Saturday, July 16, 2016

Kashmir - A lost cause?

Kashmir is burning once again.. but this time there's a difference.

Earlier protests in 2010 were against the unquestioned rapes, false encounters and custodial killings of innocents by those who were wielding the power of AFSPA. There was no accountability of the actions perpetrated by people who were ostensibly in Kashmir to maintain peace which made some of the peace-keepers misuse their authority {Read - Human rights violations in Kashmir}. Bullets were fired on protesters killing adults and teenagers alike which intensified the protests further thereby giving the establishment a new reason to further up the ante against the protesters. It was a vicious cycle which took a really long time to control. {Read more here - The Kashmir Conundrum}

This time around though, the protests are NOT against the killing of an innocent bystander but the death of a KNOWN terrorist in an ambush that wasn't even meant for him in the first place! The authorities were as much taken aback by his presence there as he must have been on seeing them. To cut the long story short a young radical terrorist was gunned down by the forces and there is every reason to be proud of their achievement.

However, his killing has been met with unexpected and exaggerated backlash from the Kashmiri community in the form of violent protests. The troops have used non-lethal weapons for most part but still it has ended up grievously injuring many of those who are protesting. Entire valley is in a state of curfew once again and internet as well as cable has been blocked at many places.






So who was this terrorist who as the ex-CM of Kashmir Omar Abdullah, based on his unwise and inflammatory comments, seemed to be so much in awe of? You must have read the name of Burhan Wani by now, the so-called poster boy of terrorism in the valley. What you may not know is that he was not just another boy gone astray but a man full of hatred against India who did not waste any chance of using social media to brain-wash more kids to join the holy jihad against the infidels (Indians). In the process, he found it completely justified to kill innocents because being kafirs their lives did not matter.

Sample some of the tweets shared by this terrorist:



The dead terrorist being hailed as s hero




People in the valley are protesting against the killing of this guy who wants to turn Kashmir into a battlefield not just for the sake of Kashmir but for the sake of Islam and THIS is the reason why the current protests can not and should not be supported. As per the Kashmiris themselves their problem with India is of territorial independence but now that the agenda seems to have been hijacked by the Islamic radicals, there seems absolutely no argument that can be given in support of the protesters and stone-throwers. More so because there's a clear backing of Pakistan to this entire issue which has raised it's ugly head again.


Kashmiris waving Pakistani flag at Burhan Wani's funeral



India is NOT an Islamic or Hindu state nor will it ever turn into one. At its very core it remains a nation of tolerance and true secularism so whether it is Sikhs who want to break a part of it into Khalistan or Kashmiris who want to establish an Islamic Caliphate or even far-right wing Hindus who wish to turn the entire country into the majority religion, none of them should be allowed to succeed.

Kashmiris are living in a dream world if they believe that India would ever let them join Pakistan just by virtue of it being a Muslim majority state. By showing their support to Pakistan openly as during the funeral of the terrorist they are only making their case more difficult. If the call had been for Azadi or Independence like it was in the 2010, they would have still got support from certain quarters but the more they talk about joining Pakistan the more they diminish the possibility of that ever happening!

Our media as usual is also not helping with some of the channels as well as newpapers reporting the terrorist's killing as if a hero had died. It is in the benefit of all those who want to see Kashmir peaceful and prospering that they stay away from rhetoric and not idolize such terror-mongers. With a genuine hope to see my brothers and sisters in Kashmir get a better life I hope this madness is controlled otherwise we would keep seeing the same images from the valley every couple of years and Kashmir shall soon become a lost cause!




JAI HIND

Monday, May 9, 2016

Is India really Secular??



We call India a secular country but is the law really equal for all?

Even after 69 years of Independence, a Uniform Civil Code remains a dream and religious minorities continue to be governed by their own laws especially in relation to marriages, divorce and entitlement. The state is supposed to stay away from religious affairs but in this post I want to highlight an Act that gives clear permission to the state governments for meddling in the affairs of institutions belonging to the majority religion.

Did you know, out of all the varied faiths existing in the country, ONLY Hindu religious establishments have to share their earnings with the state? This because of the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowment Act 1951 under which a State govt. gets the right to audit temple funds, appoint archaks (priests), set up a committee to monitor temple affairs as well as appoint an Endowment Commissioner to look after the donations given to the temples.






Hindu temples have been the centers of local communities since historical times. The importance of pilgrimage to important temples like the Chaar-Dhaam Yatra or the 12 Jyotirling Darshan used to be religiously followed by many devout Hindus. The village temple would be the location of all public gatherings where entire community would join to celebrate festivals, organize cultural events and listen to sermons from the priests. Of course now times have changed but I am talking about when most Hindus did believe in god and considered going to the temple their religious duty. Even today we find vestiges of it in gatherings at the time of festivals at least in the highly popular temples like Vaihsno Devi in Jammu, Tirupati Balaji in Andhra Pradesh or Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai.

Anyone who has been to a temple knows that a lot of devotees give donation to the temple especially since Daan or offering is considered a religious duty. Some may donate ten rupees while others may give jewelry worth lakhs. The same trend was prevalent in ancient times when the temples saw donations from kings, traders, wealthy merchants, visiting dignitaries etc. and gradually amassed a lot of wealth. Much of it would be utilized in the maintenance of the temple and organization of religious functions or Vedic pathshalas. Of course the immense wealth accumulated by these religious institutions did not escape notice of invaders from the West and the plundering of Hindu temples by Turks, Afghans, Mughals and their like is no secret!


Somnath temple that was plundered by Mahmud Ghazni, Alaudin Khilji & Aurangzeb




The British were no different and they saw an opportunity to use the vast resources of multiple Hindu temples for their personal benefit! In 1923, the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act was created by the local Legislature which was later repealed and a new act passed in 1926. Since then, it was amended at least ten times giving the board more and more power over temple affairs. The efforts didn’t stop with India’s independence and the Madras Government passed a new Religious Act known as the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1951 which provided similar powers to the state government. 




What is surprising is that even after the Supreme Court struck down the “illegal” provisions of this Act in 1954 related to the appointment of executive officers in temples, these were brought back by the state assembly by legislating the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Act in 1959!

Clearly there is something sinister in this juggling of law and by the estimates of Temple Worshippers Society 
[http://www.templeworshippers.in/govcontrol.html], assets worth millions of dollars have been appropriated by state governments in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry citing the above act. In fact, the website of Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Department clearly mentions - The management and control of the temples and the administration of their endowments is one of the primary responsibilities of the State [http://www.tnhrce.org/].






Ostensibly, this act aims to ensure proper management of religious bodies but clearly its scope is limited to these institutions of only one religion making it unconstitutional. No other religious affiliation has to follow this act and they are free to use their assets the way they want be it setting up their own religious schools or even for conversions since no one is questioning where the booty goes!

A Supreme Court Bench had ruled that Article 30 of the Constitution did not confer any special privileges on minorities - it is not a right but a protection ensuring that minorities get the same rights as the majority community. But here we have a law that while giving freedom to some religious establishments, penalizes others because they belong to the majority community! 

There are many who silently grumble about such unfairness but never speak out for the fear of getting labeled as a Bhakt or for the sake of appearing politically correct. But all such people should ask themselves if their silence is helping India in any way?

SECULARISM implies that ALL religions should be considered equal. Article 15 of the constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion and provides equal status to all religions without any preference shown by the state yet the HR & CE Act of 1951 clearly violates this basic tenet. Either all religious establishments irrespective of majority or minority denomination be brought under its purview or all such institutions be made independent of government control. 

If you agree with the inherent unfairness of this particular act please sign the petition below to build public opinion against such lopsided rules in our country and help create a more egalitarian and a TRULY SECULAR Society - http://chn.ge/1WVYpsS




For a more detailed analysis by someone more worthy than me please check this article - http://indiafacts.org/temples-and-the-state-in-the-indian-tradition-part-8/.

JAI HIND!



Saturday, October 31, 2015

Kashmiri Pandits - 25 Years in Exile


So after years of avoiding it, I return to a topic that is very close to my heart - Kashmir.. the enchanted heaven doomed to live out its destiny in strife..

Many of you may be familiar with my earlier articles on the present situation in Kashmir for which I blame successive Govts. and certain trigger-happy factions in our Armed forces {Read The-Kashmir-Conundrum and Stop-human-rights-violations-in-Kashmir}. But what I want to share today is what the children of the 90s are not aware of even in Kashmir!

Unfortunately, while the mainland and even Kashmiri pandits to some extent have sought to wipe out the memory of the travesty that happened with them by settling in new places, the new generation of Kashmiri muslims have been fed a white-lie of Pandits fleeing on their own under coercion by the then Governor of Kashmir. Combined with the authoritarian regime enforced by successive governments in the valley, most of the ones I have personally spoken to ACTUALLY believe it to be true for it fits in with their idea of India as a dictatorial and anti-Kashmiri nation!





It has been TWENTY-FIVE years since Kashmiri Pandits were thrown out of their homeland. 25 years after, can they retain their distinct identity in the face of alienation from their land and successive generations inter-marrying with the people of the regions they have settled in? More importantly, can they ever dream of going back to their home state and living a life of safety again?





As the main-stream media continues to ignore their plight, it is time to take stock of the situation that has only deteriorated in these two decades. I do not claim to be an expert in the situation in Kashmir since I was too young to follow the events then but I have followed it now for years and do remember that there were many Kashmiris joining my school around that time. Over the years many became good friends and still remain so and this article is an attempt to put forth their version in front of the rest of the country as well as other Kashmiris to tell them what REALLY happened there two and a half decades ago!

The name Kashmir comes from Kashyap-Mir, a reference to the Hindu sage Kashyap who was a grandson of Lord Brahma and had his Ashram here. Legend has it that the valley was full of water in Puranic times and the lake was called Satisar - the Lake of Shiva's wife Sati. The Nilmata Puran which is a 6th century scripture, details the story of how the lake was drained by Lord Krishna's brother Balram to expose the demon Jalodbhav. 

Ancient Kashmir was one of the prominent seats of Shaivism in India with its Trika philosophy adding a distinct flavor to the Shaiv thought from other parts of the country. The famous dynasties of Kashmir are chronicled in the Rajtarangani by Kalhana which is an account of the various monarchies of Kashmir, prior to the advent of Islam. All those who say that Kashmir was never a part of India should read these two books before making their tall claims.




You would be surprised to know that this exodus of Hindus was not the first time that the minority community was targeted in the state. By the account of many historians, it was the SEVENTH such situation since the arrival of radical Islam in Kashmir which till then had followed a very liberal Sufi philosophy and in the face of this radicalization, thousands of Kashmiris had to flee their homeland and live as refugees in their own country.




Col. Tej Kumar Tikoo the author of Kashmir, its Aborigines and their Exodus states that the tide turned for Kashmir from early 14th century when Islam was first introduced in the valley. Born in Srinagar, Col. Tikoo spent a major portion of his thirty-four years of service in the army on the line of control in Jammu and Kashmir or fighting insurgency operations including the 1971 war with Pakistan that set Bangladesh free. 

The north-western regions of Indian sub-continent had already been converted about two centuries ago and it was many decades later that it saw inroads into Kashmir. In his well-researched manner Col. Tikoo gives details of the first Muslim rulers of the valley starting with Malik Sadarudin, Shamsudin and the Syeds of Iran who had fled their own country and started proselytizing in India. It wouldn't be possible to go into the details here but for now it would be sufficient to say that in face of of the atrocities by the Sultans of Kashmir, followed by Aurangzeb and then the Afghan king Ahmad Shah Abdali, waves of Hindus left the valley, their sole concern being the safety of their women and children and their resolve not to convert to Islam. 


There were also a few Muslim rulers who weren't so high-handed and welcomed the Pandits into their courts and for brief periods, Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism co-existed in the valley giving rise to a syncretic and tolerant culture called Kashmiriyat.

When Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab extended his Sikh dominion over the state, it gave respite to the 10% Hindu population that was left unconverted. And the status quo was maintained when the Britishers defeated the Sikh, and the Dogra ruler Maharaja Gulab Singh was entrusted with the kingship of the British Principality. Many may not know but it was only in 1838 that Srinagar was made the Summer Capital of the kingdom while Jammu remained the regular one.

The Insurgency of the 90s began in the backdrop of the ousting of Soviet forces from Afghanistan and strengthening of radical Islam in the sub-continent. Pakistan's attempt to annex Kashmir in 1948 was thwarted when the then king joined India but it never lost any opportunity to get it back, finding in Kashmir a willing scapegoat for its proxy war with India. 

Due to some extreme steps taken by the then PM Indira Gandhi, the separatist movement in Kashmir had already begun to take roots just as it had in Punjab and Pakistan did not wish to waste such a stupendous opportunity to avenge its humiliation in Bangladesh. The movement which had started to save Kashmiriyat, instead became centered around Islam with attacks on prominent Kashmiri pandits and sustained campaigns through the mosque pulpits declaring three choices - RALIVE, GALIVE YA TSALIVE - Join us (convert), Die or Run away!







The same congress government that was responsible for the complete mishandling of situation in Kashmir in the past years was also responsible for turning a blind eye to the mass exodus of more than 300,000 Hindus from the valley due to its pseudo-secular philosophies. 

Rahul Pandita, a displaced Kashmiri from the younger generation gives a heart-wrenching first-hand account of the events faced by many Hindu families in his book - Our-Moon-Has-Blood-Clots. It is a powerful autobiography that brings to life the Pakistan-backed separatist movement that turned large parts of what was once a Sufi land into an Islamist hub. The author and his family, like innumerable Pandits, were forced to live as refugees in Jammu before finally settling down in Delhi, changing houses as many as 22 times. If you need to understand the Kashmir story, this book cannot be ignored.




Pandita reflects upon the betrayal that the Hindu community felt when he speaks of his Muslim friends with whom he had grown up - " For them, the events of 1990 were a rebellion against the Indian state. For me, the same events led to exile and permanent homelessness."

Only one who has undergone pain and witnessed it first hand could have written this moving account of how Kashmiris of a particular community forced other Kashmiris to flee because they belonged to a different religion and then sowed the seeds of fiction that Governor Jagmohan authored the exodus so that he could 'take care' of the Muslims.

Each milestone in his adolescence is a landmark in the political history of Kashmir - the Pakistani flags and posters of Pakistani cricketers in the first ever international cricket match in Srinagar in 1983; the jubilation in 1986 when Pakistan defeated India in Sharjah and people of Srinagar poured into the streets to celebrate; the gutting of the 300-year-old Baba Reshi shrine; the advertisements in Urdu newspapers warning Pandits to leave the Valley; Pandits shot by militants and refused treatment out of fear and perhaps the most vivid - watching the houses built with provident funds burned down or ransacked.

I have always heard my Kashmiri-resident friends openly complain about the behavior of Indian troops and their tirade against the government which I agree is justified to a large extent. But I am yet to meet a single Kashmiri Muslim who openly shows sympathy for their OWN brothers who were thrown out by their own elders. Agreed everyone was not a part of this frenzied jihad but those who did not intervene and let their fellow Kashmiris be killed, raped and thrown out of their own land are equally responsible!

If the fight of the separatists is for KASHMIR why does religion come into the picture? Shouldn't ALL Kashmiris be taken into confidence and then a strategy planned? Sadly, the ones that were thrown out of their homes and forced to live as refugees today have NO PLACE in the separatist's agenda.

Clearly then, the fight is NOT about Kashmir but abut a religious identity of a 95% Muslim state in a country that is 75% Hindu. A lot of Kashmiri people in their misguided zeal think they would be better off with Pakistan since it is a Muslim country but they conveniently forget that this entire fiasco and their troubled status is because of Pakistan itself!


Had the Pakistani Army not sent in tribal forces to annex Kashmir right after partition, Maharaja Hari Singh, the then ruler of the kingdom would NOT have ceded to India and Kashmir could very well have been the only Indian state to become a separate kingdom! 

And lets not forget the recent protests in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir region AGAINST the Pakistani establishment and the use of force in curbing those protests. Three different places in POK - Muzaffarabad, Gilgit and Kotli held massive protests against the way they are treated by Pakistan Govt. and shouted slogans for Azadi or Independence. They even said that the lives of Kashmiris living in Indian Administered Kashmir was much better than theirs!


Massive anti-Pakistan protests rock Kashmir

Watch the never before seen protests in POK



The bottom line is this - if Kashmiris want Independence, they have to join hands with ALL their brothers whether those living in Indian or Pakistani portions of Kashmir as well as the ones who have lived as refugees for 25 years! Without the participation of all factions how can they claim sovereignty in the name of ALL Kashmiris??

The SEPARATISTS have no option but to take the mandate of all people who have roots in Kashmir irrespective of their religion if they truly respect the spirit of KASHMIRIYAT. Moreover, if Pakistan and Indian Govts. are REALLY serious about solving the issue of Kashmir, BOTH countries have to stop the subjugation of Kashmiris by their armed forces. And ALL of these parties have to come together to figure out a way to re-instate the Hindus who were thrown out of the valley! 





The younger generations living in Kashmir have to be made aware of the atrocities committed on their brethren who were exiled by their elders just as the Kashmiri pandits should be made aware of the problems their Muslim counterparts have faced in the valley in the decade under UPA govt. If both communities can find a common platform to stop the rhetoric and actually UNDERSTAND the others' point of view, only then can a TRUE solution be found to this complex situation. Otherwise it shall remain a never-ending vicious circle of mutual hate that shall be fueled by right-wingers on both sides and this Paradise shall in all probability be lost forever.. 





Hoping to see both Kashmiri Hindus & Muslims live without fear in Kashmir
within our lifetime!

JAI HIND





Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Beef Eaters of India


There has been an intense debate going on in literary as well as political circles of India about consumption of beef, specifically the meat of cow, an animal considered holy in Hinduism. (Remember the expression Holy Cow? Yes, this is probably where it comes from!)

I am both amused with the politicians who say that beef-eating was NEVER a part of Indian culture, as well as those pseudo-intellectuals who are citing the same few references at every place to show beef was ALWAYS consumed since Vedic times! Both these factions are nowhere near the truth and are resorting to extremist behavior hence I thought of sharing evidence from Hindu scriptures to stop this pointless argument.

First, let us understand why the COW was and still is considered HOLY in India as well as Nepal (the latter by the way is the only country in the world to have banned beef)

The cow was not just any animal for the predominantly agrarian Indo-Aryan society, it was the provider of MILK, the major source of proteins as well as Calcium for all vegetarians (and there were a lot of those in ancient India). COW-DUNG was essential to improve the fertility of the soil where FOOD grew and was also used to put a clean layer for the floor inside the huts, a practice still followed in thousands of villages. The dung cakes were also used as FUEL in earthen stoves and fifth, its URINE that possesses antiseptic as well as medicinal properties was used in Ayurveda.

The CALF, grew up to provide labor required to till the fields as well as helped travel to distant lands by means of ox-carts. Even the HIDE of the dead animal was useful for it helped create shoes to protect human feet from the harsh terrain. For all these reasons and more, nothing was considered more sinful than killing the animal that provided so much without asking for anything in return except some amount of daily food and affection. 


Cows are intelligent animals who stay in touch with other members in the herd, recognize their owners and show affection to them as well as other farm animals!

Since most city-dwellers would be alien to this idea of being affectionate to a cow, let me just give an example. How many of you like dogs or cats? Many of you who have pets at home may also be non-vegetarian but do you ever dream of eating a dog or a cat? 

Would you ever eat your own pet?? 


Also do consider why there was so much hue and cry against a Chinese festival recently where dogs were killed in thousands! Would it have made so much noise if it was a chicken-slaughter? No one even complains about the millions of goats sacrificed on a certain festival that originated in the Arab world then why so much outrage over killing of dogs?

Precisely because dogs are devoted to humans and share their love and affection. Imagine that kind of a bond between a cow and its owner, where it is also immensely useful for not only that individual but the sustenance of his whole family! BTW If this diatribe made you believe that I am a cow-lover, well I have no shame in accepting that since I love all animals :) 


But this article is not about my personal opinion rather the opinion of the Vedas!


So let me first pick on this idea that beef-eating was introduced in India by the Mughals. I am sorry to tell the devout who are being fed this idea that this is not the case. The Mahabharat talks about a certain king Rantideva who is glorified as the utmost host. The reason for his glory is that even though this gentleman was himself a vegetarian, he still served the guests who came to visit him meat including that of cow! It may sound shocking but yes, there it is. Thousands of animals were sacrificed in his kitchens everyday to cater to the never ending stream of visitors and in fact the river Chambal (earlier known as Charmanvati) gets its name from the blood washed off the hide of these sacrificed animals. 


King Rantideva giving away all his riches



But let me tell you that this generous king gave everything in charity so much so that his family had to go without food for 48 days at a stretch. When they did get some food, he was accosted by beggars and he willingly distributed all that he had among them. Clearly he is not a normal man and one of very high virtue so I wouldn't even try to compare myself or any other regular human being with him. He followed the principle of Atithi-Devo-Bhav to the extent that he himself was reduced to penury but really how many of us today can do that!


King Rantideva reduced to a pauper due to his generosity still gives away his food to beggar



The Apastambh Grihya Sutra also mentions that cattle may be slaughtered when a guest arrives, or at the occasion of marriage or as an offering to the ancestors in the Shraadh ceremony. These are indications that bovine meat was indeed consumed in ancient India.

There is another verse from Manu Smriti that talks about meat-eating which is being used in online discussions to somehow show that meat = cow meat! My blind friends who are copying the references and posting them everywhere please READ this particular book just once. It specifically sanctions meat-eating ONLY at the time of a sacrifice offered to the gods and calls those who indulge in it everyday as RAKSHAS or Ogres!


But now that we have got the elephant out of the bag, lets see the other point of view as well!


Both these above examples (except that of Manu-Smriti) show us that cow-meat was offered to the guests or for an extremely important ceremony but what about the HOST? Was he also supposed to consume the cattle he was rearing? 

The same Grihya-Sutras that mention the offering of cow ALSO tell the householder to let the cow loose when a guest arrives so that he does NOT have to sacrifice it to entertain the guest! Multiple times at multiple places they suggest that cow's flesh should be substituted with that of a goat or a ram or even better, cooked grain or payasam (kheer in Hindi). So yes, at the very maximum, one may charge the writers of these Sutras with duplicitous behavior as regards the food offered to guests but you can not charge them with the promotion of beef-eating! In fact, it gives more credence to the belief that they actually DID NOT want the cow to be slaughtered hence suggest an escape route to the host.


A Vedic sacrifice or ceremony does not necessitate animal sacrifice



Some online articles talk about mention of Indra, the leader of the gods eating cows and let me tell you that is balderdash. One particular verse Rig Veda 6.17.1 is claimed to say that Indra ate the meat of cow, calf, horse and buffalo! I present here for you this said verse in its entirety as translated by Griffith whom the pseudo-seculars love to quote. This is in fact a verse eulogizing Indra for the feat of killing the dragon Vritra who had taken away water from the Earth causing a famine. If any one of you find a mention of a cow or even a horse being consumed by Indra in this particular verse kindly feel free to enlighten me - {Rig Veda verse 6.17 in English}.


The Vedic Thunder-god Indra
{Image by Anirudh Sainath @Molee Art}



Another verse that is being bandied about everywhere is {Rig Veda verse 10.85} which is supposed to say that on the occasion of a girl's marriage, cow and oxen are slaughtered. The verse is in fact talking about the wedding of Surya, the sun-god and even in that particular wedding, though there is a mention of oxen but surprise surprise, NO COWS!

I could find only one verse where cow, that too a barren one is supposed to be offered to Agni along with Ram or Oxen and this is - {Rig Veda verse 10.91.14}. Again the verse talks about a sacrifice being offered to a god NOT about the consumption of the said meat by humans. I have seen some other similar verses mentioned but none of them talk about consumption of this meat by humans!

On the other hand, there are multiple verses that mention the cow as Aghnya or one who should not be hurt and I am giving examples for the same.

In {Rig Veda verse 7.56.17} the supplicant has equated the lives of men with those of cattle by praying to the Maruts to keep their storms away that kill them both. It is noteworthy that no other animal has been mentioned except cattle which shows how strong the bond between men and their cattle was. Again the {Rig Veda verse 1.164.40} wishes cows good fortune to find great pastures in every season so that the men can also stay healthy and wealthy. Again the word used for cow here is Aghnya or inviolable.


A Holy cow in an Indian village


{Rig Veda verse 10.87.16} goes so far as to wish violent death for those who kill cattle, horses and humans showing once again that the lives of each were equally precious. I quote here the Griffith translation - The fiend who smears himself with flesh of cattle, with flesh of horses and of human bodies. Who steals the milch-cow's milk away, O Agni,—tear off the heads of such with fiery fury.

The entire 28th sukta of Book 6 shared here - {Rig Veda 6.28} in fact talks about how cows enjoyed freedom from persecution in the Vedic society - These are ne’er lost, no robber ever injures them: no evil-minded foe attempts to harass them.... These Cows, the cattle of the pious worshipper, roam over widespread pasture where no danger is..Never be thief or sinful man your matter, and may the dart of Rudra still avoid you!

{Atharva Veda verse 10.1.29} says again in the words of Griffith - The slaughter of an innocent O Kritya is an awful deed. Slay NOT our COWS, Horses or Men!

{Yajur Veda verse 1.1} mentions and I quote again - O Savitar.. guard thou the cattle of the supplicant! The word used for cattle in this verse is the same Aghnya I mentioned above.

Again {Yajur Veda verse 13.43} mentions - Harm NOT the cow Aditi, widely ruling

{Yajur Veda verse 30} offers prayers to the Solar god Savitar who is the brother of Indra and Surya, to provide many things to the people who deserve it. Its a beautiful verse which shows the ingenuity of the composer where each couple is perfectly matched viz. - Dexterity is matched with a chariot-maker, Laughter with an artist, Misfortune with a eunuch, Welfare with a farmer, Beauty with a jeweler, serpents for an untrustworthy man and the most relevant for us, DEATH for one who kills a COW!

I can go on and with such verses but above examples are MORE than ENOUGH to show that cow was ALWAYS considered sacred in India right from time immemorial since the Vedas are the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. Cow was as much a member of the family as other humans and the tradition of respect and love can still be seen in smaller towns and villages all over the Indian sub-continent.


For many Indians even today cattle is like family



Based on the scriptures shared above, it should be abundantly clear that for a practicing Hindu, cattle especially cow was considered sacred, holy and indestructible and the death penalty is to be given to those who attempt to kill cattle, horses or men.


So what changed? How did Kings like Rantideva begin killing cows? 


If you know the chronology of Hindu scriptures, the Vedas are the oldest and Mahabharat and Ramayan come much later. Out of the two, Mahabharat is supposed to be even more recent, ushering in the dreaded age of Kaliyuga that we now live in.

This text does show that the cow that was considered inviolable in Vedas was being consumed by a few people during Mahabharat time. Yet, the very fact that king Rantideva is mentioned to have served this meat to guests but not consume it HIMSELF shows what his own opinion about eating cow was! Those who cite his example conveniently forget that the said king was a man of high virtue and did not mind accumulating the sin to please his guests but are we really of that caliber?

Nevertheless, this change in behavior is just a reflection of the changing norms of that particular society that was on the brink of Kaliyuga, the last and most evil of all four Yugas where beef-eating is listed as one of the sins. 

I shall share with you why I am calling it a sin by countering one more argument thrown by supporters of beef consumption from the Satpatha Brahmana, presumably written by a certain rishi Yajnavalkya. In verse 3.1.2.21 he is supposed to have stated - I for one eat 'maans' since it is very soft and tender - {Satpatha Brahmana, 3rd Kand, 1st Adhyaye, 2nd Brahmana}. 

I found this verse in the said scripture but I also found something that is NEVER mentioned whenever this verse is quoted! The text before this admission of the writer goes as follows - Accordingly they bestowed on the cow and the ox whatever vigour belonged to other species; and therefore the cow and the ox eat most. Hence, were one to eat an ox or a cow, there would be a going on to the end (destruction). Such a one indeed would likely be reborn as a strange being, (as one of whom there is) evil report........let him therefore NOT eat (the flesh) of the cow and the ox. 

So the author, a learned rishi, is admitting that he does eat the flesh of sacrificed ox sometimes BUT is ALSO admitting that it is a SIN. Wonder how this particular line never got mentioned before in any online article?? Selective propagation of truth to suit one's own convenience perhaps?

People who give the above mentioned examples conveniently forget that in the very same Mahabharat that talks about such instances, Shri Krishna who is declared as the Supreme Lord, is also called the Go-pal or the protector of cows. But again who would wish to talk about that inconvenient truth?



Krishna, the Go-pal



The truth is that cows specifically and animals in general have ALWAYS been considered sacred in India. Even today, according to data from the NSSO (National Sample Survey Office) the major beef-eating community in India is of Muslims (that too 40% not the complete population) followed by Christians (26.5% of the total). According to the same data less than 2% of Hindus eat cow or buffalo meat. More data available here - {Who are the Beef-eaters in India}.






I as an animal lover would love to see ALL animals living a free life but irrespective of my personal beliefs, I have to say that the evidence given in the Vedas is foolproof that cow-meat is NOT to be consumed by religious or devout Hindus irrespective of which caste or region they belong to. Even today festivals like Pongal & Makar Sankranti involve worship of the cattle that help a largely agrarian Indian economy survive! Millions of Hindus all over the world still revere the cow as sacred so if you cant stop eating beef at least don't malign their beliefs!





My city-dweller friends who believe more in logic than religion should also know that Article 48 of Indian Constitution MANDATES the state to PROHIBIT the slaughter of cows, calves and other milch as well as draught cattle. In fact the Honorable Supreme Court has also upheld the constitutional validity of anti-cow slaughter laws enacted by different state governments in 2005.

Whether you are a Hindu or non-Hindu who consumes beef, I have no personal comment about your choices but this article is to counter those false claims being made in the online forums that beef-eating was actually ALLOWED and SANCTIONED in Vedic scriptures! Eat what you want but don't twist the teachings of an ancient religion to justify your choices..





May there be Peace & Love for ALL ANIMALS!

JAI HIND



Friday, January 31, 2014

Race Against Racism

ARUNACHAL MLA'S SON BEATEN TO DEATH IN DELHI - the headline screamed.. In yet another incidence of racism against north-East students, a young first year college student was beaten to death by shopkeepers in Delhi after an altercation sparked by their taunts on his hairstyle!!

What is happening to our country?? Are we really defined by this bunch of hooligans who hurl racist remarks on people who look different from us and molest girls in public?? Where is the thinking Indian hiding?? Don't we realize the dangers of such segmentation? Already our country has been divided into three pieces due to the never ending religious fights.. do we want to break it up again based on color and language?

Nido Tania, the unfortunate lad who lost his life today happens to be the son of an MLA from Arunachal hence the media highlight. How about the racism that an average person from the North-East has to deal with in his own country just because he looks different and has a better sense of style than the boorish thugs in Delhi's streets!

When he complained, he was abused and in anger he broke the shelf of the shop. He was then beaten up and handed to the police. After he paid an amount of 10,000 rupees to the police he was released and left back at the shop. There he was beaten up again mercilessly till he managed to run away to a friend's house. In the morning, he was no more...



Nido Tania, the unfortunate victim of racism in his own country!
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/thumb/msid-29662389,width-300,resizemode-4/Student-from-Arunachal-beaten-to-death-in-south-Delhi.jpg


It's a shame that even in the 21st century we can't accept people different from us as our own. Earlier it was the Muslim youth who had targeted North-East students in Bangalore and Pune as a reaction to the Rohingya killings in Maynamar and now this attack on an innocent student in Delhi!

On one hand we fight China stating Arunachal as our own state and on the other we can't even protect people from that state in our own capital city!! What a shame!! Our ancients never differentiated on the basis of color and features. The Kurma Puran states - In Bharatvarsh, men and women display different colors, worship various gods and perform many different duties.

Shri Krishna, the epitome of godhead was dark like a monsoon cloud and so was Shri Rama who forms the spearhead of Hindu Nationalist parties. King Dashrath's three queens were from Afghanistan, U.P. and Maharashtra while Arjun had married Subhadra from Gujarat and Chitrangada, the daughter of the king of Manipura (Orissa). There was no discrimination in their minds then why are we so narrow-minded??

Our scriptures record a plural society since time immemorial proving that we have always been a pot-pourri of different colors, cultures and appearances. The races differ in appearance but NOT in genetic parameters. Our present diversity evolved as waves of  initial settlers moved both towards North as well as South of the country, all the time Intermixing and Migrating to OTHER countries. 

Over the eons, Dravidian lineages have mixed with Indo-Europeans, Austro-Asiatics have mingled with Dravidians, and bridge populations in central India are blends of Dravidian, Indo-European and Tibeto-Burman groups. Read this post to know how closely we all are linked irrespective of our external features: Genetics of the Wandering Indian.





Macrohaplogroup M, a cluster of Proto-Asian maternal lineages, represents more than 60% of Indian MtDNA. Now, observe the similarities for this Haplogroup found in different populations of the country:

M2 - Most common in Bengal and Tamil Nadu (East and South)
M3 - Rajasthan and Karnataka (West and South-west)
M6 - Kashmir and Assam (North and East)
M18 - Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh (West and South-central)
M25 - Punjab and Kerala!! (North and South)

The study has shown some Hindu caste groups to be genetically closer to Muslims in the same geographical region THAN to their own caste cousins elsewhere in India showing that our current RELIGIOUS differences are merely superficial and people in a specific region are more or less the same.  
 


The Genetic Map thus obtained, shows a remarkable amount of heterogeneity within different Indian groups while bringing out even more remarkable RELATEDNESS between groups till now considered to be at the opposite ends of the spectrum. The differences in our appearance are broadly a result of the ADAPTATION to local weather conditions over thousands of years. 

The Natural Selection Hypothesis suggests that lighter skin color evolved to optimize Vitamin D production in extreme northern and southern latitudes. Gradually, as we started moving out of Africa, some groups migrated and settled into cooler climates of Asia and Europe, and the selectivity for Melanin production decreased and mutations appeared, making the skin tone lighter. North or South of 46 degrees latitude, the dark-skin could not produce enough Vitamin D while light-skin could hence it thrived! 

Another example of such adaptation is the smaller extremities observed in the Mountain-dwelling races. This adaptation is summed up in Allen's Law of Genetics which states that the protruding parts of a warm-blooded animal's body (such as the tail, ears, and limbs), are SHORTER in animals of same species from colder regions.

In other words, people living in COOLER areas have smaller bodies and flatter features to conserve the precious body heat compared to those living in WARMER climates. The same is quite evident in the populations dwelling in our Himalayan states.



Mountain dwellers show Allen's rule of Genetics



This doesn't make one race SUPERIOR to the other in any way except for the ability to SURVIVE in a particular environment!! All our apparent differences are Nature's GIFTS to ensure survival in the respective climates we are born in and do NOT in any way make us different from each other from inside.

Yet, we see Kashmiris and Punjabis looking down upon the rest of the country because they are better looking; Tamil Brahmins looking down upon other Tamilians as well as the rest of the country as inferior to them in intellect; Delhiites passing racial remarks on anyone who looks even a little Mongoloid; Reddys and Nairs don't like Tam-Brahms; Marathis crack jokes on Sardars; Sardars crack jokes on Marwaris/Baniyas; Gujaratis crack jokes on Sindhis and the list goes on!!





As long as this continues as harmless banter it is fine but the moment it starts hurting another person we should stop and think. Is having fun at someone's expense more important than another person's life?? Had those shopkeepers in Lajpat Nagar thought of this, perhaps a life could have been saved!!

I pray and wish that our countrymen move on from this parochial mindset and learn to accept everyone else as their own countrymen who we have to get along with isnpite our apparent differences. Ending this post with a prayer to the Motherland and a Hope for Peace..
 
Oh! Mother, Let me be blessed on the sacred shore of the Sea,
Where the World has gathered to pay reverence to Thee,
With outstretched hands we bow to Divinity,
With Supreme felicity Mother, We worship Thee..

No-one knows who invoked them all,
Who have gathered like currents of mighty rivers,
That dissolve themselves in the Divine Ocean,
Where Aryas-Dravids-Mongols-Pathans detach their Individuality.

Where our heart-strings play an endless tune of Omkar, 
In search of the Supreme, we've penanced for ages,
And oblated our Ego, in the Holy fire,
Throwing away differences, We emerge into Universality.

Come Aryas, Non-Aryas; Hindus and Muslims,
Come Englishmen; Come Christians and Buddhists,
Purify your hearts, Hold hands of the Out-castes.
For the Coronation of our Mother, by this sacred shore of the Sea. 

Jai Hind!