Religion Thread - 10

shiv
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Religion Thread - 10

Postby shiv » 06 Apr 2007 17:08

The old threads can be accessed via the link below
http://forums.bharat-rakshak.com/viewforum.php?f=19

This series of threads on Religion was started to explore the possibility of discussing dispassionately the strategic threats posed by religion to India.

I suppose I need a prize for saying this at the beginning of the tenth thread on the issue - after 3000 mesages have been posted. :shock:

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Postby vsudhir » 06 Apr 2007 17:44

explore the possibility of discussing dispassionately the strategic threats posed by religion to India.


This presumes that religion poses a threat to India. Why assume so? The hard data that unequivocally supports such a contention is either too contentious or too meager. I've been searching hard data to back up my earlier 'paranoia' but yes, its all subjective and anecdotal. And that is simply not good enough.

If all Indians can do 'India-worship' whatever their faith in private may be, Wouldn't that suffice?
Last edited by vsudhir on 06 Apr 2007 18:02, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Religion Thread - 10

Postby vina » 06 Apr 2007 17:58

shiv wrote:The serious of threads on religion was started to explore the possibility of discussing dispassionately the strategic threats posed by religion to India.


Right.. But what the 10 threads have ended up doing has been endless discourses on "vendanta", religions (hinduism, islam , christinality etc), evangelism , dharma, "dharmic","abrahamic", secular and other random mumbo jumbo on esoteric subjects like how to get high on snake venom for just Rs 10 onlee in Delhi (you learn something at BR everyday ) ..

Oh.. I nearly forgot "beefs" about beef, and some quite "enlightening" stuff about how everything is "caste/ religious oppression" --> (try to put Hindus in a guilt trip business) from the Religion == AOL Mailer , Crank Call and hence my right to be a nuisance ... and how it will get reduced to "Marge vs Madge" / "Vimala vs Kamala" snake oil sales dude..

Frankly none of this is relevant at all even remotely other than as pure academic mas*****ion ..

Come on guys.. Lets cut to the chase.. No one gives a rat's musharraf about the "spirituality" thing and if your's is bigger and /or better than the other's.

Lets focus on the political and power dynamics of religion and how it affects India than this huge massive no holds barred rave parties these "religion " threads have become.. Lets keep "religion " out of BR..

Raju

Postby Raju » 06 Apr 2007 18:10

10 iterations are for bringing everyone to the same page. Each time a 'new poster' wanted to 'repeat' something that was dealt with in earlier debates and everything was rehashed, it was just helping clear some specific fears and microbes lurking in some corner. One can be assured that there were 10 other posters who didn't get it in the previous debate and were thinking just like the 'new poster'...very slowly through 'repeat debates' they too got on the same page. This process was repeated endlessly, until everyone came to the same conclusions as reached on THREAD 1. :)

So this process might be continued for 10 more threads, or as many as required.

At the final thread, shiv will be nominated for a Nobel.

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Re: Religion Thread - 10

Postby Alok_N » 06 Apr 2007 18:27

vina wrote: random mumbo jumbo on esoteric subjects like how to get high on snake venom for just Rs 10 onlee in Delhi (you learn something at BR everyday ) ..


and you didn't even have to pay 10 bucks for such esoteric gyaan ...


Come on guys.. Lets cut to the chase.. No one gives a rat's musharraf about the "spirituality" thing and if your's is bigger and /or better than the other's.

Lets focus on the political and power dynamics of religion and how it affects India than this huge massive no holds barred rave parties these "religion " threads have become.. Lets keep "religion " out of BR..


in situations like these, folks have two choices:

1. bitch at others, whine in general and start pargraphs with "come on guys" ...

2. lead by example and post a careful analysis that will take the discussion in the desired direction ...

with approach #1, don't complain about 10-buck-gyaan ... :)

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Re: Religion Thread - 10

Postby vina » 06 Apr 2007 18:34

Alok_N wrote:with approach #1, don't complain about 10-buck-gyaan ... :)


Oh.. Don't get me wrong about the 10-buck-gyaan. I love it absolutely, but lets have a different thread for that. My secret desire is to chuck all this corporate thang/cr** and go off care free like one of the sadhus in the Kumbh Mela.. and float care free for a while discovering the world..When I am ready to do that I will e-mail you for tips / best practices experiences.. Right now I will be lucky if I even manage a damned week off from work.

However, lets come to the point on this "religion" thingy..

I did post an analysis on why we dont need one and it was immediately drowned out by huge pages of details of parliament discussion and was lost in the noise..

Actually that is a good enough reason to stop this "religion" thread.. Everyone posts what (very rightly so) is their considered opinion on it. But it just gets lost in all the noise and is wasted anyways!!! ...

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Postby Alok_N » 06 Apr 2007 18:50

why all the khujli? ... if some folks don't like the thread, they can simply not read/post here ...

take this whole debate about caste in Kerala for example ... I am learning a lot without agreeing or disagreeing with anyone ... bottomline, I have *not* yet developed a crisp view on the caste thingy ... if others have, congratulations!, take a break and come back when the slower pokes amongst us have caught up to your level of gyaan ...

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Postby shaardula » 06 Apr 2007 18:57

shiv...

after reading your other post, a lot of things about what you are talking for me personally. but i am not clear about what sort of data is needed to make this meaningful.

what should the data be? what should be measured? i cannot come up with measures for health of hinduism.

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Re: Religion Thread - 10

Postby SRoy » 06 Apr 2007 19:07

shiv wrote:The old threads can be accessed via the link below
http://forums.bharat-rakshak.com/viewforum.php?f=19

The serious of threads on religion was started to explore the possibility of discussing dispassionately the strategic threats posed by religion to India.

I suppose I need a prize for saying this at the beginning of the tenth thread on the issue - after 3000 mesages have been posted. :shock:

G Subramaniam posted volumes of census data showing the changing demography in the East and profusion of Madrasas there.

Add to that there is good amount of documentation in the Islamism thread from The Pioneer and the Indian Express about Shariat Courts and the fact that WB and Assam police consider these places as "no go". Lately these border districts have begun to harbour Jihadi elements sneaking in from Bangladesh.

Observations:

1. Will people from majority community shelter such elements pushed from across the border?
2. Is not local police losing control over areas and local communities disregarding of the nation's judicial system considered rebellion in most countries?

I think the linkages between national security and religion is pretty clear, but if people want 10 pages of useless discussion...well.

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Postby Alok_N » 06 Apr 2007 19:13

why not analyse the EJ rather than painting him as evil and pigeon-holing him?

what makes an EJ tick? ... what prompts him to drop his life in the west and spend time in faraway places trying to convince others to convert to his religion? ... IOW, what's in it for an average Joe EJ?

folks like TSJ would say that it is due to a sense of "service" ...

sort of like how TSJ's heart bleeds for tribals in India ...

however, to understand the EJ mindset, one has to also understand the award/punishment system of his religion ... an EJ is doing "God's work" ... so he is like a salesman who works for commissions and bonuses ... clearly the Mega Bonus is definitely on EJ's mind, i.e., a one-way ticket to heaven ...

is there anything else? ... how much is an EJ paid for his efforts? ... I once flew to Bangkok with an EJ sitting in the next seat ... he was going to spend a few weeks in rural Thailand ... somewhere in our conversation, he let out that he "doesn't worry about finances" ... at first glance I thought he meant that he would be reimbursed for all his expenses ... but, it is equally likely that he was going to make a *profit* from that trip ...

anyone have gyaan on EJ operations?

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Re: Religion Thread - 10

Postby Alok_N » 06 Apr 2007 19:23

SRoy wrote:I think the linkages between national security and religion is pretty clear, but if people want 10 pages of useless discussion...well.


the case for Islamism is clear, but what about EJ?

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Re: Religion Thread - 10

Postby SriKumar » 06 Apr 2007 19:29

Shiv wrote:The series of threads on religion was started to explore the possibility of discussing dispassionately the strategic threats posed by religion to India.
My 2 cents worth response, at large: Agreed that the thread topic was specific (data on strategic threats posed by religion) and the tone was supposed to be dispassionate. And it may be correct to suggest that not much of the former has happened. But for me (IMO), the thread was definitely very useful and in some respects eye-opening. As one poster said, one learnt a lot just by lurking.

Your (Shiv) own thrusts/parries about the issue of beef and beef banning etc. brought some doubt to the issue of 'Hindu intolerance' on the beef issue. Seems like the ban is not as blanket as has been suggested. Indians (certainly me) were somewhat defensive on this point, but as I read, I found there was less to be defensive about this.

Also the issue of 'documentation' and 'selling' of the religion: Valkan's original posts were definitely the highlights of those threads, but his reluctance to take it further (documentation) was another revelation. Your posts debating with others on the need to create a pithy 'slogan' for Hinduism was also revealing. (I'm for it, by the way, even though I understand the counter-argument that condensing Hinduism to a one-line blurb will not capture its essence and does a disservice to the depth/sublimity of the religion, and the one-line slogan may not attract the 'right' kind of people i.e. those who are interested in depth of thought).

The mode of this discourse here is a huge benefit in that: it is not like a book where things have to be organized in a certain manner. You can keep your style more casual/conversational (Style matters when conveying important concepts). The posts are put in writing, therefore they can be rebutted, or explanations can be requested/demanded. Sometimes explanations are provided, and when they are not, the lurker is free to draw his/her own conclusion on the lack of a rebuttal. IMO, this format has made many things more understandable on the forum. The format may be one possibility why Valkan's posts, if written up in a book form, may lose something. (He could keep it in the form of a 'conversation', as in Plato's 'Socratic Dialogues').

So, IMO (not IMHO), even if we are not close to hard data on strategic threats, this thread has been very useful in (partly) clarifying a lot of topics, or atleast initiating discussion on topics that are germane to the intended topic. As the threads progressed, I realized/saw the unique difficulties that a moderator would have for this type of thread, and I want to thank you for your efforts.
Last edited by SriKumar on 06 Apr 2007 21:19, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Anand K » 06 Apr 2007 19:44

After the likes of Noorul Hassan and Kosambi crept into the History ream of Free India they have consistently tried to show the INM, development of Indian society and religion in a way that tally with what Prophet Marx outta his orifice so long ago. If Marxian history wasn't bad enough, there came new biased strains like Subaltern History, Islamic-Apologists History, Britihs Nationalist history and Dalitist history. BTW Sajan, you claim you are interested by the Marxian Kosambi but what you preach here is Ranajit Guha's Subaltern History with a sprinkling of Dalitist Historiography! Bhat?! :P As kgoan said, there ain't anything wrong with other other schools springing up "cutting off the limbs of the Banyan tree which threatens them all" but it's when these false gods cause fissures in the Indian fabric (and thus defeat the whole purpose of debate) that they have to be refuted with extreme prejudice.

Now, there's no use trying to knock down the "glorifying monarchies/ bourgeois" strawman. My beef is that you peddle this "conflict POV" as if it was the only guiding force in history. For such fanatics any contention/proof that torpedoes their quaint ideas evokes a Pavlovian response.... of the kind you have so dutifuly displayed in the last pages of the former thread. Anyway, you claim Tam Brahms dominated Travancore bureaucracy.... well tell us what was the % of Tam Brahms was in the Diwan Peshkar post. Please illuminate us on the constitution of the state bureaucracy, temple services and armed forces before hollering that HCs ran everything. You say (or quote from Wiki) that there were 17 million Christians in Travancore in 1931. Now the pop of WHOLE of Kerala was 50 million in 1931.... so that makes 34% Christians in Kerala? Heck.... even after steady growth rates down the years the Christians are like 18-19% of Kerala! :D
Pal, there's this thing called Wikiality.... I suggest you check it up.

Folks, it ain't that I have strong feelings for the Travancore Monarchy.... but this sort of outdated, disproved and downright divisive theories of 'total conflict' Sajan-types spews here must be "deconstructed". (Remember that time when this Paki (who seemed so knowledgeable) came with this snake-oil of "white madrassas" and many BRFites fell for it till Kgoan/Rudradev demolished him? This Sajan specimen ain't different..). Unlike what Sajan claims, the social equations were more complex than your offhand dismissal of "Brahmin dominated Peshwa rule" or "LC downtrodden as per state statute in Travancore". Please check out Shivaji's ancestry and his declaration on ascension (and for that matter the social history of Marathas as a whole)..... find out which groups formed the bulk of his Cavalry (and over whom the final Anglo-Maratha war was fought). Study the nature and causes of Maratha-Rajput rivalry for that matter!

Wokay, if you think Sree Narayana Guru was leading a FIGHT against the existing system( a la Phule/Periyar) as against an accommodation in the Hindu society, you are much mistaken. Check out the contrasting activities of LC leaders like Dr Palpu, Sahodaran Ayyappan and Ayyankali... and while you are at it, see how the yeevil Monarchy reacted to these downright hostile splinter groups. Dwell on some of Swami's actions like using a Mirror (with an Om painted on)/lamp as a deity.... understand the significance. Oh, he did that when the HCs read out the shastras denying his rights (the second time).... was he avoiding a fight or was he implicitly laying claim to something that no Manusmriti nor King nor Brahmin oligarch can deny? The commies deal with the Swami gingerly..... they know that any commie claim on the Swami was the first rebel and communist will blow up n their face. As a Mallu, you must be aware of the a$$ whooping the commies got when they claimed "Vivekananda effectively introduced the core theme of Marxism to Bengal while Sree Narayana Guru introduced it in Kerala". Here's a clue... it was a certain controversial jamboree celebrating the QIM Movement!
If you wish to claim someone like Sree Narayana Guru to earn respectability for your snake-oil, be prepared to back your "argument" convincingly.


...... he praises the monarchy for all advances while the truth is that despite a monarchy which followed obviously discriminatory policies, kerala became more egalitarian society.


So I wasn't really surprised when Anand came up with his excuses for the purification ceremony in Guruvayoor temple.


Question: Did the Monarchy create the social system? Quote the regressive laws n rulings issued in this regard. It's fashionable these days to look back with 20/20 hindsight and p1ss on the past, the traditions and those systems we brave new world consider "oh so yucky!" now.
Now why doesn't one question other worse traditions like Talaq, Burkha, Themmadikuzhi (the apostate's grave)? Oh wait, the minority traditions have to be cherished! No problem if Christian women can't be priests.... but women must be let into Sabarimala. Sharia Courts can brand anyone outcast but age-old purification rites vis-a-vis Mleccha Ashudha must be done away with. I personally don't agree with some of the present traditions of my religion... but they are long held nonetheless and millions hold it close to their heart. It shouldn't and MUST NOT be changed until there's popular groundswell for making such a change. Such churnings have happened before and will happen again.

One thing commies don't understand is that whenever a threshold level of popular groundswell for some change in social structure occurred, the existing system complied. The Tantric modes of worship (especially of deities like Marutha, Arukola, Chamundi, Veerabhadra) became so popular in Medieval Kerala that the not-so-vedic customs were amalgamated (check out the Chottanikkara Kaavu) and the LC functionaries climbed up in the social ladder (the Ambalavasis = lower rung Nairs, Velichappadus =Oracles/mediums and Kaniyans= LC astrologer) The response was not something like the Fitna of Abbasid Islam or Bahaism of Safavid Iran or the Cathar Heresies of Christianity where "pagan" inspired heresies/reforms were obliterated. Just like the dynasties of Karnataka gave support to Veerasaiva movement or Ayyavazhi accepted by Travancore Monarchy or the rise of Viswakarmas/Kayasthas, the social churning evoked PROGRESSIVE response from the ruling classes on the whole. Now another question.... when and where did these social changes cease to take place? Hint: Sirhindi.

Before dashing off another set of glib responses on the line of "then why did Caste System turn into such a monster", do study the changes in the politico-economic sphere after the end of the Guptas. Moreover, the systematic establishment of the caste system (in it's full horror) in EVERY corner of life began with the British agricultural experiments of the late 17th century. Commies and Subalterns and Dalitists have a BIG problem with this view and some even refuse to acknowledge that POV..... can't blame them for this Krikkitian stance though. :P What these theories do is that it effectively discredit the Marxian take of evolution of class-structures and consequent conquest of the masses.... As far as the Dalitists are concerned this blows up their claim that it was the innate nature of HINDUISM that's solely responsible for their condition. Pleej read up the links posted by Acharya for that perspective.

More Later...
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Re: Religion Thread - 10

Postby Alok_N » 06 Apr 2007 19:45

SriKumar wrote:that may be one possibility why Valkan's posts, if written up in a book form, may lose something. (He could keep it in the form of a 'conversation', as in Plato's 'Socratic Dialogues').


Jiddu Krishnamurthy occassionally took this approach probably for similar reasons ...

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Postby Anand K » 06 Apr 2007 19:52

Folks pleej read the rest of “Official historyâ€

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Postby ramana » 06 Apr 2007 19:53

What about the Upanishads which use the dialog method- eg. Nachiketa? Indian traditions too use the dialog method.

Even Mahatma used the technique in Hind Swaraj. Indian thought process lends itself to the Q&A type of discourse.
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Postby SriKumar » 06 Apr 2007 19:59

ramana wrote:What about the Upanishads which use the dialog method- eg. Nachiketa? Indian traditions too use the dialog method.

Even Mahatma used the technique in Hind Swaraj. Indian thought process lends itself to the Q&A type of discourse.

Not having formally read philosohpy, I was/am on relatively unfamiliar ground there.

It is good to know that J. Krishnamurthy and Upanishads have taken that approach. Tells me that these works would be more accessible than others. In fact, when I was very young, my father took to me a lecture by Jiddu Krishnamurthy's in Madras. I did not understand much of it, but there was quite a crowd to listen to him.
Last edited by SriKumar on 07 Apr 2007 01:43, edited 6 times in total.

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Postby shaardula » 06 Apr 2007 20:02

beautiful post sri kumar.

some other notes....
in many of the temples across various states in US, i have noticed that the there is an attempt to rationalize geography in sankalpa (which forms an important step in various poojas). Even though the geography might not be pat, this attempt to rationalize is itself significant and welcome.

another aspect i have seen is local panchangaas. though i am not sure if all the bases have been covered. but there are some systems that have US specific recalculations. that again is significant.

In the US temples, all activity is first generation immigrant driven. One hardly even comes across 2nd/3rd generation adults represented in the temple. These are active in 'cultural' fields but not in the temples. I was involved with some of these kids trying to start a Hindu Association, I was the only FOB in this band of desis, we did some trips/service during festivals, but eventually, they all gravitated towards diwali & holi events.

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Re: Religion Thread - 10

Postby SRoy » 06 Apr 2007 20:03

Alok_N wrote:
SRoy wrote:I think the linkages between national security and religion is pretty clear, but if people want 10 pages of useless discussion...well.


the case for Islamism is clear, but what about EJ?


Good point. Hope that narrows down the scope of discussion here with respect to national security.

Your and Valkan's exchanges on Vedanta were a delight to read. But the usual distractions like beef-eating and caste rants have degenerated the thread. So, I believe you get my drift as who were the ones driving 10 pages discussion (or distractions :) ).

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Postby JwalaMukhi » 06 Apr 2007 20:09

The exercise although was like catharsis, it was needed, primarily to sort out the “you fartedâ€

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Postby ramana » 06 Apr 2007 20:41

JM wrote:Post 1947
1) A segment of population from Jammu and Kashmir has become refuge. The rest of the population there is fearing for its safety and security.
2) North east of India has developed separatist tendencies.
3) India’s defence forces was unsuccessfully requested to profile its constituents based on religion.
4) Is it true that wherever hindu population has become minority in certain localities more NO GO areas are created for Hindus inside India?
5) Was attempt to abandon native religion the cause of Tamil Nadu state to attempt national disintegration? Didn’t the average Ram on the street in Tamil Nadu had too much in common with rest of India and made sure nation disintegration to not occur.
6) Does anybody reap financial benefits through foreign funding agency/agencies when scorn is poured on the native religion of India?


The root cause for all the above six questions narrows down to the pseudo-secular crusade that some Modern Hindus(HINOs) undertook as an offshoot of the INM (Indian National Movement). If you go through the Constituent Assembly debates, there was an express desire to reform Hinduism of its anachronistic and antediluvean practises in order to bring it to the modern era and ensure that old practices do not linger and divide and fissure the Indian society.
Recall that the CA was elected not by universal suffarage and was thus representative of only a section of the people of India. But the Hindus took all this in stride for they also wanted to abandon and ditch the old practise and emerge into the modern world.

At the same time it was felt that minorities rights should be protected to prevent further centrifugal tendencies for TSP is the first of the lot.

Somewhere in the 1970s this goal got subverted as Kosambi's students and RP Dutts disciples(Haksar et al) grew in power and the project became to transform Hindu society by social engineering. The main bludgeon used against the Hindus was that they were not Modern and that the sins of the Nazis were foisted upon them. The Indian left delibrately invoked Nazism as a charge against the Hindus.

So IMO the problems can be traced to the pseudo-secular facade of the DIE. By this I mean the combined operations of media, politics and social engineering was to keep the Hindu down and on the defensive while pandering to certain elite elements in the minorities and appeasing extra territorial powers.

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Re: Religion Thread - 10

Postby SriKumar » 06 Apr 2007 20:47

SRoy wrote:Your and Valkan's exchanges on Vedanta were a delight to read. But the usual distractions like beef-eating and caste rants have degenerated the thread. So, I believe you get my drift as who were the ones driving 10 pages discussion (or distractions :) ).

My thought is that what we call 'distractions' have become (fortunately or unfortunately) an integral part of a public discussion on Hinduism. That's what this thread showed. I firmly believe it is no different in a public discussion with person(s) outside of cyberspace.

If one wants to only learn Vedanta, Upanishads, there are several ways to do that: for one, find a person who is well-versed in it and talk to him. The parameters of such a discussion are pre-determined because 2 like-minded people have implicitly agreed to stick to a topic, and they have a common perspective on it, i.e. both are interested and convinced on the postive value of the topic.

This is not the case in a public discussion, especially so when Hinduism is discussed within the context of a 'threat'. What we call distractions are really potential detractions ( :)) of the religion, real or purported. They can and must be expected in any public debate. And perhaps the best way to go about it is to take the issue and discuss it thread bare, wring out the last drop of blood till you are left with dry flesh (ref: beef discussions 4 threads ago :) ) and see what's left.

This thread has taken the same form (IMHO) as would be in an actual debate on the merits/demerits of Hinduism in a public setting. These distractions are very much an integral part of a real-world debate. And Vedanta....heck, you could discuss that in college/university class, or in a temple. Like literature or physics.
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Postby vsudhir » 06 Apr 2007 20:49

So IMO the problems can be traced to the pseudo-secular facade of the DIE. By this I mean the combined operations of media, politics and social engineering was to keep the Hindu down and on the defensive while pandering to certain elite elements in the minorities and appeasing extra territorial powers.


Ramana sar,

With all due respect, even though part of me remains sympathetic to what you say in this para, it appears to be nothing more than a subjective opinion/reading/interpretation of events.

And, as by now we very well know, that is not good enough.

Someone else can always come up with a diametrically opposite viewpoint again based on subjective opinion and there'd be no way of disproving him - its subjective after all. After all, what is art to some is fart to others.

How would one go to demonstrate what you say is 'true' with 'objective' data?

Raju

Postby Raju » 06 Apr 2007 21:00

After all, what is art to some is fart to others.


Inshallah...what a wonderful line.


take a break and come back when the slower pokes amongst us have caught up to your level of gyaan ...


no..no..it's not about 'slower pokes' you see, it's about each one's "Point of Inspiration" (PoI). Let's take the numerology eg once again.

between the value: 6660 to 6670, your PoI might strike at 6660 while mine could spark at 6669.

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Postby Abhijit » 06 Apr 2007 22:11

Sajan, why do you hate Hindus, especially upper castes so much? Is there a basis - perhaps personal to this hatred?

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Postby shiv » 06 Apr 2007 22:34

Relations between different groups of people within a country fall well within the ambit of security issues.

Once again let me use a medical analogy. I get patients whose story of their disease is something like the following: "I ate some hot spicy brinjals, therefore I am now passing blood in my stool" or "I had a banana and I now have a cough" (these are very common statements in India but I will not explain why)

In the patient's mind cause and effect are already explained and established. "Hot spicy brinjal - blood in stool. Banana - cough. My role is merely to cure.

In actual fact the "cause" stated by the patient in both cases above has nothing to do with the disease. The disease is a separate entity with a causation that the patient knows nothing about. But something in the knowledge he has picked up at home, from "elders" has given him a readymade (but wrong) explanation. He only knows his own complaint, but does not know the real cause and does not know the cure.

The relevance to this subject is as follows. The patient's diagnosis of the cause may or may not be right, but whatever the cause of the disease, it has done its dirty work and gone away. Avoiding hot brinjals or cold bananas will not cure the disease. The disease needs separate attention.

There is a persistent feeling among Indian Hindus that something is not right and that they have been wronged and are continuing to be wronged. The blame is put on Christian and Muslim activities.

Here we have a similarity to my patient. There is a complaint, and an entity that can be blamed for the complaint.

This linking of a disease with causation leaves us with two leads to follow:

1) What is the disease and what is the cure for the disease?

2) What caused the disease exactly, and what can be done to prevent a recurrence of the disease.

What exactly have Hindus lost? What are they continuing to lose? Will the removal of Christianity and Islam from the Hindus' world cure the disease that Hindus claim to feel? Or will he continue to be sick because a great deal of damage has already been done?

If Christianity and Islam (or other factors) have already done damage, then removing Christianity and Islam from the equation will not cure the disease. If you fall into a fire and are burned, the damage is already done. Putting out the fire will not cure you. The damage is irreversible. A burn is a burn is a burn, and you will be scarred forever if it heals (or you commit suicide blaming the fire)

I believe that the complaint that Hindus have is like that. Damage has already been done and that damage needs a cure. But before any cure, the damage needs to be defined. What the hell is damaged?

The second aspect is that there is the complaint of "further damage" being done by activities Islamists and Evangelists in alliance with Hindus who are considered turncoats.

Again, the people who make these complaints find it easy to pin down causation and blame, but are unable to state what can be done and we have a continuous recycling of known problems and known complaints. Where's the doctor?

The Hindu organism is a complex one. You need to understand every aspect of that organism, otherwise the nose will complain that it is being wronged, while the right hand is busy tapping to music that it is enjoying, with nothing to complain about and you have no idea of the overall health of the organism

I believe many people understand Hinduism but are unable to define the Hindu collective - the Hindu organism.

The Hindu organism has a common thread (or many threads) running through it. Or the Hindu organism may merely be several sets connected by a series of non overlapping circles in my Venn diagram analogy.

That commonality is the Hindu identity that nobody (on here) has defined exactly. One of the confounding factors is that many non Hindus by religion consider themselves Hindu in many ways and they, like Hindus are ambiguous about religious affiliation.

The topic is a "real bugger". I am just posting a few thoughts.
Last edited by shiv on 06 Apr 2007 22:45, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby shiv » 06 Apr 2007 22:38

Abhijit wrote:Sajan, why do you hate Hindus, especially upper castes so much? Is there a basis - perhaps personal to this hatred?


Let him hate what he wants to hate. That is his problem. He has to cope with it. It is when other people wrestle with hatred that you tie your mind down to follow the route he chooses. His problem then becomes yours.

But then - a lot depends on your karma, and his.

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Postby vsudhir » 06 Apr 2007 23:00

That commonality is the Hindu identity that nobody (on here) has defined exactly. One of the confounding factors is that many non Hindus by religion consider themselves Hindu in many ways and they, like Hindus are ambiguous about religious affiliation.

The topic is a "real bugger". I am just posting a few thoughts.


Lends credence to Johann's argument in the xenophobia thread (or weas it the EJ thread?) that most Indian tribals were never 'Hindus' at all but 'animists' and hence, empirically, more receptive to conversion. The SoKo religious transformation inside of 2 generations was the background context, IIRC.

So Hinduism's balance sheets of gains and losses, assets and liabilities can be remade at will be zimbly redefining who 'Hindu' is. Native religions, animism, tribalism etc are concepts/words that can be used to tweak statistics and discussions on Hinduism enough to arrive at any desired conclusion. There seems to be potential for mischief here, IMHO.

JMT.

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Postby ramana » 06 Apr 2007 23:10

I dont know about triblas being animists etc. My experience is with the Gonds of Adilabad who I believe are also natives of contiguous forets areas of Maharashtra and Chattisgarh and Orissa. In 1985 I went to Utnoor in Adilabad and happened to see a tribal dance which the troop had performed in Hyderabad as part of Aug 15 celebrations. I asked the nearby Tribal Welfare offcier wha teh dance was about and he gave me story about a god who was in the forset and how the tribal maiden prayed to him to leave the forest and get married to him. And the tirbals were enaqcting the story as a dance drama. I said doesnt remind you of the Parvati-Shiva marriage? and the TWO said "Yes if you think about it, it does". However beacuse he understood the Gond language vaguely and the triblas could not srticulate the story it was being propgated as tribal god and goddess story.

So how animists are these folks? India's problem is that its people are studied by Westerners and not enough natives. BTW Haimendorf is the noted expert on Gonds and spent a life time studying them.

Tragedy of Tribals in Telengana

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Postby shyam » 06 Apr 2007 23:39

Abhijit wrote:Sajan, why do you hate Hindus, especially upper castes so much? Is there a basis - perhaps personal to this hatred?


I don't think it is Sajan's personal hatred. It comes naturally to anybody indoctrinated by left. I have personal experiences of talking to such people and everytime those discussions start with anti-brahmanism and anti-hinduism.

BTW, don't think communists have any real love for dalits. The only party which did not have significant SC/ST/dalits in their leadership is CPM. It is actually a party of upper class elites indoctrinated by leftist ideology.

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Postby svinayak » 06 Apr 2007 23:54

ramana wrote:
So how animists are these folks? India's problem is that its people are studied by Westerners and not enough natives.

Tragedy of Tribals in Telengana

Study of Indian people should be done by only Indians and not by some westerners.

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Postby ramana » 06 Apr 2007 23:55

No others can also study. What should not happen is that their view becomes the dominiant view and all debate is structured around it.

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Postby svinayak » 06 Apr 2007 23:56

ramana wrote:No others can also study. What should not happen is that their view becomes the dominiant view and all debate is structured around it.


Indian view should be massive and dominant. Other should be just a study.

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Postby RajeshG » 07 Apr 2007 00:17

I am sure folks might have already heard of Dr N Gopalakrishnan. Some of his lectures are available for download from here.. Most of it is in Malayalam but some are available in English.

http://www.iish.org/download.asp

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Postby SaiK » 07 Apr 2007 01:22

IMHO, the basic disease is ill-knowledge. Mostly parents are culprits who have swayed away from keeping the heritage since they blame Religion and God for their failures or having gotten into a setup by GoI that energized their failures.

Most failures are attributed to the weakness.. and this is where EJs goes on the attack, calling their God is The God shots. If the fundamental belief system is in education and removing the bad knowledge gained to seeking everything and reducing the blame on the setup, then everything will fall in place.

Empower the weak and poor by giving more socialistic setup. Empower the might and weight with more opportunity for advancement and reduced controls, such that they don't have to blame it on the govt for realizing Sat, Chit and Anand disturbances, that is derived out of materialistic events.

Govt is playing to the "Atmans" of individuals and taking away the glory. From No good Infrastructure, Bad Water quality, Poor Electricity, Corrupted officials at all walks of life {get your phone connected, pay bribe, pay bribe to get driving license, pay bribe to go to school, the damn living is bribing..}.

This kind of living Fks up the mental system to get to realize SatChitAnand .. Just imagine how million (almost a billion) hearts, minds and thoughts are cursing the setup that they are living. Not a single person, I have met so far says, we have the best living system (public/civil society).

This weakness will be invaded.. and soon exploited. Police system is down right corruption. Lawyers are Baztards.. Politicians are product of Western defined HELL.. and so and so forth.. there is practically nothing that one can attain sat-chit-anand experience.

Only those philosophers and merit class who "ignores" the facts, cause they have gotten into a self satchitanad mold.. chalta hai, i am doing good, sope I don't care if India goes to WESTERN HELL..

So, imho, bottom line is this weakness has nothing to do with Religion or a fault that originated from Hinduism at all.

Remove the corruption, Remove the Evil. </PERIOD>
rest ALL goes to WESTERN HEAVEN.

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Postby venkat_r » 07 Apr 2007 01:51

Alok_N wrote:why not analyse the EJ rather than painting him as evil and pigeon-holing him?

what makes an EJ tick? ... what prompts him to drop his life in the west and spend time in faraway places trying to convince others to convert to his religion? ... IOW, what's in it for an average Joe EJ?

folks like TSJ would say that it is due to a sense of "service" ...

sort of like how TSJ's heart bleeds for tribals in India ...

however, to understand the EJ mindset, one has to also understand the award/punishment system of his religion ... an EJ is doing "God's work" ... so he is like a salesman who works for commissions and bonuses ... clearly the Mega Bonus is definitely on EJ's mind, i.e., a one-way ticket to heaven ...

is there anything else? ... how much is an EJ paid for his efforts? ... I once flew to Bangkok with an EJ sitting in the next seat ... he was going to spend a few weeks in rural Thailand ... somewhere in our conversation, he let out that he "doesn't worry about finances" ... at first glance I thought he meant that he would be reimbursed for all his expenses ... but, it is equally likely that he was going to make a *profit* from that trip ...

anyone have gyaan on EJ operations?


With threads moving so fast not sure how many peolpe will even stop to read these posts.

To undertsand the motivations of EJs ( i hope you mean christians) or from any other religions, it is better to understand and read about how MLMs work in the modern day or how the cults work. Eventhough these might not be as rigid as the religions, they still practice similar patterns and use similar techniques in propagation and ideology. Infact almost all of these Evangelical religions were considered cults before they became mainstream.

Infact, it would be wrong to assume that it is someone from the outside, in majority of the cases it is not. Some salient features of these are
1. Approached by a friend or relative
2. Love bomb the potential(s) recruit initially by the already existing social network. If none exists before buy it with money initially.
3. Soft chew or soft (read moderate) philosophy is fed initially.
4. Hard core concepts or rituals come latter
5. Use the new recruits to bring in fresh recruits
6. Conditioin the recruits to decipline, teach them loyalty & commitment.
7. Removal of insubordination or freedom of thought
8. Teaching against "Others" as "this" is perfect
9. Information blackout from "others".
10. Demanding unconditional faith and reason out irrationality.
11. Recruiting others is shown and believed as their responsibility
12. Creating a social network, where such acts are rewarded and any ideology and acts against are punished.
13. Explaining the monetory or "other benefits" from such preaching and acts as God's gift and lack of these as needing more work towards the same

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Postby Johann » 07 Apr 2007 02:04

vsudhir wrote:
That commonality is the Hindu identity that nobody (on here) has defined exactly. One of the confounding factors is that many non Hindus by religion consider themselves Hindu in many ways and they, like Hindus are ambiguous about religious affiliation.

The topic is a "real bugger". I am just posting a few thoughts.


Lends credence to Johann's argument in the xenophobia thread (or weas it the EJ thread?) that most Indian tribals were never 'Hindus' at all but 'animists' and hence, empirically, more receptive to conversion. The SoKo religious transformation inside of 2 generations was the background context, IIRC.


What I said was that Hinduism is an assimilative force and that the process of assimilation of a tribal groups folk religion in to Hinduism is a gradual one.

Some groups like the Nagas who were outside the system of varnas and to whom the Ramayana, Mahabarta, Bhagvad Geeta were unknown. They were were unassimilated by Hinduism, and therefore highly receptive to evangelism.

That is only one extreme end of the spectrum of assimilation vs. conversion - by no means applicable to all tribal groups in India.

You can see the same thing in Myanmar, with animist hill tribes like the Nagas, Kachin and Karen responding strongly to evangelical efforts, while the Buddhists of the plains - Shan and Burmans had no interest whatsoever.

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Postby svinayak » 07 Apr 2007 02:09

Johann wrote:What I said was that Hinduism is an assimilative force and that the process of assimilation of a tribal groups folk religion in to Hinduism is a gradual one.


By marxist narration and social engineering they are trying to change the assimilative force of Hinduism

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Postby ShauryaT » 07 Apr 2007 02:28

AnanadK, As usual, excellent post.

Some more on the Post Gupta period and the influence of the changing landscape of the social-political context, the march of Islam and the codification by the British.

Apologies to all for the long post, there simply is not a single link to explain it all. Hope it is worth it.

It is worth noting that the classical four varna division of Hindu society (as described in the Manusmriti) does not appear to have had much practical significance if one were to go by the accounts of the Greek chronicler, Megasthenes. In his accounts of Mauryan India. Megasthenes appears to list a seven fold social order in which he differentiates between the priest and the philosopher (who he ranked much above the priest, and who could have been a Brahmin, Jain or Buddhist) and also gives special attention to court bureaucrats such as record keepers, tax collectors and judicial officials. He also ascribed to the peasantry a higher status than might be inferred from the Manusmriti and noted with amazement how the peasantry was left unharmed during battles.

According to Megasthenes, philosophers - whether Brahmins or Jain/Buddhist monks also had obligations in terms of offering advice to the ruler in matters of public policy, agriculture, health and culture. Repeated failure to provide sound counsel could lead to a loss of privileges - even exile or death. Thus, although many Brahmins may have held on to their privileges by being shameless sycophants - others made significant contributions in the realm of science, philosophy and culture. Social mobility was possible since learning was not an exclusive preserve of the Brahmins and both the Buddhist and Jain sanghas admitted people from different social backgrounds and also admitted women. (Jyotsna Kamat points to a Karnataka inscription from 1187 A.D. that suggests that Jain nuns enjoyed the same amount of freedom as their male counterparts.) The more advanced sanghas enforced a separate quorum for women to ensure that a largely male gathering may not take decisions that did not meet with the approval of the women members of the sangha.

Over time, it appears that the sanghas degenerated, losing their intellectual vitality and egalitarian spirit allowing the Brahmins to gradually consolidate their power and influence in the Gangetic plain. But even as late as the 6th-7th C, Gupta-period inscriptions describing land grants in Bengal appear to corroborate Megasthenes' view of how Indian society was structured. Social rank of senior court administrators (who may have risen from different caste backgrounds) invariably exceeded the rank of ordinary village priests.

Nevertheless, the seeds for a more privileged role for the Brahmins were also being sown through the process of land grants to Brahmins. In some instances, thousands of Brahmins were granted rights to hitherto uncultivated land. In other cases, Brahmins were appointed as the local representatives of the state authorities in what are described as agrahara villages where Brahmins presided over small peasants, who in Bihar were mostly landless sharecoppers or bonded labourers. These agrahara villages were typically small villages and sattelites of bigger villages that included members of several castes and bigger land-holders. In Bihar, such agrahara villages proliferated and it is quite likely that in such agraharas oppressive social relations and some of the most egregious patterns of caste-centred discrimination and exploitation may have developed.

(While early Gupta period records indicate the existence of rural consultative councils that mediated between the rulers and the artisans and peasants, it seems that such consultative councils became less important or were phased out with the growth of the agraharas. Thereafter, the Brahmins became the sole intermediaries between the village and the state, and over time, this may have enabled the Brahmins to exercise social and political hegemony over other inhabitants of the village. It also appears that the greatest incidence of the practice of untouchability occurs in conjunction with the growth in the power and authority of the Brahmins in such villages.)

But these developments took time to spread elsewhere in India, first spreading to Bengal and eastern UP, and very gradually elsewhere in India. However, this pattern was not necessarily replicated in identical form throughout India and some parts of India virtually escaped this trend. In agrahara villages in other parts of India, Brahmins did take on the role of local administrators and tax collectors, but the status of the small peasantry was not always as miserable as in Bihar. The degree of exploitation and oppression appears to be related to the extent of alienation from land-ownership.

For example, evidence for Brahmin domination in Kalikatti, Southern Karnataka emerges after the 13th C. when villagers were instructed to pay taxes to the Brahmin assignees, leading to constant tensions and disputes, but without dramatic changes in the overall status of the tax-paying villagers.

For instance, in Orissa, the ossification of the bureaucracy and its conversion into a group of privileged and exclusive castes appears to take place after the 14th-15th C. when we begin to see a general decline in its overseas trade due to the silting up of its rivers. At the same time, we see the growth of Brahminical hegemony in the realm of religion and military defeats at the hands of the Mughal armies led by Raja Man Singh of Jaipur. All these factors may have played a role in destroying the vibrancy of Oriya society and encouraging caste conservatism.
Although Brahminization was an important factor in leading to caste ossification, it was not necessarily the sole or even the most important factor in the mix. The impact of the Islamic invasions, colonization by the British and ecological changes played an equally crucial if not decisive role in many instances.

Source: The Manusmriti, with critical commentary by Dr. Surendra Kumar, Arsh Sahitya Prachar Trust, Delhi

It is clear from a variety of evidence that considerable mobility was prevalent in the caste system till the tenth century. Shishir Thadani points out that during the Pratihara period, caste categories were relatively flexible and popular temples were constructed by those considered low-caste. Temple construction was often a way of gaining social respect and upward mobility. But the caste system began to ossify in the 10th century which contributed to a general decline that was happening in Hindu Indian society.

Muslim writers, who frequented India within hundred years after the birth of Islam, give us a window into the Indian world in existence in the 8th century. Sindh fell to Muslim occupation in the year 712 C.E. to Muhammad bin Qasim, a cousin of Caliph of Baghdad. Chach-nama and writings of al-Biruni, though written in the 13th and 11th centuries, claim their sources from other contemporary writings. It appears as though the systematic classification was not rigid in the 8th century after all. Shudra as well as Brahmin kings were ruling and not all royalty belonged to the Kshatriya class.

The passivity and rigidity of the caste system became pronounced only after the Muslims made their appearance on the shores of India, when religious discrimination and oppressive taxation (Jizya – a taxation on non-Muslims imposed by Muslim rulers), conspired to remove certain segments of the population from the political system and economic advancement. The Muslim rulers became quite adroit at exploiting it. Some Brahmins and Buddhist monks were exempt from the taxation. Caste system then became static, lost its influence in the process and came to be known as a distinguishing characteristic of orthodox Hinduism.

The Hindu religion itself became more orthodox as a direct result of the external threat of a foreign religion with little tolerance to the ‘infidels’. Al-Biruni writes about a much admired Brahmin king of Sindh in the 8th century called Chach (hence the historical journal: Chach-nama), who ruled admirably but went ‘straight to Hell, when he died, as he is an infidel’. Much of the freedom enjoyed by the citizens had to be curtailed out of necessity and Islam had a profound negative effect on the progress of the more liberal Hinduism.

The caste system had been a fascination of the British since their arrival in India. Coming from a society that was divided by class, the British attempted to equate the caste system to the class system. As late as 1937 Professor T. C. Hodson stated that: "Class and caste stand to each other in the relation of family to species. The general classification is by classes, the detailed one by castes. The former represents the external, the latter the internal view of the social organization." The difficulty with definitions such as this is that class is based on political and economic factors, caste is not. In fairness to Professor Hodson, by the time of his writing, caste had taken on many of the characteristics that he ascribed to it and that his predecessors had ascribed to it but during the 19th century caste was not what the British believed it to be. It did not constitute a rigid description of the occupation and social level of a given group and it did not bear any real resemblance to the class system. However, this will be dealt with later in this essay. The British saw caste as a way to deal with a huge population by breaking it down into discrete chunks with specific characteristics. It appears that the caste system extant in the late 19th and early 20th century has been altered as a result of British actions so that it increasingly took on the characteristics that were ascribed to by the British.

The British belief that caste was the key to understanding the people of India. Caste was seen as the essence of Indian society, the system through which it was possible to classify all of the various groups of indigenous people according to their ability, as reflected by caste, to be of service to the British.

Caste was seen as an indicator of occupation, social standing, and intellectual ability. It was, therefore necessary to include it in the census if the census was to serve the purpose of giving the government the information it needed in order to make optimum use of the people under its administration. Moreover, it becomes obvious that British conceptions of racial purity were interwoven with these judgements of people based on caste when reactions to censuses are examined. Beverly concluded that a group of Muslims were in fact converted low caste Hindus. This raised howls of protest from representatives of the group as late as 1895 since it was felt that this was a slander and a lie.H. H. Risely, Commissioner of the 1901 census, also showed British beliefs in an 1886 publication which stated that race sentiment, far from being: a figment of the intolerant pride of the Brahman, rests upon a foundation of fact which scientific methods confirm, that it has shaped the intricate grouping of the caste system, and has preserved the Aryan type in comparative purity throughout Northern India.

The word caste is not a word that is indigenous to India. It originates in the Portuguese word casta which means race,breed, race or lineage. However, during the 19th century, the term caste increasingly took on the connotations of the word race. Thus, from the very beginning of western contact with the subcontinent European constructions have been imposed on Indian systems and institutions. To fully appreciate the caste system one must step away from the definitions imposed by Europeans and look at the system as a whole, including the religious beliefs that are an integral part of it. To the British, viewing the caste system from the outside and on a very superficial level, it appeared to be a static system of social ordering that allowed the ruling class or Brahmins, to maintain their power over the other classes. What the British failed to realize was that Hindus existed in a different cosmological frame than did the British.

It should also be borne in mind that an entire caste could rise through the use of conquest or through service to rulers.Thus, it may be seen that within traditional Indian society the caste system was not static either within the material or metaphysical plane of existence. With the introduction of European and particulary British systems to India, the caste system began to modify. This was a natural reaction of Indians attempting to adjust to the new regime and to make the most of whatever opportunities may have been presented to them.

Unlike its predecessors in England, the census of India attempted not only to count, but to define and explain. As a result, the census became not simply an accounting of what existed but an active participant in the creation and modification of the society. As a result, Indians of many levels of society reacted to the census in attempts to gain or maintain status. In 1895, Fazl-i-Rabb wrote a book that attacked H. Beverly, Census Commissioner of Bengal for the 1871-72 census for stating that the Muslims of Bengal were converted low caste Hindus.

Rabb's demands reinforce this suspicion when he states that the British Government should: repair the wrongs done to us Musalman subjects through the public writings of Mr. Beverly and [we] solicit the question at issue; viz., that our origin and ancestry, be thoroughly enquired into with the help afforded by history and [that] the results of such investigation may be placed on record.

This is virtually a call for a public enquiry into what most westerners would consider a relatively minor matter of very limited concern.

The Mahtons claimed that they should be granted the status of Rajputs because of both history and the fact that they followed Rajput customs. Therefore, since they had not received this status in the 1901 census, they requested the change to be affected in the 1911 census. Their request was rejected, not on the basis of any existing impediment but on the basis of the 1881 census which stated that the Mahtons were an offshoot of the Mahtams who were hunter/scavengers. Thus, it appears that the census system had become self reinforcing. However, after further debate the Mahton were reclassified as Mahton Rajput on the basis that they had separated themselves from the Mahtams and now acted in the manner of Rajputs. Interestingly, it was at this point that the reasoning behind the claim became evident. Some of the Mahton wanted join an army regiment and this would only be possible if they had Rajput status. The Mahton, a rural agricultural group, were fully aware that the change of status would allow their members to obtain direct benefits. In and of itself, this definitely shows that the actions of the British in classifying and enumerating castes within the census had heightened indigenous awareness of the caste system and had added an economic aspect that the Indian people were willing and anxious to exploit.

Contrary to what the British appear to have believed, it seems doubtful that the Brahmans were dominant within the material world in pre colonial Indian society. A cursory examination of any of the ruling families quickly shows a dearth families of the Brahmin caste. Rather, one finds that the majority, though by no means all, of rulers were Kshytria and occasionally Vaishnava. This suggests that although the Brahmin caste had power in spiritual matters, their power and control within the material world was limited to the amount of influence that they could gain with individual rulers. No doubt there were instances when this was quite considerable but there is also little doubt that there were times when Brahman influence was very weak and insignificant. With this in mind, it is not difficult to imagine a situation where, Brahmans, seeing the ascendancy of British power, allied themselves to this perceived new ruling class and attempted to gain influence through it. By establishing themselves as authorities on the caste system they could then tell the British what they believed the British wanted to hear and also what would most enhance their own position. The British would then take this information, received through the filter of the Brahmans, and interpret it based on their own experience and their own cultural concepts. Thus, information was filtered at least twice before publication. Therefore, it seems certain that the information that was finally published was filled with conceptions that would seem to be downright deceitful to those about whom the information was written. The flood of petitions protesting caste rankings following the 1901 census would appear to bear witness to this.

Risely wrote that: "the caste system itself, with its singularly perfect communal organization, is a machinery admirably fitted for the diffusion of new ideas; that castes may in course of time group themselves into classes representing the different strata of society; and that India may thus attain, by the agency of these indigenous corporations, the results that have been arrived at elsewhere through the fusion of individual types." In making this statement Risley exposes the British agenda of creating a society that conformed to British ideals through the use of a British interpreted caste system. It is also interesting to note that Risley juxtaposes "individual types" with castes in such a way that it seems that he believed that there was a dearth of individuality within Indian society which could be compensated for through the substitution of caste structures. To Risley caste was not only the essence of Indian society, it was the essence of Indians. The entire meaning of the individual was embodied in caste. Risley's paternalistic disdain for the Indian people was further illustrated by his belief that: "the factors of nationality in India are two - the common usage of the English language for certain purposes and the common employment of Indians in English administration." India's salvation, its only hope of becoming a nation, was through the language and tutelage of the British, according to Risley's brand of liberal paternalism.

In examining the writings of Edward Dalton, Commissioner of Chutia Nagpur, the nomenclature alone is enough to indicate that the Indian people were regarded as less than human in at least some regard. People are referred to as "specimens" and the only fear expressed over the possibility of bringing various "specimen" together for a display was that: "... if specimens of the more independent tribes fell sick and died in Calcutta or on the journey, it might lead to inconvenient political complications." It is also in these writings that one sees the type of classification of ability that the British in India have become so notoriously famous for. In considering Rajputs Dalton states that:

. [they] are not the inert sensualists that wealthy Bengalis so often become; they are fully capable of enjoying field sports; they generally ride well, are good shots and keen sportsmen. They are sure to have a good battery of guns by the best English makers, good horses, dogs, elephants, and hawks, and even fishing tackle.

.. Surely a description of the finest of English country gentlemen. However, in describing the Kayasths who often worked as clerks for the British, Dalton states that:

From their appearance we might say that the first selection was made of people with weak bodies and strong intellect, of small courage, but great cunning, and that physical beauty was of less consequence than sharpness of wit.

Needless to say, this description is far from flattering. However, what is more important is the contention that one can determine the character of people based on their physical appearance. This extended, as well, to the type of work that individuals were seen as being fit for under British rule.

Thus Kayasths were seen as being natural clerks and scribes and Rajputs were natural for the military and as a local upper class. However, census data sometimes went beyond attributing occupational abilities to physical build and insisted on the maintenance of "traditional" occupations being listed with the caste groupings in the census.

Such was the case during the census of 1891. In an effort to arrange various castes in order of precedence: "... functional grouping is based less on the occupation that prevails in each case in the present day than on that which is traditional with it, or which gave rise to its differentiation from the rest of the community." This action virtually removed Indians from the progress of history and condemned them to an unchanging position and place in time. In one sense, it is rather ironic that the British, who continually accused the Indian people of having a static society, should then impose a construct that denied progress. In ways such as this, it is possible to see how the census began to increase the rigidity of the caste system, particulary when one considers the fact that one of the primary ways that a caste could traditionally raise its status was to change its occupation. Once again, the British appear to be creating the situation where their interpretation of Indian society is validated through their own actions. In a similar way, Beverley's analysis of the 1872 census sought to prove continuity with the past by attempting to identify purity and impurity of race in ways that would fit with British theories of Indian history and British notions of group abilities and temperaments.

The censuses forced the Indian social system into a written schematic in a way that had never been experienced in the past. While the Mughals had issued written decrees on the status of individual castes, there had never been a formal systematic attempt to organize and schedule all of the castes in an official document until the advent of the British censuses. The data was compiled on the basis of British understanding of India. This understanding was deeply affected by British concepts of their own past, and by British notions of race and the importance of race in relation to the human condition. Further, the intellectual framework, such as that provided by anthropology and phrenology, that was used to help create the ideas surrounding the concept of race, was foreign to the intellectual traditions of India. These concepts endured well into the 20th century and affected the analysis of the censuses throughout this period. Risley, for example, used anthropometric measurements, which were directly descended from anthropological and phrenological methodology, in his ordering of castes following the census of 1901. These same notions led to a classification of intelligence and abilities based on physical attributes, and this in turn led to employment opportunities being limited to certain caste groupings that displayed the appropriate attributes. Indians attempted to incorporate themselves into this evolving system by organizing caste sabhas with the purpose of attaining improved status within the system. This ran contrary to traditional views of the purpose of the caste system and imposed an economic basis. With this, the relevance and importance of the spiritual, non material rational for caste was degraded and caste took on a far more material meaning. In this way, caste began to intrude more pervasively into daily life and status became even more coveted and rigid. In a sense, caste became politicized as decisions regarding rank increasingly fell into the political rather than the spiritual sphere of influence. With this politicization, caste moved closer to class in connotation. The actions of the Indian people that contributed to this process were not so an much acquiescence to the British construction as they were pragmatic reactions to the necessities of material life. In expropriating the knowledge base of Indian society, the British had forced Indian society and the caste system to execute adjustments in order to prosper within the rubric of the British regime.


The British consistently promoted the myth that Hindus were governed by their codified versions of shastric injunctions. The modern educated elite in India, whose knowledge of India comes mainly from English language sources, were thenceforth systematically brainwashed into believing that the British were actually administering Hindu personal laws through the medium of the English courts. This was part of a larger myth-building exercise, whereby the people of the subcontinent were taught that theirs was a stagnant civilisation. The ignorant assumptions of our colonial rulers, that social stability in India was due to the supposed proclivity of its people to follow the same old traditions, customs and laws that had allegedly remained moribund for centuries, slowly came to acquire the force of self-evident truth over a period of time, both for those supporting as well as those opposing British rule.

The confusion is not theirs alone; these common misrepresentations are an unfortunate byproduct of our colonial education which we slavishly cling to, even though it is more than five decades since we declared our Independence. We keep defending or attacking the same hackneyed quotations from the shastras and the epics which, incidentally, colonisers used for the purpose of creating a new discourse about these writings. Their inaccurate and biased interpretations have continued to inspire major misreadings of our religious tenets

SriKumar
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Postby SriKumar » 07 Apr 2007 03:59

ShauryaT wrote: According to Megasthenes, philosophers - whether Brahmins or Jain/Buddhist monks also had obligations in terms of offering advice to the ruler in matters of public policy, agriculture, health and culture.

(While early Gupta period records indicate the existence of rural consultative councils .....

Source: The Manusmriti, with critical commentary by Dr. Surendra Kumar, Arsh Sahitya Prachar Trust, Delhi

Chach-nama and writings of al-Biruni, though written in the 13th and 11th centuries, claim their sources from other contemporary writings.

Question tangentially related to the above post: I get the impression that history and social commentary written by Indians (from ancient to pre-Birtish era) is somewhat lacking. Can any one prove me wrong by posting names of any such authors/books? The names that crop up regularly are Megasthenes, Herodotus, Al Biruni, Ibn Batuta (?). I suppose Chinese travellers Huen Tsang, Fa Hein may have written social commentary, though they came for religious reasons. The only name I can recall from my history lessons is Kalhana's Rajtarangini. (To what extent can Manusmriti be considered a (good) record of prevailing social norms?)

Works of poetry, literature abound, but if there are any desi authors from 500 BC to 1800 A.D. who wrote about existing social conditions and history, please mention a few names/works. It seems like much of our pre-British historical record is from accounts of travellers from outside India.

P.S: Admins: This may seem OT but my query is to find out any (Indian) sources of historical information on Indian society. If this is deemed OT, please delete it, or let me know and I'll do the needful.


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