Nightmare of Nehruism – Sita Ram Goel

Jawaharlal Nehru (London 1946)

The late Sita Ram Goel, a prominent historian, author, and publisher, had Left leanings during the 1940s, but later became an outspoken anti-Communist. He also wrote extensively on the damage to Bharatiya culture and heritage wrought by Nehruism. The article below is an extract from Goel’s book, How I Became a Hindu, first published by Voice of India in 1982.

Today, I view Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as a bloated brown sahib, and Nehruism as the combined embodiment of all the imperialist ideologies—Islam, Christianity, White Man’s Burden, and Communism—that have flooded this country in the wake of foreign invasions. And I do not have the least doubt in my mind that if India is to live, Nehruism must die. Of course, it is already dying under the weight of its sins against the Indian people, their country, their society, their economy, their environment, and their culture. What I plead is that a conscious rejection of Nehruism in all its forms will hasten its demise, and save us from the mischief which it is bound to create further if it is allowed to linger.

I have reached this conclusion after a study of Pandit Nehru’s writings, speeches and policies ever since he started looming large on the Indian political scene. But lest my judgement sounds arbitrary, I am making clear the premises from which I proceed. These premises themselves have been worked out by me through prolonged reflection on the society and culture to which I belong.

I have already described how I returned to an abiding faith in Sanatana Dharma under the guidance of Ram Swarup. The next proposition which became increasingly clear to me in discussions with him, was that Hindu society which has been the vehicle of Sanatana Dharma is a great society and deserves all honour and devotion from its sons and daughters. Finally, Bharatavarsha became a holy land for me because it has been and remains the homeland of Hindu society.

There are Hindus who start the other way round, that is, with Bharatavarsha being a holy land (punyabhumi) simply because it happens to be their fatherland (pitribhumi) as well as the field of their activity (karmabhumi). They honour Hindu society because their forefathers belonged to it, and fought the foreign invaders as Hindus. Small wonder that their notion of nationalism is purely territorial, and their notion of Hindu society no more than tribal. For me, however, the starting point is Sanatana Dharma. Without Sanatana Dharma, Bharatavarsha for me is just another piece of land, and Hindu society just another assembly of human beings. So my commitment is to Sanatana Dharma, Hindu society, and Bharatavarsha—in that order.

In this perspective, my first premise is that Sanatana Dharma, which is known as Hinduism at present, is not only a religion but also a whole civilisation which has flourished in this country for ages untold, and which is struggling to come into its own again after a prolonged encounter with several sorts of predatory imperialism. On the other hand, I do not regard Islam and Christianity as religions at all. They are, for me, ideologies of imperialism. I see no place for them in India, now that India has defeated and dispersed Islamic and Christian regimes.

I have no use for a secularism which treats Hinduism as just another religion, and puts it on par with Islam and Christianity. For me, this concept of secularism is a gross perversion of the concept which arose in the modern West as a revolt against Christianity and which should mean, in the Indian context, a revolt against Islam as well. The other concept of secularism, namely, sarva dharma samabhava, was formulated by Mahatma Gandhi in order to cure Islam and Christianity of their aggressive self-righteousness, and stop them from effecting conversions from the Hindu fold. This second concept was abandoned when the Constitution of India conceded to Islam and Christianity the right to convert as a fundamental right. Those who invoke this concept in order to browbeat the Hindus are either ignorant of the Mahatma’s intention, or are deliberately distorting his message.

My second premise is that Hindus in their ancestral homeland are not a mere community. For me, the Hindus constitute the nation, and are the only people who are interested in the unity, integrity, peace and prosperity of this country. On the other hand, I do not regard the Muslims and the Christians as separate communities. For me, they are our own people who have been alienated by Islamic and Christian imperialism from their ancestral society and culture, and who are being used by imperialist forces abroad as their colonies for creating mischief and strife in the Hindu homeland. I therefore, do not subscribe to the thesis that Indian nationalism is something apart from and above Hindu nationalism.

For me, Hindu nationalism is the same as Indian nationalism. I have no use for the slogans of “composite culture”, “composite nationalism” and “composite state”. And I have not the slightest doubt in my mind that all those who mouth these slogans as well as the slogan of “Hindu communalism”, are wittingly or unwittingly being traitors to the cause of Indian nationalism, no matter what ideological attires they put on and what positions they occupy in the present set-up.

My third premise is that Bharatavarsha has been and remains the Hindu homeland par excellence. I repudiate the description of Bharatavarsha as the Indian or Indo-Pak subcontinent. I refuse to concede that Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have ceased to be integral parts of the Hindu homeland simply because they have passed under the heel of Islamic imperialism. Hindus have never laid claim to any land outside the natural and well-defined borders of their ancient homeland, either by right of conquest or by invoking a promise made in some scripture. I, therefore, see no reason why Hindus should surrender their claim to what they have legitimately inherited from their forefathers but what has been taken away from them by means of armed force. Moreover, unless the Hindus liberate those parts of their homeland from the stranglehold of Islam, they will continue to face the threat of aggression against the part that remains in their possession at present. These so-called Islamic countries have been used in the past, and are being used at present as launching pads for the conquest of India that has survived.

My fourth premise is that the history of Bharatavarsha is the history of Hindu society and culture. It is the history of how the Hindus created a civilisation which remained the dominant civilisation of the world for several millennia, how they became complacent due to excess of power and prosperity and neglected the defences of their homeland, how they threw back or absorbed in the vast complex of their society and culture a series of early invaders, and how they fought the onslaughts of Islamic, Christian, and British imperialism for several centuries and survived.

I do not recognise the Muslim rule in medieval India as an indigenous dispensation. For me, it was as much of a foreign rule as the latter-day British rule. The history of foreign invaders forms no part of the history of India, and remains a part of the history of those countries from which the invaders came, or of those cults to which they subscribed. And I do not accept the theory of an Aryan invasion of India in the second millennium BC. This theory was originally proposed by scholars as a tentative hypothesis for explaining the fact that the language spoken by the Indians, the Iranians and the Europeans belong to the same family. And a tentative hypothesis it has remained till today so far as the world of scholarship is concerned. It is only the anti-national and separatist forces in India which are presenting this hypothesis as a proven fact in order to browbeat the Hindus, and fortify their divisive designs. I have studied the subject in some depth, and find that the linguistic fact can be explained far more satisfactorily if the direction of Aryan migration is reversed.

These are my principal premises for passing judgement on Pandit Nehru and Nehruism. Many minor premises can be deduced from them for a detailed evaluation of India’s spiritual traditions, society, culture, history, and contemporary politics. It may be remembered that Pandit Nehru was by no means a unique character. Nor is Nehruism a unique phenomenon for that matter. Such weak-minded persons and such subservient thought processes have been seen in all societies that have suffered the misfortune of being conquered and subjected to alien rule for some time. There are always people in all societies who confuse superiority of armed might with superiority of culture, who start despising themselves as belonging to an inferior breed and end by taking to the ways of the conqueror in order to regain self-confidence, who begin finding faults with everything they have inherited from their forefathers, and who finally join hands with every force and factor which is out to subvert their ancestral society. Viewed in this perspective, Pandit Nehru was no more than a self-alienated Hindu, and Nehruism is not much more than Hindu-baiting born out of and sustained by a deep-seated sense of inferiority vis-a-vis Islam, Christianity, and the modern West.

Muslim rule in medieval India had produced a whole class of such self-alienated Hindus. They had interpreted the superiority of Muslim arms as symbolic of the superiority of Muslim culture. Over a period of time, they had come to think and behave like the conquerors and to look down upon their own people. They were most happy when employed in some Muslim establishment so that they might pass as members of the ruling elite. The only thing that could be said in their favour was that, for one reason or the other, they did not convert to Islam and merge themselves completely in Muslim society. But for the same reason, they had become Trojan horses of Islamic imperialism, and worked for pulling down the cultural defences of their own people. The same class walked over to the British side when British arms became triumphant. They retained most of those anti-Hindu prejudices which they had borrowed from their Muslim masters, and cultivated some more which were contributed by the British establishment and the Christian missions. That is how British rule became a divine dispensation for them. The most typical product of this double process was Raja Ram Mohun Roy.

Fortunately for Hindu society, however, the self-alienated Hindu had not become a dominant factor during the Muslim rule. His class was confined to the urban centres where alone Muslim influence was present in a significant measure. Second, the capacity of Islam for manipulating human minds by means of ideological warfare was less than poor. It worked mostly by means of brute force, and aroused strong resistance. Finally, throughout the period of Muslim rule, the education of Hindu children had remained in Hindu hands by and large. So the self-alienated Hindu existed and functioned only on the margins of Hindu society, and seldom in the mainstream.

All this changed with the coming of the British conquerors and the Christian missionaries. Their influence was not confined to the urban centres because their outposts had spread to the countryside as well. Second, they were equipped with a stock of ideas and the means for communicating them which were far more competent as compared to the corresponding equipment of Islam. And what made the big difference in the long run was that the education of Hindu children was taken over by the imperialist and the missionary establishments. As a cumulative result, the crop of self-alienated Hindus multiplied fast and several fold.

Add to that the blitzkrieg against authentic Hindus and in favour of the self-alienated Hindus mounted by the Communist apparatus built up by Soviet imperialism. It is no less than a wonder in human history that Hindu society and culture not only survived the storm, but also produced a counter-attack under Maharshi Dayananda, Swami Vivekanand, Sri Aurobindo and Mahatma Gandhi such as earned for them the esteem of the world at large. Even so, the self-alienated Hindus continued to multiply and flourish in a cultural milieu mostly dominated by the modern West.

And they came to the top in the post-Independence period when no stalwart of the Hindu resurgence remained on the scene. The power and prestige which Pandit Nehru acquired within a few years after the death of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had nothing to do with his own merits, either as a person, or as a political leader, or as a thinker. They were the outcome of a long historical process which had brought to the fore a whole class of self-alienated Hindus. Pandit Nehru would have never come to the top if this class had not been there. And this class would not have become dominant or remained so, had it not been sustained by establishments in the West, particularly that in the Soviet Union.

It is not an accident that the Nehruvian regime has behaved like the British Raj in most respects. The Nehruvians have looked at India not as a Hindu country but as a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural cockpit. They have tried their best, like the British, to suppress the mainstream society and culture with the help of “minorities”, that is, the colonies crystallised by imperialism. They have also tried to fragment Hindu society, and create more “minorities” in the process. In fact, it has been their whole-time occupation to eliminate every expression of Hindu culture, to subvert every symbol of Hindu pride, and persecute every Hindu organisation, in the name of protecting the “minorities”, Hindus have been presented as monsters who will commit cultural genocide if allowed to come to power.

The partition of the country was brought about by Islamic imperialism. But the Nehruvians blamed it shamelessly on what they stigmatised as Hindu communalism. A war on the newly born republic of India was waged by the Communists in the interests of Soviet imperialism. But the Nehruvians were busy apologising for these traitors, and running hammer and tongs after the RSS. There are many more parallels between the British Raj on the one hand and the Nehruvian regime on the other. I am not going into details because I am sure that the parallels will become obvious to anyone who applies his mind to the subject. The Nehruvian formula is that Hindus should stand accused in every situation, no matter who is the real culprit. – How I became a Hindu, 1982

Sita Ram Goel Quote

Founding a Hindu Rashtra, not just a temple – Virendra Parekh

The bhoomi poojan is an occasion for all of us to invoke Ram to be our unifier and liberator. Let Ram, who united the royalty and laity of his kingdom with tribals in forests and mountains in distant lands, bring together estranged brothers in his homeland. Let Ram, who liberated Sita from the bondage of Ravan, liberate us from the bondage of the past and lead us to Ramarajya. – Virendra Parekh

The bhoomi poojan of Ram temple in Ayodhya is a major landmark on India’s journey towards the Hindu Rashtra. We are indeed blessed to witness this historic moment. To grasp its true significance, one has to view it in a perspective of centuries. The last millennium, which opened with wanton destruction of Hindu temples by Islamic invaders, ended with a powerful popular movement to restore the Ram Janmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya. The current one opens with the foundation laying ceremony of that grand temple. No wonder the country is celebrating it as a grand festival of civilisational reaffirmation and resurgence.

To be sure, the challenges before the Hindu civilisation, which remain multiple and serious, would not disappear with the reconstruction of the Ram temple. The reconstruction, however, signifies Hindu society’s determination to overcome these challenges and also holds out an assurance of its success in this noble endeavour.

For centuries India has been struggling to retain its civilizational identity. It has been a battleground of two civilisations (Hindu and Islamic) for the last one thousand years and three civilisations (Hindu, Islamic and Western) for nearly three centuries. Muslim invaders were interested not just in enjoying India’s fabled wealth and power, but also in driving out Hinduism (“kufr”) and establishing the “only true religion”. Chronicles of their court historians testify to that. The Britishers, too, were not as neutral or indifferent in civilisational issues as it may appear at first sight. Macaulay’s famous minutes leave no doubt on that score.

India did manage to retain her identity through these turbulent centuries, but it could not defeat the invading civilisations. It could neither absorb them fully through assimilation nor throw out what could not be assimilated. This inability to reject what it could not digest was the essence of foreign conquest. Even today, it has not gained that freedom in full measure.

The unresolved tussle resulted in a civilisational stalemate. This stalemate, as Girilal Jain pointed out three decades ago, lies at the root of crisis of identity faced by our intelligentsia over the last hundred years. Are we an ancient civilization under assault from predatory forces or a hotchpotch of innumerable identities struggling to become a nation? Should we cherish our culture as a unique and invaluable asset or cut it asunder as burdensome deadwood from the past?

The foreign rule over the centuries, meanwhile, divided our intelligentsia into broadly two groups. A large part of it, which wanted to enjoy wealth, power, prestige, status and position decided to collaborate with the ruling class by offering to serve it. A small part of the intelligentsia stuck to its roots and refused to join the rulers. It was driven out from the corridors of power, but its voice could never be completely silenced.

Members of the former group learnt Persian and Arabic, took up jobs under Muslim rulers and adopted their mores and manners. The British Raj was much wider, stronger and more uniform. Most members of the groups which had earlier collaborated with Muslim rulers now donned the new attire with alacrity. Thousands of Hindus took to English language, dress, manners and even ideas, ideals and thought processes. They came to view themselves as partners of the rulers rather than the ruled. Nehrus are a good example of this class. This rule—collaborate with rulers if you want to come up socially—remained in operation even after independence.

It was this class of Anglicised brown sahibs, with a history of serving successive foreign dispensations that formed the dominant elite at the time of independence. With Jawaharlal Nehru as its guiding star and spirit, it sought to remake India into a Western image. Indian state under Nehru became a powerful agency for propagation of Western ideals and institutions.

A word here about Communists is in order. In India, the Western civilization is represented not so much by Christianity as by Communism. Some Christians may appreciate the religiosity (not the religion) of the Hindus. But the Communists’ contempt for Indian philosophy, religion and civilization is deep, absolute, and uncompromising. They could think of no greater calamity than India returning to its Hindu ethos.

To continue with the story, the dominant left-leaning elite sought to mould India into a non-Hindu entity. It used secularism to repudiate the Hindu ethos of India and socialism to humiliate the weal-creating business class and subordinate it to the benefit of an ever expanding rapacious neta-babu combine. Under its aegis, Hinduism came to be viewed as synonymous with superstition, inequality and exploitation. Nationalism became suspect and invoking India’s ancient civilization was branded as communalism.

Ram Janmabhoomi movement was Hindus’ reaction to this soulless, rootless un-Indian state that had scant regard for their concerns and sentiments. The overnight conversion to Islam of Meenakshipuram village in Tamil Nadu in 1981, Khalistani terrorism in Punjab, the overturning by the Parliament of the Supreme court judgment in Shah Bano case and fanning of separatism in J&K left Hindus deeply worried about their future in their homeland. That is why the opening of padlocks at the shrine at Ayodhya in 1986 and shilanyas at the sight in 1989, meant to be minor diversions, became historic turning points. Ram came to occupy centre stage of the public discourse.

Like a subterranean river bursting out in a desert, Hindu awakening broke out into the open and carried away everything before it. All attempts to smother it failed. This was the sentiment that saw BJP under Narendra Modi win absolute majority in Lok Sabha elections twice in succession. The civilizational stalemate that Girilalji spoke about is beginning to resolve in favour of the Hinduism. The left-leaning intelligentsia which dominated the public discourse has lost its political clout. Narendra Modi is the most visible and powerful symbol of this transformation. No wonder the dispossessed intellectual elite regard him as a mortal enemy.

The nature of the Indian state is changing. Nehru as prime minister sought to prevent President Rajendra Prasad from attending the Somnath temple renovation ceremony. Modi as prime minister is going to lay the foundation stone himself. We have indeed come a long way.

The reconstruction of Ram temple is not directed against the Muslims. The dispute is not between Hindus and Muslims but between those who respect India’s civilizational ethos and those who wish to destroy it. A Shia organization was among the first to announce donation for the temple. Pakistani author Tarek Fatah has consistently supported the cause of the Ram Janmabhoomi. On the other hand, Sharad Pawar was determined not to attend the ceremony even if invited. Left to himself, Mani Shankar Aiyar may perhaps erect the Babri mosque again at the spot.

An overwhelming majority of Muslims in the Indian subcontinent are descendants of Hindu ancestors. In their veins also flows the blood of Vedic sages and saints of yore. Vicissitudes of history tore them away from their parent society. The temple reconstruction is an occasion for all of us to remember this blood relation between India’s two major communities. With silent endorsement of the temple reconstruction, Indian Muslims can bond again with their parent society. Millions are doing it already.

We may wish that all this should have happened twenty, thirty, fifty years ago. But history or Mahakal moves at his own pace. He cannot be pushed from behind; nor can his march be thwarted by trying to block his path.

The bhoomi poojan is an occasion for all of us to invoke Ram to be our unifier and liberator. Let Ram, who united the royalty and laity of his kingdom with tribals in forests and mountains in distant lands, bring together estranged brothers in his homeland. Let Ram, who liberated Sita from the bondage of Ravan, liberate us from the bondage of the past and lead us to Ramarajya.

› Virendra Parekh is an editor and senior journalist in Mumbai.

PM Modi at Bhumi Puja (5 August 2020).

Ram Mandir silver foundation brick (5 August 2020)

PM Modi completes Ram Mandir bhumi puja (5 August 2020).


Ganesha: An enigma for Christians, a celebration for Hindus – Aravindan Neelakandan

Ganesha

Throughout our history and culture, Ganesha represents the deepest spiritual reality and the height of Hindu civilisation. Naturally, He attracts attacks of the enemies of this civilisation. But He endures and protects. – Aravindan Neelakandan

The year was 1944. With the Quit India Movement and the Indian National Army (INA), the Indian struggle for Independence had achieved a new momentum.

That year, Winston Churchill, who through the Bengal Famine, had wiped out three million people the previous year, was deeply moved by a newly published book.

The book was Verdict on India written by a Beverley Nichols, and was an argument against giving Hindus, specifically Hindus, freedom.

Pakistan was fine. But giving freedom to Indians with Hindus as a majority was wrong, it argued.

In his book, “by way of foreword”, Nichols had trained his guns on an interesting target to prove the “civilisational superiority of Christendom over the Hindus”—Ganesha:

“I shall never forget my first visit to a Ganesh temple. It was in Bangalore. … The sun shone on a tiny building of crumbling brick, and inside this building, the monster squatted awaiting us. He was carved from a single hulk of black shining stone, and his trunk and his misshapen limbs were contorted like angry serpents. The forgotten sculptor who had evoked this creature from the rock, so many centuries ago, was a genius, but he was—I felt—an evil genius, a man possessed. For this Ganesh was imbued with a malevolent life; in the fading light his limbs seemed to twitch, as though impelled by ancient lusts. He would escape if he wanted; a flick of that sinuous trunk, a gesture of those twisted arms, and the walls would crumble, and he would walk abroad in the darkness.”

A true Christian and a colonialist, Nichols was scandalised that Hindus not only defend this “monster” but even continue to worship it.

To show how Hindus defend Ganesha, he quoted C. Rajagopalachari, “ex-President of Congress and one of Gandhi’s closest friends”. Rajaji had said:

“People of the West might not find beauty in Ganesh and might say that the figure was funny and that at best it was a mascot. But to the Hindus, Ganesh represents the sense of universal unity … beauty and ugliness are combined to make one ineffable beauty in Him. He has the body of a fat man and the head of an elephant, with a mouse as His vehicle. He is fond of good eating but He is not stupid as a Westerner might suggest. We are a curious people, let us continue to be curious, that is my prayer.”

If anything, this explanation by Rajaji angered him even more. If it was a “strange thing when a man must apologise for his God”, it was “an even stranger thing when, having apologised, he continues to worship”.

It may not be a coincidence that every Hindu-hater, from Beverley Nichols with his fanatic Christian supremacist convictions to E.V. Ramasamy with his pseudo-rationalism as well as Dravidian racism, to Paul Courtright with his pretensions of Freudian deconstruction, loves to hate Ganesha.

The reason may be that Ganesha embodies in Him the core civilisational ethos of this culture so boldly and vibrantly that the hatred for His form is instantaneous.

What are those core values?

In 1941, Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswati of Kanchi Math was at the port town of Nagapattinam for his Chaturmasya Virata. He narrates an interesting event that happened then.

They were breaking coconuts in front of Ganesha (who is called in Tamil Nadu as Pillayar—pillai meaning child. Pointing it as “a custom peculiar to the Tamil province”, Swamigal explains:

“The people of the Math tried to regulate the mob of children, fearing they might fall on the Swami. So they shouted at the children not to mob and move away. A boy among those children looked at the person who shouted and said in a very clear voice: “After breaking coconut to Pillayar, only we children have the right to the pieces. Then you do not have the right to tell us not to come.” It was seeing the strength of truth in the voice of the child that I got fully convinced that the right of coconuts broken for Ganesha completely belong to the children (emphasis added).” – Deivathin Kural

Thus, Ganesha infuses even in our children the right to food and then, it is no wonder that the cohort of Churchill who engineered the Bengal famine developed an innate hatred for the form of Ganesha.

He also destroys the false distinctions between the divine, the human and the non-human forms of life. He at once combines the non-human animal, the human form and the divine form (in the form of four hands).

For those civilisations which have thrived on the bifurcation of the divine and the human as well as human and the non-human as unbridgeable categories, what can be more shocking?

And this shock can only increase when Darwinian science also blurs the boundaries between the human and the non-human.

Today, the origin of Ganesha, the elephant-headed God of Hindu Dharma, is widely limited to one particular Puranic version. In this, Parvati creates Ganesha to protect her privacy and Shiva, infuriated by Ganesha challenging his right to enter Parvati’s mansion, beheads him.

Later realising what he has done, Shiva gets the head of an elephant and attaches it to the body of the boy, creating the beloved form of the deity whom Hindus love so much.

In 2014, in a jovial way, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of this as the first plastic surgery and the “righteous indignation brigade” went into hyper-action. “Mixing mythology and science” got essentialised as the RSS way of looking at history or rather pseudo-history.

As late as August 2019, almost after five years, this casual remark by the PM was dug out by a columnist who explained seriously its impossibility pointing out “a large human neck’s circumference would be around 48cm, while the smallest baby elephant’s neck would be around 120cm”.

Then he went on to declare in a pompous manner that “if Ganesh was not a human who needed plastic surgery, the plastic surgeon had to be a senior god who created junior gods”.

What Prime Minister made was not a policy statement. It was stated more in a lighter vein than in any seriousness that Ganesha should have been the first person to have undergone plastic surgery.

That being said, one need not think of it as literal but that the poets who sang the Puranas could conceive of an animal organ being transplanted to a human body is in itself a leap for human imagination.

So one wonders who is really against scientific temper—the PM or the columnists and outrage brigade which cling on to an off-the-cuff remark as if it has become the policy statement of the government.

Yet these are worrying times, particularly when it comes to the Puranas. Everywhere in the world including the so-called Abrahamic religions, even history-specific narratives are being turned into poetic metaphors.

In the West, the rationalist secular human movements have played a great role in that transformation. Of course, there is a fundamentalist backlash which is a different story.

In India, the situation is tragically different.

As this writer has often pointed out, the so-called rationalists here take a literal, fundamentalist view of the Puranas here and the so-called believers—for that is a wrong word for Hindus—often take a view of their deities as symbolic realities at another level.

The belief that the constant, high-voltage propaganda over the elephant-headed deity is nothing but a vile superstition brought by the Brahmins is in a way yielding results.

Spurred by inferiority complex, there are Hindus who look to explain their deities using terms such as “ancient aliens”. Not long ago, a famous guru was recycling the decapitation of Ganesha by Shiva, with a liberal ascription of “alien technologies” to his disciples.

But it cannot be emphasised enough that the decapitation story is only one of the many in the Puranas. And in South India, where Ganesha worship has a tremendous influence, there are other Puranic origins which do not need either ancient plastic surgery or alien technology to explain the elephant-headed God.

In Tamil tradition, the story of Ganesha’s origin that is emphasised is different. Thirumurga Krupananda Vaariyar narrates this thus:

“In Kailasha is the famous hall of 70 million mantric paintings. One day, Siva and Parvati visited this hall. They both looked at two representations of the Pranava mantra—Vyashti Pranava and the Samashti Pranava. When Siva and Parvati looked at them, they both merged and came out as the elephant-headed God Vinayaka.” – Pillayar Perumai

That Ganesha arose from the gaze of the Goddess is also stated in Sri Lalita Sahasranama (names 76 and 77). S.V. Radhakrishna Shastri, in his commentary based on that of the famous commentator Bhaskararaya, describes:

“Because of the power structures of delusion created by the demonic forces, the Devas lost their fighting ability. Laziness, sleep, depression, loss of vigour, feeling inferior, delusion and loss of self-respect—all these eight characteristics developed in the army of the Devas. Even the generals of the army of the Goddess could not enthuse their warriors. When the Goddess was informed of this, She looked at the face of Siva who was seated next to Her as Kameswara and from His face emerged the elephant headed Ganesha embracing His consort Vallabai. He had 10 hands (along with the trunk 11) and in them He had the pomegranate, mace, bow made of sugarcane, Trident, discus, conch, binding rope, Nymphaeaceae flower, rice grains, His own tusk and a pot made of precious gems.” – Sri Lalitha Sahasranama Stotram with Commentary

Then, Ganesha destroyed the delusional power structures created by the demonic forces and thus freed the army of the Goddess from the sense of defeatism, inferiority and loss of self-respect.

No wonder then that Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak used Ganesha to shatter the tamasic tendencies engulfing the nation and rouse it to fight against the forces of colonialism.

It is to the credit of Saiva Siddhanta in Tamil Nadu that the inner significance of Ganesha worship has been turned into a very popular one.

Here, Ganesha represents the very basis of Hindu Dharma—unity and diversity—the One becoming the many and the many grounding their essence in the One. He is also Pranava Swarupaor the very form of the Omkara.

Saiva Siddhanta scholar Vidwan Arunai Vadivelu Mudaliyar explains:

“In the auspicious form of Vinayaka, the four-handed form shows the Deva nature while the elephant-ears, trunk as well as the tusks show the animal nature; the big pot belly and the small legs show the Bhuta nature. The asymmetry of tusks with its absence in the right side shows the feminine and the masculine forms united in Him. The different categories we see namely ‘ahirinai’ (non-human intelligence) and ‘uyarthinai’ (human and supra-human intelligence), male and female, the celestials, the animals and goblins etc. in all these the Ganesha exists as the inner essence and He is in fact all these diverse forms, is well illustrated by His very adorable form.” – Vinayagar Vazhipadu Nool

Most Western indologists and their brown-skinned clones have often concentrated on the speculative ethnic origins of this elephant-headed deity. In Tamil Nadu, the Dravidianists routinely call Him as a Brahminical alien deity brought in to enslave Tamils.

When that could not get enough traction, it was claimed that the decapitation and attachment of an elephant head was symbolic of crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. However, Tamil Nadu used Ganesha to disseminate the highest spiritual wisdom of Hindu civilisation through a hymn to Ganesha.

Vinayakar Akaval (a hymn in praise of Vinayaka in peacock-sound genre) is a composition by Avvaiyar—a poetess who probably lived around 10th century. The hymn, today famous throughout Tamil Nadu, particularly memorised by children at a very early age, is an exposition of the deepest Yogic path—combining both bhakti and yoga in an ingeniously harmonious way.

Thus, throughout history and culture, Ganesha represents the deepest spiritual reality and the height of Hindu civilisation. Naturally, He attracts attacks of the enemies of this civilisation. But He endures and protects.

With his elephant head, fat body, four arms and a mouse as vehicle, He is loved by all. He is especially dear to children. We grow up to love this form filled with paradoxes and it—for the inwardly oriented ones—becomes an eternal koan for meditation.

He who harmonises all opposing categories makes us embrace differences with respect and love. For the seekers of material prosperity, he is a deity who removes obstacles to prosperity. He also teaches us to fight against the aggressor, like he did with his very own tusk.

Ganesha is thus a quintessential universal deity who embodies in him the complete biological and spiritual evolution of this entire planet. – Swarajya, 2 September 2019

Aravindan Neelakandan is an author, psychology and economics major, and contributing editor at Swarajya.


Is a new India emerging? – Makarand R. Paranjape

Bhagwa Dhwaj Raising

The fact is that a Hindu majoritarian India may not be as bad as it is made out to be by its detractors. It may actually be a better, more wholesome, integrated, and compassionate India than the present state, that is so riven by uncivil strife. – Prof Makarand Paranjape

Another India? The simple answer is, yes. Or, at any rate, the emergence of another India is not at all unlikely; in fact, there are signs aplenty of its advent.

What is more debatable is what its exact ingredients or outlines might be. Even those who are supposedly in charge of the new narrative aren’t sure. At the crux of all these debates is one word: Hindu. And its varieties—Hinduism, Hindutva, Hindu nationalism, Hindu majoritarianism, and so on.

For many, especially those who were perpetrators of the older dominant, “secularist” plot, the rise of this new India spells doom, the end of the project that Gandhi-Nehru lead, and the Congress headed mostly by Nehru’s heirs brought to the present pass. Perhaps, they are right. It is the end of that kind of India, and of that kind of elite. Naturally, such people are unhappy; displaced privilege usually produces outrage if not predictions of doomsday.

But we must examine the situation on its merits. The prospect of this new Hindu majoritarian India, has got a terribly hostile press. So much so that it seems as if there is a combined opposition media party, utterly hell-bent on demonising Hindu India and its protagonists. So inveterate is the antagonism displayed by this faction that sometimes it resembles visceral hatred, while at other pathetic self-delusion.

Clutching at straws, seizing upon a Kanhaiya Kumar, Hardik Patel, or Jignesh Mevani as the youth icon, even avatar, to stop the BJP juggernaut in its tracks, this decimated opposition seems to be praying for nothing short of a miraculous slaying, metaphorically speaking, of the rakshasa called Narendra Modi.

Funnily, this lot might never use such a Hindu metaphor in the first place. The modern sector is, perforce, doomed to express its outrage in a modern idiom. When they resort to tradition they end up making fools of themselves, wearing their janeu on their sleeve, so to speak.

But all that is politics. Let’s leave it behind as we approach the end of year, even if by the Gregorian calendar. We Hindus follow multiple calendars, perhaps using each to our advantage. Why should we give up this opportunity to introspect, even meditate, over the future of our beloved country?

The fact is that a Hindu majoritarian India may not be as bad as it is made out to be by its detractors. In fact, it may actually be a better, more wholesome, integrated, and compassionate India than the present state, that is so riven by uncivil strife. Hinduism, or dharma nationalism, may actually be a better guarantor of Indian pluralism than pseudo-secularism. If we are unprejudiced, fair-minded, and truly liberal, we should be willing to give the other side, especially when it is elected by an overwhelming majority, a fair chance rather than excoriating it before its commencement so as never to let it come into being.

But in doing so, we shall fall prey to many fallacies, including considering a majoritarian nation and polity as the inherent opposite of liberalism and multiculturalism. Even in the latter, one element dominates, whether in the metaphor of melting pot, salad bowl, or mosaic. In liberal Western democracies, the dominant element is a combination of modernity and democracy, underwritten not only be science and technology, but by the culture of capitalism and consumerism. That a religious element, mostly Christian in the case of Europe, North America, and the Antipodes, endorses the national consensus is almost a given. Then why shouldn’t the Hindu cultural bedrock that informs the Indian consensus work as well as the Confucian or Shinto accord in modern China or Japan?

True, this Hindu element should not thrust itself in everyone’s face or enforce its norms coercively. It should be the broadest, most open, most compassionate kind of Hindu unity. At the same time we must recognize where its most virulent opposition comes from. Not from other religious or ethnic minorities, but from the Hindu secularist elite, which does not wish to yield power.

In other words, the problem with India at present is a life-and-death struggle between two elites, the erstwhile dominant secularist and the emergent Hindutva brigade. Who will win remains uncertain, though as of now, the latter seems ascendant. In the end, like all tussles for power, this one too may be more inconclusive than what appears right now.

The cultural rule of the interpenetration of opposites predicts that the new order may not be radically different from the old. Of course, it would be rather disappointing if it were not at least slightly better—more confident, capable, competent, prosperous, creative, and egalitarian.

For that to happen, however, we must all join hands to contribute our mite rather than being cynical nay-sayers and Hindu-haters. – Asian Age, 31 December 2017

» Prof Makarand R. Paranjape is a poet, author, and English Literature professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Banyan Tree