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Person

People are living, growing, beings. Their motivations, the driving force behind, change; that is how they grow and learn. A robber Ratnakara could turn into Maharshi Valmiki. Dharmaraj Yudhishthir may wager and lose his wife, brothers, himself, their property, freedom, dignity and kingdom. 
Therefore it is not a person per se that is right or wrong, it depends upon the motivation of that person in that instant; it is the motivation that determines the person, not the other way; further elaborated here.

 Object 

 A knife by itself is an inanimate object, neither useful nor dangerous; in the hands of a skilled chef it becomes a useful tool; in the hands of a skilled surgeon, it becomes a specialised equipment; in the hands of a robber, it becomes a dangerous weapon. Therefore, it is not the knife per se that determines its potency,  it is the motivation of the wielder that does. 

 Action

 The driving force, in the case of a chef or a surgeon, is the ‘purpose of service’ that prevails their actions, and leads them to successful result- a well prepared dish or a successful operation. While they may expect to gain financially or professionally from the cooking or the operation, it is primarily the gastronomic satisfaction of the consumer and the physical well being of the patient that is targeted by the chef or the surgeon. This motivation of service makes their action righteous. In the case of a robber, it is the ‘purpose of selfish gain’ that prevails his action and leads to disaster, both for his victim and him/herself and makes it unrighteous. It is the motivation behind that determines the character of the action. 

 Concept 

 A picture or an object by itself is not powerful, but, in the hands of a bhakta, it may become a murti that has the potential to lead him to realization; in the hands of a mleccha the same is an inanimate object to ridicule. A formula assumes different meaning depending on how the variables are valued. The meaning of a concept or idea depends on the motivation of the person that decides how he values it. 

 Righteousness 

 Concepts, Ideas, Ideologies, Philosophies, Actions, Occupations, Objects, Persons, by themself are neutral in character. It is the motivation behind that colors them right or wrong. The motivation of service, of contribution, makes anything righteous, dharmik, sustaining life. That of ego aggrandizement, expropriation, selfish gain, makes everything unrighteous, adharmik, diminishing life.  

 Applying concepts, ideas, ideologies and philosophies universally, classifying actions and occupations superficially, categorizing objects attributively and characterizing people perennially- without considering the motive behind, is incorrect.  

 The motive that lies behind determines righteousness, dharmikata.

 

Identifying the Enemy

Who is the enemy ? Is it a person ?

Take the case of Shri Anwar Sheikh, he was brought up under the influence of islamic ideology. Inculcated with jihadi ideas, he was dangerous to other human beings who did not follow that ideology. In his youth he killed three persons in the name of islam.

Later his ideas changed, he came to question the ideology of islam, renounced it and became its critic.

It was not Anwar Sheikh the person per se that was dangerous in his early youth. It was the ideas that influenced him that made him dangerous. Anwar Sheikh of later years was a safer human being because he was not under the influence of harmful islamic ideas.

Similar case in point is that of Maharshi Valmiki who wrote Ramayana. In his youth, Ratnakara was dangerous to other humans because he believed that he is justified in robbing other people to support his family. Later he changed his views and as Maharshi Valmiki was immensely beneficial to humanity.

It is therefore the ideas that motivates and influences a person that are important, in terms of his/her effect on society, more important than the person himself.

Ideologies

Islam talks about peace and brotherhood, in Dar-Ul-Islam. Christianity claims to propagate ‘love of God’. Communism talks about ‘equality and upliftment of masses’, Capitalism talks about ‘free market, development and prosperity’.

Yet these very ideologies have been used as excuses to cause deaths of millions of people during the past two millenniums. Killing kaffirs because Allah ordained so. Killing pagans because God willed so. Killing class enemies to bring about revolution for an egalitarian state. Killing the native americans, indians and africans to free the markets and natural resources from control of primitive barbarian tribes; of late, killing vietnamese, iraqis and afghanis to bring them democracy, to civilize them.

Is it that these purported ideologies are dangerous ?

Yet, it is also fact that every muslim is not bloodthirsty towards kaffir. Every christian does not seek to kill pagans. Every communist does not call for killing class enemy. Every capitalist does not seek to usurp money and resources of others.

Therefore it is not ideology per se that is dangerous, it is the motivation that is behind which determines harmfulness or otherwise.

Motivation

What is the motivation that is behind the deaths of millions of people during past two millenniums ?

The common feature of all these killings is the motivation to expand what is considered self-interest, where self is considered in a very narrow sense identified with physical body.

A person who is indoctrinated to consider that Allah will reward him both in terrestrial life and thereafter if he kills kaffirs, is motivated to do so, in the process extending the influence of a select group of people who may be considered high priests of that ideology. Similarly, person misled to consider that he should make pagans owe allegience to an almighty entity called God, else kill them in order to gain the pleasure of that entity, is motivated to do so, again empowering and extending the influence of the group of people considered high priests of that ideology. Equally, a person brainwashed to identify himself as part of a ‘class’ and to consider others who are not part of his class as class enemies, who are to be killed off for betterment of his condition, is motivated to do the killing, in the process expanding the power and influence of a narrow group of people who are considered high priests or politburo. Likewise, person indoctrinated in a consuming culture considers the rest of creation as objects for his consumption and goes about ravaging the earth and killing people who are in the way, again, in the process expanding the power and influence of a group who are considered capital owners, who funds the endeavour.

The motivating factor that causes the killings is the selfish intent of the foot soldiers and the self-aggrandizing intent of the high priests. The ideology is mere excuse.

That is why the killings never stop even if catholic christianity is replaced by protestent christianity, even if christianity is replaced by islam, even if sunni islam is replaced by shia islam, even if christianity and islam are displaced by capitalism or atheism, even if capitalism and atheism are displaced by nazism or fascism, even if capitalism and nazism are displaced by communism, even if marxism is displaced by maoism.

The different ideologies are different branches of the same tree of self-aggrandizement that draw sustenance through roots of selfish-interest.

This tree, due to its inherent nature, seek to draw the entire nourishment from the soil, leaving it barren, seek to stifle and destroy other trees around it. Each of its branches and sub branches exhibit its inherent characteristic of strife, seeking to dominate and destroy one another.

This tree grew from the seed of narrow self-interest that identify physical body as primary and everything else in relation to the body. This narrow self-identification causes the urge to seek to expand and displace others as means to compensate the resulting feeling of constriction and inadequacy.

It is therefore not the person, nor his purported ideology that is the cause of harm, it is the mindset that limit a person’s identity to physical body and consequently seek the crutch of an idea called God/ Allah/ Yahweh/ class-struggle/ socialism/ free-market/ democracy/ freedom/ secularism/ atheism/ nationalism/ racism/ development/ modernism/ globalization/ civlizing or any other such idea to alleviate the pain caused due to their own constriction of sense of self, and seek collaboration with the like-minded to bring other people under their control.

The attachment with the physical- kama, and the consequent inadequacy/insecurity generated agitation- krodha, drives the person to cause harm, like cancer cells, to the body of earth- vasudha; displacing, destroying, devouring other human beings, animals, plants, birds and Nature itself, extending their urge for voracious consumption, turning other beings coming under their influence into rapacious replicas of themselves.

According of primacy to the physical makes science of western origin come up with theories of ‘struggle for survival’ and ‘survival of the fittest’ as defining of life, thereby deprive western science and the societies influenced by it, of spiritual, intellectual and moral direction.

bharatiya samskriti

bharatiya samskriti, on the other hand, consider the entire world as family- vasudhaiva kutumbakam and consequently inspire people to grow together amicably, co-operatively, respecting each other, giving primacy to dharma– that which sustains. It guide people to consider themselves as atman and the physical body like a cloth that is discarded when it becomes old. bharatiya samskriti also inspire people to seek and realize themselves as the supreme, brahma.

Solely identifying with physical body, attaching to it and launching self-aggrandizement drive at the cost of others, is recognized as adharma, that which diminishes, and therefore, discouraged by bharatiya samskriti. People who indulge in such behavior are considered mleccha and shunned.

India Today

bhAratam came under mleccha rule intermittently during the past millennium. The effect of this on society is palpable. The mleccha coined word ‘hindu’ has been accepted as suitable identifier for themselves by many people, despite it being only an indicator of geographical identity. The mleccha attitude of considering physical body as primary identifier has been extended to mis-identify bharatiya samskriti as limited in physical-geographical terms defined by the word ‘hindu’. By identifying with the spiritually, intellectually and morally empty word ‘hindu’, people have been cut off from spiritual and moral intelligence. The effect of this is seen in the way society reacted to the burning to death of 58 ‘hindus’ in a train by a muslim mob in 2001 at Godhra, to the killing of Swami Lakshmanananda and his disciples by christians and maoists at Kandhmal in 2008 and to the bomb blasts carried out by muslims in Mumbai in 1993. The society that is supine to everyday adharma, in the form of corruption in bureacracy, in political and business field, in academe, in fact in virtually every sphere of life, reacted to these incidents, because the victims were identified as fellow ‘hindus’. This shows that the society has come to raise its voice, not to uphold dharma, but only to ensure physical safety of people considered their own. This rajasic reaction, though an improvement over tamasic passivity towards everyday adharma, is nevertheless irrational, largely mis-directed and does not provide long term solution. The mis-identification with the physical, imbibed from mleccha rulers of past, makes society blind and deaf to spiritual, intellectual, moral corruption that is fast degenerating it. This is evident from the way some ‘hindus’ attempted to justify/defend Rajasekara a.k.a Swami Nithyananda who had sexual relations with disciples; like Dhritarashtra of Hastinapuri, blind to adharma committed by kin.

Solution

Spreading the bharatiya samskriti, that considers every being of the world as family, that considers the self not merely limited to physical body nor in time, but as imperishable atman and capable of realizing brahma, the samskriti that considers both the male and the female as equally respect-worthy and essential, integral part of creation, that inspires people to see beyond the physical, beyond words- beyond nama-rupa, and discern the essence ; spreading this samskriti is essential to bring harmony and balance to world. Real peace-love-equality-freedom will result only when that happens.

Meanwhile see beyond appearances, beyond the facade, beyond the name, beyond words, beyond ‘religion’, beyond the purported ideology, beyond the apparent actions and see the atman behind the body, the motivation that drives the person. Does the person seek to discern dharma and uphold it like Sri Rama did, or does s/he identify with physical body and seek to self-aggrandize, like Ravana (who was very accomplished and staunch devotee of Shiva), more concerned with kith and kin, ‘achievements’, ‘ideology’, legacy, good name, than dharma ?

Over the millenniums, adi kavya Ramayana have been appreciated for the wealth of knowledge in it, which is in many layers, benefitting the brahmana, seeker of brahmajnana, kshatriya, in administering country upholding dharma and benefitting vyshya and sudra in living dharmically. The central characters Sri Rama and Sita are respected for their adherence to dharma. They have been role models for millions of people for millenniums.
 
 Maharshi Valmiki, a contemporary of Sri Rama, composed Ramayana. It is also called adi kavya because Valmiki was the first person to produce poetry; which came out as censure of a hunter he saw engaged in killing two love birds.

Ramayana and Sri Rama and Sita have provided inspiration to millions through millenniums in living dharmic lives.

Such being the case, when one Wendy Doniger, a self-claimed jew, without having achieved spiritual realisation or brahma-jnana nor intenting to seek it, attempts to give a widely varying ‘interpretation’, in fact one that goes entirely against Valmiki’s Ramayana, and peddles it through crass sensationalism as seen in this so-called ‘interview’ by Outlook magazine, it becomes apparent that the motivations are much less than honourable.

The introduction given by the interviewer, referring to an incident of egg-throwing six years ago in London, terming the thrower as an ‘enraged Hindu’, and the interviewee as having ‘continued to infuriate the ‘Hindutva brigade’,  is aimed at giving subtle subconscious suggestion to readers, to instigate those among them who identify themselves as ‘hindus’ to get enraged and infuriated, with the calculation that any resulting controversy will help sell more copies.

 Doniger’s pretension of being ignorant of the reasons for criticisms against her is absurd since Shri Rajiv Malhotra, Sankrant Sanu* and even her own fellow westerner Professor Michael Witzel among many others have exposed her dubious ‘scholarship’ very publicly during the past decade. Subsequent to Sankrant Sanu’s critique* of Wendy Doniger’s article on Hinduism, Microsoft Encarta removed it from their encyclopedia and replaced it with one by Professor Arvind Sharma.

 Yet the ‘interviewer’ here turns herself into a willing slave of Doniger and feeds questions calculated to produce sensation. Everything Doniger says is accepted without verification, such as the insinuation that ‘puritanism crept into Ramayana around 10th century’. The reason for this is charged on ‘bhakti Movement’. Any ordinary  aware indian would know that it is Sri Krishna, not Sri Rama who was central to this so-called bhakti movement and Sri Krishna leela are neither papered over nor bowdlerized anywhere to justify charge of ‘puritanism’. Indians have always been open about experiencing life. That is how texts such as kamasutra, many sensual dance forms and sculptures were produced in India. They realised different ways to understand oneself and to realise brahma. Some practices of tantra also includes exploring sexual act to achieve realisation. Sculpures in Khajuraho temples and elsewhere prove that indians expressed themselves creatively while pursuing spirituality.

Ramayana, the adi kavya written by Maharshi Valmiki is intact. Adaptations by others, like sant Tulasidas’ Ramcharitmanas , have been faithful to the original. If some others have produced different versions elsewhere, that is a local matter, considering the minimal popularity of such texts, if at all, they need to be given only so much importance instead of positioning them on par with Maharshi Valmiki’s. Fact being that all popular adaptations of Ramayana to local languages have preserved the spirit of Valmiki’s Ramayana.

Digressions from Valmiki’s Ramayana, if any, needs to be corrected or accepted on their merit rather than be popularised indiscriminately. As an analogy, if while adapting the biography of Wendy Doniger(supposing there is one) to Urdu language, many years after the death of its original author, if the new author says that Doniger’s parents were sex-addicts (as Doniger insinuates against Dasaratha), or that towards the end of her life senilty wrecked havoc in her mind driving her to be dependent on hallucinatory drugs which coloured her scholarship; rather than popularising it indiscriminately as another way of ‘telling the story, commensurate with the diverse traditions of india’, discerning people may prefer to verify truth first.

Here, however, effort has been made to dig up widely diverging texts from obscurity to give authenticity and popularise them. As if such material is not sufficient for the purpose envisaged, attempt has been made to misinterpret innocuous lines and fabricate unjustified extrapolations. This effort is similar to the way britishers dug up manusmriti and established it as eternal ‘hindu law’ during their brutish raj disregarding the fact that smritis are valid only for the period for which they were prepared,  not for ever.

Such actions are then given the fig-leaf justification of being as per traditions of india which ‘allowed people to have their own texts’. For the information of Doniger and such like her, indian traditions always upheld dharma. Twisting or tweaking a respected text and misinterpreting it to draw contrary meanings is adharma and that is never tolerated in indian traditions, whatever some westerners may like to fantasize or propagate. That is why such attempts are relegated to fringes of society. This effort by Doniger and her likes to dig up obscure texts and give them legitimacy is like somebody examining toilet and coming up with what they find there and calling it the main ‘contribution’ to world by the toilet-user and then going on to characterise the toilet-user as someone who has no hang ups about leaving such ‘contributions to world’ lying around, and patting him condescendingly. The statement “That’s why Hinduism is such a wonderful religion“, is such a pat.

Doniger alleges a quote by Sri Rama describing the king as ‘kama-atma’ in verse 2.47.8. However, search of the entire sarga 2 Ayodhya Kanda of Valmiki’s Ramayana failed to produce this word ‘kama-atma’. The version used by Doniger needs verification.
Also her translation of kama-atma as ‘consumed by kama’ and then equating it with ‘sex-addict’ is construction entirely different from the text and based on fanciful imagination by the author. Kama is not sex. A more appropriate meaning of kama is- ‘mental thoughts that seek to attach to objects or persons’. Moreover, there is no reason whatsoever to speculate that Dasaratha was ‘sex-addict’ . King Dasaratha asked Sri Rama to go to forest to honour the word he had given to Kaikeyi once. Yet he also advised Sri Rama to disobey his order, which Sri Rama did not, because that would be against dharma. And King Dasaratha wept to his death soon after Sri Rama left Ayodhya. If he was ‘sex-addict’ as the author insinuates, he should have been enjoying sex with many other women rather that crying to death. That he was attached to Sri Rama is more appropriate. He was childless with Kausalya for many years. Then he married Kaikeyi and then Sumitra seeking children, but was unsuccessful. Later he embarked on puja and yagna and it was then that he got children. Sri Rama being the first born after a long wait for children and being very dharmic and obedient, Dasaratha was naturally attached to him. Indeed, so were most of the people of Ayodhya as well as brothers Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrukhna. Even Kaikeyi originally had very good opinion of Sri Rama. It was Mandhara who insinuated wrong thoughts to Kaikeyi and instigated her to exile Sri Rama.
Something similar, it appears, is being attempted here. The present day Mandhara employing similar baseless insinuations to make indians exile their righteousness.

Repeatedly describing this person as ‘target of Hindu outrage’ throughout this so-called ‘interview’ seems to be an attempt to project an image, without basis and to rake up controversy, as no reason is given to justify this description. Has Outlook or the interviewer surveyed the so-called ‘hindus’ before making that statement ? Chances are, ninety percent of the so-called ‘hindu’  population in india do not even know about the existence of this person, let alone feel any outrage at her deplorable actions.

The suggestive speculation of Doniger that she may be ‘prevented from coming to India’, followed by the ‘revelation’ that she plans to visit India next year seems to be a subtle ploy to invite some ‘outraged hindu’ (if any) to create a situation that will actualize such a scenario and thereby provide free publicity and chance to portray herself as the injured party and in the process produce one more stick to beat the ‘hindus’ with.

The interviewer’s suggestion that Ramayana’s ‘evolution’ has been brought to a stop by the “internet brigade” of the Hindu Right’ is ridiculous in multiple ways. As if Valmiki’s Ramayana is an ‘evolving being’. This attempt at personification of a text, Ramayana, and objectification of people, the so-called ‘hindus’, begs the question- if westerners are accepted as having ‘evolved’ from apes, after they militarily and through deceit colonized advanced civilisations such as of India and plundered their philosophical and scientific wealth, would it be then correct to speculate that those indians who eschew their own culture and ape westerners unthinkingly are devolving into apes ?

Speculations such as- “Well, in order to have a temple you have to have a real movement. You have to have a lot of money, land, a whole system of building temples, which the Hindus did not have at first.” and  “Well, we don’t know who Valmiki was. It’s unlikely that one person wrote the whole Ramayana. Certainly unlikely that Vyasa wrote the Mahabharata“-  are malicious attempts to establish that indians did not have agency. De-personifying Maharshi Valmiki, turning him into a non-person, is part of a calculated plan to sever indians’ ties with their anscestors, to deracinate indians over time. Rootless people are easily enslaved, psychologically, as proven by the behaviour of certain intellectless indian ‘intellectuals’ .

Statements such as- “Until this (Hindutva) crowd got hold of the internet, people didn’t say you can’t tell the Ramayana that way. It wasn’t a Hindu idea“- reveal the working of cunning western mind. First pigeon-hole the people of india into so-called ‘hindus’ (and further into many ‘castes’). Then, when they do not behave the way the westerner wants them to, then tell them that they are no more behaving like a ‘hindu’. So the westerner decides how a ‘hindu’ should behave. And indians, having been labelled so, should conform to that decision.
If any impertinent indian disregards the westerner or question her, then, make another pigeon hole and call it ‘hindutva brigade’ or ‘hindu fundamentalist’ or ‘hindu right wing’ and slot such people there. Thus divide the people. Further divisions can follow to gradually destroy the integrity of society over time. This exercise has been continuing for three centuries now, uninterrupted.

British loved Hindu philosophy, so did Europeans“, “British loved the Gita“.  Doniger also doubtless ‘loves’ India and her traditions in the same way. Pity is that from the time Constantine adopted Christianity to further his imperialistic ambitions and started this ‘loving’ business, westerners have consistently misappropriated things that they ‘loved’ from their original owners. The so-called pagans of europe will testify to how their festivals were misappropriated to christianity while their culture was destroyed. Native americans will testify how their land was taken and their culture was destroyed by the invaders from europe. Africans will testify to how westerners ‘loved’ them to slavery. Yes. British loved many things about India. And they misappropriated them.
The greed that prompted such acts are driving this person and others like her; who too love India and her traditions, only to misappropriate them through deceit and avarice.

Thus, terming bhagavad gita as ‘book of war’ is calculated to make out that those who follow bhagavad gita are naturally violence-mongering, which, taken to its logical conclusion, means that people who read bhagavad gita should be locked away or killed. That justifies burning of trains in Gujarat charring people inside, killing of 84-year-old sadhus and destruction of indian culture in the name of progress. Doniger, who claims to be a jew, perhaps forgets that this was the same demonology that was used to precipitate holocaust over jews and gypsies by Nazis, the slavery over Africans and butchering of red-indians.
The path on which efforts by this author and those like her are leading up to are ominous for india.

Doniger claims to have translated ‘Rig Veda’ and ‘Laws of Manu’, texts that were translated in 18th century itself by others. Professor Michael Witzel of Harvard described her translations as ‘lacking common sense’, unreliable’, ‘idiosyncratic’ ,and “a stream of unconnected George-Bush-like anacoluths“.

Yet- ” I have publishers who will take what I write“.
Unfortunately. So do some ‘interviewers’.

There may have been a man named Rama, but Valmiki’s Ramayana is not his story. Ramayana is a story that an author made up. Whether there was a king or not, we don’t know. And if there was a king, we don’t know if he said the words that Valmiki put in the mouth of Rama. We don’t even know, …”. Should not a person who don’t know such basic things desist from writing alternative histories for other people ? And while on that, should not such a person use the more accurate term ‘I’ while describing her lack of knowledge instead of the suggestive term ‘we’ ?

Traditionally indians have realised brahma in every aspect of life. Through meditation, through physical exercises in the form of yoga, through contemplation, through action, through dance, through music, through art, through bhakti, even in the act of sex. Indeed, life was a spiritual experience for them. Such being the case, should not a person who endeavours to re-interpret their age-old texts at least qualify herself by achieving the spiritual experience of those who produced those texts ?

What of those who behave like apes in the presence of such modern day Mandharas ?
Is it time for such constantly ‘outlook’ing people to do some in-looking ?

The exchange published in the Outlook article cannot be termed an interview. What is on view is more an attempt to ‘inter’ indian culture and traditions by modern day mandharas who are willingly assisted by some indians behaving like apes, quite unlike in the Ramayana where the monkeys fought on the side of righteousness.

 

 

* Shri Sankrant Sanu’s article of September 24 2002, titled “Are Hinduism studies prejudiced? A look at Microsoft Encarta ” appears to have disappeared from its original location. The link given above is from another site that carries a copy of the article.  

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