Speech on Hinduness by Ma. Ranga Hariji

ranga harijiHindu
– What does the word mean –
(A few months ago Shri Ranga Hari, a senior pracharak of the RSS, addressed a meeting of Hindus from different parts of the world held at Pune. He has succinctly explained the meaning of the word Hindu. In the background of the word being rightly or wrongly understood or misunderstood by different sections of the society, his talk gains significance. Hence Sri Aravinda-Bharati desires to bring this for the kind perusal of all ardent patriots. A careful reading of the talk will be the best homage that we can offer to all visionaries particularly Shri Guruji Golwalkar who strove hard to awaken the Hindu consciousness in the country.)
I have been asked to speak on the subject which is fundamental to us. The subject is Hindutva or Hinduness as I would like to put it. I wish to deal with the subject broadly in three sections.
Firstly, I wish to place before you the real relation between Hinduness and Hindus and what the word really connotes. Secondly, I would like to mention a few significant features of Hinduness. And finally, I will go into the secret of its astonishing tenacity to survive strike and succeed.

Meaning of Hinduness
Hinduness simply means the social collective personality of the Hindus. We can better understand it from the example of man. Man as one of the created species has his own shape and form. Every man has the same organs placed in the same order. So on the plane of generality there is no difference between man and man. But in reality it is not so. One individual does differ from the other. Twins are many times so identical that even parents sometimes commit mistake. But as those twins grow, their inner growth moulds them into two different personalities. Take the case of Pandava twins Nakul and Sahadev. Although they lived in same circumstances and care – Sahadev became an astronomer par excellence while his replica Nakul became a specialist in animal husbandry. Here comes the existence of what is called personality. It is a clear march from generality to particularity. The real man is identified not by his external physique but by his inner personality.
What is true of individuals is true of societies and nations. Among various people living in the world, the Hindus the oldest among them due to dispensation, geography, history and times naturally developed a distinct personality of their own and that is known as Hinduness. I intentionally do not call it Hinduism, because that word as understood today may land us into the sphere of religious faiths that were born in Hindusthan.
Hinduness is the personality, the distinctive identity of the people known as Hindus, whereas Hinduism is the collective name of faiths and sampradayas that have sprung from Hindusthan. Not that Hinduness has no connection with those faiths or it bypasses them, but it has a positively larger circumference covering the life of the society in its entirety. To make the point clearer, Hinduism cannot accommodate in it an atheist, whereas Hinduness can. Hinduness is the very psyche of the society that finds expression in all its emotions and actions.
It is this Hinduness that we have to understand with clarity. Then only we will be able to become its effective transmitters.

Dharma: Most Unique Contribution
The first and foremost feature of Hinduness is the concept of dharma. Dharma is a unique word which has not been aptly translated into any other language up to this day. Approximately it means Eternal Cosmic Law. Dharma literally means which upholds, sustains and supports. Here the question arises what is to be upheld, sustained and supported? The answer is the entire creation with all its varied manifestations. It is said by the ancient seers that the primordial Cosmic Energy with a desire to multiply projected itself into many and the creation of the universe was the outcome. At the same time because everything created was a part of the earlier single whole there existed an unbreakable bond in all. A binding force existed that held together all those created parts. The force of gravitation between planets is one such.
So right from the moment of creation there existed a Cosmic force that worked for the harmonious function of all the different, separated parts, animate and inanimate. To keep up the balance and the rhythm of creation was its sole purpose. This force was identified as Dharma, by the ancient Seers. They declared:

Dharma is the Eternal Law that is the support of the Universe. All are supported by dharma that is why dharma is considered supreme; it cannot be transgressed.

Many people wrongly understand this dharma as religion. In fact, religion is mat or sampradaya and not dharma. Dharma is the unstoppable sustaining force of the Cosmos whereas religion is an organized set of beliefs and commandments regarding spirit, man and matters. It may appear very strange but the fact is Dharma is beyond religious belief. The writ of Dharma runs even upon the agnostic. Even he has to follow its dictates. It does not deny Hinduness to him provided he adheres to this Eternal Law.
According to Hinduness the dividing line between good and bad is this Dharma and not religion. Good are the men who are Dharmic and bad are the men who are Adharmic. Ravana, the emperor of Lanka, was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva, yet he was considered bad because he did not conform to Dharma, the Cosmic Ethics, and the support-base of the Universe. On the other hand Philosopher Kanada, a confirmed atheist, was conferred Rishihood because with all his non-spiritual theory he never compromised with Dharma he upheld it.
Carefully recall the Divine assurances of Sri Krishna – He said He would incarnate to protect and uphold Dharma checkmating Adharma. He did not mention belief or non-belief of God there. After all belief in God is ultimately personal, a matter between you and your God. That being not a fundamental issue, Hinduness is more concerned with the Eternal Law that governs the universe.
Here I would like to tell you that in the southern four states of India where Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu are spoken; there is no mistaking Dharma for religion. In those languages there is a separate word for religion – mat. All who speak those languages say mat for religion and Dharma for Dharma.
The confusion arises where for both, there is only, one single word called Dharma. But if we pay a little bit of attention we can avoid the confusion.
In short, once more repeating that singularly unique conception of Dharma is the most valuable contribution of Hinduness to world -thought, I move on to my second point.

The Undivided in the Divided
To see plurality, to appreciate it and accept it and search for the underlying unity is the second important feature of Hinduness. Sri Krishna in His psycho-therapic text of Bhagavad Geetha says:

Pure knowledge is that which sees the undivided in the divided

Regarding Gods
This enabled the Hindus to conceive of one Single Divinity that pervaded in the numberless Godheads that were adored and worshipped by clans, communities and tribes residing in this vast land from the Himalayan peaks to the southern seas. On the strength of realization his Rishi forefather taught him:

Reality is one, the wise express it in many ways.

So he could construct all over the land big temples dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, Durga etc. with subsidiary Gods coexisting in the same complex. In Brahma Desh (Myanmar) I visited a Devi temple wherein Lord Buddha was venerably accommodated. There again, in the biggest Buddhist Temple – The Golden Pagoda – in the Parikrama Marg all Nava Grahas including Rahu and Ketu are worshipped. Compare this with the Goan experience. There the Roman Catholic Portuguese for a period of 450 years, till the end of their colonial rule, had not allowed even a single church of any other denomination to be built.
The Hindu has no quarrel with different Gods who are by themselves comrades-in-arms. There is no jealous God in Hindu pantheon. On the contrary the Hindu rishi invokes through the mantra:

Agni his chosen God to come down along with other Gods like Maruts to accept his oblations, not once but nine times.

Here I remember the remarks of Khalil Jibran in his Sand And Foam, “Once in every hundred years Jesus of Nazareth meets Jesus of the Christian in a garden among the hills of Lebanon. And they talk long; and each time Jesus of Nazareth goes away saying to Jesus of the Christian “My friend, I fear we shall never never agree.’’ Compare this with the Vedic prayer. We will understand the uniqueness of Hinduness.
Imagine a pilgrim from Rameswaram set out for Haridwar. On the way he visits Meenakshi in Madurai, Lord Venkateswara in Tirupati, Lord Shiva in Srisailam, Lord Vishwanath and Kala Bhairav in Varanasi, Ramlala in Ayodhya, Maruti in Hanuman Ghari and finally when he reaches Haridwar he feels gratified that the All-merciful Omnipresent One has blessed him all the way. How can you say the Hindu is a polytheist? He worships the One God. Yes – not the Lone God as the Semitic believer does. Here again Gods are many but Divinity is one.

Regarding Man
The vision of Hinduness is integral, not differential. As in the case of Gods it views humanity as one undivided whole. It is fully aware of the diversity around. It knows that on the face of this vast earth various types of people live, different are their languages, dissimilar are their customs, varied are their tastes, yet they are all earthlings destined to live together in peace and prosperity.
Hinduness prepares man for genuine world citizenship and a global family. It is not given to it to split humanity into believers and heathens and promote heavenly apartheid, which perhaps is the sole prerogative of Semitic Creeds.
No full stop on human intelligence in Hinduism
The Hindu concept of global family did not limit itself to humans and Gods. It got extended to all other living beings also. Firstly, unlike the Semitic dogma Hinduness experienced the presence of soul in each living being. Not to find godliness in what all that came out of God was to the seer of the Hinduness as illogical as the absence of sweetness in the sweet-meat prepared out of sugar.
It will do good to remember here that the Semitic theologies went to the extent of denying the existence of soul in a woman who, it was argued, was created out of the rib of the man. When a magnetic rod is broken into two does any one of them cease to be a magnet? But our Semitic friends would like to believe so and stick on to it with unflinching faith! But the Hindu thinks otherwise. His faith is God’s DNA and is inexhaustible and is replicated in all His manifestations. Sri Krishna in Bhagavad Geeta (10-20) says that soul is present in every organism. Sarvabhootaa-shayasthitah is the expression He uses. So the Hinduness classified the entire creation not as animate and inanimate but as chara and achara, the moving and the static. Each and every living being has equal right to live on earth as equal partners. Also Hinduness taught:
The earth is mother of all and conversely all are her children worthy of equal affection and protection.
This created in the inheritors of Hinduness a sort of Eco-consciousness. It is this that inspired Valmiki to make even the creepers and trees of the forest wail at the abduction of Sita and a bird Jatayu air-attacks the abductor and sacrifices its life. It is again the same that made Kalidas’s deer weep at the departure of Shakuntala. It is again the same that made philosopher poet Bhartruhari address the elements as:
‘Oh Mother Earth, Father Air, Friendly Fire, Kindred Water Brother Sky,’ humbly conceding ‘the blessing contact of Thee all brought me Supreme Bliss.’
In the Kindergarten book of Panchatantra virtually you find a big eco-family wherein animals, birds, fishes and men live together with all the pluses and minuses of day-to-day worldly life. In fact, the modern ‘eco-friendliness’ is too poor a word for Hinduness to accept. Eco-brotherliness is its word. Not global-village but global family – not Vasudhaiva Gramakam but Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – is its ideal.
Pursuit of Truth and its negation
Now coming down to man as a species, he has in him an uncommon faculty to think and reflect. He has been provided with intelligence and that distinguishes him from the rest of creation. Hinduness recognized this fact of nature and allowed man to have unfettered play of that singular faculty called intelligence. It agreed that each man is singularly original in his thinking and no curbs of any sort could be there upon that. Here it will do well to recall Bhisma who said to Yudhisthira:
Dear Son, Infinite are the ways of the wise, as infinite as the trails of birds in the vast sky and tracks of fishes in the endless sea.
Hinduness does not put a full stop on human intelligence. It is a story of encouragement to all, at all times, to pursue Truth. The pursuit outwards was known as Science and the pursuit inwards as darshan, both two faces of the same Single Truth. Here we may do well to remember poet Tagore. To explain the wholeness of the tree he said ‘the branches of a tree are its roots above the earth and the roots its branches beneath the earth. Similarly, it can be said truth discovered outside is science, truth realised inside is spirituality.
The only insistence here is ‘don’t say I have found the truth; say I have found a truth.’ It means Hinduness had the robust common sense to admit that there shall be no end to that pursuit. This gave it the natural breadth of vision and readiness to accept what is experienced by the seekers of Truth from wherever they are. That is why we find here scientists like Aryabhatta, Varahamihira and Bhaskaracharya, despite their being against the then prevailing notion of sun’s and earth’s movements, were extolled to Rishihood.
Similarly, seers like Buddha, Shankara and Vivekananda despite their open repudiation of the outgrown sterile customs and ceremonies were accepted and revered as divinities. Learning from the history of Hinduness we can safely surmise, had Galileo, Copernicus and Bruno been born in Hindusthan they too would have been honourably nominated to the Rishi Sabha! And Jesus would not have been crucified but considered as Paramahamsa.
Persecution of man or a group is due to the total absence of this noble feeling. Bigotry and self-aggrandizement are the executors on stage here. This is what we witnessed in the case of Jews in the first century, Syrian Christians in the fourth century and Parsis in the eighth century. They were driven away from there home and country by the intolerant hordes. Here again it is the attitude of Hinduness that gave them refuge in the land of Hindus. Each group was granted unconditional freedom to safeguard its community, customs and beliefs fastidiously. In the act of this beneficence Gujarat, Konkan and Kerala behaved in the same way. None was squeezed into nothingness as the minorities in Pakistan.
So far I have dealt upon only a few of the chief features of the Hinduness. But the moot question is, ‘is it relevant today?’ The answer is ‘yes’, very much relevant, perhaps more relevant than ever. Today many universal bodies guarding human rights, environment etc. have sprung up and after much deliberation they have made necessary declarations and passed resolutions. Gather all of them. Study them and ponder over. You will find that many of the ideas expressed there are recent echoes of the age-old Hindu pronouncements. Naturally, they are relevant even today, especially because of the track record of Hinduness.
But can this Hinduness fulfill its task in these days when the talk is that of clash of civilisations? I honestly feel it can. It has the potential. On two counts I feel confident – one, that of behaviour and the other that of structure.

First: On the plane of behaviour, Hinduness never gets outdated. It has a tremendous tenacity to renew itself. Take the case of music. They say Sam Veda is the source of Indian music. From there centuries along it grew to perfection. Then reached the Europeans in the 16th century with their violin and the ‘octave’ musical notes. Our classical artists saw the new instrument. They approached it with inquisitiveness, assessed it with prudence, accepted it with a mind to experiment, adopted it with an element of risk to suit to their sapta swaras and finally assimilated it with conviction into their classical musical system. Today there are ever-so many well-known violin-vidwans all over the country and the classical Carnatic Music to this day continues to be uncontaminated by the Macaulay virus. With this at my back I said I am confident.

Second: About the structural factor: – I think I can explain it better by a story from Mahabharat. Once the all-devouring sea called a meeting of all the rivers and complained to them ‘What is this? You are all my tributaries and you ought to bring to me good tribute. You always bring tall sky-shooting trees. They are very difficult to chew and digest. I hear of canes. They are smooth, slim and sweet. Why can’t you bring them to me?’ Rivers fearfully looked at each other and delegated Ganga to speak. She pleaded, ‘Not that we did not try, Sir. Every time what happens is this: These trees are highly naughty. They never respect us, they belittle us, pooh-pooh us. Provoked we swell up and attack them in their strong-hold, rush to their roots and wash them off of all the mud and sand. Grip lost those mighty giants fall into our whirls and with ease we bring them fresh to your honorable self.’ ‘What about cane?’ intruded the master impatiently, Ganga explained: ‘Yes sir, it’s a different story. These canes are very amicable, Sir. They grow all along our tanks. They laugh with us, they play with us. They never flout. They live in bushy spiral coils. They have no trunks big and small. Top to toe it is all one long stalk with intermittent root-rings. To uproot them we can’t reach their roots because there is no centralised root-system at all. Where to strike is the problem. We flow into their coils; they allow us to pass through. They won’t mind dipping even. But they stick to their ground. They hold together. And when we pass by empty handed they rise up fresh and bright and smilingly thank us with soft words ‘very nice of you; you have bathed us well; so cool, please be with us tomorrow also.’

I think you have caught the message of the story. Vyasa termed this as Vaitasa Vritti – Cane Syndrome. Structurally Hinduness possesses this Vaitasa Vritti, resilience. This is my second reason for confidence.
So, these two traits of Hinduness, the power of assimilation and the power of resilience shall enable it to meet the demands of time effectively. It shall not entangle itself in the clash of civilisation as some would imagine. True to the Hindu phenomenon of avatar it shall assume form suitable to times, act suitably and finally fulfill its destiny.

– Concluded

Why India is part dysfunctional, fully functional

I wonder how many Gujarati novels have Bengali translations. Probably none, but Gujarat needs the literature of others and I only discovered Camus through his Gujarati translations
Aakar Patel

Indian society functions as a whole. Observed in part, it’s dysfunctional. Let me explain. Without Gujaratis and Rajasthanis, India wouldn’t have an economy. Delete Tata/Birla/Ambani/Mittal/Premji and India begins to look like Bangladesh. The rest of the country – Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Kashmir, UP, etc.- will have lots of culture but little else.
That such a tiny community monopolizes the ability to raise and manage capital is frightening. However, it needs to be understood as part of a whole. There are things missing in Gujarat and Rajasthan as well, whole chunks, without which those states wouldn’t function properly.
Gujarat’s contribution to the Armed Forces, for instance, is instructive. In 2009, The Indian Express reported, Gujarat sent its highest ever number of recruits to the Indian Army. How many? A total of 719, in an army of over a million soldiers. Mind you, this was after a big awareness campaign. In the preceding two years the number of Gujarati recruits was 230. Gujarat has 55 million people but it depends on the rest of India to defend it.
Gujarat also needs another thing, though some might disagree. As a mercantile culture, Gujarati literature is quite poor. The shelves of Crossword stores in Ahmedabad (Surat has none) are lined with volumes of Bengali novels in translation. I wonder how many Gujarati novels have Bengali translations. Probably none, but Gujarat needs the literature of others and I only discovered Camus through his Gujarati translations.
Gujaratis speak no English and though Azim Premji and Ratan Tata run billion-dollar information technology businesses, they are dependent on south Indians to staff their companies. This sort of dependency is everywhere we look in India.
Mumbai’s two dominant communities, Marathi and Gujarati, are incidental to Bollywood. Bollywood is properly the product of Punjab and the high culture of north India’s Hindustani speakers. Why is this so? Punjab’s peasants have an extroverted physical culture (writer Santosh Desai observed that bhangra was the only Indian dance form which exposed the armpit), which is unusual on the subcontinent. This culture is the basis and the setting for entertainment, and the reason why Bollywood migrates so easily to Pakistan. However, Punjabis and north Indians need the liberal environment that only Mumbai can give for their talents to flower. That’s why Pakistan doesn’t really have a film industry, though there is plenty of talent. Partition hurt Punjabi Muslims, because they are perfect for our film industry.
Why is Pakistan such a mess? Some would blame Islam, but they’d be wrong. The problem isn’t religion at all. The problem is lack of caste balance. There aren’t enough traders to press for restraint and there are too many peasants. Too many people concerned about national honour, and not enough people concerned about national economy. Put simply: Pakistan has too many Punjabis and not enough Gujaratis. The majority of Pakistanis live in Punjab, but well over 50% of government revenue comes from just one city in Sindh: Karachi. Why? That is where the Gujarati is.
Gujaratis are less than 1% of Pakistan’s population, but they dominate its economy because they are from trading communities. Colgate-Palmolive in Pakistan is run by the Lakhani Memons, the Dawood group is run by Memons from Bantva in Saurashtra (the great Abdus Sattar Edhi is also a Memon from Bantva). The Adamjee group, advertisers on BBC, are from Gujarat’s Jetpur village and founded Muslim Commercial Bank. The Khoja businessman Sadruddin Hashwani owns hotels including Islamabad’s bombed-out Marriott. Khojas founded Habib Bank, whose boards are familiar to Indians who watched cricket on television in the 1980s. The Habibs also manufacture Toyota cars through Indus Motors. Pakistan’s only beer is made by Murree Brewery, owned by a Parsi family, the Bhandaras. Also owned by Parsis is Karachi’s Avari Hotels.
People talk of the difference between Karachi and Lahore. I find that the rational view in Pakistani newspapers is put forward by letter-writers from Karachi. Often they have names like Gheewala, a Sunni Vohra name (same caste as Deoband’s rector from Surat, Ghulam Vastanvi), or Parekh, also a Surat name.
Today capital is fleeing Pakistan because of terrorism and poor governance. To convince investors things will get better, the Pakistani government has appointed as minister for investment a Gujarati, Saleem Mandviwalla. The Mandviwallas own Pakistan’s multiplexes, which now show Bollywood. The place where Gujaratis dominate totally, as they do also in India, is Pakistan’s capital market. Going through the list of members of the Karachi Stock Exchange (http://www.kse.com.pk/) this becomes clear. However, few Pakistanis will understand this because as Muslims they have little knowledge of caste.
The Gujarati tries to hold up the Pakistani economy, but the peasant Punjabi (Jat) runs over his effort with his militant stupidity. Why cannot the Pakistani Punjabi also think like a trader? Simple. He’s not converted from the mercantile castes. There are some Khatris, like Najam Sethi, South Asia’s best editor, but they are frustrated because few other Pakistanis think like them. Are they an intellectual minority? Yes, but that is because they are a minority by caste. One great community of Pakistani Punjabi Khatris is called Chinioti. They are excellent at doing business but in a martial society they are the butt of jokes. I once heard Zia Mohyeddin tell a funny story about the cowardice of Chiniotis and I thought of how differently a Gujarati would look at the same story.
Can the individual escape caste? Of course he can. What defines behaviour in this sense is not genes but culture. Baniyas are brought up to seek compromise, to keep emotion in check, to identify value, to understand capital, to persist. This does not come automatically, and it is wrong to believe otherwise.
My teacher, the most learned writer in journalism, is from the Burki tribe of Waziristan. It isn’t the place you would look for intellectuals, but he cannot be defined by his tribe. It takes intellectual effort, however, to distance one’s self from culture and upbringing. This is especially true in a society that is collective. And yet examples of those who defy caste and community are all around us.
There aren’t many Sardarji jokes you can crack about Manmohan Singh, an austere and measured intellectual. I believe it is not possible to understand India without feeling caste. That’s why I respect the individual who breaks away, and he is everywhere you look. Our army chiefs immediately after independence were drawn from warrior castes. The Coorgs Cariappa and Thimayya, and Saurashtra’s Jadeja (from a warrior caste Gujaratis call “Bapu”). But in a few decades we had Brahmins (Sharma and Joshi) and even traders (Malhotra, Malik and Kapoor). We can learn from each other since we live with each other.
However horrible a place it may be, India is balanced out by all of us: north Indians, south Indians, east Indians and west Indians. We are a unit, and the unit works. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Our distorted Secular vs Communal debate

The Indian state can never be religion-neutral since every aspect of our culture – dance, music, arts, architecture, literature — is completely entwined with sacredness and spirituality. Not many know that some copies of the original Constitution contain calligraphy depicting various scenes from Ramayan / Mahabharat on each page.

In the defence forces, even today they talk about communal services. Not only has the antonym been wrongly anchored, but it has also been twisted to mean the treatment of minorities and more so of Muslims.

The Abrahamic traditions can intimidate the State as they have global backup. Normally, the Church globalises local conflict using global networks while Islamists localise global conflicts.

By R Vaidyanathan on April 25, 2013


The debate on secularism in our context is completely superficial and also perverse. Let us recall that secularism was not part of our original constitution and was interpolated during emergency by Indira Gandhi Government. So it does not have legitimacy along with socialism which was also inserted.

Then the communists and more so Lohia socialists like Madhu Limaye began to counter pose communalism against secularism and the Indian intellectuals and political class has taken to this idea hook line and sinker.

If we have to have an antonym for secular, it is sacred. In our tradition secular is pertaining to this world or what is called Lowkikam and sacred is pertaining to the other world which is Vaideham. As an example, the Murti inside Garbhagraha is sacred — called Moolavar — and even among priests very few are allowed to enter it based on Agama Sastra etc. while the Murti which is taken around the town — known as Utsava Murti represent secular interaction of the sacred. In some temples they even put scent on the Utsava Murti.

The point is the word ‘communal’ has been foisted on unsuspecting Indians by leftists and it has become an abusive term even though being communal was in the past considered to be a contributory way of living and helping others.

In the defence forces, even today they talk about communal services. Not only has the antonym been wrongly anchored, but it has also been twisted to mean the treatment of minorities and more so of Muslims.

Now the critical issue is — can Indians, and more importantly Hindus, be secular as opposed to sacred in a socio-political context? For Hindus, everything is sacred and to that extent the word secular has no meaning.

For Abrahamic faiths, nothing is sacred except the bread and wine in the Christian tradition representing aspects of Jesus. The whole secular-versus-Church debate began in Europe since there was a desire to separate Church from government and its dominance from the temporal sphere.

In India we never had that problem and even the king was expected to be under Dharma. Since we did not have an organised Church, the founding fathers of our Constitution did not think of ‘secularism’ as an issue to be put inside our Constitution. Most important is the fact that Gandhiji never wrote about secularism in all his voluminous writings.

So the fundamental question is – If I am not secular why should I be termed communal? I am sacred and so I do not accept being called secular. I am not concerned about worldliness in the Western sense and so I am not secular.

Once we juxtapose sacred with secular, many issues will fall apart. Since no one can find fault with someone who is sacred. Of course those who believe in the Abrahamic faiths like Islam and Christianity can and should decide if temporal concerns are going to rule their political world or the religious. They have a choice and that was the basis of the major secular vs Church confrontation in Europe and Turkey.

Even in India, we find Sikh groups periodically get into the debate of superiority of the ‘spiritual’ or Akal Takht over temporal or political. Hence the regular confrontation resulting in a Hukumnama declaring someone as Tankhaiya. No Hindu temple or spiritual Centre has the power to issue any such Hukumnama on secular issues even though some social organisation like khaps adopt it as pressure tactics.

There is a view that the Indian state should be neutral or irreligious. This view is held by alienated metropolitan rootless wonders [AMRO] who know little about our tradition or culture. Since for Hindus everything is sacred, it is not possible for state to be neutral since it will damage the fabric of our society.

The Indian state’s neutrality is a threat to the existence of legitimate Dharmic institutions.

Incidentally, this neutrality is only with reference to Indic institutions since Abrahamic faiths all over the world terrorise the state to achieve their ends. To take the neutral-state-argument to its logical conclusion, we would have to conclude that the state should have taken over land and property allocated to the Church by the British immediately after independence. But as we all know, the state did not do so.

The Abrahamic traditions can intimidate the State as they have global backup. Normally, the Church globalises local conflict using global networks while Islamists localise global conflicts.

Witness the death of five people in Sholapur because a mad Jeremy Falwell (a televangelist in USA), called the Prophet a ‘terrorist’. Witness the outpouring of anger and protests — at the global Church level — to the (false) attack on nuns at Jhabua by ‘Hindu fanatics’, when actually it was the work of rowdies from the same faith.

We have created a perverse situation wherein secular is not kept in opposition to sacred but in opposition to communal which is practically short-hand for being anti-Muslim which is unfortunate.

The Indian state can never be religion-neutral since every aspect of our culture – dance, music, arts, architecture, literature — is completely entwined with sacredness and spirituality. Not many know that some copies of the original Constitution contain calligraphy depicting various scenes from Ramayan / Mahabharat on each page.

Hence, what is to be debated is how to accommodate the secular in the sacred — namely Abrahamic faiths which do not believe in sacredness other than their prophets, as opposed to Hindus who consider everything sacred including trees/animals mountains and rivers.

The next time someone asks you: “Are you secular?” kindly respond “ No! I am sacred.”

(The writer is Professor of Finance and Control, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. The views are personal and do not reflect that of his organisation.)

Himalayan Tsunami a Manmade Disaster

Economic development and environment protection are not two separate entities but an integral process to better human lives and development.

Extreme man made destruction is experienced in Uttarakhand in Himalayas due to river floods in June, 2013. It is a common knowledge that quality of roads, visitor facilities, and safety standards are of very poor quality in these hills/mountains.

No body knows where to build in Himalayas in the absence of vision, detailed local level development and action plans. Having environmental policies is good but policies without action plans are leaving it to god’s mercy.
Small towns and cities are mushrooms in Himalayas, for economic development. People are moving from villages to nearby small towns for jobs and other social opportunities. Tourism has increased manifolds in Himalayas. Most of these small towns are growing along roads following the rivers in gorges and ridges. Himalayas are one of the youngest mountains hence prone to landslides and erosion with slightest of indifferent human actions.

No state or central agencies have made sincere and sensitive efforts to plan for urbanization in Himalayas. As a result, environmental destruction, blocking of river passageway through buildings, roads, and but not.

Throwing all kinds of wastes into rivers and their watersheds is a common practice. There will be many more manmade disasters with slightest of nature’s fury if the trends continue. We should not blame or bring in climate change for bad human actions in Himalayas.

River water sheds can be planned and protected. High quality flood simulations are possible to mark flood zones of rivers in Himalayas, with the help of high quality satellite imageries, geological data, and maps. Well planned roads, buildings, and urban area development is possible in Himalayas with least destruction to environment and human lives.

High quality satellite imageries, maps, and geological data is available but who is having access them for master planning environmental protection and development. For god shake do not block information, data, maps, and satellite imageries for benefit better planning and development. There is lot of money for development in this country and no money for planning.

The real fact is that people in position of power and greedy dictate development, and no planning suits them. Technical organizations are headed by people who have no understanding of planning and technology. Most people in position of power and chair lack vision and often have wasted interest. Lot of destruction in Himalayas is caused by such people who are unaware, greedy, insensitive, outsiders, and would go to any length to destroy natural environment.

Some people often misunderstand that to do development there will be some loss of environment. These set of people are very dangerous, especially to Himalayas. Such development at the cost of rivers, mountains, forests, and human lives is a result of lack of knowledge and understanding in people holding position of power. Only better insight can lead to responsible decisions.

I hope that this manmade disaster in Uttarakhand in Himalayas will lead to some sense in planning sensitive development in Himalayas. Himalayas are vulnerable to serious earth quakes, land slides, and flash floods. Mindless road and construction activities are main cause of destruction in Himalayas. People often equate approved development as planned development. This is a biggest tragedy.

Urbanization in Himalayas will happen and it is good for tourism and other economic and social development. But no planning or insensitive planning in Himalayas for economic development is certainly bad and will only lead to many more manmade disasters sooner or later. In Himalayas, every district, town, and city must have detailed environmental protection and economic development plans with monitoring mechanism.
Economic development and environment protection are not two separate entities but an integral process to better human lives and development.

‘Mating as marriage’ judgment is a shocker

S . Gurumurtty

S . Gurumurtty

S Gurumurthy
The judgment of Justice C S Karnan of Madras High Court equating live-in relation with marriage has made global news. This is how the Washington Post [18.6.2013] has headlined the judgment: “Indian court rules that any couple who sleeps together is considered married”. Even by the ultra-modern US standards, the judgment is a shocker.
To state Justice Karnan’s judicial thesis in his own words, “If a couple chooses to consummate their sexual cravings, then the act becomes a total commitment with adherence to all consequences that may follow.” That is, mating means marriage. But, strange as the ruling may seem, it must be admitted that Justice Karnan was indeed confronted by the hard facts of the case, which would shock judicial conscience.
Look at the facts of the case. A lady was in a live-in relation with a man for years and also had two children with him. The man, as most men in wrong relations do, left her high and dry. The hapless victim approached the family court for maintenance. In 2006, the family court ordered a monthly allowance of Rs 500 for the two children and Rs 1,000 as litigation expenses. It could not order maintenance to the lady as there was no proof of valid marriage in law. The case came in appeal to Justice Karnan.
Noting that the lady was a spinster and the man was a bachelor before they began their live-in partnership under the same shelter and begot two children, the Judge ruled that their marriage was completed by mating long enough. Lawyers often say hard facts produce bad rulings. The judgment of Justice Karnan bears testimony to the dictum. The hard facts of the case that confronted the Justice probably led him to lay down bad rule. The legal objection to Justice Karnan’s judgment, which is right, is that he has added a new section to law of marriage instead of recommending to legislature to make an amendment deeming live-in relation as marriage for alimony.
It is also not clear whether Justice Karnan was told that in October 2010 the issue whether alimony is payable where live-in relations break has been referred by two judges of the Supreme Court to a larger Bench, and as late as March 30, 2013 no such Bench has been constituted [Indiatoday.in]. But, the most objectionable part of Justice Karnan’s ruling, which is lost in the legality discourse, is the way it trivialises the role of marital customs which are mandatory in law for valid marriages.
Justice Karnan says: Formalities such as tying mangala sutra, exchange of garlands and rings, and circling around matrimonial fire are not a must for valid marriage but, “to comply with certain religious customs” and “for the satisfaction of the society.” This is uncalled for and even dangerous. To deem live-in relations as marriage, what constitutes a valid marriage need not be trivialised. It calls for some profoundness to understand why law mandates social customs for valid marriages and what is the place of customs and the role of society in marriages. The society, which Justice Karnan adverts to, is an invisible mechanism, yes. Still it overseas the individual and the family.
The family is the primary institution that socialises individuals with time-tested mix of duties and rights. Marriages are the foundation of conventional family and society. Customs and rituals legitimatise a marriage in the society’s eye. The combine of family and society, not the law or State, creates and sustains customs and rituals. Also law cannot bring about marriages. It can only terminate them.
Courts cannot admit a petition to make marriage. They can only accept a petition to break it. However unacceptable it is to progressives, conventional marriage continues to be the prerogative of the family and the society in which the family functions.
See how marriages work in ‘modern’ India and in West. According to a latest research [dt 16.8.2012] by Human Rights Council UNICEF, 90 per cent of marriages in India are arranged. And globally 55 per cent. The global divorce rate in arranged marriages is 6 per cent. In India, one per cent.
According to a PEW Centre research [June 19, 2012] 86 per cent of the Indians in the US marry within their own community. Conventional marriages are arranged or approved by families. Where the marriage, which is a family bond and at once a social institution, is usurped by law and turned into a pure legal contract the consequences have been grave. The best example is how, in the US, where arranged marriages are anathema and their number less than a tenth, over half of the first marriages and two-thirds of the second marriages and three-fourths of the third ones end in divorce. With the institution of conventional marriages and families disturbed, almost half of American families are ‘fatherless’, single parent or unwed households and 41 per cent of the children are born for unwed mothers. It is universally known that arranged marriages greatly reduce divorce rates. A report in USA Today newspaper [23.5.2012] citing a research says that arranged marriages could lower American divorce rates. The reason is obvious. Socially sanctioned marriages can withstand the pressures of marriage and avoid divorces. Soaring divorce rates and growing numbers of single-parent households that adds to the social security outgo of the US Government compel researchers in US to suggest it is time to rethink the Western approach to marriages.
Harvard academic Dr Robert Epstein has studied arranged marriages in Indian, Pakistani and Orthodox Jewish traditions. His work finds that feelings of love in un-arranged matches begin to fade by as much as by half in 18 months, whereas the love in the arranged marriages tends to grow gradually, surpassing the love in the un-arranged marriages at about the five-year mark. And ten years on, the affection felt by those in arranged marriages is typically twice as strong. Dr Epstein believes westerners confuse love with lust, but other cultures look for more than just passion. Adding that in the West marriages are easy to get out of, Dr Epstein points out that, in arranged marriages, the commitment is very strong. ‘They get married knowing they won’t leave. So they don’t run away when times are harder but come closer.’[Daily Mail, UK, June 19, 2013]
Japan which followed the West in the last half of the last century seems too to be U-turning. The Telegraph UK reports [April 12, 2012] that in Japan where arranged marriages were universal till 1945, fell to 60 per cent in 1960 and to 30 per cent in 1990, they are making a come back now – to over 40 per cent.
Conventional society and communities are a reality in India. Families, not individuals, are components of the society. The experience of the West has shown that it is easy to undermine the society, but difficult to create it. In the 20th century, the Euro-West undermined the society first by emphasising on individual rights. The theory of methodological individualism that dominates Western sociology and economics virtually replaced conventional society with the State. Its exponents like Karl Popper declared that is “no such thing as society” — a remark which was endorsed by a popular political leader Margaret Thatcher. But very soon the very emphasis on individual rights sans duties undermined the families.
Western thinkers hardly realised that conventional families will not exist without support from the conventional society. That’s why conventional marriages which have social sanction fail less. The way the judgment of Justice Karnan trivialises the satisfaction of the society is an invitation for marital chaos.
The discussion on the judgment will be incomplete without reference to how Srimad Bhagavatam describes the advent of Kali Yuga [Dark Age]. Dr. Epstein says in the West, physical attraction is important in marriages, but warns people must distinguish lust from love. He adds strong physical attraction is very dangerous and it can be blinding. And Bhagavatam says that “in Kali Yuga mutual attraction will become the sole consideration in marital relationship. Skill in love-making will be recognised as the chief excellence in man and woman [Skanda XII.2.3]. Mating will be looked upon as marriage [XII.2.5].” At the peak of the Dark Age, it says ‘sexual relationship will be recognised as the only relationship’.
The West, which had held itself out as the model for the Rest, seems to be realising now that it needs to get out the Dark Age marriages described in Bhagavatam. Should we then risk equating mating with marriage?
Email: comment@gurumurthy.net

Kashmir University Students Sit Through National Anthem

Srinagar | Jun 17, 2013

It was an embarrassing moment for the Kashmir University as students and some faculty members of its Law Department did not stand when the national anthem was played today on the arrival of Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir.

As soon as the Chief Justice and some other dignitaries entered the convocation hall of the university here, the national anthem was played.

The dignitaries, the High Court judges and other judicial staff stood up in respect of the national anthem.

However, the students and some staff members of the varsity remained seated.

Ironically, the students designated as stewards at the function signalled the students to sit down when some of them rose as the anthem was being played.

The officials of the Kashmir University refused to comment on the incident.

The Chief Justice visited the university, which was founded in 1948, to address the faculty and students of the Law department.