Hinduism is the Only Dharma

Hinduism is the Only Dharma in this multiverse comprising of Science & Quantum Physics.

Josh Schrei helped me understand G-O-D (Generator-Operator-Destroyer) concept of the divine that is so pervasive in the Vedic tradition/experience. Quantum Theology by Diarmuid O'Murchu and Josh Schrei article compliments the spiritual implications of the new physics. Thanks so much Josh Schrei.

Started this blogger in 2006 & pageviews of over 0.85 Million speak of the popularity.

Dhanyabad from Anil Kumar Mahajan


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Átar by Shrii P R Sarkar - Shabda Cayanika' I

Átar by Shrii P R Sarkar - Shabda Cayanika' I

The original Farsi word is iitr. Iitr means “essence”. If this essence has food value then the word rúh is used in Farsi, and in the case of a pleasing scent iitr is used. The word átar came into use due to distortion and confusion, but in subsequent times the word gained acceptance through usage.

Koh means “mountain”. The mountain of iitr or sweet scent is known as kohiitr (koh + i + iitr). This kohiitr is the name of a well-known variety of mango from Murshidabad. We mistakenly say kohitur.

Iitr was first discovered by Empress Núrjáhán. Jáhán means vishvabrahmáńd́a(3). Núr means “light”. Koh-i-núr means “mountain of light”.

I think it is important to mention here that the diamond which is known as kohinúr [Koh-i-Noor] was the locket [pendant] on Shrii Krśńa’s jewelled necklace. After many battles and campaigns it came into the hands of Nadir Shah, and after that, Punjabkesharii Ranjit Singh. After him, Jhindan got it, and finally it came into the hands of the East India Company. They had it cut and polished in Holland and then had it set in the British Royal Crown, although some people are of the opinion that it was not set in the crown but was preserved in a different place. Whatever may be, Krśńa’s kaostúbhamańi and the kohinúr are one and the same.

Now let us come back to the actual subject. By mixing rose essence with water, Núrjáhán invented the process of preparing rosewater. It is said that she used to bathe daily in rosewater. By mixing rose essence with sandalwood oil she invented rose iitr. Later she started to prepare other types of iitr by using flowers other than rose.

Núrjáhán was a Persian lady. This uncommonly beautiful woman was sold by her father in India. Her real name was Meher-Un-Nisá. During Akbar’s time, Burdwan(4) was the capital of Bengal. It was during this time that she was married to the governor (or subedar) of Bengal, Sher Afgan. Selim, the son of Akbar’s Rajput wife (later known as Jáhángiir after ascending the throne), put pressure on Sher Afgan to surrender Meher-Un-Nisá to him but Sher Afgan did not agree and so there was a fierce battle in Burdwan between Sher Afgan and the Mughal army.(5) Sher Afgan was slain in the battle (his grave is still in Burdwan city) and Jáhángiir forcibly abducted Meher-Un-Nisá by force. At first Meher-Un-Nisá refused to marry her husband’s killer, Jáhángiir, but later, under the pressure of circumstance, she agreed.

After her marriage to Jáhángiir her new name became Núrjáhán. Jáhángiir was an unstable drunkard; India was actually ruled by Núrjáhán. Both Rájiyá Begum during Pathan rule and Núrjáhán during Mughal rule, became famous as especially skilled female administrators. But the name of Núrjáhán is more famous for iitr. Núrjáhán was also a highly skilled poet(6) in the Farsi language.


(3) The entire universe. See page 4, brahmáńd́a. –Trans.

(4) At that time Burdwan was given the name Shariifábád or Bár-e-Diiván, however, ultimately the name did not last. In the pre-Jain era the city’s name was Ástikanagar or Atthinagar. Since the Jain era it has been called Vardhamána [British spelling Burdwan] after Vardhamána Maháviira.

(5) This battle took place between Curzon Gate and what is now the railway station of present-day Burdwan. There was a great loss of life and for a long time afterwards the people used to be afraid to go there alone after dark.

(6) Kavi [poet] in feminine gender is kavyá or kavii.

Shrii P R Sarkar
Shabda Cayanika' I

The world's oldest city : Banaras/ Varanasi

The world's oldest city : Banaras/ Varanasi

Varanasi - also known as Benares or Banaras and Kashi - is an important holy city for both Hindus and Buddhists, also a pilgrimage place for Janis. Situated on the west bank of the Ganges, plays an important role in day-to-day lives of the people of Varanasi. According to legend it was founded by the Hindu deity Lord Shiva 5,000 years ago, though modern scholars believe it to be around 3,000 years old. Being the oldest living city, Varanasi has been a mute witness to many great historic upheavals and events. 

The land of Varanasi (Kashi) has been the ultimate pilgrimage spot for Hindus for ages. Hindus believe that one who is graced to die on the land of Varanasi would attain salvation and freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth. Abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati, the origins of Varanasi are yet unknown. Ganges in Varanasi is believed to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals. 

Banaras is known as the cultural capital of India, One of the seven holiest cities, famous for its religious and spiritual lifestyle. 

The city is a centre of learning and civilization for over 3000 years. With Sarnath, the place where Buddha preached his first sermon after enlightenment, just 10 km away, Varanasi has been a symbol of Hindu renaissance. Knowledge, philosophy, culture, devotion to Gods, Indian arts and crafts has all flourished here for centuries. 

Mythology reins the city and there are many religious places and institutions and places of worship throughout the city where people visit every day, especially in the mornings and the evenings. On closer look, one can still find the primitive worship cults that are still in practice in the city. The religiosity of the region is evident from the fact that Buddha, Jain Tirthankars, several Shaiva and Vaishnava saints, Kabir and Tulsi were either born here or were associated with the place in a significant way and have spent a long time here. Varanasi is believed to be the birthplace of Parsvanath, the twenty-third Tirthankar.

Vaishnavism and Shaivism have co-existed in Varanasi harmoniously. With a number of temples, Mrs. Annie Besant chose Varanasi as the home for her 'Theosophical Society' and Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, to institute 'Benares Hindu University, the biggest University in Asia. Indian medical science of Ayurveda is said to be originated at Varanasi and is believed to be the basis of modern medical sciences such as Plastic surgery, Cataract and Calculus operations. Maharshi Patanjali, the preceptor of Ayurveda and Yoga, was also affiliated with Varanasi, the holy city. Varanasi is also famous for its trade and commerce, especially for the finest silks and gold and silver brocades, since the early days. 

Varanasi has also been a great center of learning for ages, is associated with promotion of spiritualism, mysticism, Sanskrit, yoga and Hindi language and honoured authors such as the ever-famous novelist Prem Chand and Tulsi Das, the famous saint-poet who wrote Ram Charit Manas. Varanasi has provided the right platform for all cultural activities to flourish. Many exponents of dance and music have come from Varanasi. Ravi Shankar, the internationally renowned Sitar maestro and Ustad Bismillah Khan, (the famous Shehnai player) are all sons of the blessed city or have lived here for major part of their lives .

People of Banaras are known for being the exponents of literature, music, Vedic philosophy, arts, crafts and architecture. Socio-economic aspects of the city are highly influenced by the Ganges and on most of the Hindu festivals people can be seen using the bathing Ghats (river fronts) even before daybreak as an important part of their rituals. In Varanasi, the atmosphere is relaxed in general and we can see people chewing the famous 'paan' and chatting in a laid-back manner. That does not keep Varanasi behind, as is evident from the growing modern industries in the city. Varanasi is also the most ancient seat of education in India (Sarva Vidya ki Rajdhani) and Banaras Hindu University is still famous throughout the world for its scholars. The city is also a seat for Sanskrit and one can still see the Guru-Shishya tradition being followed here at certain places.

Several social and religious customs co-exist in the city and the caste system is still prevalent here. People wear 'Gamchha' (a cotton towel), as they go bathing in Ganga and drink Thandai (a coolant with milk as its base), which have become a part of the cultural identity of traditional ways of Varanasi. Music, drama and entertainment have found a place in the lives of the people. Its dance traditions and vocal and instrumental music is highly developed and one can catch the glimpses of folk drama in the 'Ramlila' organized before Dussehra. Traditional games and sports include 'Akharas', where wrestling or 'kushti' competitions are organized. Foreign tourists love to ride horse-driven 'Ekkas' and cycle rickshaws that are still in use here. 

I visited this holy city many times before and still have the charm than ever before. This time I got the chance to visit here in hot summer month of April-May. During extreme summer, level of river Ganga is low. 
I am spending almost my every morning and evening on the bank of river Ganges in Varanasi. After spending a month here I feel it is not enough to capture the sight and sounds of Varanasi. One need ample of time to truly explore this magical city. 
Varanasi is definitely on top of my list for places I want to visit :) 
Lines by Mark Twain say it all: "Banaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together".

Sonia Singh
30th April 2011 

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 9/Conversations and Interviews

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 9/Conversations and Interviews

(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, pp. 484-86.)


[The story of the first meeting of Swami Vivekananda and Madame Emma Calvé, as told in Calvé’s autobiography, My Life]
. . . [Swami Vivekananda] was lecturing in Chicago one year when I was there; and as I was at that time greatly depressed in mind and body, I decided to go to him.
. . . Before going I had been told not to speak until he addressed me. When I entered the room, I stood before him in silence for a moment. He was seated in a noble attitude of meditation, his robe of saffron yellow falling in straight lines to the floor, his head swathed in a turban bent forward, his eyes on the ground. After a pause he spoke without looking up.
"My child", he said, "what a troubled atmosphere you have about you. Be calm. It is essential".
Then in a quiet voice, untroubled and aloof, this man who did not even know my name talked to me of my secret problems and anxieties. He spoke of things that I thought were unknown even to my nearest friends. It seemed miraculous, supernatural.
"How do you know all this?" I asked at last. "Who has talked of me to you?"
He looked at me with his quiet smile as though I were a child who had asked a foolish question.
"No one has talked to me", he answered gently. "Do you think that it is necessary? I read in you as in an open book."
Finally it was time for me to leave.
"You must forget", he said as I rose. "Become gay and happy again. Build up your health. Do not dwell in silence upon your sorrows. Transmute your emotions into some form of external expression. Your spiritual health requires it. Your art demands it."
I left him deeply impressed by his words and his personality. He seemed to have emptied my brain of all its feverish complexities and placed there instead his clear and calming thoughts. I became once again vivacious and cheerful, thanks to the effect of his powerful will. He did not use any of the hypnotic or mesmeric influences. It was the strength of his character, the purity and intensity of his purpose that carried conviction. It seemed to me, when I came to know him better, that he lulled one's chaotic thoughts into a state of peaceful acquiescence, so that one could give complete and undivided attention to his words.

(An excerpt from Madame Verdier’s journal quoted in the New Discoveries, Vol. 1, pp. 487-88.)

[As told by Madame Emma Calvé‚ to Madame Drinette Verdier]

Mr. X, in whose home Swamiji was staying in Chicago, was a partner or an associate in some business with John D. Rockefeller. Many times John D. heard his friends talking about this extraordinary and wonderful Hindu monk who was staying with them, and many times he had been invited to meet Swamiji but, for one reason or another, always refused. At that time Rockefeller was not yet at the peak of his fortune, but was already powerful and strong-willed, very difficult to handle and a hard man to advise.
But one day, although he did not want to meet Swamiji, he was pushed to it by an impulse and went directly to the house of his friends, brushing aside the butler who opened the door and saying that he wanted to see the Hindu monk.
The butler ushered him into the living room, and, not waiting to be announced, Rockefeller entered into Swamiji's adjoining study and was much surprised, I presume, to see Swamiji behind his writing table not even lifting his eyes to see who had entered.
After a while, as with Calvé, Swamiji told Rockefeller much of his past that was not known to any but himself, and made him understand that the money he had already accumulated was not his, that he was only a channel and that his duty was to do good to the world — that God had given him all his wealth in order that he might have an opportunity to help and do good to people.
Rockefeller was annoyed that anyone dared to talk to him that way and tell him what to do. He left the room in irritation, not even saying goodbye. But about a week after, again without being announced, he entered Swamiji's study and, finding him the same as before, threw on his desk a paper which told of his plans to donate an enormous sum of money toward the financing of a public institution.
"Well, there you are", he said. "You must be satisfied now, and you can thank me for it."
Swamiji didn't even lift his eyes, did not move. Then taking the paper, he quietly read it, saying: "It is for you to thank me". That was all. This was Rockefeller's first large donation to the public welfare.

(New Discoveries, Vol. 5, pp. 389-94.)
(To preserve the historical authenticity of the newspaper reports in this section, their original spelling has been largely retained; however, their punctuation has been made consistent with the style of the Complete Works. — Publisher.)

[An interview by Blanche Partington, San Francisco Chronicle, March 18, 1900]

. . . . . .
. . . Bowing very low in Eastern fashion on his entrance to the room, then holding out his hand in good American style, the dusky philosopher from the banks of the Ganges gave friendly greeting to the representative of that thoroughly Occidental institution, the daily press.
. . . I asked for a picture to illustrate this article, and when someone handed me a certain "cut" which has been extensively used in lecture advertisements here, he uttered a mild protest against its use.
"But that does not look like you", said I.
"No, it is as if I wished to kill someone", he said smiling, "like — like —"
"Othello", I inserted rashly. But the little audience of friends only smiled as the Swami made laughing recognition of the absurd resemblance of the picture to the jealous Moor. But I do not use that picture.
"Is it true, Swami", I asked, "that when you went home after lecturing in the Congress of Religions after the World's Fair, princes knelt at your feet, a half dozen of the ruling sovereigns of India dragged your carriage through the streets, as the papers told us? We do not treat our priests so".
"That is not good to talk of", said the Swami. "But it is true that religion rules there, not dollars."
"What about caste?"
"What of your Four Hundred?" he replied, smiling. "Caste in India is an institution hardly explicable or intelligible to the Occidental mind. It is acknowledged to be an imperfect institution, but we do not recognize a superior social result from your attempts at class distinction. India is the only country which has so far succeeded in imposing a permanent caste upon her people, and we doubt if an exchange for Western superstitions and evils would be for her advantage."
"But under such regime — where a man may not eat this nor drink that, nor marry the other — the freedom you teach would be impossible", I ventured.
"It is impossible", assented the Swami; "but until India has outgrown the necessity for caste laws, caste laws will remain". "Is it true that you may not eat food cooked by a foreigner — unbeliever?" I asked.
"In India the cook — who is not called a servant — must be of the same or higher caste than those for whom the food is cooked, as it is considered that whatever a man touches is impressed by his personality, and food, with which a man builds up the body through which he expresses himself, is regarded as being liable to such impression. As to the foods we eat, it is assumed that certain kinds of food nourish certain properties worthy of cultivation, and that others retard our spiritual growth. For instance, we do not kill to eat. Such food would be held to nourish the animal body, at the expense of the spiritual body, in which the soul is said to be clothed on its departure from this physical envelope, besides laying the sin of blood-guiltiness upon the butcher."
"Ugh!" I exclaimed involuntarily, an awful vision of reproachful little lambs, little chicken ghosts, hovering cow spirits — I was always afraid of cows anyway — rising up before me.
"You see", explained the Brahmin [Kshatriya], "the universe is all one, from the lowest insect to the highest Yogi. It is all one, we are all one, you and I are one —". Here the Occidental audience smiled, the unconscious monk chanting the oneness of things in Sanskrit and the consequent sin of taking any life.
. . . He was pacing up and down the room most of the time during our talk, occasionally standing over the register — it was a chill morning for this child of the sun — and doing with grace and freedom whatever occurred to him, even, at length, smoking a little.
"You, yourself, have not yet attained supreme control over all desires", I ventured. The Swami's frankness is infectious.
"No, madam", and he smiled the broad and brilliant smile of a child; "Do I look it?" But the Swami, from the land of hasheesh and dreams, doubtless did not connect my query with its smoky origin.
"Is it usual among the Hindoo priesthood to marry?" I ventured again.
"It is a matter of individual choice", replied this member of the Hindoo priesthood. "One does not marry that he may not be in slavery to a woman and children, or permit the slavery of a woman to him."
"But what is to become of the population?" urged the anti-Malthusian.
"Are you so glad to have been born?" retorted the Eastern thinker, his large eyes flashing scorn. "Can you conceive of nothing higher than this warring, hungry, ignorant world? Do not fear that the you may be lost, though the sordid, miserable consciousness of the now may go. What worth having [would be] gone?
"The child comes crying into the world. Well may he cry! Why should we weep to leave it? Have you thought" — here the sunny smile came back — "of the different modes of East and West of expressing the passing away? We say of the dead man, 'He gave up his body'; you put it, 'he gave up the ghost'. How can that be? Is it the dead body that permits the ghost to depart? What curious inversion of thought!"
"But, on the whole, Swami, you think it better to be comfortably dead than a living lion?" persisted the defender of populations.
"Swâhâ, Swaha, so be it!" shouted the monk.
"But how is it that under such philosophy men consent to live at all?"
"Because a man's own life is sacred as any other life, and one may not leave chapters unlearned", returned the philosopher. "Add power and diminish time, and the school days are shorter; as the learned professor can make the marble in twelve years which nature took centuries to form. It is all a question of time."
"India, which has had this teaching so long, has not yet learned her lesson?"
"No, though she is perhaps nearer than any other country, in that she has learned to love mercy."
"What of England in India?" I asked.
"But for English rule I could not be here now", said the monk, "though your lowest free-born American Negro holds higher position in India politically than is mine. Brahmin and coolie, we are all 'natives'. But it is all right, in spite of the misunderstanding and oppression. England is the Tharma [Karma?] of India, attracted inevitably by some inherent weakness, past mistakes, but from her blood and fibre will come the new national hope for my countrymen. I am a loyal subject of the Empress of India!" and here the Swami salaamed before an imaginary potentate, bowing very low, perhaps too low for reverence.
"But such an apostle of freedom — ", I murmured.
"She is the widow for many years, and such we hold in high worth in India", said the philosopher seriously. "As to freedom, yes, I believe the goal of all development is freedom, law and order. There is more law and order in the grave than anywhere else — try it."
"I must go", I said. "I have to catch a train".
"Thatis like all Americans", smiled the Swami, and I had a glimpse of all eternity in his utter restfulness. "You must catch this car or that train always. Is there not another, later?"
But I did not attempt to explain the Occidental conception of the value of time to this child of the Orient, realizing its utter hopelessness and my own renegade sympathy. It must be delightful beyond measure to live in the land of "time enough". In the Orient there seems time to breathe, time to think, time to live; as the Swami says, what have we in exchange? We live in time; they in eternity.

(New Discoveries, Vol. 5, pp. 396-98.)

[An interview by the San Francisco Examiner, March 18, 1900]

Hindoo Philosopher Who Strikes at the Root of Some
Occidental Evils and Tells How We Must Worship God
Simply and Not with Many Vain Prayers.

. . . . . .
One American friend he may be assured of — the Swami is a charming person to interview.

Pacing about the little room where he is staying, he kept the small audience of interviewer and friend entertained for a couple of hours.
"Tell you about the English in India? But I do not wish to talk of politics. But from the higher standpoint, it is true that but for the English rule I could not be here. We natives know that it is through the intermixture of English blood and ideas that the salvation of India will come. Fifty years ago, all the literature and religion of the race were locked up in the Sanskrit language; today the drama and the novel are written in the vernacular, and the literature of religion is being translated. That is the work of the English, and it is unnecessary, in America, to descant upon the value of the education of the masses."
"What do you think of the Boers War?" was asked.
"Oh! Have you seen the morning paper? But I do not wish to discuss politics. English and Boers are both in the wrong. It is terrible — terrible — the bloodshed! English will conquer, but at what fearful cost! She seems the nation of Fate."
And the Swami with a smile, began chanting the Sanskrit for an unwillingness to discuss politics.
Then he talked long of ancient Russian history, and of the wandering tribes of Tartary, and of the Moorish rule in Spain, and displaying an astonishing memory and research. To this childlike interest in all things that touch him is doubtless due much of the curious and universal knowledge that he seems to possess.

(New Discoveries, Vol. 5, p. 138.)

From Miss Josephine MacLeod’s February 1908 letter to Mary Hale, in which she described Swami Vivekananda’s response to Alberta Sturges’s question:

ALBERTA STURGES: Is there no happiness in marriage?

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA: Yes, Alberta, if marriage is entered into as a great austerity — and everything is given up — even principle!

(New Discoveries, Vol. 5, p. 225.)

From Mrs. Alice Hansbrough’s reminiscences of a question-answer exchange following the class entitled “Hints on Practical Spirituality”:

Q: Swami, if all things are one, what is the difference between a cabbage and a man?

A: Stick a knife into your leg, and you will see the line of demarcation.

(New Discoveries, Vol. 5, p. 276.)

Alice Hansbrough’s record of a question-answer session after a class lecture:
Q: Then, Swami, what you claim is that all is good?
A: By no means. My claim is that all is not — only God is! That makes all the difference.

(New Discoveries, Vol. 6, p. 11-12.)

From Alice Hansbrough's reminiscences of a question-answer session following one of Swami Vivekananda’s San Francisco classes pertaining to renunciation:
WOMAN STUDENT: Well, Swami, what would become of the world if everyone renounced?

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA: Madam, why do you come to me with that lie on your lips? You have never considered anything in this world but your own pleasure!

(New Discoveries, Vol. 6, p. 12.)

Mrs. Edith Allan described a teacher-student exchange in one of Swami Vivekananda’s San Francisco classes:

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA: I am the disciple of a man who could not write his own name, and I am not worthy to undo his shoes. How often have I wished I could take my intellect and throw it into the Ganges!

STUDENT: But, Swami, that is the part of you I like best.

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA: That is because you are a fool, Madam — like I am.

(New Discoveries, Vol. 6, p. 17.)

From Mrs. Edith Allan’s reminiscences:

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA: I have to come back once more. The Master said I am to come back once more with him.

MRS. ALLAN: You have to come back because Shri Ramakrishna says so?

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA: Souls like that have great power, Madam.

(New Discoveries, Vol. 6, p. 121.)

From Mrs. Edith Allan’s reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda's stay in northern California, 1900:

WOMAN STUDENT: Oh, if I had only lived earlier, I could have seen Shri Ramakrishna!

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA (turning quietly to her): You say that, and you have seen me?

(New Discoveries, Vol. 6, p. 136.)

From Mr. Thomas Allan’s reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda's visit to Alameda, California, 1900:

MR. ALLAN: Well, Swami, I see you are in Alameda!

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA: No, Mr. Allan, I am not in Alameda; Alameda is in me.

(New Discoveries, Vol. 6, p. 156.)

From Mrs. Alice Hansbrough’s reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda’s conversation with Miss Bell at Camp Taylor, California, in May 1900:

MISS BELL: This world is an old schoolhouse where we come to learn our lessons.

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA: Who told you that? [Miss Bell could not remember.] Well, I don't think so. I think this world is a circus ring in which we are the clowns tumbling.

MISS BELL: Why do we tumble, Swami?

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA: Because we like to tumble. When we get tired, we will quit.

(The Complete Works of Sister Nivedita, Vol. I, p. 118.)

Sister Nivedita’s reminiscence of a conversation with Swami Vivekananda at the time she was learning the Kâli worship:

SISTER NIVEDITA: Perhaps, Swamiji, Kali is the vision of Shiva! Is She?

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA: Well! Well! Express it in your own way. Express it in your own way!

(The Complete Works of Sister Nivedita, Vol. I, pp. 159-60.)

While on board a ship to England, Swami Vivekananda was touched by the childlike devotion of the ship’s servants:

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA: You see, I love our Mohammedans!

SISTER NIVEDITA: Yes, but what I want to understand is this habit of seeing every people from their strongest aspect. Where did it come from? Do you recognize it in any historical character? Or is it in some way derived from Shri Ramakrishna?

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA: It must have been the training under Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. We all went by his path to some extent. Of course it was not so difficult for us as he made it for himself. He would eat and dress like the people he wanted to understand, take their initiation, and use their language. "One must learn", he said, "to put oneself into another man's very soul". And this method was his own! No one ever before in India became Christian and Mohammedan and Vaishnava, by turn!

Why Lisa Miller should look at Vivekananda! S Gurumurthy

Why Lisa Miller should look at Vivekananda!
S Gurumurthy

First Published : 23 Aug 2009 10:15:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 23 Aug 2009 10:26:23 AM IST

The Rig Veda, the most ancient Hindu scripture, says this: `Truth is One, but the sages speak of it by many names.' A Hindu believes there are many paths to God. Jesus is one way, the Qur'an is another, yoga practice is a third. None is better than any other; all are equal." This is no monk of the Ramakrishna Mission discoursing on the spiritual teachings of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who had experienced the truth of all three faiths -Hinduism, Islam and Christianity -- as valid for their respective faithfuls. It is Lisa Miller, Society editor in Newsweek, in her column (August 15, 2009), "We Are All Hindus Now". By "We" she means Americans.

Lisa Miller is highly concerned that Americans, while remaining true to their Christian faith otherwise, have begun to think and act like Hindu faithfuls. Here is an account of the interesting rendezvous between modern America and ancient Hinduism and its potential for global religious harmony .

From melting pot to WASP The choice of "We" for Americans by Lisa Miller is intentional. It is calculated to reinstate an attempted debate in the US on "the challenges to America's national identity" that had failed to take off. Samuel P Huntington, who had prognosticated the clash of faiths and civilisations in the 1990s, later wrote a book in 2002 titled Who Are We? -- a question addressed to Americans. Huntington's answer to the question was that the core American identity -- `America's Creed' as he puts it -- was WASP, that is, White (in race) Anglo-Saxon (in ethnicity) and Protestant (in faith). All other identities, Huntington says, are subordinate. But, unlike his earlier work on clash of civilisations that had set off a furious debate within and outside the US, his theory on WASP as American identity did not.

Now, some history. For over two centuries, the American identity was based on the metaphor of `the melting pot' where all identities eventually, inevitably melt to become the unique American porridge. The theory of `the melting pot' is traced back to 1782 when a French settler in New York, J Hector de Crevecoeur, envisioned the US as not merely a land of opportunity but as a society where individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men whose labours and posterity will one day cause change in the world.

But, the metaphor of the `melting pot' received a jolt after Islamist terror struck at the US from within. The US identity was alternately seen as a `bowl of salads', where all identities remain, but in the same bowl, that is, the US. But "where is the dressing to cover it all?," asked the dissenters of the `Salad Bowl'. The result was Huntington's WASP as the core American identity; but that failed to click.

Now in her article, Lisa Miller seemingly answers Huntington's titular question "who are we" derisively, yet provocatively. She says `we are `Hindu' -- that means, not WASP! Her conclusion "let us all chant OM"; the emphasis on `us' can even incite.

The crisis of national identity in the US is evident in the article. Lisa Miller is no novice in matters of faith; she is a specialist. She writes a weekly column "Belief Watch" in Newsweek. Says her bio, `she reports, writes and edits stories on spirituality and belief; she wrote The Politics of Jesus, a cover story in Newsweek (March 10, 2006) on the impact of religion in the midterm elections in the US.' See why she fears that the US might get Hinduised.
Hinduised America?

After describing how Hindus accept all Gods and all forms of worship as valid, Lisa Miller says: "The most traditional, conservative Christians have not been taught to think like" the Hindus do.

"They learn in Sunday school that their religion is true, and others are false; Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me." Shortly, what Lisa Miller says about the two faiths is this: Christianity regards all non-Christian faiths as false, but Hinduism recognises all faiths as valid, as valid as the Hindu creed itself. But, she does not stop at this comparison. She laments that most Christians in the US are beginning to think and believe the way the Hindus do. She says: "recent poll data show that conceptually, at least, we are slowly becoming more like Hindus and less like traditional Christians in the ways we think about God, our selves, each other, and eternity."

Lisa Miller goes on to show how Americans are deviating from the fundamentals of Christianity.

"Americans", she says, "are no longer buying" the view that Christianity is the only true religion and all other religions are false. She cites a 2008 Pew Forum Survey and says that 65 per cent of "us" believe that "many religions can lead to eternal life". This includes 37 per cent evangelicals -- "the section", Lisa Miller points out, "most likely to believe that salvation is theirs alone". She adds. For the Hindus who believe in rebirth, the soul alone is sacred; for the Christians, who do not believe in rebirth, their body is as sacred as the soul; yet a third of the Americans, up from six per cent in 1975, cremate their dead like Hindus. Worse, a fourth of the Americans believe in rebirth, according to Harris 2008 poll, like Hindus. More. And some 30 per cent of the Americans, up from 20 in 2005, say "they are spiritual, not religious"; this marginalises the Church. She implies that these are just consequences of the American Christian distancing from the basic tenet of Christianity as the only true faith and all other faiths as false.

`Semitic' propensity for conflict But, what is wrong if American Christians refuse to regard the other faiths as false? Is it not the right approach to accommodate other faiths in a world of diverse faiths? Two-thirds of Christians in America believe in Christianity and, at the same time, they do not view other faiths as false. She knows that those Americans, who do not hate the other faiths as false, still believe in Christianity.

But she does not seem to regard mere belief in Christianity Christian enough, unless the faith extends more to dismiss -- that is hate -- all other faiths as false. This view directly flows from belief that the sacred text of Christianity, which proclaims it as the only true faith and others false, is inerrant. This is what has come to be known as fundamentalism. Lisa Miller's view clearly seems fundamentalist. This leads to how this fundamental tenet has been the very source of intolerance.

The Encyclopaedia of Britannica, compiled mostly by Christian intellectuals, says that in the very view that Christianity is the only true faith and other faiths are false inheres intolerance. It says, "Christianity, from its beginning, tended toward an intolerance that was rooted in its religious self-consciousness. Christianity understands itself as revelation of the divine truth that became man in Jesus Christ himself....To be a Christian is to `follow the truth' (III John); ...He who does not acknowledge the truth is an enemy "of the cross of Christ" (Phil 3:18); he "exchanged the truth about God for a lie" (Rom 1:25) and made himself advocate and confederate of the "adversary, the devil" (I Pet 5:8). Thus one cannot make a deal with the devil and his party -- and in this lies the basis for the intolerance of Christianity (15Ed. Vol4. Pp.49192). That is, recognising other faiths as valid amounts to making "a deal with the devil". The fundamental command to regard other faiths as false, which is what, in Lisa Miller's view, makes one a true Christian, has the propensity and potential for conflicts; it has actually led to violent conflicts in history. This propensity and potential is shared by the three monotheistic faiths -- Judaism, Islam and Christianity. That is why the Fundamentalism Project of Chicago University found that the "traits of fundamentalism are more accurately attributed to" sacred text-based Abrahamic faiths -- read the monotheistic ones -- "than to their cousins" in the East, namely Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Confucianism (Fundamentalisms Observed, University of Chicago, p820). This brings the discourse closer to India.

Hinduised Christianity?

While Lisa Miller complains about Hinduisation of the (`Semitic') Christianity in the US, the secular intellectuals object to semitisation of Hinduism in India! The seculars who complain about semitisation dare not name any faith as `Semitic', even though, by `Semitic', they can mean only the Abrahamic. Scholars like Sitaram Goel and Konrad Elst say that the label `Semitic' is "hopelessly inaccurate" for the Abrahamic faiths besides sounding anti-`Semitic' to the Western ears. Yet the Indian seculars insist on the word `Semitic' for the Abrahamic faiths. Keeping aside the label issue, move on to the core of the debate and its history. Dr Karan Singh first characterised the rise of Hindutva in 1990s as semitisation of Hinduism; later, the secular intellectuals appropriated the label! The Ayodhya movement, which gave birth to the ideology of Hindutva, had challenged the views of Indian seculars who had, for decades, derided Hinduism as "illiberal" and "inequitable" and successfully de-legitimised Hinduism in the Indian public domain. But, the rise of Hindutva in 1990s made it tough for them to continue their anti-Hindu line; so they not only U-turned, but also fell in love with Hinduism and, more, certified it as "liberal"! They went on to distinguish the "liberal" Hinduism from the "illiberal" and "semitisised" Hindutva; they castigated Hindutva for importing `Semitic' features into the liberal, tolerant Hinduism. But, surprisingly, in the entire debate, the seculars would not name the "illiberal" and "intolerant" `Semitic' faiths -- read the Abrahamic faiths -- nor say what objectionable features of theirs Hindutva imports into Hinduism! Here the secular scholars in India have been less than open and honest, while Lisa Miller has been brutally explicit and honest. She says that Hinduism is polluting the American Christian beliefs.

Lisa Miller's logic seems to be: what is the Christianity left of Christianity if Christians do not believe it to be the only true faith and see other faiths as false. In Lisa Miller's view, while Hinduism accepts all faiths as valid as itself, a true Christian has to believe that only his faith is true and that even Hinduism, which accepts other faiths, is a false faith. But the secular scholars in India have no guts to say about the `Semitic' faiths what Lisa Miller says about the Hindu faith.

The need to de-semitisise The charge of semitisisation of Hinduism by the seculars is political, not theological. The real issue is the need for de-semitisising the `Semitic' -- that is Abrahamic -- faiths. Beginning with Swami Vivekananda's expositions on inter-religious harmony the discourse of the Hindu school has been a continuous plea for `de-semitisising' the `Semitic' faiths. Vivekananda even wanted India to be "junction of Vedanta brain and Islamic body"; that is India, with Hindus and Muslims, should have a body, organised and united like the Muslims, and a mind liberated by Vedanta -- namely a society organised on Vedanta as the core thought. That is, organised Hindus and de-semitisised Muslims! His was a call for the de-semitisisation of all `Semitic' faiths; mention of Islam was just the context. The `de-semitisisation', which Vivekananda had pleaded for, seems to have started in Christianity in US with American Christians beginning to accept, like Hindus do, the other faiths too as valid. Yet, despite that being a welcome development, Lisa Miller is clearly frightened of the de-semitisation process.

But unless the `Semitic' faiths `de-semitisise', they will not be able to contain their inherent propensity for conflict. When a faith says that the other faiths are false, as in Lisa Miller's view Christianity does, it is an invitation for conflict with other religions. In contrast, if each religion accepts that other religions are as true, will that not put an end to clash between religions? This is conflict avoidance. This has been the very fundamental of Hindu approach to other faiths. A religion -- read Hinduism -- which believes that all religions are as valid as itself, has no potential for conflict with other religions. And a religion -- read a `Semitic' faith -- which believes that its faith and God alone, are true and all other religions as false, has all propensity for conflict with other religions.

Once a faith is declared to be false, does it not become an object of hate? How then can religious harmony be achieved if some religions declare other religions to be false?

This is where opinion-makers like Lisa Miller need to rethink. What she sees as the USP of Christianity -- namely Christians believing in their faith as the true faith and other faiths as false -has the propensity and potential to dynamite global religious harmony; more so because Christianity is the largest faith in the world. Her logic equally applies to what Islam also believes in, namely that Islam alone is true and all others including Christianity false. And that is what inspired the terrorists to attack the US on 9/11. If Christians are mandated by their Text to think that theirs is the only true faith and others as false, Islamists too are mandated by their Text to think likewise.

Where will the two conflicting and explosive mandates against all other faiths lead the world? Here is where the Hindu view that all religions are true is not only relevant, but seems to be the only way out of the dangers of religious fanaticism. The Hindu faith itself is different from the Hindu view of other faiths. By saying that each faith is sacred for its followers, a Hindu does not cease to be a Hindu. Likewise if a Muslims or Christians say that all faiths are as valid as theirs, they are no less Muslims or Christians. They remain Christians or Muslims and accept others faith as valid; they only become less sectarian.

It needs no seer to say that the features of `Semitic' faiths, which tend to promote conflict with other faiths, need to be given up -- that is, the `Semitic' faiths need to be de-semitisised. That is the only way out of the current drift towards religious and civilisational clashes. This is what Swami Vivekananda had warned the world, particularly the West, on September 11, 1893, exactly 108 years to the date of the religious terror strike at the US on September 11, 2001. The young Indian monk, who was just 30 then, pleaded before the august audience of religious elders of the world against "sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism" which, he pointed out, "have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair." How far-sighted a warning?

Yet, Lisa Miller seems to lament, instead of celebrating, the decline of bigotry and sectarianism in her faith. And the Indian seculars are still impeding, instead of enabling, the emergence of the non-conflicting Hindu thought as the global mediator between different faiths. Will Lisa Miller look at Vivekananda? Will our seculars and leftists heed him?


Topics:Gurumurthy, vivekananda, lisa miller, religion

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  Guru is not dreaming here rather he is ponting out difference between Hinduism & other religions & how Hinduism stands unique.Indeed other religions cause conflicts due to what they preach but Hinduism is not on par with them.This is the entire essence of article.Guru is aptly right in differentiating.As far Lisa miller calling We are all Hindus now , she should realise that it take a greal deal to be called a HIndu.  By Suchithra 
9/9/2009 3:47:00 PM  COMPLETING THE COMMENT POSTED ABOUT 30 MNTS BACK;:- What Gutumurthy desires may be an unattainable idealistic state but idealism and dreaming are desirable and even necessary. Otherwise our lives will stagnate.  By K.Sundaram 
9/4/2009 7:53:00 PM  I am afraid Suchithra has failed to understand the purport and purpose of the article. It is not about whether the followers of semetic faiths will abandon their desire to convert. It is the about the fact that religious conflicts are a result of such desires. There can not be any reasoned contradiction to this view. If there is, the reasons should be spelt out and examined. Gurumurthy or any other Hindu does not want people of other faiths to become Hindus. Hinduism does not accept it. But anyone can adopt a particular tenet of a religion to which he may not belong. .We adopted monogamy following Christian ideal of marriage and gave it statutory authority. Hinduism did ot reject polygamy as, except Ram, almost all our gods are polygamists. In the light of the harm it is doing by leading to ceaseless conflicts, cannot the persons preaching semetic faiths abandon their desire to convert? This is Gurumurthy's stated wish. It may be an unattainable idealistic state of affairs but we can  By :.Sundaram 
9/4/2009 7:17:00 PM  I am afraid Suchithra has failed to understand the purport and purpose of the article. It is not about whether the followers of semetic faiths will abandon their desire to convert. It is the about the fact that religious conflicts are a result of such desires. There can not be any reasoned contradiction to this view. If there is, the reasons should be spelt out and examined. Gurumurthy or any other Hindu does not want people of other faiths to become Hindus. Hinduism does not accept it. But anyone can adopt a particular tenet of a religion to which he may not belong. .We adopted monogamy following Christian ideal of marriage and gave it statutory authority. Hinduism did ot reject polygamy as, except Ram, almost all our gods are polygamists. In the light of the harm it is doing by leading to ceaseless conflicts, cannot the persons preaching semetic faiths abandon their desire to convert? This is Gurumurthy's stated wish. It may be an unattainable idealistic state of affairs but we can  By :.Sundaram 
9/4/2009 7:14:00 PM  As rightly pointed by Guru - if each religion accepts that other religions are as true, will that not put an end to clash between religions.Since Christianity & Islam doesnt accept other religions, they are the cause for terrorism & conversions.Invasion after invasion we have been living peacefully why since our religion preaches that.We believe Live & Let live.  By Suchithra 
9/3/2009 2:56:00 PM  Sundaram , Amercians may beleive & accept that Christianity has no monopoly of truth and other religions also deserve a place in the sun .But the christianity doesnt believe so.As mentioned by Lisa herself - Christianity regards all non-Christian faiths as false, but Hinduism recognises all faiths as valid, as valid as the Hindu creed itself.Lisa cannot genaralise that We are all Hindus now just because americans think differently unlike typical christians or what ever preached in christianity.Its takes better deal to call a person a Hindu.  By Suchithra 
9/3/2009 2:49:00 PM  I am afraid Suchithra's comments posted today seem quite confused." We are all hindus" or such statements would make sense when they refer to a psrticlar trait unique to a class, in this case, hindus. in treating all faiths as desrving our respect and eschewng the desire to convert. Gurumurthy's article brings this out clearly as it traces the origin of Lisa's statement to her perception of current American view that Christianity has no monopoly of truth and other religions also desrve a place in the sun. Those who do not agree with Gurumurthy's view that religious conflicts will cease to afflict mankind if attempts to convert are abandoned, Chelliah for instance, should stop quibbling and spell out their disagreement with reasons therefor. There is a Tamil saying about heaven (Swargam) Those who have seen it do not describe it and those who describe it have not seen it. Religion is a case of unverifiable belief and it is folly to contend that one such belief is superior to another of  By K.Sundaram 
9/2/2009 3:53:00 PM  Its a fantastic article by Guru.just one thinking cannot make others feel they are hindu.Lisa 's statement We are all Hindus now deosnt make any sense.  By Suchithra 
9/2/2009 2:22:00 PM  Indian Muslims & Indian christians are only Indians but they are not Bharatiya.Hence they indulge in viloence,conversions,terrorsim etc..Even before Indian they belong to there particular religion.Indeed a person need not be a born Hindu, a person is hindu becasue of his Karma.As far Lisa calling We are all Hindus is a joke.Its takes a great deal to be called a Hindu which neither muslims nor christains potray.Muslims & christians can never qualify to become a Hindu.  By Suchithra 
9/2/2009 2:18:00 PM  What Suchitra says about India can be said about USA also. Whatever name we give to the way of life practised by the majority in this countery, it cannot be denied that it follows the principle of "live and let live" Why should the semetic religions try to convert. If their religion imposes such a duty of the adherents to these faiths, it impinges on the targeted convertee's right to practise his own faith and is a violation of his constitutional right. The rights given to minorities under the Constitution cannot but inhere to the majoritY of the population whether one calls them Hindus or by any other name. All rights need not be spelt out. They accrue by neceassary implication also  By K.Sundaram 
9/1/2009 7:30:00 PM  Its true Hinduism, is not a religion but a set of belief which was coined as Hinduism later during british rule.Since now it is coined as HInduism & we people represent the same, we are HIndus for the whole world.The word India is again coined recently.In Mahabaratha , Bharathvarsha is decsribed till Afghan & persia border.There was no Aryan invasion , it was rather created by brirtish to propogate that aryans brought sanskrit & hinduism & they didnt orginally belonged to us.There was only a set of belief being practiced & no other religious pratices of islam or chiristianity exitsed on this land or anywhere else in the world since they are all of recent origin & not as old as Hinduism.After several muslim & british invasions, one could find different religions being found here.Yet we remained in peace with them which lead to intolerance among others.Indeed we are tolerant , hence we have not declared this nation as a Hindu state. By Suchithra 
9/1/2009 2:20:00 PM  It is a sad fact that love which Chelliah preaches was not evident in the church in the period when Inquisition ruled Europe and more recently when slavery florished in USA with the approval of the church, the clergy postulating the theory that God had ordained that the negroes' salvation lay in serving their white masters. Would Chelliah have conceded that the earth moved around the sun if the church which submitted Galileo to inquisition had persisted in its belief that it was the centre of the universe?  By K.Sundaram 
8/30/2009 7:21:00 PM  They said love your god , love your neighbours, but when neighobours came from Mexico they threw them as illegal.When poor people came to their non profit hospital they sent credit agencies to snatch their money. So contradiction to science, practicing against what they preach, the abuse of children is the reason. The western companies moved to east, so the people who ripped the westen world also want to expand religious buissness into the new market. So when you meet them trying to convert in india ask them to make you their neighbour and ask them why they forgot their homeless brother back home. The truth is also the some good willed westerners also worried about the decline of ancient spirtuality in india, unlike indians who are busy imitating forgetting self  By michael 
8/27/2009 1:01:00 PM  And you should have added- Don't shout Chelliah- It betrays your own insecurity. Most of these cultists breed deep insecurity- insecurity that they maybe following something blindly often wondering the falsehoods they are forced to repeat mindlessly to stick to the flock which is kept on a tight leash by the cassocked goons threatening excommunication. One fails to understand how anyone who has studied (even) only upto LKG level only would still be in a cult whose cult leader claimed non-stop communication with the creator yet talked of the earth as flat and 64 miles square! If at all anyone has to be pitied it is these fools. Same logic applies to the other terrorist cult leader who talked of Sunset as sun hiding in a swamp!  By Narasimha Rao 
8/27/2009 7:44:00 AM  Gershom Chelliah's comment has no relaion to Gurumurthy's article. It is an exercise in inanity and betrays a congealed mindset unable to get out of the groove it has fitted itself in. Assertion is not evidence and self praise is not recommendation  By K.Sundaram 
8/27/2009 5:42:00 AM  Prasanan you open your mouth and exhibit your ignorance. Do we blv you who says Hilda Raja is not Catholic or Hilda herself who says she is a practising Catholic (read her blog fully)? And yet you sermonize others to read. It is beyond people of your ilk to understand nuances and reading between the lines. How many of Lisa Miller other articles have any of you read to make a judgement. Gurumurthy has done it and he understands her inclinations better than you. Lisa's tone was certainly patronizing of Hinduism, lamenting helplessness and was certainly implying that Christians remain Christians (i.e dogmatic and fundamentalist) and that they should avoid imbibing Hindu practices. No doubt the christian missonaries enjoy a good time here in India with dimwits proclaiming themselves as intelectuals  By Narasimha Rao 
8/26/2009 9:04:00 AM  Lisa Miller's article was very complimentary of Hinduism. Nowhere does she say anything offensive. This article by Gurumurthy is an overreaction. When the message is good, regardless of where it comes from - we should be receptive to it.  By Krishna 
8/26/2009 2:35:00 AM  It is a shame that an intelletcual like Obama has written hollw words like justice,tolerance,compassion, progress&human dignity about a religious cult, islam which shouts 24 hours a day Death&Destrcution for others or infidel kafirs like hindus,sikhs,buddhists,jews, christians etc&Demolition of all places of worship of kafirs as passport to heaven to enjoy 72 virgins&wine,etc.Where is this heaven&if bodies are buried under the soil after death, how these jehadis or christians will reach heaven? No answers!What a Shame. All educated indian muslims and christians MUST introspect and see how hate filled, intolerant and casteist are their racist religions and it is time for them to dump their hate-filled casteist and racist religions and COME BACK TO THE ALL-LOVING AND ALL-EMBRACING mother religio, Hinduism.No wonder millions of Americans have REALISED THE GREATNESS AND REAL secularism of Hinduism& are Becoming Hindus Every day now.  By K.Vasishtt 
8/25/2009 10:25:00 PM  Can one explain why there was NO woman Pope for past 2000 years? The right to vote was given in christian nations only some decades back when hindusim had so many women intellectuals, saints&Godesses from time immemorial&when even now hindus consider that Lord Shiva’s real strenth lies in the power of the godess within him.NO religion EXCEPT hinduism shouts whole world is ONE family&ALL persons on earth are members of ONE family. In short islam and christianity is the most hate-filled,intolerant, terror-minded, castiest and racis religions known to man and for peace to prevail in this world their terror-promoting books Quran and Bible&their religions MUST be BANNED.Sadly there are millions of MORONS&brain-washed robots around who shout hindus are fanatics,casteists&terrorists,etc! What a shame,Stupid and Illogical &Ungrateful Indian Muslims&Christians.  By K.Vasishtt 
8/25/2009 10:25:00 PM  Islam&christianity ARE the most intolerant, hate-filled casteist religions on earth& indian&world history are full of FACTS of Genicide of lakhs&lakhs of infidels& kafir sikhs,hindus,jews,etc BY these hate-filled terrorist religions, promising Heaven WITH 72 virgins &wine for killing or converting kafirs,etc.In 2000 year history of christainity NOT even ONE Indian or black man has become& will NEVER become Pope or even ONE of his assistants.In Islam not even ONE indian muslim can become the Chief imam or Assistant to Imam of the 2 Holy Mosques in Saudi Arabia for the PAST 1400 years.Compare THIS with hinduism ,their greatest epics Ramayan&Mahabharat have been written by great sages and intellectuals of low caste origin, Sage Valmiki and Sage Vyas. Can one talk with hands on chest about woman’s freedom, if any islam?If some one talks candidly about the terror and intolerance and gors injustices and terror in islam or christianitu , his or her head will roll on the streets the next day.  By K.Vasishtt 
8/25/2009 10:22:00 PM  Mr Narasimha Rao, those are two separate articles. What exactly did you find offensive in the Lisa Miller article. Please cite the point at which she insulted Hindus. The only thing insulting here is your tone and inability to understand what you read. Also, Hildaraja is not a Catholic. You are once again mistaken.  By Prasan 
8/25/2009 9:46:00 PM  Suman, Prasan and other idiots of your ilk -the ones who can never read between the lines and fall flat for the likes of Prannoy, Ram and other idiots of your class. If Gurumurthy has got it wrong , did Hilda Raja a Catholic also got it wrong? Read her blog: /hildaraja.wordpress.c om/2009/08/18/rejoinder-to-lisa-millers-we-are-all-hindus-now/. You are born idiots and nothing can cure your congenital mental make-up.  By Narasimha Rao 
8/25/2009 7:59:00 AM  Gurumurthy you have come across as the most idiotic person in this article. As my fellow commenters have already noticed Lisa Miller is not disparaging hinduism in her article, she is celebrating it. How the hell you got this so wrong is not just confusing but infuriating. By making the ridiculous pseudo argument that you just made you marginalize us and repel anyone like Lisa Miller who celebrates hinduism and for its openness and inherant wisdom. You are attacking someone that has an open mind to hinduism. Your whole article is ridiculous.  By Suman 
8/25/2009 2:39:00 AM  It appears the author hasn't even read the article he is choosing to discuss. Lisa Miller never criticized the Hindu-ization of America, in fact, she celebrated it. And as her previous record shows, she is anything but a fundamentalist. I think a reasonable question may be raised about the intentions of Mr Gurumathy, but it is clear that Ms. Miller stands on the side of tolerance and love. There is not one point in the Lisa Miller article where the increasing tolerance of Americans is criticized or lamented.  By Prasan 
8/24/2009 10:39:00 PM  RSS,BJP, VHP&all hindus must oragnize a nation-wide Black Day movement on 26th November every year as HINDU GENOCIDE DAY &conduct group prayers in all villages and in all hindu,sikh and buddhist places of worship for the peace of millions of poor souls of hindus,sikhs&buddhists who have been butchered since centuries by fanatic and intolerant beasts of hate filled terror religions, islam&christianity.The terror books Quran& Bible of these religions preach that those converting/ killing infidels like hindus,sikhs& buddhists will get heaven& can enjoy 72 virgins&wine after death and that is why these barbarians are doing such brutal killings and elimination of the infidels or kafirs like hindus,sikhs &buddhists.For eternal peace, terror preaching Quran&Bible must be banned&only religions like hindusim that preaches respect of all faiths including those of tribals& adivasis must be allowed in our secular country  By K.Vasishtt 
8/24/2009 8:39:00 PM  All those people who give free sermons to hindus &hindu partiesMUST ask following questions to their conscience, if they have ANY & FIND Honest Answers.1)Why in a secular country, there ARE special privileges for religious minorities?2) Why NO Uniform civil code making all indians equal if india is really a nation for ALL indians?3)No muslim majority country allows kafir minorities like hindus,sikhs&buddhists to LIVE in peace&TRY their best to Eliminate and KILL kafirs.WHY in hindu majority country there ARE special privileges to minorities?4) Is IT communal to speak for interests of majority hindus &SECULAR to speak all the time about minority interests?5) Who ARE fanatics?The people speaking FOR equality for all indians or those speaking ONLY for minorities &their special privileges? Hope indian intellectuals& media men& journalitsts wake up from bribed sleep&acting&analyze all ills of our country with a clear honest mind By K.Vasishtt 
8/24/2009 8:35:00 PM  Those who have brains and faculty to analyze the meanings, just understand how vicius posionous and wicked are christian missioanaries and chruch agents. What Demsnd Tutu said is happening unfortunately all over India, particularly, North east, orissa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra and so many other places in India where there is poverty illiteracy and where there are innocent and poor tribal populations. Hindus, . Think, think, and react to protect your lands and property and culture, dear fellow hindus and tribals before it is too late. Time for an independence movement to liberate hindus and hindustan from the powerful enemies and slaves has come now.The hate-filled semitic religions,islam&christianity Believe they are superior and that they WILL get heaven with virgins and wine after death in heaven if THEY KILL or forcibly convert infidels or kafirs like hindus,sikhs,buddhists,etc.Both islam and christianity and their terror books Quran and Bible MUST be banned in a secular republ  By K.Vasishtt 
8/24/2009 8:30:00 PM  The whole orissa riots were started by the brutal killing and mutilation of body of reverred Swami Lakshmananda who was doing wonderful community service among tribals. But the chrstian church disguised as naxals and with help from Sonia Maino and her christian agents eliminated the Swamiji in the most brutal fashion and minroity appeasing Naven Patnaik and Sonia coevred up the whole conspiracu hatched between the arch bishop of orissa and arch bishop of Delhi and the Vatican agent Sonia herself. This can happen only in a banana country of hindu morons. All Indians must know and analyze what Desmond Tutu, the Arch Bishop of Johannesberg, South Africa said in BBC interview few months back, "when the white missionaries came, we had the lands, they had the Bible, now after some years, they have the lands, we have the Bible" These are burning words coming from a converted christian arch bishop.  By K.Vasishtt 
8/24/2009 8:28:00 PM  Obama and USA&World must also know that 9/11 attack &Mumbai massacre of Hundreds of infidel kafir hindus,sikhs&westerners was done by taliban & jehadis in pakistan&india, with active support from ISI agents and it will be foolish of Obama and USA to trust pakistanis with fighting jehadi terror since pakistan is the epicentre of jehadi terror.Obama must know too that al-queda and muslims as a whole consider americans and europeans as infidel kafirs and they believe that killing these kafirs will give them heaven with 72 virgins and wine after death.Islam is a terrorist intolerant cult.USA and all nations must come together and eliminate this terror cult from world by nuking pakistan,afghanistan,iran and saudi arabia, if possible and ban Quran to save world and to bring peace and prosperity to world  By K.Vasishtt 
8/24/2009 8:27:00 PM  USA&All Indians and Citizens of World must know that after formation of muslim majority pakistan after 1947, muslim majority there wiped out using terror &intense hatred&violence more than 20 lakh hindus, sikhs& budhists &Demolished ALL temples&gurdwaras there, classifying minorities as infidel kafirs&believing that by KILLING the kafirs like hindus they will get 72 virgins&wine after death.Whole world has NOT bothered to notice this terrible genocide of hindus&sikhs there and this includes hindu majority here.Further muslim majority in india too HAS brutally eliminated using terror& violence more than 50000 hindus in cold blood without being condemned or noticed&even .Shame, BJP or RSS or hindu parties have NOT filed genocide charges in indian or international court, against muslim chief ministers of kashmir and colluding congress ministers for the horrible terror crime and genocide hindus,sikh&kafirs and for crime against humanity  By K.Vasishtt 
8/24/2009 8:26:00 PM  Britain as well as european naions and nations like USA,Canada,Australia,New Zealand will have to be extra careful since a recent European commission report says most european nations will become muslim majority nation in about 50 years if they do not control muslim immgration and the alarming birth rate and population explosion of muslims in all these counries.When the population of muslims in these countries reach even 51 percent these countries will become intolerant hate-filled islamic republic s like saudi arabia,iran or pakistan or malaysia and then the jehadi majority could eliminate all minoirty christians, hindus,sikhs, etc accusing them of being kafirs and for getting heaven after death with 72 virgins and wine as indicated in hate maual Quran. So if Europe.America,Asutralia and New Zealand and India are not careful they could face complete islamization and end less terror as in pakistan,iran or saudi arabia. So Better be Careful about islamic population bombs and terror bomb  By K.Vasishtt 
8/24/2009 8:20:00 PM  It is a shame that an intelletcual like Obama has written hollw words like justice,tolerance,compassion, progress&human dignity about a religious cult, islam which shouts 24 hours a day Death&Destrcution for others or infidel kafirs like hindus,sikhs,buddhists,jews, christians etc&Demolition of all places of worship of kafirs as passport to heaven to enjoy 72 virgins&wine,etc.Where is this heaven&if bodies are buried under the soil after death, how these jehadis or christians will reach heaven? No answers!What a Shame. All educated indian muslims and christians MUST introspect and see how hate filled, intolerant and casteist are their racist religions and it is time for them to dump their hate-filled casteist and racist religions and COME BACK TO THE ALL-LOVING AND ALL-EMBRACING mother religio, Hinduism.No wonder millions of Americans have REALISED THE GREATNESS AND REAL secularism of Hinduism& are Becoming Hindus Every day now.  By K.Vasishtt 
8/24/2009 8:19:00 PM  . Can one talk with hands on chest about woman’s freedom, if any islam?If some one talks candidly about the terror and intolerance and gors injustices and terror in islam or christianitu , his or her head will roll on the streets the next day. Can one explain why there was NO woman Pope for past 2000 years? The right to vote was given in christian nations only some decades back when hindusim had so many women intellectuals, saints&Godesses from time immemorial&when even now hindus consider that Lord Shiva’s real strenth lies in the power of the godess within him.NO religion EXCEPT hinduism shouts whole world is ONE family&ALL persons on earth are members of ONE family. Sadly there are millions of MORONS&brain-washed robots around who shout hindus are fanatics,casteists&terrorists,etc! What a shame,Stupid and Illogical &Ungrateful Indian Muslims&Christians.  By K.Vasishtt 
8/24/2009 8:17:00 PM  If Gurumurthy's article can elicit a debate among followers of semitic religions, chistianity and islam that is something woth the effort.Islam&christianity ARE the most intolerant, hate-filled casteist religions on earth& indian&world history are full of FACTS of Genicide of lakhs&lakhs of infidels& kafir sikhs,hindus,jews,etc BY these hate-filled terrorist religions, promising Heaven WITH 72 virgins &wine for killing or converting kafirs,etc.In 2000 year history of christainity NOT even ONE Indian or black man has become& will NEVER become Pope or even ONE of his assistants.In Islam not even ONE indian muslim can become the Chief imam or Assistant to Imam of the 2 Holy Mosques in Saudi Arabia for the PAST 1400 years.Compare THIS with hinduism ,their greatest epics Ramayan&Mahabharat have been written by great sages and intellectuals of low caste origin, Sage Valmiki and Sage Vyas. Can one talk with hands on chest about woman’s freedom, if any islam?  By K.Vasishtt 
8/24/2009 1:07:00 PM  It is decent article - favourble about Hinduism. I agree with Kali you need to de-semitise  By Siva 
8/24/2009 12:13:00 PM  Gurumurthy You missed the point altogether. Maybe you need to de-semitise yourself - whatever that means! Lisa Miller was speaking in a gently ironical way about American Christians and in a favorable and appreciative way about Hinduism.  By Kali 
8/24/2009 8:16:00 AM  A masterpiece Gurumurthy ji, as usual! rashtravandane.blogspot.com  By Deshabhakta 
8/23/2009 11:41:00 PM  Lisa Miller, Society editor in Newsweek,saying "We Are All Hindus Now" nails the truth.If she has said this seriously, the semetic religious heads have the obligation to ponder over this. If she was rhetoric, she is then afraid of the truth of the Hindu tolerance.  By Ezhumalyan 
8/23/2009 7:04:00 PM  Religion is only the first step in search for spiritual liberation. Even without being religious, spirituality can be practised. And all religions have different shades, from moderate to fanaticism. Christianity itself categorizes persons as 'practising Christians' and non- practising persons. Pope is not religious Head for a large number of Christians. So, to take just a stray comment from one Author as representing whole of Americans may be too much. Apart from that , intolerance is there in some forms even among Hindus. I wonder how many Hindus know what Hinduism means . First of all, there is no religion called Hinduism is not at all accepted by many , who are bent upon branding majority in India as Hindus. But, compared to other religions, followers of Hinduism are more tolerant.  By ASHWIN 
8/23/2009 6:58:00 PM  A hindu is a hindu only because he or she unequivocally and with full intellectual commitment rejects the notion of “only my God” of Semitic monotheists. Hence the hindu is exhibiting uncompromising religious intolerance in not accepting such exclusive belief systems. Let us take a look at the hindu’s utter insensitivity. Look at the way the hindu indulges in outrageously mega celebrations of image worship – be it Mahamastakabhisheka, Amarnath Yatra or Puri Jagannath Rath. The hindus do it day in and day out. Hindus worship the Sun, many hills and rivers, tress and even animals. Does the hindu realize how hurtful this spectacle of grand image worship would be to those believers who are for centuries, obligated to wipe out the “gross pollution of idolatry” - as they call it. Let us examine how communal the hindu can get. The hindu asserts that the Hindu civilizational tradition is unique and has a special role to play in the world. And that it is distinct from Semitic systems or  By Govinda 
8/23/2009 6:34:00 PM  Great article Gurumurthy. In effect, Lisa Miller may be guilty of starting the Talibanization of Christianity. If Christians really accept all faiths as equal, maybe in India they might stop conversions!  By Ganeshan 

Slow, steady Hindu growth

Slow, steady Hindu growth

Hinduism has grown slowly and steadily in the United States — mainly through immigration from India, and much less through American-born converts led by high-profile gurus or groups chanting in public squares and airports.

Those are some conclusions of a recent survey by the Institute of American Religion.It found some 1,600 Hindu temples and other religious centers around the country, with about 600,000 practicing Hindus. A third are concentrated in California, New York and New Jersey.

A separate recent survey found a higher number of people claiming a Hindu affiliation — 900,000 adults alone, or 0.4 percent of the adult American population - but of course there’s a difference between claiming a religious identity and actually practicing a religion. American Hindus are fewer in number than adherents of two other major world religions, Islam and Buddhism, that have grown in the U.S. with the opening up of immigration to more people from Africa and Asia in 1965.

Hinduism has long had a token presence in the United States, influencing 19th and early 20th century writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville (who compared the whale Moby Dick to a Hindu deity) and T.S. Eliot. A Hindu speaker, Swami Vivekananda, gained celebrity for speaking at the 1893 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago. And Mahatma Gandhi influenced the American civil rights movement.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Hindu movements gained publicity in the United States, such as Maharishi Maresh Yogi, guru to the Beatles and proponent of transcendental meditation. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness drew attention for its robed adherents chanting "Hare Krishna."

In some ways, Hindu influence has gone mainstream. Have we mentioned the recent flap about yoga?

But none of this has caught on with the masses in terms of making converts. If anything, Buddhism captured the market for American-born Caucasians converting formally to an Eastern religion with a focus on meditation. A majority of the nation’s 1.5 million Buddhist adults are, in fact, are white, while 88 percent of Hindus are Asian, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Yet this largely immigrant population has lived the American dream in some ways, as evidenced by incomes and educational levels significantly higher than the national average.

Online directories list two Hindu temples each in Kentucky and Indiana, including the Hindu Temple of Kentucky in Louisville, the Bharatitya Temple and Cultural Center in Lexington, the Hindu Temple of Central Indiana in Indianapolis and Swaminarayan Mandir in Avon, Ind., near Indianapolis.

The report by the institute’s J. Gordon Melton and Constance Jones of the California Institute for Integral Studies was summarized in a recent report by the Association of Religion Data Archives’ David Briggs. The researchers spoke at a recent meeting of the Association for the Study of Religion, Economics and Culture in Washington.

Briggs writes:

Many Americans welcomed the gurus, but interest among non-Indians faded in the 1970s amid lawsuits, scandals and an emerging anti-cult movement.

At the same time, a growing Indian immigrant community began building temples and centers to meet its spiritual needs.

-The encouraging news for Hindus is they have avoided much of the hostility that has challeged other large groups of religious immigrants to America, including Catholics, Jews and, more recently, Muslims.Too small to be a threat to the status quo, and lacking some of the international baggage that followed other immigrants, Hindus have been largely left alone to meet the internal needs of finding and maintaining spiritual homes for a growing membership.

Even the interfaith movement, which slowly built up to include Protestants, Catholics and Jews, and has more recently reached out to Muslims, is still largely associated with what are considered the “Abrahamic” faiths.

And that last observation prompts a Kentucky sociologist to ponder the implications for upcoming Rotary-type banquets. How long before the banquet circuit starts inviting Hindus to take a turn giving the invocation?

Religious Demography Of India

Religious Demography Of India

INDIA is one of the only two regions of the world where a great human civilisation took birth several millennia ago and has survived more or less uninterrupted to this day. The other is China. Probably an equally great civilisation arose in the Americas and flourished for long; but the American civilisation and almost all her people were extinguished when Europe began to extend its influence to the American shores. African civilisation was also disrupted and her people decimated, though not as thoroughly as in the Americas. Europe, America and other areas of the world peopled by the Europeans, as also the Arab and other West Asian lands, are indeed centres of great and vibrant human civilisations today. But, the Christian and the Islamic civilisations that they represent are relatively new developments in human history.

Geographically, India is not as vast as China, Europe or the Americas. But in terms of natural resources essential for the flourishing of human civilisation – cultivable land, water and sunshine – India is as well if not better endowed than these. Even today, when India, along with almost all other parts of the world, has experienced a great resurgence of population, the number of persons per unit of cultivated land in India remains below that of Europe or China. It is not surprising therefore that notwithstanding the relative compactness of her geographical expanse, India has been always a land of great multitudes. India and China together have accounted for more than half the population of the world at least from the beginning of the Christian era to 1850. In the earlier centuries of the era, the combined share of India and China was considerably more than half that of the world; and Indians outnumbered the Chinese up to at least 1500.

The other timeless fact about India, besides the extraordinary fertility of her lands and numerousness of her people, is the homogeneity of her civilisation and culture. Perceptive observers of India from the earliest times have often acknowledged and commented upon the uniqueness of Indian ideas and institutions that pervade nearly every part of India. This cultural homogeneity has come under stress during the last two hundred years or so, basically under the influence of modern ideologies that tend to look upon the homogeneity of India as a source of oppression and backwardness. This ideological prejudice manifests in the public life of India in the name of protection of distinctive ways of life of religious minorities, especially those belonging to Islam and Christianity. Such influences have led to Partition of India into three separate political entities; religious heterogeneity of certain parts of India formed the sole basis for this.

This book attempts to compile and study changes in these two basic determinants of Indian demography: the share of her people in the population of the world, and the civilisational and cultural homogeneity of her people.

Indian census operations that began in 1871 have always classified the people of India according to their religious affiliation. After Independence, cross-tabulation of data on religion was discontinued, but basic data on religious affiliation has continued to be collected. The census data, covering a period of 120 years, forms the basis of our compilation and analysis. During this fairly long period, the country has been partitioned; the larger administrative units formed by the states, provinces and divisions have been extensively reorganised; and the field level administrative units comprising of the districts have been repeatedly rearranged. The census data for the previous years therefore has to be carefully reworked to make it correspond to the current administrative units. Much of this reworking has been carried out by the census organisations of Indian Union, Pakistan and Bangladesh. We have compiled the available information for India; for the three constituent units into which India has been partitioned; for the states, provinces and divisions within these units; and for the districts of Indian Union. This extensive data is presented in the Detailed Tables that form the second part of this book.

The first chapter of the book looks at the growth of total population for India as a whole, and for Indian Union, Pakistan and Bangladesh, separately, and puts this growth in the context of the changing share of different people in the population of the world. This chapter also lays down the basic definitions and assumptions employed in our study and the corrections that have to be carried out in the enumerated census data to take care of the errors of under-enumeration and under-coverage, etc.
In the second chapter, we compile and present the changing religious profile of the populations of Indian Union, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and of India, encompassing all three of these units. Since this book is concerned mainly with the heterogeneity introduced by Islam and Christianity, populations for the purpose of this study are divided into three large groups: Muslims, Christians, and the rest, who may be collectively termed as Indian Religionists. In the third chapter, we carry this analysis further to the level of the states, provinces and divisions of Indian Union, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The next three chapters go further still, to the level of the districts of Indian Union.

Indian Religionists, as defined above, of course include, besides the Hindus, many fairly large religious groups, like Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains, who are important on their own, and several smaller groups, some of whom, like Parsis and Jews, may not be of Indian origin. We discuss the growth and distribution of the religious groups other than the Hindus that have been included in the category of Indian Religionists separately in the seventh chapter.
In the last chapter, we put the changing religious demography of India in the context of similar changes that have taken place in the world during the twentieth century. The chapter presents and analyses data on the growth of Christianity and Islam in all major regions and countries of the world.

Throughout our analysis, we employ the term “India” for the geographical and historical India that encompasses the three countries into which India was partitioned in the course of the twentieth century. The individual countries separately are always referred to as Indian Union, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The last census for which detailed religious composition of populations is available is that of 1991; therefore, we carry all collation of data and analysis up to that year.

From about the middle of the nineteenth to the middle of the twentieth century was a period of great strain for most non-European people of the world. During this period, the share of people of European origin in the population of the world rose by about 10 percentage points, while the share of other people correspondingly declined. This rapid rise in the proportion of European people, facilitated largely by the peopling of the American continent, came on top of at least two centuries of growth during which their share had risen by another about 10 percentage points. In the 1930’s, the share of European people in the population of the world reached its peak of nearly 40 percent.

By the middle of the twentieth century, most non-European people of the world began to come out of the long period of direct European rule. And with the coming of freedom, they began to experience a great blossoming of their populations. In the latter half of the twentieth century, the share of African and Asian populations in the world rose sharply to largely neutralise the gains made by European people during the previous hundred years or so. India also participated in this great revival of non-European people. The share of people of Indian origin thus rose to above 20 percent of the population of the world from about 16 percent in 1950. Indian share in the world today is about the same as in 1850. Up to the middle of the last millennium, however, and perhaps up to the middle of the eighteenth century, we used to form a much larger part of the world.

The people of Indian origin thus have improved their share in the population of the world considerably in the course of the twentieth century. The share of Indian Religionists amongst the Indians, however, is a different story.

The proportion of Indian Religionists in the population of India has declined by 11 percentage points during the period of 110 years for which census information is available. Indian Religionists formed 79.32 percent of the population in 1881 and 68.03 percent in 1991. This is an extraordinarily high decline to take place in just about a century; at the peak of Mughal rule at the time of Akbar, after nearly four hundred years of Islamic domination, the proportion of Muslims in India was said to be no more than one-sixth of the population. If the trend of decline seen during 1881-1991 continues, then the proportion of Indian Religionists in India is likely to fall below 50 percent early in the latter half of the twenty-first century.
Within Indian Union, the decline suffered by Indian Religionists during this period is less pronounced; their proportion declined from 86.64 percent in 1901 to 85.09 percent in 1991. This is largely because there was an increase of almost 3 percentage points in the proportion of Indian Religionists in Indian Union between 1941 and 1951, as a result of the forced and violent transfer of populations associated with Partition. Since 1951, the share of Indian Religionists within Indian Union has declined by more than 2 percentage points.

In the areas that form Pakistan now, the proportion of Indian Religionists rose considerably during the pre-Partition period, from 15.93 percent in 1901 to 19.69 percent in 1951. This is the only region of India, where Indian Religionists registered any gains in the course of the twentieth century. Partition immediately negated these gains; the proportion of Indian Religionists declined to 1.60 percent in 1951, and has remained around that figure since then.

In the areas that form Bangladesh now, Indian Religionists formed 33.93 percent of the population in 1901; their proportion declined to 29.61 percent by 1941 and further to 22.89 in 1951 as a consequence of Partition. Between 1951 and 1991, proportion of Indian Religionists in Bangladesh has been declining precipitously; they form only 11.37 percent of the population in 1991, less than half of their share in 1951.

As we have mentioned above, decline in the proportion of Indian Religionists within Indian Union has not been too remarkable, though they have lost about 2 percentage points off their share since Independence and Partition. But the detailed district-wise data analysed in the book shows that the decline has been fairly steep in certain geographically well-defined pockets of the country, while in most parts Indian Religionists continue to hold sway.
A very large part of Indian Union, comprising almost all of the northwestern, western, central and southern states, has seen little decline in the proportion of Indian Religionists. Indian Religionists have an overwhelming dominance in this vast region that includes almost two-thirds of the geographical area and about 57 percent of the population in 1991. They form more than 91 percent of the population of the region; their proportion has declined only marginally since 1951. Within the region there are only a few small pockets, where Christians or Muslims have any significant presence.

In the heartland and eastern regions of Indian Union, comprising Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam, however, Indian Religionists are under great pressure. This region encompasses the most fertile lands of India and accommodates about 37 percent of the population in 1991 on about 19 percent of the geographic area of Indian Union. Here, Indian Religionists have a share of only about 80 percent in the population; and, they have suffered a decline of about 4 percentage points in their share in the four decades between 1951 and 1991. The rest of the population is formed mainly of Muslims, who have a share of nearly 19 percent in the population. Christians in this region are few; they have a share of less than 1 percent of the population. Christians have a significant presence only in two limited pockets: One, the pocket formed by the undivided Ranchi district of Bihar and neighbouring districts of Raigarh in Madhya Pradesh and Sundargarh in Orissa; and two, the North Cachar Hills district of Assam.

Muslims form a significant presence in the whole of this region. But their presence is especially high in a northern border belt that starts from Bahraich district of eastern Uttar Pradesh and moves through Gonda, Basti, Gorakhpur and Deoria districts of the state; to Champaran, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Saharsa, Purnia and Santhal Pargana districts of Bihar; West Dinajpur, Maldah, Birbhum and Murshidabad districts of West Bengal; and Goalpara, Kamrup, Darrang and Nagaon districts of Assam. Muslims form about 28 percent of the population of this border belt; their growth here has been high enough to add almost 7 percentage points to their share of the population in the four decades since Partition. The districts we have counted above are undivided districts, as they existed in 1971. Since then, the districts have been divided several times. The proportion of Muslims in the new smaller border districts is even higher; available data indicates that several blocks and police-station areas along the border have recorded a very high presence and growth of Muslims.
In addition to the northern border belt, Muslims also have a high and fast-growing presence in an interior region centred on Muzaffarnagar district of western Uttar Pradesh, in the region around Calcutta in West Bengal, and in Cachar district of Assam.

Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam, and especially the border areas of these states, thus constitute a region of high Muslim presence and growth. The share of Indian Religionists in this region is under great stress and is likely to remain so in the future; Indian Religionists have already turned into a minority in several districts of the region.
Finally, there is a third region of Indian Union comprising the extreme border areas – including Jammu and Kashmir in the north, Goa and Kerala in the West, Lakshadweep and Nicobar Islands off the Indian coast, and the states of the northeast – where Indian Religionists do not have a dominating presence. Indian Religionists form only about a third of the population of Jammu and Kashmir; their presence in the valley districts of the state is insignificant. Their share in the population of the state as a whole has indeed improved slightly after Partition. The valley, however, has become almost entirely Muslim, while the Jammu region has become more predominantly Indian Religionist in the period following 1951. In Goa, Indian Religionists constitute about two-thirds of the population; of the rest about 30 percent are Christians and 5 percent Muslims. This is one of the rare states, where Indian Religionists have considerably improved their share; the state seems likely to acquire a religious profile similar to the neighbouring states of Karnataka and Maharashtra in the near future.

In Kerala, Indian Religionists have been losing ground throughout the twentieth century. They have a share of 57 percent in the population in 1991; this is about 12 percentage points less than their share in 1901. They have lost about 6 percentage points to Christians and about the same to Muslims; the gains of Christians occurred largely during the pre-Partition period of 1901-1941 and those of Muslims during the post-Partition period of 1951-1991. This loss of about 12 percentage points in the course of the twentieth century has occurred on top of the substantial losses that Indian Religionists in Kerala suffered due to large-scale conversions to Islam during the later part of eighteenth century and to Christianity during the nineteenth. Thus in the course of the last three centuries, Indian Religionists have comprehensively lost their dominance in this coastal state.

Lakshadweep Islands off the Kerala coast have been predominantly Muslim throughout the twentieth century. Nicobar Islands that form the southernmost outpost of India have turned almost 70 percent Christian in the recent past.

The most dramatic story of the twentieth century is that of the northeastern states, not including Assam which we have already discussed above. In 1901, Indian Religionists formed more than 90 percent of the population of these states, while Christians formed less than 2 percent. In 1991 the proportion of Indian Religionists is reduced to less than 60 percent, while that of Christians has risen to nearly 40 percent. Most of this change has occurred during the period following Independence; in 1941, Indian Religionists still formed nearly 90 percent of the population, and even in 1931, the year for which census figures for converts to Christianity are said to be more reliable, proportion of Indian Religionists in the population was more than 80 percent; of the rest only about 10 percent were Christians. Share of Indian Religionists in the population of the region today seems somewhat respectable because of the persistence of Indian Religionists in Tripura and the central districts of Manipur; these areas were ruled by avowedly Vaishnava states for several centuries. In other parts of the region, especially in Nagaland, Mizoram, outer districts of Manipur and much of Meghalaya, Indian Religionists have been reduced to an insignificant minority.

Thus, Indian Religionists have suffered a loss of more than 11 percentage points between 1881 and 1991 in India as a whole, which constitutes a drastic change in the religious profile of a compact geographical region like India. It is, however, even more significant that the losses have been highly pronounced in border regions, especially after Independence. This is leading to the formation of border pockets, where Indian Religionists are in a minority or nearly so. Existence of such distinct pockets formed the demographic basis of Partition of the country in 1947. A similar pocket of high Muslim influence seems to be now developing in the northern border belt covering the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam. And, a border pocket of even more intense Christian influence has developed in the northeastern states. Nicobar Islands district on the extreme southern tip of the country has been Christianised. And, Indian Religionists have lost sway in the western coastal state of Kerala. Most of these changes have taken place in the short span of time since Independence and Partition.

Viewed in the perspective of the changes that have taken place in the religious demography of the world, Indian experience of this period is not too dismal. In the course of the twentieth century, Christianity has swept through the continent of Africa, where the proportion of Christians in the population has risen to nearly 45 percent from less than 10 percent in 1900. Christians have also made significant gains in several countries of Asia, especially South Korea and Indonesia. During the same period, Muslims have considerably increased their share in the world, going up from about 12 percent in 1900 to about 19 percent in 1990. Their proportion in the population has improved in almost every part of the world; the gains have been especially significant in parts of Africa, and in Indonesia in Asia.

India, on the whole, has resisted Christianisation; proportion of Christians in India remains around 2 percent. And, India has not succumbed to the expansion of Islam like some countries of Africa. But Indian experience of the twentieth century has not been nearly as robust as that of the other great non-Islamic and non-Christian civilisation of the world, China. During the course of the twentieth century, not only the proportion but also the absolute number of Muslims in China has declined, and Christianity has failed to find any foothold there. India has not responded like China. Consequently, India has suffered Partition, and several border areas of the post-Partition Indian Union have become vulnerable to non-Indian Religionist influences.

We dedicate this book to the memory of Shri Ram Swarupji, who made us aware of the grand dynamics of great civilisations and who always encouraged us in our work with his benign blessings.

Vasanta Panchami, Kali 5104
February 6, 2003
Chennai APJ, MDS & JKB

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