Reality and pursuit of different ideals. It enshrines the ideas that humanity embarks on a certain goal, pursues it with great efforts and, after achieving some success, gives up that goal and the way that was thought to lead to it and pursues some other goal for aeons in the ope that at some distant date it will be able to evolve and construct a perfect society. These ideas are at the bottom of what Manu (I.86) and others (VaayuP 65-66; Paraas’araS I.23; Brahmaan.d.a II.7.59) say ‘Tapas was the highest goal (deemed to yield great results) in Kr.tayuga, knowledge (of the self) was the highest in Tretaa, yajna (sacrifices to God) in Dvaapara, charity alone in Kali’. This further implies that there are different impelling motives in different sages an dmodern men should not assess the actions and ideals. It is implicit in the words of Manu (IX.301) that the four ages are not water tight specific periods of time, but that the Ruler or Government can produce conditions of Kr.ta age in what is popularly called Kali by appropriate conduct or measures and Medhaatithi expressly says so. (Comment on Manu IX.301: kr.tam tretaa yugam caiva dvaaparam kalireva ca raajno vrttaani sarvaan.i raajaa hi yugamucyate; na caivam mantavyam raajnaa kalirnaama kaalavis’esha itihaasaprasiddhah kathamaham syaamiti yato raajno vr.ttaani yugaadi’ medaatithi). Prof. Mankad has a novel theory in a paper on the Manvantaras in IHQ Vol. XVIII pp. 208-230, where he states that the Caturyuga formula took 40 years for a ruling unit and not for one king’s regnal period and that the Manvantara was the regular method of calculating regnal periods of different kings in a dynasty (p. 227). Hardly any scholar has accepted this theory and for reasons of space and relevance, it is not possible to discuss it here. In the details about the theory of yugas, manvantaras and kalpas there are some divergences. A few may be pointed out. Aaryabhat.a appears to hold that the extent of each of the four yugas was the same and not in the traditional proportion of 4,3,2,1, when he says that he was twenty-three years old when three yugapaadas and 3500 years had elapsed (vide Kaalakriyaapaada 10: shasht.abhandaanaam shasht.iryadaa vyateetaasrayas’ca yugapaadaah tryadhikaa vims’atiragrastadeha mama janmanoteetaah – Aaryabhat.eeya, Kaalakriyaapaada Verse 10 ed. Kern). Brahmagupta (I.9) says that though Aaryabhat.a declared that the four paadas of yugas, viz. Kr.ta and the others were equal, not one of them was equal to what the Smr.tis declare them to be. There is another discrepancy also. Aaryabhat.a in his Das’ageetikaa verse 3 states that Manu is a period of 72 yugas, while all the Smr.tis and declare that a manvantara is equal to 71 yugas. Aaryabhat.a appears to have held that the day of Brahmaa is equal to 1008 caturyugas and Brahmgupta (I.12) refers to this view. The celebrated scientific astronomer Bhaaskaraacaarya (born in s’aka 1036, 1114 CE) impatiently says, ‘some say that half of the lifeof Brahmaa (i.e. 50 years) has passed away, whiel others say that half plus eight years have passed away. Whatever the true tradition may be, it is of no use, since planetary positions are to be established from the days that have passed in the current day of Brahmaa’ (unquote) (P.V. Kane, 1994, History of Dharma s’aastra, Pune, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, pp. 691-697).

(quote) Manu. The word indicates a proper name, and also the Lord of an era. Manu is the principal figure in the account of the flood, wherein a fish is said to have saved him (Matsya P. I. 17-35 ff upto end of II. The legend occurs early in S’at.Br. I.8.1.1 ff; Kaat.haka Sam. 11.2; as the father of the human race RV I.80.16; II.33.13 etc.) According to the legend as it occurs in the Matsya P. Manu was giving the oblation to his ancestors, when a little fish fell out of the water that he had collected in the cavity of his palms to offer to the manes. It grew to the size of 16 angulas in one day and night. Manu placed in a big sized vessel. Then in a lake. The fish went on increasing; and Manu had to leave him into the sea. This fish saved him in the deluge (also Agni P. 2.4-16). As the father of manking, Manu became famous; and in different eras different Manu-s are said to rule. The first Manu is said to be Svaayambhuva. Then, in chronological order, they are svaarocisha, Auttama, Taamasa, Raivata, Caakshusa, Vaivasvata, Saavarn.i, Daaksha saavarn.i, Brahma saavarn.i, Dharma saavarn.i, Rudra saavarn.i, Raucya and Bhautya (Garuda P. I. 87.1 ff.) There is slight change in the case of certain names; thus, in the place of Daaksha saavarn.i there is Arka saavarn.i (saavarn.i indicates in all places ‘the son of saavarn.aa’; savarn.aa is the wife of Vivasvant, the aspect of the sun); and in the place of Bhautya, there appears bhootya (Sk. P. VII. 1.105.39-40). The S’iva P. (V.34.2-5) does not mention Vaivasvata, Daksha saavarn.i_, and Bhautya (or Bhootya); but instead again Manu, Deva saavarn.i and Indra saavarn.i. An era, presided over by each of these Manus is called manvantara (‘different Manu’). Each of the Manus is said to have his sons, the seers in that manvantara, the gods in it, the Indra (‘Lord’ in this context) and the incarnation (ibid., Agni P. 219.14-16; also Koorma P. I.49.4 ff; Maark. P. 53.6 ff.; Brahmaan.d.a P. II.4.1.9 ff; also I.2.36.3 ff; Brahma P. I.53 ff). The Agni P. (150.1-21) has Vipas’cit in the place of the Svaarocisha, and Uttama for Auttama; it has also Sooryaputra, the son of the sun from Chaayaa in the place of Rudra saavarn.i (actually saavarn.aa was the substitute of Saran.yoo, the wife of Vivasvant, whom she placed for herself and ran away to her father’s place, being unable to bear the luster of her husband); (see ‘Chaayaa’, ‘Earth’). The fourteen Manus are identified with 14 letters (Sk. P. I.2.5.71 ff). Legends about the creation of certain Manus obtain. According to the Brahma P. (I.53-55) Vishn.u created Viraaj; the latter created Purusha (the man); he himself is Manu; he created the various manvantaras. Purusha was himself the Prajaapati (‘Lord of creation’) and Svaayambhuva. He married S’ataroopaa, who was born supernaturally (ayan-jaa, ‘not born from the female organ’). Every manvantara consists of seventy-one yugas (eras) (Ib. 2.1.4). According to the Maark. P. (50.9-10) from the wrath of Brahmaa was produced Svaayambhuva Manu, having a two-fold nature – man and woman into one (Ib. 10 ardhanaari_naravapuh). He divided his body in many forms to suit S’araroopaa (‘Of hundred forms’). Among the Manus, Caakshusa has an interesting account. Apart from the fact that he is born from the eye (cakshus) of Brahmaa, he is said to have been born, in one of his previous births, to Giribhadraa, the queen of the king of Avantee. But, soon after his birth, he was transferred by an evil power to Haiminee, the wife of king Vikraanta, whose fresh-born babe was carried by the evil power to a Brahman.a’s wife, whose fresh-born she (the Evil power) devoured. Vikraanta names the (transferred) child Aananda (Mark. P. 76.2 ff). The Sk. P. (V.2.33), which records the account, gives the name of the king of Avantee as Agnimitra. Aananda was destined to be the Sixth Manu. The account uses the well-known motif of transfer of foetus. Taamasa Manu is said to be the son of king Svaraashtra and Utpalaavatee. He is said to be so named as he was born when Utpalaavatee was in her taamasa birth (i.e., birth marked by unholy acts). He is said to have gained many divine powers by propitiating the Sun-god, and defeated his enemy Vimarda (Maark. P. 74.48-52). The following chart gives various entities in the reign of various Manus according to the Garud.a P. (I.87.1 ff; cf. Agni. P. 150.1-21 for slight variation).

Svaayambhuva (Sons: Aagneedhra etc.); Vishnu incarnation: Cakradhara
Svaarochisha (Sons : Man.d.ales’vara, Ravi etc.) Vishnu incarnation : elephant form
Auttama (Sons : Aaja, Paras’u etc.) Vishnu incarnation : Fish-form
Taamasa (Sons : Jaanujangha, Nirbhaya etc.) Vishnu incarnation: Tortoise-form
Raivata (Sons: Ampran.a, Saadhaka etc.) Vishnu incarnation : Swan-form
Chaakshusa (Sons : Uru, Puru etc.) Vishnu incarnation : Horse-form

About Chaayaa : ‘Chaayaa comes in the Vedic myth of the Sun (in his aspect of Vivasvaan) and Saran.yoo, which states that the former ran after the latter to unite with her. The latter took the form of a mare; hence the former took that of a horse (RV. X.17.2) To avoid the sun, Saran.yoo (who is called Sanjnaa in the Puraan.a-s) created her substitute names Chaayaa. When the sun united with Chaayaa, Manu, S’ani (the planet Saturn) and the daughter Tapatee were born, while Yama was the son of the sun from Sanjnaa. Chaayaa loved her children more than she did Yama. This enranged Yama, who cursed her to be black. Yama raised his foot to hit Chaayaa, his step-mother. The latter cursed hism that his foot will fall off (Maark. P. 77.11-35). The Brahma P. (6.9 ff) which as the same account, adds that Sanjnaa created the substitute, as she was unable to bear the luster of the sun. When Yama complained to the sun of the ill-treatment of Chaayaa, the sun held her by her hair and admonished her (Ib. 33-34). The same account occurs further also (Ib. 32.52 ff). When the sun united with Sanjnaa in his horse-form, the latter doubted him to be another person and threw off his semen from her mouth and nose; thence were born the twin-gods As’vins (S’iva P. V. 35.32-34). Earlier when Chaayaa was rebuked by the sun for the ill-treatment of Yama, she told that she was not Sanjnaa; that the latter was busy practicing yoga in the forest (Ib. 26 vane vasati s’aadvale), not being able to bear the sun’s luster. Chaayaa then made the sun’s luster mild (Ib. 26-29). The Brahmaan.d.a P. (I.2-36.96-98) has a different story. According to it one Sr.s.t.i was the son of Dhruva and Bhoomi. Sr.s.t.i told his own shadow to be a woman. Hence his shadow became a woman, from whom Sr.s.t.i produced five sons. Obviously, the story has no connection with the Chaaya-Sanjnaa myth. (unquote)(Sadashiv Ambadas Dange, 1987, Encyclopaedia of Puranic beliefs and practices, Navrang, New Delhi, pp. 989-992).

S. Kalyanaraman
29 May 2008

Indian Judiciary’s savage attack on Ramayana -- V. Sundaram

Indian Judiciary’s savage attack on Ramayana


Tue, 27 May, 2008 , 03:33 PM (Newstoday)

The Delhi High Court gave a deliberate death blow to the religious feelings, sentiments and susceptibilities of nearly one billion Hindus of India in absolute majority and several millions of Hindus abroad last week (19th of May 2008) when it dismissed a Writ Petition filed by Ms.Monica Arora on behalf of Shri Dina Nath Mishra, Dr.Ravindra Nath Pal, Sri Vidya Sagar Verma, Sri Achraya Sohan Lal Ram Rang, Dr. Payal Mago, Shri Mahesh Chandra Sharma, Shri Ramgopal Agarwal and Shri Atul Rawat under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for issuing of writ or direction or order in the nature of Mandamus or any other Writ or Direction or order directing the respondents (University of Delhi represented by its Vice Chancellor, Members of its Academic Council, Dr.Upinder Singh, Reader in History, University of Delhi and others) to withdraw the derogatory, defamatory and offensive Article written by Mr. A.K.Ramanujam, compiled by Dr. Upinder Singh being taught in B.A.(Hons) II Year History course in Delhi University under the title – Culture in India: Ancient. The petitioners included eminent educationists, former Ambassador, former Pro-Vice Chancellor of University, Principal, Lecturer, Teacher, Journalist, Deputy Mayor of MCD and renowned socio-religious leaders. I AM QUOTING THE RELEVANT EXTRACTS FROM THEIR WRIT PETITION: The petitioners are deeply aggrieved by the course curriculum of B.A. (Hons.) II year History Course being taught in Delhi University. The aforesaid course consists of three articles in which the article under controversy is written by Shri A.K. Ramanujan titled, ‘300 Ramayanas: five examples and three thoughts on translation.’ ………….
That in the aforesaid article the revered figures of Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma) namely Lord Ram, Lakshman, Sita and Hanuman have been depicted in bad light. It uses derogatory, defamatory and offensive language, regarding Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
i. That the Article terms Lord Hanuman as henchman of Lord Ram and then again as a ‘Tiny monkey’.
ii. The Article states that Ravana became Pregnant, his month wise pregnancy has been described and that he gives birth to Sita through his sneeze.
iii. It is further stated that both Ravana and Laxman used to seduce Sita.
iv. Sita has been described as unfaithful to Ram.
v. That the King of Gods Indra has been described as a base and a perverse man.
vi. Revered Hindu Saintly mother Ahalya has been described as unfaithful to her husband –The Great Rishi Gautama.
vii. That the Great Rishi Gautama curses King Indra in such a manner that his Testicles fall down. Then on the request of the gods animal’s testicles are implanted on his body.
viii. That the body of God Indra gets covered with vaginas of thousands of women
4. The language of the article is so abusive, perverse and below the accepted standards that it will cause irreparable damage to the impressionable minds of the students studying in B.A. (Hons) II year History Course in Delhi University.
5. That there is growing concern and alarm among the public at large regarding the teaching of such a sacrilegious and perverse material being taught in Delhi University. That the said Article is not only derogatory, defamatory and hurtful to the Hindus but also is an offence under various provisions of Indian Penal Code.
6. That there has been considerable opposition to this syllabus and demand for removal of this Article by students, teachers, lecturers, academicians, historians, religious & political leaders and social activists. They have sent many representations, legal notices and Memorandums to the President of India, Minister of Human Resource & Development and Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University. There have also been signature campaigns and Demonstrations for the removal of the aforesaid Article. That many Newspapers have also carried out Articles against the aforesaid Article being taught in Delhi University and called for its removal.
7. That the aforesaid article is violative of Articles 14, 15, 19, 21, 25 and Article 15A of the Constitution of India. That it is an offence under Section 153,153(A), 295(A), 298,505(2), 292,293 and other provisions of Indian Penal Code. That it is also violative of the judgement of Hon’ble Supreme Court in Aruna Roy v. Union of India, W.P.(C) No.98/2002, 2002AIR (SC) 3176.

HENCE THE PRESENT WRIT PETITION.In their Writ Petition, the Petitioners had alleged that the respondent No.3 is Dr. Upinder Singh, Reader Department of History, University of Delhi. That she has compiled the course material for B.A. (Hons) II year History course being taught in Delhi University. All the educated Hindus of India have taken due note of the fact that Dr.Upinder Singh is the daughter of our de jure Prime Minister Dr. Man Mohan Singh (a surrogate non-entity!), who is nominally heading an Islam-embracing, Christianity-coveting, Hindu-hating, Hindu-baiting and Hinduism destroying UPA Government under the strangle hold of a de facto woman Prime Minister – a dictatorial imposter from Italy owing her allegiance to the Pope in Rome and not to the letter and spirit to the Indian Constitution. The Hindus of India are therefore not shocked that Sonia Gandhi and her anti-Hindu men operated through the surrogate Prime Minister to influence Delhi University to get A.K.Ramanujan’s anti-Rama and anti-Ramayana essay included in the syllabus of Delhi University in an effortless manner.

The Delhi High Court rejected the contention by the Petitioners that the Hindu Gods and Goddesses were referred to by A.K.Ramanujan in a ‘defamatory’ and ‘derogatory’ language by saying that these are folklore and interpreted in various ways. The High Court said that the Ramayan subject was part of a well-researched article done by noted scholar A.K.Ramanujan.

I reliably understand that the following conversation took place between Ms.Monica Arora, the Advocate for the Petitioners and the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, during the course of the judicial proceedings in open court.

Chief Justice: Have you read Periyar’s Keemaayana?Advocate: No, my Lord.Chief Justice: Do you know that Periyar’s Keemaayana is very popular in Tamilnadu? Are you aware of the fact that in Kamba Raamayana there are extensive references to Ahalya and her intimate overtures?Advocate: The language of A.K. Ramanujun is so abusive, perverse and below the accepted standards that it is causing irreparable damage to the impressionable minds of the students studying in B.A.(Hons) II year History Course in the University of Delhi.

Ms.Monica Arora invited the attention of the Chief Justice in open Court to the brutal fact as to how the University of Ranchi, on 1st of May 2008, had hurriedly cancelled its post-graduation history paper after thousands of Muslims took to the streets protesting against a reference to Prophet Mohammed in a history question paper which they said was derogatory. Ranchi University Vice Chancellor A.H. Khan, shortly after his meeting with Chief Minister Madhu Koda, announced: ‘a five-member committee has been constituted (to probe) the question paper. The examination has been cancelled’. Muslim organisations organised a march and ransacked the university office to protest against the offending question in the history paper. The police used force to control the mob. Finally Chief Minister Koda said: ‘We have asked the vice chancellor to probe the matter and take suitable action against the person who prepared the question. We appeal to people to maintain calm’.

Against this factual background, not belonging to superstitious ancient Hindu History but to Ranchi city of 1st of May 2008, Ms.Monica Arora posed these questions to the Chief Justice: ‘How can there be two different kinds of responses from Government, Courts of Law and other Public Organizations? One kind of paternal response towards the beloved Muslims and another kind of malignant response towards the hated and hunted Hindus? If Muslims go on a rampage, they would be heard with fear, kindness and reverence, whether they are right or wrong? If Hindus make a reasonable representation to the public authorities, their requests and entreaties would be treated with indifference, and insensitivity (particularly towards their long-cherished and sacred religious feelings and beliefs), in a manner bordering on supreme contempt?’

Ms.Monica Arora also invited the attention of the Chief Justice to the ruling given by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Manzer Sayed Khan v. State of Maharashtra, Criminal Appeal No. 491 and 491/ 2007 (05/04/2007) in 2007 AIR (SC) 2074 that ‘intention has to be judged primarily by the language of the book and the circumstances in which the book was written and published’. Applying this judicial yardstick, she told the Chief Justice that A.K. Ramanujan has picked up anything negative found in different versions of Ramayan spread all over the world with malicious intention of defaming and denigrating the characters of Lord Ram, Hanuman, Laxman and Sita. The Article aims at projecting the entire epic of Ramayana and its characters as fallacious, capricious, imaginary and fake. She asserted as a practicing Hindu that this article is greatly humiliating and grossly offending to the religious belief and faith of the Hindu. Finally she said that A.K.Ramanujan is neither a historian nor an authority on such historical or religious texts. The Petition of Ms.Monica Arora, constitutes by itself, a great piece of legal literature.

Chief Justice Hidayatullah once observed that the Prime Minister of India couldn’t function like a great Mughal. The common Hindus of India would like to declare to all the anti-Hindu Judges of India that they too cannot function in a capricious manner like great Mughals. I would like to invite the kind attention of the Delhi High Court to the following irreplaceable words of American Justice Benamin Cardozo spoken in 1921: ‘My analysis of the Judicial process comes then to this, and little more: logic, and history, and custom and utility, and the accepted standards of right conduct, or the forces which singly or in combination shape the progress of the law’. 127 years earlier, another great British Justice Thomas Erskine, Lord Chancellor of England had declared in a similar manner in 1794: ‘The rules of evidence are founded in the charities of religion – in the philosophy of nature — in the truths of history, and in the experience of common life’. In short they are not based on the banalities and prejudices of political pseudo-secularism, career-oriented servile political opportunism, blatant philosophy of undeclared and unstated Hindu discrimination and in the private lives, prejudices and passions of transitory individual Judges, holding their briefs for the moment, in our Courts of Law. Individual and mortal Judges may come and go but eternal Hinduism will go on forever. No Court of Law in India can shake this deathless faith of the Hindus of India.

Wed, 28 May, 2008 , 04:28 PM

Even a cursory reading of the book `MANY RAMAYANAS', The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia, edited by Paula Richman, in which the controversial article of A.K. Ramanujan was included as the second lead article (Oxford University Press Publication of 1992) will show how prejudiced Paula Richman and her team of chosen anti-Hindu `intellectual' gangsters (A.K.Ramanujan included!) were even before they set out on this combined `criminal' intellectual assault on Lord Rama, Ramayana and Hinduism. The point I am making will be clear from Paragraph one (1) of Chapter One (1) of Paula Richman's article titled `Introduction: The Diversity of the Ramayana Tradition':

'In January 1987 viewers in India began to tune in, each Sunday morning for a Hindi television serial based on the Ramayana story. Observers estimate that over eighty million people watched the weekly broadcasts. In a land where most people do not own televisions and electricity remains in short supply, many gathered at the homes of relatives or at local tea shops to view the epic, while engineers worked overtime to supply adequate current. In some places entire villages joined together to rent a television set. It was not just that people watched the show: they became so involved in it that they were loath to see it end. Despite the fact that Doordarshan, the government-run network, had only contracted with the producer for a year's worth of episodes, the audience demanded more. In fact, sanitation workers in Jalandhar went on strike because the serial was due to end without depicting the events of the seventh, and final, book of the Ramayana. The strike spread among sanitation workers in many major cities in North India, compelling the government to sponsor the desired episodes in order to prevent a major health hazard. Quite apart from such militant enthusiasm, the manner in which viewers watched the serial was also striking. Many people responded to the image of Rama on the television screen as if it were an icon in a temple. They bathed before watching, garlanded the set like a shrine, and considered the viewing of Rama to be a religious experience'.

In the light of the above pompously supercilious and uncalled for observations of Paula Richman, any self respecting Hindu or Indian for that matter would be forced to ask the following simple questions in this context:

a. What are the credentials of Paula Richman to question the intellectual, cultural, social and religious rights of the Hindus in India to tune in each Sunday morning for a Hindi television serial based on the Ramayana Story?
b. Is she not talking like a typical Western Christian Missionary Racist of the 19th century? What does she mean by `militant enthusiasm' of the Hindus of India?
c. How does the `manner' in which the viewers watched the Ramayana serial affect her? What did she find `striking' in that `manner'?
d. Is Paula Richman a global turnkey contractor for the spiritual and social conscience of the heathenish and paganish Hindus of India or Asia? How does it matter to her as a Christian (We in India are not concerned with the Christian denomination to which she belongs nor are we interested in whether she is a Christian at all?) as to how many people in India and South East Asia responded to the image of Rama on the television screen as if it were an icon in a temple?
e. Would Paula Richman be interested in raising such questions relating to Christian viewers of a TV Serial on Jesus Christ in different parts of Europe, USA or Africa or Australia?

Paula Richman's anti-Hindu, anti-Rama and anti-Ramayana prejudice comes out into the open when she says `They (Hindus) bathed before watching, garlanded the TV set like a shrine, and considered the viewing of Rama to be a religious experience'. She is guilty of both calculated sanctimonious humbug on the one hand and unabashed anti-Hindu racism on the other.

Cover Photo of the book, Many Ramayanas: Delhi University’s Valmiki Ramayana!! (Duly Approved by Delhi HighCourt)

And then Paula Richman goes on to talk about the views of another kindred anti-Hindu spirit like Philip Lutgendorf regarding the size, response, and nature of the television Ramayana's audience. Let us hear Philip Lutgendorf `s learned views on this exciting and from their point of view, sexually titillating theme:
`The Ramayan serial had become the most popular programme ever shown on Indian television — and something more; an event, a phenomenon of such proportions that intellectuals and policy makers struggled to come to terms with its significance and long-range import. Never before had such a large percentage of South Asia's population been united in a single activity; never before had a single message instantaneously reached so enormous a regional audience'. Paula Richman and Philip Lutgendorf would have gone into flights of divine ecstasy if only the single message of Jesus Christ had reached these millions in India and Asia.

The Ramayana TV serial of 1987 created a new cultural revolution in India. It united all the Hindus of India and South East Asia for the first time and made them feel that they were all part of one large and extended family. The anti-Hindu Congress Party under Rajiv Gandhi, and the Communist Party of India joined together and contacted the Missionary and Christian agencies in Europe and America and thought of an intellectual plot to counter the expanding new cultural impact of the Ramayana TV serial on India and South East Asia. I have no doubt that the book edited by Paula Richman titled `Many Ramayanas' was a direct outcome of such political initiatives of anti-Hindu groups and political parties in India.

My suspicion in this regard has been confirmed by the bumptious reference made by Paula Richman to the Ramayana of Periyar in her preface. To quote her own words, `This book began owing to my puzzlement. For years I had heard people refer to E.V.Ramasami's interpretation of the Ramayana in a mocking and dismissive way. When I actually analyzed his reading of the story of Rama, however, I found much of it strikingly compelling and coherent if viewed in light of his anti-North Indian ideology. While I was talking one day with A.K.Ramanujan about my attempts to make sense of this particular reading of the Rama story, he gave me a copy of a paper he had presented entitled `Three Hundred Ramayanas'. I read this piece again and again because it challenges us to look at the Ramayana tradition in a new way. Each contributor to the volume also read Ramanujan's essay, which now comprises Chapter 2 of this volume. Every other chapter can be seen, in some way, as a response to some of the questions that Ramanujan raises'. Paula Richman is the ringleader of this conspiracy against Lord Rama, Ramayana and Hinduism.

In order to gain the political acceptance of pseudo-secular anti-Hindu intellectuals in India, she has roped in A.K.Ramanujan and included his article in her book of anti-Hindu propaganda. By declaring that all the other articles in her volume by writers like Frank E.Reynolds, Kathleen M. Erndl, David Shulman, Velcheru Narayana Rao, Clinton Seely, Stuart H. Blackburn, Patricia Y.Mumme, Philip Lugendorf and Ramdass Lamb etc. etc. can be seen, in some way, as a response to some of the questions that A.K.Ramanujan raises, Paula Richman has made it very clear that her whole book has been designed, planned, organized and launched as a new Bible of this anti-Rama and anti-Ramayana Brigade.

It ought to be a matter of great concern that the Delhi High Court has failed to take note of the simple fact that Paula Richman's book is nothing but a cheap and crude book with complete focus only on anti-Rama and anti-Ramayana (and of course anti-Hindu) propaganda. Our Courts of Law have no business to function as Marketing Managers of such dirty tricksters and anti-Hindu intellectual gangsters and paid mercenaries. To quote the brilliant words of Dr. Kalyanaraman, an international authority on Saraswathi Civilization and Culture: `Whether it is A.K. Ramanujam's perverted view of some anecdotes in the journey of Rama ignoring the fact that Rama was the embodiment of dharma (vigrahavaan dharma), or Paul Courtright's perception of Ganesha's trunk as a limp phallus or Wendy Doniger's critique of Bhagavad Gita as a dishonest book — all these pseudo-scholarship accounts belong to the same genre _ that of Gutter Inspectors' Sexist Reports. Sex in Sanskrit texts seem to hold a special fascination for some of these, possibly sex-starved, academics, ignoring the sublime aadhyaatmika message sought to be conveyed by many Hindu religious traditions governed by twin precepts of dharma _ nihs'reyas (bliss) and abhyudayam (welfare). The texts, which are held sacred by millions of Hindus, are sought to be smudged. The messages of global, eternal ethic of Dharma, which constitute the essence of the texts, are sought to be distorted. This gutter inspection continues to be indulged in, in the name of `academic freedom'. The phrase, `gutter inspectors' report' was made popular by Gandhi's description of Katherine Mayo's book, `Mother India' in 1927'.

What is most shocking and repulsive to the Hindus of India is the fact that many of our Supreme Court and High Court Judges today seem to be consciously joining this anti-Rama, anti-Ramayana and anti-Hindu intellectual brigade with tremendous judicial and secular enthusiasm in so unconscionable a manner.

Thu, 29 May, 2008 , 04:11 PM
Cicero in his classic work De Republica, De Legibus wrote for all time that, ‘it can truly be said that the Magistrate is a speaking law, and the law a silent agistrate’.
Most of our politically-tuned and legally-dead High Court and Supreme Court Judges seem to be subscribing to this day-to-day working philosophy: ‘It can truly be said that any Judge is a speaking politician and the law a silent politician’. These thoughts came to my mind when it was brought to my notice that the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court in a recent case relating to a textbook controversy

relating to Delhi University put this question to the advocate for the petitioners:
‘Have you read the Ramayana of Periyar?’This question raised by the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court has hurt the religious feelings and sentiments of millions and millions of Hindus in India and abroad. The accepted axiom is that the ignorance of law on the part of any citizen cannot be an excuse for violation of the law. If that be so, blatant ignorance of known facts about Periyar cannot also be conceded as an inherent and vested legal right on the part of Judges at any level dealing with public cases.
Periyar was well known for his anti-Hindu, anti-Aryan, anti-Rama, anti-Ramayana and anti-Brahmin writings and political propaganda for nearly five decades from 1920 to 1970.

In 1958 (AIR 1958 SC 1032), the Supreme Court of India, in a case relating to Veerabathra Chettiar Vs. E.V.Ramaswamy Naicker (Periyar), ruled that Periyar had grossly violated the provisions of Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code when he broke a Vinayaka Vigraha (idol). The Supreme Court also ruled that it did not matter whether the statue broken was from a temple or whether puja was being done to the Vigraha (idol). Periyar was punished by the Supreme Court of India under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). When Periyar was punished, he was 79 years old and not a young man of uncontrolled or uncontrollable impulses. In other words, he was indulging in a deliberate criminal act to wound the religious feelings of the Hindus of India and he was duly punished by the Supreme Court. What does Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) state or say? Indian Penal Code states:

IPC Section 295A: Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs’Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of 2 [citizens of India], 3 [by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 4 [three years], or with fine, or with both.’ In the light of this analysis, it should be clear that Periyar’s Ramayana (known as Keemayana) will attract Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and to the best of my lowly knowledge as a private citizen, neither the High Court of Delhi nor for that matter any other High Court in India, has been vested with the Constitutional right to overlook or ignore the provisions of Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code.

The controversial anti-Rama and anti-Ramayana article of A.K.Ramanujan has been prescribed as a textbook by Delhi University in violation of Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code. And yet the Delhi High Court has chosen to uphold the stand of Delhi University. This Article formed a part of a book titled Many Ramayanas (The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia) edited by Paula Richman. I had written about her anti-Hindu and anti-Rama propaganda in these columns yesterday. In the same book there is an article titled
E.V.Ramasami’s (Periyar) ‘Reading of the Ramayana’ by Paula Richman.

How Periyar led his followers in burning pictures of Lord Rama on 1st of August 1956 on the Marina Beach has been described by Paula Richman in this Article: ‘On the 1st day of August in 1956, E.V.Ramasami (Periyar) set out for the Madras Marina to lead his followers in burning pictures of Lord Rama, Hero of the Ramayana. This symbolic action would represent a reversal of the culmination of North Indian performances of the Ramayana, in which the images of the epic’s villain, Ravana, are put to the flames as spectators watch in delight. Rejecting Rama as hypocritical and weak, worthy only of scorn, E.V.Ramasami (Periyar) saw Ravana as the true Hero of the tale. E.V.Ramasami’s (EVR) iconoclastic reading comprised more than just another exegesis of a religious text, however. It was the centerpiece of his campaign against Brahmincal Hinduism, conducted in the context of his assertion of Dravidian, that is, South Indian, identity…. EVR’s Rama-burning campaign was neither an isolated incident nor a stunt of some prankster. From the late 1920s through to the end of his life, he developed as a serious and thorough critic of the characters of the Ramayana, of which the 1956 agitation was simply one manifestation. EVR (Periyar) reads the Ramayana as a text of political domination’. Thus we can see that Paula Richman, A.K.Ramanujan and other so-called scholars who have contributed articles to the book Many Ramayanas already referred to above, are all intellectual gangsters belonging to an anti-Hindu, anti-Rama and anti-Ramayana brigade with a clear political and evangelical agenda. The University of Delhi is also part of this brigade. They are guilty of violation of Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code. This simple fact has been ignored by the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court. The Delhi High Court showed greater consideration towards Periyar’s political Ramayana than towards Valmiki’s sacred Ramayana and this has caused grievous hurt to the religious feelings of all the Hindus of India.
Periyar was very proud of his Himalayan ignorance about the Ramayana (which he called Keemayana), an ignorance that was rooted in his unabashed arrogance. The simplest example to prove how he embraced ignorance with his characteristic Dravidian fervour and ferocity is this: He thought that Lord Rama was a Brahmin and Ravana was a Sudra. The real truth of the matter is Lord Rama was a Kshatriya and Ravana was an orthodox Brahmin. This fact known for ages cannot be ignored by any Court of Law in India today (excepting perhaps the Delhi High Court!) Justice Holmes said, ‘To a clear judicial eye, the smallest fact is a window through which the Infinite may be seen’. The Delhi High Court should have been able to see through the political games of Paula Richman, A.K.Ramanujan and Periyar.
Moreover no publicly responsible Court of Law in India can fail to take note of the following barbarous sayings of Periyar. Here are a few flashes of wisdom and knowledge from the armory of Periyaraana:
‘Tamil is a barbarous language and Tamilians are barbarians’
‘15th August 1947 is a day of national mourning and sorrow and not freedom’ (Periyar and his party observed the day of our Independence on 15th August 1947 as a day of mourning)
‘King Dasaratha married his own sister Kausalya, mother of Lord Rama’.
‘There is no harm whatsoever in any father marrying his own daughter’.
‘There is no harm whatsoever in any man marrying his own younger or elder sister’.
‘Married women indulging in extra marital relations, is the starting point of Women’s freedom and emancipation’.
‘Anybody who worships any God is a fool’.
‘I don’t say that you should not worship any God or Gods. All that I am saying is that you should do it as a Christian or as a Muslim and not as a superstitious Hindu’. (This brings out that Periyar was a true anti-Hindu communal racist)
The Delhi High Court ought to have been aware of the savage anti-Hindu and anti-national ravings and rantings of Periyar cited above. The Chief Justice put this question to the advocate for one of the petitioners in the case under review: Have you read Periyar’s Ramayana? Perhaps the Delhi High Court was under the impression that Periyar is one of the greatest intellectual giants like Bertrand Russell or Karl Marx in the history of mankind. When I mentioned this episode to a former retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, he told me that the question raised by Delhi High Court can be likened only to a question that was put by a Judge to a woman who had come up before his Court with a petition for divorce against her husband for his extra-marital faithlessness. The Judge even before hearing the woman’s complaint asked with great solemnity ‘Have you read Vatsyayana’s Kamasutra or Havelock Ellis’s treatise on Sex?’ All the helpless Hindus of India are feeling like this divorced woman today.

It has been reported that when the case relating to the Lord Rama and Ramayana textbook controversy in Delhi University came up before the Delhi High Court, the Chief Justice put this question to Monica Arora, the counsel for the Petitioners who had moved the High Court for a writ of mandamus to be issued to the University of Delhi:
‘Have you read Periyar’s Ramayana?’ How sublime was Periyar’s attitude towards Lord Rama and Ramayana can be seen from the cartoon presented above. Perhaps Periyar treated Shoes and Chappals offered to Lord Rama as his sacred flowers!

Perhaps Delhi High Court is unaware of the fact that Periyar and his followers took out a procession in 1970 in Salem city in Tamilnadu, carrying the pictures and idols of Lord Rama, decorated with garlands of Shoes and Chappals and their main objective was to cause a deliberate hurt to the religious feelings and sentiments of the Hindus of India. In my view all of them were guilty of grave offences under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code.

About two years ago I had written an article in News Today under the Title ‘Decoding the Dravidian Drival’ in which I wrote: ‘By his highly original writings and platform speeches Periyar tried to educate the Tamilians that he was being rational when in fact he was being racist. The quintessence of rational-racial Dravidianism is that all spiritual knowledge is superstitious and all secular ignorance is rational; character is superstitious and debauchery is rational; chastity is superstitious and prostitution of mind, body, heart and soul is rational; any form of discipline is superstitious and all forms of indiscipline are rational; universally accepted truth is superstitious and blatant ‘Dravidian’ untruth is rational, refinement is superstitious and brutality is rational; justice is superstitious and rapacity is rational, counsels of the wise and the good (especially if they are Hindus) are generally superstitious and the flattery of knaves particularly rational. And finally to crown it all having a legally wedded wife is superstitious and irrational and having innumerable concubines is logically rational’.

Against this background, it should be clear that the essays of Paula Richman on Periyar and A.K.Ramanujan on 300 Ramayanas in the controversial book Many Ramayanas edited by Paula Richman are tarred with the same brush of anti-Rama and anti-Hindu barbarous political propaganda. How could the textbook committee of the University of Delhi have overlooked this patently obvious background of Periyar and his admirers like Paula Richman, A.K.Ramanujan, David Shallman, Frank E.Reynolds, Philip Lutgendorf and others?

Montaigne, the great French writer of the 16th century observed, ‘No man is exempt from talking nonsense. The misfortune is to do it solemnly’. This observation of Montaigne came to my mind when I read in the Newspapers that the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court observed in the Delhi University textbook controversy case: ‘The essay of A.K.Ramanujan prescribed as a textbook for B.A.(Hons) II year History students is a well researched one’.

How well researched A.K.Ramanujan’s article is has been thoroughly exposed by Ms.Monica Arora, counsel for the Petitioners, in her brilliantly drawn up petition. I am presenting below the relevant extracts from this petition:

A.K.Ramanujan, ‘300 Ramayanas: five examples and three thoughts on translation’. In Paula Richman ed., Many Ramayanas: the diversity of a narrative tradition in South Asia (New Delhi, 1992). PP 22-49.
(Page no: 131 of ANNEXURE-2)
18. To quote from the Article:

The King of Spirits said, ‘There have been as many Ramas as there are rings on this platter. When you return to earth, you will not find Rama. This incarnation of Rama is now over. Whenever an incarnation of Rama is about to be over, his ring falls down. I collect them and keep them. Now you can go’. So Hanuman Left.

This story is usually told to suggest that for every Rama there is a Ramayana.

(Page no: 133 of ANNEXURE-2)
19. That further the author narrate the story of Ahalya.

The Ahalya Episode: Valmiki:
Men pursuing their desire do not wait for the proper season, ‘O you who have a perfect body. Making love with you: that’s what I want. That waist of yours is lovely’, She knew it was Indra of the Thousand Eyes in the guise of the sage. Yet she, wrongheaded woman, made up her mind, excited, curious about the king of the gods. And then, her inner being satisfied, she said to the god, ‘I’m satisfied, king of the gods, Go quickly from here. O giver of honour, lover, protect yourself and me’. And Indra smiled and said to Ahalya, ‘Woman of lovely hips, I am very content. I’ll go the way I came.’Thus after making love, he came out of the hut made of leaves. The sage, facing Thousand Eyes now dressed as the sage, the one rich in virtue and the other with none, spoke to him in anger: You took my form; you fool, and did this that should never be done. Therefore, you will lose your testicles.’ At once, they fell to the ground, they fell even as the great sage spoke.

(Page no: 135, 136 of ANNEXURE-2)
‘I’ve only done this work on behalf of the gods, putting great Gautama in a rage, blocking his tapas’. ‘Great gods, sages, and celestial singers, help me, helper of the gods, to regain my testicles,’ And the gods led by Agni, listened and went with the Marut hosts to the divine ancestors, and said, ‘Some time ago, Indra, infatuated, ravished the sage’s wife and was then emasculated by the sage’s curse. Indra, king of gods, destroyer of cities, is now angry with the gods. This Ram has testicles but great Indra has lost his., So take the Ram’s testicles’.Eyes dropping fire, Gautama saw what was done, and his words flew like the burning arrows at your hand: ‘May you be covered by the vaginas of a thousand women!’ In the twinkle of an eye they came and covered him.

(Page no: 140 of ANNEXURE-2) 22. That the author further states that in Jaina Tellings:
‘Ravana is not a demon, he is not cannibal and a flesh eater. Wrong–thinking poetasters and fools tell these lies’. ‘Ravana is one of the sixty-three leaders or Salakapurushas of the Jaina tradition. He is noble, learned, earns all his magical powers and weapons through austerities (tapas), and is devotee of Jaina masters’.

(Page no: 144 of ANNEXURE-2)
‘It is such a Ravana who falls in love with Sita’s beauty, abducts her, tries to win her favors in vain, watches himself fall, and finally dies on the battlefield. In these tellings, he is a great man undone by a passion’.
(Page no: 145 of ANNEXURE-2) (Page no: 146, 147 of ANNEXURE-2)
24. That the author states that the ‘abnormal birth of Sita as the daughter born directly to the male, Ravana brings to story of new range of suggestions: The male envy of womb and child birth’.
(Page no: 148 of ANNEXURE-2)
25. That he says that in ‘several folk traditions of Kannada and Telugu as ell as in several Southeast Asian Ramayanas, the motif of Sita as Ravana’s daughter is not unknown’.

‘In some traditions, Ravana in his lusty youth molests a young woman, who vows vengeance and is reborn as his daughter to destroy him. Thus the oral traditions seem to partake of yet another set of themes unknown in Valmiki’.

(Page no: 149 of ANNEXURE-2)
27. That further the author states that ‘a crow steals some of the rice and takes it to Ravana’s wife, who eats it and gives birth to Sita. A prophecy that his daughter will cause his death makes Ravana throw Sita into the sea, where the sea goddess protects her and takes her to Janaka’.

28.That in the next paragraph the author states that ‘neither celibate nor devout, as in the Hindu Ramayanas, here Hanuman is quite a ladies’ man, who does not at all mind looking into the bedrooms of Lanka and does not consider seeing another man’s sleeping wife anything immoral, as Valmiki’s or kampan’s Hanuman does’.

Any self-respecting scholar can see that A.K.Ramanujan has violated the advice of the great scientist Thomas Huxley: ‘My business is to teach my aspirations to conform themselves to fact, not to try to make facts harmonize with my aspirations’. A.K.Ramanujan has only attempted to twist and present pre-chosen dirty and vulgar facts to suit his prejudiced anti-Rama, anti-Ramayana and anti-Hindu notions.

Nobody questions the intellectual freedom and liberty of A.K.Ramanujan to write any amount of pornographic literature loaded with all forms of imagined vulgarity. The main point is whether such vulgar writings should be considered as fit enough for being prescribed as a textbook for the second year B.A. (Hons) History students in Delhi University, and that too under the title ‘Ancient India – Culture’. Are they the best specimens of ‘Ancient Indian Culture’? Is A.K.Ramanujan the best representative of ancient Indian culture? This is the moot question. Will the Delhi University dare to include some of the pornographic portions from the Old Testament, New Testament and the Quran as prescribed texts for the study of ‘Ancient Christian Culture’ or ‘Ancient Islamic Culture’? What would be the ruling of the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court on such initiatives? The besieged Hindus of India are waiting with bated breath for an answer from the Delhi High Court rooted in equity and natural justice.

I derive my inspiration for all this from Justice Lord Atkin who said justice is not a cloistered virtue; she must be allowed to suffer the scrutiny and respectful, even though outspoken, comments of ordinary men. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes has said that the law is the witness and external deposit of our moral life. Its history is the history of the moral development of our race. Finally I would conclude in the words of Justice Benjamin Cardozo: ‘The judge is under a duty, within the limits of his power of innovation, to maintain a relation between law and morals, between the precepts of jurisprudence and those of reason and good conscience’.

(The writer is a retired IAS officer)e-mail the writer at

(The writer is a retired IAS officer)
e-mail the writer at

Certifying the lowest status: whither quota raj?

Certifying the lowest status: whither quota raj?

Gujjar agitation is a demand for ST status that is a status lower than that of OBC.

Will grant of the status solve Gujjars' perceived problems? Or, will it generate a process of schedulisation with every jaati demanding the lowest status possible for the crumbs of the quota raj?

Schedulisation is the inclusion of a jaati in the special schedules of the Constitution (as Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe or now also as Backward Class or Other Backward Class). This schedulisation is the exact reverse of what MN Srinivas called sanskritisation.

Politicos are competing with themselves in achieving the lowest schedulisation possible for every jaati on the assumption that jaati identity is a critical vote-bank criterion.

Ain’t there no other way of ensuring affirmative action to undo the status of deprivation? Is quota raj the only method known to a civil society?

Jaati is a proud identity of an extende family. Let not this noble identity become a pawn in the hands of politico-s. Scrap the schedules of the Constitution and declare every Hindu a scheduled citizen of the nation entitled to equal treatment and justice. Aam admi is being misled that the downtrodden people are being cared for by this quota raj; what in fact is happening is that the politico-s are ensuring special privileges for their own clans.

The Youth for Equality are fighting a rear-guard battle for enshrining excellence in the process of admissions or special privileges instead of merely fooling around with terms like ‘creamy layer’. Courts are also playing the political game, little concerned with the shattering impact on the larger national identity which should inform every jaati. Yearning for a day when there will be one Hindu jaati, one Hindu identity.

We are burdened with a polity where a foreign-born person is ruling as the empress who claims offices of profit. Where do we go to get the sense of pride of being a citizen of a swarajya rashtram?


Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Gujjar stir: A fallout of quota raj
The raging Gujjar agitation for Scheduled Tribe(ST) status is the creation of a lopsided reservation policy followed by the Government. In fact, Gujjars are now agitating for a lower status from that of OBC to ST which will fetch them more benefits of reservation.

The government is now caught in a dilemma of its own making. If it rejects the Gujjar demand, the agitation will intensify and take a more violent turn. Already 36 people have died in police firing. Last year, over a dozen Gujjars lost their lives fighting for the same cause.

If, on the other hand, the government yields to their organised might, it could lead to similar demands from other castes and sub-castes. For instance, the Kurubas of Karnataka and the Dhangars and the Ramoshi-Berads of West India have been demanding ST status for long.

After the government decided to implement the Supreme Court verdict on OBC quota, there is a clamour from various communities in different states for inclusion in the OBC category. There will be endless demands for special status so long as the quota raj continues.

It is high time to have a relook at the communal reservation reservation policy. As the founding farthers of the Constitution envisaged, there has to be a periodic review of the status of the communities enjoying reservation benefits and a timeframe should be fixed for continuing reservation. Reservation based on economic backwardness is another option worth pursuing.

Source: India Syndicate

Too many reservations
Pratap Bhanu Mehta
Posted online: Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 2245 hrs IST (Indian Express)

When the Gurjjar agitation started, knowledgeable observers had widely feared that its denouement would be something resembling war. More than 50 deaths, several districts under blockade, some virtually under a state of siege, mobile services suspended, transport interrupted, leaders unable to move freely, and a deep sense of foreboding, all suggest that the worst fears about this agitation have come true. Like so many tragedies, this one was long in the making. But no one, not the state government, not the opposition, not society at large, was willing to face up to the fact that Rajasthan was digging itself deeper and deeper into a hole. And positions are now so entrenched that a just and honourable resolution of the underlying issues seems all but impossible.

The state government’s attitude to this agitation, ever since it started, has been a mixture of condescension and brutality. When the agitation first started, it did not take it seriously. When violence broke out, it bought time for itself by creating a facade of a procedure whose outcome everyone knew would not resolve the issue. Simply put, the state government was not going to recommend ST status for Gurjjars. But it did not use this window of opportunity to politically engage the Gurjjars. Rather, it thought, with condescension typical of this government, that it could buy out Gurjjars by giving them a ministerial berth or two. It says something about the state of the country that when the Gurjjars peacefully courted arrest in the thousands last year, we all breathed a sigh of relief. Peace was associated with declining momentum for the movement, and we all went to sleep. The only lesson the Gurjjars learnt as a result was that violence is necessary to get attention.

The state, for the most part was stuck. Having reduced classifications for affirmative action to a power play, buttressed by a facade of a procedure, it could not move in any direction. If it gave Gurjjars what they wanted, it risked a backlash from powerful communities like the Meenas. On the other hand, it could not acknowledge that the net result of the state’s caving in to Jat assertion of power and granting them OBC status, was to send a signal to communities like the Gurjjars that the whole system was unfair. And even now the government (and the Congress) are stuck: damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Within the current paradigm of classifications, the Gurjjar concerns had some justification. But the political terrain has already shifted from reasoned argument to violence.

But it would be a mistake to think that this agitation is about legal classification. The social equilibrium of Rajasthan has been under considerable stress for a number of years. Three underlying trends are particularly worrying. First, many of those killed were in the age group of 16 to 25. Access to bad-quality education has created an odd social disequilibrium: youths too educated to be satisfied with their traditional status, too untrained to participate in the new economy. Government jobs matter to them precisely for this reason. That is why they feel so much is still at stake in changing their legal classification to ST. All across North India, this disquieting possibility exists. Sub-groups within the broad classifications like OBC and SC feel that benefits under those classifications are going only to a few sub-castes. This issue is going to come to the political forefront in the coming years. When these groups get minimally educated and feel cheated that their education has not equipped them for much, a social catastrophe will be in the making. It is no accident that this agitation comes at the end of the decimation of quality higher education in Rajasthan, abetted by all parties.

Second, a slow and incipient culture of violence has been spreading through Rajasthan’s villages. Arms have become more ubiquitous, paradoxically because the few who have benefited from the increasing land values need guns to protect their new riches. But in several districts like Sawai Madhopur the state has been suffering attrition at the local level. It was perhaps symbolic that one of the first people to console the victims was a prominent local “anti-social element” to use the government’s bizarre euphemism. There are several districts in Rajasthan where the potential of recurring violence is increasing by the day: an odd combination of social discontent which can easily be hijacked by elements that are looking for a pretext to be violent.

Finally, there is an utter breakdown of the political process. Communities like the Gurjjars do not have a leadership that can take a long-term view. They feel for their community, but have no long-term vision for expanding opportunity for them. One indication of this is their harping on one theme, that the state government send a letter to the Centre recommending ST status for Gurjjars. This is not likely to end the legal issue, nor is it likely to seriously impact the spectre of alienation that hovers over the youth of the community.

The chief minister’s instinctive response to political problems is to respond with excessive force, as if the expression of any social discontent is simply a form of impunity. It is the state’s responsibility to quell violence. But it cannot do this if it does not back its might up with an intelligent political process. But the tragedy of Rajasthan is that there are very few social mediators left. It is not an accident that the chief minister has found it very difficult to reach out. The Gurjjars, on the other hand, are wary of letting Bainsala negotiate alone in Jaipur. Their last experience of negotiating was, many in the community feel, an exercise in bad faith. It is absolutely amazing that police firings are so rapidly on the rise. Even after so much experience dealing with crowds, the state has not found ways to manage them without large number of casualties. The Congress is, as always, timid at best, trapped in vague gestures of protest. In short, there is no political force that is capable of changing the paradigm within which questions of social inclusion are posed.

It would be comfortable to dismiss all of this as Rajasthan’s exceptionalism. But the truth is that our politics is driving us into an explosive cul de sac. The recent, terrible violence is a reminder of what happens to societies when they can neither endure their current social condition, nor the means to overcome it. It will take extraordinary political imagination to overcome this condition.

The writer is president,Centre for Policy Research, Delhi

Justice Chopra Committee rejects Gujjars' demand for ST status

December 18, 2007 | 17:15 IST
A high-level official committee has rejected the demand by Gujjars in Rajasthan for Scheduled Tribe status but suggested a special package to members of the community living in under-developed and remote areas of the state.
Significantly, the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state decided to forward the report to the Centre without any comment or recommendation of its own, Digamber Singh, chief spokesman and Health Minister, told media persons in Jaipur on Tuesday after a cabinet meeting presided by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.
The summary of the 294-page report submitted by the committee headed by Justice Jasraj Chopra said it would be desirable to provide the benefits to Gujjars in a special package rather than incorporating them in already existing schemes.
The report suggested scrapping of the criteria used so far to include any class of people in the list of Scheduled Tribe as these have become 'obsolete and outdated.'
It asked the state government to take immediate steps to set up a board to attend to the problems faced by the people living a life of abject poverty in inaccessible and remote areas like ravines, forests and hills where development has not yet reached as these are the places where most of the backward among the Gujjars reside and for whom their community leaders had raised their voice.
The Gujjars had waged a violent campaign across Rajasthan for ST status in May and June this year during which 26 people were killed in police firing and clashes with Meena community members who already enjoy ST status but oppose the same for Gujjars.
The Chopra committee report said development of remote and inaccessible areas where Gujjars live should not wait for the outcome of a classificatory exercise.
For this purpose, the government should benevolently allocate sizeable funds for a reasonable period of time by re-prioritising its developmental activities, according to the report.
Emphasis will have to be paid on building roads to link the communities living in underdeveloped and remote areas with the mainstream, motivating the children of these families to get educated and improving health and hygiene of their members through provisions of drinking water, immunisation against major illness and better care of children and of the aged, it concluded.
The state cabinet announced the setting up of a four-member committee to prepare a special package for Gujjars based on the committee's report. The committee will be headed by BJP Treasurer Ramdas Agarwal and have three ministers G S Tiwari (Education), Digamber Singh (Health) and Madan Dilawar (Social Justice and Empowerment).
The committee is of the view that the existing criteria to classify a particular community as ST should be replaced by quantifiable criteria that are relevant in the present context and could stand judicial scrutiny and enable future commissions or committees appointed by the government to examine the issue with exactitude and reliability.
The Chopra committee said 'it remains a naked truth that the benefit of reservation has not obviously percolated to the needy among SC and ST masses as intended but at the same time it is stolen either by the elites and the developed among SC and ST masses or by others who masquerade as SC and ST.

'Several people -- leaders, scholars and even the judiciary -- have expressed their concern over continuing plight of the people who are included in the SC and ST categories. To quote just one example, in its judgment in the case of Nagraj vs Union of India, delivered on October 19, 2006, the apex court had observed: Periodic extension of reservation itself recapitulates a fact that major chunk of SC and ST brethren are still waiting to be uplifted by way of reservation, the report pointed out.
The fact that the Gujjar community that is already in the category of OBC, and therefore officially recognised as backward and thus enjoying the benefits attended with such recognition, including reservation, has made a demand for reclassification gives the strong message that gaining OBC status has not helped much the members of this community.'
It is this desperation that led the leaders of Gujjar community to compare their lot with others included in the ST category and belonging to the same region, it added.
The demand for the tribal status for the entire community covered by the umbrella term of Gujjar is an example of over accentuation to bring home the point that development has not reached all sections of the society despite several years of positive discrimination as part of the policy of reservations, it said.

URL for this article:

Why the Gujjars are so aggrieved
By Jyotsna Singh
BBC News, Delhi

Recent violent protests by the Gujjar community in India's north-western state of Rajasthan have once again focused attention on the government's affirmative action plan to give lower caste and minority people better access to jobs, healthcare and education.
Trouble began on Tuesday when the Gujjars began blocking major highways in order to press for their demands.
The Gujjars are traditional shepherds found across many states in north and western India. They are both Hindus and Muslims.
"The Gujjars are a very heterogeneous people today. They were originally nomadic shepherds," Professor DL Sheth, Director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, told the BBC.
The Gujjars are currently classified as Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and are entitled to quotas in state-run education centres and in government jobs.
But the community wants to be listed under the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category.
In states such as Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh they have been given ST status.
But in western Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Gujarat they are more settled on the land and more involved in agriculture, which is why they have been categorised as OBCs.
The Indian government offers places in jobs, educational institutes and other privileges to people in three categories, as part of its affirmative action policy.
The communities listed as the Scheduled Castes (SCs) are essentially the lowest in the Hindu caste hierarchy locally referred to as Dalits.
The Scheduled Tribes (STs) are the people living in the forests or on the hills, physically isolated from modern life, but are not necessarily socially backward.
The Other Backward Classes (OBCs) comprise the castes - in the middle of the Hindu caste hierarchy - who do not face so much exclusion or isolation in society but are educationally and economically backward.
The identification of communities in the three categories is based on a data prepared in 1935 by the British when they ruled India.
Reservation 'benefits'
In theory, it is possible for a caste or community to have its status reviewed. But it is a very complex issue and the power for such a review vests solely with the central government.
Experts say the criteria for identification of castes and groups in the different categories is not transparent at all. That has resulted in confusion for the various communities clamouring to be added to or taken off the lists.
In 1999, the government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) included the Jat community on its OBC list. The Jats are a relatively prosperous community in Rajasthan who form nearly 15% of the state's population.
Some allege that the real reason why the BJP made such a move was because it wanted to win their support in state elections in Rajasthan. The community had traditionally backed the Congress party.
"Once Jats were identified as OBCs , the Gujjars who were already placed in the OBC category felt threatened. They felt the better-off Jats would corner the benefits of reservation," said Professor Sheth.
The demand by the Gujjars is also fuelled by the success of the Meenas, a large community in the state who were granted ST status in 1954.
"The Meenas were basically a borderline case who used their political influence to be classified as STs.
"The community has benefited immensely in the last 50 years under the reservation policy.
"The Gujjars are now trying to put pressure on political parties to allow them to reap similar benefits," said Dr Sheth.
"There is an explosion of aspirations following many years of affirmative action pursued by the Indian government, and the latest protests are a manifestation of that.
"The reservation policy brought a silent bloodless revolution to the country, but because of electoral policy, politicians are in a way discrediting it," he said.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/05/31 05:50:31 GMT

Scheduled Tribe Status for Paharis in J&K: A Gujjar Nightmare?

Priyashree Andley
Research Intern, IPCS

On 2 August 2006, the J&K Government discussed a 'Scheduled Tribe' (ST) status for the Paharis with the Centre. Ghulam Nabi Azad reiterated the importance of the community for the State's composite culture and plural character. The Paharis' demand for ST status is based on a claim that their socio-economic condition is similar to the Gujjars, who got ST status in 1991. The Congress recognized this demand in its manifesto and the Common Minimum Programme (CMP). The Government of India had rejected this demand in 2000 and 2002, based on the recommendations of a Parliament panel due to lack of evidence supporting the existence of a Pahari tribe. Recently, the Jammu & Kashmir Pahari Cultural and Welfare Forum complained that Pahari areas in Kupwara were without electricity, water, roads and schools. Hospitals in these areas are ill equipped and schools are without infrastructure and teaching staff.
The people of the two Muslim-dominated districts of Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch, mainly belong to the Gujjar, Bakerwal and Rajput communities. The Gujjars are predominantly nomadic pastoralists, with low levels of wealth and literacy. The ST status of the Gujjars, under Article 342 of the Indian Constitution and Section 50, sub-section 6, of the J & K Constitution, are allowed reserved seats in the Lok Sabha, State Assembly and State Legislative Council.
However, even after 15 years of enjoying this status, the community has only progressed marginally. Granting a similar status to the Paharis is unacceptable to the Gujjars because, firstly, they are still struggling for their rights; secondly, this issue gets embroiled in the politics of terrorism; and thirdly, political groups are using these vulnerable tribal people for electoral gains. This article addresses these issues and their possible repercussions.
In February 2006, Haji Buland Khan, President of the Gujjar-Bakerwal Conference, asserted the need to address the injustice to Gujjars and Bakerwals. One way to achieve this was by implementing the policy of reservations. For years, development funds meant for Gujjar areas were used elsewhere; while the State Government failed to provide them with basic amenities like safe drinking water, electricity, health and education. Besides, the government notification provided for a 10 percent reservation in employment, which has been limited to 5 percent. The percentage of funds allotted to housing for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities, under the Indira Aawas Yojna, has not been adhered to.
Though the Gujjars have suffered from terrorist attacks in Poonch and Rajouri districts, they have also played a key role in anti-terrorist operations. Village Defense Committees (VDCs) in Jammu division comprise Gujjars, which boosts their morale in isolated villages, despite being poorly equipped. A new trend is the increasing numbers of women in the Pir Panjal ranges enlisting as VDC cadres, who are getting trained in using weapons. Apart from terrorist threats, the Gujjars also suffer due to natural calamities, losing family members and cattle in avalanches. Survivors often flee tosafety when the civil administration warns them of impending calamities.
Gujjars claim that the Pahari movement has the patronage of leaders like Sikandar Hayat Khan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. In 2004-05, questions were raised about their cross-border linkages when it was found that Sardar Rafiq Khan, a Pahari leader in Poonch, was Sikandar Hayat Khan's relative. However, some Gujjars have also figured in anti-national activities by colluding with terrorists in executing their plans. Is this not a cause for worry since Gujjars are the most patriotic tribe in the State? With the arrest of Indian Muslims in the recent Mumbai blasts case, forming the modules of terrorist organizations, will 'dissatisfied' Gujjars also change their allegiance?
The Gujjar tribe's large population plays a key role in the electoral calculations of the political parties in the State. This could explain why they were not invited to the round table conferences held by the PM. In 2004, the PDP led government used the proposal to grant of ST status to Paharis to create a constituency for itself in Jammu and the Pir Panjal region. In September 2005, Omar Abdullah accused Mufti's government of dividing the people of Rajouri and Poonch between Gujjars and Paharis by creating a wedge between these two communities, resulting in the Jammu-Poonch parliamentary seat being won by a Congress MP. Mian Altaf, a Gujjar NC leader, recently won elections from the Kangan constituency of J&K. He pointed out that the Gujjars are suffering because of this tug-of-war between the different coalition partners. Meanwhile, the Paharis complain of being ignored by earlier governments.
For years, the Gujjars have displayed pro-India sentiments but are now feeling neglected. The Gujjars are not against Paharis but they do not want them to attain ST status, as they fear losing their own minimal share. Moreover, the Paharis will benefit from ST status only if the government addresses the basic problems being faced by the Gujjar tribe.